Whipped Potatoes

This is a potato recipe for formal dinners; rich, savory, and light as a cloud. Like most simple recipes—four ingredients—success is in preparation, which is admittedly involved. It’s worth the trouble. The recipe serves 12 generously.

Wash, peel, and cut into chunks ten medium russet potatoes. Cover with water, drain and rinse, then boil in salted water until done through. Drain and rinse again.

Mash well or rice while still warm, add a sliced stick of butter, a half-pint of whole cream, and 8 oz. of sour cream. Mix at low speed. When smooth, add another cup of cream and sour cream. Set mixer to high, and whip until light and fluffy. Serve warm.

These refrigerate for up to three days and can be frozen, but the initial airiness is lost.

Easy Potato Pancakes

Take two cups mashed potatoes, add two beaten eggs, a half cup freshly grated onion, and enough flour to make a loose dough/stiff batter. Season with salt and pepper and drop by spoonfuls into a hot oiled skillet. Cook until browned and edges crisp.

My Scalloped Potatoes

I make a blond roux with butter, add enough whole milk to make a thin sauce, which I season with salt and white pepper. I then parboil waxy potatoes, peel and slice thinly, layer them in a glass or porcelain baking dish, spooning the sauce between the layers. This is baked in a medium-high oven (350 or so) until the potatoes are tender through and the top somewhat browned.

Kids in the Kitchen

Teaching kids how to cook is a multi-faceted experience; simply doing something together gives everyone a chance to talk about what’s going on.

Learning how to cook also helps make kids curious about foods in general, bearing potential to expand the palate of a picky child. It’s also a confidence-booster, as anyone who has pulled a beautifully-baked cake out of the oven can attest.  Reading and interpreting a recipe trains reading comprehension and math skills, and it’s also the best introduction to chemistry and botany in the home.

Here’s how to make oven fries. Take a large baking potato and cut it into thick wedges or strips. Brush with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, place on an oiled pan, and bake in a very hot oven. Stir once or twice to brown evenly.

There you go. So simple even a kid can do it.

How to Bake a Potato

Method is the most important part of any recipe, even how to boil an egg, for which there is no good way: in-shell eggs must be steamed to cook. My method for baking potatoes results in crisp, toothsome skin and a molten, crumbly center.

Any given potato must be washed and scrubbed, then dried thoroughly before coating with salted oil and placing in the oven, which must be very hot. A large (10-12 oz.) white potato will take an hour in a 400F oven. Potatoes can be pierced and microwaved to start, but should be finished in the oven; likewise, waxy potatoes should be parboiled. Wrapping them in foil before baking ensures a steamed potato, which is wonderful and nostalgic, but lesser fare than baked.