A Flop and a Delight

coconut-date power breakfast bars on cutting board

After my last post, I attempted a few of the easier recipes from Bon Appétit.  Maybe someday I’ll work up to something more difficult or time-consuming (like you, 3-day cassoulet).  I tried making the Coconut-Date Power Breakfast Bars as I am getting a little bored of eating dry cereal on my morning commute.  The recipe was fairly simple to follow, but a little hard to tell when they were done cooking.  They started to smell burnt but didn’t look burnt, just very brown, but I took them out anyway.  Turns out that was the right choice.  When I went to cut them, some of them crumbled and fell apart. I tried to push down the bottom crust very tightly as they suggested, but I guess it was not enough.  They were a little dry in texture and didn’t have as much coconut flavor as I suspected for having coconut sugar, coconut oil, unsweetened shredded coconut, and sweetened shredded coconut (I left out the coconut flakes).  So overall I probably wouldn’t recommend this recipe, but you never know it until you try it.

Pictures of: dates simmering on the stove and the bottom crust layer for the Coconut-Date Power Breakfast Bars. 

I also made their Sausage, Greens, and Beans Pasta for dinner one evening, after work no less.  It tasted much better together than each of those ingredients would have tasted individually.  I think my favorite part was the crispy rosemary which you gently pan-fry in olive oil.  It made the rosemary more fragrant, and since it was fried, the texture was crunchy rather than feeling like you were chewing on pine tree needles.  When given the ingredient choices in the recipe, I chose rigatoni for my pasta, cannellini beans instead of chickpeas, and kale for my greens.  

For some reason, I have a hard time finding the correct kind of sausage to use in a recipe.  I know what it’s supposed to be (the kind with the thin casing that you split open to remove the meat from), but I never seem to find it easily in the grocery store.  For this recipe, I couldn’t find the right kind so I ended up with pre-cooked, smoked sausage. This is much more difficult to remove from the casing as it’s been cooked together already.  But I did my best to remove as much as I could.  I guess I could have left it on, but I didn’t want the two textures on it.  I did warm up this sausage as if it were raw according to the recipe, but didn’t cook it for as long the recipe indicated.  

bowl of sausage, greens, and beans pasta with wine glass

The end result was quite tasty especially the beans mixed with all the other ingredients.  Cooking people are always touting the glorious texture of dried beans once they are cooked on the stove top all day.  This recipe definitely made me one step closer to trying to make them myself.  But for an after-work dinner, canned beans will do.

This recipe has 3 tips on how to make pasta better: 1) generously salt your pasta water, 2) under cook your pasta as it will continue to cook outside of the boiling water, and 3) use the pasta water to mix into the sauce to make a more cohesive dish.  I won’t go into the science of why this works (mostly because I don’t know the exact science), but I will tell you that many, many chefs will have you follow these steps to make a better pasta dish.   

What are your secrets to an amazing pasta dish?