Monday, December 27, 2010

With their eyes all aglow

When I was around twenty years old and buying Christmas cards, there was a line of humorous cards that one of the big card makers sold. I saw one that featured a picture of a product called "tater tots," those frozen deep-fried balls of mashed potatoes that you heated up in the oven. The little tater tots had human eyes drawn on them. The card read, "Tater tots with their eyes all aglow." It made me laugh out loud (even though lol'ing didn't yet exist).

Where are their eyes?

I'm a sucker for a corny joke or pun. The sillier it is, the more I like it. Simple minded, I suppose. I've never forgotten that card and now I wish I had bought one and saved it.

Little did I know back then that "tater tots" are actually the fast-food version of a French classic: pommes dauphine. I saw one of the Cuisine TV hosts make them a few weeks ago and decided I would try them out for our Christmas dinner. They're not difficult to make, but after making them I understand why they come frozen and ready to pop into the oven.

First you have to peel, boil, and mash about a pound of potatoes. Then you make a pâte à choux (puff paste) by melting 100 g of butter in 1/4 liter of salted water. When it comes to the boil, add (all at once) 200 g of flour and stir it in with a wooden spoon. Once it's well blended and forming a thin skin on the pan, remove it from the heat and add four eggs, one at a time, stirring each in completely before adding the next.

When this is done, add the mashed potatoes and mix thoroughly. Heat up some oil for deep-frying, then form the potato mixture into little balls or quenelles using two spoons. Fry them until they're golden brown, drain on paper towels, and serve warm.

I made about twenty with two thirds of the dough. I'm going to freeze the remaining dough and make more another time. Of course, for just the two of us, twenty tots were far too many, so we had some left over. I just heated them up in the oven the next day.


  1. It all looks a little too delicious as I try to coddle my mind into the right mood to begin a low carb diet!

    I may have to try it this week while I still can!

  2. Why did the lion spit out the clown?

    He tasted funny.

  3. I can come up with the most farfetched and silliest puns you can imagine. Let's keep in touch. LOL

  4. So it is what they are called, "pommes Dauphines"? We just used to call them "croquettes" in my days.

  5. Some friends dropped by to visit Roy (uh, lets say for Christmas). He looks a little upset, and after a drink or two, he tells them that his cat chewed up his favorite gift - a wonderful pair of blue-suede shoes. Just then, a cat walks into the room, and one of the friends asks:

    "Pardon me, Roy. Is that the cat who chewed your new shoes?"

  6. Gosh, the pressure on to make a potato pun. Let me think about it. While i'm thinking, please pass a tot or two. They look delicious!

  7. Yes please. This Idaho boy wants some.

  8. No puns from me. I like yours :))

    Those look so crunchy and yummy!


  9. I'm too lazy these days to do all that work.

  10. that is a great pun; thank you for sharing it.

    I am continually impressed with your culinary skills and great eats. Do you two ever eat processed?

    I envy you your meals; I have such an uninteresting diet nowadays eating is no fun and seen as a tedious task. I get to 'live' through your cuisine.

  11. kristi, low carb diet? Wow.

    anon, hahahaha!

    chm, was that you above?

    nadege, that's what he called them on tv.

    john, one of my favorites!

    mike, no pressure. Have a tot.

    alewis, did anyone make these when you were a kid?

    judy, they were good.

    starman, you can buy them already made! ;)

    michael, we eat very little "processed" food. We do eat deli creations (certain salads), pâtés, canned fish sometimes, and sausages. Most are made by pros and are things we don't usually venture into. But we will be making our own pâté after new year's.

  12. I would love to have those Christmas cards!

  13. Anon was D. in Texas.
    That was my daughters favorite joke when she was nine. I still like it. I wonder what that says about me?
    D. in Texas


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