Tag Archives: bacon

Ricotta & Onion-Port Jam Flatbread

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When is pizza not pizza? When it is flatbread of course. Flat bread is one of my favorite go to foods. It can be served as part of a light dinner, as an appetizer or even a mid afternoon snack. All it takes is some flatbread—pre made or my preference of fresh homemade pizza dough– and the toppings of your choice. You can make them sweet, savory or a combination of the two. Top them with meat, cheese, fruits or vegetables. Really, anything can be a topping for flatbread so you can make individual ones to please your entire family or bake up a variety for a smorgasbord.

This flatbread is one of my favorites and is inspired by the Savory Simple food blog. I’ve used my own pizza dough and topped it with fresh ricotta cheese, crumbled bacon and homemade port infused onion jam. The jam is sweet, savory and decadent and the key to its success is cooking the onions slowly so they caramelize. You can make the jam earlier in the day if you prefer then top the flatbread with it when you are ready to cook. So go ahead and try this recipe then let your imagination decide which direction you go next. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

RICOTTA & ONION-PORT JAM FLATBREAD 

For the flatbread:

1 recipe of your favorite pizza dough

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup onion-port jam

1 cup crumbled bacon

1/4 cup green onions, minced

For the Onion-Port Jam:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large yellow onions, peeled, quartered and sliced thin

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup water (more if needed)

1/2  cup port wine

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • Melt the butter on low heat in a large skillet.
  • Add the onions, sugar and salt.
  • Sweat the onions, stirring, until they begin to caramelize.
  • Turn up the heat to medium-low. Once the onions have begun to brown, pour approximately 2-3 tablespoons of water into the pan to deglaze, using a spatula to scrape up the brown bits and stir them into the onions.
  • Repeat this glazing and deglazing process until the onions have been thoroughly caramelized and taste both sweet and bitter, approximately 25-35 minutes.
  • Add the port wine and balsamic vinegar to the onions and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring periodically, until all of the liquid has reduced and is coating the onions.
  • Taste and add a bit more salt if desired.

When you are ready to build your flatbreads:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. If your oven has a pizza setting, use that.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper then set aside.
  • Divide the pizza dough into four even portions and working one at a time on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a long oval.
  • Place each piece of dough on the prepared baking sheet taking care to make sure the edges are not touching.
  • Place 1/4 cup of the ricotta cheese on the top of each piece of dough and use a rubber spatula to evenly distribute it across the entire surface.
  • Divide the onion-port jam amongst the flatbreads, spreading it to cover as much of the surface area as possible.
  • Add the bacon and the green onions to each flatbread, evenly distributing them across the top of each one.
  • Bake flat breads for 15-17 minutes or until the crusts are browned and crisp and the toppings are beginning to bubble.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Yields: 4 flatbreads

Bacon Jam

The old adage that everything is better with bacon holds true.  In my quest for new bacon related recipes I stumbled upon this one from King Arthur Flour.  Because it is made in a crock pot, the hands on time for this dish is minimal and your entire house will be filled with the sweet and salty aroma of this jam before you are done.  I was initially taken aback by the ingredients, which individually I love but I just couldn’t fathom being put together as a single dish (maple syrup mixed with coffee???), but the results surprised me……..after all everything is better with bacon.  Whether served on bread slices and paired with a salad for a light dinner or paired with bread and goat cheese as part of a buffet table, this jam is a hit.

Not having boiled cider on hand, and being unable to have it shipped to me, I improvised by making a reduction of apple juice cooked with a whole cinnamon stick and five whole cloves.  The result isn’t quite the same but the resulting syrup seemed to do the trick.

BACON JAM
 
1 1/2 pounds bacon
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup boiled cider
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
2 dried bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
  •  Slice the bacon into 1″ slices and cook in a large skillet until well browned.  Drain the fat and reserve the bacon.
  • Place the cooked bacon and all other ingredients into a 2 quart or larger crock pot.  Cover and cook  on high for 3 to 4 hours.
  • Remove the cooked jam from the crock pot, remove the bay leaves, and carefully transfer to a food processor or blender.  (I used a bowl and my trusty stick blender).  Pulse until the consistency is to your liking, a soft, spreadable jam.  You can leave the bacon in larger bits or pulse until very small, your choice.
  • If you find the jam too liquid for your taste, transfer to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the liquid has evaporated and the jam is thick and syrupy.  Adjust the seasonings and serve warm.
  • Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  Warm in the microwave before serving.
Yield:  2 cups

Butternut-Boursin-Bacon Soup

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Here is a an easy and interesting soup from the great food blog, The Noble Pig. I’m a huge fan of butternut squash so am always on the lookout for recipes using this squash. My usual butternut squash soup is Asian inspired and infused with the flavors of ginger, curry paste and coconut milk.  This version, rich with bacon and melted Boursin cheese couldn’t be more different yet is equally as delicious.

I’ve tweaked the original recipe just a bit by adding more bacon and even sauteing my vegetables in bacon fat. I think it provides additional depth to the soup but if you prefer, use all butter instead. But then again you probably don’t want to because isn’t everything simply better with bacon?

BUTTERNUT-BOURSIN-BACON SOUP

8 ounces bacon, diced

Bacon grease and butter to equal 1/3 cup

1/2 of a large onion, diced

4 stalks celery, chopped

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, minced

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

4 cups low sodium chicken broth

10 1/2 ounces Boursin Cheese with Garlic and Fine Herbs

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

  • Cook the bacon until crispy in a large heavy soup pot set over medium heat. Use a slotted spoon to move the crispy bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
  • Add enough butter to the pot to equal about 1/3 of a cup of fat. I used 2 tablespoons of butter.
  • When the fats have melted, add in the onion and the celery, cooking until softened, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add butternut squash and thyme leaves, cook for about 6-8 minutes.
  • Stir in the flour the add the chicken broth to the pot.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat, cover and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes or until the squash is soft.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until it is smooth.
  • Return the pot to the heat, stir in the Boursin cheese, salt and pepper. Stirring occasionally, heat until the cheese has completely melted.
  • Serve in warmed bowls topped with the crumbled bacon.

Serves 4-6

Bacon & Sage Yorkshire Pudding

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Yorkshire pudding is essentially a giant popover that can turn even the simplest of meals into something special.  The ingredients are quite simple–flour, milk, and eggs–but the results are impressive.  And this version from Epicurious includes bacon and sage which makes it especially decadent.  So go ahead and impress your guests, or yourself, and make this tonight.  I’ve served it alongside everything from a herb crusted prime rib to simple grilled steaks.  Either way, the old adage of everything being better with bacon is true; you just can’t go wrong with this dish.

BACON & SAGE YORKSHIRE PUDDING

6 ounces bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons fresh minced sage, divided

1 tablespoon salt

1 1/2 cups whole milk

3 eggs

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Saute the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  • Pour the bacon drippings and the butter into a 12 x 9 x 2 inch glass or ceramic baking dish.  Place the dish in the oven for 10 minutes in order to heat the drippings.
  • Whisk together the flour, 2 tablespoons of the sage, and the salt in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Whisk together the eggs and milk in a separate bowl then add the flour mixture.  Whisk until the batter is smooth.
  • Whisk in 2/3 of the bacon.
  • Remove the hot baking dish from the oven and quickly pour the batter into the hot dish.
  • Return the dish to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Without opening the oven door, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake for another 12 minutes or until the pudding is puffed and golden.
  • Remove the dish from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining bacon and sage.

Serves 8

Bacon Skewers w/ Caramel & Ganache

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If you love bacon and the combination of sweet and savory the way I do, you are sure to become a fan of this dish.  Courtesy of Cuisine at Home magazine, I can’t decide if these skewers make better appetizers or desserts.  Since the sweetness of the caramel and chocolate are foiled by the saltiness of the bacon, you can place the skewers upright in a glass and place them on a buffet table as a part of a brunch feast or serve them individually as a part of an appetizer plate.  These skewers can also make a surprise appearance on a dessert plate alongside a fruit salad.  Or, if you are feeling truly decadent, you can eat them as is for a lazy weekend mid-afternoon treat.  However you serve them they are sure to disappear so be sure the cook gets his or her share.

Do be sure to use a thick cut bacon since thinner slices are more apt to burn and won’t give you enough surface area for your caramel and chocolate to adhere to and as always, use the best quality of chocolate you can find.  You will notice the difference.

BACON SKEWERS w/ CARAMEL & GANACHE

For the bacon:

1 pound thick sliced bacon (about 14 slices)

14 wooden skewers

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Coat a broiler pan with cooking spray.
  • Weave each piece of bacon onto a wooden skewer and place on the prepared broiler pan.
  • Place the bacon in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven, flip each skewer over and return to the oven for an additional 10-15 minutes until the bacon is browned and crispy.
  • Remove from the oven and place on a plate lined with paper towels.
  • Transfer the bacon skewers to a parchment lined baking sheet and set aside while you make the caramel.

For the caramel:

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

2 tablespoons heavy cream

  • Place the brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Allow to boil for 1 minute.
  • Whisk in the cream and boil for an additional 1 minute.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  • Drizzle each bacon skewer with the caramel.
  • Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to allow the caramel to set while you make the ganache.

For the ganache:

3 tablespoons heavy cream

3 ounces good quality milk chocolate, chopped

  • Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped chocolate.
  • Let the mixture sit for 3-4 minutes then whisk the chocolate into the cream until it is smooth.
  • Drizzle the chocolate over the second side of each bacon skewer.
  • Allow the chocolate to set then serve.

Yields: 14 skewers

French Chicken Noodle Soup

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Cooler weather means the onset of comfort food and what is more comforting than a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup? But this soup, adapted from Cuisine At Home isn’t your ordinary chicken noodle soup. Made with a French twist, it is a sophisticated version of the soup I grew up on. Enhanced with brandy and apple cider, the broth is flavorful without being overpowering. Mellow flavored leeks replace the traditional onions with tarragon being the herb of choice. And of course you mustn’t forget the bacon. The vegetables are sautéed in bacon drippings and the entire bowl is topped with a sprinkling of crisp bacon. What’s not to like?

Serve the soup with warm buttermilk biscuits (which you can make while the soup is simmering) and you have a comforting dinner that will warm you inside and out.

FRENCH CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

6 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

6 strips bacon, diced

2 cups sliced leeks

1 1/2 cups sliced carrots

1 1/2 cups sliced celery

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup brandy

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 1/2 cups apple cider

2 bay leaves

6 ounces dried egg noodles

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, minced

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Place the broth and chicken breasts in a large pot set over medium-high heat. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken from the pot and allow to cool. Reserve the broth.
  • When the chicken has cooled, use two forks to shred the meat into bite sized pieces. Set aside.
  • Add the bacon to a large soup pot set over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon until crisp.
  • Use a slotted spoon to drain the bacon onto a paper towel lined plate.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the leeks, carrots, celery and garlic to the bacon drippings. Cover the pot and cook until the vegetables are tender crisp, about 10 minutes.
  • Uncover the pot and add the brandy to the vegetables, stirring to loosen any cooked on pieces. Cook until the brandy has evaporated.
  • Stir in the Dijon mustard then add in the reserved broth, the apple cider and the bay leaves.
  • Bring the soup to a boil over high heat.
  • Stir in the noodles, the diced apple and the shredded chicken. Cook until the noodles are tender.
  • Turn off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and tarragon and season with the salt and pepper.
  • Serve immediately topped with the crumbled bacon.

Serves 6

Chinese Five Spice Pork & Noodles

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

I first discovered Chinese five spice powder when it showed up in my spice order as a free sample and I was immediately hooked.  Chinese five spice powder is an intriguing combination of cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, fennel, and anise.  When added to simple ingredients such as pork and noodles it brings the ordinary to extra-ordinary.  Even better, this dish is fast which is the perfect way to end a long week. The original recipe, from Fine Cooking Magazine, calls for using fresh Chinese egg noodles, an ingredient I have yet to be able to find here in Albania. You can make your own or use any long fresh noodle you can find in the refrigerator case of your grocery store.

CHINESE FIVE SPICE PORK & NOODLES

1/3 cup salted peanuts

1/4 cup bacon, cut into thin strips

2 medium cloves, garlic, coarsely chopped

1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/4 cup peanut oil

3/4 pound ground pork

1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 scallions, trimmed and sliced

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil

2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

3/4 pound fresh egg noodles or other fresh pasta

  • Fill a medium-sized pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Coarsely chop the peanuts in a food processor.  Transfer to a small bowl.
  • Place the bacon, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes in the food processor and pulse to finely chop.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy skillet set over medium heat.  Add the bacon mixture and cook, breaking it apart with a spoon until the bacon renders most of its fat and darkens somewhat, about 4 minutes.
  • Raise the heat to medium-high and add the pork, five spice powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt.  Cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until it looses its raw color, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the scallions, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, and sugar.  Keep warm over low heat.
  • Cook the pasta in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes.  Drain and put it in a large bowl.  Toss in the pork mixture.
  • Divide the pork and noodles amongst four shallow bowls and sprinkle with the reserved peanuts.

Serves 4

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