Archive for February, 2010

From Dish Gwen:

Have you ever come across a bag of potatoes that’s been sitting around so long that the potatoes are sprouting roots? I find such things in my home more than I’d like to admit. But not to worry – those taters are still good – fry them!

I grew up eating big Sunday breakfasts composed of eggs, bacon and home fries, and frying potatoes is something I’ve always enjoyed. Listening to the popping, sizzling oil and watching the potatoes turn from white to gold gives a sense of satisfaction that can’t be matched by mashing, boiling or roasting. Basically, frying completes me, and I’ll make and eat fries for breakfast, lunch or dinner any day.

Ingredients (this is easy):
5-10 small to medium potatoes
A couple-few cups of olive oil (extra virgin if you’re feeling fancy)

Instructions (also pretty easy):
Wash and clean potatoes (cut off those eyes and roots), and slice into thin rounds about ¼ inch thick. If you want a crispier fry (like a chip), cut them thinner. Heat a cup or two of olive oil in a deep skillet until it sizzles (test for sizzle by dipping an edge of one of the potato rounds in the oil – if it doesn’t say “ssss” then it’s not hot enough yet). You don’t want to burn the oil, so keep the fire at a medium heat, and if you see or smell smoke coming off the oil, turn the heat down a little but try and keep that sizzle going.

Lay the potatoes one-by-one in the pan, and be careful not to splash – that hot oil will definitely leave a mark. As the taters sizzle away, check them to see if the bottom side is browning – once you get a nice golden color, flip the potatoes with tongs and cook until both sides are golden-brown. Remove the fries from the pan, tapping off excess oil, and lay them on a cloth or paper towel (if you have a fry basket use that instead). Salt the drying fries liberally, and serve with bacon and eggs, burgers, grilled meat, or as the best part of a vegan smorgasbord.

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From Dish Rachelle:

Imagine a restaurant where for years, they get your order wrong. You order chicken fingers and you get a chicken sandwich, you say hold the mayo and they bring you extra. You say “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Sundae” but with chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla. The waitress brings you Reese’s Pieces, or vanilla ice cream, or a bowl of New England clam chowder, or an extra napkin…

That was Friendly’s.

And yet, you kept going back. Like so many East Coast kids, you have childhood memories all wrapped up in Friendly’s. How you’d go every week after ballet class with your best friend and your Moms. How your grandmother would take you and always get a patty melt covered in translucent cooked onions. How your Dad always asked for sprinkles in his milkshake (aka Fribble) and called them “shots.” How when you were sick in high school, your stepfather would bring you home chicken fingers to help you feel better.

My favorite was the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Sundae and, as I learned last summer, so was Dish Erin’s. Walking through the mall on a weekend trip to South Jersey, we lost our boys to an electronics store, only to spot that faux old-timey red and white signage and make a unilateral decision to stop in for a snack. The boys caught up and, having grown up without Friendly’s on the West Coast and in NYC, they waited to be wowed. And so it began…our french fries arrived lukewarm, our Peanut Butter Cup Sundae had to be remade, and then showed up already melted, yet delicious, and don’t mind me, I’m trying to be polite because we’re sharing, and not eat all of it, and oh my god, is that a hair?

I won’t spoil Friendly’s for you by saying that it was long and black, yet nestled too deep in the sundae to be able to explain away as my own. What’s important is that I decided, once and for all, to recreate the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Sundae in my own (sanitary) kitchen. Apparently, I’m not the only one. Google “Friendly’s Peanut Butter Sauce” to find a thread on Chowhound devoted to the stuff, which is where I found a recipe to adapt.

(This recipe requires and ice cream maker. Purists will say that this should be made with vanilla ice cream, and where’s the hot fudge? I say see paragraph 1, and be happy for me that I’ll finally get my substitution on the first try.)

For the ice cream (makes 1 quart):
½ cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
½ tsp. salt
2 tblsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 egg yolks
1/3 (+) semisweet chocolate, chopped*
1 tsp. vanilla extract

*A chocoholic, I found 1/3 cup to be a little low. Tweak chocolate and sugar levels to your liking; this made a milky chocolate ice cream that tasted, because I used Nestle semisweet morsels, like Quik.

Separate the eggs, reserving the whites for tomorrow’s compensatory egg-white omelette.

Combine sugar, milk, cream, salt and cocoa powder over medium-low heat, stirring constantly so the cream doesn’t curdle. Bring to a low simmer. With the egg yolks in a separate bowl, gradually stir in about ½ cup of the hot liquid, which allows you to incorporate the eggs without them cooking. When mixed, return chocolate-y yolks to the saucepan. Heat until mixture reduces by ¼ to ½, and is thick enough to coat a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate and vanilla. Pour into a bowl and chill, covered, until cold all the way through, about 3 hours.

After it’s cold, the custard should look like a cross between pudding and melted ice cream. Pour into an ice cream maker – the base must be frozen – and churn for about 15 minutes. After the ice cream maker has done its work, the mixture will look frozen but loose, like soft serve. Pour it into a storage container and freeze for no less than 3 hours, preferably more.

Recipe adapted from All Recipes.

When you’re ready to serve, prepare the toppings.

For peanut butter sauce (makes about 1 cup, and file under the category of junk foods that were tastier before you knew what went in them):

½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup light Karo syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. peanut butter

Combine everything except the peanut butter in saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until heated. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter. Serve warm.

Recipe adapted from Chowhound (thanks, fellow addicts!)

For whipped cream:

Pour desired amount of heavy cream in a large bowl, and whip with a hand blender or electric beaters until light and fluffy. Since everything else was so sweet, I left out the sugar and added just a dash of cinnamon.

Garnish with an original Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, just like at Friendly’s.

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Saucy Little Dish would like to welcome this week’s Guest Dish: the delightful Nora Sherman, who blogs about everything and nothing at Thought For Food.

New York is a city of brunchers. There’s brunch for boozers (excuse me, cocktail aficionados), brunch for bluegrass junkies, brunch for meatheads, and brunch for people who like the smell of chicken feet in the morning (just about any dim sum joint but especially World Tong).

If the goal of brunch is to unwind, decadently, then I would argue that the ultimate brunch is the one you serve at home. Sure, it’s a bit of work, but so is getting a table at Prune on a Sunday at noon. At home, there is no anxious wait by the hostess stand, no $10 Bloody Mary that you suspect is just a can of tomato juice and a dollop of horseradish, no screeching child who’s gonna make you pay for that hangover, goddamn it. Hell, there’s no need to get out of your PJs.

At a recent Sunday brunch for eight in my apartment, I did change out of my PJs — but you better believe I kept the cozy slippers. The menu was inspired by two things: a killer smoked mozzarella, spinach, potato, and egg white frittata I fell in love with at Five Points… and a desire for simplicity. (Brunch is not a time for culinary theatrics.) And so: banana and blueberry mini-muffins, hot out of the oven to greet my guests as soon as they came in from the cold, a huge batch of Bloody Mary mixed by my boyfriend, who knows a thing or two about these things, mimosas, two frittatas (more on that in a moment), “brown and serve” breakfast sausages (an easy, nostalgic touch), and a salad of mesclun, citrus, and almonds.

Simplicity, and a stress-free morning, translates to smart prep. I made the muffins a couple of weeks ago and froze them. I popped them in the oven 10 minutes before my friends arrived to warm them. A loaf of good bread with jam and butter would have been swell, too. On Saturday, I cooked and chopped potatoes, grated and diced cheese, chopped citrus, washed greens, and set the table. The next morning, I woke up at the very-Sunday hour of 11 am, made some finishing touches, and even got in a quick workout before my friends arrived at 1 pm, bottles of bubbly in hand.

Now, on to those frittatas! Have you ever made one? They’re one of the easiest egg dishes to make, and they’re show-stoppers, coming as they do straight from oven to the table in a hot iron skillet, cheese bubbling and steam wafting. You can fill them with whatever is at the green-market or in your freezer or pantry (I know, who has a pantry? But I like the concept of a pantry). The first frittata included potatoes, spinach (from frozen), and the clincher — smoked mozzarella. In the other frittata, I started with the base of potatoes and spinach and added roasted tomatoes, frozen since August, and slow-roasted garlic cloves — both of which I had on hand. You could certainly use canned roasted tomatoes and quickly-browned fresh garlic to achieve a similar effect.

Below, I offer a recipe for “Wintertime Smoked Mozzarella Frittata” — quite frankly, the best use of smoked mozzarella I know. If you make the frittata, please let me know what you think in the comments section below. And I would love to hear some of your favorite frittata fillers.

Serves 4.

8 eggs
3/4 cup smoked mozzarella, cut to a 1/2-inch-dice (1 ball will be enough)
3/4 cup Yukon potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes), boiled to fork-tender and cut to a 1/2-inch-dice
1 cup frozen spinach
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon butter

1. Whisk the eggs in a bowl and set aside. Heat the butter over medium-heat in an ovenproof 10-inch skillet. Add the spinach and a pinch of salt and saute until just beginning to wilt. Remove the spinach from the skillet. Pour the eggs into the skillet, then sprinkle the spinach, potatoes, and mozzarella over the eggs, being sure to evenly distribute.

2. Cook until the eggs are almost set, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle Parmesan or Pecorino Romano on top of the frittata. Put the skillet under a broiler and cook until golden-brown, about 3 minutes.

Slice into wedges and serve immediately.

Want to guest dish? Contact us at saucylittledish@gmail.com.

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