We’re back! It’s week two of the Bon App Recap, and I’ve just to say right off the top, this week was a real treat for me.
First off, as opposed to last week, this week we get two actual recipe demos, something I’ve really been missing on the BA channel as of late. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely welcome every test kitchen video as a warm hug that holds me during times of hardship, which during this current news cycle is just always, but I miss the days when the test kitchen was more about cooking that it was about Pushing Out Content. This week, that desire is sated.
Second, we get surprise Claire and also Carla, who is hands down my favorite person in the test kitchen, not that I have favorites (I have favorites).
My general feeling is that once again the week starts off strong and then peters out toward the end, but by and large is a much stronger week than last. Here we go!
“From the Test Kitchen”—Andy Makes Braised Short Ribs with Squash: 5/5 Would Bon
Andy starts this episode off by stating the obvious, which is that short ribs are amazing, and then by bragging about how many short rib recipes he’s developed. Which, to be honest, is something I would brag about too.
This is my favorite kind of BA video, because we actually learn how to cook something, and see it being cooked, which, famously, is the downfall of so many recipes. The lack of visual instructions. How brown should something be? I don’t know! How can I find out? This video helps! I know it’s unrealistic to expect instructional videos for everything I cook, but I am spoiled and I want them.
And, considering I bought all the ingredients to make this tonight after watching the video earlier this week, I’ll definitely be watching it again. Especially after watching Andy do what I could consider to be burning the onions that are called to be caramelized. “You’re gonna think I’ve taken it too far,” he says pulling them out of the oven, “and I’m not gonna agree with you.”
Alright Andy, I’ll take your word for it, babe.
“One of Everything with Alex Delany”—Alex and Claire have breakfast at Balthazar: 5/5 Would Bon
As discussed last week, every video featuring Alex Delany has the unfair advantage of featuring Alex Delany and is therefore likely to garner a higher score. Trying to be as impartial as possible, this episode is actually one of the better ones in this series, and not just because we get Claire (although that doesn’t hurt).
I’ve eaten at Balthazar once, because Sex and the City told me I had to, and I honestly don’t regret the choice, which is a great outcome when you consider all the bad advice we get from TV. This episode is a treat primarily because it makes me nostalgic for the days when I lived in a city with my best friends and we’d get up early to have breakfast with each other at the diner down the street before heading to work, which made me feel like a really City Girl.
Claire drops some obvious truths, like the fact that pre-sliced fruit is one of the most luxurious things in the entire world, and that coffee should be consumed by the bowl and not by the cup. I got slightly confused when she tried to tell me alcohol isn’t a morning beverage, but I forgive her because she powered through 40 different dishes and didn’t give up.
Did I learn anything about food in this episode? Not really! Did it make me feel good? Absolutely. And sometimes that’s just point.
“Back-to-Back Chef”—Carla Music teaches rapper Rich Brian how to make chicken parmesan: 5/5 Would Bon
Some of the recent episodes of Back-to-Back Chef have been making me feel super old, or just super out of touch, because I literally have not a single clue who any of these people are. This episode is no different, but what I’ve come to learn is that regardless of the guest (and Rich Brian is a good one!), I will always have Carla and that, for me, is more than enough.
Rich earns immediate points from me right off the top for talking about his love of cooking, which includes the grocery shopping portion. I find nothing more soothing than walking the aisles of a grocery stores, and I’m glad to know I’m not alone in that. He also admits to wanting to say “beating my meat” as Carla walks him through pounding out a chicken breast, to which I again say, thank you for being relatable king.
Before Rich gets to the beating of the meat though, there is the seasoning, which is really the only part of the whole ordeal he struggles with, although it is not his fault. Seasoning something with salt in the real world is extremely different that seasoning something with salt in the test kitchen. One is a sprinkling, and the other is basically analogous to Thanos’s call to rain fire.
The end result is apparently delicious, and after watching them melt cheese with a torch I can only agree with Rich’s sentiment that whoever made chicken parm for the first time is a genius. Oh, and also at one point Carla describes dropping breaded chicken into hot oil like a seal belly sliding into the ocean, which is the only way I want to describe anything from now on.
“From the Test Kitchen”—Hawa makes Lahoh: 4/5 Would Bon
Hawa Hassan is a relatively new addition to the test kitchen team, this being only her third video on the BA channel (she previously made digaag qumbe, a Somali stew, and suugo suqaar, a Somali pasta dish), and I’ve honestly loved everything she’s brought to us so far.
She’s back this time to make lahoh, a type of Somali pancake, the she says is pretty similar to crepe, except that the batter sits and ferments overnight. Also it’s got garlic and onion blended into it, which shocked my poisoned brain that is conditioned to think of pancakes only as sweet things. I was a little sad to see that the lahoh aren’t eaten with a banana as both the pasta and curry before were (the curry which I made and was obsessed with, banana and all), but I guess it’s important to switch it up a little every now and then.
I’m giving this a 4/5 only because I want to see Hawa get comfortable on camera, which is something that takes time. She’s clearly got a lot to teach us about food, and I’m excited for her next video.
“Test Kitchen Talks”—Pro chefs review TV cookings shows: 3/5 Would Bon
Listen, I love the BA test kitchen just as much as the next single millennial looking for a dopamine hit to sooth the existential pain of existence, but sometimes it’s fine to give us less content in favor of just putting something out for the sake of the clicks (I laugh to myself as I type).
The three points out of the five I give this are three solid points for some really classic commentary on some really classic TV cooking show moments. Watching the test kitchen acknowledge the greatness of Martha Stewart and Julia Child is sweet good fun, and learning that Claire eats two-day-old yogurt that she’s left out of the fridge by accident is really humanizing and honestly makes me feel better about myself (and a little worried for her).
But the two points I take away are not learning anything about food at all in anyway, and also for everyone (with the exception of Gabby) doing that thing at the beginning where they get a little hoity toity and pretend (or admit!) they’ve never watched cooking shows before as if it’s somehow beneath them, which is the ultimate irony. It’s the same vibes I get when they talk down about snack food. Like, sure, we all know a braised crispy smashed potato is more texturally complex and delicious that a potato chip, but sometimes I like to eat potato chips and I don’t need you to make me feel bad about that okay!