Food File

28 January 2005 by
Food File

Fresh produce A few-new season peas and young broad beans have arrived in excellent condition from Spain this week. They are not normally crops we associate with this time of year, but the sweetness of the peas is excellent. The broad beans are so young and tender that they can be eaten with the pods. Good home-grown produce includes swede and outstanding (and well-priced) celeriac. The large, clean heads can be used either raw or cooked, and they make delicious pur‚es or soups. Jerusalem artichokes are another root vegetable worth trying again, as the French crops are back to their best. French and Italian pumpkins are also on the market.

Fresh Brazilian limes have almost doubled in price recently because demand has outstripped supply. Italian Christmas melons are arriving again: they are similar to honeydew melons but have dark green ridged skins and light, sweet flesh. Water melons are now coming in from Brazil. New-crop South African apricots are beginning again now, but the quality is very variable at the moment and the prices are very high.

Chef's Connection
020 7627 4809

Beef is still the best-quality meat on the market at the moment, though the best is expensive. There is also plenty of very good venison around. Top-quality lamb from the UK is getting harder to source, although New Zealand lamb is available. Turkey and goose is, of course, on everyone's menus, but time is running out to get your order in.

Aubrey Allen
024 7642 2222

Fish Good conditions along the South Coast this week mean there should be good supplies of many native fish. Netters will all be out, so good landings of coley and pollack are expected, while beam trawlers should bring in plenty of monkfish, Dover sole and scallops, although increased demand means prices won't be brought down dramatically. There will also be good catches of sardines, bream, brill, conger eel, octopus, plaice and skate. There have been increased landings of codlings as the colder water drives fish closer to the land, and prices are down on haddock, too. Salmon prices, however, are set to rise as Christmas demand takes its toll on stocks.

Source: M&J Seafood
01296 588221

And how to use them….

Pumpkin and muscovado toffee ravioli with apple and mascarpone mousse, cardamom ice-cream

Ingredients (makes 12-16)
For pumpkin ravioli
1 small pumpkin
250g stock syrup
For muscovado toffee
100g muscovado sugar
100g double cream
Splash of water
For the apple and mascarpone mousse
200g cream
60g sugar
3 egg yolks
150g apple purée
125g mascarpone
1 leaf of gelatine, soaked
For the ice-cream
250g cream
250g milk
25g glucose
135g sugar
6 yolks
20 split green cardamom pods
For the pumpkin seed caramel
200g fondant
100g Isomalt (a low-calorie sugar-based sugar substitute)
100g glucose
50g fried, green pumpkin seeds
For the pumpkin air
All the pumpkin trimmings
2g lecithin
250g stock syrup
Green pumpkin seed oil
Puffed green pumpkin seeds
7cm discs of pain d'epices
Spiced breadcrumbs

For the ravioli, peel and remove the seeds from the pumpkin. Cut into long, thin slices, about 1mm thick. Bring the stock syrup to the boil and blanch the slices of pumpkin for about 10 seconds. Lay them on a piece of rolled-out clingfilm. Take a 7cm cutter and cut out discs. Remove the excess around the edges and lay clingfilm over the top. Store in the fridge.

For the toffee, melt the sugar and water together and boil until 140°C. Boil the cream for two minutes (to increase fat content). Once the sugar starts to caramelise, whisk the cream in a little at a time. Chill until cold, then whip the mix until thick (like whipped cream). Store in a piping bag.

For the mousse, bring the cream to the boil. Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar until white, then pour the cream over the sugar and eggs while whisking. Add the gelatine and apple pur‚e and chill. Once cold, whisk in the mascarpone and continue whisking until it's the consistency of whipped cream, then pipe into tubes and freeze.

For the ice-cream, chop the cardamom pods in half and place in the milk. Bring to the boil and leave to infuse for at least six hours. Re-boil the milk with the cream. In a mixing bowl, whisk the yolks, sugar and glucose until white. Strain the milk mixture over the yolks and whisk. Chill the mixture and churn.

To make the pumpkin seed caramel, boil the fondant, Isomalt and glucose together until 160°C. Add fried pumpkin seeds, roll between two mats and leave for one minute. Remove the top mat and pull off long shards of caramel. Store in an air-tight container.

For the air, blanch all the trimmings in the stock syrup. Blitz and hang in muslin. Blitz with the lecithin.

To assemble the dish, dip the pain d'epices in the pumpkin air, pipe a dot of the toffee in the middle of the disc and lay the pumpkin disc over the top and seal at the edges. Cut the apple mousse into 2-4cm lengths and roll them in the crumbs. Place on the plate, finish with the ice-cream, pumpkin seeds and oil. Place the pulled caramel on top of the ice-cream. Aerate the pumpkin air, spoon the froth over and around the plate and serve.
created by Anthony Flinn, chef-proprietor, Flinn's, Leeds

Braised shin of beef with carrot and swede purée and caramelised shallots
(makes 10 to 15)
5kg shin of beef, meat removed from the bone
80ml vegetable oil
500ml brown chicken stock
500ml veal stock
50ml brandy
70ml red wine
100g tomato purée
1 large onion
Salt and pepper
2 large carrots
2 sticks of celery
1 medium leek
For the purée with shallots
500g peeled and diced carrots
500g peeled and diced swede
250g banana shallots, diced
400g unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
500ml white chicken stock
200ml Cognac or brandy or white wine

Method Tie the meat with butcher's string. Cut the mirepoix into even-sized pieces. Seal the beef in a hot pan with vegetable oil, and remove. Brown the mirepoix in the same pan as the beef and add the tomato purée. Add the brandy and reduce to a thick glaze. Add the red wine and reduce the liquid by half. Return the beef to the pan, season and add the veal and brown chicken stocks, slowly braise in a moderate oven for about four hours.

Once cooked, let the beef cool slightly, then pass the liquid through a muslin cloth. Remove the string from the meat and pick through the meat for sinew. Place the beef in a bowl and add a few ladles of hot juices from the cooking, just to moisten. Lay clingfilm on the table, shape the meat into sausage shapes, roll up tightly and hang from a shelf in the walk-in fridge. This will refrigerate them until completely set into a round shape. Cut the beef in to 170g/6oz portions and vacuum-pack them individually.

For the pur‚e, saut‚ the shallots until golden brown in half of the butter, season and remove from the pan. Return the pan to the stove and add the rest of the butter, saut‚ the carrot and swede until caramelised with seasoning. De-glaze the pan with alcohol of your choice, reduce until vegetables are glazed and most of the alcohol evaporated. Add the chicken stock and cook until the carrots and swede are soft, reduce most of the liquid to make a firm purée. Purée the carrots and swede in a blender until smooth, adjust seasoning, stir in the caramelised shallots into the carrot and swede purée. Reheat the beef in a steamer and serve on the purée.
Created by Ross Pike and Madalene Bonvini-Hamel, head chefs, directors' dining, BaxterSmith

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