Easy Oven Baked Whole Potatoes

“Not everyone can be a truffle. Most of us are potatoes. And a potato is a very good thing to be.” 
~ Massimo Bottura

I love baked potatoes. They go well as a side dish for barbeques and salads, but you can also load them up with toppings and have them as a meal on their own.

The potatoes are quick to prepare but need around an hour to cook. It’s well worth it. The end result is a chewy crispy crust and a fluffy steaming interior, ready for a dab of butter and some chopped herbs or whatever else is your pleasure.

They’re also delicious cold and chopped into a salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large potato per person
  • olive oil
  • salt

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to hot – about 200 degrees celcius or 400 degrees fahrenheit
  2. Line a baking tray with foil.
  3. Cut out any blemishes from the potatoes, wash with water and pat dry with a cloth or paper towel.
  4. Prick the potatoes several times with a fork or skewer. This helps steam escape.
  5. Rub the potatoes all over with olive oil. Place on the tray and sprinkle with salt.
  6. Place in the oven and cook an hour minutes, turning once or twice during that time. Check doneness with a fork or skewer. It should be tender inside. Bigger potatoes may take longer to cook through.
  7. Eat with gusto!

Great toppings for your baked potatoes:

Tip: If you use cheese as a topping consider popping filled potatoes under a hot grill or back into the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese!

  • Sour cream, butter or yoghurt and some chopped fresh herbs
  • Guacamole and salsa
  • Cooked bacon, cheese and chives
  • Baked beans, a fried egg and some cheddar cheese
  • Pizza sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese
  • Basil, fetta cheese, red onion and sliced black olives
  • Leftovers smothered in cheese
  • Ham, tomato and cheese
  • Bean salad and dressing
  • Hummus, sliced red onion and some rocket (arugula)
  • Baba ganoush, a dollop of yoghurt and some fresh mint

Easy Stuffed Capsicum Bell Pepper Recipe

“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.” 
~ Calvin Trillin

I’m crazy for leftovers. There is something completely satisfying about cooking a large batch of something and then being able to make easy meals for days. One of our favourite easy meals is leftovers stuffed into capsicum (bell peppers) and baked, with cheese added near the end for some satisfying melty goodness. When you bake red capsicums they end up so sweet and tender. Yum!

Whenever I cook up a pot of Chilli Con Carne or make Spaghetti Bolognese sauce or my Cheesy Bean Pie I’ll make a double batch and freeze portions for emergency meals or to give to friends and family who need extra love and care. I also keep some in the fridge to use during the week when I’m tired and need something fast to prepare and good to eat. In fact almost everything I cook is a big enough serve to have leftovers for breakfast or lunch the next day. It saves on cooking and washing up and helps stretch ingredients further.

Ingredients:

  • cold leftover meat or bean dish
  • cheese that melts well
  • red capsicum/ bell peppers
  • fresh herbs as a garnish if you could be bothered or a little sprinkle of smoked paprika or cracked black pepper
  • a tossed salad or fresh bread or toast or corn chips as a side

You can use any left-over meat or bean dish. Feel free to mix cooked cold rice, vegetables or pasta in too. I’ve also used diced cold roast meat and vegetables, leftover cold mashed potato and peas with sausages, even cold curry and rice will do.

No leftovers? Try a tin of beans, tofu or tempeh with some salsa and chopped onion. Grated fresh vegetables with cheese also works a treat. So does my Easy Baked Egg Recipe.

Method:

Preheat your oven to moderate (170 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Cut the capsicum in half lengthways or if you have a good shape that sits nicely on its bottom chop off the stalk end. Remove any stalk and the seeds and white pith with your fingers or a small sharp knife.

Stuff the capsicums and place them in a greased dish with high sides. Place in the oven for about twenty minutes if you chopped them in half longways. You’ll need forty minutes if your capsicums are whole ones. The longer you leave them the softer and sweeter the capsicum will become. (It’s fine to turn the oven right down too and hold them until you’re ready to eat them. I left these ones in the oven over an hour before cheesing them because we had to chase a calf that had snuck into my vegetable garden!) Add your cheese to the top of the capsicums and return to oven at moderate temperature for another ten to fifteen minutes or until cheese is melted nicely.

Remove from oven and cool slightly. Transfer to serving plates. Sprinkle with a little smoked paprika, cracked pepper or fresh diced herbs if you’re feeling fancy. Enjoy!

A Taste Of Vietnam

2017-02-22-12-44-35

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” ~ Bill Bryson

 

So, here I am in Vietnam, and our first day has been quite an adventure! We’re staying in the old section of the Grand Hotel, Saigon. Somehow we were lucky enough to be upgraded to a suite right beside a tranquil swimming pool and green oasis. It’ s a refuge from the heat, and a fabulous spot for writing. After an early morning stroll around the neighbourhood I enjoyed a refreshing swim and then some time working on my book before lunch.

2017-02-22-16-41-12

2017-02-22-12-05-44-1

Ben and I are blessed to be travelling with an Australian-Vietnamese friend who is introducing us to a taste of local life. There’s nothing like having a tour guide with family in the area and inside knowledge! First up we tried local coffee – strong, sweet and good. Then after our swim Thanh took us to a simple noodle shop near our hotel and ordered us lunch. I got to enjoy my first ever bowl of authentic Pho – rice noodles in broth with thin slivers of beef and vegetables and a host of fresh herbs. Delicious!

2017-02-22-12-44-17

Next was some crystal shopping and a wander around some local markets.

So much of today has revolved around food. In the cool of the late afternoon Thanh’s Dad and three of his mates turned up on their motorbikes and took us for a tour of the city, and a visit to the oldest cathedral in Saigon.

2017-02-22-18-24-29

2017-02-22-18-02-02

2017-02-22-18-02-22

2017-02-22-18-22-10

Travelling by bike is a great way to take in the sights, smells and atmosphere, although I must admit to being a little white knuckled at the craziness of the traffic until I finally relaxed into the flow of it. To a western eye it seems so disorganised, but if you step into that zen space and just go with it, there’s a strange logic and beauty to it.

After our city tour we finished up with dinner at an excellent Chinese restaurant. So much food. So much fun! The pictures below are rice vermicelli with fresh shrimp (prawns), garlic and chilli, and then a tofu and egg savoury custard topped with a meaty mushroom slice and some shellfish in a seafood bisque sauce. Oh my goodness, that was amazing!!! There was more too, but I was too busy eating and talking and laughing to remember to take photos! Sorry 🙂

2017-02-22-20-02-34

2017-02-22-19-37-33

Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Sending much love your way, Nicole <3 xoxo