I’m so mad at myself. I figured out how to make homemade potato chips in such an easy, head-smackingly simple way, I’m going to make them all the time and gain a million pounds. It all started when I thought about the shallow-frying technique I used to make pita chips and tortilla chips; why wouldn’t that work for potato chips? Turns out it does, better than expected. If I wanted to, I could have a plateful of homemade chips in front of you in 15 minutes. Warning: this is a dangerous thing to know how to do. You’ll never stop wanting to do it.
On Saturday morning, I woke up with a throbbing headache, totally dehydrated and desperate for coffee. That’s always the sign of a successful Friday night (ours involved seeing “Blue Jasmine” so you know it was wild). A few hours later, feeling better, I was craving some greasy food to accompany my viewing of “It’s Complicated” on Netflix. I remembered that I had corn tortillas in the refrigerator; what if I fried those up and made nachos? I immediately got to work.
For as long as I’ve been roasting chickens (and I roast chickens all the time) I’ve been throwing away the liver that comes stuffed inside, along with the giblets, because–well–I don’t know: am I supposed to cook and eat that thing?
Well, yes. I mean not all the time. But they don’t put it in there to throw away, right? It’s in there because a chicken died and one of its parts tastes very delicious if you know how to cook it the right way. In fact, cooked the right way a seared chicken liver competes with the pope’s nose as one of the major treats afforded to you, alone, in the kitchen when you’re cooking chicken. So here’s what you need to do….
I have a distinct memory of a spring day in New York, back when I lived in Park Slope, at Brooklyn Fish Camp. Craig and I were sitting outside at a picnic table with benches and under that warm blue sky, the first of its kind after a harsh winter, a waitress presented us with the basket of hush puppies that we ordered. I didn’t know much about hush puppies; they just sounded good to me. And seeing them there in that basket–fluffy orbs of corn meal that had been deep-fried in oil–I suddenly felt the winter drop out from beneath me, and felt the heat of summer rising up at full blast.
There’s a very hip restaurant in my neighborhood called Joseph Leonard; you go there, and everyone else is either more attractive or more wealthy than you. There’s a very cool bathroom with a medicine cabinet over the sink that has Q-tips, Altoids and tampons (I bet women wish more restaurant bathrooms had tampons; or maybe they do and that’s just a secret between women and restaurants?) and on every table a little jar of cornichons. It’s that little jar of cornichons (not the tampons) that I’d like to talk about today. It led to my own table decorating revelation, one involving sugar snap peas, garlic and lots of white wine vinegar.
As a kid, I felt the same way about plain yogurt as I did about white crayons: why do these things exist? Who would eat plain yogurt? Who would color with a white crayon? What kind of sick, twisted soul would find these things appealing?
As an adult, I still feel the same way about the white crayon–Why does it exist? To color on black paper? Who has black paper?–but I’ve had a change of heart about plain yogurt. Especially now that I’ve discovered plain Greek yogurt, which is thick and rich and, when paired with other flavors, very satisfying as an afternoon snack.
Growing up, I hated mayonnaise and I hated cheese. Strange for a kid, yes, but the cheese-hatred had some basis: my dad hated it, so we never had it in the house. And I became so conditioned to hating cheese, it took me years (and a cheese-loving boyfriend) to get over it. As for the mayo, that was entirely my own thing: nothing repulsed me more. The gummy, gooey whiteness mortified me; nothing could ruin a sandwich faster than spreading mayo on it first. I could abide it in coleslaw and tuna salad because I didn’t see it go in, but a turkey sandwich with gloppy mayo on top? To this day, I’d say “no.” So imagine how repulsed I’d be if, as a wee lass, you’d presented me with a Southern delicacy known as “pimento cheese”–cheddar cheese mixed with mayo and chopped up pimentos. I might’ve, to use an elegant verb from my childhood, hurled.
Inspiration strikes at the strangest moments. Like Newton under the apple tree, you might be daydreaming about “The Golden Girls” episode where Dorothy’s friend has a lesbian crush on Rose and BOOM–you’ve invented gravity!
Such was the case for me, last week, while grading student work in my Gotham Food Writing class: I had the sudden, inexplicable urge to stick a banana in a hot dog bun, schmear it with peanut butter, drizzle on honey and call it “The Elvis Dog.” This was a great moment in human history.