Potatoes. Easy to store, open to amazing variety. This week Sue makes Baked Stuffed Potatoes for her weekly cooking lesson. We would call these twice baked potatoes, and they dress up simple meals beautifully. Planning on hamburger steaks for dinner, because that’s what you have available? These baked stuffed potatoes jazz up the meal and make it special.
This is the 9th installment of When Sue Began to Cook, where we meet Sue and her friend Ruth Ann. They gather on Saturday mornings and learn to cook from Sue’s mother Bettina. If this is your first dip into this series, click the book title to be transported to the first lesson.
Each lesson provides a recipe and a chapter of an ongoing story. Ruth Ann misses her absent, ill mother. Sue and Bettina help Ruth Ann cope with her loneliness. They keep her occupied on Saturday mornings with the cooking lessons. The stories appear in Sue’s notes from each cooking lesson.
Sue’s notes on the Baked Stuffed Potatoes lesson
Of course, it wouldn’t make so many dishes if Ruth Ann and I both worked on one recipe, but Mother has us each do it separately. You see, she has it all arranged so there are enough cooking things for each of us, and that is where the fun comes in. It isn’t any real satisfaction to help somebody else cook, but when you make your own baked potatoes and cocoa cookies all alone they taste lots better.
Mother says dishwashing is an art in itself and a good dishwasher is a real artist. She always has us fill our cooking pans with cold water the very minute we’re through using them, and let them soak. It makes them wash so much easier! Ruth Ann put hot water in the little saucepan the milk was heated in for her stuffed potatoes and when she went to wash it, it wouldn’t wash. Mother said milk dishes ought always to be soaked in cold water. In fact, cold water is best for most things. But of course when we really wash the dishes, we have to have hot water and lots of soap suds.
Just so I won’t forget them, I’ll put down the dishwashing rules. First the glasses and then the silver, and you don’t rinse them at all, just wash them in nice clean hot soap suds and dry them with a nice dry clean dish cloth. But all the china dishes and cooking dishes have to be rinsed with scalding water before they are dried.
If you have lots of hot water and nice soap suds, washing dishes is really fun. Why, Ruth Ann and I laugh so much while we’re doing it that Robin and Ted actually come to the back door and beg us to let them help!
The Baked Stuffed Potatoes recipe
This version of twice baked potatoes is a little different from ones you may know. It uses milk to make the mashed potatoes creamy, and then you top it with cheese. Usually we cut potatoes lengthwise, like the twice baked potato skins appetizer from the 1980s. Twenties recipes often cut the potatoes across the middle, so the two ends look more like cups than like boats. When the directions tell you to cut the potatoes in this recipe, cut them around the middle instead of lengthwise.
Baked Stuffed Potatoes
- 4 large good-looking potatoes all about the same size
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 tsp salt (this may be a little much)
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ¾ cup hot milk
- ⅓ cup grated cheese
- We scrubbed the potatoes clean with the little vegetable brush, and then made a cut right around each of them through the outside skin but not through the potato. Then we put them in a moderate oven and baked them till they were very done. It took nearly an hour because they were big fellows. Mother showed us how to test them to see whether they were done. Not with a fork this time, but with a clean dish towel. She had us take them out of the oven and hold them in the cloth, pressing them to see whether or not they were soft.
- Note: Moderate oven here is 350 – 375º F.
- When we found that they felt soft and mealy inside, we took them out and cut each one in two right around its waist, exactly where it had been marked with the knife before.
- Then we each took all of the mealy potato part out of the skin of our potatoes with a big spoon. We put it in a bowl. (We were very careful not to break the skins while we were doint it, too. And we saved the skins.) When the soft potato was all in the bowl, we mashed it up with a potato masher till there waasn't a single lump in it. (Robin helped Ruth Ann but I did mine every bit alone.)
- Then when all the lumps were out but the potato was still hot, we added the butter, salt, paprika and hot milk. Then we beat it some more just as hard and fast as we could, to make it light and fluffy.
- When the potato mixture was fluffly and white, we piled it back in the skins again. Mother said not to mash it down but to pile it up roughly and lightly. When the potato cases were all filled we sprinkled the grated cheese over the tops. (Our cheese happened to be hard and dry so we could grate it easily. Mother says when the cheese is fresh and soft, to cut it up in very fine little pieces instead of grating it.)
- Then we put all the potatoes in pie pans and set them in a hot oven for fifteen minutes. When we took them out the tops were all a beautiful light brown color. We had them for lunch without any meat because Mother told us the cheese in the potatoes would take the place of meat. My, they tasted good!
- Note: A hot oven as directed here is 400-425º F.