The Daily Spud

...there's both eatin' and drinkin' in it

Tag: goats cheese (page 1 of 2)

Spud Sunday: Rose-Tinted Spuds

And tint your potatoes blue or rose or green! How do you know that you will not like them?

MFK Fisher, from the essay “Shell-shock and Richard the Third” in Serve it Forth

It was a mildly curious coincidence that, in the week where bones found in an English car park were confirmed to be those of long-dead monarch, Richard III, I found myself reading an essay by MFK Fisher which referenced that self-same, newly identified king.

In the essay, written some 75 years or so ago, the author urges her readers to avoid indifference and monotony in their eating – as laudable an endeavour then as now. “Baked potatoes,” she says, “no matter how hot and flaky, become almost nauseating the seven-hundredth time they are served pinched open, with paprika and butter on the scar.” Well, quite so. Ardent eater of potatoes though I am, such relentless baked potato-ism might even cause me to recoil (and that’s saying something).

We should instead, she advises, forsake the mundane, and bring excitement and imagination to the dishes we create, as innovators now, and in centuries past, have done. She cites, among others, fanciful creations like the half capon, half pig cockentrice, described in 15th Century manuscripts, and which may well have graced the table of the now decidedly skeletal Richard III. It’s a somewhat extreme example and (unless you’re Heston Blumenthal, that is), you’re unlikely to be recreating such a thing in the comfort of your own kitchen anytime soon. That doesn’t mean to say that you can’t mix it up a little every now and then, though. Perhaps you will, as she suggests, tint your potatoes blue or rose or green. How do you know that you will not like them? How indeed.

Potato Pinwheels with Goats Cheese and Hazelnuts

Potato pinwheels with goats cheese and hazelnuts

So here, then, is something a little different to do with your potatoes. They may not be tinted blue or rose or green, but these potato pinwheels will do nicely for a change nonetheless.

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Spud Sunday: The Goats Of Christmas

In my head, the potato and goat’s cheese gratin was perfect.

On my plate, unfortunately, it was less so.

I ate it anyway, pondering how it could have been better. I also pictured my childhood self, who would probably have sat there, refusing to eat, whilst on the receiving end of my mother’s well-worn lecture about the starving babies in Africa who would have been happy to eat whatever-it-was. It was always tempting to suggest that perhaps my mother might wrap up the uneaten dinner and send it to those less fortunate than ourselves, but I generally thought better of doing that.

Potato gratin with goats cheese

The also-ran gratin

My goat’s cheesy efforts had, in fact, been inspired by news of Milano’s Christmas campaign to support Oxfam’s efforts to buy goats for needy third world families. You get fed, by way of Milano restaurant vouchers which can be claimed when you shop in Oxfam, and, through the gift of goats bought with the money raised, so do those families. An approach which is, of course, far more practical than sending those unloved leftovers through the post.

Spud Sunday: In Handel’s Day

It’s fairly safe to say that, back in 1742, people didn’t spend too much time obsessing about saturated fat or trying to reduce their carb intake. If anything, they were far more concerned with ingesting whatever carbs they could lay their hands on, spuds included.

I mention 1742 because that was the year of the first public performance of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, which took place in Fishamble Street in Dublin, an event which will be commemorated on April 13th next in Temple Bar, with their Handel’s Day celebrations.

In Handel's Day

Handel had been invited to perform by the Charitable Musical Society, who wanted to raise funds following the Great Irish Famine of 1741 – an event perhaps lesser known, but equally as devastating as the later Potato Famine of 1845-47 – a combination of bad weather and poor harvests that froze potatoes in the ground and left a nation dying of hunger.

It is an indescribably long way from that famine to a world where, within the past few weeks, I have been sent notices about applications aimed at helping people to reduce their intake of saturated fat and carbs. Somebody has perhaps noticed the frequency with which spuds and butter are combined on this site and would like to do something about it, I fear.

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