Wednesday, January 28, 2009

barry's buds bid farewell to the year of the potato.

and now we bring you the first installment of "barry's buds" – a guest column of barry’s many comrades who share a love of all things food-related. today you get not one, but two of barry’s main associates sharing with you the various potato
(mis)adventures we’ve had with barry over the past year.

it would be a huge understatement to point out that we have a thing for potatoes.

we’re obsessed. this past year was particularly gratifying, as our appreciation of this sacrosanct little spud was made to seem slightly less crazy by the u.n.’s decision to dub 2008 the international year of the potato. yes, really.

as we settle into 2009, we look back quite fondly at the multitude of ways we’ve enjoyed potatoes in ’08 (cue indulgent dream sequence music)....

in the familiar, fluffy pabulum of betty crocker, thinly sliced and meticulously arranged on a pizza at famoso’s, piped atop a moist meatloaf cupcake in a beetroot-tinted pink swirl, shredded in pancakes, roasted with sea salt and dill, diced in hash brown casseroles, cubed in coconut milk curries, mashed with cream cheese and herbs, encased in perogie dough, swimming in dill cream...and that's not even mentioning all the french fries.

as part of our bidding a proper farewell, here are two simple recipes that we each enjoyed this year.

recipe one: mini baked potatoes with blue cheese.
*note from barry’s bud #1: this potato recipe has been extracted from me under great duress. because i cannot bear the threat of the wire whisk any longer, i offer you this to appease barry.

around 20 small baby potatoes (try and pick ones that are the same size - barry likes potato uniformity)
enough olive oil to lightly coat your potatoes
sea salt
around 1/2 cup sour cream (full fat is better)
around one ounce of crumbled blue cheese
chopped fresh chives for garnish

1. preheat your oven to 350F.
2. wash and dry your potatoes.
3. toss you potatoes with just enough oil to coat.
4. lightly coat you potatoes in sea salt.
5. spread your potatoes out on a baking sheet.
6. bake potatoes for 45-50 minutes.
7. while potatoes are baking, combine sour cream and blue cheese in a small bowl - measurements are just a guideline.
8. take potatoes out of oven and let cool for a few minutes.
9. cut an 'x' in the top of each potato - gently squeeze the cross with your fingers to open the potatoes.
10. top each potato with a spoon of the blue/cheese sour scream mixture.
11. garnish with chopped chives.
12. MANGE.

adapted from: forster, felicity, ed. "mini baked potatoes with blue cheese" in soups. (london: hermes house, 2004: p. 240).

recipe two: balsamic caramelized potatoes.
*note from bud #2: i made up this pretty simple recipe after a visit to the old strathcona farmer’s market where i picked up a bottle of maple balsamic vinegar. parboiling the potatoes before roasting is a bit indulgent, but i feel they warrant this attention.

serves 4-5 people.

a 2lb bag of baby potatoes
about 1 tablespoon of olive oil
2-3 tablespoons of maple balsamic vinegar (or substitute with regular balsamic)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
about 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, coarsely chopped
about 1/2 tablespoon butter (optional)
salt and pepper

1. combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic power and thyme in a bowl. set aside.
2. wash and dry your potatoes.
3. add potatoes to a pot of rapidly boiling salted water.
4. boil potatoes just until they're soft and you can easily stick a fork through (about 5-7 minutes).
5. remove from water immediately and add to a foil-lined roasting tray. (you can cut some of the not so baby potatoes in half if you wish before roasting.)
6. pour oil and balsamic mixture over potatoes and shake the tray around so that the potatoes are well coated. add the butter if you feel like it (just do it.)
7. bake at 400F for 30min or until potatoes are browned.
8. salt and pepper to taste.

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