Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Smashed Potatoes with a Side of Spider

A couple of evenings ago,  Todd and I shared a special “first” in the adventures of our relationship. I was zoning out, shamelessly watching my DVRed latest romantic drama between Jane and Grayson on Dropped Dead Diva, while Todd was on the computer hunting for the location of our next adventure. It was around 11:00 p.m., I was also simultaneously flipping through a Sunset magazine (really living on the edge) as I looked up and saw the scariest looking spider I had ever seen bouncing along the wall. This guy was not crawling but agile, hopping like a rock climber scaling the side of Half Dome. I quickly said in a terrified voice “Todd. There. Is. A. HUGE. SPIDER.” Todd is use to me jumping to higher ground in order to dodge my imaginary wrath of a daddy long legs, so, not to my surprise, he was less than alarmed. He slowly emerged from his computer and looked at the far wall. His calm nature quickly changed, “that’s a black widow!!!!"  We immediately began running around the apartment, frantically trying to devise a plan, windows were opened, furniture moved off the wall - we became crazy people. Do we suck it up in the vacuum? What kills a black widow? We finally found an organic insect killer under the sink but, really? It had a picture of an adorable puppy on it and was made of rosemary oil. Was this REALLY going to kill this terrifying creature? We were skeptical though we had a plan - I spray, Todd kills. We took our marks, I, with the organic spray, he, with my rolled up Sunset Magazine in hand. I aggressively started to spray. It felt like a million years passed as the spider hung curled on a string of web saturated in rosemary. Images flashed through my head of the spider falling to the ground, escaping, then crawling up my toes at night. I start to yell to Todd “SMASH HIM BABY! SMASH HIM! SMASH HIM!" Todd took one sweeping swing and SPLAT! I yelled, "Yesssssssss!" We both cheered "WOoooooooooooooooooooo!" High five. Our neighbors officially think we are nuts but we had successfully conquered our first black widow experience together.

So, in honor our smashed spider I have a lovely Smashed Potato recipe for you today.
My parents first made this for me long ago, out of a recipe they saw in Cooks Illustrated. Since, I’ve made it through the years and I’m not sure how the original recipe varies from my version at this point. This recipe is seriously one of my all time favorite comfort foods, its a real, rare treat. Oh, and so easy to make! 

Smashed Potatoes – Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

1 bay leaf
3 russet potatoes (I usually use red potatoes but this time I had a brain lapse at the store)
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
½ stick of butter, softened
¼ cup of milk - splash
2 tablespoons of fresh chives, finely chopped (more or less on your liking)

In a large pot of water with bay leaf, cook potatoes until tender when pierced with a fork. Strain water and reserve about a ½ a cup of the water from the pot. Let potatoes cool a bit, until they are ok to handle. Add cream cheese and butter to a bowl. Add a splash of milk to mix easier, add chives and thoroughly combine. Put potatoes, skin still on, in a bowl and smash them with any kitchen gadget you fancy, add splashes of the reserved water as needed. When potatoes are smashed to your liking, add the cream cheese mixture and combine. Salt and pepper to taste, serve warm and enjoy! This is heaven!

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