The eating habits of the families of food bloggers are not always what you might think. Most of the people that I talk to about being a cooking contester and food blogger think that my family must be a lucky group of people to eat all of my culinary triumphs. Well, sometimes not so much. I mean sure, we are fortunate that we do indeed have lots of great food around here, but it may not always be at the optimum temperature or consistency when served to my hungry family after being photographed for 30 minutes.
The hungry family issue is usually why I try to prepare my recipes during the weekdays when everyone is gone and I can cook and photograph without the added pressure of “Hey mom I’m starving, when can we eat it?” This freedom in itself provides a unique set of problems. Usually as soon as everyone is out the door I get myself dressed and start cooking. On one particular day I decided to bake cupcakes which happen to be a recipe that I was developing on my own as opposed to using an existing one. On these days things often don’t go as planned and by 5pm I find myself exhausted from a day of mixing, baking and shooting in a disaster of a house with a neglected dog, an overflowing laundry basket and nothing for dinner but a dozen cupcakes, asking myself why I didn’t put something in the Crockpot?
When we were living in the UK there was a television program called Ready, Steady, Cook that featured two everyday Joes paired with a celebrity chef. The Joes were allowed to bring a bag of ingredients of their own choosing, that as I recall couldn’t cost more than 10 pounds or so. This challenged their chefs to produce a studio audience favorite dish or dishes which could win them. . . well. . . hell, I don't know if they won anything at all as a matter of fact. If any of my English readers remember if there was a prize, please let me know.
Anyway, they had access to the usual ingredients that you might find in a well stocked kitchen and 20 minutes to prepare it. I don’t know what these people were thinking many times because usually when they poured their ingredients out on the counter it often resembled the last bag of kitchen trash when you move houses. Stuff like rhubarb, a fruit and nut chocolate bar, half a dozen cockles, an artichoke and a pig’s trotter. I kind of know how these chefs felt upon seeing their ingredients because this is usually what I face after a long day of cupcake shooting. In 20 minutes or so Mrs. Harris, feed your family something delicious from the nothing you find in the bottom of your refrigerator.
Since I often use my life in England for recipe inspiration, on this particular day I enjoyed my own version of Ready Steady Cook. I decided on ramping up one of that country’s all-time favorites, beans on toast. I had a can of cannellini beans, bacon (I always have bacon), a couple of pieces of pepperoni and some olive bread. I threw them all together along with some miscellaneous ingredients from my larder and came up with one of my husband’s new favorites, especially after I added a poached egg on top. It was a challenge to photograph and definitely not a visual triumph, but simple to prepare and a snap to reheat.
3 slices smoked bacon, cut into 1/2"slices across
12 pieces of pepperoni, cut into 1/2” slices
1/2 medium size onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
6 or so roasted tomatoes or sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, julienne sliced
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 – 15.5 ounce can cannellini beans, drained
1/3 cup half and half
4 slices rustic bread
1 cup shredded Gruyere or Asiago cheese
4 poached eggs (optional)
2 green onions, light and dark green parts chopped for garnish
Place the bacon in a medium size frying pan over medium high heat. Sauté bacon until it is brown and crispy around the edges; add pepperoni and onion and sauté for 5 minutes more. Add garlic, tomatoes, Italian seasoning and beans; cook for one minute longer mashing some of the beans as you stir. Add the half and half reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 3 – 5 minutes to heat through.
Heat oven to broil. Place the bread on a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven to toast on one side. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and carefully turn bread over. Top each slice of bread with equal amounts of the cheese. Place the bread back in the oven to toast the cheese. When the cheese is brown and bubbly, remove from the oven and transfer to serving plates. Top with equal amounts of the bean mixture, poached eggs if desired and green onions. Serve immediately.