HELPING FAMILY FARMS FLOURISH. HELPING FEED THE HUNGRY.
Showing posts with label Bacon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bacon. Show all posts

Monday, September 15, 2014

Three Great Additions to your Fall Cheese Boards: Sweet and Savory Bacon Jam, Fromage Fort and Toasted Walnuts and Raisins

 Top Left: Sweet and Savory Bacon Jam.  Center: Toasted Walnuts and Raisins
Right: Fromage Fort 
        
Simplicity itself: Toasted Walnuts and Raisins
Fromage Fort with Garlic and Pepper 
I am always on the look-out for ways to freshen the tried and true.   And as the temperature drops in the East, and entertaining moves indoors, Andrew and I love to put out a big platter of cheese and grapes, crackers and biscuits for our guests.  If you do it right, it not only stems those pre-dinner pangs of hunger, it looks gorgeous on your table.  But our cheese platters inevitably leave us with bits and pieces of various cheeses.  There’s leftover Brie, a morsel of hard cheese like Manchego and, if I fish around in the cheese drawer, I can usually come up with some mozzarella that’s too big to throw away or some gruyere that’s too good to do so.  I remembered reading about what the French do with the odds and ends and so I went on a quick and found the recipe for Fromage Fort. It’s so thrifty, I could practically hear my mother applauding from heaven.  And what a way to meld all these flavors together and get something completely new:  A wonderful spreadable cheese, rich in garlic and pepper.   So I had a new anchor for our cheese selection. At a recent cocktail party, my clever host, Huey, had simply combined some really good raisins with some toasted walnuts.  Nothing could be simpler or more satisfying. But my new discoveries didn’t end there.   I was confronted with a recipe I’d been wanting to try since forever.   It was for Sweet and Savory Bacon Jam. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Claudia Fleming's Apple Crostata with Bacon Toffee


For such a relatively small corner of the world, the East End of Long Island is long on extremely talented chefs.  Proximity to New York has led many a city chef to, if not abandon the city, set up a second home out in the land of milk and honey.  One of these is the legendary pastry chef, Claudia Fleming.  Ms. Fleming is a Long Island native who originally pursued a career in dance.  To support her passion for it, she took the well-known route of working in restaurants, most particularly Danny Meyer’s immensely popular Union Square Café.  She worked in all parts of the operation but was drawn to pastry.  She took her calling seriously and in 1991 she went to
Pastry Chef Claudia Fleming 
Paris where she worked at Fauchon and perfected her skills.  In 1994, she was called back to New York to open, with Mr Meyer and his partner, Tom Collichio, the Gramercy Tavern.  Her farm to table philosophy was perfectly attuned to theirs. She loves seasonal ingredients and creating intense flavors. She eschews her contemporary’s use of architectural flights of fancy and focuses on honest, forthright desserts you’ll never forget. And this Apple Crostata with its Bacon Toffee topping is all you need to make to know how unforgettable Chef Fleming's pastry really is. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pappardelle with Creamy Leeks and Bacon



Sara Jenkins as photographed by
New York Magazine 

         There’s almost no end to what people are putting on pasta these days. The most recent issue of Bon Appetit has 7 entirely new takes on pasta sauces and a couple of pastas that are new to me:  Ditalini, a tubular pasta that translates to “little fingers” and Fiorentini, named for Florence, a spiral shaped paste as elegant as the city itself.  All the recipes are from Sara Jenkins, best known for her tiny East Village hole in the wall “Porchetta” (110 E. 7th Street NYC Tel: 212 777 2151).  There the star of the show is Chef Jenkins melt-in-your-mouth slow roasted pork on artisanal bread. It’s a stand-up kind of place, great for a midday pig-out. ( I generally go there on the sly, shamed that anyone might witness my fondness for pork fat.) 

 In between pig roasts, the Chef managed to write a cookbook called “Olives and Oranges: Recipes and Flavor Secrets from Italy, Spain, Cyprus, and Beyond “by Sara Jenkins and Mindy Fox (Houghton Mifflin 2008).   But it was at her next venture, a restaurant called Porsena, down the street from Porchetta at 21 East 7th St. (Tel: 212 228 4913), that Ms. Jenkins devoted herself to pasta.  And it you can’t get there yourself, this month’s copy of Bon Appetit will take you there.

         Of all 7 pastas, I chose the Pappardelle with Creamy Leeks and Bacon.  Right at the start you should know you can substitute linguine if pappardelle are nowhere to be found.   The recipe says that it’s a twist on Carbonara, the famous Roman specialty that uses eggs, cheese, guanciale or pancetta and turns them into oceans of creamy sauce.   The Creamy Leeks and Bacon are almost as sinful. The dish is so rich portion control is a must.  In Italy, where pasta is a separate course and precedes the entrée, the serving size would be half of what you end up with here.  So go easy, make sure that you add enough pasta water so there’s a true creamy sauce before you stir in the pasta.   Then you’ll end up with the sweetness of the leeks, the smokiness of the bacon and the creaminess of the sauce coating the pasta whether pappardelle or linguine.  This is so good!

         On our way to the recipe, I wanted to share 4 tips that Chef Jenkins laid out to make your pasta perfect from now on.  This applies to all pasta and not specifically to pappardelle.  Here they are:

1.   The more water the better.  Always use the largest pot you can and start with at least 6 quarts of cold water.  The more water the more space the pasta has to move around and the quicker the water will return to a boil when the pasta is added.

2.   Don’t skimp on the salt.  Chef Jenkins uses a terrifying ¼ cup of kosher salt per 6 quarts of water.  Since the pasta water is a key ingredient in making the sauce, the salted water is the basis for a lot of the flavor. 

3.   Al Dente or ‘to the tooth’ is everyone’s ideal of when pasta is done.  There was a tale I once heard about a Neapolitan chef who would fling his cooked pasta against a brick wall. If it stuck, it meant it was overcooked.  Chef Jenkins says she trusts the cooking times on pasta packages but nevertheless starts testing about 3 minutes a head of time.  She says: “You can always cook it longer. But you can never go back”.  Supposedly the Neapolitan I spoke about committed suicide when too many nights went by with pasta sticking to the wall.

4.   Use the pasta water in your sauce.   As it cooks, the pasta release starch into the water.  This is Chef Jenkins’ key to a well-seasoned bowl of pasta.  Before you drain the pasta, lade out two cups of the cooking liquid and put aside.  You may not have to use anything like that amount but even a splash or two will help your sauce emulsify when you add your pasta to the sauce.

Now, are you ready for the recipe?  Here it is:

Recipe for Pappardelle with Creamy Leeks and Bacon

Serves 4.

     2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
    2 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise,
       sliced crosswise
     Kosher salt
     3/4 cup heavy cream
     2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
     1 pound pappardelle or fettuccine
     1 cup finely grated Parmesan

Heat oil and butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 5-8 minutes. Add leeks and season with salt. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until leeks begin to brown, 5-8 minutes. Add cream, thyme, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 5-8 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
Add pasta, Parmesan, and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce and stir to coat. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Serve at once. 


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Butternut Squash and Bacon Bread Pudding



         Last October, when I was out in California visiting my son Alex’s family, I picked up a freebie publication called California Home Design.  In it was an article about a wine making family in Healdsburg who, with the help of local chef, put together one of those classic wine country dinners.  Held in the middle of a vineyard, these parties are wildly photogenic as you can see in this photo from the magazine.  And the menus tend to contain things that this Easterner has never heard of before or at least in combinations that I’ve never even imagined.  California Cuisine, as defined by Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley and Michael McCarty of Michael’s in Santa Monica, emphasizes freshly prepared local ingredients incorporated into recipes that are often a fusion of cooking styles as diverse as the population of the Golden state itself.  Among the items on the menu at the Healdsburg dinner was a very different take on a Bread Pudding.  In fact, the ingredient list made me wonder whether this was savory or sweet, a dessert or a side dish.   So I set out to make it and to figure out when to serve it once I had.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Eric Ripert’s Striped bass in Savoy cabbage with Bacon-Butter sauce


The dish and the Chef who invented it, Eric Ripert.
         I love it when Eric Ripert comes on the Today Show and performs his wizardry with fish.  I’ve featured one of his Today Show recipes before and it was a snap to make.  Of course, Chef Ripert manages to cram the entire cooking process into a fast-paced television segment.  This one clocked in at 3 minutes and 40 seconds.  I wish I could tell you that the dish actually came together that quickly.  But it doesn’t.  It takes about 45 minutes to make.  The results, however, are well the effort. The deliciously simple white flaky fish is perfect partner for the leafy green cabbage and the crisp Bacon and butter sauce.  And besides I think it’s the closest I am going to get to sampling Chef Ripert’s cuisine any time soon.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Vietnamese Shrimp and Pork Belly with Sweet and Spicy Sauce





Ever since my last trip to Hong Kong, where, on our last night there, we went to a Vietnamese Restaurant called “Pho Lemon” (25 Elgin St. Central, TEL: 2523-8272) I have wanted to cook Vietnamese food.  There’s likely nowhere on earth where you can find such a confluence of Asian cuisine as there is in Hong Kong.  During my last trip there, we’d eaten Japanese, Korean, Malaysian and of course, Chinese food from Hunanese to Cantonese.  Fantastic food in some of the finest places in the city.   So when, on that particular night, I had a roast chicken that was one of the finest I had ever eaten, I was determined to learn how to cook it. 


Friday, November 13, 2009

Bacon and Beef Meatloaf




My friend Larry Hui is one of the leaders of a group of volunteers who help out at a homeless shelter in our neighborhood. I cook for the shelter and when I do, I often serve this meatloaf. It hits home with the men (and they are all men) and it’s a particular favorite of Larry’s so I am happy to share it here.