Baked potato fries


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Potatoes!! Is there anything as comforting, as loving, as selfless, as versatile, as sexy, as sensuous as potatoes?? No, the answer is no!! Potatoes love you back they understand your feelings, they believe in giving and they care.

Sadly with modern times now, these beautiful spuds of love have been maligned as fattening food.. gasp! people are told to steer clear of them if they want to lose weight.. I say, what rot?? It’s not true. Potatoes aren’t bad for you, you’re bad for potatoes. Who thought of loading them with MSG and packing them into airy bags? you did! who thought of over salting them to the point of oblivion?? you did!! So please do not blame these humble vegetables for making you fat. Blame yourselves. Fried food WILL fatten you, it does not take a rocket scientist to know that, but when you bake these beauteous vegetables with the right amount of love, they love you back.

Case in point are these baked fries. They require no effort but give you all the love you need these winter months. Not only do they satisfy your spud cravings but they also don’t make you feel bad about it.

So for those moments of anguish when only a potato will do, bake these fries and get caught in the rapturous greed of smug satisfaction.

DSC_08521Just potatoes, garlic, olive oil (any oil really), mixed italian seasoning, paprika and sea salt.

DSC_0854before you start, line your baking sheet with foil.

DSC_0855wash and peel your potatoes. Remove any eyes and anything weird you don’t like seeing on your fries. You can keep the skin on the potatoes if you wish, just wash and scrub them really well.

DSC_0858Since my potatoes were not exactly equal in size, I cut mine to make three roughly equal sized potatoes. You don’t have to do this if your vegetables are symmetrically proportional.

DSC_0861I cut each potato segment into three, because I don’t exactly like very skinny fries, but if you do, please go ahead and make them as thin as you like.

DSC_0862So many potatoes.

DSC_0866I cut each segment in three’s.

DSC_0869I had almost equal sized fries, those which were a bit thick I cut them to size. Nobody messes with the size okay!

DSC_0870Into a pot of cold water to rinse away the starch. Let these be for a while now.

DSC_0871Now about their massage oil. Peel your cloves of garlic and mince them fairly well or chop, whatever you prefer.

DSC_0872add the seasoning mix. I’m using dry simply because It’s too cold and I have no fresh herbs left, but if you wish you could as easily use them fresh. Dried is just easier. These mixed Italian seasonings are pretty nifty.

DSC_0875in with the paprika. As little or as much as you like.

DSC_0876a glug of oil. This is about a tablespoon, but you could use more, you could use less.

DSC_0879stir with a spoon of choice until all is well combined.

DSC_0880Drain the potatoes and pat them dry with a kitchen towel or cloth of your choice.

DSC_0882give them a good pat. You want them completely dry.

DSC_0883tumble onto your lined baking sheet

DSC_0885make sure there isn’t a single wet spot. (snigger)

DSC_0887pour over the massage oil and this gets a little messy because you need to use your hands to evenly coat them

DSC_0888like so. Make sure the oil is distributed evenly and that every piece is well bathed.

DSC_0889sprinkle on the salt and into the oven at 200℃ for 35-40 minutes.

DSC_0906this is what they looked after 30 minutes of baking and the kitchen was smelling so divine. Garlic infused herbal incense. I was mesmerized and hungry.

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like this at 38 minutes of baking, and I turned on the broiler for about 2 minutes because I was getting impatient and I love it when they turn golden and crisp on the top.

DSC_0924like so!!

How were they? what can I say? see for yourself. They were beautiful, they were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I gave them a final sprinkling of salt before I served them.

DSC_0929A flask of masala tea and potato fries.. what more can I ask this winter?

Ingredients

Potatoes (as many as you want)

Garlic- 2 to 3 cloves

Italian seasoning – 1 teaspoon

Paprika – 1 teaspoon

Salt to taste ( I used 1 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt)

Olive oil/any vegetable oil – 1 to 2 tablespoon

RECIPE: Line a baking tray with aluminium foil. Wash and peel your potatoes and cut each into 3 segments and each segment into two or three fries, depending on how thick or thin you want them. Soak them into a bowl of cold water to remove excess starch.

Into a separate bowl, mince your garlic, add in the Italian seasoning, paprika and oil and mix well.

Drain the potatoes and dry thoroughly.

Tip them on your aluminium lined baking tray and pour over the prepared oil mixture and coat every fry with the mixture, making sure they’re all evenly coated.

bake at 200℃ for 35-40 minutes until deeply golden. Depending on your oven the baking time will vary. In some ovens it might take longer in some lesser, so keep an eye.

Enjoy!!

 

Garlic basil focaccia


DSC_0616Focaccia sounds like an enigmatic lover. It’s the kind of romantic name that would roll off my tongue after going easy on the wine, when in the throws of passion I’d utter in a husky femme fatale voice and say ‘oh focaccia my love, I have killed Valentino to be with you forever’ or something idiotic like that.. except Focaccia isn’t some  chivalrous lover, it’s a chivalrous carb form, a wondrous bread if you must. A sort of flattened bread, slicked with olive oil and a treat to end all treats. Much like focaccia the lover, you’d want to take this bread back to bed with you.

Wonderful as it is, I decided to up the ante by adding in hints of garlic and basil, seeing that harsh winters were not too kindly with my basil plant I decided to experiment with focaccia and the results were nothing short of magnificent. It was delightful and not too overwhelming. The best part however, was that it was easy to make.

Not too fussy and without too many ingredients

DSC_0475Flour, sugar, yeast, salt, olive oil, basil and garlic.. also water which I forgot to picture.

DSC_0477Chop the garlic and basil not too fine.

DSC_0478we begin with the garlic part of focaccia and I do this by making some garlic oil. I didn’t want to put bits of garlic in my bread as I want the garlic flavors, but not too pronounced. Heat some olive oil in a pan or vessel of choice.

DSC_0480add in the chopped bits of garlic

DSC_0485let the oil heat up slowly sizzling the garlic

DSC_0486slowly as the oil heats the garlic will start oozing its flavours.

DSC_0487like so..

DSC_0488and when it just starts turning brown you turn off the heat because they will keep getting darker in the hot oil.

DSC_0489at this moment when the oil is really hot you also add in the chopped basil

DSC_0490 the basil will sizzle with the garlic and you’d wonder why this aroma has never been used for creating incense sticks.

Leave it to cool and start with prepping flour for the bread.

DSC_0491sugar into a cup

DSC_0493followed by warm water

DSC_0494followed by sprinkling of yeast. leave it to proof for about 10 minutes and enjoy the proofing show from afar without disturbing it please.

DSC_0495Use a big bowl or vessel of choice for the initial mixing of the flour. here is the flour in question.

DSC_0497sprinkle in the salt.

DSC_0498and mix and create a crater of sorts in the middle. This is where our liquid items will go i.e the yeasty water and the oil, and speaking of the oil..

DSC_0499aha!! it has cooled down and now we just have a small task at hand.. we need to get rid of these bits of garlic.

DSC_0500I use chopsticks, but please feel free to use fingers, spoon, fork.. it’s your oil.

DSC_0501chopsticks are efficient. this is in essence very good aromatic and strong-smelling garlic oil with a hint of basil. here is where I realized I need MORE BASIL!!

DSC_0502Back our yeasty water. see how well it has foamed.

DSC_0503Water into the flour

DSC_0504Garlic basil oil into the flour and get a mixing

DSC_0505mix with yer hands until it all just comes together.

DSC_0511you need space for kneading.. so dump it on a very very clean surface and start kneading.

DSC_0513I knead by pushing the dough forward and pulling it back. This is where I thought would be a good time to add some more basil.

DSC_0516Basil meet dough. Dough meet basil.

DSC_0517cover and knead

DSC_0518like so

DSC_0519and like this

DSC_0520keep kneading to form a smooth ball. I worked on this dough for about 10 minutes. It gives you serious muscles but if you’re not a fan of working out then by all means use your muggle gadgets.

DSC_0525Now this dough, like any other yeast dough needs to rest. I used the same bowl from the initial mixing and poured in some oil, because we do not want our lover to stick do we?

DSC_0527coat the entire dough with the oil and you can see that it’s a beautiful soft dough.

DSC_0528Cover and let rest for at least 1-2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size. If your house isn’t warm enough it might take longer but don’t fret.. it will get fatter.

DSC_0530there!! so big, so beautiful. Flecked so daintily with basil.. sigh!!

DSC_0531Now retrieve a pan or tin from the abyss of your pantry which you’d want the focaccia to bake in. Oil generously!

DSC_0533Pull your risen dough out of its hibernating vessel. You don’t need to deflate or anything, because we will soon be puncturing its smooth exterior with much-needed dimples.

DSC_0534Plop it on the oil.

DSC_0535and using your fingers, spread it to fit into the pan.

DSC_0537Like so. You only need gently coax it with your fingers and this smooth dough will fit beautifully. If you want a very fat focaccia please use a smaller, less wider pan.. however I like them lovers a bit lean so…

DSC_0539Now we oil it more, because it’s focaccia and it needs the good stuff. be sure to use good olive oil all the way.

DSC_0540Massage in the oil gently.

DSC_0543Cover well with a cling film and let rest again for another 45 minutes or until the dough has visibly risen and puffed up.

DSC_0544like so.

DSC_0546It needs some more olive oil. Don’t be shy and spread on. Don’t forget this is focaccia not some virtuous salad, so spread on the oil and do not feel ashamed.

DSC_0547like so. Make sure all it’s pretty dimples have some amount of oil pooling in it.

DSC_0549scatter some sea salt on top and now it’s ready for the oven.

DSC_0550Time for celebration!! a jubilant slab of exquisite focaccia to be feasted on. devour with your eyes for now and let cool a bit.

DSC_0566while it cooled I brushed some more olive oil because why not?

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There you go!! Dip in some more olive oil and enjoy!!!

The garlic and basil flavors were not overwhelming but very mild and subtle. If you want bigger flavors, by all means increase the garlic and basil amounts.

Ingredients

Strong bread Flour 250g (about 2 cups)

Warm water 200 mls (about 3/4th cup)

Yeast 1 teaspoon

Sugar 1 tablespoon

Salt 1 teaspoon

Basil 10-15 leaves or more for stronger basil flavour

Garlic 1 clove (more if you want a stronger garlic taste)

Extra virgin Olive oil 75 mls (5 tablespoons) + more

Sea salt (optional) 1 teaspoon

Recipe:

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the chopped garlic until it starts turning brown. Turn off the heat under the oil and add the chopped basil. Let cool. Once cooled discard the garlic and retain the basil.

Mix the sugar and warm water and add the yeast. Let it start foaming on top. It takes about 5-10 minutes.

In a separate bowl add the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and add the yeast water and oil. Mix until it starts clumping together and knead to form a smooth dough. In case the dough is too dry add some more water a little at a time. Knead for at least 10 minutes until the dough is very smooth and slightly springy to the touch.

Let the dough rest in a well oiled bowl for at least 1-2 hrs or until it has doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, tip it out on a well oiled baking sheet of your choice and spread using your fingers to give it the characteristic focaccia dimples.

Smear some more oil on top and cover with cling film and let rest in until puffed up (about 45 minutes)

Once it’s risen pour some more oil ( about 3-4 tablespoons) on top and let it pool in the focaccia dimples. Sprinkle some good sea salt on top or regular salt or none if you wish.

Bake at 190℃ for 25- 30 minutes or until the top has turned golden and the bread has risen gorgeously.

Let cool for a bit and brush again with some olive oil.

Serve with hummus (see recipe here) or just plain olive oil.

I eat mine with butter 😉

Enjoy!!

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