Celeriac doesn’t merely look unappetising in the shop: it looks like some kind of strange alien pod, that in due course will hatch a monster, or crawl away under its own steam. Shame, as it’s rather tasty.
Peel and chop equal amounts of celeriac and potato. The celeriac is “peeled” by dint of hacking off the outside with a large knife, until all the dirt, tentacles and other hideous bits have gone, and you’re left with something that looks like a giant lump of parsnip flesh. Both should be chopped into pieces roughly an inch across, I think.
Put them in a pan and pour over just enough cold water to cover, add some salt and bring to the boil. Once they’re boiling, reduce the heat, and give them about 15 minutes. After that, test with a skewer: you don’t wash them to turn into slush, but you want them soft enough that you’ll be able to do battle with a potato masher and not emerge red faced and defeated.
Drain, and mash. I added milk and crème fraîche, because that was what was on hand.
Posted in Recipes
Tagged mash, potato
Christmas Dinner pretty much happened as expected: foie gras, smoked duck, roast goose, and a pudding made with Guinness. Consequently, the last couple of days have been spent on a diet of tea, toast and fruit juice. (OK, there may have been a port and stilton binge, but the less said, the better.)
Sausages (pan fried) and celeriac mash today.
There are two schools of thought re cooking sausages. The first approach is to bung them in a roasting tin, and sling them into a medium oven (about 150ºC) for an hour, which crisps them all over, and results in nice crunchy skin. The second, championed by Matthew Fort, is to put them in a pan on a very gentle heat, for around an hour. I’m normally a follower of the first method, as it’s foolproof and requires no intervention. Today, I went for the pan.
I had a lot of trouble finding an exact setting for the gas low enough to cook them gently enough so as not to burn, and hot enough so as to cook through. This required a great deal more attention and faffing than I’m accustomed. End result was very juicy, very flavoursome sausages, and a load of sticky goo at the bottom that made good gravy. Chewy skins, though.
Whatever method you follow, don’t prick the sausages. That just lets the flavour out.
I tend to think of my freezer as a savings account. When times are good, you deposit your loot, and when times are bad, or it’s simply A Monday, you make a withdrawal.
Lurking in the back is some frozen sweet potato mash. I’m a big fan of freezing leftover mash, as it can be used for all sorts of things later. There is a trick, though. If you put your mash in the freezer in a block, it will take about six weeks (or a blowtorch) to thaw it. Better than that, push it into square sandwich bags, and once the bag is sealed (or almost) squish the contents, ’til you end up with a flattish slab of the stuff. If the flattish slab happens to accidentally be the size and shape of the top of the dish in which you habitually make Shepherds’ Pie, then I won’t tell anyone.
So, one leek, peeled and finely chopped, and fried in olive oil for about 20 minutes; long enough to colour. The mash and some water goes on top and gets stirred. The starch in the mash will thicken the mix almost immediately, so have a freshly boiled kettle on hand, and keep adding water and stirring, until the desired consistency is reached. Simmer for about 20 minutes and you’re ready to go.
You could content yourself with just checking the seasoning. Or…
- you could whip up some chilli, garlic, cumin and turmeric first, fry it, and add the other ingredients (garnishing with coriander not a bad idea after this)
- be subtle, and just add a bay leaf and grate a small amount of nutmeg over the top before simmering
Posted in Recipes
Tagged mash, soup
Sweet potatoes rock.
Just bung them in the oven, on 150C, on a tray, and let them do their thing. Depending upon their size, they will take from 45 minutes to an hour and a bit. Wait until they’re hissing, and oozing dark red goo; which you’ll have to clean up later.
The best thing is, the insides will have collapsed into a dark orange carb rich mush, requiring little more than some salt and pepper, and/or butter. Tonight, there was some crème fraîche handy, so a glob of that went in as well.
(Oh, and the sausages that had been carelessly left on the baking tray underneath.)
There is leftover garlic mash from the other night. It was pushed into a square sandwich bag, and squished into a flat slab, about an inch thick. The slab is conveniently the same size as my smallest square baking dish. Muwhahaha.
Some minced lamb and a chopped onion get fried in olive oil with salt, pepper and a half a teaspoon of sugar. I realise that there’s no red wine handy, at least of the sort I’d use to deglaze the pan, so I pop in a splash of vermouth and, for the hell of it, some squished up juniper berries. A sprinkle of dried thyme, a tin of chopped tomatoes (minus their juice) and the results go into the bottom of my baking dish. A layer of frozen peas and then the slab of mash. The mash turns out not to be exactly the right size, so there’s some artistic carving with a serrated bread knife to make it fit.
Finally, into a hot oven for half an hour. Joy.
- Worcestershire sauce
- tomato paste (not keen on this as it makes the whole thing tomato flavoured, whilst the pieces provide just the occasional nugget of fruitiness)
- chopped up dried tomatoes
What a horrid day. Tension just seemed to have worked its way into the office: even the boss squared, normally tranquil in the face of all adversity, was irritable. I caved in to the mid afternoon slump, and had the dreaded Coke and Kit Kat Combo, whose sugar rush is as pleasurable as it is transitory. Then walking home in the cold past houses for sale that I can’t afford.
On days like this, one needs a bit of sausage to keep the glint in one’s eye and the spring in one’s step.
I always do mine in the oven – in a roasting tin with no need for oil – just 160 of the best degrees centigrade that my fan-forced oven has to offer for about 45 minutes. This leaves them with a nice all over tan, and reduces the risk of them bursting. (And don’t prick them, please. All the flavour just runs out.)
Meanwhile got busy with some garlic mash and steamed spinach. The garlic butter had surprisingly little effect on the mash, so wondering whether the effect was too subtle. Some other good things to put in mash:
- mustard: wholegrain, Dijon, or English are all good, although be careful with the last of these
- thinly chopped spring onions (no need to cook them)
- cheese: grate and stir in at the last moment (hard cheeses are best: Cantal, Grana, Cheddar, Doddington, etc)
- chopped up chives or parsley
- garlic butter: peel and squish three cloves of garlic and fry gently in a little butter for about five minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t brown, then fish out and discard the garlic, and tip the butter into the spuds during mashing
All of these particularly effective, and almost necessary, if you’re using Aunt Bessie’s, as it’s just a little too smooth otherwise.
It all started with half a punnet of uneaten and slightly squishy cherry tomatoes. Had I just chucked them out, none of this would have happened and my kitchen would not be in its current state of devastation. To cut a long story short, the tomatoes became a small quantity of very intense tomato sauce, and I thought, “yes! fishcakes!” – oops.
For the fish I just used some frozen blocks of “cod portions” – basically all the ugly bits that can’t be sold as fillets are squished together, frozen, and then sawn up. Given that most of the “fresh” cod you see at the fish counter in a supermarket has already been frozen and thawed, there’s no need to get precious about this sort of thing.
The frozen blocks of fish got poached in a saucepan of milk with a bay leaf, whilst an equivalent amount of spuds (peeled and chopped into chunks) were being simmered next door. (Washing up count = 2.)
When the fish was done, it was turned out onto a rimmed chopping board, flaked, and picked through for any bones and bits of skin, and after, combined with the mashed potato in a bowl. (Washing up count = 4.)
After a bit of squishing with a spoon and then by hand to get to the right texture, the resulting mass was rolled into ball about two inches across and half an inch thick, floured and popped on a plate to await their fate. (Washing up count = 6.)
Finally the fishcakes were fried…
…until crisp on the outside, before being gratefully gobbled up with the aforementioned tomato sauce. (Washing up count = 7.)