≡ Menu

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.

[relatedPosts]

{ 2 comments }

A couple of others in my circle have posted recipes lately for Spanish Tortilla – Cityhippyfarmgirls’s Frugal Friday Tortilla de Patatas, and Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial’s Dinners at Home tortilla with beetroot, kale and potato.  It must be the moment in the year when eggs and potatoes both peak together to create the perfect seasonal food moment, which is exactly what you want for a recipe that meets the Tuesday Night Vego Challenge rules of fast, healthy, in season, from scratch.

I get eggs all year round, even from my small clutch of chooks of motley ages and breeds.  They have a relatively high protein diet compared to chooks fed mostly pellets.  They are moved regularly to a new garden bed where they have access to greens and grubs and snails and grasshoppers and any worms that are too slow. They get the household scraps including meat and fish bones. I try to give them a some mulch with grass and weed seeds, or  waterweeds with snails and insects and crustaceans, or cow pats with the odd dung beetle, to scratch through every week.  And they get a handful of mixed grain every day, scattered over the top to encourage them to scratch.  They also get a scattering of shell grit from the beach occasionally. With a nice balanced diet and enough exercise to stay healthy, they tend to keep laying for years if a predator doesn’t get them. I’ve had a chook once, of motley mixed breed, that lived to over 10 years old.  But the peak of egg season is in spring when even the geriatrics lay most days.

Up here in northern NSW, I have two spud seasons a year.  The spring ones are planted in early August, as soon as we are over the crest of winter, and are harvested October November. The autumn ones are planted in February, as soon as we are over the crest of summer, and harvested May.  But it’s only the spring one where potatoes meet eggs, and Spanish tortilla is the obvious conclusion.  This is my version;

The Recipe:

For 4 serves.

You need a heavy plan that can go under the grill.

Chop an onion in half, peel, and slice finely into half moons.

Finely slice some potato into thin half moons too.  You need about twice as much potato as onion.

Put a good slug of olive oil in a heavy frypan and gently sauté the potato and onion together till they are soft and just starting to colour.

While they are cooking, use a fork to mix four eggs, a good dessertspoon of cottage cheese, and a good pinch of salt and pepper.  You want to just break the egg yolks and mix – don’t overbeat.

Finely chop a good handful of parsley and stir in.

Stir the potatoes and onions, pour the egg mix over them, and turn the heat down.  Cook without stirring for a few minutes then put the whole pan under the grill to brown off the top. (If you don’t have a grill, you can put a lid on and cook very slowly till the eggs set, but I like the browned top).

Cut into quarters and serve. It’s perfect with the acid sweetness of cherry tomatoes, just dressed with a little parsley, olive oil, and salt, on the side.

[relatedPosts]

 

{ 9 comments }

I’ve started harvesting the new potatoes, and I had all sorts of recipes in mind for them.  But then, with them actually out of the ground and lightly scrubbed (they come out from under the mulch almost clean), I couldn’t think of anything better than just to boil them and eat them as they are.

Sometimes I think you can overelaborate cooking. Famous chefs say that the secret is beautiful fresh local in season ingredients, minimally treated to bring out rather than mask their inherent goodness.  When I was a kid, dinner was meat and three veg, and one of the three was always potatoes.  In season, out of season, new and old, always with the skin off, usually mashed but occasionally baked or chips.  It wasn’t till I started gardening as an adult that I realised how stunningly different  fresh, new season potatoes are –  good enough to be the main feature, not the support act, and so good it seems a pity to mess around too much with them.

It spoils you for long stored spuds.  They don’t taste good enough to be worth the carbs, and the post harvest treatment used to stop them sprouting worries me.  Freezing and then deep frying potatoes (as in commercial chips) is a perfect way to create a nasty compound called acrylamide. Removing the skin removes a lot of the vitamins, minerals and fibre that make spuds good for you.

I won’t tell you how to boil potatoes.  The trick to this is the sauce.  You can serve them just with a little butter and parsley, but this sauce stops just short of going too far.

Parsley and Mustard Hollandaise

Melt a 2 dessertspoons of butter in a small pot. Take care not to brown it.

Use a blender, stick blender or a whisk to blend together

  • 1 large egg,
  • two dessertspoons of lemon juice,
  • half to one  teaspoon of mustard (depending how hot the mustard is)
  • pinch of salt

With the blender going, pour the hot butter very slowly into the egg and lemon mix.  It should go thick and creamy.  Add a good handful of parsley and blend for just a few seconds, just to chop in the parsley. If it isn’t thick enough, pour back into the small pot and heat, stirring, for just a few seconds.  It will turn almost instantly.

Split and lightly crush the potatoes and put a dollop of hollandaise in each. It goes well with other vegetables too – in this case some new beans and squash.

Did you have a Tuesday Night Vego Challenge recipe?  Feel free to share links in the comments.

[relatedPosts]

{ 4 comments }

These are the spuds I planted back in early August. They grow so fast!  I planted them in a trench about 20 cm deep and I’ve been pulling the compost in around the stems, leaving just the top leaves exposed as they grow.  This morning I hilled them up a bit more – they now have about 80 cm of stems underground, hopefully with lots of little shoots starting to bulb out with spuds. In another few weeks they should start to flower and I will be able to start bandicooting them, or stealing potatoes from under the mulch leaving the plant to finish growing out.  I hope. We have hot weather on the way according to the weather reports, and if it gets too hot too early they won’t bear well. Fingers crossed.

[relatedPosts]

 

{ 3 comments }

Right now I am in a state of being where the rules of the  Tuesday Night Vego Challenge apply every day. I work three part-time jobs, and every so often, all three converge into a perfect storm of busy, where I leave home at 7 am and get home at 7pm, starving. No time for shopping, no creativity for interesting cooking, no patience for lasting more than half an hour.  But  when I’m this busy, I really don’t want to eat junk food – I can’t afford to get sick or run down.

My wonderful partner has been cooking dinner most times, and his forte is slow cooker soups and stews.  But when I cook, it is recipes like this – the last of my potato harvest recipes – comfort food that needs no thinking.

The Recipe:

Makes 4 serves.

Turn the oven on to medium hot to heat up.

If you have a fry pan that can go in the oven, use that as it will save transferring the potato to an ovenproof dish and thus save washing up!

Wash 350 gm new potatoes and slice them, skin on, very thin.

Finely slice 2 red onions.

Fry the potatoes and the onions in a little olive oil for just a few minutes, just enough to get them coated in oil, hot all the way through and just starting to soften.

While they are cooking, blend together

  • 250 gm low fat cottage cheese
  • ½ cup vegetable stock
  • 1 egg
  • black pepper
Pour over the potato and onion mix.
Top with grated cheddar cheese.
Bake for around 20 minutes till the top is browned and the potatoes are soft.
Serve with steamed vegetables and/or salad.
[relatedPosts]
{ 5 comments }

This is the second of my potato harvest Tuesday Night Vego Challenge  recipes. I often have lots of these tiny chats in my spud harvest, and they’re the best bit. Add some egg for protein and avoid loading up with mayonnaise, and it’s a healthy and very delicious dinner.

New harvested chats are easy enough to wash, that you don’t avoid teeny ones because of the tedium of washing them.  I put them in a cotton bag (a recycled flour bag) and put bag and all in a sink full of water, then just rumble them in the bag.  Potato skins contain a decent percentage of the nutrient value of the potato, and reduce the amount lost in cooking.

The Recipe

(For two)

  • Boil or pressure cook 350 grams of new chats until they are soft.  In a pressure cooker this will take just a couple of minutes. Drain and allow to sit for a minute or two for the steam evaporate off.
  • Finely slice a red onion, chop 3 or 4 cloves of garlic up fine, dice a red capsicum, and roughly chop 10 black olives
  • Heat a frying pan up to very hot, add a good slurp of good olive oil and all the vegetables at once.
  • Cook on high for 5 minutes or so, with minimal stirring.  You are looking for the potatoes to develop brown crispy bits without  breaking up.
  • While the vegetables are cooking, soft boil 3 eggs, drain and peel.  You want the yolks still runny. If you start with cold water, this will take between 3 and 4 minutes from boiling, depending on the size of the eggs.  Eggs that are very fresh will be impossible to peel – just scoop them out with a teaspoon.
  • And make the dressing: Blend together a big handful of herbs with a little olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. I like basil, flat leaf parsley, thyme, and aragula or rocket for this.
  • Chop some celery to give it a bit of crunch.
  • Toss the warm vegetables together with the eggs, dressing, celery, salt and pepper and serve.

Did you have a Tuesday Night Vego Challenge recipe?  Feel free to share links in the comments.

[relatedPosts]

 

{ 4 comments }

I think these are latkes.  The have eggs, so they’re more latke than rosti, but they have no flour, and I don’t think the cottage cheese is part of any traditional cuisine.  Whatever. They’re very fast – fast enough to be a breakfast option as well as a Tuesday night vego. The cheese and eggs means they have a decent quantity of protein, and though they’re fried, they don’t absorb lots of oil.

I dug the late summer planting of potatoes on the weekend. Usually this is the best potato harvest of the year here. Spuds do better when the nights are getting cooler as they set the crop (as opposed to the spring planting, when, by the time they are ready to harvest in November, the nights are often so warm that the plants just don’t seriously go into food storage mode).

Home grown new potatoes are a gourmet delight, absolutely nothing like supermarket spuds.  They’re so good that they spoil you for out of season potatoes (and we don’t need the calories anyhow). So I treat potatoes like I treat asparagus, looking forward to the season, relishing it, then letting go till it comes round again.

The crop this time was a bit disappointing in quantity. It has been so wet and overcast this year, I think they just didn’t get enough photosynthesis in.  Nevertheless, there’s enough here for potatoes to feature for a few weeks.

The Recipe:

(Two generous serves)

Grate 2 potatoes – a waxy variety like Dutch Cream, Kipfler,  Bintje, Nicola,  or Pink Eye. I used the  kipflers that I grew this year for these.

Mix with

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • a good handful of chopped parsley
  • 3 dessertspoons (30 ml) low fat cottage cheese or ricotta.

No flour makes them hard to handle until they start to set.  So heat a large pan with a little olive oil, wait till it’s hot,  and then use wet hands to make little patties and drop them in.  Place them carefully because you can’t move them till they set.

Squash them down with the back of your eggflip. Wait till they are set and golden on one side, turn and cook the other side.

Serve with a tomato salsa and a salad or steamed vegetables, or just make a platter of small ones and eat them as is, dipped in chili jam or tomato sauce.

Did you do the  Tuesday Night Vego Challenge this week? Links are welcome in the Comments.

[relatedPosts]

{ 5 comments }

gnocchi with zucchini and pesto

I’ve just realised a problem with the Tuesday Night Vego Challenge. Do I post it on Wednesday? After making it on Tuesday? Or do I post it on Monday? For readers to make on Tuesday?  I’ve decided to forgo logic entirely, and just post on Tuesday. I actually usually make things several times to get the recipe written down pat before I post them anyway.

I have zucchini and their close cousin tromboncino going nuts in my garden this time of year. It is compulsory in our household to have zucchini every day, I’ve given so many away that my friends are avoiding me, the chooks have gone on strike and refuse to eat any more.  This is the first year I’ve grown tromboncino (Diggers seeds) and I think they have upstaged Blackjack as my favourite variety. They suit my garden well because they grow into a climbing, rambling vine, like a very rampant cucumber. I can grow them up the fences of my fortress fenced beds and they provide a bit of shade for everything in the bed and maximise the use of fenced space – conventional zucchini take up a lot of ground room. But next year, I’ll plant just two or three vines all up for the whole summer!

I also have basil going nuts in my garden this time of year. It is one of the few leafy greens that will cope with summer. So I make pesto just about every week and we have it on sandwiches, in salad dressings, on vegetables. This recipe also uses lots of my lovely new season garlic, and the last of the early spring planted potatoes. We don’t eat a huge amount of potatoes – I’m not active enough to afford the carbohydrates. But the recipe is healthier than it might at first appear, with only one medium or two small potatoes for two generous serves.

The Recipe:

Makes two good serves.

With a bit of multitasking I can make this well within the half hour.  Please feel free to join in the Challenge –  fast, easy, healthy, in season, real food –  and add your link or recipe in the Comments .

Pesto:

You need a couple of tablespoons of pesto for this. I make it regularly this time of year and usually have some in the fridge. It’s just

  • 40 grams of nuts (macadamias, cashews, almonds or pine nuts), lightly toasted
  • 40 grams of parmesan
  • a cup, packed of basil
  • a clove of garlic
  • salt to taste
  • enough good olive oil to blend

If you haven’t got it made and you are making it, get it all ready then use the food processor to do it straight after the spuds. That way you don’t have to wash anything up, and it still gets ten minutes or so to mellow.

Gnocchi:

  • Scrub 250 grams of potatoes, chop and cook them, skin on, till they are tender.  Waxy potatoes like Dutch Cream, Kipfler,  Bintje, Nicola,  or Pink Eye are best. I used the  kipflers that I grew this year for these.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, heat your largest, heavy bottomed fry pan with a little olive oil. Fry about two cups of sliced baby zucchini with two or three cloves of chopped garlic till they just start to colour.
  • Drain the potatoes and put the pot back on with lots of water for boiling the gnocchi.
  • Process the potatoes with a food processor, or through a mouli or ricer, to get a smooth puree.
  • Blend with an egg, a good pinch of salt, and enough OO bakers flour (I use the bakers flour that I use for my sourdough) to make a smooth, kneadable dough. My faithful Braun food processor copes with the spuds, one egg, and about half a cup of flour to make a thick batter.  I tip another half a cup of flour on my benchtop, tip the potato mix on top of it, and knead it in.  Knead very briefly to make a smooth soft not-sticky dough.
  • Roll the dough into long snakes, about 2 cm diameter and cut the snakes into 2 cm slices. Use a fork to squash each gnocchi slightly, like the picture at the bottom.
  •  Cook the gnocchi in two batches in boiling water until they rise to the top. This will take less than a minute. Use a slotted spoon to take them out into a colander.
  •  Is the pan with the zucchini, garlic and olive oil still hot? Get it hot again and add the gnocchi. Cook, tossing gently,  for just a couple of minutes till the gnocchi get a little bit of colour.  I like to add a few handfuls of quartered cherry tomatoes at the end and just heat them through, then add two or three good spoonfuls of pesto.  Toss the pesto through and serve.

 

{ 11 comments }

potato salad with two minute mayonnaise

You can’t really call this a proper, by the rules, Breakfast Cereal Challenge recipe. By the rules, breakfast should be low GI – food with “slow burn” carbohydrates to keep you feeling clear headed and energetic through to lunch time.  And potatoes are high GI (though cooking them skin on and mixing them with eggs helps lower it a bit).  But I’ve started harvesting the potatoes and they are such a treat, and breakfast is such a good meal for them to star in.

I grew kipfers this season – an elongated waxy variety specially good for potato salads and for baking.  The cooler nights so far have made it a good season for them. I don’t grow a huge amount of potatoes, and we treat them as a seasonal vegetable rather than a storage staple. I don’t really need the calories of potatoes every meal, and fresh in-season spuds spoil you for the supermarket kind. The treatment used to stop them sprouting worries me too. So when they are in season, resistance is futile!

The Recipe:

This works best with a waxy potato variety like kipfer or bintje, desiree, pink fir apple, or red pontiac. It’s also a really good way to use the little marble sized potatoes that you always get along with the full size ones.

If you cut your potatoes into large marble size, they take the same time to cook as a medium sized egg hard boiled, so you can cook both in the same pot.

  • Put a good handful of chopped potato per person and 1 or 2 eggs per person in a pot of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, till the potatoes are just “al dente” and the eggs are hard boiled.
  • Meanwhile, finely chop a good handful of herbs per person. I like parsley, dill, mint, and aragula or rocket, along with some spring onion greens or chives.  If you still have celery going well, a bit of celery adds a nice crunch. My celery is usually all gone to seed by this time of year, but the unusually cool year means I still have some.
  • Drain the potatoes, peel and chop the eggs, and toss the lot together with a couple of teaspoons of home-made whole egg mayonnaise per person. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

Two Minute Mayonnaise

 

making mayonnaise with a stick blender

whole egg mayonnaiseThe super easy, super fast, super reliable way to make mayonnaise is with a stick blender. No dribbling the oil in, no splitting, no whisking.

There are two bits of chemistry that make it work.

  1. You put all the ingredients in the blender jug and they separate.  The oil floats on top of everything else.
  2. You put the stick blender in the bottom and start it, and it creates a little vortex, dragging the oil down at the perfect rate to emulsify it.

Works every time. This is the ingredients before blending. And this is them after.

It’s so easy, I like to make small amounts of fresh mayonnaise when I need it, rather than a big batch to keep in the fridge. It uses raw egg, so it’s good to make with eggs from chooks you know are well fed and healthy.

My version:

Put in the blender jug:

  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 scant teaspoon of seeded mustard
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • juice of ¼ lemon
  • good pinch of salt
  • 6 capers (optional)
  • 100 ml of grape seed oil (or canola or sunflower oil – not olive oil – it makes bitter mayo).
Put the stick blender in and let it settle for a minute to separate into layers. Then, with the blender fully submerged, hit the button. Once it has started to emulsify, you can move the blender around to make sure the garlic and capers are blended in.
[relatedPosts]
{ 12 comments }