Monday, 15 August 2011

Recipe: crushed and roasted potatoes

I created this recipe by accident and as far as I know it's original. A few weeks ago, I overcooked the potatoes for the Sunday roast without realising it. I drained them and following the sainted Delia Smith method, shook the pan as I usually do in order to rough up the edges of the spuds which creates the lovely crispy finish that Delia's roasties are famous for.

When I took the lid off I realised my mistake; about half the potatoes were reduced to chunks too small to roast. Rather than waste them, I piled them into a poaching ring to create fat discs of potato and roasted them along with the surviving potatoes. The result was a revelation - they were beautifully crisp, better in fact than the traditional roasties and had a very pleasing texture, somewhere between a roast potato and a hash brown. I've since made them for the family instead of roast potatoes to great approval.

This simple recipe could be embellished with the addition of parsley, rosemary or thyme and garlic mixed into the potato before it's moulded, but I think it works fine as it is.

(serves 4)
800g main crop potatoes e.g. Maris Piper
800ml cold water
8g salt
50g lard or fat or oil of your choice

Pre-heat your oven to 180C. Peel and chop the potatoes into large chunks. Rinse well, then cover with the cold water and bring to the boil. Add the salt and simmer for 5-7 minutes until par-boiled. Meanwhile, heat the lard in a roasting tin in the oven.

Drain then crush the potatoes using the back of a spoon. You want a chunky mixture and not mash. Spoon the potato into a 9cm by 3cm poaching ring, pressing down gently to compoact the potato so that it holds its shape. Repeat three times so that you have four discs.

Place the discs in the roasting tin and baste with the hot oil. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until golden and cooked through, turning halfway to ensure even cooking. Serve with roast meat and all the trimmings.

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Saturday, 6 August 2011

Rojano's in the Square

On the square with chef Paul Ainsworth

Paul Ainsworth is probably best known for his wildly over the top 'Trip to the Fairground' dessert he created for the BBC's Great British menu series this year. You can try it for your self at Ainsworth's smart No 6 restaurant in Padstow if you've got the odd £21 burning a hole in your pocket. As that feeds two, and the prices on the rest of the menu are hardly greedy, you can't begrudge the chef cashing in just a little bit on his telly fame.

However, if you're after a more relaxed, affordable and family friendly experience, then his new venture, Rojano's on the Square just around the corner from No 6 might better fit the bill. Ainsworth has taken over a Padstow institution that's been around for three decades and bought it bang up to date. The smart, modern interior is decked out with black and white Rome-themed photos and Warhol-style screen prints of Lambrettas.

The menu is somewhat in the tradition of Jamie's Italian-olives are 'the best', tomato bread is 'really garlicky' and fries with garlic and parsley are 'funky'- but Ainsworth beats Oliver at his own game. Presentation, quality of ingredients and portion size are all a notch above the famous high street chain. But that's as it should be - this is a one off after all, although the price point is very close. Service is utterly charming and attentive.

Nearly everything delights, with only some lower quality pitted black olives on a 'rustico sottile' ultra thin pizza and an overly-large and less than thrilling accompaniment of peppers, chorizo and potato with some beautifully cooked fillets of lemon sole falling short of the mark.

An antipasto of parma ham, salami milano, spianata calabrese, bresáola, salami napoli, baked cheese, porcini relish, pickles, olives and rosemary toasts sounds expensive at £20 but would easily satisfy four as a starter or two as a light lunch.

Ainsworth has filled a gap in the Padstow market for high quality, casual Italian dining with the sort of easy style that could happily translate to the high steet; the first floor 'grazing bar' is a nice on-trend metropolitan touch. Watch out Jamie?

Calamari, garlic mayo (in the bucket) sweet chilli tomato salad

Mozzarella arancini with Arrabiata sauce


Capricossa pizza - ultra thin crispy base but what's with the cheap pitted olives?

Linguini al gamberi e rucola

Burger Italiano

Rock fries with truffle and parmesan

Fish of the day - lemon sole with potatoes, chorizo and peppers

Gelatio mostro

White chocolate pannacotta, berry compote and honeycomb

Rojano's in the Square
9 Mill Square
01841 532 796;