Dish up the flavour of the month

Lon­don’s bustling Bor­ough Mar­ket and its spec­tac­u­lar sea­sonal pro­duce are the in­spi­ra­tion for a new book. Pip Sloan en­joys a taste

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - BODY MIND -

When the food writer Ed Smith moved to the cap­i­tal in 2007 one of the first trips he made was to Bor­ough Mar­ket in south Lon­don. He bought cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy, and a roast­ing joint from the butcher’s. Ever since then, Smith has im­mersed him­self in the life of the mar­ket, be­com­ing a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to its monthly mag­a­zine, a recipe writer for its web­site, and run­ning cook­ery demon­stra­tions at the mar­ket’s teach­ing kitchen, stop­ping short – only just – of set­ting up a pro­duce stall him­self.

He vis­its ev­ery week to shop at the his­toric food mar­ket by the Thames, and so when it came to pen­ning a cook­book that cap­tured the spirit of the area, Smith was the per­fect choice. “Its aim is to cel­e­brate the unique­ness of the mar­ket and its traders,” he tells me, “while in­spir­ing cooks to shop in­quis­i­tively and to bring sea­sonal pro­duce back to their kitchens.” The book’s recipes, gath­ered for spring, sum­mer, au­tumn and win­ter, il­lus­trate Smith’s own ap­proach to eat­ing sea­son­ally. They star in­gre­di­ents that are “at their peak at that par­tic­u­lar time of year, but also those you re­ally crave” in that mo­ment. “Right now,” he says, “I want soups, tray-bakes, and dishes I can sink into, us­ing in­gre­di­ents like ar­ti­chokes, bras­si­cas and wild mush­rooms.”

Wo­ven through the recipes are pro­files of Bor­ough’s traders, many of whom have worked there for decades and have be­come the fab­ric of the mar­ket. “We wanted to ex­plain why their pro­duce is so vi­tal, and share snip­pets of their rou­tines. They make the mar­ket come to life.”

For those of us who don’t have Paul Day’s Sus­sex Fish counter on our doorstep, the book re­mains a prompt to sup­port lo­cal stars. “The coun­try is brim­ming with fan­tas­tic pro­duc­ers,” says Smith. “Seek­ing out them and their in­gre­di­ents might just in­spire you to make some­thing dif­fer­ent.”

The Bor­ough Mar­ket Cook­book by Ed Smith is pub­lished by Hodder & Stoughton (£25). To or­der your copy for £20 go to books. tele­graph.co.uk or call 0844 871 1514

Melt the but­ter in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, leek, and a pinch of flaky sea salt and cook for four to five min­utes un­til soft­ened but not coloured, stir­ring fre­quently.

Put the chunks of ar­ti­choke and peeled po­tato in the saucepan, along with the thyme leaves, gar­lic and parme­san rind (if us­ing).

Re­duce the tem­per­a­ture to low, place a lid on top and cook gen­tly for 15 min­utes, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally. Pour the stock into the pan and sim­mer for a fur­ther 30 min­utes un­til the ar­ti­chokes are com­pletely soft. Use a hand-held blender, food pro­ces­sor or stand blender to purée the soup un­til vel­vety smooth.

Just after the ar­ti­choke and po­ta­toes are added to the saucepan, toss the veg­etable peel­ings in the veg­etable or sun­flower oil then scat­ter them over a bak­ing tray in one layer – use a fork to spread the peel­ings out so they roast and crisp up, rather than clump and be­come soggy. Place to­wards the top of the hot oven and roast for 10-15 min­utes un­til golden and crisp, shuf­fling them around after about eight min­utes. Re­move, sprin­kle with lots of salt and a few drops of hazel­nut oil, mix, and try to avoid eat­ing them be­fore the soup is ready.

Check the soup is at a de­sir­able con­sis­tency – it should be nei­ther too wa­tery nor thick like a purée; cook to evap­o­rate liq­uid or add a splash more as nec­es­sary. Once happy, sea­son gen­er­ously with salt and black pep­per and serve with a dol­lop of crème fraîche and gen­er­ous swirl of hazel­nut oil in each bowl, plus a scat­ter­ing of chives or pars­ley (if us­ing) and a hand­ful of the peel­ing crisps. Slice the re­served whole ar­ti­chokes very thinly (with a man­dolin if you have one), and add a few to each bowl to gar­nish.

IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

100g un­salted but­ter at room tem­per­a­ture

90g caster sugar

100g plain flour, sifted

20g corn­flour

1 tsp bak­ing pow­der

1 tsp ground gin­ger

10 sage leaves

6 plump fresh figs

2 tbsp warm wa­ter

3 tbsp raw honey

150g full-fat crème fraîche, to serve

METHOD

Pre­heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6 and line a bak­ing tray with bak­ing parch­ment or a sil­i­con mat.

Cream the but­ter with the sugar in a bowl us­ing the back of a wooden spoon. Add the re­main­ing in­gre­di­ents, mix well and re­frig­er­ate for 20 min­utes. Roll a wal­nut-sized tea­spoon of bis­cuit dough quickly in your hands to make a ball, then repeat to make six balls (us­ing half the bis­cuit dough). Space them evenly on the bak­ing tray. The bis­cuits spread sig­nif­i­cantly, so don’t be tempted to cram more on. Bake in the oven for eight min­utes, un­til they have flat­tened and started to turn golden. Re­move, leave to cool and harden on the tray for five min­utes, then slide them off the tray with a pal­ette knife. Repeat the process with the re­main­ing bis­cuit dough. Store in an air­tight con­tainer un­til re­quired.

To cook the figs, pre­heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/ Gas 6. Put four of the sage leaves in the base of an oven­proof dish that will fit the six figs snugly. Cut a cross into each fruit from the stalk to two thirds of the way down. Squeeze each fig at its base to en­cour­age the cen­tre to present it­self and slot a sage leaf in each of them. Place the figs in the dish. Mix the honey with two ta­ble­spoons of warm wa­ter and pour it in and over the figs. Bake the figs in the oven for 15-20 min­utes, bast­ing them with the honey and fig juices after 10 min­utes. They should be soft and sticky, but still in­tact.

Care­fully de­cant the figs into bowls. Pour a cou­ple of spoons of juice over the top of each fig and serve with a gen­er­ous dol­lop of crème fraîche and two gin­ger but­ter bis­cuits per per­son.

MAR­KET FORCES Smith, left; and recipes from his new book, right and below

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