Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Interesting Potato

I found these potato recipes in a vintage cookbook for children and thought you would enjoy them.
The Interesting Potato

Every girl should know how to cook potatoes properly; yet really there is scarcely any other one vegetable that can be prepared in so many ways and still is often so poorly cooked as to be practically unfit to eat. It would seem an easy thing to make a light, appetizing dish of mashed potatoes—and what is more inviting?—but how often are they served wet and soggy! To understand the right way to cook and serve potatoes is as much an art as to make a salad or bake a cake.


Plain boiled potatoes, with the skin on, are delicious when cooked as they should be. The requisite number should be selected, perfect in form and uniform in size, and scrubbed with the vegetable brush, but the skins not broken. If they are old they will be better for soaking half an hour in cold water. A half hour before dinner-time, if they are of medium size, they should be[46] covered with boiling salted water and placed on the stove, where they will boil gently, not hard, until the skins begin to crack open. Test with a fork, and as soon as they are tender, drain off all the water and set on the back of the stove to steam dry. Serve in a hot, open vegetable dish; and if there is company or you are very particular, remove the skins (without breaking the potatoes) just before sending to the table. In case there is to be fish or a meat dish without gravy, serve the potatoes with the white sauce our little cook was taught to make in one of her first lessons.


For mashed potatoes the mother should tell the child to pick out the imperfect ones, or those too large to bake, to be peeled and cut up. Have her put them on in boiling salted water half an hour before dinner-time, cook until perfectly tender, then drain and let steam dry. After standing a few moments (in a hot place), have her mash them thoroughly, first with an old-fashioned wooden masher until all the lumps are removed, and then with a wire one. To each cupful of potato add a teaspoonful of butter and a tablespoonful of hot milk. They should be beaten up[47] creamy with the wire beater, then turned out into a hot covered dish, with a lump of butter in the center and a sprinkling of pepper over the top, and served at once.

If dinner is delayed, however, and there is danger of their getting cold, have her put them in a baking-dish or tin, smooth them nicely over the top and set where they will keep warm. Then when needed, if she will grate a little cheese over the top and put in the oven for a few minutes to brown, she will find that they are even nicer than when first made. The mashed potatoes left from dinner can be worked up with a little cream and molded into small round cakes, to be fried brown next morning.


Often in buying potatoes one finds a quantity of little ones usually considered "too small to be bothered with." They seem hardly worth peeling, but if scrubbed clean and boiled as directed the skins can be removed quickly when they are tender. Then if a white sauce is made, these little potato balls can be dropped in and served garnished with finely chopped parsley on top. This is a favorite way of preparing new potatoes and most appetizing.[48]


If the mother prefers, she can have the child take these little balls (peeled after they are cooked), cut them up fine, and fry them as follows: In a hot pan melt two tablespoonfuls of butter and add a teaspoonful of finely chopped onion, which should be cooked until a delicate brown before the seasoned potatoes are added.


Parboil sliced potatoes, or slice cold boiled ones, line the bottom of a baking dish, sprinkle with salt, pepper, a little flour, grated cheese, and dots of butter. Repeat until the pan is nearly full, cover with milk, sprinkle the top with the grated cheese, and bake until brown, or about half an hour. Cheese potatoes are particularly good served with cold meat.


Potatoes for baking should be of uniform, medium size and perfect. After being well scrubbed they should be wiped dry and put in a moderate oven three-quarters of an hour before meal-time. If the meal is delayed for any reason they should be pricked with a fork in several places to let out[49] the steam, and then set where they will keep hot, but not in a covered dish, or they will get wet and soggy.


If it is necessary to keep them any length of time, cut off the end of each potato, scrape out the inside, season with salt, pepper, a little butter, a small quantity of cream and to every three potatoes one egg, the white beaten stiff. After whipping up light put back in the shells, where they will keep warm. Just before sending to the table, put in the oven for a few moments, until they puff up and brown at the ends.


Cold boiled potatoes can be used in so many different ways that where there is no servant in the house it often is a saving of time and labor to boil a quantity at one time and then heat up as needed. They are nice simply sliced thin and fried brown in butter.


If this is considered too rich, half the amount of butter will be sufficient to flavor and keep from scorching, and then when they brown as they are[50] hashed in the pan pour in a few spoonfuls of cream. Season well, allow to brown down again, then fold like an omelet and serve on a hot platter garnished with parsley.


Scalloped potatoes are very nice for a supper dish, as they can be prepared early in the day and set away until needed. The little cook, after washing and peeling her potatoes, next cuts them in thin slices, enough to fill the dish needed and parboils in salted water for ten minutes. Then drain. Arrange a layer of these, with a sprinkling of flour, pepper and salt and a few small pieces of butter, repeating in layers until the pan is full. Pour over enough milk to cover. When ready to cook, allow half an hour for the baking, and from time to time add a little extra hot milk. It is well to set a large pan containing water under the baking-dish to catch any milk that might boil over and burn on the bottom of the oven.

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