Sides O’Martha

December 14, 2008

I made some side dishes of Martha’s from the Season’s Eatings holiday special issue and thought I would share how it went.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Twice baked potatoes are a favorite in our house. I learned my recipe from my mom. They are a great thing to make when just a plain baked potato seems too, well, plain.

Martha’s recipe calls for starting with baking the potatoes in the oven. Sometimes I cheat and microwave them, but this time I did it her way. I have to say, the way a baked potato smells when it is made in the oven can’t be beat. And it does seem to taste better when cooked in the oven.

Getting the scoop

Getting the scoop

Martha wants you to cool the potatoes and scoop out the inside. No problem. Then her recipe has you add cream, butter, 6 egg yolks (really), salt and pepper and Gruyere cheese. Then you bake it for about half an hour until it’s brown looking.

The verdict? Ok, not

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

great. All the egg in this makes it taste like Duchess potatoes and almost quiche-like. It wasn’t awful, just not what I’m used to. I didn’t care for the texture and it just didn’t have enough flavor for me. I also don’t love the Gruyere in this.

Now let me tell you how to make REALLY good twice baked potatoes (my version). Start the same way – bake the potatoes and scoop them out. Then you add butter (do not skimp!), chopped onion, sour cream(enough to make it creamy), salt and pepper, cheddar cheese (a good amount), parmesan cheese, and an herb mix I have called bouquet garnee (it’s thyme and rosemary and parsley I

Fresh from the oven

Fresh from the oven

think). Scoop it back in the shells and sprinkle the tops with paprika. This is how to make a twice baked potato!

I also always save the skins and made potato skins with cheese and bacon on them.

Gingered Carrots

For the past year or so, when I make carrots I usually boil them and finish them with butter, honey, salt and pepper and a little dill. Martha’s recipe wasn’t that different, except she has you slice some ginger into matchsticks and use that instead of the dill. This was a terrific side! I loved it. The ginger gave it a very nice flavor and it really complimented the honey. I’m going to make carrots this way from now on. A good thing!


Baked Artichoke Hearts and Pomegranates, Oh My!

November 25, 2008

On Martha’s show yesterday, Sarah Carey and Lucinda Scala Quinn both cooked their “Sensational Sides” from the November issue of Living. These are recipes their families make every year. Sarah made peach stuffing, which I find too weird to attempt (although the fact that Sarah was raised on a commune in Woodstock is fascinating). Lucinda made baked artichoke hearts. I have to say when I saw this in the magazine, it didn’t interest me, but when I saw her make it, it looked so good (and Martha was raving about it)!

Getting to the heart

Getting to the heart

So, out I ran to the grocery store to buy some artichoke hearts (you have no idea how many grocery store trips Martha is causing me!). The recipe calls for 3 nine oz packages. I only bought one since the daughter wasn’t home for dinner and Mini-Martha would likely have only a taste. I cut the rest of the recipe by 1/3 as well.

This was super easy to throw together. Put your hearts in the pan (sounds

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

like a song, doesn’t it?). Mix breadcrumbs (Martha will be proud – I made my own for this!), grated cheese, herbs and seasonings together and spread over it. Then whisk lemon juice, garlic and oil together and spread over it.

You cook it for about half an hour at 325 covered, then crank it to

Crunchy!

Crunchy!

375 uncovered. How did it taste? This was pretty good. The hearts were soft and the topping was crunchy. Here’s how I would improve it. First of all, use melted butter instead of olive oil. It just needs some extra flavor. Cut back on the lemon juice. It was a bit a tart I thought. I think I would make this again with those changes. I can also see adding some bacon crumbles or more cheese to this to make it really decadent.

Pomegranate Peeling

My kids like pomegranates, but they are such a huge mess. So I was simply stunned when I saw Martha easily remove the seeds from one on her show. I had to try it.

Scoring

Scoring

Martha says to cut through the skin as if you are quartering it, but only cut the skin, not the insides. Use that incision to get your fingers in and pull it apart into 4 quarters.

The pieces

The pieces

Once you have the 4 quarters, whack them on the back with the back of a wooden spoon and all the seeds will magically pop out (so says Martha). The POM pomegranate lady Martha had on didn’t even know this!

I had to try it. First I sliced the skin. This was easy. Then I pulled it into quarters. Again, not too hard, although it did not come apart very evenly.

Then I got to take out my aggressions on it with the wooden spoon. It did

Seeds remaining

Seeds remaining

get most of the seeds out, but you do have to pull some of the pulp out to get to some and get some seeds out by hand. Overall, fairly effective. It was messy though. Seeds were flying every which way and you can see juice was spattering too, if you look at the edges of the bowl. This was pretty effective though and much easier than trying to peel it and pick out seeds by hand. I will definitely use this method again. Now if Martha just had a plan for how to eat the seeds without having to have a spitoon at the ready, I would be really excited!

The results

The results


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