Wow, what a day at the Otago Farmers Market, if we didn't have such fantastic produce available i am sure we wouldn't have the die-hard patrons, battling the wild winds, and harsh rain, early in the morning.  Never the less i now have a fruit bowl full of summer fruits, a fridge full of incredible veg and some wonderful Waitaki Pork, and some very fresh fish from Edmonds.  You soon forget about the weather when you start thinking about what you will be eating for dinner....

I cooked with fantastic produce today at the market.  For those of you who missed it, the recipes will follow.  The peach fritters were really good and i must admit the turnips were excellent. 

For many of us the Aubergine or Eggplant (as some may know it), seems a little bit confusing and maybe even a little intimidating! I can assure you once you start to cook with it and enjoy the many dishes you can make from one vegetable you will be converted.

Serves 4
2 large aubergine (Kakanui Produce at the Farmers Market)
Olive oil for cooking aubergine
2 tomato, seeds removed, sliced or diced
1 clove garlic, sliced thinly
1 red onion, finely diced

2 tsp capers, roughly chopped                                 
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine or sherry vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil, flat leaf parsley, marjoram or oregano leaves, roughly torn
20 g shaved Parmesan cheese ( feta works as well)

Slice the aubergine into 1 cm thick slices, length ways. Heat up a griddle pan or heavy based fry pan until hot. I try not to cook my aubergine in any oil if using a griddle pan, if using a solid base pan, just a light drizzle over the surface of the pan. Cook the aubergine in a single layer until brown on each side, it is important that you feel the flesh of the aubergine, it should be soft not tough.

While the aubergine are cooking, put the vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, capers and seasoning in a flat serving dish. As soon as the aubergine are cooked place into the dressing, you are wanting them to suck up the dressing so that the aubergine are moist and flavoursome throughout. Continue until all the aubergine are done. Scatter over the tomatoes, onions, herbs and Parmesan, you may need a little more extra virgin olive oil to lightly moisten the surface. Ensure all the ingredients are well combined, arrange so it looks fabulous!

BABABGNOUSH - aubergine dip

1 large aubergine
½-1 medium size onion, grated and liquid removed
2 cloves garlic, crushed into a paste
1 lemon, juice
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 180`C
Bake the whole aubergine until very soft, about 15- 20 minutes
Remove from the oven, carefully open (watching for steam) and place into a colander over a bowl. You are wanting any juices to drain and also for the aubergine to cool down.

When the aubergine has cooled, remove the skin, give it a light press down for any more liquid. Place the flesh into a bowl, add the grated onion, garlic and some of the lemon juice. Mix well with a wooden spoon so the mixture combines well and the aubergine takes on a lighter and fluffier texture. Season well and drizzle enough olive oil to lighten and loosen the dip. Check for seasoning and also for acidity, you may need more lemon juice. Best to serve it on a little flat plate or serving dish, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, half of a lemon and some good bread.

Serves 4

1 kg fish fillets, monkfish or cod
8 Long rosemary twigs
Extra virgin olive oil
2 - 3 lemons
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp capers
Pinch smoked paprika
Remove 2/3 of the leaves of the rosemary stick and set aside

Cut the fish into 1 cm cubes and thread onto the rosemary. Depending on the length of the stick you should get about 3-4 pieces of fish on each one. Lay them flat on a tray, drizzle over a little olive oil and zest the lemons and scatter over the fish. Season with salt and pepper just before cooking.

To cook, heat up a barbecue or a heavy based griddle or fry pan to hot. Layer the skewers single layer over the heat and cook for about 3 minutes on each side.

Whilst they are cooking roughly chop up the capers, add juice of 1 lemon, roughly chop 2 tsp of the rosemary leaves and add a good pinch of smoked paprika. Mix to combine season lightly and set aside.

Once the fish is cooked, put onto a platter and either drizzle over the dressing or serve alongside.

This is one of those recipes where it works wonders with vegetables like Turnips, Jerusalem Artichokes or onions. It will transform a some what curious flavoured vegetable into a rich, buttery dream.

Serves 2-4

800g - 1 kg baby turnips or large one cut in half
1 medium onion
90g butter
400 ml water                                                                   
Pinch of vegetable stock
60 ml white wine (optional)
½ tsp Vegemite or Marmite
1 sprig rosemary, or small bunch fresh thyme

1 garlic clove
1 chilli, chopped very small
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel the turnips and if using larger turnips, cut in half. Soften the onion in 30 g of the butter, all this on a gentle heat until brown. Add the turnips and cover with the water and stock, white wine if using and Vegemite and the remaining butter.

Add the rosemary or thyme and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with a piece of baking paper cut to size and seal with a well fitting lid.

Bring to the boil for a few minutes and then reduce heat slightly. Shake the pan about to loosen any catching on the bottom. They are ready when very tender and almost at a stage when the turnips begin to break up.

Add the chilli and parsley, they are deliciously exotic in flavour and work well with beef, pork or simply add a good robust green salad.

TURNIP TOP’S - as you are well aware I try not to waste a thing, and the tops of the turnips are no exception. Simply remove the tops and discard any damaged or tough looking leaves. Bring a pot of salted water tot the boil and quickly blanch the tops for a few minutes. Drain immediately and sauté in a little oil or butter with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

PEACH FRITTERS                        

250g flour                                                                      
1 tsp yeast
1 Tbsp warm water, plus a little more for mixing
1 Tbsp oil
1 egg white
6 peaches
Sugar for sprinkling
Pinch of cinnamon
Oil for frying

Prepare the batter 2 hours in advance. Put the flour in a bowl. Mix the yeast to a paste with the warm water. Make a well in the centre of the flour and put the oil and yeast into the well. Mix in warm water, a little at a time, until the batter falls like a ribbon from the whisk. Beat the egg white for 1 minute with a fork. Stir this into the batter. Allow the batter to stand in the refrigerator for 2 hours before using.

Heat the oil in a deep heavy based pot to 180C or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. Cut the peach in half and remove the stone, cut into even slices. Dip the peach slices , one at a time into the batter. Carefully lower the apple slices, in batches, into the hot oil and fry for a few minutes until golden and tender. Drain, sprinkle with sugar and a little cinnamon.
Great with apples, pears, and strawberries