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Thursday
Jun202013

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Thursday
Jun062013

Taking to the streets…


I’d heard great things about the Street Feast markets in East London so headed along to Merchant’s Yard in Haggerston on Friday to check it out.

The brain child of Dominic Cools-Lartigue, Street Feast ultilises what used to be an empty storage yard in Hackney to bring people together in celebration of food, drink and music.  

Since it began in April it’s seen a huge surge in popularity with thousands now packing the yard each week.

I was anticipating a trek through the backstreets of East London in search of a hidden courtyard so was pleasantly surprised to find it right opposite Haggerston overground station.  With a massive sign out the front, you can’t miss it. Too easy!

I arrived at 6pm and the yard was already filling up.  Not one for quick decisions when it comes to food, I took my time perusing the stalls and was impressed with the range available.   There was everything from the delicious Japanese gyoza from Rainbo to The Rib Man's juicy rib meat rolls and the cakes and brownies of The Sweet Tooth Factory.  

I love the simplicity of street food and the markets are perfect for mixing and matching and trying a little bit of everything. It’s like tapas on a larger scale!  Most of the stalls only have around three of four dishes on offer and once something is sold out, that’s it.

Gyoza and salad from Rainbo and The Sweet Tooth Factory's cheesecakes

 The crowd was a mix of East London hipsters, groups in suits obviously grabbing a bite to eat after work and mid thirties couples with young children.   

By the time I left it was getting difficult to move for the all the people lining up for food.  Always a good sign!  My advice is get there early (they’re open every Friday from 5pm) and bring cash as most of the stalls don’t have card facilities. 

The line up of traders changes slightly each week so if you have your heart set on a particular stall it’s a good idea to check out the website before you go.

Relaxed and affordable with a great selection on food on offer, Street Feast is a wonderful way to support local food traders and kick off the weekend in the late afternoon sun.

For more information on Street Feast check out www.streetfeastlondon.com

Wednesday
May292013

To Market, To Market 


The stars aligned over the Bank Holiday weekend when I spent Saturday at the Real Food Market at the Southbank Centre in London.  Great food, great weather and three days off work.  Winning combination!

Held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Real Food Market brings together more than 40 different producers across a range of different cuisines.

Whatever your tastes, you’re likely to find it here.  From freshly baked bread, organic lamb burgers and traditional Greek wraps to vegetarian curries and paella made in huge pans as you wait. 

The sunshine certainly brought out the best in the visitors and there was a terrific buzz about the market with both locals and tourists meandering down the aisles in search of the perfect meal.

We were stopped a few times by people asking us what we were eating and the stall owners were in great form, chatting with passers by.

The food highlights?  I’m a huge snob when it comes to iced coffee but the one from Bean About Town was incredible. The warm potato wrap from Doukan Moroccan  certainly took the edge off the hunger, but the star of the show was the pork sausage from The Polish Deli. Amazing!

 

The pork sausage from The Polish Deli

An honourable mention also goes to the Arabica Food and Spice Company.  We couldn’t manage dessert at the markets but that certainly didn’t stop us taking home a bag of their almond baklava for later!

 For more information on the Real Food Markets check out www.realfoodfestival.co.uk/markets

Friday
May242013

For the love of veg


As we approach the end of National Vegetarian Week we wanted to celebrate all thing veg, and who better to do that with than one of the biggest campaigners for the humble vegetable, Yorkshire-born, Australian-based chef Matt Wilkinson.

For Matt Wilkinson, vegetables always come first.  Whether he’s in the kitchen at his Melbourne café Pope Joan, or at home with the family, he’s conscious of always putting vegetables at the centre of a meal.

He says; ‘Thinking about vegetables first is how I cook.  I look to the season we are in to get my ideas about what will be on the menu where I’m working or what I will eat at home that night…if you think back to times gone by, this was the way everyone had to eat.  For most people, meat and seafood were not readily available, were too expensive or were hard to store (no fridges or freezers then).  Over the past fifty years, technology has meant we can be a little lazy in our food thinking with great cuts of meat and seafood on hand.  Today a lot of people think about what protein they feel like eating – will it be beef or chicken, fish or pork?  Then what starch will be added to bulk out the meal and, as a final touch, throw in a few vegetables.   This is where I’m a little different with my veg-first approach.’

So with Matt’s words in mind, why not plan your menu tonight around his easy peasy beets recipe?  

These are guaranteed to warm you up on a rainy Friday evening - no meat required!


Foil-roasted big beets with ricotta & mint

Serves 4 as a side

4 beetroot (beets) (200 g/7 oz each), washed and trimmed
olive oil, for drizzling
sea salt flakes and freshly
ground black pepper
25ml (3/4 fl oz) red wine vinegar
250 g (9 oz) fresh ricotta, crumbled
1 large pinch of mint leaves, torn


Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7).

Cut 2 sheets of foil and lay them across each other to make a cross. Put the beetroot in the middle, drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then wrap up the beetroot to completely seal. Place on a baking tray and roast for 1 hour. Insert a skewer through a bulb to test to see if they’re cooked.

Once done, carefully transfer onto a serving plate, unwrap, cut an ‘X’ into the tops and push down like a jacket potato. Leave to cool for a few minutes.

Just before serving, drizzle over the vinegar, top with the ricotta and mint and season with a little more salt and pepper. I suggest scooping the beetroot flesh out without eating the skin.

 

For this an other recipes from Matt check out his book
Mr Wilkinson's Favourite Vegetables.

Monday
May202013

Adventures in Sourdough Part Two:
The Loaf


On Friday I shared the first part of my expedition into the unknown world of homemade sourdough, starting with, well, the starter.

Now comes the main event, using my starter to create the bread itself.

I mixed 500g of strong white bread flour with 400g of starter and 250ml of tepid water then added 15g fine sea salt and 5g sugar.

Once I’d mixed all the ingredients, the kneading process was the same as with an ordinary loaf - knead and stretch the dough for 10 to 15 minutes or until you can stretch it in your fingers without it tearing.

I then popped the dough in an oiled bowl, covered it and let it rise.  I checked on it after 3 hours and was slightly disappointed to see that it didn’t look like it had done much. I consulted my trusty copy of Bread Revolution and was relieved to find this is normal.  Sourdough doesn’t rise as much as yeasted bread.  Phew!

After knocking back the dough I again left it to rise for another 3 hours before popping it in a preheated oven at 220°C.  A great tip to get a crunchy crust on all types of bread is to place a baking tray full of cold water or ice below the tray with your bread on it.  As the bread cooks the water evaporates, making your loaf extra crunchy.

The Bread Revolution recipe suggested 35-40 minutes of baking but I left it in an extra 5 minutes or so to give it that extra crunch.

And the here is the result!  Not bad for a first attempt!  

The bread had that lovely sour taste and chewy texture that makes it so moreish.

So how did I find the whole process? 

Making my first sourdough loaf did take a fair amount of time but a lot of this was creating the starter. Now I've done that and have the confidence of one successful loaf under my belt, I imagine making a second loaf will be a quicker affair.  

At this stage it's not something I would attempt mid-week but I can't wait to get stuck into making some more fresh sourdough this coming Bank Holiday weekend!


- Jordan (PR and Marketing)


Have you made your own sourdough?  How did you find the process?  Do you have any flavour combinations or sourdough tips you swear by? 
Let us know!