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Scallops, wild partridge, melon

19 October 2006

Fish

Bad weather over the weekend has once again caused prices to rise. While Scotland has seen calm skies over the past few days, the week's forecast is less good, so expect rises in scallops and langoustines (right). Scotland aside, general prospects should improve over the week. There have been good landings of monkfish as well as squid from Cornwall. All shellfish, including mussels, cockles and clams, are in abundance. Icelandic cod, which arrives through Grimsby, has been in short supply lately after poor landings around Iceland, Norway and the Faroe Islands. Plaice, however, is in good supply from the same source. The next month will see Canadian lobster slowly replacing the superior English variety, with the drop in quality meaning a price decrease.

Source: Chef Direct, 01275 474707 www.chefclubdirect.co.uk

Meat

As the game season reaches full swing there is an abundance of French wild partridge. In fact, some shoots are burying a lot of their trophy as there is no point in plucking them, such is the quantity of birds on the market. Some butchers are filleting them to save on plucking, and as a result there are very cheap partridge breasts available. The first wild English partridges are also coming in now.

Sticking with game, there is plenty of venison, hare and rabbit, although mallard, teale and wigeon is very scarce. There is some nice wild boar (left) available at present, reared in Somerset but Italian in origin. Despite the beef problems there have been steady supplies of oxtail and braising meat, while our suppliers have been receiving very inexpensive whole veal calves at £100 a carcass.

Source: Chef Direct, 01275 474707 www.chefclubdirect.co.uk

Fresh produce

Melon lovers will have to stick to Cantaloupes for the next few weeks as Charentais are unavailable until new supplies arrive from the Dominican Republic. San Marsano and ridged Marmande tomatoes are arriving from France in good supply, while pumpkins are plentiful from both sides of the Channel, with ridged, baby and French Muscade all available. The flavoursome English Yukon Gold potato is also now in season.

Source: Fresh Direct, 01869 365600 www.freshdirect.co.uk

Seasonal recipe

Pumpkin and chocolate soup

Ideal for Hallowe'en or Thanksgiving. Nice and warming, with the chocolate adding a touch of richness.

Ingredients

(Serves four)

For the pumpkin bowls
4 small Potimarron pumpkins
4tbs of vegetable oil
For the pumpkin soup
50g butter
300g pumpkin flesh, cubed
2tbs cocoa powder
1 litre vegetable stock
50g Michel Cluizel 70% dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
50ml double cream
1tbs pumpkin oil
Pumpkin seeds
1/4tsp salt

Method

To make the pumpkin bowls, preheat oven to 140°C. Cut the top off each pumpkin and scoop out the seeds, being careful not to cut into the flesh.

Sprinkle the pumpkins with oil and cover the flesh of each pumpkin with foil. Place in the oven and cook for one hour. Remove from the oven and take off the foil.

These can be made a few days before, just place back in the oven to warm through.

To make the soup, melt the butter in a pan, add the pumpkin and sauté until golden brown.

Mix in the cocoa powder, add the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the pumpkin is tender.

Add the dark chocolate. When melted, stir in the double cream and pumpkin oil.

Place seeds in a hot frying pan with no oil and dry-roast until golden brown. When coloured, sprinkle with salt.

Divide the soup between the four pumpkin bowls and sprinkle with roasted pumpkin seeds. Serve with crusty bread.

By Dean Timpson, the Macdonald Compleat Angler hotel, Marlow, Buckinghamshire

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