Walking around Borough Market today was a whole sensory popping-corn experience. There were excited people, buzzing around like mosquitoes, darting from chutney’s to cheese to veg and hovering in the most exciting places to absorb the newness and freshness of it all. There were smells of fruit, fish and flowers within a single cloud, all singing out to be noticed. People took pictures of the traditional English setting, people took pictures of foods of the world and people took pictures of other people buying.
I stopped to admire gigantic onions, carrots with huge green and feathery heads, bulbous beetroot and oh, those beautiful artichokes. I smiled inside and out at the sight of those artichoke. The lavender and rose petals, neatly bundled with the dried spanish chilies inspired me. The spices I have at home would really work with the flowery sweetness. But the cheese. There is something hugely nostalgic about grilled cheese. The smell of massive hunks of good-quality cheese being grilled is just so inviting and comforting. Plates of the cheese were gobbled up with new potatoes and asparagus. Could it get any better?
By this point I was ready to eat and I wanted it quickly. There was no deliberation, as I’d already collected all the ingredients necessary, in my mind-my senses had told my head what to do!
It was decided. A can of butter beans, sliced red onions (from the gigantic one I had picked up earlier), 1 tsp of cumin seeds, the dried chilli, chargrilled artichoke hearts (about 4 of them) cut into large slithers, a generous (well, heaped) teaspoon of Ras-El-Hanout, a good slosh or two of garlic infused oil and a few tablespoons of creme fraiche. I decorated all of this with some onion and chives infused cheese and beautifully sweet red little tomatoes from the vine. (Although, technically, they are all off the vine aren’t they?)
It was magnificent in minutes. I had very little to do-the ingredients did it all for me. I simply heated the oil and sizzled the cumin seeds and chili together before adding the onion to saute. When they softened, I added some salt, Ras-El-Hanout and then the butter beans. Once I had coated the beans, I added some chargrilled artichoke hearts, cut into slithers and then the creme fraiche (enough to make a sauce). Familiar smells from the morning wafted up my nose and into my tummy. Mmmm….I let it all simmer whilst my husband toasted the bread for us and grated the cheese. I halved a handful of those plump little tomatoes and when the bread was toasted, the final act was just bread-topped with the bean and artichoke mix-topped with cheese and tomatoes.