February seasonal update

The Staff Canteen

Discover what’s on chefs' seasonal menus this FEBRUARY, ranging from wood fired leeks, refined black truffles and Sweet apples, in our monthly market report.

What’s the best way to cook leeks?

Leeks often play a subtle yet essential role in British cuisine, quietly elevating the flavours of traditional dishes without stealing the spotlight. They contribute significantly to various pies, hearty soups, and even shine as a remarkable side dish in the beloved British roast dinner.

Belonging to the allium family, which includes onions, shallots, and chives, leeks are available all year round, but are at their best in winter and early spring.

They offer a flavour profile that is sharp and pungent when consumed raw, though notably milder compared to ordinary onions, and delicately sweet when cooked.

Smoked mackarel and leek risotto

Leeks are a natural choice in cheese dishes, make excellent soups and are a wonderfully mellow addition to comforting dishes like this smoked mackerel and leek risotto made by head chef Owen Morrice. In fact, more surprisingly perhaps, leeks work well with fish. Steve Higginson, chef and owner at Square Bistro, makes a fresh local plaice, portavogie langoustines, creamed leeks & samphire.

Chef Barry Liversidge uses baby leeks as a side to a chicken breast, charred corn, dauphine potato and spinach dish.

Wood fired leeks are also a very tasty alternative. Watch Nessa’s head chef, Tom Cenci recipe here:

What to make with fresh horseradish

Horseradish is a perennial root vegetable from the Brassicaceae family, typically used as a spice and prepared as a condiment. The root is traditionally considered medicinal and commonly used as a substitute for true wasabi in Japanese cuisine.

Because it contains a compound which, when broken down, releases volatile mustard oil, grated fresh horseradish can be vicious. Thus it is worth wearing protective eyewear and opening windows if handling it in large quantities.

Because the compound is harmful to the plant also, it will turn dark and bitter if left unpreserved. However, preserved sauces tend to lack in pungency. The leaves are edible but toughen as they mature - spring leaves work well in salads.

from the left: Mackarel in leek oil and horseradish cream / Fresh horseradish noodles with short rib / Pan fried trout in horseradish sauce 


Chef Reece Elliott, turns fresh horseradish into noodles accompanied by brined and pressed braised short rib, smoked bone marrow and beef tea consommé, while senior sous chef James Noone makes a horseradish sauce with dill and trout roe as a base for a pan fried trout.

Other chefs enjoy pairing this root vegetable with other seasonal ingredients to create a complete February culinary experience. Head chef Stephen Naylor blends leek oil with horseradish cream as a delightful accompaniment to BBQ mackerel, while sous chef Jordan Mcquillan incorporates it into a dish featuring monkfish, celeriac, horseradish, mushrooms, and chives.


Delica pumpkin with black truffle

When are black winter truffles in season? 

Black winter truffles are available from the end of November through to the end of March.

Their strong depth of flavor allows them to be cooked briefly - lightly sautéed in truffle oil or butter - or slowly at low temperature. However, they are most often sliced or shaved on top of dishes to add depth. 

They are often paired with seafood,  garlic, shallots, light-bodied vinegars, mascarpone, aged hard cheeses, citrus and herbs such as tarragon, basil and arugula, and used to heighten sauces, pasta and risotto dishes.

While they are perishable, truffles can last for up to 10 days if cleaned, dried and chilled.

The Périgord variety have a dark black flesh and are beautifully marbled with distinct white veining. The aroma and flavour of these truffles is earthier and nuttier and have an almost chocolatey note.

Why not try head chef at Theion, Tamas Rakoczi’s delica pumpkin with black truffle accompanied by kohlrabi, cavolo nero and confit egg.


Scallops - what to look for and how to use them 

Look for dry scallops, not wet ones: make sure they aren't treated with  sodium tripolyphosphate (STP), commonly added to increase their permeability, as this stops them from searing properly. 

Scallops need to have a white to light pink tinge, and must smell of the sea - not fishy! Scallops should be firm, and bounce back when touched.

Why not try head chef at Story Cellar, Stephen Naylor’s Hand-dived scallop XO or this colourful dish made by head chef Lewis Scarfe featuring scallops, squash, kale and some seasonal juicy burned apples.

You can also watch chef Alex Craciun create Japanese scallop recipe. Alex's dish is scallops with a Japanese style rice porridge made with eel stock and salmon. Watch the full video here:

Gurnard - what it is and why you should use it 

This lean, firm, white fish of the sea robin family is an abundant species. It is particularly plentiful on the Cornish coastline and west of Brittany, and can be found throughout the northeast Atlantic from South Norway and north of the British Isles to Mauritania.

It makes great soups and stock, and can be prepared whole, though it can be quite bony. 

Of six known species in European waters, red gurnard is the most common. 

red gurnard, or grondin rouge
Red gurnard, or grondin rouge



Rhubarb belongs to the dock family and is characterised by its sizable green foliage and edible stalks. Sometimes used for delicious dinners with fresh fish or roasted pork, rhubarb classics are desserts like this rhubarb and custard fool with stem ginger and gluten free cookies made by chef Paul Hickman or this double dessert made by chef Bjor Moen: Ginger wine marinated apple tarte tatin with vanilla crème fraîche and a rhubarb and custard soufflé.

Its unique tangy, sour flavour means that rhubarb works just as well when mixed with sugar in a sweet dessert as it does in a sharp pickle.

On the left: rhubarb and lemon mille feuille / On the right: St Valentine's rhubarb dessert


For its natural glorious pink colour, rhubarb is a very popular ingredient this month for St Valentines rhubarb desserts like this one beautifully crafted by pastry chef Amy Stoyel.

Sous chef Mashu Price mix the pink with the lemon’s yellow and make a beautiful – and surely delicious - rhubarb and lemon millie feuille.


When does wild duck season end?   

The mallard is a large and heavy looking duck with a long body, and a long and broad bill.

Its flavour is similar but less gamey than wild goose, and it is leaner and more flavoursome than farmed duck. 

One bird will feed one or two as a main course and can be roasted, confited or pan-fried in much the same way as bred duck. 

Stephen Naylor's dry-aged duck for sharing

Duck shooting season ends January 31st in most of the UK, but extends to February 20th below the high water mark in England and Scotland.

Santosh Gurung, Area head chef, recently posted a picture on The Staff Canteen of a beautifully presented plate with duck breast, while Stephen Naylor highlights a whole, dry-aged duck for sharing on the Story Cellar season menu.


How can I make the most of blood oranges?

The blood orange, which gets its name from the crimson colour of the flesh, are cultivated and on the market in February and March. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and can be baked in tarts, used in salads or even made into ice cream or sorbets, which is what is served alongside this almond opera cake.

See how 2 Michelin-starred Benoit Blin creates orange dessert recipe:


What sauces go well with mussels?

Easy to cook, delicious and sustainable, mussels are also one of the most versatile types of shellfish you can buy. From cream and parsley-based sauces to recipes that utilise smoky onion and ancho chilli, there are so many ways to maximise mussels which are in season in February.

Why not try this recipe from our most recent January 'Member of the Month', Billy Frostcod scotch egg, curried mussel sauce and dill oil. Alternatively, in this archive video you can watch Arnaud Stevens cook his recipe for mussels with suckling pig belly, hake with blood orange.



With the deer hunting season in the UK running till the end of January, this is the last month that venison is considered seasonal.

Still very popular among our members recipes dishes, venison is considered a truly winter ingredient. Gavin MacDonald accompanies a venison with a fondant potato, roast squash, tender stem broccoli and jus, head chef Robert Avery creates a dish of venison loin, smoked fondant, butternut puree, pistachio and kale – also very seasonal this month, while chef Johanna Wikstedt uses Swedish venison thin slices to garnish a wild mushroom risotto.


When are Bramley apples in season?

February is a great period for apples and there is none more versatile when it comes to desserts than the Bramley apple. From stews to fairy cakes, scones to pies, tarts to trifles, there are few combinations that don’t work with this British favourite. You’ll even find recipes for baked peppers, fajitas, spare ribs, soups, bruschetta and much more containing Bramley apples.

Here is Stephen Naylor’s Sunday Roast at Story Cellar featuring a pork belly crackling and apple sauce. Dominic Aslett Pressed also creates a dish with pork belly adding some black pudding, pommes puree, celeriac choucroute and burnt apple.


How do you prepare purple sprouting broccoli?

Purple sprouting broccoli comes good in February for only a short period, so make the most of this curiously purple and thinner stemmed version of broccoli. They can be prepared like normal broccoli and the doused in butter and lemon juice for an alternative starter to asparagus, just be careful not to overcook them. 


These are just few of the delicious recipes with seasonal ingredients that our members have posted on their TSC accounts. You can do the same for a chance to be featured in our next seasonal update! Additionally, don't forget that posting a recipe, photo, or video of your culinary creation can enhance your prospects of being chosen as the Member of the Month. Join in and showcase your culinary prowess!



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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 1st February 2024

February seasonal update