An Experiment with Oven Fries

Spoiler alert, don't try this at home.


Lindsay, April 29, 2012, 4:45 pm | Cooking

Tonight I decided to make Oven Fries, which I have enjoyed at my mom's house more than I can count. She is always declaring how easy they are, so I was excited to pick up a potato and have fries in just a few minutes. But when I read the recipe, I found that I had to parboil the potatoes first. I tend to avoid recipes that have two steps like this, particularly for a side dish - at least on weekdays when I am trying to get dinner finished quickly (I have a very hungry boyfriend). In fact, I have thrown out a few brussel sprout recipes that required parboiling (also why this one is my favorite) .

So, the only thing to do was try the recipe without parboiling the potatoes first. I thought I would beat the system by cutting the potatoes very small (think McDonald's). Because I knew this was a risky experiment and really did want the fries, I also followed the recipe for the majority of the sliced potatoes, but cut them all smaller than the recipe called for.

I observed the following:
- the "experiment fries" browned about twice as fast as the regular ones (which seemed like a bonus), didn't absorb the olive oil so tasted really bland and were somewhere between crispy and cardboard-y. Even with a lot of ketchup, they were only tolerable.
- it is a very bad idea to cut the fries very small because they fall apart when you parboil them and you have to flip each one of them individually! Ideally the fries would be on the wider side, but not very thick (you are only going to flip once, so only two sides will brown well).

In conclusion, my experiment failed. And the parboiling wasn't so bad. And the (real) fries were incredible. And my mother is always right.

Finding My Passion

A little bit about me (and this is so not about me.)


Marcella, April 15, 2012, 10:44 pm | Cooking

I grew up in upstate New York, have lived in Chicago for almost 25 years, was educated as a lawyer, and had a 25-year career doing tax work for a financial planning firm. About one year after our firm was sold, my husband Bob and I retired, at fairly young ages. Bob and I are baby boomers (and hopefully, all of you non-boomers won't hate us for that), and, after I retired, I spent a good deal of time trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I kept reading articles (yes, even newspaper articles) that talked about all the boomers who were retiring and "finding their passion." So, several times a week, I would look up from reading my cookbooks and cooking magazines, or from planning the menu for one of Lindsay's parties, and complain to Bob that there must be something wrong with me because I had no passion. Then, one day, six years in, I smacked myself in the head, called myself an idiot, and realized that my passion was entertaining family and friends, and making my home as comfortable and welcoming as possible. And, in order to justify spending enormous amounts of time "pursuing my passion", I decided to turn it into a business.

Once I got the idea, I talked about it to my sister-in-law, Pam, my step-daughter, Lauren, and my daughter, Lindsay, for two reasons. First, I enjoy them all tremendously, and thought it would be fun to work with them. Second, they all have strong skill sets in different areas, and we all complement one another. And we are all passionate about All Toasty, as it has evolved, and will continue to evolve.

Calling All Chicken Kiev Recipes



Lindsay, September 11, 2011, 9:02 am | Cooking

When I was 11, my parents took us on a two week trip to Europe. We arrived in Paris, and after a few days, the kids had had enough of French cuisine. How many croissants can one girl eat? Okay, a lot, but still. Finally, my mom allowed me to order a hamburger at a French restaurant. To their credit, they weren’t desperate enough at that point to give in and take us to McDonalds. My hamburger arrived raw (or almost) with a fried egg on top of it. I was so grossed out that I couldn’t eat it and probably shed a few tears over the whole ordeal. (Editors note: I love fried eggs these days and this burger, assuming it was actually more like rare/medium rare, sounds like a dream)

We also coined a family favorite during these first days in Paris. Bob had ordered French onion soup and was raving about it. I knew of French onion soup from Ruby Tuesdays or somewhere else embarrassing, so I had to have a taste. I asked Bob if I could try it. He said no, because I didn’t have a spoon. My carefree eleven-year old self suggested that I just use his spoon – we were family, after all. Bob was disgusted and informed us that sharing spoons is “barbaric”. We still make fun of him for it. He’s obviously classier than the rest of us.

After our week in France, we boarded a ferry to take us to England (this was pre-Chunnel, obviously). On this ferry, I had what I called the “best meal of the trip” and I think about it to this day. I went to the counter at the ferry cafeteria and ordered chicken kiev. It arrived hot and in a plastic wrapper that it had been heated up in (probably in the microwave). Mom, chime in if I am making up the wrapper, but this is how I remember it. I cut the chicken open and a wonderful, herb-filled butter sauce filled my plate. I ate the entire thing and wished for another.

I have not eaten Chicken Kiev since that magical ferry. I am hoping someone out there can make my (chicken kiev) dreams come true and give me a great recipe for chicken kiev. Does it really have an herb butter sauce?

Everything Is Better With Melted Cheese

yes, everything


Lindsay, September 11, 2011, 8:42 am | Cooking

I love sandwiches with melted cheese on them. In college (Georgetown), the overwhelming majority of my non-dining hall meals were turkey and American subs from Wisemillers (a convenience store that had a grill in the back and made incredible subs) and hot turkey and American wraps from Booeymongers (think sandwiches and $5 pitchers of beer).

When I became old enough to make my own melts (aka law school when there were not great melt choices), I still concentrated on turkey and American, and threw in some grilled cheeses, tuna melts and egg sandwiches. My melt tips and instructions are below.

Generic Melt Tips:
1. I am always trying to be healthy (at least when cooking for myself), so I use Pam on the outside of each piece of bread instead of butter. Of course, butter tastes better but Pam is a pretty good substitute and it is not greasy.
2. If you are desperate and only have hamburger buns to use for bread (yes, this happened to me last week), flip the bun “inside out” so the inside of the bun faces the pan. Of course, spray it with Pam (or use butter if you are skinny).
3. My favorite cheese for melts is white American (try Land-o-Lakes from the deli counter or Applegate organic, in a package). To make a healthier version, I use Kraft 2% (yellow) American. It’s low in fat and calories but still melts nicely. 4. The first side will take about 5 minutes to cook, but after you flip the sandwich, the second side will only take 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to burn!

I’ll be writing about my favorite melts in the future.