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I say potato, you say patata...

Here are two incredibly simple and delicious potato recipes.

Potato Pizza

Assunta, Raffaele's mother, often made this yummy dish. It comes from Puglia and is made a little differently in the bottom and the top of the heel. At the bottom, in the Salento it is called pitta and is filled with cooked tomatoes and olives or onions. It's called pizza in the area of Foggia in the north of the heel where it is just potato, cheese and egg baked until it's firm. It is very different from the potato pizza of Rome which has sliced potato on a pizza base, sometimes with truffles or rosemary. In this recipe mashed potato IS the pizza, and who doesn't like mashed potato?

Potato pizza is often sliced up and served as part of part of antipasto. It can sit alongside a veal cottoletta or eaten all it's own or with salad for lunch. It can be eaten warm or cold.

Two important tips. Use the best tasty organic potatoes you can find, and if you don't have a potato ricer, then get one!

5 - 8 large potatoes

150 g grated pecorino cheese

2 beaten eggs

white pepper



Boil the potatoes in the skins until they are very soft and the skins are splitting.

Push the potatoes through a potato ricer (una scacciapatata in Italian) into a mixing bowl. The ricer should take the skins off as you push them through. Otherwise you can peel the skins off with your hands but this is a hot and bothersome job.

Add the grated cheese, egg and white pepper and salt. White pepper is the secret ingredient so don't be shy!

Mix together well and spread the mixture into an oiled baking dish. The mixture should about 2 cm high.

Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs and more cheese and drizzle it with olive oil

Bake in a moderate over for around 20min or until it is cooked and firm and the top slightly browned.

Cool in the baking tray, then cut into pieces.

Italian Potato Salad

When I was growing up, potato salad was always served at barbecues. In allocating tasks, the hostess either made the potato salad herself or asked her friend or sister to do so, ensuring it is never forgotten. Having more than one potato salad is considered a bit of a faux pas, so it is important to know who is responsible.

These salads all varied depending on who made them and were sometimes incredibly elaborate involving such things as bacon, peas, onion, egg and even walnuts. They were always dressed with a creamy dressing that was called mayonnaise but not the elegant French sort made by whisking together olive oil and egg. My mother made her own version with a tin of sweetened condensed milk and vinegar which was kept in a jar in the fridge and extremely delicious with potatoes.

Then I met Raf, and he made potato salad quite differently. Below is his recipe, and even though I will still hoe into the creamy version at any opportunity, I prefer to make the Italian version these days. ( I've included my mum's home-made mayo recipe below, just for fun*)

Insalata Patata

Ingredients - Potatoes, chopped garlic, salt, good extra virgin olive oil, chopped parsley.

Boil the potatoes in their skins until they are soft but not overcooked. Cool them enough to be able to handle, but not until they are cold.

Remove the skins and chop them into chunks (not too small)

Add the chopped garlic, salt and and pour in enough olive oil to coat the potatoes well. Add the chopped parsley and mix together.

Serve warm or cold

*Ruth's home-made Mayonaise.

1 can of sweetened condensed milk

1 can of white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon of Keen's mustard powder

salt and pepper

1 egg

Pour the condensed milk into a bowl then fill the tin with the vinegar and add. Mix in the mustard, salt and pepper and add an egg. Beat together well and put into a jar with a lid in the fridge.

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