Archive for April, 2009

Food Safety and Good Eats

April 16, 2009

So, admittedly, I have been a bit of a Alton Brown fan-girl lately, but I caught this episode of Good Eats on food safety the other night and thought it was something everyone could benefit from watching. It’s called “Fowl Territory” and although Alton does give an interesting recipe for Cornish hens, the main topic of the show is avoiding food-borne illness through the four C’s:

  • Contain
  • Clean
  • Cook
  • Chill

Alton even goes over how to check that your supermarket is following good food safety practices.

For food safety information, I usually visit King County public health website, which has an excellent page on food safety in your home kitchen.


Sweet Potato Fries Goodness

April 9, 2009

The recipe below is the most amazing goodness ever to come from my kitchen (pardon my immodesty).  It’s sweet, crispy and salty all in one.  In case you’re curious, the seasoning I used is a meat seasoning with a Hungarian paprika base and I pick it up at the Skagit River Ranch in Sedro Woolley, WA.  This recipe was supposed to go with the lard episode, so I’m happy to say it was worth the wait.  Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Fries

You will need:

  • 1-2 quarts Building Blocks Show Lard
  • 1-3 lbs sweet potatoes
  • Seasoning: You can use a paprika or brown sugar based meat or taco seasoning or make up your own with ingredients like salt and paprika or brown sugar and cinnamon
  • Special tools: large soup pot, cooking thermometer, wire strainer (aka Asian strainer or spider) or metal slotted spoon, mandoline (optional)

Put it together:

  • Scrub sweet potatoes, cut in half and put into a large pot.
  • Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.
  • Boil for 7-10 minutes. This step is very important because softening the potatoes brings out the flavor. The more you boil the better the flavor, but you need to balance that with a good French fry texture and keeping the skin on. The more you boil, the easier the skin comes off.
  • Take potatoes out of the hot water and let cool until you can handle them easily. Slice potatoes slightly larger than the fries you want as they will shrink slightly while frying. I recommend a 7mm julienne. A mandoline can be extremely useful for making conformed fries.
  • Put lard in a heavy soup pot and heat slowly on med-low heat until 300 degrees F.
  • Fry potatoes a handful at a time for 3 minutes and drain immediately onto paper towels. This is the first frying.
  • Let the potatoes sit for at least ten minutes (but up to a couple hours okay).
  • While the fries are resting, turn the heat up just slightly, so that it is closer to 350 degrees F. Make sure that the lard is not smoking. This is very important for both safety and tastiness.
  • Fry the potatoes for 1-3 minutes depending on how brown and crispy you want the fries. This second frying is what gives the fries their characteristic texture.
  • Remove the fries with an Asian strainer or metal slotted spoon and season immediately.


  • Crispiness: It seems counter intuitive, but to make crispier fries, you turn down the heat. This allows the fries to lose more of their moisture before burning.
  • Lard may be re-used once or twice if filtered first. Filter the lard while it’s still in a liquid state (but not burning hot) by straining it through a fine mesh sieve lined with a couple layers of cheesecloth or a coffee filter.

Looking for Great Cookbooks & Accessories? Check out the BBS Store!

April 2, 2009

Support Building Blocks Show while purchasing top-quality cooking accessories and books through our brand new BBS Store.  We’ve included all of our favorites from our own kitchens, like the Joy of Cooking, All-Clad pots and pans and Shun knives.  We do not currently have any sponsors, so you can be assured we just want to find the best stuff to make cooking easier and more fun for you.  If you don’t see what you want, just let us know and we’ll be happy to add it to the store.

New Episode Up: Making Lard

April 2, 2009


Our latest episode, Making Lard, is up. If lard doesn’t excite you like it does us, think of all the tasty foods you can make the traditional way: pastries, fried goodies, tortillas and refried beans. We have a whole wheat, dairy free biscuit recipe using lard and are in the final recipe testing stages for a sinfully delicious sweet potato fries recipe.  Be adventurous – give it a try!