My potato plants all died off. So I went digging about to see what I could see. What I saw were lot’s of very small potatoes. I think the problem is the soil. It’s the second crop of potatoes in that tub in a row and they haven’t had a huge amount of compost. So I’m resting that tub and planting the next lot elsewhere. In the meantime, I’ve put some serious compost in and I’ll work on getting the soil back into condition. But what would I know? I am a pure amateur in the garden.

On the bright side, the potatoes, which were a mix of nicola, purple congo and pontiac were absolutely superb in a potato salad with tonight’s dinner. It never ceases to amaze me how good a freshly picked, home grown spud tastes. Like so many of my recipes, tonight’s dinner evolved out of what I wanted to use up.

Little pies, potato salad and steamed broccoli. Just right on a cold night after a big day in the garden.

Beef, fennel, leek and olive pie
500g diced topside
1 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 fennel bulb, shaved
1 leek, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon muscovado
small handful baby chard ( I would have used more if I had more ready in the garden)
3 mushrooms (because they looked lonely)
2/3 cup black olives
small amount of shortcrust pastry (I made a half batch using 100g flour, 50g butter, 20ml water)
1 tablespoon milk

  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees
  2. Toss meat in flour and place in saucepan with stock. Simmer for about 30 minutes, adding mushrooms in last few minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, caramelise leeks and fennel in oil, butter, vinegar and muscovado for about 20 minutes.
  4. Blanch and drain chard
  5. Combine all ingredients together (except pastry)
  6. Divide into 4 individual ramekins (1 cup capacity) and top each with a round of pastry. Cut slits in pastry to allow steam to escape. Glaze with milk
  7. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until golden.

Potato Salad
500g little potatoes or cut into bit sized pieces
2 rashers bacon
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
small bunch snipped chives.

  1. Steam potatoes until tender (20 minutes at varoma temperature, speed 3 with 500ml water in thermomix)
  2. Fry bacon until crispy and thinly slice
  3. Toss everything together.