What I had for dinner:
After last night's disastrous restaurant experience, something more reliably ... reliable ... was required. What could be more stolid and unyielding than mashed potatoes, the cement (dare I say the epoxy?) of western civilisation?
Three red potatoes, peeled and sliced (for speed); three sliced cloves of garlic; a split, seeded chipotle pepper; and a little mace and turmeric were placed in an inch of water, and boiled under a tight lid for about 20 min, then uncovered until only a little liquid was left.
Meanwhile, a red onion was sliced and braised with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt over low heat. The salt draws out the moisture from the onion and lets it soften with less risk of burning.
The potatoes and all were mashed with a fork (it is best to scrape off the skin from the pepper), with a little more water and oil if necessary.
To the onion were added a half dozen sliced cornichons and ham slivers (I used Westphalian), the mixture was heated for a minute, then blended into the potatoes.
It was served with sourdough bread and a bottle of Celis Grand Cru, which matched perfectly the chilly air that's coming over us from places north this evening.