Potato Cookbook, Australian Women’s Weekly Home Library, 1994.
Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks were a stalwart of our home cooking from the 70’s to the 90’s. Who doesn’t have a well-thumbed copy of Cakes and Slices or the ubiquitous Children’s Birthday Cake Book? The potato book is the birthday cakebook for potatoes. The book every potato lover can’t live without. I am without question a potato lover. This book definitely challenges the conception that potatoes are merely an accompaniment to the Sunday roast or the primary vegetable in meat and three veg. This book has potatoes front and centre of the table, sometimes in surprising ways. Mint coconut roughs? Potato almond strudel? Chocolate potato truffle cake?
I actually bought this book in Liverpool, the one in the UK, not the one outside Sydney. We lived there for a year in 1996, when the children were young. We were living on one salary with five children, no internet. I needed ideas for family meals on a budget. This potato book really came into its own. I haven’t had it out for a while but a quick thumb through and the splodgy pages remind me of our favourite recipes.
There are a number of great soup recipes and a selection of potato-stuffed pastries such as samosas. There are potato pancakes, salads, side dishes and accompaniments, bread, cake and puddings. The main course section is, interestingly, meat dishes that contain potato as an ingredient. Dishes like our old favourite which does not contain potato at all, chicken and kumara risotto on p33.
I made the asparagus and potatoes with wild rice on p16, which was categorised as a starter but which I consider a pretty simple weeknight supper. I didn’t have wild rice so I used farro, but I think wild rice would be very good. Sauté cubed potatoes in a pan with chopped bacon and crushed garlic. Stir in cream, cooked grains, chopped sun-dried tomatoes and thyme and simmer for a few minutes. Serve atop steamed asparagus.
The warm endive and potato salad on p56 was delicious but too fiddly for me to bother again. Thinly sliced baby potatoes are sauteed with garlic until browned and tender. Thirty potatoes are suggested for four people. I think garlic tends to burn so I often use garlic infused oil instead. Add a large handful of rocket and endive to the pan and stir through a tbsp each of balsamic vinegar and wholegrain mustard. Toss through a dozen thinly sliced radishes and a tbsp of snipped chives.
Warm crispy potato salad on p69 was a regular at our table for years and it did not disappoint. No frying tiny slices of potato here. Roast seasoned wedges of potato in the oven with a tbsp of chopped sage. Combine the cooked wedges in a bowl with crispy cooked chopped bacon, sun-dried tomatoes and snipped chives. Warm a vinaigrette of olive oil, red wine vinegar and garlic. Serve the warm potato mix on a bed of lettuce, top with shaved Parmesan and drizzle over the dressing. Warming the dressing is a great idea.
I didn’t get much further because Harriet came for dinner and she has claimed the book. She was so excited by the variety of potato dishes and asserted that you couldn’t have too many potato recipes. She then got the idea that she would throw a potato-themed pot-luck party and that everyone would have to bring a potato dish. There was talk of potato costumes. I’m glad the book has found a new home. I’m still planning to make that chocolate potato truffle cake. It doesn’t feel like an every day cake so I’m waiting for the right occasion.