Time for a Hackney challenge: 2 dishes from £5


EVERY WEEK I take £5 to Ridley Road Market in Dalston, Hackney, London E8 2LH, to spend on seasonal food. On Friday I tell you what I have chosen and publish a seasonal recipe. By seasonal, incidentally, I refer to availability in the market, which tends to depend on seasons in the growing regions around the world.

As usual, expenditure on any extra ingredients, eg, a pineapple, will be recouped by usage over subsequent weeks. Some of the recipes will be frugal. They will be tasty. All will be vegetarian.

NB: this website uses metric measures but a few Ridley Road traders cheekily sell in imperial, some in metric and some also by the bowl. 

This week’s £5 basketRidleylogoc

Bunch leeks (5) £1

Bowl of broccoli (wrapped in 3 packets, each with 2 heads) £1

Cauliflower £1 

Savoy cabbage 60p

7 navel oranges £1

Total £4.60


The recipes over the past few weeks have been easy. This week I suggest two dishes, a soup and a casserole, that require more effort and time. Both can be prepared in the same session and enjoyed over several days.

Equipment: kitchen knife, paring knife, lidded saucepan, flameproof casserole dish, blender/sieve for purée, mixing bowl, rolling pin, wooden spoon, scales, cutter. Wash/scrub all vegetables.

Two recipes: Leek soup and cobbler hotpot 

Leek soup, my favourite winter broth
Leek soup, a winter favourite. Serves 2 on the day, leaving enough for 2 another day

Leek soup. Preparation 10 mins; cooking 30 mins

Ingredients: 4 leeks, 2 carrots (from last week’s buy) 2 sticks of celery, 2 small potatoes for thickening, teaspoon vegetable bullion, bay leaf, 3 peppercorns, 1.5 litres saved vegetable water/homemade stock/tap water.

NB: I always have celery in the house because it has a great flavour and is versatile: it can be added to all soups and vegetable rice dishes, served with cheese and put in sandwiches.

Method: Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and remove any discoloured outer leaves. Wash the leeks again thoroughly to make sure no soil lurks between each leaf. They may need a few washes. Cut the leeks across the grain  into 3cm slices, the same with the carrots and celery. Peel the potatoes and chop into bite-size pieces. Put all the ingredients in the saucepan and cover them with stock/water and bring to the boil and put the lid on the saucepan. Turn the heat down and cook steadily for 35 mins until all the vegetables are soft. Remove from heat and when cool enough, blend to a smooth soup.

This wholesome soup is good at lunchtime. Tasty though it is, it may be that some diners will want to add a spoonful of creme fresh.

Cobbler’s hotpot (vegetable casserole) with cheese-and-herb scone topping. It’s work but worth the effort
Cobbler hotpot (vegetable casserole) with cheese-and-herb scone topping. Worth it

Cobbler hotpot with cheese-and-herb scone topping. Main course, serves 4. Turn oven to 180C. Preparation 10 mins for casserole and 10 mins for scone mixture; cooking 42 mins for casserole and a further 30 mins when the scones are added to the pot

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons oil,  2 carrots sliced into 2cm circles, 2 sticks celery cut into 2cm lengths, 2 crushed cloves garlic, 1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes, 1 leek prepared as for the soup above, the 3 remaining mushrooms from last week, 1/4 cauliflower cut into small florets, 400g tin chopped tomatoes, 400g tin chick peas, 2 bay leaves, herbs of choice  — fresh or dried thyme or dried oregano. Seasoning: 500 ml vegetable stock, 4 teaspoons plain flour.

Topping ingredients: 115g butter, 225g self-raising flour, 50g grated Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon herbs (I used oregano), about 70ml milk, pepper

Method: heat the oil in the casserole on the hob. Add the garlic and cook until soft stirring so it doesn’t burn. Stir in the chilli flakes  and cook for for a minute. Add the celery, carrot, cauliflower and leek and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 1minute. Add tomatoes, chick peas and stock. Mix and bring to the boil. Cover the casserole and put it in the hot oven for 30 mins.

Cobbler’s hotpot: getting stuck in
Cobbler hotpot and a glass. Grand!

While the hotpot cooks, make the cheese scones.

Place the flour and fat into a mixing bowl and rub the fat into the flour with your fingers. When the mixture looks like bread crumbs, add the herbs and half the grated cheese. There is no need for salt because the Parmesan is salty but add some ground black pepper. Add milk a little at a time until you have a smooth dough. Roll out the dough on a floured board or table until 3cm thick. Cut into scone shapes or any cutter shape you have to hand. A knife will do for making square or triangular shapes. Brush the tops with milk.

Remove the casserole from the oven and put the scones on top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Back to the oven and cook uncovered for another 30 mins until the scones are ready. For a quicker topping, use cooked, mashed potatoes.

The remaining cauliflower will be made into a curry. Cabbage parcels are delicious:stuff cabbage leaves with anything in the cupboard, pine nuts, garlic, onion, tomato, celery and more with a grain. The broccoli will make another soup — some of this week’s heads are turning yellow, so a soup recipe is perfect. The oranges will be added to a fennel and watercress salad and a date-fig-and-orange pudding.

Tip: an empty sterilised milk bottle or wine bottle (labels removed) makes an excellent rolling pin.

* Previous articles dates hyperlinked:

Ae fond neep 25 January 2013

Cauliflower cheese 18 January 2013 

Hackney frittata 11 January 2013  

Tasty and easy Christmas snack 21 December 2012


Shops behind the market stalls 9 November 2012

Chutney 2 November 2012 

Piccalilli 26 October 2012

Golden soup 19 October 2012

Roasted, stuffed squash 12 October 2012

Vegetable curry 5 October 2012

Carrot and coriander soup 28 September 2012

Ratatouille Gypsy stew 21 September 2012

Bubble and squeak Shooey styleBakewell pudding 14 September 2012

Coleslaw and radishes 7 September 2012 Ridleybask070912?

Turkish spinach pie 31 August 2012;

Tomato tart, marinated aubergines, fresh mango chutney 24 August 2012;

Roasted butternut squash soup and beetroot salad 17 August 17 2012;

From £5 in the market: a column launched 15 August 2012

This site welcomes fair comments, including the critical. As is standard UK newspaper practice with letters to the editor, they will be subject to editing, although only as necessary, for grammatical, legal or taste reasons, or for shortening. Be polite in what you write and be brief. Wikipedia citations are not welcome. Loving Dalston on Twitter: @lovingdalston