I went home to Cornwall a few weeks ago, and was very excited to cook with my parents’ new potatoes. When we bought our farm in the mid-90s one of the first things they set about doing was planting an orchard, vegetable patch and fruit garden.
When I was little I loved digging potatoes with my dad. I always thought it would be a great idea to keep going and dig up the entire row, but, luckily, was never allowed. Of course, in September my dad will dig the lot up to store over winter.
The garden is always a source of inspiration for new dishes, whether using freshly podded peas, baby courgettes or plump blackcurrants. Recently, however, I was asked for tips on something I had never really considered worth much thought – potato salad.
Of course, using the freshest new potatoes you can find is always a good idea, but how many people reach for a jar of Hellman’s mayonnaise, without thinking about doing something different?
A bit of research revealed that a traditional potato salad contains some sharp element in its dressing, whether a dash of white wine vinegar, chopped capers or a squeeze of lemon.
New potatoes like Charlotte, which my parents grow, have a waxy texture, but also a sweet creaminess, which Nigel Slater describes as being slightly cloying. It is this sweetness that blends so well with a sharper element.
My article for Lovefood.com, How to make the perfect potato salad, contains other tips and recipes from Nigel Slater, Simon Hopkinson and the like. My favourite recipe at the moment comes courtesy of Delia Smith and Agnes Jekyll‘s book, A Little Dinner Before the Play.
Jekyll suggested whisking up a home-made mayonnaise, adding a little mustard and mixing with warm potatoes. She didn’t supply a recipe, so I used Delia Smith’s recipe, which you can find here. I let it down with a mixture of white wine vinegar (the sharp element) and water.
The resulting salad was definitely worth a go: