Pre-eminent among vegetables stands the potato.
The solid matter of potatoes consists largely of starch, with a small quantity of albumen and mineral salts. Potatoes also contain an acid juice, the greater portion of which lies near the skin. This bitter principle is set free by heat. While potatoes are being boiled, it passes into the water; in baking it escapes with the steam.
New potatoes may be compared to unripe fruit, as the starch grains are not fully matured. Potatoes are at their best in the fall, and they keep well during the winter. In the spring, when germination commences, the starch changes to dextrin or gum, rendering the potato more waxy when cooked, and the sugar then formed makes them sweeter. When the potatoes are frozen, the same change takes place.
In the spring, when potatoes are shriveled and gummy, soaking improves them, as the water thus absorbed dissolves the gum,, and makes them less sticky. At other times, long soaking is undesirable.
Soak about half an hour in the fall, one to three hours in winter and spring. Never serve potatoes, whether boiled or baked, in a closely covered dish, as they thus become sodden and clammy; but cover with a folded napkin, and allow the moisture to escape. They require about forty-five minutes to one hour to bake, if of a good size, and should be served promptly when done.
Potatoes are either baked in their jackets or peeled; in either case they should not be exposed to a fierce heat, inasmuch as thereby a great deal of the vegetable is scorched and rendered uneatable. They should be frequently turned while being baked, and kept from touching one another in the oven or dish. When they are pared, they should be baked in a dish, and oil of some kind added, to prevent their outsides from becoming burned.
Pare and boil or steam six or eight large potatoes. If boiled, drain when tender, and let set in the kettle for a few minutes, keeping them covered, shaking the kettle occasionally to prevent scorching. Mash with a wire potato masher, or, if convenient, press through a colander; add salt, a lump of butter, and sufficient hot milk to moisten thoroughly. Whip with the batter whip, or wooden spoon, until light and fluffy. Heap up on a plate, press a lump of butter into the top, and send to the table hot.
Potatoes, prepared as for mashed potatoes, 2 cups.
Cream or milk, ¾ cup.
Melted butter, 2 tablespoonfuls.
Eggs, yolks and whites beaten separately, 2.
Mix and beat up thoroughly, folding in the beaten whites last. Make into balls, put into greased pans, brush with beaten egg, and bake a light brown.
Mince six large, cold potatoes. Put them in a baking-pan, cover with milk; add a little cream, and bake fifteen minutes.
Potatoes, medium size, 6.
Milk sufficient to cover, mixed with tablespoonful of flour. Crumbs. Butter. Salt.
Cut potatoes into even slices, put in a baking-pan, sprinkle with a little salt, and a few small pieces of butter. Pour over the milk and flour mixture, and sprinkle the top with a layer of crumbs. Cover and bake till potatoes are tender. Remove the cover and brown lightly .
Cold, boiled potatoes, sliced. Thin cream sauce.
Place in alternate layers in a pan and sprinkle the top with ground bread crumbs. Bake until brown.
Use cold, boiled potatoes or good left-over baked potatoes. Pare and cut into three-quarter-inch dice or irregular pieces. Put in a shallow baking-pan, sprinkle with salt, pour over sufficient cooking oil, season well, and prevent scorching. Put into the oven, and when they begin to brown, stir continually till all are nicely browned.
Wash and rub new potatoes with a coarse cloth or scrubbing brush; drop into boiling water and boil briskly till done, but no more. Press the potato against the side of the kettle with a fork; if done, it will yield to gentle pressure. In a saucepan have ready some butter and cream, hot but not boiling, a little green parsley, and salt. Drain the potatoes, add the mixture, put over hot water a minute or two, and serve.
Cold, boiled potatoes, 2 cups.
Parsley, finely chopped.
Butter, 1 tablespoonful.
Heat the milk and stir in the butter cut up in the flour. Stir until smooth and thick. Salt and add the potatoes, sliced, and a very little finely-chopped parsley. Shake over the fire until the potatoes are heated through. Pour into a deep dish and serve.
Cut the potatoes with a vegetable cutter into small balls about the size of marbles. Put them into stew-pan with plenty of butter and a good sprinkling of salt. Keep the saucepan covered and shake occasionally until they are quite done, which will be in about an hour.
Cold, mashed potatoes, 2 cups.
Flour or cracker crumbs.
Season the potatoes with salt and butter. Beat the whites of the eggs and work all together thoroughly. Make into small balls slightly flattened. Dip them into beaten yolks of eggs, roll in flour or cracker crumbs, and fry in hot oil.