Category Archives: bacon

Raclette

One of the most fun meals I had while I was at home in England was a raclette dinner with my god-daughter and her family. I have had lots of fondue dinners, but this was a new experience for me. Raclette is both the name of a Swiss cheese and a table-top grill where you can melt the cheese. The kids were pros and enjoyed showing me what to do.

The raclette grill comes with individual wedge shaped pans called coupelles and you take a slice of raclette cheese (or a similar easy-to-melt cheese) and place it in your coupelle under the grill. There is also a hot-plate above the grill and you can cook on there. We experimented with sliced potatoes, ham and bacon.

Raclette is commonly served with hot boiled potatoes, gherkins and vegetables. You can cook things in the coupelle with the cheese, or just melt your cheese and pour it on top of your food. The raclette set also comes with small wooden spatulas to help get scrape the cheese out of the coupelle.

The kids loved the process of choosing and creating, we ate, laughed and told stories. Potatoes and cheese are a classic combination but the DIY element of the meal added a fun dimension.

You can buy a raclette grill for around $100. Amazon has an extensive selection.

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Filed under bacon, dinners with friends, Travel

Possibly the best salad in the world

“I could eat this salad every day” said one of our dinner guests last night, “It’s creamy, sweet, salty, spicy, cool and crunchy all at the same time”. The salad from David Chang’s Momofuku cookbook is called fuji apple salad, kimchi, smoked jowl and maple labne.We discovered this salad back in November and have been raving about it ever since. When I scored a jowl from the makin’ bacon class, I could hardly hide my excitement. I knew exactly what it was destined for. Designed to be a winter salad, it sounds weird but it is a sensational combination. Even if you aren’t a fan of kimchi, you could enjoy this salad.

This recipe is a lot more approachable than pig’s head torchon and some of the other recipes in the Momofuku book. The hardest part of making the salad is assembling the ingredients. One trip to the North Market could supply you with maple syrup, bacon, apples and arugula, leaving just the labne and kimchi.

1 Fuji apple per person
1/8 cup of napa cabbage kimchi per person (pureed)
2:1 ratio of labne / maple syrup ( 1/2 cup of labne should be enough for 4 people)
1/4 lb of bacon per person
1/4 cup of loosely packed arugula per person
A little olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

The apples are peeled and sliced and then marinated in the pureed kimchi. It sounds weird but as Chang says “the heat and funk of the kimchi really bring out the sweetness of the fruit’. You can marinate the apples up to 6 hours ahead, but any longer and the kimchi over powers the apples. We bought the kim chi at Arirang Market on Bethel Road and you can find it at other Asian grocery stores.

The green part of the salad is arugula, lightly tossed in olive oil and seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. We have substituted other greens and it has not been detrimental.

The dressing is a roughly 2:1 ratio of labne and maple syrup (you can adjust it to taste). Labne is a Middle-Eastern strained yoghurt. It is made from cow’s milk and because it is strained it has a consistency somewhere between soft cheese and yoghurt. You can find it at Middle Eastern grocery stores such as Mediterranean Imports on High Street and Mecca Market on Hamilton. Maple syrup is easier to find. Ohio is one of the top 5 maple syrup producing states and The Greener Grocer just got some of this season’s Ohio maple syrup.

The salad is topped with smoked jowl bacon baked in the oven (18 minutes at 350°) and served warm. If you aren’t up for making your own, or can’t find jowl bacon you could substitute thick cut smoky bacon. In Columbus I recommend the bacon from Thurn’s or Bluescreek Farm Meats at the North Market. You can cook the bacon ahead of time and reheat and recrisp it before serving.

Place a dollop of the dressing on each plate (1-2 tablespoons). Top with the apples, arugula, bacon and a couple of turns of black pepper. Serve immediately. This is a good dinner party salad because you can prepare everything in advance and then plate it at the last minute.

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Filed under bacon, dinners with friends, ethnic eats, recipes, salads

Makin’ Bacon

It’s nice when someone thinks that you have had a good idea, but even better when they have the means and motivation to turn your good idea into reality. At some point last year I suggested to Robin Davis that a class on how to make your own bacon would be interesting. I think this was in the after-glow of bacon camp, when it seemed that everyone had gone bacon mad. I had heard that Adam Welly of Wayward Seed Farm was an expert-home-charcuterer (if that is a word) and Robin, being the make-it-happen woman that she is, made it happen.

Smoked slab bacon

We learned how to make two different types of bacon: Canadian bacon and pancetta, chosen because Adam felt that these were the most achievable to start with at home, but we also were able to try some other types of bacon that Adam had cured.

Canadian bacon

Adam was a great teacher, with an endless stream of advice and at times Macguyver-ish practical tips, very reassuring and willing and able to answer any question thrown at him. Here’s one of the handy tips: If you need to slice slab bacon yourself, because really, who has the luxury of a meat slicer at home? Put it in the freezer  for 10-15 minutes and then it is much easier to get thin slices. Adam also gave us a reading list: Harold McGee On Food and Cooking (1984 and 2004), Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn Charcuterie (2005) and Paul Bertolli Cooking by Hand (2003), as well as some Bacon making suppliers Butcher and Packer Supply Company and The Sausage Maker Inc.

In between explanations of the various stages involved in making Canadian bacon and pancetta we enjoyed a four course pork feast. We started off with some of the Canadian bacon served cold with sliced Fuji apples, Wayward Seed Farm’s micro red cabbage greens and a simple but luxurious salad dressing of champagne vinegar and a buttery French olive oil. The Canadian bacon was unsmoked and succulent.

Next were some medjool dates wrapped in thinly sliced jowl bacon. I have had dates wrapped in bacon (or devils-on-horseback as they are sometimes known), before but these really were the best ever. The bacon was superb and using the large juicy medjool dates really makes a difference. To make them at home wrap the dates in a thin slice of jowl bacon, or half a slice of slab bacon. Place them on a baking sheet in a preheated oven at 375º for about half an hour. Hard as it may be to resist, let them cool a little before you eat them as they come out of the oven molten hot.

The third course was some pork rilettes served with Adam’s homemade sauerkraut and a gastrique of golden raisins soaked overnight in tangerine juice and then cooked down until reduced to a chutney like consistency. This gastrique would go well with all sorts of cold meats.

For dessert I would have been happy with more of the bacon wrapped dates, but another treat was in store: Jeni’s salty caramel ice cream topped with a slice of candied bacon. To make candied bacon at home, dip a slice of bacon in brown sugar and then bake in the oven. You will need to use baking parchment, a silicon mat or a baking rack.  We learned that they can be rather adhesive!

Making bacon requires a lot of patience, whilst the steps seemed fairly straightforward, there is a lot of waiting between each stage. Not being a particularly patient person, I may not attempt making my own bacon any time soon, but I certainly gained more understanding and appreciation of the process and the amount of time and work that goes into producing one of my favorite foods.

One thing I realized after the class – We never did get to try the pancetta and it should be ready by now! Maybe I will have to make my own.

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Filed under bacon, classes, North Market

Busy but Fabulous

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One of the sad truths about blogging is that usually when you have a lot to write about, you struggle to find time to sit down and write about it. At the moment I would like to tell you about my first visit to Indochine for Vietnamese and Laotian food, a fun trip with old and new friends. I’ve been craving their cabbage salad all week. I would also like to share a fantastic (and surprising) recipe that included kimchi marinated apples and smoked bacon jowl from the Momofuku cookbook; I would also like to tell you about how inspiring yesterday’s Ohio local foods roundtable conference was (with over 100 attendees passionate about local food issues); and tell you about my delicious taco truck tamale breakfast and some of the winter taco truck offerings. Unfortunately I can’t. It will have to wait until next week because we are going to the Fabulous Food Show in Cleveland!

fabulous foodThe Fabulous Food Show is billed as the Midwest’s premier consumer culinary event  and it promises a lot with over 200 exhibitors and hosts of cooking demos and celebrity chefs. Our last trip to Cleveland (and my first) was so much fun that I can’t wait to explore more of the city and I am sure that we will find some fabulous food outside the show as well. I have written down the recommendations I had after my last post, but happy to have more too. We already have dinner booked at the Greenhouse Tavern which I am excited about. We were offered accommodation at the newly renovated Cleveland Airport Marriott and it looks beautiful.

The sad thing is that my weekend away means I am going to have even more to write about next week, but I look forward to sharing my Cleveland discoveries with you. For now, have a great weekend!

I almost forgot – the bread in the photo is a bacon baguette from the Petit Boulangerie. Currently found at farmers markets in Columbus – but soon (I hope) to be stocked at a new shop on High Street.

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Bacon, leek and cheese stuffed potatoes

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Yesterday I was going to make a Leek cheese and bacon tart from the October issue of BBC Good Food magazine. I thought it would be a perfect use for my Wayward Seed Farm leeks and some Heini’s lacey baby Swiss cheese that AD’s mom gave us on Sunday. Unfortunately poor planning (or more accurately procrastination) got the better of me and when I went to the grocery store at the last possible moment to buy the puff pastry, all they had were vol-au-vent shells. Perhaps I should be more ambitious and try making my own puff pastry, but that’s a project for another day.

I bought some of the puff pastry shells thinking that I might be able to improvise but after failing to find any recipe in my quick search that didn’t call for Campbell’s soup, and fearing disaster, I grumpily gave up.

Today I remembered Nigel Slater’s latest article about baked potatoes and inspiration struck. I could use all of the topping ingredients for the tart and make a stuffed baked potato. Thank you Nigel!

2 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and pricked with a fork
1lb of leeks trimmed, washed and thinly sliced.
6 rashers of smoked bacon + the bacon fat
150g cream cheese mixed with chives, parsley and garlic
200g approx grated Swiss cheese
1 egg beaten (Nigel called for just the white so save the yolk if you want)
salt and pepper

The recipe called for a garlic and herb cream cheese. I decided to make my own based on what I had in the fridge. I mixed half chevre (soft goats cheese) from Lake Erie Creamery, half Philadelphia cream cheese and added crushed garlic and finely chopped parsley and chives. We ate some of it on crackers and it was really good. Worth making just for that. For the potatoes, I would probably use all cream cheese but still add my own garlic and herbs.

Bake the potatoes for an hour at 400ºF and then slice in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh.
Snip the bacon into small cubes and fry until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and saute the leek in the bacon fat. Cook the leeks until they are soft (about 5 minutes).
Mash the potato flesh in a large bowl and then add the cream cheese mixture, bacon, leeks and bacon fat, half the grated cheese and the beaten egg.
Season to taste. Fill the potato skins with the mixture and place into an oven proof dish. Sprinkle the remaining Swiss cheese on top.
Bake for 20 minutes at  400ºF until the cheese is golden brown.

Now I have vol-au-vent shells to use up – any good ideas? … maybe I will wait for the next oyster mushroom crop.

 

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This little pig went to DeepWood

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DeepWood hosted ‘The Pig Who Went to Market’ dinner on Monday night. To be precise there were two prime Ohio hogs involved in the preparation of this 7 course porcine feast and DeepWood is a restaurant. But otherwise the name was fitting, this dinner was truly a celebration of all parts pig. A true snout to tail meal, it had been months in the planning and involved 5 chefs as well as beer and wine experts to select the pairings.

I have been to several dinners that pair wines and beers with food, including one excellent one at DeepWood last year, but I have never been to a dinner that uses the same animal for such a succession of courses.

The tone was set with a buffet selection of hors d’oeuvres which included head cheese, a chunky terrine and gougeres filled with pulled pork. An espresso cup of salty ham hock consomme whetted my appetite as well as my palate.

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The hors d’oeuvres were accompanied by a choice of drinks and while I did sample a little of the bacon infused bourbon manhattan, I plumped for the excellent (and pig themed) Charkoota Rye smoked doppelbock lager from Holland Michigan.

We moved to the family style tables in the front section of the restaurant and had a chance to peruse the menu. In addition to the menu descriptions, each course and pairing was introduced by head chef Brian Pawlak and owner Amber Herron who along with Sous Chef Colin Vent and Beverage Director Catherine Morel had selected the pairings.

The first course was a ‘Pig in a Blanket’ with sherried rillettes covered with a house-made pasta sheet and topped with braised fennel and a pungent currant gastrique. The flavor of the fennel was a little lost against the gastrique but this was a sound dish. The wine pairing was a Noel St. Laurent, Rhone Valley Marsanne/Roussane/Viognier (2006) imported by United Estates.  It was very smooth, well balanced and its mild acidity was a good foil to the dish.

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The next course was my favorite, a citrus glazed pork belly perfectly cooked and served on a bed of autumn apples and celery root salad with a subtle whole grain mustard vinaigrette. The pork belly was crisp on top with its layers of tender meat and succulent fat. The apples, a mix of Granny Smiths, Jonathan and Honey Crisp and the celery root were a well chosen accompaniment, refreshing, crunchy and clean tasting.

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With this course there was both a wine pairing from my favorite Ohio Wine producer Kinkead Ridge (their 2008 Riesling) and a beer pairing – Saison, Dupont from Belgium.

The belly was followed by the check (we were not eating in anatomical order) and this was pot roasted in white wine and served over cannellini beans with natural jus. This was paired with a sparkling Malbec rose which challenged my assumptions about sparkling roses (it was much less sweet than I expected) but in my opinion did little to complement the food.

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The next dish was a winner. The ‘trotter’ course was described simply as a cake and was therefore the subject of much speculation during the meal. In reality it was mostly shank, seasoned with mustard, moulded, topped with panko and grilled. It was served with a citrusy hollandaise sauce that reminded me of lemon curd (but less sweet) and mache. The sauce did not win universal approval but the trotter cake (for the less squeamish at the table) was truly a treat.

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The penultimate course was tenderloin stuffed with port-braised-shoulder and wrapped in house-made pancetta. It was served with beurre rouge and roasted baby carrots. The pancetta was very thinly sliced, salty and crispy. The tenderloin could have been a little moister but the stuffing was very good. This was a great pairing too with a Portuguese Duoro wine – Apegadas (2005) – made from port grapes and the first release from the winery. Actually it was another double pairing and was also served with the robust Rogue’s Imperial Stout.

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Stuffed though I was, I was still powerless to resist the lure of bacon. Dessert was a banana-bacon-pecan-strudel with a caramel sauce, paired with a Triple Imperiale Belgian beer. Caramel and banana is a classic combination but the crunchy bacon and light flaky pastry raised it to another level. It was a fitting end to a gluttonous meal. I have said before that DeepWood is often overlooked in Columbus’s culinary scene. Tomorrow is a great opportunity to try it, with a $25 3 course special for the gallery hop.

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Filed under bacon, Columbus, restaurants, special events

Corn Chowder

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With its combination of end-of-the-summer sweet corn and cosy warmth, corn chowder is the perfect comfort food for windy fall day. It makes you want to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a good novel. I had had the idea of making corn chowder for a few days but I can’t remember who started me thinking about it. I did have  a look on line for a recipe, but when I found one that used Campbell’s condensed chicken soup and a can of sweet corn I gave up and decided to create my own version with ingredients from the North Market, the garden and the freezer.

I was really pleased with the result- creamy but not overly rich and with all the flavors mingling so that nothing was dominant. I used fresh corn today but I froze a couple of batches of sweet corn this summer and I am looking forward to making this again over the winter. Maybe I will experiment with corn pudding too. The Carola Gold potatoes deserve a special shout-out. They are fantastic – really golden in color and have a wonderful flavor. I used some for a shepherd’s pie the other day and they almost mashed themselves. The celery salt was a last minute inspiration and I am glad I thought of it. I might add a little extra bacon next time, but just to keep AD happy.

1 tbsp Butter & 1 tbsp Olive Oil (may need more depending on pan).
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely sliced
2 medium potatoes (Carola golds from Northridge Organics via the Greener Grocer) cut into small cubes
3 rashers of bacon (Bluescreek Farm Meats) chopped
3 ears of corn shucked- Wishwell Farms via North Market Farmers Market
Leaves picked from 4 springs fresh thyme
Homemade chicken stock (to cover – approx 3/4 pint) from freezer.
Milk (approx 3/4 pint) Snowville Creamery (I used skimmed)
Half and Half  (1/4 pint) Snowville Creamery
1/2 tsp Celery Salt
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chives snipped to garnish

Quantities are a little approximate – I didn’t measure the  stock or milk, so just add until you get the consistency you want.

Saute the onion, bacon and celery until the onions are starting to soften. Keep the heat low enough that the onions do not brown. Add the cubed potato and thyme leaves and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure that they do not stick. You may need to add a little extra butter. Then add the chicken stock and cook for approximately 10 minutes. Check that the potatoes are cooked. Turn the pan off the heat and ladle the potatoes, celery and a little of the liquid into the blender. Add a cup of milk. Pulse for a few seconds and return to the pan. Rinse the blender out with the rest of the milk. Add the corn kernals, cream and parsley as well as celery salt and seasoning. Turn the heat back on and then cook the soup for 5 minutes. You may want to add a little extra liquid depending on thickness. To serve sprinkle with finely snipped chives. (I say snipped because I find it easiest to use scissors. I also use scissors to chop the bacon).

Another tip is that Snowville milk and cream freeze really well, so if you don’t think you can use half a gallon of cream within the date, you can decant it into smaller containers and then defrost small amounts as you need them. Warren suggested freezing it in an ice cube tray but I have been reusing old Jeni’s pints.

Serves four.

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