Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Bacon Braised Rice

I received three notes yesterday from three people. Where is this recipe, where is that recipe, where is the other recipe? Three notes, three people, three recipes. It told me I had fallen behind on my blogging. I thought about why this had happened and then I decided there was no use in shaming myself! I am very much an admirer of my blogging friends, like Donna Currie at Cookistry, who never, ever fall behind. I do. but I'm trying to get caught up today with the blog posts I have been wanting to write the most. This is one of them.

I'm in a cookbook group and last year we all cooked from Edward Lee's Smoke & Pickles.  I'm not really a big rice fan but who doesn't love bacon? So I tried this recipe and everyone loved it! My favorite thing about it is I learned if you are out of parsley, you can chop up the inner leaves of a bunch of celery. WOW! Paradigm shift! I have celery almost always! The parsley in my herb garden is hit or miss and if I keep parsley from the store too long it quickly gets moldy so this is a great tip for me. Hope it is for you as well.

Braised Bacon Rice
adapted from Smoke & Pickles

8 ounces slab bacon*, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups chicken stock, homemade preferred, of course!
1/2 cup tomato juice
1 cup white rice, we use Jasmine
2 Tablespoons celery leaves, chopped
2 Tablespoons butter
salt and pepper

Cook the bacon over low heat in a Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot until all the fat is rendered. Add the onions, the celery, and the garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the next three ingredients and then add the two liquids. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the contents of the pot to a boil.  Add the rice and lower the heat to medium to medium-low depending upon your stove top. Simmer for about 16 minutes uncovered. At this point, most of the liquid is absorbed and you can add the celery leaves, butter, salt and pepper. Leave on the hot stove until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Serve.

*If you don't have slab bacon on hand, you can use the kind of bacon you like, cut into a dice or lardons.

Amaretto Honey from Eataly

Amaretto Honey (center) and Apricot Mostarda (right). The
honey steals the condiment show at Eataly in Chicago.
This is a picture of a jar of amaretto honey in Eataly Chicago. They served it with an Italian meat, cheese and bread platter and my friend Tamela and I fell in love with it. She bought some that day and I didn't. I really regretted the decision so I went back the next day and bought some along with a Wineskin to seal it up and take it home in my suitcase (which worked really well, by the way!) When I went back to Eataly, the area where they sell the honey was empty! No more honey? I struck up a conversation with a lady who worked there and she not only found me some honey (I bought two!), she told me that it is made by combining 8 parts honey to 1 part amaretto liqueur. Warm it in the top of a double-boiler and then stir in toasted , slivered almonds. So easy! So unique and delicious! If you are in a town with an Eataly, I highly recommend you go as often as possible (we visited three times in as many days in Chicago in April 2016!), you won't regret it!

Zucchini Tart

Dear Lauren,

I've absolutely fallen in love with Sheet Pan Suppers cookbook. You cook the whole meal on one sheet pan! Clean up is a breeze and of the ten or so recipes I've made, all but one has been outstanding and the other one was still good! I've given a copy to you, Cojo, Louise, Rebbekkah, and Patrick, and I am certain I've worn out my facebook friends with photo after photo and take after tale of cooking from this book! I think this zucchini tart is my favorite recipe but that's hard to say. The Arctic char, the flank steak, the chicken sausage with mushrooms and onions, and the tilapia tacos were all fantastic. SO were the figs, the bruschetta, the French toast casserole, the pesto chicken turnovers, and the cod on potato rafts! You see what I mean? GREAT BOOK!  Go look at my Instagram for photos of more of these dishes if you like.

Zucchini Tart
based on Sheet Pan Suppers cookbook

1 sheet frozen puff pastry*, thawed per package instructions**
all-purpose flour, for rolling out the dough
4 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces herbed goat cheese
4 medium size zucchini
salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 with the oven rack in the center. Lightly flour a clean work surface and roll out the thawed puff pastry with a rolling pin to a little smaller than the size of your sheet pan. If you make it slightly too big, you can trim off the edges with a pastry scraper. Transfer the puff pastry to a parchment lined sheet pan. Use your pastry scraper to make slight indentions (do not cut all the way through) around the edge of the pastry to make a 3/4 inch border. Dock the pastry inside the border with a fork about every inch or so. Place the sheet pan in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. If your cream and goat cheese are room temperature you can simply mix them together with a spoon in a bowl. If they are still cold, place both in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds and then stir them together until combined. Set aside. Cut both ends off the zucchinis and slide a vegetable peeler down the length of each zucchini to make dozens of zucchini ribbons. You can also use a mandoline. Place the ribbons in a bowl and add a large pinch of salt and several turns of pepper and toss. Set aside. After 20-30 minutes in the refrigerator, remove the sheet pan with the pastry and spread the cheese mixture inside the 3/4 inch border. Take a paper towel and pat the zucchini dry - the salt will have caused the zucchini to shed some moisture. This is an important step, you do not want a soggy tart. Arrange the ribbons by the handful (or in any artistic display you can conjure) and drizzle the olive oil over the zucchini. Bake for 45 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the zucchini is browned in spots. Serve warm or at room temperature. We have also eaten leftovers of this tart straight from the refrigerator - it is delicious any way! 


*I made this with both Dufour and Pepperidge Farms puff pastries. Dufour is much more expensive and yes, it is tastier. You will love this tart regardless of the brand you use.
** Do NOT try to unfold puff pastry until it's thawed or you will tear it.

Gingersnap Cookies and Molasses Cookies - The Same Cookie

This cookie post is always going to be my favorite. It involves all of my favorite things. My husband, my friend, a grandmother, and sugar. Did you see the photo that I made as big as I possibly could make it? Those cookies are GOLD in this house. For about twenty years, Willie has been asking me to make molasses cookies just like he likes them. I tried and I tried and I tried and I failed...a lot. Luckily for me, I was introduced to a wonderful woman, someone Willie knows and respects and who is associated with his work. I first met Tamela when she was hosting a dinner in Willie's honor. She told me later she was very nervous about meeting me! I found that hard to believe! She said the way Willie talks about me I am the perfect woman! Ha! That's so nice to hear! But as Tamela quickly learned, I am just a quirky lady who likes to talk a lot! Tamela joined my cookbook group and one day she shared a photo of some cookies she made from her grandmother's recipe. She generously shared the recipe with all of us and has allowed me to share it with the world! 

Grandma's Ginger Snaps OR
Willie's Favorite Molasses Cookies
by Tamela's grandmother

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for rolling
2 teaspoons ground ginger (I usually use 1 3/4 teaspoons.)
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda

Combine all ingredients and roll dough into balls. Roll cookie balls in sugar. Bake 12 to 15 minutes at 350°F.

Corn Pudding

Dear Lauren,

After the Kentucky Derby in 2015, one of Dad's lawyers had a barbecue at his house afterward. Everyone fell in love with this dish - it sounds so basic and kind of uninteresting, but somehow it wasn't! The host's mother made it for the party. She wasn't in attendance, but we were assured the recipe would be forwarded. Here it is. As I read the recipe, I still can't tell why it is so delicious! I've made corn pudding in the past and it wasn't as good as this gal's mother's! I'm sorry I don't have a good picture of it. Next time I make it, I'll take one. I use a large oval baker which adds a little visual interest. Don't underestimate this recipe - of all the dishes served that day, this was the one they ran out of first!

Corn Pudding
by Judith Rudd's mother (by all accounts, a fantastic cook!)

1/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
Black pepper

Combine above ingredients.
6 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
1 stick butter, melted
8 cups fresh corn kernels (You can use frozen corn if you like - I have and it still tastes delicious. If you use fresh corn, each cob yields about 1/2 cup of corn.)

Beat eggs with whisk. Stir in cream and butter. Gradually add sugar/flour mixture. Stir in the corn. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes, or until almost set in center.