Winter species of fish are arriving in good numbers, with good landings of sprats and dabs as well as codling from the Bristol Channel.
There have been excellent landings of line-caught bass from the south coast, and line-caught pollack, mackerel and squid from Cornwall.
Shellfish, including mussels, clams and oysters, are in excellent condition, but the prices of lobster are rising due to the colder weather, which means they do not move around much. There are also good landings of prime turbot, Dover sole and John Dory from the south coast.
The Scottish mackerel season has also started so there are cheaper and plentiful supplies.
Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707 - www.chefclubdirect.co.uk
Beef prices are static, with requests for minced and diced cuts for winter stews. Imported prices are strong on steak cuts, especially fillets.
English lamb is the best buy, with very little exporting. Plenty of good quality lamb is in stock at reasonable prices, while pork prices are starting to rise on the Continent due to limited availability.
Chicken is readily available but turkey prices are rising steadily in the run-up to Christmas.
Source: Birtwistle Butchers - 0161-728 3340 - www.birtwistlebutchers.co.uk
Good quality Cox's and Russet apples, along with English pears and Red Williams, are in good supply. Pumpkins are in full force for the start of the root season.
Delicacies imported from China include crosnes (Chinese artichoke) and root parsley. American huckleberries and palm hearts are coming in and will be in season for the next three or four weeks.
Good quality white truffles are arriving from Italy, although prices are high due to short supplies. A wide range of British mushrooms are available such as cèpes, chanterelles, gorelles, trompettes, pied de montem, canary, petit gris and rickstone.
Haws and sloe berries are among the good-quality British berries in season, while wood sorrel is almost out of season. Jerusalem and globe artichoke, burdock root and horseradish are available and in good condition.
From France, purple cauliflowers are coming in, and a wide range of flavoursome clementines and tangerines are now available from Mediterranean climes.
Source: Fresh Direct - 01869 365600 - www.freshdirect.co.uk
Pumpkin and chocolate soufflé
Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
40g fresh pumpkin
10g cocoa powder, unsweetened
2 eggs, separated
45g 70% dark chocolate
100g pumpkin purée
50g pumpkin, finely diced
Extra butter, caster sugar and cocoa powder for coating ramekins
For the pumpkin purée, peel and cut 400g fresh pumpkin into 5cm cubes and roast in a 180°C oven until tender. Reduce temperature to 50°C (or leave in the hot plate) and dry the pumpkin flesh out. Blend to a purée. Use 100g for the soufflés.
Heat half the butter and cook the diced pumpkin with 20g of the sugar until tender but not mushy allow to cool.
In a pan, heat the milk, remaining sugar and butter, flour and cocoa, whisking all the time. Bring to a boil then remove from the heat.
Whisk in the egg yolks then the chocolate and pumpkin purée. Fold in the cooked diced pumpkin.
Double-butter the ramekins and coat with a mix of sugar and cocoa powder. Whisk the egg whites with a little sugar until stiff and fold into the chocolate mix until amalgamated - but do not overmix. Spoon into ramekins, flatten top with a pallet knife and run a thumb around the edge to form a neat rim.
Cook in a 180°C oven for 6-12 minutes depending on the size of the ramekin, or until well risen, and serve immediately with a mixed spice, ginger or cinnamon ice-cream.
Sam Mahoney, head chef, Kensington Place, Kensington Church Street, London
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