New Potatoes, Asparagus and Eggs

New Potatoes, Asparagus and Eggs

Every other weekend we don’t really get to eat very well. My daughter comes to stay on Friday thru’ Saturday and then on the Sunday we go to Freya’s parents. Killing two birds with one stone as it were!

My daughter lives a fair old way away and by the time I’ve picked her up and brought her back to the boat it is usually way too late to eat. So we tend to have a big lunch on the Friday and power through to Saturday morning – or we grab something on the way to picking her up.

After spending the day in the British Museum on Saturday and safely dispatching my daughter back to her mother, I got home and threw this together. Very little effort – just time  roasting the vegetables. But it is very tasty.

The plan was for Freya to cook while I took Olivia home but there was a mix up with the boat keys so Freya ended up sat in a pub knitting for two hours while I was gone. On the plus side I now know that the Magpie and Crown has two new Craft Ales on tap – and both were excellent!

This recipe is also from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy cookbook. I’d highlighted it as one of the dishes I was going to make when I skimmed the book and it was well worth it. I love asparagus and it goes very well with eggs too.

It’s not much of a recipe more than bake stuff in the oven. You bake the potatoes, then add the asparagus, then right at the end make four wells and crack an egg into each well. Bake until the eggs are done and serve. Very simple indeed.

On Sunday I remade the Shallot and Mushroom risotto and the Brussels Sprouts, Puy Lentils and Walnuts for the six of us. It seemed to go down well although it wasn’t as good as the first time I made it. The only thing I changed was the stock and the quantities – their oven was just more feisty than mine and the onions were overdone in my opinion!

Asparagus, fennel and beetroot with verjus

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Just when I thought Ottolenghi was infallible – I made this.

On paper it was going to be great. Three of my favourite ingredients are beetroot, asparagus and fennel – and they are all in this dish. And they all require no cooking (unless you’ve roasted some raw beetroot).

Actually – it’s worth making the comparison here between the shop bought stuff that has been prepacked – and buying raw beetroots and roasting them. The stuff in the packet just doesn’t have the flavour and generally has a very high water content – it’s a poor imitation of the real thing.

Often books ask you to boil them in water – or roast them wrapped in foil. I do neither. I simply top and tail them – put them in a Halogen oven and roast them – with no oil – just as they are – until they are tender – which generally takes 40 minutes. Let them cool – peel them – and they will be so tasty and not at all wet.

Anyway – back to the recipe. There are only two other ingredients to this recipe. Pinenuts – which you toast at the end – and Verjus.

I first saw Verjus when I watched Australian Masterchef. The Australian format of Masterchef is far superior to the UK version – far more engaging – and you really get to know the competitors and the hosts/chefs. Anyway – on the show they visited the farm of Maggie Beer. She used verjus in one of her recipes and sung its praises so I was curious to get some.

Verjus is a highly acidic juice made by pressing unripe grapes, crab-apples or other sour fruit (says WIKIpedia). This is quite an understatement – it’s MEGA acidic and sour. I tasted it before I carried on with the recipe! 

The recipe wants you to reduce 320ml of this very sour juice down to 3 tablespoons – 45ml. So make it even more sour and acidic. I have to say the result was intense.

I’m quite well known at work for liking really sour sweets – and really salty liquorice. I’ve yet to be defeated on the sour sweets – but I reckon the reduction of this verjus could be used to create a monster! It was probably the most sour thing I’ve tasted. Maybe there are different sournesses (is that a word) of Verjus – I hope so – otherwise I’ll never use this ingredient again.

The dish is essentially all the prepped vegetables with the Verjus dribbled on top – and then dressed with the pinenuts and some dill.

Neither of us liked it – it was too sour. It was like having all the moisture sucked out of your face. Not good. Such a shame because the Fennel and the Asparagus were very good before the dressing (chef’s snacks!).

Oh well – you can’t win them all.