Step 1: Chop Potatoes
Add lots of garlic. I generally use a handful/pound of potatoes, but I'm a big fan. You can also choose to roast your garlic separately for mashing-in later, or to grate fresh garlic into the hot potatoes to be lightly cooked during mashing. Boiling** the garlic with the potatoes is a lazy but efficient way to go.
*You can use most any type of potatoes except those waxy new potatoes. Super-starchy potatoes like Russets work well, as do varieties like Yukon Golds (shown here; they've got a buttery taste) and those awesome-looking blue/purple ones. Choose what you like, and what fits your color scheme.
**Don't worry about losing nutrients to the boiling water- these are mashed potatoes! Nobody but the pre-famine Irish get their vitamins from potatoes anyway- that's what real vegetables are for. Mashed potatoes are a delicious vehicle for butter, cream, salt, cheese, garlic, and other wonderful flavors- sort of like french fries. Don't even bother pretending they're health food, and life will be much better.
Step 2: Boil
Be careful about covering the pot- potatoes are prone to boiling over and creating a gigantic starchy mess. Setting the cover on at an angle isn't sufficient- you really need to yank it before the pot comes to a full boil.
Step 3: Drain and Mash
Add butter, salt, and pepper to taste as you mash. Add cream and mash some more. Make sure you're adding enough fat- this is a decadent holiday dish, not health food. Do it right. I added a stick of butter to my 2lbs of potatoes, but didn't have any cream on hand- sad.
*You can drain them in a collander then dump them back into the pot, or carefully angle the pot lid and drain the scalding water out of the crack. Don't try this last one unless you're strong enough to handle the full pot and are sure you know what you're doing.
Step 4: Add Extras & Serve
chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives, oregano, tarragon, etc)
dried spices (chili powder, allspice, cumin, etc)
cheese (parmesan, cheddar, chevre, blue, etc)
Select additional flavorings to match your mood and stir or mash them in.
You want to serve mashed potatoes warm, so if you're not serving immediately cover the container and either wrap it in an insulating towel or store it in a warm space. You can also tuck it in the oven for a few minutes just prior to serving, then fluff the surface before you put it on the table.
Sorry for the lack of carefully-posed picture, but we were entirely too hungry.