Everyone knows the price of raw ingredients just gets higher and higher, and this month I’ve mainly been trying to keep kitchen costs down. This involves a constant uphill struggle to control menu prices; we’re continually going through invoices, costings and dish development to make sure we’re passing on a good deal to guests to gain return business.

Every day seems to bring talks about prices with suppliers, and the need to take on new ones to be more competitive. This is a shame; we shouldn’t have to drop good local suppliers just to get decent prices, but then, similarly, why don’t local suppliers give the best prices? Their products are good, yes, but should we end up paying an overblown premium just so we can say “Yes, we buy locally”?

And now, down off my soap box and onto something creative: we’ve been developing a new dessert, iron bark squash panna cotta with basil ice cream. It’s coming out even better than I imagined; it’s been tweaked a few times to get it to the standard I require, but it’s there now, and hopefully it’ll sell well.

The recipe

Iron Bark Squash Panna Cotta

– 100ml cream, 700ml milk, 200g crown prince purée, 50g sugar, 4 leaves of gelatine

To make the purée, dice squash, sprinkle with brown sugar, and cook in a foil bag until very soft and golden. Then put in a blender and blitz until creamy consistency. Soften gelatine in cold water. Bring ingredients to the boil then add the softened gelatine. Put in ramekins or small dariol moulds and chill until served

I’m looking into changing a few more dishes in the next couple of weeks, so I’ll give you the low-down on that, and the life and times of the Queensberry, in the next blog.