Friday, May 2, 2008

Mashed Potatoes with Leeks and Sour Cream. Also, American Idol.

This post will be all about the Epicurious’ excellent Mashed Potatoes with Leeks and Sour Cream in a second, but first, it’s my moral imperative to discuss something very important to all men, women, and children across this great nation.

Seriously, what’s up with David Archuleta?

Idol fans, I don’t get it. Granted, he’s adorable in a Frodo-esque way, and I would write God the hugest thank you note if I had a 17-year-old that classy and well-behaved. I guess you can’t really argue with the voice, either. It’s rich and full and … well, all those adjectives you would normally assign to a good cup of coffee.

But, here’s my issue: the kid sings the same middle-of-the-road adult contemporary tune EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. With his EYES CLOSED, no less. It’s like he was born in a lite FM radio station and raised by Quaalude-addled DJs. There’s only so much “My heart is full of love/you are like a dove” corniness I can take every seven days.

David Cook, on the other hand – dude may be a giant block of cheddar with worst hair since this guy, but he can flat-out rock. He knows music, too, and seems more than happy to venture outside the latter-day Rod Stewart canon of schmaltz and faux sentimentalism. Also, did you see his version of “Always Be My Baby”? He turned an okay Mariah Carey song into something totally awesome! That deserves a pity vote for ingenuity at the very least.

The Castro kid ain’t too shabby, either, and I’m not ashamed to say he’s my very first May-December crush. (Don’t tell The Boyfriend.) I consider myself the Susan Sarandon to his Tim Robbins, the Demi Moore to his Ashton Kutcher, the Cher to his … whole lot of dudes. Even with the Bonnaroo dreads and the distinct impression he’s followed Phish on tour at least twice, I’d still choose him for #1 over Archuleta.

(I’m leaving Syesha out because we all know she’s a goner next week. So pretty, though!)

All in all, sweet readers, I implore you to vote for anyone besides Archuleta: Cook, Castro, Mercado, even Paula’s evil, less self-aware twin Schmaula Mabdul will do. I like little David, and he’ll probably be Madonna-level successful once he hits puberty, but A.I. needs a winner with more joie de vive. Otherwise, it’s Ruben Studdard City, Population: 0 records sold.

And with that – on to the potatoes! I really dug these, and they came together fairly quickly for a weekday meal. For fat/food supply reasons, I made two changes from the original recipe:
  1. I halved the leeks. I only had two. I’m sure this impacted the flavor, but it came out nicely nonetheless.
  2. I also halved the butter.
I bet light sour cream would cut the fat even more, but I didn’t have any on hand. Oo! And also? While leeks tend to be pricey, they stretch pretty well and the leaves can be used to make chicken stock later. Just be sure to clean them correctly, as dirt gets trapped in 'em something awful.

Lightened Mashed Potatoes with Leeks and Sour Cream
Serves 6
Adapted from Bon Appetit/Epicurious.

1-1/2 tablespoons butter
2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
1-1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
2-1/4 cups water
1/4 cup sour cream

1) In a large pot or dutch oven, heat butter over medium heat. When melted, add leeks. Cook around 15 minutes, or until they start to gain some color. (This was only 8 minutes for me, so keep an eye on it.) Add potatoes and water. Salt to taste. Jack heat up to high. When it starts boiling, cover the pot and cook around 20 minutes. Take cover off. Potatoes should be tender. Check with a knife if you're unsure. Boil coverless "until almost all liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes."

2) Get in there with a masher and mash until potatoes are a little lumpy. Add sour cream. Stir. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
148 calories, 4.8 g fat, $0.56

1-1/2 tablespoons butter: 153 calories, 17.3 g fat, $0.07
2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only): 109 calories, 0.5 g fat, $2.00
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled: 525 calories, 0.6 g fat, $1.08
2 1/4 cups water: negligible calories and fat, $0.00
1/4 cup sour cream: 103 calories, 10.1 g fat, $0.20
TOTAL: 890 calories, 28.5 g fat, $3.35
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 148 calories, 4.8 g fat, $0.56

(Photo courtesy of holamun2.)


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