Monday, November 24, 2008

Mashed Potato, Mashed Potato...

One of my favourite books is "Heartburn" by Nora Ephron (of "Harry Met Sally" fame), which later became a Meryl Streep film. In it she talks about how, for her, the phases of a love affair are always marked by potatoes. "In the end, I always want potatoes. Mashed potatoes. Nothing like mashed potatoes when you are feeling blue. Nothing like getting into bed with a bowl of hot mashed potatoes already loaded with butter, and methodically adding a cold thin slice of butter to every forkful. The problem with mashed potatoes, though, is that they require almost as much hard work as crisp potatoes, and when you are feeling blue, the last thing you feel like is hard work. Of course, you can always get someone to make the mashed potatoes for you, but lets face it: the reason you are blue is that there isn't anyone to make them for you. As a result, most people do not have nearly enough mashed potatoes in their lives, and when they do, it's almost always at the wrong time."

I think mashed potatoes are comfort food extraordinaire, and pair very well with everything from roasted salmon to BBQ beef to the old favourite of sausages. This recipe makes the mashed potato a little bit more of a star in the meal because of the additional flavours and textures. It comes from "Vogue Wine and Food Cookbook: A Book of Modern Food" by Joan Campbell (Conde Nast 1995). This recipe is my entry into Novel Food, a food event that calls on bloggers to make something inspired by their reading.

Mashed Potatoes With Onions and Pine Nuts
(serves 6)

3 brown onions, peeled and sliced thinly
3 tbls olive oil
1 kg potatoes
150g butter
70ml milk (or more to taste)
3 tbl toasted pine nuts

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and fry the onions over medium to high heat, tossing frequently until they are cooked and some of the onion is crisp and golden. Season to taste. Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender and then drain. Add the butter, some milk and salt and pepper and mash. Beat the potatoes with a fork until they are light and fluffy, adding more milk and seasoning as required. Serve the potatoes covered with the onions and the oil the onions were cooked in. Sprinkle with pine nuts. Grind over some pepper.


Kirsten said...

I've never thought to top mashed potatoes, what a great idea. Those look fantastic!

Patty said...

YUM! I have to say that I never used to be a mashed potato girl (more of a french fry gal)...however, they have grown on me...will give this one a try...I did one once with some truffles for a dinner party and they were divine....

Debinhawaii said...

I think pine nuts are my new favorite ingredient--they look fab on mashed potatoes!

Andrea said...

I made mashed potatoes today and everyone raved for such a simple dish, makes me wonder why I don't make them more often. Never had pine nuts on mashed potatoes, they sound like a nice pairing. I had to tell you thanks for the title of this post, now I have the Wiggles song stuck in my head :)

Rachel said...

I'm so glad you will be joining us at the Cook the Books club with La Cucina. I see that you get culinary inspiration from books and in a very delicious way!

There is another books into food blog event going on at Simona's cool blog, Briciole, where you chose a book and then cook from it. It's called Novel Food and you might consider submitting this recipe there.

Looking forward to your La Cucina post!

Simona said...

I love the excerpt you chose. And of course, I love mashed potatoes. Thanks to Rachel for suggesting our event to you and thanks to you for participating.

Lisa said...

That quote is so right-on! Having just had mashed potatoes for our Thanksgiving holiday, I must say I agree that we don't have them often enough. I put some horseradish in mine, but your version with the onions and the pine nuts takes mashed potatoes to a whole other level.

Thanks very much for taking part in our Novel Food event. I just love seeing what everyone makes and hearing about the books. I can't believe I haven't read Heartburn; must get my hands on it soon.