Monday, December 8, 2008
Twice Baked Bliss
It happens all the time. I call my mom to ask her how to make a certain dish like egg salad or Parmesan-encrusted fish, and she tells me, "Just add a little of this, and a little of that." As a perfectionist, type-A personality, her lack of specificity kills me. I want details! I want to know exactly how much mayonnaise to use, and the exact ratio of Parmesan to panko crumbs. None of this "dash," "drop," "dribble" nonsense -- give me the hard facts, woman!
Of course, this was when most of my time in the kitchen revolved around the production of baked goods, an item that requires precise measurements lest the recipe fail miserably. Once I started experimenting with the savory side of the equation, my intense devotion to the details began to fray a bit at the edges. Nowhere is this more evident than when I make the popular steakhouse side dish, the twice baked potato.
Twice baked potatoes are probably my favorite form of prepared spud. I love the creamy center, delicately flavored with Cheddar, and there is something incredibly satisfying about digging my fork through the crusty cheese top. I can't get enough of the decadent potatoes, and will often make them for an easy dinner. With a side of steamed broccoli it is the perfect winter meal to warm me heart and soul. (Or at least it would be if I lived in a place that dropped below 50 degrees.)
Diana's Twice Baked Potatoes (For one)
1 Russet potato
A couple spoonfuls of light sour cream
Splash of nonfat milk
Small handful of Tillamook Medium Cheddar Cheese, grated
Sprinkle of Parmesan
Dash of Red Pepper Flakes
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash potato, and prick several times with a fork. (Note: Failing to poke holes in the potato can cause a spud 'splosion in the oven!) Bake potato approximately 1 hour or until soft to the touch.
2. Remove potato and let cool for approximately 10 minutes before handling. Slice the top off with a knife and then scoop the tater guts into a bowl. Add the Cheddar cheese (reserving some for the top), sour cream, milk, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes until it reaches the desired consistency. I like mine to be somewhat like a dry mashed potato with lumps.
3. Refill the potato shell and top with the reserved Cheddar cheese and Parmesan. Sprinkle with pepper (or paprika) and return to the oven for approximately 30 minutes. I sometimes like to broil mine for the last couple minutes so that the top gets extra crunchy.
4. Serve with steamed broccoli, or if feeling ambitious, a steak. (Trader Joe's Meatless Meatballs are also a superb accompaniment for a little extra protein.)