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
3 brown onions, peeled and sliced thinly
3 tbls olive oil
1 kg potatoes
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.