Sunday, June 10, 2007

Slightly Obsessed: Bleu Cheese & Tarragon, Take I

So, I’m sort of a tarragon junkie. And the source of this bad good habit is pretty embarrassing: Starbucks. I spent last summer doing a graduate program at NYU in the Barclay building downtown in Manhattan; Starbucks was the drug provider of choice right next door. So it happened that one lunch break, on a whim, I bought the Tarragon Chicken Salad Sandwich. It was one of the best days of my life. It was so surprisingly delicious I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I bought another on my way home as an appetizer for dinner. I sort of hated myself for buying not one, but two sandwiches at, of all places, Starbucks, in one day. But I was way too smitten with my discovery to care. My love affair with tarragon had begun; the challenge to integrate this sweet little herb into as many different dishes was officially on. When I moved back to L.A., I began working a second job at the Edendale Grill. They had, to my sheer delight, Blue Cheese Tarragon French Fries on the bar menu. After working there nearly a year, and munching on these delicious bits during each shift without fail, I’m still not sick of the combo. So, as I’m now living with my parents, 500 miles from the Edendale, I’ve had to take matters into my own hands. I’ve decided to see how many different variations on the Blue Cheese/Tarragon/Potato theme I can manage before my parents refuse to allow me to cook for them anymore. What else is a stir-crazy girl gonna do on a Friday night when she moves back to the oh-so-quiet-suburbia that is Los Altos? First up was the Twice Baked Potato version. F-ing Fantastic.

Twice Baked Potatoes with Blue Cheese and Tarragon

6 Russett Potatoes, scrubbed
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
¼ C. Half & Half
¼ C. Low-Fat Milk
6 oz blue cheese, crumbled
2 oz blue cheese, reserved
4 Tablespoons roughly chopped fresh tarragon
3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Give the potatoes a fairly generous coat of olive oil. Using a fork, gently poke holes in the uncooked potatoes. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. You can also place them directly on the rack. Bake until tender, about 35-45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Cover hand with a dishtowel to handle the potatoes, and, using a serrated knife, slice potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the baked potato into a large mixing bowl, being careful not to tear the skins. Repeat for remaining potatoes. Mash potatoes well, until smooth. With the exception of the reserved blue cheese, add in remaining ingredients, and mix well, adding salt and pepper to taste. Scoop mixture back into skins, and top with a bit of the crumbled bleu cheese. Pop back into the oven at 375 until warmed through. I like to put them under the broiler for about 3-4 minutes, or until the cheese is gooey and browning, before serving.


One Food Guy said...

I know you're really focusing on the tarragon here, and maybe even your tasty baked potatoes, but seriously, how good is the food at Starbucks? I love the Fiesta Chicken Salad with avocado and black beans; and that cilantro lime dressing, so good. Don't get me started on their breakfast sandwiches. I know, I couldn't believe it either. But then again, it's Starbucks and I shouldn't be surprised :)

thepinkspoon said...

Yes, I also love the Fiesta Chicken Salad! And don't get me started on the mango curry salad...another one I need to recreate at home.

I'm so glad to know that I'm not the only one lunching there!!