New Potatoes, Lettuce and Reine Claude Plums

September 4, 2009

Hi there,

We’ve  been enjoying New Potatoes over the summer (they are the Sharpes Express variety if you’re wondering) and as I’m sure you know, they need very little (a knob of Butter or a drizzle of Olive Oil) to make them shine . You can jazz things up by adding chopped herbs (Parsley, Mint or Coriander always work really well) or try parboiling them then roasting them in a little Olive Oil (with Rosemary if you have it) and of course there’s salads. Add a very simple Vinaigrette or a creamy dressing  with Yogurt, Mayo or Creme Fraiche and some chopped herbs for a simple one or throw in Beans, Nuts, Cheese and Salad leaves and you’ve got lunch.

I have also discovered that these potatoes make great chips. To cut down on frying time I’ve been  parboiling them in their skins first. Then I let them cool down a bit and chop them into chunks and fry them (in vegetable oil) first at a lowish heat so they are almost poaching rather than frying then after about 10 minutes I turn the heat off completely, let them sit for a minute then turn up the heat (medium -high)and fry them until golden. Last night I added a sliced Onion about 5 minutes into the second frying which was nice and crispy by the time the spuds were done. I improvised a quick Aioli with Hellmans and crushed Garlic for dips and served them on a bed of this week’s Lettuce dressed in a little Red Wine Vinegar. Needless to say we licked the plate clean.

As it’s turned a bit nippy I also made a gratin with them during the week with  Garlic, Saffron and Cream a dish that goes really well with Fish or roast Meat. If you haven’t had it before, Saffron comes from the stigmas of the saffron crocus and is sold in very small quantities (it takes thousands of crocus’ to produce the smallest amount so it’s pricier than other spices). The tiny Orange-red strands are infused in a little warm water before use,  then added to the dish to give it’s characteristic bright yellow colour and unusual flavour (hard to describe – some say it’s kind of musty but don’t let that put you off!). In the Mediterranean it’s used with rice, chicken and shellfish dishes (ever wondered why Spanish Paella is the colour it is?) while in the west of England, where it was once extensively cultivated, it has traditionally been added to breads and cakes. You can track it down in any good deli if you don’t have any and it’s something to buy if you’re ever on holiday in Morocco (we can dream!!)

A Gratin with New Potatoes, Garlic, Saffron and Cream

You’ll need:

1 kilo New Potatoes (about what you have in your bag this week)

1/2 Teaspoon Saffron Strands

2-3 Cloves Garlic

150ml Cream

Salt and Pepper

Scrub the Spuds and partially cook them by boiling them for about 8-10 minutes. While the Potatoes are cooking, infuse the Saffron in half a cup of warm water for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Crush the Garlic and put in a pot along with the Cream. Add the Saffron liquid and slowly allow the Cream to thicken over a low heat stirring occasionally until it begins to stick to the side of the pot. When the Potatoes are done, roughly chop them (unless you have baby ones in which case you can leave them intact) and place  in a dish about 2 inches deep. Season the Cream with Salt (be generous as the Cream makes things sweet) and Pepper then pour over the spuds. Bake in the oven at 200 degrees for about 30 minutes until a lovely Saffron crust has formed.

And for dessert……..

The Plums in your bag this week are the lovely Reine Claude variety. Wash them and put them on the table after dinner for an easy dessert healthy enough to wash away any guilt about eating Cream for dinner!

Have a great weekend,


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