The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

Cheesy Mixed and Mashed Potatoes 
and Rutabaga,Garlic Drizzle
 and Garden Herbs

As many of us are preparing for the holidays, we need a few sides and that is
one place we can safely embellish knowing that a traditional side even with
a new look or feel can be welcomed, and this side will do nicely here. A
slight twist on the classic "mashed potatoes" with an unexpected guest
perhaps, but one that loves to entertain and show off its best.

These cheesy mashed and mixed potatoes are a wonderful addition to any
meal, but have a special place at a holiday table. Infused with garden fresh
 herbs and drizzled with a sauté of garlic and oil, these beauties will stand
 up and be noticed with the best of them.

The potatoes are Yukon Gold, their yellowish gold flesh hold a secret...and that
secret is that they are one of the few if not the only variety of potato that can
 hold its own in a variety of cooking methods. These beauties are a perfect
choice for mashed potatoes, with their buttery  flavor. And even better if you
plan to retain the skins as they are thin and as versatile as well as flavorful.

These potatoes are an edible tuber, meaning a root vegetable variety
 basically, and contain anthoxanthins giving them their buttery yellow
color and boast a good dose of antioxidant properties lending
them to be healthy alongside their yumminess.

And I cannot speak of or even think of Yukon Golds without thoughts of my
friend Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks. These are among his favorite jewels and has
a plenitude of offerings featuring these lovelies on his site. So stop over and
check them out, along with many other incredible delights to be found.

My first experience with rutabagas was as a child. However not in the manner that
 you may initially assume, I did not see one nor did I devour one. No it was in fact a
mythical entity as far as I were concerned. You see, I have been a veggie for many
years including the very young years and my grandmother would always take great
effort to insure that there were an abundance of fresh vegetables for me to enjoy.

As I am sure many, if not all of you are familiar with food evoked memories. This
somewhat gnarly looking root vegetable has a bit of history for me that warms my
heart with all of my senses. You see, as my grandmother would insure my fresh
veggie delights, my uncles dog Snow a Siberian Husky, shared my devotion to
 all things vegetable. And so my first memories of the rutabaga are as such...

Snow wanting excitedly to share my raw veggie treats, anxiously awaited the
 command. The command? Oh yes the command that he would hold himself
still while the anticipation inside him visibly grew, for these few words would
send him on a journey of long awaited glory.

These words were simply..."Go find the rutabaga!" And he would, he would
search tirelessly under every sofa cushion and every possible secret hiding
 place. But he never returned with such a creature, although my faith that
 he would produce this mysterious thing never wavered. Yet year after year
the result was the same...he did get his veggie treats at the completion
 of every search, but the highly searched for rutabaga never appeared.

So here today I dedicate this recipe to family, those that are here and
 those that have moved on, and to Snow...
we finally have our rutabaga! :)

What you will need:
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and halved
1 rutabaga, peeled and shredded
2 large sprigs thyme, leaves retained
1 large sprig spicy oregano, leaves retained
4-6 large sage leaves
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves retained
4 ounces asiago cheese, finely grated
5-6 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cups half and half, warmed
1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper, finely ground
1 head garlic, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil

Pastry bag and star attachment
Cheesecloth and twine for sachet
Fleur De Sel for finish as desired
(or use sea salt or flake salt preferred)
Hand mixer or whisk and potato masher

Let's get cooking:
Begin by peeling your potatoes and halving them, then peel the rutabaga
 and shred with a course grater. Prepare 2 separate  bouquet garni with
the fresh herbs, placing a larger portion into the one planned for the
potatoes. Place potatoes along with  bouquet garni of herbs in a large
pot of water to boil. Do the same in a smaller pot for the rutabaga.
Boiling until tender but still intact, about 20 minutes.

Strain both the potatoes and rutabaga, allowing to cool to touch.
Remove bouquet garni and save for another application (can
be frozen for added flavor in soups, stocks or stews.)

Once cooled a bit, chop or process rutabaga until minced. Then
take potato halves and grate with a course grater.  Place both in a large
mixing bowl along with shredded cheese and mash until incorporated
 and smoothed a bit.

Place butter in warmed half and half adding pepper and whisk for
a bit. Slowly adding butter mixture to potato mix and blend
with a hand mixer until creamy.

Place mixture into a pastry bag and pipe onto a parchment lined
baking sheet. Each mound should be about 3-4 inches wide.
Note: you can do any size you wish but mind the baking time.

Now we will want to sauté our garlic in the oil, until just fragrant,
30-60 seconds, but do not allow brown. Drizzle garlic oil
over each mashed mound, then bake in a pre-heated oven
at 425 degrees F, or until lightly golden and garlic begins
 to char a bit. Sprinkle with Fleur De Sel and serve
Serves 4-6

Alisha ~ Magic of Spice

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