I'm starting to realise that the most popular recipes I post are the old-fashioned, cheap and comforting ones, the sort of dishes that are in danger of dying out. We have so many new ideas, foods from all over the world, great new ideas for fashionable restaurant dishes made accessible at home, ready made versions of just about any dish you could think of, and great gadgets for bringing new processes into our homes, that the everyday meals we remember from our childhoods (and with my 60th birthday next week, that's quite a long time ago) are being forgotten.
But I don't want to forget them! Much as I love experimenting with new dishes and new recipes, I don't want to lose touch with the old ones. So with that in mind, today I'm bringing you my own version of the very first dish I cooked in cookery lessons at Grammar School (Ashton-in-Makerfield, since you asked so nicely) way back in 1967.
It's cheap, it's comforting, it uses odds and ends out of the fridge and it's warming and satisfying, which we shouldn't normally be needing at the beginning of August but unfortunately is just what we DO need! This I also a useful dish as it can be prepared in advance then refrigerated, leaving just the final oven baking to be done when you are ready to eat. In fact you could cook the potatoes in advance while using the oven for something else, even the previous day's meal.
So, to serve two people, you will need
2 large baking potatoes
a handful of mushrooms (I used about 60g)
scraps of left over cooked ham (I used about 75g)
2 free range eggs
A lump of cheese - I used about 60g of strong Cheddar, finely grated
butter and seasoning
Bake the potatoes in their skins (oven or microwave, whichever you prefer, but if you have time to do them in the oven the "shell" will be stronger) and allow to cool slightly, then slice off the tops (about 1cm down) and scoop the flesh out into a bowl. Don't forget that flesh from the tops! Leave quite a thick "wall" in your potato shell so that you don't break it. Mash the flesh with a knob of butter and plenty seasoning. Don't add milk as your mash needs to be a fairly firm, mouldable texture.
Boil the eggs, cool slightly and shell, leaving them whole. Chop the ham.
Slice the mushrooms thickly and quickly fry in a little butter until cooked and turning golden at the edges. If you are not going to reheat the dish immediately, allow them to cool fully before assembling your potatoes.
Now mix together the ham and mushrooms and place the mixture in the bottom of your potato skins, pushing it up the sides slightly to leave an egg-sized hollow. Place your eggs in the hollows.
Next you need to top the eggs with the mashed potato. The snag is, you've just filled the space that it came from and your potato shells are probably just about full! To work around this, take half the potato and use your hands to mould it into an oval ball about the size of the opening on the potato and then carefully position it on top of the shell. Your potatoes will look something like this:
If you are planning to serve them later, refrigerate at this point.
To serve now: Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan, 375F, gas mark 5. Sprinkle the potatoes with grated cheese and bake for around 20 minutes until golden.
To reheat: Heat the oven to 150C/130Cfan, 300F, gas mark 2. Sprinkle the potatoes with grated cheese and bake for around 30 minutes, then increase the temperature to 190C/170C fan, 375F, gas mark 5 and cook for a further 20 minutes until golden.
I like to serve these with baked tomatoes (this time I used a huge beefsteak tomato, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and baked alongside the potatoes) and broccoli.
By the way, we wouldn't have done that ^^^^ with the tomato back in 1967, we'd have painstakingly cut it into a waterlily and served it raw..... in fact I remember it well, because my Mother complained like mad because we had to take tomatoes into school in January, when they were out of season and really expensive, just to learn how to cut waterlilies!
I'm sharing this with
Credit Crunch Munch which this month is hosted by Food Glorious Food along with regulars Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours.
Simply Eggscellent at Belleau Kitchen
Kitchen Clearout at Madhouse Family Reviews
No Waste Food Challenge at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary