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Parsnips, Sardines, Partridge

11 September 2008 by

Fresh

It's September and all the usual early-autumnal treats are in.

Cobnuts are around in good number, damsons have arrived for what is probably just a two-week season and, while there may be loads of blackberries in English hedgerows, hothouse-grown ones have soared in price.

This week sees the arrival of the summer squash patty pans - available much larger than most other years - while courgettes are still good quality. Parsnips have joined broccoli and cauliflowers among best buys.

Kentish runner beans are as stringless as you can get as are flat, smooth-skinned, paler silk beans. Kent Coxes and little, rosy-skinned Discovery are competing with the Royal Gala apples that are coming in from just about every other country.

The first shipment of Kentish Conference pears has arrived, but they're proving hard so need a touch of ripening. Meanwhile, the choice is between Red Bartlett and Comice.

It looks like the last good-quality week for Canadian cherries, while apricots are already not worth buying. Italian nectarines are the best buys in softer fruits.

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

Fish

There are some brilliant-quality Cornish sardines available at present (£6.90 per kg), and good pollack (£6.80 per kg) and large plaice (£7.50 per kg).

The crayfish season continues, with live ones available at £9.70 per kg. There's plenty of line-caught mackerel at £5.80 per kg and live gutted eels - a great autumnal treat - available at £12.50 per kg.

Shellfish is in good supply, with large cockles a great buy, available at £5.75 from our supplier.

Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707

Meat

The game season is slowly picking up speed. Young grouse have shown their abundance by dropping to £7.90 a bird, while French partridge are available at £3.25 a bird, wood pigeons at £1.60, wild rabbits at £2.80 and hares' saddles at £7.50. Larger tame rabbits are available at £10 each, with legs priced at £2.90.

Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707

Seasonal recipe

Courgette fritters with feta and dill

Ingredients (Serves six)

2 large courgettes, ends removed
Salt and pepper
110g chickpea flour
1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
120ml soda water
6tsp (level) fresh mint, roughly chopped
6tsp (level) fresh dill, roughly chopped
5 spring onions, finely sliced
200g fresh feta, crumbled
10-12tbs olive oil

Method

Coarsely grate the courgettes. Place in a colander, salt lightly and mix well, and leave to stand for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make a batter by mixing the chickpea flour and the bicarbonate of soda, then slowly whisk in the soda water with a balloon whisk, making a thick batter.

Place the courgettes in a clean cloth and gently squeeze tight to get rid of the excess water, transfer to a bowl, pour over the batter and mix well. Add the mint, spring onion and feta, mix again and check the seasoning.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil to a reasonable heat. Shape the courgette mixture into six or eight thick discs and gently lower into the oil, leaving enough space to turn them in the pan.

Fry for a couple of minutes until golden brown on one side, then gently turn and cook for a further two minutes. Serve warm.

Martin Lam, chef-proprietor, Ransome's Dock, Battersea, London

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