Friday, 28 December 2007

Baked potato with smoked salmon and creme fraiche

I love the smell of baked potatoes. If I should walk past a burger stand, pastry shop or chippy when I'm full, the smell would make me feel queasy and slightly ill. But whenever I walk past a baked potato stand, even if I've just had a big meal, the smell is always attractive and delicious, never stomach churning. I wonder why. It's also the simplest thing to cook, just toss them in the oven and leave them to cook for an hour while you could attend to other things in the house (or have a shower, or read a book, or have a nap...).

After all those big dinners and generous flow of food through the day (and night!) over Christmas, it can be a little difficult trying to think of what to have for dinner. After getting back from the in-laws, we had completely 'un-English' meals for a change, such as Hainanese chicken rice and tom yum goong (Thai hot and sour soup) with rice noodles. Tonight, it was the humble baked potato (made posh, according to Andy).

Since we didn't have Christmas at home, there isn't any leftovers to deal with but I did buy some lovely smoked salmon for post-Christmas and used them for an easy but still indulgent dinner tonight. It's also a great way to use up any leftover smoked salmon that were bought for canapes or a buffet spread.

Choose a good sized potato per person, wash and scrub well. Prick them several times with a fork (to prevent them from bursting in the oven), and rub them all over with a bit of olive oil and salt. Cook in a hot oven at 200C or gas mark 6 for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on how large your potatoes are. When cooked, the skin should be golden and slightly crisp, and the potatoes should give a little when squeezed (careful, they're hot!). Split open with a knife and load with salted butter as desired. You could top it with whatever filling you like, or have on hand, such as grated cheese, tuna mayo, bacon, baked beans, prawn mayo...

I put a dollop of low-fat creme fraiche on top of each potato and layered slices of smoked salmon over with black pepper and parsley to finish. One could replace the creme fraiche with cream cheese for a delicious substitute. I would have sprinkled chopped chives over if I had any. Served with a rocket and baby spinach salad, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It is filling and feels slightly indulgent with the delicious juniper smoked salmon, but still quite a healthy meal with little cooking and washing up. Just the thing after the Christmas cooking spree.

Baked potato with smoked salmon and creme fraiche


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