What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Potato skins with panache
Enter potato skins. I remember it was a ritual for me to go to T.G.I. Friday’s in San Mateo, Calif., and order these little crispy, gooey wonders. I’d split the potatoes with gal/guy pals in between fun chat and before a night of more fun in the city of culture or a visit to the mall across the street.
Hot potato pieces with a small amount fleshy potato smothered in cheddar cheese and bacon bits would be delivered to our table. I’d always pick off the bits, one by one, and wonder why the waitress/waiter didn’t hold the meat (I asked). Still, I did love the little taters and eating ’em in an uninhibited manner despite I knew they ranked 11 on a 1-to-10 high-fat scale of snacks.
Fast forward. Living in the mountains, I’ve learned to be more self-reliant and that means catalog shopping, no cable cars or bookstores and cooking my fave foods. And I recently discovered all by myself that potato skins don’t have to be a high-fat, heart attack appetizer. Bacon, cheese, and no potato left in the skin? This is a quick route to the cardiologist. But you can have your potato skins and eat them too. Why dump the fiber-rich, bloat-busting potassium potato? I say leave some of that fleshy potato as is. Turn to fresh tomatoes, and go for less than more cheese, spices and herbs, and a tiny bit of real butter (I could have used olive oil) to give this appetizer a twist and turn it into a guilt-free food.
4 medium russet potatoes
3/4-1 cup all-natural cheese, mozzarella and provolone, shredded
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
Chives, organic and fresh
4 teaspoons European-style butter
Mediterranean sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash potatoes (If the skins are green or black, choose a healthier one without the color). Prick each one several times with a fork. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. The last five minutes, baste with butter. Take out and cool. Slice lengthwise. Scoop out potato (do this gently to keep it neat; cut in half for mini potato skins). But note: Leave at least 1/3 of the potato flesh in for your health’s sake. Then, top potatoes with a dash of salt, pepper, cheese, tomatoes and chives. Bake for about 10 minutes at 450 degrees until cheese melts and potato skins are crispy. Serves four.
The aroma of chives and cheese that filled my kitchen, living room and study/dining room must have teased the fish, two dogs and a cat. When the presentation and scent is working you know the recipe is in the works of something good. I piled these potatoes in a rustic red Italian baking dish until serving time on a plain square plate. Hot and crispy taters with gooey cheese (but not too much) and the burst of juicy tomatoes (dipped in a little bit of real sour cream on the side) made these little guys a stand out food in the comfort of my cabin. Potato skins with panache – the improved, fashionable look and flavors did its job for me on a late summer Sunday working afternoon, and they’ll be a repeat on a crisp, fall day.
While I’m on an appetizer roll and stuck in the sweet honey world (two more months of penning the honey bee book) I thought, “I need to try more honey varietals.” I put about 1/2 teaspoon of honey (I chose avocado) into a 1/2 cup of Greek nonfat yogurt. Adding chopped onion and garlic is optional. Use this dip for cruciferous veggies (chunks of raw carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower) and you’ll enjoy a healthy snack that’s fun to eat. You can find a pool of honey types online.
– Cal Orey is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate) published by Kensington. Her website is http://www.calorey.com.
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