Friday, February 17, 2012


The original recipe I used for crepes can be found on which is the official Food Network Website, courtesy of one of my food hero's Alton Brown.

I actually had a request from a Facebook friend that I do crepes this week. For those who don't know, crepes are a like a French pancake that is used like a taco. Unlike tacos and pancakes crepes are delicate, thin, tender, and very intimidating to the average American home cook. Why? Because we are dumb enough to believe you need a machine or "special crepe pan" or even real skill to make this little delights. You do need certain equipment, you do need a little practice, maybe some patience, but you CAN make you're own crepes at home. Husbands/Boyfriends, if you can pull this off use this on your significant other for special occasions, you will be considered AWESOME!

This recipe calls for:
2 Large Eggs
3/4 Cup O' Milk
1/2 Cup O' H2O
1 Cup O' Flour
3 Table Spoons Melted Butter
Butter to coat the Pan with.

Maybe a Spatula

Start by putting all the properly measured ingredients in to the blender. (Easy right? No proper order, no "muffin method", just one big pile O' stuff) Remember for the flour you want a LEVEL cup. This can be achieved by scooping up way too much, and leveling off with a knife. Remember also to melt the butter. Butter usually comes with "cut lines" that will tell you how much to cut off to get a tablespoon or multiple tablespoons.

Once all the ingredients are in the blender, pulse for 10 seconds. That's it. That's all. 10 seconds. You don't want to over work this batter, or gluten will start to form and you'll have elastic crepes, not cool. 

After you have blended this for 10 seconds you need to put this mixture in the refrigerator for a MINIMUM OF 1 HOUR. But awesomely enough this will hold for 48, so you can actually do this almost two days in advance. The reason the hour wait is vital is because it allows air bubbles to escape, making the batter stronger and less likely to tear. 

Now that you have allowed the batter to rest for an hour get out your pan. Now, there are "crepe pans" available in stores. They range from $20 to $80. You don't need it. If it makes you feel better or more French, be my guest. BUT if you have a pan with rounded edges that is about 8" or 9" wide you actually have a perfect crepe pan.

You'll want to heat your pan and rub the left over butter stick all around it to make sure you have enough lube so the crepe wont stick. This also provides some flavor to the crepe. Do not melt the entire stick, a thin coat all around the pan will do wonderfully.

Here is where the work begins. Poor the batter, about a little less than a half cup in this pan's case, in the middle of the pan. IMMEDIATELY START TO TILT THE PAN IN A CIRCULAR MOTION! This will evenly distribute the batter and ensure thinness and shape. 

Eventually the batter will no longer spread, and it will start the actual cooking process. Watch the edges and look for them to start to dry and curl back a bit. The middle should start to look dry as well. It's time to flip. You can either pancake flip it (my preference) or you can use a spatula. *NOTE: The pancake flip will preserve the shape better, and is way less likely to tear.

After that you will simply slide the crepe off the pan on to a cut board, or appropriate surface to cool off and dry. I decided to make a movie of this process in case it became confusing for anyone, also it helps to actually see the process, not just read it.  I will cover storage and toppings after.

I hope you all enjoyed my first shot at Food Stardom! Now you know how to make a crepe, what do you do with it? That's the awesome thing about crepe's, ANYTHING GOES! There are savory crepe recipes that use herbs, veggies, even meat. Mostly in the US you see sweet crepe recipes, and the following is actually an idea I got off another food hero of mine, Paula Deen. 

This is very simple. You take Nutella, smear it around the entire middle. Then you add a line of cut bananas, and fold the crepe as pictured below. Then you simply cut some more banana on top, and drizzle some chocolate syrup. 

Very fancy looking, very simple. This is a great treat anytime. You are not limited to chocolate though. Personally my favorite crepe's have been simply filled with a vanilla custard and assorted fresh berries, with whipped cream on the top. The sky is the limit for fillings and toppings with crepes. 

If you have left over crepes, you can either refrigerate or freeze them. After they've cooled and dried off a bit simply stack them and put them in to a Ziploc bag. 

Thus concludes my French American revolution of crepes! I hope this has inspired some of you to explore this versatile little food, and showed others it's not as difficult as it would seem. Most importantly, have fun with it, that's what food is actually for you know! Eat well everyone!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Easy Oven Frites

The original recipe for Easy Oven Frites can be found on which is the Disney Family website.

For the first post I decided to make Easy Oven Frites, a relatively easy recipe for Frites (fancy word for French Fries) that my daughter and I are wild over! It also utilizes a few very basic skills, and has a great turn out for minimal work. 

The Recipe calls for:
2lbs Russet Potatoes (Idaho's most people know them as)
Approximately 2 cups of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO for you Rachel Ray fans)
Kosher Salt (sea salt is great too)
1 tbsn of Parsley
1 Clove Garlic (I do not use this, because it doesn't spread evenly or easily enough)

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F. 

Bring some water to a boil in a steamer pot as well. 

For those who have not done a lot of veg prep, the first thing you do before cutting is wash the potatoes very very well.  This is important so you don't accidentally spread food born contagions. Put your potatoes in a strainer and wash thoroughly with cold water, make sure you dry them afterwards.

Here is a tip for everyone! Before you use your cut board, take a small paper towel and wet it down, wring it out, then lay it flat on the counter top. Then lay your cut board on top of it. I guarantee your board will barely move, if at all. It makes it much more stable, and enjoyable.

Now this is the toughest part of this entire enterprise, the cutting of potatoes in to fry shape. It's not terribly complicated but you need to be careful when doing this. I recommend a santoku knife for the job (pictured cutting the potatoes), though a chef's knife is just as effective. The reason I say santoku over the chef's knife is because I personally feel I have more control over the cut with the santoku when cutting vegetables. Use your preference or whatever you have. Since potatoes are round cut a small slab off of what will be the bottom, to give yourself a flat stable surface to work with.  Then on the "side" of the offending potato cut in about 3/4 of the way through, about a quarter inch apart. Make sure the potato is still attached to itself on the other side.

From here you're going to turn the potato back to the flattened side down, the cuts you made will be on the right hand side, and the "top" of the potato will not have any cuts yet. Start to cut all the way through the potato from the top down. You'll notice immediately the cut off potato pieces will magically be in the proper shape for frites, fries, whatever.

When you've cut through most of the potato you might have a chip sized slice left not in fry form. Go ahead and just put it down and cut it length wise, no one will know the difference.

Once you have cut all your potatoes put them in to your steam pot. Do not overload your steam pot like I did, if it takes three batches that's fine. Smaller loads will help maintain the shape of the fries. Steam them for 12 minutes per load, I wouldn't steam them less because the final texture would be odd, too much longer and you'll be making very complicated mashed potatoes. 

Once you've completed the steaming put the fries in a bowl (I recommend doing this per load) and drizzle (DO NOT DUMP) Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the fries. Gently flip the fries around by bouncing the bowl forward and then up a few times to evenly cover all the fries. If you use the right amount of oil you should not need to strain the oil out. Once you've coated the fries put them on a pan that you have sprayed well with Pam (do not use tin foil, I did the first time and it was not good). 

After all the loads of steaming and coating have been completed put the pan in the oven (preheated to 500F) for 15 minutes. When 15 minutes have passed take it out, stir or flip the fries with a spatula, and put them in for another 10 minutes. This will help ensure crispiness and color. Keep in mind also this is my oven I am talking about and not yours. I don't encourage (actually I discourage) constantly opening the oven to check on food because you lose your heat, but this is also more of a "lookin' thing" not an "exact science". 

While your frites, fries, whatever are in the oven we go back to the cutting board. Because we are not shifting food types you don't REALLY need to wash your knife and board in between (it just depends on how paranoid you really are). Take out about a palm full of fresh parsley (a full palm full) and put it on your board. Make sure you keep your fingers curled in and start to very finely chop the pile until it starts to lose it's bulk. Then make it in to a pile and start to chop it more finely, and repeat until it reminds you more of a pepper grind than shrubbery. It's difficult to describe the technique, but I will say after the initial chop you should be able to keep the tip of the knife on the cut board and go to town. No you don't have to have the fancy little glass Pyrex bowl, but it sure looks Food Network doesn't it ;)

Once your frites, fries, whatever are finished in the oven take them out, and IMMEDIATELY season with the Kosher salt and the fresh cut parsley. IT IS IMPERATIVE YOU DO THIS WHEN THE FRIES ARE SCREAMING HOT OR ELSE THE FLAVORS WILL NOT MIX! IF YOU'VE EVER HAD CRAPPY MCDONALD'S FRIES THIS IS WHY. Also remember before you take the fries out of the oven, the phrase "Golden brown and delicious" (thank you Alton Brown) should apply to the fries.

Above we have the finished product :)

These frites, fries, whatever will ABSOLUTELY change your opinion of Fries for the better. They are lower fat, lower cal., and actually have health value. They are salty, herby, and have a great crunch to them. I even made soup to go with them instead of a burger (though burgers are EXCELLENT with these). 

All in all this is a very easy, very family friendly dish to make. It takes about an hour or so if you have all the ingredients on hand. I wasn't very careful with the first batch size so unfortunately many of my fries lost shape, but I figured out the problem in time to preserve the second steam batch. This is the second time I have made these, and it was WAY easier than the first time, and the first time was pretty dang easy already. I highly recommend this to anyone, for any occasion. This tastes like a 3 hour dish, with way less work and way less clean up. 

Let me know what you think, I'm very interested. Give me ideas for the next challenge! Eat Well Everyone!

In the beginning... there was an idiot.

Introduction to IdiotDad Standards:

Hello to all who decide to visit this Blog. I'm IdiotDad sometimes referred to as Mark or ID.

I decided to start this Blog because I know there are a lot of parents out there who would love to give cooking a shot, but tend to shy away for a miriad of reasons. No "equipment", no training, no time, never cooked before, no good recipe's, etc. So I figured I start this Blog show step by step how it's done, with what, and what the finished product looks like. As the writer of this blog I promise:

I will always be devastatingly honest, even in the event of epic fail.
I will always tell you if I've prepared the item before, or if this is the first time.
I will provide as many tips and pics as I can think of.
I will always tell you where I got the recipe so you can find it at it's source.
If you request more detail I will do my best to provide it.

A little about myself as far as cooking. I am NOT professionally trained in ANY way. Not by restaurant, not by college. The ONLY training I've had has been my mom, Food Network, and my many attempts. Most people like my food when they try it. I have a very eclectic tongue, there are very few foods I do not enjoy (a blessing and a curse), and only a very select couple of foods I will not touch. My food heroes are Alton Brown, Paula Deen, Gordon Ramsey, Emeril Lagasse, and my grandmother. I've cooked with quite a few methods including frying, pan frying, baking, grilling, broiling, and slow roasting. I also have dabbled with candy making including pralines, suckers, caramel, chocolate projects, and home made marshmallows.

To say cooking is a passion for me would be accurate, though I do not get to do it as much as I'd like. I hope this Blog will inspire, entertain, and educate anyone who hopes to take up "the way of the spatula". I hope people of all sorts get involved in this with me from parents, to singles in big cities, to bored grandma's and grandpa's on the farm. If you have ideas or recipes you'd like me to try feel free to submit them and I might just make that the next post! I'll do as many projects and post as often as possible.