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Philippa James visits Blackburn Market

PUBLISHED: 10:29 11 April 2014 | UPDATED: 23:24 23 October 2015

Philippa James talks to Scott Stewart of Scott Stewart's Fruit and Veg stall at Blackburn Market

Philippa James talks to Scott Stewart of Scott Stewart's Fruit and Veg stall at Blackburn Market

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Our food writer Philippa James will be performing live and without a safety net at Blackburn’s new market

Looking at the potatoes at Scott Stewart's Fruit and Veg stallLooking at the potatoes at Scott Stewart's Fruit and Veg stall

It’s not often I pick up the phone and hear the words: ‘Philippa, I think you could be the answer to my prayers!’

The caller was Harriet Roberts and it resulted in me returning to my roots. The last time I staged cookery demonstrations in Blackburn it was several years ago at the old market hall. Now, after her call, I find myself at its shiny replacement donning kitchen whites once again.

Harriet and commercial manager, David Smith, have booked me in for cookery demonstrations starting this Easter. It felt good to be back working with traders old and new as well as the market manager, Keith Holden.

David wants me to help create a series of free recipe cards which will give shoppers ideas of how to use the fresh produce on the market to tie in with regular promotions and seasonal offers. This has also led me back to Darwen Markets, working alongside bubbly operations manager Gwen Sangster.

Markets are now as popular as ever for the quality of their food and I think we have the best in Britain here in Lancashire.

I quickly found myself volunteering to have the ‘demo’ kitchen built and kitted out as a facility where I can invite chefs and cooks from local businesses to come and showcase their talents on a monthly basis, up to Christmas.

Within days Antony Shirley, from the Seafood Pub Company, kindly offered to support the launch on Saturday, April 12, with mid-morning ‘Family Fish and Super Salads’ and for May I will be joined by Anson Bolton, from The Millstone at Mellor. He has some real teats to share with the audiences.

Sisters Sonia and Sharone, proprietors of Liz ‘n’ Lil’s Café Bar, have also volunteered to cook, so I now have over a dozen folk who have come on board, including Amanda Fletcher, from a Blackburn charity for homeless young people.

And no jokes please, when I reveal that the local fire service has become involved. They will not only give kitchen fire safety advice but have, bravely, offered to come and cook with me! A friend, Andrew Stevenson, heard about this and tweeted: ‘I’d like to see the Fire Brigade’s risk assessment on Philippa!’ He knows me so well.

In a trial run to ensure smooth operation of the demos, I cooked this month’s Easter recipe, delicious Smoked Haddock Fishcakes, perfect for Good Friday, and popular with the kids, using only ingredients from the market.

I feel great pride, energy, and enthusiasm, in having been appointed as Blackburn with Darwen’s resident cookery demonstrator and I look forward to seeing many old friends and making new ones visiting the markets over the coming months, do come alon. Say hello to me and pick up some terrific food bargains.

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