EOWTTA*: P is for Potato

Thursday, January 14, 2010

(*EOWTTA=Eating Our Way through the Alphabet)

Picture the humble potato – such a perfect little package of pleasure. Fries, mash, hash brown, jacket potatoes, rosti, mmmm after delightful mmmm. It’s not hard to see why this tuber is the fourth largest food crop in the world. In fact, the spud is so popular that 2008 was declared International Year of the Potato (how’d I miss that memo?) It’s even got its own dedicated museum, seriously!

I could possibly go on and on about this vegetable but in a bid to curb verbosity I’ll just point out some of the more interesting trivia. For example, did you know that the potato comes from the same family as deadly nightshade/belladonna, henbane, tobacco and mandragora/mandrake. (Had to make sure I put that last one in as MC Senior is a mad keen Harry Potter fan.)

With such exciting relatives, it’s little wonder that the tame tuber actually possesses toxic potential. Potatoes contain compounds known as glycoalkaloids - one of which is solanine. Accidentally ingesting solanine can cause all manner of nasty symptoms, but actual death by potato is thankfully rare (I think). Interestingly enough, deep-frying potatoes can lower the glycoalkaloid concentration, so there’s your excuse the next time a chips/fries craving strikes!

The potato is also a pretty hardy vegetable, even managing to sprout in space. And of course, if you get bored of eating them, you can always make a potato clock.

We didn’t make a clock, but we made some pretend potatoes.

This idea is from one of my favourite little books: Quick and Easy Small Cakes by Kazuko Kawachi . I’d never really felt the need to make this zany treat although I’d always stop to admire the realistic looking “potatoes” when flipping through the book.

Potato cakes
adapted from Quick and Easy Small Cakes.
(makes about 13 small “potatoes”)

1 cup mashed potatoes (from about 3 small potatoes – starchy ones, eg Sebagos, work best).
1 tablespoon thin cream
1 tablespoon butter
pinch of salt and cinnamon to flavour
Marzipan to cover (I used a 250g box)
More cinnamon to dust
Slivered almonds to decorate

Mix mashed potato, cream, butter and salt in a small saucepan over low heat to dry out. When cool, fashion small potato shapes and set aside.

Roll out marzipan thinly between two sheets of plastic wrap, cut out circles larger than the potato balls. Be careful not to overwork marzipan or handle it too much otherwise the marzipan can become oily. Wrap the potato balls in the marzipan, then dust with more cinnamon so that they look like potatoes. The best way to do this is one at a time in a very small bowl. Place the marzipanned shape in the bowl, dust with the cinnamon and shake the bowl until the cinnamon coats the marzipan potato.

Arrange seam side down on paper patty cases, and stick slivered almonds in randomly to form “eyes”.

Best served within a few hours of making as the mashed potato causes the marzipan to start “weeping” after awhile.

Honestly though, I don’t think I’ll make this again. It was just a bit too oddball for me. Hey, I’m not averse to veggies in dessert but neither the girls nor Mr. Kitchen Hand were taken with these. It was fun while it lasted though :)

Some potato links:




Barbara said...

When I started reading, Shaz, I thought you were going to make savory potato cakes. Something my mother did a lot.
Don't know what I think about this recipe....but will take your advice and not make them. Fun for you to try and then show us, though.

Hungry Dog said...

I love potatoes (who doesn't?) although I had no idea about the year of the potato OR the potato museum. Guess I am a fairweather fan of the tuber. Anyway, what strange little cakes you've got here! I truly enjoy your creativity and willing to try unusual things!

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Lovely....my kids would LOVE this!!!!!!1

Ellie said...

This potato cake is so fun to make!!! I had no idea it was a cake from looking at the picture until I read the text!

Barbara Bakes said...

It may be a bit odd ball, but they sure do look cute!

3 hungry tummies said...

Haha I like the idea of it, it does look like a potato :)

Rikke from Copenhagen said...

In Denmark you can actually get a potato cake which is filled with pastry cream and whipped cream on a sweet puf pastry base with a spread of black berry marmalade. It is still covered with marzipane and dusted with cocoa. They are delicious!

shaz said...

Hi Barbara - I make savoury cakes too and I think I much prefer them :)

Cheers Hungry Dog, it's all thanks to the blog - The more unusual, the more blogworthy ;P

You've got very adventurous kids Kitchen Butterfly!

Yes, the pics fooled me the first time I saw them too Ellie.

Very true Barbara (bakes), I was sucked in by how cute they looked

Haha, 3 hungry tummies, the idea sounded appealing to me too, but in reality was a bti too strange.

Hi Rikke, wow those cakes sound much, much tastier, will have to try them one day. Thanks for visiting :)

The Cooking Photographer said...

Lol you make me laugh Shaz! Favorite line, "but actual death by potato is thankfully rare (I think)". Right there I busted up laughing.

Your cakes are super cute!


Heavenly Housewife said...

Hello there daaaaahling, I've left you an award on my blog, check it out.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend.
*kisses* HH

shaz said...

Glad to help spread some smiles Laura :)

*Squeal* Thank you muchly HH, will swing by!

pierre said...

very funny shaz !! cheers from Paris Pierre

Y said...

Cute potatoes :) I'm not aware of that book. Must check it out!

grace said...

although this does seem a tad peculiar, the little taters are so cute! and hey--cinnamon is involved, so you know i'm game. neat experiment, shaz. :)

Vanille said...

Fun potato cakes indeed ! ;) And cuter than potatoes themselves...