Early risers market their knowledge to Hackney

EVERY WEEK I take £5  to Ridley Road Market in Dalston, Hackney, London E8 2LH, to spend on seasonal food, obviously not including items likely to be already in a kitchen, such as sauces, oil, herbs and spices. On Friday I tell you what I have chosen and publish a seasonal recipe.Ridleylogoc

Expenditure on any extra ingredients will be recouped by usage over subsequent weeks. Some recipes will be frugal. All 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 basket

Bowl onions  (9) £1

Bowl broccoli (2 heads) £1

Bowl passion fruits (9) £1

Bowl tomatoes (too many to count) £1

3 bunches spinach £1

Total £5

While talking to stall-holders this week I discovered that one of them, Terry, rises every market day at 01.00 hours five times a week to drive from his home at Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, to New Spitalfields wholesale market in Leyton E10 5SQ to buy his vegetables. Then he drives to Dalston to set up his stall between 04.30 and 05.00.

Terry is not the only costermonger to be in Ridley Road at that time unloading and setting up a stall. On dark, snowy mornings, as they lift sacks of root vegetables from lorries and vans, the traders often engage in cheery banter with the night owls coming home from clubbing. I’m snug in bed around 5am so how do I know? My young relatives tell me.

Recipe: Broccoli mornay

Serves 2. Preparation: 20 minutes, cooking: 20 minutes. Oven 200C

Equipment: vegetable-peeler, kitchen knife, steamer, potato-masher, ricer or fork, milk saucepan, grater, oven-proof dish. Wash all vegetables.

Ingredients: 500g potatoes peeled and cut into small cubes (mine are left over from last week’s basket), 500g broccoli broken into small florets (1/2 a head of one in this week’s basket) tablespoon fat, tablespoon plain flour,1/2 pint milk,1/2 teaspoon  nutmeg, seasoning.


Method: Put the potatoes in a saucepan of cold salted water and bring to the boil andcook until soft enough to mash. If using a steamer, place the broccoli in the first tier and steam for 10 minutes until it turns dark green and is holding its shape. Or place in a saucepan of boiling water and cook for 5 or 6 minutes, again making sure it keeps its shape and is dark green. If the broccoli is pale, it is over-cooked. Heat the milk in a saucepan.

Mash the potatoes, adding a third of the warm milk until they are smooth.

Melt the fat in a saucepan, remove from the heat and add the flour to make a paste. Return to the heat and slowly add the remaining milk, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens into a béchamel sauce. Add grated nutmeg and season to taste.

Put the mashed potatoes around the edge of a serving dish and place the broccoli in the centre of the dish. Pour over the sauce and bake for 20 mins in a hot oven until the potatoes are slightly brown and crisped on top. 

With the remaining food from my basket I shall make a spinach pie, a pasta dish using the lovely mini-plum tomatoes, a broccoli soup and the delicious passion fruits — just as they are.

* Two websites have recently written about this column. Hackney Post has published an interview with Shooey, as has the Food Bankers. — Ed.

* Emboldened, coloured words may indicate a hyperlink. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.

Spot the passion fruit — and the rest of what my £5 bought

Previous articles hyperlinked:

Easter redemption song 29 March 2013;

Less  is enough 22 March 2013;

A tart in the mart 15 March 2013;

Polenta verde and sauté mushrooms 8 March 2013

Caribeasy 29 February 2013;

Feeling fruity 22February 2013;

Kashmir delight 15 February 2013Samphire surprise 8 February 2013Two dishes from £5 1 February 2013Ae fond neep 25 January 2013Cauliflower cheese 18 January 2013A Hackney frittata 11 January 2013;  Tasty and easy Christmas snack 21 December 2012The shops behind the market stalls 9 November 2012Chutney 2 November 2012;

Busy, busy: stall-holders in Ridley Road Market

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 style,

Bakewell pudding 14 September 2012;

Coleslaw and radishes 7 September 2012;

Turkish spinach pie 31 August 2012;

Tomato tart, marinated aubergines, fresh mango chutney 24 August 2012Roasted butternut squash soup and beetroot salad 17 August 17 2012Column starts with a challenge 15 August 2012

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