Recipe: Puré de espinaca (spinach mash)

This is such an easy and middle-class recipe that I’m almost ashamed of posting it. But it brings warm memories of my childhood and of food from home. Eat with roast chicken, burger patties, fried eggs… whatever you fancy!

Puré de espinaca
Yield: 4-5 servings

Puré de espinaca

Ingredients

  • 0.5 kg potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 0.5 cup chicken broth or milk
  • 1-1.5 cups spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Peel, cube and cook potatoes.
  2. Mash potatoes while hot, add butter and mix.
  3. Heat up broth/milk, pour over spinach in a blender and blend until puréed.
  4. Add spinach mix to potatoes, mix well and season.

Recipe: Swede garlic mash

Here’s an easy side dish that goes well with anything you would normally pair potato mash with.

And here’s a mini-tutorial on how to deal with garlic in a quick and easy way. Refer to the numbers in the photo below.

  1. Separate cloves from the bulb.
  2. Chop the rough end (bottom end in photo).
  3. Split clove in half.
  4. Peel clove (this will be very easy now) and remove germ (that green stem in the middle, which is the cause of gut discomfort).

Garlic

Swede garlic mash
Yield: 6 servings

Swede garlic mash

Ingredients

  • 1 large swede (3 – 4 cups, cubed)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved (see instructions above)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • sea salt

Directions

  1. Peel and cube swedes. Steam until tender, approximately 20 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, melt ghee or butter in a small saucepan on low heat. Add garlic cloves and cook gently for 8 – 10 minutes until browned but not burnt.
  3. Process everything in food processor, season with sea salt.

Recipe: Celeriac (celery root) mash

I come from the homeland of potatoes. They originated in the Peruvian Andes and have been the foundation of my people’s nutrition. There are zillions of varieties currently grown there and most of the ones I’ve tried are delicious. But due to health concerns I’ve pretty much stopped eating them. When I was following Precision Nutrition‘s guidelines, I reserved them for post-workout meals. Then my knee issues got worse so I restricted them even further as well as the rest of the nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant and capsicum), which contain toxic components (glycoalkaloids) that can cause joint inflammation and, as a bonus, are a big trouble for people with gastritis and reflux (more info: here and here.)

So what do I do when I crave a soft, creamy, comforting mash? Celeriac is the answer. Celeriac, or celery root is an ugly vegetable. It reminds me of Bart Simpson’s grandpa.

Celeriac

Celeriac

My housemate Bonnie calls it “the new potato”. Although is not that starchy and firm, it’s a great substitute and has a nice subtle celery flavour. You can roast it, mash it, puree it into soups or add it raw and grated to salads. To get it ready simply wash it (a brush helps) and peel it like a pineapple.

Peeled celeriac

Peeled celeriac

Today’s recipe is celeriac mash, which I served the other day for dinner with grilled kangaroo steaks, roasted beetroots and sautéed beetroot greens & stems. Who said healthy food isn’t yummy?

Celeriac mash
Yield: 4 to 5 servings

Kangaroo steak, beetroot, beetroot greens & celeriac mash

Kangaroo steak, beetroot, beetroot greens & celeriac mash

Ingredients

  • 4 – 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 celeriac
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  2. Wrap garlic cloves in aluminum foil and roast for 20 – 30 minutes.
  3. Wash and peel celeriac, cut into 1-inch cubes.
  4. Steam for 10 minutes or until soft.
  5. Squeeze garlic from the skins and add to celeriac. Puree in a food processor or using a stick blender.
  6. Return mash to pot, add butter and season with salt and heat it up if needed.

Recipe: My mum’s roast chicken and mash with a twist

For the vast majority of the population, mum’s

For the vast majority of the population, mum’s always the best cook. Even when I tease my mother because she never measures ingredients or because she has occasionally fallen asleep and let dinner burn, I will always think her food is the best in the planet. She learned to cook because she “had to” when she got married and even when she worked hard for 33 years of her life, she managed to have a delicious dinner on the table most days (when she actually cooked instead of reheating or frying some processed food-like stuff).

One of the dishes my sisters and I love the most is my mum’s ultra-simple roast chicken with potato mash. We had a nickname for it: “burnt chicken with real mash”. Burnt chicken because my mum cooks the hell out of the chicken in order to get an extra crispy skin. Real mash because for several years she used instant mash and when she went back to real potatoes the difference was massive (you’ll need to try Peruvian yellow potatoes to understand what I mean, please do so if you ever go to Perú).

I’ve cooked her dish several times over the last few years, but I never manage to get the skin right. Maybe I don’t cook it long enough because I’m afraid the flesh dries out. This time I cooked a slightly different version to accommodate a diner that is doing a detox diet. I used tamari instead of Chinese soy sauce, ghee instead of butter and cassava instead of potato for the mash.

My mum has 100% Japanese blood but is very Peruvian in the kitchen. Which means: she used to serve the chicken with mash and rice (Peruvian food = starch + starch, and sometimes more starch) instead of salad. I skip the rice and add some greens, this time I served it with a simple salad of steamed broccoli, carrot and baby corn mixed with baby spinach, with a dressing made with peanut butter (home-made), honey, tamari, balsamic vinegar, water, sesame oil and ginger (the dressing was adapted from this recipe).

Roast chicken and cassava mash
Yield: 4-6 servings

Roast chicken and cassava mash

1 chicken
4 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
3 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons ghee (or butter)
1 kg frozen cassava
1 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 220C.

Peel and remove the germ the garlic cloves. Mash into a paste with the blade of your knife or pass through a garlic press. If you’re extra-lazy, used pre-minced garlic.

Dry chicken with paper towels. Rub completely with tamari and garlic, place on a baking tray on its back and scatter small pieces of ghee all over it.

Place tray in oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn chicken around (on its breast). Bake for another 30 minutes. Check if the skin is crispy enough for you, otherwise let bake for another 10-20 minutes.

While the chicken bakes, boil the cassava in salted water until tender (around 30 minutes).

Remove the hard stems of the cassava and mash it while still hot (it gets harder when it cools down).

Return cassava to the pot over low heat and mix with coconut milk until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with a salad.