Tag Archives: bacon

Cauliflower Cheese

Cauliflower cheese is a very British comfort food. When I get a craving for a cheesy sauce it is to cauliflower and not macaroni that I turn. My most recent incarnation of the dish uses smoked bacon and smoked 5 year old cheddar from Thurn’s. I made it for lunch last week and it was so delicious that I decided to make it for the Restaurant Widow pot luck last night. When I tasted the sauce I was tempted to stay at home and eat it all myself.

3 lbs cauliflower
8 tbsp butter
10 tbsp all purpose flour
4 cups of milk (I used Snowville 2%)
salt, pepper,
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg to taste
10 strips of Thurn’s smoked bacon
1lb Thurns smoked 5 year cheddar cheese, grated

Break the cauliflower into florets. Boil/steam it for 10-15 minutes in salted water until tender, drain well and set aside and keep warm.

Cook the bacon on a baking sheet in the oven (15-20 minutes at 400°F), finely chop and set aside. If you want to increase the bacon flavor you could use a tablespoon or of bacon grease in place of 1tbsp of the butter.

Make a bechamel sauce: melt some butter in a pan over a moderate heat and then stir in flour a spoonful at a time until you have a thick paste (a roux). Cook the roux for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time and watch it expand. Slowly add milk and keep stirring all the time until you have a smooth, thick sauce. You may want to switch to using a whisk. Season to taste. Gradually stir in 2/3 of the grated cheese. Save the rest to sprinkle on top. Mix the bacon into the sauce.

I usually make white sauce with cold milk, but I tried Delia Smith’s method of heating the milk first with onion, bayleaf and peppercorns. Given the strength of the cheese flavor, I didn’t think it made enough difference to make up for the increased washing up. It might be worth it if you were just making a plain bechamel.

Put the cauliflower into a 9×13 inch baking dish and then pour the sauce over it. Then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. You can also add some breadcrumbs if you want more of a gratin.

If you are serving it straightaway, put it under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling. If you are preparing it further ahead you can reheat/brown it in a hot oven (probably 400°F for 25-30 minutes).

Some similar good dishes: Nigel Slater’s baked onions with cream and parmesan. Roland’s bacon and cheese pierogis, roasted cauliflowercorn chowder and leek and bacon stuffed baked potatoes.

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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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Roland’s Prize Winning Bacon Loaded Pierogi Recipe

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Roland has very kindly allowed me to share his recipe for the Bacon Loaded Pierogies that won both the judges and peoples choice prizes at Bacon Camp Columbus last weekend.  Roland was featured in The Other Paper in an article entitled ‘Pirogi Chef wins Bacon Title’. Awesome. His Pierogies were unbelievably good and although you can see that they involve a fair amount of work, I can assure you it is worthwhile. You can make a large batch and freeze them, but I guarantee that they won’t last long. These things are the stuff that cravings are made of.

Dough
2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup rendered bacon fat

In a large bowl mix all of the ingredients together. Knead until well combined. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate the dough for 20-30 minutes. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/8th-1/16th inch thick. Cut circles approximately 3 inches in diameter. Roland used a Comfest mug!

Filling
5 potatoes
2 onions, finely chopped
8oz mild cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup of fresh chives, finely chopped
1lb Thurns smoked bacon
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil and mash the potatoes but do not add any butter or milk.
Sauté the onions in butter until soft and translucent. They should not brown.
Bake the bacon on a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil in the oven at 400° F for 20 minutes (or until crisp). Drain/ dry the bacon fat and save for future use.
Finely chop the bacon (this is easiest in a food processor).
Combine all of the filling ingredients. If you whiz them together in a food processor the mixture gets a little sticky which makes it harder to work with, but it seems to combine the flavors the best.
Taste the mixture and add extra seasoning, or chives to taste.

Put a spoonful of the filling onto each circle and press the edges together to form a semi circle. Roland did not use anything additional to seal them, but some recipes use an egg wash for added adhesion.

Cook the pierogies in large pan of boiling water for 5-6 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain. At this stage the pierogies can be refrigerated, frozen or finished for immediate eating. They will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, but can also be cooked directly from frozen.

Pierogies are cooked twice, so to eat them you then fry them. You will need more butter (or bacon fat if you have some) and some coarsely chopped onions (these add flavor). Use a large skillet over a medium high heat. Fry the pierogies with the onions for 4-5 minutes on each side (checking to  see how done they are). Make sure you add more butter when you turn them so that they don’t stick. Cooking time and the amount of butter will depend on the type of pan and the stove. They should be heated through, golden and crispy.

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Serve with sour cream and more butter. For the competition Roland served the pierogies with special bacon and chive sour cream (delicious). Simply add finely chopped bacon and chives to the sour cream. The butter pigs were a Hungry Woolf creation made by piping whipped butter and the eye is smoked sea salt.

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At the Pierogi Palace in Cleveland today we saw a huge array of pierogi fillings. We have been busy brain storming ideas for other great flavors…. my  nominations are pot roast, mashed potato and onion gravy and pumpkin pie pierogies. Do you have any ideas for sweet or savory pierogi fillings? Let me know.

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Bacon Explosion

Bacon is one of the most popular topics on Columbus Underground and as CMH Gourmand observes ‘in Columbus, Bacon is the new Black’. It is therefore of no surprise that sooner or later a bacon explosion would appear. Well, actually two bacon explosions, we are not ones to do things by half.

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The bacon explosion was created by the BBQ addicts bloggers in December 2008 and has become an internet phenomenon, even being featured in the New York Times. Here is their official recipe.  It is bacon, wrapped in sausage, wrapped in more (woven) bacon. You definitely need to be a pork fan and vegetarians and dieters should stay well away. 

For the Columbus explosion all of the ingredients came from Blues Creek in the North Market. Here is how it was done: 

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Weave the bacon. It helps if you have an art degree or weaving experience as this obviously requires a great deal of skill. 

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Fry and then chop the bacon for the center of the roll. 

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Season the weave with bbq rub/seasoning and then spread a layer of mild italian sausage. I think Blues Creek Ham loaf mixture would make an excellent alternative. Place the chopped up bacon in the center and roll up your bacon log. The thickness of the Blues Creek bacon made rolling a little trickier than if you used longer thinner supermarket bacon, but the flavor and quality trade off is worthwhile. 

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Find some friends to help you transfer your creation to the grill. They will later be rewarded. This is another highly skilled (and tense) part of the proceedings. 

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Wait patiently while the sausage sizzles, the bacon smokes and your arteries brace themselves. Bacon is also the new dessert. According to Wikipedia a bacon explosion contains over 5000 calories and 500g of fat. gulp. 

The finished works of porcine art.

The finished works of porcine art.

Smoking certainly gave it a great smoky flavor but perhaps didn’t crisp up the bacon as much as grilling would have. I have to admit that the bacon explosion didn’t rock my world as much as I expected. Watching the proceedings was definitely an experience and was very entertaining, prompting much hilarity, but it is probably not an experiment one would repeat in a hurry.

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