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Crunchy Baked French Fries

Caramel Corn

The quest for crunchy baked french fries ends here! Making fries at home should be something enjoyed regularly. Sadly, most online versions disappoint. Say good-bye to limp, floppy potatoes. Say hello to fries that have a longer table-life than the standard drive-through dash.

The secret to these fries is a quick boil in a baking soda bath. The edges of the fries get roughed up nicely, so when they bake in the oven they get the crunchy outside paired with a creamy inside.

Crunchy Baked French Fries

1½ pounds russet potatoes
Salted water
½ teaspoon baking soda
Butter and/or olive oil
Salt and pepper

Prep. Preheat oven to 525° F. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Peel potatoes. Slice lengthwise, divide into two stacks, then slice again into long strips. Try to cut the potatoes into the same thickness around, the skinnier the better.

Blanch the potatoes. When the water is boiling, add baking soda, then the potatoes. Baking soda is essential to final texture, do not skip! Boil for 3-4 minutes, then drain. Toss with some butter and olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and toss again. The more roughed up they get, the crunchier they’ll be.

Bake the fries. Spread the fries onto several baking sheets lined with parchment paper, arranged into single layers. Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally, until browned.

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Latin-Twist Summer Salad with Gooseberries

Gooseberry Salad.

OK, let’s get one thing straight, I have no idea what to call this salad. For me, dishes with cumin, lime and avocados just make me think of Ecuador or Argentina. The point is that the flavors play really nice with the gooseberries. The greens could be anything, literally — but a pinch of cumin and a squeeze of lime can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, and they really bring gooseberries to life.

So when you see those tart, tangy little grape/tomato-looking balls of happiness in the farmer’s market or grocery store in late June/early July, you may wonder what the heck to do with them. They are full-flavored pops of drama, and this salad is the perfect stage.

Summer Salad with Gooseberries

1 bunch red chard
1 avocado
1 lime
1 pint gooseberries
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Optional: 1/4 cup cotija cheese

 
Prep chard. Wash and thinly slice the chard by stacking the leaves, making lengthwise slits, then slicing every half inch down to the stalk. Add to large salad bowl.

Prep avocado. Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Make crosswise slices, then push against skin to release the chunks in a bowl. Slice the lime in half and juice over the avocado then toss to coat. This will help prevent the avocado from turning brown.

Prep gooseberries. Wash the gooseberries; remove any leaves or stems. Slice the gooseberries in half.

Finish salad. Combine the sliced chard, chopped avocado along with lime juice, and gooseberries in a salad bowl. Add enough olive oil to coat, the cumin, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat completely and serve. Optional: Sprinkle with cotija cheese before serving. The cotija is a nice salty topping, but can be difficult to find so omitting it is just fine

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Indian-Spiced Parsnip Soup with Apples and Coconut Milk

More! My turn! More!

More! My turn! More!

One of the side effects of owning a food business is bringing home loads of excess ingredients, like five pounds of delicious, organic parsnips from Driftless Organics, and extra spice mixes from Indian dinners. One cannot waste these things! I set about to turn it into a soup and thought it was really yummy. But what surprised me most of all, was my kids going ga-ga over it. Even my young sons — who pretty much only get excited about hot dogs — were begging for more. I call that a five-star recipe.

This mild vegan soup gets sweetness from the apple, and brings parsnips to life with ginger, garlic, and spice mixes from chicken tikka masala and gajar matar. Some tomato and coconut milk round out the flavor with creaminess and acidity.

Indian-Spiced Parsnip Soup

You can purchase the spices in the bulk section of most co-ops or organic grocery stores.
If you want a shortcut on the spices, substitute with 2 tablespoons of curry powder.

Indian-Spiced Parsnip Soup
with Apples and Coconut Milk

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 pounds parsnips
1 small apple
3 teaspoons salt
Indian Spices (see below)
One 32-ounce vegetable broth
1 cup whole, peeled tomatoes (1/2 a 14-ounce can)
One 15-ounce can coconut milk
Extra water, as needed
Chile oil or red pepper flakes, for garnish
Indian Spices
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon garam masala
2 cardamom pods

1. Prep ingredients. All the ingredients are going to be puréed, so they don’t need to be perfect.
> Onion > Cut onion in half and trim the top off; remove skin. Rough chop.
> Ginger > Use a peeler or a spoon to scrape the skin off the ginger. Rough chop.
> Garlic > Place the garlic on the cutting board and lay your knife on top of it, broadside. With the heel of your hand, smash down onto the side of the knife, then remove skin.
> Parsnips > Peel the parsnips. Trim off the top, and coarsely chop the thick parts of the parsnips.
> Apples > Wash the apple and peel (julienne peels if you want to use them for garnish). Quarter lengthwise and remove the core.

2. Soften the vegetables. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. When hot, add the onions and cook for several minutes. Then add the ginger and garlic, cook for another couple of minutes. Add the parsnips and apple , continue cooking until the onions begin to brown and caramelize.

3. Make the soup. Stir in the salt and Indian spices, cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Pour in the broth, scrape the bottom of the pan to set any brown bits free, and add the tomatoes. The liquid level needs to be about 80-90% covering the vegetables, add water as needed. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium high and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the parsnips are tender.

4. Purée the soup. Discard the bay leaf and add the coconut milk. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender. Do not fill more than half full, to reduce risk of splatter. Hold the lid down with a towel, to avoid burns, and purée until smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and continue with remaining soup. Mix in more hot water if it is too thick.

5. Serve. Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with apple peels, if desired, sprinkle with chile oil or pepper flakes, and serve.

COOK TIME: 45 minutes

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