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Beet, white truffles, bass, veal

30 November 2006

Fresh produce

Now autumn has definitely come to a close, root vegetables are as traditional a winter fare as there is. Look at enhancing your menu with some Candy Cane beet or Golden beet, both grown in southern England and available for as little as £2-£3 per kg. Other good options, available from France, are root chervil and Hamburg parsley roots, which resemble a parsnip but have a rich, distinctive and moreish flavour to them. Both are available from about £8-£9 per kg. Although celeriac is available in England, the best by a long way is coming from France, and will cost about £1.20 a head, roughly the size of a large grapefruit. White truffles (right) are now at their peak: a good year has seen a low price, in truffle terms, of about £2,000 per kg. Autumn truffles also have a great aroma at present, and Périgord should be widely available soon. Girolle mushrooms (below) from the international market are best completely avoided at present, but trompettes, yellow chanterelles and pieds de mouton are all very good. Purple-sprouting broccoli is not at its best at present because the lack of a proper frost so far has meant it has not released its natural antifreeze, which gives it a much sweeter flavour.

Source: Fresh Direct 01869 365600 www.freshdirect.co.uk

Fish

After last week's respite, the bad weather is back, and the whole coast is affected, with many boats tied up for the next few days. Apart from sourcing Norwegian or Icelandic halibut and cod, or making use of the good farmed bass (above) and gilthead bream from the Continent, the best advice is to ring your supplier and see what is available.

Source: Chef Direct 01275 474707 www.chefclubdirect.co.uk

Meat

Meat supplies in general are very good. Pork, salt-marsh lamb, and veal calves are good quality. English partridge is of a high standard currently, while more woodcock is coming in by the day. More troublesome, though, are pigeon and hare, with the bad weather meaning that few of them are being shot and, at a time when demand is high, prices are inevitably rising.

Source: Chef Direct 01275 474707 www.chefclubdirect.co.uk

Seasonal recipe

Pan-fried foie gras, confit celeriac and ruby port sorbet

Ingredients
(Serves 10)

1.8kg celeriac
750g goose fat
1/4 bunch thyme
50g garlic
Frying oil
1kg foie gras
200ml olive oil
15g salt
3g freshly ground white pepper
For the ruby port sorbet
70g sugar
200ml water
1/2tsp lime juice, to taste
1 egg white
20ml red wine reduction
45ml ruby port

To serve
5 ginger-flavoured brioche buns

Method
Peel the celeriac. Cut batons into 6cm x 1cm strips, allowing six per portion. Reserve the remainder.

Confit batons slowly in goose fat with the thyme and garlic until tender. Allow to cool and then refrigerate.

Julienne the remaining celeriac. Deep-fry in clean oil, dry under lamps and season.

Cut the foie gras into two 30g slices per portion and season. In a medium hot pan with the olive oil place the seasoned foie gras, colour well and cook on both sides. Remove and drain. Pass fat through a fine chinois and reserve.

To make the ruby port sorbet, boil sugar and water to form a light syrup. Add the lime juice and wine. Cool. Add the port. Place in an ice-cream machine and turn until almost frozen. Fold in the egg white, whisked to a soft peak, and continue to churn to a sorbet consistency.

To serve, place slices of toasted ginger brioche in centre of the plate, then the foie gras and, at the very last minute, add the sorbet. Drizzle the goose fat around the plate, and finish with some deep-fried celeriac julienne.

Gary Klaner, executive chef, the Landmark hotel, London

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