Bacon Caramel

May 21, 2006

This was sort of a joke, but it was executed seriously to prove my culinary prowess and strange ability to pair food flavours in an unconventional way.  I would really like to concoct more things like this as I felt like a kid in a laboratory and I guess in a sense, I am one.

Bacon and bourbon would be a fantastic, albeit heartbreaking breakfast food.  I'd probably become an unemployed lush quickly if I consumed this daily, and then I'd have no budget to explore booze in the way I do now, which would give me shaky hands and a clear mind.  I can't have that.

You'll need a few things before even thinking of doing this.  A candy thermometer, silicone spatula and a deep Pyrex baking dish are essential, and if you don't have them all then you'll risk a mess of sugar everywhere which will piss someone off.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 pkg side bacon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3-4 oz bourbon or maple syrup
  • Optional – Toasted almonds

Fry up your bacon so it's nice and crispy.  Then, in a separate but deep saucepan, combine everything else except for the bourbon and cream over high heat stirring well.  Keep stirring until  you're at  240°F.  Things will be frothy and bubbling so remove it from heat and slooowly add in the heavy cream while stirring. 

Put the pot back on the stove and stir in your bourbon very quickly so that the cream does not curdle.  Heat back up to 245°F (or higher if you would like harder candy) and then pour into a deep Pyrex dish.  Immediately afterward, add bacon and toasted almonds.

Allow to cool for at least 3 hours, and cut into squares for serving.  Disclaim friends and consider signing a waiver against liability over increased insurance premiums and dental bills.

bacon caramel


Risotto with fresh asparagus, pancetta and asaigo

May 21, 2006

 Risotto

Inspired by a coworker's statement about how easy this was to make, I knew I had to try it.  I'm not a large consumer of white rice, but I do like the brown and wild variety so I thought I should at least give risotto a chance.  Given that there was a large amount of asparagus on hand as well, it was a great way to use some of it up.

To serve two, you'll need:

  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 2 cups stock (I used chicken, but pork would be great too!)
  • 6-8 pieces of pancetta
  • 1 vidalia onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2/3 cup asaigo cheese
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup asparagus

Start by preparing your stock and cooking the pancetta.  I'd not used pancetta before, so I learned that it cooks much like bacon but at a faster pace and it's wise to use a slightly lower temperature.  Ventilation is also a valuable tip to give- so if you can't air out your kitchen, take the battery out of the smoke alarm.

Lightly fly the onion and garlic together until it smells delicious and in a separate (but larger pan) toast the arborio with the fat from the pancetta.  If you don't want to use it, substitute olive oil instead.  Combine the ingredients into the larger pan, and stir well, slowly adding white wine.  Keep stirring and stirring.  Pour a glass of wine for yourself and get out a ladle. 

As liquids in the vessel you're stirring gently become absorbed, add about a ladle full of stock.  Stir some more and repeat until you're out of stock.  Add pancetta, asparagus and cheese until combined well, and serve.


Asparagus Soup with Red Pepper Coulis

May 21, 2006

Spring has brought life to everything green and with it, the asparagus season in Southern Ontario. My boyfriend's mother loves to visit farms and pick her own vegetables, so we were pleasantly surprised after she'd given us a large quantity of asparagus to work with. Do expect more features on this lovely vegetable shortly.

Ross blanched the lovely buds immediately and prepared them for freezing and he asked me to think of ways to use it, so here's just one idea based on this recipe.

You'll need the following:

  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • 1 cup leeks (use the white part only)
  • 1/2 a white onion. Scallions or shallots would be fine too.
  • 1/4 cup potato, peeled and cubed into 1/4" pieces.
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh asparagus
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Add olive oil to a cast iron skillet and sweat your leeks and onions. Try not to let them brown.

Add onions, leeks, potato to vegetable stock and allow to boil for 10-15 minutes until potato is soft and easy to break apart. Then, add your asparagus and lower heat. Cook for another 5 minutes until tender and remove from heat.

Blend 3/4 of the soup with either a hand blender or an upright if you've got one. (remember to vent it!!) and make your coulis.

Red Pepper Coulis

  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 2 red peppers, seeded and cored.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • tabasco or other vinegar based sauce

Chop red peppers up, but don't worry about making it neat.  Do the same to your onions. Add oil to a small skillet and cook until soft.  Transfer to a vessel large enough for immersion blending, or again if you're more culinarily inclined, your blender, and blend until smooth.  Strain loosely, season with Tabasco and set aside. 

Ladle soup into bowls, and drizzle coulis over soup.  Feel free to make pretty designs with a toothpick, but I was really hungry so I just served it up. 

Soup_img