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Sloe berries, truffles, dovers

24 November 2005

Fresh produce Fresh raspberries are now air-freight produce, with plenty arriving from the USA. Fresh blueberries are travelling all the way from Australia. Strawberries are still indoor-grown Dutch or Belgium crops.

Fresh mangosteens and rambutans will be extremely expensive until the Indonesian crops start again in January or February. The season for both has finished in the Far East.

Fresh sloe berriesgrown here in the UK are now at their ripest as the berries turn from buff blue to black.
Italian Castelfranco

(a variegated radicchio) is back on the market with its creamy yellow open leaves with purple flecks. Italian leafy oranges are also excellent and a seasonal favourite fruit this month. The truffle season is also, of course, now fully under way.

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

Fish
Fantastic weather conditions mean that landings have increased around the UK. Inshore fisheries, especially, are much improved as the colder water temperature brings in fish from deeper waters. Prices should fall on Dovers with very good landings at Brixham, monkfish, skate, pollack and squid. There should also be reasonable amounts of mackerel, sardines, Scottish diver-caught scallops and langoustines as well as some very large wild halibut from the Atlantic.

From Iceland there should be good landings of haddock, plaice, redfish and cod. From further away, there are steady supplies of Sri Lankan mahi mahi and tuna, while swordfish is still cheap.

Prices are going up on farmed sea bass as demand rockets in the run-up to Christmas.

Source: M&J Seafood, 01296 58822, www.mjseafoods.com

Meat
The prime roasting cuts of beef continue to get more expensive, especially ribs. A seasonal increase is expected, but this year demand seems to be creeping up a couple of weeks early. Other cuts are priced at more normal levels, while lamb and pork are much more stable.

Woodcock are not coming through in any great numbers yet, but with so much frost that should improve. There continue to be great bargains on other game, especially pheasant, with gamekeepers producing a plentiful supply.

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

Seasonal recipe

White truffle risotto

Ingredients (Serves two)
140g carnaroli rice
About 1 litre chicken stock
120g unsalted butter
1tbs white wine
60g Parmesan, grated
50g onion, chopped
Salt and pepper

Method Place 30g of butter in a saucepan. Melt and add the onion. Cook the onion until soft and shiny. Add the rice. After one minute add the white wine and leave to evaporate. Add a pinch of salt. Add enough hot chicken stock to cover the rice. Reduce and keep adding chicken stock until the rice is cooked (15-20 minutes). When the risotto is ready, take it off the stove and add the Parmesan and the cold butter. Adjust with salt and pepper. Shave the white truffle on top and serve

Nougat parfait with white truffle
Ingredients

(Serves 10)
400g nougat
10 egg yolks
5 egg whites
250g caster sugar
1 litre double cream
60ml water
2 drops truffle oil
1tsp truffle honey

Method Mix the water and sugar. Bring up to 120°C and whisk on to egg yolks. Continue whisking in the mixer till cool. In a different bowl, whip the egg white and fold into the sabayon. Chop the nougat and mix with the eggs gently. Add two drops of truffle oil. Whip the double cream and add gently to the mix. Pour the mix into a mould and freeze for at least six hours. Serve the nougat with a drop of truffle honey and shaved white truffle.

Pasquale Amico, head chef, Sartoria, London

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