Friday, October 17, 2008

Atkins Was Too Annoying, Anyway

Aren't you glad the Atkins Diet craze is over? I got so tired of all those people shaking in terror at the sight of a cracker, or santimoniously pointing to my plate at a cocktail party and ticking off "good (green pepper), good (cheese), bad (carrot)." What could possibly be bad about a carrot stick???

That wasn't the weirdest moment of that years-ago party, though. I met a guy whose name sounded soooo familiar - and, yes, mutual friends had been trying to set us up. The tacky guest criticizing my crudites? Set-up guy's boyfriend. "Ummmm, my friends don't know I'm gay," he said. "No shit," said I. Happy New Year!

Where was I on the cooking thing? Right....

Moderation in all things. And if you're going to indulge, indulge on something that's worth it. It's a sad fact in life that crappy candy does not necessarily have fewer calories than really good candy.

And let's defend our humble potato friend, shall we? They're the inspiration for an awesome children's toy (of the Mr. Head variety). They are high in potassium and, as long as you leave the well-scrubbed skins on, high in fiber. They're way inexpensive and, unlike fresh corn or good fresh green beans, always available.

Not only are we not in a potato famine, we are awash in different varieties. And they ARE different, and using the right kind of potato can help ensure excellent results.

Russet potatoes - these are the corky-looking, kinda dirty-looking longish potatoes. They don't have as much water as other potatoes, so when baked they get light and fluffy and soak up butter or sour cream really well. These are also called Idaho potatoes (long story).

Red potatoes - no surprise what these look like. These are usually smaller, rounder, and smoother-looking - just overall cuter - than russet potatoes. If you're making mashed potatoes or boiled potatoes, these are the ones to use.

Lastly, we have our great compromise potato - the Yukon Gold. This is smooth in appearance like one of our spunky red potatoes, and may be similarly shaped but is larger. The skin is yellow/brown. They are known for their buttery taste, and who doesn't love that? They're my go-to for mashed potatoes.

So it should be obvious by now that we're not making rutabaga or celeriac this week. Everybody needs a good recipe for Roasted Potatoes, especially with cooler weather coming, and these are terrific. They accompany any meat dish beautifully.

You'll need:
Whole grain Dijon mustard (or regular Dijon if you don't have whole grain)
olive oil
lemon juice and lemon peel - in other words, one lemon
fresh garlic
1 1/2 pounds tiny red-skinned or tiny white-skinned potatoes. These may be called "creamer potatoes" or "fingerling potatoes" - either is fine.

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