Mormon Funeral Potatoes

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Funeral potatoes*… I couldn’t resist the name of these. My mother would have loved this, it has her favourite culinary ingredients in it – soup and crisps – and definitely would have been considered the height of sophisticated cooking in the 1970’s. However I have changed two of the ingredients because frozen hash brown potatoes, definitely not the same thing as the odd little triangle things we can buy, is not available in the UK and the other (condensed tinned soup) is a substitute for a white sauce and we can all make a white sauce. Honestly, we can. To replicate the frozen potato I reckoned that this would be very similar to the grated potato you use for rösti. So that’s what I’ve done.

A lot of recipes tell you to mix parmesan into the topping but I’m not keen on toasted parmesan, I prefer cheddar so that’s what I used. It does need good strong flavoured cheese so use whatever you like. I ended up using a mix of extra strong cheddar, some parmesan and the end of a piece of Stilton. And I think you could take it further – add some chopped ham, or smoked mackerel perhaps and a bit of mustard. Or some chopped gherkins.

The verdict from H was ‘This is nice. Tastes a bit like the middle of a cheese and onion pie’ And indeed it does.

You will need an oven proof baking dish, lightly buttered. This amount would serve 4-6 people as part of a meal.

4 baking potatoes
1 small onion, finely diced
50g butter
50g plain flour
500ml milk
1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder or a crumbled chicken stock cube
200g creme fraiche
Seasoning
150g strong flavoured cheese – or a mix of cheeses, grated
Salted Kettle Chips – about half a large bag

Put the whole, unpeeled potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring up to the boil. Then simmer for about 20-25 mins until they are just tender enough to poke with a knife. Do not cook until completely soft. Drain and leave to cool.

Once the potatoes are cool melt the butter in another saucepan and fry the onion gently until softened. Tip in the flour and stir into the onion and butter mixture. Then add the milk in two batches, whisking briskly each time. Once the milk is in, add the stock powder or cube and allow to simmer over a low heat for 2 or three minutes before adding the cheese. Stir it all together then turn off the heat and allow the cheese to melt for a few moments before whisking in the creme fraiche. Taste and season.

Grate the potatoes on the coarse side of a box grater straight into the buttered baking dish. You can pull the skins off before doing this if you prefer but I found that they mostly just fell off anyway. Discard any skins which don’t go through the grater.

Pour over the cheese and onion sauce and throughly mix into the potato. You may not need all of the sauce**

Crush up the Kettle chips and scatter over the top of the dish** then scatter with a little more grated cheddar if liked.

Bake at in the top half of a 190ºC oven for approximately 35-40 mins or until browned and bubbling. When it comes out of the oven it will be going at quite a rate so allow the dish to sit and settle for 10 mins before eating. I sprinkled mine with some cayenne pepper for a bit of spice, paprika would do perfectly well if you don’t like heat.

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*This dish is so called because it is often served at funerals in the Mormon community in the US

**In one of those marvellous twists of fate it would appear that any leftover sauce makes and excellent dip for any leftover Kettle Chips. Kismet. You are most welcome.

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One Pot Wonder

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This is just so comforting. It’s a take on a classic dish called Cabbage in the Trôo Style, which is simply cabbage and sausages baked together for around two and a half hours until you have something butter-soft and utterly delicious. It seems almost impossible that just these two ingredients and a bit of butter can make something so good. But then I realised that a bacon sandwich is exactly that. And bangers and mash. And….Hey ho.

I’ve just hoiked the two ingredient thing up a notch – basically it’s now five-ish – by adding some sliced onions, some sliced potatoes and a couple of other flavours to make it a one pot dish. I don’t think garlic works here but by all means use some if you wish. Just 10 minutes to prepare and then two and a half hours in the oven, but a bit longer won’t hurt if you’ve gone out to do something and left it to pootle away whilst you are busy. It’s perfect for a weekend lunch or a midweek evening meal. Serve it with other vegetables if you like but I think it’s perfect just as it is. Please don’t faint at the amount of butter, it’s necessary and adds its own particular flavour and wonderfulness to the end result. Do not, under any circumstances, use margarine. We can’t be friends if you do.

As usual quantities are a bit fluid. Don’t be a slave to this list – more or less of any ingredient won’t matter at all. If you need to feed more people, just increase the quantities and maybe up the spuds a bit. I use unpeeled baking potatoes because of the L factor and you get good coverage fast but substitute a similar weight of any potato you like.

And in case you are sceptical about this, my cabbage hating (weird) but spinach loving (?) daughter really likes it, however she prefers it with some cream in the mix because she doesn’t do spicy. I know. If it wasn’t for the fact that she is the spitting image of me I’d swear she was swapped at birth. If you think you would like it less spicy too then either leave out the chillies or temper the heat by pouring over a little double cream before you eat.

Sausage and Cabbage Bake

Serves 2

1 white or green cabbage – say about 1.5 kg
2 baking potatoes, thinly sliced. Peeled if wished.
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
6 high quality sausages, skins removed and flattened out
1 heaped tsp of fennel seeds – caraway seeds also work well
1/2 tsp chipotle chilli flakes
seasoning
100g butter, sliced

Quarter the cabbage and remove the core. Slice thickly then cut across to make chunky pieces.

Bring about 200ml of water to the boil and add some salt, then tip in the cabbage, stir well, cover with a lid and cook for 4 minutes. Then drain into a colander.

Butter an oven proof dish – I used a cast iron casserole but anything oven proof will do. If it’s wide and shallow just do one layer.

Start by adding a layer of cabbage followed by a scattering of fennel (or caraway) seeds and some chilli flakes. Dot with five thin slices of butter and lay over three flattened, skinned sausages followed by the slices (or equivalent) of one baking potato. Season with salt and pepper.

Repeat the layers.

Add more thin slices of butter to the top layer of potatoes, season with salt and pepper and cover with a lid or foil.

Bake for 2 hours at 170ºC (160ºC fan) Gas mark 3ish or until a knife goes in easily.

Discard the lid and give it another 30 mins at 200ºC (180ºC fan) or Gas mark 6 until crispy around the edges.

 

Quick and Easy: Kebab, Salad and Bread

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I do this meal regularly at the weekend – usually after a few sharpeners early doors. With a bit of organisation and two minutes of prep earlier in the day (or the night before) the whole thing can be done in around 30 minutes.

I’m a great believer in using things which make life easier and two ingredients here I use a lot in all sorts of different dishes – ginger and garlic paste from a jar and a bottle of piri piri sauce. I use Nandos but any will do fine. The trick is to get lots of flavour into the marinade and this really works well. The result isn’t particularly spicy but if you are worried about heat leave out the piri piri and add the grated zest of a lemon or lime instead. I used to use yogurt but I think mayonnaise works better, feel free to substitute yoghurt if you prefer.

The flatbread is so easy, just two ingredients (3 if you count salt). Make sure the pan isn’t too hot – a medium high heat is fine –  and don’t use too much oil, just wipe the pan with a bit of oil on some kitchen roll. If you like you can flavour it with things – garlic, sesame seeds, lemon zest, chopped fresh herbs. Whatever takes your fancy.

I like to add a bowl of salad too, mainly because I don’t think you can ever have too much veg. It’s usually a bag of leaves with cherry tomatoes, cucumber and radishes dressed in a little oil and vinegar. The cabbage and red onion mix is very similar to the ‘salad’ you get at the kebab shop.

And I always always have to have pickled chillies with mine. It’s the law.

Chicken Kebab, salad and flatbread

For roughly 16 pieces:

1 pack of chicken tenders or three skinless chicken breasts cut into pieces
4 tbs mayonnaise
2 tbs garlic and ginger paste
2 tbs piri piri sauce
1/2 tsp chipotle chilli flakes
1tbs each of chopped fresh coriander and mint

1/2 small white cabbage, stem removed, finely sliced
1/2 small red cabbage, stem removed, finely sliced
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
salt
Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup (250ml) self raising flour
1 cup (250ml) full fat Greek yoghurt
Salt

I use a large Ziploc bag but any bowl will do if you haven’t got one.

Put the chicken, mayonnaise, paste, sauce, chilli flakes and chopped herbs into the bag or bowl and squish or stir until the chicken is evenly coated. Zip the bag closed or cover the bowl. Refrigerate until needed.

Mix together the cabbage, onion, lemon juice and salt. Cover and set aside.

Mix the self raising flour with a pinch of salt, then work in the yoghurt. It will be quite a claggy mess to start with but after about 30 seconds it should come together. If it’s really sticky sprinkle over a little more flour and work it in. Cover the dough and allow to rest for 20 minutes or so while you cook the chicken.

Preheat the grill to its highest setting.

Place the chicken pieces on an oven tray and grill on both sides until deep golden brown. If it goes black in a few places that’s absolutely fine, it all adds to the flavour. Turn off the grill but leave the chicken in there to keep warm.

Put a nonstick frying pan on a medium high heat and wipe with a little oil on a piece of kitchen paper.

Divide the bread dough into four pieces and roll out thinly, sprinkle with flour to stop it sticking if necessary. Cook each one for a minute or so on each side or until golden and cooked through.

Put everything in the middle of the table for people to help themselves.

Enjoy!