Oh Happy Day

It's official. Spring has sprung. I said it this past December and I will say it again; it is indeed the most wonderful time of the year. I hedge that the worst is behind us here in North Carolina. I hope that these do not prove to be famous last words. After months, weeks and the past few days shaped by mostly quirky and at times downright depressing weather, I woke up Friday morning feeling charged, rejuvenated and ready to take some names. Yesterday and also this morning were rather similar. A gorgeous warm light poured through the bedroom window sometime after 7.00 am. In due tradition, Matthew brewed a pot of coffee, I lazily perused the Times and together we watched a program on ESPN focused on something about which I have no idea. Soccer and tennis aside, I am not the most cued in sports aficionado. Know thy strengths! Within an hour we were ready to do our Sunday grocery rotation. I opened the front door to invite spitting rain, an unpleasant wind and a downright chilly day at that. Fun while it lasted. I cruised uptown Charlotte sans coat with bare legs last night. Hey, c'est la vie, right?

Recently, a bosom pal told me that a baked potato with crispy skins and a stick of butter with kosher salt wets her whistle every once in a while when the time is right. Sounds like a fabulous hangover meal to me. Three words, ring my bell. The key to a crisp exterior is quite easy. No need to wrap it in foil but rather liberally massage your spud with a great quality olive oil, poke a few holes in it, roast on high heat and do your thing. This will yield a decadently crispy exterior with a soft middle. Just what the doctor ordered. It is as simple as that. Sundays and some cookouts aside, we don't usually eat potatoes as they do not rhyme well with the we eat limited carbohydrates mantra. I swear the South Beach Diet did quite a number on me a few years back. I remember in my youth girlfriends and I would hang out at the mall near to my house. We did the perfunctory cruise and would always end up at the food court ordering the same thing. Piping hot baked potatoes with gooey cheddar cheese, steamed broccoli and sour cream. We would generously decorate our prizes with packets of salt and pepper. Those were the days. 

Anyway, when we were at the grocer recently Matthew asked what I thought about doing baked potatoes for dinner one night. Suited me fine I said, a quick meal so I could have a night off to focus on other things. So we found the section boasting knobby ugly potatoes ideal for baking. Serendipity reared its head the next day when I received an email recipe from Pure Wow explaining three ways to tizzy up your baked potato while keeping calories in check. Make it fancy the article suggested. I was instantaneously convinced that it was meant to be. By the way, if you are not already on the PureWow email distribution list, get yourself on there. It is a most interesting digital publication. We had a punnet of mushrooms needing attention as well as some stalks of rosemary leftover from a previous meal. We got to work. These were simply divine. Crisp on the exterior and soft in the middle. In lieu of Greek yogurt I picked up a container of goat's milk yoghurt as this likes me better than the usual lactose suspect. Super quick and easy to pull together, perfect for one of those nights when you are going a mile a minute and then the task of cooking a meal introduces itself. We can all agree that sometimes you need that like a hole in your head. With these puppies, you can be one and done in an hour. Happy eating.

Sophisticated Spuds
Adapted from PureWow

The Grocer Beckons

2 large Russet potatoes - with their high starch content they are ideal for baking
4 TBS olive oil
5 spring onions - chopped
1 punnet of crimini mushrooms - sliced
3 garlic cloves - chopped
3 TBS fresh rosemary - chopped
1 small container of goat's milk yoghurt - Greek yoghurt will work perfectly well too
Kosher salt

Do Your Thing

1. Wash your potatoes and dry them well. Liberally rub the exterior of each potato with 1 TBS olive oil. If you think you need more oil, use more oil. A few pinches of salt work wonders at this time too. Poke holes in the potatoes with a fork. Place the potatoes on the top rack and bake them at 350 for 1 hour. They are done when you can slip a knife or fork in and out easily.

2. In a pan, warm the 2 TBS of olive oil on medium high heat. Add the spring onions and cook for three minutes. Now add the mushrooms and cook until soft. This should take approximately five minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and stir for around a minute or so. Season with salt and pepper. You are done. Remove from the heat.

3. Split your spuds in half, generously scoop the mushroom mixture into the cavity and throw a dollop of yoghurt on top. A pinch or more of salt and you are in business.

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