Fresh green beans and I don’t get along, I’ve never been able to cook them right. Maybe that will be one of my summer goals, to finally figure out cooked fresh green beans! I love canned green beans though. It’s another one of those turn arounds from when I was a kid. When I was a kid I hated them but since I didn’t like most veg that was okay.
Elephant garlic is not just giant garlic although it is closely related. It has a really mild garlic taste so it’s okay to use a lot of it. You do not want to use regular garlic in a straight across swap unless you are really into garlic (like me!).
Use the best bacon you can find (like there’s bad bacon, ha!). I used Trader Joe’s Black Forest bacon which is one of the best bacon’s I’ve had. They seem to have tried to follow the real Black Forest method which you can read about here. Be careful when cooking it, it cooks fast and must have a high sugar content as it burns fast.
This is a total fake for one of those all day kind of recipes, it doesn’t take very long at all. You could serve it as a side by I frequently it as an entrée with some toast. Continue reading →
Tomorrow, April 23, is Shakespeare’s birthday. After almost 500 years people are still remaking his work. Joss Whedon has a version of Much Ado About Nothing coming out this summer with Nathan Fillion as Dogberry. I don’t know Joss; I’m not such a fan of Shakespearian speech in films set in modern times but I like ya so I’ll probably give it a view. My favorite version is this one from Kenneth Branagh.
What to make for one of the greatest writers that ever lived? Since I’m a history geek of course I instantly decided that it should be something he would have recognized. Problem is the food we eat has changed a great deal since his time. Shakespeare lived during an exciting time. The cross cultural food exchange that began with the “finding” of the “New World” was just getting underway. And while turkey was readily accepted, “Tastes like swan, try it!” many other now popular foods did not. I finally decided on shepherd’s pie, which is basically a casserole of mashed potatoes over stew. He’d recognize the dish if not all the ingredients in it. In his day they would have used mashed parsnips or turnips instead of potatoes and of course no tomato sauce or corn. I’m not sure how much garlic they used in England at the time either.
The next thing I decided is that I had to go big. The bard strikes me as someone who liked the good life and liked to live large. He might not have been able to live it very often, writers then and now struggle to make a living, but something over the top seemed appropriate. I added every think I like in mashed potatoes.
Some people get all picky about shepherd’s pie and claim it’s not the real thing if it’s not made with lamb. I say phooey. Shepherd’s pie is a peasant dish and I’m pretty sure they made it out of whatever they could catch to put in the pot. Besides, my farmer was out of ground lamb. Make it out of whatever kind of red meat you can catch. I would stay away from poultry as it wouldn’t have the right texture for the stew.
Be careful of it under the broiler, it browns fast. This may have been the first time I’ve used the broiler in this oven and I set the broiler on high. Luckily the topping caramelizes before it actually burns so if it’s a bit “browner” than you would like it might still be okay. The recipe doesn’t call for parsley but that’s because I forgot to add it. I had just spread the mashed potatoes over the stew when I realized the parsley was still sitting on the counter. I would totally add it next time. If you use fresh parsley add it when you take the stew off the heat and before the mashed potatoes. You could also add it to the potatoes; chives would be another good addition to them. Continue reading →
The dressing goes together relatively fast. Once the bacon is cooked it just takes minutes to finish up.
This salad really doesn’t keep well, most dressed salads don’t. I did have leftovers though and trying to be frugal I drained the salad really well, moved it to a sealable container, and decided to see what it was like the next day. It was okay. The flavor was still really good but the texture and looks were, well, very wilted. It’s also pretty salty the next day. Rather than eat it cold, as I did, you could try heating it and have cooked spinach instead of salad. All the ingredients would stand up to a sauté, as long as it was quick. Continue reading →
So these are incredibly easy. They actually came about because I was trying to clean out the fridge, you never know what your going to find in there. It will also be easy to figure out how many to make. Figure out how many person you need times the amount of people, then repeat this recipe that many times. The recipe makes one stuffed mushroom.
You can always jazz up the flavor by mixing herbs into the cream cheese. In hindsight I probably should have used some yogurt to loosen up the cream cheese a bit so that would melt better but I really liked the clean straightforward taste with the recipe as it is. Continue reading →
The last of my cherry tomatoes had finally ripened. Did you know that if you bring your green tomatoes in at the end of the growing season they will most likely continue to ripen? They in no way compare to the luscious orbs you get during the summer but they will be at least as good if not better than the kind you find in the grocery store this time of year.
I kept just a few this year, my harvest wasn’t very good, but it’s entirely possible to keep quite a few. I’ve layered them in boxes with newspaper before and it worked great. Every so often you need to go through and pick out the ones that are ripe or have decided to give up and rot.
So, what to do with these last reminders of the summer harvest? Well it just so happens that I had an avocado just sitting around waiting to be used. Bacon was a natural next step, I find it to be a natural next step to many things. This salad feels both rich and not rich at the same time, it’s hard to explain. I had it with a baked potato but it would be lovely with a big crusty piece of bread. You could also serve it as a side salad, it would go particularly well with steak. Continue reading →
This recipe originated through my friends Baconfest party she threw last winter. Yes, it was as awesome as it sounds. It was potluck and everyone brought a dish containing bacon. Even my Jewish vegan coworker had a good time (she didn’t want to miss a party and she brought fakin’ bacon, it’s not bad). I completely went overboard of course and brought like four or five dishes with about four different kinds of bacon. Most of the dishes are waiting to be refined but as I try not to eat bacon too often it can take a while. This recipe has been ready but idling waiting for a rainy day. Since rainy days have found us, I thought I’d better get it posted.
The recipe for the caramel is one that I had tried a few years ago but found so addictive that I decided I shouldn’t keep the recipe. Seriously, I made a batch of this caramel corn with white and dark chocolate chips and almonds and then I took it to a meeting. It was totally disruptive, people were constantly going back for more, and then as the supply got low they started to (somewhat playfully) bicker over it. It was like crack; in fact I called it Caramel Crack Corn. I felt the recipe was a little too dangerous at the time and didn’t write it down. I learned something at that meeting though; taking highly processed, sugary sweets to a meeting of people who rarely indulge in sweets is a bad, bad idea. However for Baconfest, I decided to resurrect and recreate the recipe. It was absolutely as addictive as I remembered.
So, without further ado I give to you an absolutely addictive snack/dessert now with added bacon! Continue reading →
This recipe came about from my house warming party. I was going for a BLT dip but found the roasted peppers in the cupboard and decided that would be better. Something about a deadline and not having a fully formulated recipe that makes decisions so much quicker. Those timelines never quite work out for me. There I was planning all these great recipes to try out on my friends (never pass up an opportunity to use them as guinea pigs) and somehow the day raced on by without everything getting done and I found myself at the Trader Joe’s an hour before the party picking up heat and serve horderves. It could have been that I had been sick all month, it could have been that the house still had boxes of stuff all over the place that morning, but it could very well be that I was yet again trying to stuff more than would ever fit into my day. Luckily the dip was made the night before. We ended up with LOTS of food though because most my friends bring food to a friend’s even when we don’t have to; it’s just the way we roll. Continue reading →
Election Day seems like a good time to roll out this recipe. I’m not much on politics. I pretty much find both sides rolling in the pork and cheesy. I try to maintain a positive attitude most of the time, or at least not slip into bitterness or heavy sarcasm, but I just don’t have faith in politics at the national or maybe even the state level. I try to avoid discussing politics, your welcome to your opinion, but I still believe in the power of the people and that change will come about by our daily and local actions as much as and more so than grand gestures on the world’s stage.
And this bread is just the thing to power change! Well, power something; they’re over the top. I’m not sure I could have found more calorie laden ingredients to stuff into the recipe. I expected to come back with some from the first time I took them to work. A coworker who doesn’t enjoy sweets (what is WRONG with some people!) was leaving and instead of a going away cake I made these. Since so many people are vegetarian I figured I’d be taking quite a bit home with me. I was wrong; they were gone in a cholesterol filled heartbeat. Something about mixing heavy cream and bacon brought out the carnivore in all those vegetarians.
So, right wing or left, democrat or republican, let us bond over Cheesy Bacon Cornbread. The only thing left to decide is muffins or bread because it’s good either way. Continue reading →
Some things come out of nowhere and lay you flat. My mom passed away a month ago. Many people have asked if she had been ill or otherwise wanted to know if it was expected or unexpected. After losing a few people I can say, you never expect it. Not even when you know they are not well, not even if the doctors have given you a short prognosis, as they did with my father, even if you think you have prepared your self for the eventuality, even if your on pretty good terms with death, you never really expect them to die. It’s an abstract thought, until it isn’t. When the death is somewhat unexpected, she was ill but was recovering and had been released from the hospital, it is even harder.
I had not heard of this dish until last summer. I worked with several people that were familiar with it and it came up in conversation several times. I knew just from the sound of it, that it would be something my family would love. Mom loved potatoes. I’m pretty sure there were very few days of her adult life that did not contain potatoes. Just about any combination of dairy product and potato made them even better in her book.
There seem to be as many incarnations of this recipe as there are families that make it but the base seems to be diced or shredded potatoes, a thick cream sauce, and cheese. I decided to add sautéed onions and garlic because most entrees should have onions and garlic, two more of Mom’s favorites. And just to shove it completely over the top, I added bacon. The bacon is an excellent touch, it infused the whole dish and gave it that smoky, bacony something extra.
The name completely throws people. I took this to a gathering a few days after the funeral and people really hesitated when I told them what it was called. So, you might want to refer to it as simply a Potato Casserole or even a Cheesy Bacon Potato Casserole. But it serves its function well under the original name for it is a carb heavy, fatty comfort food, something you desperately need when things have fallen down around you.
The leftovers were excellent with an over-medium fried egg, ‘cause that’s the way Mom liked her fried eggs, for breakfast. Don’t forget to add some fruit so you can pretend you’re eating a well-rounded meal.
So, because Mom would have loved them… Continue reading →
Frittatas are a great way to use up ingredients, eggs or vegetables. This time of year those of you with chickens are looking for a way to use up eggs, it’s the season of plenty. I discovered frittatas many years ago, but quickly lost my taste for them. I had found five dozen eggs on sale and bought some, about a week later I found them on sale again and bought some more. Ten dozen eggs for two people, not my greatest moment. The menu was frittata heavy for several weeks and I quickly lost my taste for egg heavy dishes. BTW, did you know you can freeze eggs? Beat an egg, pour it into a lightly greased small container (you can use a ramekin for one egg or a muffin pan for multiples) and pop it into the freezer until hard. Remove the egg from the dish and store in the freezer in a bag or container. When your chickens aren’t laying in December you can use the eggs from the freezer. Sure wish I had known that when I had 10 dozen eggs I was trying to use up.
Firing up the oven is not exactlythe first thing that crosses my mind this time of year, but you can work around the heat. In my case I was up early canning anyway. The kitchen was already hot, so I might as well use the oven. Frittatas reheat so well that it’s easy to make them in advance and then just reheat in the microwave. You miss the pretty pan presentation, and this recipe is very pretty in the pan, but that’s okay with me if I get to avoid heat stroke in the kitchen. They also freeze very nicely. You can have home-made, frozen lunches or dinners that were fast and easy to make. Continue reading →