Pommes Dauphine

Country of origin: France

Pommes dauphine (little dolphin princesses, I like to think) are little potato dumplings – but with a difference. When you bite into one, you go through the crispy outer shell with soft airy potato inside. They are a more sophisticated cousin of the potato croquette, and a bit more exciting than pommes duchesse, which just has egg added to mashed potato. So what’s in them? Mashed potato mixed with choux pastry, formed into little balls and deep fried.

Sadly I ate them all, plain, as they were cooked, but they would be a delicious accompaniment with meat, fish, nut loaf or vegetables, and a sauce.

This recipe was very easy to follow and made about 16 small dauphines. The recipe forms the dauphines with two tablespoons of mixture, but my deep fryer is far too small to cook that size properly, so I made mini-sized ones, using about a teaspoon of mixture. Also, be very careful as you get to the end of the frying time, they have a tendency to burst if cooked too long:

I think you could also make dauphines from sweet potatoes, celeriac or parsnip, ensuring that as much moisture is removed when cooking them. Maybe this is dangerous territory, but I’m also thinking pumpkin, a bit of cinnamon and sugar in the choux…Thanksgiving dauphines?

Tips:

– After forming the mixture of mashed potato and choux pastry, put in the freezer for fifteen minutes or so, to firm it up; it will be easier to form into balls for the frying.

– Flour the palms of your hands when forming the dauphines, it will stop the pastry sticking to you.

– Use the first dauphine as a check for your temperature and seasoning. You want them golden brown and cooked through.

Japanese Curry

Country of origin: curry was introduced to Japan by the British

It all began with Wagamama’s Vegetarian Katsu curry: crispy bread-crumbed (and I hope, shallow-fried) slices of sweet potato, aubergine and pumpkin besides steaming sushi rice, all smothered in a delicious curry sauce. Although I fully intended to learn how to make this magical curry, once I’d spotted the instant ready-made curry cubes in the Japanese supermarket, we became fast friends and plans came to a halt. The time has now come to make the real deal.

Although the curry usually features carrots, onions, potatoes and chicken, you can put almost anything in it. I used tofu and added some peas.

It’s a really good easy-to-follow recipe, with two parts. In one pan, onions are caramelized, the tofu added and cooked, then the vegetables and some water. In another small pan, make a spicy roux, which is eventually added to the other pan. Voila.

The end result: nice and spicy, albeit milder somehow, lacking the intensity of the packaged version (the flavor did improve after 24 hours though).

P.S. I have separately made sliced and bread-crumbed aubergines, which make a tasty meal served with miso soup, pickles and rice. I am sure they would go beautifully with the curry…