Covent Garden Real Food Market Update: Week 6

At last, a week where everything went smoothIy, I was beginning to lose hope. I was most pleased with my produce for last weeks market. Overnight slow roast shoulder of pork was delectably tender with a gorgeous crispy crackling. I upped the spicing on the apple relish slightly, and enjoyed the extra kick nestling in the unctous pork. I made many blaas, those fluffy Waterford bread rolls, I’m definitely getting that recipe down now.

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder & Blaas

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder & Blaas



With regard to the rest, the sausage rolls were the most perfect yet, looking uniform and less like distant reformed relatives. The beetroot tartlets ( recipe here) revealed themselves, almost by accident, pretty pink and juicy with a light goat’s cheese blanket. The new addition on the wine front  – Bisol Rose – went down a treat.

Chorizo & Pork Rolls

Beetroot Tarts

Beetroot, tomato, goat's cheese & mint tartlets

All perfect so far. Unfortunately, the market was quiet last week. It’s impossible to predict how these things will go. It’s almost safe to say that my level of organisation or otherwise serves as a good barometer for the busyness of the market or not. When I am organised, it’s quiet, when I am disorganised, we sell out early and there’s nothing left. Go figure. Regardless, overall the day worked well, and I was happy at the end of it.

How long more can it continue? Good question! It seems the options are I ramp it up and do another market on other days buffering my diminished income, and making it a realistic prospect, or I retire quietly and gracefully while the going is good, and get back to work. I am really not sure which way it will go right now, but I’ll be at the market once more this week, menu details tbc.

Bisol Rose Prosecco

Bisol Rose Prosecco


Covent Garden Real Food Market Stall: the recipes

And… drumroll! Now for the recipes.

I was really excited by how many people really enjoyed the brown soda bread and cucumber pickle. I was a little nervous about how they would be received, and at 6am, sleep deprived and coffee’d up, I had a thought: what if people hate it?! Thankfully no one seemed to, in fact lots of people wanted the pickle and bread to take home, so if I do it again folks, I’ll make sure that I jar some and make some extra bread (if that’s possible!).

As I said in my previous post, both of these recipes are very straight forward but with excellent results, it’s virtually impossible to mess these up. Depending on your taste you may want to alter the sugar/vinegar ratio in the pickle, I prefer it to be a little on the tart side. Both recipes are adaptations of Ballymaloe recipes. The original Ballymaloe soda bread calls for buttermilk, however, that’s not terribly easy to find in the UK, and when available it’s expensive. I substitute whole milk, soured a little with fresh lemon juice, about a tablespoon for every 850ml. You need the sour aspect to wake up the soda. The Ballymaloe cucumber pickle calls for onion and less vinegar so that it’s a sweeter pickle, I prefer to make with just cucumber and a little more vinegar.

This is utterly perfect with smoked salmon, but if you’re vegetarian try it with a robust cheese, like a good strong cheddar or Mrs Kirkham’s. It would work a treat.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Frank Hederman you can visit his site –

To get your hands on some delicious Bisol Jeio (it really is delicious!), you can order some from Bibendum. I will be.

Brown Soda Bread


600g wholemeal brown flour
600g plain flour
850ml whole milk soured with 1tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt


Preheat the oven to 230 C.
Mix the flours, salt and sieved baking soda thoroughly.
Make a well in the center, and add the milk, drawing in the dry ingredients from the outside as you add it with your hand.
Mix until sticky but not too gooey, you should be able to pick it up and shape into a round.
Wash your hands and flour them and transfer your dough to a floured board. Shape into a round. Turn over onto a floured baking tray and shape once more, tidying the edges is necessary. It should be 1 1/2 – 2 inches thick at most.
With your knife, draw a cross in the centre (as per the picture) cutting down to the bottom of the bread. The idea is that it should come apart into quarters quite quickly. Stick the knife into the centre of each quarter to let the fairies out (yes!).
Cook for 20 minutes and then turn down to 200 C. After 20 minutes, take the bread out of the oven, turn upside down and knock on it. If it sounds hollow it’s done. If it doesn’t put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes, upside down, and try again. That should be enough.

Cucumber Pickle


2 cucumbers, sliced as finely as you can.
240 ml cider vinegar
200g sugar
1 tsp salt


Heat the vinegar, sugar and salt just until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Allow to cool.
Pour over the cucumbers and leave overnight in the fridge (or for 5 hours).
Your cucumbers are pickled!
Keeps for up to a week in the fridge.



Covent Garden Market Stall – almost there!

Frank Hederman at his market stall in Cork

And… breathe! Tomorrow is d-day for our Covent Garden Market Stall, sharing with you Londoners the wonder that is Bisol prosecco and Frank Hederman smoked salmon. Both are fantastic products and we’ll be selling them at really fair prices, so that you can try them and judge for yourself. I’ll be making cucumber pickle into the wee hours after work tonight and up at 5am tomorrow baking soda bread (and maybe soda scones?). On Frank’s recommendation I will also be serving the salmon with red onion and capers as they are a good match.

Setting up this stall has been no small feat but it has been a great experience. I loved calling around to Frank’s smokery in Belvelly, Cork. If he could bottle that smell he could retire. Such an interesting man too, a true artisan with loads of information to share. My mother proclaimed en route that she wouldn’t be eating smoked salmon as she couldn’t bear it, yet when Frank offered, and she reticently accepted (based on the smell alone), I caught her sneaking seconds when she got an opportunity. After dropping me at the airport she went home happily with her own packet of smoked salmon, stopping on the way for soda bread, which she gifted to my sister who was very happy indeed.

Frank Hederman Smoked Salmon and Pickled Cucumber

In Frank’s own words (from the Irish Independent):

How do I know it’s done? Well, this is what I do: I feel the fish through my fingers — imagine the inside of a salmon, the upper front. I put my thumb on the orange bit at the front and feel it at the back, at the skinniest part. I move my finger and go, ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ It’s an instinct thing. There’s no law to these things. So when the fish is ready, the fish is ready, and when it’s not ready, it ain’t. You leave it until it is ready.

One journalist very kindly said that saying Frank Hederman smokes fish is a bit like saying Mr Steinway makes pianos.

We use beechwood chips, which we have specifically made for us in the UK. The size of the chip dictates the temperature at which it burns, which then, in turn, gives you the smoke that you desire. I suppose you could say that it’s bespoke timber. The curing process is the salting. We’re not Indians in pioneering America and we’re not trying to feed families for the winter. We add flavour, like Lea & Perrins or Colman’s do. When I was starting out, one very clever man told me: “Do not, under any circumstances, smoke volumes of anything. Smoke high value, low volume.” So we did that and it makes a lot of sense.

From the very beginning, we’ve been a low-volume producer, but a very high-quality one, and we have stuck to that rigidly. The Irish market is actually a very small part of what we do. The bulk of it goes to London. We supply all of Selfridges, we do the food halls, the Wonder Bar, the Oyster Bar and all the big restaurants, such as Richard Corrigan’s. We did the Queen’s birthday two years ago.

As for the prosecco, I’ve met Roberto from Bisol before, he’s a real character with a fantastic joie de vivre and lots of knowledge on his favourite topic – prosecco. Some tasting notes from him:

The wine is a straw yellow with a fine, bubbly mousse. On the nose it is fresh as a Spring morning, with hints of rich fruit and wild flowers. Taste it and you’ll experience an explosion of apples and pears. It’s round, generous and will leave you wanting more.

He’s going to join his tomorrow, so do come along, and join in the fun!

It’s rare to get an opportunity to taste and indulge these lovely products  in an informal setting and we’re delighted to offer it.

I am off to work for the day now, I suspect a high coffee intake lies ahead once I get home and get cracking on this enormous to do list!

So, see you tomorrow I hope!

Where: Covent Garden

When: 6 August from 12 noon to 8pm

Price: Bisol Prosecco at £3 per glass. Open sandwich of Frank Hederman Smoked Salmon on homemade soda bread £3.50.

An absolute steal, I am sure you will agree!

You can read my partner in crime, Denise’s details here. She has also got a video interview with Roberto from Bisol which you should definitely check out. Thanks, Denise!

Also check out the NY times on Frank Hederman’s Salmon “Mr. Hederman smokes fish, which is a little like saying Steinway makes pianos.”