Showing posts with label smoked bacon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label smoked bacon. Show all posts

Monday, August 4, 2014

BLT (Bacon Lettuce Tomato) Muffins #MuffinMonday

Sun-dried tomatoes, crispy smoked bacon and still crunchy baby gem lettuce cooked briefly in bacon fat make a fabulous BLT muffin! Perfect for breakfast or snacking on the go.

Baby gem lettuce, quick fried in bacon fat, is a treat all on its own. Added to muffin batter with crispy bacon and sun-dried tomatoes, it makes a fabulous baked BLT that is handy for breakfast or snack time on the go.
I pride myself on being an adventurous eater. That said, the first time I encountered cooked lettuce was in the kitchen of a Dutch friend who was making lettuce soup. The sound of it didn’t appeal to me at all so I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty it was.

Since then I have enjoyed peas simmered with lettuce and butter the French way, grilled Romaine in salads and wilted lettuce cooked in bacon fat, in the Southern tradition. It wasn’t something I remember either of my grandmothers making but that doesn’t stop me from adopting it now.

For this week’s Muffin Monday and the start of Bacon Month, a BLT muffin with baby gem lettuce seared in bacon fat seemed like the obvious choice! I used my easy to make homemade sun-dried tomatoes but store bought would work just as nicely.

BLT (Bacon Lettuce Tomato) Muffins

4 1/2+ oz or 130g streaky smoked bacon (I used two thick cut slices and two normal slices because that’s what I had on hand.)
3/4 oz or 20g sun-dried tomatoes
3 small baby gem lettuces – about 7oz or 200g in total
2 cups or 250g flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon English mustard powder
Black pepper
1/4 cup or 60ml bacon fat and/or canola or other vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup or 240ml milk

Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water and set aside to plump.

Fry the bacon until crispy and pour the fat into a 1/4 cup or 60ml measuring cup. Top up, if necessary to the full amount with oil.  Set aside. Do not wash the residual grease out of the pan! We are going to fry the lettuce in it. Drain the bacon on some paper towels.

Trim the brown end off of your baby gem lettuces, being careful to leave enough of the cores so they don’t fall apart. Now cut them each into halves.

Heat the bacon pan until quite hot and lay the baby gems in it, cut side down. Fry just a few minutes until browned and then turn them over carefully.

Brown the other side. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Cut the cores out of the lettuces and chop the leaves. I ended up with about 1 cupful of lettuce.

Drain the tomatoes and chop them into smaller bits, reserving 12 bigger pieces to garnish the muffins, if desired. Chop the crispy bacon finely, once again reserving 12 bigger pieces to garnish the muffins, if desired.

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin pan by lining it with paper muffin cups or by greasing it thoroughly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine your flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and mustard powder plus a few good grinds of fresh black pepper. My grinder actually has a mix of peppercorns, if you are wondering about the pink and green flecks.

In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and room temperature bacon fat/oil.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredient bowl and mix slightly.

Add in the chopped bacon, chopped lettuce and chopped tomatoes. Fold gently to combine.

Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. Top with reserved bacon and tomato, if you kept some aside.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool slightly in the pan. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.


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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Beef Short Rib Bourguignon

Beef slow braised in red wine is a classic dish needing just a little hands-on work and then a lot of hands-free oven time, resulting in meat that falls off the bones and gravy that you’ll want to slurp up with a spoon.

This week my Sunday Supper family, along with our host, the fabulous Alice from Hip Foodie Mom, is bringing you recipes that require five ingredients or less. The powers that be decided that water, oil, salt and pepper would be “freebies” and don’t need to be included in our count, thank goodness! I decided to adapt a recipe for beef Bourguignon that normally has way more ingredients because I thought it would still be possible to make something rich and flavorful if I chose my ingredients with care and thought.

Each item had to add to the flavor spectrum and bring multiple hues to the finished dish. The beef must contain bones and a goodly helping of fatty meat to add rich beefiness so I chose short ribs over a leaner cut. The red wine would contribute tang and depth as well as help to tenderize the meat as it cooks. The bacon would be honey- or brown sugar-smoked, adding sweetness and smokiness to counterbalance the acidity of the wine. The wild mushrooms would add an earthy undertone to the finished dish which often includes fresh mushrooms. And finally, the shallots would bring sweetness and body to the broth and the braising beef ribs. Using shallots instead of normal onions also allowed me to set aside the smallest ones to add in near the end of the cooking time to mimic the pearl onions that are often included in traditional Bourguignon recipes. I would have dearly loved to add a sprinkle of chopped parsley right at the end, but that would be breaking the rules, and I must admit, I didn’t really miss it for flavor. The color just would have been pretty.

3 1/4 lbs or about 1.475kg beef short ribs
1/2 oz by weight or 14g dried assorted wild mushrooms (I used half the bag pictured.)
1.1 lbs or 500g shallots
5 slices - thick cut or 175g brown sugar or honey smoked bacon (or some other sweet smoked version – maple would probably work too.)
2 cups or 475ml full-bodied red wine
Sea salt – I use Maldon’s flakey salt.
Freshly ground black pepper

Season the short ribs on all sides with a good sprinkling of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover with cling film and set aside.

Meanwhile, start prepping the rest of your items.

Put your dried mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and cover them with about a cup or 240ml boiling water. Set aside to soak.

Peel and slice your shallots very finely, setting aside all the little bitty ones and leaving them whole.

All the bottom ones were sliced, The little ones up top were saved for the last hour of cooking time.

Slice the bacon into small strips and panfry them until they are crispy, stirring often to make sure the pieces don’t burn.

Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and put in on a saucer.

Use the bacon grease to fry the short ribs, a few at a time, until they are browned and golden on both sides. Don’t crowd the pan or they’ll just steam instead of browning.

When all the meat is browned, pile the sliced shallots into the pan and cover it with a tightly fitting lid.

Preheat your oven to 275°F or 130°C.

Cook the shallots over a medium heat, lifting the cover and stirring occasionally to loosen all the lovely sticky bits off the bottom and sides of the pan.

Meanwhile, scoop the mushrooms out of their soaking water with a slotted spoon and chopping them up a little if the pieces are bigger than bite-sized.

Pour the mushroom water through a very fine mesh sieve, being careful to stop just before you get to the sediment at the bottom.

When the shallots are soft, add in the red wine and cook down until about half the liquid has evaporated away.

Now add the mushrooms and the strained mushroom soaking water. Stir well.

Nestle the ribs in the shallot-y, mushroom-y broth and top with the crispy bacon, making sure to add any juice that accumulated in the bottom of the rib or bacon plates. We can’t let any of that goodness go to waste.

Cover the meat with a piece of heavy-duty foil and then put on the cover.

Slow roast in your preheated oven and set a timer for two hours.

After two hours, take the pan out of the oven and tuck the reserved small shallots in the juice around the ribs.

Put the foil back on and replace the lid.  Cook for a further hour.

When the ribs are done, use a spoon to skim off as much of the oil as you can.  The gravy is fabulous just like this, or you can add a bit more water or wine to thin it. I added just a little water and stirred it around.

Serve this short rib Bourguignon with something capable of soaking up some of that lovely gravy. I highly recommend a mash of mixed root vegetables, yams, potatoes and parsnips. Or perhaps just a green vegetable and a crusty loaf of bread.


Do you need more “five ingredients or less” recipes to simplify your time in the kitchen? Look no farther than this list of wonderful links!

Appetizers, Salads and Starters

Chicken and Spring Greens Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette from Crazy Foodie Stunts
Fennel Citrus Salad from An Appealing Plan
Guacamole Deviled Eggs from Ruffles and Truffles
Kale-Had-a-Hard-Day Salad from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Latkes with Smoked Salmon and Caviar from Confessions of a Culinary Diva
Salmon and Cucumber “Noodle” Salad from girlichef
Tomato Soup from Run DMT
Tomato, Avocado, and Cucumber Summer Salad from My Healthy Eating Habits
Tuna, Burrata and Black Olive Salad from The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
Wasabi Cream Cheese Ham Salad from Neighborfood
Yogurt Dill Vegetable Dip from Melanie Makes

Side and Accompaniments

3-Ingredient Beer Bread from Take A Bite Out of Boca
Candied Apple Jelly from What Smells So Good?
Homemade Ricotta from Seduction in the Kitchen
Indian-style Roasted Cauliflower from kimchi MOM

Main Dishes
Baked Asparagus and Eggs from Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
BBQ Foiled Chicken from Meal Diva
Beans and Egg Sandwich from Basic N Delicious
Beef Short Rib Bourguignon from Food Lust People Love
Chicken and Potato Bake with Meyer Lemons from Cravings of a Lunatic
Chicken Asparagus Roll-ups from The Dinner-Mom
Chicken with Olives from Noshing With The Nolands
Crock Pot Beer Chicken from Our Table for Seven
Easy Crock Pot Pulled Chicken from Flour On My Face
Garlic Butter Shrimp from Savvy Eats
Greek Chicken Burgers from Country Girl In The Village
Grilled Caprese Salad Sandwich from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen
Grilled Steak with Garlic Cumin Rub from Cooking Chat
Honey Almond Salmon from Family Foodie
Lemon Basil Carbonara from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Potato Pancakes (Reibekuchen) from The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
Salmon with Tiger Dill Sauce from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas from Supper for a Steal
Slow Cooker Turkey Breast from Nosh My Way
Smothered Pork Chop Cups from Having Fun Saving
Spaghetti Squash with Simple Red Sauce from Momma’s Meals
Strawberry Red Wine Glazed Salmon from Cupcakes & Kale Chips

Dessert and Beverages

3-Ingredient Nutella Truffles from URBAN BAKES
4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cherry Chip Cookies from Ninja Baking
4-Ingredient Butterscotch Peanut Butter Marshmallow Sweets from Shockingly Delicious
5-Minute Strawberry Sherbet from The Wimpy Vegetarian
Baked Custard Cups from Soni’s Food
Best Ever Coconut Macaroons from Hip Foodie Mom
Chocolate & Peanut Butter Squares from Killer Bunnies, Inc
Chocolate Orange Ice Cream from Gluten Free Crumbley
Coconut Cream Mango Mousse from Sue’s Nutrition Buzz
Coconut Crusted Chocolate Ganache Pie from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Flourless Chocolate Cake from Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Golden Oreo Rice Krispies Treats from Pies and Plots
Orchid Panna Cotta from Manu’s Menu
Oreo Cookies and Cream Fudge from Alida’s Kitchen
Peanut Butter Buckeyes from Peanut Butter and Peppers
Raspberry Pina Colada Ice Cream from Try Anything Once Culinary
Sopapilla Cheesecake Bites from The Weekend Gourmet
The Ginger Sass Cocktail from Nik Snacks
Vanilla Bean Honey Ice Cream from The Foodie Army Wife
Vanilla Pudding from Magnolia Days

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Smothered Cabbage with Pork

Pork pan-fried until the edges are crunchy and caramelized, smothered with plenty of onions and cabbage, seasoned with chilies and freshly ground black pepper is home cooking at its Louisiana best.

In southern Louisiana, we like to smother things. My mother says that growing up, she never had a crunchy vegetable. Green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, okra, eggplant, you name it, it was cooked till soft and mushy. Now when she’s making maque choux, she cuts the fresh corn off the cob and barely introduces it to the heat and calls it done. I’m really not sure what my grandmother would think. We all think it’s very tasty.

My maternal grandmother has been mentioned on these “pages” before. She was a woman who had it all, before we even knew what that looked like. She ran her own business with my grandfather, raised three girls, kept a tidy house and cooked a full meal for dinner (what she called the midday meal) every day of the week, with an extra full menu on Sunday. Their major appliance store was on Center St. in a small town and their house was right behind it. She’d nip away to get dinner started and leave a pot roast or round steak, smothered with onions, simmering on the stove while she attended to customers and answered the phones. She and my grandfather would close the store for dinner and open again after they had eaten and they had watched their stories, which is what they called the soap operas. The characters on The Guiding Light  and As the World Turns were part of daily life and their adventures were discussed as if they were neighbors. They had been watching those characters live their lives for almost 20 years so by the mid-1970s, when I started eavesdropping, the conversations were candid and, frankly, a little bit alarming. John Dixon’s wife Kim wants to divorce him! He forced himself on her. Is it rape since he’s still her husband? This was pretty radical stuff for daytime television. Even my grandfather was hooked.  If I sat quietly on the periphery, the grownups never even noticed me there, with my wide eyes and bigger ears.

Anyway, the point of all this is that dishes that could simmer, covered, were easy favorites for a woman trying to run a store, cook a meal, and keep up with her stories, and this cabbage with pork was no exception. It’s still one of our favorite dishes so, when I make it, I make a BIG pot. We can eat this for days!

This week’s Sunday Supper theme is Eat Your Greens in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Our host with the most is DB from Crazy Foodie Stunts and we have a great round up of green dishes and drinks for you.  Make sure to scroll on down for the link list.

Ingredients - for six to eight servings
4 thick pork chops, bone in (Approximate weight 2 lb 10 oz or 1200g)
White vinegar (just a few tablespoons)
Sea salt flakes
Black pepper
Monosodium glutamate (optional) – my grandmother used something called Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer. But I use MSG since none of us have a sensitivity to it.
2 heads cabbage – I used one normal cabbage and one Savoy – total weight 7 3/4 bs or 3500g
1- 3 small red chilies – This is my addition. My grandmother would have seasoned this dish with cayenne and black pepper so if I don’t have fresh hot chilies, I do that instead.
2 large onions (Approximate weight 1 lb or 500g)
11 1/4 oz or 320g smoked slab bacon
Olive oil

Cut the bone off the pork chops, leaving a little meat for those who like to chew the bones, by which I mean me.  Cut the meat into small chunks and sprinkle the bones and chunks with some plain white vinegar. (I keep one bottle with a lid that has holes cut into it for easy sprinkling.)

The vinegar helps tenderize the meat as it marinates.
Season the meat liberally with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, cayenne and, if desired, MSG.

Put the pork into a bowl and toss it around so that all the pieces are well seasoned. Cover with cling film and set aside to marinate.

Cut the bacon into similarly sized chunks.

Core your cabbage and then slice it into thin pieces. Set aside a couple of handfuls of the very greenest pieces for adding to the pot right at the end. Smothered cabbage may taste delicious but it’s not the prettiest dish. Adding some bright green at the end helps with this.

Peel and slice your onions thinly. Split the red chilies down the middle then mince them finely.

In a big pot, big enough to hold all your ingredients, and that has a tightly fitting lid, heat a good drizzle of olive oil and start to pan fry the pork, including the bacon, a few pieces at a time.

As they brown, remove them to a plate and keep pan frying until all the pork is wonderfully browned and caramelized. Add a little more olive oil along the way, if necessary.

Once all the pork is browned, you should have some lovely sticky stuff left in the bottom of the pot too. Add another drizzle of olive oil then the sliced onions and chilies.

Pop the lid on and let the onions sweat for a few minutes.  Use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape all the delicious brown bits off the pot.

When the onions are translucent, add the pork back into the pot, making sure to scrape in any juice that pooled in the bottom of your plate.

Right here I need to tell that my grandmother would have cut the cabbage into larger pieces and put it all in at once and cooked till it was smothered down and completely soft. So feel free to use her method if that appeals to you. I add mine in a bit at a time so that when the pork is cooked and tender, there is cabbage of varying degrees of doneness in the one pot, all the way from melted into almost nothing to still just a bit crunchy.

So here it goes, my way. Add about one third of the cabbage to the pot and put the lid back on. No need to stir yet. Simmer over a medium low heat until the cabbage is wilted and soft, about 20-25 minutes.

Remove the lid and give the whole thing a good stir.  Add in another third of the cabbage and put the lid back on. Simmer for another 20-25 minutes before removing the lid and stirring the pot. The second batch of cabbage should be wilted now too.

Finally, add in all but the couple of handfuls of the greenest cabbage leaves and put the lid back on again. Simmer, covered, for another 20-25 minutes.

Stir the pot and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Finally, add in the last green handfuls of cabbage and stir. Cook for just a few more minutes until those greens are slightly wilted but still a little crunchy.

These were the outer leaves of the Savoy cabbage. I saved them because they are a much brighter green than the normal cabbage. 


Eat Your Greens this week! Now you have no excuse not to!

Green Light Appetizers and Sides
Getting Greens Through Salads
Entreés That Will Leave You Green With Envy
Desserts and Beverages That Will Make Others Turn Green

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Squid with Garlic Chili Olive Oil

Despite the title, this wonderful tapas dish also has smoked bacon pan-fried to crispy nuggets of deliciousness, along with the chilies, garlic and squid. And please don’t forget the squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the end. It elevates this dish to brilliant like a flood of hot sunshine on a sparkling white Majorcan beach.

Sunday Supper is getting the party started this week with tapas recipes. Delicious bites or snacks that are made especially for eating with drinks. And since, as I mentioned in my #CocktailDay post, this is my birthday week, I'm going to pretend that they are all for my own virtual party. Yay! Such fun!

When we were living in Paris, we took advantage of charter flights to head south and get away from the cold, damp winters that extended way too long into months we felt should have been quite rightfully spring. I’ve already written about Portugal here but one of our other favorite holidays was to the island of Majorca. To date this is our only venture into Spanish territory but I remember it so fondly, with its fresh seafood, white sandy beaches and clear, aquamarine waters that I knew immediately what I wanted to cook when the tapas theme was announced for Sunday Supper.

Majorcan traditional cooking uses mostly seafood and pork, so a dish of bacon and squid, with some garlic and chilies was perfect! I don’t mean to imply that this dish is authentic in any way or that I remember eating it there. I do want to say that it brought me back, in a way that only the clean smell of the sea in seafood and a good imagination can. I can almost feel the sand between my toes.

That little blondie is our elder daughter - Majorca, 1994

4 oz or 115g smoked slab bacon
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 or 2 small red hot chilies
Olive oil
1 lb or 450g whole fresh squid (I prefer baby squid, if I can get them.) Or about 9 oz or 260g already cleaned and sliced squid rings.
Sea salt flakes
Small handful fresh parsley leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked off
1/4 large lemon

Slice your garlic thinly and split the red chilies in half lengthwise. Chop your parsley and fresh thyme. Set aside.

Chop your bacon into the small, slim chunks the French like to call lardons.

Pan-fry them with a good drizzle of olive oil over a low heat while you clean and slice the squid.

For those of you using squid rings, you can skip this next part. Move ahead to where we are making sure the bacon is golden and crispy.

To clean the squid, first grab hold of the part that has the tentacles and pull it out of the tube-y bit. (I tried to find the technical terms for you but I didn’t think they’d be helpful after all. Who would have known what the mantle is? Yeah, me either.)

You can discard the leggy body bits from the squid but I happen to like the look of the little tentacles once they are cooked. If you agree, cut that part off just below the eyes and discard the part with the eyes. The ink sac is in that part. If you happen to pierce it, just wash everything off with water and put to dry on a paper towel. The squid ink is harmless. In fact, a lot of cooks use it to color pasta or add it to sauces.

Run your finger around inside of the tube-y bit until you find the hard thing that feels and looks like plastic. Pull it out. It should be almost as long as your squid tube so if it breaks off short, fish around and get the rest of it out and discard.

See, that thing. Take it out and throw it away.

Go check on the bacon. It should be starting to render the fat and fry gently. Give it a stir.

If you do decide to keep the leggy bit, turn it over and pinch out the hard bit with the black spot in the center and discard it.

Go check on the bacon. Give it another stir and make sure it isn’t burning.

Now peel off all the colored stuff from the outside of the squid tubes. You can use your hands but the easiest way is to rub it off with dry paper towels and then discard them. Rinse your squid in clean water and put it on paper towels to dry.

Your squid is clean! Slice it into wide rings.

Direct your attention to the bacon and turn the heat up a little if it’s not golden and crispy yet.

When it is golden and crispy, add in the garlic and chilies.

Sauté briefly until the garlic starts to brown around the edges and then put all the squid in at once. Give it a good stir. The squid should turn white and start to curl up.

Now is the time to sprinkle with sea salt and then the parsley and thyme. Give the whole thing a good stir.

Add in another generous drizzle of olive oil. Flavored olive oil is the best for dipping bread in so don’t be shy!

Squeeze in the juice of your lemon, give the dish one more good stir, and serve with slices of a fresh crusty loaf of French baguette.

Food Lust People Love: A wonderfully fragrant tapas dish with smoked bacon pan-fried to crispy nuggets of deliciousness, along with the chilies, garlic and squid. You'll love this Squid with Garlic Chili Olive Oil.

Join our Sunday Supper host, Conni from Cosmopolitan Cornbread and travel with us to Spain or some other sunny clime for a festival of tapas.

When you are eating tapas, you need a glass of wine: Best Wines To Pair With Tapas from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.

Pin Squid with Bacon and Garlic Chili Olive Oil!

Food Lust People Love: A wonderfully fragrant tapas dish with smoked bacon pan-fried to crispy nuggets of deliciousness, along with the chilies, garlic and squid. You'll love this Squid with Garlic Chili Olive Oil.

And for those of you who scrolled all the way to the bottom, I reward you with two more Majorca holiday photos. :) Thanks for stopping by!