Go on, if you have a moment, click on the link below, featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger Astaire singing a famous Gershwin song — but let’s not do as its title suggests … which is : Let’s call it off.
Speaking for myself, I would never ever ‘call off’ the humble potato so I am always amazed at the amount of people who just don’t see the point of a potato, denigrating this marvellous tuber as a ‘senseless’ vegetable. Life without potatoes would be very sad for me, I even like them plain, just boiled with a bit of olive oil or butter over them. I reckon Ernest Heminway had a lot to do with people (especially women) fearing potatoes as the most calory-laden food out there. His heroine Maria in “For Whom the Bell Tolls” speaks out against the fattening danger of potatoes. Heminway’s novel was a best seller so I am sure a lot of readers were swayed by this nonsense. Here’s an article that values the health-promoting properties of potatoes :
and here is another: http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=48.
It might surprise readers who do not speak Italian that in Italy the common potato is associated with … ahem … er …. the vagina, in child-speak. A little boy’s attribute is known as ‘the little pea’ (il pisellino) and a little girl’s, instead, is a little potato (la patatina). It can also be a little butterfly (la farfallina). Talk about birds and bees!!!
So … today’s recipe from my home food selection is a potato cake stuffed with ham and mozzarella. I dare anyone to tell me it’s not tasty!
Ingredients: potatoes, milk, grated parmesan, eggs, nutmeg, ham, mozzarella, breadcrumbs and butter.
The potatoes need to be mashed, so start by boiling them.
Turn the oven on at 200°C.
Cut or rip your mozzarella into shreds and place them in a colander so that they can ‘drip’ some of their excess liquid away. The mozzarella will cook with the potato cake and if it is too ‘moist’ it will ruin the texture. Meanwhile:
A couple of egg yolks …Put some milk and butter in a pan that will be hosting the potatoes …
Mash the potatoes and combine properly with the milk and butter, sprinkle some salt too and set aside to cool a little.Butter a baking tray and then sprinkle some breadcrumbs over it.
Mix the mashed potatoes with the eggs and parmesan … taste and make sure it’s okay for salt. Potatoes like their salt.Then spread one layer of the potato mix over the bottom of the baking dish.Chop some ham.And spread the ham on top of the potato layer.Add shreds of mozzarella on top of that.Use the remaining potato mix to add a final layer and cover everything up.
Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top.What you see above is the remains of a sauce from the night before … Because it was sitting there looking all forlorn, I decided to make use of it … to add a bit of colour to the potato cake. But this is an optional … no need for yourselves to add tomato sauce.And finally … sprinkle teaspoons of butter all over the potato cake.Place the tortino in a hot oven … 200° C.Bake for 35-45 minutes. It all depends on the oven. Ovens are frightfully finickity and terrible fibbers. You never quite know what their real temperature is.
Here is the tortino just out of the oven.The mozzarella will melt and form ‘telephone lines’ as it would with a supplì!Say what you like … I just love potatoes! And the beauty of a tortino di patate is that it can be eaten piping hot in Winter and at room temperature in summer.