Potato-onion-cakes fried in an onion ring (AKA the real delicious potatoes)

I hang out on the Post Punk Kitchen discussion forum and from time to time spammers chance their luck, as happens with all forums. The mods are great at deleting things pretty quickly, but I sometimes click through because they are occasionally hilarious.

This morning a spammer posted two “recipes” with some extremely weird ingredients, instructions that made no sense BUT one post (entitled “potato latkes”) was accompanied by a picture that made me want gussied-up fried potatoes – it was what looked like mashed potatoes and very finely diced spring-onions or green peppers bound by a ring of onion. The other post was entitled “delicious potatoes” and was clearly a picture of latkes, so I choose to think the picture illustrating latkes was actually the one that was supposed to go with the “delicious potatoes” recipe. I didn’t have spring onions or peppers, but here’s my interpretation anyway…

Delicious potatoes before baking

Delicious potatoes before baking

Delicious potatoes - baked vs. fried

Delicious potatoes – baked vs. fried

Delicious potatoes as part of a delicious brunch

Delicious potatoes as part of a delicious brunch

How I made the delicious potatoes:

250g potatoes, boiled, drained and mashed

A single 220g onion, sliced widthwise into 4

olive oil for frying and basting

1 tsp soya sauce

1tsp balsamic vinegar

1tsp Herbamare seasoning salt

1TBS nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp smoked paprika.

Method: Take the two middle (fat) slices of onion and separate the outer rings. I used 6 rings, but you might want to use 7 or 8 instead and underfill them a little bit, because the filling stays the same size and the onion rings shrink when they’re heated, as you can see from the second picture above.

Chop up the rest of the onion and fry it on a low-medium heat in a splash of olive oil with the soya sauce and balsamic vinegar until browned and caramelised, about 12-15 minutes.

Add the onion into the mashed potato, stir in the rest of the ingredients, pack the resulting mix firmly into the onion rings and either brush with oil and bake in a medium-hot oven around 200 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or fry for 5-6 minutes on each side in a pan. I tried both, and they both taste good, I think presentation-wise the fried ones look a bit more appetising but there’s not much in it.

I wasn’t just going to eat 6 delicious potato cakes on their own (although I probably could!) so I cooked up some fancy baked beans (by fancy I just mean I spooned some from a tin and added a few peas, tomatoes, slices of garlic and chopped fresh coriander), Fry’s frankfurter-style sausages and a few fried mushrooms. Very pleasant brunch indeed!

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early supper, day 5

Since I had been hoarding the peanut butter and had so much left I decided to splurge on it, and had a nice early supper with the last of the baked potato, which I sliced up and spread quite thickly with peanut butter then heated up in the toaster oven until the edges of the peanut butter were beginning to bubble. I gathered a few more dandelion leaves, washed and tore them up and then put about 1/4 teaspoon of mustard on a fork and sort of swirled it around the wettish leaves to approximate a dressing. It wasn’t a gourmet meal by any means, but I feel better for it.

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I really should finish off the rest of the coleslaw if I’m to get enough vitamin C (100g dandelion will give about 60% rda and I think I’ve only had about 20g. I doubt there’s much left in the potatoes since those were baked Tuesday evening and it deteriorates with both heat and time) but I’m not sure if I can face it today. I might go to a supermarket and spend my last 30p on an orange!


Day two – lunch

Yesterday I opened my little tin of tomato purée. You can’t keep food in the tin once it’s open (not sure why, but I know it’s a bad idea!) so I set about decanting the rest of it after I’d used a spoonful for my soup. I thought it would fit into a handy small glass jar I’d saved from something else but it turned out there was about a tablespoon left over in the can that wouldn’t fit, so I thought I’d see if it made a difference to some quick-bread.

I filled the purée can almost to the top with water and stirred so the leftover tomato paste reconstituted nicely and then added that to 100g SR flour and about 1/8 teaspoon salt. Turns out there was too much liquid  so had to add another 50g or so of flour to make a rollable dough. I rolled it out to a couple of cm thick and baked it in a hottish oven (around 200 degrees) for about 18 minutes. I had a chunk for breakfast but about 2/3 went towards my lunch:

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I was quite pleased with this, it reminded me of a ploughman’s lunch. The tomato flavour is quite subtle, but it makes the bread a lot tastier, and to go with the bread I have red-cabbage slaw, dandelion leaves, a mustardy split-pea dip/spread (cooked split peas with pickle liquid, mustard, pinch of salt and water to thin, smushed with a hand-blender), a cold baked potato and a pickled onion.

I know I said I wouldn’t break down the cost of each meal, but just for the sake of curiosity I did it this time:

100g slaw – 5.6p

200g cooked split peas 9.4p

15g mustard (would reduce to 10g next time, it was just a bit too hot!) 2p

30g pickle liquid/an onion 2p

baked potato approx 200g – 11.6p

approx 100g flour’s worth of bread 3p

approx 15g tomato puree 2.11p

Total 35.7p


Day 1 – evening

I wasn’t planning on going anywhere by car to buy food, I was going to get it all on foot, but I unexpectedly had the opportunity of a lift to Asda where they are selling 1.5kg (which worked out to 6) potatoes on special offer for 87p, so I’ve got my spuds after all. I even got half of them baked for me!

I took the rest of my daily portion of slaw and 2 pickled onions in a container with me to serve over a potato, but ended up just eating a half-potato as I have been strangely un-hungry this evening. I will eat the rest cold over the next couple of days, but I also saved the other 3 to boil/mash/add to soup.

Since I’ve got everything I planned to, pretty much, here’s my final list for the week:

  • Tesco yellow split peas, 500g – 53p
  • Tesco value cornflakes 500g – 31p
  • Tesco value crunchy peanut butter 340g – 62p
  • Tesco value silverskin pickled onions 440g – 30p
  • Tesco value self-raising flour 1500g – 45p
  • Tesco value mustard 190g – 25p
  • Tesco value teabags (40) – 20p
  • Tesco value salt 1000g – 25p
  • Sainsburys tomato purée 142g – 20p
  • Asda ‘Extra Special’ Rudolph potatoes 1500g – 87p
  • Aldi red cabbage (weight not listed, but weighed by me at 1270g) – 45p
  • Aldi carrots 500g – 27p

That leaves me 30p as I couldn’t decide between a jar of jam, a bulb of garlic, an orange or lemon, and I was even kind of tempted to buy some Love Hearts sweets, even though they probably have even less nutritional value than the jam.

I don’t know if there’s much point in my costing out each day’s worth of food (I did make a start but it got fiddly with all the components in each thing I made), but I will run through what is left at the end of the challenge and work out the total spend and average nutritional intakes that way.

I already know I have enough here to last the 5 days in terms of calories and protein and will do roughly okay with regard to some vitamins and minerals although I’ll be falling short on a few things e.g. essential fatty acids and B12 and won’t manage to make the 5-a-day fruit and veg goal unless I eat more dandelions and other freebies.

I’m lucky to have plenty of spare time to source the cheapest item from each store, cook from scratch, and to own the equipment and know-how to carry that out, and I know that has made my cash go a lot further.


£100 Challenge – day eleven

After worrying about how I was going to get out to dinner, I ended up getting lifts both ways, so didn’t spend any money yesterday at all. I do owe those friends a lot of dinners by now, though!

Today’s weather is damp and dreary. After work this morning I was happy enough to hurry home, so no temptation to go to the shops. I’m wearing two jumpers but my hands and the tip of my nose were getting cold so I’ve momentarily succumbed to putting the central heating on. Good job that’s not part of the challenge pot.

To counteract the cold I made a quick and simple stew including the last of my potatoes which were just beginning to sprout but fortunately hadn’t gone green, with a side of quinoa and some spicy croutons on top.

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Potato, carrot and cabbage stew (3-4 servings?)

  • 1 medium onion, chopped medium-fine
  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
  • 3 smallish potatoes, cut into chunks
  • few leaves of cabbage (maybe 100g), sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Bouillon powder to taste (start with a teaspoon, I probably added more like 2-3)
  • Water

Method

Fry the onion in the oil in a medium-sized saucepan on a medium heat until starting to soften and brown, add the bouillon powder, carrots, potatoes and top up with water to cover. Turn up heat until simmering, then add the cabbage and cook until that’s done to your liking and the potatoes are cooked. Turn off the heat and add in the garlic (I like to find a balance between stinking of raw garlic, but still being able to taste it, and I find if the garlic gets added earlier it’s not very noticeable, but the residual heat takes the raw edge off. I am pretty garlic-immune these days though!)

I cut up the last bread roll from the batch I baked a few days ago to make croutons, which I fried in a small amount of olive oil, with a sprinkle of salt, smoked paprika and cayenne. This is my new favourite way of using up bread. Strictly speaking the stew hardly has enough liquid to count as a stew, and the croutons rested on a big pile of veg rather than soaking up the liquor, but they added a pleasing contrast in terms of both crunch and flavour. The quinoa was another great addition to make the whole dish a bit more hearty.

I also have bonus croutons left to snack on!


Pie-day Friday – cottage pies

I had potatoes to use up last week from the last veg delivery I got. My potato go-to is wedges, because the effort-to-taste ratio is very favourable and you don’t have to peel them, but I don’t find wedges very satisfying unless they’ve got a goodly amount of oil in the coating, whereas mash can take being lightened up without losing its main appeal. And the reason I’m talking about fat content all of a sudden is that I’m currently trying to lose weight for a ’20lb challenge’, even though the food I’ve posted so far may not make that very obvious!

So, mash on top of some kind of well-seasoned protein-and-veg goop is a standard going back through the centuries, and veg*n takes on this concept will be familiar to many people going back several decades. This may look like a very 80’s throwback thing, I prefer to think of it as a classic :p

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Cottage pie or shepherds pie? I guess the name doesn’t matter in a non-meaty version, I’ve also seen similar looking things called hunter’s pies, however my mum always makes hunter’s pies using layers of sliced potatoes, so I tried a take on that too…

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As the filling I’d made had some pureed chickpeas as well as whole ones, the texture of the slices was a better contrast.

These were a nice enough supper. The base mix was a bit average, so I won’t post a recipe, but just to give you some idea it had mushrooms, chickpeas, onions, tomato and carrot in it, and I tried out some dried chipotles for the first time as part of the seasoning – being a bit heavy handed with these was probably the reason they didn’t turn out 5-star. I’m always happy to perfect my pie technique by practising though!