After the traditionally hungry months of May and June (when winter stores would have run out but the crops weren’t ready to eat) we’re now well into the early part of the harvest and it’s now possible to buy quite a lot of locally grown food. For example, my local supermarket is selling Scottish raspberries and strawberries, and broccoli, to name but a few. And if you have a garden, as I do, you’ll already be tearing your hair out wondering how you’re going to eat or preserve all that produce.
So I thought I’d share with you a few recipes for the first of my gluts – new potatoes. Is there anything nicer than a new potato straight from the ground, washed, cooked and slathered in butter. But it’s a pity to stop there, and I’ve been looking around to see what else I can do with them while they’re still in peak condition. In my experience new potatoes start to lose their freshness once the foliage starts to die down, and I may already have left it too late for one variety I grew this year – Anyas. These are a type of pink fir apple which I grew a few years ago and really liked them. But this year the crop was poor and they did that unforgivable thing; they started to break up when they were being cooked and ended up floury and mushy. Not nice. I may try roasting them but for all other purposes I’ll be turning to my other variety, good old reliable Charlottes, an excellent candidate for a recipe I came across recently and just had to try. Potato Lorraine is a cross between a quiche and a potato bake. The picture doesn’t do it justice but it really was nice. I’d adjusted the recipe by reducing the amount of potato and I think, next time, I’ll decrease the amount of milk as it was a bit soft. Had it been left to cool it might have been firmer, but it all got scoffed so I don’t know.
Another recipe using potatoes is egg and potato pie which is an old family favourite. I don’t know why it’s called a pie since it isn’t but the name doesn’t matter. What’s nice about this recipe is that it’s easily adjusted according to what you have in the fridge/veg basket. So this recipe is just an outline.
Egg and Potato pie for two: enough cooked potatoes for 2 (depends how hungry you are), 2 boiled eggs (or more), ½ pint of cheese sauce, not too thin or too thick. Add one or more of the following – cauliflower, broccoli, peas, beans (all just cooked), or tomatoes (chopped but not cooked). You may need to reduce the potato or increase the cheese sauce depending on how much other stuff you add. But you don’t need to add anything at all as it’s nice on its own. Pour the sauce over the cooked vegetables, sprinkle with a little grated cheese and some breadcrumbs (optional) and bake at 180ºC for 20/30 minutes. I really like this recipe, particularly in the winter, but at this time of the year it’s perfect for using up what I have in the garden which, at the moment, is new potatoes, broccoli and eggs (from my lovely chickens).
Which brings me neatly on to broccoli, another glut crop. I’m growing Kabuki again as it’s reliable and RHS AGM. But it’s also an F1 which means it’s all ready at the same time, so I have broccoli coming out of my ears right now. I’ve already picked 2.7 kg from 14 plants, and there’s more to come. (After cutting the main head this variety produces lots of side shoots.) So I’m eating broccoli at just about every meal. Here are a few of my favourite uses.
Broccoli quiche – see the asparagus quiche recipe in the June seasonal cooking blog and substitute blanched broccoli for asparagus.
Broccoli soup – this is based on a Delia Smith recipe in the Christmas book. Chop and fry an onion in a little oil or butter. Add a chopped stalk or celery or a leek (or both or neither). Chop a head of broccoli, including the stalk but keep the stalk bits separate from the head bits (I’m sure there’s a technical term for those). Add the stalks to the pan with 500 ml of vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and cook until the stalks/celery are cooked. Add the head bits. Cook five mins more. Add about 50 g cream cheese or mascarpone. Liquidise and strain roughly. You may need to add more stock or, for a creamier soup, milk.
Broccoli pasta salad – this is based on a recipe from the excellent Parlour Café Cookbook. For two people: 100 g pasta (anything you like really but orzo works well), one head of broccoli, one red pepper or ½ jar of roasted red peppers, a handful of cashews or pinenuts, 1 tbsp pesto, 1 or 2 tbsp salad dressing. If using a jar of peppers, make the salad dressing with the oil. Cook the pasta and broccoli until just cooked. Roast or grill or fry the pepper until soft and chop into chunks. Toast the nuts. Combine everything. You can add tomatoes too, as I did when making this salad for the photo since I was low on red pepper.
Brocolli tortilla – this is another recipe that uses eggs, potatoes and broccoli. For 2 or 3 – cook about 150 g potato, sliced into roughly 3 mm thick slices. Fry a finely chopped onion in a little oil until soft. Cook half a head of broccoli cut into small pieces. Mix 4 or 5 eggs and add the cooked onion and a little salt. Arrange the potato slices in a small frying pan (one with a lid), pour over the egg/onion and arrange the broccoli over the top. Cook on a medium heat with a lid on the pan. When still a little runny on the top, add cubed feta – about 1/3 of a packet. Continue cooking until set then flash under a grill to brown the feta.
For more new potato recipes see my 2015 blog on new potatoes. (You might like to know that the black-leg problems I caused myself last year didn’t go away and I had it again this year. My fault for growing potatoes in the same bed – naughty naughty.)