This is such a wonderful and traditional English recipe for Hallowe'en - All Hallow's Eve! It was a dish traditionally served to unmarried guests with a ring hidden inside. Whoever found the ring would be the next one to be married! This delicious mashed potato has nine ingredients in it - hence its name. Serve it as a supper dish by itself, or as an accompaniment to bangers/sausages, for a comforting Autumn supper dish! For those whom may be interested, a brief history on the origins of Hallowe'en: In ancient Britain this date was the pre-Christian eve of the New Year and Celtic Harvest Festival, when the souls of the dead were thought to revisit their homes to eat and drink. People left refreshments on the table and unlocked their doors before retiring for the night, then bells were rung, fires lit to guide the returning souls back to earth and animals were brought in for the winter. After Hallowe'en became a Christian festival, supernatural associations continued to thrive. It was believed that witches were abroad and that it was possible for certain people to perform magic and summon up spirits. Hallowe'en was once a time for making mischief - many parts of England still recognise this date as Mischief Night - when children would knock on doors demanding a treat (Trick or Treat) and people would disguise themselves as witches, ghosts, kelpies and spunkies, in order to obtain food and money from nervous householders. In certain parts of England youths still play pranks on their neighbours by hiding garden ornaments, whitewashing walls and ringing doorbells in the dead of night.
- 2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 small turnip, peeled and diced
- 1 large parsnip, peeled and diced
- 2 leeks, cleaned and chopped into thin slices, including some of the green tops
- 6 ounces mature farmhouse cheddar cheese, grated
- freshly grated black pepper
- 2 tablespoons single cream
- Pre-heat oven to 350ºF/180ºC.
- Boil the potatoes, carrots, turnip and parsnip together until soft. Mash them thoroughly with a potato masher or hand held immersion blender, and then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Meanwhile, gently poach the leeks in a little water until they just lose their crispness, for about 5 minutes.
- Add the poached leeks to the potato, carrot, turnip and parsnips, and mix in the cream.
- Season well to taste, and then stir in the grated cheese, reserving some for the top; don't forget to add the ring before you transfer the entire mixture into a greased oven-proof dish! (If you want to make this in the full traditional manner!).
- Scatter the reserved cheese on top and bake until golden-brown, about 30 to 45 minutes.
- Serve piping hot.
- P.S. Warn your guests about the ring!