I adore the winter months, and only wish that here in Southern California we had more of an opportunity to feel the crispness, the coldness, the briskness, and the icy-chill in a black, star-studded evening sky.
But alas, we don't.
For now, all I have are my memories of the frigid winters of my childhood and teen years in Michigan where I took immense comfort in being bundled up, all snuggly, in coat, hat, and scarf, and I like to keep those close to my heart where they stay warm and alive.
And though the climate is much different where I live now, my vivd imagination can serve me wonderfully in making things seem as cozy and in need of warming comfort as if I were in freezing temperatures.
So I crave the comforting foods that are particularly appealing and marvelous for the tail-end of winter as if my inner core depended on them.
Creamy, piping hot, buttery, fluffy mashed potatoes—who doesn't love them just as they are?
And they're the perfect companion to pretty much anything.
Just the very thought of simply savoring little warm spoonfuls of them makes me feel like I'm enveloped in love's own arms.
So what would you say to a hot, baked, casserole of them, with a few extra delectable bells and whistles to make them that much more special and cozy?
Roasted garlic goes spectacularly with buttery mashed potatoes; it adds a sweetly-savory and earthy note to them.
And two sharp cheddar cheeses bring a hint of creamy-yet-slightly-tangy flavor—just a subtle hint in the way of a melted-on crust—that makes them extra comforting and special.
And not to be forgotten, flecks of green herbs give a woodsy note, and bring a touch of elegance to the simplicity.
It's bliss in every bite, like warm little spoonfuls of fluffy clouds on the tongue.
And what could be better for the hungry soul in winter that needs a little warming?
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Broiled Cheddar
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 4-6
• 2 large heads garlic (or 3 small heads)
• Olive oil
• Black pepper
• 2 – 2 ½ pounds red potatoes, peeled and roughly cubed
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
• 3 tablespoons sour cream, room temperature
• ¼ cup milk (I like to use 2%)
• 1 teaspoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
• 1 teaspoon chopped chives
• ½ cup grated sharp (or extra sharp) yellow cheddar cheese
• ½ cup grated sharp (or extra sharp) white cheddar cheese
-Preheat the oven to 400°.
-Cut the tops off of the heads of garlic, drizzle each with a touch of olive oil, and top with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper; wrap each head tightly in a small square of foil and place onto a small baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes; once cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves from their papers, and using a fork or the back of a knife, make into a roasted garlic “paste”; set aside. (Once garlic has finished roasting, reduce oven temperature to 350°.)
-During about the final 25-30 minutes of the garlic roasting, place your cubed potatoes into a pot and cover them with about an inch of cold water, and add in enough salt so that the water tastes like the ocean.
-Place the pot over medium-high heat, and bring the potatoes to a rolling boil; allow the potatoes to gently boil for about 22- 24 minutes, or until a small paring knife easily pierces them.
-Drain the water completely and return the potatoes in the pot back to a medium heat for about 15-20 seconds, just to briefly allow any excess moisture to evaporate out.
-Next, pass the cooked potatoes through a potato ricer and into a clean bowl (if you don't have a ricer, you can just mash them by hand, but make sure you get them as lump-free as possible); add in the butter, the sour cream, and the milk, and fold to combine and blend those in.
-Add in the roasted garlic “paste”, along with the parsley, thyme, and chives, and fold those in, as well.
-Check to see if any additional salt/pepper is needed in the potatoes.
-Next, lightly coat a medium-size baking dish with a little cooking spray, and spoon the mashed potatoes into the dish, smoothing the top.
-Mix together the two cheddar cheeses, and sprinkle those over the top of the mashed potatoes; then, place the baking dish into the oven to bake (at 350°) for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted; then, turn on the broiler and allow the cheese to become golden-brown, for a minute or two, if desired.
Right HERE, and it comes with a delicious kale and chard greens salad too!