I always wonder what to do with all of nature’s bounty, and blackberries are one of the most worrying crops. They fruit so generously, although the plants are perfectly capable of sending out runners and reproducing that way, they don’t really need to make fruits and seeds. But they do, and we benefit, along with all the animals and birds that depend on the fruit and the shelter from the bushes. By the way, don’t worry about taking the fruit, you aren’t depriving the animals, as I’ve sometimes heard people comment when blackberry picking. Like any fruiting plant, the blackberry will make more ripe fruit the more that are picked. If you didn’t pick the first ones, the later berries wouldn’t ripen, so it’s not greedy to make your own harvest and then leave the later ones for nature.
When picking, I have two tubs. I separate out the “breakfast quality berries” for us to eat right away and have the larger tub for “processing berries” which go into jams, pies, crumbles and make large quantities of fruit vinegar.
Fruit vinegar is an incredible substance. If you haven’t tried it yet in a salad dressing, you will be amazed at the difference it makes. Like balsamic vinegar only more so. It’s sweet, tasty, fruity and irresistible. It enhances your cooking in multiple ways. Every salad dressing is the better for a splash of it; add it to sauces when you’re reducing to add that touch of sweetness and shine; add it to deep flavoured soups to give that extra lift; add it to meat gravy when stirring up the juices from the bottom of the pan; de-glaze a pan of fried mushrooms with it; and you can even drink it diluted with hot water or fizzy water for a healthy and (allegedly) cold-curing cordial. Really, what more could you ask? I think you can tell I’m a convert.
You can use other berries and fruits for fruit vinegars, but not the very fleshy ones like plums, as their juice would dilute the vinegar too much and affect the keeping properties.
It’s the perfect Christmas gift for cooking-interested friends. You can’t buy fruit vinegars easily in the shops and a homemade present is eagerly received. Do save up some pretty bottles for gifts, the ones that maple syrup comes in are nice, or some swing-top lemonade bottles.
I have to thank Pam Corbin and her River Cottage Handbook # 2, Preserves, for the basic recipe, but it also comes from many home cooks and older fashioned collections.
The basic proportions can be multiplied many times to use up your harvest.
Makes about 3 x 600ml bottles Timings: picking, 3-4 days pickling and then 30 minutes to finish and bottle
Put your berries in a container with a lid. I prefer not to leave food in touch with plastic for long periods, so a large saucepan is ideal if you know you don’t need to use it for some days. Cover the berries with the vinegar and mash them down a bit with a wooden spoon to release the juices.
Cover and leave for 3-4 days. If your cover is not tight enough, the fruity vinegar will attract all the fruit flies in the neighbourhood so do make sure it’s well covered.
After the 3-4 days, drain the liquid from the berries by placing in a jelly bag overnight. If you don’t have a jelly bag, you can make one from an old teatowel securely tied up into a bag shape with string and then suspend it from a kitchen cabinet handle or some other method of letting the juice drain out into a large bowl.
Discard the fruit. Measure your liquid.
Place in a large pan and add 450g of sugar to each 600ml of liquid.
Bring to a boil, simmer briefly and skim off any scum if it rises.
Cool a little and bottle into clean decorative bottles.
It keeps for over a year in a cool dark place but you can give most of it away at Christmas with a glow of pride.
An indispensable part of any tapas selection, and a joyous addition to any party spread, sharing table or al fresco meal. We all love finger food, especially outside with our friends and family, and anything that makes life easier for the cook is a winner with me.
The fun thing about these peppers is that although they are mainly mild tasting, one in 10 has a spicy kick to it, and you can’t tell which ones by looking. So you’re adding a little risky gamble to your snacking, which gives you a very pleasant frisson of anticipation. The variety of peppers is so special that it has been awarded a PDO protected status by the EU. I like the feeling of almost eating a national monument – similar to the UK’s Stilton cheese or Italy’s Prosciutto Toscano ham.
Serve as part of a sharing table, or as a starter with a glass of Spanish red wine. You could pack them into a sealed container and take them along as a different vegetable for a picnic or put them in a lunchbox for your child to show off at school.
Serves 4 as part of a mixed starter Timings: 15 minutes
Make sure the peppers are dry or they’ll spit as they hit the hot oil.
Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan – you are not deep frying but you need more than a slick of oil. Place the peppers in the hot oil and turn them as the skins puff and char. Fry for a few minutes, making sure all sides are cooked.
Turn them onto a plate and sprinkle generously with the flaky sea salt.
Serve warm or room temperature, and you will need a napkin to wipe your oily hands.
Very Berry Jam
This is the easiest jam I make and also the one that people seem to like the best. I generally give my friends a little hamper at Christmas with allotment produce and I always include a pot of home-made jam. It makes a wonderful take-along present for parties too, a touch more personal and less usual than the bottle of prosecco. Which I am not knocking by the way, a bottle of fizz is always welcome in my house.
It’s easy because you use whatever fruit you have to hand; it doesn’t have to be home grown. We often have fruit for breakfast and if there are any manky strawberries or slightly soft blueberries left, I pop them in a freezer bag to save up and use in this mixed berry jam. As it happens, the raspberries in my allotment are producing a bumper crop this year, so this particular batch is raspberry based. I picked cherries, strawberries and black and redcurrants from the allotment and added some blueberries from the fridge that were a bit sad. Later in the season I might add some blackberries or gooseberries or even a fig or two from the tree next door.
If you are using a lot of low pectin fruit such as strawberries, you might need to add some pectin, use jam sugar or add in a handful of redcurrants, but the joy of a mixture like this is that all the fruits meld together and make up for each other’s deficiencies while making all their tastes sing in harmony.
I had two bags of frozen fruit mixture from the allotment/breakfast leftovers and a big harvest of raspberries, so I had 1.6kg of fruit.
The general principles of jam making are:
Makes 8 small jars Timings: about an hour
1.6kg mixed berries, stalks removed
1kg jam sugar and 600g granulated sugar
Place the fruit (defrost any you have frozen of course) in a large pan – the jam will rise up when it boils so better use a bigger one than you think. (Much bigger) Simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the sugar. Stir to dissolve and then let it boil merrily. Meanwhile, sterilise your jars.
Boil the jam until it reaches 104.5°C on your jam thermometer. Stir it every now and then as it bubbles just to stop anything catching on the bottom of the pan and adding a burned flavour.
Switch off the heat and let it cool for about 10 minutes – to under 90°C.
Pour or scoop the jam into your jars, cover with a wax disc and the plastic cover held by an elastic band. Put the lids on your jars and screw on tight.
When cool, label the jars and store in a cool place until you use the jam. It will keep for at least a year.
Home Pickled Beetroot
Now we’re coming into preserving season, making jams and savoury jars of loveliness to remind us of Summer sunshine in the depths of Winter and to perk up our tastebuds in the cold weather.
Pickled beetroot is the absolute easiest thing to make, requiring no special equipment and tastes so much better than the shop bought jars. You can adjust your seasoning to your own taste and feel so proud when you bring the beautiful jar of deep purple slices out to enhance a meal of cold meat or add to a corned beef or cheddar sandwich. Is that only a Northern tradition? Delicious anyway, if messy.
If you don’t grow your own beetroot – which is lovely tolerant vegetable and quite easy to grow if you don’t sow it too early as I always do – then get a pretty bunch of fresh beetroot from your green grocer. If you buy it with the tops on you can see how fresh it is – the leaves are also attractive.
Wait till you have the oven on for a roast or something; beetroot doesn’t mind waiting a couple of days in the vegetable drawer. I like to roast my beetroot, partly because I’m lazy and partly because I like the taste better. The taste of beetroot is often described as “earthy” which doesn’t properly catch the sweet autumn smoky depth of this wonder vegetable. It’s supposed to be one of the true “superfoods” having a proven ability to reduce blood pressure. Maybe so, but I’d eat it because it tastes so good and looks so beautiful. The health benefits are a pleasant bonus.
I make a batch of pickling vinegar up every now and then, cool it and put it in a clean bottle. It keeps in a cool place for months and means you can just heat it up and pour it over sliced beetroot whenever you have some around.
Makes 2 jars Timings: 2 hours roasting and overnight cooling down for cooking the beetroot, 30 minutes for preparing the vinegar and pickling the beetroot but this will give you more vinegar than you need so it will take you less time when you do another batch.
Roast the beets: wrap the beetroot in foil, either individually if they are fist sized or in twos or threes if they are smaller. Seal the parcels well and put on a tray in the oven when you have the oven on for a roast or casserole. Let them cook along with the other dish for about 2 hours, depending on the size and then leave them in the oven when your other dish is done, to cool down with the oven. I find this gives me perfectly cooked tender beetroot.
In the morning, take them out of the oven (doesn’t matter if you don’t remember till later) and keep them in the fridge until you use them. They will keep for a couple of days before you have to pickle them.
Clean your jars: I like to use peanut butter jars or other jars with pure plastic lids so that the vinegar doesn’t get a chance to corrode the inside but jam jars will do. Fill the jars full of boiling water, then empty and dry.
Make the pickling vinegar: put the vinegar into a small pan with all the ingredients, bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust the seasoning – I like it quite sweet so I sometimes add another teaspoon or two of sugar. You could even add honey if you like the additional flavour.
Let the pan simmer for a couple of minutes, then let it cool nearly to room temperature to infuse the spices into the vinegar. Strain the vinegar and discard the spices. This is your pickling vinegar now. Bring it back to simmering when you’ve sliced your beetroots.
Unwrap your beetroots and just rub the skin off. It will come off easily. Wear gloves if you don’t want stained hands but it’s quite fun to get red fingers. Halve the beetroots if they’re large and slice into very thin slices using a sharp knife. As you slice, feel the texture, it should be a buttery softness. If you get any fibrous bits (which can happen with home grown beetroot if you leave it too long in the ground and it goes woody), cut round them if you can.
Place the sliced beetroot into the jars, working like a puzzle master to fit the most slices into the jar that you possibly can. Put them in horizontal layers with some stuffed vertically down the gaps. Fill each jar to within about 1cm of the top.
Pour the hot vinegar directly into the jar. Using a knife or skewer, poke down into the jar to release any air pockets – you can see them from the outside. This will help them keep better and let you get a bit more vinegar in.
Top up with more vinegar to cover all the beetroot, seal the jars and keep in a cool darkish place. They don’t have to go in the fridge until you open the jar.
Keep any un-used pickling vinegar in a clean bottle or jar until you get the next batch of beetroot to process. You'll be surprised how much you get through in a year, once the family get the taste for the home made stuff.
Packs a punch, Gazpacho does. It doesn’t leave you in the dark as to its intentions. It wants to jump up and shout, and make you do the same. It’s a cold soup, made from raw vegetables, and you can feel it doing you good, as well as waking up your tastebuds. I used to make this quite often in the summer and take it to work in a chilled thermos flask for my lunch. Apart from the aroma of garlic making it obvious what I was eating, the little moans of pleasure from my desk caused much merriment in the office. Never mind, anything that makes you feel that good at work should be encouraged.
Do make it a day ahead so the flavours can meld, and serve it as chilled as you can, as that suits it. You can adjust the proportions to your own tastes – I quite like the sharp vinegary tang, but you can reduce the amount of vinegar if you want a gentler approach.
If you have fresh parsley to hand, it’s lovely to add some towards the end of the blend so you get it rather roughly chopped, but it’s not part of the classic recipe.
For a dinner party, you can serve little chopped vegetables as a topping and let everyone choose their own, but it’s not necessary for a family lunch.
Serves 4 Timings: 30 minutes and then at least 2 hours to chill
Put the whole lot into the bowl of your blender and add about 200ml cold water, some salt and pepper. Blend until fairly smooth. Add the parsley at this time if using.
Blend again, and taste for seasoning and acidity. You can add a teaspoon of sugar to balance the acidity, a little more salt or a little more oil.
Blend and chill until needed.
The soup will keep at least 2 days in the fridge.
Spanish Lentil Salad (vegan option)
The Spanish are so good at meals for hot weather, they have to be. When we’re in a heatwave here in Blighty, we crave cooling but nourishing dishes, and can do no better than to take a lesson from our Spanish cousins.
Lentil salad is a quiet classic. Easy to make, keeps in the fridge for days, goes with just about anything, and you can eat it on its own or put a boiled egg on top for an extra bit of excitement. Perfect for lunchboxes and relaxed lunches alike. This salad has the taste of Spain in a subtle way – the dressing contains pimento pepper, which is like paprika, and cumin for that very slightly Arabic edge. It’s not spicy, but if you want to spice it up a bit you could certainly add some sliced chilli to the vegetables or a teaspoon of chilli to the dressing. I adapted the recipe from SpanishSabores.com who have a whole host of inspiring Spanish recipes on line but I was really trying to re-create the dish I had at Finca el Cerillo in the hills above Malaga and I think I’ve got the essence of it here.
You could add some feta cheese, or some other herbs. If you add tomatoes, then it won’t keep as long because of the additional juice, but they are very pleasant in the salad too.
Serves 8 as part of a selection of salads Timings: 1 hour
Put the lentils and the lentil vegetables on to boil in a large pan – about 2cm of water covering the top of the lentils. Bring to the boil and simmer while you grill the peppers. Simmer the lentils for about 15 minutes, then check – they should be just done, with a bit of texture to them. Test them and give them another 5 minutes if you think they aren’t done enough but be careful, you don’t want to overcook. When they’re done, drain in a sieve and leave to cool down. Remove the vegetables that were boiled with the lentils.
While the lentil simmer, put the peppers on a tray under a hot grill and keep turning them as the skin blisters and blackens. When they are blackened on all sides, put them straight into a glass bowl with a plate on top. (Much better than the old method of putting grilled peppers in a plastic bag – we now know that we’d rather not have plastic touching hot food.) Give them 10 minutes to collapse and cool down while you make the dressing.
To make the dressing: shake all the ingredients together in a jar, and taste. Adjust the seasoning, you might need more salt or lemon juice or honey.
Go back to the peppers and now you can peel them easily, scraping away the skin from the flesh and discarding the insides and the seeds. Chop the flesh of the peppers into small dice.
Clean and chop the other fresh vegetables and then mix everything together.
Chill in the fridge for at least an hour or better 3 hours before serving.
Keeps for several days in a sealed container in the fridge.
Ruby Sauerkraut (vegan)
OK, so there are as many recipes for Sauerkraut as there are German grandmothers in the world, and every single one of them believes their way is best. Never mind, unless you are in possession of a German grandmother, then you need a recipe. The basics of sauerkraut are simple – cut some firm cabbage up very finely, massage it with salt until the juices run, pack it into a jar so that it ferments and burps away happily, and when that’s over, you have sauerkraut. Most grandmothers add a couple of teaspoons of caraway seeds and no other seasoning. Teeming with beneficial microbes and packed full of cabbagey nutrition, this is a genuine home-made superfood. Fermented foods are proven to improve your gut microbiome. A healthy gut not only means you digest your food comfortably and thoroughly; it has effects on mental wellbeing. I’m not big on making or believing nutritional claims for any one sort of food; I believe in a good mixed diet and no supplements or pills for most of us. But in this case, I do believe the evidence – some sort of fermented food really does do you a lot of good.
And of course, home made is the best way. It’s extremely cost effective and means you can get the end result you want. I love making ruby sauerkraut with red cabbage instead of white, just for the beauty of it. I add some spices, turmeric and ginger for the tingle; if you’re being healthy you might as well go the whole hog. But please play around with the basic recipe and let me know if you come up with some delicious variations.
The only other thing to get right is the size of your jars. To keep the cabbage below the surface of the liquid, you need to press it down. I have a fermenting jar with a valve in the lid and quite a wide mouth. A standard jam jar fits inside this so when I screw the lid down, the jam jar presses inside on the cabbage. You can keep a whole cabbage leaf aside, to put under the little jar to hold the mixture down more efficiently. You don’t have to use a fermenting jar, it just helps to avoid accidents if you forget to check on your bubbling cabbage and the gas builds up, but you do need a fairly wide glass jar for the fermentation and another smaller one to fit inside. Play around with them before you start, as its quite annoying to have your salted cabbage ready to be packed away and you’re still fitting jars inside each other like a toddler in kindergarten. Might give rise to a toddler style tantrum and that would never do.
Makes 2 medium jars Timings: About an hour preparation, 30 minutes mixing and then 1 week fermenting.
Very finely chop the cabbage – as thin slivers as you can get. This does take quite a while but put the radio on and keep going. Grate the carrot and add that in, along with all the rest of the ingredients.
Sprinkle the salt over the mix.
With your hands, not a spoon (but you can wear plastic gloves if you have to) knead and massage the salt into the mixture for about 10 minutes. In this time you should see the liquid start to come out of the vegetables. Keep going and add a bit more salt if you think it needs it – the amount does depend on the firmness of the cabbage so it can be variable.
Let it rest for 10 minutes and then knead/massage again for another 10 minutes.
Clean your jars thoroughly with boiling water – the only microbes you want in this mixture are the ones already in the cabbage that can live through all that salting – those are the ones that will ferment and preserve the vegetables.
Pack the mixture into your fermentation jar, firming it down with a spoon. The liquid should be visible and will rise up over the next couple of days. If it doesn’t, you can top up the jar with some brine made from mixing water and salt together.
Press the cabbage down using your jar and inside-jar arrangement and leave the whole apparatus in the kitchen for a day or two to remind you to loosen the lid every now and then, and to check on the liquid level. You will see bubbles of carbon dioxide starting to form inside the cabbage mixture and a delightful smell of fermenting sauerkraut will start to fill your kitchen. If you don’t like the smell, put the jar somewhere cool but not cold and let it get on with it. Check on it and let the gas out every day or so.
After about a week you should have good tasty fermentation going on. At this stage you can choose how strong the taste should be: you can now jar it up into smaller pots and keep it in the fridge (or give it to your friends) for eating. Fridge temperatures will stop the fermentation. If you want it stronger, leave it for another few days – up to another week - out of the fridge, tasting every now and then until it reaches the desired level of pungency.
Jars keep about 1 month in the fridge. You can also freeze it, although I’ve never tried. In the old days, apparently sauerkraut was frozen through the winter by packing it into wooden barrels and burying them in the ground so they froze solid and could be thawed and eaten in the spring. The bacteria survive and will regenerate when de-frosted.
Eat it, just picking it out of the jar to put into sandwiches, or onto hot dogs. Mix it with mayonnaise for a fantastic sandwich/hot dog relish, have a little bowl of it with salads. It goes specially well with anything meaty or cheesy, but if you like with fish, then indulge yourself. Warm it up with apples and onions to go with sausages, add it to a pasta and ham casserole, have it as a side vegetable with a pork chop. Endless possibilities….
Mushy Peas – Nottingham Caviar (vegan)
Long ago, the Goose Fair at Nottingham, held in early October, was the last and the largest of the country-wide fairs in England. Fairs were an important part of the employment market, for hiring new staff for agricultural or construction work. They weren’t originally for entertainment rides or peep shows. Wherever people gather, other people will come; to sell food, side shows, thrills. Men and women seeking work would come to the Goose Fair, stroll the alleys of tents and hustings, maybe buy something to eat.
Mushy peas were traditionally served in a paper cone and eaten with a splash of mint sauce. They’re hot, cheap and filling. The sauce adds piquancy and tingle to the salty peas and the mint gives extra digestibility and removes some of the gassy effect of the creamy mash. So they say.
Even in the 1980s, when the Goose Fair was about dodgems and whirler rides, you could still buy mushy peas and mint sauce to enjoy among the fairground lights and blaring whistles. The last stall selling Nottingham Peas and Mint Sauce in the city’s old Victoria Market closed down in the Covid crisis. There are hopes it can open again once customers come back, for now, you can make your own.
Serves 6-8 Timings: Overnight soak, then 4 hours simmering
For the mint sauce: a good bunch of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped. 1 tablespoon malt vinegar and 1 tablespoon cider vinegar. 2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons sugar. Blend well and adjust the seasonings.
Soak the peas overnight in a good amount of water and mix in the bicarbonate of soda. The peas will absorb quite a lot of water so top it up before you go to bed.
In the morning, tip the peas into a colander and wash them well.
Put them in a pan with the vegetables and fennel seeds and top up with fresh water and bring to the boil. Don’t add salt at this stage or it will harden the peas. As the pan comes to the boil, skim off the foam. Once the pan has come to the boil you can continue the cooking in a slow cooker - on high for 4 hours, or on the hob at a slow simmer, or in the oven in a low heat with the lid on the casserole. You need to check the water level – not too much or too little! In the slow cooker, just have enough liquid to cover the peas.
At the end of 4 hours, test them – they should be mushy and starting to fall apart. Check the level of liquid – you want to mash the peas down into the liquid but you want a porridge-texture mash, so you can drain off a little water if you still have too much. Mash the peas with a potato masher and add salt to taste – you will need quite a bit as they have been cooked without.
You can keep them in a covered container in the fridge for 2-3 days or freeze them. Serve lukewarm with a good splash of mint sauce.
What a smart and retro starter to a meal, and part of all our heritage.
Simple, beautiful and fresh. I have come to the conclusion that complicated recipes are not for me. Pick your elderflowers from a tree that isn’t too close to a road or a dusty path. I think that some trees have a different complex of aromas in their pollens from others – so it’s interesting over time to make batches of cordial from different trees and see if you can taste any variation. I also think that cordial made with flowers early in the season when they start to open tastes more floral than cordial made with later flowers, which tastes richer. That might be my imagination, but a world of elderflower cordial tasting is a pleasant place to be for a while. There are loads of cordial recipes out there but this is a combination of the Pam Corbin version in River Cottage Handbook No 2 Preserves (a must have) and the Fern Verrow version (another must have book for both the recipes and the photography).
I have no idea if there is any medical sense behind this, but I have heard that children with hay fever were given elderflower cordial in olden days, in order to provide them with small doses of pollen to accustom their immune systems to the allergen in harmless amounts. A similar role has been claimed for honey. I’m not saying there’s any medical benefit to elderflower cordial, only that it tastes superb and you are using a bountiful natural resource.
Depending on the space in your fridge or freezer and how long you want your supply to last, you can make this without the citric acid if you like. Then it will keep only a few weeks on the shelf and will need to be refrigerated once open. You can make it and freeze it in plastic bottles, but I never have the room in my freezer for that and am trying to minimise my use of plastic in food preparation anyway. I use old glass olive-oil bottles, the ones with the swing-cap lids and I find that the cordial keeps several months in a cool place, which is as long as the supply lasts in our house and by that time we’re into the more winter-ish fruity cordials as the season rolls round.
You can make up the cordial with water, fizzy water or lemonade. If you want a Hugo Cocktail, add lime juice, mint leaves and prosecco and waft around the garden looking and feeling lovely.
Makes about 2 litres Timings: 1 hour to pick and start the steeping, overnight steeping, then about 30 minutes to boil up and bottle
Pick your elderflowers and bring them home as soon as possible, breathing in the scent from the bag every now and then.
Shake off any insects or dust but don’t wash them. Put them in a large bowl (not plastic) or pan. Using a potato peeler, peel the lemons and the orange and add the peel to the flowers while you boil the kettle. Keep the peeled fruit in the fridge. Pour the boiling water over the flowers/peel, cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to infuse and steep overnight.
Next day, strain the liquid out through your jelly bag. I hang mine from the cupboard where we keep our glasses so I have to be sure to start the straining only after we’ve laid the table for breakfast. Let the liquid strain for about 30 minutes and don’t squeeze the bag or you will get a cloudy cordial.
While it’s dripping through, squeeze the lemons and the orange, and strain out any pips.
Measure all the liquid that you have – the juice and the strained elderflower liquid – into a large pan – you should have about 2 litres. Per litre of liquid add 700g sugar and 2 teaspoons of citric acid, if using.
Bring to a rolling boil and skim off the pollen-laden scum that comes to the surface.
While it’s coming to the boil, boil up your kettle and sterilise your bottles.
Bottle the cordial while it’s still hot and clip the lids on, so the cooling down closes the lids more tightly.
When cool, wipe the bottles, label and keep them in a darkish place.
South German Potato Salad (vegan optional)
Actually, “Swabian” Potato Salad, but not everyone outside of Germany (and not everyone inside Germany either) knows where the unofficial district of Swabia belongs. You won’t find it on a postcode or town name but it’s an area taking in parts of Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemburg with about 7 million inhabitants. It has it’s own culinary traditions and specialities which I was fascinated to learn about when I lived in Ulm - a beautiful town on the Danube. Eating new food when you’ve moved to a new country is a bit different from eating new things on holiday. You aren’t going back, so you have to get used to them and work out what you like to eat on a daily basis, and what your friends are likely to serve you.
I’ve always loved the English version of potato salad: perky little new potatoes, rich with mayonnaise, piquant with spring onions and chives, spritzed with lemon juice and sparkled with ground black pepper. I was initially suspicious of Swabian Potato Salad – the potatoes melt almost to a slurry in the stock, there’s no creamy mayonnaise in sight, and it is served at room temperature – how odd is that? But if you come at it from another angle, don’t see it as competition to a much-loved favourite, you will also find this delicious and quite different. It is a perfect accompaniment to a barbeque, it matches with grilled meat or sausages as effortlessly as you might expect from a German dish. It’s also great with cold meat from a next-day roast leftovers or with a big salad.
Try it and be brave. I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
Serves 6 Timings: 1 hour preparation, then time to cool.
Scrub then boil the potatoes in their skins until tender – about 30 minutes depending on their size.
Meanwhile make up the stock in a jug if you are using cubes or powder, or warm it up in a small pan if you are using home made stock. Slice 2 of the shallots and the leek up very finely and put them into the warm stock to tenderise. Reserve the remaining shallot and also slice it up very finely.
When the potatoes have boiled and are tender inside, drain them and let them cool a little and then peel them while they are still warm. As you peel them, chop them in slices and drop them into your serving bowl, adding ladles of warm stock as you go. Don’t use all the stock to start with. When you’ve sliced up about half the potatoes, add the vinegar to the bowl. Go on peeling and slicing potatoes and add them to the bowl along with the reserved shallot. Add more stock until you have quite a loose mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning – you might need more salt depending on the stock you used and you might need a good grind of black pepper.
Add the parsley and mix, then allow to cool and serve at room temperature.
The salad can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for at least a day but I wouldn’t freeze it.
A Hug from the Kitchen
Healthy, hearty, happy food, for good times and bad. Cheer yourself up, or spread the cheer around your family and friends.