Ashley Christensen Restaurants

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Category: AC

Recipe: Mashed Potatoes with Herb-Scented Cream



Thanksgiving is next week (how did that happen?!), so we’re sharing the recipe for Mashed Potatoes with Herb-Scented Cream from the Poole’s Diner cookbook. And if you're looking for a few more ideas, pick up a copy here!

"Most kids not-so-patiently wait to lick the beaters that are covered in cake batter; I preferred the ones that were coated in mashed potatoes. But I’m not alone in my preference: mashed potatoes are iconic, a long-standing American diner–menu staple. They make a creamy canvas for such comfort-food favorites as meatloaf, pork chops, and fried chicken, but I find them even dreamier planted next to stewed tomatoes and cornmeal-fried okra. Lumpy or smooth, and sometimes comprised of just enough potatoes to hold the butter and cream together, mashed potatoes are a guilty pleasure that makes us all feel warm, loved, and soulfully fed.

In this recipe, I scent the cream with aromatics that take the mashed potatoes from canvas to foreground—cream is an awesome vehicle for introducing flavors. Though gravy is always welcome, I think you’ll find that these potatoes don’t need it." -Ashley Christensen

SERVES 6 to 8

4 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1/2 shallot
1 head garlic, halved across the equator
1 fresh bay leaf
4 thyme sprigs
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
2 pounds russet potatoes
Kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
Sea salt

In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream, peppercorns, shallot, garlic, and bay leaf to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the thyme. Let steep for 15 minutes. Strain the cream through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the solids and reserving the cream.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-inch cubes. Place the potatoes in a pot with 10 cups water and season with 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 18 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain the potatoes well and return them to the pot.

In a large saucepan, warm the cream but don’t let it boil. Place the pot of potatoes over low heat just to warm them through. Using an electric mixer, whip the potatoes on medium speed until smooth. Add half of the warm cream to the potatoes, followed by half of the butter. Continue to beat with the mixer, and when both are fully incorporated, continue to add the remaining cream and butter bit by bit until you’ve reached a silky-smooth consistency. You may not need all of the cream and butter; it depends on how starchy your potatoes are. Season the potatoes with 1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste and serve immediately.



Join Ashley as she hits the road for the lone-star state!


11.7: Ashley and chef Michael Fotjasek pair up at his beautiful award-winning restaurant, Olamaie, for an incredible collaborative dinner that spotlights recipes from the Poole's cookbook. Tickets include a signed copy of the book, and proceeds benefit the Austin Food & Wine Alliance. Tickets here.


11.4: Book Signing at Billy Reid Houston (2702 Westheimer Rd.)

We'll bring the pimento cheese and greyhounds, you bring the shopping list! Purchase a copy of the Poole's cookbook, or spend $250 or more in store and receive one free! RSVP to

11.6: Southern Smoke

The BBQ festival to end all BBQ festivals. Hosted by Chris Shepherd, chef of Underbelly, this fundraiser for the MS Society brings together an incredible crew of chefs and pitmasters, including Aaron Franklin of Franklin's BBQ, Rodney Scott of Scott's BBQ, Tandy Wilson of City House, Ryan Prewitt of Peche, and Steven Stryjewski of Cochon. Ashley will be making the some unbelievable smoked beer can chicken. Tickets here.

11.9: Book dinner at Revival Market

Chefs Ryan Pera and Ashley Christensen both grew up in North Carolina but have very different experiences with the cuisine of their home state. Ryan, born and raised in Charlotte, grew up eating food influenced by his heritage—his parents came to North Carolina from The Bronx. But their approach to ingredients and the Southern larder is quite aligned. Join Ashley and Ryan for a special dinner event celebrating this philosophy through the recipes of Ashley's new book, Poole's. More details and tickets available here.


Goodbye Joule, Hello St. Roch


As of January 1st, 2017, Joule Coffee + Table is permanently closed for service.

Please read on for Ashley Christensen's full statement:

November 2nd, 2016

About a year ago, Sunny Gerhart (our chef at Joule Coffee + Table) gave me his 12-month notice, letting us know he would be exiting our company. Sunny’s goal was to begin the process of creating his own restaurant. I was so excited for him at this prospect, because I believe in him and in his talents as a chef. He was my sous chef when I opened my first project, Poole’s Diner, and has been at Joule Coffee since day one, and I’ve watched him evolve into a true leader in hospitality. In his time in the Joule kitchen, he’s worked hard to creatively explore and adapt our offerings to a really neat group of coffee shop guests, all while leading a fantastic crew.

For several months, Sunny has been exploring locations for his concept and I’ve encouraged him to come to me with any questions or advice he might be seeking. It’s been exciting and rewarding to talk through those challenges and scenarios with him, having had firsthand experience in finding one’s footing in this business as a first-time owner. After thinking through his situation, I realized I had the opportunity to create an entry point into this business for Sunny in a way that’s unique from what anyone else could offer him. I had the chance to do for him what Eliza Kraft Olander had done for me back in 2007 when it was my dream to open my very own restaurant, Poole’s Diner, in downtown Raleigh.

In short, Sunny has spent so many years believing in and working for my dreams in food and hospitality here in Raleigh. I am now excited to focus on his dream, and to be a small part of helping him to make it happen.

It became clear that the ultimate space for Sunny’s new project is the same space that he’s worked so hard to build and contribute to. So, we have made the decision to sell him the lease to Joule. Joule will have its last service on December 31st of this year, until which point we are excited to share great coffee, cocktails, and food with all our guests. In the new year, the shop will be closing for a few weeks for some minor renovations, and Sunny’s concept will open its doors shortly after that. I’m proud to be an investor in Sunny’s concept, and even prouder that he’s the boss!

Of course, this decision, while very exciting, is bittersweet. Joule Coffee + Table has been an incredible project. I’m super proud of the coffee and food we’ve shared with the community, and beyond proud of the team that makes it happen everyday.

The unique coffee experience will find a home down the road as a part of a new concept we’re working on, as will the weekend brunch program that was so celebrated by our guests. Stay tuned on all of that, and please come share in Joule over the next two months!

And as we pass the torch to Sunny, I asked him to share a few thoughts about the future of 223 Wilmington St.:

“I’m thrilled and excited about this project and can’t wait to share it with our Raleigh community. St. Roch Oyster + Bar will open for dinner in spring of 2017, and will embrace the spirit of where my family is from and grew up: the St. Roch neighborhood of New Orleans. I look forward to offering an oyster and raw bar, with a menu that places a heavy focus on local seafood.

When I first started thinking about opening my own restaurant, I wasn’t sure what kind of concept I wanted to do. As I began to look at spaces, the idea began to form—I knew I wanted to have an oyster bar, and to focus on the food and the experience that I grew up with. But ultimately, the space that helped me fully realize my dream for my project ended up being my immediate surroundings. Each day, I’d walk into work and think about how perfect the Joule space would be—the long bar, the windows along the entrance, the downtown location that I love.

So when I was offered the chance to create St. Roch in space that I care about and draw inspiration from, it felt like it was meant to be. I’m grateful to Ashley for this opportunity, and even more grateful to have her support. I cherished the experience of helping her open Poole’s nearly 10 years ago, so it feels like things have come full circle as our working relationship evolves, and she helps me open my first project.

I’ve loved the experience of working at Joule, and the transition is bittersweet. I want our guests at Joule to know that, while things are changing, I am dedicated to providing a fun, laid-back place with the same dedication to hospitality. I look forward to welcoming back our regulars next year and creating new memorable experiences.”


Ashley Christensen + Sunny Gerhart

James Beard Award 2019Outstanding Chef James Beard Award 2014Best Chef: Southeast
2019 James Beard AwardOutstanding Chef 2014 James Beard AwardBest Chef: Southeast
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