Not only is it National Potato Month but it’s Labor Day weekend. Are you firing up the grill for family and friends? Are potatoes on your menu? According to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbeque Association, 41% of us will be grilling potatoes this weekend (along with 85% percent grilling burgers and 80% grilling steaks… both great with potatoes)! Usually by the time I’m done grilling, my coals are still perfect. I never let that opportunity go to waste. I may throw some chicken or vegetables on but I always throw on a few potatoes. I rub olive oil on the skin, sprinkle on sea salt and run a metal skewer lengthwise through the potato (speeds up the grilling time by 15 minutes). Then I sit back and enjoy my dinner with the added benefit of knowing tomorrow night’s dinner is cooking!
This recipe is a quick one to use for any leftover baked potatoes.
Soufflé Potatoes: Soufflé originated in 18th century France. It is a sweet or savory dish made with egg yolks and beaten egg whites. (Shhhh, please don’t tell my egg hating hubby!) Soufflé is from the French verb souffler, meaning “to puff” or “to breathe”. So think of a fluffy, puffy potato. Don’t be scared of the soufflé word, especially from all the cartoons and movies of a fallen soufflé. Have you seen the ones when someone sneezes or a door in the house slams shut and the beautiful soufflé falls? James Beard has a wonderful quote about making soufflés, “The only thing that will make a soufflé fall is if it knows you are afraid of it.” These are easy soufflés because the skin of the potatoes help protect the delicate filling.
Let’s get started: Preheat oven to 400. It is very important to have the oven at the right temperature when cooking soufflés so they begin to cook immediately and do not have a chance to “fall”. This recipe is for 2 cooled baked potatoes (they can’t be warm). Cut the potatoes in half (making 4 halves) or cut slit down center and open up each potato. I like to cut it into halves. Scoop out the flesh of each potato into a bowl, leaving the skins intact. If potatoes were baked the day before, take out of fridge an hour before using to make scooping out flesh easier. To the bowl, add 1/2 cup grated cheese. Take the time to grate the cheese instead of buying already grated, the taste is so much better and cheaper, too. You can use whatever cheese you have on hand. I like to use two different cheeses. Today, I am using sharp cheddar and gouda cheeses (1/4 cup of each). Add your preference of seasonings. I add a couple pinches of ground mustard, paprika, white pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Mix well. Separate 2 eggs. I love kitchen gadgets and love when an opportunity arises to use one (even if I don’t really need it, but isn’t that the point of gadgets? They’re just fun). So I use my cute little assistant to separate the eggs. You could simply use a slotted spoon over a bowl, the egg whites will fall through leaving the yolk on the spoon. Add the egg yolks to the potato mixture in the bowl. Stir to combine. In a separate small glass or metal bowl, add the egg whites. Beat the egg whites. I use an electric mixer or you can do it the old-fashioned way, with a hand beater. I beat the egg whites on low for about 1 minute, then increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until soft peaks are formed. Here is a look at the process. Gently fold the egg whites into the potato mixture. Fold. Do not stir. If you stir, you will lose all that wonderful air you just whipped or “breathed” into the egg whites. Use a rubber spatula or metal spoon to aid in the process. Fold in just until incorporated. Gently spoon mixture into potato shells and place on baking sheet.Bake for 15-20 minutes. DO NOT OPEN OVEN DOOR during cooking. Just take a peek in the window. You should see golden brown peaks of puffiness when they are done! Think mountain tops!
Put your TO COOK IS TO CREATE thinking cap on: Think about all the different cheeses that can be used with complimentary seasonings. Like it spicy? How about pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, Cajun seasonings? Italian? How about parmesan and mozzarella cheese with Italian seasonings? You can also add bacon to the potato mixture, just make sure it is drained fully and cool; you don’t want it to “weigh” down the soufflé. Chives are a nice addition, too. Want to make it fancy to impress guests? Add ham, Gruyère cheese and dill weed. One of my fancy favorites is sautéed mushrooms (cooled, of course), roasted garlic, goat cheese, and Swiss cheese.
FOOD FUN: Here are some fun Labor Day facts from the International Business Times: The first Labor Day parade was held in New York City with 10,000 workers marching in 1882. Oregon was the first state to make Labor Day a legal holiday in 1887. Labor Day, however, wasn’t officially recognized by Congress until 1894 as a National holiday. President Grover Cleveland was the one who decided the day would be the first Monday in September, the decision came during a railroad strike. Since Labor Day is about working, the average commute time for workers is 24.3 minutes. The “don’t wear white after Labor Day” stemmed from vacationers returning from their last summer vacation and putting up or “retiring” their lightweight, light-colored summer clothes for their back-to-work and school clothes. How about some Labor Day food trivia? The first Waffle House restaurant opened on Labor Day in 1955 in Avondale Estates, Georgia. Labor Day is the official end of hot dog season (begins on Memorial Day). Fifty-five percent of us will be grilling hot dogs this Labor Day. Use these trivia facts for a bet and maybe you can get out of doing the dishes or cleaning the grill! My hubby is a history buff, but maybe I can get him on the “What national food chain started on Labor Day?”. I don’t think he has ever eaten at a Waffle House. Fingers crossed…I hate doing dishes!