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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

+ baked sweet potatoes with cinnamon butter:

Having spent the last two days working out of town I am just getting to a post very close to my (our) heart: spuds. In fact, I just got back from an Open House at our shop where I ate a dozen chocolate dipped dates, salted dark chocolate caramels and a half cup of sinful, eternally-damning-but-totally-worth-it sipping chocolate. In a single word it was divine, but you can bet I'll be at morning yoga tomorrow to make up for it-physically and psychologically. This week, it seems, has been especially delectable: white bean salad with lemon vinaigrette, fresh baked raisin pecan bread, mouth-watering elderflower chocolate, tempura-fried sweet potato sushi. I also got to glimpse some real food bloggers, in the flesh, which was almost as delectable. Part of me quivered with anticipation and longing to be a successful, well known food blogger, the likes of which wear black rimmed glasses and jeweled vintage jacket pins and get invitations to open houses like ours. But, I shouldn't complain; I got to be at the opening too, even if it was just as a lowly chocolate devotee. And here I am, sated on exquisite cuisine, writing about it. Still... I hope there is room in those eclectic ranks for the likes of at least one more hungry spud-aficionado with a mindless love of homely produce.

Speaking of homely, let's talk about mashed potatoes. It would be a travesty if any Thanksgiving table was lacking this fluffy, buttery side-what would you do with all the gravy without it? I've posted two simple potato recipes here: one for a traditional mashed potato and another for a baked sweet potato with maple and cinnamon butter. Both recipes are incredibly simple. The mashed potatoes get a subtle kick from some sour cream and a little Parmesan cheese, making them decidedly savory. The sweet potatoes take even less work, and are great if you are in a pinch (they cook up in under 5 minutes in the microwave, and wrapped in a little waxed paper, they turn out moist and sweet). The maple and cinnamon butter for the sweet potatoes is a delightful addition to your table and just as enjoyable on warm rolls or a bowl of pumpkin oatmeal the next day.

Notes: If you want extra smooth and light potatoes use your hand mixer to eliminate any lumps. Personally, I like mine a little more rustic so I just mash them with a fork or wooden spoon. If you don't have the time to make your mashed potatoes right before serving you can make them the morning of your event, refrigerating them in between. Just allow time to warm the potatoes up and beat them with a little extra milk to smooth them out again. The maple cinnamon butter can be made up to a week in advance. For a little extra elegance try piping the room temperature butter in a pastry bag, with a large star tip, onto waxed paper to make pretty butter rosettes. Then, refrigerate them as usual until they retain their shape. Serve the rosettes slightly chilled so they don't get smeared around the serving plate too easily. Otherwise, be sure to let the butter warm up before you put it out on your table so it is spreadable.

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

4 large red-skinned potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon each salt, fresh cracked pepper (or to taste)
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup milk, more or less

1. Wash potatoes with mild soap and water. Peel the potatoes and remove any brown spots or "eyes".
2. Cut the potatoes into uniform slices, about 1/2 an inch thick. Place in a sauce pot and fill with cold water. Bring the potatoes to boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until fork tender.
3. While the potatoes are cooking, heat up the milk in the microwave 1-1 1/2 minutes or until it is steamy and warm.
4. Drain the potatoes and mash with a fork or hand-held mixer. Add the sour cream, cheese, salt and pepper and butter and then beat until combined.
5. Add the milk in thirds, blending between additions, until the potatoes are fluffy and smooth. You may need more or less milk than the recipe calls for, depending your potatos.
6. Serve warm.

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Butter:

4 small to medium sweet potatoes
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of nutmeg, optional

1. Wash and dry the sweet potatoes before piercing them a few times with a sharp knife or fork (this will keep the potatoes from bursting). Microwave the spuds using the "potato" setting your microwave-they are perfect every time.
2. Beat the butter, cinnamon, maple syrup, vanilla and nutmeg in a bowl. Pipe into rosettes onto waxed paper, if preferred, and chill until ready to serve. Alternatively, serve at room temperature in a small serving dish with your potatoes.
3. Split the potatoes and serve warm with the cinnamon butter.

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