The Twelve Days of Christmas (Ham Leftovers)… Cheesy Ham Potato Cakes

ham and cheese potato cakes
When I first set out on this little mission I thought I would have enough ham leftover for the twelve days of Christmas ham posts I intended to write about. But, as the ham stocks have dwindled away to a shadow of their former self already, I think you’re only going to see the good end of another few of these posts at best.

Oh well.

These little packages of cheesy, hammy, potatoey love were a revelation. When this idea popped into my head the heavens opened and the holy angels sang… and danced. They were fully rocking out to some old Marvin Gaye. Getting their groove on. I suspected that’s what would be going on up there…

My smart brain got down to business and nurtured the evolution from the timeless ham and cheese sandwich, working out the finer details of how said ham and cheese sandwich would reach my mouth in a crisp bread coated, soft potato centered, bronzed bodied form, and straight into the history books as a retro classic.

And then it was onto condiments. I have said previously that I am a lover of condiments and this was not a lie. Condiments are my real-life favourite, so you could understand my elation when my same smart brain realised that both piccalilli and mayo have a loving home on a ham and cheese sandy so we should possibly combine the two like some kind of mongrel tartare and serve it with our cheesy ham potato cakes. OH DEAR GOOD LORD. What a revelation this was!

Try it. That’s all I can say…

Put it all together in a big bowl and mixy mixy
Put it all together in a big bowl and mixy mixy
Once fried drain on absorbent paper and then get them into your belly
Once fried drain on absorbent paper and then get them into your belly

CHEESY HAM POTATO CAKES (serves 4-6. 4 is probably good because it’s pretty hard to stop eating them)

3 cups of mashed potato (I got that from 2 large potatoes)
2-3 cups diced Christmas ham
1 cup grated Wensleydale or good cheddar or something that looks like cheese
½ whatever onion, small dice
1 tablespoon of your favourite mustard
1 egg, plus another for crumbing
Salt and pepper
A crumbing station (flour, eggwash and breadcrumbs – bought or whack any leftover bread in the food processer to make your own)
Oil for frying
Piccallili mayo to serve (recipe below)

• Combine all ingredients except the crumbing station, and mix thoroughly
• Check seasoning
• Form mix into 15-16 potato cakes. You can press them into a small cookie cutter if you want them to be shmicko (you could make these half size for a cracking finger food type thing or bar snack while you watch whatever it is you watch on TV)
• Crumb the potato cakes by first dredging them through flour, then eggwash and then breadcrumbs
• Heat a good splash of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add potato cakes and fry for 2-3 minutes each side or until golden brown
• Serve with piccallili mayo and a nice little salad of things you found in your neighbours garden

PICCALILLI MAYO

½ cup good quality mayo or aioli
½ cup piccalilli, mustard pickles or cauliflower pickles… the yellow stuff

• Combine in a bowl and mix thoroughly
• You’re done
• Pat yourself on the back

How to make mayonnaise… with the Mayonnaise Nazi

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The Mayonnaise Nazi

“Who is that man in the red mask? That devilishly tall, handsome masked man? The one with the Hitler moustache? The guy who is constantly harping on about how everyone in this world and the next should be making their own mayonnaise…”

OK folks, I stand before you as my blogland audience today to tell you that masked man is in fact me… and that mask is not a mask at all, just a cleverly styled combination of chest and facial hair… well, I may have used a glue stick, too.

“What is this crazy crusade all about?” I hear you ask. “Why do you keep insisting that I should be making my own mayonnaise? I’m not a fucking chef! I work, I have a family, kids yell at me and demand their dinner and I’m in training for shot put at the next Paralympics. In short, I have no time to make mayonnaise.”

Well I’m here to tell you right now folks; YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN EFFING MAYONNAISE. It takes two minutes out of your busy schedule if you have the right gear.

“Oi mate,” I hear pipe up again when clearly you should just sit back and listen. “I told you already, I’m not a fucking chef.”

But my friend, you don’t need to be. Sure I’ve been making my own mayonnaise for a few years now (insert your own over-due sexual innuendo here please), but once you know how, it will seriously take you two minutes a go… both versions.

First, you need a stick wizz… a wizz stick (that’s a hand blender and certainly not your girlfriend’s new vibrator). They are available at K-Mart, Big W, Harvey Normans, Retravision – any home appliance selling type store. It will cost you 40 or so bucks for a cheap one, which will do the job just fine… as long as that job is emulsifying mayonnaise or maybe pureeing a soup or two. If you try to mulch a dead body with your stick wizz you are setting yourself up for an epic fail. And quite frankly, I think you deserve to get your stupid ass busted.

Secondly, you need to have some vegetable/blended/something neutral oil in the cupboard, some eggs in the fridge (keeping chooks will maintain a steady supply), mustard, something acidic like vinegar or lemon and salt and pepper. Too hard? Leave now. Get back to your stupid life and we’ll pretend this conversation never happened.

A good start
A good start
An even better start
An even better start
Trickle trickle. Seba was pouring the oil a little quicker than he should have been but I've got the skills to hold it together
Trickle trickle. Seba was pouring the oil a little quicker than he should have been but I’ve got the skills to hold it together
Slap that on a loaf of Mighty White and take yourself to white trash heaven
Slap that on a loaf of Mighty White and take yourself to white trash heaven

My basic mayonnaise, when it comes down to the bare bones, works something like this;
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon of any kind of mustard. It’s just like sex; try a few options to find your preferred choice. But definitely DO NOT use mustard as a lubricant while having sex. Mustard is not a toy, my friend… not a toy
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or some other kind of vinegar or lemon juice. Once again, it’s just like sex
250ml-ish oil
Salt and pepper
• Put everything except oil into a vessel that will hold it. Get out your stick wizz and prepare yourself for the magic that is about to happen
• Start blitzing the eggy mix and, with the wizz stick running (do not stop that puppy for any reason), slowly start adding your oil to the mix. Just a little trickle, but keep it going. By the last few drops of oil your mix should have thickened into what we shall call mayonnaise and you, my friend, have just made an emulsion*. Magic. You are a kitchen alchemist
• If your mayonnaise is a little thick for your liking add a teaspoon or so of water until it is the desired consistency. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary and BAM! You have mayonnaise
• Pretty painless eh…
• Now you’re all set to go off and make all sorts of flavoured mayos; aioli, tartare, marie rose, seeded mustard, saffron, whatever

*e·mul·sion

[ih-muhl-shuhn]  

noun

1.Physical Chemistry . any colloidal suspension of a liquid in another liquid.
2.Such a suspension used in cosmetics.
3.Pharmacology . a liquid preparation consisting of two completely immiscible liquids, one of which, asminute globules coated by a gum or other mucilaginous substance, is dispersed throughout theother: used as a means of making a medicine palatable.

Half Chicken and Chips

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My friends often ask me if I still cook when I go home after working all day in a kitchen, or if I still cook when I’m drunk… or getting drunk… or just had a drink or two. To the first question I reply, “Why yes I do. I love cooking and cooking loves me, so yes, I go home and cook”. To the second question I have no true reply for it is a mythical question, which I have invented in my mind just now because yes, I am drunk. But I shall be cooking tonight for sure.

A premise to the story if I may.

I came home today from work with every intention of sanding and polishing our verandah. Jennee had got hold of a you-beaut floor sander from the hire shop and I, with the absence of wife, children and mind, would set about sanding our verandah. No worries… and then the fucking thing blows a gasket and dies in the ass. Prick of a fucking sander. Those things are built to carve roads through mountains, yet the effing thing (I’m calming down a little now) is kaput. Sanding only half done. Repair bill imminent. Not going to tell Jennee because she’s away and I don’t want to ruin her holiday… or maybe I’m just scared.

Anyway, I am drinking myself through the problem right now and, after a few other minor incidents to top off my day, I have decided I shall find redemption in the only church I know. The church of food.

I have spatchcocked (cut in half through the breast and back bone) the chicken that I was saving for the boys and I tomorrow, cut a few potatoes (they are to be roasted in my rendition of the good ol’ classic from Red Rooster/Chicken Treat; “the half chicken and chips”), slapped up a salad any CWA mum would be proud of (although I did dress it with clothes… no…. I mean, lemon juice and olive oil. The CWA mums would’ve been prouder if I used “Kraft French Dressing”) and smashed a mayo together in less than two minutes. I still got my food mojo, even in these times of great disaster, and that shall be what sees me through… that and a heap of booze…

This is me asleep on the couch.

Roasty roasty
Roasty roasty
Ready to be shovelled into my drunken face
Ready to be shovelled into my drunken face
The CWA salad end of things
The CWA salad end of things

Future me can tell you, before I went to sleep I ate roast chicken, chips and salad. Future me might think we made it like this;

Roast half chicken, chips and salad
Hi. I’m future me. I am a lot more… no… nothing really, but I shall share with you the recipe… or what I think it was…

½ a chicken, free range and looking good
salt and pepper
rosemary or thyme if you can get your tipsy ass out to the garden
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 potatoes, cut how you think chips should look
what ever salad you can be bothered whipping up
good mayonnaise
a heap, and I mean a heap, of beer
• Drink a lot of the beer
• Right now you should probably stay away from sharp objects, but it’s time to get your ass into the kitchen
• Rub the ½ chook with oil (don’t get too excited about it though) and season with salt, pepper and herbs. Roast in a preheated oven, 200C for 20 minutes
• Add your chips to the pan and roast for another 20 minutes
• The chicken should be done by now so put that in a warm spot to rest. Put the chips back into the oven for another 10 minutes to get crispy
• I hope you remembered to make a salad
• Plate it all up and eat it on the couch while watching “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”
• Pass out

Welcome to Australia.

Mayonnaise…

Mayonnaise. Seriously lacking creativity in the title but I got nothing today…

How rude am I? I harp on about how you should be making your own mayo, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t even given you a recipe. One of the most basic and glorious condiments. Versatile as fuck, and a damn good friend in this our time of need. Help us obi wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope… Hmmm. Slightly off track but I’m going to pay it. Star Wars has a place in any conversation as far as I’m concerned.

Not that I’m concerned. You’re going to do just fine. But if you’re not scared about making an emulsified dressing for the first time… You should be… You should be.

The first and foremost rule of your first emulsification, and your first sexual encounter I may add, is GO SLOWLY. You are defying logic – you are making oil bind to some egg and shite.

This is not a race. Unless of course you are in a mayonnaise making race. In which case you should go really fast. The hopes of your country are riding on you right now. Whisk boy. Whisk!

PS. Once you know how to make mayonnaise a whole world of condiments will be at your fingertips… Aioli, tartare, and flavored mayos as far as your little mind can imagine. Here, let me be of assistance. Seeded mustard, smoked paprika, saffron, charred chilli, anything.

Basic mayo goes something like this

2 egg yolks

1 tspn Dijon mustard

1Tbls apple cider vinegar or lemon juice or something acidic

Seasoning

200ml veg oil

50ml olive oil

A splash of water if it needs thinning out

 

  • Put the egg yolks, mustard, vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper into a bowl if you are hand whisking this, or into a round tub (like the one in the picture) if you live in a country that has electricity and you have the common sense to own a stick wizz.
  • Whisk until the yolks start to fluff up and turn pale.
  • While whisking, slowly add the oil in a light trickle. Don’t stop whisking while you’re doing this.
  • You should notice that it is all binding as one glorious spreadable mass. Do not be temped to pour the oil in quickly. Take it nice and slow and worry about getting it done quickly when you’re married.
  • Once all of the oil is in there add A DROP or two of water to get it to your desired consistency, and check seasoning. Always with the checking of the seasoning.
  • If this is your first time, smear some of your finished mayo on a piece of fresh white bread and eat it like you were an eight year old trailer park kid with his school lunch. Mmmmmm