Flashback Friday – Shorted

The following post originally appeared on BAH on 19 August 2009.

Used to be that when a recipe called for 8 ounces of pasta, I could just measure out half a box and be done. Not anymore. Have you noticed how with many of the things we buy, like pasta, ice cream, and coffee, you don’t get as much as you used to? But you’re still paying the same price.

The packages haven’t changed so much that you notice you’re being shorted. But look closely. That box of Barilla Penne that I picked up at the store? It’s 14 ounces instead of 16. And your cup of yogurt, is it still 8 ounces or have they sold you 6 ounces for the same price?

The Washington Post recently mentioned this trend. For me, it’s an annoyance, an inconvenience. If I’m making a dish that needs a cup of yogurt I have to choose between buying a second container and having more than I need or possibly throwing the recipe off because I don’t have enough. My kitchen is small. I don’t have the room to store cans and jars and boxes that I wouldn’t need to buy if it weren’t for this shrinkage.

Why are we being forced to make this decision? Blame it on the companies for wanting to make more money. Blame it on the grocery stores for trying to find higher profit margins. Blame it on consumers for not noticing the changes. We’re all to blame. But it still feels sneaky.

How do you feel about it? Are you ok with products being downsized while still paying the same price or would you prefer to pay a little more to get the old “standard” sizes?

Flashback Friday – Hot Mess

The following post originally appeared on BAH on 17 August 2009.

SK Broccoli Slaw

I seem to have hit an all new low with regards to trashy reality television. Why? Because despite having way too many channels of programming to choose from, I found myself unable to look away from VH-1′s Charm School. Here’s how it happened. It was a Sunday afternoon and we had plans for later in the day right around supper time. Since dinner at home was out, we were going old school with supper. You know supper, that earlier version of dinner or later version of lunch.

I like supper to be easy and fuss free. Heck, I like most things to be easy and fuss free, this is just one example. Our menu was Bon Appetit’s Mustard Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli Slaw from Smitten Kitchen. The broccoli had been slawed and the shrimp was chilling in its mustard bath in the fridge. So I had at least an hour before I had to be back in the kitchen. Flipping through the tv guide, anything that looked promising had either already started or wasn’t on till after we’d leave. I know, I could have just picked up a book. Or folded laundry. Or scrubbed the toilet. Any of those would have been more productive and satisfying than the trainwreck that is Charm School.

The premise is to take a group of women who express a desire to change their lives for the better and put them to the task of doing so. Those who excel make the Dean’s List. Those who don’t go to Detention and may be Expelled. So they basically take a bunch of insecure women and put them in a group living situation with copious amounts of alcohol at their disposal. What do you think happens? People get ugly, petty. It’s every bad day you ever had in middle school only with tequila. That’s a hot mess.

And group dynamics take over. It’s like watching a pride of lions hunt prey as the dominant ones band together to single out the weaker ones. You want to look away as the weakling gets pulled away from the herd and slaughtered. Really, you do. But you can’t. It’s that powerful.

I’m all for self improvement. Sometimes all it takes is changing the channel.

Broccoli Slaw

Adapted from smittenkitchen

  • 1 bag broccoli slaw
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, well shaken
  • 1/3 cup mayo
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot

Combine the broccoli with the cranberries and onion in a bowl. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a separate small bowl. Season the dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour approximately half of the dressing over the broccoli and mix to combine.  If the slaw is not moist enough, add additional dressing to taste.

Keeps for up to a week in the fridge.

{Printable Recipe}

Flashback Friday – Poached

The following post appeared on BAH on 9 September 2009.

After the underwhelming outcome of my egg experiment, I wanted to give it another try. So I tasked my friend Google to see what other recipes were out there. The short answer is a lot. Most of the ones that I found involved baking the eggs in the oven. But there was one from Williams Sonoma that was more like a poached egg. I liked that approach because poaching, as a gentler cooking method, gives me a little more wiggle room before I go from raw to rubber.

Now, if you’ve ever looked at the recipes in the Williams Sonoma catalog, they are basically vehicles to get you to buy their wares. And I’m sure the fancy-schmancy Breakfast Pan that is specified in the Eggs en Cocotte recipe is the bomb, but a little reverse engineering with a large sauce pan and some glass ramekins worked just fine and didn’t cost me $175.

So I made myself a nice water bath on the stove and got cracking. Unlike last time, I was pretty vigilant about checking the progress of my eggs. Since I was using improvised tools, my cooking times were slightly longer than what the folks at WS said to expect. But that’s ok because after about 15 minutes (10 minutes on the heat, 5 minutes off) the whites were perfectly cooked, the yolks were firm but still soft and creamy, and the cheese had melted into the eggs and ham. I tried to get one of the eggs out of the ramekin and onto a plate can state with all certainty that eating it directly out of the ramekin is a much better idea.

Another good idea? Don’t think that this is just for breakfast or brunch. I think Eggs en Cocotte, as WS likes to call them, is a great dinner option especially if you’re cooking for just one person.

Eggs en Cocotte

Adapted from williams-sonoma.com

I easily made two individual servings in a 4 quart sauce pan on the stove. If I were cooking more than four ramekins, I would probably put the whole thing in a large roasting pan, filled with simmering water to reach halfway up the ramekins, and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

  • 1/4 cup cooked bacon or ham (I used canadian bacon), diced
  • 1/4 cup, plus 4 teaspoons, shredded cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 teaspoons heavy cream (I used half and half)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh chives or other herb

Fill a large sauce pan with water (I put my ramekins in the pan, added enough water to reach halfway up them, and then removed the ramekins). Cover the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low.

Lightly coat ramekins with olive oil or butter. Put 1 tablespoon diced bacon or ham in the bottom of each and top with 1 tablespoon of cheese. Break one egg into each ramekin and top with 2 teaspoons cream and 1 additional teaspoon cheese.

Place the ramekins in the simmering water. Cover and cook until whites and yolks are set. The recipe said 6 to 7 minutes for runny yolks and 9 to 10 minutes for firmer ones. Don’t be afraid to test the whites with a fork because after 10 minutes the whites were not cooked. So I let the pan sit, covered, off the heat for another five minutes or so until the whites had cooked and the yolks were soft set.

Carefully remove the ramekins from the pan, season with salt, pepper, and herbs.   Serve immediately.

{Printable Recipe}

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}

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}

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.