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Christmas Eve lunch – a simple winter salad of warm potatoes, crispy bacon, chopped celery leaves and a dressing of mustard, cider vinegar and shallots. 

This was my first attempt at this delicious sounding salad from Rose Prince’s The New English Table – I tried to follow the amounts for the dressing, but it wasn’t quite how I wanted it, so I just tweaked the ingredients until I was happy. 

Winter potato, bacon and celery leaf salad

Feeds 4

20 new potatoes
6 rashers of streaky bacon
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
175ml olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp water
Handful of celery leaves
2 shallots
Salt and pepper

Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water until done.  Drain and cut in half or quarters.

Meanwhile, fry the bacon until crispy.

Mix together the sugar, mustard, olive oil and water – I like to use a jam jar as you can screw on the lid and shake it.  Add the shallots, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pop the cooked potatoes into a bowl.  Tear up (or cut up) the crispy bacon and add to the potatoes.  Drizzle over the dressing and sprinkle over chopped celery leaves.  Stir everything together.

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As promised, my basic dressing recipe.  I’m not quite sure what makes a ‘French’ dressing, but this recipe include Dijon mustard, which is French.  A tip I picked up from Jamie Oliver is to use two types of ‘acid’ in a salad dressing – I can’t really remember the reason, but I do it, and I like it.

This salad dressing is easy to whip up – all you need is a jam jar and the ingredients – and is great simple tossed into salad leaves, or equally lovely with my recent Salad of Lettuce, Peas and Ham.

Homemade salad dressing

Dijon mustard
White wine vinegar
Lemon juice
Sea salt
Ground black pepper
Olive oil

In a jam jar (with lid) put a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard.  Sprinkle in some salt (I used Maldon Sea Salt) and some black pepper. 

Add equal amounts of white wine vinegar and lemon juice.  Put the lid on the jar and shake well.

Add twice to four times as much olive oil as there is vinegar and lemon juice.  I do this all by eye, just looking to see where the liquid comes up to in the jar.  I also tend to use olive oil rather than extra virgin olive oil, as I find the extra virgin stuff can be too overpowering.

Screw on the lid and shake it vigorously.  Depending on the thickness of the dressing you want, add more oil to make it thinner. 

Taste it, adjust any of the seasonings as you wish.  Not punchy enough?  Add more mustard to give it a kick.  Needs more sharpness?  Add a dash more vinegar or lemon juice.  If you want more sweetness, you can always add runny honey, sugar, or Agave syrup, but too much can make it sickly.  I always make it a bit stronger as once you add it to a salad the flavour is diluted.

This is simply divine – if you love fish and chips this is a beautiful alternative.  Get cooking!

Hot fish and chip salad

Hot ‘fish and chip’ salad

Serves 2 hungry mouths

For the ‘fish and chips’
100g white fish (Coley was my choice)
Fine bread crumbs
200g waxy new potatoes
Groundnut oil
Olive oil
For the dressing
Couple of teaspoons of capers
Big bunch of flat leaf parsley
1 generous tsp Dijon mustard
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
To serve
Watercress

Slice the new potatoes in half lengthways and parboil for 5 minutes.  Allow to steam dry for a couple of minutes.

In a large frying pan, heat enough olive oil to cover the base of the pan.  Add the parboiled new potatoes, cut-side down and fry gently – turn when are golden underneath – this should take about 5 minutes.

Fried potatoes

Meanwhile, cut your fish into fingers.  I chose Coley from my local fishmongers – this piece of 100g cost less than £1.50 – what a bargain!  As the fish monger said, “Cheaper than Mr Birdseye!”

Fish fingers

Blitz up your breadcrumbs so they are fine and delicate – I used up some focaccia from last week.  Season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper.  Toss the fingers of fish in the breadcrumbs to coat.

Before frying your fish – prepare the dressing.  Blitz up all the dressing ingredients adding enough oil to make a loose dressing and enough lemon juice to give it a nice acidic tang.

Lemon caper dressing

In a non-stick frying pan heat enough groundnut oil to cover the fish fingers.  When hot, carefully add the fish fingers – they should bubble and crackle as they enter the oil.  The oil might spit so watch out! 

Fish fingers

The fish fingers should take a couple of minutes to cook through and start to turn golden.  Drain on paper towel when cooked.

Add a good handful of watercress to your plates.  Add the fried potatoes and the fish fingers.  Finely drizzle with generous amounts of the dressing.  Serve additional dressing in a bowl for people to add as they like.  Eat straight away!

This recipe is inspired and slightly adapted from Nigel Slater’s ‘Real Food’.

Hot fish and chip salad

Hot fish and chip salad

Hot fish and chip salad

marinated green beans

Marinated Green Beans

Feeds 2 as part of a meal

Good handful of French green beans (enough for two people)
1 small shallot
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Glug of white wine vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Small bunch of flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper

Pop a pan of salted water on to boil.

Wash and cut the tops of the green beans.  Once the water is boiling, drop the beans in and cook for about 5 minutes.  Drain them and set aside.

To make the marinade, finely slice the shallot and pop it in a bowl.  Add the Dijon mustard and a glug of white wine vinegar and give it a good mix. 

Add the warm beans to the marinade and mix well.

Chop up the parsley and add it to the bowl along with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  Give it another good mix and season with salt and pepper.

This salad is best served after the beans have had a chance to marinate in the shallot, mustard and vinegar mixture, so make this ahead of time – 15-20 minutes is great.

Up next: Mixed Tomato and Basil Salad

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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