Category Archives: small bites

pantry picnic

If you live on the East Coast, you know Mother N. hit the fast-forward button straight from winter to summer. I’m rocking sundresses on a daily basis these (80-degree) days and ready to eat outside. Andrew and I have re-opened Cafe Lindrew for the season—that is, our little stone patio looking out to the woods. This week has been barbeque with cousins and Mickey Mouse birthdays, and Happy Hour on the patio with the hubs (yuengling for Andrew, textbook for me).

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Isn’t it clear it’s time to get outside for some Vitamin D? In keeping with our humble canned-food quest, here’s a two-minute slaw to take on your next picnic—even if it’s in your backyard. Yes, I realize the contradiction: canned food + a $150 food processor? A big ol’ food processor makes this salad lightening-fast. In case you don’t have a large food processor, you could make this in batches in a small $14 food processor, or just chop up all the ingredients and stir in a big bowl! I never have luck with these hand choppers, but this slaw is the perfect use for one if you’ve got it!

I was missing several ingredients (indicated below) and this was still delightful—like the chicken salad solution for vegetarians. A surprising hit in both the teacher’s lounge and my hubby’s sneak taste-test. “Wow, that smells awesome,” he said over my shoulder. “Am I allowed to have some?” Don’t mention it’s missing meat ūüėČ

Chunky Artichoke and Chickpea Salad

Vegetarian Times, serves 6

For a spring picnic or lunch, serve this dish as a dip with crackers or spread on pumpernickel and top with tomato.Or enjoy with your favorite sandwich (apple and cheddar). Don’t freak out at the number of ingredients until you see how many steps follow.
1  16-oz. can / jar artichoke hearts packed in water, drained
1  12-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¬ľ cup chopped onion
¬ľ cup chopped cornichons (French baby pickles)—I used a bread & butter spear
¬ľ cup chopped green bell pepper
¬ľ cup chopped fresh celery
¬ľ cup vegan mayonnaise (I used regular Hellmans)
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. capers (I omitted)
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
1 tsp. seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay (I omitted)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard (I omitted)

Pulse all ingredients in food processor until chunky. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Chill at least 30 minutes, or overnight.

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Thank you Vegetarian Times for the nutrition facts! Per 1/2-cup serving (note the majority of the fat is not saturated):

Calories: 148, Protein: 5 g, Total Fat: 9 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Carbohydrates: 17 g, Cholesterol: 2 mg, Sodium: 435 mg, Fiber: 6 mg, Sugar: 3 g

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street food: fritters!

I didn’t like meat growing up. I thought this surely meant a life¬†of alternating¬†peanut-butter and grilled cheese sandwiches. Then in college, Anna introduced me to the wonder that is Indian food–only to be followed by¬†my love and exploration¬†of many ethnic foods. Hellllllllo falafel.

One bite of this fried chickpea patty and you’ll understand why I planned my entire budget birthday¬†around this delight. Serve it¬†traditionally in pita (the “Israeli hamburger” said my friend Johanna)¬†and drizzle with a¬†store-bought yogurt sauce like tzatziki. Or let it¬†accompany a knockout¬†mixed grain dish.

A¬†food processor is best for making this dish in a pinch: mix, chill, fry. That’s it!

My Favorite Falafel

tweaked from Joan Nathan, The Foods of Israel Today 

1 cup dried chickpeas OR 2 15-oz. cans

1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon salt

1/2-1 teaspoon dried cayenne

4 cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon baking powder

4-6 tablespoons stone-ground white corn meal (or flour)

Grapeseed or vegetable oil for frying

Prep the Mixture

Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, drained.

Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, cayenne, garlic, and cumin. Pulse until just evenly chopped.

Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour (or cornmeal—I found the cornmeal achieves the perfect crunchy exterior), and pulse. You want to add enough¬†cornmeal or flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Do not¬†overmix, or¬†the falafel will be tough.¬†Leave a little chunky.

Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours. I’ve found one hour sufficient, but you could also prep the mixture the night before.

Fry the Falafel

Form the chickpea¬†mixture into balls about the size of walnuts—squashing¬†into a disc fries faster and makes for easier sandwiches. Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test.

If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. I find they fry well if lowered gently into the oil with a chinese strainer. Drain on paper towels. Falafel does not absorb oil, so it is not a greasy food—despite being fried.

Joan Nathan’s tips:

Stuff half a pita with falafel balls, chopped tomatoes, onion, green pepper, and pickled turnips. Drizzle with tahina thinned with water.

Tahina is an oily paste made from ground sesame seeds. It is available in Middle Eastern markets and at www.ethnicgrocer.com.

To garnish your falafel in true Israeli style, try adding one or several of the following condiments: harissa hot sauce, pickled turnip (both also available at www.ethnicgrocer.com), mango amba (pickle), or sauerkraut.

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March 12, 2012 · 2:53 pm

a firenze frenzy

This Sunday, I plan to eat delicious snacks and salty things as an ode to my American culture. I have no plans, however, to watch sporting events. My lifelong indifference to athletics led only to my parents teasing me I would surely marry a man who wanted to watch football every Sunday. Well, I married a film major (brags blogger wife whose laptop rests upon¬†a 4th edition of The Screenwriter’s Bible). We’ll probably take the day to enjoy our own movie marathon. And eat snacks.

Last Super Bowl Sunday, I was home sick and eating this. This year, I am on the rebound to good health and endorsing some healthy appetizers (inspired by serious steroid-related weight gain). These were such a smash at our housewarming in August, and a nice treat again this week at a neighborly¬†happy hour. Tis not the season for tomatoes¬†and strawberries—I¬†know, I know—but grape tomatoes help make the most of this Tuscan treat.

Note: I made this for 50 guests with nary a leftover and multiplied the recipe by six. Because the toasts and topping make excellent leftovers, it is worth at least doubling the recipe. I also used a multigrain baguette the second time around, and it was fantastic.

Crostini di Firenze

from Desperation Entertaining by Beverly Mills & Alicia Ross

makes 20 crostini

1 baguette (at least 12 inches long)

1 large clove fresh garlic

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/4 lb. ripe strawberries (about 1/2 cup chopped)

1 lb. grape tomatoes, halved

5 or 6, fresh mint leaves (2 tsp. chopped)

Make the crostini

Turn on the broiler. Cut off one end of the baguette, then cut 20 slices, each about 1/2 inch wide. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast in the hot broiler about 3 inches from the heat source until golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove, turn the slices over, and toast until golden brown on the second side, about 45 seconds. Remove the toasted bread from the baking sheet and let cool to room temperature.

Mix the topping

Mince the garlic (on a microplane, or like this) and place in a small bowl. Add the olive oil, vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk well to blend and set aside at room temperature until ready to serve. The vinaigrette and toast slices can be stored at this point for up to 8 hours. Cover the vinaigrette. Place the toast slices in an airtight container at room temperature.

Rinse and drain the strawberries thoroughly. Remove the leaf caps of the strawberries and cut the berries in half. Place the strawberry halves on a cutting board and chop coarsely to 1/4-inch pieces. Put the strawberries in a mixing bowl with the chopped tomatoes. Rinse and dry the mint leaves; finely chop and add to the fruit mixture. The strawberry-and-tomato mixture can be refrigerated and covered up to 2 hours.

Assemble the firenze

Whisk the vinaigrette to remix, pour over the fruit mixture and stir well to blend. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your preference. Arrange the toasts on a serving platter and spoon the topping onto each slice.

Let the crostini¬†stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving to allow the vinaigrette¬†to penetrate the bread. They will get soggy if standing too long, so better to assemble in batches—I promise, even in the midst of a party, this is a breeze. They will go fast.

Click to some other favorite dips and appetizers from A Pear to Remember

Jalapeno-Feta Dip

Mushroom Turnovers

Watermelon-Feta Bites

Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers

5-Ingredient Trail Mix

Smoked Paprika Chickpeas

Savory Tartlettes

Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Stuffed Peppadews

Roasted Red Pepper Dip with Pita Chips

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Filed under health, here to share, lickety-quick, small bites

food of the gods

There are things in life for which Americans offer incessant apologies: sneezing, asking questions, arriving early, arriving late, and the worst offender:¬†apologizing for apologizing. This is why I am not sorry to¬† make—yet¬†again—a fuss over feta.

Andrew and I ventured into Whole Foods last weekend to recycle wine corks from our wedding (three years is not too late to consider Mother Earth). At the entrance, a young woman offered eight locally-made dips. One particular feta dip was so phenomenal, we talked about it the whole way home. It was a life-changing cheese moment for us both. Though still not worth the $10 for  4 measly ounces.

A single glance at the ingredient list made this simple to re-create at home. Imported feta—essential¬†here—is¬†a creamy experience that shames all fetas you’ve known before. For $6, this high-end tub¬†of¬†feta was still far¬†less than the gourmet dip, and made a generous batch.

jalapeno feta dip

1/2 large red onion

1/2 jalapeno

about 1 lb. imported feta block, in brine (sheep & goat milk blend)

2 tablespoons olive oil

On the large holes of¬†a box grater, grate the red onion. With a paring knife¬†(and gloves on), slice the jalapeno in half, scraping out the white ribs and seeds. Dice the jalapeno and wash your hands well—do not touch your eyes or nostrils… even an hour later!

In a large skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and soften for about five minutes. Add the jalapeno and soften two minutes more. The onions should be translucent, not brown.

Break the feta into a large bowl, and pour the hot contents of the skillet directly over the feta. With a wooden spoon, gently break the feta to incorporate the pepper and onion.

Spoon onto toasted pita (I love whole wheat pita, torn and baked at 250F until crisp). This appetizer is even more phenomenal paired with my slow-roasted tomatoes. This can be made, along with pita chips, within 20 minutes… just in time to take to a friend’s house to share!

 

A note on spice: I can handle only mild heat, and this dip barely approaches medium. The creamy feta balances the pepper well so it’s not too hot. If you want a little more kick, consider using the entire jalapeno.

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party food

It’s December, time to talk about freezing.

I am skeptical of the freezer, especially freezing foods into which I have poured many hours and ingredients. Our foods are always freezer-burned, despite the new fridge. (You cannot imagine how repulsive today’s toaster waffles…)

Upon throwing our first party in this much larger home, I wanted a no-fuss, feed-abundant-company¬†recipe. Carolyn, a very dear family friend, insisted I consider these hot mushroom turnovers¬†for which she always receives compliments—and¬†that¬†I could make¬†and freeze them in advance. She was right, they were brilliant, and everyone loved them. Funny enough, the first bite brought me right back to childhood autumn visits¬†at Carolyn’s house.

A Pear to Remember is a blog for do-able recipes. This often means fast recipes with few ingredients. Mushroom turnovers are neither, but they are simple to make and, like all the recipes here, worth your time and ingredients.

Further evidence the 1980s produced some really awesome things (including this cook), from Good Housekeeping:

These hors d‚Äôoeuvres are exceptionally delicious because the pastry is made with cream cheese, and the filling with fresh mushrooms. You can even assemble these mini turnovers and then freeze them, unbaked. When company comes, no need to defrost ‚Äď just bake a bit longer than the recipes states. Consider doubling the batch and freezing the rest for later use.

Hot Mushroom Turnovers

from Good Housekeeping in the early 1980’s

One 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened

1 ¬Ĺ cups all-purpose flour

¬Ĺ¬† cup¬†butter, softened

3 T. margarine or butter

¬Ĺ lb. mushrooms, minced

1 large onion, minced

¬ľ c. sour cream

1 t. salt

¬ľ t. dried thyme leaves

1 egg, beaten

sesame seeds for sprinkling

In advance or about 2 hours before serving:

In a large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat cream cheese, 1 ¬Ĺ cups flour, and ¬Ĺ cup (stick) butter or margarine until smooth; shape into ball; wrap; refrigerate 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a 10‚ÄĚ skillet over medium heat, melt 3 T. butter.¬† Cook mushrooms and onion until tender, stirring occasionally.¬† Stir in sour cream, salt, thyme, and 2 T flour; set aside.

On floured surface with floured rolling pin, roll half of dough 1/8‚ÄĚ thick.¬† With floured 2 ¬ĺ‚ÄĚ round cookie cutter, cut out as many circles as possible.¬† Repeat.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Onto one half of each dough circle, place a teaspoon of mushroom mixture.  Brush edges of circles with some egg; fold dough over filling.  With fork, firmly press edges together to seal; prick tops.

Place turnovers on ungreased cookie sheet; brush with remaining egg.¬†Sprinkle with sesame seeds.¬†Bake 12-14 minutes until golden.¬† Makes 3 ¬Ĺ dozen. Each turnover: about 70 calories, 5 g. fat; 12 mg cholesterol, 110 mg. sodium.

Some other (well-received)¬†homemade goodies from¬†our housewarming…

poppy seed cheese twists and strawberry-tomato balsamic bruschetta

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sweet birthday balsamic

Hello old friends (and new)! We moved fully into our new home in a mere 8 days, but are still without internet—hence the lack of recent posts. With the new school year and grad school semester in full swing, you might notice increasing last-minute, budget-friendly recipes. Because, let’s face it, that’s all we all have time for these days.

Sometimes the most pleasant bites come from last-minute refrigerator¬†raids—remember¬†our blue cheese crackers? When we received an invitation to Michelle’s birthday dinner (friend since 1st grade, on a historical note), I knew I could not show up with just Bonnie and Clyde—the¬†pewter birds I purchased earlier.

Michelle, her brother Steven and their cousins joined me for a Saturday morning market trip to savor¬†the scenery I’ll miss most about summer.

Including this massive melon.

So¬†here they are friends, gobble ’em up before we embrace the season of squash.

Balsamic Watermelon Bites

inspired by Feast on the Cheap, adjust the size according to your crowd

watermelon, cubed into 1-inch pieces

feta, diced

fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

balsamic vinegar, at least 1/2 cup

Balsamic reduction, a fabulous and easy syrup, can last for some time in the fridge, so better to make more and drizzle the rest over salad or other fruits and veggies. In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup (or more) balsamic vinegar over medium heat. Swirl the vinegar occasionally and keep over moderate heat until it reduces by about half. You’ll know it’s ready when the syrup coats a spoon, or the pan surface upon tilting. Set the syrup aside, off the heat.

Use a small measuring spoon to scoop out a portion in the center of each cube.

Pour the syrup about halfway into each cup.

Nestle the feta cubes gently atop the pools of syrup and sprinkle the platter with fresh mint.

This is quick and less-messy when assembled directly on a large serving platter covered in wax/parchment paper or a paper towel. Gently slide the watermelon off before serving—these also¬†travel wonderfully when wrapped tight in several layers of saran.

Appetizer? Dessert? You decide. A sweet birthday tweet treat. Right, Michelle?

Which piece of summer will you miss most?

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Filed under budget, dessert, health, lickety-quick, small bites

fruit roll-ups

Wow, the 125th post on A Pear to Remember. Let’s start at the beginning—of the day, that is. Americans¬†face abundant¬†breakfast options for a sweet start to the¬†day:

 

It’s a shame¬†my lactose intolerance means I can’t pile those whole grain Reese’s puffs in a bowl of cold milk—surely you know my love for¬†cuisine inspired by¬†late-night desserts? Because I can’t enjoy milk and cereal (finding lactaid “milk” intolerable), and I get awfully bored¬†with repeated¬†meals, I’ve been concocting interesting dishes to supply my morning calories.

As part of my Nutrition graduate studies, this summer I’m fully engrossed in Introduction to Epidemiology—you¬†can imagine the fuel one needs to take those exams… and I don’t mean in the form of “Hot Fudge Sundae” pop-tarts.¬†So I wrapped up a sweet, high-fiber, high protein breakfast that satisfies until my beloved¬†lunchtime study break.

Walnut and Ricotta Breakfast Wraps

a regular Linvention, makes four wraps

6 walnuts

3 tbsp. ricotta cheese (low-fat if you prefer)

1/4 cup chopped strawberries (other berries or peaches; fresh and frozen work)

2 whole wheat tortillas

optional, tasty garnishes:

cinnamon

fresh mint

With a food processor

Blend berries, ricotta, and walnuts. Add a splash of milk or juice to loosen if necessary.

Without a food processor

Combine thinly sliced berries, ricotta, and walnuts (crushed into very small pieces) in a bowl.

Taste your ricotta-fruit mixture and adjust to your liking. Spread the mixture onto each tortilla, sprinkling lightly with cinnamon/mint if using. Roll tightly and slice each in half at a diagonal. Enjoy with coffee or juice!

photos from here, here, and here

Andrew and I have been obsessed starting our day with Newman’s Own Special Blend medium roast. What’s your favorite morning beverage?

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Filed under brunch, health, lickety-quick, small bites

the money sandwich

selknlkn

slkegnlskeng

Oh it’s not an expensive lunch. It’s slang, people.

Urban dictionary.com defines money for the modern age:

money (adj.) of unusually high quality; very good; excellent

This wine is money.

I’m not re-writing the English language, just keeping you in the know.¬†But I am¬†interested in redefining the ol’ lunchbox sandwich. I brought this to¬†work much of the past school year and it kind of became my trademark. Then¬†a few friends started making it themselves, and one teacher offered¬†me money¬†(that’s old-fashioned currency) to make it for her.

Favorite¬†bread, preferred apple, sharp cheese and you’re all set. The lovely surprise I’ve found taking this sandwich on the go is the mayo’s acid keeps the apples from browning.¬†An addicting, fresh take on lunch—ideal to take anywhere (including my favorite vineyard happy hour, where the wine is so money).

Apple Cheddar Sandwich

inspired by a wonderful sandwich I had at Arena’s Deli in Rehoboth

fresh sandwich bread

sharp cheddar

tart apple (such as Granny Smith)

mayo or mustard

optional add-ons:

romaine or butter lettuce

alfalfa sprouts

Slice the apple very thin with a sharp knife (a mandolin makes this a faster job in the morning hours). Spread your favorite condiment on the bread, layer the apple, cheese slices, and greens (if using).

That’s it!

Perfect with unsalted kettle chips. And¬†pickles—plural because I require a minimum of five.¬†It is also¬†truly the same time commitment as PB & J, and a far better conversation piece.

Talk about a *scrumdiddlyumptious pantry find!

What’s your favorite sandwich?

h

*from Urban dictionary.com: scrumdiddlyumptious (adj.) a word originally coined by Roald Dahl, a kickass author of books that ruled many a childhood; extremely tasty

This chocolate bar is scrumdiddlyumptious.

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Filed under budget, health, lickety-quick, small bites

the salty blues

Just the other day, we talking about foods too rarely made at home. Less than two hours before the neighborhood cookout, and I hadn’t made anything to share (nor had I showered/picked out an outfit/plugged in the hairdryer).¬†Minor limitation: no time left in the day¬†or money¬†left in the budget to purchase ingredients. What’s a Lindsey to do?

Make homemade crackers, of course.

Flour? Check. Butter? Check.

You remember my indulgent blue cheese binge when Andrew went hiking recently? I still had 3/4 block of Blue, and knew Andrew would not volunteer to eat the stinky cheese. The inspiration came from a sunny day in March, reading¬† cookbooks with cousin Ruby on the porch, teaching her small phrases like¬†“caponata” and “who loves Ina”.

Excuse me for a moment while I share a gratuitous photo of the sweetest strawberry ever.

Yes, it was this memorable afternoon¬†that Ru and I came across this appetizer. When¬†Ruby pointed to these and said, “Uh-oh!”¬†I knew¬†she meant that I would may eat the entire batch.

Well, little cousin, by the time you’re old enough to read this (which may be next week, at your pace) your teeth should be able¬†to handle the serious crunch. Thanks for the inspiration.

Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers

inspired by Ina Garten

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

8 oz. Stilton or other blue cheese, crumbled (about 12 ounces with rind), at room temperature

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 extra-large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cheese together for 1 minute, or until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour, salt and pepper and mix until it’s in large crumbles, about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of water and mix until combined.

Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 12-inch long log. Brush the log completely with the egg wash. Spread the walnuts in a square on a cutting board and roll the log back and forth in the walnuts, pressing lightly, and distributing them evenly on the outside of the log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the log 3/8ths-inch¬†thick with a small, sharp knife and place the crackers on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 22 minutes (check around 18 minutes)¬†until very lightly browned. Rotate the pan once during baking (I also flipped with a small spatula halfway through). Cool and serve at room temperature. Fabulous with wine or my father-in-law’s frozen margaritas. You definitely¬†don’t need to¬†like blue cheese to enjoy these salty snacks—ask the hubs. And the neighbors.

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Filed under budget, dinners, here to share, small bites, techniques

out with the stud, in with the spud

I like beautiful food on small plates when I’m alone. Andrew, on¬†occassion,¬†is off with The WoodsBoys,¬†and I cherish the solitude¬†to make elegant meals. Get out the good¬†cheese, the 14-ingredient salads,¬†the three-hour dinners—it’s all for me.¬†Yes, I’m the girl who wears pearls on most days and dresses up for the post office.

I was planning a more extravagant dish, but, with the school year near its end, my¬†Friday afternoon energy was only enough¬†for a simple potato. Not to say it was anything short of amaaaazing. Lucky for us (yes, I had you in mind), this is an effortless entr√©e worth repeating—for¬†company, next time. With caramelized onions.

Lindsey’s Friday Night Potato

serves one, a Linvention easily adapted for a crowd

1 sweet potato, rinsed and scrubbed

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

1 small bunch chopped chives (or scallions)

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

fresh pepper

On a hot day, I was thrilled to find¬†one can easily cook a potato whole on the grill[pan]. Who wants to heat up the dang apartment and turn on the oven for a whole hour for¬†one measly potato?? If you don’t have a grill,¬†bake it in your oven¬†sans judgement ūüėČ

Rub the entire potato with oil and place directly on a medium-hot grill. Turn occasionally¬†and prick with a fork¬†after about 40 minutes, cooking until the potato is completely tender.¬†As the jury is still out on eating potato skin, I wasn’t so worried about charring the exterior. I did wrap the potato in foil for a little bit to see if this decreased cooking time, but it didn’t seem to make much difference. The charred potato was¬†shockingly moist, to my delight.

Once tender, slice the potato into a “t” and push the edges towards the middle to push the flesh out (Mom’s trick). Sprinkle with cheese and chives, and¬†pepper if desired. The salty cheese melts and flavors the potato beautifully.

Serve with tender greens (mache or baby spinach) dressed in lemon and olive oil. Then, if you’re me, turn on Bringing Up Baby or another silly flick, get on your jammies and put your feet up.

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Filed under budget, dinners, small bites, the basics