Mother’s potato cake

Adapted from a recipe in an Oregon cookbook given to me by my friend Rebecca. There’s no explanation given as to why it’s “mother’s” potato cake…

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Peel and dice 1 medium potato and boil in lightly salted water for 15 minutes or until well cooked. Drain, rinse with cold water, and mash thoroughly. Pack 1 cup with the mashed potato and eat the rest while you make the cake. Cream together 2/3 cup sugar and 75g (1/3 cup) butter, then mix in 2 eggs. Having all the ingredients at room temperature helps to prevent curdling. Add the mashed potato, 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 1/4 cup milk, stirring thoroughly. Sift into another bowl 1 cup flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg and 1/4 tsp salt. Gently blend the wet and dry ingredients, then pour into a greased cake pan and bake for 40 minutes to an hour, until cooked through but still slightly squidgy.

Keeps in an airtight container for a few days. You can also use instant mashed potato.

Calas

Calas, or rice beignets, are a traditional dish from New Orleans and an interesting way to use up leftover cooked rice. The frying oil, once cool, can be passed through a fine sieve and used up in cooking or, if it’s not too dark and bitty, used again for deep frying.

Mix together 1 cup cooked white rice, 3 tbsp plain flour, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, a pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a sprinkle of ground cardamom. Add an egg and mix in thoroughly. Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a steep sided frying pan over a medium heat. Test the heat of the oil with a few grains of the mixture – it should sizzle but not spit. Take a heaped spoonful of the mixture, smooth down the top, then slide off the spoon into the oil with your finger. Cook the calas for 3-4 minutes on either side or until brown and crispy on the outside. Remove with a slotted spoon and set on kitchen paper to drain. Sprinkle over icing sugar and eat hot.

Serves 2 as a snack.

Shakshouka

Adapted from a Riverford Farms recipe; the dish itself is of North African origin. Serves one, but is easily scaled; if you’re cooking for more than one person make a well for each egg (you’ll need to use a steep sided frying pan or a large saucepan). From start to finish, this recipe for shouldn’t take more than half an hour for one person.

In a small saucepan, fry in oil or butter over a high heat 1/2 onion, thickly sliced, for about five minutes or until softened. Then add 2/3 red bell pepper, thinly sliced and 1/2 plantain, cubed and 1 clove garlic, sliced and continue to fry until the pepper is soft. Add 1/3 cup chopped tomatoes (about 1/3 of a 400g tin), 1/4 teaspoon each of ground coriander and cumin, and a generous pinch of cayenne pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Add a little brown sugar if it is still sharp. Make a well in the vegetable mixture and crack an egg into it. Cover and simmer for five minutes, or until the egg has set. Season with black pepper before serving.

 

Eggy Buckwheat Salad

Boil 1/3 cup raw buckwheat groats and 1-2 bay leaves in water for 5-10 minutes, until softened. Strain and remove the bay leaves. Meanwhile, mix together 1 medium carrot, grated, 1/3 plantain, diced, a large handful of sweetcorn. Separate 1 egg and mix the yolk into the hot buckwheat. Fry the white in a little oil, then slice and mix into the buckwheat along with the rest of the ingredients and a dash (about 1/2 tsp) soy sauce.

Serves 1.

Variations:

  • Cous cous can be used instead of buckwheat. Pour 2/3 cup boiling water over 1/3 cup cous cous, cover, and leave to stand for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  • Any vegetables which can be eaten raw can be substituted into this recipe – thinly sliced or grated courgette, sliced olives, mushrooms, fresh peas, etc.
  • The white can be left out and used to make meringues or added to pancakes later
  • I haven’t tried this, but the plantain could probably be substituted for unripe (green) banana if plantains aren’t available