Two-for-Tuesday: New potatoes
This post is a part of the Two for Tuesday blog carnival, at A Moderate Life.
My family have always been into fresh foods. I guess I’m really lucky in that way– where most people in my generation grew up with TV dinners and packaged, processed things, I grew up with the seasons. In the spring, my grandpa’s garden would flourish with green beans and carrots and radishes and strawberries. Mum, grandma, grandpa and I would go to a U-pick berry farm, and come back with buckets full of strawberries and raspberries, and then the house would fill with the aroma of jam cooking. Have you smelled jam cooking? It lingers in my nostrils still, as one of those happy smells that made my childhood, well, happy. And the new potatoes in the spring… we’d feast on new potatoes, covered in butter. For those of you for whom a potato is only something that you cook when you can’t be bothered making anything else (which, by the way, the potato excels at, being so easy to stick in the oven and forget about and all) I urge you to try cooking some new potatoes while they’re still little and spring-y.
New potatoes are everywhere at the Farmer’s Markets right now. And they’re one of my favourite things to have around at this time of year, mainly because they’re delicious in any of their many incarnations, but also because there are so many things that you can do with the leftovers. Here are a couple of examples:
Simple New Potatoes
4 lb new potatoes
1 stick butter
regular salt for cooking
a fancy salt (I use Hawaiian black salt, from Mountain Rose Herbs, but in a pinch anything salty will work) and pepper for seasoning
mint, parsley, garlic chives and basil– a handful of each.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil– you want enough water that the potatoes have plenty of room– this ensures that the temperature doesn’t drop too much when the cold potatoes are added. Boil the potatoes for 10-12 minutes, or until they slide easily off a fork inserted.
Meanwhile, finely chop the herbs, and cut the butter up into 1/2 inch pieces.
Drain the potatoes and put them in a serving bowl. Dot the butter pieces over the hot potatoes, cover with the chopped herbs, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. When the butter has melted a bit (it should melt fast), toss the whole mixture like you would a salad. Serve warm.
Bubbles and Squeak.
I’d never actually heard of bubbles and squeak until I met Jamie. It’s either something that they eat in England and not in Scotland, or just something that my family was never into. The name put me off for a long time– I didn’t want to eat something that sounded like a kids TV show. One weekend, about a year into our relationship, we went to stay with his parents, and we had a roast dinner. The next morning, I woke up to the most delicious smell. Jamie jumped out of bed like a little boy, shouting “BUBBLES AND SQUEAK!”, and I followed him to the kitchen, half perplexed and half scared. Well let’s just say that my apprehension was transformed. If I’d grown up with such a delightful thing, I’d probably have been jumping out of bed for it too. But even as an adult, it’s delicious, fun, and a really nice way to use up leftovers from a roast dinner.
butter for frying
an egg per person
Mash up the potatoes. I sometimes have to add a little chicken stock, milk, or cream to get the consistency right. You want the mash to be squishy, but not runny– so the consistency of a burger patty. If you have leftover vegetables, chop them finely, and mix into the mash. Get a frying pan nice and hot, over medium-high heat, add a dollop of butter, and pan fry the potato patties until golden brown on each side.
I, personally, plate up the potato patties, then fry the eggs in the same pan, to save mess (I hate having to clean up ten pans after making breakfast– it just seems so WRONG, somehow): Scrape off the potato bits that have stuck to the pan. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add another dollop of butter, wait until it’s melted and sizzling, then crack in your eggs. If I were concerned about presentation, I’d probably do them one at a time, but when it’s just the two of us and we’re starving, I do them all together in one pan. Sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper, and cook until the whites are solid but the yolks are still runny– a couple of minutes.
Lay the fried egg on top of the potato patty, and serve hot. Preferably with a big mug of tea.