JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Monday, January 29, 2007

Three root mash, for Lettice

On Saturday, we went temporarily mad, and drove for a couple of hours to watch Alfred play hockey in Cheltenham. Lettice was very keen to see him play, and this was the only opportunity she would have this term. So off we went, leaving the house straight after a late breakfast (kippers, great start to the weekend). On the way, we stopped at the Kilkenny Inn*, which is just outside Cheltenham, where we had a good, home-cooked lunch (soup for Lucius, steak sandwich for Lettice, chicken Caesar for me) whilst reading the papers.

Lettice found a recipe for three root mash. "Let's have that for lunch tomorrow." "Well, we're having mashed potato tonight." "Please, please, PLEASE." And so we did. With game stew, made with a mix of venison, pheasant and partridge bought from my wonderful butcher Gabriel Machin* in Henley.

We didn't read the recipe properly, I don't even know which paper it was in. We just made it up as we went along: I peeled and chunked equal quantities of carrot and parsnip, then boiled them until they were tender. Meanwhile, I peeled some potatoes, roughly the same amount as the combined carrot and parsnip. These I cooked separately. When I drained the carrot and parsnip, I kept the cooking water. Then I blitzed them in the Magimix, adding a little cooking water. Meanwhile, I drained and mashed the potatoes, again using some of the saved cooked water to loosen the mixture(I didn't keep the potato water because it's so starchy). And then I combined them. The result was a beautiful orangey-mash, sweet to taste, and particularly good with the venison.

We also ate a cauliflower gratin (steamed cauli, bathed in a bechamel made with olive oil and skimmed milk), and topped with rosemary citrus salt (I thought I'd posted this before, but I haven't, so the "recipe" follows), braised leeks (chopped into rings, and gently stewed in olive oil), and red cabbage from the night before.

The rosemary citrus salt is one of a number of useful things to keep in the fridge and use where you might once have used cheese. It takes moments to prepare, and keeps forever in a little plastic box in the fridge. Put 100g Maldon sea crystals in a mortar, add the finely grated zest of a lemon and an orange (at this time of year a Seville orange might by extra tang-y), and the chopped leaves of a couple of twigs of rosemary. Bash it all up until you get a sticky mess, then spread it out thinly onto a baking tray. It needs to dry out before you can store it, so I put it on top of my Aga for a few hours, but anywhere warm and dry would do. It goes on lots of things, to make them a little more exciting - fish, lamb, gratins - and makes a change from anchovy breadcrumbs, another stalwart of this kitchen.

*Neither of these excellent establishments has a website, although they both appear in various listing sites

PS Alfred won't thank me for telling you, but his team lost

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