Before Moving to New York, Jon and I lived in Warsaw, where Halloween wasnâ€™t such a big deal, but All Souls, the day after Halloween, really, really was.
The entire city seemed to migrate to the graveyards and embark upon a cleaning and decorating project â€“ starting with family graves, then graves near the family graves, then other graves that looked like they needed some care and attention.
By late afternoon, leaves had been swept away, stone work had been cleaned, statues had been scrubbed with toothbrushes, brass railings had been polished, and then, as a final mark of remembrance and respect, votive candles were laid on the ground.
The little flames flickered in the gathering dusk, inviting the passer-by to stop, reflect and remember.
And then we went home to eat potatoes and sour cream.
So this year Iâ€™m making potato rosti which take me back to Poland in one bite, and the sour cream and mournful black caviar seem in keeping with the mood of the day.
Rosti usually involve both grating and frying â€“ both of which can seem like a step too far on a Monday, I know. And honestly, boiled new potatoes cut in half lengthwise and smothered with sour cream and caviar are a delicious alternative. But Iâ€™m looking for crunch, so I persevere.
And while I canâ€™t think of a short cut for the grating â€“ though a food-processor will do the job, providing the grater attachment can be located, by which time it would usually have been quicker for me just to grate the potato in the first place – but the frying? Totally.
I bake my rosti in a thin layer in the bottom of muffin tins. This has the added bonus of creating lots of rosti at the same time that are all the same shape â€“ perfect for a party canapÃ©.
Potato Rosti (makes enough for about 12 muffin tin sized rosti â€“ depending on the size of the potato â€“ you might get a few more)2 baking potatoes 1 large white onion Salt and pepper Vegetable oil (about 1 tbsp) Butter (about 1 tbsp) 1 cup of sour cream 1 small tub of black caviar (I use the cheap stuff because itâ€™s really no more than a salty accent) Muffin tin – I find the rosti crunch up better in my metal tin
- Pre-heat the oven to 425
- Grate the potatoes into a bowl
- Peel the onion, cut in half and grate into the bowl
- Season generously with salt and pepper
- Tip into a tea towel and wring out until as dry as possible
- Wipe a thin layer of oil around the muffin tins to stop the rosti from sticking
- Press a tbsp of potato mixture firmly into the bottom of each hole (it should come about 1cm up the side of the tin)
- Put a tiny knob of butter on top (about Â¼ tsp) â€“ (the butter helps the rosti brown, but add to much and theyâ€™ll be greasy)
- Bake for about 30 – 40 minutes, depending on the thickness of the potato and the size of the tin – I make mini fairy cake tin ones that take 20 mins, whereas my silicone muffin tray takes 40 and sometimes longer
- Turn out so that the bottom is now the top
- Top with a blob of sour cream and a little pile of caviar
If you can make that you can make this:
- Swap out the caviar for smoked salmon
- Or smoked fish
- Mix chopped chives and a squeeze of lemon into the sour cream
- Mix chopped chives a squeeze of lemon, chopped dill and chopped smoked salmon into the sour cream
- Add a few tsp of thyme into the potato mix
- Use garlic oil instead of the oil and butter
- Top with crispy bacon slices and poached eggs for breakfast
- Take the onion out of the mixture and instead cut a small red onion into rings and place a ring into the bottom of each muffin tray before topping with the potato. When you turn them out, theyâ€™ll have a dark onion ring adorning the top