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In the studio with: Sean Mallen

So here's something fun: we're in a book.

Award-winning journalist (and Cope family BFF) Sean Mallen was Europe Bureau Chief for Canada's Global News during our shared time living in London. In his charming new memoir Falling for London, Sean tells personal and professional stories of his European adventures while based in England.

That time we all fell for London

Our friend Sean Mallen was an award-winning journalist for Canada’s Global Television Network for almost 30 years.  

He covered stories across Canada and around the world, but his dream job as a foreign correspondent always eluded him—until 2011, when he was appointed Europe Bureau Chief, based in London.  

That’s where we met him, his wonderful wife Isabella and their fab daughter Julia, who was a classmate of Adelaide's at the Royal School Hampstead. We all became great friends.

Landing the job of a lifetime was great for Sean, but not, at first, for Isabella and Julia. They really did not want to uproot their lives and move to another country, another city that they had never seen.

Lucky for us all, they agreed to go and, after a few bumps, embraced the adventure and turned it into a wonderful experience that has cast a lasting glow on all of our lives.

The Falling for London book tour comes to New Jersey

Back stateside now since mid-2014, it’s fun to remember what led us to settle in the small seaside town of Fair Haven, NJ. High up on the list of reasons not to fear the suburbs is River Road Books, a gem of a women-owned indie bookstore that’s two blocks from our house.

River Road Books hosted a fun, vibrant evening celebrating Sean and his book. Here's a peek into the coziness of the event. We're so grateful to have this fabulous shop in our community.

Five questions for Sean Mallen

We caught up with Sean (which, let’s be honest, is a favorite thing to do anyway) to chat about his inspirations for Falling for London, the absurd challenges of London real estate, and more.

Tell me about the day you got the job offer.

Because I’d been passed over on several other occasions,  I wasn’t really expecting to get it, so when the call came I was struck silent for a moment, an odd experience for a broadcaster who is trained to keep his lips moving no matter what. They told me I needed to move within a couple of weeks because they wanted me to cover the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

I immediately called Isabella, and she had a similar stunned reaction, just saying something like, “Well, I’m glad they finally recognized you.” Five minutes later she called back, in tears, to say there was no way that she could move away from family, friends and a job she loved.

About a week’s worth of intense negotiations ensued before we finally agreed that I’d take the job and if all went well they would join me in the fall, in time for Julia to start school.  

What prompted to you write a book about it?

On the day I was moving to London, with the taxi waiting out front to take me to the airport, Isabella handed me a journal with a green cover and said: “If you’re going to put us through this, you’d better write a book.” She’d always had faith in me as a writer and saw before I did that I would never have a better opportunity. It was a very wise and generous gift.

I filled that journal and two other volumes during our two years in London. I never could have imagined that I’d have such a wealth of material.

Was there a moment or incident when you saw Isabella and Julia were falling for the city?

It was a process.  While I was busy, jetting all over Europe and the Middle East for my work, they were starting to build friendships through the school and the social networks that Isabella tapped into.  

The teachers and staff at the Royal School were so kind, especially Julia and Adelaide's teacher, the redoubtable Miss Eisele, and the wonderful Christine, the Cockney lady who ran the kitchen and took Julia under her wing to teach her that a jacket potato was something you could eat.

Isabella started taking sewing lessons at a lovely non-profit dressmaking school called Little Hands, where she spent hours in fascinating conversation with the remarkable women who were taking the course with her.

Most important were the friendships she made with the families at the school, including you, Jon, Adelaide and Celia. We were all in the same boat and an impromptu mutual support society sprung up to help us all adapt. London is an endlessly fascinating place, and Isabella really grew to appreciate and love the arts scene, but the human connections were crucial.

But you had some issues with London, especially with your flats?

Oh yes.  Our first place, on Buckland Crescent in Belize Park, was pretty dumpy, even though it’s a posh neighborhood. The color scheme was in shades of barf, the bathroom was decorated in what in might call early-Alcatraz and the lobby looked like it hadn’t been vacuumed since the Blitz. It just had the benefit of being less crazily overpriced than the alternatives in the neighborhood and was convenient to both the school and my office.  

The topper came when we returned one night to discover the ceiling had collapsed into the reception room. It at least gave me a metaphor for the book title.

We moved to another place a short walk away that was larger and ruinously expensive, only to discover that there were mouse droppings around the fridge, the freezer quickly turned into a mini-glacier and the security system constantly beeped and could not be turned off because the landlord didn’t know the code.  We went through four flats in the first year before finding something adequate.

Why do you call the book A Cautionary Tale?

Because it was no fairy tale. Life has a way of lifting you up, while simultaneously kicking you in the ass. I got my dream job, but there were big complications.  

It would have been way simpler if I had become a foreign correspondent in my 30s when I was single. But almost certainly I would have been terribly lonely.

Sharing it all with Isabella and Julia, despite all the bumps, made it a much richer experience.  London is now an indelible part of our lives. We would all happily live there again, if only we could afford it.

Thank you, Sean!

And thanks to you for reading. You can grab a copy of Falling for London on Amazon or, in many cases, at your local indie bookstore. And for always-interesting updates from a man who will forever be a journalist, even while running a busy media training business, follow Sean on Twitter.

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Filet Mignon Recipe with Easy Pan Sauce

Filet mignon is inarguably elegant. It's one of those special meals, like pan-seared scallops, that's ready in a flash but always feels special. 

Our filet mignon recipe with easy pan sauce for two makes a great date night meal. (Bonus: you can double it easily for a small dinner party or special family dinner.) We love it with creamed spinach and either perfect baked potatoes or small-batch Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. Or swap out the starch for low-carb mashed cauliflower with smoked gouda.

Tip

Cook filet mignon to 125°F and let it rest while you make the pan sauce to ensure perfect doneness.

Choosing filet mignon

WHAT IS FILET MIGNON?

Filet mignon is a steak cut from the end of the beef tenderloin. As the name suggests, it is a tender and delicate cut of beef, largely due to the fact that it comes from a non-weight-bearing area of the cow. “Mignon” means cute or little and delicate in French.

FILET MIGNON PRICE

The price of filet mignon varies by region and by quality. But in general, since the filet is small and prized, it can be quite expensive. We strongly prefer grass-fed and grass-finished beef for its environmental impact, taste, and nutritional profile, which can add to the cost. For the past year or so we’ve been getting meat delivered by ButcherBox, and we love it. It’s of wonderful quality and the cost is remarkably low.

FILET MIGNON NUTRITION

You can find complete nutrition information for this recipe at the bottom of the post. In general, grass-fed beef has a pretty strong nutritional profile. It’s high in protein of course, with a favorable ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids, higher levels of antioxidants compared to grain-fed beef, and generally low hormone and antibiotic use.

Filet Mignon Recipe with Easy Pan Sauce | Umami Girl 780-2

How to cook filet mignon

  • Pat filets dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper. Protip: You do NOT need to bring your steak to room temperature before cooking “for even cooking.” This is kitchen mythology. Ignore it.
  • Set a 12-inch cast iron pan over high heat on the stovetop, and leave it alone for five minutes or so to get nice and hot.
  • Swirl (or spread with a spatula) a very thin coating of oil into the pan. About a teaspoon will do for well-seasoned cast iron. Use a neutral-tasting oil with a very high smoke point. We like to use refined organic safflower oil, which has among the highest smoke points.
  • Add filets to the pan and cook undisturbed for about 3 minutes on the first side, until a nice brown crust forms. Flip once and brown on the underside, about 2 minutes. If your filet is thick, you can also brown the edges if you like. To be honest we don’t always do this.
  • Transfer the whole skillet to the center of a 400°F oven and cook until an instant read thermometer reaches 125°F (or juuuust shy of that temperature) when inserted into the center. The meat will continue to cook after you pull it out of the oven, so this method will yield perfect, true medium-rare filet.
  • See the recipe below for more detailed instructions.

Filet mignon sauce

Filet is tender, delicate, and low in fat, and it’s really enhanced by our simple shallot herb pan sauce. The filet needs to rest for 5 to 10 minutes after cooking, as all steak should do in order for the internal temperature to settle and the fibers to relax enough to absorb all the delicious juices.

This is the perfect window of time to make a simple sauce with a minced shallot, a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme, a splash of wine or stock, a dollop of Dijon mustard, and a swirl of butter. It couldn’t be easier.

Can you reverse sear filet mignon?

In general, we are huge fans of the reverse sear. (Here's our favorite recipe for reverse sear pork chops, by way of proof.)

However.

Just because you can reverse sear filet mignon does not, in our minds, mean that you should. Here's our reasoning. First, a major draw of filet mignon is its ability to shine bright with quick, no-fuss methods. Reverse searing takes a meal out of breezy, quick territory and into something a bit more time- and method-intensive. Since filet is so lean and tender to begin with, it's best served rare to medium rare, which is easy to achieve with a regular sear plus a quick stint in a hot oven, and without fuss.

Reverse searing is best used when your cut of meat is at least 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick. Some filets are cut this thick, but some great filets aren’t.

Finally, while filet is tasty on its own, its delicate flavor benefits from a little enhancement, like the simple pan sauce in our recipe below. Regular stovetop searing produces slightly better sucs (a.k.a. browned bits at the bottom of the pan), and better sucs yield better pan sauce.

Filet Mignon with Easy Pan Sauce

Filet mignon with a quick, simple pan sauce makes a special meal that's ready in 20 minutes. Perfect for date night, or double the amount of filet for a small dinner party or special family meal. (You can keep the pan sauce amounts the same when doubling the meat.)
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Serves 2

Ingredients

For the filets

  • 2 6-ounce filets mignons
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon safflower oil

For the pan sauce

  • 3 tablespoons good butter, divided
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 2 whole sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 whole sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Directions

For the filets

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the center.
  2. Pat filets dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a 12-inch cast iron pan over high heat until very hot. Carefully pour in oil and coat bottom of pan by swirling or spreading with a spatula.
  4. Place filets in pan and cook undisturbed for three minutes to sear. Flip once and cook two minutes more.
  5. Transfer pan to oven and cook just until meat reads 125°F on an instant read thermometer inserted into the center. Depending on thickness this will take from 2 to more than 5 minutes, so check early and often. The filet will continue to cook off the heat, so pulling it out of the pan at 125°F (or even a little before, if you like), will yield a beautiful, true medium-rare (130°) finished product
  6. Transfer filets to a cutting board to rest while you make the pan sauce.

For the pan sauce

  1. If pan contains any cooking oil, pour it off, but it probably won't.
  2. Back on the stovetop, add 1 tablespoon butter to hot pan and carefully swirl to melt. (You can be slow to turn the heat on under the burner, since the pan will be very hot. When you do — sometime after you add the shallot and herbs — turn it to medium.) Add shallot, rosemary, and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, until shallot softens, about two minutes.
  3. Add wine and mustard and stir to incorporate any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until liquid is reduced by about half.
  4. Off the heat, swirl in remaining butter, along with any juices that have accumulated while the meat rests. Taste for salt and pepper.

To serve

  1. Serve filets whole or sliced, as you like, with pan sauce spooned overtop. You can leave herbs in the pan or, if you like, pick off a few of the rosemary and thyme leaves and serve with the sauce.

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Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 464 Total Fat:: 28g Carbohydrates:: 3.9g Fiber:: 0.5g Protein:: 39.4g

    Beet, Goat Cheese and Mint

    Prep Time 40 minutes
    Cook Time 15 minutes
    Total Time 55 minutes
    Serves Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

    Ingredients

    • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 pounds cucumbers (about 4 medium)
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

    Directions

    Place the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

    Slice the cucumbers into thin 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Place them in the bowl, add the chives, and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed before serving.

    Preheat the oven to 450°F.

    1. Whisk together the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.

    2. Spread a rimmed (18×13-inch) half sheet pan with the tablespoon of olive oil.

    3. Dunk the salmon in the miso glaze and arrange along one edge of the baking sheet.

    4. Next, toss the asparagus in the glaze and arrange in one even layer in another corner of the baking sheet.

    5. Finally, toss the bok choy with the remaining glaze and arrange in a pile in the open space on the baking sheet (don’t worry about piling it up a little—it will help them steam and cook through).

    6. Roast in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the fish is firm to the touch (if you’d like a little more color on the salmon, broil it for 2 minutes at this point).

    7. Remove from the oven, garnish with sliced scallions and sesame seeds, and serve.

    Notes

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    Creamed Spinach (Lightened Up Just a Touch)

    Our fresh, super-flavorful take on the classic steakhouse side dish creamed spinach is lightened up juuuuuust a touch. It provides all the savory richness you'll need to satisfy your creamed spinach cravings without any additional heaviness. Try it with small-batch Yukon Gold mashed potatoes or perfect baked potatoes and our filet mignon.

    Tip

    This recipe packs a full pound of fresh baby spinach, which is a great vegetarian source of iron. Indulgence never felt so strong.

    Steakhouse creamed spinach at home

    As 20-somethings in late 1990s NYC, we were mildly obsessed with Smith & Wollensky. Their steakhouse creamed spinach was everything. Back then I was happy to pack in like 90,000 calories in a single dinner, and we didn't have kids to support, so both the caloric and actual economics of that situation made sense.

    These days we much prefer to recreate our even-better version of steakhouse creamed spinach at home. It's quick and easy, a little lighter, and definitely doesn't cost $15 like the original, in case any of those attributes appeal to ya.

    The best creamed spinach recipe

    In the truly shocking number of years whisked by since then, we have had LOTS of experience with creamed spinach. Eating, making, meditating upon.

    We’ve tasted and tested and tweaked. We’ve tried flour- and milk-based sauces, frozen spinach, too much cream and too little.

    In the end, we always come back to this. It’s the best creamed spinach recipe, packed with fresh baby spinach, and tons of flavor, with just the right amount of satisfying creaminess. It’s fun to be a full-fledged adult and get to do exactly what the hell you want. With spinach.

    Hope you love it.

    Creamed Spinach (Lightened up just a touch)

    Our fresh, super-flavorful version of creamed spinach takes this classic steakhouse side dish to new heights. It's exactly as rich and creamy as it needs to be to satisfy your creamed spinach cravings, and not one bit more, so you won't leave dinner feeling grim.
    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Cook Time 10 minutes
    Total Time 15 minutes
    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 small yellow onion, diced small
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 16 ounces baby spinach
    • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • 4 ounces cream cheese
    • Freshly ground black pepper

    Directions

    1. Melt butter in a 12-inch frying pan — the bigger the better since raw spinach is huuuuuge — over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
    2. Add spinach by the handful, letting it wilt just enough to make room before adding more. Cook, stirring almost constantly, just until all spinach is wilted. Stir in salt, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, heavy cream, cream cheese, and pepper to taste. Simmer briefly to heat through, and serve.

    Nutrition Information

    Amount Per Serving:

    Calories:: 239 Total Fat:: 21.4g Carbohydrates:: 8.8g Fiber:: 2.9g Protein:: 5.9g

      Beet, Goat Cheese and Mint

      Prep Time 40 minutes
      Cook Time 15 minutes
      Total Time 55 minutes
      Serves Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

      Ingredients

      • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
      • 2 tablespoons olive oil
      • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
      • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
      • Freshly ground black pepper
      • 2 pounds cucumbers (about 4 medium)
      • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

      Directions

      Place the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

      Slice the cucumbers into thin 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Place them in the bowl, add the chives, and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed before serving.

      Preheat the oven to 450°F.

      1. Whisk together the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.

      2. Spread a rimmed (18×13-inch) half sheet pan with the tablespoon of olive oil.

      3. Dunk the salmon in the miso glaze and arrange along one edge of the baking sheet.

      4. Next, toss the asparagus in the glaze and arrange in one even layer in another corner of the baking sheet.

      5. Finally, toss the bok choy with the remaining glaze and arrange in a pile in the open space on the baking sheet (don’t worry about piling it up a little—it will help them steam and cook through).

      6. Roast in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the fish is firm to the touch (if you’d like a little more color on the salmon, broil it for 2 minutes at this point).

      7. Remove from the oven, garnish with sliced scallions and sesame seeds, and serve.

      Notes

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      Potato Skins: Classic, or with Shiitake Bacon Bits

      Potato skins are such classic game day food that they hardly need an introduction. They're inexpensive to make, hearty, and great for a crowd. And just like jalapeño poppers, the baked version is truly at least as good as the fried version, and makes so much more sense both nutritionally and logistically. If you bake the potatoes and cook the bacon (or shiitake bacon) ahead of time, perfect potato skins can be ready in scarcely more than 30 minutes. 

      Make our potato skins recipe classic with bacon, or vegetarian and truly just as savory with our popular shiitake bacon bits.

      Tip

      Small russet potatoes (also called Idaho potatoes) work great for potato skins because they crisp nicely and tend to have a wide, flat side.

      Potato skins recipe protips

      • Use small russet potatoes (also called Idaho potatoes) for their crispy skins, tender, fluffy flesh, and great shape for filling. Start with our perfect baked potatoes.
      • Use really good butter. We love Kerrygold salted butter for its combination of great taste (it's cultured and made with milk from grass-fed cows) and reasonable price.
      • The wire rack really makes a difference in helping to crisp the potatoes, and it's a great investment for lots of other crispy baked recipes and for cooling baked goods, too.
      • Get creative with toppings if you like! Right off the top of our heads, we're thinking French onion soup potato skins with caramelized onions and Gruyère cheese and nacho potato skins with pepper jack cheese, guac, sour cream, and sliced black olives. Go classic, go nuts, or go home.
      Potato Skins Classic or with Shiitake Bacon Bits | Umami Girl 780

      Potato Skins: Classic, or with Shiitake Bacon Bits

      Potato skins need no introduction as classic, essential tailgate food. Our version is savory and craveworthy and also comes with a vegetarian option, swapping in our popular vegan bacon bits (shiitake bacon) for the usual crumbled bacon. We absolutely adore both versions and promise you won't miss the meat if you go veg.
      Prep Time 15 minutes
      Cook Time 25 minutes
      Total Time 40 minutes
      Serves 12

      Ingredients

      • 6 small to medium baked potatoes (2 1/2 to 3 pounds total)
      • 1 1/2 tablespoons good salted butter, melted
      • Fine sea salt
      • 1 small shallot, minced
      • 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar, shredded
      • 1/2 cup sour cream
      • 6 strips cooked bacon, crumbled OR
      • 1 cup shiitake bacon bits
      • 1/4 cup minced fresh chives
      • Cholula or another favorite hot sauce
      • Flaky sea salt

      Directions

      1. Preheat oven to 450°F with a rack in the center. Place a baking rack on a rimmed half-sheet pan.
      2. Cut each baked potato in half lengthwise. If there's a side that's flatter (which is often true for russet potatoes), cut so that the flatter sides will be on the bottom and the cut potatoes will be wide, shallow, and stable.
      3. From each potato half, scoop out some of the flesh, leaving about 1/4 inch of flesh attached to the skins. (Reserve extra flesh for another use, such as Colcannon Cheddar Skillet Cakes or simply mashing up with a little milk and butter.)
      4. Brush tops and bottoms of potato halves with melted butter and sprinkle with fine sea salt. Place potato halves skin-side up on baking rack.
      5. Bake for 20 minutes. Skins will be crisp and lightly browned and flesh will be very tender on the inside.
      6. Flip potato halves right-side up and sprinkle some minced shallot into each. Top with cheddar. Return potatoes to oven for 5 minutes or so, until cheese is melted.
      7. Top each potato skin with a dollop of sour cream, about a tablespoon of crumbled bacon OR shiitake bacon bits, some minced chives, a shot of hot sauce, and a bit of flaky sea salt.

      Nutrition Information

      Serving Size:

      1 piece

      Amount Per Serving:

      Calories:: 155 Total Fat:: 10.7g Carbohydrates:: 11.3g Fiber:: 2.1g Protein:: 4.5g

        Beet, Goat Cheese and Mint

        Prep Time 40 minutes
        Cook Time 15 minutes
        Total Time 55 minutes
        Serves Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

        Ingredients

        • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
        • 2 tablespoons olive oil
        • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
        • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
        • Freshly ground black pepper
        • 2 pounds cucumbers (about 4 medium)
        • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

        Directions

        Place the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

        Slice the cucumbers into thin 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Place them in the bowl, add the chives, and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed before serving.

        Preheat the oven to 450°F.

        1. Whisk together the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.

        2. Spread a rimmed (18×13-inch) half sheet pan with the tablespoon of olive oil.

        3. Dunk the salmon in the miso glaze and arrange along one edge of the baking sheet.

        4. Next, toss the asparagus in the glaze and arrange in one even layer in another corner of the baking sheet.

        5. Finally, toss the bok choy with the remaining glaze and arrange in a pile in the open space on the baking sheet (don’t worry about piling it up a little—it will help them steam and cook through).

        6. Roast in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the fish is firm to the touch (if you’d like a little more color on the salmon, broil it for 2 minutes at this point).

        7. Remove from the oven, garnish with sliced scallions and sesame seeds, and serve.

        Notes

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        How to Bake a Potato: Perfect Baked Potatoes in the Oven or Microwave + Oven

        All hail the baked potato. This inexpensive, simple, family-friendly staple makes a great side dish or main event, depending how you top it. Here's how to bake a potato perfectly every time, with tips for starting a baked potato in the microwave if you're short on time, and how to accommodate the oven temperature of whatever else you might be cooking.

        Bonus points if you adopt the adorable English name "jacket potato" and serve it as the only vegetarian school lunch option literally every day of the year, but we'll love ya even if you don't.  

        Tip

        We prefer to bake potatoes at 400°F when possible, but they're super-accommodating if you've got something else in the oven. See below for cooking times.

        The best potatoes for baked potatoes

        This is an easy one. We happily traffic in all kinds of potatoes, but for baked potatoes we always use russets (also called Idaho). Their skin crisps really well, and their flesh bakes up fluffy and tender.

        A quick note: potatoes are part of the "dirty dozen," meaning conventionally grown potatoes tend to have a very high pesticide concentration. Since you don't peel baked potatoes, it's a good idea to buy organic potatoes if you can.

        How to bake a potato

        OVEN METHOD

        1. Preheat oven to 400°F (or see chart below for other oven temperature and time combos. Place a rack in the center of the oven (this is where your potatoes will go) and a rack at the bottom with a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips. Baking potatoes straight on the oven rack is the best way to ensure crisp skin and even cooking all around.
        2. Scrub potatoes clean and dry them well. Poke shallow holes all around each potato with the tines of a fork to let some steam escape during baking.
        3. Rub each potato with a little bit of oil and sprinkle with salt. This helps crisp the skins, makes salt stick easily, and "magically" (i.e. scientifically) regulate the moisture inside the potatoes as the cook.
        4. Place potatoes directly onto middle oven rack and bake until very tender throughout. Baking time will vary with the size of your potatoes, but should be around an hour for medium-sized potatoes.
        5. Potatoes are done when they yield easily to a fork or give readily when you squeeze them.

        MICROWAVE + OVEN METHOD

        If you're short on time and making one to four potatoes, starting baked potatoes in the microwave is a useful hack.

        1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a rack in the center and a rack at the bottom with a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips.
        2. Scrub potatoes clean and dry them well. Poke shallow holes all around each potato with the tines of a fork to let some steam escape during cooking.
        3. Place potatoes in microwave. For 1-2 potatoes, cook on high for 6 minutes. For 3-4 potatoes, cook on high for 12 minutes.
        4. Carefully rub each hot potato with a little bit of oil and sprinkle with salt.
        5. Place potatoes directly onto middle oven rack and back until crisp outside and very tender inside, about 20 minutes depending on size.
        6. Potatoes are done when they yield easily to a fork or give readily when you squeeze them.
        How to Bake a Potato Perfect Baked Potatoes with Sour Cream and Chives | Umami Girl 780

        How long to bake a potato

        How long to bake a potato depends on both oven temperature and potato size. Here's a general guideline for medium-sized russet potatoes based on oven temperature. It's better to cook your baked potatoes slightly longer than slightly too short. Baked potatoes are hard to overcook terribly, and no one wants a crunchy center.

        325°F          90 minutes

        350°F          75 minutes

        375°F          70 minutes

        400°F          60 minutes

        425°F          45 minutes

        How long to bake a potato

        How long to bake a potato depends on both oven temperature and potato size. Here's a general guideline for medium-sized russet potatoes based on oven temperature. It's better to cook your baked potatoes slightly longer than slightly too short. Baked potatoes are hard to overcook terribly, and no one wants a crunchy center.

        325°F          90 minutes

        350°F          75 minutes

        375°F          70 minutes

        400°F          60 minutes

        425°F          45 minutes

        Baked potato toppings

        The sky's the limit here, my friend. For a classic side dish, a generous amount of good salted butter or sour cream, a sprinkle of flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and some minced chives add up to sheer, simple perfection.

        To make a baked potato into a main course, try one of these toppers, just to name a few:

        • Vegetarian chili and shredded cheddar
        • Hummus and chopped red bell peppers
        • BBQ pulled chicken
        • Nacho-style toppings (black or pinto beans, guac, sour cream, crumbled cotija cheese and cilantro sauce or jarred salsa)
        • Classic tuna salad (trust us, it works!)

        How to Make Baked Potatoes (Oven or Microwave + Oven)

        Baked potatoes are so fabulously versatile. They make an equally good side dish dressed simply with butter or sour cream and chives or main dish topped with practically anything you like. We prefer cooking them in the oven from start to finish, but if you don't have the time, you can start them in the microwave and finish them in the oven, too.
        Prep Time 5 minutes
        Cook Time 1 hour
        Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
        Serves 6

        Ingredients

        • 6 russet potatoes (also called Idaho potatoes)
        • 1 tablespoon safflower oil
        • Fine sea salt

        Directions

        Oven method (preferred)

        1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place a rack in the center and a rack at the bottom with a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips.
        2. Scrub potatoes clean and dry them well. Poke shallow holes all around each potato with the tines of a fork to let some steam escape during baking.
        3. Rub each potato with a little bit of oil and sprinkle with salt.
        4. Place potatoes directly onto middle oven rack and bake until very tender throughout. Baking time will vary with the size of your potatoes, but should be around an hour for medium-sized potatoes.
        5. Potatoes are done when they yield easily to a fork or give readily when you squeeze them.

        Microwave + oven method (quicker, best for 1 to 4 potatoes)

        1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a rack in the center and a rack at the bottom with a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips.
        2. Scrub potatoes clean and dry them well. Poke shallow holes all around each potato with the tines of a fork to let some steam escape during cooking.
        3. Place potatoes in microwave. For 1-2 potatoes, cook on high for 6 minutes. For 3-4 potatoes, cook on high for 12 minutes.
        4. Carefully rub each hot potato with a little bit of oil and sprinkle with salt.
        5. Place potatoes directly onto middle oven rack and back until crisp outside and very tender inside, about 20 minutes depending on size.
        6. Potatoes are done when they yield easily to a fork or give readily when you squeeze them.

        To serve baked potatoes

        1. Cut a slit lengthwise across the middle 2/3 of each potato. Squeeze potato in and up from both ends. Top with butter or sour cream, chopped chives, and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt — or whatever you like. The sky's the limit.

        Nutrition Information

        Amount Per Serving:

        Calories:: 208 Total Fat:: 4.7g Carbohydrates:: 38.5g Fiber:: 2.8g Protein:: 4.6g

          Beet, Goat Cheese and Mint

          Prep Time 40 minutes
          Cook Time 15 minutes
          Total Time 55 minutes
          Serves Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

          Ingredients

          • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
          • 2 tablespoons olive oil
          • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
          • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
          • Freshly ground black pepper
          • 2 pounds cucumbers (about 4 medium)
          • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

          Directions

          Place the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

          Slice the cucumbers into thin 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Place them in the bowl, add the chives, and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed before serving.

          Preheat the oven to 450°F.

          1. Whisk together the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.

          2. Spread a rimmed (18×13-inch) half sheet pan with the tablespoon of olive oil.

          3. Dunk the salmon in the miso glaze and arrange along one edge of the baking sheet.

          4. Next, toss the asparagus in the glaze and arrange in one even layer in another corner of the baking sheet.

          5. Finally, toss the bok choy with the remaining glaze and arrange in a pile in the open space on the baking sheet (don’t worry about piling it up a little—it will help them steam and cook through).

          6. Roast in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the fish is firm to the touch (if you’d like a little more color on the salmon, broil it for 2 minutes at this point).

          7. Remove from the oven, garnish with sliced scallions and sesame seeds, and serve.

          Notes

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