A Deconstructed Dinner

The jury’s still out on how I feel about “deconstruction” as a fine dining trend, but as an easy, relaxing weeknight dinner technique, it’s perfect. What could be more relaxed than a deconstructed, well, anything? There’s no right way to deconstruct- so the pressure is off and you can have fun with whatever you’re making.

Tonight I was in the mood for an Avocado BLT, so while tomato season is still months away, I went with my whim and made a deconstructed avocado BLT: a fatty, smokey, seriously great BLT salad. To top it off, I whipped up a semi-homemade, deconstructed butterscotch cream pie with cinnamon graham cracker crust. Not only a relaxing Tuesday night- an indulgent one too. But that’s what Tuesdays are for, right?

To make the BLT salad, I tried two techniques I read about in Sam Sifton’s New York Times Magazinearitcle, “Smells Like Green Spirit,” where he describes a simple, green salad from Seattle’s Canlis as a “revelation.” First, I fried cubed squares of bread in bacon fat to make croutons. I love making homemade croutons, but I usually stick to olive oil when I toast the bread. Frying the bacon first, and then tossing the croutons in the grease was, to use Sifton’s term, a revelation indeed.

Next, I tried coddling an egg before making the dressing, as Sifton also describes in his article. Per his instructions, I poured boiling water over an egg in a coffee cup, let it sit for one minute and then removed and let it cool. Then I cracked the egg into a bowl of olive oil and lemon juice, and whisked to finish the dressing. The half-cooked egg made for a thicker dressing, which coated the greens, tomato and bacon-croutons really nicely. Finally, I crumbled the bacon and threw the cubed avocado onto this lemony concoction and as simple as that had my deconstructed A(vocado)-B(acon)-L(ettuce)-T(omato).

And while I was at it, I whisked up some instant butterscotch pudding, and crumbled Christina Tosi-inspired cinnamon graham cracker crust and homemade whipped cream on top for a deconstructed dessert. On a more ambitious night, homemade pudding would have been better, but this was relaxing deconstruction night where anything goes, and I went with the instant pudding in my cupboard. With the crumble and cream, you might never have known.

For the recipes and what to cook next

Avocado BLT Salad
Full head of green lettuce
5 slices of bacon, chopped up
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 egg
2-3 cups of bread, chopped into cubes (I used multigrain, but any bread will do)
Salt & pepper
1 large avocado
1 1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes

– Fry the bacon until crispy and then set aside on paper towel
– Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan, and toss the bread in the remaining fat, toasting until crisp
– Meanwhile, boil water and wash and dry the lettuce
– Place an egg in a coffee cup and pour boiling water over it; let the egg sit for one minute, then drain and rinse under cold water
– Mix olive oil and lemon juice together in another cup, and then whisk in the “coddled” egg
– Halve the cherry tomatoes and toss into the lettuce, along with the bacon, half of the croutons and the dressing
– Top the salad with the avocado and the remaining croutons

What to do with leftover bacon? I want to try making cayenne-brown-sugar candied bacon!

Quick and Easy Deconstructed Butterscotch Cream Pie

Butterscotch Pudding
One package instant butterscotch pudding
– Prepare as instructed (using skim milk)

Graham Cracker Crust Crumble
1 1/2 cup cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup of powdered milk
2 tablespoons of sugar
3/4 teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons of melted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream

– Toss dry ingredients together in a bowl, using your hands
– Whisk melted butter into heavy cream
– Add the dry ingredients into the cream and mix together, forming clumps with your hands
– Sprinkle as desired onto set pudding

Whipped Cream
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

– Combine all ingredients into a cold bowl and whisk together using an electric mixer until stiff peaks form
– Be careful not to over-whisk, otherwise the cream will turn to a butter-like consistency
– Top pudding and crust with whipped cream

What to do with leftover graham cracker crumble? Make compost cookies!