Happy Birthday to the Midleton’s Farmers Market

Today is the first birthday of the Midleton Farmers Market – a whole year has whizzed by since we set up our stalls for the first time behind the court house. After initial discussions about the location with the local community it was set up with the full support of the Chamber of Commerce and the Urban Council. From an initial twelve stalls the market has blossomed and gone from strength to strength. The Country Market joined in from the very beginning.

Farmers Markets are set up for the express intention of providing an outlet for farmers and small food producers to sell local seasonal produce to the consumers who are desperately seeking this kind of food. These markets are different from some of the established markets, they do not sell clothes, cd’s, tools, bric-a-brac… they simply sell local food to local people , the producers themselves or an appropriate representative must man the stall. They enable farmers and food producers to sell their goods locally which benefits both them and the local community. They keep the money circulating within the local area and attract people to adjacent retail businesses. Farmers Markets benefit the environment by encouraging sustainable agriculture and small scale less intensive production. They reduce the effects of the long distance transport of food and the need for excess packaging.

The variety of produce is amazing and of course most abundant during the growing season. As you enter the market area, Mrs. Burns who has been a trader for many years sells a variety of local vegetables, bundles of fresh carrots and turnips…… in season. Wendy English and her mother are next with their table piled high with freshly baked scones, cakes, biscuits, jam and chutney. Next comes Frank O’Neill with a variety of goodies, carrot cakes, delicious little pies, some beautifully grown vegetables from his own garden and little pots of jellies and jams.

The Ballymaloe Cookery School Gardens stall is next, with organic vegetables, lots of free range eggs, brown bread, jams and chutneys. Little bunches of sweet pea, Nora Aherne’s duck, Frank Krycwzk’s salamis, chorizo, fresh herbs, salad dressings, elderflower cordial and occasionally organic free range pork from our own saddleback pigs. Frank Hederman from Belvelly near Cobh has a tempting array of smoked fish, chicken,duck, and mussels. Sarah Mossman swings into action by his side making crepes which literally sell like hot cakes. Fiona Burke who does three markets a week, Macroom and Bantry, as well as Midleton, sells a gorgeous selection of Irish farmhouse cheese, as well as carefully chosen Continental cheese, eg. aged Gouda, Comte, Double Gloucester and some seaweed products, and Fingal Ferguson’s Gubbeen Bacon. Clodagh McKenna from Ballymaloe House has a little stall sandwiched between Fiona Burke and the Yorks. She sells delicious home made fresh pasta, parsley pesto, tomato fondue, toffee apples, brown soda bread and seasonal soups and dressings.

Tim and Fiona York have recently joined the market and sell a tantalizing array of organic vegetables and plants and plan to expand their range. Local cheesemaker Jane Murphy sells a fresh and a mature version of her exquisite Ardsallagh goat cheese – a delicate gorgeous cheese that tastes of the rich pastures that the goats are fed on. The irrepressible plantsman Ted Murphy trades beside her with an colourful selection of pot plants, herbs and flowers. Helen Aherne and Frances Lucey man the Country Market stall brimming with cakes and biscuits and occasionally a few duck eggs and wild mushrooms in season.. David and Siobhan Barry have a truck full of vegetables and fruit. Kate O’Donovan, of the market, sells her delicious homemade marinades, dressings and dips, and Margaret Keane’s quiches, side by side with Marog O’Brien of the Farmgate Restaurant here in Midleton, who sells Declan Ryan’s fantastic breads – soda, yeast and sourdough and some of her own famous chocolate cake. Next comes local farmer Dan O’Neill and his wife Anne. They invested in a refrigerated truck and now sell their organic beef. He responded to the numerous requests for free range organic chickens and now can scarcely fulfill the demand. Oren Little of the Little Apple Co. drive down from Kilkenny every Saturday to sell their cooking and eating apples and delicious apple juice. Chris Cashman’s cakes made with butter sell out in no time and finally Willie Scannell sells his Ballycotton potatoes, he like many others was a victim of the supermarkets’ central distribution policy, now the Midleton Farmers Market allows him the opportunity to sell his potatoes directly to the consumer, his future is secure, and this year he will have a selection of vegetables including lettuce, cabbage, white turnips, radishes and onions. The variety of produce is truly amazing. The market has been enthusiastically supported, not only by the local community, but by the local shops who report an increase in business on market day.

Midleton Farmers Market is held every Saturday from 10am-2pm on Hospital Road.

Ardsallagh Goat Cheese with Rocket Leaves, Roast Pepper and Tapenade Oil
Serves 5
10ozs (285g) Ardsallagh goat cheese (or a similar fresh mild goat cheese)
seasoned flour
beaten egg
flaked almonds
white breadcrumbs
2 large red peppers
Extra virgin olive oil
Tapenade Oil
4 ozs (110g/3/4 cup) stoned black olives
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) capers
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
6 fl ozs (170ml) olive oil
A selection of lettuces and rocket leaves
Dressing
4 tablesp. (5 american tablesp. + 1 teasp.) extra virgin olive oil
1 tablesp.(1 American tablesp. + 1 teasp.) Balsamic vinegar
1/2 clove garlic crushed
salt and freshly ground pepper
Garnish
Wild garlic flowers in season

First divide the Ardsallagh goat cheese into 25 balls, chill. Next make the Tapenade oil Coarsely chop the stoned black olives, add the freshly squeezed lemon juice. Whisk in the olive oil as you whisk and process to a course or smooth puree as you prefer. Coat the cheese in seasoned flour, beaten egg, flaked almonds, breadcrumbs. Arrange in a single layer on a flat plate. Cover and chill well. Roast the peppers in a preheated oven 200C/400F/gas mark 6 for approximately 20 minutes. Put into a bowl, cover the top with cling film and allow to steam for 5 or 10 minutes. Peel, remove seeds and cut into strips. Next make the dressing Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl. Heat the oil in a deep fry or a pan to 200C Fry the goat cheese croquettes in batches until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper. Toss the lettuces and salad leaves in a bowl with just enough dressing to make the leaves glisten. Divide between the six plates. Put five croquettes on each plate, decorate with strips or red pepper, rocket leaves and a drizzle of Tapenade oil. Scatter some wild garlic flowers over the top and serve immediately

Globe Artichokes with Melted Butter

Whole Globe artichokes are quite fiddly to eat. First you pull off each leaf separately and dip in the sauce. Eventually you are rewarded for your patience when you come to the heart! Don’t forget to scrape off the tickly ‘choke’; then cut the heart into manageable pieces, sprinkle with a little sea salt before you dip it into the remainder of your sauce. Simply Delicious!

Serves 6
6 globe artichokes
2 pints (1.1L/5 cups) water
2 teasp. salt
2 teaspoons approx. white wine vinegar
Melted Butter
6 ozs (170g/) butter
Freshly squeezed juice of * lemon approx.

Some restaurants do very complicated preparation but I merely trim the base just before cooking so the artichokes will sit steadily on the plate, rub the cut end with lemon juice or vinegar to prevent it from discolouring. Have a large saucepan of boiling water ready, add 2 teaspoons of vinegar and 2 teaspoons of salt to every 2 pints of water, pop in the artichokes and bring the water back to the boil. Simmer steadily for about 25 minutes. After about 20 minutes you could try testing to see if they are done. I do this by tugging off one of the larger leaves at the base, it should come away easily, if it doesn’t continue to cook for another 5 – 10 minutes. Remove and drain upside down on a plate. While they are cooking simply melt the butter and add lemon juice to taste. To Serve Put each warm artichoke onto a hot serving plate, serve the sauce or melted butter in a little bowl beside it. Artichokes are eaten with your fingers, so you might like to provide a finger bowl. A spare plate to collect all the nibbled leaves will also be useful.

Globe Artichokes with Vinaigrette Dressing
Ingredients as above excluding the melted butter.
Vinaigrette Dressing
2 fl ozs (50ml/) wine vinegar
6 fl ozs (150ml/) olive oil or a mixture of olive and other oils, e.g. sunflower and arachide
1 level teasp. (* American teasp.) mustard (Dijon or English)
1 large clove garlic
1 scallion or small spring onion
Sprig of parsley, finely chopped
Sprig of watercress, finely chopped
1 level teasp. salt
Few grinds of pepper

Put all the ingredients into a blender and run at medium speed for 1 minute approx. or mix oil and vinegar in a bowl, add mustard, salt, freshly ground pepper and mashed garlic, chopped parsley, spring onion and watercress. Whisk before serving. Cook the artichokes as above. Serve little bowls of vinaigrette dressing with the warm artichokes.

Gooseberry and Elderflower Sponge

Serves 6-8

3 eggs, preferably free range
3 fl ozs (75ml) water
8 ozs (225g/1 cup) sugar
5 ozs (140g/1 cup) flour
1 teasp. baking powder
filling
1 lb (450g) green gooseberries
2 elderflower heads
1/2 pint (300ml/11/4 cups) cold water
1 lb (225g/1 cup) sugar
4 fl ozs (110ml/1/2 cup) whipped cream
2 teasp. icing sugar

Separate the eggs. Whisk the yolks with the sugar for 2 minutes in a food mixer and then add in the water. Whisk until light and fluffy, 10 minutes approx. Gently Fold in the sieved flour and baking powder into the mousse in batches. Whisk the egg whites until they hold a stiff peak. Fold them in very gently. Bake in two greased and floured 8 inch (20.5cm) sandwich tins in a moderately hot oven 190C/375F/regulo 5 for 20 minutes. Next make the filling, first top and tail the gooseberries. Tie 2 or 3 elderflower heads in a little square of muslin, put in a stainless steel or enamelled saucepan, add the sugar and cover with cold water. Bring slowly to the boil and continue to boil for 2 minutes. Add the gooseberries and simmer just until the fruit bursts. Allow to get cold. Fill the sponge with whipped cream and well drained gooseberry and elderflower compote.* Sieve the icing sugar on top before serving. * You may have some over, reserve and serve with cream as a separate dessert.