Thursday, August 30, 2012

Potato Chip Peanut Fudge


My friend Marni hipped me to this recipe recently. It comes from the Candy section of About.com.

Potato Chip Peanut Fudge, recipe by Elizabeth LaBau.

Potato Chips are the not-so-secret ingredient in this sweet and salty fudge. Although the peanut butter is the flavor that really shines, the chips add a nice subtle saltiness and crunch that’s irreplaceable.

Ingredients: 3 cups granulated sugar, 1/2 cup (1 stick, or 4 oz) butter, 1.5 cups sweetened condensed milk, 1.5 cups chunky peanut butter, not natural-style, 1 cup chopped salted peanuts, 2 cups coarsely crushed potato chips, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. 

Preparation:

1. Prepare a 9x9 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Place the sugar, butter, and condensed milk in a medium-large saucepan over medium heat and stir until the butter and sugar melts.

3. Continue to stir occasionally as the mixture comes to a boil. Insert a candy thermometer, and cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees, or soft-ball stage. This will take about 8 minutes, if you are not using a candy thermometer.

4. Once the mixture reaches the proper temperature, remove it from the heat and quickly stir in the peanut butter, peanuts, potato chips, and vanilla. Stir until the fudge is well-mixed and all the ingredients are incorporated, but work quickly so that it does not begin to set.

5. Pour the fudge into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer. Allow the fudge to set until firm, about 2 hours at room temperature or 45 minutes in the refrigerator.

6. Once set, remove the fudge from the pan using the foil as handles, and cut into small one-inch pieces with a sharp knife. Serve Potato Chip Fudge at room temperature, and store remaining fudge in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Check out the full recipe here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

French Fry Diary 410: Village Whiskey, Revel Casino, Atlantic City


I have gotten so many French fries recommendations for the Village Whiskey in Philadelphia, but had never gotten over there. They have duck fat fries, duck fat being the gold standard in fries, going to Village Whiskey was like going to find the Holy Grail.

The mom-in-law had gone to the new Revel Casino in Atlantic City a few times and raved about the fries at the Village Whiskey they had opened there. That was unusual, the mother-in-law raving about fries. So we planned a road trip. Fries so good that mom raved? Indeed, these were fries that needed to be tried.

Upon arrival at the Village Whiskey in Atlantic City, it was quite a sight. Inside the huge modern confines of the casino, they had built a quaint little Philadelphia pub, nice contrast. Inside it was very dark, lit by a single candle. Old sixties psychedelic music played overhead much too loud, but it certainly did a lot to bring a dingy Philly nightclub/bar to life inside the Atlantic City casino.

We did have some trouble with seating for my father-in-law as all the seating was non-conducive to the handicapped, and the staff wasn't very helpful, standing by and watching. The place is all high tables and booths, very hard to seat from a wheelchair. The attitude, not just at Revel but all AC casinos, seems to be that they only need to outfit one restaurant of their many to be handicapped friendly. Village Whiskey was just not one of them, so just cross it off your list if you're handicapped. Seriously, Disney should get into the casino business and show these folks how things should be done.

Once we were all seated, which took maybe twenty minutes, again, with no help from the staff, other than to get the wheelchair out of other customers' way, we looked at the menu. It was full of several burgers mostly, a few pub offerings and a lot of alcohol, all very classy. Despite all the effort to make the place seem like a Philly bar, and the anti-handicapped seating difficulties, its Garces Group pedigree shines through. I got my usual.

The fries were very thick (British chip sized, yay!) natural cuts. Crunchy on the outside, soft and hot inside, these were near perfect fries. Served in a metal cup with a cup of ketchup and ramekin of cheese, it was classy. I was not sure what to make of the duck fat. While one or two fries were greasy, they didn't taste greasy. That may be the result of the duck fat, but I didn't taste a distinct difference. They were seasoned with sea salt and cracked black pepper, and maybe a bit of rosemary or parsley. Very good fries.

The tiny tin cups of fries however were seven dollars an order, and were said by the waitress to serve two or three diners. Two or three what, I don't know, maybe two or three baby birds, perhaps? I know I didn't get enough. The fry crumbs in the bottom of the cup weren't cool and kinda disturbing. The Duck Fat Fries also come with sly fox cheddar cheese for nine dollars, and with shortrib and cheddar for a whopping fourteen dollars. Whoa, these are expensive fries.

The burger was huge, like a filet mignon of chopped beef on a big old baked roll, and very tasty. It was hard to finish, but I did. It was that good as were the Duck Fat Fries. The fries get a solid thumbs up. I might not be back to this location because of the seating, but the fries were definitely worth it, even if a bit expensive. Recommended.

Friday, August 24, 2012

French Fry Diary 409: Arby's Frozen Fries


A recent phenomenon in the fast (and comfort) food industry has been making restaurant foods available in your local grocer's freezer. Here on French Fry Diary, we've looked at this type of thing from Burger King and from Checkers. Now it's Arby's turn as their Seasoned Curly Fries are now out.

The cooking directions are pretty standard for baking, although I noticed that many fries were done when I stopped halfway through to turn them. The bigger curls still needed a bit more cooking. At the end of baking, the small pieces not connected to big curls, coils or twists were pretty burnt. All of the curls, coils and twists however were nicely crisp in a way you can't get at Arby's, or anywhere else for that matter.

These Arby's frozen fries were quite good. I haven't had grocer's freezer curly fries like this before. Recommended.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

French Fry Diary 408: Ruffles Loaded Bacon & Cheddar Potato Skins Flavored


Yeah, I know that's quite a mouthful, Ruffles Loaded Bacon & Cheddar Potato Skins Flavored potato chips. I've tried a lot of different bizarre flavored chips like the various rib chips, the steak chips, and even the chicken chips. There's even a hot dog flavored chip from Herr's I've been trying to track down. At least these are sorta tater related.

I had only a couple chips. I'm not a big fan of sour cream or Romano cheese and those flavors jumped right out immediately. There is also bacon and cheddar in there, but the former two flavors are overpowering. These chips were definitely not my cup of tea, and so not my bag of chips.

I had initially picked them up for The Bride, but she only thought they were okay. If you're into this kind of thing, go for it, but Ruffles Loaded Bacon & Cheddar Potato Skins were just not for me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

French Fry Diary 407: Cascadian Farm French Fries


I'm usually not a fan of organic frozen French fries. Because they're organic they have limited keep time, and I tend to forget stuff in the freezer sometimes - not a good combination. They also tend to be tasteless and easily freezer burned. Still, I do dip my toe into the water from time to time. Such is the case with Cascadian Farm Crinkle Cut French Fries.

As promised on the bag, these are indeed "tender, delicious french fries that bake up crisp and golden." Be careful though, and follow the directions closely, they can burn pretty easily too as I found out the hard way with my first batch. The second batch was quite tasty, if needing a bit of seasoning. I added salt and barbecue sauce, my usual weapons of choice.

Healthy as heck, and unlike the standard organic fries, these were very good. No transfats, no cholesterol, and low salt, these are recommended.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Happy National Potato Day


Today, Sunday, August 19th is National Potato Day.

"It’s National Potato Day! Potatoes have been popular parts of diets around the world for centuries.

"Did you know that more than 45 billion pounds of potatoes are harvested in the U.S. each year? We use them to make baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, home fries, French fries — the list is endless!

"Potatoes are not only tasty — they’re good for you! They contain high levels of important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, potassium, and iron. Today, enjoy potatoes prepared your favorite way to celebrate National Potato Day!"


Friday, August 17, 2012

French Fry Diary 406: Irish Potato Nachos


I was hipped to this concept by friends Brian and Taryn, who visited Toronto recently and posted on the Facebook about one place they had seen that served them. The idea is basically nachos, but with some variation of potatoes instead of chips - called in some places Irish Potato Nachos. This restaurant, in Toronto, has sadly apparently since closed.

But never fear, most Irish pubs serve some version of this dish. Pictured is the style of Irish Potato Nachos served at The Druid Irish Pub in Edmonton. Hmmm... Edmonton, Toronto, maybe this is a Canadian thing?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Daym Drops on Five Guys Burgers and Fries


My buddy Ray hipped me to this guy. Daym Drops is obviously a brother from another mother. He knows his food, and he knows his fries. All that, and my man has got crazy mad charazma all up in there too. Love it. Check it out.



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Random Tater Pic of the Day #59



This one comes from my friend Terry who's done more than a few guest blogs here. This is "Porterhouse steak, marinated in honey teriyaki, grilled medium rare on my George Foreman grill. Baked potato, rubbed in extra virgin olive oil and baconsalt, topped with cheddar cheese and sour cream. Dee to the lish."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

French Fry Diary 405: Pepper Market Breakfast


One of the last mornings of our family Walt Disney World trip this March I went with the parents-in-law to breakfast at the Pepper Market, the home restaurant at Coronado Springs. I already told you about dinner there here, and couldn't wait to try their breakfast.

Now while the entrance to the Pepper Market is guarded by a creepy giant pink rabbit, the dining area is watched over by, among others, a giant Latin American bird god. The d├ęcor of Mesoamerica is thematic to the resort so it fits, but let's be real, these giant sculptures kinda freaked me out a little. The bird god especially. It was like the sensation of being watched while you eat, only a hundredfold. Creepy.

It's a good thing the food was really good. Much like dinner, there are numerous serving and buffet stations where different types of breakfast were available. This fine morning I was able to get both wonderful red potato wedges with onions and red and green peppers, and the same terrific diced breakfast potatoes that Disney always does so well. These were steaming hot and near perfect, as were the strips of thick bacon I got to go with them. This was a great breakfast, and an excellent coda to another wonderful WDW trip.

Monday, August 13, 2012

French Fry Diary 404: McDonald's Around the World


While it started in the United States many decades ago, McDonald's has conquered the world, and their French fries supremacy follows them through most of the planet. In some places the McFries are known by other names, like McFritas in Portugeuse, but they are still the same great fries. It's true, the fries remain the same in much of the world, but there are exceptions, and there are some intriguing and downright bizarre serving differences.

In Mexico, you can order McPatatas (that's "McPotatoes" in Spanish), which are seasoned potato wedges served up in a cup. In Hong Kong, during New Year season, you can get twisted curly fries. Costa Rica has steak fries, and Canada of course has poutine.

In India, you can get the McAloo Tikki. This is McDonald's take on that spiced potato croquette dish featuring a breaded deep-fried patty of potatoes and peas served on a hamburger bun along with tomatoes, onions, a special vegetable sauce, and ketchup. A perfect vegetarian burger for a land where you really can't have burgers… and it's made from potatoes.

In Germany, Hong Kong, Turkey, and several other Eastern European countries, Mickey D's has, wait for it, onion rings. They are standard-sized and use whole rings of onion rather than chopped onions like the competition at Burger King.

In the Netherlands you can get a special condiment for your fries called American Sauce. It's a yellow mayo we don't have in the States. Go figure. In the UK and in India you can get curry as a dipping sauce. In Poland they have the Ruffian Sandwich which is basically a burger with a second patty that is a Hash Brown rather than beef.  In the Philippines, McDonald's seasonally offers standard curly fries, known as Twister Fries there.  Man, I wish they'd have them here - Americans are quite fond of curly fries too, ya know? 

Also in Hong Kong, you can get Shake Shake Fries, where you put your fries in a bag a la Shake N Bake with whatever you want on your fries. Think cheddar, garlic, or regional favorites - chargrill, French onion, salt and pepper, and seaweed. Yeah, seaweed. To each their own. These shaker fries are very popular throughout the Indian Ocean and South Pacific region.



For additional side orders, around the world you can also get McRice, shrimp scampi, cheese empanadas, corn, and even gazpacho.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

French Fry Diary 403: Cookes of Dublin 2012


This has just become tradition. Every time we come to Walt Disney World, we have to make the trek out to Downtown Disney to experience Cookes of Dublin, simply the best fries, or more accurately, chips, that I have ever had.

This trip however, I had been put on the spot. Previously on the trip, at a dinner at the Maya Grill, I was asked who has the best fries. I answered immediately Cookes of Dublin. When the bro-in-law found out this place was in town, we had to go, I guess to prove it. I had no problem with it, they are the best, and screw him, if he doesn't agree, after one of those doh-bars for dessert, he'll forget all about it.

Some background on Cookes of Dublin, as I don't think I've talked about that before. The original Cooke's of Dublin was actually in, duh, Dublin City, Ireland and founded by George Edward Cooke in 1934. The same traditional Irish cooking methods used then are the ones used today in the Walt Disney World, Downtown Disney location.

Like the last trip to Cookes, this was a family and friends excursion. We again met my friend Terry at what's left of Pleasure Island. We walked around a bit, finally regrouped our wandering party and went to a late lunch at Cookes.

I got my usual, the chicken and chips. The Bride got a fish sandwich that had chips on it. I have to confess that the chips were not so great this time, definitely not their best, nor my favorite as they have been every time I've been here in the past. The chips were only warm, and the problem is they are best hot. To reiterate if you've missed all the previous times I've reviewed Cookes of Dublin, the chips are thick cut fries, double fried and toss salted. Still, even just warm they beat the heck out of most fries out there. But on the bad side, I don't think my Anglophile brother-in-law was impressed. Shame.

On a side note, when I last wrote about Cookes of Dublin here, commenter JustinM, from the very cool Barbecue & Baseball blog, asked about what dipping sauces were available. When I asked I expected the usual, but the answer was a bit more exotic. Cookes has a curry dip, and an Irish vintage bacon and cheese dip. How 'bout that? The Dalkey mustard, a white spicy not-hot mustard, on the table also seemed quite popular. It was used on the fries, and Terry also had some on his battered sausages too. The doh-bar for dessert was perfection.

I would liked to have tried some of the other fried treats they have at Cookes of Dublin, like the skinny fries or the double dipped onion rings. But given the choice, and not knowing when the next time I'll get to WDW will be, I always go for the traditional Irish chips instead. I believe when next we come, we are going to try to get reservations for the big restaurant attached to Cookes of Dublin, Raglan Road and see how that is.

All in all this was a good time, a nice late lunch with family and friends. That's the part that counts - the company, not the food. Hopefully the food will match up next time.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

French Fry Diary 402: Pepper Market, Coronado Springs Resort


I remember this place from my previous stay at Coronado Springs in Walt Disney World for one main reason. The Pepper Market is guarded by a creepy giant pink rabbit. Oh yeah, it looks harmless now, but just wait until you go to sleep.

Pepper Market is at best peculiar. It's a sit down restaurant that doesn't count as such on the Disney Dining Plan, and if you argue or question, they will haggle with you. No, really, this happened. Twice. The ordering and paying methods inside the realm of the giant pink bunny are more than a little confusing. You get tickets from each food station you stop at and then it's totaled at the end of the meal, or the start of the meal, depending. See what I mean by confusing?

And the napkin is a dishtowel. No, seriously, it's a dishtowel. A paper napkin would be both so much more useful, and really, a whole lot less icky.

When I figured out how the place worked, I ordered my usual. The burger was very good, big and thick, and chargrilled while I watched. The woman next to me, with the Fargo accent, was having trouble figuring out the system and I tried my best to help her, but she just couldn't be satisfied. As the cook heard everything she was saying, I have to wonder how her burger tasted.

The burger came with French fries. They were deep-fried shoestrings, probably from the grocer's freezer, and worst of all, they were sitting under a heat lamp for who knows how long. I was not enthused. Luckily I got a fresh batch, and I was amazed to see them toss salted in a bowl (just like Belgian frites!) as they made their way to my plate. That and the huge serving saved them in my eyes. They were hot, crisp and tasty. I even sandwiched some.

The Bride had heard bad reviews of the Pepper Market, and passed on coming with me. From what I saw, I can believe it had bad reviews, but my personal experience that night was very good. I know Ms. Fargo was less than happy, but I did all right with my dinner.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

French Fry Diary 401: Wildfire BBQ Co.


The Wildfire BBQ Co. is built on the site of the old Stratford Friendly's on the White Horse Pike. I remember that I went to dinner for my sixth grade graduation there, and also one of my first dates as well, but it's not a Friendly's any more. The new restaurant has been there about eight months. Once I walked in I was struck by how much smaller it was than the old Friendly's but then, I just kinda fell in love with the place. I like the decor, it's very warm and cozy, a rocker biker vibe, all from the owner's home.

Our waitress Melanie was on skates and well beyond helpful and friendly. Her roller derby name is Rabbit. Coolness. She knew everything about the restaurant and the food. Before we even looked at the menu I was happy.

For our appetizer, we got the Wildfire Fries - French fries with melted cheese, smoked bacon, sliced cherry peppers (yikes!) and BBQ sauce. This had both regular fries and sweet potato fries in there, good combination. The bacon was perfect and the sauce sweet and hot. The banana peppers added a bit of a kick flavor-wise, and I was told by Melanie this was the regular BBQ sauce. Now I'm a bit worried, I ordered the hot for my meal.

The soda size (Coca-Cola products, so that's a plus) is terrific, and you'll need it to put out the fire of the Wildfire Fries. I went through several glasses of Coke fighting the heat of my buffalo sauce. Our friends got the Twice Baked Taters, very loaded, very cool. Quite a treat.

The fries are natural regular cuts, probably deep fried, well salted and quite good. The real thing here is the dipping sauces. The regular sauce I liked quite a bit. The hot was a bit hotter, but still good for me. The buffalo wing sauce is burning hot, and gets hotter over time. That's the one that was killing me. The Melt My Face BBQ sauce is like the wing sauce but made me sweat. Sooo good but sooo hot.

I really loved this place. The owner does everything onsite and all of the sauces are his formula. We have also heard that they do an awesome breakfast, so we will be back for that, and for more lunch and dinner as well.  This place rocks, highly recommended.

Monday, August 06, 2012

French Fry Diary 400: McDonald's


One of the biggest questions (after where are the best fries) I get is why, after almost four hundred entries and reviews at French Fry Diary, why have I never covered McDonald's? It's simple. It's a big entry. McDonald's is the big one. McDonald's French fries are the gold standard when it comes to fast food French fries - simple, consistent, and delicious, they are literally the world's number one fry.

This is from the text on their Small Fry: "What's the secret? It's the potatoes. Only the best potatoes make it into our World Famous Fries." And they are world famous. Everyone knows McDonald's French Fries. In fact, The official Fry Box Design (trademark), that special red fries holder, is what most people think of when they think of not only fast food fries, but fries in general. It's like the Coke bottle. It is that distinctive.

From the early days of McDonald's, founder Ray Croc was insistent on how the French fries were prepared, knowing how important a compliment they were to the meal. The shoestrings in the beginning were fresh cut from Russet Burbank potatoes on the premises, and Croc always strove for consistency. Every time you had a McD's fry it should taste just the same, and just as good as the last time, and the next time. He was looking for consistent quality.

When the chain expanded, costs had to be cut, measures were taken to insure that consistency, so in 1966, McDonald's turned to frozen French fries. The product was now peeled, sliced, par-fried and frozen in factories then shipped to restaurant locations to be finished in deep fryers and served hot to customers. Even today, McDonald's is the biggest consumer of potatoes in the world.

For decades the fries were cooked in a roughly 90/10 mix of beef tallow and cottonseed oil. After flack from vegetarian lobbies and nutritionists, the formula was changed to 100% vegetable oil in the early 1990s. This new style made the fries devoid of cholesterol and transfats, and also made them more palatable to folks who could not or would not eat meat. At that time McDonald's may have added things like a sugar additive or possibly a chemical that makes them smell delicious, but that's one for the conspiracy theorists.

In the early 2000s there was some dispute regarding whether the ingredient called 'natural flavor' may or may not have a beef extract in it. That battle still continues. On another front, McDonald's fries in the rest of the world except for America are gluten free, because they have dedicated deep fryers. Unfortunately the same can not be said here in the States, as sometimes, a Fry fryer will be used for something else in an emergency.

Now I've talked about consistency, and that's important. Wherever you go to a McDonald's, you are guaranteed to get the same great taste, texture, and appearance. Every once in a while you'll get undercooked and limp, or overcooked and crunchy, but those are the exceptions, not the rules.

MacFries are always crispy, hot and golden brown. They come in a variety of serving sizes - small, medium, large, and the miniature kids size that now comes with Happy Meals. They reheat well in the oven, but not so well in the microwave. They are excellent on roadtrips with a quick jump through the drive-thru. They are amazing for shake dipping, and being shoestrings great for sandwiching.

The McDonald's French Fry is truly the gold standard for fast food French fries.

Friday, August 03, 2012

French Fry Diary 399: Ronii's Butt Fries


The wonderful Ronii Grace passed away a couple years ago. I had never met her in person, but she was as good a friend as one could have online. She was a terrific and talented writer, and a giving and generous friend, with a fun and quirky sense of humor. Some time ago when I was on a hiatus from French Fry Diary, because of my own illness, she wrote the following for me. It's perhaps not family-friendly or for the squeamish, so you've been warned.

Hey Glenn…

Just read your French Fry Diary. I see you haven't worked on it for some time. May I make an offering? It is a bit weird and wacky, but you would expect that from me now, wouldn't you? I am feeling a bit cheeky, pun totally intended, so here goes.

Years ago I had a midwifery client whose husband we all called "Chuckie." Chuckie was a gorgeous character with deep chocolate skin and thick matted dreadlocks. Chuckie came to all his wife's prenatal visits faithfully in part, because he thought I, the midwife he had hired to deliver his son, was hysterically funny. He often told me I needed my own cable show with my midwifery partner Lori as my trusty sidekick.

The event that started this whole tack had to do with, you guessed it... French fries. You see, his wife had pregnancy-induced hemorrhoids. I recommended a tried and true remedy for her discomfort. You simply cut some potatoes (without skinning) "home fry style" into thin wedges, freeze them in a Ziploc bag, dip the frozen wonder in a bit of vitamin E oil, and insert it into the offending orifice. "Butt Fries," as we affectionately called them, solved the problem. We even had a handout with nice illustrations.

The wife (and many others) swore by them, "A miracle," she said. Oh, but Chuckie had fears. What if on some summer barbeque Saturday he grabbed the wrong bag and had the butt fries for supper? We allayed his fears reminding him that they were only French fries until put to other uses.

It was the start of a long list of experiences... just thought you, the French fry man, might want to know. They're not just for supper any more!

Blessings, Ronii

This bit of attempted humor is not intended to offer medical advice. If you have a problem, please... see your doctor or other healer.


That's Ronii. I told you about her sense of humor. I had never posted it because she had promised me the illustrations, but she never got around to sending them. And then she passed away suddenly.

She is much missed. Her birthday is Sunday. I hope she sees this wherever she's at and knows how much she's missed. Thank you, Ronii.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Introducing the Fry Lover's Burger




Whether you call it sandwiching or planking, putting French fries on your burger has now hit the big time. At Checkers and Rally's they will now do it for you with the Fry Lover's Burger.

"What do you get when you take a perfectly seasoned Checkers & Rally’s burger and top it with our famously seasoned fries? You get flavor awesomeness ... that’s what! Introducing the Fry Lover’s Burger. This bold burger starts with a 100% beef, hand-seasoned hamburger patty, then we top it off with Checkers & Rally’s fries, a slice of American cheese, pickles, ketchup, mayo and mustard. After that we toss it on a toasted sesame seed bun and serve it up to you hot and fresh. Getting hungry? Swing by your favorite Checkers & Rally’s and order one from our money-saving, flavor-craving Cha-Ching menu today!"