Street Food Festival | Brindley Place

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Easter Sunday. A day of stuffing your face with huge amounts of chocolate, roast dinners and whatever else you might fancy. I didn’t let the side down.

Breakfast was hot, buttered toast spread with a ridiculous amount of marmalade, made using a wholemeal seeded loaf I’d baked that morning.

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After a Cadbury’s Easter Egg Hunt at Birmingham Back to Backs on Hurst Street, we headed into town on the hunt for more food.

We hit the jackpot in Brindley Place.  Transformed into a huge Street Food Festival, the place was buzzing!

How do you choose when everything looks and smells so good?!

Sticky Fig Catering seemed like a good place to start: Smoked Pulled Pork served with Coleslaw in a Brioche Bun. Oh yes please.

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Man alive, this tasted GOOD! Matt and I bought one between us, but it took all my strength to share this beauty with him.  The roll was buttery and sweet, the meat was tasty and plentiful, and the pickled chillies were bursting with flavour. I mean, just look at it. Something that looks that good,  can only taste amazing.

Verity wanted a pizza. Bare Bones Pizza have a wood fired oven in their van. IN THEIR VAN. What a great idea that is!

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Once it had gone through thorough testing and evaluation, she ate every last piece. Well ok, we might have ‘helped’.

It was hard not to notice Pip’s Hot Sauce : a bright red beacon amongst all the other stalls.

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I am a chilli lover. Bring on the heat, I can take it. Much to the annoyance of my husband, who likes to think he’s as hard-core as I am: he’s not.  He held himself together well, but I could tell from his eyes that Pip’s Super Hot La Boca Del Diablo sauce was burning his insides. I thought it was yummy. Rather than just tasting ‘hot’, you really get the fresh chilli flavour.

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I bought a bottle of the Calabaza Malvada Hot Sauce. Made with pumpkin, cumin and scotch bonnet chillies, this is actually at the milder end of the scale of all the sauces they have.  Matt, who makes all of  the sauces with his partner Pip, suggested using it as a marinade on meat, or stirring it through roast veg towards the end of cooking.

On to pudding.

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I’d seen that the guys at White Heat were advertising Lemon Pie, and I was intrigued. I could see that they were cooking all of the  food from fresh, so how were they going to make a pie?

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A thick layer of Italian meringue was spooned into a serving bowl, before Gaz grabbed his blowtorch (gotta love a bit of on the street, blowtorch action) and cooked the top until it was beautifully caramelised.  He then sprinkled it with a layer of oaty crumble, before dolloping on a huge spoonful of homemade lemon curd. Topped with another layer of crumble, the pie was made.

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I had to fight off both Matt and Verity just to have some of this to myself! A  deconstructed lemon meringue pie, there was just enough crunch from the crumble to bring together an otherwise very wet pudding. Yum.

Stuffed, we left the market to spend the rest of Easter Sunday eating chocolate with my family.

The market is on for just one more day, Monday 6th April, so get down there if you can.

Brindley Place, Birmingham B1 2JF

Steamed Pineapple Pudding with Coconut Ice Cream

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When I visited Harborne Farmer’s Market last week, I picked up a jar of pineapple jam made by the mini jar company.  Having never tried pineapple jam before, I didn’t really know what to do with it, if I’m honest.  All I did know, was that it derserved something better than just being spread on hot, buttery toast (however good that sounds!)

For some inspiration, I turned to my Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit. Pineapple had some interesting pairing suggestions – pineapple and anchovies anyone?!  But it did also describe how well matched pineapple and vanilla can be, and that got me thinking…

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One of my all time favourite cookbooks is Roast Figs, Sugar Snow by Diana Henry.  If you don’t have it already, buy it, it is beautiful.  It includes a recipe for Steamed Apple and Marmalade Pudding, which is an absolute winner.  I had the idea of taking this recipe, and replacing the marmalade with the pineapple jam. Mixed with golden syrup, this would create the sticky, syrupy sauce of the pudding. Something similar to an upside down pineapple cake I thought.

Usually a generous helping of cold double cream, poured over the hot steaming sponge is all it needs to transport you to pudding heaven.  However this time, I decided to serve it with homemade coconut ice cream.  It would still deliver the hot/cold contrast, and coconut is such a classic combo with pineapple, that it had to work!

The ice cream recipe I chose, Easy Coconut Ice Cream is from the book Ice Creams, Sorbets and Gelati: The Definitive Guide by Caroline & Robin Weir.  My weapon of choice: my Cusinart ICE30 .

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This machine makes ice cream like a dream. You place the bowl from the machine in the freezer the day before you want to use it. Then, when you’re ready, pop it back in the machine, pour in your mixture, and half an hour later, you have the most delicious homemade ice cream. I love it.

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The pudding recipe includes two whole bramley apples, that are chopped and mixed through the cake mixture before steaming. I found this gave the pudding a lightness that counteracted any chance of stodginess, and also kept the sponge moist.

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The pudding steamed away for an hour and half, before being unwrapped and served piping hot with the smooth, cold coconut ice cream. A piña colada in a bowl. Yum.

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King Brown Sauce | Makers & Merchants

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I love shopping in Homesense. I can lose whole hours  of my life just wandering the aisles of unique dinnerware sets and discounted wine glasses (the latter being the utmost importance as wine glasses never manage to make it more than two months in my house before my husband breaks them!).

My local Homesense at Merryhill in Dudley appeared to have had a recent makeover when I visited at the weekend, and the food section is now huge! I LOVE discovering new foods and brands, and although, yes, it is all a bit jumbled up and takes some time to shop, you really can find some gems.

A bottle of King Brown Sauce caught my eye: nice graphics, and who doesn’t like brown sauce?! I then read on the label that the company Makers & Merchants were based in the Custard Factory Birmingham, and well, it was sold!

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The only way to eat brown sauce is on a bacon butty in my opinion, so that’s what I did. And it was delicious! I passed one to Matt, my husband, while I was still constructing (photographing!)  mine, and he shouted through to me “that sauce is GOOD!”. And it is. It’s fruity and well-rounded without the usual overwhelming vinegar hit. Mellow, but with a warm heat similar to an expensive aged whiskey. Yum.

Makers & Merchants website states that this particular product is made on the east coast of England.

Harborne Farmer’s Market

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It’s rare for me to go anywhere near a high street on a Saturday.  People. Everywhere.

So although the Farmer’s Market in Harborne has been running for some years now, I’d never actually been.   It’s not the largest market I’ve ever visited, and was apprehensive as I walked towards it, worried that it would have little to offer. I was wrong. The organisers have obviously got a quality over quantity approach to choosing stall holders.

The first stall that caught my attention was KUSKUS Foods. The food looked bright, vibrant and fresh. It smelt amazing! Mo, who introduced himself as the chef, was so enthusiastic about what he had created, you couldn’t help but want to tuck in.  I chose the falafels, cooked fresh that morning, and his ‘raw’ hummous which contains the usual chickpeas but with some secret herbs and spices.

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VERDICT: The. Best. Falafels I’ve ever eaten. Full of flavour, moist (what a word) and made with lots of visible ingredients – unlike the sawdust textured versions you usually find in the supermarket. The hummous had a real zing to it, and I loved the chunky texture.  I actually had a pot of supermarket own brand hummous in the fridge which I then tasted in comparison, and wow. Worlds apart. My normal hummous tasted flat, bland and disappointingly smooth. I am converted.

Another great find was Quirki Chilli. A beautifully aromatic crushed chilli paste made in my hometown of Sutton Coldfield. Made from three different chilli varieties, from the mild to the super hot, this definitely has a kick! Suggestions on how to use it include as a dip, paste or marinade.  I thought it could perhaps be used in place of the usual harrisa paste in one of my favourite recipes.  An adapted recipe based on a magazine cutting that my mom passed to me years ago.

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A triumph!

The market runs twice a month, every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month. Details can be found at  www.skettsfarmersmarkets.co.uk.