Holly Herrick’s inventive recipes, using one of the simplest kitchen tools (and a few other mashing type tools) the masher, are masterpieces of culinary delight. This is Herrick’s eighth book. She is a Charleston, S.C., food blogger, culinary guide, restaurant specialist, and recipe developer known for making connections between southern comfort food and fresh-from-the-farm market dishes. Alexandra Defurio’s photographs are integral to the enjoyment of the book and serve not only as models for what your attempts should look like, but also abet the overall temptation to want to eat everything Herrick mentions. Luscious is the word for the looks of these recipes.
The introduction is critical to understanding what goes on in the pages of this lovely volume. First, Herrick reminds us that mashed foods may seem simple, but that “simple” is a deceptive concept in cooking. Her next advice, on texture, is key to using her book wisely and to developing our own mashed recipes. (I admit a fondness for books that offer a creative jump-off point that will enable me to develop my own recipes.) Herrick tells us to consider the texture of the principal ingredient, which in this book includes not only the potato (and many varieties of same) but also things like parsnips, cauliflower, and various other vegetables and fruits; The texture, she explains, is important in determining what other ingredients will pair up with your primary mashed item. Before reading this, I had never really considered how mashing changed the texture and the taste of various vegetables—yet how different is a mashed potato from a French fry? Vastly so. Thanks to Herrick, I now view that humble masher as a gateway tool to an array of gourmet options.
Another point she considers very important is the layering of flavors, an essential when serving a mashed dish. On the question of how to do it, Herrick lists an entire section on tools and in each recipe suggests a method (hand masher, ricer, immersion blender, etc.) that will best compliment the nature of the primary item and the flavors to be blended in. The introductory portion then goes on to explain differences in potato textures, types of mashing tools and some common cooking terms.
I admit, I did not think of mashed foods much beyond potatoes and making baby food until I began to investigate Herrick’s lovely volume. Her recipes have made me want to become a “mad masher” in the kitchen. She starts with potatoes, and in that same chapter begins with basic mashed white potatoes. Then, things just keep getting better and better .The recipes offer more complex flavors, but are not necessarily more difficult to make. Herrick moves into different varieties of potato to a chapter on vegetable mashes that for the first time made apparent to me why cauliflower is the new darling of mashed and riced vegetable dishes.
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She divides the veggie mashes by their seasons, a subtle bow to using fresh and local, and then goes on to mashed dishes that include eggs fish, meats and grains and legumes. The book ends with a chapter on fruits, nuts and berries and an index.
Her writing is clear and concise, and the recipes are inventive and delicious sounding. This is a book to giver to anyone who loves mashed potatoes and may want to branch out.
At A Glance
Title | Mashed: Beyond the Potato
Author | Holly Herrickl; Photographs by Alexandra Defurio
Publisher | Gibbs Smith
Price | $ 24.99