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What do you call a dish of a thick gravy stew topped with mashed potato? Cottage Pie or Shepherd’s Pie?  Well my mum always called it cottage pie, no matter what the ingredients, and it is the oldest recorded name for the dish having first appeared in 1791, so I’ll stick with it.  Besides it seems to make more sense for a vegetarian dish, as ‘Shepherd’s Pie’ has now come to mean a filling of mutton or lamb.  I have come across the theory that actually a cottage pie should have sliced potatoes on top to resemble the tiles on a cottage roof, whereas fluffy mashed potato resembles a woolly sheep!  But I always think a mashed topping is the real comfort food and it allows you to mash up other veg like swede, parsnip, or, as here, celeriac in with the potato.  This is a simple dish, easy to rustle up and open to changes depending what you have in.  The celeriac gives the mash a nice fresh flavour.  Serve with a green veg or salad.


Cottage Pie

500g/1 lb potatoes, peeled and chopped
225g/8oz celeriac, peeled and chopped
75g/2½oz butter / vegan margarine
2 or 3 tblsp milk/vegan milk (optional)

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 can chick peas, drained
1 can tomatoes
1 tblsp passata, or tomato puree mixed with a little water
1 tblsp olive oil
1 tsp dried basil or oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes and celeriac until soft.  Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and cook the onion, celery and garlic over a medium heat for around five minutes until soft, but not browned.  Add the chick peas, tomatoes, passata, herbs, salt and pepper.  Stir and cook for around five minutes, then pour into a baking dish.

When the potatoes and celeriac are cooked, add the butter/margarine and the milk if using, then mash until smooth.  Spread the mash over the chick pea mixture in a nice thick layer, then fluff up the top with a fork.  Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes until the peaks of the potato have started to brown.

As the weather cools, we’re still trying to make the most out of the dwindling daylight hours, and staying outside while we can.  This means I’ve been looking for simple suppers which are also satisfying and a little bit indulgent.

A potato hash qualifies on all counts, as there’s very little fuss involved, but fried potatoes always qualify as a treat!  This version also has a couple of warming spices for a bit of extra zing!

Chick pea hash

Chick Pea Potato Hash

2 medium potatoes, cut into even sized cubes
1 large carrot, evenly diced
1 large courgette, cut into even sized cubes
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tblsp vegetable oil

Heat the oil, then turn the heat down fairly low.  Add all the ingredients and stir to make sure everything is coated in oil.  Cook for 20 – 25 minutes until the potatoes are fully cooked, stirring fairly frequently.  Add more oil if the vegetables start to stick.  Keep the heat low and only brown the potatoes once they have started to soften.

I’ve been getting a veggie box delivery for sometime now, so I’m fairly used to using whatever turns up each week.  The box can still surprise, however, and this week a vegetable new to me appeared, and from the outside it didn’t look promising…

…It turned out to be a black radish, and I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to do with it.  Radishes come in all shapes and sizes from the usual tiny round red ones to much larger, elongated white and black varieties.  The flesh inside the black radish is white and is peppery as might be expected.

I then found this lovely recipe over on Chocolate and Zucchini, and it turned out to be delicious, with just a couple of small changes.  For some reason, I had no garlic in the house, so used red onion instead, which gave a milder, sweeter flavour than would be expected from the garlic.  I used rocket from the garden rather than parsley, although I think the parsley would have added a fresher dimension, and I’m no fan of smoked paprika, so used un-smoked, which for my money was much better!  Below is the recipe with my changes.

Black Radish and Potato Salad  adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini

450 grams (1 pound) small waxy potatoes
1 red onion, peeled
1 medium black radish, about 220 grams (1/2 pound) (when buying, make sure it is firm to the touch, not limp nor soft)
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
a small bunch of chives, finely snipped
a small bunch of rocket, leaves roughly chopped
a handful of walnut halves, chopped
sea salt, freshly ground pepper

Serves 4.

Scrub the potatoes (no need to peel them) and cut them into halves. Place them with the onion in a steamer, sprinkle with salt, and steam for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are just cooked through (the tip of a knife should meet no resistance).

Peel the black radish (or, no need to peel it unless the skin is tough) and carve out any crack or hole that may harbor dirt. Grate using the large holes of a box grater. Go through the pile of grated radish and check for any brown bits, which may taste unpleasantly earthy. Place them in a medium salad bowl, sprinkle with salt, toss to coat, and set aside while the potatoes are cooking; the salt will take the edge off the radish.

When the potatoes are cooked, set aside to cool until just slightly warm. Chop the steamed onion and add it to the salad bowl. Add the vinegar, oil, and paprika, and toss to combine.

Add the potatoes and the herbs to the bowl, sprinkle with pepper, and toss gently to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Top with the crumbled walnuts, and serve.

The leftovers were great the next day too!

In the last week or so, we’ve finally had a proper winter with several days of snow.  Thoughts turn inevitably to log fires and staying inside to huddle by them!

On the food front, nothing beats the winter blues like a big bowl of stew, especially one that can take whatever ingredients you have in, so you don’t have to venture to the shops if you really don’t want to!   That’s why I’ve called this dish Hotch Potch.  I first came across a Hotch Potch recipe researching Early Vegetarian Recipes from 1865 by Job Caudwell.  That was a simple vegetable stew of onions, carrots, turnip, lettuce and parsley thickened by grating half of the vegetables.  My version provides protein with beans and is thickened with lentils, but sticks to the principle of adding nutrition by using green leafy veg.  It’s such great name for a dish though, that I thought I just had to use it for this toss-it-all-in-the-pot recipe!  Excuse the lack of precise measurements, but the idea is to use as much or as little as you have.

Hotch Potch

1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Carrot, chopped
Potato, chopped
Celery, chopped
Greens, chopped (try cabbage, kale, broccoli, lettuce, parsley)
1 cup red lentils, washed
1/2 tin red kidney beans
1 tblsp olive oil
1 1/2 pints of vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
Salt and black pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion, celery and garlic until soft.  Add the carrot and potato and stir well until coated in oil.  Cook for two minutes.  Add the green veg and stir well.

Add the lentils and beans, stir, and then add the stock.  Add the bay leaf.  Cook for 30 minutes until the lentils have thickened the stew and the vegetables have softened.  Season with salt and pepper.

What’s a potato farl, I hear you ask.  Well, it’s a northern Irish potato bread, made flat and cooked on a griddle pan.  It is an integral part of an Ulster Fry, a variation on the full cooked breakfast beloved of the people of the islands of Britain and Ireland, and containing all sorts of fried ingredients including egg, sausage, bacon, black pudding and white pudding, as well as the slightly healthier beans, tomatoes and mushrooms.  Alongside the potato farl, you may also find fried soda bread!

Well, you can build a healthier, veggie version of this meal with grilled tomatoes sprinkled with dried basil, mushrooms cooked in a small amount of olive oil and the usual or reduced sugar baked beans.  And this recipe for a gluten free potato farl makes a delicious base.  I’ve added grated apple to the mix as this keeps the farl from being too dry at the end.  They freeze well, so make a stack and keep some for later!

gluten free potato farls

gluten free potato farls

Gluten Free Potato Farls

500g /1lb potatoes
2 tbsp butter or vegan margerine
1 mug / 100g / 4oz gluten free flour (I used Dove’s Farm white gluten free flour)
1 small apple, grated.

Scrub or peel the potatoes, but leave the skins on if they’re good enough.  Boil them until tender (20 – 30 minutes).  Drain and add the butter, then mash the potatoes thoroughly.

Add the grated apple, then sift in the flour a little at a time, until it forms a soft dough.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough until it is approx 1cm or 1/2 inch thick.  Cut the dough into rough squares.

Use a griddle or heavy bottomed frying pan and place it over a high heat.  Adjust the heat down a little once the pan is hot.  Don’t add any butter or oil, but place the farls, one or two at a time on the griddle, cooking until they start to brown.  Flip them over and repeat on the other side.

Serve with a cooked breakfast or as pancakes drizzled with maple syrup.

a stack of potato farls

a stack of potato farls

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