Friday, December 30, 2011

What Are Your Favorite Kind of French Fries? Poll Results

First off, thank you to all the folks who voted in this poll, and put forth their 121 votes for their favorite fries. It means a lot, I mean, I know there are not many folks who are as passionate and enthusiastic about the favorite fried food as I am.

Here are the results, from least favorite kind of fries to most favorite:

The favorites with 39 votes are Steak Fries, followed by the 27 vote tie of Shoestrings and Waffle Fries.

Regular Cuts came in with 24 votes, followed by Curly Fries with 22 votes. Then we have a three-way tie for fifth place with Crinkle Cuts, Tater Tots, and Fries with the Skins on with 16 votes each.

11 votes went to Potato Wedges, while there were 7 votes for the mysterious Other, and no one sent me any emails to let me know what their other choice was. Perhaps they were matchstick fries or shaped fries or non-potato fries or pixie crinkles - we'll never know.

Maybe we'll have another poll in a few days. Any thoughts on the topic, drop me a line here.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

French Fry Diary 318: Hanukkah for Christmas

Now while I spent the morning with my family celebrating Christmas, the bulk of Christmas Day was spent with The Bride's family celebrating Hanukkah, and also doing the usual - movies and Chinese food.

Most of the family went to see Chipwrecked, that the nephew was dying to see, while the brother-in-law and I preferred the solace of an action flick. After seeing some of, and sleeping through most of, Mission Impossible, we went back to the house to relax for a while, feeling that perhaps Alvin is a better leading man than Tom Cruise. All was calm and quiet until the nephew wanted latkes, so my ears and stomach perked up - potato products.

While not made from scratch, these potato pancakes from Old Fashioned Kitchen were still very good, crispy, and tasty. She served a bowl of applesauce on the side, the whole package completely blowing away my futile attempts as the non-Jewish husband to make the same meal unsuccessfully twice last week for Hanukkah for The Bride.

Despite the mother-in-law's claims to the contrary, she is a terrific cook. She actually cooked one of the best meals I have ever had, a wonderful steak dinner a few years back. Whether it's a fancy three-course meal or a simple plate of latkes, she rocks. Just look at that presentation! Thanks, Mom!

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

French Fry Diary 317: IHoP Breakfast

As I said the other day, Christmas breakfast was set for the International House of Pancakes, and we met the family there. I would rather have had a home cooked ham breakfast but everyone has gotten old and it's a hassle… so IHOP, being open on Christmas Day, has become the default meeting place for chat and gift exchange.

I spent a lot of the time talking with my big brother Warren because it's his birthday, and I kinda feel sorry for him cuz he's so old. That's not true. I mean, he is old, but I look up to him, he's a good guy, and he gave me a kidney as well. We talked about publishing, blogging, and how he thinks I never mention him on French Fry Diary. Hey, I talk about him on other blogs, but I guess he doesn't read those. ;-)

Now after last night's dinner, I was both a little full and also a bit sick to my stomach. So I wasn't very hungry and didn't order much, just hash browns (of course), and an English muffin. IHOP was hopping (pun unintended) being the only place open, and the service was pretty quick, but my food arrived last. Only my English muffin was hot. The hash browns not so much.

The hash browns were almost cold and they were a little burned, close to how they were last night when I made them for The Bride, burnwise, that is. They were of the shredded variety, and some were raw and greasy too. I only had a couple forkfuls and left the rest. That's how bad they were. These kind of hash browns are not my favorite, but as evidenced the other night, and at places like the Pop Shop, they can be quite good.

Still, the company was excellent, always good to hang out with the family. I really don't see them enough, especially my big brother, but then again, that's what Christmas is for after all - family. Happy belated birthday, Warren, hope you don't mind the ribbing. Still love ya, and you're still not getting your kidney back.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Another Potato Latkes Recipe

These thin onion and potato pancakes make a tasty accompaniment to any meal. The key to their crispiness is draining all the liquid from the grated potatoes and onion before frying.

12 Servings
Prep: 20 min.
Cook: 20 min.


2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
1 medium onion
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Oil for deep-fat frying


Coarsely grate potatoes and onion; drain any liquid. Place in a bowl; add green onions, egg, salt and pepper. In an electric skillet, heat 1/8 in. of oil to 375°. Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into hot oil. Flatten to form patties. Fry until golden brown; turn and cook the other side. Drain on paper towels. Serve with applesauce. Yield: 2 dozen.

Originally published as Latkes in Taste of Home's Holiday & Celebrations Cookbook Annual 2001, p. 243

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Monday, December 26, 2011

French Fry Diary 316: Trader Joe's Shredded Hash Browns

This year The Bride and I decided to do something different on Christmas Eve. Not just running around last minute shopping and gift wrapping, that is. As our meals for Christmas Day had been all planned out already, and our traditional Christmas morning breakfast had been traded out for IHOP, we decided we'd have the regular Christmas morning breakfast for dinner Christmas Eve night.

So along with the traditional ham, there was also -who would have thought it- breakfast potatoes. Not wanting to do a lot of work, I got frozen, and wanting to make The Bride happy, I got shredded as it's her favorite kind. I myself prefer diced, or especially sliced, but I kinda like her and all, ya know?

In this case I got Trader Joe's Shredded Hash Browns. I cut the bag open at the side, but should have looked closer. They have a handy zip lock opening for resealing and later use. Great innovation. Now why doesn't Trader Joe's have those for their notoriously unopenable potato chips?

I have to give Trader Joe's props on these potatoes. They were individual shreddings, almost matchstick fries. Usually this kind of breakfast potatoes when come in chunks that have to be broken up, but not these. I'm tempted to try to deep fry them or bake them as matchstick fries next time.

They fried up rather quickly. I recommend frying a few slices of bacon in the pan first to give the potatoes that flavor, but using cooking oil works too. Flipping and patting the potatoes a few times is all that's needed for perfect breakfast potatoes. I did burn the second batch a little but that's okay, The Bride likes them like that. It was a good meal, and a good Christmas Eve.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

French Fry Diary 315: Cool Dog Café's Hanukkah Sliders

The staff shirts at Cool Dog Cafe say "traditional food. fresh ideas. cool." Ira and the folks there have a tradition of amazing specials and this holiday week is no exception.

Presenting the Hanukkah Sliders. I was lucky enough on Christmas Eve today for lunch to partake in the last day of these beauties, but don't worry, they will be back maybe for Passover and definitely next Hanukkah. The Hanukkah Sliders are the regular wonderful sliders they usually have at Cool Dog but with an added holiday twist - a potato latke and apple sauce on top. Mmmm…

Now as someone who just this week tried quite badly to make potato latkes from scratch this week for The Bride, I gotta tell you, not only were these latkes were made right and were delicious. Highly recommended, I'm just sorry I was too late to tell folks about them.

Still come down to Cool Dog Café though, the specials are always changing and always refreshingly different, and don't forget to order some of the best fries in the area.

From Hanukkah to Christmas, French Fry Diary hopes everyone has a Happy Holiday this weekend.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Super Mister Potato Head Commercial

Don't know what to get that special someone for the holidays yet? Here's an idea... maybe...

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

French Fry Diary 314: Doghouse Burgers & Fries

I heard about Doghouse Burgers & Fries from friends. The Doghouse is located in the Voorhees Town Center, formerly the Echelon Mall. Wow. I used to work at the Echelon Mall as a teenager, and let me tell you, the only things that are the same are the location, the escalators, and the Salvation Army lady incessantly ringing her bell. I do not miss holiday retail.

Doghouse is actually outside of the mall proper, or what used to be the mall proper. It has a variety of burgers and hot dogs as well as French fries. I got a burger combo with an order of the Cajun fries, mostly because an order of regular fries was unavailable. Other types included salt and pepper, garlic and parsley, sweet potato, bacon cheese, chili cheese, and onion straws.

It's an order and sit down and wait place. The wait was long enough for me to get a good long look at the place. Very very orange, with three folks behind the counter, and a large holiday shopping lunch crowd. They were doing good business so I don't blame them for the wait.

The burger was chargrilled and perfect, but the fries while hot and a good portion were only okay. They were regular cut natural cuts, and might have been good had they just been plain. They were tossed with some spices, nothing too hot, but enough to leave an aftertaste. I didn't finish them. I think that says a lot.

The onion straws are nothing of the kind. They are out and out onion rings, big thick crunchy ones with panko bread crumb covering. Easily the best onion rings I've had in a while. These were just luscious.

On this later visit, when we got the onion 'straws', we also got a couple other kinds of fries. the salt and pepper fries, which were pretty much plain fries, with really not that much pepper and far too much salt. The garlic and parsley fries weren't bad, if you like garlic, which I do, but it's a lot of garlic. And we also got the sweet potato fries, which is why the place was recommended to me in the first place. They were rippled potato wedges, and above average, very sweet and tasty. Not better than Cool Dog Café, but still they were very good.

I'll definitely be back for the burgers, and the onion rings, but not so much for the fries. I think this is a life lesson. If you're going to subtitle your restaurant "burgers and fries," they'd better be your two strongest menu items. At Doghouse, it's one out of two, not counting misnomer onion straws.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Potato Latkes for Hanukkah: Two Different Recipes

This recipe is from BarbH at the [just-potatoes] Yahoo! Group:

This was her Great Grandmother's recipe

Potato Latkes (Pancakes)


2 cups grated raw potatoes rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon matzo meal ground
2 eggs beaten
pinch of baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 small onion grated

INSTRUCTIONS: Mix well, drop by the tablespoon on hot greased skillet (rendered chicken fat is traditional) . Flatten, when browned turn and brown to golden.

And the above picture is from the wonderful "The Delicious Life" blog and its terrific 2009 entry Basic Potato Latkes Recipe for Hanukkah – My Inner Jew Wants Out, which features another wonderful recipe for this holiday treat.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

French Fry Diary 313: Riviera Pizza, Medford NJ

The Bride travels to Medford quite a bit, not for work, but for rehearsals with the Pineland Players. Recently she found a new place to eat, right across from the Zinc Café. Now while I have to question the logic of going anywhere else when you're so close to the Zinc Cafe, when she brought dinner home from Riviera Pizza recently, I was game.

The Bride was first hooked on their buffalo chicken pizza, and on this trip she tried the buffalo chicken cheesesteak. For me, she picked up a plain steak sandwich and, of course, French fries. She even got Whiz on the side so we could share the fries.

While I have never actually been there, Riviera Pizza has quite a selection on their menu, including a wide variety of pasta, seafood and soups. Online reviews seem to echo The Bride's feelings on the buffalo chicken pizza as a favorite, but let's get to the nitty gritty, it's the fries you want to know about.

The food stayed relatively hot after the twenty to thirty minute trip from Medford to Marlton which is pretty good considering that things like Burger King's new fries don't stay hot in the less than three minute trip from Marlton to Marlton. It's also pretty good considering the steaks were in styrofoam and the fries in just cardboard paper.

Now while my steak sandwich was delicious when I got it, and even later reheated - the fries not so much. They were heavily batter fried regular cuts, pretty okay while hot, but nearly inedible cold or reheated. So like many places that have pizza and steak sandwiches, that's a no on the fries at Riviera Pizza.

Can anyone out there recommend a pizza and steak place that does fries well?

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Random Tater Pic of the Day #29

Looks like someone Grinched Chick-fil-A! Where did the Waffle Potato Fries go?

This is a close-up shot of the Christmas tree at the Marlton Chick-fil-A.

Traditionally the trees at Chick-fil-A are decorated with the boxes the food comes in, without the food.

Just so you know, somebody (myself included) didn't swipe the fries off the tree.

But they might have...

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

French Fry Diary 312: Burger King Chicken Fries

Running around holiday shopping, I needed a break, and decided to kill two birds with one stone - I went to Burger King. I was hungry, wanted to give the new fries a second chance and I also wanted to give the Chicken Fries a review. I went through the drive-thru and got a #7, the Chicken Fries meal.

The henhouse (my term) the Chicken fries come in was designed at the same time as the FryPod, and comes with a built-in slot for the dipping sauce - but its bottom is square so it doesn't fit all that well in the cup holder.

Speaking of dipping sauces, Burger King offers buffalo, barbeque, zesty, honey mustard, ranch and sweet and sour varieties. That said, I prefer the dip of my choice for most BK foods - the black and white shake. Your mileage, and flavor, may vary.
The fries themselves resemble mini mozzarella sticks more than they do fries, and while they are tasty, they have more breading than actual white meat chicken. The breading also has a bit of a spicy kick to it, not unlike the breading on the chicken sandwiches I love so much at Burger King.

That brings up another point. I wouldn't normally order these as BK has so many other great offerings. The Chicken Fries are great for a snack, a side, or to share. My assessment of the new Burger King fries however, has not changed. I wish I had gotten onion rings instead.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

French Fry Diary 311: Trader Joe's Baked Onion Rings

I have tried onion ring snacks before, usually with disastrous results. About the only ones I have ever really liked were from 7-Eleven, and those were so good they were almost addictive. When I saw these in Trader Joe's, it was the ones from 7-Eleven I thought of, because on the bag it says, "sweet onion flavor." I snapped them right up and brought Trader Joe's Baked Onion Rings home.

When I got around to opening the bag - surprisingly easy to open for a snack from Trader Joe's I might add - I was less than enthused. These typically corn snacks were smaller than I imagined from the packaging and they smelled like onions. I know, I shouldn't complain that an onion snack smells like onions - but they didn't smell like an onion snack, you know? Especially not a 'sweet' onion snack.

These rings are kinda bland in taste actually. I think my disappointment comes from expecting the sugary sweetness of those 7-Eleven rings. These aren't bad, but they also aren't great either. They are great to snack on mindlessly in front of the tube if you have nothing else.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Rachel Ray's Roasted Thick Potato Chips

For today's Food Network Friday, I have another recipe from Rachel Ray, this one from the episode "30 Minutes to Victory" from her infamous "30 Minute Meals" TV series. The episode focuses on quick meals for during the game, perfect for the holiday football season.

The recipe for her Roasted Thick Potato Chips can be found here, as the rest of the episode's game recipes can be found here. Enjoy!

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Free Fries Friday

All day tomorrow, December 16th 2011, Burger King will be giving away their new French fries.

No purchase necessary, one order per person.

Please leave a comment here at French Fry Diary and let me know what y'all think if you get some. You know what I think.

And also drop by Burger King's Facebook page and let them know too.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

French Fry Diary 310: Boardwalk Grill & Pizzeria, Cherry Hill NJ

Boardwalk Grill & Pizzeria is a place that opened earlier this summer locally in Cherry Hill. A recent lazy Sunday evening led The Bride and I to look for a nearby place that delivered, we chose Boardwalk, mostly because their menu made a pretty big deal of the favorite fried food.

First off, any place that calls itself 'Boardwalk' and has French fries, had better have good ones. It's just the facts, ya know? The menu calls them "Fryz" just to be different, I guess. They claim that "all Boardwalk Fryz are Hand Cut from Russett Potatoes Daily," madcap capitalization theirs. They offer malt vinegar for dipping, but for a charge. They come in regular, Old Bay, Cheese, Pizza, and Loaded.

Deciding on a pizza roll and some BBQ honey boneless chicken wings, along with fries, sorry, Fryz, both Boardwalk and Loaded, we called in our order. Surprisingly for a new place the delivery was rather quick. Score one for customer service. The chicken was pretty good, and the BBQ honey sauce more barbeque than honey, but excellent on the fries and for dipping.

The Loaded Fryz came in quite a generous portion, and was too much for my wife. Besides being very filling, these natural cuts were under an avalanche of Cheez Wiz, mozzarella, bacon and scallions. This came in a big tin foil pie plate, I mention this because it was a huge portion. These guys give you a lotta fries for your buck.

The large order of the regular Boardwalk Fryz were the same natural cut Boardwalk style fries you can find at Pat's or the more traditional Boardwalk Fries and Seaside Spuds. Again, bonuses for portion size, because the large fry-decorated cup they came in had about the same amount as The Bride's serving.

Sadly, I don't think they were cooked to order. While the hot ones were very good, I had a lot of stubs and ends - no big long fries at all, and some were very crunchy as if they'd been cooked more than once and not in a good way. Maybe it was the end of a batch. They did however reheat well when baked in the oven.

I would be more than willing to give them a second chance, as these could be really good fries, maybe just not this time. I would love to try them at the actual restaurant next time rather than their excellent delivery service.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

French Fry Diary 309: Looney Tunes French Fries

I am a huge fan of the Warner Bros. cartoons, in fact the six volumes of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection (now sadly out of print) are among my favorite DVDs. That said, I have to say I haven't been that much of a fan of Cartoon Network's "The Looney Tunes Show."

It may just be a matter of my not liking the new character designs or how the pacing is slower and less effective in my opinion, but the sitcom setup of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck being mismatched roommates just hasn't charmed me. Notably however, I do like the new CGI Road Runner shorts and the Merry Melodies music videos that appear semi-regularly.

At this point you're probably wondering what this has to do with the favorite fried food - well, I'm getting to that. A recent episode was titled, wait for it, "French Fries," and dealt with a feud between Daffy and Porky Pig over French fries.

Bugs, Porky and Daffy are at lunch. Everyone gets an entree, and Daffy gets a side of fries with his sandwich. We've all been there. You all know what's coming. Sometimes fries are community fries and sometimes they are MY fries. When Porky has some Daffy's, guess what kind of fries they are? Yep, you got it, and Daffy defriends poor Porky.

My personal favorite part of the episode is when Porky calls, Bugs says, "It's Porky," and Daffy says, "Hide your fries!" Great tunes, great fries, I might give this show another shot.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

French Fry Diary 308: The Original Burger King French Fries

When I was a kid, fast food was slow coming to my hometown. In fact, even today, Atco has no fast food restaurants in its city limits. The first to show up in the area was Gino's in Berlin, the next town over, which I've talked about before. We'd had McDonald's up in Lindenwold and down in Hammonton, but that was it as far as choices until the mid-seventies. That's when the McDonald's opened in Berlin, and everything changed.

Where there was McDonald's, there was Burger King, because the burger wars always escalate, and Burger King opened right across the White Horse Pike from the McDonald's. Taco Bell, Wendy's, Arby's, Roy Rogers, etc. all followed in Berlin, but when it comes right down to it, it's always about the big two.

Today, we're talking about Burger King however, the Burger King of my youth, and their original French fries. Burger King recently changed their fries, ending a reign of crappy fries they had had since the early nineties, but before that, they had really good fries, really good fries. When I first encountered BK, I fell in love with their charbroiled burgers, so much better than McDonald's. This is also where I started dipping my burger in my milkshake, BK being best for this practice, and notably best with a plain burger and a black and white shake. This remains the case to this day.

Burger King is also where I started stacking or planking. Those two words might mean something else these days, but to me, and in reference to French fries - stacking and planking, also known as sandwiching is the act of putting fries on your burger, creating a layer of potatoey goodness across your burger. In my years of doing this blog, I have happily found I'm not crazy, and I'm not the only one who does this, or shake dipping for that matter. BK's original fries were perfect for sandwiching.

About those original BK fries, they were shoestrings, similar to McDonald's, only less crispy and slightly more greasy. They were just short of a limp shoestring French fry, but unlike Wendy's new fries, BK's were substantial enough for dipping in shakes without breaking or bending. They were also delicious, and addictive. Whereas the old BK fries, I could barely eat one or two, the originals I would sometimes finish off two orders in a sitting. They were that good. They are still very much missed. I wish they'd bring them back.

Unfortunately, the original Burger King fries, being pre-internet, are extremely hard to get images of, so I have compensated with this blog entry. Find below a vintage BK commercial from the 1970s, plus above a glass featuring the old animated and much-less-creepy Burger King, as well as one of the BK ashtrays that everyone in my high school had snatched from the restaurant and had one in their bedrooms - smokers or not. Enjoy the nostalgia.

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