Here’s an elegant low-carb salad that’s bulky enough to feed four as a main entrée. It was the perfect antidote for lunch on a recent Sunday afternoon when a couple of friends dropped by and our original plans for outside dining fell through due to inclement weather.
Much of the prep can be prepared ahead of time, such as the hard boiled eggs, bacon, and shredded chicken. A rotisserie chicken is so easy, and generally cheaper than buying a whole uncooked chicken—basically a no-brainer. But if you happen to have some breast meat already cooked, go ahead and shred that.
We always keep a homemade sherry-based mustard vinaigrette on hand, thus we used it with the added touch of flavor provided by the bacon fat. Sherry vinegar is now appearing not just in specialty stores but also in many ordinary supermarkets. With its nutty, oaky, savory flavors it is good in applications across the board. While we always buy “Columela” sourced from Spain, Napa Valley Naturals costs just $0.43 per ounce and is sold widely in supermarkets, so it’s a good one to try.
These twice-baked potatoes have been a family favorite with my step children from the time they were little. Now, as young adults, the spuds are an oft-requested side dish, especially when steaks are the main entrée. I must confess, both their dad and I maintain a certain fondness for them too! They are pretty decadent, so we don’t serve them too often…
In all of these years, I just eyeballed the amount of each ingredient, adjusting as I saw fit. But I finally decided it was time to write down the recipe when an opportune time presented itself with the engagement of the youngest. When confronted with what they wanted as their celebratory dinner choice, David and his lovely fiancée Vikki, asked us if we would make steaks, twice-baked potatoes, asparagus and Tres Leche Cake for dessert. Game on!
It’s best—although not a deal-breaker—if you bring the butter, blue cheese crumbles, sour cream, and heavy cream to room temperature. When ingredients are different temperatures, they don’t necessarily “play” well together. Plus, when everything is approximately the same temp, they will cook more evenly in the oven.
If you have eight guests for dinner, or just want leftovers, a 13″ x 9″ baking dish will easily hold eight potato halves, so start with four russets instead of three. In this case however, you may want to increase all of the other ingredients by 25%. The potatoes can be assembled a day ahead, covered and refrigerated. Remove from fridge about an hour before they go into the oven at 350°F.
Purple chive blossoms are a flavorful, aromatic, and colorful edible flower that will appear at the end of chive stalks in late springtime. Even if you don’t plan on eating them, they make a nice garnish. You can substitute shredded sharp cheddar in place of the blue cheese if you or your guests abhor the latter.
About that Tres Leche Cake, David (mostly) and Vikki (some) had polished off the entire thing before we got up the next morning!
3 Tbsp. butter, cut into 3 pieces, room temperature
5 oz. crumbled blue cheese, divided into thirds
2 Tbsp. heavy cream or whole milk, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/4 cup fresh chives or scallions, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
Chive blossoms for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Pierce potatoes all over with a fork 4 or 5 times. Rub olive oil all over each potato.
Cook potatoes in preheated oven for about 45 minutes, or until easily pierced with a paring knife. Let cool for 20 minutes.
Reduce oven heat to 325°F.
Slice potatoes in half lengthwise, and let the steam escape, another 2 minutes. Over a large bowl, carefully scoop out most of the flesh with a spoon, leaving about 1/8″ thickness against the skin.
Add butter, heavy cream, sour cream, salt and pepper to the potatoes and smash with a potato masher until combined but still a bit lumpy. Next, turn in 2/3 of the cheese crumbles and chives, mixing all ingredients together with a large spoon.
Arrange the six potato skins in a casserole/baking dish. Evenly spoon the mixture into the skins. Run an indentation along the center of each and top with the remaining 1/3 blue cheese crumbles.* Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until the tops are a light golden brown. *Make Ahead: Once the potatoes are assembled with the mixture and topped with blue cheese, cover with foil and refrigerate until one hour before placed in oven. Preheat oven to 350°F, and once the oven is ready, cook, still covered for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for another 30 minutes or until the tops are a light golden brown.
Garnish with a chive blossoms, if using. Serve immediately.