We saw out 2011 with some lovely friends, just sitting out under the stars, having a barbecue, a chat and a few cold beverages. Give me a catch up with a small group any day over a big party! As we had seen some illegal fireworks close to home the previous night, we decided to leave a bit earlier to make sure that Misses K and P weren't spooked by the noise, but they were fine. Then the official fireworks went off at midnight and we had great views of the action over the city (but not the Art Centre Spire fiasco!), the west and the north where there were also firework shows. Unfortunately the camera isn't really up for good pictures at night and while out of focus, I thought this looked quite pretty:
For the first day of 2012, we were up early and I went to the gym at 11pm. It was another beautiful hot day and we were able to get out on the deck again with S and S over another dinner. The menu was simple; just chicken cooked on the barbecue, Vietnamese coleslaw and Jill Dupleix's Crash Hot Potatoes out of her Simple Food cookbook. I made these on Friday night and they were so delicious and easy, I thought I would make them again. I did learn that before you flatten the potatoes, they should be cold - when I flattened one batch that had just come out of the microwave and they stuck to the potato masher. The recipe, with some slight changes is below:
Crash Hot Potatoes (Jill Dupleix's recipe with a couple of tweaks)
1 medium potato per person (or more if you like)
Olive oil (I used extra virgin)
Fennel or caraway seeds
Heat the oven to 250C. Cut potatoes in half and cook in the microwave on High until done. I find that 5 minutes cooks four potatoes (eight halves) nicely. Place on a greased oven tray (I prefer to use baking silicone) and flatten each half potato using a masher or implement of your choice. However, I found with the narrow gauge metal masher, the potato still tended to stick to it so I would use the flat style or a large spoon. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with seeds of your choice, thyme sprigs and season with salt and pepper. Cook for around 20 minutes until crisp and golden and serve. I found that 20 minutes wasn't quite enough - I took some out of the oven at this point, then turned the oven off and left the remainder there for a bit longer. The latter were much more golden and crisp. This is one dish that is going to stay in the repertoire - easy and universally popular!