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Summer fruits, Bass, Guinea Fowl

24 July 2008 by

Fresh produce

English summer fruits have seen a bit of a lull because of a cold, wet snap and are down somewhat in quality but, fingers crossed, a spell of warm weather will see them perk up for August. On the wild mushroom front, there are only Scottish and east European girolles on the market, bar some end-of-season US morels, and it'll be more than a month before we see the first cèpes coming in from the Continent. Summer truffles are still in abundance from Italy, where fresh borlotti beans are also in good nick and priced at about £9 per kg. English samphire is around and there are fresh wet almonds from France. French globe and baby violet artichokes are a good buy at about £17 for a 7kg box.

Wild Harvest - 020 7498 5397 - www.wildharvestuk.com

Meat

We're still a few weeks off game season, so why not consider one of these to bide the time: suckling pigs (£70 each), guinea fowl (£7.75 each), Aylesbury duckling (£4.75 per kg) or wild boar.

Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707

Fish

Settled weather has seen reasonable landings. There's plenty of small and medium John Dory (£7.90 and £9.50 per kg, respectively), some superb pollack (£7.50 per kg), good-value lobster (£16.50 per kg) an abundance of Cornish mackerel (£5.75 per kg) and Dorset spider crabs on the market (£5.50 per kg).

It's best to steer clear of wild bass at the moment, with prices rising over £20 per kg for large fish. Squid has dropped in price to about £10.50 per kg. Razor clams, cockles (above) and mussels are all in excellent condition.

Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707

Seasonal recipe

Lemon verbena posset with spiced summer berries and East Yorkshire sugar cakes

Ingredients (Makes four glasses)

For the posset

500ml double cream
Fresh lemon verbena to taste
Juice of 2 lemons
125g castor sugar

For the spiced fruits

1/2 glass red wine
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
1 pinch mixed spice
200g sugar
1 punnet raspberries
1 punnet blackberries
1 punnet redcurrants
1/2 punnet strawberries
100ml red fruit purée

For the East Yorkshire sugar cakes

250g melted butter
125g caster sugar
375g plain flour
2tsp nutmeg grated
Ground cloves to taste

Method

Boil the cream with the lemon verbena. When boiling, add sweetened lemon juice (fresh, or it might curdle) and stir until mixed. Sieve and pour into serving glasses. Chill for at least two hours.

For the spiced fruit, boil the red wine, cinnamon, star anise, mixed spice and sugar. Then add the red fruits and purée. Stir and remove from heat.

For the sugar cakes, mix all the ingredients together into a dough, then roll into a thick sausage shape. Rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Take from the fridge and cut into rounds 1cm thick. Bake like biscuits on a non-stick oven tray for 10 minutes at 170°C. Cool on a wire rack.

To assemble, take a glass with the lemon posset and spoon over the warm spiced fruit. Garnish with a couple of sugar cakes and a sprig of fresh lemon verbena.

This can be made at any time of year: just omit the lemon verbena and replace the summer berries with pears, apples, bramble fruits, etc.

James Mackenzie, chef-patron, the Pipe and Glass Inn, South Dalton, East Yorkshire

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