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Mashed Potatoe

I love mashed potato. Everyone's made it before, so I'm not trying to teach you a new recipe, but there is good mash and there is bad mash. With no extra effort you can make it really nice and have some simple variations to take a dinner in a completely different direction.

1.4kg/3lb boiling potatoes (Desiree, Marts Piper)
1 tablespoon salt

Wash your potatoes, peel them and wash again. Cut them into equal-sized pieces so they will be ready at the same time. Just cover them with water. Add the salt. Boil until tender (until they fall off the blade easily when stabbed with a knife - or you can just take one out, cut a bit off and taste it). When they are cooked, put them into a colander and allow to sit for 4 minutes, to let all the moisture and water drain and steam off. At this stage you can either place the potatoes back in the pan to be mashed or smashed; or you can use a mouli (one of those things that you spin round and it sort of mashes the potato for you); or you can use a ricer (this is like a big garlic press which pushes the potato through little holes, making it look like rice).

Buttered Mashed Potatoe

Add 55-115g/2-4oz butter to your mashed potato. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add nutmeg to taste and mix.

Creamed Mashed Potatoe

Add 85g/3oz butter and 150ml/5-6fl oz double cream to the mashed potato. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add nutmeg to taste and mix until smooth and creamy.

Horseradish Mash

Simply add 55g/2oz of butter and 2 heaped tablespoons of horseradish sauce or cream to the mashed potato. If you are lucky enough to get some fresh horseradish, use that -just wash, peel and grate the equivalent of about 1 tablespoons. Then stir in 2 tablespoons of double cream. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

The fresh horseradish will be a lot more fragrant, slightly hotter and a lot nicer.

Parmesan and Truffle Mash

Add 55g/2oz of butter and 2-3 handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese. Mix this in well and add 1 tablespoon of truffle oil (you can add this to taste).

Truffle oil is now widely sold in supermarkets. It's probably not the real McCoy because the stuff I saw last week was quite cheap, but it is quite an interesting taste anyway and is probably worth trying.

Black Olive Mash

Buy yourself 300g/lloz of the best, or your favourite, black olives and remove the stones. Whizz up about two-thirds of them in a food processor (or very finely chop) and put the remainder in roughly chopped so that you've got some chunks in there as well. Add to the mashed potato. Taste it - it probably won't need any salt because olives are generally quite salty, but give it a little bit of freshly ground black pepper and 1 or 2 tablespoons of good olive oil.



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