Friday, March 9, 2012

Potato and Caraway Cakes by Darina Allen

(Part of a weekly series by a group of bloggers, featuring Gourmet Live's 50 Women Game Changers in Food - see end of post for list of bloggers participating & their blogs)

At #38 this week, we have Darina Allen, a culinary visionary and celebrity in Ireland. She's got two grand founding achievements under her belt - she's the founder of (a) the internationally renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School, Country Cork and (b) the first Farmers Market in Ireland. She still teaches at their family-run school and is actively involved in sourcing and setting up new farmers markets.

Credit: Koster Photography / Source: Cookstr
Her love for all things organic and locally-sourced also manifests itself in the way she runs the school, which is strategically located on a 100-acre organic farm. The emphasis of all teaching and operations at the school is on using the finest quality of home-grown and locally sourced ingredients and making a sustainable use of resources. The farm grows countless varieties of produce and seasonal goods, so students learn with the freshest ingredients possible and also experience first-hand the advantages of supporting your local farmers. 

Besides being a chef and teacher, Darina has written many popular, award-winning cookbooks including Darina Allen's Ballymaloe Cooking School Cookbook (nominated for best international cookbook by the James Beard Foundation) and Irish Traditional Cooking (winner of the Langhe Ceretto Prize in 1996). She's also food-writer and has appeared on many television shows and series as well. Darina was named Cooking Teacher of the Year by the IACP in 2005, and was the recipient of an honorary degree from the University of Ulster in 2003. You can read more about her achievements on her website.

Now, Darina is exactly the kind of chef/cook I love learning about since I just discovered a whole treasure-trove of recipes on her website. It's an interesting mix of Irish and international recipes, which has now been added to my list of go-to sources. I had the toughest time choosing a dish for this week since I literally wanted to make ALL of them. Seriously! I'm going back to the website for more!

But, I settled on these gorgeous potato and caraway cakes. I couldn't stop myself from eating a couple while frying them. I was secretly very glad when the heart-shaped cakes lost their shape while frying because I used that as an excuse to demolish all evidence of its existence and sent them to my tummy. 

Now, if I didn't have this blog, I could've eaten up ALL the evidence of these cakes but, I believe that's the reason the husband keeps a tab on my blog. So, if I "forget" to give him something, he'll ask me for it. He's like the food-police around here, hunting down "missing" food!

Potato and Caraway Cakes by Darina Allen (based on her recipe published in a Financial Times article)

Ingredients and instructions:
  • 4-5 large old potatoes e.g. Golden Wonders or Kerr’s Pinks, scrubbed
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1–2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • butter, for frying
Leave the jacket on your potatoes. Place them in a pan, filled with enough water to submerge the potatoes. Add salt and bring to a boil. Cook till potatoes are done. Meanwhile, on gentle heat, melt the butter and add the onions. Saute till soft, but don't brown them. Set aside.

Peel and mash the potatoes while still hot. Add the onion and butter with the caraway seeds and chopped parsley. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the flour and mix well.

Knead a little until smooth, roll out and stamp into potato cakes with the top of a glass or a cutter. Alternatively, divide the dough into 2 rounds and cut into farls (like slicing a pizza).

Fry in melted butter on a hot pan until golden on both sides. Serve hot.

I served mine with a dollop of sour cream mixed with chopped parsley and also home-made honey mustard (just mix equal portions of honey and mustard).


Here's a list of the other bloggers participating in this series. Do go over to their blogs to see what yummy dishes they've whipped up. If you'd like to join the group, please get in touch with Mary of One Perfect Bite.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast [] Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed [] Susan - The Spice Garden [] Heather - girlichef [] Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney [] Jeanette - Healthy Living [] Mary - One Perfect Bite [] Kathleen - Bake Away with Me [] Sue - The View from Great Island [] Barbara - Movable Feasts [] Linda A - There and Back Again [] Nancy - Picadillo [] Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits [] Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen [] Annie - Most Lovely Things [] Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook [] Alyce - More Time at the Table [] Amrita -Beetles Kitchen Escapades


  1. Love love love this recipe! The caraway seeds sound really yummy and your photos have elevated the humble potato pancake to a whole new level. I wish we had all those cute potato varieties in the states!

  2. I am loving the idea of these little potato pancakes! In my mind, they would be perfect served with an omelette with some smoked salmon along side ... perfect brunch fare!

  3. Oh these bring back memories. My mom used to make something similar to this, but without the caraway seeds and with left over potatoes. Yum. Thanks for sharing with us.

  4. I really love the recipe you picked to share with us today. These cakes sound wonderful and I can't wait to give them a try. I hope you have a really great weekend. Blessings...Mary

  5. Such a wonderful recipe...I would love to have these for dinner tonight! Lovely photos!

  6. I pretty much feel that way about all of Darina's recipes...I want to make everything I see! I'm loving the caraway seeds in these potato pancakes...I may just have to make them soon. Mouth. Is. Watering ;)

  7. These cakes look so tasty and warming - definite bookmark, would be so delicious at parties :D
    You make the most exquisite recipes!

    Choc Chip Uru

  8. Have I told you that you're my new best friend? Because you are. You AND these potato pancakes.

    I like mine with a dollop or sour cream, or sometimes some apple sauce. But it doesn't really matter, as long as there are potato pancakes.


    We live too far apart.

  9. I was just telling my husband that I wanted potato pancakes tonight with a fried egg. Thank you for posting this recipe!

  10. Great recipe choice! I've never made them with caraway seeds...going to try that. Potato cakes are so very Irish!
    Wouldn't you love to attend her school?

  11. Looks like we could all take a lesson from Darina about being self sustainable and avoiding processed food! These potato cakes look amazing-yum. Ha-food police, tell you husband that you are the official taste tester too and sometimes it takes more than just one bite. Enjoy the weekend!

  12. These photos are just gorgeous!

  13. love this, looks just like aloo tikki. right? i haven't made that stuff in so long, i'll add it to my recipe todo list. :)

  14. Love potato and caraway but put together into these cakes are definite hits. No wonder you have the food police checking up on you. Who would want to miss out on them? :-) Thanks for introducing me to Darina - must check out her website. Your photos are beauties!

  15. Caraway seeds and potatoes are a match made in heaven and what an awesome take on good ole potato pancakes and tikkis and what not! Thank you so much for introducing yet another feminine power house in the cuilnary world :) She sounds absolutely fascinating and what fun to visit her school in Ireland.

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  16. You don't know how much I love potato cakes. My husband and daughter hates potatoes but I love it and make it a point to make potato cakes in get together so that i can eat to my fill. With caraway seeds Darina has created a wonderful recipe.

  17. Those look awesome--love the caraway flavor from the seeds and hardly ever use it. I'll bet it's great with the potatoes.

  18. I am yet to use that spice but it sounds like a love snack for teatime.

  19. I love this series! What a beautiful woman - I'm so happy to read more about Darina Allen. I love the recipe and think potato and caraway make a beautiful flavor combination!

  20. Lovely potato and caraway cakes in celebration of Darina Allen.


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