Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Potato Flowers for Thanksgiving #MakeItYours

I love mashed potatoes. You can't beat a bowl of perfectly-seasoned, unreasonably-buttered, glorious, fluffy mashed potatoes.

Heck, I even like them when they're a little lumpy.

But sometimes I want to dress them up a bit for a party.

There are soooo many options, like adding spices and cheese, like these jalapeno cheddar mashed potatoes from Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts or Colcannon (mashed potatoes with cabbage and onion) from An Edible Mosaic.

I actually used bits of both ideas, with the cheese on top of some of my spuds, and an unexpected ingredient - not cabbage, but you'll see - mixed into the potatoes.

And then for even more of a twist (perhaps even a twirl) I piped them onto a baking sheet for a pretty presentation.

The resulting potato "flowers" are easy to make if you've got piping tips, and they look like you spent way more time than you did. Even better, you can do most of the prep work a day or two ahead, pipe them the day you need them, and finish them in the oven while the roast is resting.

For extra flavor, my additional ingredient was celery root. If you're not familiar with it, it's that round, brown gnarly-looking thing at the grocery store that's probably near the fresh horseradish and rutabagas.

One problem with celery root is that some of them can be a little woody, and that's not what I want in my mashed potatoes. The solution is to run the puree through a sieve to remove the tough bits. It's an extra step, but if you're doing it a day or to in advance, it's not that bad.

The second problem with celery root is that once cooked, it can be sort of ... soggy. Lots of water in it that will turn your mashed potatoes into potato soup in the blink of an eye. The solution is to cook the puree to evaporate the extra liquid and intensify the flavor. It doesn't take long, and I think it's well worth it, because then you can add more cream.

But first, a word from our sponsor:

This post is sponsored by Anolon, and they've offered a giveaway to my readers. For this recipe, I used the Nouvelle Copper 3.5 quart saucepan with straining lid, which is becoming one of my favorite pieces of cookware, and that's the one I'm giving away.

It's got a nonstick interior that's metal-utensil safe, and it's got two pouring spouts and a straining lid, so you can pour the water out while keeping the contents safely enclosed in the pot. But that straining feature has an added benefit - you can vent the pot, or turn the lid and it's completely closed.

That venting feature is nice when you're cooking something with the potential to boil over if the lid isn't vented. It's also great for making popcorn on the stove. Keeping a standard lid tilted on a pot to release steam while shaking the pot for proper popcorn popping takes way more coordination than I have some days. A vented lid is so much more convenient.

Potato Flowers

1 medium celery root (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3 pounds russet, Idaho, or Yukon gold potatoes (or a mix)
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup heavy cream (more as needed)
2 eggs
Several generous grinds black pepper
Grated cheese, for garnish
Paprika, for garnish

Peel, cube and cook the celery root in boiling salted water until fork tender. Peel, cube, and cook the potatoes in a separate pot of boiling salted water. For both of these, you want to start in cold water in the pot, bring it to boiling, then simmer until fork-tender.

When the celery root is tender, run it though a food mill or ricer on the finest setting. Taste the puree - either there will be small, tough fibers, or there won't. If there are tough fibers, run the puree through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the fibers. At this point the puree will be the consistency of applesauce.

Return the celery root puree to the pot and add the butter. Cook, stirring as needed, until the extra water is evaporated and the texture resembles mashed potatoes.

Meanwhile, rice the potatoes.

When the celery root puree has reached the correct consistency, add the riced potatoes to the pot, along with the heavy cream. Stir to combine, then taste. Add salt, if needed, and add more cream if the potatoes seem dry. Add several generous grinds of black pepper, stir to combine, and take the mixture off the heat. Let it cool a bit before adding the egg, or refrigerate and continue the next day.

When you're ready to continue, heat the oven to 375 degrees. If you've just taken a roast out of the oven, you're already there, or at least close. If you need to cook other things at other temperatures, it's fine. The potatoes won't mind if they're cooked at a slightly higher or lower temperature - they'll just take a little more or less time to cook.

Since the vegetables are completely cooked, we're just looking for some browning, some melted cheese, and a hot interior to cook the egg.

Line 2 baking sheets with silicone mats.

Add the eggs to the potatoes and mix well. Working in batches, put the potato mixture in a piping bag fitted with a large decorative tip. Pipe mounded circles of potatoes onto the baking sheets. I made 24 mounds, 12 on each sheet. Be as decorative as you like. You can make them all the same (hah! as if!) or make each one different (more likely!)

I actually like to make them different sizes. I'm a big proponent of letting people have as much of whatever they want, so if folks have smaller appetites, they can choose a smaller flower. Those with larger appetites can choose a larger one (or two or three small ones. I don't judge.)

For an added garnish, grate cheese (I used a mild cheddar) on top of some or all, or put a small cube of cheese in the center. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired. An extra sprinkle of black pepper or even some scattered herbs would also be fine.

Bake at 375 degrees until the cheese (if used) has melted and there's some browning on the edges of the potatoes and on the ridges of the piping design. Timing will depend on how warm or cool the potatoes were when you started, as well as oven temp and the size of your potato mounds, but check at 15 minutes and figure it might take up to 25.

Carefully remove the mounds from the trays using a small spatula for serving.

To enter to win:

Anolon is giving away one 3.5-quart Nouvelle Copper straining saucepan with lid to one of my lucky readers.
  • To enter, just leave a comment letting me know how you'd make this dish your own? What would you add, swap, or change? This is the only required entry.
  • For an optional second entry, Like Anolon on Facebook or follow on Twitter, and leave a comment here telling me which you've done.
Contest begins NOW and ends on Saturday, November 30 at midnight, Mountain time. US residents only, 18 years and older. Comments must be made on THIS blog post and not left elsewhere or sent by email. Prize will be shipped to the winner from Anolon. All usual Cookistry rules apply.

This post was sponsored by Anolon. Opinions and commentary are my own.