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BII Menu Matters - August edition

Your monthly pub catering inspiration from Laurence Tottingham, development chef at Oliver Kay Produce and Craft Guild of Chefs Development Chef of the Year Award winner 2019.


Seasonal produce ideas

Many crops including sweetcorn, cauliflower, broccoli and baby leaf spinach were damaged by the heavy rain in June, leaving some UK grown produce in short supply and stocks expensive. UK buyers have turned to the European markets, which means imports are also limited and prices high. Although the weather seems fine now, the impact is still with us.

As alternatives, there are some fantastic babyleafs available at present, including from Midlands growers Blackdown and Vale Fresco. Use these tender leaves for garnishes, or as a bed for dishes such as cheese fritters, Scotch eggs or hot pastry dishes, with the freshness, lightness and zing of the leaves working well. You could also combine with rhubarb, fennel and pea shoots to create a tasty side salad to serve with roasted seasonal fish. They also work well in sandwiches and burgers to fancy things up, as they have a more luxurious feel than using gem or iceberg.

Now is also a great time for wild mushrooms such as hen-of-the-woods and puffballs, which are great for taking whole and barbecuing. Make a delicious smoky mushroom puffball marmalade which can be served with slices of puffball on top as a sandwich filler. This relish also works well as a garnish for plant burgers. Ceps, which will start appearing in August, work well grilled and served as a whole mushroom. They are quite expensive so need to be used centre stage of the dish, such as marinating and serving with pork and scallops.



Event opportunity: Zero Waste Week 2019 – 2 to 6 September (

Reducing waste is not only great for sustainability but can also save your business money, by making more of the produce you have purchased. This week offers a great opportunity to host a special ‘Zero Waste Dinner’, feature zero waste dishes on your specials board or challenge customers on social media to share their most effective food waste tips, with a prize for the best one.

Broccoli and cauliflower are great for utilising the whole vegetable – use stems thinly sliced as a raw carpaccio, which can dress a plate for a fish dish or work as a base for a vegetarian or vegan starter. You can also freeze down the stalk, which compresses it and is also a good trick with apple and cucumber too. Freezing increases the water content, which softens the stalk and you can then grill pieces to use in dishes.

This recipe for cauliflower cheese beignets with fennel, rhubarb and pea shoot salad is a great dish for pub menus and uses the juice from a cauliflower and raw cauliflower inside the fritter.

Get the recipe here:


Use the beignets in this ‘Zero Waste Cauliflower’ dish too, which utilises every part of a cauliflower - with the stalk marinated, leaves roasted off, kimchi made previously from the stalk, pieces of cauliflower head roasted off and cauliflower juice, use the excess from the juicer to make a puree or soup. Caramelised cauliflower puree is great with things like scallops.

Get the recipe here:


Among other things which can be saved from the bin are butternut squash seeds - boil them up and then fry and use in a snack mix, for garnish on salads or in vegan or vegetarian roasts.

Jerusalem artichoke skins can be made into crisps; just fry them off and season or use as garnish or in purees and soups.

Think about all the things you can do with every peeling, which helps get you into a zero waste mentality. Use vegetable peelings to make purees, kimchis, ferments, pickles and ketchups, then incorporate this collection of jars into your menu to create some really inspired dishes.

Other ideas include making rhubarb crisps from rhubarb skin by dehydrating it. Serve the crisps with dessert or use for garnishing cocktails.

Use fish trim to make mousses, stocks, potato cakes or dishes like Spanish style croquetas.

With Sunday roasts, put leftover roasties and Yorkshire pudding on the bar for drinkers to enjoy. Use leftover vegetables in hotpots, blitz them to make stuffings for vegan and vegetarian dishes, create bubble and squeak fritters as a bar snack or as part of a starter, or make a hash and serve with Henson’s salt beef through it. (


On-trend ingredient

Unusual coloured vegetables are a simple and effective way to add a point of difference to dishes and make them Insta worthy.

Black is still an on-trend colour with food, with bar operators such as The Alchemist even featuring a black batter fish and chips on their menu. Use black radish or the purple Shetland Black from Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes, which fry well for creative sautéed potatoes or crisps. Carroll’s Red Emmalie also give a wonderful red/purple colour to the plate and are great roasted or confited. Lamb dishes work well with these potatoes, delivering a great colour contrast. Use on top of a Lancashire hotpot or stew, or for a vegetarian/vegan hotpot to give them a different feel.

Serve different coloured baby carrots such as white, yellow or purple; use candied beetroots for a striking effect in salads, or golden and white beetroot alongside purple. Although Romanesco is more expensive, its spirals look awesome and you can combine with cauliflower in a side dish mix, which will look striking and make it more cost-effective.


Be resourceful

Blitz up the green leftover tops of radishes, carrots and beetroots with garlic, nuts and olive oil to make a delicious pesto that you can use in pasta or salads. If you are making lots of meringues for summer menu essential Eton Mess, use the egg yolks to make an aioli to serve with potato wedges as a delicious bar snack.