The Caterer

Halibut, cherries, elderflowers

25 May 2006
Halibut, cherries, elderflowers

Fish Poor weather conditions over the weekend and at the beginning of the week coupled with low fish numbers in the North Sea meant low landings in Scotland and the Faroe Islands of cod and haddock, although supplies from Iceland are expected by the end of the week. Canadian and Alaskan halibut are in excellent supply, while mussels from the South Coast and Scotland are also plentiful. On the farmed front, salmon prices are on the up because of reduced supply from Norway, but farmed turbot from northern Spain is excellent in quality and prices more reasonable than for the wild turbot.

Source: M&J Seafood 01296 333848

Fresh produce The cherry season is getting into its stride now, so prices have become a little more sensible and the choice of varieties is improving by the day. Apricots are also worth considering again as their ripeness has finally improved. Look out, too, for fresh elderflowers, which are beginning to bloom in our hedgerows once again. The blossoms can be used to make a delicious fritter, deep-fried in a light, sweet batter, or in refreshing and fragrent sorbets or jellies (see recipe below). As far as vegetables are concerned, young boxed leeks are beautiful at present, and flat beans are also becoming more plentiful again, along with seasonal round courgettes. Outstanding Italian produce of the moment includes artichokes in all sizes, pale aubergines, elongated sweet peppers, peas and new-crop borlotti beans.

Source: Chefs Connection 020 7627 4809

Meat Not much change: beef prices are continuing to be high because of supply shortage, but lamb is in the full flush of the new season and absolutely wonderful, although a little on the pricey side. The best buy once more is free-range farm-assured pork from East Anglia. On the poultry front, there are no problems - a plentiful supply of chicken and no effect from the recent avian flu panic.

Source: Aubrey Allen 024 7642 2222

Seasonal recipe

Elderflower, melon and blueberry jelly, ginger consommé

Ingredients (Serves eight)

For the jelly 125ml elderflower cordial
375ml sparkling water
1tbs sugar
5 leaves gelatine
200g blueberries
1 Charentais melon, Parisienned
1 Agen melon, Parisienned

For the consommé 100g sugar
100ml sparkling water
2.5cm ginger root, grated
Juice of 1 lemon
Garnish Seasonal fruit, fresh mint

Method To make the jelly, soak gelatine in water. Put cordial, water and sugar in a pan and bring to boil. Remove from heat and add gelatine. In separate bowl, mix melon with blueberries. Once gelatine has cooled to blood temperature, add it to the fruit and mix together, then put into moulds. Refrigerate.

To make the consommé, put sugar, water, ginger and lemon in pan. Bring to boil. Remove ginger and reduce to syrup.

To finish, turn out jellies into centre of a plate. Pour consommé around and serve with seasonal fruits such as raspberries or redcurrents and some julienne of fresh mint.

Simon Hulstone, chef-manager, the Elephant Bar & Restaurant, Torquay, Devon

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