vegetarian food Bangers and mash

Essential comfort when smoke gets in your eyes

This is the weekend when small boys you previously thought so nice develop a penchant for pyromania. A thin smoke cloud hovers over the ground, there is that lingering smell of cordite in the air, and the sporadic sound of distant explosions.

You'll find me in the kitchen, comforting the dog, watching over the baked potatoes, avoiding small boys. Baked potatoes are as essential to Guy Fawkes night as fruit cake to a wedding. They can be safely eaten in the pitch dark, cupped between gloved hands, and their earthy, crisp skin giving way to a fleecy puree is the perfect accompaniment to the whole smoky affair of watching the sky light up.

The baking of potatoes is not as contentious as other standard preparations, but there are a handful of considerations. First, do you oil the skin? I do, with olive oil, which gives an irresistible sheen and crispness: sprinkle the tops with crystalline sea salt before they go in the oven for a really crackly, salty crust.

Another dilemma is whether to slow-bake or cook them at a high temperature: stick to the latter, giving them about one-and-a-quarter hours. Put them in the oven as soon as you get home from work and they will be ready to eat when you are. If you are cooking a lot of potatoes, don't overcrowd the oven, or they may end up steaming. You can always cook them in batches, then stuff and reheat them.

As for the garnish, think in terms of rich and lubricating: lots of butter and creme fraiche, salt and black pepper, grated Cantal or farmhouse Cheddar; olive oil, chopped parsley and garlic; or a vegetable such as fennel or salsify in a creamy, white wine-and-herb sauce, cascading over the top of the potato. You can stuff the potatoes by digging out the insides and replacing them with champ, that lovely Irish puree made with spring onions and an indecent amount of butter.

This is the season for big, fat, floury main crop potatoes, avoid the gargantuan specimens offered up as "baking potatoes", 220g/8oz is a sensible size. There is nothing to stop you baking new potatoes if they are big enough, in fact any potato will bake, although I am not fond of baked redskins.

Salsify is something I look forward to at this time of year. Unfortunately it is proving to be illusive this autumn, with just a trickle in and out of the shops. Don't be put off by its long, black, brutish looks. It is a root that cooks up beautifully, a wintertime delicacy with a flavour reminiscent of Jerusalem artichokes. Peel under running water wearing rubber gloves to avoid staining your hands. Halve lengthways if large. Cook in boiling water with a little lemon juice and flour (to keep the root white) until tender.

Celeriac, like potatoes, is a mealy sort of treat: ugly and gnarled, with fibrous matting that clings around the roots. It has a superbly aromatic flavour and comes into its own in purees and soups. You can make a mock brandade (a garlicky, salt-cod puree enriched with olive oil) by combining equal quantities of celeriac and potato puree, then momentarily frying garlic with cumin and cayenne pepper and stirring them in.

Celeriac remoulade is the French equivalent of coleslaw. Well, it's rather sexier than coleslaw: you can do things like strew it with quail's eggs. The secret lies with the mayonnaise. There must be lots and lots of it and it must be flavoured with mustard. I like to use a combination of grainy and smooth Dijon mustards - let the mayonnaise down with a good squeeze of lemon, and parsley should be present somewhere. There is a certain cachet attached to finely slicing your celeriac into neat, squared strips, but when the task falls on my chopping board, I settle for grated.

Baked Potatoes with Oil and Parsley, serves 4

You may recall a few weeks ago my raving about Alain Ducasse's lumpy mashed potato as served at Monte's dining club in Knightsbridge. It oozed olive oil, and was speckled green with masses of parsley and a little garlic. Well, here it is inside a baked potato.

If you are honouring bonfire night, then serve these potatoes with baked beans with a knob of butter stirred into them. When travelling through France recently I kept an emergency supply of baked beans in case the menu wasn't child-friendly: "Ah, les baked beans," the waiter would nod respectfully, and the service would be good thereafter.

4 x 225g/8oz main crop potatoes

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

for the filling

5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 heaped tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

12 garlic clove, peeled and crushed with salt

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C (fan oven)/210C (electric)/ Gas 7/425F. Scrub the potatoes and dry them. With a small sharp knife, make an incision in the top of each one to form a flap. Place a little olive oil in the palm of your hand and rub your hands over the potatoes. Place the potatoes on a baking dish and sprinkle over some crystals of sea salt. Bake for one-and-a-quarter hours.

Remove the potato lids, scoop out the insides into a bowl and loosely mash with the other filling ingredients: refill the potatoes and replace the lids. Gently reheat.

Curried Celeriac Gratin, serves 4

This dish is perfect with baked potatoes - it only takes ten minutes to prepare, and one hour, ten minutes to bake, so will be ready at the same time as the potatoes.

When you use curry powder in this quantity, it is not necessary to fry it as you normally would.

700g/112lbs celeriac (1 average-sized root)

salt and pepper

250mls/8 fl oz double cream

50mls/2 fl oz white wine

13 tsp mild curry spice

Preheat the oven to 200C (fan oven)/210C (electric)/ Gas 7/425F. Cut the skin off the celeriac, quarter and thinly slice it - work quickly to avoid discolouring. Arrange slices in a gratin dish or casserole. Whisk the remaining ingredients together, season, and pour over the celeriac. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and compress the celeriac a little, cook for a further 20-30 minutes until the cream is thick, the celeriac tender and the surface golden.

Red Pepper and Celeriac Charlotte, serves 4-6

This is the apple type of charlotte: top and bottom lined with slices of bread dabbed with melted butter that crisp up beautifully while baking. Inside are roasted peppers, a puree of celeriac and a layer of fontina cheese. It is fairly rich and substantial, so serve it as a main course with a salad before or after.

700g/112lbs red peppers (about 5)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

salt and pepper

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

for the filling

juice of half a lemon

1.4kg/3 lb celeriac (2 average-sized roots)

150mls/5 fl oz creme fraiche

freshly grated nutmeg

salt and pepper

lemon juice for seasoning

about three-quarters of a large white loaf, thinly sliced with the crusts removed

175g/6 oz unsalted butter, melted

225g/8 oz fontina cheese, sliced

Preheat the oven to 200C (fan oven)/210C (electric)/ Gas 7/425F. Remove the core and seeds from the peppers and cut into wide strips. Place in a roasting dish, scatter over the garlic and season generously, pour over the oil and roast for 30-40 minutes until beginning to caramelise at the edges.

While the peppers are cooking, prepare the celeriac puree: bring a large pan of water to the boil and acidulate it with the lemon juice. Slice the skin from the celeriac roots and cut them into pieces. Boil for 15 minutes until tender, then drain and puree in a food processor with the creme fraiche. Season with nutmeg, salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Select a baking dish about 30 x 23cm (12"x5"), and 5cm (2") deep. Using a pastry brush, dab the bread generously on one side with the butter. Cover the base of the dish with the bread, buttered side down. Paint the topsides with butter. Add a layer of peppers, then the fontina, then spread the celeriac puree on top. Put another layer of overlapping slices of bread on the surface, again painting with butter.

Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 170C (fan oven)/180C (electric oven)/Gas 4/350F, and bake for a further 20 minutes, until the surface is lightly golden and crisp. Serve immediately

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas