We'll begin with something simple: the potato. It's basic, hearty, and though it got a bad rep during the "no carb" fad in the last decade, the potato is a food rich in nutrients--particularly if you incorporate the skin. My recommendation, then, is to purchase organic potatoes. And don't scoff! Buying organic bananas is all well and good except, well, bananas have thick skins--chemicals can't penetrate the peel. Potatoes, on the other hand, can very easily absorb chemicals applied to the ground because their skins are permeable. Common sense, really, unlike Showtime's Dexter. But still, people love potatoes--whether organic or not--and audiences love Dexter--whether sane or not.
Red Potato Bake
What you'll need:
-6-8 large red potatoes, halved, then quarter the halves
-Italian bread crumbs
-3 tablespoons butter
-parmigianno reggiano shredded cheese
-pecorino romano grated cheese
-fresh ground black pepper
-sea salt (to salt water)
-8-inch round quiche or casserole dish
Preheat oven to 350. Fill a stock pot with 2/3 water and bring to a boil, adding a teaspoon of sea salt to water. Once boiling, add quartered potatoes and let boil on med-high until chunks are soft (you can easily poke a knife into them--this will take 15-20 minutes). Drain the water from the pot and "mash" the potato chunks with butter, 1/2 cup of parmigiano reggiano cheese and 1/2 cup of pecorino romano. Add fresh ground black pepper to taste. Spray a quiche or casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place potato mixture in quiche or casserole dish and spread out evenly in dish. Next, evenly spread a handful of Italian bread crumbs on top. Place on center rack in pre-heated oven and bake for 13-15 minutes. Et voila! You can scoop it, slice it, or it eat it right out of the dish. It's a hearty helping of home-made for any post-traumatic work day or for in between holiday shopping, menus and guests. Great as a side dish for your holiday meals, too! Once you've plated a serving, drizzle with a little white truffle oil and garnish with Italian parsley to turn peasant food into pleasant elegance with a twist. And hey, to make this hearty snack a heartier meal, whether carnivore or veggie, add 1/2 cup of your favorite protein to the mix before baking.
What you'll need:
-Pear-flavored vodka, kept in freezer
-can of pears
-2-3 ice cubes
Pour one part (about 3 ounces) pear-flavored vodka to shaker. Add about a tablespoon of the syrup from the canned pears. Add ice to shaker. Take a pear-half from can and cut length-wise. Add one of the lengths to the bottom of glass. Shake the liquids with the ice and strain into glass. And there you have it--simplicity at its best! And it's a great cocktail to make in a pitcher for your holiday guests as well. If you decide to make it by the pitcher, add 3 ounces of vodka for each person and add a tablespoon of pear syrup for each person as well. Place halved pear halves in bottom of pitcher and pour in vodka and syrup--giving a thorough turn or two with a wooden spoon. Place mixture in fridge for 2-3 hours before your guests arrive. Serve in martini glasses.
Non-alcoholic version: Because calories count during the jolly-days, you can make this lovely simple drink by substituting San Pellegrino sparkling mineral water for vodka then adding one tablespoon of syrup. Light, refreshing and easy...exactly what the doctor ordered!
Dessert? No, not tonight. Dexter's murderous vein is filling enough. But if you're more into the light and fluffy stuff, we'll be whipping something up for you next week...pie, anyone???
Thanks for joining me for this week's Pop Culture Cooking segment! If you have any special requests, please feel free to forward them via the contact form on the CONTACT INFO page. Remember, the recipes are to feed my pop culture habit and yours, and though I try to include lots of the new kids on the block, sometimes I forget about the funky bunch...hey, it's all about good vibrations, and, good food!