Michael's Mashed Potatoes
Place the potatoes in a 2-quart saucepan with 1 teaspoon of the salt and cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, until completely tender, about 30 minutes. Test the potatoes by piercing them with a paring knife there should be no resistance. Place in a colander and allows to drain well for several minutes.
Combine the butter, heavy cream, and milk in another saucepan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Keep warm.
Working over the saucepan used to cook the potatoes, pass the potatoes through a food mill or a potato ricer. If you have any difficulty, add a little of the hot milk and butter to the potatoes.
To serve, place the potatoes over a low flame and begin adding the warm milk mixture. Whip the potatoes with a wooden spoon or spatula while heating. When all the liquid is absorbed, season with the remaining salt and pepper. Serve piping hot.
Mashed potatoes are best served immediately, but if you are unable to do so, or need them for another recipe, keep the potatoes hot for up to 1 hour by placing them in the top of a double boiler, covered, and held over barely simmering water.
Basil Mashed Potatoes
"If you’re lucky enough to have an abundant source of basil in the summer, this recipe is a great way to use it. The bright green basil purée sort of a cheeseless pesto is also wonderful stirred into soups, mixed into salad vinaigrettes, or spooned over pizza. Prepared and stored properly, the purée will keep for weeks. Just make sure to start with very dry basil and transfer to a clean, dry jar. Top with a 1/8-inch layer of olive oil, cover tightly, and refrigerate."
In a blender, combine the pine nuts, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper; purée. With the motor running, add the basil leaves and continue to purée until smooth.
Add the basil purée to the warm mashed potatoes and, over low heat, stir with a wooden spoon until the purée is completely incorporated and the mixture is piping hot. Serve.
Fennel Mashed Potatoes
"We love the fennel mashed potatoes served with firmly textured seafood such as lobster, scallops, monkfish, tuna, and swordfish. Or, served with lamb, try shaving some fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top and finish with a few drops of good olive oil."
The Basic Recipe as above, except:
In a saucepan, combine the fennel, milk, cream, and butter. Simmer, covered, until tender, about 30 minutes.
Pour the fennel and its cooking liquid into a blender or processor, cover, and purée, adding 1 teaspoon Pernod.
To serve, place the potatoes over a low flame and begin adding the warm fennel purée. Whip the potatoes with a wooden spoon or spatula while heating. When all the purée is incorporated, season with the remaining salt and white pepper. Serve piping hot.
* Pernod is the brand name of a type of liqueur called a pastis. Its relative in Greece is ouzo and in Spain ojen. Another French brand is Ricard. The leading characteristic of these drinks is their licorice flavor, which is produced either with licorice (the plant, not the candy) or anise. Pernod or the other pastis liqueurs should be pretty widely available, but it may help if you pronounce the name correctly the next time you call the liquor store — being French, it is pronounced pear’-no.