TV dinner {Breaking Bad}

breakfastpizza I came to my Breaking Bad obsession late in the series, around season 4 or so. Way after all the hype had been built with massive critical and audience acclaim. But as any Breaking Bad fan knows, this is actually ideal because there's nothing better than holing yourself up to a Netflix binge weekend with Walter White and Co. Each episode is so full of suspense, so agonizing with fear and turmoil and panic and... well, I hate to use this word but, DRAMA. Not the petty kind where you find yourself consoling one of your girlfriends as she bursts into tears over brunch, but the well-crafted, deliberately timed drama that can only come from good acting and fantastic writing.

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For those of you who have yet to come to the light (of society because seriously, how have you missed this??), we are now 2 episodes into the sixth and final season. Well technically, it's a continuation of season 5 because they split the 16 episodes into two shorter seasons to prolong my state of constant physical distress. Regardless, it's back and oh-HHH-hhhh boy. There are many theories as to what will progress as the finale soon approaches but honestly, I'm not a TV writer. If I were it'd be about much less exciting things like Why I've Stopped Separating My Colors and Whites in the Laundry or How to Avoid Eye Contact with Subway Rats, so I'll leave this to Vince Gilligan.

As a testament to my fan devotion, however, I created a dish inspired by the series (also the first installment of my new culinary venture titled TV dinners). I spent a lot of time deciding what to make for y'all. The obvious choice was a dessert with 'blue meth' aka dyed sugar candy or some Los Pollos Hermanos fried chicken but c'mon, that's for the novice fan. That's when I remembered this little gem from season 3.

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That's right, ROOF PIZZA how could I have forgotten! As a a refresher, during season 3 our friend W.W. is having a bit of family trouble. It happens with meth dealers. Essentially he's been kicked out of the house by his wife, (evil) Skyler and in an attempt to win some favor, Walt comes over with a huge pizza with the hopes of family bonding. Obviously, it doesn't bode well for Walt (or the pizza).

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As my first TV dinner, this pizza is not your ordinary pizza. It's a breakfast pizza. That's right. Breakfast. Pizza. Because if there's one thing the White family can agree upon, it's their love of breakfast (especially Walt Jr. ). In the show, these breakfast scenes of family normalcy often take place after Walt's all-night meth cooking sessions or Mexican border death matches, and really serve as a nice contrast to show just how messed up his life is.

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The only roof this pizza should hit however, is the roof of your mouth. It has all the things you'd find on the White's breakfast table: eggs, coffee, and a little smoky smokiness from the bacon jam. So good yet soooo BAD...

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breakfast pizza based on the Big Sur Bakery Cookbook Makes 2 (12-inch) pizzas

  • ¾ cup lukewarm water
  • ½ teaspoon dry active yeast
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • Bacon Jam (recipe below)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella
  • 6 large eggs
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, minced

(1) The night before, prepare the dough: Place ¾ cup lukewarm water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Sprinkle in the yeast, stir and let sit for 5 minutes. (2) Add the flour and 1 teaspoon of salt and mix on low for 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes, then increase the speed to high and mix until a smooth dough forms, about 2 minutes more. (3) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide into two equal pieces and form each half into a tight ball. Place on a large floured sheet pan, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (4) Two hours before baking, place the dough in a warm spot. While the dough rests, prepare the toppings for the pizza. (5) Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and set a pizza stone on it. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees, 30 minutes before you are ready to bake the pizza. (6) Dip your hands and a ball of dough into the flour. On a lightly floured countertop, pat the dough into a disc with your fingertips, then drape the dough over your fists and carefully stretch it from beneath to form a 12-inch circle. (7) Generously dust the surface of a pizza peel or large inverted sheet pan with flour and place the stretched dough on it. Sprinkle the dough with half of the Parmesan and mozzarella, making sure to leave a ½ inch margin around the edge. Put small dollops of the bacon jam on the dough. Crack 3 eggs over the top and season with salt and pepper. (8) If using a pizza peel, shake the peel slightly to make sure the dough is not sticking. Carefully lift any sections that are sticking and sprinkle a bit more flour underneath, then slide the pizza directly onto the baking stone in one quick forward-and-back motion. (9) Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating after 5 minutes. When the crust is golden, the cheese is melted and the egg yolks are cooked, use the peel to transfer the pizza to a cutting board. (10) Sprinkle half of the parsley, chives, scallions and shallot on top. Let cool for 2 minutes, slice and serve immediately. Prepare the second pizza in the same way.

bacon jam makes about 1 cup from The Delicious Life

  • ½ pound bacon
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar (substitute up to 2 tablespoons with maple syrup to maple bacon jam!)
  • ¼ cup brewed coffee

(1) In a large pot, cook bacon until just starting to brown and crisp at edges. Remove cooked bacon to paper towel-lined plate to cool and drain off grease. Pat with additional paper towels. When cool, chop the bacon into bit-size pieces. (2) Pour off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from pot. Turn heat down to medium low. Add onions and garlic, and cook until onions are translucent. Add vinegar, brown sugar, and coffee. Bring to a boil. Add cooked chopped bacon.

If You Are Cooking on Stovetop: (3) Turn down heat to the lowest setting and allow to simmer for about 1½ hours, stirring every few minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated and what is left is syrupy. Do not leave the pot unattended because 1. that’s just not safe no matter what and 2. there is a lot of sugar from the onions and well, the sugar, so it can burn easily.  If You Are Using a Crockpot/Slow Cooker:  (3) Pour the contents of the pot into the crockpot. Cook on high for about 3 hours.) [To make the breakfast pizza, STOP at this point. However, if you desire a smoother jam consistency, continue onto Step 4]

(4) Transfer the cooked bacon jam to a food processor. Pulse until you get the consistency of chunky jam. Bacon jam is sticky, sweet, slightly smoky, and a little bit “crunchy” from crisped parts of cooked bacon. Store covered in the refrigerator. I have no idea how long it keeps, but based on my recipe research, it seems like a few weeks. I doubt you will have any left after 3 days.

momofuku milk bar exam no. 7 {banana cream pie}

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Banana pudding, Bananas Foster, banana bread... Southerners really do have a knack for turning anything remotely healthy into a decadent treat. You could put this banana cream pie at the top of that list. I'm not sure if it's purely Southern, but it's pretty darn delicious.

This was my first attempt at making and eating banana cream pie. When it comes to pies, I generally stick to either pecan pie or ones with berries. Again, this cookbook is proving to be a godsend for my culinary ignorance. My tastebuds are forever indebted.

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A traditional banana cream pie usually has a buttery pie dough or a graham cracker crust but I really liked the chocolate crumb crust here. It was not too sweet and provided a deep flavor that went so perfectly with the bananas. Plus you get to give a little oh-it's-no-big-deal shrug when people ask... "you made the cookie crumbs for the crust too?"

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I had so much fun making this pie. While a Momofuku Milk Bar recipe, this banana cream pie reminded me of something a grandma would make, the BEST grandma ever... maybe it was also the whipped cream delirium.

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banana cream pie from Momofuku Milk Bar makes 1 (10-inch) pie; serves 8 to 10

  • 1 recipe Banana Cream
  • 1 recipe Chocolate Crust
  • 1 banana, just ripe, sliced

Pour half of the banana cream into the pie shell. Cover it with a layer of sliced bananas, then cover the bananas with the remaining banana cream. The pie should be stored in the fridge and eaten within a day of when you make it.

Note: Tosi keeps her decorations to a minimum but I figured she wouldn't mind if I took some creative license. As you can see, I topped mine with about ¼ cup of whipped cream, some more sliced bananas, and a sprinkling of the chocolate crumbs. You could also use chocolate shavings, brûléed bananas, let your Milk Bar imagination go bananas (I had to).

Banana Cream makes about 775g (3 cups)

  • about 2 (225g) rrrrrripe bananas (like completely black and disgusting-looking on the outside-- trust me. I found the easiest method is to let the bananas ripen on the counter, freeze them, and then let defrost in the fridge the day before you make the pie. They'll squeeze right out like toothpaste.)
  • ⅓ cup (75g) heavy cream
  • ¼ cup (55g) milk
  • ½ cup (100g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 gelatin sheets [used 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin]
  • 3 tablespoons (40g) butter
  • ½ teaspoon (25 drops) yellow food coloring (10 drops were enough for me)
  • ¾ cup (160g) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (160g) confectioners’ sugar (reduced to ½ cup, which was plenty sweet!)

(1) Combine the bananas, cream, and milk in a blender and puree until totally smooth. (2) Add the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolks and continue to blend until homogenous. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan. Clean the blender canister. (3) Bloom the gelatin. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons of cold water. Let sit for about 10 minutes. (4) Whisk the contents of the pan and heat over medium-low heat. As the banana mixture heats up, it will thicken. Bring to a boil and then continue to whisk vigorously for 2 minutes to fully cook out the starch. The mixture will resemble thick glue, bordering on cement, with a color to match. (5) Dump the contents of the pan into the blender. Add the bloomed gelatin and the butter and blend until the mixture is smooth and even. Color the mixture with yellow food coloring until it is a bright cartoon-banana yellow. (It’s a ton of coloring, I know, but banana creams don’t get that brilliant yellow color on their own. Womp.) (6) Transfer the banana mixture to a heatsafe container, and put in the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes—as long as it takes to cool completely. (7) Using a whisk or a mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the cream and confectioners’ sugar to medium-soft peaks. (When you pull the whisk away from the whipped cream, the mounds of cream hold their shape softly.) Add the cold banana mixture to the whipped cream and slowly whisk until evenly colored and homogenous. Stored in an airtight container, banana cream keeps fresh for up to 5 days in the fridge.

Chocolate Crust makes 1 (10-inch) pie crust

  • ¾ recipe (260g, 1¾ cups) Chocolate Crumb
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon (0.5g) kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) butter, melted, or as needed

(1) Pulse the chocolate crumbs in a food processor until they are sandy and no sizeable clusters remain. (2) Transfer the sand to a bowl and, with your hands, toss with the sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and knead it into the sand until it is moist enough to knead into a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14g (1 tablespoon) butter and knead it in. (3) Transfer the mixture to a 10-inch pie tin. With your fingers and the palms of your hands, press the chocolate crust firmly into the tin, making sure the bottom and sides of the pie tin are evenly covered. Wrapped in plastic wrap, the crust can be stored at room temp for up to 5 days or in the fridge for 2 weeks. 

Chocolate Crumb makes about 350g (2½ cups)

  • ⅔ cup (105g) flour
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) cornstarch
  • ½ cup (100g) sugar
  • ⅔ cup (65g) cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) butter, melted

(1) Heat the oven to 300°F. (2) Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt n the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and paddle on low speed until mixed. (3) Add the butter and paddle on low speed until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters. (4) Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. The crumbs should still be slightly moist to the touch at that point; they will dry and harden as they cool. (5) Let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe or eating. Stored in an airtight container, they will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

Edamame Fried Rice

The one thing I've realized about living in the City is learning to live on a budget. Which is difficult when there's so much to do and even more to EAT! While I love indulging in take-out Indian food and sushi, sometimes it's necessary to buckle down... especially after seeing the long string of restaurant charges on my credit card activity.

One of the easiest things I like to make is hibachi-style fried rice. This is a variation I learned from my mom who makes it very simply with carrots and scallions (sometimes just carrots). I like to add a little extra green with peas or in this case, edamame! I make a ton so I can pack it for lunch or reheat it for dinner for the week to come. Here's to full bellies and fuller wallets!

Edamame Fried Rice

  • 2 tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup finely chopped carrots
  • ¾ cup scallions, greens included, rinsed, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 4 cups leftover cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup cooked, shelled frozen edamame, thawed (or green peas)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten*
  • 3-4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • freshly cracked pepper

(1)  Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large skillet until very hot. Add the garlic, scallions and carrots and cook, stirring, until softened and aromatic, about 2 to 3 minutes. (2)  Add another tablespoon of oil and the rice and cook on medium-high heat, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes. (3)  Make a 3-inch well in the center of the rice mixture. Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil, then add the eggs and cook until nearly fully scrambled. (4)  Stir the eggs into the rice mixture, add the edamame and stir. (5)  Then add soy sauce, sesame seeds and pepper to taste. Incorporate thoroughly. Serve hot.

*Replace the eggs with extra firm tofu for a vegan meal! 

Makes 4 servings

 

Pucker up!

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But what the heck do you do with limes?! That's precisely the problem I found myself in this weekend with a bundle of limes on my hands.

Luckily I love limes, possibly even more than lemons. Key lime pies, limeades, margaritas, mojitos :) With my limes, I decided to make these lime bars, a variation on my favorite lemon bar recipe. But honestly when you add butter, sugar, eggs and flour to anything, what wouldn't taste good?

Lime Bars adapted from Barefoot Contessa

  • ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated lime zest (4 limes)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (6 to 8 limes)
  • 1 cup flour
  • confectioners' sugar, for dusting

(1)  Preheat the oven to 350° F. (2)  For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the flour and salt, with the mixer on low, to the butter until just mixed. (3)  Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9x13x2-inch baking sheet, building up a ½-inch edge on all sides. (4)  Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly golden. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on. (5)  For the filling, in a large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, lime zest, lime juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature then refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (6)  When ready to serve, dust the top with confectioners' sugar and cut into squares.