Tag Archives: potato

Recipe: Carrot and Star Anise Soup


I have a recipe for Vichy carrots, where the carrots are cooked in water, butter and sugar, that calls for the addition of star anise. It’s a pleasing flavour combination, but I though to use it in a soup rather than as a side dish. As I’m not creating a glaze, the butter and the sugar can go, but I’ve added potatoes to give the soup more body.

I’ve used chilli oil to add a kick to this fragrant, warming soup, but a drizzle of cream would do nicely. A sprinkled of chopped parsley would be a good colour contrast too.

Carrot & star anise soup photo IMG_0093_zps23be49c7.jpg

1 clove garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
300g carrots, chopped
300g potatoes, chopped
2 star anise
750ml vegetable stock
chilli oil for garnish

Soften the garlic and onion in a little oil in a saucepan until they go translucent.
Add the carrots, potatoes, star anise and vegetable stock.
Bring to the simmer, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove the star anise and blend until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with a drizzle of chilli oil.

Serves 2

Recipe: Asparagus and New Potato Salad


It’s that time of the year again! Spring! Green leaves. Daffodils and primroses! Nesting birds! And asparagus! It’s early this year. I picked some up at my local deli where they sell three bunches for a fiver. It would be rude not to buy some.

This is based on a St Delia recipe – and one that’s been something I’ve taken to barbecues for years. The asparagus stands up well to the fresh flavours. I’ve left the herbs out of this version, but a little tarragon would go nicely if you wanted to add a bit more flavour.

New potato & asparagus salad photo DSCN1148_zpsbd1f6499.jpg

450g new potatoes, cut into bit-size pieces
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal
Juice and zest of half a lemon
1/2 tsp mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin for preference)
3 spring onions, finely sliced

Boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes, or until tender.
Add the asparagus pieces to the pan and cook for a scant two minutes.
Whisk the lemon juice, zest, mustard, garlic and olive oil together in a bowl. Season well with salt and pepper.
Drain the potatoes and asparagus.
Put in a serving bowl and toss with the dressing.
Scatter the spring onions over the salad before serving.

Serves 2 as a main course salad

Recipe: Potato and Sweetcorn Chowder


It’s in the nature of food writing and blogging to want to complicate things. To go for new twists on old recipes and to dream up new complicated recipes. When I was planning this dish I thought of adding tofu, or white mushrooms to it. In the end necessity proved to be the mother of simplicity – I used the last of the tofu earlier in the week and my mushrooms were coagulating into a fungal mass. And this dish is the better for it. Just sweetcorn, potatoes and soya milk (non vegans can use semi-skimmed cows milk) and the result is sweet, savoury and delicious.

A few notes on ingredients – normally chowder is made with floury potatoes, but as the creaminess is coming from the sweetcorn and milk, so I like the potatoes to have a bit of texture. To the same aim, I’m not peeling them – I never usually do with any potato, but especially new potatoes. I also use a stock-cube. I have never managed to get a tasty vegetable stock using vegetables, so I’d rather go with a good quality cube/powder.

Potato and Sweetcorn Chowder photo DSCN1138_zpsd0fd2658.jpg

1 red onion, finely chopped
300g new potatoes, cubed
1 tin creamed sweetcorn (about 420g)
Soy milk to the same volume as the tin of sweetcorn
1 vegetable stock cube
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp chopped parsley (for garnish)

Sweat the red onion in a little oil in a large saucepan.
Once the onion is translucent add the potatoes, sweetcorn, soy milk, stock cube and bay leaf.
Stir thoroughly and season with salt and pepper (white pepper is best).
Bring to the simmer and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked to be thoroughly soft.
Remove the bay leaf.
Serve with the chopped parsley sprinkled over the top.

Serves 2 as a hearty main course

Recipe Tryout: The Guardian’s ‘Perfect’ Bean Burger


The Guardian has a regular food feature – “How to cook the perfect…” where Felicity Cloake tries out several versions to find the perfect way to cook a particular recipe. Recently, it was the turn of the perfect bean burger.

It sounded good so I thought I’d give it a try.

Felicity’s ingredients are as follows:
200g potato, peeled and diced
50g podded broad beans
400g cooked black beans
1tsp cumin seeds
1tsp coriander seeds
Vegetable oil, to fry
1 onion, finely diced
½ red pepper, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ jalapeno or other mild chilli, finely chopped
1 chipotle chilli in adobo, finely chopped, or 2tsp smoked paprika
Juice of ½ lime
Small bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
2tbsp cornmeal, to coat

The instructions are (in short)
Boil the potato and mash it.
Simmer the broad beans, remove their skins and mash them lightly.
Add the black beans, toasted cumin & coriander seeds and mash it all together.
Fry the onion, pepper and garlic, add to the mix when cool.
Stir in the other ingredients.
Form into patties and leave to firm up in the fridge.

I didn’t have any jalapeño or chipotle chilli, so I stuck to the paprika. I didn’t have any cornmeal, either, so that got left out.

My burger looked like this:

 photo DSCN0903_zps1ba87cdd.jpg

My initial impression was that there was far too much paprika. 2 tsp is too much for that amount of mix. I would start with 1/2 tsp and add more from there. This is especially true for Sainsbury’s Smoked Paprika which is also very hot. I didn’t put any chilli in and it was nearly too hot for a friend of mine to finish. Be careful and taste as you go along.

I hoped that I’d found a bean burger recipe that would stick together, but these didn’t. We did them on tin-foil on a barbecue and didn’t dare turn them.

They were certainly flavourful, but really all you could taste was the paprika. I’ll do them again, but this time with much more caution on the spices.

Recipe: Mushroom Soup


I’ve been going back to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Veg Every Day cookbook. In the soups section was a recipe for cream of mushroom soup. Now when I was growing up, the sovereign remedy for all childhood illnesses was a bowl of soup and a slice of bread cut into quarters. The soup came from a tin and the bread was white, but it was certain to help bear any cold or sniffle. My favourite was cream of chicken, and now I’ve gone veggie, chicken is off the menu, my comfort food to end all comfort foods is a tin of condensed cream of mushroom soup served over a packet of microwaved rice.

Now Hugh’s recipe involves cream, naturally enough, but I rarely have it in the house. I thought a bit and decided that potato would add body to the soup without overpowering the mushrooms. I think a couple of courgettes might work as well – they are brilliant blended in soups.

Like most soups this is quick and easy to make. I would recommend closed cup mushrooms in this for their lighter colour in the bowl. The dark-gilled field mushrooms will blend to something that looks like you might want to make breeze-blocks from.

I also really recommend the chopped tarragon. It completely lifts the soup to a different level. If you can’t get it, I suggest a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Mushroom soup photo 7560a5e3-66a9-484a-bbcf-85907a2426a3_zps1463ee57.jpg

1 leek, chopped
1 medium baking potato, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
300g mushrooms
750ml vegetable or mushroom stock
grating of nutmeg
1 tbsp sherry
chopped tarragon to garnish

Sweat the leek in a little oil until they have gone bright green and a little translucent.
Add the garlic and give it a few stirs.
Add the potato, mushrooms and vegetable stock.
Cover and leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Blend the soup until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper.
Stir in a few gratings of nutmeg and the sherry.
Serve with the tarragon as a garnish.

Serves 3-4

Recipe: Laurie Colwin’s Potato Salad


There are some cooks who pride themselves on being instinctive cooks, they never measure anything, they never time anything and they never give precise recipes. ‘Oh just boil it until they’re cooked,’ they say. That’s fine if you know what cooked broccoli (for example) is supposed to be like. What if you don’t? Should it be crispy in the middle or mushy? That’s why I tend towards the specific rather than the vague in my recipes. If you’ve never done it before, precision helps. If you have done it before you don’t need me to tell you when to go off piste in pursuit of your own tastes preferences.

However, in my next recipe, I’m going to break that rule. In Laurie Colwin’s book, Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, she gives a recipe for potato salad. She doesn’t give any quantities. I’m going to take her ingredients and do the same, because who doesn’t know what potato salad is supposed look like?

Potato salad

Boil some salad potatoes. When they’re cooked, drain them and leave them to cool for a while. You want the potatoes to be warm enough to absorb the dressing flavours, but if they’re hot they’ll split the mayonnaise. Chop some spring onions and some fresh dill. Chop the warm potatoes into small pieces. Mix in the spring onions, dill and add enough mayonnaise to coat them thoroughly. You need enough mayonnaise for this to be moist but not so much that they’re swimming in it. Season with salt and pepper and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Leave to stand for at least half an hour for the flavours to develop. Serve at room temperature.

This will remind you how good potato salad can be and make you ask yourself why you ever buy it!

Recipe: Low Fat Oven-Baked Chips


This is a quick one – two ingredients and a simple method. These are the famous ‘Slimming World Chips’. If you haven’t been told how to make them in your first week at a club, you will be on your second. It’s the FryLite spray that makes these low-fat. And they are pretty tasty. Essentially it’s the same method for making roast potatoes.

Slimming World Chips

2 medium floury potatoes, cut into chips
Frylite spray

Parboil the chips for 5-10 minutes depending on how thick you’ve cut them.
Drain them and then shake them around in the saucepan to break up the edges a little. This is what will give them their crispy finish.
Spread them out on a baking sheet and spray with Frylite, tossing them so that every side gets some oil.
Put into a preheated oven at 220C for about 20 minutes.
I normally check on that after 15 minutes and toss them on the baking sheet so that they brown more evenly.

Serves 2
In the magical incantation of Slimming World: they’re free on Green!