Monthly Archives: April 2012

Super sexy brownies….for adults only!

This Welsh spring weather is proving to be a real misery. Rainy, cold and dreary its left me feeling uninspired, lethargic, unmotivated and in need of a quick kick. What better than a heady blend of pleasure inducing ingredients all rolled into one rich, moist, sticky chocolate brownie.

This is not a brownie for the kids mind; in fact it is a decidedly grown up brownie and uses not one, but four reportedly aphrodisiac ingredients. A wickedly decadent combination of chilli, chocolate, stem ginger and cranberries. I guessed that would wake me up and put a spring in my step!

Chilli is a fantastic waker-upper. It’s an anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic ingredient that gives you a real zing as it releases natural endorphins in the brain.

Chocolate also has a long-standing reputation as a natural aphrodisiac. The Mayans apparently used cacao beans to pay prostitutes and of course they were the first to use chocolate in a drink, often with a pinch of chilli added (read more on eat something sexy a blog all about..well eating sexy foods!). When we consume chocolate the chemical phenylethylamine which it contains, acts on serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is responsible for feelings of happiness and wellbeing. So when you hear people say chocolate is better than sex? Well it does work in a similar way and both make you feel good!

Ginger is a another ingredient that works on our serotonin levels, primarily the circulatory system and acting as a natural antiemetic. My other half swears by ginger and claims he feels better (generally) after eating it.

Cranberries, while high in antioxidants, are more likely to keep your urinary tract in good working order than take you to the heights of pleasure and passion. Having said this they do contain plenty of vitamin A & C, both of which act on the areas responsible for sexual activity and reproduction. Hopefully then the tiny sweet-sour berries really do help you keep your pecker up (so to speak!).

In this recipe added stem ginger and sour-sweet berries hide within the squidgy chocolate centre and make a pleasant little surprise and perfect counterbalance for the rich chocolate and chilli. If you’re not keen on cranberries you could try cherries (as Jamie Oliver does in his brownie recipe here) or even the original “happy berry”, the goji berry.

Sexy brownies:

100g Montezuma chilli chocolate & 150g Green and Blacks dark chocolate (or use 250g of Montezuma if you fancy a bigger kick)

250g unsalted butter

175g caster sugar

4 tablespoons Green & Blacks cocoa powder

4 tablespoons self-raising flour

2 chunks of finely chopped stem ginger plus 1 tablespoon of the syrup

4 medium eggs

125g dried ready to eat cranberries, goji berries or cherries

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180 degrees C. Line and grease a baking tray.

Put the chocolate and butter in a bowl in the oven to melt. Mix sugar, cocoa, flour, a pinch of sea salt and the finely chopped ginger in a bowl and mix together.

When the chocolate has melted, remove from the oven and give it a stir. Leave it to cool for a few minutes before pouring into the dry ingredients. Mix well.

Break the eggs into the bowl one by one and thoroughly combine everything. Finally stir in the berries or cherries and the tablespoon of ginger syrup.

Spoon on to the baking tray smoothing the top with a spatula until it is flat and even then bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until set, but not over done. Mark out squares and leave to cool for as long as you can bear the temptation…then tuck in. I guarantee you will be smiling and bouncing again…as long as you don’t over do it!

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Wild garlic and thyme

Wild garlic,ramsons, Allium Ursinum, bear’s garlic, devil’s garlic, gypsy’s onions and stinking Jenny are all names given to a plant that grows widely in damp woodland around Britain and in Europe. Despite its many pseudonyms I’m sticking to plain old wild garlic because that is what I (and many others in the UK) know it as.

Wild garlic only has a short season. It’s almost a case of blink and you’ll miss it in Wales. It only really starts to show itself at the end of February (depending on how mild the weather is) but now the signs are that the season is coming to an end (you can tell when it begins to flower). I have a huge wild garlic patch in my garden and while its there I like to take full advantage of it.

There are many reasons for eating wild garlic and it has so many reported health properties (good for the heart, the blood, high blood pressure, digestive cleansing among them) although I just think it tastes damn good. But then I am a big fan of garlic, which generally is good for you anyway. The only group who should avoid wild garlic are breastfeeding mothers…but only because it supposedly makes the breast milk taste of garlic! Breastfeeding didn’t stop me eating garlic and now they both love the stuff!!

I use wild garlic in lots of things. I’ve blogged about making wild garlic puree before (it makes the perfect finish to a delicate creamy soup) and I often add a chopped handful to a home-made minestrone. Salads cry out for a few added leaves and of course the flowers are edible too, so they can be used for flavour and prettiness.

This weekend I tried them out in a Spanish tortilla along with some fresh thyme, which is just starting to wake up in the garden too.

Wild garlic and thyme; they make such a perfect combination. Mixed with potatoes, red onions and olive oil they create a dish of perfect simplicity. Add the eggs and bake in the oven and hey presto you have an easy, tasty supper…or in this case a dish that when cut into squares made the perfect addition to our tapas menu at supper club.

For your tortilla which will feed six (very hungry) to eight people you will need:

700g waxy potatoes (such as charlotte, maris peer), peeled, washed and cut into thinnish slices, 1 large red onion finely sliced, 500ml of olive oil, a handful of fresh thyme leaves, a handful of finely chopped wild garlic, 8 large eggs, a couple of good tablespoons full of finely chopped parsley, salt and pepper.

preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 5.

Warm half the olive oil in a large pan. Layer the potatoes and onions, thyme and wild garlic in the pan. Pour over the rest of the olive oil (yes I know it uses a lot but the aim is to poach the potatoes in it. You can save it and use it again afterwards), cover the pan and cook gently for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Beat the eggs, parsley, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Drain the potato and onion mixture saving the olive oil for another day. Add potatoes to the eggs and mix together. Transfer it all to the pan and put in the oven for about 20 minutes or until set and just turning brown on top.

You can serve this hot or cold and it’s best accompanied by a salad dressed with a sharp acidic dressing.

NB: Choose a pan that can be used on the top of the stove and in the oven.

Another NB: Take care when picking wild garlic. If you are not sure what you are looking for ask someone who knows…Wild garlic can easily be mistaken for Lily of the Valley…which is poisonous (although really, if you crush the leaves and they smell like garlic you’ve probably found it correctly).

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A trip to market, a French supper, a mini croquembouche and a chicken liver and cognac parfait to die for

It was our first day back outside with the Ogwen produce market and hooray!! The sun shone bathing us in a few glorious rays. Outside was warmer than it had been inside the church hall (our winter home), so we were happy to be back there; and so it seems, were the market visitors. All of a sudden we were busy again. On such a gorgeous day though who wouldn’t enjoy whiling away an hour or so; picking up some great local produce and soaking in a bit of vitamin D over a panad (that’s cup of tea to you non-Welsh speakers…but our coffee is popular too!).

The market square with its wrought ironwork and raised flower beds has become the ‘heart’ of Bethesda and no one was happier to be back than I. Once more ensconced in my purpose-built kitchen and out of the ‘cupboard’ at the front of the church hall. I was happy. You can tell from the picture as I’m smiling for a change.

As usual the market was an eclectic and sometimes eccentric mix of food and local crafts

There was local veg from Tatws Bryn, and Moelyci who had loads of spinach, rainbow chard and kale (pretty much the only thing that’s really great in the garden at this time of year). There was fab bread from Becws Alun and Model Bakery, who also tempted us with Kurdish pasties laced with piri-piri sauce. They were huge enough to sustain even the hungriest hiker!. Of course Lynwen was there with her amazing vegan cupcakes from Aderyn Melys, plus more traditional cakes, flapjacks, Madeline’s etc. from Cegin Brysur;  there was cheese from Caws Rhyd y Delyn, traditional greek pastries, meat from Tom at the local farm (his pork and tomato sausages are our favourites) and chocolate from Cariad.

On the craft side there were my usual favourites; all kinds of pretty things made with buttons from Miss Marple Makes, cards, badges and jewellery from Dyfal Donc and Phia Eco plus cards, cushions and lots of lovely bits and bobs.

…and then there was me, back at home in my little cafe selling local bacon baps, tomato and pork sausage baps with red onion marmalade and simple vegetable soup with wild garlic puree and creme fraiche, plus organic fair trade tea and coffee

Back home I didn’t have time to collapse in a heap, I had plenty to do for the evenings supper club. A private party for twelve with a French themed menu. I wouldn’t normally do two jobs back to back, God no…some would say I’m a masochist, but it was the only date our guests to make and the market is always the second Saturday…what could I do! I decided to go with it. You probably think me insane (and after doing it I’d probably agree!)

I prepped a fair bit the day before to get a head start. I made chicken liver and cognac parfait, red onion marmalade and the bread. All of which would be good the day after. But I still had to make the mini bite sized wild garlic and balsamic red onion tarts (Amuse Bouche) served with sloe gin slings…not very French I know. Gin sling hadn’t been the intention. I was planning on making Damson Martini’s but I discovered much too late that the last drop of Damson vodka I’d used to experiment with, was in fact the last bottle in the house. I thought I had more hidden at the back of the cupboard (away from the teen), but clearly I was mistaken. Instead we cracked open the sloe gin.

Starters all plated up and ready to go.

As a special birthday treat I decided to make a croquembouche for dessert (a French dessert made from cream filled profiteroles and caramel piled into a cone shape).  I’ve made profiteroles lots of times so didn’t think it could be that hard. I studied the pictures in my Raymond Blanc book (even though I wasn’t expecting to emulate his effort!) and decided how I was going to decorate it. I’d read somewhere that you shouldn’t attempt to make one if it’s raining…so I prayed for the weather to hold up. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to make it…or how soon in advance I should make my choux pastry so on Saturday afternoon, when I hadn’t even started, everyone else was panicking and telling me I was an over-ambitious fool… but I held my nerve and got to it. It was far from perfect and was much smaller than I’d anticipated, but I was quite proud of my effort, even though it looked more like a small hillock than a mountainous cone.  Still, the orange patisserie cream filled profiteroles glistened with golden caramel, as spun sugar wrapped the choux pastry balls in a delicate web. I finished the little mound with a sprinkle of edible gold stars. At least it was too small to collapse!

I’m not sure if it was the promise of help for the evening (from a keen friend), or tiredness from a day of cooking, but I remained remarkably calm throughout, much to the surprise of all those around me.Our  guests loved the food and this is a snippet from the email they sent me the next day…

"the food was way way out of the ordinary, and in that category of one off meals that you never forget 
as they stand out so obviously from the rest and the most !....the best pate I've ever tasted in my life!
...and I would probs say that that was the yummiest dessert I've ever had........I was so full but yet it
was SO light and slid down so easily that I had seconds"

I think towards the end of the night I got a little too comfortable with the bottle of wine in front of me and didn’t end up going to bed until 1.15am….I regreted it the next morning I can tell you…Clearing the last of the debris with a hangover was definitely not what the doctor ordered…but it was a damn good Saturday.

Chicken and Cognac pate (the best pate ever…allegedly. Serves 12 in small ramekins, or make one large dish)

1 large Echalion shallot finely chopped

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

1 teaspoon walnut oil

500g chicken livers (washed, cleaned and drained well)

4 tablespoons cognac

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

150g melted butter (plus 25g for cooking and 50g or so to finish)

a teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

a pinch of cinnamon, salt & pepper

Sweat the shallot and garlic gently in 25g butter and teaspoon walnut oil. When soft and turning golden add the well-drained chicken livers. Cook over a medium heat until browned all over, it should take about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the chicken livers with a slotted spoon and put in the bowl of a food processor. Add the Cognac to the hot pan and cook down until thick. Scrape any stuck bits off the bottom of the pan as these will add flavour. Adds this to the food processor with mustard, thyme, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Melt the 150g butter and add this to the processor too then blitz everything well until smooth. Transfer to a terrine dish or individual ramekins. Melt another 50 g butter and use to finish the pate pouring over the top to create a lid. This will stop it discolouring.

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Rachel’s Organic and two kinds of muffin

With the arrival of my Rachel’s Organic parcel and the chance to try their new fat-free range I decide to embark on a muffin making afternoon. You can’t go wrong with muffins. Ok, so it might be defeating the object of buying fat-free, but you can use yogurt in lots more ways than just as an accompaniment to granola, or eaten as it comes from the tub. Muffins are practical and versatile. You can make them sweet or savoury, fill them with cheese, bacon, or any kind of sweet treat from fresh or dried fruit to luscious home-made jam. They make a great breakfast, a healthy lunchbox addition or just the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea (I love my tea and cake, in all its guises!).

Muffins are also more filling and substantial than a plain old fairy cake. The fact that they are somewhat heavier makes them more akin to bread; a little mini loaf in a cake wrapper. Having said this you do still need to take a bit of care when mixing. A heavy hand produces a rather solid mass of bun, not the light and airy one that you are aiming for.

The other thing about muffins is that they positively demand you add yogurt. It is this that gives them their distinctive less sweet and slightly sharpish, taste.

I used two tubs of Rachel’s Organic yogurt to make two very differently flavoured muffins; natural yogurt with home-made lemon curd in the first batch (al la Hugh Fearnley Whittingstalls recipe) and peach and passionfruit (with one mashed banana) in the second. The former are most popular with Aidan and consumed by the bucket load, but the teen prefers the latter (she hates lemon curd!!)

Hugh FW’s lemon curd muffins (makes about 12):

225g plain flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, a pinch of Halen Mon seas salt, 100g caster sugar, 1 medium egg, 125ml Rachel’s organic low-fat natural yogurt, 125ml milk, 75g unslated butter (melted), 150g lemon curd.

Line a muffin tin with 12 cases and preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / gas mark 4.

Mix flour, baking powder, salt and caster sugar in a large bowl. Combine the egg, yogurt, milk and melted butter in a jug and pour on to the dry ingredients mixing very lightly until just combined. If you over mix you will get those heavy muffins that you want to avoid. Add the lemon curd a few dollops at a time and marble in to the mixture roughly. Again avoid over stirring.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown on top. Transfer to a rack to cool and eat, preferably while still warm, but they should keep for a day or two as lunch box essentials for nine-year old boys!

Tropical peach, passionfruit and banana muffins:

Use the same recipe as above but substitute 125g of fat-free peach and passionfruit yogurt for the natural yogurt and a large well mashed banana for the lemon curd. All the other stages remain the same. You could also use the blackcurrant yogurt along with a handful of blueberries, or black currants when in season….or the strawberry and rhubarb with a tablespoon or two of freshly cooked pulped rhubarb (which is now in season)…most importantly once you have that basic recipe to follow, let your imagination run wild, what could go wrong!!

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The Real Food market at the Southbank Centre

Another day, another market! Even on holiday I can’t resist. This time it was the special Easter Sunday market on the Southbank and since I was heading to the Festival Hall to see Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with my little man, mum and sister it was the perfect way to while away an hour before heading inside.

The Real Food Market is held every week on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and celebrates the best of British Produce and small producers…and what a variety there was! From food busker John Quilter (who sadly I didn’t get to chat to as he’d just nipped to the loo…maybe next time!)

There were local organic pork sausages cooked on the griddle and meat from farmers such us Galileo organic farm in Warwickshire

Plus a handful of bigger companies such as Riverford organics. Imagine my surprise when the first stall I came to was Petros Olives & Olive oil, a company totally familiar to me as their base is in North Wales. On the stall was owner Ari’s nephew and granddaughter! Petros is a family owned business importing olives and oil from their groves in Cyprus. They have regular stalls at the local produce markets in my area, but judging by this they are getting out and about and sharing their amazing olive oil and olives with more than just the Welsh foodies! We had a good chat about how small a world it is, but I wasn’t there to buy olives on this occasion, just a few snacks before the show.

What we did buy was a delicious creamy courgette dip from Arabica Food & Spice, a couple of filo pastry strudel (chosen primarily by my sister who wanted try everything!) filled with spinach and feta and red cabbage and ricotta which we shared. Served warm they were utterly delicious.

My sister bought a bag of pasta sauce seasoning and some almond pesto Calabrese from Breadtree, but I’m still waiting for her to experiment and report back! I didn’t get a picture of their exquisitely coloured pasta, the one below is from their website, but the rainbow colours were beautiful and I stared at it enviously wishing I had the skill to produce such amazing pasta.

Aidan wanted fresh lemonade and turkish delight and being nine years old of course he was allowed. As an adult I sensibly went for savoury sustenance over a big bag of sweet, tooth sticking cubes, but my how I wished I was nine again! I eyed the variety of cakes, patisserie, churros and chocolate on display around the market and even convinced myself that the wholesome looking Outsider Tarts would be better for me (check out those fab coloured whoopie pies)

..but then my sister reminded me that the performance only lasted an hour and in two hours we would be sitting down to eat a huge Easter Sunday dinner followed by lemon meringue pie. Instead I nicked one of Aidan’s turkish delight and forlornly forewent the sweet taste I craved. A gin and tonic in the festival hall cheered me up though 🙂

Due to other events taking place,  the next market will be held over the May bank holiday weekend (May 4th to 7th). In the meantime you can find a list of producers here

Go, enjoy and eat whoopie pies!

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Stop press: Rachel’s Organic new range of yogurts

On my return from London I was pleasantly surprised to find a delicious delivery of goodies from Rachel’s Organic. My neighbour had mercifully spotted the perishable sticker on the front and kindly opened the box stacking everything neatly in the fridge. Usually on return from a holiday the fridge looks depressing bare, maybe a limp carrot has been left to shrivel at the bottom of the veg drawer and a few half empty jars stand forlornly on the top shelf. This time it was different. On this occasion a pleasingly full fridge greeted us. A whole shelf full to the brim with with Rachel’s products. We had to take everything out just to check what was there!

Along with their new range of fat-free yogurt, they had sent me several packs of creamy rice pudding (which I love heated for 30 seconds in the microwave and topped with a teaspoon of home-made jam, lemon curd or fruit compote. They make the perfect lunch box treat for someone with a sweet tooth, like myself); plus a few tubs of low-fat natural yogurt, four granola pots (which we devoured immediately as we were hungry from the drive home), a special edition four-pack of coconut (two with passionfruit and two with pineapple and banana) and a low-fat apple & elderflower. The three new limited edition fat-free flavours were blackcurrant, strawberry and rhubarb and peach and passionfruit.

I’d not tasted the apple and elderflower before so this was the first large tub that I opened. Sprinkled with a handful of Mornflake Orchard Granola it made the perfect breakfast. The blackcurrant almost disappeared before my eyes as my son decided to test this one out when I wasn’t looking. Sprinkled with Jordans Super Berry Granola he loved it.  I did get a small look in before it went completely.

To be honest I often avoid fat-free varieties of yogurt and produce as I find them a little insubstantial flavour wise. I like something with a little creaminess which is why I would go for a low-fat variety and not totally fat-free. The apple and elderflower, which is from their low-fat range really hit the spot and I loved it. I wasn’t so sure about the fat-free blackcurrant. A creamier yogurt might have offset the sharpness of the blackcurrant I little better so I wasn’t quite sold on this version. In contrast I loved the Strawberry and rhubarb (which was my favourite) and Peach and passionfruit. The more delicate and somewhat sweeter fruits seem to work better with the fat-free yogurt.

This surprise delivery filled me with enthusiasm. Usually after a long drive my desire to stand cooking for ages is understandably diminished, but armed with a fridge full of yogurt, a large chunk of left over lamb (from Easter Sunday dinner) and a garden which had grown with a vengeance (despite the snow) I managed to create a feast!

Leftover spiced lamb paired with a mint and cucumber yogurt dip, lemony couscous with wild garlic and parsley and steamed purple sprouting broccoli (which had gone mad in the garden!).

Lamb: 400g leftover roast lamb chopped in to pieces, 1 large red onion finely chopped, a couple of cloves of garlic finely chopped, tablespoon rapeseed oil, 2 teaspoons of roasted cumin seeds crushed lightly, 2 teaspoons coriander, a pinch of chilli flakes, a tin of chopped tomatoes, quarter of a pint of chicken stock, a dessertspoonful sumac, slat and pepper (and fresh coriander to finish but I didn’t have any).

Cook the onion gently in oil until softening. Add garlic, coriander, cumin and chilli flakes and cook gently to release the lovely aroma. Add tomatoes and stock and cook for a few minutes until bubbling then add the lamb and sumac, salt and pepper. Continue to cook for about 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Couscous: put enough couscous to feed four into a shallow bowl (a mug full should do it depending on how hungry you are), pour over enough boiling vegetable stock (for speed use Kallo organic stock cubes or vegetable bouillon) to cover. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to stand for about 10 minutes. When you are ready put the couscous in a serving bowl and fluff with a fork. Stir in chopped herbs, a handful of wild garlic finely chopped, salt and pepper, juice of half a lemon and a good glug of olive oil. Steam the broccoli lightly and serve on top (I admit I slightly overdid mine…I was getting tired by this point!)

Yogurt dip: One tub of Rachel’s organic natural yogurt, half a cucumber grated and squeezed to remove as much juice as possible, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon or so of finely chopped mint leaves. Mix together in a serving bowl.

Dinner…yum!

 

 

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A trip to Brixton Market

Its been a long time since I visited Brixton. Once upon a time, while I was a student in London, it was a regular haunt. My then boyfriend Gary was president of the student Union at Brixton College and he lived not much further up the road, so I often went over to visit and just as often went clubbing at ‘The Fridge’. Oh how I loved being a twenty-something in the 80’s! Back then the eclectic and vibrant market and Electric Avenue were a real revelation to me. I grew up in the suburbs and although we had several shops that sold Indian food, Brixton market with all its Caribbean delights were new, exciting and ready for exploration. The colourful exoticism of the market halls enticed me and kept me enthralled. My Jamaican boyfriend introduced me to patties and bun, curry goat and rice and peas and of course jerk chicken. I still love them to this day.

The recent history of Brixton market is one of degeneration, sell-offs and reprieves, followed by gentrification and trendy food establishments. When the council sold the market off in 2007, locals came together to save it from redevelopment. The Friends of Brixton Market (a voluntary not for profit group) was established by local resident Alex Holland in 2008. Made up of local residents, shoppers and people who just love the Market the aim was to see the market survive, thrive, improve and keep its character, while remaining affordable and culturally diverse.

The first four of these aims have definitely been achieved. The market is pretty much as I remember from my student days. The same riot of sound and colour greeted me and my teen and she was immediately captivated, just as I was twenty odd years ago. She loved it. The noise, diversity, characters and stalls!

The only thing that was noticeably different were the tiny cafe’s tucked in snugly alongside the breadfruit and akee, butchers, wig shops, fish, pattie stalls.

Hip cocktail bars such as Seven (fab mojito’s), kitchen shops selling local produce and shabby chic household goods (Brixton Cornercopia) share space with cafe’s such as Rosie’s deli, purveyor of great cakes.

Our lunch destination was French & Grace; a restaurant owned by Ellie and Rosie of salad club with whom I worked at Harvest last year. Seating only about twelve people inside (plus a few outside), it is small but perfectly formed. Informal and friendly it was like sitting down to dinner in my house. Cutlery brought to the table in a mug and food served on tin plates and dishes gave it an informal, picnic like quality.  It reminded me of their festival stall, but with a fixed counter, doors and windows.

It was great to catch up and see how full-time restaurant life suited them, plus the chance to eat their fab Mediterranean inspired street food (the lamb was delicious as was the toffee and ginger pudding with salted caramel sauce) and just sit and chill for a while as we watched the world go by before we headed back into central London for a trip to Tate Modern.

My return visit this Easter (the first time in about 15 years!) filled me with renewed hope for the future of Brixton market. It has survived with its charm intact and mercifully it still resembles the one I remember. The influx of creatives hasn’t taken away from the great stalls, great food and multicultural nature of the place.  The one thing I’m not sure about yet is whether it will meet those last two aims; to stay affordable and accessible to the local community. With the influx of trendy cafe’s and middle class chic comes the tourists looking for something new, the media types with plenty of disposable income. Brixton market was always the heart and soul of black Britain and I’d hate to see it become just another expensive fashionable foodie destination.

When it comes to prices though I’m probably not the best judge. I live in Wales where things are half the price of London and it always horrifies me how expensive food and drink is in the city. Still £7.50 for a cocktail; £8.00 for a wrap?….Call me a country bumpkin but I think this is quite expensive (back home no one would pay more than £3.50 for a wrap!)

The market arcades are open:

Monday – Wednesday from 8am – 6pm
Thursday – Saturday from 8am – 10pm
Sundays from 10am – 5pm

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Swiss dark, rye and black sesame loaf: recipe

I’m a big fan of home-baked bread and tend to make quite a lot. I also love to experiment with different flours and added ingredients so I recently treated myself to several different types from Shipton Mill a long-established British mill in the Cotswolds. Along with the standard strong white bread flour (which I tend to buy in 15kg sacks) I also grabbed a few extras; one in particular, the Swiss Dark, caught my eye. It’s not a flour I’ve ever used before so I had a little hunt around for recipes. Nothing really grabbed me apart from a sourdough recipe on the Shipton Mill website, but that was too time consuming for the dinner I was due to cook that evening (a business dinner for a group of 25 doctors).

I was also looking for a recipe that didn’t produce a solid heavy bread and while I hunted I noticed that several recipes used a mixture of several kinds of flour, including white, so that is what I decided to do. I used a mixture of dark Swiss, Rye from Bacheldre Mill (a Welsh mill in Powys) and white with an added a handful of black sesame seeds for a bit of added bite (which one taster suggested gave the bread a hint of spice). I’ve never thought of black sesame as being spicy but the flavours worked well together. I also omitted fat from the recipe to accommodate any vegan guests. The resulting bread was light and springy, with a slightly nutty taste and a soft crust, not like many whole wheat breads that can be a bit heavy and leaden.

The recipe:

250g Swiss Dark flour

125g Rye flour (from Bacheldre Mill in Powys)

125g strong white bread flour (again from Shipton Mill)

a teaspoon of Halen Mon sea-salt

a sachet of fast acting yeast

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and add enough luke warm water (around 250-300ml) to make a dough. If it is too stiff or dry keep add a little more water, or if it’s too wet add a bit more flour until it makes a firm but not too sticky dough. Knead well for about 5 minutes or until its fairly smooth, but not too perfect! Put back into the bowl and leave in a warm place with a tea-towel placed over the top for an hour to rise.

After an hour it should have almost doubled in size. Knead again and shape into a loaf and leave again to rise for half n hour to an hour.  Bake in a fairly hot oven (about 220 degrees) for 20 minutes or until nice and brown and has a hollow sound when tapped.

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