While cooking, listen to this:
PS: This is Rina's dad! Check out his bandcamp page here.
Shopping at Trader Joe’s is a dangerous game. You could be perusing the frozen foods section, looking for some fruit to improve your smoothie game when suddenly it catches your eye - the chocolate covered something that you’ve been trying to avoid but can’t.
That was me this past weekend. Rina asked me to buy some snacks for a cooking + photo session, and I impulsively bought a box of chocolate covered graham crackers (flecked with sea salt, because, duh). It was a risk, and I ended up eating most of the box myself. With no regrets. Those were some damn delicious chocolate covered graham crackers. But then I learned something a few days later that sort of blew my mind.
Did you ever wonder why they were called graham crackers? Like I always kind of sort incorrectly assumed it was something to do with the flavor - that the flavor was “graham.” Don’t look at me like that. Any way, I found out that graham crackers were actually named after this Presbyterian minister who believed that boring food was the definitive way to fight the biggest epidemic that, in his mind, the world was facing in the early twentieth century: masturbation.
How does a graham cracker stop such illicit activities? Well, apparently, this minister decided that normal crackers were far too erotic, so he created the world’s most boring cracker. Something that would be so bland, so plain, that there was no way anyone would ever think about their sexual impulses. They’d be too busy masticating this dry, slightly sweet cracker.
Little did he know a trader named Joe would come along and corrupt his sweet cracker with something that certainly wouldn’t be ‘kosher,’ so to speak, in his book. The chocolate covered graham. With sea salt. Contrary to what the minister believed, graham crackers dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt is exactly how God intended crackers to be.
The funny thing about this guy is that he was actually an early advocate for vegetarianism (he also supported prohibition, so clearly this guy really knew how to have fun). Now, he obviously had his own reasoning for supporting vegetarianism, but I think his whole “food should be boring” vibe unintentionally gave vegetarianism a bad name! Now I may be a meat eater myself, but no one kills the vegetarian game like Rina. Her dishes are far from boring or bland - and they definitely knock your pants off - sorry Mr. Graham.
Exhibit A: this crispy kale and brussel sprout hash. Why not take stereotypically boring foods and turn them into the most epic breakfast dish ever, snuggled with eggs and doused with sriracha? For extra effect, serve in a cast iron skillet, and if you’re feeling super raunchy, eat directly from the pan with two forks.
It might not be what Mr. Graham would have wanted, but I like to think if he came over and hung out at Gateau Gato, we’d have shown him that sexy food is definitely not a bad thing. And also that graham crackers don’t keep people from touching themselves. Wishful thinking, dude. Might not want to watch American Pie.
In the meantime, we’ll be over here ooh’ing and aah’ing over this winner of a skillet.
CRISPY KALE, BRUSSELS SPROUTS + POTATO HASH
Yield: 2 mains, 4 sides
Active Time: 20m | Inactive Time: 10-15m
Category: Breakfast, Gluten-Free
Source: Serious Eats
¾ pound Yukon gold potatoes (about 2 medium)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tablespoons neutral oil, divided
12 medium Brussels sprouts, shredded (about 1 ½ cups)*
2 cups chopped kale leaves, tightly packed
1 small onion, sliced into thin half moons
1 teaspoon vinegar-y hot sauce, plus more to taste (like Frank’s or Chalula)
2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley, divided
1-2 eggs per person
1 Tablespoon olive oil
*you can buy Brussels sprouts pre-sliced at places like Trader Joes, but you can also slice them yourself - cut off the ends, cut in half lengthwise and then thinly slice.
Set oven: adjust a rack to the middle position in your oven and preheat to 450 F.
Boil the potatoes: add the potatoes to a medium saucepan and pour in enough water to cover the potatoes, plus an extra inch or so. Add a large dash of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. When boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are barely tender. Drain and let sit for a couple minutes.
Saute the vegetables: heat 2 Tablespoons of neutral oil in a medium non-stick pan or cast iron skillet - place on high heat and heat until the oil goes all shimmery. Add the potatoes, some salt and pepper and cook - toss occasionally so that they brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining Tablespoon of neutral oil, the Brussels sprouts and the kale and cook until the sprouts and kale are starting to wilt - make sure to toss occasionally. Add the onions and cook until all of the veggies are soft and starting to get crispy - again, you guessed it, tossing occasionally. Stir in the hot sauce and half of the parsley, season with salt and pepper, and take off the heat.
Cook the eggs: make a well for each egg in the hash and drizzle each well with a few drops of olive oil. Add 1 egg to each well, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Transfer to the oven and cook until the eggs are cooked to your liking - I HATE runny egg whites and usually cook my eggs for longer. For barely set whites, cook for about 5 minutes. When done, sprinkle with the rest of the parsley and go to town.
To keep: you can do the veggies in advance, maybe a couple days, and crisp them up a bit before adding the eggs and serving, but the eggs should be eaten right out of the oven.