Homemade oven baked fries

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There’s only a “before” picture because the finished fries were demolished before a picture could be taken.

My eyes have been opened. I once was blind, but now I see. The secret to homemade oven baked fries? Soak the starch out of the potatoes and make sure they’re properly dry before baking. If these fries come out limp, there’s either too much starch in them or they weren’t sufficiently dried before entering the oven. Put on your stretchy pants because this is a belly buster.

Yield: is it 1 serving if I can polish off the whole tray alone?

Ingredients

  • 3 medium potatoes (mix it up! you can use purple potatoes, sweet potatoes, yukon, russet, whatever Speisekartoffeln your heart desires) – don’t bother skinning the potatoes, as most of the nutrients are in the skin anyhow
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • optional: ~1 tsp taco seasoning or curry powder
  • optional: parmesean cheese, truffle oil, rosemary, or parsely as a topping
  • salt to taste

Directions

  1. Julienne the potatoes. Take this opportunity to polish your knife skills and flex your pipes.
  2. Soak the fries in cold water for at least 30 minutes. Sometimes, I soak the really starchy potatoes for up to 45 minutes.
  3. Rinse the potatoes with fresh water and drain.
  4. Lay the fries out on a few paper towels to dry for 30-45 minutes.
  5. Toss with the olive oil, a dash of salt, and any seasoning (if using).
  6. Heat the oven to 205 C.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes.
  8. Turn up the heat to 220 C and shuffle the fries around.
  9. Bake for another 20 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle the toppings over the golden digits (if using).
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Fig Biscotti

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A fantastic recipe adapted from my new favorite cookbook – Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Every Day. If you’ve never had fresh biscotti, you’re about to be ruined. Say goodbye to that dry, packaged biscotti desert and enter the warm, chewy goodness of Homemade Treat Land. You can see other biscotti recipes on her site: smittenkitchen

Yield: 33 biscotti

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of flour (130 g)
  • 1.5 cups and 2 tbsp rolled oats (130 g)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 90 g butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean) – will try with almond extract next time
  • 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds (45 g)
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (40 g)
  • 1 cup diced dried figs (150 g) – will try apricots next time
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil and a brush

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 165 C
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, almonds, coconut
  3. Separately mix the eggs, butter, sugar, and vanilla
  4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet bowl by thirds
  5. Fold in the dried fruit
  6. Divide the dough into thirds
  7. Roll each third into a log on a floured counter
  8. Place each log on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  9. Brush each log with olive oil
  10. Bake for 20 minutes, or until they are lightly golden and are forming cracks
  11. Let the logs cool almost completely (1 hr at room temperature or 30 minutes outside if it’s cold)
  12. Cut the logs on the bias in 3 cm thick slices
  13. Bake the logs again for another 10-15 minutes

Carrot salad with roasted chickpeas and pistachios

This salad is so good that if I were left to my own devices, I would eat all 4 servings in one sitting. Gulp.

Yield: 4 servings (or 1 really big one)

Ingredients

Chickpeas

  • one can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and lightly dried
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin

Dressing

  • 4 tbsp tahini
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • juice from 1 lemon, strained
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • to consider for next time: one crushed, smoked serrano pepper

Salad

  • 4-5 grated carrots
  • 1/4 cup of chopped pistachios (I usually find the roasted and salted variety, but this would work with the roasted and unsalted type as well)

Directions

  1. After tossing with the oil and spices, bake the chickpeas at 220C for 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the dressing and prepare the salad.
  3. Toss everything together. and serve with a bit of parsley as garnish. Alternatively, you can keep the chickpeas and pistachios separate until moments before you eat (so as to preserve the crunch)

Swamy’s Bean Dip

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Did you know bean dip can double as dinner? Don’t be shy, it’s not simply an appetizer!
Yield: a 9×12 in baking dish, as pictured above

Ingredients

Dip

  • 1 can of refried beans
  • 2 tbsp of taco seasoning mix to taste (unsalted)
  • 250 g Neufchatel cream cheese
  • 200 g shredded cheddar

Veggie mix

  • 1/2 of a diced onion
  • 1 diced red bell pepper
  • 1 diced green bell pepper (optional)
  • 1 can of corn (optional)

Salsa

  • 1 diced avocado or 1 cup of guacamole
  • 2 diced vine tomatoes
  • a handful of chopped cilantro
  • juice from 1/2 a lime
  • 1 tbsp taco seasoning (unsalted)
  • 1 diced jalapeño (if you’re feeling sassy)
  • salt to taste

Directions

  1. Mix the cream cheese with the taco seasoning
  2. As the bottom layer in the pan, spread the refried beans evenly around
  3. Next, spread the cream cheese over the beans
  4. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the cream cheese
  5. Then sprinkle the veggie mix evenly over the shredded cheese
  6. Bake this in the in oven 375F/190C for 10 min or less – pull it out of the oven when it’s warm and melty
  7. Top with the salsa
  8. Tuck into this with tortilla chips

Spicy sauteed green beans

It’s spicy, crunchy, and juicy… need I say more? I like this as a side dish to a braised tofu main dish over some white rice. It hits the spot, big time. Sometimes, if I have fresh shiitakes on hand, I will toss them in as well.

Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 300g green beans, cleaned and cut into 1in pieces
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 fresh chillies, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • some chili oil, to taste
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup water

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, corn starch mixture, salt, and pepper.
  2. Separately, in a skillet, heat the sesame oil. Add the fresh chili, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and green onions. Fry for about 30-60 seconds.
  3. Before the garlic browns, add the green beans. Stir occasionally. They should be fully cooked in 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add the sauce and cook for another minute or so (medium-high heat).
  5. Add extra chili oil to taste.

Green onion flatbread with garlic soy dipping sauce

You could call this a few different names: flatbread, pancakes, Asian roti, etc. The garlic soy sauce livens up this classic Chinese side dish/snack. It’s addictive.

Servings 1 (if you’re a piggy) or 4

Ingredients

Flatbread

  • 1.5 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/4 tsp ground Chinese Five Spice
  • 4 green onions, sliced thinly
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • Vegetable oil and a brush

Dipping sauce

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or honey
  • 1 clove finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp finely minced ginger
  • 1 finely sliced green onion

Directions

  1. Mix the flour, sesame seeds, five spice powder, and water until it forms a dough
  2. Knead the dough well (5 min) – it should be quite smooth
  3. Let it rest for 30 minutes, covered
  4. Mix the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small container and set it aside
  5. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts
  6. Roll each piece into a 7 in circle
  7. Brush the circle with a little oil, cover with scallions, and roll it up tightly (like a fajita/burrito/spring roll)
  8. Coil the burrito tightly into a spiral, and roll it out again
  9. In a hot skillet with some oil, lightly fry each pancake (~3 minutes per side)
  10. Cut into wedges and enjoy with the dipping sauce

Lemon Basil Orzo with Goat Cheese and Toasted Sunflower Seeds

The delicate flavors in this easy pasta salad were a hit with our German friends, but left something spicier to be desired with our resident Indian (Swamy’s two cents: “It’s no Bachelor Boys, I’ll tell you that”)

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of uncooked orzo pasta (250 g)
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 150 g goat cheese
  • 1 cup of fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 75 g sunflower seeds

Directions

  1. Cook the orzo pasta according to package directions
  2. Dry roast the sunflower seeds (toast the seeds in a pan on the stovetop, no butter/oil needed)
  3. Stir all ingredients together