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This is a fantastic new website with a map tool to help you find ‘real bread’ and locally produced flour near you.  Just pop in your postcode and it shows you places nearby that sell high quality bread and local flour. 

Here’s my map (click on it for a larger version):

There’s some places I’ve not heard of before that I’d like to go, and there’s some places that I knew baked their own bread, but I didn’t know how good they were at sourcing local ingredients.  This website gives you a series of ‘ticks’ for most places next to each of their loaves of bread.

The Smokehouse near us looks like this (click on it for a larger version)…

Website: www.realbreadcampaign.org

There are some fantastic Christmas markets in Manchester at the moment, full of delicious foods.  From Raclette melted over new potatoes and gerkins, to spaetzle and paella there are all kinds of goodies.

One of my favourite things at the Christmas markets is Flammkuchen – a German style pizza topped with a creamy sauce, bacon and onion.  When I cook so much at home, it always feels quite expensive to eat at the markets.  So instead we decided to give it a go at home.

I went in search for a recipe – mind you, it took me a while to get the spelling correct!  I was inspired by this recipe because it used quark – an ingredient I’ve seen before but never known what to do with it.  Here was the perfect opportunity to quell my interest – turns out it’s like cottage cheese without the lumps.  Quite nice!

Flammkuchen

Pizza dough
Creme fraiche
Sour cream
Quark
Pancetta or bacon
Onion
Black pepper

Preheat your oven 220°C.

Roll out the pizza dough as thin as you can.

Finely slice the onion – the thinner the better as the onion isn’t pre-cooked.  I used pancetta rather than bacon and sliced it into lardons.

In a bowl mix equal amounts of creme fraiche, sour cream and quark. 

Spread the creme fraiche mixture over the pizza dough, top with sliced onion and bacon before popping it into the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until it’s golden.

All it needs before eating is a good grind of black pepper…or not if your Mr Rigg.

Any other suggestions on what to do with the remaining quark would be graciously received!

I’m set on making this meal one of my winter staples.  It was so delicious, and not difficult at all to make. 

Somewhere between mushrooms in a cream and wine sauce and a Stroganoff, this is a vegetarian meal full of flavour – I could have quite happily eaten it straight from the pan.

The mushrooms
Clean and cook the mushrooms in a knob of butter – I used a mixture of tiny button mushrooms (from the market) kept whole, and sliced white and chestnut mushrooms.  Cook them until all the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are tender and starting to go golden.  Season with salt and pepper.

The cream and wine sauce
In a separate pan, melt another knob of butter and soften a finely chopped small onion.  Add about 200ml dry white wine to the pan and let it bubble until it’s reduced by about half.  Then add in about 150ml double cream and stir until the mixture begins to thicken. 

Creating the creamy mushrooms
At this point, simply add the cooked mushrooms to the cream sauce and stir in.  I added a glug of milk to loosen my sauce up a bit and give us more of it.  Once the milk was added, I just allowed it to heat through a thicken a little.  Finally, taste and season, and stir through some chopped parsley if you want.

What to eat it with
We ate our creamy mushrooms with a pile of steaming rice and a crisp seasonal leaf salad, but it would also be delicious on toast.  We also added a naughty sprinkling of grated Raclette cheese – not essentially but delicious.

If ever there was a winter dish this was it.  I’m pretty sure it must be quite healthy, all those lentils and greens, plus a good dose of garlic.  Anyway…what matters was it tasted fantastic. 

This is one of those meals where the quality of the ingredients really makes the difference.  I used Puy Lentils, organic cavolo nero, and incredible coiled Italian sausages (that I picked up here).

The sausages
These incredible Italian sausages were simply popped under a hot grilled for about 5-6 minutes on each side until they were golden.  I even drained the little amount of amber coloured fat that pooled in the coils into the lentils – waste not want not!

The lentils
The lentils (about 200g for 2) were covered with water, with a bunch of tied parsley stalks, a peeled garlic clove and a bay leaf.  Simmered for about 15-20 minutes until soft, then drained.  I mixed in a splash of sherry vinegar to taste, seasoned well with salt and pepper, and stirred through chopped parsley.  Finally mash the garlic clove and stir in.

The cavolo nero
I’m not a huge cabbage and kale lover, but cavolo nero I have a bit of thing for.  First I chopped it up, popped it into a large pan of salted boiling water and let it cook for 3 minutes before draining.  Cool it immediately with cold water, then squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can.  When you’re ready to eat, gently fry some sliced garlic in oil then add the cavolo nero and stir to warm through.

I am behind on sharing the good meals that we’ve been eating this week – mainly thanks to an inspiration visit to Bath Farmer’s Market last weekend.

This type of meal – nibbly bits, antipasto, food to share – is one of my favourites.  It always starts off feeling like a bit boring, eating up leftovers, making something out of odd bits in the fridge, but then it usually turns out wonderful.

We had melting delicious Coppa, Homewood Old Demdike ewe’s cheese and a candy stripe beetroot salad all from Bath Farmer’s Market.  The beetroot I sliced thinly, spread on a plate and lightly drizzled with olive oil, a spritz of lemon juice and some black pepper.

There was tiny slithers of garlic salami from Abbey Leys Farmer’s Market, and a tomato salad with quick-pickled shallot, black olives and capers.  You can quickly take the tang out of raw onions in a salad, by chopping them finely and soaking them in vinegar for 10-15 minutes before you need to use them.

Accompanied by the flowerpot loaf from Bath Farmer’s Market and some good quality salty butter, it was a quick but tasty dinner.  Not at all boring.

This past weekend we went to Bath for a weekend away with friends.  On Saturday morning whilst I was waiting for Mr Rigg to arrive by train, I ventured in to the Bath Farmer’s Market – and what treats awaited me!

Incredible veggies – like these pink stripey beetroot and mixed carrots.  I bought a bunch of each.

Wonderful cured meats and sausages – bottom right is pancetta and Coppa, both of which found their way into my shopping bag, along with some Italian pinwheel sausages (back top left). 

Mushrooms of all kinds – I bought a box of those teeny tiny ‘Paris Browns’.

Cheeses of all kinds, including the award winning Bath Soft Cheese – somewhere between a Brie and a Camembert.

This is the lovely oil man, selling rapeseed oil made from his farm’s crops, and also making a selection of delicious dressings.  I usually make all my own salad dressings, but I couldn’t resist a bottle of his creamy Quince and Cider dressing.

The quince lady…well that’s not her real name (a bit more on her soon) selling a selection of beautiful homemade quince products.  Syrups, jellies, sweets and quince paste.

The choice of vegetables available at the farmer’s markets is outstanding.  All farmers markets around the country should have this kind of choice.  Everyone around the country should have access to vegetables like these.  Dark bunches of cavolo nero and pumpkins of all sizes and colours.

The aforementioned flowerpot bread – cheese and herb I think, baked in a terracotta flowerpot to give it that unusual shape.  Also deliciously tasty!

If you ever thought winter vegetables could be boring, here’s a picture to change your mind – amber pumpkins, pinky-purple onions, muddy carrots, fat beetroot, stalks of sprouts, bundles of spinach, dark curly kale, crisp stalks of celery, fresh broccoli, and the wrinkly savoy cabbage or those tinged violet.

And this stall selling their own cheeses, and various cheese products and accompaniments – chutney, cheesecake, soft cheese, and curd tarts.  I bought some of their ewes cheese which was incredibly delicious.

Our pre-dinner nibble – cheese and herb flowerpot bread (from Bath farmer’s market – more on that to come!), Mrs Kirkham’s crumbly Lancashire cheese, and Killerton Estate apple chutney.

Scrummy.

This was one of those cheats lunch that feels incredibly satisfying.  We went to the farmer’s market this morning and picked up a bag of onion and potato bhajis from one of the stalls, and from these our lunch was inspired using up some bits and pieces.

The other week we pulled up the last of the carrots from the garden – these were scrubbed, sliced into lengths and roasted in the oven tossed in a little olive oil. 

Once soft and starting to crisp at the edges, you take them out and mash them roughly with some ground cumin and dried oregano.  A final touch of crumbled feta cheese and fresh mint.

We warmed the onion bhajis up in the oven along with a couple of naans from the freezer – I used a new technique learnt from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals of scrunching up a piece of baking paper, wetting it then wrapping up your naans or tortilla wraps before putting them in the oven.  They come out beautifully soft.

In true Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals style we served everything on a wooden board, with a small bowl of Greek yoghurt and ate the lot with salad and much finger licking!

Still on the phone camera – new camera to come soon I hope!

Today when Mr Rigg and I went to do some food shopping in Chorlton we discovered that the Manchester Markets were set up outside the library.  Of course, I couldn’t resist a quick snoop.

There were a couple of meat companies, a greengrocer, a sweetie stall, a bakery, and a number of cake stalls.  I bought a lovely moist piece of gingerbread from one stall (I think they were called Peach Pie…) and then my eyes fell upon a stall with large glass jars filled with multi-coloured macaroons.

Now I’ve seen the trend for these pretty sweets all over the internet – they seem especially popular in the US at the moment – dainty coloured macaroons sandwiched together with a thin layer of something scrummy in the middle.

The girl selling macaroons today is currently making them from home and has called her little business The English Rose Bakery – which I think is a lovely name.  Having never tasted these kinds of macaroons, I decided today would be my first taste.

I came away with a little tissue paper bundle of macaroons in chocolate, raspberry and salted caramel flavours.  We have devoured the chocolate and raspberry ones, with the salted caramel one left for later.  An after dinner sweet morsel – what a treat!

The two we’ve tried so far were delicious – the chocolate macaroon with a thin layer of chocolatey filling, and the raspberry one I think was spread with raspberry jam. 

If you live in Manchester and fancy a sweet treat for a party, as a gift, for your wedding, or just to indulge yourself, visit their website: www.englishrosebakery.co.uk


Above image: The English Rose Bakery 

I’m not doing very well at keeping up with … well … updating!  There’s so much I want to share and yet I must find more time!  And so many promised posts and recipes … I haven’t even finished off my food memories of Italy (part 1 and 2), and that was last September!

Note to self: must try harder.

On a jollier note, we had a scrumptious and so SO simple tea of roasted summer vegetables.  This is my idea of cooking, of eating, of tasting.  And what a Nigel Slater way to eat dinner – just a plate of roasted vegetables and some hunks of good bread to mop up the juices.

In my pan of delicious roasted vegetables were the following: baby orange peppers, red pepper, yellow cherry tomatoes, red baby plum tomatoes and homegrown yellow courgette.  All cut into similar sized chunks, drizzled with good olive oil and roasted. 

The added extra that make this dish really simple were liberal dollops of sundried tomato paste, hunks of buffalo mozzarella, finely chopped garlic, a sprinkling of dried herbs, and some good old fashioned seasoning (salt and pepper). 

I also whizzed up lots of fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, and a good handful of grated Parmesan which was drizzled over everything towards the end of the cooking, and extra served fresh.

All this was munched up with gorgeous foccacia bread from Jane’s Handmade Bread – bought that morning at Abbey Leys Farmer’s Market.

You can’t get better than that!

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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