Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Sweet fun with Potatoes.

Methinks I have neglected the potato lately, which is not laudable, given that this blog has a special archive called Fun With Potatoes.

Once, long ago, I made coconut ice with potatoes: it was not memorable and has never been repeated. Nevertheless, it demonstrated the great adaptability of the potato to sweet as well as savoury dishes – thanks to all that high-carb (Shhh!!) starch.

Potatoes were adapted for use in bread in Europe in the eighteenth century, the starch eking out the more expensive wheat flour. The result was nutritionally very acceptable, but rather more dense and damp than pure wheat bread – and very suitable, according to the mores of the time, for feeding the poor. Taking advantage of the starch in potatoes in sweet baked dishes (apart from in pies) came later. By the mid-nineteenth century, the one-time chef to Queen Victoria, Charles Elmé Francatelli included the following very elegant recipes in his book The Modern Cook (1846)

Bake eighteen large York potatoes, and when done, rub their pulp through a wire sieve; put this into a large basin, add four ounces of butter, eight ounces of sifted sugar, a spoonful of pounded vanilla, a gill of cream, the yolks of six eggs and the whipped whites of two, and a little salt; work the whole well together, and then place it in a mould previously spread with butter, and strewn with bread crumbs; bake the cake for about an hour, and when done, dish it up with a fruit sauce poured round the base, made in the following manner:-
Pick one pound of either currants, raspberries, cherries, damsons, strawberries, or apricots; place them in a stewpan with eight ounces of sifted sugar and half a gill of water; boil the whole down to the consistency of a thick pureé, and then rub it through a sieve or tammy.

Ingredients: Six ounces of potato flour, ten ounce of sugar, four ounces of butter one pint of cream or milk, twelve eggs, two sticks of vanilla, and a little salt. Put the milk or cream to boil, then throw in the vanilla; cover the stew pan with its lid and allow the infusion to stand for about half an hour in order to extract the flavour of the vanilla. Next put the potato flour, the sugar, butter, salt, and one egg into a stewpan, and mix the whole well together; then add the milk and the vanilla, and stir the preparation on the stove fire until it boils, when it must be worked with the spoon to make it perfectly smooth; after adding the yolks of ten eggs, set it aside while the ten whites are being whipped quite firm, and then add these in with the soufflé batter pour the whole lightly into a soufflé dish, having a broad band of buttered cartridge paper round the outside, and then set it in the oven to bake: this will take about three quarters of an hour. When the soufflé is done, place it (on its baking sheet) upon another baking sheet covered with hot embers of charcoal, and let it be thus carried to the dining room door; just before dishing it up remove the bands of paper, shake some sifted sugar over the top, place it in the soufflé dish and serve immediately.
Note: Soufflés of flour, ground rice, semolina, arrow- root, tapioca, tous les mois (a kind of potato flour, ) should all be prepared as the above substituting either of these for the potato flour. Soufflés may be flavoured with orange, lemon, cinnamon, orange-flowers ,or with any kind of essence or liqueur

Quotation for the Day.

What I'm doing here is seeking to offer protection from life, solely through the means of potato, butter and cream... there are times when only mashed potato will do.
Nigella Lawson.


Heiko said...

I'm following a blog of an American chef in Australia: He's just posted on potatoes and he reckons there's a gap in the market for a book on the history of potatoes. There's a thought maybe?

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Heiko - there is indeed a gap; all I need is the time to put it together, I have plenty of historic recipes!