Tuesday, September 16

Oblatory Potatoes (Secular)

Ever since my Penina (like My Antonia, but Jewish and Jersey) departed San Francisco to make a name for herself in the wilds of Brooklyn, I've struggled with the concept of cooking for one. It's just not as fun. I could and would cook Perrin breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and maybe an afternoon snack for good measure, but when it comes to feeding myself I'm just not as ambitious, nor as nourishing. In fact, cooking for one notably lacks the element of nurturing that I find so pivotal to the joy I garner from my culinary endeavors. And I don't just mean the act of solitary eating can be monumentally less satisfying, but more importantly that cooking, for me, is inextricably wrapped up with the idea of nurturing someone. It's a kind of offering: here, eat my food, absorb my affection, accept my care. Let me share with you. Share with me.

And so when I recently had the opportunity to cook for someone, I pulled out all the stops. I served a highly-tinkered version of this salmon ceviche with pickled cucumbers and tomatillos (don't let anyone, particularly the fishmonger at Whole Foods, tell you that salmon is a bad choice for ceviche); Smitten Kitchen's rosemary flatbreads (but substituting chives and wheat flour); my now-classic stuffed baby potatoes; wilted spinach salad goat cheese packets and a warm honey-balsamic vinaigrette; and drunken peaches with ginger sorbet. My guest's selection of a Macon-villages Chardonnay complemented my culinary choices surprisingly well, and a spot of pear brandy with dessert rounded out the meal. It's nice to have a hand in the kitchen, but mainly nice to have company in the kitchen...and help with the dishes certainly doesn't hurt.

These potatoes can be a bit time-intensive, but a good choice if you have a minion, er, assistant to help out. I particularly enjoy them as a tapas-style offering as they travel well and make good finger food. If you're especially finicky about presentation, cut off the rounded bottoms so that they sit flat -- myself, I'm a fan of curves.

8-10 Baby potatoes
3-4oz Goat cheese
~2 T Coarsely chopped herbs of your choice (I used chives and a sprinkling of dried thyme)
2-3 Cloves garlic, crushed
A few healthy pinches of sea salt and plenty of fresh cracked pepper
Capers (or, olives)

Boil potatoes with salt until just tender. Rinse, let cool, halve, and scoop out the fleshy insides. Mix with everything except capers/olives, check seasoning, then pack into potato skins. Top with capers or olives, garnish with chives or parsley, and chili oil if you're feeling especially decorative.

NB: You could also sprinkle with breadcrumbs and broil for a few minutes, but I prefer them cold, despite the persistent San Francisco summer fog.


Penny said...

I am debating between feeling flattered that my presence brought you so much "joy" or writing a snarky comment about how I can, in fact feed myself. I guess I will try to find a happy medium by saying--how come you never made the potatoes for ME??

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Anonymous said...

these sound wondeful


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