Dover soles, loquats, chive flowers

28 April 2005
Dover soles, loquats, chive flowers


This week is the European Seafood Exposition in Brussels, which means that a lot of boats landed at the end of last week so their skippers could attend. Weather conditions are also going to be varied, so some fish could be scarce. Dover soles are either full of roe or very thin after spawning, so should be avoided. Haddock have also just spawned and so won't be at their best until late summer.

In Iceland the fishing grounds have been closed to allow the plaice to spawn, and this is also affecting their catch of lemon soles. Prices will rise as there won't be enough native fish to meet demand. Tuna supplies will also be a bit short thanks to the monsoon season.

There are, however, good supplies of mackerel, turbot, sardines, brill, hake, gurnard, whiting pollack, crab, monkfish and John Dory.

M&J Seafood
01296 588221

Fresh produce

Look out over the coming weeks for improving stone fruits. Loquats, peaches, nectarines and cherries will all be worth buying again shortly. South African satsumas are also excellent now - sweet, seedless and easily peeled.

Jersey Royal new potatoes are lovely and the prices are now coming down. Wet or new-season garlic is back to its seasonal best. Fresh Spanish marrows are plentiful. Fresh chive flowers are worth sourcing this month, as they make a lovely addition to many salads. Wheat grass or wild asparagus will reappear again in May. St George's mushrooms are finally available again and should be plentiful in May.

Chef's Connection
020 7627 4809

. . . and how to use them

Best end of lamb, casserole of shallots, smoked bacon and lentils, rosemary carrots, roasted field mushroom and grilled lamb's kidney

(Serves four)
2 best ends of spring lamb
28g butter
1tsp picked thyme
1 clove garlic, crushed
57g shallots, finely diced
57g smoked back bacon, finely diced
57g potato, finely diced
85g green lentils, soaked
Splash of white wine
570ml chicken stock
1dsp parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
2 large carrots
1tsp chopped rosemary
4 field mushrooms
113g baby spinach leaves
2 lamb kidneys
60ml lamb jus

To prepare the lamb, remove chine bone, trim, de-sinew and scrape all rib bones with a boning knife. Leave a little fat around the top.

For the casserole, sweat the shallots, thyme and garlic in butter. When soft, add the bacon, then potato, and cook for a further five minutes. Deglaze with white wine, reduce by half, then add the chicken stock. When stock comes to the boil add lentils and turn down to a slow simmer. Cook for a further 20 minutes, skimming along the way. Finish with parsley. Season.

Slice the carrots into long strips, roughly 7cm, on a mandolin. Sauté in a little butter until cooked. Season and finish with rosemary. Remove the stalks and peel the mushrooms. Roast in the oven in butter for 6-8 minutes. Wash spinach, spin-dry, then cook in butter. Halve the kidneys, remove sinew and fat from inside. Grill for one minute on each side.

For service, roast the lamb for 5-6 minutes on top of the stove, browning on all sides. Allow to rest on a rack for five minutes. Season. Arrange carrot in a large cutter in centre of plate, place mushroom and spinach on top of the carrot. Slice lamb in between bones allowing 3-4 bones per portion. Arrange around the spinach with the kidney. Spoon finished casserole around the rest of the plate and finish with a little lamb jus over the lamb.
Marcus Ashenford, chef-proprietor, 5 North Street, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire

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