Potatoes – so many varieties, so much to choose from. At times I’ve been sadly disappointed in the potatoes I’ve bought in good faith , especially when buying them by the 10kg bagful. Often they have been less than satisfactory – bruised or with a great hole in the middle, sprouting shoots and/or unpleasant to eat. It’s for this reason that it makes god sense to buy directly from the grower if possible – farm gates stalls are ideal, or find out the outlet for the the local growers.
This was doubly reinforced to me this week when I received a bag of potatoes from our friend Darren Mace from the north-west coast of Tasmania. He grows them on his small property in Kindred, about ten kilometres inland from the town of Ulverstone.
The potatoes are Dutch Creams he tells me, and they are without exaggeration the best I have ever worked with. Darren says that it is sad that “due to an over supply this year and cheap processing potatoes on the fresh market it looks like I will have to dump around 15 ton of these to the cattle due to no market.”
Such a shame that more people will not get to enjoy them. I’ve become addicted to mashed potato once more. Plus, they roast like a dream, forming a delicious crunchy crust without the need to parboil then first.
Today in Hobart I was able to find some delicious fresh trevalla fillets. From these I made, amongst other things, a curried fish pie, topped with creamy mashed potatoes and grated cheese in place of puff pastry.
I can’t wait to try making gnocchi. Then there will be potatoes Anna, gratin, potato bake – the list is endless.
Oh yes, I almost forgot – a few days ago I made pumpkin soup, quick and easy weekend fare, especially as we are in the process of moving house. Despite the fact that the pumpkin had been dark of flesh, a usual indicator of a very promising soup, the flavour was a little lacking. I remembered that I had about ¾ cup mashed potato in the fridge leftover from dinner the night before. I mixed this into the soup and hey presto! – immediate flavour boost, delicious.
So I hope that anyone reading this is fortunate enough to be able to find as good potatoes as I’ve had the luxury of experiencing this past week. It has been like stepping back in time to my childhood when potatoes were the highlight of a meal, always guaranteed to bring a smile to hungry faces.
Finally, if you would like to buy some of Darren’s potatoes, you can contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org – there are many outlets around the state that stock them apparently.
Curried Fish and Potato Bake
This pie will serve 4 to 6 people.
If you are using leftover mashed potato for the topping, you may need to add a little milk so that it spreads over the fish filling more easily.
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 teaspoons butter
1 leek (white part only) or 1 small onion, diced
1 small red capsicum, diced
1 teaspoon curry powder (any sort)
½ to ¾ teaspoon good quality chicken stock powder
300 to 400g fresh white fish fillets (such as monkfish, ling or trevalla)
1 cup milk
3 teaspoons cornflour mixed to a paste with 1 tablespoon cold milk
3 teaspoons lemon juice
3 teaspoons chutney (any sort)
½ cup grated tasty cheese
Pinch sugar, optional
2 cups creamy mashed potatoes, approximately
¼ to ½ cup grated tasty cheese, extra
Grease a 20cm casserole (or similar) dish. Heat oven to 170°C (fan forced – 20° more if not).
Heat the oil and butter together over medium-low heat and sauté the leek or onion with the capsicum for 5 minutes, then add the fish and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the curry powder and stock powder and cook for one minute, then add the milk.
Bring to the boil, then stir in the cornflour paste until thickened. Stir in the lemon juice, chutney and grated cheese. Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of sugar if needed (this will depend on how sour your lemon was).
Pour into the casserole dish and cover with the mashed potato. (If it doesn’t spread too well, just dollop it over). Sprinkle with the extra grated cheese and bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the potato heated through.
I like this served with parsnip puree and steamed green beans, but any seasonal vegetables or salad would also be delicious.