Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Embracing the potato

Well, it’s been a full week since my last post on the end of fall as we’ve known it. I bet you think I’ve taken this time off to wallow in self pity and gorge myself on Peru-grown tropical fruits and heavily processed corn chips. Youre wrong. I kept my kitchen estrangement to a few meals at Nightwood (hamburgers on Friday when we’d run out of food during the turnover from Thursday market replenishment to a Saturday CSA drop-off, and a spooky Sunday brunch with my loving mother who just wanted a ride to Target). 
Bacon. Doughnut.
And so I am not wallowing, but indeed embracing this next season. I’ve begun my Christmas shopping and cranked up the holiday jukebox. When Alex rejected the notion that the holidays were upon us I reprimanded him with a “’Tis the season!” only to be brushed back with his sharp, “’Tis it?!” I think it ’tis.
Our new CSA worked out well. I’m especially loving the crisp romaine, Prairie Fruit Farms fresh chèvre, and local dried cranberries (wildly different from “craisins”) that have debuted in my lunch salad this week. Yet I couldn’t quite quit Nichols produce. The Farmstand, a small market two blocks from my office, carries only local goods, including items from Nichols farm. Naturally I stopped in and bought potatoes.

And then I baked them. Twice. 
Melissa Clarke’s aptly titled Cook this Now is ATR (all the rage, Mom, OMG) on the food blog circuit, especially for the seasonally geared. The recipes are divided by month and feature fresh produce, bold flavors, and clean preparations. It’s a cookbook for the now and the here, and where I got the recipe for these twice-baked potatoes stuffed with corned beef. …Erin go bragh? 
I pre-baked the potatoes last night to ensure dinner service would be on time this evening. It takes 75 minutes to bake a potato. No wonder the Irish starved. (Too soon?)   
To prepare the once-baked potatoes, cut them in half and scoop out the inside, leaving a quarter inch border for potato bowl support. Mash the potato innards with a fork and mix in a heaping tablespoon of chopped fresh dill, ¼ pound of corned beef (also chopped), and a few tablespoons softened unsalted butter. Season with salt and pepper then stuff the potato boats with the mixture. Top with grated manchego (or parm, or cheddar!). Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees, then broil for 2 minutes to toast that cheesy crust.
You know that’s delicious—a real “can’t go wrong” dish. The dill is essential, adding freshness and interest to the fluffy potato and salty beef.

To go alongside the baked potatoes, I fixed a raw cabbage salad with walnuts and fennel (based off another Clarke recipe that calls for radicchio) dressed in lemon, grated garlic, and more manchego. 
Let the headline read, “Corned beef, potatoes, cabbage: Re-arranged, still best friends.” Why not embrace the old country while you’re embracing the turn in weather? Even if, like me, your old country looks more like this. (In case you ever wondered where I got my natural dance abilities.)


  1. No "sorry Mom" tag? I protest.

    As for your "too soon?") question, I direct you to a "too soon" moment. The Year? 1997: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/347504-top-ten-stanford-marching-bands-most-awkward-moments/page/9/

  2. The local dried cranberries look so big! How awesome! I want some potatoes.......