Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Salad Days

Sun 06 Aug 2006

While we at home have enjoyed Baking Tuesday yet again this week's request was a revisit of the previously made Toll House YoYos.

So let's talk about what must be christened Salad Sunday.

It's been pretty warm lately here in the UK (yes, over 20 and NOT raining every day!) - with that kind of weather back home we'd be sitting outside, eating elaborate salads and drinking lots of chilled wine. You never seem to get enough warm weather over here to get into the habit of doing that, but Sunday's visit to the farmers' market finally got me into salad mode.

We bought a living organic salad box which contained a selection of greens, an (organic) fennel, a couple of crab cakes and some peppered smoked mackerel. I had some potatoes lying around at home, and Andy had some red onion. My local Somerfield provided a bottle of 2005 Zonte's Footstep Cabernet Petit Verdot for about £3 (on sale) - a rose that was perfect for chilling.

So ... to assemble the salad ... washed and sliced (but didn't peel) the potatoes. Boil and drain - but leave them in the pot. Add the finely sliced fennel and red onion, put the lid back on and set aside.

Make a vinaigrette - extra virgin olive oil, cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, pepper and garlic.

When you're ready to eat, set to frying the crab cakes. Put some of the potato mix on each plate and add the vinaigrette. Crumble over some Stilton and then flake the peppered mackerel. Arrange your salad leaves to the side or around the edge. About now the crab cakes might be done ... if not, well, have another glass of wine (which, incidentally, did a very good job of cutting through the vinaigrette and Stilton - it was a top match!).

When the crab cakes are hot, add to your plate and eat. Mmmmm ... and if you're lucky you'll have left over Stilton for pudding (ensure crusty bread to hand).

Now - this is ridiculously simple (cooking skills required: frying), quick and actually very cheap. I think we worked it out at being about £3-4 per person - and that's using 'artisan' and organic produce. See - there's just no excuse for ready meals, takeaways etc etc etc.

And the dish even looked pretty too!

So I guess I should thank the vendors that made this meal so tasty ... the organic salad and fennel came from the Low Leases Organic Farm stall. The fennel was amazing - it was incredibly aromatic and really filled the kitchen with its smell when we lifted the lid off the pot.

The fish and crab cakes came from the Hebden Fisheries stall. They're based in Whitby and had a good selection of piscatorial products. I was most impressed when we got the crab cakes home and I looked at the list of ingredients - it was all food! No E-numbers, preservatives, padding or other weird stuff. And the crab cakes were fantastic. They were big, fat and moist and generated much lip-smacking.

The Leeds Farmers' Market is the first and third Sunday of the month in the outdoor bit of the Leeds City Markets. Apparently the first Sunday is quite a bit bigger than the second. Normally I'm not there early enough to notice!
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