Saturday, 8 March 2014

Broadway Market

Spirits are high today at Broadway Market, London has seen the storm clouds finally part to reveal a light steel blue sky only slightly tinged with the dull grey that has been part of our lives for the past six months. The sun is making every effort to shine and is intermittently succeeding, flooding the concrete with a glow that makes people fall in love with London. Happy faces all around, people whistling and singing, everyone wanting to know how you are, wishing you a nice day. Everything is better when the sun shines.

Today I'm on the hunt for proper pasture-raised beef fed and eggs from chickens free to roam green fields where they can nibble bugs and worms. Yum. 

And this is exactly what you can find at Wild Beef. Having only ever been to Broadway Market later in the day, I've never seen this stall in all its glory. Today they are fully stocked with vacuum packed cuts of beef, chicken, veal and pigeon. Free range organic eggs are on sale here as well as free range organic butter and cream. Today the gentleman behind the stall, Richard Vines, is giving away huge chunks of beef suet too, which I nab along with some eggs. It's great to be able to speak to directly to the producers and Richard advises me upon questioning that I can indeed render the suet down to tallow, use it in baking or feed it to the birds.

I go on strolling through the relatively quiet market praising myself for managing to get here so early, it seems like the perfect arrival time is around 10.30am when things are just gearing up. Today I find raw milk on sale, which send me into overexcitement as I've been scouring the internet for it for three weeks. The stall-holder tells me they usually run out by the afternoon but today they are well stocked. In my excitement I forget to photograph the stall but get the name: Downland Produce.

It isn't all food though, the market sees an array of organic stall-holders alternating attendance. I'm drawn in by the floral scent emanating from a Shea butter cosmetics stall. At Shea Alchemy there is a small range of skincare, cosmetics and toiletries with product testimonials from Marie Claire. 

The intense hand cream comes in five scents: English rose, French lavender, Orient, Geranium and Organic lemon & bergamot. On first try my thirsty hands soak up the cream quickly without leaving any greasiness behind. And the geranium scent is refreshingly long lasting.

And no trip would be complete without having a sweet treat, so I head over to The London Marshmallow Company. Their display of beautifully pastel coloured cubes sucks me in and they have tasters available. Bonus.

Just look at those! Who could resist?! I'm taken by the standout colours of the Elderflower and Blackcurrant and to go with that I choose a Cherry and Almond along with a marshmallowy take on Strawberries and Cream.

What a perfect finish to the sunny morning!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Oxtail Broth

The benefits of broth are boundless. You can read a full breakdown of the mineral content at Mark's Daily Apple but in basic terms it's crammed full of gelatine, collagen and calcium in easily digestible form which the body can utilise immediately. Medicinal use of broth is common in many families as treatment for colds or flu and I've found it to be the best hangover cure since a bacon sandwich and banana milkshake. Having done a little experimentation with beef bones, I've found the best broth — which sets like jelly when cooled — comes from using oxtail, either exclusively or as a blend with other beef bones.

You will need:
1.5kg oxtail
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 carrots
3 celery sticks
1 onion
250g vegetable peel and trimmings (optional)
Frying pan
Large stainless steel stock pan with lid

1. Firstly place the pieces of oxtail in a frying pan over a high heat to brown on all sides.

2. Once browned, remove the oxtail pieces and deglaze the pan with a little water or red wine to release the cooking juices and any tiny pieces of caramelised meat from the bottom. Pour this into a large stock pan.

3. Add three sticks of celery, an onion (or several shallots in this case) and three carrots all roughly chopped. You can also use leftover peelings and trimmings from other meals which keep well in the freezer. Onion peel adds a rich brown hue to the finished liquid.

4. Place the oxtail and all vegetables into the stock pan.

5. Add three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar — preferably unfiltered — and enough cold water to cover the ingredients.

It won't look particularly appetising at this stage... 
6. Pop a lid on the pan and turn up the heat. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down as low as possible. The aim is for the pan to be simmering for 12+ hours so it needs to be low and slow. Extended periods at high heat are likely to destroy some of the nutrients.

7. After 12 hours you may wish to take the broth off the heat, strain and enjoy but it's worth noting that you can simmer the broth in excess of two days or until the bones have dissolved. Even after 12 hours, with a high enough acid content from the vinegar, you may find the bones crumble when touched meaning their mineral content has successfully been transferred to your healthy and delicious broth.

I aim to drink around a pint of this a day which not only gives me energy in a super-light and easily digestible form, but also inhibits my hunger pangs and meat cravings. And before bed time it relaxes me into a blissful sleep state.