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Read: Featured

Champ and Potato Cakes

Beth Dooley

Potatoes serve as the root of these traditional – and very tasty – dishes. 

Mette Neilsen 

Mette Neilsen 

When correctly made, mashed potatoes — the essential peasant dish — are truly sublime. Pound in sizzled leeks, a little salt and pepper, and the creation goes well beyond the sum of its humble parts. In Northern Ireland, this variation on mashed potatoes is known as “champ,” thought to be derived from the Old English “chomp,” or “crush.” It’s also called “poundie” because years ago, mashed potatoes were bashed and pounded with a long wooden batoAdd sautéed cabbage and kale, and you have colcannon. Cooks create seasonal variations with sautéed nettles, garlic, watercress, fresh peas and parsley.

Take those leftover “poundies” and shape them into patties, and you have what in the British Isles is called “bubble and squeak,” named for the sound the cakes make when hitting the frying pan. Try that with butter or olive oil or bacon fat (or turn to duck fat, the best!). Top them with a little smoked salmon, crisped prosciutto or bacon, roasted red pepper or grilled shrimp, and you have a feast.

This recipe is really a two-for-one dish. Mashed potatoes one night, pancakes the next. Be sure to use the buttery-fleshed Yukon Gold potatoes that have just enough starch to fluff up a bit. Some cooks like to use skim milk, but whole milk makes the creamiest mash. It’s traditional to serve those in a mound with a fat pat of good butter pooling in its center.

You can store the “chomp” for several days in a covered bowl in the refrigerator before you make the potato pancakes. Bring them to room temperature for easier handling before you begin.


Serves 6.

Note: Serve as a side to roast chicken, pork or lamb, or use as the basis for potato pancakes. Use buttery-fleshed Yukon Gold potatoes that have enough starch to fluff up nicely. To clean leeks, remove and discard the dark green portion of the leek and cut off the roots. Slice the white part in half and run the cut side under cold water until clean. Pat the leek dry with a clean kitchen towel and chop or dice. The recipe is easily doubled. From Beth Dooley.

• 6 to 8 potatoes (see Note)

• Water to cover

• 1 1/2 c. whole milk

• 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for serving

• 1 c. chopped leeks (see Note)

• 1/2 c. chopped parsley

• Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Scrub the potatoes and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and allow to cool enough to peel and cut into chunks and return to the cooking pot. Add the milk and bring to a boil, then quickly reduce heat and mash the potatoes so that they absorb all the milk.

While the potatoes are cooking, melt the butter in a skillet over medium high heat and add the leeks. Sauté until they are tender and beginning to turn a light brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Combine the leeks and parsley with the potatoes and mash them together, seasoning with the salt and pepper. Serve with a pat of butter in the middle.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 270 Fat 10 g Sodium 45 mg

Carbohydrates 41 g Saturated fat 6 g Total sugars 6 g

Protein 6 g Cholesterol 26 mg Dietary fiber 5 g

Exchanges per serving: 2 ½ starch, 2 fat.