For all the different things I make on this blog, I do still love a roasted potato as often as I can. Usually fluffy varieties are the ones, but a new potato can be a great alternative if treated right. Although to be honest slathering anything in rosemary, garlic and thyme is often a good idea.
Really though, I made these as a vehicle for ranch dressing. When relatives come back from the States they bring food gifts like sweets, and the occasional sachet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing. It’s MSG-tastic but when made up with mayo and milk makes a creamy, thick and delicious dip that goes well with crudites, salad potatoes, crisps, salad, chicken, green veg… it’s really good stuff.
Roasted new potatoes (serves 4 as a side dish):
250g new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
3 cloves garlic, squashed
3 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
- Preheat the oven to 220°C. Heat a large lidded casserole on a hob and add a little oil and a knob of butter. Add the herbs and garlic, fry for 30 seconds and then add the potatoes. Turn several times in the flavoured oil to get them started, then cover and transfer to the oven.
- Roast for 35 – 45 minutes, turning occasionally until browned and fudgy in the middle. Serve with ranch dressing.
I found myself in GBK at the weekend. It was supposed to be family lunch at Las Iguanas, but a few seconds of appalling customer service had me trundle a few steps down Lakeside’s Boardwalk to the burger parlour.
I was surprised how much I enjoyed it – a tasty “Capital” cheeseburger with standard accompaniments, a choice of brioche or regular sesame seed bun and all the monkey nuts you can eat. But the shoestring fries were great, particularly when you shake over their hei hei salt. Pretty much all American diner-style eateries in the UK coat the fries in a salty concoction, and I’d been meaning to make one of my own for ages. Serving up wedges this week meant this was a great excuse.
If you’re looking for an interesting salty-spicy mix to dust your chips or wedges, this is a great place to start. You can then of course add or remove other spices to your taste – a curry powder would be nice.
There’s two levels of seasoning here; in my experience of roasting potatoes the salt flavour simply disappears (where does it go?). So the initial salt is merely grist to combine the ingredients, whilst the second salting is the true seasoning of the wedges. You should really use garlic salt for hei hei seasoning but I prefer to have more granular (ha!) control over the seasoning.
Hei hei wedges (serves 2 as a side dish):
4 – 5 medium potatoes, Maris Piper or other fluffy variety
For the marinade:
2 cloves of garlic
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 ham stock cube (chicken would be fine)
Large pinch of salt
For the seasoning:
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Slice the potatoes into wedge shapes.
- In a pestle and mortar, combine all the marinade spices and pound withe garlic until you have an orangey-brown paste. Add oil until you have a gloopy mixture and coat the wedges liberally. Arrange cut sides down on a baking tray and roast for 40 minutes, turning every ten minutes, until crisp and cooked through.
- Combine the seasoning ingredients and shake over the fries as you serve. You’ll probably have excess seasoning for another day.
The other week, I got my hands on a Masha. It’s a new potato mashing device that looks pretty much like a hand blender. I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories when using a stick blender on mashed potato: you get glue. The fibres tear, leaking starch everywhere and the whole thing coagulates.
This gadget comes with a fabulous verb though. It extrudes. In other words, it pushes the potato through some holes. Doesn’t sound that revolutionary but it really does make some pretty fine mash. Sexy looking device too, and it washes up dead easy to boot.
Would I use it much? Probably would actually. I surprised myself. I was absolutely certain this was going to a once-only toy but the speed and ease with which it makes smooth mashed potato is impressive. I prefer mine smooth to chunky and this is much quicker than mucking about with a sieve, which is my usual weapon of choice.
Cheese and onion mash (serves 2):
250g white potatoes peeled and chopped, good old Maris Piper would be great
½ onion, sliced
1 star anise
20g Comté cheese, grated
Butter and milk, to taste
- Put the oven on to 180°C. Put the onion slices in a baking tray with the star anise, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Pop in the oven for 20 – 25 mins, stirring every now and then until starting to catch.
- Meanwhile cook the potatoes in boiling salted water, for 15 – 20 mins until knife-tender. Drain well, add a knob of butter, a splash of milk and use a Masha for a few seconds to mash. Stir in the butter and onions (discard the star anise) and season to taste.
We get through buckets of mayonnaise in this house. I kinda like it – particularly with store-bought pizza for reasons I don’t understand – but the rest of the family demolish it. If my son was asked the legendary question: “you’re handed a sausage sandwich. Will it be red sauce, brown sauce, or no sauce at all?” he’d reply mayonnaise in a heartbeat.
So to receive some samples from Hellman’s of their flavoured mayonnaises was set upon by the family quite quickly. First the packaging – there’s much made on TV of their no-mess resealing cap. And sure enough it works a treat. As long as you don’t mind sacrificing a third of the bottle. By the time you work your way down there the rest refuses to come out. I took a knife to it to free the captive condiment. But what about the taste?
There was a black pepper one which I found nice and prickly, and worked really well in a ham salad wrap. But the garlic one was disappointing – slightly tangy but not flavoured with garlic at all. So that’s why it ended up in this gratin.
This type of recipe works great as a side dish, or can be had with a simple salad on the side.
Garlic and potato gratin (serves 2):
5 – 6 medium sized floury potatoes, cut into thick coins. Peeling optional
1 onion, sliced (I used frozen ready-sliced onions)
2 rashers smoked streaky bacon, chopped
5 tablespoons garlic mayonnaise
A little grated parmesan
- Preheat the grill to high. Get a large pan of salted water on to boil and add the potatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes or until just tender.
- While the potatoes cook, fry the onions and bacon in a pan with a little oil until the bacon has coloured and onions softening.
- Drain the potatoes and add to the onion and bacon pan, seasoning as you go. In a shallow dish mix the mayonnaise with a little milk until you get a creamy dressing, and then stir the onion, bacon and potatoes through it until well coated. Grate a little parmesan over the top and put under the grill until golden.
I really, really love veal. I sigh in despair when I raise the subject of veal and people suck air through their teeth with a “oooh, but it’s so cruel” expression. Veal has a major PR disaster to recover from in this country before it gets welcomed back into kitchens.
So when Farmison sent me some topside veal to cook with, I punched the air. Any excuse to use it works for me. Farmison is a great idea; sourcing excellent food from smaller producers around the country (and beyond) to put together meat boxes and seasonal packs.
They sent me a whole bunch of things to try: porchetta, pineapples and more, some of which I’ll blog about later. But I have to mention the black potatoes: truly nasty things devoid of flavour. I couldn’t find them on their site to link to, but you’re not missing anything.
The Dexter veal however was great. This recipe is a gutsy braise, ensuring the meat stays moist. I’ve paired it with some unusual parmesan-roasted red potatoes to bounce off the sweet-tomatoey gravy.
Braised Dexter Veal with Roasted Red Potatoes (serves 4 – 6):
For the veal:
800g Dexter veal roasting joint
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 celery stick, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon tomato puree
1 glass red wine
500ml beef stock
For the potatoes:
5 – 6 red potatoes, diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
A large handful grated parmesan
4 garlic cloves, squashed
Pinch of dried thyme
- Preheat the oven to 170°C, and get a large casserole dish on a very high hob. Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan. Season the veal all over with salt and pepper and when the dish is hot add to the pan. Brown on all sides and put to one side.
- Add the diced vegetables, bay and tomato and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the wine and scrape at the bottom of the pan to free the sticky bits. Keep stirring until the wine has almost completely reduced and add the stock. Bring up to the boil, put the veal back in the pan and put a lid on it. Transfer to the oven and cook until the veal reaches 65°C when checked with a meat thermometer.
- While the veal cooks prepare the potatoes. Toss the diced potato with the other ingredients along with a tablespoon of oil and salt and pepper. Put in the oven to bake and stir occasionally.
- When the veal is ready, turn the oven up to 200°C to brown the potatoes. Remove the veal to a carving board and cover with foil to keep warm. With a sieve over a bowl ladle in all the diced veg and strain off the juices. Discard the veg and put the gravy back in pan over a high heat and reduce rapidly until it thickens to the desired consistency. Carve the veal, serve with the potatoes and seasonal vegetables with the gravy on the side.