Food File

23 November 2004 by
Food File

With recent strong winds having eased at the start of the week, landings are now much better. Supplies of Dover soles, lemon soles, monkfish, mackerel and sardines should all improve, as should haddock and plaice. Hake is harder to come by, as are skate, brill and bream. Large cod fillets will also remain scarce, though there are smaller sizes available. There are also very good supplies of Scottish mussels and, from further afield, tuna.

Source: M&J Seafood
01296 588221

Fresh produce New Zimbabwean peaches are now arriving but are still a little underripe at present. Chilean cherries are also now on the market, but expensive. From Europe, French Comice pears are fantastic and satsumas from Valencia should now be with us all the way through to Christmas. From the UK, curly kale and black cabbage are still very good, while wild mushrooms such as trompettes de mort and chanterelles are not to be missed. Italian fennel is also of superb quality at the moment: later crops, which never see the Mediterranean summer heat and therefore grow in more temperate and moist conditions, tend to be much better, as they don't dry out and start seeding too early.

Source: Chef's Connection
020 7627 4809

Game supplies are now good with plenty of partridge, teal, mallard and pheasant - good quality and plentiful. Prices are excellent to very competitive. The best of Scottish beef is now in better supply and quality is wonderful. British lamb is still excellent, but care is needed in selection. Some of it is now a little old, and even fat. All pork is good at the moment, with free-range meat being a great high-quality choice.

Aubrey Allen
024 7642 2222

And how to use them…

Chargrilled tuna loin with fennel velouté
Ingredients (Serves four)
1kg tuna loin
For the confit fennel
8 baby fennel
300ml olive oil
1 sprig of thyme
1/4tsp Maldon sea salt
For the fennel velout‚
1kg fennel,
400ml chicken stock
50g butter
50ml double cream
To finish
200g large-leaf spinach, wilted
8 shiitake mushrooms, pan-fried

Trim the tuna loin to make it as cylindrical as possible. Mark the tuna on a hot chargrill, then wrap the whole tuna loin in clingfilm as tight as possible and rest in fridge until needed. Then cut the loin into four even portions and, keeping the clingfilm on, chargrill both cut sides. Finish the tuna in the oven at 180°C for 6-7 minutes. Remove film.

Wash the baby fennel, trimming any dry bits. On each piece, slice the stalks on the slant so the stalks are all the same length.

Pour the oil into a small saucepan, add the fennel, salt and thyme. Make sure the fennel is completely submerged. Cover with a cartouche, and bring the oil to boiling point. Place a ring underneath to lift the pan from the direct heat. Confit the fennel until tender.

For the velouté, cut fennel into small pieces, saut‚ in butter, season, cover with chicken stock and cook until tender. Strain and purée fennel, retaining the stock. Add 300g of purée to reserved stock, add butter and cream. Bring velouté back to the boil and season. Froth with a Bamix.

To finish, place the spinach in the centre of the plate, place the tuna on top, then the confit fennel and, finally, the mushrooms. Froth the sauce and spoon around the base of the tuna. Serve.

Madalene Bonvini-Hamel, head chef, directors' dining, BaxterSmith

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