There’s no need to panic about buying a Mother’s Day present, Bruce McMichael tells Eileen Leahy. All the inspiration you’ll need is right here on your doorstep at your farmers’ market…
ROAST lamb with all the trimmings is a popular treat for families to share on Mother’s Day, which this year falls this coming Sunday [March 26]. Many will gather around their dining table or book Sunday lunch in a restaurant or pub as a special treat.
This wonderful annual celebration of motherhood dates back over 400 years and gives the arrival of spring an extra boost. When it falls, make sure you have visited either the Saturday morning Tunbridge Wells Farmers’ Market or the Thursday morning Shipbourne one beforehand in order to pick up some lovely food and drink treats to pamper your mum with.
In fact, during the countdown to Mother’s Day, markets across our region will have stallholders tying pink balloons and ribbons to their stands in order to highlight all the wonderful fresh produce and well-priced gift options.
At Tunbridge Wells market there’ll be homemade chocolates and macaroons from Star Noir Bakes, and delicious bites of fudge in tempting, colourful boxes from Fudged Up.
Or perhaps you might go for a box of delightful marshmallow from Faye Chrystal at Marshmallow Heaven?
All of these make fantastic, thoughtful and original gifts.
Plants and flowers are always joyfully received on Mother’s Day, and nurseries such as Low Wood and Rapkyns can advise on what plants would give instant colour to the garden, while florists such as Flowers & Daughters offer the most beautiful bouquets.
Chocolates are another popular present option, and handmade ones are even better.
Patisserie chef Louise Marsden has just recently launched her own company, Star Noir Bakes, after finishing a six-month cooking course at the famous Ashburton Cookery School in Devon.
Her prettily decorated stall at the Tunbridge Wells market is brimming with deliciously colourful macaroons and thin slices of chocolate studded with candied bits of oranges and lemons. Louise reveals her ethos: “To provide people with a little slice of heaven each time they treat themselves to a little something sweet.”
She adds that on Saturday she will have a ‘range of macaroons so you can choose your favourites to make a wonderful gift for mum on Mother’s Day’.
Buying fresh fish from Botterells of Rye, or Arcade Fisheries of Hastings, can create a delicious breakfast or brunch alongside a poached, free-range egg from Philpotts Farm. Or perhaps you could make scrambled eggs with a generous dollop of butter from PJ’s Farm Shop, and some smoked salmon and crusty sourdough bread from bakers Flour Power City.
There are plenty of events happening around the region, so perhaps prepare a picnic with some goodies from your local farmers’ market. I’d suggest pâté or scotch eggs from Jo at Naked & Ready, paired with an organic loaf, such as white cottage open tin – or something more unusual, such as a chilli and lavender bread or a seaweed bloomer.
You’ll find plenty of inspiration at the numerous bakery stalls wherever your market happens to be.
So, as you can see, there is no need to panic in the lead-up to celebrating your mum’s big day as there’s plenty of inspiration right on your doorstep thanks to your local farmers’ market.
Treat your mum’s tastebuds to these delicious bites on Mother’s Day
Breakfast Cereal Bars
Prepare: 15 Minutes
Cooling Time: At least 1 hour
By adding butter, white chocolate and marshmallows to your favourite breakfast cereals, you can have ‘breakfast’ all day long!
What you need:
40g unsalted butter
200g white chocolate
200g mini white marshmallows
250g of your favourite breakfast cereals (a combination of 3-4 different kinds works best – such as Lucky Charms, Cheerios, Cornflakes and Rice Krispies)
A 33 x 23 x 5cm/13 x 9 x 2inch cake pan, greased
What you do:
Melt the butter in a very large saucepan over a medium heat.
Chop the chocolate into small pieces, and once the butter has melted add the chocolate to the saucepan still on the heat. Once the chocolate has melted, add in the marshmallows.
At first, the chocolate will form a paste around the marshmallows, but as the marshmallows melt the whole mixture will come together into a pale yellow thick, marshmallowy glue.
Once you have your marshmallow glue, take the pan off the heat and pour in the breakfast cereals. Work quickly to ensure that all of the cereal is coated.
Transfer the cereal mixture to the prepared cake pan and use the back of a spoon to make sure that the whole pan is filled. You can also use a sheet of baking parchment to push down on the mixture to make sure the top is flat.
Sprinkle the top with sprinkles and push them into the cereal using the baking parchment.
Cover the pan with clingfilm and leave to set at room temperature for at least 1 hour before slicing.
NOTE: These are best eaten on the day they are made, but can be stored for up to 5 days in an airtight container at room temperature.
Individual no-bake cookie butter cheesecakes
Prepare: 15 minutes refrigerate: at least 3 hours (or overnight)
What you need:
100g/3½ oz cookies (digestive biscuits/Graham crackers work well)
25g/1¾ tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
350g/1¾ cups full- fat cream cheese
200g/1 cup cookie butter, such as Biscoff or Speculoos
150ml/¾ cup double/heavy cream
80g/½ cup icing/ confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4 whole cookies
4 glass dessert bowls, sundae glasses or ramekins
What you do:
In a food processor, blitz the cookies until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.
Alternatively, put them in a food bag, wrap in a clean kitchen cloth and bash with the end of a rolling pin.
Melt the butter in the microwave for 20-30 seconds at 800W.
Pour the melted butter, cinnamon and light brown sugar into the food processor and pulse until all of the cookie crumbs are wet.
Alternatively, mix well with a wooden spoon in a large mixing bowl.
Spoon the cookie crumbs into the serving bowls, so that each bowl has an equal amount.
Use a teaspoon to push the crumbs in and give them a flat surface.
Empty the cream cheese and cookie butter into the bowl of a free-standing mixer with a whisk attachment, or a mixing bowl using a handheld electric whisk, and whip until fully combined and pale. Pour in the cream and sifted icing/confectioners’ sugar and whip again on a medium speed for 2-3 minutes until thickened.
Spoon the cheesecake mixture on top of the cookie bases so that each bowl has an equal amount, then put in the fridge for at least 3 hours (or overnight).
Just before serving, top with cookie crumbs and a whole cookie.
NOTE: These cheesecakes should be stored in the fridge and eaten within 3 days.
Recipes courtesy of Miracle Mug Cakes by Suzy Pelta, Ryland Peters & Small (£9.99)
Photography by Adrian Lawrence © Ryland Peters & Small