Deviled Egg Spread

In a perfect world, we would have had the deviled egg spread conversation right before Easter.  Because really, what happens to all those eggs that have been dyed and decorated after the egg hunt is over?  I wish someone could give me a statistic about egg sales in the two weeks before Easter to gauge the order of magnitude of how many people have hard boiled eggs giving them the stink eye from their fridge in the days after Peter Cottontail has gone hippity hoppity down the lane.

In my not-so-perfect world, this jem has been in the pile to tell you about for months.  That’s horrible, I know.  It’s not that I’ve been hoarding this information.  On the contrary, I gladly shared it with our dinner guests @Yinzerella (Emily) and her fella (Cleve) who were unknowingly my official testers for this dish.  After the deviled egg spread got lots of yummy noises and thumbs up as the hors d’oeuvres du jour for that dinner party, I intended to tell you about them right away.

But my brain, post 40, ain’t what it used to be.  I’ve been distracted by the entire first season of Ink Master, a few cringe worthy episodes of Dance Moms, the return of both Mad Men and The Killing, weekly visits to the yoga studio, and some evenings and weekends working with the ladies of Phi Mu.  There’s just not enough space in my head to keep everything straight….and it appears that deviled egg spread took the hit in this instance.

Let me throw an aside out there to you, the reader.  If you happen to fall in that demographic that makes advertisers drool, ie 18-24 or 25-34, you may be (arrogantly) thinking that this kind of thing will never happen to you.  You think that youthful perfection will always be on your side.  You can not image a day when you will be betrayed by your brain mid sentence when words just disappear or you spend 15 minutes searching for the car keys only to realize they have been in your hand the entire time.  In your mind, hell will freeze over before you will look in the mirror at the end of the day and realize that some crazy hair has been sticking out of your chin for christ knows how long (and nobody bothered to tell you).  Allow me to break the news to you gently….this IS your future.  Enjoy the youthful blessings of perfect recall, flawless complexion, and high metabolism.  Because one day, you will wake up and realize that you’ve become THAT person….the one that you mocked back in your younger days.

I say this from my own stroll down this path…Karma is a bitch and her memory is long.

Now that my public service announcement is over, let’s get back to deviled egg spread.  Because I may have missed my opportunity to get you on board with deviled egg spread in time for Easter, but we’re moving headlong into prime brunch, picnic, and potluck season.  Look at the calendar…Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day are all lined up.  These occasions were made for deviled egg spread.  Whether you make bitty finger sandwiches to take to brunch or stand in the middle of your kitchen and enjoy a a slice of Wonder bread slathered with the spread, deviled egg spread is the right answer.

It is spring weekends served on toast points and summer holiday licked from the back of a spoon.  In an ever changing world, it is one of my constants.

Deviled Egg Spread

BAH Note:  I used small biscuit cutters to get those pita rounds I used to serve the egg spread.  There were dainty and polite for our company but truth be told, I would have happily used my hands to shove this spread in my mouth.

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard

Place the eggs in pot large enough so that you can cover the eggs completely with water with about an inch or so of water above the eggs.  Add the vinegar to the pot and cook over high heat until you reach a boil.  Once the water boils, cover your pot and take it off the heat.  Allow the eggs to sit in the water for 15 minutes before you carefully remove the eggs from the hot water and cool them in a bowl of cold water.

Once the eggs are cool, pour off the water.  Peel the shells and cut the eggs in half.  Roughly chop half of the eggs.  Place the remaining half of the eggs in the food processor.  Add the mustard and mayo and pulse until smooth.  Transfer the smooth egg mixture to a bowl, stir in the chopped eggs, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

{printable recipe}

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Flashback Friday – Notes on a Recipe CI’s Buttermilk Pancakes

The following post appeared on BAH on 5 August 2009.

Best Buttermilk Pancakes

Breakfast at our house is usually pretty routine. I make a batch of Alton Brown’s Overnight Oatmeal once a week. And I alternate that with some of SFC’s Not Quite Scrambled Eggs. They’re a cross between scrambled and over hard. Difficult to explain but very enjoyable to eat. Or, if I’m short on time in the morning, I’ll toast an English Muffin and make a breakfast sandwich with a Morningstar Farms Veggie Sausage. But every so often, I get a taste for pancakes.

Most recently, this came while I was going through the July/August Cook’s Illustrated. Page 23 promised the Best Buttermilk Pancakes. I happened to have both buttermilk and sour cream, which the recipe called for, so I figured it was a sign that I should heat up the griddle.

Overall, it’s a solid recipe, although I found the batter to be too thick. My first batch of pancakes did not spread on the griddle. This led to the inside being gummy and undercooked when the outside was nicely browned. I added just enough buttermilk (maybe a quarter cup or so) to thin out the batter so that it spread into lovely rounds on the got griddle.

My only other problem was that even though I had scaled their recipe in half, I was still left with too many pancakes to eat in one sitting. So I wrapped the leftovers in paper towels to absorb moisture as they cooled and set them in the refrigerator. Once fully cooled, I transferred them to a plastic bag for short term storage. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to introduce the Best Buttermilk Pancakes to a slice of spiral cut smoked ham for a late night snack.

Best Buttermilk Pancakes

Cook’s Illustrated

Wrapped in plastic wrap, you could also freeze any leftover pancakes once fully cooled. Reheat in the toaster.

CI Note – “Cook’s Illustrated prefers Gold Medal or Pillsbury All Purpose Flour. If you use an AP flour with a higher protein content, like King Arthur, you will need to add an extra tablespoon or two of buttermilk.”

According to the recipe, this will make sixteen 4 inch pancakes, serving 4 to 6.

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Whisk flour, sugar salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Whisk together buttermilk, sour cream, eggs, and melted butter in a second bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Stir until just combined. The batter should remain lumpy. Do not overmix. Allow the batter to sit for 10 minutes before cooking.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Using paper towels, carefully wipe out the oil, leaving a thin film on the bottom of the pan. Pour the batter, 1/4 cup at a time, onto the skillet. Cook until the edges are set, the first side is golden brown, and bubbles on the surface are just beginning to break, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook until the second side is golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes longer .

Serve immediately or transfer to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven.

Repeat with remaining batter, using remaining oil as necessary.

{Printable Recipe}

Cranberry Orange Muffins

In my daily life, I try to be a good person.  I hope that each day I am able to find compassion, empathy, and patience for myself and those around me.  I’ll be honest, some days that is hard to do.  And being even more honest, some days I know it is hard for others to find compassion, empathy, or patience for me…especially those that spend the workday with me.  Because I’ve become the person in the office who avoids changing the bottle in the water cooler.

Not that this excuses my offense but why can’t companies make smaller cooler bottles?  I’m no featherweight but hoisting a 5 gallon bottle of water from the floor to the counter and then tipping it into the cooler is a workout.  Water weighs a lot…just ask the Google.  You’ll see that a gallon of water weighs just over 8 pounds.  Fractions bother me so I’m going to just round down to 8 pounds per gallon.  That means the standard 5 gallon bottle of water that comes off the truck at our office every month has a water weight of 40 pounds right off the bat.  The plastic bottle itself is nearly 2 pounds.  And I know this because I just ran upstairs with the office postal scale and weighed an empty water bottle.

So, 42 pounds.  Even if I remember to lift with my legs and not my back, that’s a lot of pounds to lift, move, maneuver, and pray the whole time that I don’t end up soaking wet.  Would it really be so difficult to roll out a line of 2.5 or 3 gallon cooler bottles?  We can send people into outer space.  We have technology that allows us to talk on wireless phones.  We have fiber optic lines thinner than strands of human hair.  But we have antiquated water cooler bottles.

Is it possible that I use baked goods to atone for my water cooler sins?  Could be.  Maybe if I bring in a batch of cranberry orange muffins I can buy another few weeks of my coworkers turning a blind eye to my water cooler crimes.

Cranberry Orange Muffin

Adapted from Cooking Light

BAH Note:  CL said to bake for 15 minutes at 400.  I don’t know what kind of crazy nuclear oven they have but after 15 minutes at 380 degrees (convection) in my Advantium oven, the muffins were nowhere near done.  I gave them another 7 minutes before my tester came out clean.  I used a combination of all purpose and white whole wheat flour, along with some wheat bran but you can easily use only all purpose flour…you’ll want two cups total.  Oh, and you can also sprinkle a wee bit more sugar on the tops of the muffins right before you slide them into the oven.  And while you’re at it, go ahead and zest the orange(s) that you juiced and mix that into the batter.  I thought it needed an extra bit of zip.

  • 1 ounce wheat bran (optional)
  • 3.5 ounces white wheat flour (if omitting the wheat bran, increase to 4.5 ounces, or roughly one cup)
  • 4.5 ounces all purpose flour (one cup)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cup fresh cranberries, roughly chopped

Heat oven to 400 degrees and line 18 muffin cups with liners.

Combine the flour(s), wheat bran (if using), sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl.

In a second bowl, or large measuring cup, add the oil, juice, and egg and stir to combine.

Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir until the liquid is just incorporated into a lumpy batter.  Fold in the cranberries and spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins.

Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until the tops of the muffins spring back when you press them lightly and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before turning the muffins out to cool completely.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Bacon Prayer

The following post appeared on BAH on 3 August 2009.

Prayer to Assist with the Enjoyment of Quality Bacon

O wonderous St. Anthony, please bless me with an abundance of quality bacon and grant me the patience and timing to properly fry each glorious strip. Amen.

I’ve fried my share of bacon over the years and I know that sometimes it does take the intercession of the Saints to keep things from going to hell in a handbasket. But I’ve learned that you don’t need the patience of a Saint to cook bacon. And you don’t need to spend hours degreasing your kitchen either. What’s my secret? My bacon never sees the inside of a frying pan anymore.

It may seem radical, but I cook my bacon in the oven. I got the idea from Ina, the Barefoot Contessa herself. And then I wondered why it never occurred to me before. It’s the perfect solution. All you need is a hot oven, a baking sheet, and a wire rack and you too can enjoy quality bacon. Amen.

Ina’s Oven Cooked Bacon

  • Thick cut slices of smoked bacon
  • Sheet pan
  • Wire cooling rack

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place the wire cooling rack in the sheet pan and arrange the bacon on the rack in a single layer. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes until the bacon is browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels and enjoy.

{Printable Recipe}

Pappardelle with Mushrooms

this is the actual pasta i used. there were no leftovers to document its existence.

Things have been a little weird lately.  I feel like I can’t string together a story to save my life.  Is it possible that after nearly five years of blogging I’ve finally run out of things to say?  Maybe.  But there is definitely weirdness to me in not sitting down regularly and writing.

We are knee deep in our adoption home study.  Reports are being written, facts are being gathered, referenced are being interviewed.  It’s a lot of hurry up and wait to get to the next part of the process.  And frankly, there’s not a lot of anything I can actively manage about this part of the experience.  I can’t plan, or make, or do anything in a physical sense.  So there’s weirdness in the sense that I feel like I “should” be more engaged and excited about this than I am right now.

There’s also been house weirdness.  Just in the last few days our doorbell has started ringing at unexpected moments.  As a matter of fact, about halfway through the previous paragraph, it rang.  I didn’t bother to check and see who was at the door though.  That’s because for the last six months or so our doorbell has been sitting in a dish on a bookcase.  It’s one of those remote systems that has a battery operated button that sticks to your door frame and a ringer that hides away somewhere inside your house.  The adhesive on the button gave out last summer and I kept finding it laying on our front porch.  So I brought it inside and dropped it in the dish where we keep our keys, meaning to find some stronger adhesive and reinstall it outside.  Over the weekend, the bell just started ringing.

I figured maybe the keys were pressing the button and activating the bell so I moved things around a bit in the dish.  The bell rang again.  Then I took the button out of the dish and set it face up on the bookcase.  That was yesterday.  Today the bell has gone off three times.  I know the reasonable solution is to take the batteries out of the thing but I kind of like the idea of someone’s energy finding a way to let me know they came by to say hello…as long as they don’t do it in the middle of the night.

What does any of this have to do with pappardelle with mushrooms?  Not a damn thing.  But like I said, the storytelling is giving me fits.

Pappardelle with Mushrooms

Adapted from Mache Magazine

BAH Note:  I am terrible timing my dishes so that they are all done at the same time.  So while my water came to a boil, I started on the sauce.  When I got to the point where the chicken broth had reduced by half, I turned off the heat and let it sit until the pasta had gone into the water.  I then finished off the sauce and kept it on a low flame until it was time to introduce it to the pasta.

  • 8 ounces pappardelle pasta
  • 1 pound mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan (optional)

Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package’s direction.

While the water heats and the pasta cooks, combine the olive oil and butter in  a large frying pan over medium heat.  Once the butter has melted, add the sliced mushrooms, italian seasoning, and salt to the pan and cook until they have released their liquid and begin to brown, stirring often.  Add the chicken broth to the pan and cook until the liquid has reduced by about half.

Slowly stir a few tablespoons of the reduced pan sauce into the heavy cream to temper it.  Then add the tempered cream to the frying pan and whisk to combine.  Stir in the lemon zest and taste for seasoning.  Add additional kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

Once the pasta has cooked, drain the noodles and add them to the pan with the sauce.  Stir to allow the pasta and sauce to combine and then stir in the grated parmesan if using.

{printable recipe}

Graeter’s Ice Cream

I don’t usually make a habit of talking about things here on BAH unless I have known and loved them.  I respectfully decline many “opportunities” to feature products or talk about brands because I don’t already have a personal relationship with them.  Recently I was approached to try a product.  The folks who contacted me don’t know me.  And they could have no idea that I am inherently weak and lacking in self control when faced ice cream.  But here they were asking if I would like to try a new brand of ice cream that is launching in the B’more Metro area.  It was that weakness that made me hit the Google to find out exactly what it was about this particular ice cream that makes it so special.  A few keystrokes and clicks later, after reading the story behind the product and about their small batch process, I said yes.  Actually, I think I said yes, please.

142 years is a long time for a family to be making ice cream.  But that’s exactly what the Graeter family of Cincinnati, Ohio have been doing. Rich, creamy ice cream.  With or without chunks of chocolate.  I don’t know how they manage to keep the chocolate chunks tender during the freezing process, but they do.  Must be a bit of family magic passed down from generation to generation.  I am picturing a special ceremony on the production floor where the title of ‘secrets of the ice cream keeper’ is passed to the next generation, and the final part of the ritual is learning how to prevent the chocolate chunks from turning in brittle shards of sadness.

And even though I don’t live in any of the cities where they operate ice cream shops, I can now get my Graeter’s on anytime I like.  In addition to their mail order operation…that’s right, I can get ice cream delivered to my door (you can too!)…I can now pick up a pint or two at my grocery store.

Of the flavors I was able to try – Vanilla Chocolate Chip, Mint Chocolate Chip, Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip, and Chocolate Chocolate Chip – Chocolate Chocolate Chip was my personal favorite.  The chocolate flavor is milky and rich but not overly sweet, and just a small scoop or two is enough to make me happy.  I shared the Vanilla with my coworkers and only got a small taste of that one.  But the fact that the pint was decimated in about twenty minutes leads me to believe that they liked it.  The Mistah is a sucker for Mint Chocolate Chip but I did manage to sneak a scoop or two from that container.  I enjoyed it but the mint flavor is a little subdued. While I was excited to dig in to the Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip, it wasn’t my favorite.  To me, the essence of the berry flavor gets completely lost.

Looking at the list of flavors that Graeter’s produces, I’ve got my eye on a few that I want to get to know better….I’m talking to you Caramel and Buckeye Blitz.  So the next time I’m dashing through The Fresh Market, I’m going to have to make a point of actually looking at the ice cream case.  It’s a spot that I try and avoid, or at least turn my head and avert my gaze as I go by.  But I’m willing to make an exception every once in a while.

Disclaimer:  I received a selection of ice cream from Graeter’s.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Flashback Friday – Bon Appetit Hon!

The following post originally appeared on BAH on 27 July 2009.

You know how people grow and develop and change over time?  I’ve discovered that blogs can do the same thing.

Bon Appetit Hon had its beginnings back in 2007 as Exit 51.  I set it up as a means to keep in contact with my husband while he was overseas.  But as time passed, more and more of Exit 51 became about food.  What I was making, what I was thinking of making, what worked, and what failed.  Not to mention all the food diversions that the Internet threw my way.

So in 2009, just as Exit 51 was about to enter the Terrible Two’s, I decided it was time to make a change.  Call it growing pains, or an identity crisis, or whatever you like.  But to me, the name Exit 51 just didn’t convey the idea that it’s about the food.  And Bon Appetit Hon was born.

Exit 51 still lives on here for now.   And there will be links back to it since part of moving forward is always remembering where you’ve been.  I hope you’ll follow along and see where this journey takes us.

Welcome to my kitchen in Smalltimore.  Pull up a chair, make yourself at home, and Bon Appetit Hon.