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Abbey Leys Farmers Market

Yesterday was my favourite local farmers market at Abbey Leys so it was a great chance to stock up some lovely food.  On top of this, I braved the icy cold with the other stall holders to promote a website I’ve set up to promote local, seasonal food in my community.  It was so blinking cold in the barn, and although I was so pleased with my display of seasonal vegetables and old-fashioned seed packets on stick, a number of people did mistake me for a grower.  Oh well.

local food

But enough of that and back to the real bread.  For a while now, a fantastic bread lady (officially known at Jane’s Handmade Bread) has been coming to the market.  She makes heavenly real bread.  My favourite is her Miracle Bread which is stuffed full of all kinds of seeds and has a lovely golden brown colour to it.  She never arrives before 10.30am, having been up since 3am baking, but everyone waits and queues for ages just to get their hands on some of her beautiful breads.

Jane's Handmade Bread

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I was inspired this morning by one of my favourite food blogs Country Woodsmoke to share a snippet of our Christmas feasting – this was our Christmas meal yesterday snapped briefly before it all disappeared.

We had a roasted turkey thigh (perfect for two, and all delicious dark juicy meat), roasted carrots, parsnips and shallots, goose fat potatoes, and finely sliced sprouts tossed with crispy bacon.  I also had a good dollop of homemade bread sauce.

This was by far the tastiest and most enjoyable Christmas dinner we’ve ever made.  Happy Christmas everyone!

It has been ages since I last posted a recipe – as a result I can’t remember what I’ve been eating over the past few months and I don’t have the notes written down anywhere to recreate anything nice that we made.  Last night’s dinner was worth finding some time to sit down and share it with you – I could have eaten platefuls.

To start with, there was scrambled eggs on lightly toasted bread.  I like to make my scrambled eggs by melting butter in a pan, cracking in the eggs, letting them cook a little before breaking them up a bit, letting them cook some more, stirring, and so on.  This produces a scrambled egg with bits of white and yolk rather than just a uniform pale yellow version.

I also fried some pieces of streaky bacon, before using the same pan to whistle up a warm tomato dressing.  I didn’t tip away the bacon fat, instead I chopped up the tomatoes and tipped them into the hot fat, cooking them quickly so until they almost disintegrated.  To the tomatoes, I added salt and pepper, and a tiny splash of sherry vinegar.

So, to buttered toast I added the scrambled eggs and popped the crispy bacon bits on top.  Then I realised that I hadn’t stirred my chopped garden chives through the egg, so resolved to sprinkle them on to at the end.  I spooned over the warm tomato dressing, and topped it off with a good handful of chopped chives and purple chive flowers.

I just love the colours as well – it’s like summer on a plate.  This will be one version of scrambled eggs that I won’t be forgetting soon and will definitely make again.

Last week we had incredible fish and chips from a place in Didsbury called Frankie’s Fish Bar, but it left me feeling guilty that all I’d eaten for dinner was deep-fried fish and potatoes. 

So I was determined the following night to fill us full of vegetables, and this is what I came up with…

All the vegetables were English, although not grown by me.  There were new potatoes, boiled and tossed in lots of salty butter and black better.  Pink and white radishes sliced in half, asparagus spears and baby carrots blanched and sliced.

Broad beans and fresh peas shelled and briefly cooked in simmering water.  Lots of seasonal salad leaves, crispy bacon shards, and those gorgeous nasturtium flowers (bought from Waitrose, so delighted they’re selling edible flowers).

Not a lot of complicated stuff, just a lot of shelling broad beans and slicing.  But really delicious – I want to eat more of this sort of food over the summer.

Christmas Eve lunch – a simple winter salad of warm potatoes, crispy bacon, chopped celery leaves and a dressing of mustard, cider vinegar and shallots. 

This was my first attempt at this delicious sounding salad from Rose Prince’s The New English Table – I tried to follow the amounts for the dressing, but it wasn’t quite how I wanted it, so I just tweaked the ingredients until I was happy. 

Winter potato, bacon and celery leaf salad

Feeds 4

20 new potatoes
6 rashers of streaky bacon
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
175ml olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp water
Handful of celery leaves
2 shallots
Salt and pepper

Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water until done.  Drain and cut in half or quarters.

Meanwhile, fry the bacon until crispy.

Mix together the sugar, mustard, olive oil and water – I like to use a jam jar as you can screw on the lid and shake it.  Add the shallots, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pop the cooked potatoes into a bowl.  Tear up (or cut up) the crispy bacon and add to the potatoes.  Drizzle over the dressing and sprinkle over chopped celery leaves.  Stir everything together.

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!

My laptop power cable broke – think sparks and spitting sounds!  Thankfully, I live with a super resourceful man, who minutes later had ordered a new lead on ebay. 

However, since the end of last week my laptop power supply has been diminishing so quickly there was only time to briefly check my emails.  I do have some lovely bits to share in the coming days if I can just catch up.

Here’s a sneaky peak of our Flammkuchen we made this week…it was scrumptious…

Yesterday was lovely.  It was one of those days when you feel whole, you feel content, you feel that life is good.

Mr Rigg and I spent the afternoon helping out the stall for our local Low Carbon group at the town’s May Queen Festival.  We are both involved in the group, me leading on local food.  We spoke to lots of people from our community, handed out information and lots of the ‘really local food’ maps I have produced. 

Then we headed up to Abbey Leys to get some eggs and bacon (I’m planning on making a Quiche Lorraine this week).  The sun was shining, the sky a dazzling blue.  The hedgerows are green and alive with twittering birds.  The hens and ducks at Abbey Leys were all down by the pond and sheltering in the shade of the trees.

Outside the farm shop was a bucket of locally grown Sweet Williams, a bunch of which now adorns our living room in an earthenware pot salvaged from the carboot.  Inside, Mr Rigg filled up two boxes with freshly laid eggs.  I found some outdoor reared Gloucester old spot streaky bacon in the chiller. 

We also filled up a bag with the first Cheshire new potatoes, still with earth clinging to them.  And then I saw them – a tub of locally grown peas.  I adore peas.  Peas plucked straight from the plant, popped out of their crisp pods and into my mouth.  Nothing is perhaps more delicious.

These were the first local peas I have seen, so we got a full bag.  By the time we got home I’d eaten about a quarter of the bag already.  Needless to say, they didn’t make it past sundown. 

From all this delicious local produce and some from our garden we ate a scrumptious, simple dinner – will post this separately.  This is how all days should be.  Should make you feel. 

Mr Rigg and I have had a lovely weekend with my family.  Yesterday before we left my mom and I made a delicious pasta dinner using green spring inspired vegetables.  Simply dreamt up with the ingredients we had.  Here’s how we made it…

Spring vegetable pasta

Feeds 2

2 small to medium leeks
Half a bunch of asparagus
Small bowlful of frozen peas
2 handfuls of shelled broad beans
2 spring onions
Long thin pasta for two
2 rashers of bacon (optional)
Parmesan to serve
Butter, olive oil, salt and pepper

Melt a generous knob of butter in a saucepan.  Finely slice the leeks and saute in the butter until soft.  You can also add a couple of teaspoonfuls of the pasta cooking water.  Season with salt and pepper.

If you are having bacon, cut it into small pieces and fry until crispy.

Put on a pan of boiling salted water and cook the pasta accordingly.  About 3-5 minutes before the pasta is ready, add the broad beans and peas.  Slice the asparagus diagonally into small slithers and add them to the pasta, peas and beans to cook for a few minutes.

Slice up the spring onions and add to the leeks. 

When the pasta and vegetables are cooked, drain the water and tip the pasta into the pan with the leeks.  Stir well, add a little olive oil and season to taste if needed.  Add a little more butter if the pasta is a little dry.

Eat the pasta topped with crispy bacon and shards of Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Better looking photos thanks to the little sister’s camera!

It is asparagus season and I’m planning on eating as much of it as possible!

Last night we made a sort of carbonara with asparagus and streaky bacon.  I say ‘sort of’ because we aimed to use eggs…and then discovered we had none. 

Instead, dinner was salvaged by a combination of creme fraiche and tallegio cheese.  Together with oven baked asparagus and crisp shards of streaky bacon it was a match made in heaven.  The tallegio provided a wonderful silky texture which was like that of egg yolk.

Asparagus and streaky bacon spaghetti

Feeds 2

Bunch of fresh asparagus
3-4 rashers of streaky bacon
Spaghetti for 2
2 tbsp creme fraiche
Piece of tallegio cheese, cut into small cubes

Preheat the oven to 200°C. 

Snap the woody ends of the asparagus – they will break naturally.  Pop them into an oven proof dish, drizzle with olive oil, scatter over some salt and pepper and if you’d like some lemon thyme leaves.  Put them in the oven for between 5 and 10 minutes – remove when tender.

Meanwhile, put the spaghetti on to cook in boiling salted water.

Snip the rashers of streaky bacon into small pieces and fry in a hot pan until crispy.

Once the asparagus is cooked, remove and slice into smaller pieces. 

Drain the spaghetti, mix in the creme fraiche and stir well.  Add in the asparagus and crispy bacon, followed by the cubes of tallegio.  Mix well and eat right away.

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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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All pictures are my own unless stated. I would kindly ask that you don't use them elsewhere unless you ask permission first. Many thanks x

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