Stuffed Spuds To Keep You On Your Toes

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - August 19, 2009
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John Landovsky was born in Riga, Latvia, a small country bordering the Baltic Sea. Today he is founder and artistic director of the renowned Hawaii State Ballet.

So how did he end up teaching ballet on a tropical island 8,000 miles from his birthplace?

During World War II, Latvia was under Soviet occupation until 1941, when Nazi Germany invaded. John and his mother escaped to Nuremberg and later came to America. As a young man of 18, John went to pick up his girlfriend from her ballet class. He was watching a rehearsal and saw another male dancer lifting her. Fortified by a spark of jealousy, he accepted the instructor’s challenge to try lifting her as well. The rest is history! He soon was dancing in the Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet under the direction of Ruth Page and has performed in almost every major American city.

He and wife Gina settled in Duluth, Minn. When an epic blizzard dropped the temperature to -103, Gina perused the want ads in Dance Magazine, saw an ad for a position in Hawaii and sent in John’s resume. He got the job, and founded Hawaii State Ballet in 1983.

This column is dedicated to John for his nearly 30 years of nurturing an extraordinary number of local dance protgs, including Amanda Schull (star of the movie Center Stage), Erica Wong and former student Romi Beppu, who is now a principal dancer with the Boston Ballet and Ballet West. For more information:

This recipe is dedicated to him. It is one of my most requested recipes and is a good summer meal served with a lettuce and tomato salad and some garlic bread.


* 4 large baking potatoes
* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/2 large Maui onion, chopped
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
* 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
* 1 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
* salt and pepper, to taste
* 1 (8-ounce) container nonfat sour cream or plain yogurt
* 1/2 cup shredded nonfat Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut a slit in top of potatoes, and bake for about 1 hour, or until soft. Heat olive oil in skillet. Combine onion and mushrooms and cook slowly until soft. Add chives, garlic, red pepper, salt and pepper.

Slice top off baked potatoes and keeping the skins intact, scoop the insides into a medium bowl; add onion mixture and combine well. Mix in sour cream. Using a large spoon, fill the potato skins with the mixture. Sprinkle cheese on top. Return the potatoes to the preheated oven and continue baking for about 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the filling is slightly brown.

Makes eight side-dish or four main-course servings.

Approximate Nutrition Information Per Serving (eight servings):

Calories: 175 Fat: 3.1 grams Cholesterol: 12 milligrams

Sodium: 127 milligrams

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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