Oh, joy! Potatoes

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By Robert Harland

What’s Cooking?

Monday, June 30, 2014


WHEN I sit down for a meal with my family, it's rice for them and potatoes for me. I'm not a nutritionist so I'll not discuss which is better for you, other than to say a cursory glance at a few papers on the topic shows potatoes are more nutrient-rich than rice, and provide more vitamin B6, vitamin C, phosphorous and potassium.

But the real clincher for all of us is taste. My five-year-old son prefers rice. I prefer potatoes.

No doubt, the vast majority of readers prefer rice, but I'm going to be a bit selfish and focus just on potatoes in my column this week.

There are endless ways to cook and serve potatoes. Today, I’m going to feature one common potato dish and one not so common.

Perfect mashed potatoes

I’m sure all readers who like mashed potatoes will agree that the quality at buffets and local hotels ranges from simply delicious to simply awful. Most fall into the latter category - stodgy and thick, it sticks to the serving spoon and one has a real job balancing a plate in one hand and trying desperately to get the wretched mashed potatoes onto the plate.

But there's no need for that - just try this recipe for fluffy, creamy and buttery mashed potatoes.

Ingredients
(Serves six)

1 kg potatoes
1 Tbsp salt, plus more to taste
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

Method

1. Put potatoes into a saucepan with 1 tablespoon of salt.
2. Add water until potatoes are covered.
3. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, covered, or until done—a knife can slip in and out easily.
4. Warm the milk and cream and melt the butter, together, either in microwave or in a pan on the stove.
5. Drain water from potatoes.
6. Put hot potatoes into a bowl.
7. Add the milk and cream and melted butter.
8. Use potato masher to mash potatoes until well-mashed. Use a strong spoon to beat further, adding more milk or cream as needed to achieve the consistency you desire.
9. Add pepper, nutmeg and salt to taste. Mix to combine. For richer potatoes, add more butter.

Hanukkah Latkas

These are Jewish potato pancakes. Called Latkes in Yiddish and Levivot in Hebrew, they are the most popular food traditionally eaten during the Hanukkah festival.

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrated for eight days and nights. It starts on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, which coincides with late November-late December on the secular calendar.

Ingredients
(Serves 4 to 6)

5 large potatoes, peeled
1 large onion
3 eggs
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup oil for frying

Method

1. Grate potatoes and onion with a grater or in a food processor. Or put in a blender with a little water.
2. Strain grated potatoes and onion through a colander, pressing out excess water.
3. Add eggs, flour, and seasoning. Mix well.
4. Heat half a cup of oil in frying pan. Lower heat and place 1 large tablespoon batter at a time into hot sizzling oil and fry on one side for approximately 5 minutes until golden brown.
5. Turn over and fry on other side 2 to 3 minutes.
6. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain excess oil.
7. Continue with remaining batter until used up, adding more oil when necessary.

Can be served with apple sauce on the side.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 30, 2014.

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