Hot potatoes

When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing more comforting then potatoes, whether they’re mashed, baked or roasted.

But, when cooking with potatoes, you need to make sure that you’ve got the right variety for the job. Floury potatoes have a low water content, which results in a fluffy texture when cooked, making them good for mashing, roasting and baking. Waxy potatoes have a higher water content, which allows them to keep their shape when cooked. They are good for gratins, soups and salads. Their flesh is often more yellow in colour than the floury potatoes. There are also some all-purpose varieties.

Some popular waxy potatoes are kipfler, Nicola, bintje and pink eye. For floury potatoes, look for Sebago, spunta, pontiac, Toolangi delight and king Edward. Desiree is an example of a good all-purpose potato.

With around 4,000 varieties of potatoes, we are now seeing more unusual names popping up at farmers markets, the local fruit and vegetable shop and even the large supermarkets. Market stalls that specialise in potatoes are the best place to go for advice. Try out these recipes for some new ideas with an old favourite.

 

 

Warm potato salad with smoked almonds and lentils

 

photo Marina Oliphant

 

 

4 tbsp olive oil

2 brown onions, sliced thinly

2 tbsp mustard seeds

800g baby kipfler potatoes, scrubbed

2 tbsp sherry vinegar

sea salt and black pepper to season

400g tin lentils, rinsed and drained

1 cup picked parsley leaves

6 thin slices pancetta

½ (half) cup smoked almonds, roughly chopped

3 soft boiled eggs

mustard cress to garnish

 

Heat oil in heavy based frypan, add onions and mustard seeds and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, until caramelised. Set aside.

Place potatoes in pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and cook for 15 minutes until tender when pierced with a sharp knife.

Remove from heat, drain and cut in half lengthwise. Toss potatoes in pan with onions. Drizzle over vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Add lentils and parsley and gently combine. Pour the warm potato salad into a serving bowl.

Grill pancetta until crisp, then cool slightly and break into large shards over the salad.

Scatter over the almonds and top with halves of soft boiled egg.

 

Serves 4.

 

Tip:

To soft boil the eggs:

Place eggs in a pot of boiling water and cook for seven minutes (for a 60g extra large egg), then drain and refresh in cold water. Set aside and peel carefully, when cool enough to handle. Smaller eggs will cook quicker.

 

Potato soup with celeriac, chickpeas and cabbage

 

photo Marina Oliphant

 

A warm and comforting soup for mid-winter. Cavolo nero is the dark leaf Tuscan kale. Substitute cabbage if this is not available.

 

5 waxy potatoes, such as Nicola

400g celeriac

3 tbsp olive oil

100g pancetta or bacon, thinly sliced

1 tsp fennel seeds, roughly crushed

2 bay leaves

1 brown onion, cut into large dice

2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed

130g cavolo nero, finely shredded

1.25 lt chicken or vegetable stock

2 tbsp chopped parsley

bread to serve

 

Peel potatoes and celeriac, cut into large cubes and place in a bowl of water to cover. Set aside.

Heat oil in large pot, add pancetta, fennel and bay leaves and cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Add onion, drained potatoes and celeriac and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat. Add chickpeas, cavolo nero, stir and cook for a few minutes.

Add stock and cook for 30 minutes over low heat until vegetables are soft.

Season with salt and pepper and scatter over parsley.

Serve with thick slices of buttered toasted bread.

 

Serves 4.

 

Mashed potato cakes with smoked ocean trout and wasabi leaves

 

photo Marina Oliphant

 

A great way to use leftover mash, and much better than potato cakes from the local takeaway.

 

400g cooked potatoes

100g marinated goats feta

salt and pepper to season

1 tbsp plain flour

1-2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp sour cream

4 slices smoked ocean trout

handful fresh wasabi leaves

 

Mash the potatoes with a masher or fork until they are roughly mashed. Crumble up the feta and fold into the mash. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Form into flat potato cakes and lightly dust with flour.

Heat oil in non-stick pan and cook potato cakes for a few minutes until golden on each side.

Remove from pan and place on serving plate. Top with a dollop of sour cream, slices of ocean trout and finish with fresh wasabi leaves.

 

Serves 2.

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