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The weekend cook: Thomasina Miers’ recipes for jersey royals

The new growing season is upon us, and the garden is a riot of bright greens and blossom. Happily, this coincides with the first young crop of new potatoes, and today’s recipes enhance their innate freshness; both make wonderful early spring picnic dishes, too. Cervelle de canut is a gorgeous mix of fromage blanc, herbs and creme fraiche; it’s a speciality of Lyon, a bit like a lighter version of Boursin, and a great example of how a really good dressing can add zing to those earthy potatoes. Wonderfully rustic-looking galettes (often confused with the filled buckwheat pancake that is a Breton galette) are a kind of fold-over tart, savoury or sweet, and hard to resist. Once you get the hang of them, they are simpler to make than most tarts: you’ll be revisiting them frequently.

Hot-smoked trout salad with jersey royals, turnips and cervelle de canut

There is something so moreish about hot-smoked fish. That delicate smokiness and the way the fish flakes into delectable chunks is always a treat, and somehow feels far more of a meal than cold-smoked slivers. Serves four.

600g jersey royal potatoes, larger ones halved or quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
300g baby turnips, larger ones halved or quartered
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
1 heaped tbsp capers, roughly chopped
200g watercress
200g hot-smoked trout or salmon, flaked into large pieces

For the cervelle de canut
2 tbsp chopped chives
1 big handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
200g fromage frais
50g creme fraiche
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small shallot, peeled and very finely chopped

For the cervelle de canut, mix everything together, season well and refrigerate until needed; it will keep for three to five days.

Put the potatoes in a pan of salted cold water, bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, until tender. Drain, reserving the water, and transfer to a bowl. Cook the turnips in the potato water for six to eight minutes (depending on size), until tender, then drain and add to the potatoes. Dress with the oil, vinegar and capers, season to taste, then leave to cool to room temperature.

Gently toss the watercress into the potato bowl, then scatter over the fish flakes. Spoon on the cervelle de canut and serve at once.

Spinach, spring onion, jersey royal and sheep’s cheese rye galette

Thomasina Miers’ spinach, spring onion, jersey royal and sheep’s cheese rye galette. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay

The earthy rye flour provides a nice balance to the sharp, salty cheeses. Serves four.

75g butter
700g jersey royals, washed and finely sliced
2 bay leaves (fresh, ideally)
1 handful fresh thyme sprigs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 spring onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
100g hard sheep’s cheese (Ossau-Iraty or goat’s), grated
175g feta, roughly crumbled
250g baby spinach

For the pastry
100g rye flour
100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
150g cold butter, cut into cubes
2 egg yolks

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6 and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. For the pastry, whisk the flours and a quarter-teaspoon of salt in a large bowl, then rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add two to three teaspoons of water and one of the egg yolks, then briefly and briskly knead, until the dough just comes together (this is a crumbly pastry, so don’t worry if it’s a little rough). Shape it into a flattened disc, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes while you make the filling.

Melt the butter in a large pan, add the potatoes, bay and thyme, and season (remember they’ll be going with feta, which is already pretty salty). Fry on medium-low heat for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are golden and just soft, but not falling apart. Remove the bay and thyme, then stir in the spring onions, garlic, sheep’s cheese and all but 25g of the feta.

Bring a kettle of water to a boil and put the spinach in a colander. Pour the boiling water over the spinach, to wilt it, then leave to cool. When it’s cold enough to handle, squeeze out any excess liquid with your hands and add to the potatoes. Season and leave to finish cooling.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and on a lightly floured surface roll it out into a thin, roughly 30cm diameter circle. Don’t worry about the neatness of the edges: this is a freeform tart, so the more rustic it looks, the better. Patch up any splits simply by pressing together the pastry, then lift it on to the prepared baking sheet. Spoon the cooled potatoes into the centre of the pastry, leaving a 5-6cm border all around the edge: if need be, pile them high to fit them all in. Bring the sides of the pastry up around the potatoes, pleating it where necessary, then brush the top of the pastry with the second egg yolk (and use it to help join any cracks). Bake for 40 minutes, until the potatoes and pastry are both golden. Serve hot or cold, with the rest of the feta scattered on top. To make more of a meal of it, serve with a crisp, green salad alongside.

And for the rest of the week…

Leftover cervelle de canut is lovely in a baked potato, either just as it is or with smoked mackerel, or as a dip for crisp spring veg. Or toss it through hot spaghetti with flakes of smoked salmon, and with plenty of lemon juice and black pepper to taste. If you have any excess galette dough, add a tablespoon of icing sugar to the mix and make a small fruit galette with gooseberries, or the first of the summer’s strawberries: pretty tempting with thick double cream or custard.