Pommes de terre sarladaises – Quick, Crispy Potatoes


If you are on some New Year health kick, juice cleanse, paleo, cabbage soup diet … look away now.

Normally, if I want do so something crispy with potatoes I will do oven roasted chips (cut potatoes into wedge shapes, throw in hot fat, cook for around an hour) or spicy fried potatoes. But on Monday, with a 38°C Tuesday looming, there was no way I was putting my oven on for an hour or so. Added to this that we’ve been eating so much spicy food lately I’m kind of over the idea of spicy fried potatoes (yes, I know, heresy!) that I just had to find an alternative to go with the night’s pan fried salmon and salad dinner.

And thanks to the magic of my delicious account, I was rescued by this idea for pommes de terre sarladaises. Pommes de terre is the potato part and ‘sarladaises’ refers to the town of Sarlat-la-Canéda (or just Sarlat) in the Dordogne département of France. My French geography is passable and to me that means almost nothing – perhaps due east of Bordeaux is more helpful – south-ish-and-middle-ish.

It matters little where this dish comes from. What you need to know is that it is good. It’s not healthy and if you don’t hoard duck fat in your fridge, it may necessitate a trip to the shops (or a change in habits). But once you’ve enjoyed its crunchy, crispy, fatty goodness … well, you won’t be looking back.

This is easy but it takes a little patience (but not actually a lot of cooking time). We made the mistake of putting fish and potatoes on at the same time. I’d recommend starting the potatoes earlier and obviously ensure you have the fat good and hot … and plenty spare as you’ll need to add extra to the pan as you go along.

And make plenty – if you have to share, the potatoes won’t stretch nearly as far as you expect them to …

Pommes de terre sarladaises – Quick, Crispy Potatoes


  • 4-5 potatoes, cubed
  • 1-2 tbsp polenta
  • 4-5 tbsp duck fat
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped parsley (from the freezer is fine)
  • salt
  • pepper


  1. Cube the potatoes (no need to peel them unless you really want to) and boil until cooked.
  2. Drain the potatoes and return to the pan. Add 1 tbsp of polenta and put the lid on and give the potatoes a good shake. Add the second tbsp of polenta and repeat the shaking.
  3. You can do this in advance.
  4. When ready to eat, heat a generous tbsp of duck fat in a large pan over high heat. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally. You'll need to add extra fat as you go along and obviously don't let the pan get so hot you burn the potatoes.
  5. Mid way through the cooking, add a crushed, finely chopped clove of garlic and, once the potatoes are as crispy as you want, stir through the chopped parsley and then serve immediately.


An Easy Chickpea Summer Salad


While the silly season is over (and thank goodness for that – I anticipate it will take me a good couple of months to recover!) summer feels like it’s just ramping up.

Here in South Australia, the mercury has already topped 44°C and brought with it an awful and devastating bushfire and we are facing some more scary (that’s “hot”) conditions this week.

This very easy chickpea salad is a perfect dinner in its own right on a hot night, or an ideal accompaniment to a BBQ. It’s also very flexible. At some point I read about a chickpea salad but I failed to find the recipe. However, a quick google reveals a ton of ideas. I think avocado would be a brilliant addition to this salad but in order to maintain a bright and colourful appearance you would have to add it at the last minute. This was no good for me as I was taking this to a New Year’s Eve BBQ and needed it made in advance. Add in any fresh herbs you have access to – I was intending to use mint from the garden but forgot (which I now regret, as the mint suffered during the heat). Consider the recipe that follows a bare-bones starting point and flesh it out as you wish. If you have fresh, warm, sunkissed tomatoes from the garden, why not add those? Work with what you have. In cooler months, tossing through some roasted vegetables such as pumpkin or courgette/zucchini could work well too.

For the dressing, I used some Cobram Estate chilli infused oil which I was given as a Christmas present. This gave the salad a lovely, warming chilli kick without being over the top. I have not been a big user of flavoured oils in the past, but this one definitely gets a bit tick from me.

An Easy Chickpea Summer Salad


  • 1 tin of chickpeas, rinsed and well drained
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • 50g Australian feta, finely chopped
  • ¼ red capsicum, finely chopped
  • fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
  • olive oil
  • pepper
  • salt


  1. Mix all the ingredients together and season to taste.

Cooking Through the Year: a Smoky Aubergine and Lamb Stew


I’m ludicrously tardy in posting this recipe … the book from which it comes is due back at the library today (even after an extension) and Spring has landed here in Adelaide.  But yesterday’s wild and woolly weather reminded us that we are not quite out of the woods and there might yet be a chance to indulge in a bit of slow cooking.

The recipe comes from Cooking Through the Year. It’s a big book: big in dimensions, a solid cover and hefty. It is densely packed with recipes that are divided by season, with Summer and Winter both being split in two. Each section has a ‘recipe chooser’ covering vegetables, fruit, seafood and meat, as well as an overview of produce at its best at that time of year. It is an English book so not everything listed is going to be readily available (guinea fowl is pretty hard to come by as a rule, and the fish selections are, necessarily, regional) but it will give you an excellent starting point for creating interesting, seasonal dishes.

This is the type of recipe book I love. Lots of recipes: four to six recipes on a double page and light on pictures. This doesn’t mean there are no pictures – it’s just that the beautiful images there are are generally well chosen and add something to the recipe. Where the book is, appropriately, image heavy is in the instructive sections. There are clear shots of different types of lettuce or cherries or squash and step by step photos for butterflying a leg of lamb. The book is published by DK which always seems to have incredibly high production standards, so the paper is smooth and thick and the layout is easy to read.

So I feel I’m doing this book a disservice by having tried only one of its 1000 recipes but a scary back log of blog posts means that we’ll have to make do.

I chose the smoky aubergine and lamb stew because it was simple, one-pot-ish and used Sherry vinegar and we have some left over dry Sherry hiding in a cupboard. The recipe contains lots of our favourite ingredients (cumin, chickpeas, chorizo) and it would be the perfect thing to make early in the week for a complete meal on one of the days I work.

And it did not disappoint. One mistake I did make was that, so keen was I to not overcook the aubergine and turn it to mush, I slightly undercooked it.  Andy, who is not a mushy aubergine fan, said he preferred it that way, but had I been serving it to others I definitely would have cooked it a little longer.

I don’t consider this dish ‘one-pot’ as you have brown the lamb and so dirty a plate but it is easy and you don’t need to worry too much about complicated sides.  The book suggests couscous but you could easily go with mash, pasta or even a salad.  Naturally, left overs were marvellous for both lunch and a small, hungry person’s dinner.


Smoky Aubergine and Lamb Stew


  • 500g lamb leg/shoulder, cut into chunks
  • 1 large aubergine, chopped into chunks
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 chorizo, chopped
  • splash dry sherry (or sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • pinch of cumin
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • sprigs of fresh thyme
  • vegetable stock (approx 600 mL, but enough to cover the meat)
  • olive oil


  1. Heat some olive oil in a casserole dish and add the aubergine and paprika. Cook, stirring, until the aubergine begins to colour. You'll probably need to add more olive oil as you go.
  2. Remove the aubergine from the casserole and set aside.
  3. Now brown the lamb, in batches if necessary. Set the lamb aside but keep it separate from the aubergine.
  4. To the casserole add the chorizo, onion and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. The chorizo will start to release its oil and the garlic and onion will soften. Add the sherry and increase the heat. Cook until the sherry has evaporated, scraping the bottom of the pan all the time.
  5. Reduce the heat and add the cumin then return the lamb to the pan, followed by the chickpeas and thyme and then cover with the stock.
  6. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook, covered, until the lamb is tender. Be careful not to boil. Check on the thickness of the gravy - you may want to cook uncovered towards the end to help thicken the gravy.
  7. About half an hour before serving, return the aubergine to the pan and cook until tender.
  8. Serve with your favourite starchy option.