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Lemon, Beef, Crab

10 April 2008

Fresh produce

Glossy new South African lemons are small and expensive but have a fresh, zingy fragrant juice and arrive alongside tender broad beans from Italy. Fresh and sweet bobby beans and Egyptian peas are recommended as a daily special because of their erratic supply.

Deep maroon bunched beetroots from Spain are about two inches in diameter and English asparagus is arriving consistently. South African avocados are here in quantity with a good pre-ripened quality. April is never a good month for fruit, but white nectarinesfrom South Africa are reported to be of a fair quality along with sweet plums.

Early-season satsumas are pale and watery but trickier-to-peel Moroccan ortaniques are full-flavoured.

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

Fish

Wild sea trout is starting to appear in South Wales from the river Towey, while good supplies of red gurnard, wild black bream, turbot, skate and line-caught pollack are available from Cornwall. Fresh crab meat is also coming through in Cornwall, but squid is in short supply throughout the country - and expensive.

Large cuttlefish is recommended as an alternative cheaper option to squid. In Scotland, langoustines, scallops and razor clams are expected to be stable and available through the week, but mussels are spawning and in short supply, so caterers will need to shop around. Lobster prices are expected to fall as sea temperatures rise.

Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707

Meat

The UK beef market remains strong, with fewer imported cuts, but the Brazilian ban means imported options are scarce. There have been unusual increases in demand for pork and bacon is also at a premium price. Supplies of spring lamb are short, but high quality New Zealand lamb is available. There is a shortage of smaller chickens and turkey hasn't seen the usual post-Easter increase. Fresh venison is still available along with fresh guinea fowl, fois gras, duck, rabbit and pigeon.

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

Seasonal recipe

Loin of rabbit served with dried fruit and paneer

Ingredients (Serves six)

For the rabbit

1 saddle of rabbit, boned
1tsp ginger paste
1tsp garlic paste
1tsp salt
1 large roomali bread or 1 large tortilla

For the stuffing

1 large onion, finely sliced
3tbs vegetable or corn oil
250g paneer cheese, grated
11/2tbs raisins
1tbs salted roasted pistachio nuts, coarsely crushed
2tbs salted roasted cashew nuts, coarsely crushed

For the marinade

4tbs wholegrain mustard
3tbs Greek yogurt
1tsp salt
2tbs mustard oil (or use vegetable oil mixed with 1tsp English mustard)

For the mustard vinaigrette

6tbs mustard oil
4tbs lemon juice
1 pinch of salt
1/2tsp sugar
1/2tsp black onion seeds

Method

Lay the saddle flat on a large sheet of clingfilm and run your fingers over it to check for any small bones. Cover the saddle with another piece of clingfilm and flatten it to an even layer, using a meat mallet or a wooden rolling pin. Remove the top sheet of clingfilm, then spread the ginger and garlic pastes over the meat and sprinkle with the salt.

For the stuffing, fry the onion in the oil, stirring constantly, until it's an even golden brown. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Place in a bowl, add all the remaining stuffing ingredients and mix well. Place the stuffing in the centre of the saddle and roll it up, using the clingfilm to help keep the roll tight. Chill in the fridge for a few hours (or the freezer for 20-30 minutes) so that it retains its shape.

Remove clingfilm, spread the marinade all over the roll and place on a baking tray with the fold underneath so it stays rolled up. Set aside for about 10 minutes.

Cook the roll for 20 minutes in an oven preheated to 200°C. Remove from oven and leave to cool to room temperature, then wrap it in the roomali bread or tortilla, including as much of the marinade as possible.

Leave to stand for 20 minutes, then cut the roll into six thick slices. Lay flat on a baking tray and place in a moderate oven or under the grill until heated through.

Whisk together ingredients for the mustard vinaigrette and drizzle round the rabbit to serve.

Vivek Singh, executive chef, the Cinnamon Club, London

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