Friday, August 20, 2010

Coffee, Tea or Plastic Eggs??

Thunder heads at 35000 feet

Dr. C and I are on a plane headed for a long weekend to celebrate some special family birthdays.  Air travel isn't what it used to be. Now it feels more like being on a bus at 35,000 feet and having to endure the flight attendants moaning about their jobs.  Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of wonderful flight attendants in the industry, but one bad one can make or break your day---how about this guy?
Every time I get to the airport I'm reminded that it will be another insult (and assault) to our taste buds to eat airline food --- because it's there, not because it's good, or good for you. I'm reminded of Ellen DeGeneres' bit about being on a plane, and the passengers getting excited when the food carts come out, even though they know there will be nothing worth eating that comes from the bowels of the cart.  
This mornings' choices in business class were scrambled eggs with chives (read that as powder, reconstituted with water, and freeze dried hydrated chives---somehow looking like tiny army green pellets) Apple pancakes (OK, try eating those and then get up from your seat--easier said than done they are so leaden)or the ubiquitous fruit plate with granola (read that as straw with 100 year old raisins)---pretty harmless you might think, but can be deadly if the fruit is frozen. 
My question has always been, why not make something that is appetizing, and appealing and worthy of eating? Most people who get on a plane are stressed, and to give them food that is just plain gross doesn't help with the stress or the 6 hour plane ride. My suggestions are these: instead of the eggs, an egg casserole--something that can reheat well; instead of the pancakes, a breakfast bread pudding, and the fruit plate, well, it's there.  The answers to the questions of why we can't get something edible are as old as the airline industry, and the airlines' bottom line has a lot to do with how much food you get, and whether it's edible.  Most airlines use a catering service, and these catering services use food from huge packaging outlets like Sysco---I've always said that Sysco has a lot of products that masquerade as food. Look at that omelet and tell me there aren't 6 billion of its cousins, perfectly folded with 1 1/2 ounces of plastic cheese pushed into the center, sent out waiting for some unsuspecting passenger to order it. So, having endured yet another ugly breakfast in my airline seat, here's my solution for the airlines. 

Sausage, potato and Egg Casserole
Serves 8

8 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup whole milk
6 shakes Tabasco
3/4 pound bulk pork sausage, cooked and drained of any fat, cooled
2 cups fresh hash browns (in the bacon/ham section of your market) or frozen and defrosted
1 1/2 cups finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Coat the inside of eight 4-ounce ramekins with non-stick cooking spray. (or coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish)  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, thyme, milk and Tabasco.  Stir in the cooked sausage, hash browns, and 1 cup of cheese.   Ladle 1/2 cup of the mixture into each ramekin (or pour into the 13-by-9-inch pan) and sprinkle the tops with the remaining cheese.  Bake the ramekins for 20 minutes, until puffed, golden and set in the center.  Bake the 13-by-9-inch pan for 40 to 45 minutes.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes before tipping the ramekins onto plates, and serving.  Allow the 13-by-9-inch casserole to rest for 10 minutes before cutting into portions.
Serve with your favorite salsa, ketchup, or sauce, and a side of fruit.
Turkey, bacon, smoked mozzarella hash with eggs, crispy potatoes and a side of fruit at Hash House A Go Go, San Diego

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