We love an aul’ spud. For years I would deny them: my new found culinary freedom when I went to college meant I could alternate pasta and rice and never see a spud that wasn’t chipped & deep fried, or encased in a packet marked ‘Hunky Dory’. When I was little, I would try to hide pieces of potato under my cutlery long after everyone had left the table, having been instructed to stay there til I’d finished everything (an 80’s phenomenon due to the starving babies in Africa, and the more recent memories of an fairly impoverished upbringing). Luckily my darling father would take pity on me as he went about his daily washing up chore (we had a dishwasher, why on earth was there so much washing up done in our house?) and let me escape to watch Home & Away. They were nearly always boiled, sometimes leftover & fried on a saturday morning. There was the occasional baked potato, and the traditional roast, and quite regularly home made chips. It was only boiled I rejected whole heartedly but the proliferation of them into every single dinner meant I couldn’t exclude them from my diet fast enough when given the opportunity.
Then I had a kid, and mash became part of our lives again. It’s buttery/creamy/whatever you’re having yourself deliciousness is so tasty, that it’s a pretty good fall back meal when you haven’t a clue what else to make. Last weekend, with no shopping done and a few roosters in the cupboard, little potato cakes were on the menu. It’s mash you can hold! Incidentally ‘a few roosters’ is actually an item on our shopping list – my mothers influence is strong there. We had no eggs and each recipe near the top of my google search seemed to contain one, so I just went with a roundabout experiment that really worked! Binding, schminding… This makes about 12-15.
Oven baked potato cakes:
- Chop a few roosters (okay, 3) quite small & cook. I do ours in a microwave steamer, and the small pieces were done in 5 minutes plus a couple of minutes sitting.
- Mash well with a decent dash of milk and more butter than you think you should use.
- Grate in cheddar, add a couple of chopped spring onions and season well with black pepper
- Spread out little cakes on a baking sheet. Either make little patties with your hand, or use a scone cutter (they don’t keep their shape and spread a little though)
- Bake in the oven at a high temp (I used 200c) for 7 or 8 mins each side.
The beauty of these is it’s not an exact recipe. Throw in what you have – caramelised leeks would be gorgeous I’d say, or different cheeses. If you’re cooking something else in the oven at the same time then just use whatever temperature you need it set to for that.
And the equal opportunities part? Well, since we had spuds on saturday, we had risotto on sunday (and monday), and then our very favourite – noodley doodleys tonight. In a noodle soup form for parents and Dominic (who used his pilfered Wagamama chopsticks – we took a bunch) and ‘deconstructed’ for Theo. The constituent parts proved very popular with him too. He has the art of the pincer grip down pat now. I even left the plate in front of him while he ate and it lasted a good 8 minutes there I’d say!
We’re definitely enduring a throwback-to-the-eighties Ireland in some regards what with our rampant recession. But I thank the gods of air travel and globalisation for broadening the range of grains and carbs available in Ireland. I know there was plenty of rice and pasta and maybe even noodles around then (just not really in our house) but cous cous and quinoa…far from it I was reared!