Potatoes-star of the show – Ruth Pretty

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Archive for December, 2015

Potatoes – star of the show – Ruth Pretty 

 

Blog Ruth Pretty

 

Ruth Pretty – Finest ingredients prepared simply.

A great caterer needs to be many things, but ‘crowd pleaser’ and ‘palate teaser’ are two qualities that certainly feature high on the list.  Weddings, significant birthdays, family celebrations and even funerals are all more memorable when accompanied by stunning food.  But things can get tricky when you’re feeding en masse, even harder when the tastes you have on offer need to appeal to everyone from a cousin’s fussy kids to ninety five year old Uncle Wilfred with his delicate constitution.   Corporate events and state dinners are no different.  In the food stakes, it takes all types.

‘It’s very hard to find anyone that doesn’t love potatoes,’ says Ruth Pretty, celebrity caterer, food writer, and author.  ‘We use potatoes extensively for events.  Despite grains being very fashionable now, they’re not to everybody’s taste.  But everybody in New Zealand loves potatoes.  And there are so many different ways you can do potatoes.’

The vegetable sits well with Ruth’s overall food philosophy, which is not so much driven by the latest and greatest food fashion, but by what’s fresh, what’s in season and by what her clients enjoy when it comes food.

‘Our style would be best described as really good quality produce done simply.  Our flavours are very focused on fresh herbs and citrus.  People are often surprised at the range of food we serve at different events.  They might know us as a high-end caterer but don’t realise that we often serve quite informal, casual food.  Fries served in a paper cone is very popular with drinks for example.’

As one of the country’s top culinary talents, Ruth knows a thing or two about what works.  Operating a highly successful catering business with her husband Paul for more than 25 years, Ruth continues to inspire professional and home cooks alike with her long-running column in the DominionPost, her frequent media appearances and through her popular cookbooks.  Her cooking school, based at the couple’s 27-hectare property Springfield in Te Horo, has allowed many keen cooks to get a firsthand experience of cooking with Ruth.

‘We do potatoes all the time in the cooking school,’ says Ruth.  ‘We could never run the Christmas class without having potatoes in it.  Everybody has potatoes on Christmas Day don’t they?’

True to form, Ruth remains very particular about the potatoes she uses, sourcing only the freshest from third generation growers Laugesen’s Market Garden in Wanganui.  Agria are her variety of choice although she is rather partial to Jersey Bennes when in season.

‘I love potatoes,’ says Ruth enthusiastically.  ‘We make them with an aromatic salt – with turmeric and ground almond – and roast them in olive oil, cut side down on a low sided tray.’

For an easy dinner accompaniment, Ruth suggests what she calls ‘Scout Potatoes’ – cubes of washed, unpeeled spuds tossed in olive oil, rosemary and salt.  But her all-time favourite way of serving potatoes is freshly boiled with a thick dressing of olive oil, Manuka honey and mustard.  When served with a crunchy sprinkle of toasted seeds and quinoa, it’s a sure fire winner that is easily prepared at point of service – for twenty five or a thousand guests.

A classic mash is also a crowd pleaser, according to Ruth.  Although her secret to a great mash may not please the strictest health fanatics.  ‘We like to use more butter and cream than potato probably! Melt butter and cream over heat – add salt pepper and nutmeg.  Then we’ll fold in more butter and cream.  It’s lovely with fish!’

It may not be an indulgence for every day, but on a special occasion there is nothing more pleasurable than to celebrate with good food.  Just ask a caterer.

Article from freshinspiration magainze, issue 19 Summer 2015

Potatoes-star of the show-Martin Bosley

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Potatoes – star of the show – Martin Bosley 

Martin Bosley

 

Food writers stand apart.  Other professionals involved in the celebration of good food, most notably chefs and restaurant reviewers, devote themselves almost entirely to impressing.  With elaborate plating or elegant phrasing, they hope to demonstrate to the average punter why they’re not in the kitchen themselves.  Great food is a serious business.  Only professionals need apply.

But food writers take a different approach.  They prefer an open door policy.  Food is for the people.  Come on in and help mash the spuds.

‘Our job is part aspirational, part attainable’ says Martin Bosley, food writer for Air New Zealand’s Kia Ora magazine.  ‘I want people to read my column and go: I could do that.  I want to encourage people to get back into the kitchen – its doesn’t have to be complicated, or involve a day’s worth of prep.  Cooking must be fun.  Let’s have serious food but have a great time doing it.’

Of course Martin Bosley has seen both sides.  A celebrated chef, Bosley has been at the helm of a number of award winning find dinning establishments.  He has also maintained a demanding schedule as a food columnist for the last 10 years, most notably with his popular weekly column in the New Zealand Listener.  Bosley has also authored two books and represented New Zealand international in Japan and North America as a Chef Ambassador.

With such a full agenda, it’s easy to see why Bosley’s recipes favour an uncomplicated approached to ingredients.  ‘The older I get, the simpler my food becomes and the tools I need to produce it.  I only have two knives.  I used to get around with a knife kit with 30 knives – I could have disemboweled a cat!’

‘I have a rule with my recipes – I must be able to buy all the ingredients at my local store.  We thing we’re so clever sometimes with food and the art of cooking – but the choices of ingredients and marriage of flavours, that hasn’t changed at all.  People have tossed out the potatoes for quinoa.  But they’ll get bored with quinoa, and the potatoes will go: Yeah, we knew you’d be back.’

Potatoes loom large in Bosley’s culinary compendium.  He cites the staggering number of entries relating to the potato in the haute cuisine reference cookbook, Le Repertoire de la Cuisine as proof of the vegetable’s unrivalled versatility.

‘There are a number of ingredients that we just go to – they’re a bit maligned.  We don’t give them a second thought – we might talk excitedly about spunkily fresh snapper or crayfish or the season’s first asparagus – which is great, I love seasonal eating – but staples like potatoes, we just ignore them.

‘Potatoes are the most versatile vegetable – we don’t do enough with them.  And they’re good for you.  Loaded with potassium and vitamin C.  And they’re economical too!  Potato gratin – what a magical dish!  Fresh gnocchi – amazing.  Perfect mash – totally over the top.’

Bosley believes more should be done at a restaurant level to elevate the potato, with chef’s showing a keener interest in showcasing the range of varieties available in New Zealand.

‘Back in the day we just brought potatoes – we didn’t know what variety they were.  We should be celebrating them by name on menus. Jersey Bennes are the hero of the story – they’re the only potato we all know by variety and we all willingly buy them in a cardboard box at an enormous expense.  But it doesn’t start with the consumer.  They follow what the chefs at the cool restaurants are doing.’

Then again, perhaps it’s what the food writers are doing in the real world that matters more.

 

Article from freshinspiration magainze, issue 19 Summer 2015

 

It’s new potato season!!!!

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It’s new potato season!!!!

new-potatoes

Many people have fond memories of new potatoes…. it may be having new potatoes for  Christmas day lunch or even digging up your own homegrown new potatoes!  But for everyone in New Zealand new potatoes signal the start of warmer weather.

A “new” potato is ‘ a young potato pulled out of the ground before it gets to full size.  New potatoes are also known for holding their shape well once cooked and cut.

Like all varities of potatoes, new pototaes are nutrient rich and they even contain over 10 percent of the recommended dietary intake of several B vitamins and also contain potassium. Potassium is an essential mineral that supports healthy muscle function. It is also needed for normal functioning of the nervous system and contributes to healthy growth and development in children.

A healthy body requires a daily source of vitamin C and potatoes provide 40 percent of the recommended dietary intake. This vitamin contributes to a healthy immune system, helps fight fatigue and is an antioxidant that may protect against some lifestyle diseases. The dietary fibre content of potatoes, particularly in the skin, is important to aid healthy digestion. However new potatoes have a softer skin than other varieties and it can easily be flicked off with your fingers.

New potatoes don’t need to be peeled; simply rinse to remove any dirt and cook whole. Store new potatoes in a cool, dark and well-ventilated place. They should be used within a few days of purchase.