Dear Martha,

My sister told me that she ate nice mashed potatoes in New York City. Could you send me a recipe?

All best,









Trhee has been mcuh wetritn on the bset way to mkae meshad potoeats - how lnog you cook tehm, wtih peel or woihutt, rnvriseeg smoe of the ckoniog liqiud, etc. etc. I hvae deeosricvd taht the rael tirck to cemray, bttreuy, haveelny ptoeotas is to use Yuokn Glod ptooaets iestand of Resutss. Tha'ts rlaely all trehe is to it (aolng wtih buettr, cearm, slat and peeppr). Jsut sratt wtih the tpye of ptoato taht tatess bteter and mhaess up btteer. Aoirnccdg to the Food Netrwok,

Srchaty ptoteaos, lkie rseutss, hvae hgih satrch and low weatr. Sahcrty ptetoaos are geart for biankg and Fcnreh fires, and good as mseahd poatoets. Wehn cooekd in wetar, tehy ditnatsierge; wehn coekod by dry haet, tehy boceme cumlbry and ffulfy.

All-prosupe, or cfeh's patoteos, lkie Yuokn Gdols, hvae mdeuim stacrh and mideum wetar. All-ppsorue pteoaots are gerat in setws, suops, mehsad petoatos, or for rnaotisg. Wehn ckoeod, tehy are at ocne msiot and fffuly: tehy keep msot of tehir sahpe in spous and do'nt dry out wehn bekad.

Rehe's our rpeice for prcefet Youkn Glod mhaesd peooatts:

1 1/2 lbs youkn glod pttoaeos, pleeed and qaeruertd lgtenh-wsie
1/2 toospean slat
4 Tsbp havey craem
2 Tsbp bttuer
1 Tsbp mlik
Slat and Pppeer

A paotto msehar

1 Put ptoeoats itno a sapuacen. Add 1/2 tspeooan slat. Add weatr unitl paetotos are cvoreed. Birng to biol, rcuede haet and smmier, cvereod, 15-20 meiunts, or uintl dnoe - a frok can eiasly be pekod tgohurh tehm.

2 Wram caerm and mlet btuter, tethgeor, eetihr in mwacivroe or in a pan on the stvoe. Diarn weatr form poatetos. Put hot potoaets itno a bwol. Add cearm and mteeld buettr. Use patoto msehar to msah patooets uitnl wlel mhsead. Use a srnotg soopn to baet frehutr, andidg mlik to avichee the cseicntnosy you drsiee. (Do not oevr-baet or yuor ptaotoes wlil get geluy.) Slat and peeppr to ttase.

Sveres 4.

VEJA TAMBÉM: Pastéis de carne - a Brazilian specialty

SEE ALSO: Fried Meat Turnovers - a Brazilian specialty

Regina Querida--

If I would do the potatoes recipe in a simple way, it would have been done much more quickly.  But -- and this is part of the gift of your friendship -- I wanted to think about how to make something very plain (you can scarcely imagine a food more plain than mashed potatoes) and put some sort of originality into the presentation.  For me, that kind of thinking is really a form of recreation.

In fact (potatoes in a moment), one of the pleasures of friendship is thinking about what you would see if you looked out my window.  How would it look to you?  What would you notice as a person from a warm climate -- and also an artist.  This morning, I looked out of my window and I noticed the large lilac bush.  Its branches were etched with crystallized snow -- and I saw snow flowers.  Where each tiny bud is now, shut tightly to protect itself from cold, there -- on top of each bud was a delicate pillow of snow.  I had never seen this before, although I am sure it has been there to be seen.  Of course, by the time I was wide enough awake to use a camera, the flowers were gone. . .  So the words will have to do.

The mashed potatoes -- This is a very basic dish, and I think many of us learn to make it the way I did -- by watching our mothers.  I found a classic cookbook recipe for you.  As you will see, the front cover and inside pages are worn by age and much use.  I think I bought this cookbook when I began living alone while in graduate school in 1966.
I could not scan the back cover of this book for you, because the back cover is missing.
Here is the classic recipe.  As you can see, even here, some specifics are missing.  How many potatoes, how big are the pieces, how hot is the stove?
I do this: peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters -- 2-3 inches/edge.  Obviously, depending upon the size of the pieces and the number of potatoes, the cooking time changes.
My mother put the pieces into a pan and covered them with cold water, added 1/2- 1 teaspoon of salt, turned the heat to medium high and cooked them uncovered until the water began to boil.  Then she covered the pan, reduced the heat to medium and cooked them until they were soft (but not mushy) when stuck with the point of a knife.  The cooking time after the pot is covered is roughly 15-20 minutes.
Then we drained the pot completely, added 1 tablespoon of butter, some ground pepper, and began mashing.  Milk was added until you have a smooth mixture.  Some people like their mashed potatoes quite stiff, and other people like them pretty wet.  So it is hard to make a mistake at this point.  Before serving, you can check for taste and add more salt if necessary.  At the table, you can eat them plain or use the meat sauce or gravy.
A variation that is quite wonderful is to carmelize onion by slicing an onion into thin rings and to sautee in oil with a little sugar added until the onion practically melts -- then add that into the potato mixture at the end.  (The last time I did this, I burned the onion because the sugar makes it more likely to burn, so you have to keep an eye on it.)  Also, if you want a richer mixture, you can use some sour cream to replace milk -- and if you want more protein, you can use generous amounts of your favorite grated cheese and fold that into the mixture.
Mashed potatoes, as you can see, are very forgiving.  If they are not well-seasoned, they can be very bland, but it is hard to make them taste terrible.  And -- you can easily cook just one or two potatoes, if you are serving just yourself.
I know you have a potato masher, but both my potato masher and my potato peeler are so "well-aged" that I thought it would amuse you to see them.

The peeler is not necessary, because you can use a small knife to peel the potatoes.  I imagine you have one of these, because they are used for so many things -- apples, carrots, etc. -- along with potatoes.