If spring brings out the sociable in you, consider making potato baskets.
They are a savory alternative to English muffins, a kind of spud cousin of Eggs Benedict which can easily be adapted for vegetarians.
The recipe for Potato Baskets is from the National Potato Promotion Board.
The Hollandaise Sauce recipe is provided by the American Egg Board.
Spring Potato Baskets For the baskets:
2 lbs. (4 to 5 medium) potatoes, grated (5 cups)
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Nonstick cooking spray
For Hollandaise sauce:
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup firm cold butter, cut into 16 pieces
1/2 tsp. salt, optional
1/4 tsp. paprika
Dash ground red pepper
For the filling:
1 cup finely chopped fully cooked deli ham (see note)
16 medium eggs
To make the baskets: In large bowl, combine potatoes, 2 eggs, salt and pepper; toss to combine. Spray 16 medium nonstick muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray, coating well. (The spray helps to make potato nests crisp.)
For each muffin cup, spoon rounded 1/4 cup potato mixture into the palm of your hand; squeeze out excess moisture; place in muffin cup. Push potatoes onto bottom and up side of cup to form a "basket."
Bake on bottom rack in 350 F. oven for 35 minutes. When potato baskets are done, remove from oven.
To make Hollandaise sauce: In small saucepan, beat together egg yolks, water and lemon juice. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until yolk mixture bubbles at edges.
Stir in butter, 1 piece at a time, until melted and sauce is thickened. Stir in seasonings. Remove from heat. (Cover and chill if not using immediately.)
To make filling: Place 1 tablespoon ham into each basket. Crack 1 egg into each; return to 350 F. oven on middle rack.
Bake an additional 14 to 16 minutes or until egg whites are firm. Run small spatula along edge of baskets to loosen. Place 2 baskets on each of 8 individual plates.
Spoon 1 tablespoon sauce into each basket. Pass remaining sauce at the table. Serve immediately.
Makes 8 servings (2 baskets each).
Nutrition facts per serving: 656 calories, 58 g. fat, 1,311 mg. sodium, 11 g. carbohydrate, 27 g. protein, 725 mg. cholesterol, 2 g. fiber.
Cook's tips: Serve with steamed asparagus, if desired.
Substitute a 26-ounce package or 4 cups frozen shredded hash-brown potatoes, thawed, for fresh potatoes. Squeeze out moisture before continuing with recipe.
Note: For vegetarians, simply omit ham. Or you may substitute sauteed mushrooms, chopped red bell peppers or zucchini.
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