10 June 2011

Olive Oil and Parmesan Mashed Potatoes with Parma Ham

Early in the week I was going through one of those sick-of-the-world crisis, you know, where you see the bad side of everything and the good hardly seems to balance it out, much less triumph. The weight of thousands of years of oppression seemed to be dragging me down and the black cloud of deep-rooted prejudice was obscuring my usual optimism. In the depths of the social justice doldrums, a sudden ray of light burst through and that ray of light said, "I want to make cookies!" All right, all right, it's no Book of Revelations but still... I tried to reason it away - I'm on a diet! - but it was a very insistent insight. "Fine, fine," I grumbled, "cookies."

And in midst of vigorously creaming together the butter and the sugar - the old-fashioned way, no machines - to the rhythm some of favorite cooking music, the black clouds started to slink away. By the time the smell of cookies was wafting through the apartment, I was full-out dancing in the living room and the world seemed brighter. I may not be able to eradicate prejudice or stupidity but, dammit, I can make cookies and that's gotta count for something.

Sometimes it's important to get back to basics: the recipes you've known all your life, the ones your mother made, the ones you discovered when you first started cooking, the ones that are too easy for "real chefs", or made with silly ingredients, the ones that make you feel good, that have too much butter and more than one kind of sugar, because maybe those are the recipes that change the world - or at least YOUR world - and that's about all you can hope to change anyway.

Long philosophical digressions aside, let's get to the recipe. It comes from a book the mom of one of the girls I babysit for gave to me called De recettes régressives pour gourmets notstalgiques (Regressive Recipes for Nostalgic Gourmets) - the only picture I found was of a later edition (above) but that's the idea. It revisits exactly the kind of foods I'm talking about - the fun foods you ate as a kid - and playfully adapts them for adult taste buds. I've already tried a couple of the recipes and have marked a bunch more. They're simple and sophisticated, like these Olive Oil and Parmesan Mashed Potatoes with Parma Ham.

for 4 people

1kg (2.2 lbs) potatoes
20 leaves basil (optional)
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
8 slices Parma ham (or Bayonne, or other similar)
6-8 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

Peel potatoes and cut into chunks. Cook in salted boiling water for 15-20 minutes, until soft. Drain water, put potatoes back in the pot with the olive oil and mash (with a potato masher or fork). Mince all but 4 basil leaves (if using) and add to the puree along with the Parmesan cheese. Reheat the puree on low heat mixing in the ingredients.

Lay two slices of ham on each plate, ladle the puree on top and fold up the sides of the ham. Garnish with the left-over basil leaves and Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately and enjoy!


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That must be delicious! A lipsmackingly good combination of ingredients.



Julie said...

Hi, Hope!!!

This looks delicious!!! Wonder what we have here that is similar to Parma Ham here?

Hopie said...

Rosa - Certainly is :-)
Julie - Hey! Parma Ham is a type of prosciutto and Bayonne ham is another type of uncooked ham. That's what you'll want to find!!

Anonymous said...

Cookies (and, well, cooking in general) often has that effect, doesn't it? It's one of my favorite things about it - besides the eating, of course! ;)

Hopie said...

Camille - I'm with you there :-)

I Wilkerson said...

"I can make cookies and that's gotta count for something." That's certainly a line for me to remember next time I'm down! I am watching my potato plants carefully--not too long before I get a few to try this deilcious looking potato dish!

Hopie said...

I Wilkerson - ooh, with homegrown potatoes that's gonna be something!