Slow-Fried French Fries
There are certain foods that are better when not made at home, like french fries. To achieve golden-brown perfection, you have to fry them twice: first at a low temperature, to poach them; then at a high heat, to crisp them up. Very tasty, very much a pain in the neck. A few years back, I read about how French chef Joel Robuchon supposedly does it at his house: He puts sliced potatoes in a pot of cold oil, turns on the heat, and lets them go. It sounds too simple to work. But as the temperature rises, the potatoes cook from the outer layer in until the fries are wonderfully crunchy outside and creamy in the center. You’ll never make fries any other way-even if you’ve never made them before.
Preparation Peel 2 lb. large russet potatoes; cut into long french-fry sticks, about 3/8×3/8 inches thick. Rinse; shake off water.
Transfer potatoes to a large deep heavy pot, spreading potatoes so they’re no more than 2 layers deep. Pour in safflower or vegetable oil to cover potatoes by 1″. Place pot over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes (oil will begin bubbling gently). Continue cooking, occasionally loosening potatoes from the bottom of the pot with a heatproof spatula, until potatoes are very tender, 25-30 minutes more. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes longer (oil will bubble more vigorously).
Using a slotted spoon, transfer fries to paper towels to drain. Season with coarse sea salt.
There are few things as easy and delicious as this zucchini magic trick. Slice, sprinkle, bake et voila, deliciousness. The zucchini become soft and buttery, the garlic salt gives depth of flavor, and the cheese bubbles in to a golden brown crust.
Baked zucchini and mozzarella
2 medium sized (or about 5 small) zucchini
2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
Slice your zucchini up into 1/2 inch rings. Lay them out flat on a large cookie sheet. Sprinkle with garlic salt and a bit of salt. Bake in the oven at 350 for about 10-15 minutes or until crisp tender.
Take the pan out of the oven and sprinkle the zucchini with cheese. Turn the oven to broil and let the cheese get all bubbly and a bit browned. This should only take about 3-5 minutes.
There’s an excellent summer squash/eggplant/pasta recipe in the following post!
By this past week's CSA, I had assembled quite a collection of summer squash, specifically the yellow summer squash variety. Why have I been carefully sealing the squash up and storing it in my crisper when I could have been cleaning it, chopping it, and cooking it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Well, the short answer is… I don't really know. The longer answer, the answer that you know I'm going to expound upon because you read this blog and … Read More
Recently, we had a ridiculously excellent fall dinner. I could eat this meal several nights a week, and not grow tired of it.
First up was the acorn squash, which is really easy to prepare once you get the damn thing cut open. I have recently stopped trying to go through the whole thing at once. I use a serrated knife and poke from the beside stem into the center, then slice out form the stem all the way back around until I hit the stem again, then crack it open.
After scooping out the seeds (which I always wonder about cooking like pumpkin seeds) and stringy gross stuff, I placed the two halves orange side up in a glass baking dish in about ½” to ¾” of water. Don’t worry, they actually generally do sit up that way without a problem. I sliced the tops/insides a little in preparation for the next part…
I melted some butter (or some Country Crock spread actually) in the microwave, probably about 3 tablespoons worth, and added a little bit of brown sugar, stirred, then ladled it on the top & into the cup formed in the middle. Add it to taste. I don’t really ever measure this. If you’re looking for a measurement form me, add what you think is too much brown sugar, then add a pinch more. I also added a tiny bit of black pepper & paprika to mine this time… but I add that to almost everything.
After that, I placed it in the already pre-heating oven at 400° for about an hour and 5 minutes. I was going for somewhere between an hour and an hour & 15 minutes, and it worked out closer to the hour this time. Check on it around the hour mark. This one was roasted perfectly… the meat of the squash was just melting on to the spoon, & peeling right off of the skin inside. It was really a great flavorful vegetable. I don’t know if this is baking or roasting, but whatever it is, it works. It would have also been good scooped out & served like groovy orange mashed potatoes.
Up next was the corn, figuring temperature was more important for the squash, I typically roast corn at 425° or 450° for 20 minutes to a half hour… but figured why not let it ride along with the squash here?
My wife & I carefully pulled back all the husks… just pulled them back not off, then removed the silk.
We buttered (again, we used Country Crock’s butter approximation), salted, & peppered the corn.
Next we wrapped it back up, and tied the tops back together using a loose strand of the husk. This doesn’t always work out, so sometimes I use foil & make little caps to keep ’em all bound together.
I did a whole post on corn & why you should keep it in the husk, and never ever boil it unless you’re making soup. You can read that here if you’re interested. As you can see, “other stuff in the oven” is not even a good excuse to boil corn. It can go along for the ride. Proof? It turned out beautifully:
I wish my cell phone’s camera got better shots. I need to think farther than Facebook or Twitter when taking food photos, and get the real camera so I can post more to this blog. The corn husks did smoke a little… but I didn’t see any flames, and it let me know when it was done. Ha ha ha. I’ve grown to not rely on timers so much, but to go with temperature and a gut feeling.
Oddly enough for a carnivore like myself, the steak was not the star of this meal. We just got some thin skillet steaks and put them on the Foreman grill oiled, salted, & peppered for about 5 minutes, maybe a little less. They turned out fine. The Foreman Grill seems to be my go-to tool for cooking meat until I get new knobs for by real grill outside. I’m in a Yahoo! Group that’s a really good resource for innovative GFG cooking.
I topped it all off with the newly resurrected Duquesne Beer. [Insert zombie and or Jesus joke here.] I have a collection of antique bottles and have a Duke beer bottle in with my local stuff… so when I heard that they were making it again, I knew I had to try some. I was born after the company was dissolved the first time, so I can’t compare it to the original… but it is a nice mellow pilsner that goes well with this kind of dinner. It rounded out the meal perfectly.
It was aggravating to get my hands on some though… they’ve had a weird release schedule, and no 6 pack shops around me were carrying the stuff. When one local pizza joint was listed as having the stuff, I went there to buy some and they had no idea what I was talking about. I ended up buying a case, but luckily I don’t feel “stuck” with something that I don’t like.
The other night, the wife & I were in the mood for pizza, but not for any of the plethora of local pizza places. We decided to make our own. We were going to get one of those pre-made Boboli crusts, but while at the grocery store my wife came across one of those cardboard tubes of pizza dough by Pillsbury. We decided why not try that? I like a puffy doughy not quite fully cooked crust.
Well, this wasn’t that… but it was tasty. It seemed to be pretty thin, but it was flavorful. We bought the Giant Eagle brand jar o’ pizza sauce because it was way cheaper than the real brands. I added some brown sugar ’cause I like sweet sauce… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
My wife spread out the dough and I brushed on some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled on some garlic powder. Then we put down the sauce & brown sugar mixture, and a 2-cup bag of “4-cheese Italian” shredded cheese.
We put diced green peppers, turkey pepperoni, and canned mushrooms on the whole thing… and I put diced Canadian bacon & chopped olives on my half. I topped it off with a little leftover taco cheese, and put some crushed red pepper flakes on my side.
We baked it according to the instructions on the weird cardboard roll, and it turned out great. We need to do homemade pizza night more often! I think we’ll skip the EVOO step though… I don’t think it was all that necessary.
This past Christmas when we had the family over for a holiday dinner, I decided to try & make some scalloped potatoes. I found a ton of recopies online, and took what I liked from some & what I liked from others and put them all together… leaving out the stuff I didn’t like. They turned out really well, to the compliments of everyone. The only problem is that I didn’t write down what I did… so I had no idea when I went to make them again for an Easter dinner yesterday. Last time, like everyone in the kitchen, I kept adding stuff until the sauce looked & tasted just right.
Friday night, I pulled out the same printed recipes from last time…. made sure we had most of the stuff here & popped what I needed on to the grocery list. This time I wrote down what went into it, but I may have the portions off… Where I have “cup” or “Tablespoon”, I may have just dumped some stuff in by eye.
People have asked how I made them, so I’ll try writing it out coherently here. I’ll add that my wife, Bethany, washed & cut the potatoes while I made the sauce… which was invaluable… because the sauce needed to be watched, and cut potatoes that sit for any period of time get all brown. I guess I could have cut them & put them in some cold water to halt the browning if I absolutely had to… but we get along well in the kitchen, and it’s nice to cook together sometimes. (I offered for her to do the sauce & to put me on potato duty, but she declined in case the cause didn’t turn out well, the blame could go solely on me.)
Eric’s Decadent Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes:
5 lb. bag of russet potatoes
2 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (I buy the stuff in bags, this is 1 small bag.)
2 cups shredded Colby & Monterey Jack Cheese (The store brand was 2 bags for $5 I think.)
1 pint (2 cups / 16 fl. oz.) heavy cream
1½ cups buttermilk
1 stick (8 Tbsp.) butter
½ cup Parmesan cheese
4 Tbsp. flour
4 Tbsp. corn starch
Salt/Pepper/Season All to taste
1 tsp minced garlic (I used the stuff minced & put in olive oil, in little jars)
2 Tbsp. sour cream
2 Tbsp. Miracle Whip or mayonnaise… (or 1 Tbsp. Each!)
1 sm. bag bacon bits
bread crumbs (or crackers)
9″ x 13″ glass baking dish
spoon and/or wisk
large bowl (if you’re gonna soak the potatoes)
measuring cup & spoons
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Wash & slice the potatoes, store in cold water if you have to so they don’t brown… or have someone do that while you…
Grease a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with the stick of butter. Melt the rest of the butter on medium heat in a saucepan.
Add the flour & corn starch to the butter to make a roux.
Turn it down to low heat, & slowly stir in the cream, buttermilk, sour cream, & mayo/Miracle Whip. Stir like a madman.
Add the bacon bits, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and salt/pepper/spices to taste. Don’t forget to stir.
Add about half of each kind of shredded cheese to the mix, keep stirring like a madman.
Pull the sauce from the heat, keep stirring… add a little to the bottom of the baking dish.
Later potatoes, sauce, & remaining shredded cheese… saving a nice amount of shredded cheese for the top.
Cover with foil, bake at 350° for an hour.
Pull it out, uncover, top with bread crumbs or crumbled up crackers, add some additional seasoning if so inclined, and pop it back in for another 15 minutes.
Well, there you have it. Pretty simple, and nothing makes me happier than cheese & potatoes. I noticed a lot of scalloped potato recipes don’t have cheese, but really… where’s the fun in that? Some also used a cream of chicken or cream of potato soup… makes it too much like White Trash ‘Taters for me. You may want to skip the breading, use chips or those crispy canned fried onions. Everyone has their own thing that they dig. Yukon Gold potatoes would make this really nice, probably wouldn’t need to cook as long…red potatoes might make it bitey… A mix may be nice. As far as the spices, I used coarse ground black pepper, I think some dry mustard, paprika, and some McKormick Season All.