A weekend in excess and an easy dinner tip no. 2


I’ve had a weekend of excessive brunching, including this rather amazing sausage thing, courtesy of the Salad Club, which also inspired me to make chili jam, following the Salad Club’s tips (I have been exploring quite a lot of food blogs of late!) It reduced down to something quite extraordinarily gooey and jammy, but so much so that it only made two jars. Instead of 4-5! And I don’t think that my two jars will last long either…

Anyway, only one cure for all this excess, thought I. Something light and salad-shaped on Sunday evening. But despite having the very best of intentions, I’m afraid, dear reader, I succumbed to this cheddar and cream-laden potato and leek gratin instead. I did serve it with a nice side salad, though. And then had cheese with the chili jam after. There’s also been a bit of a port theme in my flat at the moment. Ah well.

Leek and Potato Gratin.
A meal in itself or a perfect accompaniment.

You will need:

Two leeks (cleaned and chopped)
Two large baking potatoes (peeled and sliced into 2 cm thick slices)

Some breadcrumbs

Two garlic cloves

Some white wine, if you have some to hand (I did)

butter

Cheddar (a large handful, grated)

Single cream

Thyme

Salt, pepper

1. Crush your garlic and put in a pan with a bit of butter

2. Add leeks and fry till soft, don’t burn!

3. Par-boil your spud slices for a good 10 min. Arrange in an oven proof dish.

4. Add leeks.

5. Pour over cream, to your liking, but I would say you definitely need at least 200ml.

6. Season.

7. Add breadcrumbs and cheese.

8. Bake in a hot oven (200/gas mark 6) for half an hour until the top is golden and the potatoes are cooked through. Serve with salad, bread and ham perhaps.

Places to go, people to see…

I have been thinking a lot about spuds over the past few months. The kind that’s baked in an oven. Simple, but really, what could be better?

It can’t all be down to the weather, because it really started in the Spring when I had the best jacket potato of my life at my friend Rosi’s (who incidentally happens to be a chef on an island resort of Zanzibar… yes, these jobs really do exist). Anyway, it’s been bizarrely warm recently.

Rosi was back for a rare Blighty visit and invited a bunch of us over to her’s near Kingham for a country romp. Her ‘simple’ Saturday lunch were these lovely slow baked potatoes which were rubbed in olive oil for the last part of their baking, crisping up the skin nicely. She put out bowls and bowls of cheeses, bacon bits, salads, sour cream with chives, I can’t even remember half the stuff, but the choice was impressive. And I particularly enjoyed the delish home-made rhubarb custard and meringue fool that followed. Rosi, if you are reading this, I want that recipe!

2nd place for the world’s best baked potato must go to the Jacket Potato Men from Heaven, who lovingly prepare baked spuds at all sorts of events. I had one of theirs for a nice 1am snack at the Nabokov Arts Club last weekend, after dancing away to The Correspondents (just watching their energetic bopping made me hungry). What impressed me most about the JPMFH was that despite the club atmosphere and growing queue, they calmly and stresslessly fluffed and mixed the fillings for my spud with the dedication of a true purist. I had mine with cottage cheese and chives, sitting in a big leather armchair watching all the revellers.