The Best Way to Wake Up

I wrote about how I earned my first tip by making this breakfast in my blog last week. What I did not say though, was that this breakfast actually came out of desperation — our car battery had been dead for a week, and of course grocery trips were suspended indefinitely.

 

BaconHash-BrownSunny-Side-Up-top-view

 

 

Saturday morning, I woke up to an empty fridge. Well, not entirely empty. There was still a couple eggs left, and that was it. I turned to the freezer, and was so happy to dig out a package of thick-cut bacon and a bag of hash browns. Yay!

 

BaconHash-BrownSunny-Side-potato-2

 

I was too hungry to defrost the bacon in the fridge (didn’t even have the patience to use the cold-water method). I popped the entire package in to the microwave and waited, impatiently, for a whole two minutes. As soon as the bacon is separable, I threw three slices in a pan over medium-high heat. Soon enough they started sizzling, and the kitchen was filled with a wonderful aroma. Hmm, who needs coffee to wake up?

 

BaconHash-BrownSunny-egg

 

The beauty of cooking bacon in the morning is that you get a lot of tasty bacon fat to cook with, which was what I used to transform the frozen hash browns into a tasty side. Even better, crack an egg into bacon fat and your sunny-side-up will be just as good as it can get.

 

BaconHash-BrownSunny-Side-Up-side-view

 

 

I could hardly wait to put everything on a plate and have a bite. Instant gratification! I learned something here: desperation can be the best inspiration sometimes, and that simple food can (and often does) taste great. Now I just wish a fairy would make this breakfast so I could wake up to it every single day!

 

 

 

 

 

Thick Cut Bacon, Parsley Hash Brown, and a Sunny-Side Up Egg

From: Danti Chen

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices thick cut bacon
  • 1 cup thinly sliced potato sticks (or frozen hash browns)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp crushed pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat up a pan on high, and fry up 3 slices of bacon. Reduce the heat to medium and cook on each side for about 7 minutes.
  2. Take about a table spoon of bacon fat, and put it in another pan on high heat. Throw in a cup of thinly sliced potato.
  3. Add the garlic powder and crushed pepper to the potato. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top. Add the chopped parsley.
  4. In a separate pan, add about 1 teaspoon bacon fat, heat it up till sizzling.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-low and crack an extra large egg into the pan. Crack some pepper and add a pinch of salt on top. Cover, and turn off the heat. Let it sit while the potato and bacon finishes cooking, for about (15 & 14 minutes total). The egg should cook for no more than 6 minutes total with the heat off.

Caramelized Shallots

I was a bit of a rebel at cooking school, which was kind of surprising considering I was pretty much a nerd in high school. I was always asking a lot of questions, especially ones that began with “Why do we have to….?” One of the hallmarks of great French cooking, I learned very quickly, was that shortcuts were pretty much a no-no. We learned, for example, how to prepare mayonnaise and whip egg whites stiff by hand instead of using mixers or hand blenders just so we would know how if we needed to in the future.

 

Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

 

For chefs in a commercial kitchen this may come in handy on occasion, but I think every minute home cooks spend in the kitchen should be enjoyable. This means you should take shortcuts and even cheat a little sometimes. Otherwise, I know for a fact you will avoid certain ingredients, like shallots, which are tedious to peel since you need so many more them than onions, and slicing or dicing may them burn your eyes. You should never avoid such a wonderful ingredient such as shallots since they add so much flavor, being a little less bitter than onions and really sweet when caramelized.

 

Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

 

So I’ve come up with a an easy way to caramelize massive amounts of shallots with very little labor after being inspired by a  12-Hour Rabbit Bolognese recipe in Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Great Britain (a book by the way everyone should own). He just puts all the ingredients whole into this rabbit stew and the onions just fall apart and assimilate during braising. So smart. I thought that perhaps I could achieve the same results with shallots if I just peel large shallots, quarter them and slowly cook them in a bit of oil. It works!

 

Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

 

So what, you say?  Shallots cooked this way are a great replacement for onions in stews, or in pureed soups, mixed in with vegetables or mashed potatoes (see Stoemp). You could also add these to a pot pie, fill puff pastry cups with shallots and add a bit of goat cheese for a easy elegant appetizer, or again really use them anywhere you use cooked onions. Today, for example, I used them for a meatloaf. First I added a bit of cognac to the shallots, and let the alcohol burn off. Then I pureed them before adding them to the ground beef and other ingredients (you can also just chop them – fine or coarse – or leave them just the way they are).  There’s really no end on how you can use them.

 

Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

 

Do you have any go-to ingredient or spice that adds pizzazz to everyday meals? Let us know in the comments, below!

 

 

 

 

Caramelized Shallots 1-2-3

From: Heide Lang

Ingredients:

  • 8 large shallots, or 12 smaller ones peeled.
  • 4-5 tablespoons canola or sunflower oil (or another oil with a high smoke point)

Directions:

  1. Cut off the root of the shallots and quarter them
  2. Heat a medium size sauté pan and add 4 tablespoons of oil.
  3. Add the shallots and coat them with the hot oil. Break up the shallots with a firm spatula as they cook until all they have all fallen apart.
  4. Cook over a low-medium heat until the shallots start to brown, about 25 minutes. Add the last tablespoon or more of canola oil if the shallots stick to the pan
  5. Remove the shallots from pan and add to your favorite vegetable, stew, soup, or any place else you would use cooked onions. (You may chop or puree them as well.)

Baked Potato Nachos

I should note before I go on, that this is recipe is not just for lazy students – it’s a festive and delicious grownup lunch, too. I just feel like I have to explain where this recipe comes from, and the truth is that it comes from necessity. As every student knows, Sunday is perhaps the furthest thing possible from a day of rest. It’s actually the day you recover from the fact that you put off your homework all week and have to get it all done before class begins tomorrow. And of course when you’re doing all that cramming, you just get hungrier and hungrier and so you’re put in a difficult position: extreme hunger, and no time to cook.

 

 

Baked Potato Nachos quick/easy/addictive lunch or study snack! | The Road Home

 

 

I’ve weighed the benefits of many snacks, but few things cut it just right. Ice cream is cold, creamy and delicious but takes too much self control not eat the whole pint. Seaweed has almost no calories, but there’s only so much seaweed a person can eat. Ramen is quick and filling but… ew. I needed to find something delicious, something quick, something filling and most importantly something that would wake me up. And I found that in the Baked Potato Nacho. It takes no more than 30 seconds to melt Cheddar on a half a spud, top it with Crema Mexicana (I know, classy, right?) and sliced Jalapeños, which are spicy enough to remind you not to fall asleep.* Best of all there is no whole pack to eat, because you’d have to consciously go make another one, and you’d be too smart to go do that! And the sky is the limit in terms of what you can put on them – tomatoes, olives, salsa, tabasco sauce, chipotle mayo or ground beef if you have time on your hands. Next time you’re desperate for a quick lunch check these out – they’re ever so… wait for it… appeeling! (Sorry).

 

*30 seconds if you already have a baked potato. If you don’t, you will have to wait for one.

 

 

How about you – what are (or were) your favorite study snacks? Let me know in the comments below!

Baked Potato Nachos

Ingredients:

  • 1 baked potato*/**
  • 2-3 oz Cheddar cheese, grated or broken into small pieces
  • 2 dollops of crema Mexicana*** or sour cream
  • 8-10 slices hot pickled jalapeños

Directions:

  1. Cut your potato in half, and sprinkle cheddar evenly over the top.
  2. Microwave for about 30 seconds.
  3. Top with crema/sour cream, and evenly distribute the jalapeños
  4. You’re done. If that felt too easy, that’s because it was.

The 30 Second Side Dish

*Disclaimer: there is no such thing as a 30 second side dish, but this does come as close as you can possibly get.

 

As any friend, acquaintance or probably even stranger could tell you, I have a slight tendency to overprogram. I can’t stand the idea of letting a single moment of any day go by without it being used in the most efficient way (and yes, that includes efficiently watching How I Met Your Mother). This should be a relief for you, because if I’m making anything on a weeknight, you better believe you have time to make it too. But it did lead to a slight panic moment this past Thursday when I left babysitting, had to be at a Rosh Hashanah potluck more or less immediately, and it was too late to make even the simple string beans with crispy shallots I had intended to bring. With no idea what I was wearing, let along making, I called my mom in a tizzy from the supermarket.

 

Cauliflower

 

Granted, I could have probably been late to the party and the hidden truth here was that I really hate chopping shallots, but thank goodness I’m a lazy bum! Because rumor has it involved side dishes among friends are a waste of everybody’s time. My mom let me in on the best secret I’ve heard in a long time – if you set an oven to 350°F, and chop up some broccoli and cauliflower, all you have to do is toss it with a little canola oil, a lot of salt, and whatever herb or spice you like, bake it for 45 minutes and call it a recipe. And you can brag about it too because it’s freaking awesome! I claim no credit for this one, but I thought  you should be in the know. I’m planning to make this on a weekly basis probably for the rest of my life, and it’s vegan and gluten free and kosher and EVERYTHING so you should bring it to every party. Try this – you won’t be disappointed.

 

How about you? If you had to be at dinner in, say, 1/2 an hour what would you bring? Bonus points for shorter prep time!

 

And Update – Apparently this isn’t a secret at all, because the 13-year-old I babysit made this for me last night. Granted, Zoe is kind of a superstar of everything, but even so, I guess the cat has been out of the bag for a while.