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Merrill's daughter Clara has quite the appetite -- and it's all Merrill can do to keep up. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, she steps into the fray.
Today: Merrill makes mashed potato cakes, with a twist.
I may have mentioned that Clara isn't a big fan of potatoes, other than the French fried variety. She especially dislikes mashed potatoes, which are doubly offensive because of the mush factor. This is a problem in our house for two reasons. First, both my husband and I could easily eat our own body weight in mashed potatoes. And second, Jonathan has sworn off all deep fried potatoes for 2014. So unless we could find a compromise, it was looking to be a potato-less year ahead.
Enter the mashed potato cake, a genius combination of mashed and fried. Not to mention the best way, second only to shepherd's pie, to breathe new life into leftover mashed potatoes. I figured if I tucked the potatoes into a crunchy panko crust and then pan-fried them, my spud-snubbing daughter might give them a shot. Just to hedge my bets, I chucked in two more things she loves: cheese, and some chopped broccoli cooked in the style of Roy Finamore (i.e., for a long time, with lots of garlic and olive oil).
Two-year-old pickiness, conquered. Now I can make a vat of mashed potatoes for Jonathan and me without guilt, knowing that the reserves mean future meals for Clara. I've also discovered that these potato cakes aren't half bad with a poached egg on top.
It's going to be a good year.
Serves 6 to 8
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for frying
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 fat clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups panko crumbs
Poached eggs for serving (optional)
Photos by James Ransom