Recipe: A Guide to the Farmers Market

PUBLISHED: 14:47 07 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:13 20 February 2013

A recipie

A recipie

Farmers' markets must be one of the best things that have happened to eating and eaters in this country in the last few years. My family are regular shoppers at the Hereford market, but excellent markets are held in an increasing number of Herefor...

When you shop at a Farmers' Market, be led by what you find. Go without any preconceived ideas of what you want and you might come back with:

superb flavourful chicken for a Sunday roast
proper free-range eggs from the Country Larder to go with Mr Tudge's bacon and sausages for a Saturday fry-up
excellent rabbit or squirrel for a light summer casserole from Eye Game Larder
fresh pigs' liver for making delicious home-made faggots
fresh asparagus, broad beans and cherries from Court Farm, Tillington
an unmatchable chocolate mousse from Pots of Deliciousness
a jar of damson jam from Sally's pantry

I could go on and on - and the great thing is it would be a different list each time there's a market. For information about times and locations of markets see page............For recipes, read on.

Pigeon on toast
(serves 4)

I buy the pigeon from Eye Game Larder - I've found it's a great hit with the more meat-inclined children and teenagers (thanks for your enthusiasm, Daniel). As an alternative to this recipe, serve pigeon with very garlicky thin- sliced potatoes cooked in the oven with goose fat or olive oil and a simple salad. A bit of jelly such as quince or redcurrant is also a good accompaniment.

These quantities make a generous starter for four4 people, or for two it could be a sophisticated lunch - very Ab Fab. It's quite a 'cheffy' dish with several constituent parts, but nothing complicated in itself. You will have some of the toast topping left over - use itf for instant sauce on a plate of pasta (if there are's leeks left over, chuck them in with your pasta as well).

1 medium leek, roughly chopped and thoroughly washed
1 large flat mushroom, diced small
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
a little olive oil

1 tbs full fat cream cheese
2 tsp anchovy paste ('Gentleman's relish') or 3 little salted anchovies

500g leeks, roughly chopped and thoroughly washed
50g butter
100ml white wine

4 slices bread from a small loaf (it's nice using something interesting like an olive loaf or or a walnut loaf if you have one to hand)
olive oil

a little sunflower oil
4 pigeon breasts (1 packet from Eye Game)

1. Put the first leek, the mushroom and the garlic in a small pan with a littlebit of olive oil and cook on a low heat with the lid on until the leeks are very soft (about 10 minutes).

2. Take off the heat. Add the cream cheese and anchovy paste, and puree with a blender (I find using ng athe hand-held blender in a mug is the simplest way of doing this and creates the least washing-up)

3. In another pan, put the rest of the leeks, butter and white wine and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer very gently for about 10-15 minutes until the leeks are tender. Turn off, but leave in the pan to keep warm.

4. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 150C. Cut the bread and cut each slices of bread into diagonally so you have 2 triangles or some other attractive shape and brush themeach slice with olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet and put in the pre-heated oven until golden and crunchy (25-40 minutes). Set on one side until you're ready to serve.

5. When you're ready to serve, heat a little sunflower oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan. When the pan is hot, sprinkle a little salt on the skin side of the pigeon breasts and put in the pan skin side down. Sprinkle a bit of salt on the other side of the pigeon. After 2 minutes turn over and cook for 2 more minutes, still on a high heat. Then turn the heat right down, turn the breasts again and cook for 2 more minutes, then turn again and cook for a further 2 minutes. Then take the pan off the heat and leave the breasts to rest for 1-2 minutes.

6. While the meat is resting, prepare the plates. Put a tablespoon of the leek/white wine mix on one side of each plate. On the other side put 1-2 bits of toast spread with a dollop of the leek/mushroom puree. Finally, slice each pigeon breast either in two or in tranches and put on top of the puree. Serve and eat.

[Partly because Tom (who takes the photographs) is a vegetarian, I made an alternative version with field mushrooms instead of the pigeon. I roasted a couple of field mushrooms gill side up, the gills brushed with a mixture of garlic, olive oil and soy sauce. After about 10 minutes in the oven they were softening and beginning to produce juice. I then took them out, crumbled a little Blacksticks Blue cheese (from Philippa's deli) on each one and put them back in the oven for 3-4 minutes until the cheese was just beginning to melt. I then put them on the toast with the same accompaniments as the pigeon (if you're feeding to a non- pescatarian then miss out the anchovy paste).]

Salad of fresh peas and asparagus with olive oil, lemon, parsley and& Pparmesan shavings

If we're lucky there will be a couple of weeks when the first of the delicious fresh peas will overlap with the Herefordshire asparagus season. At the Hereford Farmers market I find the sweetest peas come from the people from Worcester who mostly deal in apples and pears (try their excellent pear juice as well). Frozen peas are a perfectly acceptable alternative (and indeed generally better than fresh peas bought from supermarkets) and have the advantage of not needing podding.

If you're very lucky and can get hold of some pea shoots you can scatter these on top of the salad as well.

serves 4

200g fresh peas (after poddinged weight)
600g medium asparagus, trimmed
olive oil
juice and zest of a lemon
a handful of flat-leaf parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper
Pparmesan for shaving

1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. When it's boiling put in the asparagus and bring it to the boil. After about a minute of boiling add the peas. As soon as the water returns to the boil again drain the peaspan thoroughly.

2. Toss everything except the Pparmesan together, seasoning and tasting as you go. Divide prettily between plates and shave some Pparmesan on top of each plate.

Chilli and& cCheddar paratha

One of my more recent discoveries at the Hereford market has been the mouthwatering Indian stall run by Tiffy and Salim Kabir from Ross. They sell delicious samosas and bhajis to eat on the hoof and a fine array of pickles and sauces to take home.

This is a snack I made with their parathas (which keep for about a week in their bag and& freeze well) and some of their garlic and chilli sauce. I've also had considerable pleasure and pain from their Mind Boggler, described as a vvv hot chilli pickle. Dean (chef manager at Caf @ All Saints) tells me that next time I should head for their prawn Ballychau and try it with scrambled eggs - fusion cooking or what?!

This dish would make a great simple weekend lunch accompanied by a mixed leaf salad with some All Saints sesame and ginger dressing.

serves 2 generously

packet of 2 parathas
4 tsp chilli/garlic sauce
125g strong Ccheddar, grated

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.

2. Spread 2 teaspoons of the chilli/garlic sauce on each of the parathas. Divide two-thirds2/3 of the Ccheddar between the two, sprinkling evenly over the surface. Roll them up like a wrap and put on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the rest of the Ccheddar over the top and put in the oven for 15 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbling.

Rhubarb and strawberry compote

The Court Farm, Tillington stall is a source of many delicious things and at this time of year there is nothing to beat the fresh and zingy combination of rhubarb and strawberries.

500g rhubarb, cut into1 cm chunks
125g caster sugar
400g strawberries, stalks removed and halved

1. Pre-heat the oven to 130C.

2. Toss the rhubarb with the sugar. Spread on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 50-60 minutes until the rhubarb is soft and beginning to release its juice. Take out of the oven and allow to cool.

3. Gently mix the rhubarb and the strawberries and serve with Neal's Yard crme fraiche. I like it served soon after mixing - if you leave it longer you will get more juice and a different texture in the strawberries. Still delicious, but different.

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