Friday 22 June 2007

Potatoes and kids: needn't be a match made in McDonald's

I am in awe of potatoes. What I mean is that I think that, with their skins on, they are a most fantastical family food: wholesome, filling, comforting, cheap, easy to prepare and crammed with good things (Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and, believe it or not, almost double the potassium content of a banana).

Kids don't automatically like potatoes (unless, of course, they're skinned, deep-fried and come in a red box emblazoned with a yellow double arch) and it takes a bit of low cunning to convince them to eat them, skin and all, every day. Over the next few days, I'll be offering some wily strategies for potatofying your children.

Baked potatoes
They always turn out okay if they're slashed, tossed onto the rack of a hot oven and baked for an hour or so, but they're indisputably crispier and tastier with a lick of oil and some salt. After many years of experimenting, I've settled on this clean-hands method. Cut a cross in the top of each potato. Place on a baking sheet (a muffin tin works even better; stand the spuds up in the muffin tins and they'll bake very quickly). Spray with a light film of olive oil, from a spritzer or aerosol** can. (I keep a can of olive oil in my cupboard specifically for baked potatoes; you don't get your hands oily and you use only a tiny bit of fat). Dust with a pinch of salt. Bake at 200 C for an hour, turning and tossing the spuds once.

** I am reminded of a wonderful joke. You need to tell this in a thick Swedish accent:

A man walks into a chemist in Sweden.
Man: 'I'd like a can of deodorant, please.'
Chemist: 'Ball, or aerosol?'
Man (cheerfully): 'Neither! I'd like it for my armpits.'

Tomorrow: Perfect mash from unpeeled potatoes.
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