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You say potato

May 3, 2010

In this clip from the first episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution he goes into a first grade classroom and asks the kids to identify various vegetables and they don’t know any of them: they don’t know what a tomato looks like, let alone a cauliflower or an eggplant (“egg…salad” one guesses tentatively).  I was shocked and saddened by that clip.  But I also realize that beyond the basics my own vegetable recognition abilities have a long way to go.  Its only in recent years at the farmer’s market that I’ve discovered the amazing fractal romanesco broccoli, until quite recently I didn’t realize that brussel sprouts grew on long veggie laden stems, and I had never heard of my now beloved ramps or garlic scapes.  And when I need potatoes I write just ‘potato’ on my shopping list without differentiating between Purple Peruvian Fingerling Potatoes and Green Mountain Potato.

When I do try the amazing and unusual potatoes available at the farmer’s market it is always such fun.  I love the colors and the varieties of flavor: some a little nutty, some so creamy.  Unlike thetypical supermarket vegetables which have been bred for ease of transport, long shelf life and standardized sizing, these little farmers market gems are meant to taste really good – and they do.  I need to do a better job of remembering them by name and knowing which is which.  Deborah Madison recently had a blog post that discussed the importance of names – she p0inted out that if you discover an especially lucious type of peach its a lot easier to ask the farmer for it by name then to try and describe the taste you remember from a year ago and hope you can find the right fruit again.  And by asking for the vegetables by name we help keep demand for them alive.

Fortunately there are also organizations dedicated to preserving the rich varieties of fruit and vegetables that are being threatened by industrialization.  The Ark  of Taste is a program by Slow Food USA which aims to catalog and promote foods in danger of extinction.

For my part, I decided to cook this trio of potatos as a tribute to the amazing variations that exist.  Noerah and I had some fun with the plating having read that food stylists often use colored mashed potato to simulate icecream in their photo shoots we decided to scoop luscious balls of our mashed potatoes and keep everybody guessing. Each of the trio is flavored differently: there is my mascarpone whipped potato, the red potato is a garlic mashed version, and there is the luxe blue fingerling pototoes with truffle oil.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • 2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into even chunks, about 1″ long
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Put the potatoes and garlic in a pot of cool salted water and bring to boil, cook until potatoes are fork tender then drain well.  Mash with a potato masher or ricer until smooth, add the cream, butter, salt and cheese and blend well.

Truffle Oil Mashed Potatoes

The secret to making truffle oil mashed potatoes that will make your knees weak is to save the oil to pour over right before serving!

  • 2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into even chunks, about 1″ long
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp chopped black truffles (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbs truffle oil (or more to taste)

Put the potatoes  in a pot of cool salted water and bring to boil, cook until potatoes are fork tender then drain well.  Mash with a potato masher or ricer until smooth, add the milk, butter, salt, truffles and 1 Tbs of the truffle oil and blend well.  Pour the rest of the truffle oil onto the potatoes right before you start to eat and let the smell seduce everyone completely!

–By Talia


28 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2010 12:47 pm

    When I first looked at the picture, I really thought it was ice cream, and I couldn’t figure out why you titled the post “potato”. Isn’t it amazing what a big variety of potatoes exist? I’m trying to grow potatoes for the first time this year, and I got 3 varieties that aren’t sold in the grocery store. Hope everything works out – I’m a little nervous about the potato bugs because I know for sure I can’t remove them. And yes, isn’t it sad that kids have so much trouble recognizing vegetables or knowing where food comes from? A very popular kids’ meal in Germany is mashed potatoes with fish sticks – we went to the aquarium in Berlin some time ago, and they had one little aquarium there which they labelled had the fish stick fish in it – I mean, my kids know that no such fish exists, but there were soooo many parents that were puzzled and weren’t sure what to answer when their kids asked them what kind of fish it was – I felt so embarrassed observing that. I mean, the fish looked alive, but parents should know that there is no fish that looks like a fish stick with fins! Read this: it’s a similar story from London:

    • May 3, 2010 2:34 pm

      Thanks for the link – that is amazing. how people can really think there are fish finger fish… its like a bad joke, only its not funny its so sad. ugh.
      I hope your potatoes grow well with no bugs. Is there no organic way to combat the bugs? Some natural predator you can let lose in the garden or something? Anyway: hope you’ll be harvesting and posting about them later in the season!

  2. May 3, 2010 3:31 pm

    These are so pretty! Love the colors.

  3. May 3, 2010 3:32 pm

    Love this post! I can’t wait to try your potato recipes.

  4. May 3, 2010 3:48 pm

    I also thought it was ice cream!!! Having had my own veg garden for most of my life I find it very sad that children do not know what the names are of fruits and vegetables let alone meats, eggs and fish. I often look at the assortment of potatoes and wonder what is what I have to admit. I usually grow my own and although I have 3 different kinds in this year I usually stick to the same type pretty much. Diane

    • May 3, 2010 7:47 pm

      I wish schools would all have vegetable gardens so the kids could grow up gardening… Awesome that you grow so much yourself, I’m still just getting started in that department!

  5. May 3, 2010 4:49 pm

    I definitely thought that photo was of ice cream too, but mashed potatoes sound delicious as well. Love the colors.

    • May 3, 2010 7:47 pm

      I’m glad we caught everyone’s attention with the icecream bait ‘n switch! Ha!

  6. May 3, 2010 5:16 pm

    Such a great post! Such gorgeous recipes. That truffle oil idea is killing me.

    I love reading other foodie’s who are dedicated to an American food ‘revolution.’ Don’t you just feel tremendous, growing power for a healthy, organic, whole food movement?! Love it!

    • May 3, 2010 7:49 pm

      I do feel great being part of a growing food movement… although at other times it seems like there is just so much to do. I guess we just take our baby steps and I hope that by sharing online we can spread the word.

  7. May 3, 2010 9:31 pm

    Make mine a triple scoop! 😉
    For a carb lover like me, this is the ultimate mashed potato fantasy.

  8. May 4, 2010 12:04 am

    Love it! You definitely had me fooled at first glance. Beautiful colors!

    • May 4, 2010 1:13 pm

      Thanks! Aren’t you glad to be fooled with a photo and not picking up a cone of potato some hot summer day!

  9. May 4, 2010 4:46 am

    Are they mashed potato??? I thought they were ice cream. lol!! Love the colour and great photo!

    • May 4, 2010 1:11 pm

      Yup, its all just mashed potato! i was amazed at how much it did look like icecream once we scooped it!

  10. May 4, 2010 9:26 am

    Gosh – those potatoes are downright gorgeous.
    For me, the brilliance of this is how many wonderful variations on a theme occur in nature… how can you NOT appreciate all that glory?

    All three sound like great variations — though the truffle is going to get me every time. I just can’t help myself.

    • May 4, 2010 1:15 pm

      I know: the more I look at, think about, read up on, plants and natural variation the more amazed I am. So cool!

  11. May 6, 2010 11:04 am

    Wow, you managed to fool me there! I really would have never guessed these were mashed-potato-scoops! Wow! How original!

    • May 6, 2010 3:53 pm

      I think its an old school photo styling trick… I don’t like those tricks generally, the idea of gluing seeds on bagels and making food inedible seems aweful: but in this case its a pretty fun and funny idea!

  12. May 6, 2010 12:15 pm

    It’s a shame that we have lost the amazing variety of fruits and vegetables in our daily lives. It’s so easy to sleepwalk through the supermarket, grabbing the same unspecified potato or tomato as always without stopping to think of the dozens of types that are NOT on the shelf. Farmers markets are great, but I wish that ‘every day’ shops and supermarkets offered more.

    I’ve just bought some jersey royals today that I’m looking forward to devouring once I decide what to make with them. Now I’m thinking about tracking down some blue fingerlings- they’re amazing looking!

    That’s a great picture, you totally had me fooled!

    • May 6, 2010 3:55 pm

      Hopefully the more we support farmers markets the more the regular supermarkets will feel market pressure to change their ways too… I have found that there is a lot more organic produce in my local chain supermarket these days.

  13. May 10, 2010 2:35 pm

    I love this picture. You had me fooled as well. These tricolored potatoes are also wonderful roasted with just a bit of olive oil, a dash of sea salt and some fresh herb like rosemary or thyme. The get a crunchy exterior but stay soft on the inside. We eat them alot and have fondly come to know them as “nuggets of love”. 🙂

    • May 11, 2010 7:43 am

      I will definitely have to try that: nuggets of love doesn’t sound like a dish to be passed up! It sounds so nice and easy to prepare too, its great to have things you can just throw in the oven…

  14. January 4, 2011 6:13 pm

    Those colors are really nice. It actually had me fooled there for a min.


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