When I was in college and learning to cook, I became enamored of a Craig Claibourne recipe for colcannon--a traditional Irish dish that mixes potatoes and kale or cabbage. I hadn't grown up eating colcannon, I didn't use that particular cookbook very much, and this was in the years before I considered establishing a religion based on kale, so I'm not sure how I even hit on the recipe. But I'm guessing I was trying to use up some potatoes, and Claibourne's short write-up appealed to me because it had just seven ingredients, including salt and pepper, and it looked easy.
"Easy" undersells the virtues of this creation. Not only can you make it with the skills you'll have acquired by the second time you've attempted to cook, it's forgiving and versatile. If you boil the potatoes too long, no problem. If you undercook the kale, nobody gets hurt. If you don't feel like peeling the potatoes, totally fine. If you use sweet potatoes (or yellow potatoes, or even rutabagas) instead of white potatoes, all to the good. If you don't have milk on hand, or if you're vegan, you can just substitute in the potato cooking water (I probably don't need to mention that vegans can swap in olive oil for the butter). If you toss in cabbage instead of kale, you've just made "bubble and squeak"--the English version of this dish, which ought to win a prize for delightful names. You can profitably throw in tofu, and I've seen colcannon recipes that include pork.
Here's the other great thing about this recipe: it uses ingredients you can get at the farmers' market far into the winter. And those ingredients are usually pretty cheap.
Oh, and also? It's delicious. Impossible-to-stop-eating delicious. Claibourne's recipe says it serves six. Presumably, that's six people with no taste buds.
So for all of these reasons, I started making colcannon regularly--very, very regularly. I tried other recipes, but most didn't include Claibourne's baking step, which produces a lovely crust. I always reverted back to his.
And then I lost track of the idea. I joined a CSA and started sauteing kale or eating it raw. My potatoes wound up in Spanish tortillas. I moved for a while to an apartment with an iffy oven. I forgot about colcannon. For almost 20 years.
But earlier tonight, facing a big bunch of collard-like "winter greens" I'd found at the farmers' market last weekend and wanting comfort food after five days of a nasty cold, I remembered the recipe. I didn't have the cookbook anymore, but Google Books turned up the page exactly as I remembered it, minus a few stains.
I used what I had on hand: a mix of sweet and white potatoes, the unidentified greens, potato water instead of milk, extra onions because they're yummy, and, fittingly, Kerrygold Irish butter. I microwaved the greens instead of boiling them, but other than that, I followed the recipe.
It was as amazingly gratifying and yummy as I remembered it. The only change I'd make: if I were re-writing the recipe, I might mention that under certain circumstances, it serves just one.