The Fastest Potato

I’ve never actually read any of Marguerite Patten’s food writing or, until today, cooked even one of her recipes. It turns out, though, that I’ve eaten a lot of her food. A lot of recipes that I remember eating a lot as a child – particularly, in fact, the ones which I always thought were traditional, family recipes – come from Patten’s books. A lot of these were preserves – jams & chutneys, of course, but most notably the mighty family store of pickled shallots. Dad would (still does, in fact) bring back his wheelbarrowful of little alliums from the allotment, and sit in the garden peeling them; then they’d sit in vast brine tanks before their spiced, malt bath. Then, of course, the endless torment before you were allowed to open them. I remember one year popping a jar before they were ready and eating most of the contents; the stomach ache brought on by eating quite a large amount of raw onion was not pleasant, but the vinegar still tasted good.

I didn’t, unfortunately, have time to recreate these, but it felt appropriate to mark what would have been Patten’s 100th birthday with another of her recipes. This page in my Mum’s cookbook is apparently covered in ancient batter, so I assume I used to eat these a lot.

POTATO DROP SCONES

Wee potato pancakes, really. Feeds two or so. I give you the recipe in ounces, as my mother gave it to me.

2oz plain flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

pinch salt (a BIG pinch)

4oz very smooth mashed potato

1oz melted margarine (because it is no longer the 70s, I used butter)

1 egg

1/4 pint of milk

Sieve together the flour, baking powder and salt (does anyone really do this? I didn’t. Just put them in a bowl), then thoroughly mix in the potato. Beat in the butter, then the egg, then the milk.

Heat and oil a frying pan and drop (hence the name) in spoonfuls, flipping them when they start to bubble on top, then cooking until set. Keep them warm while you cook the rest, then eat. I had them with a pork chop and some cabbage, and they were lovely.

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