As the title of this post suggests, I love markets.
When we still lived in Durban, South Africa, I used to drag Kyle to the Shongweni farmer's market on a Saturday morning. It opened at 06:30 and closed not long after 10:30. In this instance the early bird certainly caught the worm. If he wasn't willing my dog Tigger was more than happy to be my companion. At the time my Saturdays off were few and far between so I took them with both hands and made the most of the day.
Tigger and I pottered around the various stalls of fresh produce. Chrissie's Cheese, The Duck Lady, Midland's Meats, plenty vegetables and fruit. There are also a large number of items for sale that aren't food such as: hand made accessories, beautifully embroidered kiddies clothing, furniture, bee's wax furniture polish, plants, roses, pet's accessories and the list could go on. I loved the sounds, the smells, all the other dogs; Tigger loved them too. He was a huge hit with the children at the market. "Look mommy there is a wolf!" He gave high fives and shook hands and let them run their fingers through his fur. Tigger is not a wolf, just a very fluffy Belgian Shepherd. I digress. Although at the time he was a huge part of my market experiences.
Durban has a number of other markets; The I Heart Durban market, The Greek food market (only once a month), The Litchi Orchard, Essenwood flea market, The Durban food market, Umhlanga Rocks farmer's market, Victoria street market (that is a whole separate blog) etc. So much choice and they were all so different. I loved each one and knew that coming to London I certainly was not to be disappointed with the selection of markets here either.
Since we have been in the UK we, Kyle and I, have explored Borough Market, Fulham farmer's market (King's Road), Barnes farmer's market, the market at Putney pier, Spitalfield's, Shepherd's Bush market and Billingsgate to name a few. Each one has it's own draw card. Different sites, smells, produce, street food and atmosphere. This last week Kyle, his mum Anita (Rashat for those who know her) and I went off in search of markets. Borough and Barnes to be exact.
Anita is in London for her birthday and one of the things we wanted her to see was Borough market (boroughmarket.org.uk). I love Borough market and follow them on Twitter, Instagram etc. Kyle won't let me go there on my own as he knows all to well that given half the chance I would buy far too much. £20.00 is usually my limit. It is a travesty, I know. Most days the market is open from 10:00-17:00 but check the website for further details. We got there reasonably early, well before the lunch time crush. Anita was amazed. The cheeses, the produce, the cheeses, the fruit and vegetables. The truffles, the game, the fresh fish, the different varieties of tomatoes, aubergines, mushrooms and of course more cheese. We bought Epoisses, Dolomitico, Ubriaco Di Prosecco, Parmegiano Reggiano, Brillat Savarin with Truffle and it was all glorious. I also bought some Iberico ham bones to flavour stocks and soups. We could have bought so much but as we were heading out for the rest of the day we didn't have the arms to carry it all around London. I can't do the market itself justice in a few words because to be honest there is just too much to say. If you are a foodie and have never been to Borough market, whether you live in London or have visited in the past, all I can say is; Shame on You! I would recommend the visit and again try get there as the market opens because the produce is at it's best, it isn't as chaotic as it will be later and get there hungry.
Saturday morning Anita and I tottered off to the Barnes farmer's market (www.barnesfarmersmarket.co.uk). We had people coming round for dinner that evening and I needed a few more things to add to my Market Vegetable Lasagne, recipe below. We also needed lunch. Barnes is my weekly shop. I love it. The families, the dogs, the kids, the buzz and I love that this is in my village. We got there just as the market opened at 10:30. The bacon and sausage butties were flying off the grill, the cakes and pastries disappearing at the speed of light and as always the queue at Weanie Beans was looping around the lot. We stopped for a restorative latte and while in the queue Anita saw an interesting sign for Springbok sushi. Now considering the Springbok's first round world cup loss was fresh in our minds this peaked some interest. Just for gits and shiggles Anita bought 3 pieces. Basically it was "springbok" although I'm sure it was beef, with sweet potato, garlic chives in the usual rice and nori. After our coffee we bought some farm fresh eggs, which you choose yourself and box up. A whole stack of amazing looking heirloom tomatoes, aubergines, golden beetroots, herbs, peppers and courgette flowers. Of course we had to stop and taste the cheese, oh glorious cheese. As we had bought so much cheese the day before there really wasn't need to get any more. Despite being a fairly small market there is so much heart. The atmosphere is friendly, welcoming and all the producers are polite and chatty, they are always interested in your plans for their produce. Saturday was a glorious day, the sun was shining and you can't but help love autumn on a day like that.
There are still so many markets to explore in this city and in this country. Please let us know about your favourite markets and what you get most excited about.
Market Vegetable Lasange
1 Knob salted butter
4 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp White wine vinegar
1 Onion, finely diced
2 Cloves garlic, crushed
1 Leek, washed and finely sliced
2 Courgettes, finely diced
2 Aubergines, use different coloured aubergines and shapes, not just your common aubergine
1 Bunch golden beetroot, washed and sliced
2 Large yellow peppers
1 Tin peeled, chopped tomatoes
200 ml Tomato passata
3 Sprigs fresh Thyme
200 ml Organic vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
25 g Butter
25 g Plain flour
600 ml Milk
Salt and white pepper
100 g Grated Cheddar
100g Grated Paremesan
8 Sheets fresh lasagne pasta
2 Balls Buffalo mozzarella
Heat your oven to 180 degrees, 160 degrees fan, gas mark 6. Turn your grill on as high as it can go and once temperature is reached put the peppers whole under the grill. Turn the peppers as the blacken on each side. Once the whole pepper is blackened and blistered remove from the oven and place in a large bowl. Cover with cling film. Once the peppers have sweated for 5 minutes remove the cling film and peel. The skin should come off easily. Once the skin is removed pull out the core and scrape out all the seeds. Slice and set to one side.
Do the same with your aubergine. Once they are blackened and blistered slice in half and remove the flesh. This should be soft. If you have a gas stove you can char the aubergine over the flame. This will give it a wonderful smokey flavour. Put to one side.
Place your sliced beetroot into an oven proof dish and toss in fresh thyme leaves, olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes, Check that they are soft before you remove form the oven. If you think they need a bit more time in the oven feel free to put them back for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set to one side.
In a large pan over a medium heat, sweat your onions, garlic and leeks in a mixture of butter and extra virgin olive oil. Add the remaining thyme leaves and keep stirring. Do not get colour on the onions. You want them transluscent and sweet. Add the courgettes and cook until they are soft. Add the chopped, peeled tomatoes, passata, stock, salt and pepper and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the rest of your cooked vegetables, mix into your sauce and turn off the heat.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and gradually stir in the milk to get a smooth sauce. Return to the heat and, stirring all the time, bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 8-10 minutes and season with salt, white pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Add your grated cheeses and stir until the cheese has melted into the sauce.
In a large oven proof dish line with one layer of fresh lasagne, approximately 2 sheets. Spread a thin layer of your tomato and vegetable mix over the pasta. Add another layer of lasagne and tomato mixture. Repeat until you have finished all your pasta. If necessary use more to fill the dish and finish the tomato, vegetable mix. Make sure the pasta is the last layer. Spread the cheese sauce over the pasta and cover to all the edges. It doesn't matter if it is messy because when it cooks the crispy messy bits are the best. Break the mozzarella into small pieces and place randomly over the top of the lasagne. Bake in your oven at 180 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until the cheese is golden, crispy and bubbling.
Serve with a fresh green salad. I mix herby mixed leaves from the organic stall at the Barnes market with cucumber, heirloom tomatoes, finely sliced shallots, avocado, mixed olives and croutons. Dress with Grandmere's vinaigrette from the first post in this series. If you like you can also serve with a fresh crusty baguette sliced and bake din the oven with garlic butter. It is up to you really.
Happy eating and as always please let me know what your thoughts are on this recipe.
Good food is very often, even most often, simple food. - Anthony Bourdain