Potato cakes, smoked salmon, beetroot, ginger, watercress
Potato cakes, potato farls, tattie scones…call them what you will, a stack of hot, buttery potato cakes is a great start to any supper, forming an amenable host to a variety of tasty toppings. I mostly just buy them ready-made, but this week I had leftover mash in the fridge so I made my own. They were so easy I really should do it more often.
My favourite way to eat potato cakes is what I think of as scandi-style: topped with soft, rich smoked fish, pepped up with the addition of hot horseradish or mustard. This time I went for something a bit different, making two little salads to replace the usual dollop of sauce on the side. Firstly, a simple mixture of beetroot and ginger, made with slivers of fiery pickled ginger, the sort you normally find in those little packets in a box of sushi. Secondly, some watercress and rocket to provide extra pepperiness and crunch, drizzled with a tangy goats milk yogurt dressing.
Its very important to start with thoroughly chilled mash, making this an ideal recipe for leftovers, although of course there is no reason you couldn’t cook, mash and chill some potatoes especially. Start by weighing your mash and add ¼ of its weight of plain flour. I had 350g mash so added about 90g plain flour plus a pinch of salt. If you are using leftover mashed potatoes I am assuming that they are thoroughly seasoned and blended with butter already, the extra pinch of salt is just to season the flour. Once you’ve worked the flour into the mash, check the consistency – it should be soft but not so sticky that it would be too hard to roll out. If it seems impossibly sticky add another couple of spoonfuls of flour. The exact quantity will really depend on how much milk and butter was in your original mashed potato.
Generously flour your work surface and tip the dough onto it. Roughly shape by hand into a round patty about 1 inch thick, then gently roll or press it out to about 1cm thickness. Cut into triangles or squares ready for frying. I like to fry my potato cakes in butter, which really adds to the flavour. Melt a generous knob of butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Dust off the excess flour and fry your cakes in batches for 3 minutes or so on each side, until golden. The cakes will soak up the butter as they cook, so be prepared to add extra to the pan for later batches.
Meanwhile, drain a couple of cooked beetroots. If you cook them yourself from raw they will be much nicer, but the ready cooked ones, packed in juice not vinegar, are a reasonable alternative for those days when boiling beetroots for hours isn’t on the agenda. Pat them dry and cut into 1cm cubes. Place in a bowl and toss with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt. Finely slice some pickled ginger into slivers. Its hard to be precise about the quantity as it depends how big the slices are. I used about 10 slices. Mix with the beetroot and add a couple of drops of the liquid from the ginger packet.
Next, put a couple of handfuls of watercress and rocket in a bowl. I wanted a creamy element to this dish, so settled on a lemon yogurt dressing for the salad leaves. I’ve only recently started experimenting with goats milk yogurt and I’m finding that the distinct flavour is very reminiscent of goat cheese and so it feels more at home in savoury dishes than sweet for the time being. I mixed a couple of tablespoons of yogurt with some ground black pepper, a teaspoon of olive oil and a good spritz of lemon juice to make a creamy dressing with just enough substance to coat some salad leaves.
Drape some smoked salmon on top of your hot potato cakes and serve with plenty of salad.
Shopping list: Mashed potato, butter, plain flour, smoked salmon, ready cooked beetroot, pickled ginger, watercress, rocket, goats milk yogurt, lemon, black pepper, olive oil.
Makes 10-12 potato cakes, depending on size.
PS. I had a few leftover cakes and they were also delicious with rare roast beef and a mustardy dressed salad: