Thursday, January 12, 2012

I'm back!

(I started this post about a week ago and never finished!!)

So I haven't blogged a lot lately, but I have been cooking a lot! With Hans back at work, the brunt of the food preparation and decision has landed on me, something that hasn't happened in years. Because of this, I'm remembering that I don't just bake, I actually enjoy cooking, too, and am good at it!

Watching Food Network doesn't hurt either. Take this morning, for instance - while I'm cleaning the downstairs, I have Chopped on in the background. For their appetizer round, the secret ingredients were boudain blanc, chanterelle mushrooms, baby artichokes and orange marmalade. All of the contestants were lamenting how they have no idea what they could possibly do with this combination, but in my mind, I had it figured out!

See, boudain blanc is sausage. A very mild, almost flavorless sausage. Perfect for using as a blank (ha!) canvas. So, to start out, I would cut the sausage into medallions and then sautee with shallots, sliced and blanched baby artichokes and the mushrooms. While that's sauteeing, I would take the orange marmalade, some fresh smashed garlic and a bit of white wine. Combine them, then reduce to a glaze. Toss with the sauteed sausage and veggies, plate with a cilantro garnish. Boom! Instant awesome!

Of course, it's all well and good for me to sit back in my recliner and play armchair chef. That's easy - in my imagination it all works out perfectly! The judges would fawn over how incredible I am, and I would walk away with the prize.

In practice, though, about 1/3 of the time, my experiments are misses. Hell, sometimes the "tried and true" recipes I get from places I trust don't always work out (I'm looking at you, Paula Deen's peach cobbler!!!). But you never know until you try them,, right?

So I'm back. And I plan to blog a lot more, especially now that I have my big, bad, awesome camera!

Crock Pot Baked Potatoes

I was on Pinterest the other day, and happened across a pin about making baked potatoes in the Crock Pot. Okay, well, "happened across" may be a stretch - I was searching for Crock Pot recipes - but I wasn't looking for a recipe for baked potatoes. However, Hans had bought a bunch of potatoes Sunday (they were on sale for $1.69/5# bag!!!) and decided that he wanted loaded baked potatoes for dinner one night, so this find was perfect! I have things to do today, and a brand new crock pot! Fate!

So I read the one technique for slow cooker baked potatoes. Then I read another. And another. And about three more. Finally, like I'm wont to do so frequently, I took the aspects I liked from each and married them. That is what you have here!

Okay, so first you decide how many potatoes you need. I did 6 even though there are only four of us because I wanted an extra for Hans to take for lunch tomorrow, and an extra I can take to Grandmommy. Then, you scrub your potatoes well. Remember, the skin is where all the vitamins are!!

Once you have your potatoes scrubbed, get out your ingredients:

You'll need either foil sheets (I just happened to have some) or aluminum foil, kosher or sea salt (coarse salt just works so much better for this sort of application), olive oil and clean hands. Oh - and a Crock Pot.

Get out a large bowl that you can fit all the potatoes into at once. Trust me - this will make your life easier! 

Next, you're going to want to drizzle olive oil over all the potatoes. You don't need much, just enough so that you can rub it over all the skins:

Then, one at a time, spread the olive oil over each of the potatoes, making sure that the entire surface is covered:

Once you have your potatoes all oiled up and lovely, you want to get your foil ready.

You want to be sure that the reflective side is against the potato, not the dull side:

Then sprinkle just a little bit - about a pinch - of salt onto the foil:

Put your potato on top of the salt, then sprinkle a bit more. You want to get an even, light sprinkling of salt covering the potato:

Once your potato is oiled and salted, you want to wrap the foil around it so that you seal in the moisture:
(there's no need to prick the potatoes)

In a crock pot set to LOW, place all your potatoes:

Cover, then let the Crock Pot do its magic for the next 8 hours.

Bonus - while working with all that olive oil and coarse salt, you've also given yourself a lovely manicure! Now don't you feel accomplished???

Serve the potatoes as an accompaniment to a meat dish, or as a meal in and of itself by setting up a "potato bar" - put out cheese, butter, sour cream, chili, bacon, or anything else you can think of. I may make some broccoli to go with ours!