Dinner Party? Dress up Your Chips

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To try making your own chips, click here for the recipe.

After discovering the unlikely and delicious combination of potato chips smeared with leftover foie gras mousse (we were out of toast), I started making mental notes of the delectable combinations you could make with this ordinary ingredient. Good potato chips—cut slightly thick, fried in olive oil, and seasoned with sea salt—are easy to find most supermarkets these days, so I've found myself breaking with my rather unrealistic assumption that I should make everything myself. I buy the good potato chips instead.

And then I imagine what they'd be good with—that is, just about anything that goes with fried potatoes, which opens up a world of possibilities. Many of these combos would make perfect hors d'oeuvres to serve with cocktails or champagne ... just fill the cavity of the chip and serve, or let people do it themselves.

Potato chips are also a perfect dessert with a sliver of fine chocolate sandwiched between them.

Here are some of my recent potato chip improvisations:

    • with Robiola, a soft, mild Italian cheese that tastes like slightly fermented cream (I learned this combo from my friend Peggy Markel on the island of Elba, who designs food and culture adventures in Italy, North Africa, and India

    • with sour cream and just about any smoked fish, such as smoked salmon, trout, or sturgeon

    • with crème fraiche and caviar (salmon or American sturgeon, for example)

    • with eggs: richly scrambled with cream, soft-boiled or fried; or imagine a tiny fried quail egg on a single potato chip (what an hors d'oeuvre!); warm, smashed hard-boiled eggs mixed with mayo and Pimenton de la Vera

    • with warm brandade de morue (a salt cod, potato, and olive oil puree)

    • with Skordalia, a creamy Greek garlic sauce

    • with warmed, shredded, slow-cooked meat like short ribs, Seven-Hour Spoon Lamb, or pot roast with a dab of sour cream

    • and of course, with Real Onion Dip.

Potato chips are also a perfect dessert with a sliver of fine chocolate sandwiched between them. I like them for afternoon tea. Or dip the chips in tempered chocolate and lay them on a rack or a piece of wax paper until the chocolate hardens.

The ultimate potato chip confection, however, I learned from a reader of my blog, whose mom used to make it for her private snack: a potato chip with a slab of ripe banana—like a crunchy, salty-sweet banana tart.

Recipe: Oven-Fried Potato Chips

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Sally Schneider writes The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog about improvising as a daily practice. Her cookbook The Improvisational Cook is now out in paperback. More

Sally Schneider is the founder of The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog that inspires you to devise, invent, create, make it up as you go along, from design and cooking to cultivating the creative spirit. It's been called a "zeitgeist-perfect website." She is a regular contributor to public radio's The Splendid Table and the author of the best-selling cookbooks The Improvisational Cook and A New Way to Cook, which was recently named one of the best books of the decade by The Guardian. She has won numerous awards, including four James Beard awards, for her books and magazine writing.

Sally has worked as a journalist, editor, stylist, lecturer, restaurant chef, teacher, and small-space consultant, and once wrangled 600 live snails for the photographer Irving Penn. Her varied work has been the laboratory for the themes she writes and lectures about: improvising as an essential operating principle; cultivating resourcefulness and your inner artist; design, style, and food; and anything that is cost-effective, resourceful, and outside the box.
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