“Mashed Potato” from “Dinner in an Instant”

Real truth here: I was well into adulthood before I discovered that mashed potatoes could be made in something OTHER than a pressure cooker.

This, of course, is an embarrassing admission. But it’s true. (To be fair to me, I was also younger and a less experienced cook back then. But still…) The only way my Irish-American family ever made mashed potatoes, and being Irish-American we had them A LOT, was in the pressure cooker. I think I knew how to make them in the pressure cooker even before I had hit double digits in age. The first cooking lesson I ever had probably intoned, “Don’t ever, ever forget to put water in the bottom of the pressure cooker, otherwise, it might EXPLODE.” Given that this was the late 1970s and early 1980s, this was definitely true.

However, when I had my first apartment, I did not have a pressure cooker– this being the 1990s by then, they definitely had fallen out of favour– so I learned how to make mashed potatoes the old fashioned way: by boiling the potatoes in a pot full of water. I’ve been making mashed potatoes this way ever since– from dinners for two to Thanksgiving banquets for 30.

When I saw the recipe for mashed potatoes made in a pressure cooker in this book, I figured it might be nice to take a trip down memory lane and make them in the method that sustained by childhood. Surely, they would be just as good as I remembered them, right?

Well, you know what they say about not being to go home again. I mean, sure, the mashed potatoes were fine, but they weren’t the ambrosia of my childhood. They certainly get cooked a whole lot quicker– 10 minutes versus 30 minutes– so that’s a plus. But the downside is by doing them in the pressure cooker, you’re really steaming the potatoes rather than boiling them, and what we found was that they ended up having a very gluey consistency, which is less than ideal. It’s possible there was operator error in play here, but we all liked the traditional (read: Slower) way better.

Would I make them this way again? Maybe, but only if I was super short of time.

“Mashed Potato” from “Dinner in an Instant”

“Bangers & Mustard Mash” and “Garlic-Roasted Cauliflower” from “How Easy Is That?”

Dear Mrs. Contessa:

Can I call you Barefoot? No, I won’t. That’s just silly. I’ve never met you, so I’m going to stay formal.

First of all, please don’t take anything that I say here personally. I’m sure you’re a lovely person. Hey, anyone who guest stars on “30 Rock”, my favourite TV show, totally rates in my book. But what I’m about to say might be a bit harsh.

When I saw your recipe for “Bangers & Mustard Mash” in your “How Easy Is That?” cookbook, I thought, “Great. That’s perfect. We eat that all the time, so that truly will be, ‘How Easy Is That?” But it was a TOTAL disaster, and would have been even worse if I had followed your instructions to the letter.

In your introduction, you say that you went to a wedding in London where they served “bangers and mash” at their wedding reception. You said, “It was the best wedding food I’d ever eaten and it had so much style.”


Style? Bangers and mash? Maybe I’ve really gone native, having lived in England now for 14 years, but I don’t see it. Don’t get me wrong, I love bangers and mash. They just don’t seem particularly stylish to me.

Also, I totally understand being beguiled by mustard mash. It seems so exotic for an American. Mashed Potatoes! With Mustard! How interesting! The exact same thing happened to me as I had my first mustard mash when I was reviewing London restaurants for Lonely Planet. I thought they were the Best. Thing. Ever. At the time, I had only been a Londoner for 9 months, so I felt the same as you. But what I didn’t appreciate then, but do now, is that mustard mash is a pretty bog standard mash offering.

Where did things go wrong, Mrs. Contessa? Bangers and mash. Trust me, it couldn’t be easier. I’m willing to bet this is one of the dishes they teach in Home Ec or Food Tech or whatever they call it these days. Let me take a moment to provide a recipe autopsy, perhaps so you can see the error of your ways.

Continue reading ““Bangers & Mustard Mash” and “Garlic-Roasted Cauliflower” from “How Easy Is That?””

“Bangers & Mustard Mash” and “Garlic-Roasted Cauliflower” from “How Easy Is That?”

“Spicy Lamb Pie” and “Best-Ever Mash” from “The River Cottage Family Cookbook”

Maureen: What do you think of the pie? I have to say, using the offcuts to make stars that decorate the top look really nice.

Andrew (12): This is good. I would definitely have it again.

Nicholas (8): Yum. I like the crust better than the lamb, but it’s all good.

Maureen: It must have been so good because they made the lamb mince just for us at Dring’s.

Tim: This is good. It tastes like Nigella’s Keema in a pie.

Maureen: You’re right, it does. All I’d need to do is add some frozen peas, and we’d be there.

Continue reading ““Spicy Lamb Pie” and “Best-Ever Mash” from “The River Cottage Family Cookbook””

“Spicy Lamb Pie” and “Best-Ever Mash” from “The River Cottage Family Cookbook”