Grits Carbonara

Hankerings publishes its fair share of butter-, cheese-, and animal fat- laden dishes. No surprise then that we’ve shared an inordinately high number of wow-factor, carbonara-inspired dishes.

If the general concept of carbonara tickles your fancy, I urge you to check out our Red Hot Pasta Carbonara Nests, Pizza Carbonara or Linguini with Clams Carbonara.

There’s a reason for this.  I’ve been known to crave some combination of cheese, egg yolks, garlic and meat when my hungry monster rears its head. All in one dish.

In theory, you could “carbonara-ize” any starchy comfort food – and you’ll end up with something salty, porky, cheesy, eggy, and garlicky.  Check, check, check… & check.

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Garlic delivers the heat, pungency and baseline flavor for the dish. Parm reg, the king of cheese, brings the dairy fat. Then you have the egg yolk, which is a nature-made sauce in and of itself – a miracle bestowed on us from the food gods and goddesses.

And then there’s bacon. One of the most readily available, scrumptious hunks animal fat you can get your hands on. Speaking of, if you want to give a killer gift, Zingerman’s offers the best bacon of the month club you will find online.

Because let’s face it, grits could use a pick me up.

I’ve never gone wrong with buttered grits. I’ll typically reserved my grits consumption for my rare trips to the Waffle House, usually while I’m on the road to southern Virginia. They’re incredibly good cooked simply, but as with most ubiquitously-loved and adaptable foods, I can’t help myself. I add all sorts of stuff to grits when I make them at home. Whatever I have in the fridge on any given day – herbs, tomato sauce, blue cheese, you name it – is likely to end up there.

There are two kinds of grits – instant grits and real-deal, stone-ground grits. I used instant grits here for hunger-pang related reasons, however, you’re going to have a much more toothsome outcome with the low and slow stone-ground variety. If you are lucky enough to have the time to go that route. Just substitute the same volume of grits, substituting the recommended liquid with milk, and cook according to package instructions.

What are some of your favorite grits additions? And more importantly, what dish should I carbonara-ize next!? 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 4 oz. bacon, of your choosing, medium diced
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 / 3 cup instant grits
  • 1 / 3 cup parm reg, plus additional for garnish
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 / 4 cup scallions, for garnish
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper, plus additional for garnish

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Brown the bacon in a medium-sized saucepan. When the bacon is almost done cooking, add the garlic. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  2. Add the grits, stirring for a minute or two. Add the milk, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper, cover, and simmer on low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until the grits are al dente.
  3. Add 3 of the egg yolks off the heat to the grits, and stir vigorously to cool. Add the parm reg and stir until melted. Plate the grits. Top each plate with one egg yolk, sprinkling with pepper, parm reg, and chopped scallions for garnish, if desired. Serve immediately.

 

 

White Pizza with Clam, Garlic & Parsley Oil

What’s white pizza in a few words? Indulgent and sinful – and it’s super in my face about it. When I’m looking at that by-the-slice menu board or ravenously scrolling through UberEats at 11:30 PM, white pizza always ends up a final contender.

I still love a classic cheese pie. Tomato sauce tastes delicious – but sometimes, I just want cheese, carbs, and nothing even remotely vegetable-derived to spoil my good time.

White pizza comes from Italy, obviously. But the recipe here, with clams and herbs, more closely mirrors a version of white pizza which has its roots in the American Northeast – where they developed what they call a white clam pizza. We have the brilliant Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, Connecticut to thank for that.

Their clam pie toppings involve more ingredients than I have here – there are vegetables, seasonings and starch fillers that are mixed with the clams to create a filling, that is then baked onto the dough.

I elected for a simple, flavor-packed drizzling of olive oil infused with chopped clams, parsley and a &$^%-load of minced garlic. The way that oil settles into the pockets on the pizza makes me swoon. I don’t know about you, but I love a substantial slathering of grease on my pizzas.

How much does humanity love pizza? I’ll tell you.

My brother doesn’t like cheese and hasn’t for a very long time. When we probe him, I completely understand where he’s coming from. It smells bad – that is indisputable. It’s fresh dairy product that has been aged, often with mold added to it.

But, he still eats pizza. On multiple occasions, his orders for a meat-lover’s pizza, no cheese, have been met with hang ups from Dominos and Pizza Huts. Because that has to be a prank call, right?

That’s just how damn good pizza is. He orders pizza, without the cheese. Here I am, on my fifth or eight slice of pizza, thinking the cheese was the whole point. Nope. It turns out, pizza is just plain good. No matter what you put, or don’t put on it.

I N G R E D I E N T S

F o r  t h e  P i z z a  D o u g h  ( A d a p t e d  c / o  t h e  B a r e f o o t  C o n t e s s a )

  • 2 / 3 cups warm water
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1 / 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1 / 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups flour, plus extra for kneading
  • 1 teaspoons salt

F o r  t h e  T o p p i n g s

  • 1 / 2 lb. fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1 / 4 inch thick discs
  • 2 / 3 cup parm reg, grated
  • 2 / 3 cup gruyere, grated
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed

F o r  t h e  O i l

  • 1 / 2 cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 / 4 cup clams, minced (fresh or high-quality canned clams with do)
  • 1 / 3 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 500*.
  2. Combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 1 1 / 2 cups flour, then the salt, and mix.
  3. While mixing, add 1/ 2 more cup of flour.
  4. Knead the dough on low speed for 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking to the bowl.
  5. Remove the dough and put on a floured board or stone countertop, and knead by hand a dozen times.
  6. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn it several times to cover it lightly with oil.
  7. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  8. Roll and stretch the ball into a rough 16-inch circle using a rolling pin, and place it on a floured pizza baking sheet.
  9. In the meantime, heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the garlic, clams, salt and pepper, and allow to heat through and simmer on low for five minutes. Off the heat, add the parsley, set aside and allow to cool.
  10. Use a brush to spread the olive oil evenly over the pizza. Do not oil the crust. Sprinkle the pie liberally with salt and pepper.
  11. Layer the cheese. First sprinkle the parm reg, then the gruyere, then the mozzarella cheese evenly across the pizza.
  12. Bake the pizza for 13 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling, and the dough is lightly browned.
  13. Allow the pizza to cool for 5 minutes. Drizzle the clam, garlic & parsley oil over the pizza, keeping extra on hand for additional garnish, if desired. Use a knife or a pizza roller to divide the pie into 8 slices, and serve hot.

 

Lox Fixins Frittata

I’ve been riding out an insatiable salmon-craving phase. At this moment, any salmon would do.

I know these food craving spells very well – they come and will eventually pass. Like my sushi over-consumption phase in the fall of 2009, or the pho mania of 2011.

While in the midst of another food-related binge, I was a regular customer of Bruegger’s Bagels on E Street by the Capital One Arena here in D.C. a few years ago. It’s gone now, but it was easily my most regularly visited takeout joint. My order consisted of a lox bagel with extra jalapeno cream cheese, all on a jalapeno-cheese bagel. At checkout, I’d add a large, fat black iced coffee.

I could eat as much spicy cream cheese and lox as I wanted with that unwieldy, monster of a bagel sandwich. And it was expensive as far as bagels go because of that pile of lox. I craved that sandwich like nothing else.

Instead of doing a quick egg scramble with lox, I wanted to throw all the ingredients that go on your typical lox bagel sandwich into a fritatta bake. The addition of dill elevates the flavor profile to something more elegant and brunch-y enough for guests. You’re getting that pretty presentation with the dill scattered on top. And who would I be to veer from the ubiquitous salmon and dill power combo?

frittata_slice

I was on the fence about adding cream cheese. But it tastes great, melts into the eggy mixture, and you need it to get the full lox bagel experience. This is another recipe you can count on to taste exactly like the food you’re drawing inspiration from. All the lox bagel flavors are there.

If you’re a big breakfast casserole fan – I’d absolutely get behind putting some torn bagel pieces into the batter. How could that be anything but amazing?

I’m going to continue letting this food craze run its course. In the meantime, it’s fun thinking up dishes like these, all in an attempt to get my salmon fix.

Here’s to indulging in those wackiest, out-of-nowhere of food cravings. I hope you enjoy! 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

  • 6 oz. high-quality lox, torn into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 oz. cold cream cheese, crumbled into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 / 2 cup red onion, small diced
  • 1 / 4 cup ripe tomato, small diced
  • 4 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 7 eggs
  • 1 / 3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
  2. Heat the butter in a medium-sized oven-safe skillet or cast iron pan. Sautee the red onion for 5 to 7 minutes or so, until translucent. Remove from heat.
  3. In the meantime, whisk the eggs, heavy cream, salt pepper and dill until combined.
  4. Add the lox, cream cheese, capers and tomato, and gently combine until the mixture is even throughout.
  5. Pour the egg mixture into the pan with the onions, and place in the oven. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, until golden brown and set.
  6. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Potato Chips with Caviar & Herb Dip

Caviar screams New Years Eve to me. More than champagne. More than black sequin dresses and New Years Eve horns.

I wish I knew more about the applications for caviar in cooking. But what I do know, is that I love the pop-in-your-mouth texture and how it tastes exactly like the sea. And man, talk about pretty.

In my food world, caviar is a special occasion-worthy indulgence if there ever was one. It goes super well paired with an over-the-top crème fraiche sauce. Potato chips are the perfect vehicle – crispy, salty and not too bulky.

And when it comes to preparing a dish with caviar, I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. Look at any recipe that features caviar, and you’ll find it consistently accompanied by the same flavor profiles – think chives, smoked salmon, lemon, egg yolk, all on a crunchy, carby vehicle.

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Ina Garten published several caviar and egg roe recipes that will blow your socks off. I have her to thank for introducing me to the world of caviar in cooking. I’ve made her Caviar Dip with salmon roe, Lemon Capellini with Caviar and Blini with Smoked Salmon.

The image that pops into your head when you think of caviar is likely the Beluga variety – black-colored, small beads. It’s generally the most costly if you’re in the market for caviar. For a pound of the stuff, you’re talking $3,000 to $4,000. Good thing we don’t need to eat caviar by the ladleful to get the full caviar experience. For weeknight eating, there’s also the more affordable salmon roe caviar, which gives you the same fishy, salty punch for a lot less dough.

Luckily, we live in a food-obsessed world. There’s someone who lives near the Caspian Sea whose job is to procure fish eggs, pasteurize them, package them, and ship them around the world. Directly to my local Whole Foods.

On an average shopping day, it’s admittedly tempting every time I go by the fish aisle to pass it up. But I’ve been so good this year. So I let myself slip into the splurge.

If you don’t love caviar, this could very well change your mind. May your 2019 be caviar-filled all year round. 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

  • 2 oz. caviar, of your choosing
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish, if desired

F o r  t h e  P o t a t o  C h i p s

  • 1 large Yukon Gold potato
  • 4 cups canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

F o r  t h e  D i p

  • 1 cup crème fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dill, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chives, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 / 2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 2 dashes Tabasco
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Slice the potato with a mandoline, placing the slices in a large bowl filled with water. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the potato slices from the water, and dry thoroughly with a paper towel.
  2. Heat the canola or vegetable oil in a large shallow pan. To test the oil, put a slice of the potato in the oil. When it bubbles and starts to fry, add the rest of the potato slices.
  3. Fry on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the chips are golden brown. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels, and sprinkle immediately with salt.
  4. In the meantime, combine the dip ingredients in a bowl. Stir until incorporated. Chill for at least 15 minutes.
  5. To assemble the appetizer, place a small spoonful of the sauce on a chip, top with a 1 / 4 to 1 / 2 teaspoon of caviar, and top with a sprig of parsley, if desired. Arrange on a serving plate. Serve room temperature.