Wednesday, May 16

On Our Honeymoon, I Ate a Lot of Potatoes

With our 12th wedding anniversary right around the corner, I thought I’d look up 12th year wedding gifts. The traditional gifts are silks and linens. Who came up with those? Does that mean I should expect a linen table cloth? Should Jeff expect silk pajamas? I think not.

In fact, after 12 years together, I want to give Jeff something memorable, something unique. So, I was thinking a potato. Not any potato. (What kind of wife do you think I am?) A jacket potato, as they call it in England, or as we Yanks call it, a stuffed potato. Now, before you consider me the most un-romantic person you’ve ever met, read on.

Our honeymoon had an inauspicious start. Our scheduled non-stop flight from Boston to London was cancelled due to thunderstorms, and consequently our luggage was “misplaced” (the Brits’ genteel word for “lost”). In part due to a choppy ride and part due to just-married-bliss, we did not sleep on the flight over and landed in London late and red-eyed.

When we arrived, we discovered that our inn was just as we anticipated: a Victorian brownstone on a tree lined, thoroughly British street. There was even a consummate Brit, heels clicking on the pavement, with his walking stick swinging in one hand and the Sunday Times in the other.

The woman at the inn greeted us warmly then asked for our name. After Jeff told her, she looked at him, then at me, then back at him and back to me. She said, “Uncanny how much you two look alike. Are you brother and sister?”

Brother and sister?! We weren’t even married for 24 hours and someone thought we were siblings! When she realized her error, she was terribly embarrassed, and tried (unsuccessfully) to backtrack, with things like, “Well, that’s a terrible image to have on your honeymoon.” Sometimes silence is the best antidote.

When Jeff and I were alone later, I asked him if he thought there could be anything worse than on your first day as a married couple being told you look like brother and sister. He said, “Yeah. Being told you look like father and daughter.” True.

Despite an unfavorable start, our honeymoon was grand. London in June is spectacular—the weather is glorious, the arts are thriving, and the food… well let me say this about the food. This was 1995 (pre-Jamie Oliver), and as a finicky vegetarian, whose palate was much less developed than it is now, I ate a lot of scones and jacket potatoes.

Jacket potatoes are traditional British fare: baked potatoes with a “jacket” on top. The jacket can be any number of edible toppings like simple beans and cheese or fancier prawns. While Jeff enjoyed the full range of British fare, I became well-acquainted with jacket potatoes. After two weeks of them, I was put-off potatoes for some time.

We were just reminiscing about this the other day, and as one word led to another, I decided to make a jacket potato (my first one in 12 years). I came up with two versions: olives, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and feta and another with a creamy artichoke, rosemary, and parmesan sauce. They were really quite good, but I don’t recommend eating them 14 days straight.

I used Idaho potatoes (a type of russet potato) because they are high in starch and low in moisture, which is preferable for baked potatoes. For more on potatoes, check out the British Potato Council where you can learn everything there is to know about buying, preparing, and eating 'em.

I am submitting this post to the delightful Jeanne of Cook Sister! who is hosting this month’s WTSIM stuffed fruit or vegetable. Though the Mediterranean jacket potato is my official "stuffed" entry, I'll consider the creamy artichoke potato recipe a bonus.

By the way, the "modern" gift for 12th anniversaries is pearls. I think I'll stick with potatoes since pearls really aren't Jeff's taste.

Mediterranean Jacket Potatoes
Makes 4 servings.
Print recipe only here.

4 (10-12 ounce) Idaho potatoes, scrubbed

½ cup mixed cured olives, such as Kalamata and Cerignola, sliced
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced (dry-packed or oil-soaked)
1 Tbsp each of fresh rosemary, thyme, parsley, and oregano
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
A few shakes of crushed red pepper
Pinch of salt
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted

Preheat the oven to 400. Scrub the potatoes under cold water and pat dry. Using a paring knife, pierce the potatoes all over, about a dozen times. Place on a baking sheet. Bake for 60-90 minutes or until tender. You can test it by inserting a knife. When cooked, make about a 3-4-inch long cut lengthwise along the top of each potato. Squeeze the two ends toward the middle to open up the potato, and be careful of the steam that escapes!

For the “jacket,” in a small bowl, toss together the olives, sun-dried tomatoes, herbs, olive oil, crushed red pepper, and salt. Note: If you’re using dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes, then allow them to rest in warm water for 5 minutes before slicing.

To toast the pinenuts, place in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 1 minute or until golden brown. Shake the pan handle gently to ensure even toasting. Remove from heat.

Once potatoes are cooked, simply top each one with ¼ of the olive mixture. Sprinkle with feta cheese and toasted pine nuts before serving.

Jacket Potatoes with a Rosemary-Artichoke Cream Sauce
Makes 4 servings.
Print recipe only here.

4 (10-12 ounce) Idaho potatoes, scrubbed

4-5 baby artichokes, outer leaves removed, quartered or ½ of a (14-oz) can of artichoke hearts
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400. Scrub the potatoes under cold water and pat dry. Using a paring knife, pierce the potatoes all over, about a dozen times. Place on a baking sheet. Bake for 60-90 minutes or until tender. You can test it by inserting a knife. When cooked, make about a 3-4-inch long cut lengthwise along the top of each potato. Squeeze the two ends toward the middle to open up the potato, and be careful of the steam that escapes!

If you’re using fresh baby artichokes, then drop the cleaned, quartered artichokes in boiling water for 3 minutes and drain. For canned artichokes, do not boil.

In a small skillet over medium heat, melt butter, then add the boiled or canned artichokes, stirring occasionally, about 2-3 minutes. Add milk and flour, and stir until sauce thickens and begins to bubble, 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat; cool partially. Pour sauce into a blender; blend until smooth and creamy. Return to skillet over low heat. Add the grated Parmesan, rosemary, and salt and pepper; heat through another 3-5 minutes.

Once potatoes are cooked, simply top each one with ¼ of the sauce. Sprinkle with additional chopped rosemary and grated cheese if desired.

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Asha said...

Stuffed Potato with Sauce looks delicious!!We call Potato, Aloo and it's one of the popular to make literally millions of dishes in India!;D
Loved the honeymoon story!:)

thepassionatecook said...

let him give you pearls in return for a potato! great bargain, i should think?
i always thought the "jacket" in jacket potato comes from them having their jackets/skins on? je me coucherai moins bete ce soir ;-)

DEEPA said...

wow !!!this is so very yummy of husband the favt vegge ..Potato ...thks for sharing

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I'm dying for both of your jackets!!! Oh my, I am a potato freak - I can always eat potato!
I think I'd like the Mediterranean one the best but I'd need to try the other to be sure!
I'm sure all the lost baggage and brother sister thing was disturbing at the time. Now it sounds like just great fun and romantic!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Wow! I'm thinking I need to increase my potato intake!

wheresmymind said...

How about silk PJ's for you? That way it's sorta like giving Jeff a present too! :D

Stella said...

Well, your hubby is lucky to have you to remember that special day!
I'm in love with your jacket potatoes. They look much more tempting & delicious than the usual one laden with cheese!
Happy Anniversary!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that artichoke sauce looks amazing - I will have to try that out on my husband!

We have only been married for six months, so I have traditional gifts such as wood and paper to look forward to. Luckily, my husband doesn't even know this list exists.

Thanks for the recipes!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderfully romantic story! Once again, remembered little moments trump the acquisition of more "stuff." And the potatoes sound amazing. Lately I've been thinking about cooking with olives, so you can guess which I'll try first.

Elise said...

Oh, those rosemary artichoke cream stuffed potatoes are the best looking/sounding stuffed potatoes I've ever encountered. Yum!

Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

Thanks for sharing your honeymoon story!! I like how the woman tried to make up for her comment...ahha.

s'kat said...

It certainly sounds like you had a memorable honeymoon. And truly, there could be worse things than subsisting on scads of jacket potatoes!

(My anniversary is coming up, and at year 5 my options are wood or silver ware..? For realz.)

Pille said...

Mmm. Jeff might prefer potatoes to pearls, but what about you, Susan? ;)
You're fast with your WTISIM entry - and a fabulous entry, too! I'm still trying to think of something!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

I love London in Spring and Summer too. The story was really "cute". The potatoes with the artichoke sause looks so incredibly inviting!

Mishmash ! said...

LoL! I can very well imagine all that embarrassment on the Brit lady's face :))

Well, I liked your Jacket potato with artichoke cream better :)

Enjoy Anniversary days and hope you get a great gift :)

Sara said...

Two weeks of eating potatos sounds like heaven to me! Can't wait to try the potato and artichoke cream one, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Great photos! I never knew a potato jacket existed. That's what I love about reading food blogs. I am definitely going to try the Mediterranean one. It has all of my favorite ingredients.

Bron said...

Yum! We love our jacket potatoes in New Zealand too, have a very happy anniversary!!

Jeanne said...

Oh Susan, how I laughed! Nick and I must have been asked dozens of times whether we are siblings!! It's just hilarious, because sometimes this question comes right after we've been openly smooching. Always makes me think of the scene in Ferris Beueller's Day Off where Ferris picks his girlfriend up while pretending to be her father and kisses her, and the principal says "so *that's* what it's like in her family..." Hilarious. I don't think Nick and I look anything like each other in the flesh, but I guess in photos I can sometimes see a resemblance in the shape of our faces. It's a funny old world.

And oooh, what fab recipes! The artichoke cream sauce had me drooling on my keyboard :) Thanks so much for taking part in WTSIM and a gold star to you for being the first entry!

Anonymous said...

Those artichoke cream sauce potatoes makes my mouth water. They look so good! My boyfriend and I have the same last name, haha...

Anh said...

Happy anniversary! I love jacket potatoes. Actually anything potatoes is good for me. Your creation is really delicious. I am drooling all over now.

Lucy said...

Love potatoes. In all forms.

You should have eaten from the vast array of ethnic restaurants in the UK - Indian, Caribbean, Pakistani and there was always Cranks, the wonderful vegetarian mecca. That's were much of the good, affordable restaurant food is in Britain.

Susan Voisin said...

Love the potatoes and the story! Our 11th anniversary is on Friday; maybe I'll follow your lead and make something reminiscent of our honeymoon. (Nothing says love like scrambled tofu!)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the lovely story...I live in London UK and yes the Brits have a thing about potatoes, either its chips, jackets or mashed...~smile~...thanks or sharing great Jacket recipes...really lovely..

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Asha-Ooh, I like "aloo" much better. I might start calling them that instead. :)

Johanna- Well, I'm no Brit, so I did a little research first. Acc. to the BBC and various other British sites I found, the jacket is the topping. But maybe other places refer to the jacket as the skin.

Deepa-You are quite welcome!

Tanna-The good thing is with Jeff, he always keeps me laughing.

TW-They are tasty, and I'm not a big consumer of spuds!

Jeff-I hope my mother isn't reading this. ;0

Valentina-I agree. I wanted something lighter, and the parmesan in the artichoke recipe is just enough.

Foodette-Great. Let's not tell him! ;)

Terry- From one olive fan to another, you won't be disappointed.

Elise-Wow! Thanks for the compliment!

Susan- Like I said, sometimes silence is the best antidote. ;)

S'kat-Ooh, wood or silverware. Now, there's an exciting choice!

Pille-Truth be told, I already had the photo taken since I was going to post on it in a couple of weeks. So, I typed up my story last night. But I still want to keep my gold star from Jeanne! ;)

Meeta-It's especially good with fresh artichokes.

Shn-Yeah, she stumbled a bit, for sure.

Sara-If you like artichokes, you won't be disappointed.

Ronnie-Thanks! The flavors are really zesty and dress up the potato nicely.

Bron-I didn't know they were popular in New Zealand too. Thanks!

Jeanne-No kidding, we were just asked last week if we were brother and sister! Of course, after all these years together, I think we are starting to look alike! Ooh, a gold star for me? :)

Amy-That should make things really easy if you get married!

Anh-The artichoke cream sauce was my favorite too.

Lucy-If only I had known that then. Next time though, I'll be prepared. ;)

Susanv-Oh, I hope you do. It was so much fun cooking and reminiscing together. Happy anniversary to you and yours!

Anonymous said...

happy anniversary! i never understood where the term jacket came from, somehow i thought the skin was the jacket, and a fashionable one at that! oooh artichoke cream, yes pls!

we had part of our honeymoon in england too, we ate lots and lotws of chips :)

Scribbit said...

He'll thank you for those I'm sure, they look luscious--but how about pearl onions?:)

Cris said...

Your recipes are sooo yummy!!!

Chris said...

Susan - I love this post! Thanks for sharing the meaning behind the potatoes. The potatoes look amazing! I would like one right now, actually!

Lis said...

Congratulations on 12 years =)

Both varieties sound wonderful! I'll be trying these soon :D


Dolores said...

What a charming story of your first days as a married couple... and thans for sharing! Congratulations to both of you on twelve years together.

anna maria said...

You sound like my kinda blogga!
Love your recipes (particularly the ricotta pie) and the photos are lovely. Have you tried the yellow mangoes at Costco? They're delicious and only 6 or 8 to a container.
I discovered you through your comment on Tanna's blog. I was a food blogger until my stomach made me quit just after Christmas last year, so now I'm a garden blogger, but I still love to eat!

Anonymous said...

I love your recipes!
And the colour of your mediterranean jacket potatoes, wow!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Great story, great recipes! Isn't it amazing how British food has changed in such a short time?

christine said...

I'd like to echo that London in June IS absolutely spectacular! I used to live there so I could appreciate London's different seasons, and the spring to summer cusp was one of the best. :) And those jacket potatoes sound spectacular themselves!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Jacket potatoes are about to land here in Brazil - you bet I'm making these!

I love the story, too - I got married 2 years ago and I'm always interested in those!
Just thought that maybe you got married at the age of 10 or something - 12 years!!! Wow!!

Anonymous said...

I am french and i ma discovering your beautiful blog!!! good idea this recipe , it seems tasty!!

Gattina Cheung said...

Susan, jacket potates would remind me America though... Wendy's, hehee. Back... gosh, must be in the 80s... Wendy's was so popular, so was its baked potato, in Hongkong. Even I loved it I still couldn't make myself have it 2 weeks straight :) I visited London once, practically lived with fish-n-chips (so so) and sucking cold air *lol*
Your creamy rosemary-artichoke version looks utterly delicious! I think it will be my lunch today :D

Anonymous said...

Stuffed spuds is one of our favorite meals in the winter time. I will cook some vegetables like broccoli, carrots or roast some peppers, and stuff mine with cottage cheese (similar in context to sour cream but less caloric) and veggies. If I am adventurous, I add some nice crisp bacon. I love how the house smells with potatoes in the oven.

MeloMeals said...

Wow... what a beautiful potato presentation... I think I would want them over potatoes anyday!

cindy said...

happy anniversary! those pototoes all look scrumptious...i do love potatoes! i have a favorite dish from a restaurant i want to try to re-create, with a baked sweet potato topped with jerk chicken and papaya salsa.

bazu said...

Happy Anniversary! 12 years is quite impressive. I loved reading the story of your honeymoon. I was cracking up at the brother/sister comment. (Well, laughing and cringing along with you...) What's worse than being told you look like brother and sister? Being told you look like father and daughter. But what's even worse than that? Having a husband wearing silk/linen pajamas and a pearl necklace! Glad you stuck to the jacket potatoes- they look marvelous.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Dilip-Coming from a Brit, that's a real compliment!

Aria-I should've eat more chips. ;)

Michelle-Pearl onions. Hehe. ;)


Chris-I'd be happy to share one with you!

Lis-I hope you do!

Culinarily Curious-Thanks so much!

Anna Maria-Welcome! Yup, I sure have, and I even wrote about the Costco mangoes in my last post. They were surprisingly good!

$ha-Thank you!

Lydia-You can say that again!

Christine-They were pretty lively for spuds!

Patricia-No, we were actually 14 when we got married. ;) At least that's what Jeff tells everybody. :)

Jihene-Welcome! Merci!

Gattina-Hah! Wendy's! I remember them too. :) Hope you like it.

Kate-You're right about the smell. There's something homey about it.

Melody-Thanks. They dress up nicely.;)

Cinderelly-Ooh, papaya salsa sounds exotic with sweet potato!

Bazu-There's a big smile on my face right now. :)

Thistlemoon said...

Hi Susan!

I am really enjoying your blog!
I am Italian American as well and can see so many similarities in the stories we all share. I can't find an email for you, but I wanted to invite you to join the Foodie Blogroll.

Let me know if you are interested!


Anonymous said...

Boy this made me laugh. I lived in England for a year in 1987-88. Let's just say that it was pre-pre-Jamie Oliver. I too was a vegetarian then -- did the jacket potato thing and ate an awful lot of Indian food. But what a great year it was!

Kajal@aapplemint said...

hey susan...imagine on my wedding old ladies at the party were saying " they look so young...they getting married early...maybe the boy got the girl pregnant "!!!! can u beat that...hubby n me heard it with our own ears ! 5 yrs now and still no kids....hhaha..i love your story too...something so silly can make an everlasting memory ! love the feta cheese n olive stuffed potato !

sher said...

I think the potatoes idea is grand! And when they are potatoes like yours--much better than the traditional choices. How I love reading your blog! You have such a way with words (and potatoes).

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Happy anniversary! I want a big bowl of that rosemary-artichoke cream sauce now! My brother is marrying a woman with my name, and I asked him if that was weird for him. He said maybe a little, but what can he do, he's in love!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your 12th wedding anniversary! And I'm glad you decided to give jacket potatoes another try, as now I've got more recipes that I need to give a shot :D

Anonymous said...

Your posts always have me chuckling :) Those potatoes look delish!

Happy 12th anniversary!!! I just celebrated my 1st anniversary last week :)

Lisa Johnson said...

Those looks so good! I'd never heard the term "jacket" before for potatoes. Happy Anniversary!!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Christine-Living in London must have been fabulous.

Kate-Yup, you got me beat on that one. ;) The things people say!

Sher-Ah, thanks for making me smile.

Lisa-Let's hope if they have a daughter some day that they won't name her Lisa.;)

Ellie-Glad to be of assistance.;)

Joey-Happy anniversary to you too!

Anali-Thank you so much!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

JennDZ-Thanks for the visit and the invite. I'll be in contact! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

I thought they were called jacket potatoes as they are served in their jackets, as in, they are in their skins? Oh well, I obviously got that wrong! I'm just off to walk down the street muttering pleasantries with my walking cane in my hand now, toodlepip...;-)