I am always up early on a Saturday, mind you not early according to the vendors at the market.  A large number of them travel from Oamaru, Winton and Central Otago.  Today is forcasted to be warm, actually very warm which will be a pleasant change as it is usually thermal clothing, and a lot of layers.

I have absolutely delicious ingredients to play around with.  Lamb backstraps, which are easy to prepare and partner well with so many ingredients, and flavours. I will be making a Spinach salad with a sumac dressing, Jersey Benne Potatoes freshly dug from Kakanui Produce, and a fresh mint sauce, and gooseberries with elderflowers.  Which has reminded me to - i need to pick from tree on way to car!

It is also the first day of The Farmers Market -SPRING COOKBOOK, by none other than ME (Alison).  It will be on sale from the market caravan $10.00.

Recipes for the Farmers Market


Serves 2
Lamb back-straps are perfect for barbecuing / char-grilling. They are lean, and take to marinating or rubbing over a herby paste. They are work well with over a robust salad, great with cous cous and of course potatoes in any way possible.

1 lamb back-strap, remove any silver skin
Fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground

Carefully remove any silver skin, this needs to be removed with the tip of a sharp knife and run the blade under it and it should come off in one long strip. If you don’t remove this tough skin it will be unpleasant to digest. Once you have done this you will notice you have a lovely looking lean piece of lamb.

Remove the leaves from the rosemary, grate the lemon zest over it and add 1 garlic clove. Sprinkle in a little salt and pound up in pestle and mortar or cut finely with a knife, until all the ingredients form a coarse paste. Drizzle in a little oil to loosen the paste, squeeze of lemon and add a few healthy grinds of pepper.
Place the back-strap in dish where it can lay flat and cover with rosemary marinade. Coat on both sides and let sit anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
When ready to cook heat up your pan or barbecue so it is very hot. Place the back-strap directly onto the grill and let smoke and sizzle for 3 minutes, turn and cook on the other side for a further 3 minutes. Remove and let sit on a plate, cover with foil and rest for a couple of minutes.

Slice on the angle across the grain of the lamb. Drizzle over any juices that have gathered, a sprinkle of sea salt and a wedge of lemon.


This is the only time I would recommend to keep potatoes in the fridge, but for some reason the first of the season need the coolness of the fridge. They can go bitter, and green very quickly, if not stored correctly.

Jersey Benne Potatoes
Fresh mint
Red wine vinegar
Olive oil

To prepare the potatoes, you can scrap them with the blade of a blunt knife to remove the papery skin or use a brush and rub them under running water. Either way they taste great. Cook with a generous pinch or two of salt. Bring the potatoes to the boil, then reduce the temperature to a gentle simmer. If they are cooked to rapidly they can go floury as the starch is brought to the surface. When the potatoes are almost cooked add the mint sprig now, and allow the fresh flavour to penetrate the potatoes. If added to early the flavour will become dull and washed out. Once cooked, drain and serve tossed through the fresh mint sauce.

Makes 100ml

Good handful fresh mint, stalks removed
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
70 ml olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Put all the ingredients except the oil into a pestle and mortar and pound to form a paste, drizzle in the oil, stirring all the time. Taste - you are wanting a sauce that is tasting of fresh mint, followed with a balance of sweet/sour. You may need to add a touch more sugar or vinegar!
Serve with the potatoes or drizzle over lamb.

Serves 4

500g young, tender spinach, washed and spun dry
200g good quality feta cheese, crumbled
1 dessertspoon fresh oregano
75g pine nuts, very lightly toasted
½ loaf day old bread, crust removed and torn into bite size pieces
Olive oil

½ clove garlic, crushed to a paste with salt
1 Tablespoon good-quality red wine vinegar
2 teaspoon sumac
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

To toast the bread pieces, preheat the oven to 180`C. Drizzle the oil over the bread and toss to coat, lightly season with salt and pepper, tip out on to a tray and bake until golden and crisp. Remove and cool down.
For the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together and taste for seasoning.
To assemble the salad, put the spinach, toasted bread, half the feta, the oregano and pine nuts in a large mixing bowl. Pour on most of the dressing and give everything a good toss. Serve with remaining feta and dressing on top.

Serves 4

300g gooseberries, topped and tailed
2 heads of elderflowers, as fresh as possible
A knob of butter
2 Tablespoons caster sugar (or to taste)
150ml cream, whipped
100ml Greek yoghurt
50g oats
3 Tablespoons honey
Pinch ginger

Preheat grill to medium, spread the oatmeal on a oven tray, drizzle over 2 tablespoons honey and pinch of ginger, mix roughly. Toast under grill, turning occasionally , until golden. Remove and leave to cool.
Put the gooseberries, elderflower, butter and sugar in a pan and cook over low heat until the gooseberries start to soften and ‘pop’. Leave to cool. Then remove the elderflowers heads, mash the gooseberries with a fork and check the sweetness, adding more sugar if necessary.
Whip the cream and fold through the yoghurt, add the gooseberries, (reserve a little for the top) and mix until just combined. Chill before serving.

To assemble - layer the gooseberry mixture first in a glass or similar dish, sprinkle over some toasted oats and continue for another couple of layers. Spoon over a little stewed gooseberries on the top and a pinch of oats. Serve!

Leckies Butcher
Kakanui Produce
McArthurs Berries
Aquarius Gardens