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Mashed potato cakes

In the language of allotmenteers, there’s a term for this stretch from January until April, when some of the earliest proper crops start coming in, it’s called the hungry gap. When you get a vegetable delivery box, around this time of year it feels like it’s 60% leeks by weight.

What am I going to do with a logpile of leeks? The thing is, Christopher doesn’t eat eggs, so a quiche or frittata is out. Leek and potato soup is a bit much more than once in a fortnight, I think. Fortunately they also go well with potatoes.

I knocked together these little potato cakes from leftover mashed potato, with peas and leeks I fried up for the occasion. The quantities are a bit vague because this is really something to be made with leftovers, so do with it what you will. My very favourite way to eat these is with a fried egg lolling around on top and a generous sprinkling of good crunchy sea salt.

Leftover mash potato cakes 

  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 leek
  • Knob of butter
  • A quantity of leftover mashed potato
  • Frozen, or leftover cooked peas
  • All-purpose flour
  • Olive oil or butter
  1. Tip panko into a dry non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Stirring often, toast the panko until it is golden brown. Remove to a plate to cool.
  2. Slice the leek into narrow rings, going all the way up including the light green bit, discard the tough dark green tops. Heat a pan on medium heat, add the knob of butter, and then toss in the leeks once the butter has melted. Cook until leeks are soft, stirring occasionally. Cook the peas according to package directions if they are frozen.
  3. Add the mashed potatoes, peas, and leeks into a medium bowl, scraping the leek pan to get all that lovely butter in there. Start with 2 tablespoons of flour and mix. You want to get to a texture that starts sticking to itself. Try making a small cake the size of your palm, if it falls to pieces, add a bit more flour a tablespoon at a time.
  4. When you’ve got the right consistency, make small patties and press them gently into the panko on both sides to coat. I make a few and put them on a clean plate next to the stove.
  5. Heat up the leek pan again over medium heat, and add a small amount of your fat of choice. Add a few of your patties at a time, without crowding the pan. Leave them undisturbed for a couple of minutes, but monitor them closely. At the first sign of overbrowning, flip them like mad. You’re really just heating the potatoes through here, so no need to rush it over high heat.
  6. Remove to a plate and keep warm in a low oven or under foil until you cook the lot of them.
  7. Serve warm with eggs, or bacon, or good sausages. Yum.
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