Produce report: November 21
Good news for potato lovers — those flavoursome little jersey bennes from Oamaru are in supermarkets now, ready and waiting for sprigs of mint from your garden and lashings of butter. Don’t be tempted to wash the silty soil from those waxy orbs when you buy them. The dirt helps to keep them longer. Store them in the box they came in and wash just before use. You know the drill, rest them in a cool dark place, but never the fridge, which will alter their taste. Treat them gently. Potatoes bruise easily. And keep them away from onions — both will emit gases that will help degrade the other.
Potatoes are the world’s number one vegetable crop and here in New Zealand spuds provide around 30 per cent of our vitamin C requirement. They are also high in vitamin B6, potassium, thiamin and niacin, so, flavour aside, potatoes more than earn their place on the family’s dinner menu.
Keep Bevan Smith’s salad of jersey bennes, soft-boiled eggs, capers and anchovy herb oil handy over the summer. It includes one of this week’s best vegetable buys, asparagus, along with an aromatic herb oil that’s flavoured with mint and spring’s French tarragon.
Hard to source over the winter, soft herbs have made a welcome return. Perfect added to a bearnaise sauce, French tarragon complements vegetable, chicken and egg dishes. Dill, too, loves egg and potato (try adding it to the cooking water) and it is plentiful at last. Over the cooler months, fennel can be used as a substitute. Slightly sweeter than fennel, dill brings a mild aniseed taste to fish (especially salmon) dishes and pates, is great in pickles and with summer veg.