Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Bacon brittle

This is crispy, salty, sweet and ultra-easy! It's also an excellent way to get more bacon into your daily diet. I think it would make a great holiday treat to hand out--it's also amazing without the bacon so don't let that deter you...though bacon is so rarely a deterrent.Fry up a couple pieces of bacon and set aside. I used 4 slices of fairly thick cut fancy local bacon so you may need more of thinner bacon. Meanwhile melt together 1/2 cup brown sugar with 2 sticks of butter. After the butter melts down, bring it to a boil and let it simmer for about 2 minutes. By now you should have some crispy bacon...ready to be crumbled/chopped up.
And you'll need a heaping cup of nuts...I chopped up a bunch of pecans but you can also use sliced almonds. Pecans go really well with bacon though.
Now get a sheet of parchment paper and lay it over a rimmed baking sheet. Find your graham crackers and lay them out in a more-or-less single layer to cover the whole pan.
And sprinkle over your pecans...then make an even covering of bacon over the nuts.
Now pour your butter-sugar mixture over the top of that! Like a toffee. This can be hard to do evenly so just keep drizzling until you think you hit every nook and cranny.
Then you bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minuites, let it cool for about an hour--then break it up into squares! If you didn't use any bacon (and maybe even if you did) a sprinkle of sea salt over the top gives it that addictive sweet-salty crunch. Make them today!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Arugula-pepper frittata

I had tons of arugula and noticed on Information Is Beautiful's taste buds graphic that it would be good with peppers...so this simple and luscious frittata was the answer! It's good warm or at room temperature and makes a perfect cocktail hour snack as well as dinner. I used 1 big poblano pepper plus two small jalapenos, but you can use any combination of long green peppers with good flavor that you like--maybe anaheim or something. Start by preheating your oven to 350.
Cut the peppers into super thin strips.
And saute them in a little olive oil in a big pan over medium high heat until they are getting soft.
Add in 1/4 cup thinly sliced sweet onion and continue to saute until all are very soft--probably about 6 minutesGet about 6 cups arugula...it will seem like a ton but it cooks down into zero, trust.Chop it up and add it into the pan with the peppers and saute until wilty.That will take pretty much no time at all--the arugula cooks very quickly.Meanwhile, combine 5 eggs with salt, pepper and 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.Beat them all together pretty well...
And add in all your veggies. You can add a couple of dabs of goat cheese in if you want as well--I thought that was pretty tasty.Meanwhile, heat up a heaping tablespoon of butter in a 10" pan that can go in the oven. After the butter is hot, pour in your vegetable-egg mixture, don't stir it all all, and let it cook undisturbed for 10 minutes.
It will get a bit more solid.
After 10 minutes on the stovetop, transfer it to the 350 degree oven for 5 more minutes.
After you pull it out, let it sit for 1 or two minutes, then flip the pan over on a cutting board to pop the fritatta out. Mine got kind of browned because I made it in cast iron, but I think it was awesome that way.Cut it all into wedges and add a sprinkle of kosher salt over the top.
Like I said--it's great at room temperature too so a perfect ahead of time appetizer, if you cut it into cute strips or something. Or just a couple big slices for a healthy dinner.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Calvados and ginger

We have been feeling fall around here...time to put away the Campari and uncork the Calvados! This is the drink de casa at the moment so I thought I'd share--combine a few healthy slugs of Calvados with a good ginger beer and a lime twist, over ice. Like a Dark and Stormy but with a sweet apple-y flavor from the Calvados. Delicioso.

Green tomato sauté

This time of year there are plenty of green tomatoes hanging around. It's the end of the season--if you're my mother, you've probably got bushels of them in your garden that never got a chance to ripen up before the fall set in. I have been loving their tangy flavor in a simple sauté (maybe actually even more of a quick stewing, since there ends up being so much moisture?). It tastes like it could be eggplant but it is sweet-and-sour in the best possible way. This can use up a ton of them and I love it served over buttery orzo. I used 4 pretty big sized green tomatoes. It made enough for a side dish for 4 people with a bit left over. You'll also want about 1/2 of a Vidalia onion--both the onion and the green tomatoes came from a farm stand while on a trip to Savannah and Tybee Island a week or so ago...still seemed like summer just then!
Slice up half the Vidalia into thin thin thin half moons. To sauté the vegetables you can use any number of cooking fats...once I cooked them in the brown fond left over from roasting a chicken and it was practically transcendent. This time I made them in a healthy tablespoon of bacon fat. You can also easily sauté them in a combination of 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Turn them around frequently...about 5 minutes or so over medium heat until they are nicely soft and lightly colored but not crispy-brown. You want to get them cooked before you add any tomatoes since the acid will keep the onions from cooking properly any further.
And cut up all your gorgeous greenies! I like thin wedges best for this recipe.
Turn up the heat slightly, and stuff them all into your pan. This is sort of stupid looking--probably you can use fewer tomatoes, cook in batches, or use a bigger pan. But I am dumb. They do cook down though, sort of like spinach?
I just sort of mooshed them around. This is why it was more like stewing and less like a sauté.
I stirred them around semi-frequently, allowing them to develop some nice browned bits and probably cooked them for about 10 minutes or so until they fell apart in the right way. Add 1 teaspoon each fresh ground black pepper, salt, and sugar.
Meanwhile, chop up about 3-4 whole, peeled canned tomatoes. You can also use red fresh tomatoes, but I didn't find any in the markets at this point. They make a nice sweet contrast to the tangy green ones. Add them and all their juice into the green tomatoes and continue to sauté for another 3 minutes or so.
They should be completely falling apart and looking sort of chutney-like. I also added in 4 sliced sweet pickled peppadew peppers right before the tomatoes finished up.
Taste for salt and serve hot or at room temperature. Goodbye to summer--but if it ends like this, I'm cool with it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Watermelon and feta steaks

This is in imitation of a watermelon steaks appetizer from Abbatoir that I had a few weeks ago. It's a really pretty, really simple first course that hits sweet, salty, tangy and spicy all at the same time. At Abbatoir they use watermelon rind pickles but I didn't have any so I just made a quick pickle with thin slices of vidalia onion marinated for a few hours in 1/4 cup cider vinegar, a little olive oil, plus two teaspoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt.You'll need a sweet, in-season watermelon...You'll only need enough to cut 4 long bricks. Save the rest for snacking on all week long.I cut these by slicing two thick wedges and trimming them down into 2 pieces each.Gather about a quarter cup each of mint and basil leaves...Mince them all up together and set aside. They'll go on top.I wanted a mild, not-too-sharp feta--the cheese gal at Whole Foods thought this would do the trick. Cut it into slabs to fit on top of your watermelon.And you'll need some heat! I don't know what kind of peppers these were but they were aromatic, fruity and quite hot.De-seed them unless you're really a masochist. I touched my eyes after this accidentally by the way...regrets, I've had a few.And slice them into thin strips.Assembly is easy! Slab of feta over the watermelon...
Then vidalia pickle tucked in and around the melon, plus peppers and basil/mint mixture right on top. I sprinkled with a little crushed black pepper as well, right before serving.