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.
But not this week. The weather brightened and I could not resist cycling over to Hackney Marshes to pick elderflowers: free food. The Editor was a bit annoyed that I strayed from the brief. He changed his mind when I promised him a bottle of sparkling elderflower.
This week’s basket
Lemons from last week’s basket
Sugar. I am using a fair-trade unbleached sugar that is already in my larder
White wine vinegar, already in my larder
ELDERFLOWERS have an enchanting fragrance. That can be savoured in a non-alcoholic drink that’s easy to make and that can be drunk throughout the summer. Some people call it elderflower champagne.
The elderflower has further value: in fritters it adds a beautifully light taste.
This week’s recipes: Sparkling Elderflower, 4 litres. Fritters, serves 2
Equipment for the drink: a bucket or pan that will hold 4 litres of water, measuring jug, tablespoon, sieve, sterilised bottles. Same method as in my 26 October 2012 recipe.
Preparation: Elderflower champagne 10 minutes, fermenting for 24 hours, bottling 10 minutes
Ingredients: 6 elderflower heads, 2 lemons peeled thinly and the peel cut into strips or as zest and the juice squeezed, 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar, 4 litres cold water, 675g sugar
Method: Put all the ingredients in the bucket and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Stand for 24 hours. The next day strain the liquid through a sieve into sterilised bottles. Leave a 2.5cm to 3cm space at the top of each bottle to allow for expansion. Keep for two weeks, then serve cold. Some people add ice, a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint. I prefer to drink it as is.
Preparation: Batter 10 minutes, cooking 10 minutes
Ingredients: 3 elderflower heads per person with a little stalk attached, 4 tablespoons plain flour, 1 egg, beaten, 1.5 cupfuls sparkling water, oil for frying, sugar for dusting
Method: Make the batter by mixing the flour with egg and slowly adding the water. Let it rest for a minute or two and prepare the oil. Cover the base of a frying pan with oil to a depth of at least 1cm and heat through. Hold the elderflowers by the stalk and dip in the batter. Shake off any excess batter and plunge into the hot oil. Fry until golden. Serve immediately sprinkled with sugar. Lemon juice and mint can also be added as a topping. I enjoy the fragrance of the flower and find that the juice and mint detract from the delicacy of this dish.
Tip 1: The elderflowers are not around for long. This is the week to step out and find some before they start changing into autumn berries (which make a delicious cordial). The best places are away from traffic and the coatings of dust and worse forms of pollution it gives off.
Tip 2: Lime trees are flowering, so go and pick some flowers for refreshing lime tea, and dry a few for later.
Next week: back to seeking the best and healthiest value from £5 spent down the market
* Two websites have written about this column. Hackney Post has published an interview with Shooey, as has the Food Bankers. Hackney council journalist Marcel Reinard has made a video about markets, including Ridley Road.
* Emboldened or tinted words may indicate a hyperlink, a special service for Loving Dalston readers who may want to look further into a topic. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.
*Previous articles hyperlinked: Beetroot quinoa salad 21 June 2013; Lemon couscous with spicy mushrooms 14 June 2013; Lurgied 7 June 2013; At last, the Alphonso 31 May 2013; Aubergine salad 24 May 2013; Asparagus with hollandaise 17 May 2013; Stuffed beef tomatoes with guacamole 10 May 2013; Hackney snackney 3 May 2013; Bell pepper salad 26 April 2013; Gnocchi and tomato sauce with zucchini salad 19 April 2013 Tomato soup with soda bread 12 April 2013; Broccoli mornay 5 April 2013; 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 2013; Samphire surprise 8 February 2013; Two dishes from £5 1 February 2013; Ae fond neep 25 January 2013; Cauliflower cheese 18 January 2013; Hackney frittata 11 January 2013; Tasty and easy Christmas snack 21 December 2012; The 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 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 2012; Roasted butternut squash soup and beetroot salad 17 August 17 2012; The column sets itself a challenge 15 August 2012