Saturday, June 29, 2013

Oven Fries

I remember the first time I heard the word, "hummus." It was my freshman year of college, and a new friend with a nose-ring gave a restaurant recommendation that revolved around how good the hummus sandwich was. My first thought was that she must be talking about eating a layer of forest floor. I was really only one "m" off, and not so far off culinarily.

It turns out, this restaurant had a really excellent hummus sandwich, but I found something even better: sweet potato fries. Until then, sweet potatoes were something that Aunt Angela brought to Thanksgiving. I loved them - I just didn't know that you could eat them more than once per year and that there were other ways you could prepare them.

I've come a long way since freshman year. Did you know that a person can make her own bread? Her own pizza without using a Boboli pizza crust or English muffin? Her own hummus? Her own sweet potato fries? I could go on and on. These were all realizations I made along the way in absolute wonder and amazement. Keep in mind that this was all before the proliferation of food blogs and even before the Food Network became popular. I remember some college friends being really into the Iron Chef - but they were watching the original Japanese show back then. I bet it's a lot easier to learn how to cook these days. Back in my day we had to walk backwards and uphill 10 miles each way just to make a grilled cheese.

Sweet potato fries really aren't that difficult to make, but on busy nights during the school year, I would much rather just dump out a bag onto a baking pan than do any prep work whatsoever or dirty even one more dish.

Basic Oven Fries (adapted from Simply in Season)

2 large sweet potatoes (or white potatoes, or a mix)
olive oil
kosher salt
optional embellishments: crushed garlic, paremesan cheese, red pepper flakes, all three

Preheat oven to 425. Cut up potatoes - you can do thin wedges or shoe-strings, whichever you prefer. Toss with about a tablespoon of oil (I just eyeball it) to coat. Sprinkle with salt. Spread in one layer on a baking sheet. If eating straight from the oven: bake for 12-15 minutes, then flip and bake for 10 more minutes. If freezing: bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet. Use a spatula to loosen the fries from the pan. Stick the baking sheet in the freezer for about an hour. Pop off and place in a zipper bag. Label, date, and place in the freezer. When you want to cook them, take them straight from the freezer and arrange them in one layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 425 for about 20 minutes, or until cooked to desired crispness without burning.

What food discoveries do you remember making?

Nutrition Info per 1/2 of a large sweet potato:
Calories - 113, Fat - 7g, Fiber - 2g, Vitamin A - 220%, Vitamin C - 18.6%

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