In the mountains of Western Canada, the cuisine in the backcountry lodges is both simple and sustaining.
This easy way of adding interest to a potato comes from Rocky Mountain Cooking by veteran lodge chef Katie Mitzel (Appetite by Random House, $30) .
These potatoes, in a recipe credited to the 1950s at a Stockholm restaurant called Hasselback, dressed up the basic spud. You cut slits along the potato about three-quarters of the way through, flavour with garlic butter and rosemary, and bake for under an hour to achieve both a crisp and soft effect.
How to pep up familiar foods with lively seasonings is Mitzel’s theme. From a lusty breakfast quiche to a “killer” vegetarian chili, and from a corn and crab soup to pork tenderloins with mushrooms and spicy roasted carrots, the recipes in this book would suit any hungry urban family just as well as it would hikers or skiers.
If you’re interested in cooking at high altitudes, complete instructions are part of this handsomely illustrated book.
½ cup (125 mL) salted butter
5 whole garlic cloves, peeled
4 Yukon gold or other baking potatoes
3 to 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried
Freshly ground pepper
4 fresh thyme sprigs or 1 to 2 teaspoons (5 to 10 mL) dried thyme leaves
1 to 1 1/2 cups (250 to 375 mL) freshly grated Gruyère cheese
In a small saucepan over low heat, heat butter with garlic cloves until melted and let stand one to two hours, warming the butter again if it starts to solidify.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).
Wash and dry potatoes. With a sharp paring knife, cut equal slits along the length of each potato, cutting about three-quarters through and keeping the potato intact. Slices should be about one-quarter inch (5 mm) apart.
Place potatoes in a lightly oiled baking pan, 13 by 9 inches (3.5 L). Dip the rosemary sprigs into the garlic butter and brush potatoes generously with it; if using dried rosemary, sprinkle over the buttered potatoes. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Brush potatoes with more garlic butter and return to the oven for 20 more minutes. Then remove from oven, place a thyme sprig on top of each potato or sprinkle each potato with dried thyme leaves. Then sprinkle the potatoes with the grated cheese.
Bake for 10 minutes more, until the cheese has melted and is bubbly.
Serve at once with the remaining garlic butter.
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