Sep 15, 2014
I definitely have a thing for pork breakfast products. And where I can eat me some sausage with gravy and biscuits, I enjoy a good piece of simple bacon. But here’s my twist, I do not want the bacon that’s cooked crispy and nearly burned bacon you get from a frying pan. I want my bacon roasted in the oven until the fat solidifies into that melt-in-your-mouth goodness and the ham part retains a little chewiness. I am a bacon snob.
When I used to work in restaurants, the wait staff would get in immense trouble when caught snitching bacon off those great big baking trays as they were prepped for lunch’s BLTs. It was like candy waiting for a passersby. And these was done in the oven. Hmmm.
Here’s how my bacon hack is done.
A hot oven, maybe 400 – 425 degrees.
Line a baking sheet in parchment paper and fold the edges so that the grease doesn’t necessarily have to seep all over the pan.
Line up your bacon on the paper and put on the middle rack of the oven.
Start checking for doneness at 10 minutes.
It needs to be dark enough and cooked solid enough to hold straight when drained. If you take it out and drain it and it seems too limp, stick it back in for another couple of minutes.
Simple, no spatters, and it melts in your mouth.
Baked bacon, it’s what’s for breakfast.
Aug 20, 2014
There was a long standing tradition of making homemade tacos in my house. My Mom brought the technique with her when we moved to the East Coast from California when I was 6 months old. And although I do sometimes use the cardboard boxed tacos for a quick dinner for a 9 year old, I also am capable of pulling the real deal out of my sleeve.
Tacos are a special occasion when guests come to visit kinda endeavor. Because it’s a lot of impressive work that results in some of the most tender delectable yummy food ever. And a couple of weeks ago, our girl Caitlin came to visit and I decided that I was in the taco making mood. No better excuse for the effort than company.
The process begins with making the dough and forming balls. I use wax paper to smash the tortilla dough on the tortilla press.
Then I take a rolling pin to it to make it a little thinner. Cooking once on the griddle, the dough hardens into a tortilla ready for frying.
Not pictured here, the wax paper that is hanging off the griddle catching fire while you transfer them. Once the tortilla gets transferred to the hot oil, it puffs up as you bend it into the ‘U’ shape ready for filling with taco meat, cheese, shredded romaine,avocadoes, sour cream, and siracha sauce. The house fills with smoke from the hot oil. So there’s a smoke alarms turning off and windows opening thing that makes this a real culinary adventure.
I made some homemade salsa fresca from our tomatoes, cilantro, onions, and dashes of sushi vinegar and cider vinegar as I had no lime.
As with fresh pasta, freshly made tacos are such a different beast than anything you’ve ever had. And worth every firey bit of wax paper and smoke burning your eyes with the smoke alarm scaring the cats moment.
I must admit that this finished shot is from a previous batch of tacos. Because in the frenzy of making and eating them this time, there were no more pictures to be taken. The filling this time was a pork. It’s the most easy and satisfying. A pork picnic/shoulder roast cooked at a low temperature for a long time then falls off the bone and is easily shredded. I added chicken stock, cumin, sauteed onions and peppers, and maybe some chili , onion, and garlic powders. But ground beef or poached shredded chicken or even rockfish are all good choices especially with salsa fresca. And a secret sauce tip? Use sour cream mixed with the adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers. Creamy and smoky and spicy and you are a genius.
I don’t expect anyone to run out and try this. It’s not for the faint of heart. But if you ever get a chance to try the real thing anywhere, do yourself a favor and eat a freshly made masa harina flour taco. Divine.
May 12, 2014
Easter brought family into town and I was compelled to cook. A holiday’s an excuse to make leftovers as well as try something new. Continuing cold weather had me in the mood for lamb stew with Guinness beer. A beef version from my Irish friend Jane here. But then, when the weather became beautiful, I began to think grilling instead. And this inspired my final menu. First, lamb kabobs marinated with orange flavors and orange slices.
The lamb I bought from a lamb man at the Easton farmer’s market. He had run out of boned meat and sold me ribs assuring me I could de-bone them myself. Well yes and no. I did a fair job of getting the meat off but there are still tough enough parts that should just have been left on the bone. They got mixed in. Oh well, next time local be damned, I’m going to a butcher to get my meat the way I need it.
I chose to go with the following green salad which ended up being divine. A mixture of crunchy, creamy, and sour elements with sweet clementine slices to add a balance and tie in with the lamb. The dressing is a classic “french” dressing aka vinaigrette and I didn’t have parsley the second and third time I made it.
Prociutto and cheese “candy” from Piazza in Easton, Maryland
I served fabulous Italian meats and cheeses from Piazza in Easton, Maryland.
With bread from the Easton Farmer’s market.
Well, I did have a baguette but then Eamon devoured it while we were waiting for the meats and cheeses to be lovingly cut and packaged. So we got bread from Piazza too.
And flowers from the farmer’s market in Easton, Maryland.
I made a giant vat of fruit salad which had two kinds of apples, oranges, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple. Somehow my family is much more willing to eat fruit in fruit salad form. There was so much leftover, the strawberries were squishy before we finished it off. I add a lime and honey to flavor it.
Additionally, I grilled shrimp in a skewer and served it with a yummy remoulade sauce from the Gourmet cookbook from editor Ruth Reichl.
I had served this on a New Years Eve years back when we’d grilled a leg of lamb and shrimp on the barbie in the winter on the front porch while it was snowing. There’s a roof there unlike the back porch. We really enjoyed that meal.
A tad too salty if you stick your finger in it but absolutely divine when used with the grilled shrimp.
The leftover lamb bones went right into the oven to roast with some tomato paste smeared on them and vegetables to roast beside them. I made a stock from this as I’d remembered doing with veal bones once.
Don’t know how it turned out but waste not, want not.
You can see the rest of our crazy birthday Easter Earth Day weekend here.
Jan 27, 2014
I tried to be thrifty and fun this past weekend. Inspired by the snow falling and the lemons leftover from, dare I say, Christmas, I decided to revisit an old favorite: lemon bars. I had been reminded of them from a recipe post by Joy the Baker and it’s her classic lemon bars recipe I used.
Of course I’d softened the unsalted butter before I realized there was no granulated sugar in the house. So these happened on Sunday instead.
My son had never had them before this and declared he liked them. I honestly think he’d like almost anything with sugar in it. And my husband commented that he usually found lemon bars were too sweet and these were just right.
Since I am still allowing myself the indulgence of white flour and white sugar only on weekends, I gobbled down at least two. I didn’t count but I ate them in halves. And yes, they were quite yummy with just the right amount of sweetness. A truly no fuss process even if I didn’t have a proper counter top baking mixer and only my hand mixer which goes from 0 to 9 with a twitch of your thumb. Mixed is mixed.
Note to self, little boy doesn’t really want to help make them. He just wants to eat them. I’m hoping for Fiona as my little kitchen helper.
Jan 20, 2014
It was time again for my cannellini bean and tuna salad, the perfect salad for a Winter’s day. Oil packed tuna, tomato, celery heart, red onion, and calamata olives combine into a meaty refreshing satisfying salad with leftovers.
The picture is deceiving. I didn’t leave any on the plate.
Tuna, celery, and bean salad
Insalata di Tonno, Sedano, e Fagioli
“Canned Italian tuna packed in olive oil can be very fine with a tender, moist texture and rich tuna flavor. The best brands come packed in glass jars and are often available in Italian grocery stores.” But the best you can afford in other words. “Tuna, beans, and red onion are a classic combination. Here, tender celery adds a bit of crunch.” The tomatoes and olives are my craved addition.
1 small can (14oz) petite diced tomatoes
2 ½ cups drained cooked or 19 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (6 ½ oz) tuna packed in olive oil, drained
2 – 3 tender (inner most)celery ribs, sliced with the leaves
½ small red onion, peeled and chopped
3 TB extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 TB fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
2 Tb chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
½ cup diced Calamata olives
In medium bowl, combine beans, tuna, celery, onions, tomatoes and olives.
Take care not to over-toss the tuna as you’ll lose the chunks. Add that at the very last perhaps.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper to taste until well blended.
Shred some Romaine lettuce (crunchy) and place tuna mixture atop and drizzle dressing over salad. Sprinkle with parsley or celery greens. I make homemade pita chips and they add that extra needed crunch.
If you feel a sense of deja vous, I originally published this last May. Bon Appetite.