les halles fries and blanching in the imperfect kitchen

As my roommates are out with their boyfriends, I am home learning how to blanch a potato for my attempt at the fries from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook. That probably says something about me, but at the moment, while I'm sampling a few delicious mistakes I made, I honestly don't mind.

The original idea I had for this blog was going to be called "The Imperfect Kitchen" (unfortunately it was already taken). The idea is learning how to cook great food with less than great tools and facilities, which I still fully intend to do.

While it would be nice to have top-of-the-line cutlery and a high-tech Kenmore appliance kitchen, I live in the real world. One of my burners is on a full tilt to the left. Our pots and pans look like we've been fending off burglars, and the oven torches anything in the back and lightly toasts whatever is closest to the door.

Cooking in the imperfect kitchen takes skill and a keen sense of MacGyver-ism. You have to watch your food more carefully and jerry-rig whatever is missing or not working properly. You have to learn how to make do with what you have. For example, when I sauté and especially when I fry on that tilted burner, I have to turn the skillet handle to the right to counter balance. I rotate all my foods whether they are on the stove top or in the oven. As always, I improvise. Cooking is about bad starts, making mistaking and learning/fixing as you go.

By the way, blanching makes the difference in french fries. Boil it, put it on ice, then fry it. That's how fries get that golden, almost flaky crisp on the outside and burn-your-mouth softness on the inside. I am eating these fries right now wondering why I've ever paid for fries like these outside of my own home.


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