Sardines, Peas, Beef

09 August 2007 by
Sardines, Peas, Beef

Fresh produce

Vegetables such as British broad beans and fresh peas in the pod (both about £1.80 per kg) are still plentiful - mange-tout and sugar snaps are about £3 per kg. There are good supplies of salad leaves coming in from France and Italy, including red chard, mizuna and rocket (about £6 per kg for the last two). Also from Europe are plentiful supplies of all kinds of peaches and nectarines and some beautiful blush apricots. Plums - including Mirabelle, greengages, Reine Claude and damsons - are just beginning to come on the market (red plums are about £1 per kg). However, English soft fruit such as strawberries and raspberries, which were hit by the wet weather, are expensive and almost finished. Try lingonberries or wild blueberries instead. It looks like Kent and Channel Island cob nuts will have a bumper year. Other unusual produce to look out for includes rock samphire from northern England and Scotland, sweet gale (with similar cooking use to bay leaf) and sweet red-fleshed dragon fruit from Israel.The damp earlier summer has also meant that Scottish girolles are wonderful and in abundance.

Source: Fresh Direct - 01869 365600 -


The hot, calm weather of the past week has meant that there have been good landings of fish all around the British Isles. The exception is Scotland, where bad weather has meant that langoustine supplies have dried up at the moment. There are good supplies of line-caught sea bass, turbot, John Dory and the summer species like sardines, mackerel and red gurnard. Cornish sardines are a good buy at about £3.35 per kg. Black bream and lobster are being landed in the South-west, and plaice is plentiful but expensive (£7 per kg). Squid catches have picked up, although small cuttlefish is a good alternative. We're into the last two weeks of the wild salmon and sea trout season now if you want to offer these fish on the menu.

Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707 -


With the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Surrey expect the ramifications of the closure of abattoirs and 28-day non-movement of animals between farms to begin to take effect.

Pork supplies are most affected - English pork is unobtainable and imports from Europe will be more expensive, taking advantage of the situation (expect more than the previous average of £1.10 per kg of pork). English lamb, too, is affected, but there are plentiful supplies from New Zealand. Hung beef, however, shouldn't be affected in the short term, though if the disease is not contained, then supplies of this might become a problem later. However, expect the price of English meat to slump generally in the wake of the scare. Best buys this week, therefore, are poultry and hung beef.

Source: The Ginger Pig 020 7935 7788

Seasonal recipe

Baby spinach and Cerney goats' cheese salad with a pea and broad bean dressing

This is a great summer salad, really simple but really tasty. I am using Cerney goats' cheese in this recipe as it's local to the area I live in, but any mild goats' cheese is fine. Choose your favourite or even try it with ricotta.


200g fresh broad beans
200g fresh peas
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Juice of half a lemon
50ml extra virgin olive oil
200g baby spinach, washed
50g goats' cheese


Blanch broad beans for two minutes in boiling salted water. Drain and refresh in iced water. Pop them out of their skins. Blanch and refresh peas. Put peas and beans in a mortar, season with sea salt and cracked black pepper and begin to pound. They can be left quite chunky. Add the juice of half a lemon and then slowly incorporate the olive oil, mixing constantly until you have a rustic dressing. Adjust the seasoning. In a large bowl, add the washed and dried baby spinach, crumble the goats' cheese into the bowl and then add half of the dressing. Mix well but delicately with your hands to avoid damaging the leaves, then divide between four large white bowls. Drizzle a little of the remaining dressing over each salad and crumble a little more goats' cheese over the top. When the weather gets colder try adding crispy pancetta and a poached egg to the salad.

Justin Brown, head chef, the Horse & Groom, Charlton, Malmesbury, Wiltshire

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