The other night, during a bout of insomnia, I started thinking about vanilla, as one does. I love the scent and flavor of vanilla. (I have recurring dreams about vanilla essence, actually. Wonder what that means?) I think vanilla has been unfairly labeled as plain and pale – almost a non-flavor. In fact it’s wonderfully flavorful. I started to ponder the fact that, in my experience, vanilla is always used as a flavoring in sweet dishes. Why shouldn’t vanilla find its way into a savory dish? Other sweet staples, like cinnamon and chocolate have done it. Then I started thinking about fries and a vanilla milkshake. Such a perfect pairing. One hot, crispy and salty, and one cool and vanilla-y. That’s when I came up with the idea for this combination.
The sauce is a tarator sauce – it’s nut-based, and though it’s quite creamy, there’s no dairy in it at all. And the french fries are actually roasted in olive oil in the oven, but they become as crispy as you could hope for. Keep reading for recipes…
1 cup blanched sliced almonds
1 slice of baguette, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches.
2 t. vanilla
2 t. balsamic
1 T olive oil
1 t. salt
Lots of freshly ground pepper
1/2 (+) cups water.
1. Cut the crusts off of the slice of bread, and cover it with water.
2. Put the almonds in a blender with the moist bread, the vanilla, the balsamic, the olive oil, the salt, and the water. Blend till smooth. You will probably need to add more water. You want a consistency like very thick cream. Add as much pepper as you like (I like a lot!) blend it up once more… that’s it! Put it in a bowl and eat it!
6 or 7 medium-sized potatoes. (red-skinned or yukon gold work well)
olive oil to coat.
Preheat the oven to 425
2. Arrange the potato slices on a baking sheet (preferably NOT non-stick) in one layer. Pour olive oil over – probably about 1/3 cup – enough to coat each fry generously. You can use less if you’re trying to keep it light. Mix it all up to make sure everything is evenly coated. I find it easiest to use my hands here. Arrange them again in one layer.
3. Cook for a while without moving them. A good 10 or 15 minutes. Then turn them over with a metal spatula, careful not to separate them from the crust forming on their lower sides. Return them to the oven and bake some more. Keep baking, turning them or shaking the pan every ten minutes or so, until they’re the desired crispiness. If you like them really crispy, you can put them under a broiler at the end. But don’t forget they’re there!