Wednesday, June 30, 2010

French Fry Diary 122: Wok Fries

I didn't have a deep fryer when I first got married. That came later. What I did have was a wok, both electric and traditional.

In fact, it was a joke when The Bride and I were opening both wedding and shower presents - "Oh look, another wok." Yeah, we received at least six.

So early in my marriage, all of my French fry experiments in deep frying took place in woks.

Here are a few tips from Serious Eats about how to deep fry using a wok. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Robert Plant’s Freedom Fries

I’m really not sure what it has to do with the whole Freedom Fries thing (or even the favorite fried food at all) from a few years back, but it sure does rock...

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Free Fries at Burger Lounge

Here's an excellent deal from our friends at Burger Lounge in California...

Watch their Twitter all day tomorrow for a special code that will get you free fries with the purchase of an entree order at any of their locations. Here's the Tweet:

Stay tuned tomorrow! We'll be releasing a 'code' on Twitter to use for FREE fries (w/ an entree order) All locations apply!

Hey Burger Lounge, so when are you going to come to the east coast? Those fries look delicious! Mmmm... fries... and even better when they're free...

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

French Fry Diary 121: Lumpy’s BBQ

We had the day off and The Bride and I planned lunch with the in-laws. We had intended to go to Redstone, a favorite for all of us, but we were diverted by an ad in those coupon saver books for a fairly new eat-in take out bbq place also quite close by. The added bonus of the coupon led us to Lumpy’s BBQ in Cherry Hill NJ.

The first thing I noticed was the menu, or the hand-out that passed for a menu. One of my pet peeves glared out of the page at me. Apostrophe s is not a plural. Please get it right. If you don’t put the care forth on the little things, I have to wonder how much care they put into the actual food and cooking. But I didn’t go for the grammar, I went for the favorite fried food.

The fries were crinkle cuts, frozen grocery type, and deep fried, but not greasy. They were actually really good, and topped with salt, pepper and seasoned salt to add an extra kick. The burger I got with the fries (yeah, I know, the fries came with the burger, but this is my preference) was horrible. It was wafer-thin and tasteless, even the fantastic mild and hot bbq sauce provided, did little to help. The roll however was terrific, following through on the Tony Luke theory of the bread always being important.

Despite my bad burger, which notably was not the one pictured above the counter, everyone else had great food and gave it rave reviews. The ribs were extra excellent, perhaps I’ll have them next time. And yes, there will be a next time. The fries were worth it.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Bobby Flay's Cheyenne Burger

This time with Food Network Friday we hijack a recipe from Bobby Flay. This is his Cheyenne Burger from his book "Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries & Shakes" and was also featured on his show "Grill It! With Bobby Flay."

Wow, did you think I could get the name Bobby Flay into that sentence one more time? ;-)

Here's the recipe that also includes those great shoestring onion rings as well. Mmmm... enjoy!

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Burger and Fries the Cat

I think they should have just named him "Fries" – he probably would have been a lot happier then...

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

French Fry Diary 120: National Onion Rings Day

Today, June 22nd, is National Onion Rings Day.

Yeah, I know this is French Fry Diary, but onion rings run a close second to fries when it comes to most loved side dishes, and the rings get more popular every day. Now they will never surpass the favorite fried food, but they are still a favorite.

Some of the best onion rings in my opinion can be found in some odd places. Cheeburger Cheeburger has excellent rings, so does Sonic and Red Robin Burger. The Bloomin' Onion at Outback is amazing and the Potato Onion Web at Orlando's Rising Star has to be seen to be believed. Props also go to Arby's onion peels, Alexia's frozen rings and especially to Bahama Breeze's coconut breaded onion rings. And of course, once you learn the secret to making them at home, nothing beats that.

So what are your favorite onion rings?

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

French Fry Diary 119: Casa Carollo’s Comedy Cabaret

The Bride and I have been going to the local Comedy Cabaret for literally decades, since we were dating. She of course still looks a hot twenty, and I look like, well, I look like I write a blog about French fries, if you get my drift. Regardless, we hadn’t gone in a while and decided to try the newest CC outlet as it’s right in our hometown. And while we were there, I thought I might also have some fries.

The area Casa Carollo’s has set aside for the Comedy Cabaret, combined with the bar area, really made me wonder how much was left of the actual restaurant based on the last time I had been there – but I didn’t really have a chance to explore and find out. There is after all a second floor.

The comedy show was actually pretty good. We especially enjoyed Marlton native Teri Valentine, emcee Jason Hazelwood and headliner Taylor Mason. We really didn’t like Frank Genzano who thought it was okay to make fun of the mentally handicapped, and we loved Jay Black who was a last minute substitution – he was great. And it was a nice trip down memory lane to hear "The Curly Shuffle" again.

But that’s not what you’re here for, is it? This is about the favorite fried food, not comedy. Casa Carollo Bar & Grille is a local Italian restaurant in Marlton NJ that has blossomed into a nightspot of sorts. The night we were there for comedy, they also had a singer in the front bar. The food is always excellent. I have always loved their steak sandwiches and especially the profiteroles.

For the comedy show they had a special 'comedy menu' so we ordered the fries from there. Just for the record, and to be fair, this isn’t accurately a review of Casa Carollo, as they also have special Carollo fries, Italian fries as well as onion rings, none of which we had this night, so we will have to come back. These fries were standard regular cuts, deep fried, not greasy and fun to snack on during a show. Not great, but not bad either. Either way, it’s a return trip for the comedy, the room, and the fries.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Shoestring Gremolata Fries

Grilled Bratwurst with Shoestring Gremolata Fries
Photo: Andre Baranowski

Canola oil, for frying
1⁄4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
2 1⁄2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled
Kosher salt, to taste
2 12-oz. bottles beer, preferably lager
1 small yellow onion, quartered
2 whole cloves
4 bratwurst (about 3⁄4 lbs.)
4 New England–style hot dog buns
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Dijon mustard, as needed
1 pint Pickled Cauliflower

1. Pour enough oil into a 12-quart pot so that it reaches a depth of 1". Heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer inserted in the oil registers 375°. Make a gremolata by mixing parsley, garlic, and lemon zest in a large bowl; set aside. Over a kitchen towel, julienne potatoes lengthwise using the narrowest setting of a French mandoline. Pat julienned potatoes dry with the towel.

2. Working in 2 batches, fry potatoes in oil until crisp, 6–10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fries to a paper towel–lined bowl. Season with salt. (Bring oil to 375° before frying second batch.) Transfer fries to bowl of gremolata; toss to coat fries evenly. (Serve hot or at room temperature.)

3. Build a medium-hot charcoal fire in a grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high. Meanwhile, bring beer, onions, cloves, and 1 cup water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Boil bratwurst in beer until almost cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drain.

4. Grill bratwurst, turning once, until browned, about 6 minutes. Using tongs, transfer bratwurst to a plate. Brush buns with the butter and grill until toasted and golden brown. Serve the bratwurst in the buns, slathered with mustard and garnished with the pickled cauliflower, alongside the fries.


This article was first published in Saveur in Issue #113

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Them's Some Mighty Big Fries!"

This picture was taken this past May at the McDonald’s at the Atlantic City Factory Outlets.

On top of the restaurant is a gigantic order of French fries, along with a soft drink to wash them down with.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

French Fry Diary 118: Alexia Oven Crinkles – Onion & Garlic

Here’s another trip to the grocer’s freezer with Alexia. Their frozen Onion & Garlic Oven Crinkles are standard crinkle cuts, some quite long, and are also USDA organic and have 0 transfat. That ought to make the Health Nazis happy.

These fries are very aromatic when the bag is first opened - very aromatic. All things considered, this is a good thing.

The directions say to put ‘em in the oven for 25-30 minutes at 425 degrees, or until the fries have the desired color and crispness. I gotta say that mine were in there for a good 40-45 minutes. They might want to adjust those instructions in my opinion.

Now when it is finally time to take them out, the aroma from the oven is delicious. It smells like really really good baked garlic bread. To taste however, the onion and garlic flavor is much more subdued than one would expect. That could be because both ingredients were dehydrated. The white pepper does add a bit of flavor though.

As with all organic fry products these also had that freezer burn taste. I tried to mask it with some Famous Dave’s Sweet & Zesty BBQ sauce and that added a bit of a zing, but didn’t help the freezer burn much. Still the sauce was good.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Double-Fried French Fries

We've talked about this before - the idea of the par-fry and the shock-fry. It's what makes for a crispy outside and soft and hot inside French fry. Now for this Food Network Friday we have the master Guy Fieri to give us his recipe for his Double-Fried French Fries.

From the "Fuel the Fieri" episode of "Guy's Big Bite"...

Here's the video of Guy in action making them, and here's the recipe. Enjoy!

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

French Fry Diary 117: Alexia Oven Crinkles – Salt & Pepper

These frozen fries from Alexia are Salt & Pepper crinkle cuts, with 0g trans fat, and certified organic by the USDA. In other words, they are Health Nazi safe. And bonus, they’re made from Pacific Northwest Russets, the good ones, and seasoned with sea salt and pepper.

On closer inspection, these standard crinkle cuts are actually quite long which is yet another bonus. Checking the ingredients, the pepper is not just pepper, but it’s also got bits of onion, garlic and jalapeƱo (!). This is muy strong pepper.

The French fries brown nicely and other than the freezer burn taste that all organic fries have, these aren’t bad. Have cold liquid nearby as that hot pepper taste stays around for a while, like the guest that wouldn’t leave. That doesn’t mean it isn’t good, just that it lingers quite a bit.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Hallmark Fries

Even Hallmark knows the great healing power and passion behind French fries.

The first card says this inside:

"But you... you can take two."

And the second one has this written within:

"Just tell me how many it would take to make you feel better."


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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

French Fry Diary 116: Harvest Diner

Dinering is a way of life in New Jersey. You go out for an evening and then afterwards you meet your friends at ‘the diner,’ of which there are several dozen within spitting distance. It was just such an occasion that brought me to the Harvest Diner on Route 130 in Cinnaminson NJ.

Typically my late night potato of choice is the breakfast type. For those outside the Jersey area, late night at the diner is usually time for breakfast, as it is almost morning, and most diners have a 24/7 breakfast menu. And come on, who doesn’t dig pancakes at three in the morning?

That said, the breakfast potatoes at the Harvest are abysmal, quite possibly the worst I have ever had. They were messy, greasy, and cold – not a good combination. And before you ask, no, I didn’t send them back. It’s always a bad idea to send something back in a Jersey diner as you will most certainly get a little something extra in your food, be it from the floor or some bodily function, trust me, either way you will not like it.

The steak fries that accompany most sandwiches and burgers at the Harvest are another story altogether. While these are definitely grocer’s freezer steak fries and deep-fried, there are always good. It’s hard to mess up steak fries, and these are tasty.

To sum up the Harvest Diner, it’s a nice place, a family place and great to hang out after hours, but stay away from the breakfast potatoes.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

French Fry Diary 115: Home Fries, The Movie

Home Fries ~ Nope, not what the title implies at all. Despite what might have been hoped for, this flick has little to do with the favorite fried food.

This quirky dark comedy has all the writing and the intentions of a Coen brothers film yet none of the performances. The eclectic cast, headlined by Drew Barrymore and Luke Wilson, and filled out by Catherine O’Hara, Jake Busey and Shelley Duvall, among others, is adequate but little else.

Dysfunctional family plus infidelity plus pregnancy equals attempted hilarity, it seems. Add in some high tech helicopters, some rednecks, cheap headsets and a burger joint, and you have Home Fries.

These are actually one or two shots of home fries, so it wasn’t quite false advertising, I guess. And I wonder what kind of fries the fictional Burger-Matic actually has... we never see them...

More conventional movie reviews can be found over at my pop culture blog, Welcome to Hell, feel free to check it out.

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