It’s one of my favourite times of the year in the vegetable garden. The peas and asparagus may be over for another year but the French beans, the first tomatoes and cucumbers and above all, the sweetcorn are ready for picking.
We came home from our Irish holiday laden with produce from the Ummera smokehouse, including a whole side of smoked salmon. We ate some with friends at lunch last Sunday, served with the pickled cucumber from this recipe.
But leafing through an old cookery book when we were in Cork, I found a recipe from Paul Rankin for potato pancakes, a traditional Irish treat. This is an adaptation … I added sweetcorn to the batter and served them with smoked salmon and a yoghurt and chive sauce, though vegetarians can of course forego the fish.
It makes a substantial brunch for four people to eight people (depending on how hungry/hungover you might be). The pancakes would also be good with crispy bacon.
Potato and Sweetcorn Pancakes
6 large slices of smoked salmon, about 350g
250g floury potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 sweetcorn cobs (or equivalent in tinned or frozen sweetcorn)
2 heaped tbsp plain flour
3 eggs, separated
Crème fraîche, about 4-6 tbsp
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Butter, for frying
For the sauce:
6-8 tbsp plain yoghurt
1 small clove of garlic, peeled
Small bunch of chives
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
Make the sauce first to allow the flavours to meld: crush the garlic with a pinch of sea salt and stir into the yoghurt. Snip in the chives, reserving a few for garnish.
Cut the smoked salmon into strips and roll into 16 rosettes, cover and set aside.
Boil the potatoes in salted water until soft, then drain well and rice or mash until smooth and lump-free. Boil the sweetcorn in salted water until just cooked and once cool enough to handle, slice off the kernels with a sharp knife. Add to the potato bowl.
Stir through the flour then mix in the egg yolks. Add enough crème fraîche to loosen the batter and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Beat the egg whites in another bowl until white and frothy, then fold gently and evenly into the batter. Heat a small cast iron skillet and add a teaspoon of butter.
When it’s foaming, add a large spoonful or two of the batter to form a rough circle. Cook on a low-to-medium heat for 3-4 minutes until the pancake is set enough to flip over and is browned underneath.
Cook the other side for about two minutes, but resist the temptation to squash it down, as it’s meant to be fluffy. Put it on a plate and pop into the oven to keep warm and finish cooking through, while you make the remaining pancakes. You should get eight out of this mixture.
Give each person one or two pancakes each, with a share of smoked salmon, and drizzle the pancakes with some of the chive yoghurt sauce. Garnish with a few more chives and serve.