Oven-baked French fries can be so tricky to get right, especially when what we’re most familiar with are the ones that are double-fried in vats of hot oil. They’re hard to replicate without, well, a vat of hot oil. In the oven, there’s a tendency for them to not entirely transition from roasted potato to French fry—the texture remains too starchy, the structure a little too stiff. Luckily there are a couple ways to work around this, and I’ll outline them below.
But surely you’ve discovered, as I have, from eating at bistros and the like, that good French fries taste like potatoes—and in a good way! (I’m from Idaho and I believe the disclaimer to be necessary. There are many times when the flavor of a potato isn’t exactly something I’d want to highlight. For example, in a baked potato: I’d be perfectly happy never eating another baked potato again, ever.) With good fries, one is reminded of the original vegetable. This might also be true of good potato chips, but I never said French fries, even oven baked ones, were health food. Continue reading
I’m not sure I’d ever had a popovers up until a few weeks ago, when out of nowhere, a craving for one hit me. They’re certainly not the sort of thing that I ever ate growing up, and they seem antiquated enough that I can’t recall ever seeing them on a restaurant menu. But it was a craving I couldn’t ignore: in a matter of hours the oven was preheating. The problem is that I started out all wrong. The popovers I kept coming up with would have been better as burritos. My first attempt was “Spinach and Pumpkin Popovers with Roasted Garlic and Chestnuts”; then came two variations of spinach popovers, my long trial and error period still taking a while to embarrass me. None of these were any good because the batter was too heavy. They didn’t puff up, and the insides didn’t become hollow. In fact, their centers were somewhat custardy like quiche, but not pleasant.
So I made a batch of straight-and-narrow, classic popovers, using a recipe that Josh of Y-I-Eat-N sent me. These were the popovers I’d been having dreams about—they were perfect. The satisfaction of pulling them out of the oven, admiring all the rustic domes that had sprouted out of the muffin tins, and then gently piercing each one with my paring knife to let out a hiss of steam—well, it was frankly a little embarrassing that I enjoyed it as much as I did. But it reinforced what I’d been doing wrong all along: popover batter must be fairly light, similar to crepe batter. Continue reading
Filed under Side, Vegetarian
It is so hot here in Brooklyn—it’s the heavy, wet-blanket kind of heat that robs you of your zest for life, inspires temper tantrums when you enter a un-air conditioned subway car, and results in sleepless nights where you find yourself at 3 AM lying diagonally across your bed with streams of sweat dripping into your ears (though maybe those are tears because you’ve been crying, crying because it is just so hot you no longer have any power of reason)—that I am actually tired of hearing myself complain about the heat. Yet, I can’t help it.
So turning the toaster—or even a 23-watt light bulb—on is flat out of the question. ‘Tis the season of watermelon hacked in half and eaten directly out of its natural “bowl.” Of pesto slathered on bread and called “bruscetta.” Or, when feeling more ambitious, of raw, grated beets tossed with orange sections, some nuts, yogurt, and a handful of something green. Of half a head of romaine lettuce topped with pickled red onions and an apple and a little bit of olive oil and black pepper. Stephanie sent me a recipe for a raw veggie burger, which seems like a great idea to try right about now, but given how what I’ve described is a painfully accurate snapshot of my dining adventures, that recipe feels psychologically beyond my scope. Continue reading