Entries in Delicious Dish (67)


Bacon Fat Mayonnaise

One of my New Year's resolutions is to eat more fat.  I'm quite serious.  To that end, last night I worked on refining the recipe that follows.  I ran across the original idea here, but when I tried that version, I wasn't quite satisfied.  It was too strong-tasting, and I didn't love the texture. 

So last night, I incorporated the bacon fat concept into the Mayonnaise recipe that appears in my cookbook Comfortably Yum, substituting lemon juice for the vinegar in the original.  The results were fabulous: smooth and subtly bacony.

To what use might one put such a condiment, I sense you asking.  Let me count the ways.  Last night I spooned some over freshly steamed broccoli to accompany our roast beef and scalloped potatoes.  You could add it to chopped apples, pecans, and celery for a liberated Waldorf Salad, or mix it with hard-boiled egg yolks to create the best Deviled Eggs of all time (I did this today).  Tuck a schmear into an otherwise humble Turkey Sandwich.  Potato Salad, Tuna Salad, Egg Salad--I can't think of any mayonnaise-based recipe that wouldn't be better with Bacon Fat Mayonnaise.  (Well, except for that Mayonnaise Cake my friend Deb Barshafsky is always on about.)

As I look over this recipe, I realize it is perhaps not for the faint of heart.  Personally, I'm not frightened of raw eggs, since I buy them directly from farmers I trust.

And I don't want to hear any moaning about your thighs or your hardening arteries.  I'll warrant my bacon fat from happy, pastured pigs is a far sight healthier than any tortured soybean oil in that flabby glop they sell in the supermarket.  Julia Child once said this about her heavenly Scalloped Potatoes Baked in Cream: "I, for one, would far rather swoon over a small spoonful of this ambrosia than a large ladleful of instant mashed made with skim milk!"  Amen, sister; her sentiment certainly applies in this case. 

Bacon Fat Mayonnaise

1 large egg
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
The juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup bacon fat, close to room temperature but still liquid
1 cup olive oil (NOT extra virgin)
Freshly ground pepper

Put the egg, yolks, and mustard in the blender and mix it on low for 30 seconds.  Add the salt and the vinegar and mix for another 15 seconds.  Stir the bacon fat and the olive oil together.  With the machine running on medium low speed, pour the oil in the blender in the thinnest stream possible. 

When you’ve added all 1-1/2 cups, stop the blender and check the sauce.  If it seems overly thick, add a bit more oil.  Taste the mayonnaise carefully for seasoning, and add more if needed, turning on the blender for the briefest amount of time possible.  Scrape any mayonnaise you're not using immediately into a Mason jar and store it in the fridge.  Use within two weeks.


Sweet Potato Casserole

It's almost Thanksgiving!  Tonight is our church's annual Thanksgiving Dinner; we usually have about 200 people in attendance for turkey, gravy, and all the fixings galore.  In addition to the turkey and stuffing I'm contributing tonight, I'm bringing a sweet potato casserole.

I'm not a marshmallow fan (unless we're talking s'mores or homemade marshmallows).  So when I make sweet potatoes, fluffy white goo is not an option.  Here's what I do instead. 

Choose Garnet variety sweet potatoes, if you have an option, because they have the most beautiful deep orange flesh.  Don't pick the skinny ones; go for the fatter, turnip-shaped tubers. 

4 sweet potatoes (about 3-4 pounds)

1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple in its own juice

1 large apple (Ida Red or Empire)

1 cup pecan halves

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Scrub the sweet potatoes and prick them several times each with a fork.  Put them on a cookie sheet and bake them for 1 hour. 

Drain the pineapple very well and give the juice to your favorite child to drink.  Peel and chop the apple into half-inch chunks.  Chop the pecans roughly.  When the sweet potatoes are baked, cut them in quarters and let them cool for about ten minutes.  Scoop the flesh out of the skins and save the skins for the compost pile.

Put the sweet potato flesh, pineapple, apple chunks, and pecans in the mixer and mix well.  Stir the salt and sugar into the cream, then add the cream to the sweet potatoes and mix well.  Taste the mixture and add more salt and/or sugar if you feel the need.  Spread the sweet potatoes in a 9x13" pan and bake for a half hour.  Serves 12.


The Tastemakers


My friend Adriana turned us on to the Kettle Chips Create-A-Chip Challenge.  When I read about it on her blog, it seemed to me to be a contest custom-tailored for our family.  We sent away for the Create-A-Chip Kit (on James's lap, above).  When it came, we quickly ate the "inspirational flavors" (included are three big bags of some of Kettle's more interesting flavors), but saved the plain salted chips and the flavor packets (Cheddar, Sweet Chili, Lemon Butter, Vinegar, Sour Cream & Chive, Tomato, and Caramelized Onion) for our Flavor Creation Lab.

When our friends the Fabulous D Family came over to play last Saturday, we got to work.  We did use all the flavor packets provided, but also opened up the cupboards and tried to think "outside the box" a bit.  Here are the potato chip flavors we invented and "field tested":

Cowboy Crunch (Caramelized onion and crumbled bacon)

Forest Mushroom (Caramelized onion and dried ground porcini and chanterelle mushrooms)

Sam's Hot & Sour (Vinegar, lemon butter, and sweet chili)

Bowl o' Chili (Sour cream and chive, tomato, cheddar, and sweet chili)

Scarborough Fair (Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme)

And our fantastic "dessert chip" flavors:

Mexican Chocolate (cocoa, superfine sugar, and cinnamon)

Lemon Squash (Lemon butter, citric acid, and superfine sugar)

All the flavors were eminently munchable.  If you have a free moment, go to the Chip Challenge website and browse the Recipe Gallery.  You might find a need to order a kit of your own.

On the subject of taste, we leave for France on Sunday night, but I'm running weekly "Win a Taste of France" contests while I'm away, so check back here every Monday in August and enter to win a delicious package from me!


Bibbity Bobbity Bacon!

(Jeff Gaffigan gets full credit for this post's title.  Go to YouTube and watch his hilarious bacon "bit" (pun intended); you won't be sorry.)

I believe it was my coauthor and fabulous fellow foodie Adriana Velez who told me about the Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies featured on the now-defunct blog Experiments in Deliciousness.  I looked it up and was intrigued.  I decided I must make some, but planned to devise my own recipe, since the EiD recipe seemed a little over the top to me. 

Yes, it's true: Luisa Perkins, enthusiastic consumer of all things rich and porky, the woman who once ate a roasted pig's head, found the recipe excessive.  I think it was the Maple Glaze and Bacon Garnish; that seemed a bit like gilding the lily to me.  I decided to go for something slightly more restrained.

I mentioned my plan to my dear pal Deb Barshafsky, a food writer who lives in Augusta, Georgia.  Deb promptly requested that I make her a batch.  I readily agreed, since I adore Deb and her partner, Marian. 

The Fates immediately began conspiring against me.  First I ran out of slave-free, fair-trade chocolate chips.  After those arrived, I found I was out of pastured bacon.  Once the freezer was restocked, the vacuum broke, the cat needed surgery, and I had to re-teach myself trigonometry.  Then I went and had that sweet baby, and a year went by.

Today, I finally made good on that long-ago promise.  Deb was one of my cookbook-naming contest winners, so I owed her a copy of Comfortably Yum, and I absolutely could not send it off without an accompanying tin of cookies.  Assuming Federal Express does its job, Deb and Marian should be opening up a box of deliciousness sometime tomorrow (Thursday) morning.

And delicious these babies are.  I searched high and low for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, one that produces rich, chewy, simple, not-overly-sweet cookies.  How providential to find that recipe practically next door, when my friend and Visiting Teacher, Melinda Higbee, brought such a batch over.  The following basic recipe is hers, and if you leave the bacon out, you'll still have a demmed fine cookie.

But try the bacon at least once.  It does not overpower at all; its presence in the cookie contributes subtle, slightly salty richness, a perfect backdrop to the dark chocolate.  Some of my children didn't even realize that today's batch had an extra ingredient in it.  So here's what I did, without further ado:

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 pound bacon

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 egg

1 tablespoon vanilla (yes, a tablespoon, not a teaspoon)

2 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chocolate chips

Fry the bacon in a hot skillet until crisp and brown.  Drain it on layers of paper towels.  Once it is cool, blot it with more paper towels.  Cut any white, flabby ends off the rashers and save them for another use (or just give them to your children, who will snap them out of the air like hungry sea lions).  Eat a whole rasher or two yourself; it's been a long time since lunch.  You'll end up with about half the original lot.  Using a very sharp knife, chop the bacon into very fine bits.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Cream the butter and the sugars together on your mixer's highest speed for a minimum of five minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.  Add the egg and the vanilla and beat for another two minutes.  Stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Finally, add the bacon bits and the chocolate chips and stir just until mixed.

Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets (use Silpat liners if you have them).  Bake for 12 minutes, or until cookies are a light golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets, then transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.  Put the bowl of remaining dough in the fridge between batches.  Makes about 3 dozen.

Cold milk is an indispensable accompaniment to these decadent, chewy wonders.  If the entire batch weren't already all gone, I wouldn't hesitate to eat these for breakfast.  Try them and see what you think.




Stay on Target...Almost There...

How patient you have been! My cookbook Comfortably Yum should be available on Amazon any day now. Check back here in a day or two, and I'll give you all the details. (Click on the image above for a larger view of the adorable cover designed by Gary Brown, my uber-talented brother-in-law.)