I always think that December is the best time of the year to be at home. Outside, it’s short days, wet weather and shopping mayhem. Keep food simple and warming. Here’s a great recipe for turning a baked potato into a winter treat in minutes and something that is guaranteed to bring a smile to everyone’s face.
It’s good for you, too, as the more colourful vegetables contain important nutrients in the pigment.
For a simple version of this recipe, scoop out the potato flesh and mash it together with a little butter milk and cheese, season to taste and pile it back into the potato shells. For a speedier version you can wash and prick the potatoes and microwave on high for 10 minutes, then transfer them to an oven preheated to 200˚C / 400˚F and cook for 30 to 35 minutes until tender.
Interestingly, potato doesn’t count as one of your five portions of fruit and vegetables, but sweet potato and butternut squash do.
Makes four servings
4 medium baking potatoes (approx 225g each)
a little vegetable oil
½ (half) medium butternut squash (approx 300g)
40 g butter
1 tsp Dijon mustard
30g fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp milk
30g grated Cheddar cheese
Peas for eyes
● Preheat the oven to 190C/ Fan 170 / Gas 5. Prick the potatoes in several places, place on a baking tray and brush all over with the oil.
● Bake for 1 to 1 ¼ hours or until soft when pressed.
● Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
● Place in a baking dish, skin side down. Melt 15g of the butter and brush it over the squash, then bake for about 40 minutes or until tender.
● When cool enough to handle, cut the tops off the baked potatoes and scoop out the flesh. Scoop the flesh of the cooked butternut squash off the skin and mash together with the baked potato flesh, mustard, Parmesan, milk and remaining butter. Season with a little salt and pepper.
● Put the mixture back into the potato shells and top with the grated cheddar.
● Preheat the grill on the hottest setting. Place the potatoes on a baking tray or suitable dish and grill for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbling and golden.
● Add twirly crisps for antlers, peas for eyes and cherry tomatoes for the nose. You can attach the cherry tomato with a cocktail stick but remove if giving to young children.