I don't know about you, but here in the frigid northeast, there's nothing I want to do more than stay indoors, curled under blankets with something warm to drink, some comfort food and a great book to read...
Like Dona's awesome debut, HOW TO SALSA IN A SARI!!!
(Can you tell how proud we are of Dona here at Books, Boys, Buzz?)
And what's the perfect comfort food? Well, mashed potatoes, of course! Sure, you might say, "but I don't need instructions on mashed potatoes." It seems simple, right? However, there is a way to make them perfect. Here's my secret:
1. You want a really sticky, starchy potato. Best are Idaho baking potatoes or the large Yukon Gold potatoes. If you use Idaho, use three medium sized ones, or four large Yukons. This’ll make about four ½ cup servings.
2. Peel them and rinse them off. Cut them into equal size pieces. If they're equal sized pieces, they'll cook more evenly. Usually, I third the potato and then half the thirds. Fill a large pot on the stove with warm water from the tap and drop the cut potatoes in. Make sure the water completely covers the potatoes. To the water, add a good amount of salt. Two teaspoons, at least. The salt will flavor the water and the potatoes as they cook and that much salt won't be absorbed all into the vegetables.
3. Turn to high and cook for 20-25 minutes. You can test the potatoes' done-ness by sticking them with a sharp knife. You want them tender, not tough, but not too mushy.
4. Before draining, take a measuring cup and fill it carefully with about 1/3 of a cup of the cooking liquid and set aside. Turn stove down to low. Pour potatoes carefully into a colander and drain for a moment and then return the potatoes immediately to the hot pot. You will hear the potatoes "sizzle" as this is the remaining liquid evaporating.
5. After about half a minute, take your potato masher and start mashing the potatoes in the pot, on the stove, over the heat. Pour in a little bit of the reserved cooking liquid to help you as you mash, eyeballing so that you mash the potatoes into a smooth paste. Depending on how starchy your potatoes are will depend on how much of the liquid it will hold. Just don't turn it into soup...maybe only using 1/4-1/2 the cup.
6. Here is where I add 2-3 tablespoons of Brummel and Brown (yogurt butter) and 1/2 cup of reduced fat sour cream. Keep mashing and stirring everything together, keeping the stove at a very low setting.
7. At this point, salt the whole thing to your taste and add pepper. I also add fresh cut/diced chives -- maybe a tablespoon -- for taste and appearance. Taste the potatoes and if they're not seasoned to your preference, salt and pepper some more. The key is to season they while they're still on the stove and not when you put them on your plate.
8. Then, I use a mold to present them. You can use anything, really...a sugar shell, a coffee cup, or just plop them on the plate. I guarantee you, if you follow this, they will NOT be bland in the least.
Voila! You're done! Now, enjoy your meal and Dona's book!
Marley = )
SORORITY 101: Zeta or Omega? (May 2008, Puffin Books)
SORORITY 101: The New Sisters (May 2008, Puffin Books)
GHOST HUNTRESS Series (Begins May 2009, Houghton Mifflin)
What I'm reading: (finishing, actually) NEW MOON by Stephanie Meyer