Hello, there! My name is Carrie Anne but I go by Ex Libris or Little Big elsewhere on the internet. I’m a librarian who loves to cook and spend time with my husband, young daughter, and three misbehaving cats.
I’m not exaggerating about the cats. They’re assholes.
I have a blog called Little Big where I write about my life. Before the blog I was very active on Flickr and that’s where I met Marie. It feels like I’ve known her for years, and if I were to look back through my Flickr, I’d probably find that’s because I have known her for years.
I’ve been promising Marie a guest post for her food blog for a long time now. To be honest, I was supposed to write one for her before I even started blogging. Embarrassing! The lesson to take from this is that I do follow through with my commitments.
I’ve changed my mind on what dish to make for Five Flavours several times now. I wanted to make something that spoke of my home in the Central Valley of California. Something I make often. Something I love.
Really, there’s too much to choose from. But I settled on one of my favorite dishes. I once made this for my then-future-husband Anthony while filled with the desperate desire to impress. The recipe served me well because I clearly remember him saying to me, “This is making me feel even hungrier as I eat it.”
I have for you: Rebaked Potatoes.
Twice Baked Potatoes are nothing new, but Rebaked Potatoes are Mollie Katzen’s twist on the typical cheese-filled potato. Mollie may be an East Coast girl originally, but her seminal vegetarian tome, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, fits so well into California’s 1970s natural foods movement that she would have been welcomed anywhere along our coast with open arms and an honorary bottle of sun screen.
Mollie’s version of the recipe can be found here.
I have made this recipe so often that I don’t even use the book anymore. Plus, my version has deviated into something of a different animal. My method goes like this:
1. Bake potatoes at 400F [205C] for 1 hour. Don’t forget to poke a few holes in them first.
2. While the potatoes bake, chop up two or three hardboiled eggs. Place in large mixing bowl.
3. Add about a cup of cottage cheese to mixing bowl.
4. Add some mayonnaise to mixing bowl.
5. Add four or five tablespoons of grainy Dijon mustard to mixing bowl.
6. Add spices to mixing bowl: paprika, dill, salt and pepper.
7. Shred a hell of a lot of cheddar cheese. Put most of it in mixing bowl, reserving enough to put on top of potatoes before second bake.
8. Add all or none of the optional extras to the mixing bowl. I promise you, large amounts of garlic and broccoli are this potato’s best friend. I wouldn’t hesitate from adding all of these, except refrain from adding both broccoli and spinach. With them it’s an either/or situation.
- three or more cloves chopped garlic
- scallion whites and greens, sliced
- crispy cooked bacon, crumbled
- broccoli, chopped fine
- fresh spinach, chopped fine
- fresh jalapenos, chopped fine
9. Thoroughly mix ingredients in mixing bowls.
10. When your potatoes are done, split them in half and add their piping hot insides to the mixing bowl. Mix to thoroughly combine.
11. Taste as you mix to adjust seasonings. You should not taste the flavor of neither the cottage cheese nor the mayonnaise: those ingredients act as binders to adhere the mixture together. If you have a personal vendetta against either mayonnaise or cottage cheese, you could try substituting sour cream, ricotta cheese, plain yogurt, and even a raw egg.
The mixture should, however, have a pronounced tang and even a bite from the Dijon mustard. You need a lot of mustard because your balancing the blandness of the potato and cottage cheese with the richness of the cheddar. You should feel like those Grey Poupon dudes just punched you in the face with their white-gloved fist of awesomeness.
12. After the mixture is seasoned to your liking, refill the potato skins with the mixture. You will have a lot left over that won’t fit back in the skins, and set that aside. I’ll tell you what to do with that later.
I usually end up with two halves of potato skins that I am refilling and trying to squeeze back together into a whole potato shape. I have dealt with this problem in various ways:
A. Cover the split parts of the potato so liberally with the grated cheddar cheese that it becomes an impenetrable seal that prevents the warm potato filling from leaking onto the oven.
B. Cover the potatoes in foil (which I did this time).
C. Bake on a cookie sheet or in a roasting pan. You’ll have to clean up some of the overflow from the pan, but at least you won’t be cleaning an oven.
I tried covering them with foil this time and it was very tidy, but I’ll be honest: I like my potato skins crispy. The foil steams the potatoes upon reheating and their skins become limp and damp. I prefer coating the potatoes with cheese and then baking them all on a cookie sheet.
13. The stuffed potatoes go back into a 350F [175C] degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, and when they are done you will most likely burn your mouth severely. The potatoes are so good that it’s hard to wait before scooping up the molten goodness.
I can never get a photo of the inside of the potato once it’s baked because it’s really hard to take a photo of something while you are simultaneously trying to shove it in your mouth. But the final product, covered with a delicious layer of baked cheese, is glorious.
Now, what about the leftover filling?
Simple mathematics will tell you that you can’t add all of the above ingredients to the contents of a potato without having filling leftover. This is a situation of never having enough of a good thing. Leftover potato mixture can be used the following way:
1. Whenever I make this recipe I bake at least six potatoes. Everyone loves this dish and leftovers are mandatory. Sometimes the skins of the potatoes are left wholly in tact after the first dinner. If this is the case (and if no one minds because you’re serving the same people again) reuse each person’s potato skin for the next night.
2. Fill a ramekins with the potato mixture and top with grated cheese. Bake as you would for a potato, at about 350F [175C] for about 25 minutes. Time in the oven depends on the size of your ramekin.
3. Especially if you add the garlic and the broccoli, all this takes is the addition of more cheddar cheese and perhaps some crushed nuts and you got yourself the makings of a killer cheese ball appetizer. Honest to god, I have eaten this stuff chilled, straight from the fridge with a spoon or over crackers.
4. Add more cheese and maybe some peperoncini for a delicious sandwich spread. Use rye or pumpernickel bread, or a pita or whole wheat tortilla.