Tag Archives: Farmers’ Market

Butternut squash, gorgonzola & sage tart

I’ve had my eye on a squash, gorgonzola and sage tart recipe for quite a while (since butternut squash came into season nearly two months ago actually) but kept running into two minor issues.  Firstly, I couldn’t find any gorgonzola, and secondly, I couldn’t find any sage.  With two of the three main ingredients eluding me, spot the minor flaw in my plan to try the recipe out…  I can deal without access to gorgonzola – after all, I can always substitute a creamy blue if absolutely necessary – but the lack of sage is a tough one because I have quite a few recipes that require sage, and I’ve definitely read recipes in Kiwi publications that call for sage.  So it must be available somewhere, but the question is where?  After weeks and weeks of unsuccessfully scouring the supermarket aisles, I was starting to think that my squash, gorgonzola and sage tart wasn’t going to happen.

Then, at the farmers’ market on Saturday, I spotted some sage.  I snapped up the last bag a little over-enthusiastically and just managed to stop myself from doing a victory dance on the spot.  I think the stallholder lady thought I was a little crazy (imagine if I had done the dance…), but I really didn’t care.  I had sage, therefore I was winning.  (Winning at what, I have no idea.  The great game of tart-making?)  That afternoon I decided to go investigate the big supermarket that’s rather further than the smaller one that I usually go to (and only barely within carrying-heavy-shopping walking distance) and guess what?  They had Kiwi-made gorgonzola-style cheese.  Jackpot!  Incidentally, they also had sage.  Oh.  So clearly my usual supermarket just makes poor stock choices (they both belong to the same chain).  Good to know.  Anyway, armed with my Kiwi gorgonzola and sage, I enthusiastically  tried the tart.  Which took forever, by the way, because I forgot that you’re supposed to roast the squash first.  But it was definitely worth waiting for!  The wonderfully autumnal flavours are perfect together, with the slight sweetness of the butternut squash cut through by the gorgonzola’s “bite,” and the sage adding that little extra dimension.

Squash, gorgonzola & sage tart

Serves 6-8 as a starter, 3-4 as a main course
Adapted from Baking – 100 everyday recipes

Remember to take the roasting time of the butternut squash when planning this recipe (totally not speaking from experience, ahem).  As a rough guide, I found that 500g was half of a large butternut squash.  Pumpkin would also work instead of butternut squash.  If you’re not too keen on blue cheese, I’d suggest reducing the amount of gorgonzola a little bit, but that depends entirely on personal taste.  This tart is delicious eaten both warm and cold, and can easily be prepared in advance, though the pastry will begin to soften after about a day.

Ingredients

500g of butternut squash
1 tsp organic rapeseed oil
Quiche pastry (click for recipe – it’ll make twice as much as you need)
5 tbsp crème fraîche
2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
200g gorgonzola (or similar creamy blue cheese)
10-15 fresh sage leaves

Directions

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.  Butter and flour a 24 cm fluted tart tin.

2.  Cut the butternut squash in half (if necessary) and place the halves cut-side up on a baking tray.  Drizzle the cut side with the oil and bake for 30-40 mins until browned and soft.  Set aside to cool a little, then remove the seeds (you can toast them and use them as a snack).  Scoop the flesh out into a large bowl and throw the skin away.

3.  Meanwhile, whilst the squash is roasting, make the pastry.  Roll it out and line the prepared tart tin.  Trim the edges, prick the pastry with a fork and refrigerate for 30 mins.

4.  Blind bake (line the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking beans) the pastry for 10 mins (the oven should still be at 190°C), then remove the baking beans and baking paper before baking a further 5 mins.

5.  Whilst waiting for the pastry to bake, mash the squash flesh with a fork.  Add 2 tbsp of the crème fraîche, season with freshly ground black pepper and mix together.  Set aside.  In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, egg yolk and remaining crème fraîche and set aside.

6.  When the pastry has been blind baked, thinly spread the mustard over the base of the quiche, then evenly cover with the squash mixture, making sure to spread it right into the edges of the pastry case.  Crumble or slice the gorgonzola and spread evenly over the top of the squash layer.  Top this with the egg mixture, making sure that it settles evenly across the tart.  Decorate the surface with the sage leaves.  Bake for 30-35 mins until cooked through and golden.  Allow to rest in the tin for 10 mins before turning out and serving accompanied by a green salad.

Enjoy!

PS – I apologise for the dreadful photos – I was pretty hungry by the time this came out of the oven, so I made do with my phone.  Turns out that was a bad plan.

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A June adventure at the St Andrews Farmers’ Market

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I’ve neglected my blog somewhat over the past couple of weeks, mostly on account of Graduation and my laptop’s general unhelpfulness.  However, I intend to get my blogging back on track and post more regularly once again.  Before I launch into today’s post though, I have some related and exciting news to share.  I was asked a while ago by Visit St Andrews to write a guest post about the St Andrews Farmers’ Market, and after some serious disorganisation on my part and a distinct lack of cooperation on the part of my laptop, I finally sorted that out and it was published on Friday!  Do forgive me for being slightly over-enthusiastic about this, but it’s my first ever guest post!!

When I was at the Farmers’ Market a few weeks ago, one of the stalls had some wonderful-looking duck breasts.  Now, I love duck, so I was seriously tempted, though I had no special occasion coming up that would justify buying duck and I was going down to Edinburgh for a couple of days anyway, so there wasn’t much point in buying lots of meat.  And then I realised that I could freeze them until an occasion presented itself.  I’m awfully good at justifying purchases if I really want them.  It’s a bit of an issue in my life.  Anyway, Craig crashed my sofa for a few days at the start of Grad Week, and that seemed as good a reason as any to defrost the duck (well, that and the fact that I have to clear out my freezer since I’m moving out in less than a week).  Once they’d defrosted, I realised that I’ve never actually cooked duck before.  Oh dear.

After a quick trawl through all my recipe books and an online search, we decided on a basic cherry and port sauce to go with the duck, with some green beans on the side.  Simple but delicious.  In theory.  Just before dinner time, we ended up stopping off in the Russell Hotel bar on the corner of my street because it happens to be halfway between home and wherever we’d just been and it was pouring with rain (I told you I was good at justifying things).  We stole the idea of adding kirsch from their Graduation menu, and decided that a gratin dauphinois would be a wonderful addition to the meal.  Which it was, but it also takes forever to cook, so I think we didn’t end up eating until around 20h30 or something silly like that.  Woops.  The duck also turned out to have been plucked slightly oddly so that the ends of some of the quills were still stuck in the skin and we couldn’t get them out, so we had to cut the skin off before eating (hardly the end of the world, but frustrating nonetheless).  We also got so distracted by the port and the duck that we may or may not have completely forgotten about the green beans.  Woops.  I also accidentally over-cooked the duck so it was a bit on the dry side (sorry Craig!!).  Major woops.  The sauce however, was delicious, and in my opinion, well worth the wait.  So even though I ruined the duck a bit, it wasn’t all bad, thankfully!

Seared duck breasts with a cherry & port sauce

Serves 2
Adapted from The Times Online

I’ve slightly reduced the cooking times for the duck since mine turned out slightly dry, but this also depends on your preferences for how you like your meat cooked.  I’d suggest using these as guidelines more than times set in stone.  The sauce can be prepared beforehand, except for the final stage of adding the butter.  I served this with a gratin dauphinois, which was utterly delicious.

Ingredients

2 x 225g duck breasts
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

For the sauce:
300ml port
50ml kirsch
Large sprig of rosemary
150g fresh cherries
10g cold butter, cubed

Directions

1.  Place the port, kirsch and rosemary sprig in a medium saucepan, and bring to the boil.  Allow to bubble for 10-15 mins (depending on how much you’d like to reduce your sauce).  Meanwhile, stone and halve all the cherries.  Set aside.

2.  Whilst the sauce is starting to cook, score the skin of the duck breasts with a sharp knife and rub well with seasoning.  Heat a frying pan over low heat (do not add any butter or oil) and once hot, add the duck breasts skin-side down.  Leave for 8-10 mins until the skin is golden brown and crisp and the fat has nearly all been extracted.  Increase the heat slightly and turn the duck breasts over and cook for a further 2-3 mins (apparently the meat should feel springy when pressed if you want it cooked to medium).  Remove to a warm plate and allow to rest for 5 mins.

3.  Once the sauce has been bubbling for 10-15 mins, remove the sprig of rosemary and add the halve cherries, allowing to simmer for a further 5-10 mins (stop here if preparing the sauce in advance, then when required, gently re-heat before adding the butter).  Turn the heat down and whisk in the butter a cube at a time until the sauce is smooth and glossy.  Season to taste.

4.  Slice the duck breasts, fan out onto a serving plate (or individual plates), pour the cherry and port sauce over the top and serve.

Enjoy!

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A May adventure at the St Andrews Farmers’ Market

As May slowly draws to a close (uhm, hello, how is it nearly June already?!), it’s probably about time that I post about this month’s Farmers’ Market, before the next one on Saturday 4th of June.  Not sure how I’ve managed to be so disorganised with my blogging this month, considering I’m done with my academics.  Perhaps that’s the problem – I suddenly don’t have a load of deadlines and time constraints, and consequently my time management has gone completely out the window (though I wasn’t exactly the Queen of Time Management to start with).  So anyway, this has nothing to do with Farmers’ Market.  Woops.  Clearly my ability to ramble has remained unchanged.

What I really enjoyed about the Farmers’ Market this month was that I had no Dissertation hanging over my head.  It had been handed in two days before, and although we still had to prepare presentations for the following Tuesday, I think we were all experiencing a sense of liberation.  This meant that we could go on a leisurely wander around all the stalls without feeling guilty.  Twice.  Oh the joys of freedom.  We spent quite a while hanging around the Pittenweem Chocolate Co. stall, tasting their hot chocolate (I definitely recommend the Caliente hot chilli chocolate by the way).  We always stop at this stall (they sell chocolate – how could we not?), and every time they tell us about their café in Pittenweem, the Cocoa Tree Café.  And every time we’ve had to say that although we’d love to go, we’ve got dissertations to write so we don’t really have the time for a day trip down to Pittenweem.  But not this time!  And we did actually hop on the bus for a little day trip down to Pittenweem about ten days ago, which was great fun.  I’ll blog about that at some later point (if I get my spiralling disorganisation vaguely under control).

Aside from selling wonderful hot chocolate, they also sell several varieties of flavoured chocolate, which are all rather scrumptious.  I really like their lemon-flavoured chocolate, and we happened to be planning a lemon-themed picnic at some point, so I acquired a bag of lemon-chocolate callets.  The next step was to decide what I was going to bake with them.  I’ve had a lot of love for the combination of lemon and basil lately (so fresh!), so I decided to attempt lemon and basil macarons and take them along to the lemon-themed picnic.  Remarkably, they worked rather wonderfully (if I do say so myself), though they were less lemon-y than I expected.  Consequently, I’ve added some lemon juice and zest into the recipe just to increase the lemon flavour a little.  Oh and I think I can say they were enjoyed by all who tasted them – hurrah!

Lemon & basil macarons

Makes about 60 small macarons (so about 120 shells of 1.5/2 cm diameter)
Macaron shell recipe based on
Mad About Macarons!
Ganache recipe adapted from Pure Gourmandise

If you don’t have any lemon-flavoured chocolate, then you could probably use about 1-2 tbsp lemon essence instead of some of the alcohol (though this may not work – apologies if it doesn’t!) and just normal white chocolate.  The alcohol serves to heighten the flavour of the lemon and thin the ganache, but if you would like your macarons more lemon-y, then add more lemon juice and less alcohol.  If you don’t have any mirabelle (a type of yellow plum) eau de vie, try using lemon vodka instead.  Make sure you leave these at least 24h before eating them, in order to allow the ganache to soak into the shells a bit.  They can be stored in an airtight box in the fridge – just remember to bring them out at least 30mins before eating them, so that you can appreciate the flavour fully!

Ingredients

For the macaron shells:
100g aged egg whites (age them for 4-5 days in a sealed jar in the fridge)
66g caster sugar
120g ground almonds
180g icing sugar
Yellow food colouring paste (optional)

For the filling:
40g single cream
150g lemon-flavoured chocolate
4cl (40g) mirabelle eau de vie (or lemon vodka)
1 lemon
6-7 sprigs of fresh basil

Directions

To make the macaron shells:
1. Line three or four flat baking sheets with baking paper and set aside.  Prepare a piping bag with a plain nozzle.

2.  Blend the icing sugar and ground almonds together (don’t skip this step!)  Sift them through a medium sieve into a large bowl.  Sift them again if necessary.

3.  Make the French meringue by whisking the egg whites at room temperature (take them out of the fridge 2h beforehand) to glossy firm peaks, gradually adding the caster sugar.  Add some yellow food colouring paste just before the end and mix well (this is totally optional, but it just adds a bit of colour to the macarons, and it’s also kind of fun).

4.  Incorporate the French meringue into the dry ingredients using a large spatula and mix well.  Now work on the mixture by pressing down well with the spatula, going backwards and forwards, to press out the oxygen from the egg whites (this is the macaronnage stage), until you have a smooth mixture.  Don’t do this for longer than 5 minutes.  The result should be a soft and brilliant mixture that forms a “ribbon” on the spatula.

5.  Transfer the mixture to the previously prepared piping bag and pipe out the desired size of rounds (mine were about 1.5-2cm in diameter).  Press the nozzle right down on the paper and finish off with a flourish to obtain a nice round.  Leave a good space between them so they can spread out.

6.  Leave to set for about 30mins (this helps to produce the feet).  Preheat the oven to fan-oven 160°C.  When you can feel that a skin has formed over the top, they are ready to go into the oven.

7.  Bake one tray at a time in the centre of the oven for about 8-10mins (to see if they are done, touch the top – if there is a “wobble,” leave them in 2-3mins longer).  Leave them to cool on the baking trays, and when they are completely cool, carefully remove them and pair them up by size.

To make the filling:
8.  Whilst the macarons are setting and cooking, make the ganache filling.  Heat the cream, and as soon as it starts boiling, add the lemon-flavoured chocolate, the eau de vie (or vodka), the zest and juice from the lemon and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth (don’t let it boil or you will boil off the alcohol and we wouldn’t want that now, would we?).  Allow the mixture to thicken in the fridge (or freezer if necessary).

9.  Strip the sprigs of basil and finely chop or shred the leaves.

10.  Once the ganache has cooled, use a teaspoon to deposit a good dollop of  ganache onto one shell of each pair.  Sprinkle with basil before placing the partner shell on top, and use a slight twisting motion to squash the shell down onto the filling.

11.  Leave in the fridge for at least 24h before serving (I know, it’s difficult!  But so worth it!!)

Enjoy!

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An April adventure at the St Andrews Farmers’ Market

I finally got myself organised and went to St Andrews Farmers’ Market for the first time last month, bringing home some fantastic cheddar, as well as some Mojito jelly from one of the condiments stands.  The cheese was eaten pretty rapidly, but I haven’t used the Mojito jelly yet, mostly because I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with it.  The man who I bought it from suggested simply serving it with lamb (as you would serve mint sauce), and the idea of Mojito lamb has been playing on my mind ever since, though I felt like it should be kept for a special occasion, so I hadn’t really pursued the idea further.

A special occasion presented itself on Saturday evening – Craig’s birthday dinner.  Perfect.  Conveniently, Saturday morning was also this month’s Farmers’ Market, so I decided that I’d get lamb from the market in the morning, and then it could marinate in the afternoon as necessary.  It all sounded like a great idea, but I just had to work out exactly how to do it.  None of my recipe books had anything remotely resembling Mojito lamb (the closest recipe I found was tequila chicken, and it really wasn’t very similar at all), and searching online wasn’t especially inspirational either.  When I stopped by Luvian’s (my local bottleshop) to get wine to go with it, Rich sounded rather unconvinced (though it might have helped if I’d known exactly how I was doing it – “uhm, well there will be rum, mint, sugar.  I’ll probably marinate it, oh ya, throw in some lime zest, too.  Might fry it, or roast it, depending on the cut, or something like that.  I have no idea what I’m serving it with, possibly couscous of some description.  And I haven’t decided what kind of rum I’m using yet either” probably isn’t the world’s best explanation).  Kudos to Rich for managing to make sense of my haphazard description, but I came out feeling distinctly doubtful of the whole thing.

By Saturday morning, I still wasn’t really sure what I was doing.  This resulted in a good 10 minutes of dithering in front of the lamb stand trying to decide which cut I wanted.  I like my meat cooked very rare (practically galloping off the plate in fact), Kat likes hers well done, and Craig likes his somewhere in-between.  A roast was never going to please everybody, so I went with leg steaks, so that they could all be fried for different lengths of time and (hopefully) everybody would be happy.  One of the fundamental rules of having people over for dinner (particularly when it’s a special occasion) is to have previously tested the recipe (which by default means you should have a recipe in the first place).  Consequently, I committed a serious dinner-hosting sin – when I eventually got around to doing the marinade a couple of hours before dinner, I very much made it all up as I went along (there was definitely no recipe, never mind a tried-and-tested one).  I’m not sure how, but thankfully it turned out fine.  More than fine actually – when fried, the lamb acquired a slightly caramelised flavour from the sugar, which was counter-balanced by the rum and lime zest, as well as the chilli and lime zest in the couscous that was served on the side.  Thank goodness!  Oh, and I should add that I completely forgot to add the Mojito jelly to the sauce as I’d originally thought I might.  Oops.

Mojito lamb

Serves 4
Recipe from my imagination

This is actually a fairly quick recipe to prepare, since everything is more or less just mixed together and left to marinate before frying.  I served it with couscous to which I had added a finely chopped de-seeded chilli pepper, the zest of 1 lime and about 5 finely chopped and sautéed shallots.

Ingredients

For the marinade:
150ml spiced rum (add more as you feel necessary)
50g demerrera sugar
15g fresh mint leaves, chopped
Zest of 1 lime (keep the lime, the juice is needed later)
4-5 tbsp olive oil

650g lamb leg steaks
Juice of 1 lime
Mint leaves to garnish (optional)

Directions

1.  Mix all the marinade ingredients together with some ground black pepper in a large dish or bowl.

2.  Trim any fatty bits off the lamb leg steaks and add them to the marinade, making sure that they are well coated.  Cover the dish or bowl with a lid or cling film and allow to marinate for at least 1 ½ hours in the fridge.

3.  When ready to cook, drain the steaks, though reserve the marinade.  Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan, and fry the leg steaks for several minutes on each side, until done to your liking (this will depend on the thickness of the steaks and also on your personal preference).

4.  Remove the steaks to a serving plate and cover with tin foil to keep them warm.  Deglaze the pan with the lime juice, then add the marinade and allow to simmer down for a few minutes.

5.  Serve the leg steaks garnished with some fresh mint (optional) with the Mojito sauce on the side (a bit like a gravy) and a shallot, chilli and lime couscous.

Enjoy!

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A first adventure at the St Andrews Farmers’ Market

The Farmers’ Market in St Andrews takes place on the first Saturday morning of every month.  I’ve never quite managed to make it – either I’ve forgotten that it’s happening and made other plans, been put off by foul weather or accidentally overslept.  But after living in St Andrews for 3 ½ years, I finally got my act together, and went with Craig on Saturday.  Ya, I know, 3 ½ years – about time!  I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of produce!  I could happily have bought about half the market, but luckily managed to restrict myself to a jar of Mojito jelly, some Feta-stuffed red peppers and two types of cheddar.  This was obviously due to my brilliant self-control and had nothing to do with forgetting to check that I had enough cash with me (because I would never be that supremely disorganised, nope, not me).  The stuffed peppers went into a salad for lunch, but I haven’t made any specific plans for the jelly yet – I’ll blog about it when I do.  For today though, I would really just like to share my love for the cheddar with you.

The Isle of Arran Cheese Shop had a stand with different flavoured cheddars, including herbed ones (chives, etc.), a mustard cheddar, a smoked oak one and even a chilli flake cheddar.  But the two that caught my eye were the Arran whisky cheddar and the claret cheddar.  I’ve tried their “normal” cheddar before and liked it, so I would probably have bought them anyway, but we were able to taste them and they turned out to be even more marvellous than I’d expected.  There was no way I was leaving the stand empty-handed (thank goodness Craig lent me some money or this could have been a bit of an issue) and I ended up taking three cheddars (one whisky and two clarets) home with me…

On Sunday, Kat and Craig came over to do some data analysis for one of our modules, but since we’re practically incapable of doing anything that doesn’t involve food, it made sense for us to start off with lunch.  This was obviously the perfect occasion to share some of my newly-acquired Farmers’ Market cheddar in the form of a claret cheddar and onion quiche.  Oh yes.  It turned out rather delicious.  That’s really all there is to say about it, ha ha.  I wish I could take all the credit for it, but when you use good quality, super-tasty ingredients, it’s difficult to go wrong with them (unless you burn them, obviously, or do something really weird).

Cheddar & onion quiche

Serves 6-8 as a starter, 4 as a main course
Recipe from my imagination

This quiche works as a starter, lunch or light dinner, and can be served warm or cold.  Whether you choose to use a flavoured cheddar or not, make sure you pick one that has taste!  I added rosemary because I had some sprigs in the freezer (it freezes well) and it goes with my chosen cheddar, but if you’re using a different flavoured cheddar, make sure to change the herbs to match it.

Ingredients

Quiche pastry (click for recipe)
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 eggs
4 tbsp crème fraîche
2 long sprigs of fresh rosemary (about 2 tbsp of stripped fresh leaves)
250g of cheddar, grated
2 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)

Directions

1.  Roll out the pastry to about 3-4mm thickness and line a well-buttered 24 or 26cm tarte tin with it.  Trim the edges and prick the pastry with a fork.  Leave to rest in the fridge for about 30 mins whilst you prepare the quiche filling.  Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.

2.  Roughly dice the onion and chop the garlic cloves.  Sauté them in some oil until softened and just golden.

3.  Beat the eggs in a large bowl, add the crème fraîche, the stripped rosemary leaves (I was a bit short on time, so I didn’t chop the leaves, but you can if you’re really motivated) and some pepper and mix well.  Add 200g of the grated cheddar and the (fairly) cooled onions and garlic and mix well.  Add a little more crème fraîche if you feel this is necessary.

4.  Remove the tarte tin from the fridge, spread the mustard thinly over the base (this is optional, but it helps to bring out the flavours in the quiche), pour the cheddar and onion mix over the top and spread it evenly.  Sprinkle the remaining grated cheddar over the top.

5.  Cook for 30-40mins, until the pastry is golden and a toothpick comes out clean (if the top is getting a little too brown, cover with tin foil).  Serve hot or cold with a simple salad on the side.

Enjoy!

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