Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Michel Richard's Spuddies

A month ago, I borrowed a cookbook by Chef Michel Richard called Happy in the Kitchen . It’s a glorious big cookbook, with nice color photos and an easy narrative style. Chef Richard owns Citronelle, a Zagat rated restaurant in Washington DC. (I’ve eaten there once. ) So the book does have some pretty ‘cheffy’ type recipes, but it promises to adapt the techniques for the home kitchen. Anyhow, several of Chef’s recipes intrigued me, so I copied them and will try them out as time goes by.

Spuddies are Chef Richard's version of TaterTots, those small logs of chopped potatoes found in the freezer aisle of the grocery store. Now why would I bother to make TaterTots when I can buy a bag? Because the recipe was interesting and innovative AND because I wanted to see if it could really be done in a home kitchen. Also, the recipe’s technique can possibly be applied to other vegetables. Since the godchildren were visiting over the weekend, I thought it would make a good project for us.

The recipe is pretty straightforward: peel 1 ½ pounds yukon gold potatoes, process in a food processor with 2 cups water, until the potato is chopped into ¼ inch pieces. Drain. Dry. Toss in the oven with unflavored gelatin. Remove. Mix with Wondra flour and ground coriander. Shape into logs. Chill. Slice. Double fry.

Here are the problems I ran into. My food processor bowl was too small to contain the potatoes and 2 cups of water. For the second batch I made, I processed the potatoes in batches, which worked much better. For the brief time the potatoes spent in the oven, I found that using Silpat or parchment paper helped a great deal, and resulted in less potato sticking to the pan.

The frying was alittle tricky. Chef doesn’t tell you, but the Spuddies are very fragile during the first frying. So don’t move or touch them until they have developed an outer crust. Even jiggling the pan can result in a messy spudsplosion.

The Spuddies were crisp, golden brown with a clean potato flavor. After the first batch, we experimented with a second batch by adding a quarter of an onion to the potato mixture. That was a hit with my godchildren too.

The most important thing was that my godchildren had fun making their own Spuddies. The second most important thing was the Spuddies didn’t contain any weird preservatives, artificial colorings, artificial flavorings, etc.

Nutritional info for Chef Richard’s Spuddies (using The entire recipe makes 20 Spuddies.
For the entire recipe uncooked:
Cal: 369, total fat 1 gram, carbs 78 grams, fiber 6 grams, protein 15 grams

Sunday, December 3, 2006


It's wintertime in the Northern Hemisphere. While watching the early news this morning, the dreaded weather forecaster uttered the 'S' word in the same sentence with 'later this week'. Yes, the 'S' word. It conjures lovely visions of Currier and Ives lithographs where the glistening stuff is covering everything and the people are laughingly enjoying themselves.

I happen to like the 'S' stuff. I especially like listening to it while it falls. For some reason the air sounds dull and unearthily quiet, but you can hear the almost metallic thuds of the snow flakes as they hit windows. I can only stand to listen to it for a few minutes at a time (then I have to hurry back inside and warm up with a mug of steaming hot cheesy broccoli soup.) I hate driving in snowy weather, mainly because everyone turns into a possessed maniac. And supermarkets? Forget about it!

I've tried to figure out what makes people act so panicked about snow. The only thing I can think of is Snowsteria. You've seen it before. It's that wild eye panicked look everyone gets whenever the 'S' word is mentioned in a news cast. It causes people to rush to the nearest supermarket and buy the store's entire stock of toilet paper, bread (even if they don't eat bread), milk (even if they don't drink milk), soda pop, cookies, potato chips and condoms. It causes people to fill up their gas tanks to all of their cars, even if that amount is half a gallon. It causes everyone to buy tons of sand and ice melt and two snow shovels for every member of their family (and two spares just in case).

The gas I sorta understand. But the toilet paper? I just don't get it. Come on, it's not like you're anticipating a stomach flu for the next couple of days. The bread and milk? I sorta understand. However, if you're so Snowsterical that you forgot the peanutbutter, jelly, cold cuts, and mayo, I don't know how much that bread is gonna help you. The cookies and potato chips...again, why that?'s to go along with all the milk and soda pop. It would make more sense to buy a turkey or a big pot roast and cook it. Or better yet, buy a couple of chickens and make a vat of soup. I'm not going to even address the condoms...

Friday, December 1, 2006

Not Wholly Guacamole

I was reading the news on the Net yesterday and found an interesting item. KraftFoods is being sued for false advertizing because their Guacamole Dip contains about 2% avocado. The plaintiff purchased the product, used it in a three layer dip and found it didn't have much of an avocado taste. Upon reviewing the ingredients, she found that it contained modified food starch, coconut and soybean oils, corn syrup and food coloring.,1,6434345.story?coll=chi-news-hed

My question is why did she purchase a food product without reading the entire label? By law, ingredients have to be listed. So what prevented her from reading the label?

I read labels, which is why I don't buy alot of prepared foods. And come on, she used it in a three layer dip! For goodness sake! A three layer dip has guacamole, sour cream, and cheese/salsa. And she was able to taste the guacamole through that??

Come on!

If you don't take the time to read the ingredients/labels of the foods you purchase before you purchase them, that's your problem. What do people want? Lights, sirens and a baritone voice telling you the ingredients every time you pick an item off the shelf?


Anyhow, here's my recipe for chunky guacamole. I like it little spicy too.

Chunky Guacamole
3 Haas avocados
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 lime, juiced
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped tomato

Into a non-reactive bowl, combine the garlic, lime juice, jalapeno pepper, and onion. Set aside while you prepare the avocados. Slice two of the avocadoes, and mash the flesh into the lime juice mixture. The remaining avocado chop into chunks. Fold it and the cumin, cilantro and tomato into the mashed mixture. Serve.