Who remembers these?


The epitome of dinner party sophistication back in the 70s – the Duchesse Potato. Very “Cordon Bleu”. I first made them in the A-Level Domestic Science room circa 1970.

I have made many Duchesses in my time, though not these particular examples. I became very adept at piping Duchesses, as well as Choux, cream and meringues. I enjoyed the skill with which I handled a forcing bag and simple star nozzle and could turn out dozens of Duchesses with minimal variation between each. This I did often as my boss loved that I could produce these for large dinner parties.

Even better I enjoyed the skill with which I could pipe precisely and evenly the rosettes of cream around a gateau or tart or whatever, with no gaps or squashing together.

It feels good to master any skill. Piping seems more satisfactory than most – perhaps because the results are edible?

These Duchesses came out of a freezer bag. It seems that Pommes Duchesse are still a thing here in France, if possibly only a seasonal one. I have seen them in both Lidl and Leclerc in recent days. I couldn’t resist buying them. They were pretty good!

Because we are nominally low-carb, I try not to buy potatoes. I am from Yorkshire and therefore genetically incapable of producing small quantities of mash and dare not be left alone with a few kilos of spuds. Similarly, being a Yorkie, waste is not an option and all must be eaten up and not binned! By buying these ready-made, I can keep a lid on consumption with some very French-sized portion control.

I have been trying to buy a large forcing bag suitable for cream and potatoes and things of such ilk ever since we landed on these shores. For the past two weeks I have been trying ever harder but still without success. The shops seem to have silly tiny bags for the icing of cakes, with ridiculously small and nasty plastic nozzles instead of quality stainless steel ones.

The situation has become critical: I shall be making Pavlova (also very 70s!) this Friday and I should like it to be a pretty one and not just dolloped and scooped with a spoon.

There are probably specialist cookware shops where I can obtain what I want but I am supposing that they are to be found in towns and cities and we tend to stay well away from such places.

Dollop of Pavlova, anybody? With Dollop of Cream?

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