Friday, January 29, 2010

Honey Roasted Red Potatoes

Honey Roasted Red Potatoes

1 pound red potatoes,quartered
2 tablespoons diced onion
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 pinch salt
1 pinch ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat an 11x7 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place potatoes in a single layer in prepared dish, and top with onion. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, honey, mustard, salt and pepper; drizzle over potatoes and onion. Bake in the preheated 375 degrees oven for 35 minutes or until tender, stirring halfway through the cooking time.

From Potato-Recipe and The Happy Cooker.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

French Fry Diary 86: Cheesecake Factory

This review has been a long time coming. For the longest time we didn’t have the legendary Cheesecake Factory in our area, but then the announcement that one was coming had everyone excited. We’d heard about the restaurant/bar/bakery’s delights almost as if it were legend, from such arcane places as MySpace and Kathy Griffin’s act.

Once it opened it was a big hit. The burgers were great, a plus for me, and I also quite enjoyed the onion rings (or strings, or whatever they happened to have at the time), and The Bride was psyched about the macaroni and cheese balls which turned out to be not so great. Now, they’ve been here for a while but I’ve just never gotten around to reviewing their fries.

Ironically, on a trip up north to the Freehold Raceway Mall, I decided to finally get it over with. I got my usual burger, perfect and delicious, and it came with fries of course. The fries at Cheesecake Factory are just regular cuts, and very crispy, perhaps too crispy. So crispy that on this trip, I didn’t even finish them – and for me, that’s saying a lot. I even finished those terrible Burger King microwave fries.

So for Cheesecake Factory, there are a lot of really cool and delightful things on the menu to order, and I highly recommend you do, but just don’t go for the fries.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

French Fry Diary 85: Johnny Rockets, Atlantic City

Johnny Rockets is another one of those franchises where it’s all about the experience and the presentation, and that’s a good thing. It’s a 1950s style diner with a theatrical waitstaff just this side of Disney actors and the customer service is top of the line. I had been to the JR on South Street in Philly once or twice when they first opened so it had been a long time, so while in Atlantic City recently I thought I’d try the one there – I was not disappointed.

I was seated at the counter, and was surprised to be served from all sides. That was different. Anasia, my waitress, was first class. She made the experience a pleasure, making small talk, and checking to see if everything was all right. I also had a great view of the grill. It’s quite intriguing to see your Rocket burger come together from scratch - just a lump of ground beef into the finished delicious product.

This was definitely a burger to die for, as was the chocolate shake. The fries, called American Fries here at Johnny Rockets, were regular cuts and also delicious. If I had one complaint, it was that there just weren’t enough of them, and if you think about it, that’s more compliment than complaint. The fries of course came with the trademark ketchup smiley face, and even though I’m not a ketchup guy, that’s worth extra points right there.

And of course there’s the performance part of the evening. The lights dim for the beginning of Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” and half the staff and even some of the customers get up and strut their disco moves. Fun for all, and a great dining experience. Definitely and highly recommended.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Basic Baked Sweet Potato

Another one from Chow:

Basic Baked Sweet Potato

It may never replace your classic baked russet potato heaped with sour cream, but a baked sweet potato topped with molasses butter is a close runner-up.

Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins
Active Time: 5 mins
Makes: 1 serving


Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Slice an “X” into the top of a sweet potato and place it directly on the rack with a piece of foil on the rack below. Bake until the potato is easily pierced with a knife, about 60 to 70 minutes. Top with Molasses-Clove Compound Butter and serve.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

French Fry Diary 84: Nathan’s Misfire

I shot through the drive-thru of my local Nathan’s Famous fries connection, an ice cream place called Bruster’s, only to discover when I got home – no Nathan’s Famous fries!

A substitution had been made. Instead of the yummy wide crinkle-cuts I was jonesing for, I got steak fries. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with steak fries, usually, but that’s not what I ordered, ya know?

These steak fries were obviously cooked in the same oil and perhaps had the same seasoning as the distinctive Nathan’s taste was still there, but really not enough to mask the not-so-great, overdone and inadequate steak fries I got as a substitute.

I know that from now on, I’m inquiring about the fries before I order next time and then checking ‘em before I leave. This was a disaster.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

French Fry Diary 83: Nathan’s Famous at Home

Nathan’s Famous has some of the best fast food French fries out there, in my opinion, but the good news is that you can also have those great fries at home any time.

Nathan’s has a variety of products available at most supermarkets, including their famous hot dogs, hamburgers, mustards, steak sauce, potato chips and especially their prize fries. The dogs are pretty much the same, and the burgers suffer from that same freezer burn and shaped problems that plague most burgers of that type. The potato chips however are quite nice.

They’re waffle chips although Nathan’s calls ‘em “crinkle cut style’ to cash in on their popular fries. They are thick and tasty and full of more potato flavor than many other chips out there from real potato chip companies. They also have no trans fat for the Health Nazis out there. Very good, and a suitable replacement when Nathan’s famous fries are not available.

Also for when the fries aren’t available are Nathan’s Famous Onion Rings, labeled as ‘thick sliced’ and ‘battered’ as if that could make them better, they are priced rather expensively in your grocer’s freezer. Quite honestly, I’m not a fan of Nathan’s rings when at the restaurant because of their greasiness, and these are only slightly better thanks to the baking option. The batter coating is pretty bad and even baked they’re greasy, I would give these a total pass.

On the other hand, Nathan’s Famous Fries in the frozen edition are almost as good as the real thing. While Nathan’s Famous are among some of the best of the fast food fries, their frozen fries are the best. And pass on the deep frying method to cook, unless that’s what you want, because they will taste greasy, but you asked for it.

The real beauty of these comes when they are baked. This is the crème de la crème of the baked frozen French fry. And because you make them at home you control the crispiness and the softness inside. For an extra treat I like to throw some spices, usually Billy Bee Honey BBQ Seasoning in the bag and shake it around before placing them on the baking sheet. Mmmm... fries...

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Friday, January 22, 2010

French Fry Diary 82: Nathan’s Famous

Nathan’s Famous was founded by Nathan Handwerker in 1916, specialized in his famous secret recipe hot dogs and quickly became a landmark in Coney Island, NY. Eventually they became franchised throughout the country and added many other staples to their menu, including some of the best French fries, in my opinion. Nathan’s Famous fries are available at other places other than Nathan’s, such as the Bruster's ice cream place, Kenny Rogers Roasters, and even in your grocer’s freezer.

Nathan’s Famous has always been one of my favorite fast food French fries, if not the best. Just to make sure of my thoughts before putting them on the page I did a drive-by and picked up an order, a large order of course which is considerable by the way, at a local mall. The man behind the counter had a teardrop tattoo under one of his eyes and inked sleeves. The way he kept calling me ‘boss’ brought to mind far too many Cool Hand Luke jokes than are acceptable. The service however was quick, courteous and enough to make most fast food places blush with shame.

Ten minutes later when I arrived home I opened the bag. I had closed said bag tightly to seal in the hotness of the fries on the ride home. No peeking or picking at for these fries. If I did, there wouldn’t be any when I got home. Yeah, they’re that good.

Mmmm... still toasty warm, and stabbed right into the middle of the overly large fry bag was the famous Nathan’s French fry fork – a wonder of the fast food field, this is a small red plastic two-pronged fork specially made for eating fries. I usually keep mine for a few more feedings cuz they’re just that much darned fun. That fork is worth the price right there.

Nathan’s Famous fries are wonderfully thick crinkle-cuts that have a surprisingly sweet taste. I’ve never gotten a batch that were too greasy or too crispy or too soggy – they are always just right. This bag was just as good as ever.

The beauty of it is that even if they still weren’t warm when I got home, Nathan’s fries nuke quite well for maybe thirty seconds or less and you’re back in action. You can even microwave them a second time – but no more than that and they get messy, either soggy or hard like rocks.

Better than nuking them though is to just bake them. Using the minimum oil already on the fries as cooking oil, just place them on some aluminum foil and pop ‘em in the oven at 400 for about five to ten minutes and not only will they be good as new, but maybe a good kind of crispy. That’s right, baking take out Nathan’s makes them better.

Nathan’s Famous fries remain some of the best out there in the fast food realm. Def recommended.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chile-Cilantro Hash Browns

From Chow:

Chile-Cilantro Hash Browns

By Aida Mollenkamp

The ultimate hangover food, these hash browns are simply chile-spiked crisped potatoes sprinkled with cilantro. Serve them with a fried egg on top and a side of perfect bacon for a breakfast that will chase away the craziest night of partying.


* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 pound russet potatoes
* 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
* 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro


1. Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet or frying pan over medium heat.

2. Meanwhile, peel potatoes and grate on the large holes of a box grater. Squeeze mixture by the handful to release as much moisture as possible. Mix potatoes with chili powder and pepper until well combined.

3. When oil shimmers, scatter potato mixture evenly in the pan and sprinkle salt over top. Cook until the bottom of the hash is golden brown and crisp, about 5 to 6 minutes. Break the hash into four pieces, flip, and cook until golden brown and crisp on the second side, about 4 to 5 minutes more. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

French Fry Diary 81: Burger King at Home 3

We’ve tried out the King Wedgez and the King Krinkz, so the only variety (so far) of the new Burger King microwave fries to try are the King Kolassolz.

I do the Shake, Vent and Zap, and once again, like the King Krinkz, I smell something burning. I can’t tell you how worrisome this is for me. It’s enough to shoo me away from buying these things again before I’ve even tasted them. Just for the record, I’ve used the microwave since this event and no smell – it was the fries.

When I do the Tap and Rip, again I notice there are not many fries inside, but at least the ‘frypod’ stayed together. Because the fries are bigger and longer, a few actually stick out of the ‘frypod’ giving it that fast food container illusion despite there not being very many of them.

These fries are wide crinkle cuts, not quite Nathan’s Famous but bigger than regular crinkle cuts. They are quite mushy and possibly not all the way cooked. I find that odd as I used the same microwave oven and temperature for all three batches of these Burger King fries. They’re really not good, they taste like bad microwave fries, or worse yet, bad TV dinner microwave fries. But at least they aren’t the crappy fries you get at your BK drive-thru, but they’re not much better.

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

French Fry Diary 80: Burger King at Home 2

Welcome back to my reviews of ConAgra’s new Burger King fries for your home microwave. Last time I made the King Wedgez and today I’m going to give one of the other varieties a shot.

I tried the King Krinkz, the seasoned crinkle cut French fries. I did the same process as last time – Shake, Vent, Zap, Tap and Rip. This time however, while the box was in the microwave it smelled like they were burning. I was worried for a bit but let the three minute cook time run its course. I was hoping for another handy packaging miracle after I got them out, but unfortunately the Frypod fell apart when I ripped. Notably, just like the King Wedgez, this 'frypod' would have been half-empty anyway. There’s not many fries in these things.

The fries themselves were just standard frozen crinkle cuts that could have been purchased for much less at any grocery store, and they also had a weird orange tinge, an unhealthy too-much-time-in-the-tanning-booth orange. At first I wasn’t sure if they were seasoned or just burnt.

The seasoning has a hot spicy bite and a not-so-great aftertaste. The fries aren’t so good and have the taste and texture of bad microwave fries. Eat them quick (if you dare) because the longer they sit, the harder they get. Again, Ore-Ida microwaves are much much better. These are bad fries.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

French Fry Diary 79: Burger King at Home 1

As mentioned here at French Fry Diary, Burger King is invading your grocer’s freezer. In fact, they are there now.

The good news is that instead of the crappy fries you can get at any Burger King, these are different. They come in three varieties: King Krinkz – seasoned crinkle cuts, King Kolassalz – bigger crinkle cuts, and King Wedgez – seasoned potato wedges. Thankfully none of the regular ones, but the package itself, in which the fries cook in your microwave, becomes an ersatz Frypod – an "Eazy Tranport Frypod." I gotta give them props for packaging at least.

I tried the King Wedgez first. The directions were oversimplified, with instructions like Shake, Vent, Zap, Cool, Tap, Rip, and of course, Eat. The end result, if you tear it right, does look like the type of package fries used to come in a few years back, but ironically, not really much like what we know as a Frypod.

There weren’t all that many fries inside either, granted they were big, but still maybe only about ten to a dozen total. The King Wedgez were seasoned potato wedges, similar to those at KFC, but with vertical medium ripples. The ripples were not as small as those at Famous Dave’s, but not as big as those on wavy potato chips. The fries were not really very tasty either – a little soggy and not very crisp (or even "Krispy!" as the package itself promises), but with a good pepper aroma that emanates from the microwave while they’re cooking.

All in all, the experience was fun – the packaging, the adventure of making them, etc., but the fries not so much. Ore-Ida microwave fries are better, but not as much fun. Next time we’ll try the King Krinkz and King Kolassalz and see how they are.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bacon-Scallion Mashed Potatoes

Bacon-Scallion Mashed Potatoes

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
4 cloves garlic, peeled
5 slices bacon, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup scallion top, thinly sliced
1/2 cup milk, warmed
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cook potatoes and garlic in a large pot with lightly salted water to cover
13-15 minutes until potatoes are fork-tender.
Meanwhile fry bacon in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until crisp.
Drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 1 t. drippings. Add scallions; saute
1 minute or until soft, but not brown. Add bacon.
Drain potatoes well and return to pot. Mash, adding milk, sour cream, salt,
and pepper. With a wooden spoon, beat in scallions and bacon. Reheat if

From Just=Potatoes.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

French Fry Diary 78: Fleming’s Steakhouse & Wine Bar

After more than a few recommendations of the fries at Fleming’s Steakhouse & Wine Bar, I decided to give it a shot. Although, I went just for the fries. As many good reviews of the fries I had gotten, all the reviews of the other food, the wine and the prices were not so complimentary. So planning a quick bite The Bride and I only intended to grab a stool at the bar and just get snacks – but surprisingly there was no wait for a regular table, so we were seated quite quickly.

The Rosemary bread we started with was quite interesting. Hot tasty bread with some intriguing spreads was good but left an uninteresting aftertaste in your mouth. It’s a good thing our waiter Adam was very good with refilling our waters and soft drinks. Fleming’s is a wine bar and it should be noted that the menu is mostly wine, and comes with another wine list as well. Adam wasn’t bothered however when we said we wouldn’t be having wine.

I ordered the seven and a half dollar Double-Cut Shoestring Potatoes, and The Bride got the nine-dollar French onion soup. When he asked if that was as our entrees, Adam seemed genuinely panicked at our yes. He was nothing but nice and courteous however, and was left a healthy tip he definitely deserved – even though we refrained from ordering steaks and wines in the couple hundred-dollar range.

The fries arrived in a wax paper cone and wire frame holder in the Belgian style. Inside however, were not Belgian fries. These were extra-thin (thus the 'double-cut') natural cut shoestrings and in a huge portion – the cone was filled completely. They were a beautiful golden brown, but nowhere near as crispy as they looked. Had they been that crispy, they would have been perfect. A bit greasier than I would have liked, but had they been crispier, I wouldn’t have minded that. All in all very good, but not great.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

French Fry Diary 77: Herr’s Baby Back Ribs Potato Chips

These potato chips are similar to Herr’s Kansas City Prime Steak chips in that I have to wonder if they taste like the meat or the stuff that goes on top of the meat. Whereas those chips are only for every once in a while, Herr’s Baby Back Ribs chips are something I am almost addicted to.

‘Pig chips’ as I lovingly call them have a sweet sweet flavor probably due to the molasses and sugar in the seasonings. There’s also the barbeque factor. I love barbeque sauce so naturally I’m attracted to these. Not much of a fan of baby back ribs, but I do love the sauce. And these are hot, you’ll need much liquid refreshment when partaking. Great chips, recommended.

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

French Fry Diary 76: Herr’s Kansas City Prime Steak Flavor

I just saw these new Herr’s chips the other day at my local Wawa and decided I had to try them. Their full product title is Herr’s Kansas City Prime Steak Artificially Flavored Potato Chips. My first question about these is do they taste like the meat or the stuff that tastes like the meat?

Upon reading the back of the bag I learned that Herr’s tops them "with the flavor of thick and juicy steak," a bold flavor hard to find "outside of your favorite steakhouse." Interesting. How exactly does one do that?

First things first, the picture on the bag is misleading. The chips are not wide ripples but tight thin ripples, not waves but ridges in other words. Waves are better for dipping in my opinion, just saying.

The chips do in fact have an interesting taste. The pepper is strong and they do have a steak vibe, it’s just not a taste one would expect on a potato chip. It is similar to the phenomenon of Jelly Bellys that have Buttered Popcorn or Bubble Gum flavors – yeah, it’s good but there’s something weird about it in that form.

Thee are tasty and different, but maybe not on a regular basis. Well worth a try though.

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Get Your Potato Head On!

A new game from Love Chips on Facebook, upload your face and add potato accessories, just like a real live Mr. Potato Head. Play here!

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