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The Caterer

Cherries, Gulls' Eggs, Beef

15 May 2008
Cherries, Gulls' Eggs, Beef

Fresh produce

Wild mushrooms are now coming through, with Saint George's and mousserons in good supply. The Turkish season of morels is in full swing and they are in good condition, with prices on the increase. The US season is starting soon.

Wild asparagus from France is starting, and English green asparagus is now coming through, thanks to the warm weather, and getting better and cheaper. White asparagus is also in good supply.

Courgette flowers from France have joined the market along with Italian peas and broad beans. Samphire from Israel is nice and tender at the moment.

Spanish cherries have arrived on the scene, initially small and pale but set to be bigger, tastier and better value later in the week. Fresh cherries from Provençe are in abundance. Baby San Marzano tomatoes and Merinda tomatoes have also arrived.

English strawberries are starting to make a shy appearance on the market, but presently at an unreliable rate in terms of supply and quality. Dutch strawberries are tastier and slightly down in price.

Summer Savoy cabbages from Portugal are a tastier, higher-yielding and slightly more expensive replacement for the winter Savoy crops.

Iceberg lettuces are up in price, while red and yellow peppers are on their way down. The price of summer truffles is also down.

Sources: 4°C - 020 8558 9708 - www.4degreesc.com / Wild Harvest - 020 7498 5397 - www.wildharvestuk.com

Meat

Chicken has gone up in price and is scarce because the bank holidays across Europe have resulted in low throughput.

Beef fillets have levelled out at £22-£25 per kg because of being outpriced on menus. Other steak cuts, such as rib-eye, rump and sirloin, are up in price because the warm weather has sparked the major retailers to kick-start promotions of their summer barbecue season. Rump has shown the highest rise, at a whopping 15%.

On the lamb front, it's time to switch to new-season spring lamb, which is more readily available thanks to the hot weather - but has also gone up because people are using it as an alternative to beef.

Pork prices have increased, along with bacon and gammon, because of the increased price of grain and feed.

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

Fish

The first of the wild salmon have arrived from Scotland, with expected prices at £30 per kg.

There is plenty of line-caught sea bass around and also large amounts of pollack and mackerel (right) from Cornwall.

Turbot prices are falling, and the fine weather is bringing good landings everywhere.

Cockles are in short supply, and squid is also thin on the ground and therefore expensive, so we recommend using octopus or cuttlefish as an alternative.

The more settled weather has also resulted in a sufficiency of red mullet and a significant increase in grey mullet. It's seen an undoubted increase in lobsters, which means that prices are expected to come down. Scotland has seen good landings of scallops, but langoustines are scarce, due to what fisherman refer to as the "May slack".

Good numbers of gulls' eggs are still readily available, with the last day for picking being 15 May.

Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707

Seasonal recipe

Slow-cooked gull's egg with new-season morel textures, crushed peas and Jabugo ham

Ingredients
(Serves four)

4 gulls' eggs

For the morel textures fricassée
50g small new-season morels
1tsp shallot, chopped
1 sprig thyme
10g butter
Few drops lemon juice
Salt and pepper
For the warm jelly
500ml morel consommé
25g vegetable gel
10ml Marc de Gewürztraminer

For the velouté
75g dried morels
2 sprigs thyme
2 cloves garlic
500ml chicken stock
500ml mushroom stock
375ml Gewürztraminer
300ml milk
Few drops lemon juice
10ml Marc de Gewürztraminer

For the crushed peas 200g petits pois
30g mint, chopped
1tbs olive oil
To serve
4 slices Jabugo ham
Pea shoots

Method

Cook the gulls' eggs in a water bath at 62°C for two hours. For the morel textures fricassée, sauté the morels in the butter with the shallots and thyme, season, add a few drops of lemon juice and reserve.

For the warm jelly, bring the consommé and the vegetable gel to the boil, add the Gewürztraminer. Pour into a mould and allow to set. Cut into squares when set.

For the velouté, place dried morels, thyme, garlic and stocks in a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce by one-third. Boil the Gewürztraminer in a separate pan and add to stock. Reduce by one-third. Add milk and bring back to boil. Correct seasoning and add lemon juice if required. Add the Marc de Gewürztraminer.

For the crushed peas, place all ingredients in a blender and pulse to get a crushed texture, and season. Warm through and reserve.

To serve, spoon a mound of peas on to the plate, place the jellies and morels around. Place an egg on top. Place some ham and pea shoots on top of the egg. Spoon some velouté around the plate, and serve.

Steve Smith, executive chef, Devonshire Arms, Bolton AbbeyBook a table at the Devonshire Arms now >>

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