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Chantenay carrots, curly kale, dovers

19 January 2006

Fresh produce

Chantenay carrots are becoming popular again. Originally grown in the 1950s and 1960s, they're known for their sweetness and real carrot flavour. They're recognised by their short, triangular shape, smooth skin and bright orange colour.

Fresh watercress has been extremely short in the market. The French crop has been affected by the freezing weather and the English crop is growing very slowly. Cauliflowers are also up in price as demand outstrips current supply. Curly kale remains excellent as it's able to withstand sustained periods of heavy frost. Crosnes are coming to their seasonal end.

Look out for the first of the yellow plum varieties over the coming weeks from South Africa, and try Italian blood oranges, which are back to their best this month.

Source: Chef's Connection 020 7627 4809 www.chefs-connection.com

Fish

Landings are looking slightly better this week, but we still haven't had consistent supplies since Christmas. Flatfish landings are low at the moment, so prices will be high on brill, plaice and lemon soles. Dovers should be in better supply, as should other species like haddock, monkfish, skate, squid and coley. Prices have risen, though, on John Dory and native lobster. American lobster is cheaper but has less meat.

Elsewhere, tuna supplies have been fairly short, but should pick up this week.

Source: M&J Seafood 01296 588221 www.mjseafoods.com

Meat

The small outbreak of foot-and-mouth in Brazil could well have an impact on prices here. A delegation from the EU is going over there next week to investigate, and if they do ban imports of Brazilian beef, the market here will be mayhem. Most of our imported beef comes from Brazil, and because imports are all allocated far in advance it would be too late to make up the shortfall from elsewhere. Prices would increase on all meats.

Good quality lamb is now becoming more scarce - and more expensive.

Source: Aubrey Allen 024 7642 2222 www.aubreyallen.co.uk

Seasonal recipe

Detoxifying steamed vegetable salad
Ingredients

(Serves four)

1 cauliflower
1 head of broccoli
2 bunches spinach
1 beetroot
1 green chilli
250ml yogurt
Sea salt
2tbs honey
1 bunch coriander leaves
1 tbs olive oil
1 dry red chilli

Method
Cut the cauliflower and broccoli into small florets and soak in water with a sprinkling of sea salt for a few minutes, remove and drain. Peel, wash, cut in half and then thinly slice the beetroot. Pick the spinach leaves, wash and keep aside. Wash, split, seed and chop the green chilli. Wash and chop the coriander leaves. Slit the dry red chilli, remove the seeds and cut into small flakes.

Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the chilli flakes and sauté over a medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the yogurt, chopped green chilli, honey, and sea salt. Keep mixture to one side.

Steam the broccoli, cauliflower and beetroot separately for 15 minutes each, add the spinach, leave for 30 seconds and mix into the yogurt dressing. Add the chopped coriander leaves and serve.

Neer more
Ingredients

(Serves four)

600ml natural yogurt
600ml water
Salt
1tsp chopped fresh ginger
1 level tsp chopped green chillies
2tsp chopped fresh coriander
2tsp vegetable oil
1/2tsp mustard seeds
8 curry leaves
Pinch asafoetida
Lemon juice (optional)

Method
Put yogurt and water in a bowl and whisk. Add salt to taste. Add chopped green chillies, ginger and coriander. Leave for 10 minutes.

In a small ladle, add oil and heat it and add mustard seeds. When they start crackling, add asafoetida and curry leaves. Within seconds, as the leaves change colour, pour the tempered oil and spices mixture in the bowl and cover it for two minutes for the flavours to mix. If you like it sour, you could squeeze half a lemon in it. Strain and serve with ice.

Alfred Prasad, executive chef, Tamarind, London

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