Wednesday, January 23, 2008

*one moody foodie.

What does a sometime cook do in times of stress? She eats! Well, first, she makes a pan of Ore-Ida Extra-Crispy from the freezer. More specifically, she throws the rock-hard potato sticks onto a sheet pan with huffy tears. Then she sits on her sofa and sees this:

You may not be fluent in dog, so let me translate. This face says, "Factory spuds? Won't help. Can I have some?" Seventeen minutes later, when the sad little frites emerged, I could not but agree. And deny the pooch the taters. Sorry, J. They joined the blackened doodles in the heap. But what? What was it I craved? I wandered the vast expanse of my 6-square-foot kitchen, and stumbled upon this. Or, more specifically, this:

That's "Crunchy Fried Eggs on Darphin Potatoes with Spinach." I didn't realize that was the title of that recipe until now, and good thing! Crunchy eggs. Blech. This helpful (and most of all, incredibly photographed) book is full of the basics of egg-doings. Which reminds me: My sincerest, most heartfelt apologies to M@rtin Brigd@le (that's the google-can't-find-me spelling) for the awful rendering of his photo above. I'm pretty much just trying to keep the shadow of my head/arm/camera out of the shot. You will see, momentarily, that I do not always succeed. Anyway, I'm not trying to win any photography awards. I know you were wondering. But back to the crunchy eggs. All I could do was look at that crispy potato cake with the sharp greens ... and think of the pungent vinegar with the smooth, silky egg, and ...

I fled, like the histrionic gal I am, and got me to the Winn-Dixie (the Woodside is flush with greengrocers). Their greens were DEVASTATING, however, so I grabbed a potato and a box of wine and scooted back to the waiting arms of J (he loves when I come home smelling of carbs). The first step was to peel the Idaho. Just my luck, papa F had bought me the World's Best Peeler for Christmas. If you think all vegetable peelers are the same, you are wrong. Imagine if George Clooney asked the potato to take its clothes off. THAT EASY. Slutty little spud.

Utilitarian and authoritarian. Vegetables obey. Now the second step was to julienne Madam Potato Head on a mandoline. But I don't have a mandoline. Oh, wait! Yes I do! Thank you S!

Verdict? I need practice. In the space where clouds of white ribbons should have been lay a sort of pinkish-brown mush. Something to do with someone not shredding fast enough to beat oxidation. And being a little afraid of the blade.

Into a small skillet went some oil, and onto the oil went a potato cake.

Whose head is that in shadow? Sheesh. The oil was starting to smoke, but clearly wasn't hot enough for the potatoes, which instantly leeched it up like a thirsty sponge. That limited browning and crisping.

A lighter, stouter vegetable oil (peanut? canola? run o' the mill?) probably would have worked better. The plus side? A fat-soaked potato is, on its worst day, more appetizing than a lot of other novelty food items. Drive past McDonald's with your windows down. You'll agree.

And THEN, I had to poach an egg. A first and, thanks to Monsieur Roux, so easy. This easy. Boil water, throw in some white vinegar, spill in a golfball yolk, and let the milky clouds swirl for a minute and a half. Ninety seconds, I kid you not.

The recipe calls for a quick vinaigrette of extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper (for the spinach). I kept the potato cake warm in a low oven, swirled some romaine in the vinaigrette and had tomato slices on standby. You'll know the poached egg is ready when it seems ... totally not ready. The minute that hot egg hit that pretty stack, it burst with happiness.

And that beats stress and chemicals any day. J agrees, don't you?


at: 8:43 PM said...

Awesome payawesome blog . Only question where them cheese grits be !!!

at: 8:44 PM said...

Awesome payawesome blog . Only question where them cheese grits be !!!

K. says:
at: 3:23 PM said...

margaritas lead to double vision, "anonymous"! i'm sure cheese grits will make an appearance soon. i am into all things grain.



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I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.