February 23, 2009

Bacon Sausage

Got a food grinder accessory for the kitchenaid today. So what do you do to break in a food grinder?

So now I've got a pile of ground up bacon. Which smells ...very very bacony.


This is your heart.

This is your heart on a lot of bacon.

At this point I feel pretty sick. But Nick tried them.

and is delighted. It's very intensely bacony, with a crisp outside and a chewy inside. I would not eat these on a regular basis. If ever again.

I think we're going to mix the ground bacon into hamburger meat. my other idea is to mix with a touch of maple syrup and cook these into thin disks and put them in the middle of pancakes.

I kind of want to die now.

February 19, 2009

Bacon Mac and Cheese, Brussels Sprouts and Cornbread

We're kind of addicted to Costco. I mean. It's a lot of food for not much money and we sure do go through a lot of food. And they have giant packs of 4 of bacon.

And I kind of had a bunch of leftover cheeses from adventures in the snippins bucket at Whole Foods (where they have a bucket of the tiny bits of leftover cheese and sell them for buck or two or three each. great way to sample cheese!)

I have no idea what kinds of cheeses these are anymore. I know one was a goat gouda. I don't remember much else.

And...these noodles.

OK. I got a rotary grater for Christmas and there was much gratage. And a pile of cheese to show for it.

Aaaand then we chopped up four or so strips of bacon into little pieces and fried them up and Steph got mad at me because I didn't think it was enough fat and there needed to be a little dairy fat soooo BUTTER!

Yup. That's bacon fat and butter. Mmmm. Add a few tablespoons of flour to make roux.

That consistency. Let that cook for a couple of minutes. And then add a cup and a half of milk and stir. And then dump in the cheese and let it melt. Ours was grated very fine so it didn't take long at all. (Edited, thanks Mike!) And it'll thicken. Steph likes to add a little mustard at this stage - it adds a little to the sharpness.

In the meantime boil the noodles to just short of al dente, drain, dump into 13x9 pan and pour the sauce over and shake the pan a bit to distribute. This gets baked at 350 for about 20-30 minutes until brown on top. By the time I got to the pan after it was pulled out, it was too late.

And Steph made these totally tasty lemony Brussels Sprouts and then there was dinner.

AND. with the bacon grease leftover from another dish: we made the Coleman family recipe for cornbread. I will let Bob explain.

"This is Coleman Family Cornbread.

2 cups white corn meal, Half cup flour, 1tsp baking soda, one fourth tsp baking powder, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 eggs, 2 cups buttermilk, 2 tbs bacon grease. The only thing you need is a well seasoned skillet outside of those ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 450, mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Put the skillet and heat it on the stove. While it's heating, add the eggs and buttermilk to the dry ingredients, and mix it all together till it's nice and liquidy. Then put your bacon grease in the skillet, enough to cover the bottom of the skillet, but no more than that.

When the grease starts to smoke, pick up the skillet, pour the grease into the bowl, mix it for a second, then pour it all back into the skillet, and put it into the oven for 28-30 minutes. It ought to come out and you can just turn it over and delicious, yummy, amazing cornbread comes out and you butter it up and eat it."

And you know. It did and it was awesome!

Making up dinner

Dinner tonight was kind of on the fly: there was a request for the use of shrimp and I do have a giant bag of rice that needs to be somewhat used up. This is the thought process once I get home:

Do dishes. Find cutting board. Ooh bacon grease in the fridge. Throw into pan. cut up and onion and some garlic and fry up. Meanwhile go wash rice and throw that into the pan too and let it fry a little. Um. Shit. is this going to be asiany or... not. UHHHH. LEMON PEPPER? paprika? dried chives? ... OH. I HAVE SHERRY VINEGAR. UHHHH. *toss* *saffron* *shrimp* lemon goes with... big pile of spinach!

Et voila, makeshift paella that I didn't know existed yet.

Things I want to make

Bread bowls
Pain d'Epi
Savory Bread Pudding
Kettle Corn

Ready, set, go!

February 17, 2009

Previews of coming attractions

From yesterday's baconfest - an unphotographed Quiche Lorraine, a violated pound of bacon, brussels sprouts with lemon and NO bacon and Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon but with a twist.

Things I want to make THANKS BITTMAN - Fondant Potatoes

February 12, 2009

Clementine Cake

Apparently we all have a crush on Smitten Kitchen's clementine cake, because it's been making the rounds on the blogs.

Being as susceptible to suggestion as we are (when it comes to food), we went and bought a bag of clementines one Saturday and totally forgot about them for a whole week.

Then we boiled the clementines, as per the first step in the recipe. The weirdest thing was they smelled like cake while they were boiling. So anyway, the boiled clementines went into the fridge for four days because nobody had time to make this goddamn cake (but we all wanted to eat it). Then I made it, or something like it.

The Beater+ paddle makes a sort of squeaky noise when it scrapes.

Due to dietary considerations, I wanted to adapt the recipe to be nut-free, which is kind of a tall order when the entire body of the cake consists of ground almonds. I still wanted to have a dense cake, with a similar nutty flavor, so here's what I came up with.

Top to bottom: brown rice flour, ground flaxseed, all-purpose flour

A note on grinding flaxseed: If you screw an empty pasta sauce jar into the base of your blender, you get an awesome way to grind stuff up without having to clean a giant pitcher! I am so going to make pesto this way from now on.

Looks kind of like ground-up almonds.

I added butter just because, you know. Butter.


I buttered and floured a springform pan, then poured in the batter and hoped for the best:

This here is a photo testimony to why you should butter and flour everything before you bake in it. Look at that beautiful clean release. Even plain nonstick doesn't do it this well unless it's brand-spanking-new.

It's done! Looks a little naked, though.
Oh hey I sure do have a Meyer lemon in my fridge that needs using up, and a lot of eggs, and some butter and sugar...


It was delicious. Mellow, sweet, and a little orangey. Texturally, it resembled a dense banana-nut bread, and I am happy to say that there was a bit of nutty flavor from the flaxseed. The lemon curd provided just enough acidity to cut the sweet richness of the cake.

It's even better on the second day.

Clementine Cake
adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Nigella Lawson, who is totally cute.

4 to 5 clementines (about 375grams/slightly less than 1 pound total weight)
6 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons room temperature butter
3/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder

1. Put the clementines in a pot with enough cold water to cover; bring to a boil and cook for 2 hours. Drain and let cool, then cut them in half and remove any seeds. Chop the whole fruit finely in a food processor/blender/by hand.

2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter and flour an 8" round springform pan.

3. Beat the eggs, then add sugar and dry ingredients and butter. Add chopped clementines and mix well.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 375 F for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Meyer Lemon Curd
something I half-assed, with help from the Internet.

2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/4-1/3 cup lemon juice (How tart do you want it? Meyer lemons are sweeter, so if you use regular lemons then I'd say do 1/4 cup juice.)
1 Tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons room temperature butter, cut into pieces

1. In a stainless steel bowl set over a pot of simmering water, whisk the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture becomes thick like sour cream or mayonnaise (about 10 minutes). You can also use a Pyrex bowl if you don't have stainless, but it will take a lot longer to get everything up to the right temperature.

2. Remove from heat immediately and stir in zest, then whisk in pieces of butter gradually until they have been incorporated.

3. Try to let it cool down a bit before you eat it all.

Butter Chicken/Chicken Tikka Masala

I'm going to be a bad food anthropologist here and tell you I have no flipping idea what the difference is between the two. To my uneducated and ungoogled mind, I'm not really sure - because to me it's all a British-based tomatoey/creamy/curryish dish involving tangy chicken. And that I cannot get enough of this and Saag Paneer and once we really needed to figure out how to start making these dishes or be doomed to lifetime indentured servitude to the 12 dollar lunch buffet at Bombay Brasserie or the slightly less doomy trip to Himalaya. (though who am I kidding, all my om noms belong to them)

Thanks to some lovely forumites, I present to you Catbert's Butter Chicken recipe (as modified by me who can't leave well enough alone)!

For marinade the night before
4 Boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup Yogurt
1 tablespoon Garam Masala
1 tablespoon grated garlic
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon grated ginger
pinch of sugar

For the sauce the day of
1 large onion, chopped finely
1/3 cup butter
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons crushed ginger
1 teaspoon chopped green chile pepper
1 teaspoon coriander
1 tablespoon curry powder

1/2 small can tomato paste (7 oz?)
1 small can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz?)
1 teapoon salt
1 cup whipping cream

chopped fresh cilantro

Night before - chop your chicken into 1.5 inch cubes. In a container that can fit all that chicken and a mess of yogurt and spices - add your chicken and the yogurt and all that tasty goodness. This will make your chicken tender and tangy and your best friend.

Pre bath

bath! and what the container of garam masala looks like. But I am pretty sure you can make your own.


Ok. Now I'm going to be perfectly honest. I didn't remember to photograph anything until everything was done and plated. So it's imagination time!

In front of you is a vivid picture of the usual yellow dutch oven with a nob of melted butter and diced onions that are now slightly translucent with a brownish tone from the curry/garam masala. There are bits of garlic in there as well. Here, if I had ginger and green chilis, they would also be frying in the white bottom of the pan.

In this picture, you see the entire mess of yogurt and chicken added. It looks hopeless. There will be no dinner, only a yogurty mess!

The yogurty mess is cooked until the meat looks unevil and nicely cooked on the outside. There is a picture of this to prove that there is indeed hope for dinner.

In go the tomatoes. Stir well to ensure that all the tomato paste is incorporated. It's going to look a little grainy cause yogurt gets sort of unhappy especially when it meets tomatoes. But trust me, they eventually figure out their differences.

Add the cream and stir. Cover and simmer until you figure out your side dishes; remembering to check on this frequently and make sure the sauce is good.

There is a picture of a spoon covered in sauce and it is the color of a good tomato bisque only there's a bitemark out of it. Over time the level of the sauce will go down a bit due to the diligence of the cook ensuring the sauce is perfect.

it's really good sauce.

While this is simmering - make the rice. White basmati rice is appropriate. I heat up a couple of tablespoons of oil first and toast a couple of cardamom pods and a small cinnamon stick before I add half a chopped onion and a little garlic. After that gets hot again, I add the rice - 1 cup of rice to one cup of water for as much as you're making that day. stir up, cover, put your heat on medium and leave it alone for 20 minutes. after 20 minutes, cut the heat, fluff the rice and serve with the curry.

The side dish is some leftover cauliflower lightly blanched with chickpeas tossed in warm olive oil with a little curry powder and garlic and parsley.

February 9, 2009

Dinner tonight

OK. Don't really have pictures of this, but I wanted to share:

This is part of the Mark Bittman does Italy article from Men's Health - Bryan first told me about this article and then brought the magazine over which led to a pretty bitter hostage exchange over the holidays - But I make and freeze various variations of the soup for lunches and make the chicken when I need something easy, light tasting and comforting.

Braised Chicken - per Mark Bittman
Chicken parts - I like to use thighs since they are cheap and braise well and are extremely plentiful. But if you're a white meat person that works as well.

1 cup white wine

a few cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped fine

tablespoon of rosemary

a lemon

Personally I skin the chicken parts and let them sit in the pot for a while until all the fat comes out. Then I skim and save the fat save for a couple of tablespoons to fry the chicken in. Otherwise use olive oil.

Brown the chicken parts. Be patient.

Remove the browned chicken parts and set aside. Fry up the garlic and rosemary in the remaining fat, then deglaze the pan with the white wine. (see below. I also deglaze myself) I also like to add lemon and the zest at this stage.

Return the chicken parts to the pan, turn in the juices, cover and turn to low. Leave for 20-30 minutes to whenever you feel like coming back to dinner. if you let it sit for long enough it will fall off the bone. Serve with the braising liquid and whatever vegetables and starches you like.

Seriously, I love braising things. takes very little effort, is pretty much still magic to me and lets me do the dishes or watch The Wire while I wait for dinner to finish.

Leftovers soup

Ok. First of all. It's been one of those days. up at 3 am, work is work and I picked up some things at the store to make dinner.

Yes I needed that ok. Wait.

Ok better.

Incidentally. That's the 28 oz wineglass. We saw it at Crate and Barrel one day and Stephanie loves me enough to buy things for me that she knows are a terrible idea.

Ok. By the way. The bottle is GONE. Granted there was a generous glass in dinner (not documented tonight, but I will eventually because it's delicious and simple as well) and a generous glass to Matt, but the rest of it is a 28 oz wine glass to me.


Leftovers soup. This is what happens when it's Sunday and everyone has wilty veggies from the week before and it's time to improvise.

I bought two bundles of kale the week before and steph had some sprouting potatoes and some wilting spinach. I also had some very pathetic carrots and emo celery and onions on the verge of going off. Oh and a quarter pound of bacon that I'm pretty sure we last used in the french toast experiment. TIME TO DIE.

Chunked up the bacon into about thumbsized pieces. Fried those up while peeling and chopping up the carrots, onion and celery. When all the delicious is extracted (there is a puddle of grease and crispy bacon. I took off some of the grease and saved it. because I'm one of those people. leave enough grease to coat the bottom of the pan) let the onion join the party. then the celery after about three minutes. and then the carrots. add a little salt, stir and scrape that awesome fond in, and cover. Before you cover it, it looks like this!

Yeah. Oh baby. hello. How you doin.

Ok if yesterday, if alone, if single and halfway into the bottle of wine the way I am now? This would be my blushing bride and I would teach it the ways of the world. But thats not where we are right now. And there are many things to come.

WHILE you are being very patient and letting that all hang out in the pot at medium heat, you are being productive and peeling and cubing potatoes, about half an inch on each side. And then you toss those in the mess, WHICH, if properly treated, will have let loose all the delicious liquid of flavor. Seriously, this is how you should always make soup.

Then kale. I chop off the ends and cut the leaves into strips and then jam them on top of the craziness in the pot then cover.

It eventually shrinks down. Promise. Threw the spinach in there too.

now that's fairly thick. I added a couple of cups of water, about a quarter cup of chicken broth powder and a small can of tomato paste. And a little cream. cause. you know. It was there. Thicken or thin to taste. I like to thicken either with a slurry of flour and water or if you're really decadent about it, a mash of flour and butter. Which is not only delicious, but keeps your soup from lumping.


And it was delicious. The acidity of the tomatoes cuts that gross sandpaper tooth feeling spinach can give sometimes and the kale was a little wilty and sweet and good even for kale. And it really never fails - no matter what we have on hand,I always wind up with exactly a pot of soup - which feeds 6 and then provides generous leftovers for two for the next day for lunch.

February 8, 2009

Those Curry Horns

My pictures of the making of are miserable - so you just get the baking phase.


pound of beef
large onion chopped up
few cloves of garlic
cubed and boiled potatoes
peas - if you like them
tablespoon of garam masala
tablespoon or so of curry powder
teaspoon of Sriracha (My spices are a bit old and needed some zing)

Brown the beef. Drain a little, but it won't hurt to have extra fat in this to bind it as it cools (gross, i know). Add the onions and let them cook for about five minutes before you throw in the garlic. toss in the spices - the whole mess should take on a yellow tinge.

Meanwhile, you are boiling cubed potatoes until just soft and rounded around the edges.

We threw the beef mixture and the drained potatoes into the kitchenaid and beat it for a while on the paddle attachment until it was mushy then added the peas and threw it in the fridge to cool.

crust! (from here but we can't leave anything alone.
2 cups of pastry flour
2/3rds cup of a fat (we used butter. until the second batch. then we used my reserve of bacon fat. i'm. that person)
1 egg
a few tablespoons of cold water (or buttermilk if you're us and have buttermilk)

blend the pastry flour and the fat until it looks like rough breadcrumbs. Then add the egg and slowly add the cold liquid while mixing until the mess just holds together in a ball when pressure is applied. PIE CRUST RULES. wrap the ball in plastic wrap or whatever and fridge for an hour while watching battlestar galactica.

Steph rolled out the dough to what, 1/8th inch thickness? And then cut circles about six inches across or whatever the diameter of the bottom of my food processor bowl is.

and then insert wrap and fold! (per wrapping instructions of Joy.

Eggwash and Tadah!

Baked these at 400 for 20 minutes


They keep well in the fridge, can be eaten cold or nuked in the microwave. Very tasty little snacks. Hell, you can put anything in the little pocket and make pasties or hot pocket type snacks. But we almost never have leftover dough.

February 5, 2009

Carrot soup

It turns out I am a squirrel when it comes to produce, because I've managed to stockpile 3 bags of carrots, in various stages of consumption. My subconscious is very concerned about maintaining adequate carrot reserves.

What to do with a glut of carrots? Puree them into soup!

One onion, some chicken stock, an errant yam, some half and half, and a bit too much curry powder also made it into the soup. The pine nuts make for tasty garnish.

While I waited for the soup to cook, I made fennel oil following the suggestion of that book that tells us what to do. I pulsed the everloving fuck out of fennel seeds in my food processor, then stuck em in a jar with olive oil.

The fennel oil views you with indifference.

I am supposed to let the oil infuse for a week or so, then filter and bottle and probably use in salad dressing or on pork. If the fennel-seed paste has any remaining flavor, I may make a facsimile of Italian sausage.

February 4, 2009

Donut pudding.

You heard right, I said DONUT pudding.
It's what you do when you have a lot of leftover donuts going stale, and you don't want to eat stale donuts, and bread pudding sounds tasty because you haven't had that in a while.

Inspiration found here, although you were right to figure I wasn't going to follow the recipe as-is. For one, I didn't have that many donuts.

Just two giant apple fritters and two glazed.

Bread pudding is basically really messy French toast done in the oven. You tear up stale bread and soak it in an egg custard and then you bake it.
I did not add any sugar to the custard, as the donuts were already glazed and that was plenty sweet enough.

These were the eggs Dan brought home. They are labeled "JUMBO." They are the biggest damn eggs I've ever seen.
So. I tore up the donuts and put them in a pan, beat 4 eggs with enough half and half to make 6 cups' worth, and then poured it over the donuts:

At this point I felt a little sad that there wasn't any jelly in my donut pudding, so I added gobs of seedless blackberry jelly.

I didn't say it was going to be pretty. Messy French toast, okay?

The pan went into a 325F oven for about 30 minutes, after which I turned the oven off and let it sit inside while we ate dinner and watched Lost. Then this happened:

I also made a whiskey sauce upon request, since apparently that is the traditional accompaniment to bread pudding. But this is DONUT PUDDING, so there.


We seem to be on a Chinese food kick lately. Namely, Chinese food that we grew up eating (and were therefore thoroughly sick of once we moved out). I've spent the past few years teaching myself to cook Western food, but now it looks like the pendulum is swinging back the other way. It took 6 years for me to want to eat this again:

Ma po tofu

This + a bowl of steamed rice is a tasty dinner.