Jul 4, 2013

Think Twice-Baked!

Swedish "Skagenröra". 




A hot baked potato mixed with cold shrimp, 
cottage cheese, dill, and tomato.
Click on photo to view larger.
It's no surprise to me that potatoes continue to be popular here in the U.S. As a matter of fact, they are the most popular vegetable in the produce department. Nearly three-fourths of consumers were likely to place potatoes in their cart last year, I am one of those consumers. There are many ways to prepare potatoes, but one of my favorites is to twice-bake them.

Twice-baked potatoes were very popular back in the '70s in America. Large russet potatoes stuffed with butter, cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon, then topped with sour cream and chives, served alongside a big steak. Today's cooks have found twice-baked potatoes to be too time consuming to make, so they have fallen out of favor.

In other countries like Great Britain, twice-baked potatoes, called "jacket potatoes", tend to be more varied than they are here in America: baked beans, curried chicken, tuna, and prawn fillings are popular, and in Scotland even "haggis" is used as a filling. In Turkey, a twice-baked potato is called "kumpir", stuffed with butter, kasar (mozzarella) cheese, and topped with peas, corn, olives, cucumber, pickled beets, green onions, red cabbage, carrot, tomato, or mushrooms. In Sweden, the hot baked potato is topped off with a cold shrimp salad mixture, called "Skagenröra" (see photo above). I have decided to revisit this culinary phenomenon, but with a few new fillings of my own.

You can make twice-baked potatoes with almost every potato available, from Yukon Gold, to sweet potatoes, even fingerling potatoes. One of the great things about twice-baked potatoes is that they can be used as a side dish, a main course with a salad, or even as an appetizer. The other thing is that you can get very creative with the stuffings. There are unlimited possibilities based on what you like, so the next time you pass the potato isle in your grocery store, think twice-baked!


Twice-baked potato recipes:
Baked Potatoes with Swedish Shrimp Salad
Skagenröra
While this Swedish recipe is not twice-baked, it does show just how delicious a stuffed potato can be (see photo above). I've even made this salad for my golfer friends up at Ironwood Golf Course. Instead of baking the potatoes, I cut up the potatoes and boiled them with little shell shaped pasta and added it to the rest of the ingredients, plus I added some shredded carrots, imitation crab (surimi) to keep the shrimp company.

Ingredients:
4 large russet potatoes
1 pound small cooked shrimp
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
6 tablespoons crème fraîche (I sometimes use sour cream or cottage cheese)
1/2 cup of chopped tomato
1/2 bunch fresh dill
juice and zest of 1 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
red caviar, (tobiko), optional

Procedure:
Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 400°F. Prick the potatoes with a fork and place them directly on the oven rack. Bake until tender when pierced with a small knife, about 1 hour. Remove the potatoes from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, peel and devein the shrimp. Set aside a few to use as garnish and chop the remainder coarsely. Mix mayonnaise and crème fraîche together and stir in the chopped prawn. Set aside a few fronds of dill to use as garnish and chop the rest finely. Add chopped tomato and dill to the prawn mixture. Add lemon zest and juice to taste (use half a teaspoon of zest and one teaspoon of juice – then season). To serve, cut open each hot potato and spoon in the cold shrimp mixture. Top with a few whole prawns, and a sprinkle of dill. Makes 4 servings.

Note: To make this dish even fancier, garnish with red caviar (tobiko) with a sprinkle of dill.

Twice-Baked Potatoes with Ham & Eggs
Ingredients:
4 medium russet potatoes (about 8 ounces each)
1 cup diced ham
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese, divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper

Ingredients:
Pierce potatoes all over with a fork. Microwave on Medium, turning once or twice, until soft, about 20 minutes. Combine the ham, sour cream, 1/2 cup Swiss cheese, 6 tablespoons chives, salt and pepper in a bowl. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut off the top third, then gently scoop out the flesh; add to the bowl with the ham mixture and gently mash together. Place the potato shells in a baking dish and evenly divide the ham mixture among them. Make an indentation into the top of each potato with the back of a spoon and crack an egg into each. Top eggs with the remaining cheese. Put the potatoes into a 350˚F oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the eggs are cooked. Garnish with the remaining chives. Makes 4 servings.

Pizza Lovers Twice-Baked Potatoes
Here's one for pizza lovers. The kids will have fun making this easy recipe. You can put whatever toppings on the potatoes you like. I'm a big fan of pizza twice-baked potatoes topped with marinara sauce, chopped anchovies and capers, topped with a sprinkling of Gorgonzola cheese and minced basil.

Ingredients:
3 large potatoes
salt
1 can spaghetti sauce, or homemade marinara sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese
pepperoni slices

Procedure:
Pierce potatoes all over with a fork. Microwave on Medium, turning once or twice, until soft, about 20 minutes. Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise, scoop a small well into the center of the potatoes, sprinkle lightly with salt, then scoop abit of spaghetti sauce on top of the potato. Sprinkle some cheese on top of the sauce. Place a few pepperoni slices on top of the cheese, then transfer to a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake in an oven preheated to 400˚F for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Twice-Baked Potatoes with Shrimp
Shrimp adds a touch of class to these little appetizer twice-baked Yukon Gold potatoes.

Ingredients:
24 baby Yukon Gold or red potatoes, each about 2 inches across (2 to 2-1/4 lb.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces bacon (about 3 thick slices), cooked until crispy and crumbled
6 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
24 small cooked shrimp, peeled and cleaned

Procedure:
Heat the oven to 425°F. Put the potatoes on a large baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the thyme, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and toss again. Bake the potatoes until they feel perfectly tender when pierced with a skewer, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. If not working ahead, increase the oven temperature to 450°F.

Carefully hollow out each potato: Begin by slicing off the top; use a small spoon or a melon baller to scoop out most of the flesh inside, transferring it to a large bowl. Discard the tops. Mash the potato flesh with a masher or a fork, then combine it with the bacon, 1/4 cup of the chives, the crème fraîche, the remaining 1 teaspoon of thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.

Using a small spoon and your fingers, fill the hollowed potatoes with this mixture; it should mound a bit. Sprinkle on the cheese.

Return the potatoes to the 450°F oven and bake until the filling heats through, 8 to 10 minutes. Push one shrimp into each potato and sprinkle with the remaining chives and serve warm.

Note: You can stuff the potatoes up to two days ahead as long as you wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate them; bring them to room temperature before the second baking.

Asparagus & Ham Twice-Baked Potatoes
Ingredients:
4 medium russet potatoes (about 8 ounces each)
1/2 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup diced ham
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese, divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper

Ingredients:
Pierce potatoes all over with a fork. Microwave on Medium, turning once or twice, until soft, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Add asparagus, cover and steam until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Combine the steamed asparagus with ham, sour cream, 1/2 cup Swiss cheese, 6 tablespoons chives, salt and pepper in a bowl. When the pota toes are cool enough to handle, cut off the top third, then gently scoop out the flesh; add to the bowl with the ham mixture and gently mash together. Place the potato shells in a microwave-safe dish and evenly divide the ham mixture among them. (They will be very well stuffed.) Top each stuffed potato with 2 tablespoons of the remaining cheese. Microwave on High until the filling is hot and the cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Garnish with the remaining chives. Makes 4 servings.

Twice-Cooked Red Potatoes
with Tamari Butter & Tobiko
Ingredients:
1 pound tiny new potatoes, washed and skin on
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon tamari sauce*
1 tablespoon salt
sour cream
tobiko (flying fish eggs)

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Put potatoes in a large pan, cover with water and add salt. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes. When cool enough to handle, cut potatoes in half. Melt the butter in the same pan and add the tamari sauce. Mix the potatoes and the tamari butter well, and pour onto a baking sheet. Roast potatoes for 25-30 minutes until browned and cooked through. Make sure to turn them a few times while cooking. Serve individually topped with a dab of sour cream and a little tobiko (flying fish eggs), for an elegant Asian appetizer. Just remember to trim a little of the bottom of each potato off the bottom so they will sit upright.

*Tamari sauce is the wheat-free version of soy sauce, the flavor of tamari is much better however. Tobiko is a caviar made from flying fish eggs. Both of these items are usually available in the Asian section of your grocery store.

Twice-Baked Potatoes with Spinach
Ingredients:
4 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and patted dry
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large shallot, minced
2 bunches fresh spinach leaves, tough stems removed and leaves rinsed well
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup firmly packed shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

Procedure:
Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 400°F.

Prick the potatoes with a fork and place them directly on the oven rack. Bake until tender when pierced with a small knife, about 1 hour. Remove the potatoes from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter. Add the garlic and shallot and sauté until the shallot is translucent, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the spinach, and toss until wilted but still bright green, about 4 minutes. Transfer the spinach mixture to a sieve set over a bowl and press all the liquid out of the spinach.

Using a serrated knife, cut a slice 1/2 inch thick off one long side of each potato and discard. Scoop out the potato flesh into a bowl, leaving a shell 1/4 inch thick. Add the sour cream, salt, pepper and the remaining 4 Tbs. butter to the potato flesh and mash with a potato masher to blend. Stir in 2/3 cup of the cheese and then the spinach. Spoon the potato mixture into the potato shells, mounding it high. Press the remaining cheese on top of the filling.

Transfer the potatoes to a baking sheet and bake until heated through, about 20 minutes. To test for doneness, stick a small knife into a potato and leave it there for about 15 seconds. Remove the knife and feel the blade; if it is hot, the potatoes are ready. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Twice-Baked Potatoes with Gorgonzola Cheese
Ingredients:
4 medium yellow-flesh potatoes (such as Yukon Gold)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
milk (optional)
2 tablespoons crumbled Gorgonzola or blue cheese
1 tablespoon chopped red sweet pepper

Procedure:
Scrub potatoes with a brush; pat dry, and prick with fork. Bake in a 425˚F oven for 40 to 60 minutes or until tender. Cut a lengthwise slice from the top of each potato; discard skin from slice and place pulp in bowl. Scoop pulp out of each potato, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Add pulp to bowl. Mash potatoes with a potato masher or an electric mixer on low speed. Add sour cream, garlic salt, and pepper; beat until smooth. If necessary, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons milk to make of desired consistency. Spoon the potato mixture into the shells. Place in a 2-quart sqaure or rectangular baking dish. Bake, uncovered, in a 425˚F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Sprinkle with Gorgonzola or blue cheese and chopped red sweet pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Baha Twice-Baked Potatoes
Ingredients:
1 (10 to 12-ounce) Russet potato
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/2 cup canned refried pinto beans*, warm
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
fresh salsa
1 green onion, thinly sliced

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Prick potato all over with a fork and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake until just tender, about 1 hour; set aside until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Cut open top of potato and scoop about 1/2 cup of the cooked flesh into a medium bowl. Add sour cream, beans, salt and cumin and mash with a fork to combine. Use bean mixture to refill potato, then top with cheese and return to baking sheet or place in a small baking dish. Broil until cheese is melted and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Top with salsa and green onions and serve. Makes 1 serving.

Twice-Baked Potatoes with Mushrooms
Ingredients:
2 (10 to 12-ounce) Russet potatoes
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup grated Swiss or Monterey jack cheese
2 cups chopped wild mushrooms chopped (use a combination of shiitake, oyster and portobello)
1/4 cup melted butter,
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, and
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

Procedure:
Bake potatoes in 350˚F oven until tender, about 50-60 minutes. When cool enough to handle, carefully scoop out the inside of the potato, leaving the shell intact. Mash the potato with the sour cream and 1/2 cup of the grated cheese. Then saute mushrooms in butter with garlic, sherry, and salt. Stir in cooked mushrooms to potato mixture and divide the filling equally between the 4 potato shells. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on each and bake at 350˚F for 10-15 minutes, until cheese on top is melted and browned. Makes 4 servings.

Tofu-Mushroom Twice-Baked Potatoes
Ingredients:
3/4 cup onion chopped
3/4 cup mushrooms chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sage
2 (10 to 12-ounce) Russet potatoes
6 ounces soft tofu, mashed (3/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Procedure:
Bake potatoes in 350˚F oven until tender, about 50-60 minutes. In a skillet, combine onion, mushrooms, soy sauce and sage. Cover and stew over low heat until mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes. Cut baked potatoes in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out insides, leaving a shell about 1/4 inch thick. Puree scooped-out potato, tofu and salt in a food processor, or whip them together by hand, making the mixture as smooth as possible. Stir in all but a quarter cup of the cooked mushroom-onion mixture. Fill the potato shells and top each half with 1 tablespoon of the reserved mushroom- onion mixture. Place potatoes on a baking sheet in oven (or toaster oven) and bake at 350˚F for 20 minutes. Makes 4 potato halves.

Twice-Baked Thanksgiving Sweet Potatoes
No matter what age you are, this is a great recipe for Thanksgiving or anytime. By the way, sweet potato skins are not only tasty, but packed with nutrients.

Ingredients:
1 cup pecan pieces, divided
6 medium to large sweet potatoes depending on how hungry you are
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
6 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup miniature marshmallows

Procedure:
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spread the pecans onto a baking sheet and place in preheated oven 5-7 minutes until fragrant. Shake the baking sheet halfway through baking so the nuts will toast evenly. Remove nuts from oven and set aside to cool completely. Turn the oven up to 400˚F. Wash the sweet potatoes, scrubbing them well to remove any dirt. With a fork, prick the sweet potatoes in a couple of spots and place them on a sheet pan. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center goes in easily. Remove from oven and let stand until cool enough to handle but still very warm.
Cut the top of the potatoes lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh and place it in medium bowl, being careful not to tear skins. Reserve skins.

In a large bowl, mix 3 tablespoons butter and brown sugar together until it's crumbly-looking. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, and half of the pecans. Divide mixture in half. Add half of the mixture to the sweet potato flesh and fold in completely. Add the filling back to the potato skins and place on baking sheet.

To the remaining brown sugar mixture, add 3 tablespoons butter, flour and remaining pecans. Mix until crumbly looking. Top sweet potatoes generously with the brown sugar mixture and marshmallows and return to the oven. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until the marshmallow topping is golden brown. Makes 6 servings.
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