Here is the story behind this recipe:
As you know Friday is a hectic day when you have to get ready for the Sabbath. I have explained this before. Yesterday was particularly hectic. I woke up thinking I would not have to cook a thing as my synagogue was having a community lunch. I at first turned it down, but after a few phone calls asking me if I was coming, I got the hint and gave in. But that is a good thing because I would not have to cook for Saturday (Shabbat) lunch.
Unfortunately, the father of a close friend of mine just underwent fairly difficult heart surgery. Since he is 85 any surgery at that age becomes very scary. She asked me to come with her to visit her father and also asked if it would not be too much of a problem if she ate Friday night Sabbath meal at my house. Of course I said fine, but then my day which started out as free, became fairly stressed for time as I had to go with her to visit her father and then cook up something.
For whatever reason I could not face the thought of meat. This was not a hamburger meal and though on the Sabbath we try and eat meat meals, I knew on Saturday afternoon I would be eating meat. So my desire was to go the way of a nice meal though not with any meat involved.
I knew she would be really stressed and also knew she would not be in the mood for any seven course dinner. I asked her what she normally liked to eat, like her favorite non-fancy meal, and she said to me:
"Anything with potatoes. Meat and potatoes. Chicken and potatoes. Mashed. Boiled. Fried. I don't care. I love potatoes."
Of course it is not fair. This woman is so damn skinny it kills me! And though in her early forties you would swear seeing her in the street that she is around 28-32. KILLS ME - that she could gobble potatoes down and still stay skinny!
So ummm.. potatoes? Potatoes? I mean what the hell am I going to make with potatoes at 2:30 PM on Friday when the meal will be at 6:30? Sheesh.. of all the things, she goes ahead and says: Potatoes!
So here you go folks. Let me tell you this is incredibly good! And damn easy. We are going to keep this one real easy but with just a bit of imagination you can add or subtract or get fancy. It is also filling and healthy (though see my remarks on this recipe). Let us call this one:
Depending upon the amount of people you are going to serve. The only thing you really have to worry about here is the number of potatoes. Let us assume four adults and assume this will not be your main serving- though it easily can be. We want to end up with Potato halves - though in my notes I also say that you can mash them all up and simply follow the directions here. To each their own. But nicely baked and nice looking potato halves baked as we will bake them, are a pleasure on the eyes and also keep one focused on exactly how much one is eating (important in such a recipe!)
- Six medium or large potatoes (I have an affinity for medium sized potatoes. The large ones take a long time to bake and get soft - but to each their own)
- Basil - spice jar is fine here actually recommended
- Oregano - same as above (use the spice jar not fresh!)
- Garlic powder
- Sweet Paprika
- Cheese grated - (whatever you like here - regular, cheddar, mozzarella - go for it!) I buy it already grated in these tight spots. A little more money - a lot less work in the kitchen.
- Around 600 gram of sour cream (or 2 pints)
- Extra Virgin or Virgin Olive Oil - the good stuff folks not the cheap kind!
- First off we have to get these darn potatoes soft! I like baking them. Takes a long time, but I like the taste. You can boil them of course, but boiling in this case may make them too soft! So wrap each potato separately in aluminum foil. Turn the oven up to as high as you dare. Mine is in Celsius - I use 275 degrees Celsius. These babies just have to bake nothing more. Medium size potatoes will take between 60-90 minutes on the average to get soft enough to cut.
- Check the potatoes after 60 minutes by just putting a fork through the aluminum foil. If they are soft take them out of the oven - use gloves (don't be like me and burn your hands!) If they are not yet soft on the inside leave those babies baking away!
- Once they are soft enough to cut in half and even eat as is, take them out of that oven and put them on an open pan or in a bowl that is good for the oven which is big enough to hold them. (I used two bowls cause I was in a rush.) Put the aluminum foil away.
- Cut them into halves. Try to make sure they don't kind of flake apart, cause we can also make this one pretty as well.
- The following should be done in the order I put down here.
- Take the olive oil and sprinkle very lightly over the cut potato halves. Again VERY LIGHTLY. Just a touch.
- Now take a knife and tenderly cut a + into each potato half. Easy now so the potato does not kind of all smoosh up and flake away. (Yeah smoosh is a word - MY word!)
- Now - chefs of the new age. Wash your hands - open one palm and pour like a half of teaspoon to a teaspoon (depending on the amount of potatoes you are making of course) of Basil into that great palm of yours. VERY LIGHTLY sprinkle it on the potato halves.
- Do the exact same thing with the Oregano.
- Do the exact same thing with the Garlic powder.
- We want the taste. We don't want to drown in it!
- Take the Sour cream and cover each potato half lightly with it. You should not see any potato once done. Just a layer of sour cream.
- Now sprinkle the Paprika very lightly over the sour cream. You should see the red inside the white cream.
- Now the grated cheese over the potatoes. Sprinkle on top. As much as you like. I like cheese so I cover the tops with cheese.
- Now cover the bowl or pan or whatever you are using with aluminum foil. We need these babies to bake but not too fast.
- Make sure your oven is about 200-225 degrees Celsius - 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Put the potatoes on and plan on 15-20 minutes.
- Check them after 15 minutes see if the cheese is totally melted down the sides and you may possibly see a bit of the Olive Oil on the bottom of the pan.
- Once done - take out and serve.
I made 8 potatoes. It is Saturday Night. No change. Nothing left. Nada. Zilch.
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Carbohydrates, Cholesterol and Calories. The three C's - and this recipe contains all of them. Be careful with stuff like this. This is not a dish to serve to those who want to diet or overweight people. ALSO, it is really good and addictive. Don't overdo it either. As with everything else eat with some type of self-control. If you want to add to this I will teach you soon how to make this dish incredibly tasty with onions and/or fresh broccoli. BTW - Worse comes to worse you can mash all the potatoes up and add the spices like I told you. Cover it with sour cream and then cheese and bake away as well.