We have been getting a veggie box delivered each week and it has meant we are a) eating with the season and b)responding to what has arrived and thinking up recipes to use up the food rather than planning what we want to eat then shopping for the veg. This has been quite good because it forces you to look out new recipes.
This week we had a glut of potatoes and onions [white and spring]. It is still too warm to go into proper winter food yet so I searched my cookery books and my brain for a solution. The result - two types of potatoe salad and Nigella's onion tart [page 392, How to Eat].
Now, I cheated a bit. I left out the nutmeg because I really don't like it, and swapped the marsala to red wine. And, the tart calls for a pastry case and I have been really busy so I bought one.
Ingredients 30g butter
Drop of oil
500g white onions, sliced very thinly
1-2 teaspoons of sugar
4 tbsp red wine
1 egg yolk
300ml creme fraiche
Melt the butter with the oil in your frying pan and then add the onions.
Stir and cook on a medium to low heat for about 10-12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the sugar and reduce to the lowest heat and cover [with a lid, foil or, as I did, a large dinner plate].
Leave to cook for about 20 minutes. The onions should be all tender and almost going to mush.
Add in the wine, turn up the heat and cook for about 8 minutes. Keep stirring so it doesn't catch.
Remove from the heat and leave to cool a bit.
[you could also do this bit in the morning or the night before]
If you are using a homemade pastry case, make it while all the onion prep is going on.
Make a custard by beating the eggs, egg yolk, creme fraiche and half a teaspoon of salt together.
Add a good grinding of pepper - I like a lot so it is more like several grindings.
Take your onions and line the pastry case with them.
Then carefully pour over your egg mix - Nigella gives a good tip at this point - don't fill your case right up with the liquid - leave some aside and top up once you have it on the rack in the oven to avoid the wobbly, shaky, drippy trip from surface to oven.
Nigella doesn't say this but if you have a pastry case that isn't in a tin/foil [because like me you bought it!] place it on a baking sheet with a strip of greaseproof paper underneath it. This means that when you come to remove it you can lift it and slide it onto a plate without breaking the pastry.
Grind some more pepper on the top.
Bake it at Gas 6/180 degrees for about 35 minutes or until it is golden on top. It should be set but not rubbery and overly firm. It will cook a bit still as it cools down.
Remove it from the oven and let it cool for about 10-15 minutes before slicing up and serving.
For the potatoes As many potatoes as your local veggie box man has delivered![about 750kg in my case...]
A jar of good quality mayonnaise
A tbsp of mustard
A glug of oil
A large handful of chopped spring onions
Salt and pepper
Potatoe salad needs cold potatoes so either boil them while doing the onions or do them the night/morning before.
The first thing to do though was to scrub the soily potatoes - which Andy really enjoys...
When cold, divide them between 2 bowls.
In one bowl add two tbsp of good mayonnaise and the spring onions - mix well.
Some like lots of creamy mayonnaise so once you have done the first two tbsp judge yourself what you would like. Grind over some pepper and give it a final mix.
In the other, add the mustard and the oil and mix well.
I also served some cherry toms mixed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar with some salad leaves which I thought cut through the dairy centred nature of the rest of the dish.
I had my wee brother Theo over and needed some easy peasy recipes that would fill up a 15 year old with, apparently, hollow legs.
I picked up this recipe from Jamie Oliver's 'Jamie at Home' - I didn't follow it quite to the letter but here is my version.
Two punnets of cherry tomatoes
2-3 sprigs of Thyme
2-3 sprigs of Rosemary
2-3 garlic cloves - crushed and chopped
A tbsp of crushed Oregano
You will need a large roasting tin and the oven preheated to about Gas 6, 180 degrees
Foil for the baked potatoes
Prick the potatoes all over, wrap in foil and start to bake in the oven immediately
Slice up the cherry toms in half and place in a large roasting tin
Scatter the herbs and garlic over the tomatoes
Glug 3-4 tbsp of olive oil and 1-2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar over the herbs, garlic and tomatoes
Now for the messy bit...
Dump the sausages on the top and with your hands mix everything up until the sausages are all coated
Before putting in the oven, arrange it so the sausages are on top
Bake for 30 minutes, then turn over the sausages and divest the potatoes of their foil so the skins bake crispy, and bake for another 15-20 minutes
I made this the day of the Bridge of Allan games - torrential rain ensued. To save time I baked my potatoes in foil at breakfast time - I sometimes find that although usually they take an hour you might need longer and I like my skins really crispy. I also prepared the toms and sausages in their seasoning and left them in the tin covered in cling film. This meant that dinner was even quicker and easier and the food kept fine like that until it was time to bake it. And if you make this quantity just for two there will be enough for two nights or, in our case, for a hungry person to have as a rather nice packed lunch to reheat at work.