Saturday, 8 December 2007

Farmers Markets (2)

I had a friend round for dinner last week, so I thought it would be the perfect chance to try out the Edinburgh farmers market. It was a very pleasant experience, although I did get there a bit late since a lot of stalls had sold out, but I was still able to get almost everything I wanted and a little bit more! This particular friend is a vegetarian, so it made for a slightly different challenge for my Eating British scheme.

In the end, I went to leek and potato soup to start, followed by Stilton, onion and potato pie, with baked apples and ice-cream to finish. I think it all turned out really well, although I might have over done the potato theme slightly... :-) I already had some leeks from the week before, but I was able to get the potatoes at the farmers market. I also bought some Scottish cider, called 'Peel Walls'. Despite the name hinting at possible applications as paint stripper, this was really very good and went well with the Stilton in the pie. I also picked up a couple of bottles of 'Berry Christmas' fruit wine from Cairn O'Mohr, which tasted very nice. Although, the lady at the Cairn O'Mohr stall let me taste so many of the products that I felt positively tipsy afterwards!

I also noticed a stall selling flour, including strong flour suitable for making bread. I went over and spoke to them, thinking of my previous entries on the subject of bread flour and how I've read that high gluten wheat doesn't grow to well in the British climate. It seems that this might be incorrect, since these people have certainly not had any trouble growing the high gluten wheat. This is something I'm clearly going to have to try to get to the bottom of - watch this space.

The leek and potato soup is a great dish for this time of the year and all the ingredients are in season at the moment. It is also very easy to make. Simply melt some butter in the bottom of a good, heavy bottom pan. Wash and slice a leek and fry the slices in the butter until they darken and go soft. Then, add peeled and sliced potato and stir around. Finally, add enough vegetable or chicken stock to cover (and maybe a wee bit more) and then put the lid on and let it simmer until the potatoes are cooked. That's it! Proper fast food.

For the baked apples, I managed to get British Bramley apples in my local supermarket. These are by far the best apples for this kind of thing, I've tried other apples and they don't work nearly so well. As the Bramley's are cooking apples, they are not too sweet to start with, where as eating apples just tend to get a bit sickly. To make these, I simply cored the apples using an apple coring tool. I'm not generally a fan of having loads of different, single use kitchen gadgets, mostly because I don't have space. But, if you need to core and apple and leave it whole, then one of these is essential! Once cored, I filled the whole brown sugar (unfortunately not British, but I'm working on that one) and wrapped them in tin foil. Then, simple bake in the over on gas mark 7, or about 200C (ish) for about 20 - 30 minutes until you can feel that they are soft. Then serve with cream, or ice-cream.

I am also now the proud owner of a bread machine! As I predicted, the novelty of making my own bread by hand soon wore off. I haven't had much time to try it out yet, but I'll keep you posted with how it goes.

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