To improve basic mashed potatoes, once cooked (preferably steamed), drain the potatoes, cover the pan with a tea towel and leave for a few minutes for the steam to be absorbed. Add butter, warm milk and plenty of seasoning before mashing well. For fluffier mash, finish by whisking with an electric whisk or use a potato ricer.
For added luxury, add cream or crème fraiche. For added flavour, add chopped chives or spring onions, pesto, nutmeg, grainy mustard or garlic butter. Or for something completely different, use oil instead of butter and add lemon zest and lots of chopped parsley.
Different vegetables can be cooked with the potatoes to add colour and flavour. The potatoes and vegetables benefit from being steamed rather than boiled so they don't become soggy and tasteless. Generally the potatoes will take slightly longer to cook than the other vegetables – they can be cooked separately or ideally, if space allows, started before the others are added. By cooking them together, their flavours will have more time to mingle. Alternatively vegetables can be roasted before mashing for extra flavour. Why not experiment with a variety of leftover vegetables?
- sweet potato and butternut squash
- leek or cauliflower. Add cheese for added flavour (this will not be such smooth mash)
- any root vegetable eg carrot, parsnip, swede, celeriac (this is a good way to introduce children to new vegetables as the flavour will be more subtle when mixed with potato)
- fried/caramelised onions
And don't forget that (well-scrubbed) potato and other vegetable peelings can be roasted to make healthy “crisps”.