Tag Archives: Bon Appetit

Thanksgiving 2016: I’m Unprepared!

If there’s one thing I can say about myself, it’s that I’m consistent. I have consistently broken my promise to write on this blog consistently. I will try to be better.

It’s almost Thanksgiving, which has become my favorite holiday as of late.

Christmas? It used to be cool. But now, it’s just a lot of build up for a whole lot of nothing. Like when I lost my virginity.

HEYO!

Anyways. Thanksgiving is 4 days away. Even with my proclivity for procrastination, I am normally flipping through Bon Appetit and browsing Food52 for inspiration. But this year, I have not been.

This year has been a bit weird. Between some pretty heavy family dramz and the fact I’m on production right now in Salt Lake City, I’ve planned almost nothing. In fact, I only decided to go home to Jacksonville a few days ago.

Which means, I need to cook.

So, here we are. Real life Top Chef Challenge. Put together a Thanksgiving Dinner in 45 minutes of meal planning/grocery list writing. Dad will shop for ingredients at the best grocery store in the world, Publix. I will fly in on Wednesday to prep and the big day is on Thursday.

Game on.

Here’s what I’m doing.

  • Rosemary and Citrus Turkey For a Crowd from NYTimes Cooking
    • I made this turkey last year and it was a real crowd pleaser. And by crowd, I mean: me, my mother and father.
  • Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing from Martha Stewart
    • This has been my go-to stuffing recipe for the past few years. It smells and tastes like being home for the holidays. And unlike being home for the holidays, this stuffing will not ask you why you’re not married yet or if you are a lesbian. (‘I have a busy job’ and ‘no, but like, a little bit in college.’)
  • Best Ever Green Bean Casserole from Alton Brown via Food Network
    • Lovers of my prose will know that I have been searching for the right green bean recipe for Thanksgiving for a few years. Previous green bean casseroles have been too fancy. Regular green beans are too plain for Thanksgiving. Alton Brown has never let me down, so let’s audition this one.
  • Classic Mashed Potatoes from NYTimes Cooking
    • Potatoes? Good. Milk? Good. Butter? GOOOOOOOD.
  • Cranberry Sauce from Alton Brown
    • Cranberries? Good. Sauce? Good. Ridges made by molding cranberry sauce in your own can? GOOOOOOOD.

I’ll get a little help from Sis Schubert’s rolls and some sort of frozen pie. A frozen pie is not my preference, but there are only so many hours in a day.

Bring on the Thanksgiving pants!

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You are my Everest.–via Tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

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Breakfast: Texas Beach Bloody Mary Mix & Whole Grain Soda Bread

Longest title ever, right?

I’ll spare you the details, but I was rull sick last week. Any trip to the ER that includes the phrase “inflamed intestine” should be avoided. Just some advice from me to you.

I was on a clear liquid diet for a few days and I was fantasizing about when I could add in real food. And then my doctor told me I could have lean fish and baked potatoes. After “eating” chicken broth, sugar-free Jell-o and sugar-free Powerade, this baked potato was literally the best thing I’d ever eaten.

Baked Potato

I’ve been dreaming about what my first meal “off the leash” is going to be. In my wildest fantasies, it would be peanut butter swirl brownies and tacos. And guac. And salsa. But probably a bit too aggressive.

I think it’s going to be eggs. Simple scrambled eggs and dry toast.

I love breakfast. That was not always the case. As a kid, I used to loathe egg yolk and I still don’t care much for cereal, oatmeal and breakfast fruits. Bananas = disgusting. My breakfasts growing up were often cubes of cheese or microwave popcorn. Hey, you’ve got to eat something, right?

But now, I love breakfast. In addition to daydreaming about my future meals, I’ve been fantasizing about breakfasts and brinners of yore. Particularly memorable is a brinner I made with a Bloody Mary mix local to Richmond and a Bon Appetit breadcipe.

Yeah, I know, I’m combining a lot of words. Deal with it.

I met the Texas Beach Bloody Mary Mix guys at a Fire, Flour, Fork event I may or may not have snuck into. We started talking and Austin and Rob are the real deal–nice and funny, and of course super passionate about Bloody Marys. (Speaking of funny, check out their Legend of Bloody Mary film). They were sampling a Kimchee Bloody Mary Mix, which they’re still tinkering. But I’m not kidding you, I’m still thinking about those flavors. It is funky in all the right ways. I can’t wait for that to come to shelves.

Their traditional Bloody Mary Mix should be in your refrigerator, served at your next brunch or curing your next hangover. And since it’s the holidays, it would make a great gift. The gift that gives and cures hangovers. I think that’s what myrrh does…

From a flavor perspective, it’s really well balanced. Incredibly savory, with a salty-brininess that comes from pickle brine and olive juice. It’s spicy thanks to sriracha, but not undrinkably so. This might sound strange, but it’s my blog, so I’m going to say it. It’s thicker than any Bloody Mary mix I’ve ever bought before. You know how grocery store Bloody mary mix looks like red tap water? This ain’t it. This ish is hand-crafted.

I rimmed mine with Old Bay, which was a fortuitous choice since it is also included in the mix. (Another wonderful choice would be Crunch Dynasty, but sadly, I was out. Must restock!)

Bloody Set Up

Celeryfie

Mind the celery.

I also made this Whole Grain Soda Bread from Bon Appetit.

Bread

It was a bit of a chore to find all the ingredients and I never could find the amaranth. But this bread is really delicious. Hearty and filling, and actually healthful because of all the difficult-to-find grains. It doesn’t keep for too long, though, so plan ahead. My recommendation is to whip up a batch of Bloodies, make this bread, fry up some bacon and eggs and throw a lovely brunch for some pals.

Breakfast, you beautiful bastard. I just can’t quit you.

But I can’t eat you.

Yet.

Texas Beach Bloody Mary Mix is available for purchase online. You can find it at these Richmond restaurants and shops.

 

 

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Paloma My God: Steak Tacos, Palomas & Crunch Dynasty

A good weekend requires a nap to recover.

A great weekend requires two naps.

Either I had the best weekend ever or I’m 80, because I took two naps Sunday afternoon and then fell asleep again at 7 pm. As you do.

I did have a pretty terrific weekend. My friends Lindsay, Sarah, and Anna came up to visit from North Carolina and it was just all kinds of fun. Great friends, all the food, and all the tequila. Seems like a recipe for success.

On Friday, they got in 40 minutes early than expected and banged on my back door like cops coming to do a drug bust. I jumped and shrieked a bit, because as I said earlier, I’m 80. Also, I keep a lot of illegal drugs in my house. We made beer-marinated skirt steak tacos on the grill and ate dinner on the porch. Fan living, y’all. The charred tomato salsa is oh-so-good. It’s got that slow burn from the ancho chile, but the sweetness of the charred tomato. I might have eaten the leftovers for breakfast Monday morning.

Taco bar is the best bar after alcohol bar.

Taco bar is the best bar after alcohol bar.

On Saturday, we went to a yoga class. It  was a hilariously hippy-dippy class. “Put your hand down on the ground like an angel is kissing the earth.” I don’t know what it says about me, but I really want to go back.

That afternoon, I hosted a happy hour at mine to introduce some of my North Carolina friends to some of my Richmond friends. And when I say I hosted this party, I mean I drank all the drinks while Lindsay, Sarah and Anna did a lot of the work. I mean, I prepped a lot ahead of time. But they helped so much to cook, clean, buy ice, refill water, pass out mini-Atlantic beach pies, make all the Palomas, drink all the Palomas, etc. I’m pretty sure they hosted the party more than I did. What was I doing? Holding witty, engaging sober conversation. Well, I held conversation. The Palomas were flowing, y’all.

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Double fisting like a champ.

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Another in a series of photos of me taking photos of Anna taking photos of me. I plan to do this for the rest of our lives.

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Seriously, Lindsay and Sarah did all the work. I just pointed at the ice. Photo by Becca! 

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Not pictured: tiny pies. And allllll the palomas. 

Our weekend ended with brunch at Stella’s and a trip to the Stella’s Grocery. Stella’s is no joke in the brunch department. You like sweet brunch? GREAT. Greek Easter bread done French-toast style topped with whipped Greek yogurt, sour cherries and pistachios. You like savory brunch? GREATER. The Loukaniko sausage skillet and the black kale skillet are both excellent. Start your meal with an order or hummus and Bloody Mary or a mimosa. (Virginia lacks the alcohol-limiting blue laws that North Carolina holds onto so dearly, making it so much easier to drink on Sunday. Hallelujah and pass the bottle.)

We stopped by the Stella’s Grocery after brunch.  It’s been open for about a month and sells specialty food items, like boozes, meats, prepared foods, such as smoothies, Greek Salads, and desserts (baklava!). Also, condiments. Why do condiments get their own section? Because I found a condiment, Crunch Dynasty, that is made right here in Richmond and it is made right here by my very own friends, John and Anya. I met Anya through work and John through Anya. They are a hilarious, kind, and cool couple with some kids who are the same. One of their kids knows all the knock-knock jokes ever and the other one told me my hair was like mermaid hair. I’m a big fan of all of them.

But I digress. Condiments.

If Chris Pratt were a condiment, he would be Crunch Dynasty.

Delicious, delicious dynasty. 

Crunch Dynasty is this amazing, mysterious condiment that somehow works on everything. Honestly. It’s as good on vegetables as it is on rice as it is on salmon. It genuinely tastes good on everything. Nay, it makes everything taste better. It makes you happy. And it is spicy. Crunch Dynasty keeps you on your toes. It’s like the Chris Pratt of condiments. If Chris Pratt was from Richmond, was Chinese, and tasted of garlic. To be fair, I haven’t tasted him. He might taste of garlic.

Then as quickly as they came, my friends left. And I took all the naps. And then I wrote this post.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to take a nap.

Tecate Skirt-Steak Tacos from Bon Appetit

  • 1 pound skirt steak, silver skin removed, cut into 6-inch pieces | I doubled the amount of steak b/c it looked wimpy.
  • 1 12-ounce can pale lager (such as Tecate)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • ¼ medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large plum tomatoes, cored
  • ½ canned chipotle chile in adobo, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus leaves for serving
  • 8 fresh corn tortillas
  • Avocado slices, crumbled Cotija cheese, and lime wedges (for serving)

Combine steak, beer, 1 Tbsp. lime juice, 1 tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper in a resealable plastic bag. Seal; chill 3 hours.

Cook onion, garlic, and oil in a small skillet over medium heat until soft and translucent, 5 minutes. Let cool.

Prepare a grill for high heat (if using charcoal, prepare two zones of heat, high and medium-high). Grill tomatoes over high heat, turning occasionally, until well charred but still holding their shape, 6–8 minutes.

Reduce grill to medium-high heat (or use medium-high zone if using a charcoal grill). Remove steak from marinade and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper and grill until charred, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let steak rest 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend onion and garlic, tomatoes, chipotle, and remaining 3 Tbsp. lime juice in a blender until smooth. Add chopped cilantro, season with salt, and pulse until just combined. Transfer salsa to a small bowl.

Grill tortillas until soft and beginning to char, about 30 seconds per side. Slice steak against the grain into ½” strips. Top each tortilla with a few pieces of steak, then some salsa, cilantro leaves, avocado, and Cotija cheese. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

The Paloma from StyleMePretty

  • 2 oz. Reposado Tequilla
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 2 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
  • a pinch of salt (or a salted glass rim)
  • agave syrup to taste (optional)
  • Ice
  • Garnish with lime, mint leaves, thyme, or jalapenos if you like some heat

In a shaker filled with ice mix tequila, grapefruit juice, and lime. Shake, shake, shake. Pour over ice, add a pinch of salt, and garnish. Add agave if you feel it’s not sweet enough.

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Not Clickbait: 74 Reasons to Grill Your Salad

74 Reasons to Grill Your Salad

1. It tastes good.

2. It tastes, like, really good.

3. It’s summer, so that’s a reason.

4. Bon Appetit’s editor said to do it. Bon Appetit is like Oprah. If they say to do it, you should do it.

5. Vegetables are good! Fire is good! Put them together, even better!

6. Salads are good! Grills are good! Put them together, even better!

7. How many do I have left? Oh, for fuck’s sake.

8. You can do all kinds of salads on the grill. Like this sexy lady. Steak and grilled scallions and beets and stuff. A real show stopper. Frankly, I ate most of this myself.

Wut.

Wut.

9. And this one, with my funky fresh friend anchovy paste. Cause funk is good! Salt is good! Put them together, even better!

Uptown funk you up no that was stupid pretend I didn't do that.

Uptown funk you up no that was stupid pretend I didn’t say that.

10. And this salad that I made up with fresh seasonal veggies and eat alongside the world’s largest burger. (If only someone had seen me unhinge my jaw to eat it like the true basilisk that I am.)

Salad and burger, a match made in heaven.

Salad and burger, a match made in heaven.

I also took a picture of it on the grill. I left my shadow in there so you knew i was really taking the picture.

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11. Ok, that had to be about 70 reasons.

12. Wow. Not there yet? I guess I’ll keep going.

13. It’s this list satire funny yet?

14. What about now?

15. Or now?

16. I love running a joke into the ground til it’s so unfunny that it becomes funny again.

17. Probably isn’t funny again yet.

18. Probably not yet either.

19. The thing is, I’m tired of all the clickbait out there. And I’m tired of the things that pass as journalism. Without perspective or POV or writing style. Or humor.

20. ….it’s a little funny now though, right?

21. The long and the short of it is, the grill adds a different dimension to your veg. Sweetness in corn is amplified tenfold. It adds smoke to everything, but somehow more to asparagus. It adds char. It adds heat and warmth. Suddenly, you have new temperatures to play with as well as textures in your salad.

22. So don’t be afraid to mix it up. You will undoubtably find something excited.

23-73. More grilled salad recipes

74. Eh? Sort of funny?

Grilled Steak Salad with Beets from Bon Appetit

Aioli:

  • ½ cup beef or chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large egg yolk*
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad:

  • 1 pound tri-tip, New York strip, or skirt steak
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch scallions or ramps
  • 1 bunch spicy greens (such as arugula or mizuna)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 beets, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
For Aioli:
Bring stock to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat; cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.Whisk egg yolk and mustard in a bowl. Whisking constantly, gradually add oil, drop by drop at first, until mixture is very thick. Whisk in lemon juice and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Stir in stock.
For Salahd:
Preheat oven to 200°. Prepare grill for medium-high heat (or heat a grill pan over medium-high). Rub steak with cut sides of garlic and 1 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning several times, until lightly charred and medium-rare (an instant-read thermometer should register 130°), 14–16 minutes. Transfer to a rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet.

Meanwhile, toss scallions on another baking sheet with 1 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning often, until tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer to rack with beef and keep warm in oven.

Arrange greens on a platter; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with lemon juice and 1 Tbsp. oil. Toss beets in a bowl with vinegar and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper. Arrange over greens. Slice steak ½” thick; top greens with scallions and meat. Pour any juices over; season with salt. Serve with aioli.

*Raw egg is not recommended for the elderly, pregnant women, children under 4, and people with weakened immune systems.

Grilled Romaine Salad from FoodNetwork

  • 2 heads romaine lettuce
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Citrus Caesar Vinaigrette, recipe follows
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano

Citrus Caesar Vinaigrette:

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons anchovy paste | I used anchovy filets minced.
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions
Preheat a grill to medium-high.

Rinse and pat dry the lettuce. Cut the 2 heads in half lengthwise. Brush surface with olive oil and grill about 4 to 5 minutes total, turning occasionally. Place each wedge on a salad plate and drizzle with Citrus Caesar Vinaigrette or your favorite Caesar dressing. With a vegetable peeler, shave some pieces from a wedge of Reggiano-Parmigiano over each salad and serve.

Citrus Caesar Vinaigrette:
Place all ingredients in a pint jar with a lid. Secure the lid, then shake to blend. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Grilled Corn, Asparagi & Cherry Tomato Salad

  • 2 ears of corn
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • Cherry Tomatoes on the vine
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, diced
  • Olive oil
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Rub corn, asparagus, and cherry tomatoes with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Char on the grill to your desired charification. 6-7 minutes for the corn and asparagus. 3-4 minutes for the tomatoes, until they burst. Toss with the diced onion, drizzle with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Eat it up.

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Take Your Children To Work Day: Chicken Tinga Tacos

Today is Taco Take Your Children To Work Day. So it seems only appropriate to have a post about MyFakeFoodDad, Dave.

Few of you have had the privilege of meeting my dad, but to know Dave is to love Dave.

Do you doubt? Let me explain. Meet Dave.

He doesn’t look like he’s having fun, but he is.

He worked on the railroad for his whole career. He can identify the meaning of a train whistle just by its sound. Now that he’s retired, he’s building a model railroad loosely based on the railroad where he worked when he met my mom. Pretty romantical, if you ask me. Also, nerdy. Old white man hobbies, amiright? (Don’t think he’s not reading this. I would say and have said this to his face. Love you, Pops!)

Dave loves Magnum P.I. and The Rockford Files and has instilled in me a healthy love and respect for both. We watch The West Wing every Thanksgiving, Die Hard every Christmas, and Nacho Libre every Easter. For that is how we do.

Dave will do most anything for a joke (sound familiar?), but he’s also really very thoughtful. He’s a long time reader of the Wall Street Journal and always keeps an eye out for articles that would interest me (and my friends). Theatre! Fashion! Production! Television! Recipes! So many recipes! All of the recipes!

A recent article he shared is about the culture of tacos in America. I love that sentence so much that I’m going to write it again. A recent article he shared is about the culture of tacos in America. The summary is that we’re starting to see a trend back toward the traditional roots of the taco and away from the culture of Anything Goes tacos. No, I don’t mean Cole Porter tacos. (That was for all you musical theatre nerds). What I mean is a taco where anything goes, like Doritos Locos tacos, Korean Barbecue tacos, or Tex Mex tacos. These things may be delicious, but they are not authentically Mexican in either flavor profile or ingredients.

The article included a recipe for Chicken Tinga Tacos from Bajo Sexto Taco in Nashville. Run, don’t walk, to make these for Cinco de Mayo. Or any day de Mayo. Or venticuatro de abril. (That’s tomorrow, people.)

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They are deeply soul satisfying. The sauce is spicy with a sharp bite from the vinegar, which cools off instantly from the creamy avocado. I paired it with a grilled Mexican corn salad and some chips and guac. Because duh.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that. Tacos are the best. My dad is the best.

I just can’t decide which I love more.

Chicken Tinga Tacos from Bajo Sexto Taco via wsj.com

  • 2½ pounds boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • ½ (7-ounce) can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 12 fresh corn tortillas, warmed
  • 1 avocado, sliced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roast chicken until mostly cooked but still pink and juicy, 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, shred meat coarsely.

Meanwhile, caramelize onions: Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onions, tossing to coat with oil, until softened, 10 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and 2 teaspoons water, then reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and deep golden, 20-30 minutes more. If pan becomes dry, add water, 1 teaspoon at a time, to prevent burning.

Make sauce: In a blender, process caramelized onions, chilies with sauce, garlic, vinegar and a pinch each of salt and pepper until smooth.

Heat canola oil in a large skillet. Once shimmering, add sauce and cook until rust-brown and thickened, 3-4 minutes. Add chicken, stir to coat, and cook until no longer pink, 3-4 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Serve chicken on tortillas with a slice of avocado.

Mexican Corn Salad from Bon Appetit

  • 4 ears of corn, husked
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 ounce Cotija cheese or Parmesan, crumbled (about 1/2 cup), plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Prepare grill for medium heat. Grill corn, turning occasionally, until tender and charred, 8–10 minutes; let cool slightly. Cut kernels from cobs and transfer to a medium bowl.

Whisk mayonnaise, lime juice, paprika, cayenne, if using, 2 oz. Cotija cheese, and 2 tablespoons cilantro in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add corn and toss to combine. Top with more cheese and cilantro.

DO AHEAD: Dressing can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Corn can be grilled and cut from cobs 1 hour ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Guacamole from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook via FoodNetwork.com

  • 4 ripe Haas avocados
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 8 dashes hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded, and small-diced

Cut the avocados in 1/2, remove the pits, and scoop the flesh out of their shells into a large bowl. Immediately add the lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and toss well. Using a sharp knife, slice through the avocados in the bowl until they are finely diced. Add the tomatoes. Mix well and taste for salt and pepper.

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Sadvertising: Baskin-Robbins Best Food Ad of 2014?

My close personal friends at Bon Appetit have named this Baskin-Robbin’s ad the best food advertisement of 2014.

Well, Bon Appetit, you just unknowingly combined two of my favorite things: ice cream and wall-to-wall VO. 

Noooo, I’m kidding. Advertising and food.

As many of you know, in my real life, I’m a producer of TV commercials and video content at an advertising agency. And as all of you know (probably more than you want to), I love food. So, this post was kind of right up my alley.

But…best food ad of 2014? For real?

Listen, I think it’s visually striking. But there’s a real lack of concept here. Beauty shots of ice cream with an announcer talking for a full :15 seconds about Cappuccino Blast customization. Not something I’d really remember or would ever want to go and watch again.

If I can make a small tweak to my friends from Bon Appetit, I may say that this is the most effective food advertising of 2014. After viewing the spot, they measured the desire that people had for Baskin-Robbins. Corporate adver-lingo quote: “Baskin-Robbins excels in its ability to drive consumer Desire.” WOOO.

But does efficiency translate to quality? In the advertising world, there are many awards for creativity (Cannes! One Show!), but there is a separate award that measures a campaign’s effectiveness (The Effies). From an industry standard, there appears to be a delineation. 

If I had to tell you the best food ad of 2014, it would be this.

Because this is the best ad of every year forever amen.

But seriously, folks.

So often, food advertising is focused on driving people in store/restaurant. These ads rely on relatively unappealing product shots to entice people in for $12.99 or $9.99 or $0.99. Thus, creating a blah ad with blah food.

In my opinion (cause this is my blog and everything is my opinion. YOU’RE WELCOME.), I think that the best food ads of 2014 actually give something to the viewer. Something new. Something sad. Something happy. But SOMETHING, as well as showing beautiful food

In no particular order, here are my favorite food ads from 2014:

Mel’s Mini-Mini Mart from Oreo

Now, in full disclosure, Oreo is a client at my agency. I don’t work on them directly, but they seem to be pretty rad. I do eat my fair share of Oreos, so you know, I’m pretty much ready whenever they want to work together. (THOSE MINT OREOS, THO.)

I love this spot. I think it’s charming, it’s clever, it’s illustrative of the product’s key benefits (they’re mini! great for snacking! all fit in your hand!) and the cookies look great. I want to eat them all. 

Newcastle Super Bowl 2014

This was hands down my favorite (non) Super Bowl ad this year.

Firstly, Anna Kendrick has become one of my favorite actresses. She’s talented and funny as the day is long. And, she did a quirky video for Kate Spade, and I was kind of obsessed with it. Newcastle gets points for casting.

Secondly, Newcastle really went for it here. It was a wink and a nudge to the industry in both content and tone (their website had animatics and focus group footage, which can’t be funny to too many people…) It’s nice to see something so tongue-in-cheek from a beer advertiser. They aren’t usually known for their subtlety. 

Meet Me at Starbucks

I tend to like the funny stuff. But this is an emotional piece from Starbucks that speaks to their global reach in a way that makes them seem small and intimate. Personal even. It’s touching, at times funny, but very sweet. And major points for technical/production difficulty.

McDonald’s Minimalist Out of Home

I admit fully that every link I’ve posted thus far has been 1+ minutes. So, for my final food ad of 2014, I give you the simplest of all. The out-of-home/billboards that were done in Paris for McDonald’s. McDonald’s food is iconic, so why not let the icon speak for itself. This is powerful yet simple and incredibly clean. I’ve never wanted a Big Mac more.

via Adweek

via Adweek

So, those are my best food ads of 2014.

Am I a food or advertising expert? Nah. I’ve got tons to learn about both.

But I’ve been doing them both for awhile (30 years of eating and going strong! 8 years of advertising and going strong!) So enjoy the opinions of a professional advertiser and an amateur eater. (I’m going to maintain my amateur status so I can eat in the Olympics.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to find myself a Big Mac.  

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New Year, New You: Fake Cleanse

I’m doing a cleanse!

Sorta!

Listen, I’m never going to be a juice cleanse person. Cause this sounds terrible. (But I’m obsessed with the way she wrote it…)

I like my juice next to a plate of bacon and eggs, where it belongs.

Thanks, fineartamerica, for this cheesy breakfast picture. (Actual cheese not pictured.)

Thanks, fineartamerica, for this cheesy breakfast picture. (Actual cheese not pictured.)

But, at the end of the year, I was overindulging a bit more than I was just plain indulging. So I figured I needed to hit the reset button. That’s when I saw that Bon Appetit magazine is doing it’s annual Food Lover’s Cleanse.

Now, I’ve very recently been gifted with a subscription to Bon Appetit for my birdday (Ally is the BEST!) so I paid extra attention.

It seems that Bon Appetit has been doing this Food Lover’s Cleanse for a few years now. What it is is this:

  • Guidelines for healthy eating
    • Nothing on this list will surprise you. None of it surprised me. But it’s a basic reminder to increase your water, increase your vegetables and cut back on alcohol and sweets. What did surprise me (pleasantly!) is that they don’t want you to calorie count. They’re just about conscious eating. Conscious uncoupling with some bad habits and consciously coupling with better ones as is relates to what you eat. Sounds fair to me.
  • Recipes for their 2 week cleanse
    • From January 2-15, they have recipes every day to give you a lovely roadmap of how to do this cleanse. They provide you with the shopping list for two shopping trips that cover all the foodstuffs.
  • Daily Inspiration
    • Every day, BA posts the daily menu and a little write up. Affirmation + blog + instruction.

There are so many things that I love about this. It’s Bon Appetit, these people love food. They live for food. They “share life through the lens of food.” (Is there any other lens, really?)

So, they’re focusing on healthy eating practices that don’t cut out the things you love (dessert! snacks! some booze!) but includes things you do love (dessert! snacks! some booze!)

I wanted to do this cleanse. But I struggled as a household of one to figure out how to buy all the food and not waste all the leftovers. Many of the recipes serve 4 (sometimes 8) and I didn’t want to be wasteful.

But I’m so in love with the principles, I might marry them.

So, for the first two weeks of 2015, I’m trying to be a bit more mindful about what I’m eating. Cut back on the booze. Increase the veg. Hopefully, it’ll feel good. Hopefully, the principles will carry on beyond the first two weeks.

But let’s not get carried away…

 

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Thanksgiving Again: My Menu for 2015

It’s that time of year again. Time to invite your loved ones over for a very special meal: Thanksgiving.

I wish my guests were as hairy as that bunny.

Wait, that’d be weird.

Nope, that would be awesome.  

Anywho, I’m starting to put together my Thanksgiving menu. (I’m hosting this year. AHHH!!!) Menu looks like this right now:

  • Starter:
    • Fennel and Carrot Soup from Bon Appetit
      • we started including soup after a Thanksgiving years ago at my dad’s coworkers house. The woman had totally mistimed the meal, bless her heart. So, everyone sat at the table (awkwardly) and waited (awkwardly). Her child leaned over to me at one point during this awkward waiting and said, “Why aren’t you eating?” To which I replied, “Because there’s nothing to eat!” BUT this woman did serve a pre-meal soup and it was a lovely opener to the dinner.
  • Main:
    • Turkey of some kind, roasted…but in like a really cool/delicious way
      • Crispy skin of the UTMOST IMPORTANCE
    • Grandy’s Stuffing from Food 52
      • I don’t know who Grandy is, but this recipe looks baller. Homemade sage sausage with cheap-ass white bread? Do want.
    • Smothered Country Green Beans from Garden and Gun
      • Listen. I’ve got to stop fucking around with a good thing. Green bean casserole from a can? Delicous, but we can beat it. Fancy version of green bean casserole from Bon Appetit? Let’s just say Dave didn’t like it. Al dente green beans are NOT his thing. But this version gives you greenbeanitude, pork fat and none of the texture. What’s not to love?
    • Other sides:
      • Mashed Potatoes
        • Essential
      • Cranberry Something?
      • Another vegetable?
      • Bread of some sort?
  • Dessert: Salted Caramel Apple Pie from Four and Twenty Blackbirds (via Cooking Channel)
    • I think my parents will love this or hate this. I’m going to go with love….but I’m probably wrong here. They don’t like things that are too weird… but….salted caramel is perfection.

I think you’ll all agree that my menu is basically done.

Hey, at least I have a turkey ordered.

And, naturally, I’ve ordered tiny hats like the hamsters in the video have. Priorities, y’all.

What’s on your menu? What delicious thing am I totally overlooking or completely forgetting or otherwise don’t know about?  

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Book Club: Literary Snacks for Ladies

There are certain things that only ladies do when they hang out with other ladies.

  • Talk about boys. “He’s so cute, right? Is he cute? I like him so much. Does he like me? Does he notice that I looked at him a little bit longer than normal today? Cause I did. He should’ve noticed it. It meant a lot to me, and I can’t believe he didn’t notice it. He’s an asshole. I hate him.”
  • Talk about lady issues. I won’t go into details for all my male readers. And by male readers, I mean my dad. (HI DAD!!!)
  • Book club.

I’m pretty sure book club is a 100% female activity. Do dudes sit and talk about how they felt when Anna Karenina threw herself in front of the train?*

*I’m fairly well read, but Anna Karenina is not a book I’ve ever read. I’ve seen the Keira Knightley movie version though, so that’s how I know this. And, I’ve seen a Pulitzer Prize winning play about the book…sort of. I’m so fancy. You already know.

Also? Oops. Spoiler Alert.

Anyways, book club is a ladies occupation for ladies.

And this lady (me) hosted her lady book club a few weeks ago.

My friend Nora started the whole book club and, well, I’m glad she did. We’ve read a book I’d heard of but hadn’t gotten to yet (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn) and read a book that I hadn’t heard of but boy, did it make me cry in the airport (Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala).

But the most recent book club, I hosted. So, I choose the book. It was One More Thing by B.J. Novak (no relation) and it was hilarious. It’s a book of short, humorous essays. Some were dry. Some were almost poignant. But, boy, did they run the gamut. It’s well worth a read. OR, if you’re doing a long car trip, it’s worth downloading and listening to. He’s got an incredible cast of voices like Mindy Kaling, Jason Schwartzman, Rainn Wilson, Emma Thompson, Jenna Fischer and more.

So, what to make for a lady event for ladies?

Well, I like the tortilla española. Why not build a tapas menu? Also,  please note, this is a drinking book club, so boozing required.

  • Tortilla española
  • Jamon serrano because I cannot find ANY jamon iberico here in America. SIGH.
  • Spanish cheeses
  • Apricot and Goat Cheese Bites
  • Peppadews inspired by Leon’s in Decatur, GA
  • Pan con Tomate
  • Olives
  • Beverages, like Red Sangria and White Sangria
Oh dang.

Oh dang.

The apricot and goat cheese bites were the newbies here and #realtalk, they were delicious. And unbelievably simple. Make them right now for whatever lady event you have. I bet even boys would like the salty-sweet combo that they have going on.

Beyond that, sangria is a perfect summer drink. It’s bright and fruity, but has a boozy punch. I gravitate toward the white versus the red, but the red is a much more robust beverage.

I guarantee. This menu? Ladies love it. Girls adore it.

Y’all should trust me because I’m not internationally known, but I’m known to rock the microphone.

Absolutely Fabulous Apricot, Goat Cheese and Almond Bites from YumSugar

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
  • About 2 teaspoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves
  • 40 dried apricots, preferably blenheim
  • 40 almonds, preferably marcona
  • 2 teaspoons honey

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix together the cheese and milk with a fork until spreadable. Thin with more milk if necessary. Add the basil and mix until evenly distributed.
  2. Spread a heaping 1/4 teaspoon cheese on each apricot and top each with an almond. Drizzle with honey.

Please note! If not using marcona almonds, substitute roasted salted almonds (the salt is key to the appetizer’s flavor).

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Tortilla Española: Simple, Spanish, Non-Slutty, Eggy Goodness

I can’t remember the first time I ate tortilla española, but I’m sure it was a life changing experience. So life changing, I cannot remember it.

Boom. Joke landed.

But seriously, folks. Tortilla española. Are you familiar with this Spanish delight? It is the simplest food. Egg. Potato. There’s some salt. A LOT of olive oil. Sometimes, people try to add some other shit in. But I’m a bit of a purist. We’ve got a good thing going, baby. Why fuck mess ruin fuck that up?

Tortilla bella.

Tortilla bella.

Now, you’re probably saying to yourself: Self, what is the difference between this dish, and say, a frittata.

Well, let’s start with the obvious: this one is better.

CALM DOWN. Frittatas are excellent. They’re unbelievably versatile. But, they’re incredibly difficult to spell. So, let’s simplify our lives.

The main difference, based on my one Google search my vast experience and knowledge is that a tortilla española must always have egg + potato as a base. A frittata is egg + anything. Frittatas? Kinda slutty. Butternut squash? Cool. Cheese? Whatever, I’ll try anything. Have some self-respect, frittatas.

Before you think that the tortilla española is boring for being basic, I will repeat the thing I keep repeating on this blog: I don’t know what I’m doing.

Ahem.

I will repeat another thing: the simplest food, when executed well, is the best food.

Believe you me. Though simple, it is not a dish for the timid. It requires some real machismo. Particularly when you get to that ever-dicey flip of the tortilla to cook the uncooked top.

Edges are done. Time to flip.

Edges are done. Time to flip.

Cover that shit up. Don't slide, just flip.

Cover that shit up. Don’t slide, just flip.

You did it. You are the champion!

You did it. You are the champion!

If done without the proper guts, you will wind up with egg and potato on your floor. But if done with just the right amount of courage (liquid or otherwise), you will come up with a dish that frankly, is just divine.

Your trip to Barcelona is just a bite away.

Tortilla Española from Bon Appetit May 2014 issue

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 cups olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 medium waxy potatoes (about ¾ lb.), peeled, cut into ¾” pieces | Yukon Gold work well. Also, I think you could get a little thinner than this. My potatoes were downright chunky.
  • 8 large eggs

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and dark brown, 35–40 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, heat potatoes and remaining 2 cups oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until oil around potatoes begins to bubble; reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender but have not taken on any color, 10–12 minutes. Drain potatoes, reserving oil. Season potatoes with salt and let cool slightly.

Combine eggs, onion, potatoes, and ¼ cup reserved potato cooking oil in a large bowl and gently beat with a fork.

Heat 3 Tbsp. reserved potato cooking oil in a 10” nonstick skillet over medium heat (reserve remaining oil for another use). Add egg mixture and cook, lifting at edge and tilting skillet to let uncooked egg run underneath, until bottom and edge of tortilla are set but center is still wet.

Set a large plate on top of skillet. Swiftly invert tortilla onto plate, then slide back into skillet, cooked side up. Cook until center is just set, about 2 minutes longer. Cut into wedges.

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