I haven’t done a cooking posting for a while, and from my stat-o-meter thingy, it seems that the last posting was one of the most popular yet on the blog. That was a bit of a surprise I have to say. But that does tells me there may be loads of shy guys out there (since none of you have left a comment) interested in becoming a little better at cooking. Or lots of you checked it out in disbelief that a rough old Northern boy could end up stirring sauces and enjoying it. It was probably the latter but who cares, I’m going to write more on this so read it and laugh or, maybe just try it out.
Well this isn’t a whole new recipe. I’ve got lots to come but I thought about some more variations on the mashed potato theme and thought I should cover them off them off first. This is all about adding other vegetables in the boiling stage to create a different taste experience. Ok remember the first stage? Of course, fill a glass with some wine; or if you prefer it, some cool beer. Cooking is always more rewarding this way. You’ve gone through the prep stage already with the spuds. If you fancy adding a slightly different taste there are many things you can add to the mix which complement the potato well. Celeriac is good and adds a sharpish kind of edge but add just a bit – perhaps in the proportion 1:8 against the potato. Parsnip’s good too but requires a little less time than the potato to boil through so add later. You’ll get the hang of comparative boiling times by experience but a good indicator is how easy the vegetable is to cut through. The easier, the softer the flesh and the quicker to boil through. Perhaps add 1:4 against the potato quantity. Swede and turnips are ok and can be added in same quantities as the parsnip. They probably cook more like the spud. A tip, once peeled don’t let the veg stand around in the air too long – they can go brown. So either peel immediately before inserting them in the boiling water or peel early and leave them to stand in a bowl of cold water. Have a slurp.
If you fancy something a bit more interesting try some sweet potato with the spuds. These are a staple part of most of my recipes so keep stocked up. They are great tasting and succulent and they combine beautifully with the potato. They are of course orange in colour so you’ll end up with a kind of peach coloured mash, which is quite funky. They do cook more quickly than the spuds so put them in later. You can get close to 1:1 if you like. The combination of the regular and sweet potatoes, well mashed as per the previous directions, is just great. Trust me your partner/family will like these a lot if you’ve never tried before. Carrots can be used in the same way but their texture is quite fibrous and whilst they soften under boiling I never think they mix as well with the potato.
A final thought is to try and experiment a little bit. So long as the other ingredients boil up to tenderness and can mash up then try some ideas of your own. A mix of all the above is really nice. But once or twice I’ve tried peas in the mix. A slightly firmer garden pea is good but anything you’ve got in the freezer will do. Just add them to the boiling potatoes at a late stage (they won’t require much boiling, esp petit pois). Drain off and do a rough mash (ie not whipped). You don’t really want the mix turning solid bright green. Perhaps add just a little cut mint. This combo is especially good if you fancy boiling the potatoes with skins still on. You get a really earthy, tasty mash with flashes of the green pea speckled throughout. It also makes a great bubble and squeak fry up next day if you have any left overs.
So there you go. Finish the glass to another success. All we’ve done so far is the humble mashed spud but you’ve got a few suggestions to vary the taste and look experience. Trust me you’ll use these variations constantly over the years and everyone will enjoy them. Next time we’ll try some more complete yet simple meal ideas with the wonderful chicken. Dull? We’ll see, but I’ll challenging you to consider whether the inner thigh is more succulent than the breast. Think on that; we’ll discuss next time.