Just as we've recovered from our trip to Legoland, it's time for the school summer fair. I found myself flipping burgers and sausages for four hours with Mike on a hot Saturday after volunteering to help. I'm sure there must have been some form of mind control involved, or perhaps he asked me when Maya was pulling my nose and Noah was falling off his scooter at speed. However it happened, he must have caught me at a weak moment.But now the meat sweats have calmed down, and I no longer smell like a forest fire and can face eating again it's been little but salads this week, or ham and egg on toast. Simple and quick things that don't require much thought or time.So in light of not a great deal going on in the kitchen for the past few days, here is a selection of things I find essential and interestingly useful from my bulging shelves.La isla bonito:dried and fermented smoked tuna is a surprisingly delicious addition to many seafood dishes and stocks. I particularly like to add it to the pasta when I'm making spaghetti alle vongole. And I occasionally just like smelling the jar for that strange almost fish food smell.We bought a yuzu:I'll often use this in dressings instead of lemon juice to give a slightly different citrus tang or in sorbets and lemon tarts.Yeast today, once more:Usually I make the weekly bread using my sourdough starter, but when I want a quicker loaf, pitta breads, ciabbattas or the like, I'll use this fresh yeast from Sweden (via Ocado or the internet). It's tangy, I much prefer fresh than the dried powdery stuff and I like the packaging.Tarragon with the wind:Not many days pass in this house without a salad and our house vinaigrette. Cider vinegar that has had a small bunch of tarragon steeping in it is key to this. Aniseed and apple flavours make this vinaigrette stand out.Fungi to be around:Dried porcini mushrooms, ground to a powder (or for that matter, dried mushrooms of most kinds) make an excellent seasoning for steak, or beef. I also add it to my mushroom pasta and many other dishes where I want that deep umami hit.Oil be seeing you, in all the old familiar places:I have a standard olive oil to cook with and I have a few special ones to dress with. Food that is, I don't need oil on hand when putting clothes on. Just spending a little more on a really good quality olive oil makes such a difference to finishing dishes or for making dressings or just to dip good bread in.Sitting on the dock of the Old Bay:First of all, I love the packaging. Second, no fish taco in this house is complete without Old Bay seasoning. Easy.Pepper the conversation:Japanese pepper is slightly fruity and lemony, so is great on seafood or with meringues and strawberries. I use it a lot when I want an extra kick without too much pepper flavourAil be seeing you, in all those old familiar faces:A house without garlic is a sad house.Cutting the mustard:Maille is my preferred brand of Dijon mustard. I use it in vinagrettes and it's a must(ard) with roast chicken.Chilli in here:I like chilli heat, we have a variety of hot chilli sauces on the shelves too. And one of my favourite uses for them is hot green chilli sliced onto scrambled eggs. Hot green chillies probably would improve most dishes in my opinion.Herb Salt:A mix of rosemary, thyme, sage and parsley, this salt will turn your morning fried eggs into delicious morning fried eggs. And there are plenty more uses for it than that too. Seasoning chicken skin before the bird goes in the oven, sprinkling over flaky white fish or seasoning, even curing salmon, this salt is just a little bit more than the usual. All you need is a spice grinder and it keeps for a long, long while.
When I think of Jersey, instead of potatoes and cream, I think of Bergerac and John Nettles. And Hasselback obviously sounds like Hasselhoff, so this recipe should be extraordinarily good at fighting crime.A good Maris Piper potato salad, dressed lightly with mayonnaise and chives, or new potatoes gently robed with a zingy vinaigrette always sit well on the summer table. Warm Anyas, butter melting and pooling around and tossed through with parsley, salt and pepper as well is a perfect side-dish with a barbecued and charred rib-eye steak or some grilled sea bass with a herby oil.This potato salad has the crisp salty crunch of delicious jacket potaoes. The ridges absorb all the flavours and juices. Let it sit a while before dressing so it cools down.The gribiche sauce is a classic normally served with veal's head. It's a kind of cross between egg mayo and tartar sauce. While that may not sound instantly appealing to some, it really is delicious and gives this dish a little twist.So the only crime worth fighting here is probably going to be the British summer. Oh well, maybe I'll have a Magnum anyway.Ingredients500g Jersey RoyalsOlive oilSalt to seasonFor the gribiche:2 egg yolksSalt to season2 cooled hard-boiled eggs (about eight minutes)5 cornichons1tbsp capers1 small shallot2tsp Dijon mustard1 small red chilli (optional)Olive oilRapeseed oilSome parsleyMethodHeat the oven to 180c.Score the tops of the potatoes all the way across the top a millimetre apart slicing down just a little so they look stripy.Put them on an oven tray and roll them about in olive oil and salt then roast for 45 minutes.While the potatoes are cooking, make the gribiche.Whisk the egg yolks, mustard, hard boiled egg yolks (keeping the cooked whites aside) and some salt together in a bowl then gently drizzle in the olive oil, drip by drip at first, whisking all the while until it starts to form a thick emulsion. If you have a mini food processor, by all means use it for this stage.Now switch to the rapeseed oil and continue until you have a nice pot of mayonnaise. Thin it down with a little water or lemon juice if you like.Finely chop the parsley, shallots, cornichons and chilli then lightly run your knife through the capers and dice the cooked egg whites.Add all of this to the mayonnaise then mix well. Taste and season more if you like.Let the potatoes cool just a little then stir through the sauce and serve.
In honour of national sandwich week, I present to you the Monte Cristo. A marvel of simplicity. It's really just a version of a toasted ham and cheese sandwich, but if ever one were to be presented at the Great Exhibition, this should be it.Read More