BaCon’s Virgins and Veterans Crawfish Boil, 2010!

Hey ya'll, it's me again. And I come bearing excuses, one for each of you! Now, now, don't shove, there are plenty to go around.

Yes, I've stayed away for awhile. At first, I was on a post-litigation high. I get a lot of satisfaction from working late nights with nothing but my work, a pizza, and a smuggled bottle of wine to keep me company at the office. So I did that for a few months and wallowed in the strange sickness of an occasional workaholic. There's also that pesky Gaga obsession that has led me to make/wear fourteen costumes since I last blogged. Now that I've counted, I'm sort of embarrassed. Errr. Moving on.

After that, things got weird in la casa de Luz y Lee, and cooking felt more like a burden than a reprieve. So I threatened to move to the guest house and live in tidy, well fed, laundered splendor ALL BY MYSELF DAMNIT. NOTE: We don't have a guest house. Happily, Mr. Luz and I have worked through those problems and we again share (the benefits AND burdens of) tidy, well fed, laundered splendor.

Now, we just have too many ridiculously awesome friends, which gets to the point of this post.? (Only one paragraph later than usual, I might add.)? After reading through my old posts, I realize that I complained a lot about D.C. and 2009 in general.? Much has changed, and though it would make my imaginary therapist cringe to hear me say this, 2010 has been amazing and it's because of my friends.?


The realization that we are truly blessed here in D.C. hit me with full force at our First Annual Veterans n' Virgins Crawfish Boil.? One sunny day in May, we rolled an icy cold keg of beer on to our twee front yard in downtown D.C. and got ready to boil the 120 lbs. of live crawfish that FedEx delivered from Louisiana that morning.

The front yard was packed with happy people enjoying the Spring day.? Some of them were crawfish veterans and Tulane alum, most just adventurous people ready to try something new and unique to the land we live in in our dreams and speak of often, NOLA. ? All of them were sexy, sexy people and that's really what matters, isn't it?? I digress.

The afternoon began with a demonstration of how to pinch da tail and suck da heads for the virgins, and for the next 4 hours, we sipped Ramos Gin Fizzes (thanks, NickV!) and beer and ate through all but a few pounds of the crawfish as well as the garlic, corn, andouille and smoked sausages, and artichokes we threw in da boil with the mudbugs.?
As day turned into night, everyone stayed around and a few more showed up for more cocktails, some impromptu cajun fiddle playing (thanks again, NickV) and a concert by the ladies, who all raided the costume closet before belting out Salt n' Peppa songs (remember those?! Of course you do) in the living room and then outside while marching around the block.? In sum, it started sunny and spicy and ended up wild and weird--I don't know what more I can ask for.

That day more than any so far, I felt like I was in the middle of a big and ever-expanding family where things are fun, easy, and open-hearted. Really, although we were trying to bring a little NOLA to our friends that day, they brought it to us instead.? That feeling still overwhelms me when I look at the pictures on this post, and it's something I'll never forget.? Thanks again to our friends in D.C.-you guys make my divided heart (one half here, one half in NOLA) so, so happy.

Hipsters on Horseback

A recipe sent in by our West Coast correspondent, Kajsa:
You've had Angels On Horseback, (oysters wrapped in bacon), and Devils On Horseback, (dates wrapped in bacon - the ones at Magnolia are fantastic), I now give you Hipsters On Horseback! Yes, there may have been drinking involved in the naming of this creation. These are super simple and quick to make and the brininess of the hearts goes well with the salty fattiness of the bacon. I prefer to use thick cut peppered bacon from a butcher—it cooks more evenly and is easier to wrap.
1lb bacon
1 large jar of marinated artichoke hearts
Preheat broiler to 400º and move the rack to the top position.
Line a shallow baking pan with aluminum foil.
Drain the artichoke hearts and cut the bacon in half, wrap each heart and secure with a toothpick.
Broil for 5 minutes, turn them over and broil for another 5 - 9 minutes, until bacon is crispy.
Makes about 24
Can I rate my own dish? 4 strips!!!

2198. WILTED MESCLUN and CHEVRE with ROASTED TOMATO and BACON VINAIGRETTE

3 cups mixed greens and 3 cups baby spinach combined in a large bowl
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced 1/2? thick
4 strips bacon, cut into 1/2? pieces
1 large heirloom tomato, cut in half
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1/4 cup combination of chopped parsley and thyme
3 ounces of crumbled Ile de France goat chevre plus extra for garnish

For the vinaigrette:
1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
1/4 cup roasted tomato skins
3/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup walnut oil or olive oil
2 tsp honey
1 tsp dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium sized bowl, toss together heirloom tomato, first part of olive oil, chopped garlic and herbs, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. When thoroughly covered with herbs and oil, place tomatoes on a baking pan, reserving the leftover oil, herbs and garlic in the bowl for the vinaigrette. Place pan in oven and roast for 20 minutes, or until skins are wrinkled. When finished, remove tomatoes from oven and let cool, 6 minutes. Carefully peel the skin and reserve for the vinaigrette.

While the tomatoes are roasting, in a medium sized skillet on medium heat, render the fat from the chopped bacon by cooking, 8 minutes. When bacon is crisp and cooked, remove from pan to a paper towel. Retain at least 2 tablespoons of bacon fat, and while the pan is still at medium heat, cook onions until soft, 10 minutes. Remove onions from pan and set aside. Continuing the pan on medium heat, add sherry and apple cider vinegar, reduce and heat through, 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

In a food processor, add crumbled, cooked bacon, roasted tomato skins, heated sherry and apple cider vinegar and pulse until bacon and skins are rendered to tiny pieces. Add mustard, pulse. While processing, slowly drizzle oil into vinegar blend until fully integrated. Add reserved tomato marinade, pulse. Add honey and pulse. Salt and pepper to taste. When completed, pour finished vinaigrette into a medium sized pan over medium heat and heat through until vinaigrette is gently bubbling. Remove quickly and set aside.

Add cooked onions and goat cheese to the mixed greens and toss gently. Add half of the heated vinaigrette to the greens and fold continuously. Add rest of vinaigrette, if necessary, until all of the greens are lightly coated with vinaigrette and slightly softened. Pile greens on a plate, top with roasted tomato, and add additional goat cheese for garnish.


bacon recipe courtesy of: Cynthia, Cook of Ages, September 30, 2008
Posted in Uncategorized

2637. BACON-BLUEBERRY CORNBREAD with BLACKBERRY BUTTER

yields ten servings


Blackberry Butter?
1 package (6 ounces or 1 1/3 cup) blackberries
½ cups granulated sugar 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, well softened
Blueberry-Bacon Cornbread?
3 slices center-cut, reduced-sodium bacon 1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground ¾ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoons salt 1 package (6 ounces or 1 ¼ cup) blueberries 2/3 cups 1% low-fat milk 1 large egg 2 tablespoons canola oil
Blackberry Butter: Place a ceramic saucer in the freezer to chill. Combine berries, sugar and lemon juice in small nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring gently to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally until juices create large thick bubbles, about 10 minutes. Spoon 1 teaspoon juices onto chilled saucer; if juices thicken to jam-like consistency after 15 seconds, jam is ready. If not, cook another minute or so. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely. Knead butter in a bowl with a wooden spoon or silicon spatula until smooth. Gradually mix in berry jam. Butter can be made up to 3 days ahead; keep covered and refrigerated. Serve at room temperature.

Bacon-Blueberry Cornbread: Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook bacon in 9-inch ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; cool, and coarsely chop. Discard fat from skillet; do not clean skillet, leaving a thin film of fat inside. Whisk cornmeal, ¾ cup of the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Toss blueberries and bacon with remaining tablespoon flour; set aside. Whisk milk, egg and oil in a small bowl. Add to cornmeal mixture and stir with a wooden spoon just until combined. Fold in blueberries and bacon. Spread batter in the bacon fat coated skillet. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve from skillet with blackberry butter.?


bacon recipe courtesy of: Driscoll's Berries, PO Box 50045, Watsonville, California 95077-5045
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Huitlacoche & Smoked Corn Pate

We moved out of the city almost a year and a half ago. It seems like ages ago, but really has not been. However, what we found in the burbs from a dining perspective can be described most nicely as “limited”. Coming from Chicago, where we could stumble down the street for any number of great things to eat and having dozens of great places to deliver food to us, it was a shock. Since moving, we’ve adjusted. We have bought a second car. My garden has grown exponentially. But, some adjustments will never be made. We usually travel into the city to eat out and go in to do so as frequently as we went out when we lived in the city.

There are so few options near us that a place serving real quesadillas with handmade tortillas four miles from our house qualifies as destination dining for me.  The quesadillas are hidden on the last page of the menu and caught my eye when I saw nopales, huitlacoche, flor de calabasa, and chorizo. I was concerned, given what I have seen in the area, these would be ortega flour tortillas and shredded cheez. Since discovering the deliciousness of the huitlacoche and nopales quesadillas, I have adopted a more regular weekend lunch pattern of grabbing lunch while out (like a normal person).

The quesadilla

When I saw in the nearby bodega, a jar of huitlacoche, I picked it up. I had a half dozen ears worth of corn smoked over corn cobs (meta) to go along with the huitlacoche. When I opened the can, I was surprised by how ugly the contents were. Black sludge with large kernels, corn silk and everything. Knowing this was corn smut, mold and fungus, I was ready. After all, I had the real thing in the kitchen last summer from a local farmer. That was a different animal. Even so, I wanted to embrace the horrifying appearance and make something where I saw the ugliness. I didn’t want to hide it in a casing or puree it into a sauce, so I made a pate.  Cross sections of black-hued pork with flecks of fungus throughout.

As ugly as it was, there was a deep richness to the pate coupled by a really unique savory quality with the combination of the smoked sweet corn, the pork and the huitlacoche. The corn brings a smokey flavor, but also a bit of color among the muddy, ugly pate.

Huitlacoche & Smoked Corn Pate

750 g fatty ground pork, I ground a fatty pork shoulder 150 g smoked corn 250 g huitlacoche 20 g kosher salt 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped 4 cloves garlic, grated 1 serrano chile, roughly chopped

Panade

10 grams all-purpose flour 1 large egg 70 milliliters heavy cream

Step one: Assemble your gear and cut your pork shoulder into one inch cubes, run it through your meat grinder using the fine disc. Refrigerate.

Step two: Add corn, huitlacoche, salt, cilantro, garlic and chile

Step three: Assemble the panade and combine with the forcemeat. Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, mix the forcemeat/panade until it is sticky.

Step four: Line the inside of your terrine with plastic wrap. Form the mixture into a loaf and place it inside the terrine. Fold the pastic wrap over the loaf, cover, and place terrine into a high sided roasting pan. Fill the pan with water until in reaches 2/3’s of the way up the terrine. Place in a preheated 300 degree oven and cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

Step five: Remove terrine from oven and place a two pound weight on the pate to weigh it down until it cools to room temperature. Once cooled, refrigerate overnight.

Step six: Slice the Pâté about a centimeter thin and serve with salsa and corn tortilla.