Using imagination with summer vegetables

Last updated 23:53 11/02/2013
SEASONAL BOUNTY: With a little imagination, even the humble spud can taste divine.

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High summer is the time when the home garden is at its best and most productive. I call it bonus time for all the hard work and commitment.

It is also a time when budgets can be stretched and savings made by adhering to the mantra of using what you have in different and interesting ways.

Vegetables lend themselves to much more than boiling or roasting.

With a little forethought you can add a little magic to the humble potato or carrot and a zing to runner beans.

Try cooking young carrots by first melting a knob of butter in a frypan. Add the carrots and cook gently for a couple of minutes. Add about half a cup of orange juice and simmer until carrots are tender then toss in chopped parsley.

Runner beans are greatly improved by adding a teaspoon of grain mustard once they are cooked and drained. Our beans are just coming into production and I know from experience that once they start, there's no stopping them.

Today's recipe is a classic. Its rightful name is potatoes dauphinoise, although I have made some changes to the original recipe as a concession to economy and calorie content.

Here a few tips for making this dish: Slice the potatoes thinly. The object is to have layers that, when cooked, form a solid stack. Scrub the potatoes and leave the skins on. Dry the sliced potatoes. I use an old worn tea towel that I keep for just this job. Potato liquid stains and is a devil to get out of fabric. Cook slowly and don't underestimate the length of time this dish takes.


8 medium all-purpose potatoes

1 cup milk

1 cup cream

1 clove crushed garlic

1 cup grated tasty cheese

about 30 grams butter

salt and freshly ground black pepper

freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

Method Heat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.

Grease a 1 litre pie dish with butter.

Wash and slice potatoes on to a clean tea towel.

Pat potatoes dry then arrange in layers in pie dish.

Dot each layer with a little butter and season with salt and pepper.

The top layer should be just below the rim of the dish.

Heat the milk and garlic then add to cream. If using nutmeg, add at this point.

Stir and pour over the potatoes until the liquid comes to just below the top two layers of potato.

Add more liquid if necessary.

Press potatoes gently with the back of a spoon.

Sprinkle top with the cheese.

Bake centre oven for 1 hours, or until potatoes are tender.

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Cook's notes:  Use all-cream if you like, but not all-milk as it will separate.

This dish holds its heat well and will stay warm for half an hour or while you grill meat or fish.

Leftovers reheat in the microwave but I doubt there will be any

- The Southland Times


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