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
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.
I was inspired to make them on foot of a recently received PR email which, in a somewhat less than stellar effort to curry favour, cheerily opened thus: “Hello The Daily Spud Team, I thought your puff pastry pinwheels looked delicious – I’ll have to give them a try!” Given that I had not, at the time, published anything resembling puff pastry pinwheels, it left me somewhat unconvinced of my correspondent’s sincerity. On the plus side, however, it did inspire me to acquire some puff pastry and rectify the whole lack of potato pinwheel situation (every potato cloud, it seems, has a blue or rose or green tinted lining).
If said PR person would now like to give these potato pinwheels a try, they have my blessing. As do you. They make for excellent party food and couldn’t be simpler to put together. A simple mix of cooked, mashed potato, goats cheese, wilted spinach, and toasted hazelnuts, spread on puff pastry, rolled up, sliced, baked and, quickly thereafter, eaten. What are you waiting for?
- Makes around 30 pinwheels & takes approx. 30 min to prep (assuming you have some cooked potato ready to go) + 30 min to bake
- 50g hazelnuts
- vegetable oil for frying
- 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
- 125g baby spinach, washed
- 400g cooked potato, mashed
- 125g fresh goats cheese
- 50g butter, melted
- 3 tblsp chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1.5 tblsp lemon juice, or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- 320g puff pastry
You’ll also need:
- A couple of large baking trays, as well as a large frying pan.
- Preheat your oven to 180C
- Spread the hazelnuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Allow them to cool a little, then enclose them in a clean tea towel and rub over and back to remove as much of the hazelnut skins as will come off easily. Chop the hazelnuts roughly.
- Place a large frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, add a swirl of vegetable oil to coat the pan. Add the garlic, fry for about 30 seconds, then add the spinach leaves and stir and fry for a minute or two until just wilted, then remove from the heat.
- Place the mashed potato in a large bowl. Crumble the goats cheese into the mash and add the melted butter, chopped parsley, lemon juice, wilted spinach and chopped hazelnuts. Stir to mix and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Roll the puff pastry out to a rectangle of approx 35cm x 40cm. Spread the potato filling onto the pastry, leaving a margin of about 2cm along the longer sides of the rectangle. Brush one of margins with a little water and, starting at the other margin, roll the pastry up and press down gently once you reach the other side. Slice into approx. 30 discs (a little more than 1cm thick each), and lay onto greased baking trays, allowing a little room for spreading.
- Bake for approx. 30 min or until the pinwheels are browned on top and the pastry is pale golden. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool further. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. These can also be prepared ahead of time, frozen and then reheated in the oven – 150C for 10-15 minutes should do it.
- You could replace the goats cheese with ricotta if you like, or try using toasted sunflower seeds in place of hazelnuts.