Friday, December 15, 2006

Potato rosti

I have made potato rosti before, sort of. I say sort of because it failed miserably: the grated potato was just a gluey mess. We didn't even try to eat it. It must have been two or three years ago and I made it to go with a stuffed pork tenderloin; the pork worked magically despite the faff it required to stuff it but the potatoes were definitely one of my worst culinary efforts. (I have had a few culinary creations go wrong: Delia's shortbread, which fell apart; mayonnaise, whenever I've not used the Magimix; pastry, the first time I tried - it works now; there will be more, but I have forgotten them, which is presumably how my brain copes with cooking disasters so as to deny the possibility that anything can go wrong and to allow me to carry on in the kitchen). For some reason I cook best when I have a degree of (probably misplaced) confidence; if I don't imagine recipes will fail, they tend not to. Anyway cooking isn't rocket science; anyone can do it, which makes it a levelling experience. I was wondering the other day why I like it: I hated cookery at school, which was taught by a woman we all called the Poison Dwarf (because she was small and, well, poisonous), and the Poison Dwarf never quite gave you all the information you needed to make a dish, and then would yell at you or put you on lunchtime litter picking duty if you tried to make a cake in the wrong sized tin, or burnt your fingers on the cooker. She never liked me much anyway (mainly because I was useless!) but then my mother who was also a teacher, albeit not of cookery and in a different school, met her on some training course and let slip that we called her the Poison Dwarf. That didn't really help our relationship to develop in a positive way. I learnt to cook when I left school and could mess things up without danger of having to pick up crisp packets and sweet wrappers all the way around a wet playground. I think I like cooking partly because for me it tends to involve reading, and recipes are very readable (unlike technical instructions, say); when you read a recipe you immediately begin to imagine what the end product will look and taste like, so it is an intensely bodily experience. I didn't salivate on reading Jamie's rosti recipe - it wasn't one of the ones that made me desperately eager to try it - but it definitely looked nice.

I made the rosti to go with salmon marinaded in pomegranate molasses, honey and soy (a Nigella recipe) at least partly because I remembered that pomegranate molasses in the back of the cupboard. To cook the rosti, I peeled the potatoes and sliced them into matchsticks - this, Jamie says, makes the dish less gluey than grating them would. I heated olive oil and a knob of butter in a small oven proof frying pan and then tossed the potatoes, garlic cloves and rosemary leaves in the oil and butter and cooked them in the frying pan, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes until softened slightly. The garlic posed a dilemma: the recipe instructed me to keep the cloves whole but peel them, whereas the picture quite clearly showed unpeeled cloves, so I went for personal preference and kept the cloves unpeeled as I think it makes them nicer after roasting. After the ten minutes, I transferred the pan to the preheated oven and cooked for 25 minutes, after which I removed the pan from the oven and pressed the rosti down with dampened greaseproof to compact it. At this point, the greaseproof began to stick to the rosti. This was the same greaseproof that I used for the swiss roll - it is obviously completely useless. I have never had problems with greaseproof before, but previously I was using a Lakeland version and before that an M and S version; rest assured I am going to buy a different brand before I need to use it again. Anyway I managed to peel the greaseproof off eventually and put the pan back in the oven for another 25 minutes.

While I was making the rosti, I was also decorating the Christmas tree, which we finally got round to putting up. I wasn't concentrating on the rosti - I was more interested in choosing which bauble to put where. This might explain how it is that I managed to burn it, slightly.


In the end the burnt bits weren't at all horrible - the whole dish was very nice. It didn't stick to the pan at all and it was easy enough to cut. This is an easy potato dish which I will make again (and try not to burn it next time!).

The other reason I was a bit distracted while making the rosti was that I have bought a Kitchenaid artisan mixer. I became obsessed with them and desperately wanted one; in a fit of greedy naughtiness I went and bought myself one. I haven't had time even to take it out of the box yet, but as soon as I do, I will be trying out one of those recipes that take an eternity with a bogstandard hand held electric mixer and getting a bit over excited.

40 comments:

FreyaE said...

Kathryn,
I can't wait to read about your experiments with the Kitchenaid! I hope you have freed it from it's box shackles by now....
Paul has another name for Potato Rosti: Hash Browns. It's pretty much the same thing. We have them in tortillas with cheese, sour cream, guacamole and salsa for breakfast - delicious! Not at all the same as those dreadful triangle shaped hash browns that you get in greasy spoons here!
Freya

thegrem said...

Ah, the Poison Dwarf. I remember returning to school after having left, accidentally walking into her classroom and being barked at in no uncertain terms. And despite being an adult to all intents and purposes, she still had the ability to frighten the bejesus out of me. Happy (!) days

I love potato rosti and have always grated them previously, this (matchsticks) looks like the key to making them like the Germans/Swiss/austrians do!! Good job Jamie and Kathryn!

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