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Cauliflowers, Turbot, Pheasant

10 January 2008 by

Fresh

In terms of British it's best to stick to items that store well as there's a lot of old produce on the market - for example, red and white cabbage. But there are good Brussels tops and cauliflowers on the market.

From abroad, the situation in Kenya has made fine green beans erratic they're around but not in huge numbers. Low temperatures in the South of Spain means courgettes are up in price and tomatoes are being talked up, but that hike has yet to materialise.

Peaches and nectarines from South Africa are improving, as are lychees and cherries. Leaf clementines are now arriving from Italy rather than Spain and are a better flavour, and leaf oranges and lemons are also available from the same location.

Source: 4°C - 020 8558 9708 - www.4degreesc.com

Fish

Bad weather and a poor forecast for the next week means fish are few and expensive. Most things are desperately short, so the best advice is to buy what's available on the day and to consider using farmed fish - good turbot, halibut, bass and gilthead bream can all be sourced from suppliers.

There are still good anchovies arriving from the West Country, especially as some specialist sprat and sardine boats are now targeting them instead. Pollack is around, but there's a high demand from the Continent . Good cuttlefish, octopus, squid and shellfish are available.

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

Meat

An impending ban on imports from Brazil to the whole of the EU has seen beef prices shoot up over the past week because of foot-and-mouth concerns in the South American country. This has resulted in a 40% rise on imported beef and a 10-12% rise on British beef - a 30-40% rise on the more expensive cuts. Although the rise is a nuisance it's far from a panic, and by next week there should be a better handle on the situation.

Chicken is stable at present but the bad publicity imminent as we go to press may well have an effect on the market. Lamb is marginally more expensive but nothing worth worrying about. On the game front, the bad weather has made produce a tad scarce. There are plenty of pheasant and woodcock, but hare, rabbit and pigeon are slightly scarce, although an excellent option if you can get your hands on some.

Meat source: Birtwistle Butchers - 0161-728 3340 - www.birtwistlebutchers.co.uk

Game source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707 - www.chefclubdirect.co.uk

Seasonal recipe

Rabbit stew

Ingredients (Serves four)

1 medium-sized carrot
1/4 flower cauliflower
12-15 fine beans
800g diced rabbit meat
3tsp olive oil
5-6 whole peppercorns
2 one-inch sticks cinnamon
4 cardamom pods
6 cloves
2 medium-sized onions, chopped
1tbs ginger-garlic paste
1/2tsp chilli powder
3 medium-sized tomatoes, skinned and chopped
Salt
350ml water
1tsp cornflour
1tbs vinegar
1 sprig mint leaves
A few coriander sprigs

Method

Peel the carrots and dice evenly cut the cauliflower into small florets, soak in salted water for 10 minutes and drain cut the fine beans into 1in-sized pieces, leave aside.

Wash the diced rabbit meat in cold water, leave to drain. Heat oil in a thick-bottomed saucepan, throw in the peppercorns and whole spices, followed by the chopped onions and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for a further 10 minutes.

Add the chilli powder and stir well. Throw in the chopped tomatoes and cook over a slow flame until the tomatoes are reduced to a pulp.

Add the diced rabbit meat and salt, cover with a lid and allow to simmer for 10 minutes before adding the vegetables and water. Leave to simmer for a further 15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked.

Dissolve the cornflour in about 50ml of cold water and add it to the stew while stirring gently. Allow the stew to come to the boil, add the vinegar and serve hot, garnished with fresh mint and sprigs of coriander.

Alfred Prasad, executive chef at Tamarind, London

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