Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Crispyfied Home Fries


Finally I cracked the secret code, not of home made gold, no, but of home fries. Yes sir. After many years of slicing, dicing, boiling, frying, baking and deep frying potatoes with more or less the same flacid result (I like my fries to stay crispy, please) I cracked it. It was only a matter of combining two pieces of information that had been scattered in my brain for years: 

1) Olive oil can't handle high temperatures but other oils can.
2) When you bake stuff in the right oil, that very stuff turns crispy.

Hence the following recipe for:

Oven Baked Crispy Fries (enough for two lovers of fries):

  • 8 regular sized potatoes
  • 1/2 decilitre of rapeseed oil
  • Salt, pepper and additional herbs of your own choice
1) Turn on the oven to 225 degrees Celcius.

2) Fill a saucepan about 1/3 with water and add a teaspoon of salt.

3) Slice the potatoes in long wedges.

4) Put the wedges into the boiling water and let them boil on for 10 mins.

5) Take them out of the water, dry them gently with a paper towel and leave them to cool down slightly on a lined baking tray (I used the reusable baking paper as seen on the picture - very recommendable!). 5-10 mins. in front of an open window should suffice.

6) Spread about half a decilitre of rapeseed oil on the potatoes and make sure they are all thoroughly smothered in it. I used the simple, cheap kind of rapeseed oil that comes in a plastic bottle because the taste isn't as pungent as in the organic, dark golden kind I use for salads. Sprinkle it with sea salt  and pepper.

7) Put the baking tray in the middle of the oven and let it bake for 10-15 mins. before you take out the tray and turn the wedges over with cooking tweezers, your fingers or af fork to make sure they get an evenly baked surface. In my oven they turn brown faster on the side turning onto the tray, but that may differ. Return it to the oven and repeat until the potatoes are completely cooked, brown and kind of "bubbly" on all sides. Leave them to cool for five minutes.

8) Make your own seasoning to sprinkle on top. Here I crushed some cilantro/coriander seeds with extra sea salt and grated lemon zest. Very delicious with a simple crème fraiche or Greek yoghurt dip.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

10 Minute Treat: Hot Espresso-Chocolate

Looking at other people's blogs can be very inspiring. If you want a new way to pamper your guests on a Friday night, the possibilities seem endless. But what most of us really need, are ways to get us through our busy lives without having to settle for bakery cakes or ye olde spaghetti bolognese five days a week. That's why I've decided to share some of my little everyday tricks that fill out the vast space in between my more demanding kitchen projects. Here's the first one in a series of quick and easy ways of putting your inner snack beast to rest. This is one of my favourites: Hot Espresso Chocolate:


All you need is:

  • 2 espresso shots/small cups of strong coffee
  • 2 cardamom capsules (optional)
  • 2 decilitres of milk
  • A splash of cream (optional)
  • 40 grams of dark chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla sugar (optional)
  • A pinch of salt

1) Make two espresso shots using an espresso jug as seen above or here. If you don't have any such thing, I suspect a strong cup of fresh coffee or maybe even Nescafé could do the trick. I use two tablespoons of espresso for two decilitres of water. Throw in two slightly squeezed cardamom capsules (as pictured in the tin on the left) with the coffee (or in the coffee grinder if you have one) and make the espresso.

2) While the coffee is boiling pour two decilitres of milk (add a tiny splash of cream for that extra feeling of luxury) into a saucepan, add a pinch of salt, the vanilla sugar and heat it slowly. Meanwhile chop up the chocolate and add it to the milk when it has started building tiny creamy bubbles at the edges of the saucepan. Stir it until the chocolate has dissolved completely but don't let it boil.

3) Pour the fresh coffee into a nice cup. Whisk or froth up the hot chocolate (I use my Bodum French press but a regular whisk will do too) and pour it into the coffee.

4) Serve the drink and enjoy the instant comfort og two pleasures in one: Espresso and hot chocolate. If you're feeling adventurous I can recommend adding a touch of chili to the chocolate. That really takes it to the next level. But still, it shouldn't take you more than 10 minutes to make this:

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Julie & Julia

Julie and Julia
(Our real life movie tickets, yup. Just so you know, I was in seat no. 7.)

Contrary to popular belief, I do, on occasion venture out of my kitchen. So last Sunday, I and my flour-dusted hair took T to the local movie theatre. Luckily we went to see Julie & Julia starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. The two main characters Julie and Julia discover the eternal truth that cooking is the most rewarding pastime ever. Though I'm not a weeping fan, I think Streep was really great in the role of Julia Child, the saga queen of the cooking revolution in post war America and author of the cooking bible "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". Not that I knew her before I saw this movie, but she was a real character and it seems that Streep really nailed her, so to speak. There might just be an Oscar in it for her. As for Amy Adams, she plays a young blogger in post-9/11 New York who decides to cook her way through said bible in just one year. It was very eery that Hollywood had managed to churn out something that I could actually relate to to that extent. I mean, a woman around thirty starts a blog with the help of her lovely husband, writes about cooking and experiences its therapeutic forces on a daily basis. Hello! That's me! Only hang up I have was the very very annoying way Amy Adams' character Julie's husband chewed his food. I just couldn't watch it. His mouth was all over the place. I'm sure it was just actor Chris Messina's way of portraying that elusive experience of drool and yum in a manner befitting the movies. But me did not like. Anyway, it's a real heart warmer and that's not something I would usually be caught dead saying (as if that makes any sense at all). What are you still doing here? Go catch it before it's gone like the butter on Julia Child's frying pan.