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Archive for the ‘Potato’ Category

Sometimes I look at a recipe like this and think that it is almost too simple to earn its place on this site.  However although it was simple I was so pleased with the outcome I just had to add it here.  One of my original motivations for writing here was to add some straightforward and favourite family recipes for my daughter to use (as well as for me to remember).  This certainly fits the bill and anyway, it is about time I shared here my own particular method for crunchy roast potatoes – with or without the sesame seeds.

This method of cooking potatoes is a combination of the method taught by my mother and ideas gleaned from other sources: books and television in particular.  My grandmother roasted potatoes in margerine as my grandad was vegetarian and this gave her potatoes a distinctive taste: actually not unpleasant but something I would not want to copy.  Mum originally used lard but often with dripping from the roasting meat and the potatoes took on some of the flavour of the dinner.  In recent years she has substituted healthier sunflower oil for the lard.  There is family discussion too on how to cut the potatoes: my mother in law favours large flat pieces that keep their shape whereas I grew up with smaller chunkier pieces which tended to crumble easily but had wonderful crisp crusty edges.  The potatoes pictured below are slightly crusty but not as super-crumbly as I like them.  There are many different varieties of potato and each will cook slightly differently, but all will become brown if cooked in hot fat and a hot oven even if they do not crumble very much.  This method is the way I make sure that my roast potatoes have those crispy edges, as well as the ‘cooks perks’ bits that crumble off and are left in the roasting tin.  My own choice of cooking fat is usually olive oil, because of the flavour it gives, though I often use a little sunflower oil and occasionally meat roasting juices.  Recently Goose fat (or Duck fat) has been gaining in popularity.  I bought a jar at Christmas which I combined with olive oil.  Although not especially healthy Goose or Duck fat does give a lovely flavour and a crisp golden finish.  It is quite expensive to use exclusively and most I have seen seems to be imported from France: perhaps another item to put on my ever increasing list of potential holiday food purchases?!  Be warned.  Good roast potatoes are addictive and potato is relatively cheap so don’t stint on quantities.  If you have a one or two left the garden birds will love you for it!

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Sesame Roast Potatoes

Allow 2 medium sized or 1 large potato per adult, depending on appetite
Olive oil/Sunflower oil/Goose fat/Duck fat/fat & juices from roasting meat – or a combination
Sea salt to sprinkle
Sesame seeds to sprinkle (optional – be generous if using) at least 1tbsp per person

1.  Preheat the oven if not already in use.  If roasting potatoes alongside a joint I turn the oven up to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6 first, putting them into the oven at the same time as I remove the lid from the roasting tin to finish the roasting meat.  Once the meat comes out of the oven to rest before carving I turn up the heat to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6   220oC/425oF/Gas 7 but if possible heat the oven to this higher temperature from the start.

2.  Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces.  A medium sized potato can cut into four larger or eight smaller pieces – your choice.

3.  Plunge into boiling slightly salted water, put on the lid and cook on a gentle rolling boil until you can slip the point of a knife easily into a potato piece.  This will be about 8-12 minutes depending on the type of potato: some break up very quickly so watch carefully especially if you are cooking a new variety.

4.  While the potatoes are cooking put the oil and/or fat into a large roasting tin and place in the oven.  The potatoes do not need to swim in fat but you need enough for them not to stick.  Remember that they will soak up fat as they cook, but you can add more if needed.

5.  Drain the potatoes in a colander and gentle toss them around so the edges of the potato are slightly fluffed up.  How much you do this will depend on how fluffy the potato edges are already.

6.  Tip the potatoes into the roasting tin and turn them in the hot fat.  Sprinkle with a little salt and return to the oven.

7.  Turn the potatoes at regular intervals, adding a little more oil only if absolutely necessary, until they are golden and crispy.  It is difficult to give exact timings for this but for really crisp potatoes you need to allow at least 45minutes and maybe a little longer.

8.  Shortly before the potatoes are cooked remove the tin from the oven and generously sprinkle them with sesame seeds.  The should be returned to the oven for at least five minutes more to allow the seeds to toast.

9.  When serving drain any excess oil away from the potatoes before serving with any dinner of your choice, although this is particularly good with roasted meat.  We enjoy a sprinkling of crunchy bits and toasted seeds that have ended up in the bottom of the pan as well!

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Since I don’t speak Spanish (I learned French and a little German at school) I ran the words Patatas Bravas through the online translator, just out of interest.  I was surprised to find it simply means roast potatoes: but as they are roast potatoes with a Spanish twist they are unlike any roast potato I have eaten before.  Most of the recipes I found were actually for pan fried crispy potatoes rather than roasties but I am sure this could be made with traditionally oven roasted potatoes too so I have included this in the instructions.  The Spanish twist is, of course, the tangy and spicy tomato sauce which is served on top or on the side.

The recipe below is my combination of ideas from several sources.  One starting point was my book of Tapas and Paella recipes: Spanish Bar and Restaurant Cooking by María Solís Ballinger & Natalía Solís Ballinger, but I also consulted the Patatas Bravas recipes of James Martin, Simon Rimmer, BBC Good Food, Guardian online, Jason Atherton in NatWest Customer magazine (New Year 2011) and the website debskitchencreations.  In most cases the sauce is based on a tin of plum tomatoes, but it can also be made using tomato ketchup (a suggestion from the book mentioned above), especially if it is home made Tomato Ketchup, something I do make from time to time.  Smoked Paprika is essential as a spicy flavour of Spain, but the recipes also variously include hot pepper from chopped chilli peppers, chilli powder, Cayenne pepper or Tabasco Sauce.  There were huge variations in the quantities used and thus the amount of heat, but I am sure this should be according to personal taste.  Herbs were added too: most usually thyme but one recipe used a bay leaf and parsley as a garnish.  Lemon added piquancy in one recipe and in another a little sugar, something I often add to tomatoes anyway, gave additional sweetness.  Yet another added tomato purée.  Jason Atherton added a chopped red pepper, always a popular ingredient in our house, after the style of the city of Burgos.  The sauce should be spooned over the Patatas Bravas at the last minute so they reach the table crispy rather than soggy.  Some recipes also serve Mayonnaise, or the wonderfully garlicky mayonnaise based Aïoli sauce on the side.  (This is the mostly used French spelling from Provence: the Catalan spelling is Allioli.)  In the book mentioned above mayonnaise is mixed with the tomato sauce, but I prefer them separately.  The dish is common in Tapas bars throughout Spain, with the pieces of potato often on cocktail sticks.  It would make an excellent dish at a buffet table or as a starter though it is delicious served at a main meal with fish (or simply grilled meat).

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Patatas Bravas
Roast Potatoes Spanish Style
(Serves 4-6)

4-6 large potatoes (one for each diner)
Olive oil for frying
Salt
For the sauce
1 large onion
2/3 cloves garlic
olive oil
1 large red pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper (more if you like it hotter)
1tbsp smoked paprika
1tbsp tomato purée
1tbsp fresh thyme or ½tbsp dried thyme
1 small bay leaf (optional or as an alternative to the thyme)
1tsp lemon juice
1tbsp sherry (or wine) vinegar (optional)
½tsp sugar
Salt & black pepper
Chopped parsley to garnish

1.  Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic cloves.  Gently fry in olive oil, covering the pan, until transparent but not browned.  Finely chop the red pepper, stir in and continue to cook until soft.

2.  Chop or liquidise the tin of tomatoes.  Add the spices, thyme, bay leaf (if using) and tomato purée to the onion mixture and stir.  Mix in the chopped/liquidised tomatoes, along with the lemon juice, vinegar (if using) and sugar.  Bring to boil, then reduce the heat and cook gently without a lid until reduced to a thick slightly chunky sauce.  Remove the bay leaf.

3.  Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt and black pepper as needed.

4.  While the sauce is reducing peel and cut the potatoes into one inch/2.5cm chunks.  Place in a pan, cover with boiling salted water and bring to the boil.  Cook for 5 minutes and no longer.  Drain the potatoes and blot so they dry slightly.

5.  The potatoes can be either pan fried or oven baked.
To pan fry:  Put into a frying pan with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.  Fry gently until browned, turning from time to time as they will stick a little.
To oven bake: Put into a baking tin with olive oil and salt and place in the oven.

6.   The potatoes should be served when golden and crispy.  Add the sauce just before serving along with mayonnaise or Aïoli and a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley.

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I have had this simple but tasty potato recipe in mind for a church lunch we are having in a few weeks time.  However, I felt I needed to try them out in advance so I included them at Sunday lunch this week when they were much appreciated by my visiting parents – a bit of a change from the usual roast potatoes, though equally lovely and crispy.  (I usually sprinkle my peeled par-boiled, potatoes with olive oil and sea salt anyway.)  This would certainly an easy solution for mass catering as there is no peeling involved, in fact I found that the potatoes can can be boiled in advance and kept in cold water.  They are finished off by adding the herbs and oil just before putting them in the oven to roast.  I attacked my partly cooked potatoes with the potato masher to (not too violently) crush or ‘smash’ them, thus gaining our name for them: Smashed Potatoes.  

The recipe comes from Celia who writes at one of my favourite sites: Fig Jam & Lime Cordial, where the potatoes were named ‘Splats’ by one of her friends.  She credits the recipe to Jill Dupleix who calls them Crash-Hot Potatoes.  (Jill, like Celia, comes from Australia and not unsurprisingly I have not heard of her before.  I took a look at her site and found a whole list of other good recipes: all of the ones I saw having weights, very usefully, in metric.)  They have been much written about by other food bloggers too, so I now add myself to the list of ‘converts’ and this site, ‘Meanderings through my Cookbook’, to the list of sites that sings their praises!  This time I added mixed dried Herbes de Provence with the freshly ground salt and black pepper as I wanted to keep the flavours simple to complement the marinade flavouring our Roast Pork.  Jill suggests adding either fennel or caraway seeds plus sprigs of thyme or rosemary: a great idea idea which would vary the flavour from meal to meal.  I expect there could be some other variations too, matching flavours of added herbs and spices to the meat or main course eaten: if you have tried these another way I would love to hear from you.  Just one comment: I had made these just once before and although we enjoyed them I did not leave enough time for them to fully crisp so we felt they could have been better – a mistake I made sure I did not make on this second occasion!  

I had to use halves and quarters of larger potatoes but I intend to make these again using smaller evenly sized potatoes and will post another (better) picture in due course.   

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Smashed Potatoes
(
Serves 4)

16 small, round potatoes, or pieces of larger potatoes (about 2-2
salt
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 tsp ground Sea Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper (could try Paprika or Chilli for alternative heat)
2tbsp dried mixed Herbes de Provence (Mediterranean herbs)
     or 
1 tbsp fennel or caraway seeds (original flavouring)
1 tbsp thyme or rosemary sprigs (original flavouring)

1.  If planning to cook these potatoes straight away, heat oven to 220oC/425oF/Gas 7 or even (and preferably)  230oC/450oF/Gas 8.  A good hot temperature will crisp and cook the potatoes quickly.   

2.  Scrub the potatoes and remove any blemishes but do not peel them.  Ideally choose evenly sized smallish potatoes you can leave whole, but if absolutely necessary, larger ones can be halved or even quartered.  The finished look will, of course be different though. 

3.  Bring the potatoes to the boil in a panful of salted water, turn down the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until just about cooked but not too soft.  They should be able to be prodded with a skewer or fork without much resistance. 

4.  Drain the potatoes and if necessary, plunge into cold water to keep for a while until it is time to finish them.

5.  Turn on the oven as at No 1, if not already preheating.  Arrange the potatoes on a lightly oiled baking tray or sheet, leaving a little room between each one for them to spread. Using a potato masher flatten each potato a little, so it starts to crack open and it is about twice its original diameter.

6.  Generously drizzle over olive oil and scatter with Herbes de Provence, freshly ground Sea Salt and Black Pepper.  (Alternative herb and spice flavourings can be used, but I think that it would be a shame to omit the Sea Salt and, unless adding another hot spice, the Black Pepper.)

7.  Bake on the top shelf of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes until crispy and golden, gently moving them around half way through the cooking time to stop them from sticking to the baking sheet. Serve hot.  If you need to cook these at a lower temperature than indicated above then make sure you allow a longer cooking time.

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Ever since eating this recipe in our home last winter we had been looking forward to trying it at its home this summer in the mountains of France.  We found it on the menu of a pavement cafe just opposite the door of the church at Briançon, a fortified town high in the alps.  Briançon is actually the highest city in the European union, according to French statistics – about the same height as Ben Nevis in Scotland.  The Tartiflette did not disappoint and it was certainly authentic, containing the Reblochon cheese which is a regional speciality, with a slice actually melted on top.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable lunch in a lovely location.  When making my own version some months beforehand I had been unable to find Reblochon (or Taleggio which was suggested as an alternative) so I used grated Mozzarella.  I would look around a little harder though if I was making it for a special occasion (I have seen it since so now know where to go).  Although I used a recipe from a book, I did some research to find out about alternative cheeses.  Waitrose have two recipes.  The first is for a Tartiflette very similar to the one I made, where they suggest substituting Crémier de Chaumes, Epoisses or even mature Irish Ardrahan (unknown to me).  The second recipe is a variation on the basic recipe which uses ripe Brie: Tartiflette with Brie & Bacon.  I have read elsewhere that you can use Pont-l’Évêque.  Sounds as if anything goes, though preferably not too mild a flavour: most importantly, the cheese must melt well…!

My recipe comes from One Step Ahead by Mary Berry, a book from the library with so many lovely recipes that I am loth to return it.  She writes that the mixture can be prepared in advance – up to 12 hours if necessary – and kept in the fridge (though bring it to room temperature before cooking to avoid cracking the dish) but is not suitable for freezing. In the dish we ate on holiday a slice of Reblochon was laid on top of each individual portion dish, so reserve slices of cheese before you grate if you are going to do this.   Although we ate Tartiflette in the Alps during the summer months, it is perfect as a quick and simple winter TV supper eaten round the fire.  Be warned, though: it is not a dish for calorie counters!  Serve with green salad or green vegetable.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Tartiflette
(Serves 4)

Butter for the dish
1lb/500g small potatoes, preferably new
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4-5ozs/125-150g smoked streaky bacon, chopped
4-5ozs/125-150g button mushrooms, halved or quartered
4ozs/125g Reblochon or Taleggio cheese, rind removed
   0r
substitute a similar melting cheese (see above) but the result will not be as authentic
¼pint/150ml single pouring cream (original used double) – I used Elmlea half fat
a little paprika
2tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1.  Butter a shallow ovenproof dish.  Preheat the oven to  200oC/400oF/Gas 6

2.  Boil the potatoes in salted ater until they are tender.  Drain well and, once they have cooled enough to handle, slice them thickly. 

3.  Arrange them in the base of the buttered dish.

4.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion for a few minutes over a high heat.  Add the bacon and fry for a few minutes more.  Turn down the heat, cover the pan and cook for around 20 minutes until it is tender, stirring occasionally.

5. Add the mushrooms to the mixture in the pan, raise the temperature and cook over a high heat for 3 minutes.

6.  Tip the mixture over the potatoes and stir in.

7.   Coarsely grate the cheese – or remaining cheese – over the top of the bacon and potato mixture.

8.  Pour the seasoned cream over the top of the potato mixture, sprinkle with paprika.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes until crisp on top and piping hot.

9.  Serve hot sprinkled with parsley and with a green salad on the side.

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A simple potato salad is a delicious alongside a green salad as part of a summer supper.  This version is combined with Tzatziki, a yoghurt based accompaniment commonly served at Greek meals, but found around the Mediterranean and further afield under other names: all slightly different but all very similar.

The source of this recipe was an idea found at Good to Know Recipes and also called Tzatziki Potato Salad originally taken from Love Dips.  I revisited my recipe for own Tzatsiki, already posted on this site and used this, with the addition of a small amount of sweet red onion, for extra flavour and lots of mint, which very strangely was omitted from the Good to Know recipe.  As an alternative to Greek yoghurt I used a standard plain version, which can be combined with some crème fraîche for extra thickness.  However Greek Yoghurt would also give a thicker consistency and is often available in lower fat versions.  Finally, I sprinkled the whole salad generously with Sumac, a Mediterranean ingredient  more commonly found in the Middle East and North Africa, but also because I like it.  This can be replaced with paprika or some ground black pepper if preferred.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Tzatziki Potato Salad
(Serves 4)

500g new potatoes – substitute old potatoes if new unavailable
2/3 large sprigs of mint
300g Greek yogurt, or a mixture of plain yoghurt and crème fraîche or soured cream
½ clove of garlic
½ small red onion or 2 spring onions (optional – can replace garlic)
½ cucumber
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt & black pepper
Sumac or paprika (optional)

1. Scrub new potatoes and halve or peel and cut old potatoes into large dice. Cover with water, add a pinch of salt and a large stem of mint. Bring to the boil and cook until soft. Do not overcook as they could break up, which could be a problem using old potatoes.

2. Measure the yoghurt or yoghurt and crème fraîche/soured cream into a bowl.

3. Finely chop or crush the garlic and red onion or spring onions. Finely dice the cucumber. Chop the remaining mint, reserving a few whole small leaves to decorate. Mix these into the yoghurt along with the lemon juice and season to taste.

4. Gently combine with the potatoes, spoon into a serving dish, decorate with the reserved mint leaves and sprinkle with a little sumac, paprika or black pepper to serve.

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Last year on holiday in the French Basque country the Spanish influence was clearly visible on the menus and in the supermarkets.  One of these was the Tortilla, sometimes called a Spanish Omelette – a Spanish word being used just over the border.  In Italy the word used for this type of dish is Frittata.  The French word is, of course, Omelette, which is the English word too: usually a very plain dish, but not an easy one to perfect and made with a few added herbs – very different from the rather substantial Tortilla.  In its simplest form, the Tortilla is a potato and onion filled omelette, sometimes including bacon or ham.  In a French supermarkets we found a pre-cooked Tortilla which just needed reheating in a frying pan.  We tried one out of interest and it wasn’t too bad, but not a patch on the home cooked version.  Tortilla is so simple to make and the basic ingredients (eggs, onion, potato plus, if you wish, meat, tomato, or a green vegetable) are usually readily available in the kitchen. It is a good way to use up leftover meat, especially ham, bacon, poultry or sausages – I have made Spanish style omelette on many occasions without a recipe.  Tortilla is an inexpensive and substantial quick and easy meal, whether for a family supper or eaten with friends at lunchtime and can be served hot or cold, although I have to say I much prefer the hot version. 

Nevertheless, this time I decided to look for a basic recipe with correct quantities as I wanted to post the Tortilla here.  I found a good recipe in one of my favourite cookery compendiums, Leith’s Cookery Bible: Completely Revised & Updated Edition – Prue Leith & Caroline Waldegrave.  My adaptation of the basic recipe is given below with the added ingredients separately shown, but next time I might choose different ones.  One good addition would be chorizo, a spicy Spanish sausage, which would help add a little Spanish authenticity to the dish.  I found that having a very low heat under the tortilla from when the eggs are added helps to keep the underneath from burning before everything is properly set, plus the finished Tortilla is much easier to remove from the pan. 

Variation – see further down: 
Minted Smoked Salmon & Fennel 
100_4194 Tortilla with bacon, mushroom & spinach

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Tortilla Omelette – with Bacon, Mushroom & Spinach
(Serves 4) 

Basic recipe
Knob of butter and 1tbsp olive oil for frying
45og/1lb potatoes, peeled, sliced and par-boiled until just cooked
1 small onion thinly sliced
Salt & Pepper
4 eggs, beaten
5fl ozs/¼pint/140ml single cream (Elmlea low fat is ideal) – optional 

Additional ingredients for this version
100g/4ozs bacon pieces, chopped
50g/2ozs button mushrooms, quartered or sliced if large
50g/2ozs chopped spinach, well washed and drained
50g/2ozs grated cheese, Spanish Manchego or Mozzarella if available, or Cheddar 

1.  Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and very gently fry the  onion until soft.  

2.  After about 5minutes stir in the cooked potato and season with salt and pepper.  If you are adding extra ingredients you can add them now, apart from spinach and others which need very little cooking. 

3.  Leaving just a thin film in the pan, pour any excess oil into the beaten egg.   

4.  Quickly stir the spinach, if using, into the pan at this point and then pour in the egg mixture.  Beat the egg well, mix with the cream if using and then pour back into the pan over the potatoes and onions.  

5.  Cook over a very gentle heat, stirring a little to work the egg through the mixture so it can set evenly.    

6.  Be careful that the underside does not burn and when it is golden gently ease the Tortilla away from the pan.  

7.  You can either turn the Tortilla by inverting the pan onto a plate, inverting onto a second plate and then gently returning to the pan or instead of inverting you can finish cooking the top under a medium grill.  If you want a cheesy top then scatter over the grated cheese before grilling until it bubbles 

8.  Serve in wedges with a salad, either hot or cold.  This could also be cut into small pieces and served as part of a buffet. 

Vegetarian Variation: 
It goes without saying that Tortilla in its simplest form with just egg, onion and potato is vegetarian, but the addition of other non-meat ingredients is popular.  Mushrooms and/or chopped fresh tomato is delicious as is a cheesy topping. 

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Minted Smoked Salmon & Fennel Tortilla Omelette

Basic recipe as above,  including potato
   plus
Red onion in place of white (optional)
1 small packet of smoked salmon offcuts
1 small fennel bulb, finely diced
2-3 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

Fry fennel with onion in butter/oil mixture.  Par boil potatoes, preferably new ones, with sprigs of mint.  Cook gently for about 10 minutes with partly cooked onion and fennel to allow flavours to be absorbed.  Combine with the salmon, cut into large pieces, pour in the egg mixture and cook, as above.  Serve with salad or peas.

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This salad is both pretty and simple.  I used to serve potato salad and beetroot separately, but having discovered how tasty they were when mixed together on a plate I often now mix and place them in a bowl together.  For a bit of fun, this salad could be served as part of a pink themed meal!   To make ordinary potato salad, I would use this same recipe without the beetroot, perhaps adding a little paprika or cayenne pepper for extra colour and spice.  If you have small new potatoes I think they are much the best to use, either whole if they are tiny, halved or quartered, but if new potatoes are unavailable then choose a waxy potato and cut it into small pieces.  The trick is to try to cut the cooked potato and beetroot into roughly equal sized pieces.  Use a good quality mayonnaise, low fat if available, or even better use home made, but not salad cream.  If you have any Rosy Potato Salad left, it keeps well in a sealed box in the fridge for a second day.  

Here, as a rough guide, are the ingredients and quantities I used for Rosy Potato Salad as pictured below.

100_4772 Rosy Potato Salad

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Rosy Potato Salad
(Serves 6-8)

1lb/500g new potatoes, scrubbed and boiled
1 large beetroot, boiled and peeled
2 spring onions,  both the white and green parts, peeled and diced
6 tbsp mayonnaise, more if you wish
Salt & black pepper

1.  Cut the cooked potato and cooked beetroot into equally sized large dice.

2.  Mix in a bowl with the chopped spring onion, reserving a few green  pieces as garnish.

3.  Stir in the mayonnaise.

4.  Add seasoning and garnish with the reserved green spring onion tops.

5.  Serve as an addition to a salad based main course, with hot or cold meats, quiche or pizza.

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