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Hidden potatoes and apples

"Name a dish that isn’t improved, or unaffected, by the addition of a small potato?" Rachel Roddy

It's Guardian Feast newsletter day and within I found two separate articles, which talked about how two ingredients - potatoes and apples - were often hidden from view. The point of each article was quite different, but nevertheless the connection was there so I decided to have a go at it. Without a huge amount of success in finding extra examples of from those offered I have to say. But never mind, I'll give it my best shot.


I adore potatoes so I was much captivated by the assertion of one of Rachel Roddy's friends that:

"not only does a potato improve almost everything, but ... the things it doesn’t improve, it doesn’t affect – you certainly can’t taste it. The moral being that you should always add a potato."

Always? Yes always says Rachel:

"I can confirm that ring cake, torta caprese, pizza dough, focaccia, muffins, shortbread, chocolate pudding and Yorkshire pudding all benefit from the addition of a small boiled and mashed potato."

Well I can certainly confirm the Torta Caprese as shown in this recipe from Salvatore De Riso on the Giallo Zafferano website. Although truth to tell the potato contribution is from potato starch/flour, rather than actual potato - but I'm guessing that there are indeed some recipes out there that use an actual potato. Pizza, dough, focaccia, muffins - bread as well. Indeed the Centre for the Advancement of Foodservice Education maintains that:

"stealthy adding neutral-flavor potatoes amps up the moisture content and produces a texture that is sure to keep consumers eating until the last morsel has disappeared. Potatoes may be a surprising ingredient in baked goods. They don’t alter the appearance or flavor but because of their natural protein, starches and sugars, the vegetable provides good structure and rise in baked goods."

And then there is bread that doesn't hide the fact that its made from potatoes like this No-knead potato bread from Jo Cooks

There are also pizza 'doughs' that are actually not a dough but a base made with grated or shredded potato. Scones, cookies, I think I also saw some macarons that included potato in the mix. And many prestige, artisan bakers offered recipes. But I suspect that this is not too much of a surprise to you. Although you can also take it a step further and include potato chips (crisps to me) in cookies - Potato chip shortbread cookies/ Family Savvy

Yorkshire Pudding though? Now that I could not find. Although Rachel Roddy did say that there was now a running joke in her household whereby if something didn't taste good then it was because the potato had been left out. So maybe she added a bit of mashed potato to the Yorkshire Pudding batter. Well why not?

Rachel Roddy's little love letter to the addition of potato came in her introduction to this recipe for Potato flatbreads with anchovy butter and there are certainly many recipes from all over the world for flatbread recipes that include potatoes. But it's in her pasta recipes that her love of potatoes really comes to the fore. Her reasoning is:

As in a soup, the potato collapses (a bit or a lot, depending on the variety) and, as a consequence, gives out starch. Now, you’d be correct in thinking that, when it comes to cooking pasta, starch is hardly in short supply; masses of it seeps from the pasta as it cooks, as evidenced by the increasingly cloudywater. But add potato starch to pasta starch, even a small amount, and when you toss the pasta with the sauce and a ladle of the starchy pasta cooking water, things do come together even better."

As a relatively late convert to the addition of pasta water to pasta sauces, I can see that a potato might also make a difference, so here are four of her examples - all I think are in her book An A-Z of Pasta: Trofie con pesto alla genovese, potatoes and green beans - the potatoes are in with the pasta not the pesto and the same can be said for her Pasta with green beans and walnut sauce. The potatoes play a more prominent role in Fusilli with leek, potato, parmesan and hazelnuts and Orecchiette with tomatoes, anchovy, rocket and potato of which she says:

"It is clever in that the potato and rocket are cooked with the pasta, bringing flavour, then collapse enough to wrap around the pasta and, in the case of the potato, provide starchy softness. All is then mixed with garlic, anchovies and tomatoes."

Gnocchi are often largely potato but sometimes the potato is added to cheese - or breadcrumbs. And I saw several recipes for rice and potatoes, from chunks of potatoes to the two being mashed together and made into kinds of gnocchi or fried croquettes.

Overall it has been difficult to find recipes in which potatoes play a small but crucial part, so maybe we should all just try adding one small potato to whatever we are cooking. I'm making a kind of quiche tonight with onions. Maybe I should quickly boil a small potato and either add it to the pastry or the filling. Yes I might try that. In the meantime I shall do as Rachel Roddy says and try and think of something which potatoes would not enhance. Ice-cream? I bet someone has tried it. Indeed they have - I just had a quick look. Another day perhaps. Meringue?

It's certainly a way of adding valuable things to your diet because:

"They are packed with B6, antioxidants that fight free radicals, and also contains more potassium than bananas, which helps maintain your blood pressure." Electrolux

Makers of all kinds of processed food find them useful too:

"Manufacturers use potato starch to thicken food, absorb water, or prevent certain ingredients from sticking together." Medical News Today


Did you know that a large number of fruit juices are mostly apple juice - sometimes well over 50%, even if it declares that they are something else - lychee, blueberry - whatever. Well at least in England.

I'm afraid I'm rushing this a little bit as I have to go and cook that sort of quiche, so I don't really have time to investigate the Australian scene. I'm pretty sure that the orange juice that we buy claims to be pure orange juice. No apples there. But maybe the others do indeed have a large amount of apple juice in them. Why?

Well there are two opposing views here:

“Apples have a delicate taste and natural sweetness that can help balance the profile of smaller fruits, which have a stronger flavour and can be overpowering in large quantities.” British Soft Drinks Association

“There are only two ways to make money from food and that is sell more of it or use cheaper ingredients … Apple is a double win as … they are the embodiment of healthy food. When you squash an apple there are several advantages to it from a commodity perspective." Dr. Chris van Tullekin

I shall investigate this one further. But you do see the connection don't you? Something hidden in what you are eating that you had no idea was there.

I will try the potato in my quiche however. I wonder if David will notice, and I wonder whether it will improve the overall effect?


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