Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mmm......Bacon.......

I love bacon. No, really, I mean it. I know that I say "I love dead cow" at least once a week and that I've been known to get glassy-eyed and publicly salivate over crispy duck breasts, but bacon.....well.....there's just nothing else like it. It's better than dead cow. Better than dead duck. Better than gin. Better than oral sex. It's even better than chocolate most of the time. If you look around out there you will find thousands of web pages devoted to Homer Simpson's favorite meat. Make sure you check out the "bacon porn" section of my favorite bacon blog when you need a reason to keep on living. I promise you, it's the only thing that got me out of bed this morning. At least it was until I saw this page where I fell in love with bacon caramels. I needed several minutes alone after reading that posting. Once you've wiped the drool from your monitor, get your ass in the kitchen and make some bacon bowls. I went the way of Not Martha and topped mine with salad, but hash browns and eggs seem to be popular fillers as well. So go on, do it. Flood your veins with glorious, golden brown, delicious bacon fat. Because you can.



Bacon Bowl Instructions

Get a muffin tin. Turn it upside down. Cover it with tin foil and spray the foil with cooking spray. In order to cover it all, you may need to tear the foil into squares. Or maybe you won't. Maybe you're better than me. Maybe you should just grow a giant boil on your face and then.....Umm....sorry......I didn't mean that. I'm sure you're a wonderful person......Continue on.....If you want actual bacon cups like the lovely ones on Not Martha, then you should use a Texas sized muffin pan. I only had the regular size muffin pan and I was happy enough with my results, but they ended up more of a bacon saucer than a bacon cup. And yet they were still delicious.

Take two strips of bacon and lay them across each other over one of the muffin cup bases to form a cross. I recommend using the thin, cheap kind of bacon that you get on sale in the center isle of the grocery. You want it thin because you are going to end up layering it and you want it to cook all the way through. Now, take another piece of bacon and weave it lattice style over, under, and around the crossed pieces of bacon to form the sides. You want a lot of over-lap because there will be shrinkage the likes of which you don't usually see outside of an unheated swimming pool in January. I cannot stress enough that you should open Not Martha's page (in another window, of course) and see her detailed, step by step, photographic instructions. I'm doing my best here, but let's face it, I've had a couple of beers.

Repeat your bacon weaving until you are out of bacon. For the regular sized muffin cups I used 3 pieces of bacon per cup and ended up with about 6 bacon "bowls". If you use the Texas sized pan, you will use 4-5 slices per cup.

Pop the pan into a 350 oven and bake til brown. Don't ask me how long, because I don't freaking know, ok? I told you, I had a couple of beers. If they don't pop right off the pan when cooled, then just lift the foil up and peel it off the inside. Put them on a plate and fill them with whatever you darn well please.


Then, in the immortal words of Homer Simpson, repeat after me: Mmm.....Bacon......



--QC

P.S.--Spoiler alert. These glorious testaments to the enduring power of porcine pleasures will be making an appearance at my Dinner Diva's party in October. Oink, oink!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Insert Farm Animal of Your Choice


I cannot wait for tomorrow! I get to spend the entire morning baking cupcakes to take to Dawn's poolside cocktail party. I'm planning on making Chocolate Stout Cupcakes and Lemon Meringue Cupcakes (possibly with lemon curd filling, we'll see), so stay tuned for the photos and recipes. In order to keep you happy in the meantime I'll pass on a SUPER easy way to fix chicken or pork tenderloin, or chops, or whatever kind of meat you darn well feel like.



Panko-Creole Mustard Breaded (insert farm animal of your choice HERE)


Creole Mustard
Maple Syrup (NOT that pancake syrup shit. Remember, I'm watching you)
Panko bread crumbs
Salt
Fresh ground pepper
Chicken breasts or thighs/pork tenderloin/pork chops/shrimp/cats/dogs/whatever you like

Mix one part maple syrup with two parts creole mustard (for example, 1/3 c. maple syrup and 2/3 c. creole mustard) in a shallow bowl. Throw a pile of panko on a plate and season it with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Pat your meat of choice dry with a paper towel. Dip the meat into the mustard/syrup mixture and shake off the excess, then coat with the panko.

There are multiple choices for cooking depending on what meat you chose. For shrimp, simply cook it in non-stick pan with a light spritz of cooking spray. For everything else I either bake it on a cookie sheet sprayed with olive oil spray and make sure to turn the meat over halfway through so the panko browns evenly or I brown it in a skillet and then finish it by baking. I learned the hard way that if you are making pork tenderloin it is better to use two small tenderloins than one big one.

--QC

Friday, July 17, 2009

So, So Wrong


I fully admit to being a Scrooge, so when Vivian (or cyclist extraordinare, triathelte, super-nurse, sharp shooter Viv as we know her) said that she would hosting Christmas in July for her Dinner Diva's night I was, well, maybe not as excited I would be normally. But I was wrong. So, so wrong. And I stand corrected. So corrected that there will be multiple recipes this time, including the cocktail that everyone sucked down like it was water in the desert and the dessert that I shamelessly unbuttoned my pants for in order to be able to fit in a second helping. So, lets start at the beginning, shall we?



The DD's take our cocktails seriously. You can't live in New Orleans, the city that gave birth to the cocktail, and be a tee-totaler. It's against the law. The recipe for this cocktail came from one of our favorite websites, The Love Bite. The drink's name is Tina Louise and we love her and want her to become a regular member of our little group. We think she fits right in with us. Bubbly, slighly sweet, bright and just a little tart. She does tend to go down a little easy, though, so watch out for her!



Tina Louise Cocktail
from The Love Bite
Print Recipe

Ingredients:

Fee Brothers orange bitters

Sugar cubes (Demerara prefered)

Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur

Chilled prosecco or champagne


Drop a sugar cube into a champagne flute. You can use white sugar cubes, but the Demerara sugar has a much better flavor. Drop a few drops of orange bitters onto the sugar cube. Add a capfull (or even a splash more) of the ginger liqueur and then fill the glass with chilled prosecco or champagne.



Note: The ginger liquor and the bitters can be a bit hard to find. Both are available online. In the New Orleans area, the liquor is available at Dorgniac's.






For dinner, we had HUGE grilled turkey burgers with salad and brazil nut stuffing and I could provide you with recipes for those but I don't want you to get too lazy. Google something for God's sake. Besides, everyone knows dessert is where it's at. I was certain that the gingerbread bread pudding was going to be good. Really good. I just wasn't sure how well it was going to go with peppermint ice cream. The original recipe posted by Mannix on The Love Bite had pumpkin ice cream, but his was a fall/Halloween menu and Viv's was a Christmas-themed dinner, so the change to peppermint made sense. I just wasn't sure how well those two particular flavors were going to go together. They went. In fact, they were so good together that two servings mysteriously made their way onto my plate (yes, on a night I was skipping yoga no less). Everyone loved it and it will certainly be showing up on my holiday table this winter. And maybe a couple of times before that as well.






Mannix's Gingerbread and Butter Pudding with Toffee Sauce aka Gingerbread Bread Pudding
from The Love Bite





Print Recipe


1 loaf Gingerbread
Butter
1/2 C. Raisins
1/4 C. Mixed Peel (or substitute marmalade)
2 Eggs
2/3 C. Brown sugar
1 C. Heavy cream
1 C. Milk
2 t. Pumpkin Pie Spice (or 1t. cinnamon, 1/2 t. ginger, 1/4 t. cloves, and 1/4 t. nutmeg)

Slice the gingerbread into 1" thick slices and butter both sides. Break into pieces to line the bottom and sides of a buttered dish or individual ramekins. Sprinkle some raisins and dried peel onto the bread. Layer on more gingerbread and more fruit and peel until the bread is used up. Mix the eggs, brown sugar, cream, milk, and the pumpkin pie spice and pour the mixture over the bread. Let it sit about 10 minutes. If it looks a bit too dry you can add a splash of milk. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 for 25 minutes. Serve with toffee sauce.

Toffee Sauce

1 stick Butter
6 oz. Heavy cream
2/3 C. Brown sugar

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Add the sugar and cream. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer 5 minutes.


Peppermint Ice Cream
adapted from here

1/2 C. Peppermint candy, finely crushed
1/4 t. Peppermint oil
1/4 C. Bailey's Mint Chocolate
1 large egg
1 C. Half-and-half
1/2 C. Granulated sugar
1 t. Vanilla extract
3 C. Heavy cream


Makes one quart. Put the crushed peppermint candy, peppermint oil, and the Bailey's Mint Chocolate in a blender and blend on high speed for about 30 seconds. Add the egg, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla and blend on medium until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Slowly add the cream and blend on low for a few seconds to combine. Transfer the mixture to a container with a tight seal and refrigerate overnight to allow all the flavors to combine (you can make it right away if you are in that big of a hurry, but we'll frown at you). Transfer the mixture to your ice-cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Notes: Allowing the mixture to refrigerate overnight gives you a fuller flavor, but also totally dissolves the crushed candy. If you want it to have a bit of a crunch, add more candy just before freezing (don't worry, this ice cream has a nicely mellow peppermint flavor so the extra candy won't make it too strong).

Mannix, the evil genius behind The Love Bite, has a website packed with great recipes and menus. He was gracious enough to allow us to re-post his recipes here and if you enjoy them as much as we did, follow the many, many links to his page and sign up for his newsletter. He can also be found on Facebook.
--QC