Comfort Food for the Depths of Winter
At this time of year, “comfort food” is a favorite. Something creamy and warm for dinner can boost our spirits as cold temperatures prevail and we wait for spring! Blending basic kitchen ingredients into something delicious makes for a special meal.
This week’s recipe, a rich-tasting yet easy Potato and Cheese Puff, can be served as a main course, accented with a side of fresh vegetables or a salad, and a hearty loaf of market bread.
The ingredient list draws from many vendors at the market: the produce farms for the potatoes and herbs, the dairy farmers for the milk and cheese, and the variety of farms that bring fresh eggs each week. You’ll find all these farms on the first floor of the Lincoln Baths, stretching from the front lobby all the way to the back room. (Head upstairs for the accompanying loaf of bread and dessert.)
You can vary the flavor of this dish quite a bit based on the cheese and fresh herbs you choose to incorporate. There are currently two farms at the winter market selling cheese.
Longview Farm, in the front lobby, owned by Liza and David Porter, specializes in artisanal goat cheeses, using milk from their own herd of goats. They also produce a few cheeses from cows’ milk that they source from their dairy friends, allowing for additional variety. Try the farm’s firm High Rock Cheese in this recipe, or ask Liza Porter for her recommendations.
Argyle Cheese Farmer, owned by Dave and Marge Randles, lays out several varieties of cows’ milk cheese on its table in the middle room on the first floor. Grace is similar to Gouda; Mercy is a raw milk cheese that combines the sharp flavor of Cheddar with a smooth, creamy texture. Among the farm’s other hard cheeses are Havarti; Caerphilly, a mild, semi-firm cheese with a buttery texture; and Revival, based on a Scottish Cheddar.
Note: This recipe makes a large amount, enough for 8-10 servings, so scale it down if needed or plan to enjoy the leftovers—delicious for any time of day!
Potato Cheese Puff
*Items can be purchased at market
12 medium potatoes* (about 5 pounds), peeled and chunked
1 tsp salt, divided
3/4 cup butter
1 cup milk*
2 cups shredded cheese* (8 ounces)
2 eggs*, beaten
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs* (optional), such as basil, rosemary, chives
Place potatoes in a large pot; cover with water and add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Put on lid and boil until tender. Drain; mash potatoes until smooth.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a saucepan over medium high heat, melt butter, then add milk, cheese, and remaining salt, stirring until cheese melts and mixture is smooth. Stir into mashed potatoes; fold in beaten eggs and optional fresh herbs. Pour into a greased 3-qt. baking dish.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until puffy and golden brown.