Crispy Roast New Potatoes

I have never really got used to being a home cook. Too many years in the catering industry have left me unable to only cook for four people. Hence, I always over cater. New potatoes are something I often get a bit carried away with but no one in my family minds as I have found a super simple and delicious way to use them up.

I chucked some of these in the oven and some sausages too, before I went off to tennis the other night, with instructions to my other half to take them out and serve them up for dinner. “Daddy made the best potatoes ever”, exclaimed my kids on my return. And I have to say that he looked pretty pleased with himself!

Crispy Roast New Potatoes

These are best done in the oven as the longer they cook for, the better but you could saute them in a frying pan too.

Boiled New Potatoes

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Place a baking tray in the oven and pour a generous amount of olive oil onto the tray. Cut the cold new potatoes in half length-ways. When the oven is hot, tip the potatoes onto the hot tray. Arrange so that the cut side is faced down. Cook for about 25-30 minutes checking regularly. When the potatoes are golden brown on the bottom, flip them over and pull them into towards the middle of the pan pushing the less done potatoes nearer the outside edge, which is always hotter. Cook until all the potatoes are golden brown on both sides. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Navarin of Lamb with Broad Beans, Asparagus, Peas and Mint

Last week it was all summer fruits and ice-cream and salads and then the weather changed. I was almost tempted to turn the heating on – in June – as the temperatures plummeted and the rain lashed at the windows. Forget the ice-cream, it was back to stew weather. But what stew do you eat in June. A Navarin of lamb of course packet with lots of tender, young spring vegetables and lots of vibrant fresh mint. So delicious you could forget about the awful weather!

Navarin of Lamb with Broad Beans, Asparagus, Peas and Mint

The vegetables are flexible here – use what you have. Tender new seasons carrots, little spring onion heads or French beans all work well.

Serves: 4

Extra virgin olive oil

2 large onions or leeks, chopped

A couple of sticks of celery, finely chopped

2 garlic clove, finely chopped

450 g (1 lb) lean boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of fat and cut into cubes

150 ml (5 fl oz) red wine

450 ml (15 fl oz) lamb or chicken stock (or use good quality stock cubes)

1 or 2bay leaves

A few sprigs of fresh rosemary, very finely chopped

Baby new potatoes, scrubbed (cut into bite sized pieces if large)

Small turnips, scrubbed and quartered

Bunch of asparagus, cut into even sized pieces about ½ cm

Large handful of shelled fresh peas

Large handful of shelled broad beans

Fresh mint

Heat some oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the seasoned lamb, in batches so as not to over crowd the pan. Brown evenly on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon. Turn down the heat of the pan and add the chopped onion, celery and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5-10 minutes or until softened. Scrape the browned bits of lamb of the bottom of the saucepan and stir them into the veg. Add the cubes of lamb back to the pan with the wine, rosemary, bay leaf and stock

Bring to the boil, then cover and turn the heat down. Let it gently bubble away for 1 hour.

Meanwhile boil the broad beans for three minutes and then plunge them into cold water. Shell.

Add the turnips and potatoes to the stew and stir. Cover the casserole again and continue cooking for 30–45 minutes or until the meat and vegetables are tender. Next add the peas and asparagus and cook until just done. Finally add the broad beans and mint. Check seasoning and serve.

Roast Beetroot and Potato Salad with Smoked Mackerel, Horseradish and Chives

Finally, for this week, beetroot is back in our boxes again. Beetroot is super good for you, as I always say, excellent at lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and especially at good at detoxing your liver, which is always a good thing. It compliments smoky fish beautifully and as I am always trying to get more omega 3 in my diet, I decided to combine it this week with some lovely smoked herring. (Heston does a rather nice “Jasmin Tea Hot Smoked” one at Waitrose.) I added some horseradish to cut the oiliness and add a kick. Served up with some mixed Riverford salad, it worked especially well with the Mizuna and Mustard Leaves. Really healthy, really delicious and really pretty too.

Roast Beetroot Salad with Smoked Mackerel, Horseradish and Chives 2

Roast Beetroot and Potato Salad with Smoked Mackerel, Horseradish and Chives

4 medium beetroot

A few cooked new potatoes (preferably still warm)

Red wine vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil

A handful of mixed salad leaves

A packet of smoked mackerel, skin and bones removed

Small bunch chives

For the horseradish Cream (or 3 tbsp. good quality creamed horseradish)

A tablespoon of fresh horseradish, peeled and grated

3 tablespoons crème fraiche (or double cream and ½ lemon)

Pinch salt

Begin by roasting the beets. Preheat an oven to 180°C. Scrub the beets, wrap in foil, and roast for 45 to 60 minutes or until a knife inserts and removes easily. Set aside to cool. Once the beets are cool enough to handle, you can just slip the skins off with your hands. You may want to wear gloves but it is really quite a satisfying experience. Cut into bite-sized chunks. Transfer to a bowl. Add your new potatoes, cut into a similar size.

Make the horseradish cream by mixing the crème fraiche with the fresh horseradish and a pinch of salt. (If using double cream, stir in slowly the juice of about half a lemon until the cream thickens.)

Add 2 tablespoons of your horseradish cream into your beetroot, along with a little vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Pile on top of your leaves. Roughly break up the mackerel and put on top and finally use a pair of scissors to snip chives on top.

Roast Beetroot Salad with Smoked Mackerel, Horseradish and Chives 1

Turlu Turlu

Good to my word, I tried out a fresh tomato sauce, just to see how it turned out. As far as I know, there are two schools of tomato sauce. The Italian version which consists of no more than olive oil, garlic and tomatoes and maybe a little basil, or the French version which can contain pretty much anything. I believe that this is because the Italian version relies heavily on superb ingredients, including very good tinned Italian plum tomatoes, so I decided to opt for the French. I used some onion, celery and garlic in my base, sweated down with olive oil and I added some wild dried Oregano. The results where certainly good enough for this week’s recipe of Turlu Turlu. This is a sort of Turkish Ratatouille, and just the sort of recipe I love. It literally means hotchpotch and can incorporate any number of different vegetables mixed with chickpeas, tomato sauce and lots of herbs. It is a great use up dish and I had a whole array of vegetables in the bottom of my fridge, which all went in, including beetroot, parsnips, red onions, red peppers, courgettes, sweet potatoes, fennel and carrots and of course, the tomatoes. But you could have added potatoes, squash, green peppers, cauliflower, aubergine or any other vegetable you have to hand.

veg for Turlu Turlu

This recipe seems a little more complicated than it is, but only because I insist on separating the vegetables up which cook better on their own. They need a lot of room and different times and this way, all your vegetables are perfectly roasted. It is worth the effort.

As for my tomato sauce – I am not sure it was good enough to just serve on its own with pasta but I will keep working on it and let you know how I get on.

Turlu Turlu 2

Turlu Turlu
Serves 4
1 red onions, cut into into 8 wedges through the root
1 large red bell pepper, de-seeded, and cut into large bit-sized chunks
1 head fennel, cut into into 8 wedges through the root
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into large bit-sized chunks
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into large bit-sized chunks
A few beetroot, peeled and cut into large bit-sized chunks
3 courgettes, cut into 1cm slices, slightly on the diagonal
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes, or to taste

For the sauce
6 Large ripe tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
2 small onions, finely sliced

1 tin chickpeas, drained
Freshly chopped coriander
Freshly chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Toss the red onion and red pepper with some coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, salt, black pepper and olive oil. Tip onto a tray and put in the oven. Toss the fennel with some coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, salt, black pepper and olive oil. Tip onto a tray, making sure as much surface area as possible is in contact with the tray and put in the oven. Combine the root vegetables – parsnips, beetroot and sweet potato. Toss with some coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, salt, black pepper and olive oil. Tip onto a tray and put in the oven. Toss the courgettes with some coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, salt, black pepper and olive oil. Tip onto a tray, make sure as much surface area as possible is in contact with the tray and put in the oven. You will have to check your veg regularly, and rotate veg to ensure even cooking, When your veg are cooked and a little caramelised remove them. Each tray will slightly different time. Meanwhile make your sauce. Sauté the onion and celery slowly in plenty of olive oil, for a s long as possible. Meanwhile, put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Cut a small cross in the top of your tomatoes. Add them to the pan of boiling water and boil for 1-2 minutes, until the skins begin to come away. Remove them with a slotted spoon and plunge them into a bowl of cold water. Remove the skins and roughly chop. Add the garlic to the onions and fry a minute more before adding the tomatoes. Cook down gently until the tomatoes have completely dissolved, Season with salt and pepper and oregano. Puree with a hand blender.

Just before your final tray of veg is ready, add the chickpeas and tomato sauce to the tray and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Then remove and add all your veg together. Stir gently to avoid mushing up the veg. Allow to cool slightly before adding your herbs. Serve warm or room temperature.

Turlu Turlu 3

Saag Aloo

I seem to quite unintentionally have two themes this week. First of all, all three recipes contain potatoes and secondly, they are all Indian. I am going to start with the really, quick and easy recipe of Saag Aloo which translates, somewhat unexcitingly as “Spinach Potato”. Things often sound more exotic in another language!

You will need to use waxy potatoes for this dish so that they do not turn to mush. It is hard to tell from the outside of the potato how it is going to cook but as a general rule, if it is yellow when peeled it is usual waxy and the whiter it is inside the more floury it will be.

As for the spinach. True spinach can be wilted straight in the saucepan as in the recipe, but if using perpetual spinach (larger slightly tougher leaves) you will have to briefly blanch the leaves first in a pan of boiling salted water. Cook for 2-3 minutes and layout to cool. Squeeze out any excess water before adding.

Saag Aloo makes a lovely side dish, but I recon this could make a meal on its own, maybe with a naan bread on the side. Noting beats, a freshly made naan baked in a tandoor. I call up my local Indian restaurant, place an order and pick them up on my way home!

Sagg Allo

Saag Aloo
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 small onions, or 1 very large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic clove, grated
Large knob of ginger, scrape off the outside with a teaspoon and grate
500g potato, peeled and cut into 1 cms chunks
1 large red chilli, halved, deseeded and finely sliced
½ tsp each black mustard
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground cardamom seeds (grind in a coffee grinder)
2 big handfuls spinach
Large handful of coriander, freshly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the coconut oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan and add the onion and a ½ tsp salt and a large pinch of pepper. Sweat for about 5-10 minutes until translucent but without colour. Add the garlic and ginger, chilli and spices and fry for 1-2 mins. Stir in the potatoes, and continue cooking and stirring for 5 mins more. Add a splash of water, cover, and cook for 8-10 mins. Keep checking. The potatoes are ready when you can easily spear them with the point of a knife. If necessary, add more water and stir time to time replacing lid each time. When you are sure the potatoes are cooked. Check seasoning and add the spinach. Replace lid and allow 1-2 minutes to wilt. Stir in spinach and a large handful of freshly chopped coriander. Serve straight away.

Saag Aloo 2

Sweetcorn Chowder with Red Spring Onions & Smoked Paprika

When I was a kid, sweetcorn was my absolute favourite, I loved in on the cob, I loved it straight out of a tin and crab and sweetcorn soup was always my first choice at a Chinese restaurant.

Then, many years later I went and worked in San Francisco for a few months at a restaurant called Chez Panisse. My favourite place to hang out during my rare time off was Fisherman’s Wharf, with its fantastic array of restaurants and shacks selling Clam Chowder served up in a hollowed out baby loaf of San Franciscan sour dough bread. Yum!

My version here uses sweetcorn instead and I have added a touch of smokiness with just a hint of smoked paprika but it is super delicious with a little smoked bacon or smoked haddock as well.

It really is one of the ultimate comfort dishes, more a meal than just a starter and in keeping with my quick and easy theme this week – super simple! I would love to bake a loaf of sourdough to serve it in, but that is not so quick and easy!

 

Sweet corn Chowder

Sweetcorn Chowder with Red Spring Onions & Smoked Paprika
Serves 2
2 stalk celery
1 medium onion
Olive oil
Fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried oregano
500 ml semi-skimmed milk
250g waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into little cubes
3 spring onions
2 heads of sweetcorn, removed from the cob
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chop your celery and onion. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the celery, onion, and herbs and fry until the vegetables start to brown. Add the sweetcorn and season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for a few minutes more. Pour in the milk, add the potato and bring to a boil, stirring the whole time so the soup doesn’t stick to the pot. Cook until the potatoes are tender, but not mushy – this will take around 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, trim the ends off the spring onions and slice them thinly. When the potatoes are tender, check the seasoning and sprinkle with spring onions and smoked paprika and then serve.

Red Spring Onions

Salade Niçoise

Finally for this week, the weather managed to stay bright just long enough for me to make one of my favourite quick lunches, Salade Niçoise. I was inspired by the lovely French beans and tomatoes around at the moment but you could try it with runner beans instead. I am however an avid believer that a Salad Niçoise simply has to contain tuna and anchovies to be permitted to bear the name. I made it with a fresh piece of grilled tuna but you can use tinned if you prefer. The anchovies in my recipe are only used to season the dressing but by all means add some extra if you are inclined. You can get delicious marinated anchovies or Boquerones if you shop around.

This recipe is from Alastair Little who is credited as being the inventor of Modern British cooking, which is what inspired the entire revolution in food that began back in early 90s. His fantastic book “Keep it Simple” is now out of print but you can still pick up second hand copies if you try. Alistair always amazed me by his inclusion of tomato ketchup in this dressing, but it really works!

Salad Nicoise

Salade Niçoise
Serves 2
2 fresh tuna steaks
8 new potatoes
4 tomatoes, cut in eighths
Small handful of French beans, topped
½ small red onion, very finely sliced
4 eggs, cooked for 6 minutes in boiling water, halved
A handful of good pitted black olives
Small handful of capers
For the dressing
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
4-6 anchovy fillets
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
Juice ½ lemon
1 tsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp Worcester sauce
1 egg yolk
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Boil the eggs for 6-8 minutes, depending whether you prefer a soft or harder yolk. Drain and refresh.
Boil the potatoes in salted water for 12-15 minutes until tender, then drain. Cut into halves or quarters depending on size
Boil or steam the beans for 5 minutes. Refresh in cold water, then drain.
Make the dressing: Whiz everything together with a hand blender. Check seasoning and adjust to taste.
Peel the eggs, cut into halves.
Heat a ridged griddle pan on the hob or a hot barbecue for 5 minutes. Cook the tuna steaks for 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on how rare you like your fish.

French Beans

Potato Salad

Finally for this week – New Potatoes – and what better in this heat than a delicious potato salad. I got a bag of Lady Crystal in my box which are particularly good for salads. No need to peel, just wash well and boil in plenty of salted water until tender. A blunt knife should insert easily. I like to cook them whole but make sure that you choose similar sized potatoes so that they cook evenly. I cut them into bite sized chunks as soon as they are cool enough to handle. You can leave your potatoes to cool in the boiling water or drain them but never refresh them. What you add to your potato salad is up to you. I like to think what it is accompanying: with a nice piece of salmon I might add dill, with a steak, some capers and thyme or a handful of finely slice spring onions, with a lamb chop some mint or rosemary and a few shelled broad beans. With cold meets I might add some finely diced pickle cucumbers, with a piece of roast cod, some freshly shelled raw peas and some basil, with BBQ chicken some tarragon and lemon zest. The possibilities are endless. What I never use however, is mayonnaise. I much prefer a base of a nice mustardy vinaigrette made with Dijon mustard, maybe with a little grain thrown in too, red wine vinegar and good olive oil. Always season well with sea salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Try and dress the potatoes whilst they are still warm and they will drink up some of the dressing and don’t refrigerate as it tastes much better room temperature. And there you have it – the perfect potato salad!

Spring Onions

Wet and Wild

 Wet and Wild

I was particularly excited about the first of the season’s wet garlic. I love this fresh garlic which has not yet been dried, especially as there is no need to even peel it. The internal skins have not yet formed so the whole head can be chopped. I love just baking them whole and spreading the creamy cooked garlic on a piece of toast.

Wet Garlic Cooked

When the stalks are fresh and green they can be cooked like leeks or finely sliced and used in soups, omelettes or even salads.

If you don’t get round to using it all up, just hang it up to dry in your kitchen and it will last up to nine months.

Wild garlic leaves are around now too, so keep your eyes peeled. I spotted a lovely patch in Cannizaro Park at the weekend, but obviously I am not telling you exactly where. If you manage to find some you could give the fantastically named “Wet and Wild Risotto” a go. And don’t forget to throw in some pretty garlic flowers too.

Wild Garlic

I decided to use mine simply sautéed with the delicious new potatoes in my box, but it would have been equally good with the mushrooms, just simply served up on a piece of sourdough toast.

Sautted Potatoes & Wet Garlic in a Pan

Sautéed New Potatoes with Wet Garlic

Give your new potatoes a good wash and put in a pan covered with plenty of cold water and a good pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and cook until a blunt knife will insert easily into the middle. Drain and leave to cool a little. Cut the potatoes in half, or quarters if particularly big. Heat some good olive oil in large frying pan and sauté the potatoes until golden brown. Thinly slice your wet garlic using the bulb and the stem and add to the pan with a scattering of sea salt. Sauté just until the wet garlic starts to wilt. Serve hot.

Sauteed Potatoes & Wet Garlic in a Bowl

Spanish Omelette

 Being a bank holiday and the kids off school I know I am not going to have a whole lot of time for cooking this week. I ordered a small veg box original which came packed with lovely new potatoes, bunched carrots, bunched onions, baby spinach, courgettes & asparagus.

Box 2

First up I knocked up a Spanish Omelette with the delicious new potatoes and bunched onions. Waxy potatoes are imperative for this dish and Riverford’s new potatoes are perfect, especially as they are quite large, which makes them easier to peel. A good little non-stick, oven proof frying pan is important for omelette too. Try googling “GreenPan Rio 20cms” and you can pick a great one up for as little as £15.99.

Next, I can’t tell you how much time you will save in the kitchen with a good Mandolin. I find that the simple Japanese ones are the best. The best value one I found was “Grunwerg Benriner Mandolin” at Amazon for £17.14 – just do watch your fingers.

Don’t forget to order Riverford’s brilliant organic eggs as well. When choosing an olive oil – think “Spain”. You want something fruity, sweet and mild. Riverford have just started selling a new Andalucian olive oil “Nunez de Prado extra virgin flowers olive oil” which sounds delicious but is a little pricy. I promise to give it a try and let you know if it is worth it!

As always, there are numerous variations to my recipes and a few of my favourites are to add red pepper, chorizo or spinach. Serve up with some of Riverford’s excellent salad leaves. I always find this is one of the few meals the whole family enjoys, even though my daughter, as always ,insists on plenty of Tomato Ketchup.

Spanish Omelette

Makes two thin or one fat omelette

400g New Potatoes

4 or 5 Bunched Onions (depending on size and how much you like onions)

6 Eggs

Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Peel and slice your onions. Use the mandolin if you have one up until where the neck bends. Then you will have to use a knife. Slice as thin as possible right up to the green onion top. (You can use this thinly sliced in a salad like a spring onion.) Heat a generous glug of olive oil in a large saucepan, preferably on with a lid. (If not you can use a plate to cover it.) Sweat the onions on a low heat for about 5-10 minutes until melting but with no colour. Season with a good pinch of salt. Whilst the onions are cooking, peel the potatoes and thinly slice. A Mandolin is brilliant for this but if not use a knife. The potatoes should be about ¼ cm thick. When the onions are ready add the potatoes. Stir really well making sure each slice is separated and season with sea salt. Generously pour over some more olive oil, stir again and cover. Place over a low heat. After about 5 minutes remove the lid and carefully stir. Make sure that nothing is sticking to the bottom but try not to break up the potato slices. Cover and cook for a further 5 minutes or so until a blunt knife will easily insert into the potato. Leave covered to cool. Preheat your oven to 170 ⁰C. Meanwhile break your eggs into a large bowl. Whisk to break up the eggs. There is no need to season the eggs as the potatoes and onions should have enough salt. Tip the potato mixture into a large colander over a bowl and drain off the excess oil. Heat your small non-stick frying pan on a very low heat. Add a little of the drained oil (you can use re-use the rest in other cooking) and wipe round the pan with a piece of kitchen paper. Add the egg mixture and spread out so that it is even. Cook until the edges of the omelette are just set and put in the middle of the oven. Cook until completely firm. There should be no liquid in the middle when pressed. Allow to cool before turning out.

Omelette 2 Shrunk