A Cook’s Nightmare and A Cook’s Dream

Watching Martha Stewart on Hulu while doing the New York Times crossword puzzle (don’t be too impressed, I barely got four answers) I had a distinct memory of her having Julia Child and Jacques Pepin on as guests. So I went on to YouTube and sure enough the clip you see above surfaced. I love the moment when Martha’s whisking with Julia and Jacques peering over her shoulders; it is, as I quote Martha saying in this post’s title, both a cook’s nightmare and a cook’s dream. If only most of us could be so lucky.

[Update: there’s a whole battery of videos on Martha’s site of her cooking with Julia and Jacques. Now I know how I’m spending the rest of my afternoon.]

Tuesday Techniques: Home Fries

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Last week I started a series called Tuesday Techniques, a series where I cook my way through Jacques Pepin’s Complete Techniques the same way that Top Chef Judge Tom Colicchio did at the start of his career. Already, I’m on shaky ground: (1) my Tuesday techniques posts always show up on Wednesday, but Wednesday Techniques doesn’t have quite the same ring to it; (2) this week I didn’t really use the Pepin book to work my chosen technique, I chose the technique first and picked up the book later.

The technique I chose was “home fries.” I chose home fries because it was Sunday morning and I was going to make scrambled eggs and there were Yukon gold potatoes sitting on the counter. Now my normal Sunday breakfast fare is scrambled eggs with homemade biscuits or buttermilk pancakes. I don’t make home fries, normally, because the truth is I don’t know how to make home fries. They’re a staple on your plate at a brunch restaurant, but I always take them for granted. Often they’re disappointing: limp, greasy, under-seasoned.

So this Sunday I began my research. I did lots of Googling, I did open the Pepin book but his recipes for fried potato balls and soap-shaped potatoes didn’t really fit the bill. He did speak eloquently about my chosen ingredient, though: “The potato is probably the greatest food contribution that the New World made to the Old….The potato is a versatile vegetable; it can be boiled, sauteed, baked, fried, steamed, broiled, stewed and so on.”

The secret to making home fries, I soon discovered (after all my research) is a combination of two of those techniques: boiling and frying. First you boil, then you fry. It’s that easy.

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