Every Friday morning, Bon Appétit senior staff writer Alex Beggs shares weekly highlights from the BA offices, from awesome new recipes to office drama to restaurant recs, with some weird (food!) stuff she saw on the internet thrown in. It gets better: If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll get this letter before everyone else.
A moment of silence
Rest in peace, dear Dorcas Reilly, inventor of the green bean casserole. Let’s toast a can of cream of mushroom soup in honor of the woman whose vision not only saw how a soup could bind a pot of green beans, but topped the whole thing with crunchy fried onions. Reilly worked in the Campbell’s test kitchen and loved cooking so much that after a full day of developing recipes, she’d go home and cook some more—a lot of soup, according to her husband. While our recipe gets a little bougie with homemade mushroom béchamel, the French’s fried onions on top stay true to the 1955 original. According to Campbell’s, over 20 million homes will serve green bean casserole on Thanksgiving, which is an incredible culinary legacy to leave, if you ask me.
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Severed plastic arms hung from the ceiling of Hunter House Hamburgers in Birmingham, Michigan, where I recently stopped in with my family for an early dinner of slider-sized cheeseburgers, root beer floats made with 6 inches of soft serve afloat a cup of Barq’s, tots, and very salty fries. Meaning perfectly salted. A zombie slouched over the ATM. On our drive home, we passed a house with a skeleton family arranged in a barbecue scene, with a plastic baby on a Weber grill, and my appreciation for Halloween decor has never been surpassed. Suddenly I’m craving some popcorn balls.
Speaking of spooky
I’ve been watching The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell on Netflix, a freaky scripted cooking show about a woman who sculpts edible art and her motley crew of misfit muppet housemates. At first I thought all of the Sudafed/NyQuil I’ve been taking was to blame for how weird the show was, and then I realized nope, it’s just a very weird show. I love every minute. The pastel, vintage Pyrex-stocked kitchen and McConnell’s spotless wardrobe contrast against the hairy, bloodthirsty, but lovable creatures who live with her, my favorite being the chocoholic raccoon with a fork for a paw. Yep. I’m entranced by her sculptural skills, the hours and adept (human) hand it takes to make a realistic Ouija board cookie out of shortbread and molten hot isomalt (to make the hardened, polished finish), airbrushed to resemble antique mahogany. She deep-fries werewolf paw doughnuts in a smoking cauldron on her stovetop. McConnell’s character is like Stepford Wives meets Witches of Eastwick, soft-spoken with a hint of evil, something to aspire to, really.
Bread of the dead
Rick Martinez’s sweet and fragrant pan de muertos—Mexican Day of the Dead bread—is a lot easier than McConnell’s ouija board, if you’re looking for a sweet to get in touch with your ancestors. It’s a tender, eggy dough spiced with anise, orange blossom water, and rich with a stick and a half of butter.
I’m chaotic neutral.
Meat me up
I need this meaty kielbasa stew like a roaring fireplace and flannel underwear. All. Winter. Long. Serves 14. 😮
Unnecessary food feud of the week
There are some candies you only see around Halloween. People have strong feelings about these candies. Poor snaggle-toothed candy corn, it never stood a chance for year-round glory! Who the hell is Mr. Goodbar? Why are Almond Joys so good? “@abeggs obviously you’re out of touch with America,” said Carla Lalli Music. “Never heard of a SNICKERS???” Touché. “How can you sit here and disrespect Reese’s like this?” replied Aliza Abarbanel. “Milk duds = the duds,” womp-womped Sarah Jampel, respecter of molars. “Mounds are so much better than Almond Joy what the heck @abeggs,” Kate Fenoglio piled on. “Halloween is the one time of the year I eat a Butterfinger,” Sasha Levine typed through slippery fingers. “I want to know the psychopaths who walk among us who call them ‘Reesie’s Piecies’’ Christina Chaey whispered. “I once made Halloween decor of Reese Witherspoon and Reese’s products,” Alyse Whitney shared. And with that image in mind, I’ll quietly step out now.