Did you know February is potato-lover’s month? Well that was news to me as well (as if I need a reason to eat more potatoes). I learned about this at the 2015 Potato Palooza Party sponsored by Don Odiorne of the Idaho Potato Commission and hosted by Erika Kerekes of In Erika’s Kitchen & Judy Lyness of Two Broads Abroad.
There, potatoes were smashed, shredded, whipped, roasted, smothered & decorated from savory to sweet. More than 30 Southern California food bloggers were present, each swooning with delight. Individual dishes were cleverly coordinated with a holiday, reminding us of the potato’s year round availability.
I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like potatoes in some form. Potatoes are grown in more than 125 countries and eaten by more than a billion people daily, facts which pretty much paints the whole picture. Potatoes are universally loved. Why? Their price, versitility, flavors, and the fact that potatoes have more potassium than a banana, more vitamin C than an orange, and more fiber than an apple. Not only that, they’re a lean cuisiner’s dream – the average potato has only about 100 calories and is 80% water.
Since the potato is so healthy, it was easy to justify making a whole meal of fabulous potato bites at the Potato Palooza Party. Here were a few of my favorites:
Idaho Potato Tacos for Cinco de Mayo presented by hostess Erika.
Herbed Idaho Potato Parfaits for St. Patrick’s Day
Bacon-Wrapped Idaho Potato Skewers for Labor Day
Co-host Judy from Two Broads Abroad created this wonderful appetizer which is simple to make. Simply boil fingerlings for about 10 minutes. Drain & cool. Slice potatoes in half and wrap with bacon. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Once potatoes have cooled insert skewers. Just before serving place on a griddle or grill and cook until golden. Drizzle with Cherry Chipotle Not Ketchup and serve immediately. As you can imagine there weren’t any leftovers of this delectable treat.
It was fun watching each dish being created.
Judy was skillfully teaching our youngest food blogger Simone here to crack quail eggs, a lesson I quickly honed in on since I had never done it. Simone quickly mastered the skill and our appetizers were soon within reach of eager tastebuds.
Putting the pesto in a zip lock bag with one corner snipped off makes filling the hash brown nests easy.
Simone proudly served these delightful bite-sized breakfast-inspired appetizers of hash browns with pesto and quail eggs, which are perfect for Easter or any other brunch/party. They are also addictive. Seriously, I could have eaten the whole tray myself.
Note: Quail eggs can be found in most Asian markets, higher end grocery stores & online.
- 2 medium Idaho Russet potatoes
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt, plus additional for serving
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (I always use Kerrygold)
- ¼ cup prepared pesto (try Trader Joe's pesto)
- 12 quail eggs
- Equipment: mini muffin tin
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Wash the potatoes and prick each a few times with a fork. Bake the potatoes until they start to soften but are definitely not completely done, about 20 minutes. Let cool about half an hour. (This can be done a day ahead of time.) Leave the oven on.
- Grate the semi-baked potatoes with a hand-held grater - peel them first if you like, although it’s not necessary. In a medium bowl put the grated potatoes, cheese, salt, pepper, and butter; toss well to combine.
- Spray the mini muffin tin with nonstick spray. Using about 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture for each mini muffin cup, press the potato mixture into the muffin cups, making a well in the center and pushing the potatoes up and over the sides of the cup (they will shrink in the oven).
- Bake the hash brown “baskets” 20-30 minutes, until the undersides are deep golden brown and the tops are at least light golden and starting to crisp around the edges. Again, leave the oven on.
- Remove the baskets from the oven. Put a small dollop of pesto into each cup, then crack a quail egg on top of the pesto. Put the baskets back in the oven for exactly 5 minutes; you want the whites of the quail eggs cooked but the yolks still very runny.
- Use an offset spatula to put the hash brown baskets on a serving plate. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.
Lots of spudtacular fun was had at the Potato Palalooza 2015. Check out this video from fellow blogger Sara O’Donnell of Average Betty Blog.
Oscar Wilde said “Potatoes are meant to be loved, not to be understood.”
I say “Once you understand them, there is nothing not to love.”
…and then, she paused for thought.