I am my father’s daughter. Dad is my slightly taller, male equivalent. I’ve been told we have an identical gait. We hold a fork the same way. When I waitressed at my parents’ restaurant through high school, customers inevitably said, as I filled their water glasses: “Oh, you must be Nick’s eldest!” I would smile and cringe inwardly, as teenage girls do. I am my father’s daughter.
Dad likes to shop for clothes – alone – and tell everyone about the incredible deal he got on a cashmere sweater. He read every high school and university paper I wrote, and instilled in me a love of grammar and structure as he slashed misused commas. Dad and I like our coffee strong, though he tempers his with cream. At family dinners, we wince together at the weak dishwater my grandparents on either side brew. Dad will vouch that he and I even wear the same socks. (Mainly because I raid his pairs of stripes and argyle a few times each year.)
As much as we’re alike, we disagree more often than not. Because of the fierce stubbornness I inherited (from dad, of course), disagreement has led to a stand-off or three in my twenty-four years. But can you keep a secret? It’s good stuff, when people say I’m like my dad. He’s a pretty cool guy.
Of all the traits dad and I share, one sticks out. We both love people by feeding them. From my observation, few things bring him joy like inviting a host of people to our home, offering multiple courses of delicious things, and sending them on their way, sated and happy. Dad visits me in Toronto for the day and lets himself into the apartment to leave a three-litre jar of olives on the counter. He always has an array of garlicky Greek spreads waiting when I get off the train, be damned if it’s two in the morning. One memorable evening, he traveled the entire city of Windsor on a midnight fudge run. You see, he misheard my sister Niki’s request for a pack of paper lunch bags. White and milk chocolate fudge were delivered to a befuddled 15-year-old.
My parents visited this past weekend. In true form, dad deposited fruits and vegetables for a family of six on my countertop. I’ve been digging through my crisper all week finding goodies. A mango here, a head of broccoli there. Let me tell you: having someone else stock the fridge is mighty fun. It’s the Red Lobster treasure chest I loved as a kid, only instead of scented erasers, I pull out banana bunches.
Last night, rummaging for dinner ingredients, I uncovered a produce bag of tiny red potatoes.
Potatoes are one of those funny starches in my life. I love them. But I never buy them. Into my grocery basket go yams and pastas and loaves of bread, but nary a white potato. And what a shame, because potatoes are delicious. Especially the little ones – creamy and a little sweet with yielding skins. They’re versatile, quick to prepare and nourishing.
I knew at once what to make with these little red gems: the Pioneer Woman‘s Crash Hot Potatoes. I almost want to keep this recipe a secret, it’s so easy and tasty. But Ree shared and so will I. Boiled red potatoes are lined on a sheet pan, smashed with the bottom of a water glass, doused in olive oil and salt, and slid into a scalding oven. Twenty minutes later you have perfect potatoes: crisp browned exteriors yield to creamy insides. Try if you can to transfer them to a plate before devouring the lot. And then call your dad. Tell him he has to make these potatoes.
Water Glass Potatoes
Adapted from Ree Drummond‘s Crash Hot Potatoes
Serves two, as a side
10-12 small new potatoes, whole
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
kosher or sea salt, to taste
cracked black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Boil the scrubbed potatoes in salted water until they’re very tender. Drain the potatoes. Line them on a generously oiled sheet pan – much like you would to bake cookies. With a water glass, gently smash each potato to flatten it, being sure to expose the white flesh. Drizzle the potato tops with more olive oil, and sprinkle generously with salt. Crack black pepper over each potato.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the potatoes are golden and crisp. Serve with sour cream, or sprinkle with whatever herbs you have on hand.