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

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Frozen roast potatoes

We're having a bit of a water crisis here - multiple leaks. Thankfully in the garden, but water pouring out of various pipes. We think Thames Water must have changed the pressure, otherwise why would so many taps and pipes spring leaks simultaneously?

Lucius is hard at work mending them ... it's a struggle, because he's had to work out where the pipes go (we hired a machine which was a 21st century take on a water diviner - our mains water comes in diagonally under the house, and there's a leak in the pipe) ... then dig deep holes, then pump out the water, and only then start sorting out the problems. And so the water is often switched off at weekends. Which makes life tricky in the kitchen.

Roast lamb for lunch today. Couldn't make roast potatoes - you need water to wash off the grainy red earth which locates them as lovely Devon produce. Panic. Rushed out to the supermarket and bought - frozen roast potatoes. I couldn't bring myself to look at the ingredients until I'd got them home and into the oven.

Potato 88%, vegetable oil, batter (wheat flour; modified potato starch; modified tapioca starch; rice flour; salt; skimmed milk powder; dextrose; Colours: curcumin, capsanthin), hydrogenated vegetable oil.


Not very inspiring, somehow.

I didn't tell the others what I'd done. I asked them what they thought. Good golden colour (although Horatio thought it was suspiciously uniform). Fake. Despite being made from real potatoes (what other kind are there?). Not as nice as yours (phew!). Funny texture. A little like that story Nigel Slater tells in Toast about how he came home from school looking forward to mash for dinner, and found that he was eating a form of wallpaper paste - his stepmother had bought Smash for the first time.

So we won't be doing that again. Next weekend, I'll make sure I've prepared the potatoes before the water goes off - you can peel potatoes a couple of days in advance and keep them covered in water in the fridge, although it's a good idea to change the water after 24 hours. Useful if you've got a huge crowd coming.

Having said all that, I was intrigued by the idea of coating roasties with batter. It reminded me of recipes where the parboiled potatoes are rolled in semolina to give them extra crunch. So I'll try that next time we have roast potatoes ... although if anyone has tried it, I'd be pleased to hear their thoughts.


Anonymous said...

Joanna when I saw the picture I thought you had TimeTeam visiting doing a dig :-)

I hope the leaks get sorted out soon!

Karen Baking Soda said...

I can so relate! We had a similar (ongoing) kitchen sewage problem for several years until we finally decided to do it right and dig it all up and replace. I was queen at my castle for a couple of weeks, complete with a moat and drawbridge! (which was in fact a wooden plank but imagination and humour helps). Good luck!

Vida said...

Joanne, some people eat this junk everyday so don't worry about the unexpected one time that you are FORCED to eat this stuff. Why on earth do they need to add some much muck to it, couldn't they just cook them as normal and you reheat them?? I mean none of those things preserve them and so why the need? Anyway you peel and put them in the fridge next week and all will be happy again!! Vida x

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Well, between you and Baking Soda, we've got some great leak stories!
I'd say the best use for said frozen potatoes in in just such an "emergency" as you describe. The water trick will work for potatoes and it is great for crowds.
Hope it gets sorted soon.

Cottage Smallholder said...

We rushed out and bought semolina for our roasts a few years ago. Don't try this. They were vile.

Figs, Bay, Wine said...

The batter idea is a fascinating one, Joanna. Can't wait to see what you decide to do with that once the water's on again! Good luck with the leak.

Joanna said...

Thanks for so much support ... I hate using convenience food, and it was only the other day that I was wittering on about never buying food that contained ingredients I wouldn't keep in my larder, which made it feel doubly bad. But the wonderful thing was that they just weren't very nice, and that was a good reality check, as they're not that difficult to make. Even if you haven't got running water in the kitchen ;)

Sophie, it's felt like TimeTeam's been in the house - a thin film of mud covers all the downstairs floors by the end of every weekend.

Sewage .... SO much more horrible, but love the idea of your moat and drawbridge! Great how all these ghastly inconveniences turn into good stories over the years ..

Vida I couldn't agree more ... you'd think that freezing it would be enough to preserve it well. Next weekend I will be more prepared so I don't have to buy this sort of stuff again

Fiona, SO pleased to hear this. I've now tracked down the original - it's Nigella from How to Eat, and she says her mother's Italian au pair invented this because she didn't understand English cookery. Hmmm

Joanna x

Celia Hart said...

Like Sophie, my first thought was 'Joanna's found a Roman bath house under her lawn!'
Hope you get those pipes fixed soon - what a drag!


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about the water problems.
What an interesting post about the bought potatoes. Glad to hear that the family prefer yours.
Just wanted to say that I have nominated you for an award as I really enjoy reading the comments that you leave on my site and find your site an wealth of cooking information and great healthy recipes. I wasn't sure if you'd been given this award - hope not.
Sara from farmingfriends

Anonymous said...

Hi Joanna.

No-one does roast tattas like my Jakki does. She browns them slightly in the deep fat fryer, then stabs them and spreads Marmite on them before finishing them off in the oven. I could eat them for every meal.
My mouth`s watering just at the thought.

Joanna said...

Dean those sound wonderful - my husband and sons put Marmite on everything they can, but I'd never thought of putting it on roasties - another one to try in their never-ending quest for the most delicious roast potato ever in the world anywhere (which is generally the one you're eating at that moment!)


Anonymous said...

hydrogenated! Throw away at once, Andrew Weil (and others) would say.

Joanna said...

Yes Labelga, you are absolutely right. Not the usual thing. And not very nice, so not tempted to do it again. But I really don't understand why frozen roast potatoes have to have that rubbish in them, why they can't be just like the ones we all make - potatoes, oil, perhaps a little salt (Marmite if you're Dean) ... there's no NEED for hydrogenated anything in a roastie!