Italian potato pie

My potatoes are getting harvested, and I am trying out potato recipes. The first lot that I lifted were Arran Pilot, with white flesh that mashes very well. I made this from a recipe in Elizabeth David’s ‘Italian Food’. I also used some local free-range eggs. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Kg of potatoes that mash well
  • 100g Gruyere or Emmental cheese, sliced
  • 75g cooked ham or Italian sausage (I used Fonteluna sausage from Valvona and Crolla), sliced
  • 2 eggs, boiled for around 7 minutes and peeled
  • 3 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 75g butter
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste

METHOD

  • Peel and boil the potatoes until cooked, around 16 minutes. Mash them with about 40g butter and the milk, and put them through a mouli or potato ricer to make a very soft smooth mash. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. 
  • Grease a dish with butter (I used a small lasagne dish) and then coat the bottom and sides with 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • Put half the mashed potatoes in the bottom of the dish, then add the cheese, ham and chopped boiled eggs in a layer. Cover this with the rest of the mashed potato. Sprinkle the rest of the breadcrumbs over the top and dot with butter.
  • Cook the pie in a hot oven (around 200C) for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is golden. 

I served this with shredded kale. It is good with any green vegetable, or with a green salad. 

 

Japanese kale with sesame

This year I grew Japanese kale, it seems to really enjoy our local growing conditions. The leaves are quite tender, and very good in a stir fry. The flavour of sesame seeds goes very well. The basic ingredients of the sesame sauce are sesame, soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. I have also added mange tout to the kale with great results. You can use sweet cooking sake instead of the sugar, if you have it. 

The Japan Centre is an excellent place to find good quality ingredients and recipes. I haven’t quite sussed how to put a Japanese menu together, this is meant as a side-dish. I served it with ginger noodles. The Japan centre suggests serving with plain rice, or as a side-dish, or as part of a Bento lunch. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200g kale, sliced across the leaves, discarding any tough stems
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted and ground in a pestle and mortar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp cooking sake or 2 tsp brown sugar and 1/2 tsp water

METHOD:

  •  Mix the toasted ground sesame seeds with the soy sauce and sake
  • Put about 1cm water in a large pan with the kale, bring to the boil and simmer for around 5 minutes, stirring the kale to make sure it all cooks. 
  • Once the kale is cooked, drain, and mix with the sesame sauce. 

 

Patatas a lo pobre – Potatoes and green peppers

The trick with this dish is to stew the peppers and potatoes slowly in olive oil. We had this with grilled pork chops.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 250ml good olive oil 
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 3 green peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1kg firm potatoes, peeled, halved lengthways and then sliced 
  • salt and pepper
  • a pinch of fennel seeds, optional. 
  • 4 bay leaves, optional

METHOD:

  • In a large pan or casserole dish, heat the oil over a lowish heat. 
  • Start cooking the potatoes in the oil, and when they start to cook and soften a bit, add the onions, peppers, garlic, fennel seeds, bay leaves, grated black pepper and a good pinch of salt. Simmer for around 15 minutes. 
  • Drain off the oil using a sieve, set the oil aside for further use. 
  • Serve with pork or lamb chops. 

Cabbage, ginger, carrot, spring onions

There are so many fresh vegetables in the garden it is hard to keep up. Tonight I made a light stir-fry of home grown vegetables. It is good hot or cold. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small cabbage, cored, quartered, and sliced into ribbons around 1.5 cm wide. 
  • 1 large or 2 medium carrots, cut on the slant and each slice cut into thin strips
  • 3 spring onions, cut into 3 cm lengths, which are then cut lengthways into thin strips
  • 3 tbsp light vegetable oil
  • 2 slices of fresh ginger, lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp dry sherry

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a wok, and then add the ginger, stir it about and then add all of the vegetables. Stir them round and cook for 3 minutes. 
  • Add the sherry, cover and cook for another 3 minutes
  • For the last minute, uncover and boil of some of the liquid before serving. Remove the slices of ginger as well. 

Super tasty as part of a larger meal. 

 

Courgette and Yoghurt salad

It’s courgette season. I love raw courgette, so crunchy. I love it sliced into long strips and grilled, with lemon dressing. I love this salad, from Madhur Jaffrey. It is really easy and quick. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 courgettes, around 350 to 400g
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 red onion
  • 350ml plain yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • black pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste and garnish. 

METHOD:

  • Use a food processor to grate the courgette coarsely. Put the grated courgette onto a tea towel in a heap and sprinkle with half a teaspoon of salt. 
  • Peel the onion, halve it and then slice thinly across the way. 
  • Beat the yoghurt in a bowl and add 1/4 tsp salt, a pinch of cayenne and a grate of black pepper
  • Wrap the tea towel around the grated courgette and wring out any excess water. Use your fingers to separate any clumps. 
  • Heat the oil in a pan, and when it is hot, add the mustard seeds. As soon as the seeds start to pop, add the onion, and fry for a couple of minutes. 
  • Add the dried courgette, and fry for another three minutes or so. When it is done, turn the heat off and let it cool a bit, before stirring it into the yoghurt. Decant to a serving bowl and sprinkle with cayenne pepper. 

This can be served as a side dish with just about anything. It is as good cold from the fridge as it is warm.

 

 

Broad beans with bacon

This is a good dish to serve at room temperature along with a selection of salads, and other delicious things from the fridge. Fresh home-made bread is a good accompaniment. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g podded broad beans – Neillie’s has frozen broad beans that work well for this recipe
  • 150g rindless, smoked, dry cured streaky bacon
  • 50g butter
  • 1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • a handful of chopped fresh herbs – try dill, mint, or parsley
  • Freshly grated black pepper and salt

METHOD:

  • Cut the bacon across the way into strips around 1cm wide. 
  • Heat the butter in a large frying pan and fry the onion over a low heat until softening, then add the finely chopped garlic
  • As the garlic begins to cook, add the bacon and turn up the heat a little, stirring until the bacon is cooked. 
  • Stir in the beans, heat and stir until warmed through. 
  • Cover the pan and simmer for around 7 minutes until the beans are cooked. 
  • Remove from the heat, stir in the salt, pepper and herbs, and cover again to allow the flavours to infuse as the dish cools down to room temperature 

Broad beans with chard

This is one of my favourite dishes, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t already shared it. It is very simple to make, and delicious. Clair, this is for you.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 300g broad beans, podded (you can use frozen beans)
  • 300g chard, rinsed and sliced
  • 100g butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 8 tbsp chopped dill leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt

METHOD:

  • Separate and wash the chard leaves and stems, and slice them crosswise at 2cm intervals. 
  • Heat the butter in a large pan, medium heat, and melt the butter. As it begins to froth, add the onion, sauté for a minute and then add the beans. After another minute, add the chard and dill. Stir and cook for another couple of minutes. 
  • Add the salt and around 50ml water, bring to a simmer, and then cover and cook over a low heat for around 15 minutes. 

 

Asparagus and pecorino

This is a fantastic quick side dish. The asparagus in the shops just now is great quality, thick and tasty British spears. 

INGREDIENTS

  • Asparagus
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pecorino cheese
  • Lemon rind

METHOD:

  • Trim the asparagus
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan, and fry the asparagus over a medium to high heat. Season with salt, pepper and a little grated lemon rind. 
  • When the asparagus looks cooked, transfer to plates and grate pecorino over the top. 

 

Kale with mint, garlic, cumin and lime

I’m just getting to the end of the curly kale from last year. What a great vegetable to grow, it survives cabbage root fly, is edible through the winter and early spring, and Alex’s chickens will get a good feed off the old plants when I root them up. 

We’ve had a lot of stir-fried kale this winter, often with garlic and chilli flakes. If you haven’t enough kale, you can bulk it out with broccoli. This recipe comes from SIMPLE by Ottolenghi. He also sells a range of the ingredients from the book – cunning marketing. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g – 600g prepared kale tops or a mix of kale and broccoli
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 to 2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 10g mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • salt

METHOD:

  • Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. When it boils, add the kale and cook for 90 seconds before draining and rinsing in cold water. You may need to do this in batches. Do the same for any broccoli
  • In a large wok or sauté pan, heat the oil and fry the garlic and cumin for a minute or two, until the garlic is browning. Fish the garlic out and set it aside. 
  • Add the kale and fry for around 3 minutes. Add half the chilli flakes, and a good pinch of salt, broccoli and keep cooking for another minute. 
  • Mix through the remaining chilli flakes, lime juice and mint, and garnish with the fried garlic slices. 

Muhammara – red pepper and walnut dip.

Sometimes, the co-op has some really good deals. Last week, they were selling lots of red peppers greatly reduced, so I made this. It is great as a dip along with hummus, and served with flat bread. It is a traditional dish, and there are loads of recipes online, twisting up the flavour in different ways. I’ve added a few suggestions of alternatives in brackets. The basic ingredients are red peppers, garlic and walnuts. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 red peppers
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (you can increase this quite a bit, according to taste, use a mild pepper such as pul biber, or Aleppo chilli flakes))
  • (I have also made this by adding a couple of fresh hot chilli peppers to the roasting stage)
  • (You can add toasted breadcrumbs too)
  • (1 tsp cumin)
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • (you can use a pinch of powdered sumac instead of the vinegar or lemon juice)
  • (you could use pomegranate molasses and/or lemon juice instead of vinegar)
  • 60g walnuts (you can toast the walnuts first) 
  • salt

METHOD:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 220C
  • Quarter the peppers, remove the stalks and seeds, and mix with the oil. Spread them out on a baking sheet, skin side up and put them in the oven for 15 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, spread the walnuts out on another baking sheet, and pop them in the oven for around 10 minutes. Set them aside to cool.
  • Once the peppers have been in for 15 minutes, add the garlic cloves and pop them back into the oven for another 15 minutes. The peppers should look charred, and the garlic should be soft. 
  • Put the peppers in a food processer with all of your other ingredients and blitz to form a rough paste. Adjust the seasoning to taste. 

You can make this as smooth as you like, I like it slightly rough. Some people remove the skin from the roasted peppers, and make a smoother paste.