Twice Baked Potato Casserole

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By cooking these potatoes in their skin and then peeling them, you benefit from more nutrients being absorbed into the potato’s flesh. Plus, they are much easier to peel after they’ve been cooked; just rub them with a paper towel or a butter knife. This makes a large batch and is great for serving half and freezing half for later. We reheat a lot of pre-made meals from the freezer. For this reason my man, Eric, says our dish is really thrice baked. Har Har.

For fluffier boiled potatoes, after you drain the water, cover the pot with a double thickness of paper towels and the pot’s lid. In ten minutes, steam will be absorbed by the towels and your potatoes will be dry and fluffy.

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Serves 12

2 1/2 quart boxes of Everblossom new potatoes (about 7 pounds)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 or 2 pieces of bacon, chopped
2 small onions, finely chopped
1/2 pound sharp white Cheddar, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Scrub the potatoes well and rinse under cool running water. Start them in a pot of cool water and bring to a boil together for the most even cooking. Boil in salted water for about 20 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle.

When the potatoes have cooled, use a paper towel to rub off their skins. Place the potato flesh in a large bowl and add 1 stick of the butter, the sour cream, heavy cream, salt, and pepper and mash until chunky-smooth.

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Fry the chopped bacon until the fat is melting and then add the onions. Stir until the onions are softened and absorbing that bacon flavor, about 5 minutes.

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To the mashed potatoes, add the bacon and onions, cubed white Cheddar and eggs and mix thoroughly.

Butter two 8×8-inch casserole dishes (or a single 9 by 13-inch casserole) with the remaining tablespoon of butter.

Place the potato mixture in the prepared casserole. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly around the edges and heated through and the top is lightly browning. Serve hot.

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Keema: An Indian Curry

Keema in process

Keema in process

Serves 4

A wonderful friend made Keema for my daughter, Audrey, and me one weekend our families were away together. She is an experienced cook and knows the luxury of a dinner you can hold in the oven at 200 degrees until everybody’s ready. She serves it with shredded coconut, perfectly tender roasted carrots, and only with basmati rice. I, however, am a little less strict about ingredients and have found that jasmine rice is also quite nice.

Use your Everblossom chard, onion, garlic, basil and tomatoes.

This has become such a family favorite, I triple this recipe and put the other two batches in the freezer.

3 tablespoons curry powder
3 tablespoons sesame oil, or peanut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch of Swiss chard, rinsed and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (cilantro or parsley is good here too)
1 pound ground beef
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
6 to 8 ripe plum-sized tomatoes or equivalent
10 ounces frozen peas

  • Prepare rice according to package instructions. Hold separately.
  • Sauté curry powder in oil over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onions and brown. Add garlic, chard and basil and stir. Add meat and brown.
  • Blanch tomatoes in hot water until you can remove peels easily; finely chop.
  • Add salt and peeled, chopped tomatoes; cover. Cook over low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes. Add peas, mix in, cover again, and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Serve over rice

Important: Do not use a black cast iron skillet or wooden spoons; the curry powder will get in the pores. A silicon scraper may also be dyed yellow.

Cooking in Foil Packets

Elaine likes to whip up foil packet feasts in the summer. Here are just a few ideas to get you started. This method makes cooking large amounts really easy – and no pots to clean. Cook these packets in the oven, on the grill, or on campfire cinders. Either way you’ll find that it seems to heighten the flavor as all the ingredients steam together.

the root foil packet

“root” foil packet with thyme

Make a foil packet: take a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil, generously sized, but appropriate to the amount you plan to cook. Drizzle with olive oil; add prepared veg; fold together opposite sides of the foil, rolling down a few times, but leave a little space for the steam to circulate. Then, fold up each end to seal.

Cook in a pre-heated oven at about 375oF or grill at medium heat until contents are fork tender.

  • Root Packet: Cut into even pieces your choice of potatoes, onions, beets, and carrots. Drizzle with olive oil; add sprigs of thyme, parsley or your favorite herb, salt, and pepper. Cook approximately 15 minutes.
  • Rustic Ratatouille: Evenly chop summer squash, tomatoes, garlic, and peppers. Drizzle with olive oil; add choice of herbs like oregano, thyme, parsley. Cook approximately 15 minutes. Serve over pasta or rice.
  • Chard: Rinse and chop or rip the leaves and stems of a large bunch of Swiss chard. Add to packet with some olive oil. Add juice of half lemon and then toss in the lemon too. You can also add a slice of tomato to help the steaming process. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Roasted Garlic: There is no easier way to enjoy the sweet nutty goodness of roasted garlic for making garlic mashed potatoes, garlic bread, or bruschetta. Use cloves or bulbs of garlic (peeling optional), drizzle in olive oil, and wrap in foil. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until tender. The soft sweet garlic will squeeze right out of the peel.
  • Roasted Onion: Leave the peel on an onion to prevent it from burning. Cross-cut ¾ of the way down the top of an onion and stuff it with rosemary, thyme, and a hunk of butter.  Add salt and pepper; wrap in foil. Cook for about 10 minutes or until softened through.