Sunday, 23 February 2014

One Potato, Choux Potato, Three Potato, more...

Fanny has a potato top tip for me, which seems appropriate as I've been away travelling with work far too much lately. If only I'd read this first. Fanny suggests on 'high days and holidays' you should peel enough potatoes for three days and sling them in a bucket, sprinkle them with sea salt and cover in cold water. The water needs to be changed every day, which would've been tricky for me while away I suppose, but Fanny insists that the potatoes will not go slippery and slimy as they would simply peeled in a bowl of water on the day. She's full of the tips really - don't slice all your potatoes at once for home-made crisps or chips, they'll only discolour. And if you want to save your new potatoes for a Christmas Feast, pop them in a large biscuit tin with sawdust in it, add a layer of potatoes and cover with more sawdust. Continue layering, being very careful that the potatoes don't touch each other. Seal the tin with tape and bury it in the garden, of course. Fannys only request is that you mark where it's buried, as there is nothing worse than digging up the whole garden in search of them come December, when the ground is likely to be frozen. There, she warned you.

Fanny Cradock

No such trouble for me, just a quick trip to the local supermarket. Just as well, I couldn't be bothered with all that digging this weekend. Fanny is keen for me to learn the wonders of Potato Puffs, or Beignets or even Armandines - she can't quite make up her mind what the heck to call them. They sound perfect for this weekend though - a mixture of potato and her beloved choux paste, and then deep fried in balls. 

Fanny gives the recipe for Choux paste twice on the same page, right next to one another - presumably because it SO important to her. So I take it very seriously, melting my butter gently in water then 'shooting' in the flour, mixing and allowing it to 'foam' in the pan a little. Off the heat, I beat and beat it before adding the eggs and beating again. Fanny absolutely insists that the mixture is left to get cold at room temperature with a plate over it before I go any further. Of course, I obey. Fanny says that on no account should I be tempted to refrigerate the mixture as it will ruin. It's fine Fanny, I'll take a seat and have a cup of tea.

Fanny gives three variations for these beignets, but they all start with steamed potatoes which are sieved and dried as before. Once the choux paste is cold, Fanny asks me to combine double the weight of sieved, stiff potato to make a paste. From the paste, walnut sized balls should be rolled. I leave a third of them as they are, roll a third in breadcrumbs (Fanny suggests very fine ones, but as always I feel the need to rebel a little so I use Panko) and the final third are rolled in finely chopped almonds. All that's left to do is fry them gently in some oil until they are golden brown. They all change to slightly different shades of golden, and the end result is fantastic. They are light and puffy, tasty and crisp. The almonds in particular add something really special. I made some French Onion Soup to have  these perfectly puffed potatoes with - not slippery, not slimy, not discoloured and not rescued from deep within the garden...


  1. Mad as Fanny seemed to be, she was a smart old bird. I'd love to try one of these!

    1. Thanks, I think you've summed her up well! These are really tasty - mmm almonds, potatoes and deep fried...