Mushroom and potato soup

The idea from this recipe is Italian, but there is the small issue about local ingredients. We haven’t got porcini, or even woodlands that they could grow in. I have got a lot of potatoes though, so I substituted quite a bit. The soup is delicious. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small sweet red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 125g butter
  • 2 medium potatoes, a variety good for mashing (I used Arran Victory)
  • 1.5 litres of boiling water or light stock
  • 1 punnet of chestnut mushrooms, 200g to 300g, sliced
  • 1 40g jar of dried porcini mushrooms
  • salt and pepper
  • 250ml single cream
  • a large bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped.

METHOD:

  • Pour boiling water onto the porcini mushrooms in a small jug, and let this sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and gently fry the onion and celery together until they are soft, around ten minutes
  • Peel and grate the potatoes and add to the pan, stir to mix in the butter, and then add the stock or water, and bring to a simmer, and cook for ten minutes
  • Add the finely sliced mushrooms. Strain the porcini mushrooms and add the liquor to the pot. Chop the soaked mushrooms, and add them to the pot as well. Bring to a simmer and cook for twenty minutes.
  • Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste, then blend with a soup blender. Add the cream and bring it all back to a gentle simmer. 
  • Chop the parsley very finely and stir it through the soup. 

We had this with home-made crusty bread. The soup is deliciously buttery and smooth. 

Borlotti bean and vegetable stew

I found the original recipe I was given rather sweet, so I have reduced the amount of honey in the recipe here. I’m currently trying out all sorts of recipes with potato in, if you hadn’t noticed. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can of borlotti beans
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 8 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 carrots, 1cm dice
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 dried chillies, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp mild dried chilli flakes
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice of half a lemon, about 2 tbsp
  • a good grind of black pepper
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to serve

METHOD: 

  • Heat the oil over a medium flame, and fry the onion, garlic and carrot for around ten minutes. Keep stirring so that the vegetables don’t catch. 
  • Add the tomato paste, chillies and chilli flakes, and cook for a minute. 
  • Add the borlotti beans, potato, dried basil and salt and cook for a few minutes to heat everything through
  • Add 500ml boiling water and the lemon juice, and simmer for around twenty minutes until the potato is cooked. 
  • Add the black pepper and honey to taste, and stir the parsley through. Leave the stew for around ten minutes before serving, to allow the flavours to mingle. 

Chinese potato stew

This is a delicious vegetarian stew, it reheats well, and is very forgiving with variations on the vegetables. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 slices of fresh ginger, peeled and crushed
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 4cm cubes
  • 1 pack of green beans, sliced into 4cm lengths
  • 2 carrots, cut into 4cm batons
  • 1 punnet of mushrooms, cut into 4cm chunks (or whole if you picked the right size at the shop)
  • 4 tbsp dark soy sauce (Chinese Soy Sauce)
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp dry sherry or shaohsing wine

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan, medium to high heat, and when it is hot, add the ginger and garlic, fry for around 15 seconds. 
  • Add the potatoes, beans and carrots, and stir for another minute.
  • Add the mushrooms, and fry for another minute.
  • Add around 500m boiling water, the soy sauce, sugar and wine, and bring back to the boil. Cover, turn the heat down low and simmer for around twenty minutes. 
  • Remove the cover and turn the heat up, boiling the sauce down, stirring gently as you go. You are aiming to get down to a thick gravy-like sauce which coats the vegetables. 
  • If you want to prep ahead and reheat for after work, leave a little more sauce, so that this boils down as you reheat it. 

Spicy fried potatoes

I think of these as tiny square spicy chips – they should be crispy and flavoursome. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Around 700g potatoes, diced to around 1cm cubes
  • 5 tbsp veg oil, such as rapeseed or sunflower oil
  • 1/8th tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder, such as Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat, and add the asafoetida, mustard seeds and cumin seeds, and let them sizzle for a minute, so that the mustard seeds pop. 
  • Add the potatoes, stir and sprinkle in the turmeric. 
  • When the potatoes start to brown, add the coriander, cumin, chilli and salt and turn the heat up to hot. Fry for another couple of minutes so the potatoes are crispy on the outside. 

A great side-dish, or serve with a fried egg on top. 

Blue cheese and spinach baked potatoes

More in the baked potato series. I learned a few more things this week. Bigger is not better, it just causes trouble with the baking. A good size potato is 300g, more is a bother. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 potatoes for baking: 600 to 700g
  • Butter
  • 3 tbsp cream
  • 60+g soft blue cheese
  • 200g spinach 
  • 20g pecan or walnuts, lightly toasted
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Heat the oven to 220C
  • Rub the potatoes with oil and salt, and bake in the oven for around one hour. 
  • When they are done, remove them from the oven, scoop out the potato flesh, and return the skins to the oven with a little butter to crisp them up. 
  • Meanwhile, mash the potato with the rest of the butter, the cheese and milk, and a good grating of pepper. Pop the mash into the microwave on high for around 1 minute to melt things together a little
  • Wilt the spinach in a pan for around 15 seconds, with a little salted water. Squeeze out the water and whisk into the mashed potato
  • Return the mash into the potato skins and pip back into the oven until ready to serve – around 10 minutes. Sprinkle the toasted nuts onto the potatoes before serving

The second time I made this, I left out the spinach, and served them with kale tops as a side dish. 

 

Baked Potato with tuna mayonnaise

This year I grew some massive potatoes, and they are great baked. I am working through a list of possible recipes. I came across one that involved making a mayonnaise with tuna as one of the base ingredients. It looked good, it contained capers, lemon juice, egg yolks and a can of drained tuna. 

Now, I haven’t bought tuna since the early 1980s. I went to look to see what was in the shops, shelves of different varieties, some in brine, and some in oil. I stopped buying it, and most other commercial catches of white fish, because of worries about fish stocks and environmental damage.

Surely, I thought, things have changed. I looked into whether the tuna fishing industry has improved its practices. Well, only just, in that tuna stocks have recovered a little. However, within the tuna-fishing industry there are problems with sustainable fishing, by-catches, and human rights. 

  • Bluefin tuna is the largest and most expensive, found in sushi as a delicacy. It is severely overfished and exploited, critically endangered as a species. 
  • Albacore tuna is most likely to be canned. Overfishing is threatening the populations in the Altantic. 
  • Skipjack tuna is smaller, and the most commonly consumed. It is overfished in most areas. 
  • Yellowfin tuna is overfished world-wide. Larger fish in breeding condition are being removed from stocks at a rate that could lead to collapse of their populations. 
  • Bigeye tuna is similar to yellowfin, and is considered to be overfished world-wide.  

The recipe looked delicious, but it is off the menu. How can you help? Read more, don’t eat tuna.

  • https://www.britannica.com/explore/savingearth/the-trouble-with-tuna
  • https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/tuna
  • https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/challenges/sustainable-fishing/

 

Potato and carrot curry

We have lots of delicious potatoes, so when my daughter came over, we cooked this curry. It uses coconut milk along with spices to make a fragrant curry. We served this with a salad of grated beetroot, flavoured with toasted cumin, and dressed with lemon juice and salt. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil, or other vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp whole black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp yellow split peas
  • 2 whole dried birds-eye chillies
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 1/2 can chopped tomatoes, or a couple of medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • a small pinch of cayenne
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 400g potatoes (we used charlotte) and 100g carrots (we used yellow carrots) – cut into 2cm large chunks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • Chopped coriander leaves

METHOD:

  • In a medium saucepan, heat up the oil and then add the mustard seeds, yellow split peas and chillies. After a minute or so, they’ll start popping. Add the onions and basil leaves as soon as this happens. Turn the heat down a bit and cook until the onion has softened. 
  • Add the coriander, cayenne, tomatoes and garam masala, and stir to mix. Add the potatoes and carrots along with around 250ml water and the salt, bring to the boil and then simmer on a low heat for 15+ minutes
  • When the potatoes are cooked, add the coconut milk and fresh coriander leaves, and heat through, stirring. 
  • Serve with other dishes, for example a salad, or dal, or a kale dish. 

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. 

 

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. 

Potato and courgettes

This is a simple dish to bake in the oven, it can be flavoured with your favourite herbs. This time I used thyme. 

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 2 courgettes, cut in four lengthways, and then sliced into chunks
  • 4 medium potatoes (I used Arran pilot) cleaned and cut into chunks
  • 1 red pepper, chopped into chunks
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped coarsely
  • 4 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 tsp mild smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried thyme, or a handful of fresh thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Set the oven to 200C
  • Mix all the ingredients together and put into a roasting tin
  • Bake for one hour, stirring from time to time. 

We served this with a green salad