Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Bacon Edition

Bacon cupcakes.

Bacon bacon everywhere. I started thinking of bacon after my parents decided to be bacon and eggs for Halloween (see below). I thought how fun it would be to bring bacon candy to a Halloween party if you were going as bacon! Alas, I had to attempt a bacon brittle. I started with a normal peanut brittle recipe, but replaced the peanuts with cashews since I thought the buttery cashew would go really nicely with a salty bacon bit. The brittle was very well received by the neighbors, on par with the Guinness ice cream I made a while back.

Having bought the bacon for the brittle at Costco, I had enough left over to experiment with, and finally decided to make maple bacon cupcakes. The bacon cupcakes were really moist, and not overly sweet, with a surprising hint of vanilla. The bacon garnish added the right amount of meatiness. Perhaps next I should attempt a maple bacon donut to mimic those at Dynamo Donuts in San Francisco?

My parents' Halloween costume. No, that's not my parents.

So I bought mini baking cups in bulk, only to find out there were slightly too large for my cupcake pan. However, I found out they are stiff enough to stand on their own, how fun!

Candied bacon for the garnish on my bacon maple cupcakes. Basically just cooked bacon with a little brown sugar.

These cupcakes aren't going to eat themselves!

Bacon brittle

Bacon Brittle
Adapted from GastronomyBlog

  • 1 lb of good quality bacon
  • 2 cups salted dry-roasted cashews, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon reserved bacon fat
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1. Dice and cook bacon until crispy, reserve some of the bacon fat.

2. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Cook this mixtures on medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, or until the sugar turns thick and syrupy. Slowly add the softened butter and bacon fat and continue stirring until the mixture emulsifies. Keep cooking and stirring until the mixture is golden brown, between 300 degrees F and 310 degrees F (it will take forever to get near 300 degrees F, until all of a sudden it will pass 300 degrees F).

3. Remove pan from heat, stir in the baking soda, salt red pepper, vanilla, bacon bits, and cashews. Stir quickly, and spread onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment.

The final product.

Sunday night dinner. Larry made these cheese stuffed burgers I've been craving. I made the homemade rolls. The whole dinner was A-MA-ZING.

Best hamburger buns I've ever eaten! Ever.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Need some vegetation!

So I just got back from a 2 week whirlwind tour of the Mediterranean (Spain, France & Italy) and stuffing my face full of European delights.  Waaaaaaay too much ham, cheese, bread, Nutella, sangria, more ham, pasta, pizza, wine, more ham, and gelato every day.  Sometimes twice a day.  While all of the food was very delicious (ok, that's not true, Spain's food wasn't all that impressive), I have one gripe about Europe cuisine:  where are the fruits & veggies!?!? The closest thing to fruit I ate was blackberry gelato (and it was AMAZING), and some fresh currants we found at a street market.  And vegetables?  Tomato sauce on the pizza.  Lots of potatoes, usually fried, and uh, that's about it.

Today's creation was a desperate need for some veggies, with no freaking ham.  I am definitely on a ham strike.  I started looking for recipes for vegetarian chili and found a few that sounded pretty good.  And then when I went to the grocery store, I apparently remembered parts of several different recipes so I ended up improvising.  The final product is actually my own creation from several other recipes; here's what I ended up with:

Makes 5 Servings
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 heaping teaspoons of minced garlic (from a jar)
palmful of chili powder
palmful of ground coriander
1 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
2 14.5 oz cans of black beans, drained
3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
4 cups veggie stock (1 box)
small palmful of dried oregano
1 large sweet potato (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
~1/2 cup wheat bulgur
juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste

1. Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium high heat. Add the onions and peppers, stirring occasionally, and cook until soft and beginning to brown, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for a minute, then add the chili powder and coriander and stir for 1 more minute.

2. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, the beans, chipotle, oregano and veggie stock. Bring the mixture to a boil. Season with salt to taste. 

3. Stir in the sweet potato and bulgur. Simmer uncovered until the sweet potato and bulgur are tender, about 30 minutes. Taste again for salt. Squeeze in lime juice & package up for a healthy lunch all week!

Not the prettiest picture...but very tasty!