Flashback Friday – Timing

The following post appeared on BAH on 10 August 2009.

Hot Stuff

In the kitchen, timing is everything. Food is done when it’s done. You get a little wiggle room with some dishes. Others are not so forgiving. Worst of all is when you’ve unknowingly overcooked something. Like that time I made baked eggs. I was expecting something along the lines of maybe a soft boiled or poached egg. What I got was tough and rubbery. Seriously, my fork kept bouncing off the whites as I tried to cut into them.

I did not pay attention to a cardinal rule of cooking – timing involves more than watching a clock. Yes, paying attention to how long a recipe says it will take is important. But so is paying attention to how it smells and looks. Every time SFC is cooking, I try and explain not to just go by how many minutes are on the timer but to use all the senses. Clearly, I need to remember my own words.

Baked Eggs in Tomato Parmesan Sauce

Martha Stewart Everyday Food, as posted on thebittenword.com

I scaled the recipe to make two servings. If I can get this to work they way I think it’s supposed to, I bet it would make a great brunch dish or an easy weeknight dinner.

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1/2 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set two 12 ounce ovenproof bowls on a large rimmed baking sheet.

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium flame. Add garlic and rosemary; cook, stirring until garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Add diced tomatoes with juice, crushed tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons parmesan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide tomato sauce between bowls, reserving 1/2 cup. Crack 2 eggs into each bowl and top with reserved sauce and 2 tablespoons parmesan. Bake until egg whites are just opaque, yolks should still be soft, 24 to 28 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through.

{Printable Recipe}

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}

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}

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}

Crunchy Granola

Back in my college days of the early 1990’s, Crunchy Granola was the phrase we used to describe someone who was a little, shall we say, outside the mainstream.  Of course, this was before the mainstream engulfed the ideas of conservation, ecological stewardship, grunge, or angst…often as a means of convincing consumers to part with their disposable income.  Wow, how jaded did that sound?  Or maybe I’ve just watched too much Mad Men for my own good.

Regardless, Crunchy Granola was not used in a complimentary manner at that point in my life.  Thankfully, through the kind intervention of Pork Cracklins, that has changed.

I came home one day to find a #lovebomb on my front porch.  Inside was a card that brightened my spirits, some lovely artisanal chocolate, and a batch of her homemade crunchy granola.  And right then and there, I changed my tune.

Crunchy Granola is not all sticks, hemp, and patchouli as life on the campus of UMBC from 1990 to 1994 indicated.  Crunchy Granola is perfectly baked oats and coconut that has been lightly sweetened, salted, and spiced before being married with dried fruits.  Actually, that is my idea of Crunchy Granola.  The beauty is that it can be anything you want it to be.  Nuts, other fruits, or even little bran like sticks if that’s your thing….they’re all good.

I’ve made this a number of times since that first #lovebomb encounter.  I make it by the gallon, or so it seems, and it’s never enough.

Crunchy Granola

Adapted from Serious Eats and Melissa Clark

BAH Note: Don’t make my mistake and add the dried fruit to the oats before the granola is cooked.  The fruit will end up rock hard and capable of doing some serious dental damage.

  • 3 – 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon or 5 spice powder
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped (optional)

Heat your oven to 300 degrees and line a half sheet pan with parchment.

In a large bowl, stir together the oats and coconut and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, cook the brown sugar, canola oil, maple syrup, spice, and salt over medium-low heat just until the sugar dissolves.  Use a spoon and carefully taste the sugar mixture.  If you want a saltier granola, add salt 1/4 teaspoon at a time until it is to your taste.  Pour the heated sugar mixture over the oats and coconut and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until the oats and coconut are thoroughly coated in the sugar mixture.

Or, if you prefer, skip this step entirely and just add the canola oil, brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, and spice to the bowl of oats and coconut.  Use a spoon, or your hands, to make sure everything is evenly combined.  Taste and adjust the salt and spice to your liking.

Spread the oat mixture onto the sheet pan and bake until the granola is golden and crunchy, anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes, stirring every 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, transfer the granola to a large bowl, and add in the dried fruit and ginger (if using).  Store in an airtight container.

{printable recipe}

ATK Buttermilk Waffles

I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with ideas about how The Mistah and I can finance an adoption without sending ourselves to the poor house.  The economy is tight with some people unable to find jobs at all so the likelihood of me finding a second job, any second job, isn’t promising.

I thought about opening up an Etsy shop.  But after a quick check of the competition, I determined that I would have to sell something like 10,000 jars of jam in order to turn enough of a profit to make it a viable option.  Really Etsy people, how can you sell a jar of jam for $3 or $4 dollars?  By the time you add up all of your supply costs and account for your time to make the product, does that price even cover those?

I’ve got an extensive portfolio of (mainly food) photos.  It would be ideal if I could turn them into “boutique” note cards.  I’ve got to think about that one a little more.

It’s seriously too bad that I can’t do a waffle fundraiser.  Because I have what may very well be the most perfect waffle recipe.  It pains me to say that it is an America’s Test Kitchen recipe.  It pains me, but it doesn’t surprise me.  They nailed this one.  The outside of the waffle is beautifully crisp while the inside is achingly tender.  It is a perfect balance.

These are what waffles aspire to be.  These waffles are money.  I just wish there was a way for me to turn them into actual money.

ATK Buttermilk Waffles

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

BAH: Despite the temptation to dig right into these waffles, let them sit in a warm oven for 10 minutes.  Your patience will be rewarded with a perfectly crisp exterior.

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups plain seltzer water (not sparkling water or club soda)

Heat your oven to 250 degrees, set a wire rack inside a sheet pan and place it in the oven. Heat your waffle iron.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, buttermilk powder, and baking soda.

In a separate bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and oil until thoroughly combined.  Slowly add the seltzer water to the wet mixture and gently stir to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry.  Gently stir the batter until it is just combined. A few lumps and streaks of flour are ok.

Cook the waffles according to your waffle iron’s directions.  Transfer the cooked waffles to the warm oven to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

{printable recipe}

Bran Muffins

This is the tale of two muffins.  Two bran muffins.  On the surface, they are completely identical.  I used the exact same recipe for both batches of muffins.  So what could possibly be different about them?  I’ll give you a hint, it has everything to do with how I baked them.

One muffin was baked in my big oven.  400 degrees for 20 minutes.  The other muffin was baked in my Advantium.  380 degrees for 16 to 18 minutes.  One muffin was made on a lazy afternoon.  The other muffin was made after a long day of work.  Can you tell which is which?

I typically avoid baking on weeknights because I’m tired, I’m cranky, and it’s tiresome to have to haul out all of the pots and pans that live in the oven in order to heat it up and bake something.  But after the Advantium arrived, I wanted to challenge myself to see if its super powers could make baking accessible to me during the week.

The proof is in the picture.  The muffin on the right is from the batch that I made on a Thursday night.  It helped that the recipe I used was minimally fussy and didn’t require me to break out the stand mixer, let the batter rest, or otherwise allow me to get sidetracked from my muffin mission.  It also helped that I halved the original recipe and only baked up a dozen of these on a weeknight.  Sometimes the smaller capacity of the Advantium totally works to my advantage.

So the two muffins may look the same, but how did they taste?  If I hadn’t known which batch of muffins of which, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you which came out of the big oven and which came out of the Advantium.

Weeknight baking mission accomplished.

Bran Muffins

Adapted from The Muffin Myth

BAH Note: There’s nothing fussy about these muffins.  They are full of wheat bran which I was readily able to find in the grocery store.  Look for Bob’s Red Mill brand.  I think they are the bran muffin equivalent of a blank canvas…sturdy and up for the job but they aren’t out to wow you.  So you might want to add in some fresh fruit and spices you like to give them a little something special.

Advantium Tip: To modify the recipe below for use in your Advantium, place the metal cooking tray on the turntable (instead of the glass tray) and install the wire rack in the bottom position.  Select Convection Bake from the menu and set the temperature to 380 degrees.  You will want to start checking for doneness after about 15 minutes.  Depending on how full you’ve filled your cups, the muffins should be done in approximately 16 to 18 minutes.

  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups wheat bran
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat your oven to 400 degrees and line approximately 18 muffin cups with liners.  Mix the applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, milk, water, and vanilla together in a large bowl.  Combine the wheat bran, flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in another bowl.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill your muffin cups (the muffin myth said she got 12 out of the recipe but I made mine a bit smaller and got about 18) and bake for 20 minutes or until the tops are firm.

Cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning the muffins out on a wire rack to cool completely.  Leftover muffins can be wrapped in plastic and frozen.

{priable recipe}

Disclaimer:  As part of my partnership with GE, I received an Advantium oven.  All opinions posted about my Advantium experience are my own.