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This is the last of the potato based   Tuesday Night Vego Challenge recipes for this year.  We’ve had a nice month of eating new potatoes most days and the basket is getting low.  From now on it will get too hot, particularly at night, for potatoes to crop well here. I’m just 300 metres above sea level, and at just 28.6ºS in northern NSW.  Spuds are native to areas higher and closer to the equator –  researchers looking at the distribution of wild potatoes have found most of them between 8° and 20° S, and between 2000 and 4000m altitude.

I’ll plant them again in late February,  and I’ll try to discipline myself to pull out any that come up on their own in between.  The yields just won’t be worth the risk. Spuds are prone to a range of viruses, and planting them in a different bed with a break in time will help break the cycle (though not entirely, because I skill have eggplants and tomatoes growing, and several wild plants and weeds from the same family).

But also, it’s nice not taking potatoes for granted.  Fresh new season spuds are a feature ingredient, not just a carb filler.

I also have garlic flowering, and garlic scapes are perfect for making a mild garlic butter, and garlic butter and potatoes are made for each other.

The Recipe:

Makes 8 croquettes, which is plenty for two adult serves.

Make the garlic butter first.  If you don’t have garlic scapes, you can use new garlic instead.

I use a mortar and pestle to crush the garlic into the butter. You only need a dessertspoon of butter for this, and you can use as much or as little garlic as you like. Add a good pinch of salt.  Put the garlic butter into the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to get hard.

While the butter is cooling, wash 250 grams of new potatoes but leave the skins on. Chop and boil, steam, or pressure cook them till soft, then mash them with a dash of milk. You want them firm but fluffy, so don’t add too  much milk, and it works better with a fork or potato masher than a blender.

Line up two bowls, one with a beaten egg in it and one with ¾ cup breadcrumbs. (I make a habit of baking the last of any leftover bread along with the new loaf, then blending it in the food processor to make crumbs.)

Take a dessertspoon of mashed potato, drop it into the breadcrumbs and roll around.  This will give it enough of a coating to handle it. Make a hole with your finger and fill with about half a teaspoon of garlic butter.  Squeeze the potato over the top to make a ball.

Drop the potato ball in the egg, then into the breadcrumbs again to coat, and flatten slightly to make a croquette.

Heat up a pan with about half an inch (1.5 cm) of oil. You want it medium hot.  (Light olive oil is good for frying  because it heats to a  high enough temperature without producing any unhealthy by-products. And it has no GM ingredients. And it is mostly monounsaturated. And it’s fairly locally grown).

Fry the croquettes for a few minutes on each side till crisp and golden.

Serve with a salad or steamed veg.

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If you don’t grow them, you probably don’t know garlic scapes.  They’re the best bit of the garlic plant, and since so much of our garlic is imported from China, a bit that is not often seen in shops or markets.  Around this time of year, garlic sends up a central flower stalk with a head that is filled with tiny bulbils of mild, sweet garlicness.  The whole stalk is edible, hard to describe but a bit like garlicky asparagus in flavour maybe? Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial has a recipe for pistou, which I’m planning to try with the next ones I pick.  This lot went straight into scrambled eggs for breakfast.

The Recipe:

Good wholemeal toast on.

A little olive oil or butter in a heavy pan on a medium (not too high)  heat.

Chop the scapes, head and all, fairly fine and add to the olive oil.

Chop and add any other vegetables. To my taste, scapes are perfect with broccoli, pea shoots, spinach, tomatoes.

Use a fork to lightly beat an egg or two with a little plain yoghurt and some salt and pepper.  (The trick with scrambled eggs is not to over-beat the eggs).

The second trick with scrambled eggs is just enough and not too much scrambling (or they go watery).

And the third trick is just enough and not too much cooking.

Let them cook for a minute, then as they start to set but before they start to brown, give them a little stir, then leave again, stir, turn out onto the toast.

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