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Well that was tasty. A providence dinner of sorts – I was given some freshly-picked broadbeans and some freshly-dug potatoes. I’ve actually, and this is both a personal embarrassment and an indictment of how stuffed up things are with food generally, never had a fresh potato.

The two make a nice pairing for a few reasons; colour contrast, different textures, slightly bitter and slightly earthy. I thought a mayonnaise would bind them together as a lush potato salad but then worried that the fresh taste would get swamped in fatty goo. So olive oil it was and some chopped leek for an aromatic and a bit of chopped coppa for the taste element meaty. And so…

4 fresh potatoes, diced
a cup of broadbeans (velvety pod goes but don’t strip it down to the inner pod)
a couple of inches of leek, finely chopped
a few slices of coppa, torn into small bits

Boil the potato to cooked but firm and while you’re doing that you can steam the beans on top – they work out about the same time. Remove and rinse in cold water.
Sautee the leek in a good solid splash of olive oil and then add the coppa and cook until lightly brown but not crispy. Add the beans and potato and stir through until heated; gently mind, it’s not a stirfry.
Season and serve.

Meanwhile, in the freezer was some mackerel from my brother-in-law in Darwin. Being not quite so fresh, a bit of ornamentation was in order so it became a gratin.

two bits of mackerel, defrosted, skin removed and chopped into several pieces
a small red onion, sliced
clove of garlic
glass of white wine
a cup of panko breadcrumbs (redundancy noted)
tsp of paprika
a reasonable bit of feta cheese, cubed

Gently soften the onion and garlic in a suitably sized casserole dish. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add the fish, cover tightly and cook for 10 minutes in a 190C oven. Meanwhile, toss the breadcrumbs with the paprika. Remove the casserole from the oven and top the fish with the breadcrumbs and the feta. Return it to the oven and cook until the top is lightly browned.

Serve the two together next to each other on a plate and you can combine at will. It’s really rather good.

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venison pate with sourdough baguette and olives

mashed potato and hazelnut pesto with black pig prosciutto, asparagus and broad beans

duck, forest mushroom and chinese greens risotto

2002 Peacetree Cabernet Sauvignon in a Bulgarian crystal decanter

tart fine aux pommes

local cheeses with oatcakes and fennel crackers

laphroaig quarter cask with ice

Further notes:
Duck, being fatty, doesn’t really lend itself well to poaching but I thought I’d try and squeeze out a bit more stock for the risotto regardless. White wine, duck stock, peppercorns and thyme. Duck legs removed and then fried in leftover lard until crisp and then shredded. Using the soaking liquid for the mushrooms also provides additional stock.

Gabrielle Ferron’s risotto packet recommends a no-stir 15 minute technique and I have to agree to the point where I’m convinced that the whole stirring thing is an artifact of Italian patriachy.

Just the shiny green inner pods of the broadbeans. Blanched and then reheated in olive oil with some of the prosciutto. I ended up paying $10 a kilo for them because I was chatting with the farmer and he forgot to give me my change and I was too polite to ask.


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box of broad beans

Broad beans are in season. I was reminded of this when a red faced man came in to an art exhibition I was at with a box full of them. I couldn’t understand what he was
saying, but the other people could. This made me wonder if they really did understand him, or if they’d just got used to pretending to understanding him, and that if thats what I sounded like by the time I got to double digit drink figures. There’s always a look down like they’d written down what they were going to say earlier but couldn’t find it and then a blurt. He couldn’t understand what I was saying.

If you’ve struggled to reattach the choke cable on a bike’s carburettor or tried to send a text message, you’ll like broad beans. Broad beans are like peas but for people with big hands.

The pods also have a fetching green velvet interior. This may trigger issues. The broad beans will peel once more, revealing a smaller, shinier bean.
Starting with about half a kilo of broad beans,
Remove the broad beans from their pod and boil in salted water for five minutes
remove the outer skin from 20 of the larger beans to allow the inner beans to be scattered around as decorations.
Chop the remaining outer beans.
Peel and chop an equivalent amount of japanese pumpkin into bite sized pieces and roast in olive oil/vegetable oil until soft. Allow a little browning. Mash and add to the chopped beans
Sautee half a finely chopped spanish onion and add.
Roast some pepitas in the oven and add. Pepitas are pumpkin seeds and if you were being especially resourceful, you could have saved them from the pumpkin. They add a bit of crunch interest to what’s otherwise quite soft.
Shape into patties and fry on either side.
Place under a steak.

Additional notes: Roasting pumpkin makes it sweeter, as does sauteeing the red onions, the outer bean is a little bitter so there’s your balance right there.

Extra bonus broad bean pasta sauce:
-pan fry some sliced chicken breast in olive oil with seasoning and a squeeze of lemon and reserve.
-add some more olive oil and fry large some chopped up bits of mini-japanese tomatoes with a couple of finely chopped garlic cloves and a chopped red chilli. Let them cook and reduce a little and you can pick out any bits of skin if you’re bothered
-chop up some broccolini and baby courgettes. Dunk them in the boiling pasta water for a minute or so just to take a bit of the rawness off. Add to the frypan. and stir through.
-take the broad beans out of their pod and boil for four minutes. Add to the pan and stir through.
-return the chicken, making sure you add all the collected chicken juices.
-place on pasta (the sauce isn;t that saucy so you might wnat to mix a little EVOO in with the pasta after its drained) with parmesan.