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Cockles, Lamb, Broccoli

26 July 2007 by
Cockles, Lamb, Broccoli

Fresh

The weather continues to have devastating effects. Savoy cabbages, spring cabbages and cauliflowers are all suffering, so expect severe price increases. Broccoli won't improve until the end of the summer - and only then if we get some good weather in August - as most of the early sowings have been washed away.

Strawberries are also affected, and many are turning to Dutch or American imports. Many of the fields are too muddy to harvest, so potatoes are low in numbers on the market, especially new potatoes, so expect this to have a knock-on effect on the crop for the rest of the year.

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

Fish

With gales forecast until the end of the week, the message is stock up before the weekend as the situation won't get any better.

On the bright side, the first freshwater crayfish have arrived, there have been good landings of line-caught pollack and there's plenty of mackerel. Summer species are now creeping in, with good-value dabs, nice plaice and large grey mullet available. Skate, squid, gurnard, and red mullet are also largely unaffected by the weather and sand eels are arriving. There are limited numbers of diver-caught scallops coming from Scotland, but expect these to dry up as the weather gets wetter. There are also plenty of crabs, lobsters, crawfish and cockles.

The wet weather has extended the samphire and sea purslane season - normally the heat would have dried them up by now.

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

Meat

As mentioned last week, lamb prices have stayed the same as last year, even though the farmer is getting 20% less per animal, meaning that wholesalers are seeing the profit. If you can handle a full lamb then you could make a hefty saving by dealing directly with the farmer rather than going through a middle man. With the schools having just broken up and butchers struggling to sell meat, the next six weeks offer a good chance to haggle and make deals as there will be a surplus of meat.

Looking to the future, be prepared for the end of the year, when there's a strong possibility of a sharp price rise on most meats. The wet weather has seen barley and wheat prices rocket, meaning farmers are having to pay much more for their winter feed, which is being made up now. This will have a knock-on effect on the meat through to Christmas and beyond. With no profit to be made, many farmers may even cease production during those months.

Source: The Ginger Pig - 020 7935 7788

Seasonal recipe

Braised squid with tomatoes and red wine

Ingredients

3 medium red onions
200ml olive oil
1 dried chilli, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
6 anchovy fillets
1kg squid
570ml red wine
1kg chopped tomatoes
Zest of two oranges
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1tbs capers

Method

Gently stew the onions in half the olive oil until sweet and soft. Add the garlic, chilli and anchovies and continue to cook slowly. Cut squid into square 3-4cm pieces. If the squid is small enough, keep the tentacles whole.

Brown all the squid in the remainder of the olive oil then add to the onions, garlic, chilli and anchovies. Deglaze the squid pan using red wine, then add to the rest.

Add all the remaining ingredients except the capers and simmer gently for about an hour. Toss in the capers immediately before serving. Serve with some pan-fried polenta.

Liz Payne, head chef, Bordeaux Quay, Bristol

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