Bacon Jam

I first learned that bacon jam was a thing when I received a new cookbook in the mail from my aunt on the west coast.  (BEST. MAIL. EVER.) It obviously seemed like a brilliant concept and to be honest I was a little mad I didn’t think of it first, but I got past it and gave this recipe a try.   It’s incredibly rich and indulgent.  And sweet and spicy, and savoury and wonderful.  The mixture simmers aromatically for about 2 hours, cooking itself down into a sticky, sweet, spicy and rich jam like texture.  You can also use a hand held blender at the end to break it up further and make it even more jam-like.

Bacon Jam Ingredients

Bacon Jam Ingredients

Start by cooking up a pound of bacon, remove it to a paper towel lined plate, and drain off most of the grease.  Leave about 2 – 3 tbsp and then throw in onions and garlic, and allow to cook until soft and golden brown.  Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer over medium heat for 2 hours.  Add 1/4 cup of water every half hour, or whenever it starts to burn a little or stick to the bottom of the pan.  Not surprisingly, your home is going to smell pretty unreal.

Cooking Bacon Jam

Cooking Bacon Jam

Blend the mixture slightly, so that it is spreadable but still has some texture.  Store it in a glass jar in the fridge and use it in any number of delicious ways.

Bacon Jam

Bacon Jam

Like on a grilled cheese sandwich! The one below also has herb and garlic cream cheese, roasted red pepper and old cheddar.  Serve this with Bread and Butter Pickles on the side for a sublime grilled cheese experience. :)

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Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Bacon Jam

Bacon Jam Recipe

1 lb bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp hot sauce
1 cup brewed coffee
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp pepper

  1. In a deep pan, fry bacon in batches until lightly browned and beginning to crisp.  Remove bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Drain bacon fat from pan, leaving only about 2 tbsp.
  2. Add garlic and onions to the rendered bacon fat and fry over medium heat for 5 minutes or until translucent.  Return bacon to the pan and add all remaining ingredients.  Simmer uncovered for 2 hours, adding 1/4 cup water every 30 minutes.  Consistency should be thick and jam-like.
  3. Use immersion blender or food processor to pulse mixture for 2 to 3 seconds, leaving some texture.  Allow to cool.  Keep refrigerated in an airtight container.

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Bread and Butter Pickles

I first made these pickles after a friend gave me a bounty of cucumbers fresh from her garden, and I knew I needed to find a way to use them before they went bad.  This Bread and Butter pickle recipe solved my problem and was very uncomplicated to make.  Even though it isn’t exactly garden season at the moment, you can still find cucumbers at the grocery store and have these stashed in your fridge year round.  They keep for about a month in the fridge and also make great gifts!  I haven’t encountered anyone who doesn’t appreciate a jar of homemade pickles to snack on!

Start by slicing your cucumbers into coins and soaking them in icy water along with onions and a bunch of salt.  Let them sit for at least 2 hours to ensure the pickles stay crunchy.  :)

Bread and Butter Pickle ingredients

Bread and Butter Pickle ingredients

Then you just bring the vinegar and all the seasonings to a boil.

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Drain the cucumber and onion, and add to the seasoning mixture on the stove.

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Turn the heat off and transfer everything to a jar.  Let it cool to room temp, put the lid on and store in the fridge for up to a month.  Yum!

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Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe

1 lb pickling cucumbers, like Israeli of Kirby,  sliced into coins
1 small yellow onion, sliced as thinly as possible
2 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup raw honey
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
A pinch of celery seed
1 bay leaf

  1. Combine the cucumbers, onion and salt in a large mixing bowl of very icy ice water and let them sit for 2 hours (this will help keep the pickles very crunchy).
  2. Meanwhile, bring the vinegar, honey and seasonings to a boil in a large pot.  Drain the cucumbers and onions and add them to the pot.  Bring back to a boil, immediately turn off the heat, and transfer the entire mixture to a glass jar.
  3. Once the jar cools to room temperature, put a lid on it and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Makes about a pint

From:  It’s All Good

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Artichoke and Pine Nut Pesto Ravioli

Right before Christmas some family came to town, and we had a night in at my place where we cooked dinner.  Artichoke and Pine Nut Pesto mixed with some ricotta cheese and stuffed inside homemade ravioli, to be exact. :) I had some pasta dough in the freezer, so all we had to do was make the filling and assemble everything.  Everyone pitched in and we created an insanely delicious meal.  Fun stuff!

We played around with the best way to make ravioli, and settled on using a round ravioli stamp.  Cutting them by hand was messier and just not as pretty.  Since they were big, the trick was not to over-stuff it, and find a good balance of pasta and filling.  I think we nailed it!

Raviolis

Raviolis

We cooked everything up and topped with a lemon brown butter sauce, fresh basil and Parmesan.  No leftovers in sight!

Artichoke and Pine Nut Pesto Ravioli

Artichoke and Pine Nut Pesto Ravioli

Artichoke and Pine Nut Pesto Filling Recipe

1 cup artichoke heart, cooked (canned would be fine, and roughly chopped)
1/8 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, peeled and minced
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
pinch coarse salt
a few grinds of fresh black pepper
1 -2 teaspoon fresh tarragon leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 – 3/4 cups ricotta cheese, to taste

  1. Pulse the first 7 ingredients together in a food processor. Stir in the ricotta and the tarragon and season to taste with more salt and pepper, if needed.

Note: Omit ricotta and serve pesto mixed with spaghetti or spread on some grilled bread for a tasty snack.

Fresh Pasta Recipe:

2 organic large eggs
10 organic large egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and dusting

  1. Whisk together the whole eggs and yolks in a bowl.  Put the flour on a large board or in your biggest mixing bow, make a well in the centre, and pour the eggs into the well.  Slowly bring in the flour using a fork and then knead by hand just a few times or until a nice dough forms.  Add  a bit more flour if the dough is very sticky.  Let the dough rest under a tea towel for at least 10 minutes before proceeding.
  2. Take out your pasta machine.  Cut the dough into 8 pieces and roughly form into rectangles.  Dust each rectangle with a bit of flour.  Starting on the widest setting, put one piece through the machine, dusting with more flour if it’s at all sticky.
  3. Fold the dough over itself and go through again on the same setting (you are essentially kneading and stretching the dough). Repeat this process on each setting, going from widest to thinnest, until you are left with a long, thing sheet of pasta. Be gentle during the process and careful not to tear your sheets.
  4. Repeat the whole process with all the pieces  of dough, laying them on tea towels or your clean counter. Cover with plastic wrap or a barely damp towel.
  5. Add a few tablespoons of filling every few inches to the top of a sheet, and top with another sheet of pasta.  Stamp or cut out your raviolis, making sure the edges are sealed so none of the filling escapes.
  6. Top with sauce of choice.  I used a brown butter sauce with a bit of lemon, but I bet this would be great topped with something creamy, as well.  Don’t forget the Parmesean, basil and fresh ground pepper to finish it all off!

From:  My Father’s Daughter

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Fried Shallots & Shallot Oil

I got a gorgeous Burmese cook book for Christmas last year, and as I read through it I realized that fried shallots are a staple in Burmese cooking; they show up everywhere from salads, to fried rice, to soups, to vegetable side dishes, etc. etc. etc.  I would also recommend adding them to burgers, sandwiches, steaks and Drunken Soba Noodles. :) As an added bonus, when you make these you also get a good amount of flavoured shallot oil!  This stuff has come in handy countless times.  It really takes sauces and salad dressings up a notch.  And it keeps forever so I’m loving having both these things stocked in the pantry!

Frying shallots

Frying shallots

The thing to remember about making these is to use a medium-low, steady heat.  You don’t want to burn them to a crisp, but just take on a nice golden brown colour and retain some of that onion-y flavour.

Fried Shallots

Fried Shallots

Don’t forget to strain the oil into a jar and stash it in your pantry!

Fried Shallots & Shallot Oil

Fried Shallots & Shallot Oil

Fried Shallots & Shallot Oil Recipe

1 cup peanut oil
2 cups thinly sliced shallots

  1. Place a skillet or wok over medium-high heat  and add the oil.  Toss in a slice of shallot.  As the oil heats, it will rise to the surface, sizzling lightly.  When it’s reached the surface, add the rest of the shallots (carefully, so the oil doesn’t splash you) and lower the heat to medium.
  2. Stir gently and frequently with a long handled wooden spoon.  If they start to brown within the first 5 minutes, lower the heat a little more.  After about 10 minutes they should start to colour.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the pan or to each other, until they have turned golden brown, another 3 minutes or so.
  3. Line a plate with paper towel and use tongs or slotted spoon to lift shallots out of the pan onto the plate. Blot gently to dry.  Separate any clumps and let them air dry 5 to 10 minutes so they crisp up and cool.
  4. Transfer the shallots to sealed container and keep in your pantry.  Once the oil has cooled completely, cover tightly and store in a cool dark place.

From: Burma.  Rivers of Flavour

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Candy Bars!

I’m a sucker for anything that’s salty and sweet, and if you add chocolate to the mix it’s the best snack ever.   What I like best about these candy bars is that they use all real, healthy ingredients and are very straightforward to throw together. You do have to plan ahead a bit though and let the cashew, date, shredded coconut, maple syrup and peanut butter filling set for a few hours.  I skipped this step one time and they were messier and more crumbly than when you let them chill.

The recipe calls for almond butter, but since I didn’t have any I substituted natural peanut butter and I have zero complaints about how these turned out.  Coconut flour and coconut oil are also in the original recipe but again I substituted (a bit less) regular flour and peanut oil.  I’m sure there are many variations you could try and come up with an above average snack each time!

Candy Bar ingredients

Candy Bar ingredients

Start by blending the cashews (or whatever other nut you want to use) until they’re a fine meal.  Then throw in everything else (except the chocolate chips) and blend until a sticky dough ball forms.

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Spread the mixture into a parchment paper lined dish.  The parchment will make it much easier to free these treats from the dish later on, and you’re going to want fast, easy access.

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Set up a double boiler and melt the chocolate chips and oil, then spread the melted mixture on top of the cooled nut mixture.

I actually felt that this amount of chocolate while delicious, could be overpoweringly sweet at times.  Next time I think I’ll cut it in half and just get a hint of sweetness.  Gotta find that flavour balance!

Candy Bars!

Candy Bars!

Candy Bars Recipe

1 1/2 cups salted cashews
1 1/2 cups dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup almond or peanut butter
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips (or 3/4 cups if you want just a hint of sweetness)
1 1/2 tablespoons oil (coconut, peanut, canola, etc.)

  1. Grind the cashews to a very fine meal in a food processor.  Add the dates, peanut (or almond) butter, maple syrup, flour, shredded coconut, almond extract and pulse until you have a sticky ball of dough.
  2. Line a small sheet pan with parchment paper and press the cashew mixture out onto the paper, making a rectangle 1 inch deep.  Refrigerate mixture for a few hours until it’s firm.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the chocolate chips and oil in a stainless steel or glass bowl set over a pot of boiling water (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl).  Stir the mixture until it’s just melted, remove the bowl from the heat, and pour the chocolate mixture over the cold cashew mix.  Return the bar to the fridge and let it cool until the chocolate coating is set, at least 1 hour.
  4. Using the parchment, lift the bar out of the sheet pan and cut it into rectangles.  Serve at once or store in an airtight container

From:  It’s All Good

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Filed under Dessert, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetarian

Roasted Carrots with Honey and Soy Sauce

As much as I’m mourning the loss of swimming, beaching and ice creaming weather, I’m also loving all the comfort foods that we get to indulge in this time of year.  I saw these brilliantly coloured carrots at the grocery store and picked them up based on their colour alone, I just couldn’t pass up such a pretty vegetable.  I decided to try roasting them in a honey and soy glaze because not only is this recipe extremely simple and showcases those colours, it just seemed like a very fall thing to do.

Carrots

Carrots

They’re even more vibrant when they’re peeled!

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I chopped them into 1 – 2 inch chunks in order to expose more beautiful colour contrasts.

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Boil them for a few minutes, just until they lose some of their firmness.  5 minutes or so.   Then you just have to drain them, toss with the honey-soy dressing and put them in the oven at 450 F for 15 minutes (or until totally cooked through). They will be nice and caramelized at this point, and your fork should glide right through them like butter :)

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Roasted Carrots with Honey and Soy Sauce Recipe

8 Carrots, peeled and cut into 1-2 inch lengths2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil2 tbsp honey2 tbsp soy sauce

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Place the carrots in the water and cook until they just begin to lose their bite but aren’t completely soft, 5-6 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together the olive oil, honey and soy sauce in a large mixing bowl.  Drain the carrots thoroughly, add them to the bowl with the honey mixture and stir to coat them evenly.
  4. Transfer the carrots to the prepared sheet pan and roast, stirring now and then, until completely caramelized, about 15 minutes.  These are good served hot and at room temperature, too.

From:  It’s All Good

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Pickled Jalapeños

One of the best things about these jalapeños is that they will keep in the fridge for up to a year, but I made them about a month ago and we’ve burned through about half already.  I really had no idea pickling could be as easy as boiling a few ingredients together, throwing in some spices, slicing up some jalapeños and combining everything in a jar.  I predict that pickled jalapenos will become a staple condiment in my fridge for a long time!

Pickled Jalapeno Ingredients

Pickled Jalapeno Ingredients

Just throw some vinegar, water, salt, celery seed, coriander seeds and peppercorns together in a pot and bring to a boil.

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Pickling Mixture

Put the sliced jalapenos, garlic and bay leaf into a glass jar.

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Jalapenos and Garlic

Pour in the liquid, let it sit in the fridge for a week, and the before and after will look something like this:

Jalapeño Before & After Pickling

Jalapeño Before & After Pickling

Now just start throwing these spicy beauties on tacos, pizza, sandwiches, nachos, salads, etc., etc., etc!

Spicy Italian Sausage with Maple Baked Beans and Pickled Jalapeños

Spicy Italian Sausage with Maple Baked Beans and Pickled Jalapeños

Forgive the Iphone pictures…I don’t always take the time to take a decent shot.  Sometimes a girl just wants to eat!

Pizza topped with Pickled Jalapeños

Pizza topped with Pickled Jalapeños

Love these as part of an amazing taco spread!

Beef Tacos with Pickled Jalapeños

Beef Tacos Ingredients

Yum!

Beef Tacos with Pickled Jalapeños

Beef Tacos with Pickled Jalapeños

Pickled Jalpeño Recipe

3/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp coarse sea salt
Pinch celery seed
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
8 large jalapeños, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

  1. Combine the vinegar, water, salt, celery seed, coriander seeds, and peppercorns in a small saucepan over high heat, bring to a boil, and turn off the heat.  Meanwhile, pack an empty glass jar with the jalapeños and stuff the bay leaf and the garlic  slices in and among the peppers.
  2. Pour the vinegar mixture over the jalapeños, being sure to get all the seeds into the mix.  The liquid should completely cover the peppers.
  3. Let the jar cool to room temperature, then tightly screw the lid and stash the jar in the fridge.  The peppers are good to go after a week, but they keep up to a year in the refrigerator!

From:  It’s All Good

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