Contributed by our volunteer resident foodie.
So this week I decided to write about rather underappreciated potatoes. I absolutely love a good potato. Cooked in the right way they don’t have to be the enemy either. They do contain sugars but did you know if you are dieting or trying to control your weight that the smaller ones contain less sugar? I found that interesting anyway. Right so a few health benefits for you all first. As much as I love talking about food, I also studied health and nutrition years ago and I love seeing what all of our amazing vegetables can do for our bodies.
*source of vitamin c (great in the winter where everyone and their granny is walking around with the sniffles)
*good source of fibre which is good for the digestion
*they contain potassium which can help reduce blood pressure
*contain b vitamins
*contains tryptophan which is an amino acid that can calm you down and help you sleep. As I wrote this I’m trying to justify a big bowl of chips with salt and vinegar for a midnight snack, dear lord
*They have no cholesterol in them so cooked properly can be good for the heart
*they include zinc, phosphorus and complex B vitamins that are good for neurological health
*they are rich in calcium so good for your bone health.
So now a few recipes.
Twice Baked Potatoes.
This is an absolute childhood favourite of mine and I forgot about them until recently. If you are dairy intolerant like me then you will know what substitutes work for you. You will need:
*potatoes, large enough to bake
*butter or spread
*a little milk
*your favourite melting cheese (like a cheddar, gruyere, parmesan if you feel fancy, brie, just anything you fancy, or whatever you have in the fridge ready)
* spring onions or chives sliced finely
1. Simply bake your potatoes as you would normally and when soft and fluffy on the inside set aside to cool for a while until able to handle or if you are like me and impatient when you are hungry use a dish towel for stage two.
2. Cut the potatoes in half and scopp out the middle into a bowl. Put in the butter, seasoning, cheese and spring pinions into the bowl as well and mash them all together. I just use a fork for this because I don’t want proper mashed potatoes inside but whatever you prefer is fine. If the mixture is a bit dry add a dash of milk into it. But do remember the cheese will melt so not too much milk.
3. Spoon the mixture back into the potato skins. Top them with extra cheese if you like. Pop them back into the oven until they are piping hot and bubbling and oozing with cheese and begging you to take them out the oven. (can anyone tell I really missed these potatoes?) serve as they are or with a side salad if you are feeling healthy. Although baked beans are a great comfort food option for this that are high in protein and fibre so not entirely bad for you. It’s November, sometimes comfort food is what you need. Your belly will thank you, and me!!!
Homemade Chips (Oven baked)
*potatoes such as king Edwards or maris pipers. Peel if you want to and chop into the size of chips you want to eat.
Now I know that seems really simple but it’s the cooking method that makes these so lovely. I have tried so many methods to get perfect chips that don’t stick to the oven tray and these are the best.
1. Boil the kettle and place a pan on the hob with a little salt in it. Put the oil in a large oven tray and a place in a preheated oven.
2. Place the potatoes into the boiling water and add the boiled water and rutern to the boil. For chunky chips let them boil for 3-4 mins but if you are doing skinny chips/fries, reduce this to about 2-2 and a half minutes.
3. Drain the potatoes and spread out in an even layer on to either kitchen paper or a clean dish cloth. Let them steam until they are dry. This part is very important to get a golden crispy chip with a fluffy centre.
4. Remove the tray with the heated oil and tip in the dried potatoes into it and mix thoroughly. I like to season them with a little salt now.
*Please remember to tip these away from yourself because the oil should makes the chips sizzle as soon as they hit the pan. The oil can spit a bit and I can tell you from bitter experience that oil at that temperature splashing onto your eyelid at that temperature is not an enjoyable experience and you will probably look like you are winking at strangers for a few days while the burn heals.
5. Put the tray back in the oven for about 15-20 mins checking and turning half way through.
6. Serve with whatever you fancy. I’ve been known to just eat a bowl of these with ketchup but you could make your own chicken goujons with this. Gammon egg and chips, sausage and chips, burger and chips, anything you want to put with them. I love a homemade chilli with these chips and some cheese sprinkled over the top. Yummy.
Potato and leek soup basic recipe
I’m going to write out my ingredients and the basic recipe I use that is totally dairy free but I will add some notes at the end for different ways to serve this.
*floury potatoes like maris piper or kind Edward’s, peeled and cube
*veg or chicken srock
*leeks, cut in half lengthways then rinsed thoroughly in case there is any dirt trapped between the leaves
1. Throw all the veg and stock into a large pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 mins until the potatoes are tender and the onions are cooked through.
2. Check the seasoning. I love white pepper in this soup but if you prefer black then just use what you like. Ready to serve.
OK so a few little tweaks for this basic recipe.
1. If you don’t want large chunks in your soup but don’t want it totally smooth just use a potato masher and mash some of the potatoes up. You can choose exactly what texture you would like this way.
2. If you want a completely smooth soup just use a hand blender or food processor and liquidise it until its as smooth as you like it.
3. You can add some milk or cream through the soup for a richer taste.
4. If you opt for a completely smooth soup and you have friends over for lunch or dinner just swirl a little cream around the soup before serving, or some crunchy croutons or chives. Or all three if you fancy. This just makes a 4 ingredient basic soup that is stress free to cook look a little bit more fancy. They will never know you haven’t slaved over the cooker for hours.
5. This is a little summer twist I love. For this I don’t use the floury potatoes, I replace this with beautiful little baby potatoes and I don’t mash or blend them. You can still add a little cream or milk but this is such a lovely light summer soup, packed with veggies and the great thing is with the baby potatoes you don’t even need to peel them so it’s even quicker.
My twist on a Spanish omelette
So my food is generally very low fat unless I’m doing something fancy for other people but I do that rarely do that these days because I get food envy because I can’t eat it. I can taste it but not enjoy the whole meal. So these potatoes are not fried for 15-20 mins in the normal way a Spanish omelette would be. You can even use leftover cooked potatoes and only leave them in the oven until they crisp up and are golden.
*either baby potatoes chopped into cubes or bigger potatoes peeled and chopped into cubes
*onions, thinly sliced
1. Preheat the oven and get a tray large enough to fit the potatoes in an even layer.
2. Put the potatoes in the pan and drizzle with a little oil, you don’t need too much. Season the potatoes and if you want to add any dried herbs then do so, Ross it all around and make sure all the potatoes are evenly covered.
3. Roast in the oven for about 20 mins until they are tender in the centre and crispy on the outside. Turn half way through if you want but I generally just give them a little shake half way through to make sure they are not sticking. Don’t worry if they do stick, the crunchy bits are even more tasty. Take them out and set aside.
4. Gently fry the sliced onions in a little oil, in a large frying pan, until soft but not coloured then add the potatoes in and mix it all together.
5. Whisk the eggs and add milk and seasoning if u wish. I use a splash of water to loosen up my eggs a little instead of milk. These eggs can really take a lot of pepper for my family but if you don’t want much just leave it out. Add the mixture to the potatoes and onions and mix everything together. I like to make it almost like scrambled egg then before its fully cooked through I will let it set.
6. Make sure the potatoes and onions are evenly distributed then the end is totally up to you.
*if you want a slight crust on the bottom lower the heat and just leave it until the egg has set completely.
*if you would like to finish the top of this cooking quickly you can put it under a grill set at high. This will probably only take a couple of minutes
*if you want to let the eggs set in the residual heat of the pan just over the pan with either a lid, or some tin foil and a clean dish towel and turn the heat off and leave for about 10-15 mins.
This dish is really nice right out the pan hot, warm or cold.
I like to cook this the night before and leave in the fridge for a protein packed breakfast in a hurry.
It’s also nice to do this and take for a lunch on the go or a picnic (in summer of course unless you like a November picnic.)
It’s a nice light lunch or dinner served with a simple salad or try it as part of a tapas, finger food kind of dinner. You can add cheese, cooked meats, grilled artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, olives… I could go on but that with some crusty bread is a great little entertaining platter. Just open the fridge and see what you have available, it’s a very versatile little trick to have up your sleeve. Also very cost effective.
So I hope that your November is going well so far and hopefully a few of these recipes will give you a little inspiration for another week. If anyone has any suggestions of things they would like to see in my blog please feel free to leave a comment and I will do what I can. As I’ve said before all of my recipes are mine and have been adapted for my dairy free and low fat health issues. But I really don’t mind throwing in some recipes I used to be able to eat, and totally loved. Stay safe everyone