Finally following through (and eating bacon onion marmalade)

Burger w/ Bacon Onion Marmalade

Burger w/ Bacon Onion Marmalade

A lot of my life revolves around food. I’m married to a chef, I work in the industry, I write a food blog and, of course, I read a lot of food magazines and blogs. Years ago, when I was just discovering the rather overwhelming world of blogs, I followed only the big names ones like Pioneer Woman and Smitten Kitchen.

But in 2011 when I joined WordPress, I found so many more blogs, and bloggers, who I grew to adore — I love seeing into their corner of the world, reading about their lives and vicariously enjoying their kitchen adventures. More often than not, these visual journeys into their kitchens have led me to discover new recipes. And many of these recipes are ones I swear to myself I’m going to make some day.

And yet, on days when I feel like making something new, I always forget all about those recipes — out of sight, out of mind. And so I end up grabbing the latest issue of Bon Appetit or Food & Wine for inspiration instead.

This year, I’ve decided to put my money where my mouth is and finally make some of those “some day” dishes. Each month I’m planning to make a recipe from a blog that I follow and to showcase it here on Attempts in Domesticity.

The first recipe I chose was a simple but astoundingly good one — bacon onion marmalade, brought to you by Skinny Girls & Mayonnaise. It calls for only a handful of ingredients which come together to make magic in just under 20 minutes. And even though Sean of SG&M calls it the “ultimate summer condiment” it tasted pretty damn good in January. Hey, we aren’t all enjoying the endless summer that he’s been boasting about from his home in California.

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Cobb Salad 2.0 with seared quail breasts & Benton’s bacon

 

This dish came as a refreshing surprise considering the day I’d had leading up to it. I made this last week, on a Monday night, while our kitchen was in the midst of some serious home improvement. It started when our faucet went tits up. Basically the people who owned our house prior to us put in the cheapest possible equipment and the kitchen faucet was hanging on by a thread. This lead to us spending a day roaming around Home Depot, overwhelmed by the massive amounts of options available.

Which then lead to us getting a brand new sink, which lead to the whole kitchen being in complete disarray when dinner time rolled around. There were wrenches and silicone sealing stuff everywhere and, oh god, even a circular saw. I had these lovely quail breasts thawed and ready to be cooked, but my motivation level was at a steady decline as I surveyed the mess around me. It was a serious toss-up on whether I was going to cook or if we were ordering pizza. The pizza was looking like a front-runner, but somehow I resisted its siren call.

And when I managed to whip up this dinner about thirty minutes later, I damn near felt like a miracle worker.

But I can’t take all the credit because I had some amazing ingredients to work with. The first of which was some Benton’s bacon, a gift from my dear friend DB’s parents. They had come into town a month or so ago and I took them to my husband’s restaurant where he showered us with amazing, delicious treats. As a totally unnecessary (but truly awesome!!) thank you, they sent us the gift that keeps on giving — the gift of bacon. If you haven’t had Benton’s bacon yet, you are missing out. I would suggest you immediately click here and order some for yourself. Be prepared to be wait-listed, this stuff is in serious demand, but the four-week delay will be well worth it.

Quail Breasts — bone out, skin on

I also had some Manchester Farms quail breasts. This is a South Carolina-based company that I buy from every week at my job — though we tend to buy mainly whole or semi-boned quail. The breasts were an item we had ordered a few months ago to run as a special and I snatched up a few packs to stash away in my freezer. They cook quickly, are easy to eat (no teeny tiny bones to nibble around) and are way more fun than chicken. If you haven’t eaten quail before, you really should give it a try. Quail has a flavor almost like a cross between chicken and duck, and it’s extremely versatile — I’ve had it grilled, chicken-fried and, most recently, in a preserved plum sauce.

Next, from the depths of my fridge, I brought out hard-boiled eggs, goat cheese, butter lettuce, tomatoes and a few random veggies. I started by tossing some cauliflower and brussels sprouts in olive oil and roasting them in the oven. I looked at the rest of my ingredients and thought — hmmm…Cobb salad!

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A delicious exercise in resisting the allure of restaurant brunch

My husband and I had a list of things we needed to get done last Sunday — a fairly long list too. Usually, since it’s our only day off together, our Sundays are full of complete and utter laziness. Many of them start with us deciding to go out to brunch, which, I have finally discovered, is why we never manage to get anything done. People might say breakfast is the most important meal of the day but, believe me, brunch is nothing but a sneaky productivity killer.

First, it always takes forever. This is not an insult to the restaurants we frequent, I’m sure the staff is doing all they can to hurry things up. It just seems that whenever we think brunch will only take a little while, it’s a minimum of three hours before we get back home. Sometimes there is a long wait to get seated or maybe the kitchen staff is in the weeds, but more often than not, the worst time-sucking culprit is the brunch cocktail. You have a couple Bloody Marys while waiting for your eggs to arrive. Then once you’re done eating, wandering aimlessly around Target sounds way better than going home to do chores. I’m beginning to think my husband knows this too. Just as he knows my weakness for a good breakfast-approved cocktail.

So this Sunday when he looked at our to-do list and suggested we start by going out to brunch, I was wise to his tricks. Luckily I had a recipe for Baked Eggs with Bacon and Spinach picked out and ready to go. While it looks pretty enough to make up for staying home instead of going out, I made sure it was simple enough that my lazy Sunday morning was not totally ruined by ambition.

Now right off the bat I had to change things up. I didn’t really mean to, but I realized belatedly that we were out of spinach. We did, however, have a bunch of kale looking for a good home. So the night before I blanched it until it was just tender, then gave it a quick sauté with onions and garlic for added flavor.

The next morning, I started by cooking the meat. I had some lovely pepper bacon from Nueskes in Wisconsin. But, of course, I didn’t quite have enough for both of us, so I threw in a couple of breakfast sausages too. Lately I have been dreaming about breakfast sausages. This seemed like a great time to make my dreams come true.

While the meat was cooking, I toasted some bread for the base layer. The recipe calls for a whole wheat English muffin but (are you sensing a trend here?) I didn’t have any. However I did have some scraps of brioche left over from an event my husband did earlier in the week. It worked perfectly since they were already cut into strips, and brioche is way more fun than an English muffin.

Next I went searching for a couple of nice-sized ramekins for us to use. Most of ours are fairly small and I wanted this breakfast to be filling enough to keep us satiated through our chores. I remembered my little Le Creuset French onion soup bowls that don’t get used as much as I wish they would. They were the perfect size and added a little flair to the presentation.

The final step was layering — first the bread, then the roughly chopped meat (with a small tab of butter too, just because) and then the kale. Make a small well in the greens and drop in one egg and a dash of cream. It also worked just fine with milk if you forgot to buy cream. Ahem.

Top the eggs with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, then pop the whole shebang in the oven. Wait about ten minutes or so, but be careful not to overcook the eggs. The liquidy yolk is basically the sauce for this dish. Without that moisture, it might be a little dry.

While the eggs bake, your time is best spent making a cocktail. Sure, you’re not out on the town at some fancy brunch spot, but dammit, it’s the weekend and you deserve a pre-noon drink. I won’t tell anyone. I promise.

Then, after a bit, check the oven. Your egg should go from this…

…to this…

A little Parmesan cheese grated on top and a smattering of brioche bread crumbs makes this an easy dish worth staying home for. And our chore day was successful! We were so productive I even got to take a nap — which is a serious accomplishment in my book.

Reason #215 to love onions

Onion Tart

I have always been a huge fan of the onion family — raw, sautéed, grilled, whatever, however — you name it and I love it.

As a kid, my family used to be alternately amused and disgusted when I would stuff my face with fresh chives from my grandma’s garden. I would eat so many, my eyes would practically water but yet I couldn’t stop. Then I would run around and breath on people. Yeah, I was a charmer.

So when I saw this recipe for an onion honey tart made with puff pastry, I was sold. I have been meaning to make this forever, well since February 2011, but I never have créme fraiche around. The fact that I just wrote that sentence is one of the many things I miss about being a professional cook. In a restaurant, everything is accessible, especially in a fine-dining kitchen where Marcona almonds, Epoisse cheese and foie gras are always around. Not that I encourage stealing from work, but I doubt if anyone would have missed a scant half cup of créme fraiche. Of course, it wasn’t hard to find it in a more honest fashion — I bought a little container at an upscale grocery store and it certainly wasn’t expensive, about $6 for 7 oz. And now that I have some left in my fridge, I’m sure I can find a few more recipes I need to make soon.

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