Growing up in a sizable Italian family (are there any other kind?), I am graced with memories of many joyful family get-togethers. These often-too-loud and always-so-crowded gatherings of the clan were a routine part of my childhood, one I relished then and mourn today. It wasn’t just that you were expected to be at the grandparents’ house on Sunday, you wanted to be there. You didn’t want to (1) miss the latest gossip and goings on or (2) be the topic of that discussion.
As a result, I enjoyed an especially close relationship with my grandmothers. It was not uncommon for me to spend a weekend overnight with my great-grandmother; those times were my favorites. We talked and laughed the night away and, always, spent time in the kitchen together. My favorites were making fresh pasta and crusty Italian bread. Grandma didn’t cook using recipes so I learned to cook using taste, texture, and tone as the benchmarks to judge when a dish is “just right.”
Implementing those same skills, this week I baked up some Chewy Chocolate Potato Biscotti. A throwback to my heritage and early cooking experiences, these are a cross between a biscotti and a brownie. They have a crispy, crunchy exterior with a chewier, chocolatey inside. They are neither too sweet nor terribly crumbly, as biscotti can be sometimes. They are a divine pleasure with a cup of coffee or hot tea. And they have a special secret ingredient: potatoes.
Yep, Idaho Russet potatoes, to be exact. Idaho potatoes are more than a dinner side dish, mashed, roasted, or creamed. Idaho potatoes are much more than an afterthought to accompany eggs and bacon in the morning. Baking with Idaho potatoes creates a contradiction of textures, both light and dense at the same time. One taste of toasted potato bread and you know exactly what I mean. And I love potato bread.
Potatoes are often maligned but they are so good for you. Potatoes contain 45 percent of your recommended daily requirement of vitamin C, are higher in vitamin B6 than spinach, and are a better source of potassium than bananas. They really are the perfect start to your day with simple and complex carbohydrates to fuel your body for whatever lies in store for you.
I challenged myself to create this tasty breakfast bar with potato dough for the Idaho Potato Commission. They are sponsoring a contest at the Food and Wine Conference I will attend in Orlando next month: create an original recipe reinventing breakfast potatoes. The Idaho Potato Commission maintains a dynamic website with recipes, nutritional information, contests and a page dedicated to children. You can also follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for more great ideas and recipes. There’s even an Idaho Potato YouTube channel with really great videos – I spent quite a bit of time there. Check ‘em all out.
Once I perfected the balance of ingredients, all so new to me, I was excited by the possibilities. I’m always on the lookout for a simple breakfast idea on those days we’re out the door and on the run early. These are so easy to make and carry so well, I can bake them the night before a fishing day and have Chewy Chocolate Potato Biscotti for four while we troll the Gulf for that next big catch. On community garage sale day, biscotti and coffee are much easier to handle while hunting down bargains; no more sticky fingers or drippy egg sandwiches scooting along in the golf cart.
I’m bringing these to the next girls’ coffee klatch in the neighborhood. I won’t miss one of those gatherings lest I become the topic of the day’s latest gossip or, worse yet, I am volunteered to chair some committee or event because I’m not there to refuse. Better get baking. . .