Recipe : Potato Cakes

[picture credit]
Yesterday we had some left over boiled potatoes and thought I'd make some potato cakes.  My memory of potato cakes is of mum buying them from a cafe in St Annes-on-sea, just off the Square, and frying them up in a little bit of butter for tea.  They looked a little something like this ~~~~~~~~~~~>

Now, I know mine wouldn't look like that but I googled "potato cake recipes" and was presented with a whole host of different methods.  I scrolled through a few and thought: how hard can it be?  I hate following recipes anyway - that's boring!  Plus I don't have a food processor or a potato ricer (Huh! A what?) and neither did either of my grandmothers.  What was good enough for them is good enough for me so here's my method with some do's and don't's and Top Tips.

  • Some potatoes, cooled and mashed
  • Just over half a very large onion, grated
  • Some cheese, grated
  • One egg, lightly beaten
  • salt and pepper to own taste
  • plain flour for dusting
  • a bit of butter for frying

  • Mash up the cooled potatoes with a fork and not the potato masher that is neither use nor ornament but still resides in your kitchen drawer for some strange reason.
  • Vigorously grate the onion and spend the next 15 minutes dousing your eyes with cold water to try and stem the flow of onion tears.  Grate the cheese.  You may remember to rinse the grater at this point and prevent another bout of onion tears.
  • Add the onion, cheese, salt and pepper to the mashed potatoes and mix thoroughly.
  • Pour in the beaten egg.  This apparently binds the mixture together.  At this point I regress to my Catholic upbringing and sing "Bind Us Together, Lord" as I'm mixing.  
  • Remind yourself that the idea is to scoop a small amount of the dough in your hand and form into a ball shape, flatten, dust with plain flour and place on a plate ready for frying later.
  • Try to create your first potato cake and realise that you may need to use some flour on your hands to stop the dough from sticking.
  • Throw some plain flour over your hands and try again.  Make a couple more potato cakes and realise that the dough is still a little bit too sticky.
  • Remove all jewellery so that you don't get any more dough lodged in any part of your rings.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly, don't dry them completely and marvel that the next potato cake you try to make doesn't stick to slightly damp hands.
  • Wash hands, repeat the method to make one potato cake, wash hands, repeat the method to make another potato cake, wash hands, repeat the method to make another potato cake, and so on until all dough is used up.
  • To cook, melt a bit of butter in your frying pan, gently place the potato cakes into the pan and fry until golden brown, turning once so that both sides cook.  Here is where you discover that if your mixture has too much cheese in it the potato cakes will become a little bit sloppy when heated up, making it difficult to flip them over.  You can make a mental note to use less cheese next time.  Also, don't put too many in the pan at the same time as you'll find it nigh on impossible to scoop up the sloppy potato cakes to flip them over
  • When completely cooked through and golden brown on both sides, serve to your hungry family.
  • Rescue your jewellery from wherever you left it and scrub it clean with the spare toothbrush from under the sink.
Eat your heart out, Fanny Cradock.  My gâteaux de pomme de terre are just amazing!!

*"some", "just over" and "a bit" are proper measurements in this house.  Oh yes, they are!