Yesterday, during my lunch hour, I drove to my favorite clothing store. They were having a sale I couldn't resist and I always find something that I like. I was chatting with a sales woman, and I kept noticing a woman with a very friendly smile who kept looking at me. At first, I thought it was my fresh hair cut (short and sassy), but then... she finally walked up to me and asked if I have a food blog!
Paula Deen, Ina Garten, Rachel Ray-- eat your heart out! I was tickled pink that a total stranger recognized my photo on my humble little food blog!
It didn't take long for me to narrow down that a mutual friend of ours sent my blog link to this lovely woman. I jokingly asked if she wanted my autograph-- I think, for a moment, she thought I was serious. Monterey, California is a small town, indeed. Still, our interaction made me smile for a long while... and, darn it, I forgot her name! Psssssssssst, if you're reading this, would you email me privately and remind me?
Speaking of Food Network celebs-- and this is my segway for mentioning Food Network's newest star, Melissa d'Arabian.
I admit that I did "Tivo" this season's competition and that I watched most of the episodes in fast forward. I had a feeling that Melissa would win, because she is so "relatable" to home cooks (that would be me) who want to learn how to make meals that are budget conscious but have a touch of "gourmet" to them. Melissa shares useful tips so that viewers shouldn't feel intimidated about making her recipes. I thought Melissa had promising talent and she sure seemed to impress the judges with her pastry skills. I do question Food Network's wisdom in naming her show "Ten Dollar Dinners". I'm curious to see how she can pull off meals for under $10.00 that are nutritious and healthy...and don't come in a can or package mix like that other show...you know, the Semi-Homemade one with the gaudy tablescapes...
Her pilot show featured a recipe for a Potato-Bacon Torte. This recipe certainly isn't low in calories, but might be worth a try on a cold and rainy day.While Melissa seemed very nervous (and I winced at her digs about her mother-in-law), I think she did a pretty good job in showing how to make a butter based pie crust. I made a mental note to try this recipe, or at least just the crust... someday...
Lo and behold, I had another busy day at the office right after watching this show. I had not prepared a meal plan (which I usually try to do) and I didn't have time to shop. So, I thought of Melissa's recipe and I improvised a fast meal loosely based on her recipe.
Forgive me, but I didn't take a lot of photos and I really don't have a recipe to share. (Truthfully, I wanted to post something, because I miss having free time to post more often.) Anyway, here I go...
(Pretend I have photographed my mis en place. Thank you.)
I had russet potatoes, onion, bacon and eggs in the fridge. It was already 6:30pm and I was starved (having just finished 30 minutes of after work swimming).
Using a technique from Cook's Illustrated, I peeled 1 large russet potato and sliced it fairly thin with a mandoline. I microwaved the potatoes for about 5 minutes and then set them aside.
(Visualize a glass bowl with potatoes and plastic wrap on top. You're doing great...)
In the meantime, I chopped and cooked the bacon in a cast iron skillet and then minced one small yellow onion. I pushed the bacon aside, in the skillet, and proceeded to caramelized the onion until lightly brown (about 5 minutes or so). Using a slotted spoon I removed the bacon and onion and left just a small amount of bacon fat in the skillet.
The potatoes were layered, seasoned with kosher salt and pepper and then I spread the bacon and onion. I almost added sun-dried tomatoes, but my son doesn't like them.
I found a leftover wedge of Cotswold Cheddar cheese with chives and grated that on top. Gruyere would work really well, too.
NOTE: I wish I had thought to pick a bell pepper from my backyard. I think it would have kicked up the flavors.
I whisked 6 eggs with a little milk and poured this on top and let this cook on a medium-low heat for about 5 minutes...
Then, under the broiler until lightly golden brown and until the eggs seemed set. Set that aside for a few minutes. I decided to put a dollops of low-fat sour cream on top (what the heck...)
It was quick and filling, and very inexpensive. My boys hungrily polished it off. My son raved about it being one of the best things I ever made. Men! Give them bacon and the smell of caramelized onions and they're happy...
Hmmmm... could I be the next Food Network Star?
Not in your life! I could never make it past the first challenge. It's brutal! I admire any contestant who is willing to have their food criticized by Chef Royalty on national television. As long as my family is happy with what I serve them, I feel like a Home Cook Star. That's all that matters to me.
What do you think of Melissa d'Arabian? Who's your favorite celebrity chef?
PS: I'm going to do some serious cooking and baking this weekend. I have way too many tomatoes to eat, so I see tomato basil soup on my food plan! I promise to have my camera ready and I hope I post some new recipes that you will enjoy. It's such fun being a food blogger!