Heather's Boutique, picture from Getty Images

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Happy Christmas

I'm very pleased to see that my ideas are helping you with your Christmas shopping.

One reader emailed me to say that he has enjoyed his wife running round the bedroom in pink frilly knickers for many years. However, is there anywhere he could purchase a pair with penguins on them, to remind his wife of their honeymoon in the South Pole?

How sweet and romantic, a little too much information for my liking Grandad, but all readers welcome here, even family.

Anyway back to the second most important thing on Christmas Day, roast potatoes.

Like most women there is nothing I enjoy more than slaving over a hot stove all day, only for everything I have lovingly prepared to be troughed down in about 2 minutes 50 seconds.

This year my Uncle Chav is hoping to beat that astounding time and actually fit himself with a nosebag.

"It's all food to me" he chortles, which any cook will tell you is a compliment indeed.

Crunchy Roast Potatoes

Serves 8
  • 1 kg (4 lb) potatoes
  • 6 tablespoons of fat, can be goose fat, or a 50/50 mix of sunflower and walnut oil. Walnut oil adds a nice nutty flavour.
  • 2 teaspoons of "Season All" by Schwartz, available from supermarkets in the herbs and spices area.
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of Cornmeal/Polenta. Available from supermarkets in packets near the pasta or flour section. Looks like a coarser yellow flour. You don't want the wet variety of polenta also sold in packets.
  • 2 tablespoons of flour.
Roast potatoes take about an hour in the oven at a high temperature. If you have a double oven use it, as this temperature is too hot for the turkey and will dry it out. Failing that you will have to allow longer for the potatoes to cook.
  • Pre heat the oven to 220 C (425 F Gas mark 7)
  • Peel and chop up the potatoes into chunks.
  • Put the fat in an oven proof dish, you may need 2. Do not forget to pre heat the fat it needs to be very hot for roast potatoes.
  • Steam potatoes for about 7 minutes, I have found this holds in more flavour than boiling them to death. If you don't have a steamer, boil potatoes for 5 mins.
  • Whilst waiting for them to steam. In a large bowl mix together the "Season All," flour, pepper and cornmeal/polenta.
  • When they are steamed, put the potatoes into another bowl. Sprinkle on the dry mixture using a large spoon to cover them. You may need to do this in a couple of batches. Try and ensure they are all evenly coated. The cornmeal will add a lovely crunchiness to your pots. All the other stuff just gives them a wonderful flavour.
  • Take out the roasting dish with the fat in it.
  • Carefully put the potatoes into the fat, watch for splashes obviously extremely hot. Potatoes should start sizzling when you put them in.
  • Return your pots to the oven.
  • Turn them over and spoon a bit of their fat over, this will get them nice and golden.
They should take between 50 to 60 mins, depending on how golden you like them. Oven temperatures do vary so keep an eye on them.

Once the potatoes are ready you need to eat them as they don't keep well. So if you haven't quite got the rest of the meal ready, remember that you can always turn the temperature for the pots down a bit to slow the cooking, then boost it up last minute.

They are absolutely delicious and I have already had loads of positive feedback about this recipe.

By pure chance I happened to be in Petrus for a slap up meal. During dinner I had the good fortune to meet the lovely charming head chef, Marcus Wareing. Always keen to swap recipes with a fellow cook, I offered to show him my roast potato recipe.

He listened to me without taking notes. Then in return gave me a tour of his kitchen, and offered to show me a new exciting way of washing up and mopping floors. I politely declined of course, but offered to help taste test chocolate petit fours.

Waving goodbye and thank you, I assured him I would be returning to his gastronomic heaven along with my darling record breaking Uncle.

Everyone have an amazing Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Lots of love Heather and the bears xx

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