Blackberries, raspberries, mackeral, grouse

11 August 2005
Blackberries, raspberries, mackeral, grouse

Spring tides (extreme high and low tides) this week have made conditions hard for inshore boats, so landings will be down on the South Coast for species such as bream, Dovers, brill, wytch sole, conger eel and plaice. There are, however, good supplies of sardines and mackerel from Scotland. There is also plenty of farmed bream from Greece. It's worth noting that, on the Continent, more bream is sold than sea bass, whereas in Britain sea bass outsells bream nine-to-one.

Cod is also still expensive, though codlings from the Shetlands could be cheaper. It's worth taking care when sourcing haddock, as quality is variable.

Source: M&J Seafood 01296 588221

Fresh produce Now is the time for wonderful late summer British fruits. Blackberries, including wild ones from the hedgerows, are coming through, and there are still plenty of Scottish raspberries. Look out for damsons, too. They are picked slightly underripe at present, but contain more pectin than when they are really ripe, which makes them better for jams and jellies. Elderberries, for cordials and ice-creams, are also available, as are Victoria plums, though these will soon be past their best.

Source: Chef's Connection 020 7627 4809

This week, of course, sees the start of grouse shooting in Britain, which heralds the beginning of the wider game season. However, there are questions marks this year over just how glorious the Glorious Twelfth is going to be. A bug has hit bird populations across the North of England, and some estates are even planning to delay the season's start.

Supply will almost certainly be affected, and some predict that each bird could cost as much as £30 - double the price of last year. The situation should become clearer next week.

Meanwhile, lamb is in good supply, with racks and saddles coming down in price. Good-quality beef is also plentiful, with prices similar to last year. Imported beef is still cheaper - but prices are going up slightly as the pound falls against the dollar.

Source: Aubrey Allen 024 7642 2222

Seasonal recipe

Aubaine's blackberry tart

Ingredients (Serves eight)

For the sugar pastry 250g butter
140g icing sugar
45g ground almonds
375g flour
3g salt
2 eggs

For the crème pÁ¢tissière 250ml milk
75g caster sugar
25g flour
1 egg
1/2 vanilla pod
For the biscuit
4 eggs
125g caster sugar
125g flour

For the syrup 50ml water
50g caster sugar
5ml lime juice
5ml kirsch

To finish 250g of fresh blackberries
Icing sugar

Method For the sugar pastry, sieve flour into a bowl, add butter, salt, ground almonds and icing sugar. Whisk the ingredients together until you obtain a creamy consistency. Add eggs, then flour. Mix together until the dough has a rolling consistency. Rest in fridge for an hour (there should be enough for more than one tart).

Take out the dough. Lightly flour a rolling pin and pastry board. Roll the dough to desired thickness and shape. Line a flan ring or tart hoop with the dough and bake blind at 180°C for 10-12 minutes. Rest until cold.

For the crème pÁ¢tissière, boil the milk with the fresh vanilla pod. Mix together caster sugar, egg, then add flour. Extract vanilla pod from the milk, then pour the milk on the sugar, egg and flour mixture. Whisk consistently to avoid any lumps. Put the mix back on to stove and cook slowly until it thickens. Cool until ready to use.

For the biscuit, cream egg and sugar then add the flour. Spread mixture on a baking tray so it's about 5mm thick. Cook at 180°C for eight minutes. Let the biscuit rest until it's cold, then cut to the same shape as the tart.

For the syrup, bring water and sugar to the boil. Cool down to 30°C and add the lime juice and the kirsch. Mix well and cool.

To make the tart, fill tart base with a thick layer of the crème. Place biscuit on top and then soak the biscuit thoroughly with the flavoured syrup. Cover the biscuit with the rest of the crème. Top the tart with the fresh blackberries. Sprinkle with icing sugar.

Aubaine, boulangerie, pÁ¢tisserie and restaurant, London

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