Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Cookbook Adventures: Wafer-Thin Potato Crisps

I got an amazing new cookbook a couple weeks ago, sent to my by a fantastic aunt who loves cooking, but not in the way where dinner requires 13 hours in the kitchen. (Am I the only one who loves that kind of cooking?) Anyway, she sent it to the right person because this book is totally rocking my world. The first dish I completed from the book (which I prepared as a component of some kick-ass Lobster Burgers) is one of the very first that caught my eye when I first opened the book: The Wafer-Thin Potato Crisps.The book is Happy in the Kitchen by Michel Richard. Despite the pedestrian name, the contents of this book are far from pedestrian...These potato crisps, like many things in the book, aren't difficult to make per se... but they do take some time and attention to detail. The ingredients are simple and practically free: A couple baking potatoes, some cornstarch, gelatin, (Amish) butter (not pictured), and a little water.
The potatoes are peeled and julienned...
... then tossed with cornstarch and placed in a steamer basket over simmering water. (In this case the steamer basket is the totally awesome Vebo from the good people over at DreamFarm...)
While the potatoes steam, you melt the gelatin in a little water over a double-boiler...
... then stir in a little melted (Amish) butter.
When the potatoes come out of the steamer, they should be tender but not ready to fall apart.
The potatoes are then combined with the gelatin mixture and some sea salt, which brings us to the tricky part: forming a log. The mixture goes onto some plastic wrap...
... and once you figure out how to make it work, you find yourself with a nice roll of perfectly seasoned potato.
This goes into an ice bath to set before being tossed into the freezer for several hours.
Once it's frozen solid, you're ready to go. The recipe makes 80-100 crisps, but the frozen log will keep for a few months, so you can just slice off the amount you need as the need arises, which I like.
Speaking of slicing, this recipe required me to purchase a new toy. Check out my awesome new food slicer:
I've wanted one for approximately forever, but could never justify it until now. Woot! Using your food slicer, the frozen log is next sliced into very thin slices, which are placed on a Silpat. (My first-ever Silpat, by the way, was a birthday present many years ago from the same aunt who gave me this cookbook, and I've used it non-stop ever since. I told you she was fantastic...)
These go into a 300°F for 12 to 15 minutes, until perfectly browned and crisp. Check it out:
How awesome is that? I was making these because I needed them as a component in my Lobster Burgers, but I had to find something to do with the rest of the first batch I made. I decided to whip up a batch of the Ginger Remoulade from the book, which combines homemade mayo, sriracha (which I substituted for Tabasco, because I hate Tabasco), red wine vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, and (of course) ginger. This was the perfect dip for these very awesome crisps...
You can see from the picture that some were less perfect than others, but I think I have the hang of it now. I can picture putting out a larger version of the above plate for dinner party guests to munch on while I put the finishing touches on the real appetizers... and I can picture using the crisps as the vessel to transport all manner of deliciousness from plate to mouth or as a component of some fancy-pants appetizer. In summary, these rock, and were pretty fun to make. Definitely a good start for a book that has quickly jumped into my personal Top 5 Favorites...

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