Well, as Sam Cooke sang way back in 1960, it’s been a long time coming but a change is going to come. And at last, with April’s farmers market at Penshurst just a day away, the sun has come out, the birds are singing their hearts out and it seems like Spring has finally got her glad rags on.
So it’s time to dress up in warm (ish) clothes and get you to Penshurst this Saturday morning. The market is on Saturday 7th April 9.30 – 12.00 in the glorious setting of Penshurst Place car park (so you could make a day out and visit the house and gardens at the same time). And if you do, what will you find to put in your shopping basket? With over 30 stall holders this month there’s plenty of choice. Here are ten of my favourite seasonal buys that I will be putting in my basket:
1 New season’s Kent rhubarb from Viv
I’ll be making my favourite crumble this Sunday using flour from Pure Kent
2 Rye Bay scallops from Botterells – Saturday night’s supper seared in apan and served with wild garlic, pea and pancetta risotto (recipe below)
3 Newly laid proper free range eggs from Jennie at Far Acre Farm – I buy a whole tray at each market. Great value and they are only just laid so stay fresh for me to use and cook right the way through to the following month’s market. (The ones you buy in the supermarkets are already weeks old by the time they arrive in store.)
4 The superb veggie raised pies from Jo at Naked and Ready (and the meat version is amazing too!) That’s lunch sorted when I get home from the market – serve with Sugar and Spice’s glorious chilli jelly.
5 A bunch of glorious local spring flowers from Speldhurst Flowers
6 Award winning Barley and Wheat Flour from Claire at Pure Kent
(award winner at the latest Taste of Kent Awards). Nutty with a lovely texture I use this flour for cakes, crumbles and mixed with strong white flour for my own sourdough bread.
7 A joint of pork for Sunday lunch from Renhurst Farm. Happy pigs produce the tastiest and best meat and these from just down the road in Mark Cross are a world away from bland mass-produced animals.
8 Any of the cakes from Debra (but my favourite is her Battenburg if there is any left!)
9 The wild boar and apple sausages from Kieron’s Game. Sunshine makes me long for barbecue days but in the meantime I’ll grill them and serve with purple sprouting broccoli and new potatoes with a little butter and chives.
10 And of course fish from Paul at Arcade Fisheries. Tomorrow it’s got to be Dover Sole – I just bake them in the oven with butter and lemon juice. With fish this fresh and good, simple cooking is always the best. but I’ll also pick up some of the hot smoked salmon to flake with scrambled eggs, add to a creamy chowder or just serve with salad and new potatoes for an easy lunch. The queue for his stall is one of the social hubs of the market and a great place to meet friends, swap recipe ideas and check out/buy Jennie’s eggs and Chris’s beautiful chickens from their stalls next to Paul
Wild garlic, pea and pancetta risotto with seared scallops or Dover sole
One of my favourite risottos (you can use spinach instead if you can’t get wild garlic) especially served with Rye Bay scallops or Dover sole cooked on the bone to make the most of their flavour. Roll any leftovers into small balls, egg and breadcrumb and deep fry for the perfect canape with a glass of local chilled sparkling wine
Prepare: 15 minutes/Cook: 25 minutes/Serves 4
2 tbsp Pure Kent rapeseed oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
75g cubed locally produced smoked pancetta or bacon lardons
300g risotto rice
about 1.3 litres simmering vegetable stock
100ml dry white wine
100g frozen petit pois, defrosted
large handful wild garlic leaves, washed and shredded
30g freshly grated Parmesan or hard salty cheese such as Lord of the Hundreds
salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the shallot and cook for about 3 minutes until softened. Add the pancetta and cook until lightly browned then add the rice and stir to coat in the oil.
- Add a ladleful of stock and the white wine and simmer over a medium-low heat until the liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. Continue adding stock, a few tablespoons at a time, stirring frequently, until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender and creamy but still with a slight bite. This should take about 18 – 20 minutes
- When the rice is tender, add the peas and garlic and cook for another minute or two to heat through thoroughly. Stir in the butter and Parmesan cheese and adjust the seasoning. Cover and leave to stand while you griddle some scallops. Keep any lefotvers chilled in the fridge and use within 24 hours.
Cook’s tip: if making for a party, cook up to the stage of adding the wine then leave and finish off just beofer serving