April 20, 2016

Tasty Video Renditions

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While scrolling aimlessly through Facebook feeds during 75-minute lectures, you’ve probably come across a Tasty video or two — yes, the beautiful time lapse masterpieces that condense the amount of time it would take to cook a full meal into a 30-second clip. From savory slow cooked ribs to sweet cake pops, these short videos whet any appetite. Onions appear to caramelize instantly; wet and dry ingredients form dough in just a second. Whether an aspiring chef, packaged ramen-making master or just a dining-hall-reliant student, these videos give the impression that anyone could make a delicious dish with almost no effort. After watching and watching these videos every day in lecture, I was inspired. I was moved to action. I wanted to prove to myself and to the world that anyone — even those whose cooking résumés include just instant ramen — could become that friend who impresses everyone with a gourmet Sunday brunch in their Red Solo Cup-littered Collegetown apartment.

And what better place to start than breakfast?

I set off to my local supermarket to buy ingredients for two recipes: Cinnamon Roll Breakfast Muffins and a Sweet Potato Black Bean Hash. Guilty craving versus healthful.

Into the kitchen I strutted, confident I would leave at the end of the day as a true master of muffin and hash. With precision I cracked six eggs; no shells found their way into my bowl. The other wet ingredients followed, half a cup each of milk and heavy cream cascading down as a pure, white waterfall. Vanilla and cinnamon followed. Then another half cup of sugar, and the mix was ready for mixing. Armed with a whisk at least twice my age, I viciously yet tenderly whirled the contents of the bowl into a uniform consistency. Carefully, I pressed a spoon against the crease in the Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls case. Pop! Raw goodness sprang from the cardboard. After being cut into eight pieces, the rolls and the mix were ready to be combined in a muffin tin. My undoing came soon after.

It was time to grease the pan. Canola oil, olive oil, melted butter — what to use? Sticking to my gut, I cut out a large piece of butter and stuck it in the microwave for a few seconds. No gloves, I held the soft, smooth yellow stick in my fingers. As I worked it across the muffin tin, up, down, left right, my ludicrous grip strength crushed the butter. I was left with a palm coated in grease and a tray with light marks of butter in some areas, large clumps in others. Not satisfied with, but rather tired of my clumsy work, I placed the pieces of cinnamon rolls and poured the batter into each muffin holder. Left with an excess of both rolls and batter, doubt surged through every fiber of my soul as I carefully slid the tray into the fridge to cool for two hours.

Tired but hopeful, I prepared to prep my vegetables for the hash. Disclaimer: Do not attempt this unless you have proper knife-wielding skills. I do not, so two sweet potatoes, half of an onion, a red pepper and two cups of spinach left my hands cramping and my pride tainted (but I had all my fingers left!). My awe for chefs, however, rose to an unprecedented high. Into the hot pan went the four tablespoons of olive oil, before the horribly uneven cubes of sweet potatoes and slices of pepper and onion were dropped in. I added half a tablespoon of paprika and a teaspoon of cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Wooden spoon in hand, I stirred and stirred, and stirred and stirred. Bits of potato fell out of the pan, littering the stovetop with red-orange battle scars. After ten minutes, I added the spinach, which had been voluminous raw, but lost its sparkle after some time in the pan. Spinach shrunken, sweet potatoes, onions and peppers cooking, I poured the black beans (rinsed and dried), into the fragrant mess. More stirring, a taste, more salt, another taste, more pepper, more paprika … more flavor! I turned the pan off. Twenty minutes had passed. Hash into the bowl, onto my plate. A quick sunny side up egg (this did not go well) placed nicely onto the hash and I was ready to taste.

But first, the muffins! Into a 350°F preheated oven they went, and for 35 minutes they stayed there, the grayish-brown mush transforming into a golden-brown breakfast delight. Now, my “breakfast” (it was 3:00 p.m. by the time I finished) was ready for consumption and assessment.

To grade each recipe, I took into account its total price as well how easy it was to make, whether or not it turned out the way it looked in the video, and, of course, taste. And, much like a professor, I came up with an esoteric system with which to turn the grades for each category into a final recipe grade.

Truth be told, the prep for the cinnamon rolls was quite easy and simple; if I were only slightly superhuman, I could probably make this recipe in Tasty video time. On the other hand, cutting a lot of vegetables into even pieces is quite a task, especially for a kitchen rookie. Muffins: A. Hash: B-.

The tray easily slid out of the oven, but the muffins were more stubborn. Sticking to the sides, what managd to escape the tray looked more like a lumpy, darker sponge, as opposed to the gorgeous muffins that were shown in the video. Although colorful like Tasty advertised, my poor “eggs”ecution left the hash looking down in the dumps. I forgot the optional avocado as well, which simply took the icing off the cake. Muffins: C+. Hash: B+.

With the icing on the muffins added, the warm, doughy cinnamon roll parts really hit the spot. The egg and sugar batter cooked out into a weirdly textured sweet goo. On the other hand, the sweet potatoes’ and beans’ mushy texture paired well with the crunch of the onions and peppers. Paprika and cumin added a savory touch that elevated the dish. Muffins: B. Hash: A.

Cinnamon rolls are their own food for a reason. Muffins: B. I still like the regular potatoes version better. Hash: A-.

Care to try for yourself? Check out the full recipes below:

Cinnamon Roll Breakfast Muffin: http://www.buzzfeed.com/robertbroadfoot/your-weekend-brunch-plans-just-got-better-with-this-recipe-f#.eb35xlkLd

Sweet Potato Black Bean Hash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgmgpUIzU7M