Friday, April 13, 2012

50 Women Game-Changers (in Food): #43 April Bloomfield - Warm Bacon and Egg Salad

the "Gourmet" prompt...
43. April Bloomfield- New York’s Spotted Pig and Breslin chef came from England to infect an entire country with the gastropub. Which wouldn’t have worked if she weren’t such a culinary magician.

April Bloomfield actually started cooking by chance.  Her intention was actually to become a police officer in Birmingham, England, but she wound up not getting her application turned in in time.  So instead, she followed her 2 sisters into cooking school.  She worked her way around London, even working Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray (they were #26 on our list) at the River Café.    In the US, she even spent a summer working with (#2 on the list) Alice Waters at Chez Panisse.  Jamie Oliver actually recommended her to Mario Batale who mentioned her to Ken Friedman who was looking for a chef to run the kitchen of The Spotted Pig.  After taking a bit of a food tour of NYC with Friedman and Batali, they knew she was the one.
Bloomfield is now co-owner of The Spotted Pig as well as The Breslin (in The Ace Hotel) and John Dory Oyster Bar (also in The Ace).  Her book, A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories  was released just 3 days ago.  I am looking forward to reading more about and from this somewhat elusive chef (as in, she keeps to herself - no show boating).

Bloomfield fell in love with fresh, simple, local ingredients after eating a Walnut Pasta dish at the River Café that was packed with fresh, local ingredients - nothing fancy, just the food shining through.  She  says “It was the most amazing thing I’d ever eaten. It was like someone had hit me in the head with a great pan.  It shocked me into another palate level, and it made me question what I had been doing for the last ten years.”  This feeling shines through in her food today.  She puts her classical French and Italian cooking techniques into cooking the English food that she grew up with and is an advocate of not only using fresh, local ingredients but using ALL of them...as in head-to-tail cooking.  As it should be, in my opinion.  Showing great respect too the animals that gave their lives to nourish you.
Warm Bacon & Egg Salad

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Keywords: entree salad breakfast bacon eggs arugula

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • ¼ c. + 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
  • 4 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 c. (heaping) ½" bread cubes
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 4 large eggs
  • 5 oz. arugula
  • ¼ c. chopped chives
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
Heat 2 Tbs. of the olive oil in a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat until golden, ~2 mins. Transfer to a blender jar or mini-food processor using a slotted spoon (leaving behind the oil). Add the anchovies, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and ¼ c. of the oil and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the cubed bread to the skillet with the garlic oil and cook until golden and crisp, stirring from time to time, ~3 minutes. Transfer to a dish and set aside.

Heat the last Tbs. of oil in the skillet. Add bacon and cook until done the way you like it. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate leaving the grease in the skillet.

Heat the bacon grease in the skillet and crack the eggs in. Fry up the eggs how you like them over medium-high heat. (For over easy, leave them for about 1½ minutes on the first side and 30 seconds on the other).

To serve, toss the arugula and the croutons with the dressing in a large bowl. Place the dressed salad on serving plates and sprinkle with the chopped chives. Divide the bacon and fried eggs over the salads and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy.

adapted from April Bloomfield
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I chose this salad to represent April this week because I think it showcases some of the best local ingredients around...plus it's simple and tasty.  These gorgeous organic eggs are from a local farmer, the bacon, arugula, and chives were found in my local farmer's market.  The golden, garlicky bread crumbs are from a loaf of bread that I made in my kitchen.  Fresh, local ingredients and simplicity combine to make deliciously satisfying eating.
*source: NY Magazine: Of Pig Snouts and Head Cheese
In May '11, Gourmet posted a list of 50 Women Game-Changers (in Food) that runs the gamut from food writers to cookbook authors to television personalities to restauranteurs to chefs to food bloggers.  Some are a given.  Some are controversial.  Speaking the names of some brings fond childhood memories.  Speaking the names of others will make some readers cringe.  And of course, some of our favorites were not even included.  We food-lovers are a passionate bunch of people and whether we agree or disagree, every woman on this list has earned her place for a reason.  Being a woman who is passionate about food (cooking, eating, talking about, writing about, photographing), when I caught wind of Mary from One Perfect Bite's idea of cooking/blogging her way through each of these 50 women...one per week...I knew I wanted to join her.  Many of these women paved the way for us in culinary school, in the kitchen, in cookbooks, in food writing, and on television and I think it is a fabulous way to pay tribute to their efforts.  Some of the women on the list have been tops with me for years.  Some I have heard of (perhaps even seen, read, or cooked from) before.  And there are even a handful that I am not familiar with at all.  I excited to educate myself on each of these women game-changers and hope you look forward to reading along.  We are going in order from 1 to 50.
Who is cooking along with these 50 Women Game-Changers?

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