I’m back from New York! Sunshine is streaming through my windows, Cookie is snoozing on the armchair and my air conditioner unit is humming. It’s good to be home. I’m still processing my trip—it was wonderful—but I’m not ready to put it all into words just yet. Thank you all so much for your amazing food recommendations, though! I knew you wouldn’t let me down. It was a whirlwind trip and I wish I could have tried every single recommendation, but I think we managed to eat our way around the city.
One major takeaway from my trip is that good food is good food, no matter where it is made. I’m just as happy eating Shake Shack’s crinkle fries in Madison Square Park as I am with Johnnie’s fries here in Oklahoma. And for the record, Oklahoma is not an unfortunate place to live. I’ve returned with a renewed sense of appreciation for this place. Lastly, these baked fries might be lower in fat and healthier than their fried counterparts, but they are unbelievably crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I only post exceptionally tasty recipes, y’all.
I feel like I owe those of you who offered suggestions a quick rundown of what and where I ate, so here we go: brick oven pizza at Roberta’s in Bushwick, a hot dog from Shake Shack (when in Madison Square Park… eat a hot dog), authentic New York pizza at Carmine’s Pizzeria in Williamsburg, just about the whole menu at Momofuku Milk Bar in Williamsburg and Midtown (I tried the white Russian milkshake, a chocolate-chocolate cookie, blueberry and cream cookie, compost cookie, candy bar pie, pistachio and almond croissant—let’s pretend that I walked enough to burn all that off) and an unforgettable eggplant sandwich at Momofuku Má Pêche.
We also tried bagels with lox and cream cheese in Madison Square Park (I’m not into lox), Cuban food somewhere in Brooklyn, gelato and beer near Times Square and Indian food in Queens. I can’t forget to mention the stellar little plates of finger food and custom cocktails (like this one) served at the Saveur Food Blog Awards party. Here’s a video of the event by lovely Aube, if you’d like to check it out. I also had a grand time at Veronica‘s rooftop potluck. As you can imagine, magical things arrive at the table when about 15 food bloggers get together to share food and drinks. I’m still dreaming about Yossy‘s cheese sticks and strawberry pastries, and Veronica’s all-buckwheat, gluten-free version of my crêpes turned out marvelously.
Needless to say, my stomach is full and my mind is buzzing with recipe inspiration. I can’t wait to try cooking my own renditions of my favorite finds. For now, though, we’re going back to basics with perfect baked French fries. I learned the technique from the geniuses of America’s Test Kitchen. Their trick? A ten-minute soak in hot water prior to baking. I could hardly believe that baked fries could be so crispy, but it’s true. I made a second batch this morning with my new baking sheets just to be sure of it!
- 2 to 4 organic russet potatoes (about 8 ounces each)
- ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon quality canola oil or vegetable oil
- Sea salt and ground black pepper
- Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Scrub the potatoes and cut them, lengthwise, into 10 to 12 even wedges. The trick is to first quarter the potatoes lengthwise, and then cut each quarter lengthwise into 2 to 3 wedges (I sliced mine a little too thin).
- Place the sliced potatoes into a large bowl and cover them with hot water (I used hot water from the tap, but others have suggested that pipes can leach impurities into hot water, so it may be best to use cool tap water that has been heated on the stove). Let them soak for 10 minutes. This step releases some of the starch in the potatoes and lets them absorb moisture, which leads to crisp outsides and moist interiors.
- Cover a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle ¼ cup oil onto the paper, then sprinkle it evenly with about ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- Drain the potatoes and pat them dry thoroughly with a tea towel or paper towels. Toss the potatoes with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and mix evenly.
- Arrange the fries in a single layer on a baking sheet and cover the sheet tightly with foil. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and cook another 5 to 10 minutes, until the underside of the potatoes are spotty golden brown.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and scrape the fries loose with a spatula. Then use tongs or the spatula to flip over each wedge. Arrange them in an even layer and put them back in the oven to bake until the fries are golden and crisp, about 5 to 10 minutes longer. Rotate the pan as necessary to help them brown evenly.
- Season with salt and pepper (thinly sliced green onions and shaved Parmesan are optional) and serve hot.
- Lightly adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook.
- I suggest buying organic potatoes because conventionally grown potatoes are on the dirty dozen list for being high in pesticides.
- The recipe specified canola oil, so I used my organic, expeller-pressed canola oil for this recipe. I would use olive oil, but I'm afraid it might start smoking in the oven.
- Feel free wipe the foil clean and save it for next time!
- I tried soaking the fries in cold beer instead of water and the fries turned out great. I couldn't detect much of the beer flavor, though, so I'll stick with hot water. I also brushed fresh, minced garlic over the fries before baking—tasty, but the garlic got a little too brown. Maybe I will try again, but brush on the garlic when I flip the fries to prevent burning. I might try curry powder or other spices next time.
- If you like this recipe, you'll also like my recipe for crispy sweet potato fries! (The secret? Corn starch.)