Friday, May 30, 2008

Some Like It Hot

If you read yesterday's blog, you're aware that my mother is currently in town visiting and camped out on my sofa. I happen to have recently found some interesting creepy crawlies camping out in my bedroom, so I am currently resting my head on the Aero bed in the living room while the pesticide clears. All of this is of course happening the same week that summer weather finally decided to kick in here in NYC, and I've been so busy that I have yet to buy an air conditioner. So even though it's about 90 degrees here in my apartment, I like to think that we're sweating off the pounds we're probably gaining from the meals I've been making.

The temperature inside the apartment finally reached its boiling point last night when I made the full meal my mother requested for dinner. Between the two burners going and the oven at full blast, it felt like I was making dinner in a sauna. But, the pork chops had already been defrosted, and so had the artichokes, so I went ahead and finished making the meal. Despite how delicious it was, all we could focus on while eating was the heat. We practically tossed the plates in the sink like frisbees in an effort to get in front of the fan as soon as possible. Eating that meal seems like a mirage, something I lazily dreamed up while trying to make it through the humid haze floating through my home. But, as the photographs show, it actually existed, and I actually consumed it.

And somewhere in the course of my seemingly imaginary meal prep, I managed to make a delicious batch of mashed potatoes so light and flavorful, I'm almost convinced it was all a heatstroke induced dream. A few years ago I began experimenting with replacing some of the milk, cream and butter in my mashed potatoes with alternative ingredients. The most successful ingredients I found were chicken stock and olive oil (not extra virgin), which are both flavor and contribute greatly to creating the right texture. Another helpful change for me was switching to what I now consider to be the best potato, the Yukon gold. Their natural sweetness actually adds flavor to the mashed potato party, unlike russets or red bliss. I find that using stock, a little butter and some mild olive oil lead to airy, yet rich mashed potatoes, with an almost whipped quality. Here's what I came up with:

(Almost) Healthy Mashed Potatoes

3 medium to large Yukon gold potatoes, cubed (I leave the skin on)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock (non-tomato based)
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil (not extra virgin)

1. Bring potatoes to a boil in a large pot of salted water. Cook until soft and easily pierced with a fork. Drain.

2. Add milk, butter, olive oil, salt (to taste) and pepper. Mash potatoes, then slowly add stock until desired consistency is reached. Top with parsley for garnish. Enjoy!


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