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Mashed sweet potatoes with banana and rum

Don’t be put off by the “baby-food” look of this dish. The flavor is FAR from baby food! It’s from the Silver Palate cook book and is a super addition to the Holiday table.

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8 cups peeled, diced sweet potatoes
3 ripe bananas
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 tbsp rum
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
salt to taste
1 cup sliced almonds

Place the sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan and add water to cover. Cook covered until very tender. Drain.

Cut the bananas into 1 inch pieces and puree in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the hot potatoes, 4 tbsp of the butter, the rum and the brown sugar.
Process until smooth. Add the grated nutmeg and salt to taste and process just to blend. Keep warm.

Melt the remaining 2 tbsp butter in a small skillet. Add the almonds and sauté until lightly browned. Sprinkle wth a little salt.
Top each serving of the sweet potato with a generous amount of toasted almonds or scatter the whole dish with them.

Baked porcini mushrooms and potatoes

Rich, earthy, woody and fabulous to have with roasted or grilled meats and a salad. This recipe is from the River Cafe in London.

Serves 6

5oz dried porcini mushrooms. (See below for soaking instructions)
3lbs medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
1 tbsp olive oil
5 oz Ghee, clarified butter or butter
6 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked from the stalks and washed

Preheat the oven to 400F

Cut the potatoes in half lengthways and into quarters lengthways if they are too big. Wash and pat dry.
Soak the porcini mushrooms in 2 pints (1 liter) boiled water for 20 minutes, then strain, retaining the liquid.
Strain the liquid through a fine sieve. Rinse the porcini mushrooms under running cold water to get rid of any remaining grit. Dry well on paper towels.

In a thick-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter/ghee over medium/low. When the butter starts to foam, add the garlic and soften for a minute of two before adding the porcini.
Cook, stirring to prevent sticking, for a few minutes before adding the strained porcini liquid.
There will be a lot of liquid, which needs to reduce and thicken for about 7-8 mins.

Now add the potatoes. Coat them in the juices the gently stir and cook for around 15 to 20 minutes.
The potatoes should begin to take on the color of the porcini juices.

Remove the pan and tip everything into roasting trays.
Season with salt, pepper and the fresh thyme, stir gently and bake for another 30 mins.

Test the potatoes with a skewer to make sure they are tender.

Crispy potato, olive and caper bake

This is such a lovely mixture of flavors and again, really not difficult to make.
Paired with some grilled meat or poultry, you have a pretty gorgeous meal

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2lbs Jersey Royal or Baby Yukon potatoes
A handful small capers
2 x handfuls pitted black olives (Please, not those awful canned ones!)
1 tbsp thyme leaves
A medium bunch rosemary, broken into sprigs
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Heat oven to 450 F
Boil the potatoes until the softer side of cooked, about 12 mins.
Drain, slice in half, then tip into a bowl. Tip the capers, olives and herbs on top of the potatoes then add most of the oil and a some seasoning.
Stir together, lightly crushing the potatoes.
Line a medium Swiss roll-type tin with baking parchment, leaving some hanging over the sides.
Tip the potatoes into the tin and flatten down. Mix the vinegar and remaining oil, drizzle over the potatoes, then bake for 40 mins until golden.


Blue cheese potato chips

You will not be able to resist these from the “Food 52” website.

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Serves 4 to 6

1 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 bag sturdy potato chips, like Kettel Chips or Cape Cod
Chives,chopped finely to sprinkle over as you are serving
Black pepper

Turn your oven on to Broil.
Heat cream, milk, and blue cheese in a saucepan over low heat until the blue cheese just dissolves.
Spread the potato chips out on a lipped sheet pan — line it with a sheet of parchment paper or a silpat to help with cleanup later.
Pour the cheese mixture over the potato chips, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and broil in the oven until the sauce is bubbly and bronzed in parts. Sprinkle with the chopped chives,
Serve alongside napkins

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Chicken with potatoes, prunes and pomegranate molasses

Again, here is another gem from Yotam Ottolenghi with a stunning mixture of flavors.
It is SO easy that you just throw everything into a bowl, mix well together then throw into a large baking/roasting dish. Bingo!
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Serves 4 to 6

8 whole chicken legs (each with a drumstick and thigh attached, about 4 1/2 lbs in all)
16 medium fingerling or baby Yukon potatoes, peeled
3 large onions, peeled and quartered
5 oz pitted prunes
3 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce
6 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp maple syrup
5 oz sweet mango chutney
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 1/2 tbsp oregano sprigs, plus a few picked for garnish

Heat the oven to 400 F
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, then tip it all into a large ovenproof roasting or baking dish.
Cover with a lid or thick foil and bake for 40 minutes.
Lower the heat to 350 F, remove the foil and cook for 1 1/2 more hours, stirring every now and then. If it starts to burn a bit, replace the foil or lid.

When the time is up, remove the dish from the oven, stir once more, cover and set aside for at least 15 minutes to rest and allow the flavors to mingle. Garnish with a few oregano leaves and serve with a sharp green salad and some good bread to mop up the lovely juices

Simple roast chicken traybake with spiced potatoes and olives

I love roasted tray bakes, they are easy to make and are so versatile. Here is another version, and the flavors are beautifully intense.

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Serves 4
1 bay leaf, crushed
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 1/2 lb fingerling potatoes, halved
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 whole chicken legs (leg and thigh attached) about 3lbs
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley leaves with stems
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

* You will need a small spice mill, like a coffee grinder. It’s worth buying a second one and devoting it to grinding spices.

Preheat the oven to 450 F
Pulse the bay leaf, fennel seeds and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes in a spice mill until finely ground.
Toss the halved potatoes, olives, 2 tbsp oil and half of the spice mixture in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.
Place the chicken mixture on a rimmed baking sheet and rub with remaining 2 tbsp oil; season with salt and pepper and rub with the remaining spice mixture.
Arrange potato mixture around the chicken. Roast until the potatoes are fork-tender, chicken is cooked through, and the skin is crisp, 35 – 45 minutes.
Serve chicken and potato mixture topped with parsley, lemon zest and more red pepper flakes, if desired.
Spoon the pan juices around and serve.

Baby potatoes baked in a piquant Asian sauce


We ate at an old establishment in Pasadena the other day called “The Raymond” I wouldn’t rush out to eat there again, but I did like the way they did their potatoes. The idea was great, but it needed the Tastetickler Treatment with more of an “in your face” flavor!

Serves 2
1/2lb baby Yukon potatoes, or even the smaller Pee Wee ones, left unpeeled
3 to 4 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
1 tsp (or more if you like garlic) finely chopped garlic
1/2 to 1 tsp fresh red chilli, chopped fine
A pinch of sugar
3 tbsp or more soy sauce
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
6 scallions, green and white parts sliced on the diagonal, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 F
Parboil the potatoes in salted boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and tip them into a shallow roasting dish and set aside.
In a medium pan, put in some more olive oil and fry the garlic and chilli for 30 seconds over medium heat.
Add a little salt, sugar, the soy sauce, chilli sauce and tomato ketchup, constantly stirring. Pour this mixture over the potatoes, stirring and coating everything, then add the toasted sesame seeds. Roast for about 15 to 20 minutes, checking after 15 minutes.
When cooked and toasty, remove and garnish them with the scallions, a few more sesame seeds and serve


Ultimate roast potatoes

You will never need another recipe after making these!  A polenta crust and cooking in duck fat ensures the roast potatoes are perfectly crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside

Serves 6
4lbs  potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold
8 tbsp duck fat
5 tbsp polenta grains

Preheat the oven to 400 F
Parboil the potatoes in salted water for about 10 minutes or until slightly tender when tested with a knife.
Drain well, return to the pan and cover with the lid.
Shake the  pan fairly vigorously to roughen the outsides of the potatoes.
Spoon the duck fat into a large roasting tin and place in the oven for 5 minutes or until the fat is hot and melted.
Sprinkle the polenta over the potatoes and toss to coat (this will make them extra crispy). Carefully tip the polenta-coated potatoes into the roasting tin and turn gently to coat in the hot duck fat.
Roast for about 45 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown.





French potato, bacon and Reblochon Tart (Tartiflette)

This is like having a big earthy, creamy, comforting hug. Something we ALL need occasionally, so treat yourself!
Roblochon cheese is a soft washed-rind cheese from the French Alps. You can get it in good cheese stores, or online and occasionally even really good supermarkets have it, but if you really HAVE to substitute it, then try an Epoisse or a Chaumes.

Serves 6 to 8

3 tbsp unsalted butter
8 oz slab bacon, cut into 1” strips about 1/2” thick
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 lbs yukon gold or waxy potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
kosher salt and ground pepper
1 lb reblochon cheese, sliced 1/4” think

Heat the oven to 375 F
Grease an oval 2 1/2 qt casserole dish with 2 tbsp butter.
Heat the remaining butter and the bacon in a 12”skillet over medium heat.
Cook until the bacon is slightly crispy, 10 to 12 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.
Add the onion and cook until slightly caramelized, 7 to 10 minutes.
Add the wine and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat to medium, cook until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the potatoes, salt and pepper and cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Spread half the potato mixture evenly in the prepared dish and top with half each of the reserved bacon and the cheese.
Repeat with the remaining potato mixture, bacon and cheese and bake until the top is browned and the filling is bubbling, about 30 minutes.

A “one pot meal”- Baked bacon wrapped sausages with sweet potato and fennel

A gem from the BBC Good Food website, and all thrown together in one baking dish.
How easy is this to do when you get home from work!

Serves 4

1lb sweet potatoes, roughly chopped into medium sized chunks
1 bulb fennel, chopped into 1/4 inch slices
3 large garlic cloves
1 tsp celery seeds
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
3 tbsp olive oil
8 good quality sausages of your choice
8 thick rashers of bacon
1 tbsp plain flour (or GF flour)
4 fl oz apple juice
2 fl oz dry white wine
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs fresh thyme or fennel fronds if you can find them

Preheat the oven to 400 F

Place the sweet potato and fennel in a large roasting tin with the garlic, celery seeds and brown sugar.
Drizzle over the olive oil and give everything a good muddle so all the vegetables are coated and seasoned well.

Wrap each sausage in a rasher of bacon so it looks mummified and then nestle them in with the vegetables.
Roast the whole lot in the oven for about 25 minutes

Lightly sprinkle over the flour and jiggle the tin until it’s disappeared and has been incorporated among the vegetables.
Pour over the apple juice, white wine and balsamic vinegar, add the herbs, then continue to roast for a further 20 minutes until everything is cooked through and the sauce is thickened.
Check for seasoning and serve immediately