Chartreuse French toast

March 23rd, 2010

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 oz green Chartreuse
pinch of salt
4 slices day old bread
1 T butter

Mix the eggs and milk together thoroughly then add the Chartreuse and salt.

Dip the bread in the mixture and fry in the butter till golden on each side. Garnish with just a little maple syrup. Please, no cinnamon or powdered sugar.

Serve with Lemon Coriander Bacon

Warm salad with Lemon Coriander bacon

March 5th, 2010

Spring is around the corner.  Even though its currently snowing outside my window, I’m thinking of the bright green bounty that will soon be gracing our tables.  Nothing quite says spring is here like asparagus on the table. Radishes and bibb lettuce bring this salad together.  And, of course, the bacon helps too.

8 1/2 inch slices of Lemon Coriander Bacon
1 Bunch Asparagus
6 scallions
10 radishes
1 head Bibb lettuce
1 oz red wine vinegar

Cut 1/2 inch slices of slab bacon. Render on both sides, or roast in the oven for about 20-30 mins.

In the mean time, break the ends off of your asparagus and cut into 1 inch pieces. Chop the scallions to match in size. Cut the radishes in half, and trim the greens off keeping 1/2 inch of the green tops. Tear the leaves of bibb lettuce from the head and set them in small piles on the plates.

When the bacon is crisp and cooked through, remove it onto a plate to keep warm.  Drain off any extra bacon fat and add the veggies to the pan.  Sautee until the asparagus is bright green but still has some snap to it.  Deglaze the pan with the vinegar and toss to coat. Spoon the veggies straight on to the lettuce piles on the plates and top with the crispy bacon.

Tomato sauce with Sopressata

February 3rd, 2010

Something magical happens when you cook pork and garlic very slowly together. The nutty flavors of the garlic develop, and fat from the pork creates the ideal environment to cook and infuse those flavors. The
slower and longer you cook this mix, the richer the flavor will be in the final dish. Add tomato paste into that mix and you’ve got a great soffritto, or base for a sauce.

The method for making a sauce is fairly simple. Start with your soffritto and add canned tomatoes, some wine, maybe some herbs, simmer until the tastes meld, and you’re done. Here’s a full breakdown:

1/2 cup diced Sopressata
8 cloves chopped garlic
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Tomato paste
2 16 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 cup red wine
Salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped parsley (optional)
1/2 cup chopped basil (optional)

Set a heavy bottomed pan over very low heat. Add the sopresatta, garlic, and olive oil. Cook as slowly as possible until the garlic turns a rich golden color. Add the tomato paste, increase heat to medium, and stir well. Cook until the garlic and sopressata are evenly coated with the tomato paste.

Add the canned tomatoes and wine, and increase the heat and bring the sauce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, and taste. Adjust as necessary. Add half the herbs if using them.

Simmer slowly until the olive oil separates and forms a sheen on the top of the sauce, roughly 45 mins. Stir in the remaining herbs through and serve over your favorite pasta or however else you like.

Happy Creatures in Charlotte, NC

January 27th, 2010

This January we were visiting Matthew’s folks in Charlotte for his father’s birthday.  We visited Creekside Acres farm, which is only about 30 minutes east of Charlotte.  We were picking up some chickens and legs of lamb for the party that Saturday.  It was a perfect day, and we got to meet John, Kathy, and the animals.  They had Jersey cows grazing in the pasture, sheep and goats in outdoor pens, chickens pecking around, some horses, two turkeys, golden retrievers, and fourteen cats.  Free-range chickens aren’t common around here, but John and Kathy feel it’s important, even though they’ve had severe losses last year due to hawks and foxes.  I for one am happy that they’re sticking to it.

Due to the drought conditions North Carolina faced the last several years, John couldn’t pasture the sheep this winter because he’s allowing the grass to recover.  It’s really true that a livestock farmer must also be a grass farmer.  The sheep are eating hay instead until he can allow them to pasture again.

No pigs here yet.  But John has a friend back in Georgia that raises hogs, and he’s thinking of starting.  It seems to me that he and Kathy just might have enough going on!

They’re not certified organic.  Organic feed is really expensive, and they don’t have the acreage to grow their own, yet.  For now they source their feed locally and ensure that it’s not GMO.  For everything else they follow organic-or-better practices.

We couldn’t pass up getting a gallon of fresh raw milk (for “animal consumption only” – glad that loophole is in NC too.)  Originally we were planning on making some fresh ricotta, but we never got around to it.  Instead, we added it to our coffee and used a bunch to make super-creamy delicious risotto.

John and Kathy are amazing people.  Their commitment to the well-being of their livestock, the nourishment of the land and their community shows in everything they do.  We wish they were more local to us, but were happy to give them our business while we were in the area.

Bacon Lardons

January 27th, 2010

This is one of my favorite ways to cook bacon. A quick braise highlights the full flavor and great texture. Any of our flavors of bacon will work this way. The muscles in belly are quite tough, and require either substantial cooking, or to be thinly sliced. Smaller pieces become tender faster than larger ones, so this is a happy balance between time and simplicity. We’ll post other methods of cooking slab bacon soon.

Cut 1/2 inch slices off the end of the slab of bacon. Then cut those slices into 1/2 inch vertical strips so you have all the layers of meat and fat in each piece.

Place the lardons of bacon in a saucepan small enough to hold them in one layer without much extra room. Top with just enough cold water to cover. Turn the heat up to med-high and don’t cover the pan.

As the water boils off, the bacon will start to fry in its own fat. When you hear it start to sizzle turn the heat down so they don’t burn. Turn the heat down and fry the bacon untill crisp on all sides.

Drain the lardons on paper towels, and enjoy them with whatever you’re preparing.

Look – it’s a blag!

January 4th, 2010

This is where we’ll post recipes, insightful commentary, and musings on the awesomeness of bacon.