Sunday, November 22, 2009

B is for Bacon Beignets

I'm not from New Orleans. In fact, I've never even been there. The closest I've come to this tasty treat was at sleepovers with one of my friends in elementary school. In the mornings, her mom would let us make "doughnuts" out of Pillsbury biscuit dough, deep fried, then covered with cinnamon and sugar. (If you don't have time to do a real dough, I bet that would still taste pretty darn good.)

The biggest inspiration for this recipe (besides, as always, King Bacon) were the crawfish beignets at Alligator Soul in Everett, Washington. Recipe guidance came mostly from here and a little from here, with some frying oil advice here, since I don't fry stuff very often.

Here's What I Did:
1 Envelope Active Dry Yeast

3/4 Cup Water (110 degrees F)

1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar

1/2 tsp Salt
1 Beaten Egg

1/2 Cup Evaporated Milk

3 1/2 – 3 3/4 Cups Flour
4-6 slices of bacon

1/8 Cup Shortening

Vegetable Oil for Frying

Powdered Sugar

1) Fry the bacon until crispy. Drain and set aside.

2) Combine the Yeast, Water, and Sugar in a food processor,

3) Let this sit until frothy, about 5 minutes,

4) Add the Salt, Egg, and Evaporated Milk and mix on low speed,

5) Add half of the flour and mix until it starts to come together,

6) Add the shortening and bacon. Mix.

7) When the shortening and bacon are incorporated, start adding the remaining flour, a little at a time until most of it is incorporated.

8) Add just enough flour to make a non-sticky, smooth dough.

9) Place the dough into a large oiled bowl, loosely cover and let rise
NOTE: The original recipe had the following statement "I made mine last night and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator." I did not have good luck with that method and had to do an emergency dough recovery. More on that below.

10) After the dough has doubled in bulk, (3-ish hours) punch it down and turn it onto a floured surface

11) Roll out to about 1/2″ thick.

12) Cut out with cookie cutters. (I used a ghost, an autumn leaf and a snowflake. Apparently diamonds, rectangles and circles are more traditional.)

13) Place the Beignets on a floured baking sheet to let rise about 40 minutes in a warm place (I put them in a barely warm oven. Preheat to 200 for 2 minutes, then turn the heat off and shove the dough in.)

14) When the Beignets have risen, heat 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in a large saucepan to 350-360 degrees.

15) Place 2-4 Beignets into the hot oil at a time, being careful not to smash or deflate them.

16) When they are golden brown, flip them over until golden brown on the other side (This goes VERY quickly so start checking them right after they go into the oil).

17) Remove to paper towel lined plates to drain.

18) Serve hot topped with plenty of powdered sugar

The original recipe says this makes about 2 dozen. I got about that out of it, maybe a little more; I think I was making them smaller.

How'd it go?
Great. Fried dough is just a tasty tasty thing. The bacon fit in nicely, no big surprise there.

I made 7 yesterday which were fried and eaten and then another 20-25ish I pre cut and put into the freezer; supposedly I'll be able to thaw and fry them later in little batches. We'll see how that goes.

What would I change:

- Well, I don't think i'll ever try to get dough to rise in the refrigerator again. As I said yesterday, I awoke to non-risen dough. The save that worked was placing the dough in a barely warmed over for awhile (Preheat to 200 for 2 minutes, then turn the heat off and shove the dough in). Thank you, friendly bakers of the interweb!

- I would use more bacon. There's some in every pastry, but I would like more for even more bacony flavor.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

B is for Bacon Beignet FAIL!

or, D is for Dough D'oh!

I made the dough for the bacon beignets last night and, as of this morning, it hadn't risen.

I checked online and found two suggestions for saving dough that make sense to me:
- put it in a warmer place
- mix in a new batch of yeast water

I'll try them in order and see how it goes.

If that doesn't work, later we'll have Bacon Bread Pudding.

Friday, November 20, 2009

B is for Blog FAIL!


Yesterday I was finally so distracted by work and life and being diagnosed with strep that I forgot to post.

Ah well, it was a good try. Over half and all that, pip pip, chin up.

I can always finish out the run, and 29 out of 30 is perfectly respectable.

Stiil, though: DARN and DANG!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

B is for Breakfast Souffle

This is my family's traditional Christmas morning breakfast. It's not only tasty, but also practical; you make it the night before and on The Day you can just pop it in the oven and be good to go by the time you're done with the stockings.

1 1/2 to 2 lbs bulk sausage (may I suggest Bacon sausage?)
18 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
3 slices white bread
1 to 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
mushrooms and/or onion – optional

1) Brown sausage and drain.
2) Remove crust from bread and cut into 1/4 in cubes
3) Mix eggs, milk, mustard, salt, bread cubes and cheese in large mixing bowl
4) Stir in sausage.
4.5) Also stir inmushrooms and onions at this point if you're going to.
5) Pour into greased 13x9x2 inch casserole
6) Cover and refrigerate overnight.
7) Bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for 1 hour.

Serves 12.

I share not because I cooked this today but because I was sent the recipe from my mom and sister today. Love love love.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

B is for Block. Writer's Block

I'm tired of talking about why I left the job, but I also haven't been cooking much this week, between rehearsals, meetings and puppet shows. I had a very nice japanese curry for dinner tonight. They seem to do curry more savory than spicy, which is right up my flavour profile. Also, there were pickles on it, which sounds wrong but tastes oh so right. And now I must post this before time runs out. See you tomorrow, when I hope to have remembered what i actually meant to write about today.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Q is for Quitting

As in, I quit my job today. In this economy, without having a new job. The place I will not much longer have the misfortune of working is so massively toxic that I would rather be unemployed than employed there.

Sorry this has nothing to do with cooking or bacon.

Here's something about food: I had butternut squash duck soup for lunch. It was like eating a bowl of Thanksgiving gravy. In a good way.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

B is for Bacon Burgers

They were huge and delicious. (That's what she said.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

B is for I Can Bring Home the Bacon

Maybe I'll get back to baking tomorrow. That would be nice.

Friday, November 13, 2009

L is for Longest Week Ever

Really. This week has been too too much. So, I lamely will merely post one of my favourite You Tube videos ever to try and cheer us all up.

(Warning: Gangsta rap, n-word, verbal violence, lip syncing Muppets)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

B is for Bacon Heaven

Otherwise known as The Swinery:

(Sorry about the lazy posts. I'm still sick, plus there's a fair amount of emotional upheaval these days. Feh. More on that later.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

B is for Bacon Recipes

From Mr. Interweb, shared with me by Patti. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

B is for BBB Sandwich

Still convalescing, but finally on the upswing, and finding myself with three different kinds of bacon in the house, I did what any self respecting bacon lover would do: I made a Bacon, Bacon and Bacon Sandwich for lunch.

On the left is your typical store-bought breakfast bacon, in the center is our new friend Danish Bacon, and on the right we have applewood smoked bacon from The Swinery.

As you can see, I did not insult my masterful creation with salad or condiments. Just six slices of bacon on twelve grain bread.


Monday, November 9, 2009

B is for Brown, Babbling and Book signing

I heart Alton Brown. Not in a personal knowing him way, mind you, just in a geek girl fan crush sorta way.

He won my heart during the first Feasting on Asphalt when he cooked stew on one of the crew’s motorcycle engines. And then ate it. I swooned. It was after that I noticed “Hey, isn’t he the commentator guy on that American version of Iron Chef that isn’t as good as the original?” I’ve been a loyal fan ever since.

So when I saw his book tour was coming to my city, naturally I wrote it into my day planner. And started including it as a rehearsal conflict on audition forms. That’s the closest this girl comes to dedication.

I had to work the day of the signing event, so I unfortunately got to Third Place Books somewhat after about 800 of the 900+ fans who were there that night.

The event part was great; not actually a reading, which was fine by me, since I
a) own the book
and b) know how to read.

I’m sure the extended Q&A session we got instead was much more entertaining. Highlights:
- He bet a kid a dollar that his mom drove a minivan and then paid up when he was wrong.
- He said it was ok to mock vegans because they were too weak to pick up a pen to write in and complain.
- He gave a guy who’d been married 6 months what he called The Most Important Marital Advice Ever. It boiled down to: Don’t nitpick your spouse’s cooking, but the really cool part of the story is where Mrs. Brown went on kitchen strike for 8 months to prove a point. The mysterious Mrs. Brown, it appears, is a total bad ass. Good on her say I.

And then there was the signing. I was fortunate enough to have an “E” ticket, so I only had to wait about an hour. My friend Johnny had a “Q” ticket and was thus stuck there until 10:45. As an experience, it was very much like waiting to see Santa Claus: the long line, the giddy anticipation, the sprite-like helpers herding us into place, the first glimpse, the mounting excitement/terror, the encounter and the brain freeze.

Campers, I was sooo not cool. You _want_ to be cool on occasions like this, you think you can be, you’re all “Look, self, just treat it like any other conversation. He’s just a guy, right?” But even though that's true, it doesn’t work. Because as a social occasion, this is absurd. So I babbled about bacon and parsnips. And he thanked me for thanking him for the parsnip episode and bragged on his daughter’s acting. He did not hit me with any snark at all, he in fact had a very gentle tone of voice. My theory is that he was trying to calm me down, whether from pity or fear, who can say?

Embarrassment aside, the mission was accomplished. I met The Man, I got The Autograph (which will take its place of honor next to Tim Gunn, Joss Whedon and The Cowboy Junkies) and I grinned like a fool all the way home.

Thanks AB, for being gentlemanly to a star struck fan grrrl.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

B is for Bleah

Right. So I woke up feeling like crap this morning. Thus I did not get to make the BBB (Bacon Bacon Bacon) Sandwich and Bacon Beignets I had planned. And therefore I cannot really blog about them.

Instead I got to sleep on the couch and drink juice. Not tasty. Not fun. Not particularly blog worthy.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

B is for Bacon Antidotes

With all this bacon I have been/will be eating, I had a moment (brief, granted) of concern for my health. Maybe, I thought, just maybe I should look into foods that help fight cholesterol. So I went to Google.

Fortunately, the 4 most mentioned foods all involve things I already like to eat:

- almonds (yum. and you can even get Snickers made with these now)
- oatmeal (a favourite breakfast of mine in winter and also darn tasty when it gets made into bread)
- fish (I live in Seattle. Salmon is plentiful and fresh.)
- soy (ok, only in edamame, but that totally counts)

Maybe at the end of B I should make a meal incorporating all these elements. Twould be an interesting challenge at any rate.

The articles I liked best:
Mayo Clinic

Friday, November 6, 2009

B is for Bacon Caramels

Today I finally made it to The Swinery, where I got enough bacon based products to easily carry me through the rest of B "Week". I also, unexpectedly, encountered Bacon Caramels:

Me: "Wow. And I'm gonna have to add on two of the caramels, there, on principle alone."
The Clerk: "Oh yeah. We were giving them out free on Hallowe'en and so many people asked if we sold them that we decided we should."

At 50 cents a pop they are perhaps a tad pricey (though not skimpy by any means, size-wise), but totally worth it. The caramel is rich and buttery, the bacon is smokey and flavorful and the two blend together like Torvill and Dean.

They are so good, I have no pictures of them. Go get your own. :-p

Thursday, November 5, 2009

B is for Bacon Berry Cheesecake, part 2

Words! Recipe words which I will type with my hands and you will read with your eyeballs:

Here’s What I Did (with a respectful nod in the direction of the Classic Philadelphia Cream Cheese Cheesecake recipe)
1 ¾ Cups Granny’s Pie Crust Mix
4 Tablespoons Cold Milk

4 pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
One cup sour cream
15 oz mixed berries (raspberry, blackberry and blueberry in this case)
4 eggs

3 slices of American bacon (you can use more or less to taste)
Sprinkle of brown sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
¾ cup flour

0) Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

0.5) Set cream cheese and butter out to soften.

1) Roll out one pie crust and place in the pie pan.

2) Bake for ten minutes.

3) While the crust is pre-baking, mince up some bacon (or be lazy and do a “rustic” cut like I did)

4) Fry the bacon.

5) When the bacon seems almost halfway done (to your taste…as previously stated, I like mine very crispy), sprinkle it with a healthy dose of brown sugar and continue to fry until the sugar is melted.

6) Place the sugary bacon bits on a paper towel to drain and cool.

6.5) If ten minutes have passed, which is probably the case at this point, take the crust out of the oven and set aside to cool.

7) Mix cream cheese with 1 cup sugar and the vanilla.

8) Add sour cream and berries and mix again well blended.

9) Add eggs: one egg at a time, mixing between eggs until _just_ blended.

10) Pour into the crust.

NOTE: Depending on the size of your pie pan, you may have leftover filling. May I recommend some CheeseCake Cuppy Cakes?

11) Evenly top the filling with the sugary bacon.

12) Combine butter, ½ cup sugar and the flour.

13) Add this on top of the bacon.

14) Bake for 40ish minutes (until center is almost set)

15) Cool.

16) Place in refrigerator for AT LEAST 4 hours. Overnight is even better.

How’d It Go?
Great. A tasty treat with the full approval of both myself and Mr. Husband. My sister, mom and brother-in-law have all also enjoyed this recipe during Christmas Past.
I once entered this in a Dessert Dash, but I wasn’t able to find the table that won it to ask their opinions. Ah well.

What would I do differently?
- Give a proper mince to the bacon next time. Lazy me.
- Remember that I have a food processor. This would be easier than just using my trusty hand mixer for all mixing steps.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

B is for Bacon Berry Cheesecake

Pictures today, words tomorrow, for I am L'tired.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

B is for Bulbs

Bulbs of shallots and garlic, which I need to get into the ground pretty darn soon.

In fact, being November, it's a bit past optimal. Unfortunately bulb planting time and the kick-in of the uber rainy season here in Seattle sorta kinda coincide. However. today was sunny and tomorrow is supposed to be as well (fingers crossed and boy does that make it difficult to type) so I should be able to get the little suckers in the ground in the afternoon.

In any case it'll be better than this year. I planted in the spring and got some return, but twas measly compared to what it could be with the correct amount of run up time.

Meanwhile, in Televisionland, The Next Iron Chef has been watched and was double plus pleasing this week. The chef I most wanted to stay (Freitag) and the chef I most wanted to go (Appleman) both did those things. Yay!

Monday, November 2, 2009

B is for Danish Bacon

Half a year ago, this sign appeared at the deli three doors down from where I work:

From said sign you will perhaps be informed that this is not a "proper" deli, a "proper" deli apparently being a kosher place completely sans pork.....or so says Mr. Husband, at any rate.

Proper or no, Danish Bacon seemed a good thing to look into during My Increasingly Inaccurately Named Bacon "Week".
Friday I bought half a pound of this so-called Danish Bacon. Saturday morning I did a taste test with an N of 1. Me.

Danish Bacon is on the left, American Bacon on the right. We see the Danish Bacon is shorter and wider but otherwise "streaked" like we likes it.

I chatted the deli workers up a bit about the difference between Danish Bacon and American Bacon. Their answer? It comes from Denmark. Seriously. They did at least have the grace to seem a bit chagrinned at their lack of knowledge.

I found the Danish Bacon cooked up a lot quicker. Taste-wise, I will admit to not seeing much difference. However, as you can see in the photo, I take my bacon very crispy, which many Brits and spin offs consider overcooking it. So for a different (Aussie) opinon, go here.

Perhaps next weekend, when I'm not heavily engaged in finishing a puppet, I'll give different levels of done-ness a whirl. In the meantime, please don't mention the results of this week's The Next Iron Chef, as my power went out last night halfway through the episode. Thanks.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

B is for Blogging. A lot. Part B

Yep. That was for reals. I joined NaBloPoMo. Why? Because I don’t have time to do NaNoWriMo.

I tried that once, when I thought I did have time. And failed. So maybe I’m looking for a little redemption here. Just a dash. Plus a heaping cup of blogging discipline.

30 blogs. 30 days. Let’s go out and get it.