What's better than a sleep-in on a cold winter Saturday morning in July? A trip to the Farmers Market, of course. OK, who am I kidding! But how can I refuse an early morning wake-up call from my Mum? She goes religiously every week and loves to have company So I roll out of bed, dress up warm and head out in the freezing grey light of day. I'm off to satisfy my primeval hunter-gatherer urge and keep my Mum happy.
A couple of hours later and I've bagged myself some fresh beetroot and walnuts, as well as load of firm, furry kiwifruit. Meanwhile, Mum chats to all her favourite stallholders, who now know her on first name basis. She's turned just a little bit country since moving just out of Canberra a few years ago, so she's right into this scene.
The Canberra Farmers Market website has some useful information about the stallholders and products on offer (see http://www.capitalregionfarmersmarket.com.au/). Not all the stallholders are there all the time, so it's the luck of the draw, especially in winter when things are quieter.
So what do I make with all my goodies?
A beetroot, walnut and feta tart for starters. Perfect for a light and tasty meal. The combination of sweet beetroot, crunchy walnuts and salty feta is classic.
Some people get a bit squeamish about handling fresh beetroot because of the way the juice stains everything a brilliant bright pink. Don't let it put you off - I don't think it's that bad and the taste is worth it.
fresh beetroot - 1 bunch, around 500g
olive oil - 1 tablespoon
puff pastry - 1 sheet (store-bought)
cream cheese or ricotta cheese - 100g
fresh walnuts - 1/2 cup, chopped roughly
feta cheese - 200g, cubed
rocket - 1 cup
red wine vinegar - 1/2 tablespoon
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
- Wash the beetroot and place in baking dish. Drizzle with half the olive oil and place in the oven for 30 minutes or until tender (turning after 15 minutes). Allow the beetroot to cool enough to handle, then peel and cut into cubes.
- Cut the puff pastry sheet in half so that you have two even rectangles. Using a sharp knife, score a 1cm border around the edge of each piece, taking care not to cut all the way through.
- Spread the cheese within the border of each piece of pastry. Scatter the beetroot, fetta and walnuts on top of the cheese. Then sprinkle the tarts with a little cracked black pepper.
- Place the tarts on a non-stick baking tray and bake for 12 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden.
- Dress the rocket with the red wine vinegar and remaining olive oil and scatter over the cooked tarts to serve.
Serves 2 as a light meal.
Followed by some sweet kiwifruit jam. Sounds a little unusual, I know, but tastes quite good - think toffee-apple with slight tang. Try it with some hot buttered crumpets, or freshly baked scones and cream.
kiwifruit - 1 kg
jam setting sugar - 1 kg (available from supermarkets)
- Wash two medium (400g) glass jars and their lids with warm soapy water. Dry the jars the in the oven at 120 degrees C for 15 minutes to sterilise them.
- Cut each kiwi fruit and half and scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon. Place fruit and sugar in a large heavy-based saucepan and put on low heat until the sugar fully dissolves.
- Bring fruit mixture to the boil, stirring every now and then. Skim off any foam that forms using a large metal spoon.
- After around 10 minutes, test to see if the jam is set by spooning a dollop on a cold saucer. Run your finger through the middle - if the jam stays on each side of the line your finger makes, it's ready.
- Spoon the hot jam carefully into the jars, seal them and turn upside down so the heat sterilises the lids.