Monday, March 30, 2015

Cooking for a Holiday - Easter, Part IV - The Shopping List

So my husband, Anthony, says to me this morning, "Let's go shopping."  By shopping, Anthony means the grocery store.  With a list. 

(I just got back from seeing "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" - an unfortunate name for a musical, just one woman's opinion - in New York.  The Friday night late show.  Not my usual cup of tea, but it was pretty good.  I'm a little tired, you know?)

"Good idea,"  I say.  "Sunday is Easter."

"Sunday is Easter?  Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"Really?"

"Yes."

"Isn't Easter at the end of April?"

"It varies.  Look, call up one of your buddies and ask him if Sunday is Easter.  You know, somebody you can trust." 

(This, from a man who has to ask - every year - when Thanksgiving is.  Though, to be fair, he does pretty well with New Year's Day and the 4th of July.)

Shopping?  No problem.  I walk over to my computer, dredge up the "Easter Shopping List" out of My Documents, and print it.  Okay, honey, let's go.

And here's a one for you.

If you're going to do my menu, just copy and paste:

Easter Shopping List
8 baking potatoes
2 large onions
3 bunches of asparagus
Green grapes
2 large jars of maraschino cherries
1 large can of mandarin orange segments
2 large cans of pineapple chunks
2-3 dozen eggs
3 large packages of shredded cheddar cheese
1 gallon of milk
1 large half-and-half
3 small cartons of heavy whipping cream
1 small container of sour cream
2 lbs of butter
Ham, bone-in
3 loaves of cheap, sliced white bread
Dry mustard
Coffee
Wine
Lamb cake
Easter candy (for baskets)
Food coloring
White vinegar
3 large disposable aluminum roaster pans

Some of this is overkill, I know, but better than having half the strata done and running out of cheese.  We bought everything on the list except for the fresh fruits and vegetables (we'll get those on Good Friday) and the lamb cake (my girlfriend will bring that, along with more wine, bless her).  The rest will keep just fine until Sunday.  Cheap, packaged white bread is indestructible, and ham lasts forever.  In fact, I'm surprised that no archaeologist has ever dug up an ancient ham.

    
Now, if you're NOT going to go with my menu, here are two approaches to making a shopping list:

The Scientific Method
This is where you take out all your recipes, write down the ingredients, and add them up.  For example:  2 loaves of white bread + 2 sticks of butter + 3 packages of cheese + 1/2 tsp of dry mustard + 5 cups of milk + 8 eggs = Egg & Cheese Strata.  Add 12 eggs for hard boiling/dyeing = 20 eggs, etc.  This is tedious, but accurate, and there's less of a chance you'll make a mistake.  Unless you're like me, who can go into a store with detailed written instructions, and come out with only half the stuff.  My mind wanders.  That's why why I don't drive.

The Zen Method
Find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed.  Pour yourself a glass of wine.  Now, visualize yourself making Easter dinner, writing down the ingredients as you go along.  Needless to say, this is much more hit-or-miss than the previous method.  But a lot more fun.

Either way, save a copy and you only have to do this once.

One and done.  I'm all about that. 




Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cooking for a Holiday - Bonus Recipe - Pizza Rustica

It's true that my Easter dinner menu is not long on Italian food.  For that, there's Christmas, which will forever mean lasagna, as long as there is breath in my body.  With a meat sauce that would make Baby Jesus cry.  But since we eat Italian food just about every day, we can allow for a little break from the ordinary on holidays.  Then it becomes a tradition, and traditions are beautiful, strong, and terrifying things, to be departed from only at great risk to your mental health.

For example...

One Thanksgiving, when I was pregnant with my first (Nikki), we went to my husband Anthony's Aunt Seraphima's house for dinner.  Now, under normal circumstances, roast turkey is my favorite food.  Being pregnant, I had worked myself into an absolute food-craving FRENZY during the weeks leading up to the holiday.  But when we got to Aunt Seraphima's...antipasto and manicotti.  "I thought we'd do something a little different," she said, completely unaware of the terrible thing she had done to me.  I was devastated.  I locked myself in the bathroom and cried.  The next day, Anthony went to the butcher and begged him for a turkey (we were new at this "with child" thing; I assure you that was the last time he ever did anything like that).  And I ate the whole goddam bird.  I never trusted Thanksgiving to anyone else again

.
Speaking of Aunt Seraphima, there is an Italian food that's traditional at Easter:  pizza rustica.  This is her recipe.  It's my husband's favorite food.  Were it up to Anthony, it is the only thing we would eat to celebrate The Resurrection.  However, Nikki doesn't like it, and she has become very attached to our white-bread Easter.  So I make a pizza rustica for St. Anthony's Day, June 13th, which is my husband's birthday.
Aunt Seraphima called this pizza italiana.  Anthony calls it calzone.  Whatever.  It's worth the effort.

Pizza Rustica
Dough:
3 eggs
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 cup of milk
5 cups of flour
1 tsp of salt
3 tsp of baking powder

Beat the eggs, add the oil, and stir.  Then add the milk.  In a separate bowl, stir the dry ingredients together, then add them - a little at a time - to the eggs.  When it's all mixed (and you may need to use your hands at the end), knead the dough for a minute or so, and divide the ball into two.  On a floured surface, roll out the two balls into the shape of your baking pan.  Aunt Seraphima used a big pie plate, but I prefer a rectangular pan, 9" X 13".  Grease the pan, and line the bottom and sides with one of the rolled-out doughs.

Filling:
2 1/2 of loose Italian sausage, the hot stuff
2 1/2 lbs. of ricotta
5 eggs
1/2 cup of grated Romano cheese
Fresh Italian parsley, chopped fine
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bake or fry the sausage, breaking it up with a fork.  Let cool.  Beat the ricotta with 4 of the eggs and all the rest of the ingredients.  Mix the sausage with the ricotta.  Spread mixture on the bottom layer of dough, and top with the other one.  If you like, you can "flute" the crusts by pinching them together every inch or so.  Prick the top crust a few times with a fork and then brush it with the beaten yolk of the last egg.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes to an hour, or until golden brown.

If, by the smallest chance imaginable, your marinara sauce doesn't result in a marriage proposal from your heart's desire, try a pizza rustica.

And if that doesn't work, he's an idiot.  Move on. 

Cooking for a Holiday - Easter, Part III - The Recipes

Logically, a shopping list would be the next step after creating a menu, but I don't want to send you out shopping without knowing what you're shopping for.  So, before we do the shopping list, here are some of the recipes from my Easter menu:

Egg & Cheese Strata (or "Ghetto Breakfast for a Million People")
This looks like a real recipe, because I got it from one of my husband Anthony's aunts, the second wife/non-Italian.  That's why there's so much butter in it, which is not a bad thing where your tastebuds are concerned.  This stuff is easy, it's cheap, it feeds a lot of people, and it tastes good.  What's not to love?  You can prep the strata the night before, cover it with foil, and put it in the fridge.  Then, just throw it in the oven on Easter Day.

2 loaves of cheap white bread, like Wonder Bread, crusts trimmed
2 sticks of butter, softened
8 eggs, slightly beaten
5 cups of milk
4 cups (2 big packages) of shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp dry mustard (I don't know if this makes any difference or not)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a large baking pan with butter.  I like the huge cheap aluminum disposable roaster pans you can get at the grocery store, and they can be washed and re-used if you're careful with them.   Place a layer of buttered bread at the bottom of the pan.   Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese.  Stagger a second layer of buttered bread and sprinkle with another 1/3 of the cheese.  Stagger a third layer of buttered bread.   Combine eggs, milk, and mustard in a big bowl and pour over everything, BEFORE you top with cheese.  Press everything down with a fork.   Now you can top it with the rest of the cheese.  Bake about 50 minutes to an hour, or until browned and fluffy.  Cut into squares.   Die happy.

Roast Potatoes & Onions
Peel some potatoes and cut them into pieces.  As many potatoes as will fit in your pan, however big you like your pieces, the recipe's the same.  Spray one of those big disposable aluminum roaster pans with some non-stick spray and put the potato pieces in it.  Drizzle the potatoes with about 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Now, pay attention because here's the secret:  rub the olive oil on the potato pieces with your clean, bare hands.  I don't know why this makes a difference, but it does.  I'm giving credit where it's due:  I learned this trick from Anthony.  And that just the kind of person I am.
Peel and cut up a big onion, however you want.  Add the onion to the potatoes (with a spoon, for Chrissake, we're talking onions here).  Salt and pepper to taste.  You can sprinkle with a little dried rosemary, if you like it.  Put the pan in a 350 degree oven.  Stir the potatoes after they've been in the oven for 5 minutes, then occasionally after that.  Bake about an hour to an hour-and-a-half, or until brown and a little crispy.

Asparagus with Brown Butter
This one is from Anthony's dad, the famous ristorante owner.  Whatever his faults, and they were few, the man could cook.

Wash and break the ends off of some asparagus and steam it, or boil it in salted water but don't let it get too soft.  In the meantime, put two sticks of butter in a small frying pan.  Turn the heat on low under the butter and let it melt.  After it's melted, keep cooking it and skim off the white milk solids, until you're left with a (mostly) clear liquid.  Then keep cooking the butter until it turns brown.   Pour it over the asparagus when you serve it.  You won't believe how good this is.

Mrs. D's Fruit Salad
For the first seven years of Anthony's and mine various marital situations - dating, living in sin (sorry, Sister Arnoldine), married (but not in "the church") - we had a roommate.  No kidding.  His name was Giuglio DiVincenzo and he was divorced (from a nice Italian girl, an infamnia).  He was like the uncle who moved back home to save money, and he eventually got rich on the stock market and became a Republican.  He was from Boston, and his sainted Italian mother was a genius in cucina.  This is her recipe.

Take some fruit.  Whatever you like.  I do canned pineapple chunks and mandarin orange slices, fresh green grapes, and maraschino cherries (because I freaking love them), but you can use what you want.  Wash the fruit, if it's fresh, and put it all together into a colander (or squolabasta, for you "in" people) in the sink to drain out the liquid.  In a big bowl whip 3 small containers of heavy whipping cream.  It takes a little time for it to turn into real whipped cream, so don't give up (or make one of the kids do it) and I recommend an electric mixer, though I used to do it myself by hand, back in the days when I was still stupid.  Once it's whipped, fold in (with a rubber scraper) a small container of sour cream.  That's it.  Mix with the fruit and chill, in both senses of the word.

The ham is the ham.  Don't fuss with it.  Put it in a big pan, make a foil "tent" over it, cook it 20 minutes to the pound (if it's big) or 35 minutes to the pound (if it's little).  Take the tent off during the last half hour.  Everything else on The Menu, you can buy.  Or have somebody bring it.  If you trust them. 

* * *

I'm a little annoyed today since, last night, Anthony (my soon-to-be-ex, if he doesn't get off my back) dared to question my cooking.   For the record, I have never served food in this house that Anthony didn't have a "little suggestion" about.   This time it was about mushrooms.

"Is there a way you can cook them where they don't get smaller?"

"No."

"I'm just asking.  Maybe if you didn't overcook them?"

Now I ask you, what jury would convict me?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Cooking for a Holiday - Easter, Part II - The Menu

You gotta have a plan.

Yes, recipes are important, even (and maybe especially) the "little of this...little of that" type of recipe that you probably asorbed by osmosis while you were sitting around your mother's kitchen.  Recipes give you the general guidelines of what tastes good, and how to cook it without poisoning anyone.  But recipes are just part of a larger whole.  To put together a meal, especially a holiday meal by which you will be judged for the rest of your life, you need a plan.  And that plan is called a menu.  It's your first step in the creation of what's going to become a sacred tradition.

Holiday menus in the Staccato household are pretty much invariable.  That's because, over time, we've figured out what works together, what the kids will eat (and they still come and eat on holidays, except for my son, Nino, this year, but that's another story), what's good and easy, and what's just way too much of a pain-in-the-butt to cook under any circumstances.  Before we go further, please note that "nutritional benefit" is not one of the criteria.  Not that being healthy would automatically disqualify a dish from being included on the holiday menu.  It's just that I take the word "holiday" literally.

 
And now I'm going to give you a little homework.

Written homework.  Just like Sister Arnoldine in the fourth grade who really didn't like children, and with good reason.  Unlike Sister Arnoldine, I'm going to recommend a little vino to accompany this project.  After all, these are your opening ceremonies.  You're doing the work; enjoy yourself.

You can start by counting your guests, but I'm going to skip that since I make the same amount of food  - which is enormous - no matter who's coming.  This year, for instance, my Nino has better things to do than have Easter with his family.  (He's going to Spain, the little bastard, and he better bring me back something good.)  For maybe a minute I thought about modifying the menu, but then I ran it by my daughter, Nikki, who was horrified by the idea of having her traditions messed with, so it's business as usual.  No matter - you have too much food, you can always give it away or feed off of it for a week.  I am so moving on.


The Staccato Easter Menu
Big-ass ham, bone-in
Egg & cheese strata
Roasted potatoes & onions
Asparagus with brown butter
Bread
Hard-boiled eggs (dyed, of course)
Fruit salad
Lamb cake
Coffee
Sparkly wine
Easter basket (you know you still want one, Nikki)

DO cook anything you want.  These are just suggestions.  Good suggestions, but suggestions.
DO start your menu with your main dish, or carcass, and work around that.
DO include fruits and vegetables on your menu.  Remember the Hungry Caterpillar.
DO plan on making soup with that hambone.  If you remember "hot ham water" then we can be best friends.    
DON'T start drinking until you're done working with knives.

I recommend writing (or typing) out the menu at least two weeks in advance.  You won't believe how much you find you forget, and this gives your long-term memory (the only memory I have that still functions) a chance to work.  Computers were made for this job.  Type it, save it.  Edit it, if cousin Guido's on a modified Paleo Diet and he only eats the meat he kills.  Come next Easter, it's that much easier.

Notice that I put Nikki's Easter basket on the menu.  That's because the important stuff (Jelly Bellies, Cadbury Cream Eggs, Peeps, did I forget something?) will all come from the grocery store.  And the dye for the eggs, too.

Which is an important point, and leads us to our next step.

To be continued... 






Monday, March 16, 2015

Your Ice Cream

Before I go any further on the Easter dinner planning, I have a special request from my friend Christine in New Jersey.

She calls it "your ice cream", but I'm thinking we can do better than that.  It's an old family recipe.  I think.  Or maybe I found it in a magazine at the doctor's office.  I suspect that a lot of "old family recipes" come from the backs of cereal boxes.

My S'Cream
Start with 2 and 1/2 cups of ricotta cheese.  Get it from the deli, if you can, because a) it will taste better; and b) the guy at the deli can measure it out for you so you don't have to do it again.  I'm guessing it's about a pound.  Beat the ricotta with a cup of sugar, a couple of teaspoons of lemon zest (that's the yellow part of the lemon peel which you scrape off with a grater), and a BIG pinch of kosher (the big stuff) salt.  When it's smooth, stir in a cup of heavy whipping cream and some fresh raspberries (about 1 small package, rinse them first).  Pour this into a big metal pan and freeze until firm.

Christine serves the ice cream in martini glasses.  She also breaks up a dark chocolate candy bar and stick pieces of it on top.  Christine knows how to party.

You could also stuff it in a cannoli.  Or a St. Joseph's Day svinci.  Why not?

Bonus recipe:

Svinci
In a saucepan on top of the stove, bring a cup of water, 1/2 cup of butter, a tablespoon of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a boil.  Then throw in a cup of flour and beat with a wooden spoon until you've got a ball.  Take it off the stove.  Then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time.  Grease a baking sheet and drop tablespoons of dough on it, about 2 inches apart.  Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, and then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake another 15 minutes, or until golden brown.  You can just dust these babies with confectioner's or cinnamon sugar, and eat them as is.  OR, after they cool, you can cut a slit in the sides and fill them with whipped cream or pudding or My S'Cream or whatever.

St. Joseph's Day is Thursday, March 19th.  You don't hear much about him in the Bible.  He probably worked a lot, drank wine, maybe played cards, and stayed quiet.  Which is why he's so popular with Italians, since that's the way most of the men are, preferring to leave the drama to the wife and kids.  Of which is plenty, especially if you're the foster father of God.

If you really want a cultural experience, there are these things called "St. Joseph's Day Tables" that usually happen in church basements.  Go on Google and see if there's one happening in your vicinity.  Don't worry if you're not Italian.  Just wear red and give some money for the "saint" and nobody will know the difference.  They'll be too busy eating.

And so will you. 



Friday, March 13, 2015

Cooking for a Holiday - Easter, Part I

Easter is coming early this year, and I just noticed that yesterday.

Which means I've got to get moving.  You think it's too early to start getting ready for Easter dinner?  No way.  Cooking for a holiday takes organization.  And timing.  And I'm going to show you how to do it.

Maybe you've already got this, and you don't need me at all.  Okay, fine.  Maybe.  But maybe you're an adventurous sort and - for the first time - want to invite all of your friends (who can't face another holiday meal with their bipolar relatives) over to your house.  Maybe holiday meals are always at your house (bipolar relatives included) and you've managed, but you want it to be a little easier, since drinking before five (without a good reason) on most days shouldn't be your only option.

Or maybe, you used to be Secretary of State, and your washed-up husband has a habit of coming home, like, three days before any random holiday, and announcing that he and that yahoo hillbilly family of his will be having dinner at your house again, in spite of the fact that you've travelled to 122 countries in the last 36 months and now you've got to get ready to run for president and you're REALLY FREAKING BUSY.

Holidays are always terrifying.  Not only do you have to cook and eat a piece of meat or poultry the size of a dwarf planet, but you also have to host a bunch of people who are not normally privy to your particular set of idiosyncrasies.  So your house has to be reasonably clean, too, and you have to remember not to do anything that would disqualify you as a foster parent.

I mean, life is terrifying enough.  As human beings, we are blessed with the awareness of our own mortality.  Then, like rats caught in the maze of a scientist with a really bad attitude and given an electric shock every time we go for that tasty bit of provolone, we are constantly reminded that all the fun stuff - which could possibly make the whole mortality deal a little more bearable - is bad for us.

We NEED our holidays, times when all restrictions on hedonism are suspended, like in Japanese pachinko parlors.  Holidays should be a time when we press the reset button on our sanity.  In theory, at least.  Instead, they're stressful.  Take Thanksgiving, for example.  Entertaining in the shadow of Black Friday is like celebrating Apocalypse Eve.

If you have small children and/or a job, it's even worse, and nobody's going to cut you any slack.  Yeah, you'll get offers to help and people generally will "bring something".  But that includes Aunt Mary Rose who's going to bring you a gallon of Gallo, which you have to drink because it would kill the grass.

You've got to make your own slack.

I've got this down to an exact science.  It's the only way to go.  Then it won't matter if your psychotic boss, who has no family or friends, and who's deathly afraid of that stoogahtz of a regional manager (who does have a family, but they hate him), tells you that you have to stay until 6 pm on the day before the holiday and be back at work at 7 am the day after.  I've been there.  I know.

You are welcome to cook my recipes, or you can roast boar's ribs if it floats your boat.  What's important is the process.  Whatever you cook, you should emerge from the experience fully ensconced as the family matriarch.

Which will forever spare you from spending your future holidays at Aunt Mary Rose's house, sitting on a plastic-covered couch, listening to the story about how her husband ran off with the 26-year-old Guatemalan gardener.

And drinking Gallo.
 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Where Am I?

I had my wisdom teeth taken out last Monday.

Not nearly as painful as I thought it was going to be, and I was in the process of berating myself for being a big whiny baby, when I fell asleep.  And didn't wake up for 96 hours.

When I finally did wake up, I was in my living room.  It was 1972 and I was wearing something hideous.  Wait, no, those were just the images I was pulling up on my computer from all the various Fashion Weeks going on around the world.  I'm not lying when I say that worse than having my wisdom teeth pulled out was waking up and finding out that we're having a '70s fashion revival.

Please, St. Anthony and the Blessed Virgin, not the '70s.  Any other decade but the '70s.  Those of us who count ourselves amongst the survivors will tell you:  the '70s were nobody's friend.  The '60s were fun, the '80s were silly, the '90s were at least comfortable.  But the '70s???  There were earth tones in the '70s, colors like "pumpkin" and "avocado" and "harvest gold".  And brown.  Lots and lots of brown.  Everyone wore "fat clothes" and had long, straight, stringy hair.  The only way I can explain '70s fashion is I think LSD was still legal back then.

I should have seen the signs, when wedges started creeping back onto the fashion scene, that muumuus wouldn't be far behind.  And "flares" (yeah, those look great tucked into your boots).  And let's not forget fringe.  Who doesn't want to look like a macrame hanging planter?

But the real bottom-feeder in all of this was the new "boyfriend" jeans I saw being sold by a major retailer.  Sure, if your boyfriend's name is "Lil' Loco" and he's out on probation.  I know that fashion needs to keep changing in order to fund the industry, but...really?

There's an upside, though.  As long as it looks like saggy-baggy is here to stay for a while, here's a little something fattening for you that I found on the Internet:

Brain-Dead Easy Chocolate Mousse
Buy a box of instant chocolate pudding mix.  Or any flavor, vanilla's good, too, but make sure it's the instant stuff.  Put it in a bowl and add two cups of whipping cream.  Beat with a whisk for 2 - 2 1/2 minutes.  Eat.  Enjoy.  Get fat.  Go buy a muumuu.

Since Monday, I've only been allowed food that doesn't have to be chewed.  This stuff fit the bill.  True, healthy smoothies would have fit the bill, too.  But what fun is that?

In a world that suddenly looks like an Olsen twin's nightmare, I think I need a little comfort food.



Sunday, March 1, 2015

Freedom Fries

Tomorrow, first thing in the morning, I'm getting all four of my wisdom teeth yanked out of my skull.

Fortunately, I have arranged to be on another planet during the procedure, but I'm dreading what follows.  After scouring the Internet and polling those amongst my family and acquaintances that have suffered through this before, I have come to the conclusion that there is a wide range of post-operative possibilities, from "Let's go roller skating!"  to "I wish I was dead.  But just this week."  We'll see.  I'll let you know, believe me.

Anthony, my thoughtful husband, decided that it would be a good idea if I cooked something soft and easy-to-eat, to provide me (and him) with nourishment for the coming week.  And beyond, if things don't go so well.  So we (he) decided on pasta fazool, which I cooked this afternoon.  I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel like digging my own grave.

But pasta fazool was NOT the meal I chose to eat today, my final day with molars.  No, I wanted to put those babies to work, one last time.  Today I ate an enormous steak, with some crunchy broccoli, and - my favorite thing in the whole world - crispy French fries, baked in the oven.

The recipe for pasta fazool, I'll give you another time.  Right now, I'm all about the French fries.  Or "Freedom fries" as some raging nutbar of a politician, looking for a few votes, renamed them.  To show everybody what a great patriot he was.  I can't remember the circumstances, or the name of the politician, but I do remember that he (it had to be a "he"; women are not that goofy, with the possible exception of Sarah Palin) decided that the French had dissed us somehow, so he wanted to replace "French" with "Freedom" in all the American phrases that had the word "French" in them.  So, French bread became Freedom bread, French toast became Freedom toast, French dressing became Freedom dressing, a French kiss became a Freedom kiss, etc.

And French fries became Freedom fries.  How's that for clever?  What a chooch.  But I always say "Freedom fries" because a) I get a good laugh out of it; and b) when you cook them yourself in the oven, they're not fattening.  So you're free from having a fat ass.

Here's how you make them:

Freedom Fries
Get some big baking potatoes.  One potato serves two people, so however many you need, but prep them one at a time and then bake them all together.  Scrub them, or peel them.  I scrub.  Take your potato and cut it in half lengthwise, so now you have two long halves of potato.  Take each half and cut them in half lengthwise again. You get four long pieces of potato.  Now cut the four pieces horizontally into slices about 1/4 - 1/2 inch wide, and you should have a bunch of potato pieces that sort of look like French fries.
Put the potato pieces in a gallon-size plastic bag.  Add about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Now twist the top of the bag closed tight, leaving some air in it so it looks like a balloon with pieces of potatoes in it.  Shake the bag real good.  Pour the potatoes onto a big, flat baking pan.  I line my pan with foil and spray some non-stick stuff on the foil because I don't have a dish washer (other than Anthony).  The potatoes should lie in the pan in a single layer, so if you're making a lot of them, you'll need more than one pan.  Whatever works for you.  Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper, throw the pans into a 350 degree oven, and when they're brown and a little crispy (maybe about 45 minutes to an hour), you got Freedom fries.

And you can eat as many as you want.  It's patriotic.