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Posts Tagged ‘Baked Potatoes’

Best-ever jacket-baked potatoes

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

One thing that struck me at The Food Show in Auckland this year is how much those attending the demonstrations in the Electrolux Cooking Theatre hung on every word, devouring every little tip. The interest and desire to learn was palpable. It seems one of the most useful tips I gave out, without even thinking about it, was how to get crunchy skin on jacket-baked potatoes. This is something I presumed everyone would know, but apparently not. It’s too easy to presume that everyone knows the basics when you are demonstrating, and quite grounding to be reminded that isn’t so!

The skin on potatoes is full of nutrients, and when scrubbed clean and cooked as I describe below it’s delicious. If you’ve never tried it, or don’t quite believe it, read on! I’ve had great feedback on this method and thought it was worthwhile sharing. I did have two other interesting comments made to me… one woman informed me that it was an awful waste of electricity to have the oven roaring away for so long just to get crunchy potato skins (1½ hours). I replied that it is perhaps not the wisest choice when making just one or two potatoes – but, potatoes are a cheap way to fill a crowd (think upwards to 20!), so are perfect for large gatherings. If cooking for a smaller group, choose other dishes which cook at the same temperature to utilize the oven heat ie stuffed baked mushrooms, which could be served with the potatoes along with a salad to make a tasty, nutritious, easy and inexpensive meal. Another woman queried whether the potatoes could be started in the microwave then finished in the oven. I replied, ‘No’. Stick with the method below for the perfect result – I developed it years ago and it has been tried and tested hundreds and hundreds of times in various ovens. Start with a floury potato and I guarantee success (in New Zealand I use agria).

Here’s a flavoursome mushroom sauce given a flavour boost with a handful of porcini mushrooms. Served over crunchy potatoes it makes an excellent vegetarian main course. Or try it with an omelette, with sizzled chicken breasts or panfried pork snitzel.

Jacket-baked potatoes
Mixed Mushroom Sauté

Cheap Winter Eats

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

The cold has settled in and we’re in for a long run of wintery days by the looks of it! One comfort is food – soups and homecooked meals fill the kitchen with gorgeous smells that’ll bring them running. Look for dishes based on seasonal vegetables, or inexpensive vegetables which one tends to pass over in favour of something more exotic (think cabbage – how many times do you walk past that and buy something three times the price because you think cabbage is boring).

Potatoes are an excellent ingredient to fill hungry tummies. They’re especially good for us when jacket-baked.

How do you get those gorgeously-crunchy potato skins on jacket-baked potatoes? Easy. Scrub the potatoes and while they’re still damp sprinkle them with salt. Move them to a dry part of the bench, turn them over and sprinkle the top side also with salt. Transfer to an oven preheated to 200°C / 400°F (fanbake) and bake for at least 1 1/2 hours, even longer – up to 2 hours. Immediately you remove the potatoes from the oven, split them in half with a sharp knife, otherwise the steam inside the potato will soften the skin. Either serve as they are, with butter, salt and pepper, or with sour cream, or top them with a homemade Bolognese or tomato sauce – such a great way to use up small amounts of leftover pasta sauce, and you don’t need any added fat!

Alternatively, scoop out the flesh and mash with a little hot milk and butter and pile it back into the potatoes, top with grated cheese and grill until sizzling. Or mix the potato flesh with any manner of ingredients before stuffing it back into the potato shell: chopped ham or bacon or roast chicken, chopped spring onions or snipped chives, canned beans or sweet corn, chopped onion and celery softened in a little olive oil, and so on and so forth. The recipe here is one my kids loved when they were growing up.

Jacket Potatoes with Bacon and Sweet Chilli Sauce

One of the great things about pasta dishes is their speed. They’re also nutritious and fill you up. I always keep canned beans in the pantry, and many types of pasta shapes, and with a bunch of rocket from the garden, a meal like this is easy on the budget, and on me – over and done in twenty minutes.

Rocket & Beans with Fusilli

A mug of homemade soup is an inexpensive nutritious after-school warm-up.

Make the soup, even a double batch, then when it is cool, line soup mugs with snap-lock bags and fill with soup. Seal and freeze, then remove mug. Then you have the perfect amount to thaw quickly in the microwave (or in a saucepan) to fill a mug. Potatoes help thicken the soup, and leeks are inexpensive at this time of year. You could use homemade chicken stock in this soup, and even swirl in a little leftover roast chicken at the end.

Chunky Leek and Potato Soup