Thursday, 17 January 2008

"Green" mashed potatoes and Anglesey Eggs.

No, not literally green mashed potatoes but cooking potatoes using less fuel. I have been trying to reduce our electricity consumption and since I cook using electricity and I cook a lot I've been trying to think of ways to cut down on energy use.

I reasoned that cooking times depend on the size of the food being cooked, for example a loaf of bread takes longer to cook than the same mass of dough cooked as bread rolls. I have been cutting vegetables up smaller than usual to reduce the cooking times. I then started thinking about the shape of the vegetables and decided that slices would cook quickest having the greatest surface area in contact with the hot water.

So for my low energy mash I cut the potatoes in slices about 0.5cm thick and put them in a pan with just enough cold water to cover them. With the pan lid on I brought the water to the boil and then reduced the heat to a simmer for about three minutes and then turned the heat off. The potatoes continue to cook in the hot water and mine were ready to be drained and mashed after about five minutes standing. Compared to boiling larger chunks of potato for 15-20 minutes I think that this method of cooking must use less than half the energy.

The main points which save energy are

  • Slicing the potatoes fairly thinly to reduce cooking time

  • putting the potatoes into cold water and then bringing it to the boil so that the potatoes start to cook while the water is being heated

  • using just enough water to cover the potatoes so that energy is not used to heat excess water

  • keeping the lid on the pan at all times

  • turning off the heat before the end of the cooking and letting the potatoes continue cooking in the hot water

The recipe I was using the mash for is a favourite of ours Anglesey Eggs. I saw this recipe in a magazine several years ago but never copied it down so my version my well vary from the original. I don't know whether it has any connection with the island of Anglesey or whether someone wanted a welsh sounding name because the recipe contains leeks.

It is a very simple supper dish to prepare. Basically it is a layer of mashed potatoes and leeks, topped with hard boiled eggs and cheese sauce.

Prepare enough mashed potato to feed everyone and stir into it steamed chopped leeks. My leeks are not very big this year so I use one per person. Put the leek/potato mixture into a casserole dish, level the surface and with the back of a spoon make shallow depressions for the hard boiled eggs. I use one or two eggs per person.

Prepare enough fairly thick cheese sauce to cover the eggs and potato mixture. I use a strong cheddar cheese. Pour the cheese sauce over the eggs and potato mix.

Then put in the oven ( around 180C) to heat through, which takes about 15 minutes or simply put under the grill until the cheese sauce bubbles. You can assemble it in advance and then cook it later but to cook from chilled it will need a lot longer probably about 45 minutes for the size shown here.

I usually serve this with carrots and cabbage as it seems to need some brightly coloured vegetables to brighten up the plate otherwise it does look all very pale!


Jessica at Bwlchyrhyd said...

Thank you for that vegetable cooking tip! Sounds so obvious now... :)

Heather L. said...

That recipe sounds really good! I've never heard of it, but will have to give it a try.

Your cooking potato method is great! It reminds me of something that would have been suggested during the war years. I'm just now reviewing the victory cookbook -- which can have some great tips on healthy eating and conserving food/energy, etc.

Moonroot said...

Like the sound of the recipe.

And potato slices - of course! I've been cutting them into smallish dice to cut down on cooking time, but slices makes way more sense. Thanks for the tip!

Rowan said...

Anglesey eggs sound absolutely delicious, I shall have to make this later in the week.

Polly said...

Anglsey Eggs look like great comfort food to me. Yum.
I've been using a a similar cooking method for white rice and pasta as you do for potatoes. I'll be using it for potatoes now too :-) Thanks Willow.

willow said...

Hi Polly, I have heard of using a similar cooking method for pasta, turning off the heat part way through the cooking time, but I haven't tried it because I thought that the pasta might all clump together if the water wasn't moving a little. I'll have a go next time.