Seasonal WholeFoods: Newcastle Fresh Food Markets

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When we first travelled overseas, I was both fascinated and repulsed by what was on sale in the fresh food markets. Pig’s trotters, snouts and some unmentionable parts were sort after delicacies. But then the Europeans are known for using every part of the animal and nothing goes to waste.

Travelling all over Europe and visiting every food market we could find, we fell in love with this style of shopping. The atmosphere was buzzing with excitement, the variety of foods available were astounding and the friendly smiles we encountered made us long for this type of set up in Australia.

Florence, Italy was our most favourite city with the most fascinating markets. There was leather goods, fresh food, jewellery, clothing and more. I remember walking into the fresh food section and being amazed at the variety of greens stacked on top of each other and waiting to be purchased.

But Australia isn’t too far behind; the Queen Victoria Markets are an amazing place to visit in Melbourne and Sydney’s Fresh food markets at Flemington are nothing to sneeze at. And of late, we have been visiting the Newcastle Farmer’s Markets and loving the passion of not only the vendors but also the customers. In a small way, they have reminded me of the Thursday fresh food markets in Athens, Greece. Whenever we were visiting our relatives, Thursday was the day we would all make our way to this one long street that was closed off and lined with table after table, stall after stall of fresh fruit and vegetables at prices that were unbelievably low. And that is the difference I have noticed between Australia and Europe; the prices in the fresh food markets here are so expensive. Not that I am complaining as I think our farmers deserve to be paid well but it becomes a shock to those who are used to the lower prices of Europe’s markets.

I remember a young Greek girl coming over to study at Newcastle University. One of the first things she asked me was, “where are the fresh food markets?” I gently warned her not to expect the low prices she is used to in Greece, as I new she would be in for a very big surprise. She looked at me confused as she equated low prices with fresh food markets.

Despite the prices, I love the Newcastle Farmer’s Markets and appreciate the fresh and organic options we have. I recently purchased a whole pumpkin for a great price and decided to make my favourite pizza – vegetarian.

We love our wood fire oven but this tastes just as nice in a conventional oven.

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  Vegetarian Pizza Makes 2

Ingredients Pizza Dough 2 cups sifted plain flour ¼ cup semolina 1 (7g) packet dried yeast 2 tablespoons olive oil pinch of salt 1 cup tepid water to make dough 1 teaspoon olive oil Pizza Toppings 1 cup pumpkin, diced in 2cm pieces 1 cup sweet potato, diced in 2cm pieces 4 tablespoons olive oil ½ teaspoon ground paprika ½ teaspoon ground cumin ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper * ½ small eggplant, diced in 2 cm pieces 1 cup tomato passata ½ red capsicum, diced in 1cm pieces ½ cup slivered almonds 50g feta, crumbled ½ cup pitted olives, sliced 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded 1 teaspoon dried herbs Salt & pepper, to taste

IMG_3183 Method Combine flour, semolina, dried yeast, salt and oil in a large bowl using a butter knife.

Add water until dough comes together and forms a ball. Remove from bowl, on floured surface, knead for a few minutes until smooth and a little sticky.

Drizzle a little olive oil in bowl. Place dough back in there. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a draught-free and warm cupboard or spot for at least 1 hour or until dough doubles in size.

Preheat oven to 180*C. Place pumpkin and sweet potato on lined tray. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil on top, sprinkle spices and pepper on top. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until cooked. Remove. Cool.

In a shallow fry pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil adding eggplant. Cook until golden. Remove. Drain on absorbent paper.

Knead dough for a few minutes, knocking air out of it. Cut in half evenly and roll dough out to fit lightly oil sprayed pizza trays.

Spoon passata on pizza doughnspreading with the back of a spoon to the edges. Scatter pumpkin, sweet potato, eggplant, capsicum, almonds, feta and olives over dough. Top with mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with dried herbs and season, to taste.

Increase heat of oven to 200*C. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until dough cooked through and cheese melted on top. Alternatively, if you have a wood fire oven, bring heat up to 350 - 400*C. Place pizza on tray in oven for 2 – 3 minutes, spinning tray around to release moisture and pick up more heat from bricks. Remove from tray and continue cooking process for 2 – 3 minutes, spinning pizza around for even cooking.