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Monday, September 28, 2009

September Daring Bakers Challenge: Michel Richard's Puff Pastry

I was both surprised and nervous when I signed up for the Daring Baker challenges, and the feeling grew when I saw what the item for this month’s challenge was. I do feel somewhat silly, as I got my posting date mixed up and I should have posted this yesterday, not today, but oops. I did have it done on time, I promise.

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

The recipe for puff pastry produced a nice delicate pastry, exactly as you’d hope for from all that time spent in the kitchen. The process itself was not too difficult, as long as you continually refrigerated along the way, and the extra froze nicely for when it gets a little cooler out. Daniel and I have a favorite Beef and Guinness pie that is topped with puff pastry before being served, but the weather isn’t quite cool enough yet, so just look forward to it for now.

That being said, be forewarned, it takes a long time to make it from start to finish and does make a bit of a mess. I borrowed my mom’s kitchen and help to make it since she is more counter space, and that did help out quite a bit. The results are in my opinion worth it, it is slightly cheaper when you consider how much the recipe makes, and the taste is much better, so thanks to A Whisk and a Spoon for getting some of us who are more timid to attempt our own puff pastry. The video mentioned in the recipe is quite helpful as well, and you get to see Julia Child in action, which is always great. For the Vols-au-Vent portion of the challenge, I opted for a sweet cream filled style pastry, simple, elegant. You can also make these into a savory option as many others did, and they would work particularly well as appetizers with the approaching holidays and what not.

For what was left of the dough, I also made smaller cream puffs type pastry with the excess/goofs. These lasted a little bit longer in our house, so I had time to wait for a pretty day outside to take these.

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

There is a wonderful on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book. In it, Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry dough (although they go on to use it in other applications). They do seem to give slightly different ingredient measurements verbally than the ones in the book…I listed the recipe as it appears printed in the book.

2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter
plus extra flour for dusting work surface

Mixing the Dough:
Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.
Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)
Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:
Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.
Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.
To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:
Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).
With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.
Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:
If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.
The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

Steph’s extra tips:
-While this is not included in the original recipe we are using (and I did not do this in my own trials), many puff pastry recipes use a teaspoon or two of white vinegar or lemon juice, added to the ice water, in the détrempe dough. This adds acidity, which relaxes the gluten in the dough by breaking down the proteins, making rolling easier. You are welcome to try this if you wish.
-Keep things cool by using the refrigerator as your friend! If you see any butter starting to leak through the dough during the turning process, rub a little flour on the exposed dough and chill straight away. Although you should certainly chill the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns, if you feel the dough getting to soft or hard to work with at any point, pop in the fridge for a rest.
-Not to sound contradictory, but if you chill your paton longer than the recommended time between turns, the butter can firm up too much. If this seems to be the case, I advise letting it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to give it a chance to soften before proceeding to roll. You don't want the hard butter to separate into chunks or break through the want it to roll evenly, in a continuous layer.
-Roll the puff pastry gently but firmly, and don’t roll your pin over the edges, which will prevent them from rising properly. Don't roll your puff thinner than about about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick, or you will not get the rise you are looking for.
-Try to keep “neat” edges and corners during the rolling and turning process, so the layers are properly aligned. Give the edges of the paton a scooch with your rolling pin or a bench scraper to keep straight edges and 90-degree corners.
-Brush off excess flour before turning dough and after rolling.
-Make clean cuts. Don’t drag your knife through the puff or twist your cutters too much, which can inhibit rise.
-When egg washing puff pastry, try not to let extra egg wash drip down the cut edges, which can also inhibit rise.
-Extra puff pastry dough freezes beautifully. It’s best to roll it into a sheet about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick (similar to store-bought puff) and freeze firm on a lined baking sheet. Then you can easily wrap the sheet in plastic, then foil (and if you have a sealable plastic bag big enough, place the wrapped dough inside) and return to the freezer for up to a few months. Defrost in the refrigerator when ready to use.
-You can also freeze well-wrapped, unbaked cut and shaped puff pastry (i.e., unbaked vols-au-vent shells). Bake from frozen, without thawing first.
-Homemade puff pastry is precious stuff, so save any clean scraps. Stack or overlap them, rather than balling them up, to help keep the integrity of the layers. Then give them a singe “turn” and gently re-roll. Scrap puff can be used for applications where a super-high rise is not necessary (such as palmiers, cheese straws, napoleons, or even the bottom bases for your vols-au-vent).

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Dreamy Creamy Risotto

Although I’m not excited at the prospect of the encroaching Ohio winter ahead, I can say that I am excited by the appearance of fall produce at the farmer’s market starting this past weekend. Besides scooping up some of the least fresh tomatoes and peppers of the season, I picked up a beautiful butternut squash to experiment with. Since school started back up for me this week, I initially wanted to make some sort of homemade pasta/ravioli. While browsing through different raviolis that use this bright fall favorite, I came across a recipe for a butternut squash risotto. The bright orange color imparted by the squash and the creamy texture I imagined coming from a nice squash puree had me sold, so I quickly set out to make the risotto. 

Although risotto’s can be irritating, because they demand semi-constant attention for slightly longer than I may prefer to stand at the stove and because they have a reputation for being finicky,  the results are always worth it, and typically serves as a meal in itself. I don't think I've ever tasted a bad risotto, although maybe everyone can mentally hear Gordon Ramsey yelling about risotto. Or maybe that's just me. Anyways,  I started out by cubing and roasting the butternut squash to ensure it had a nice roasted flavor throughout, coated in olive oil, and roasted for about 45 minutes. The recipes I initially came across all made the squash into a puree using cream, but I opted to blend about three fourths or so of the squash with some rich chicken broth instead, and place the remaining rich chunks of squash in whole to give a little bit of texture variation. Butternut squash purees beautifully and achieves a velvety creamy texture that is absolutely delicious. So without further delay, here is the recipe for your risotto pleasure. Enjoy!

 Butternut Squash Risotto; 3-4 Servings

1 2-3 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
2 tbsp olive oil; divided
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 Cup Onion, Diced
1 Cup Arborio Rice
1/2 Cup White Wine
5 Cups Prepared Chicken Broth; should have some left over.
1 Tsp Fresh Sage
Fresh Parmesan Cheese for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 400. Mix cubed squash with 1 tbsp olive oil and place in roasting pan. Salt  & pepper to taste. Place in oven and roast approximately 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until golden in color and lightly browned in places. Once done, carefully add 3/4 of squash to blender with 1/4 cup of chicken stock. Puree until smooth. Add additional stock if necessary.
2. Place 1 tbsp in large skillet, and sauté onion over medium heat until translucent. Add rice and toast for approximately 1 minute stirring occasionally. Add white wine and simmer until liquid mostly evaporated. Add 1/2 cup broth stirring frequently. When most of the liquid is evaporated and you can move your spoon across the pan without the mixture instantly covering the whole, add your next 1/2 cup broth. Repeat until rice has lost its crunch and mixture is creamy.
3. Once mixture has reached desired consistency, reduce heat, add squash puree, remaining squash, and sage. Stir until heated through. Garnish with parmesan cheese. Serve warm.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pigs, Goats, Chickens, and Rutabagas

Next door to where I work is a little Mexican grocery called La Michoacana Mexican Market. When the door swings open the marimbas are churning, the salsa music is blaring, and my mind can picture a couple doing the cha-cha. At the back of the store they have a selection of meats, mainly pork that they butcher themselves. I know this because one night a man was wheeling a whole pig through the front door on a hand-truck. Just a few minutes after they finished unloading, a nice Mexican man, that I learned was from Chicago, explained that the pig was used mainly for carnitas. A few stores down from La Michoacan we see the Halal meats store unloading goats rather frequently, but those are other stories altogether. Well, the Mexican store has some pertinence.

Yesterday while we were in the doldrums at work, I wandered through the aisles of sauces and canned goods with some looking like Mexican generics that Wal-Mart would frown upon and others that had very little English whatsoever. I had it in my mind to make a roasted adobo chicken (that’s where the Mexican store comes in) and since it was late when I got home from work the nice individuals south of the border helped me out with the prep work in the form of Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. 

To accompany chicken I picked up a stunning specimen of a rutabaga at the farmers market the weekend before. You will have to forgive me for forgetting the variety but suffice it to say that it differed from the coarse bowling-ball shaped rutabagas seen sometimes in the grocery store both in shape and taste. I remember from childhood the odor of rutabagas cooking in the oven while at my great-grandmother’s and frankly I was a bit leery. They smelled and looked awkward then and I was praying they didn’t taste awkward now. They happened to be an excellent accompaniment; and did I mention that I used bacon grease with the roast chicken.

Adobo Roasted Chicken with Rutabagas

2 bone-in chicken breasts
3 oz. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
3/4 C. onion finely diced
4 T. bacon grease
4 T. cumin
3 T. Dijon Mustard
Juice from half a lemon
1 # rutabaga peeled and cut into ¼ inch dice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix rutabagas, some peppers, onion, bacon grease, 2 T. cumin, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and 1 T. mustard, and arrange on the bottom of baking dish leaving room for chicken. Set chicken in baking dish and grind salt and pepper atop and add the remaining amount of mustard, peppers, and cumin. Bake for twenty five minutes uncovered then an additional twenty five covered. Allow to cool for about eight minutes before serving. Pan juices can be thickened for a sauce.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Mysterious Disaster

Despite not eating a single meal at home this weekend, between our Friday night out, a Saturday overfilled with football (in my humble opinion), and a Sunday of family time, we still managed to repeatedly destroy the kitchen, leaving me to wonder how exactly that happened. Looking back through our pictures from the weekend, I figured out that the plethora of snacks produced and consumed for the weekend were probably the culprits.   
Exhibit A: Boiled Peanuts
These are really nothing fancy, 1 lb raw peanuts, boiled in extremely salty water for 4-8 hours, and optionally saturated with your choice of seasonings. The longer you boil, the softer (or soggier) they become. Its a southern thing. If you don’t understand, don’t worry. Nonetheless, they worked very well for Daniel to watch his favorite team play Saturday afternoon, and they were easy to prepare while I destroyed the kitchen in other snacking endeavors. 
Exhibit B: The Failed Whoopie Pies
I was getting together a package of goodies to send to my in-laws this week and while looking for recipes that shipped well, I came across the suggestion for a whoopie pie. A chocolate cake like cookie with a marshmallow/butter cream-icing filling. It sounded good, supposedly shipped well, and it seemed like an infinite array of possibilities opened up before me as I imagined combinations beyond chocolate and marshmallow. I don’t give up easily so chances are, I’ll try again with some modifications, because although they were a pain and looked like the sticky gooey mess they were,  they nonetheless came out quite tasty in my family’s review. I think these would probably be most fun to make if you have kids and don’t mind them getting covered in goo while you assemble the treats. You can access the recipe I used here if you’re interested, but I’m refraining from posting it on here, simply because it didn’t work out as well as I had envisioned, but that could have been operator error. 
Exhibit C: Bacon Brittle
Really, we do not eat bacon that much. I really debated posting this one or not, simply because realized that much of what I end up posting ends up having bacon. I guess since everything is better with bacon, the tastiest recipes end up featuring it. Nonetheless, at the suggestion of a fellow blogger, and following the epic whoopie pie mess, I opted to make candy to send, brittle specifically. When I made the bacon caramel a few months ago, Daniel had suggested trying a Bacon Brittle recipe, so I thought this would be the perfect chance to experiment. I was happy with the results, although it was the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as the messy kitchen is concerned, since you do mess up at least four pots and pans.
The first thing you will want to do is to fry the bacon you want to use crisp and make maple-glazed pecans. I choose a maple-smoked bacon, but the choice is yours. For the pecans, simply toast one cup of pecans in a small iron skillet for a few minutes over medium heat until pan heats up and pecans are fragrant, stirring occasionally. Once lightly toasted, add two tablespoons of maple syrup and stir quickly and vigorously until most of the liquid seems to be dissolved. Turn the heat off, and allow pecans to cool. Remove from pan and carefully break apart. You’ll only need a half cup of pecans chopped, but if you’re like me, the other half cup will not last long. From there, simply follow a basic brittle recipe, and enjoy!
Bacon Brittle
6-10 Strips Bacon, Fried Crispy and Crumbled
½ Cup Maple Pecans, Chopped
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1 Tsp Baking Soda
2 Tsp Vanilla
1 Tbsp Butter
Butter to grease baking sheet.
1. Prepare bacon and pecans, set aside. Butter or grease large baking sheet. Measure out baking soda, butter, and vanilla and set aside.
2. Place sugar, water, and corn syrup in heavy saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil. Place candy thermometer into pan, and turn to high heat. Allow mixture to cook until it reaches 290 degrees. Remove from heat immediately, carefully but quickly add remaining ingredients. Mixture will foam up and then settle. 3. Once foam has settled, carefully pour into thin layer on prepared baking sheet. Try to pour thin, but allow mixture to settle naturally; do not spread with spatula or stretch. Allow to cool 20-30 minutes and carefully break into pieces. Store in covered container and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Playing with Pissaladiére

Although Daniel and I are not really big things of routine or making the same dish more than once, one of the things that we enjoy making over and over is homemade pizzas with unique toppings. As you can guess from the recent plethora of posts on bacon, we still had some of the amazing bacon purchased at the farmer’s market so I decided to try to finish it up on a unique pizza.

The recipe for this dough is the same used in an earlier post, left over from the large batch it makes. Although we like this particular recipe pretty well, we will keep experimenting as always and update on any improvements. Although I knew I wanted to finish off the bacon that we had, I always have trouble thinking of unique things to do with bacon. It’s just so delicious by itself, I want to be sure I’m doing something to improve and compliment the taste of the bacon, rather than hide it. As I looked back through our previous pissaladiére post for the dough recipe, I thought that I’d do a play on the "French Muse" and give it a slight makeover deciding on a BLT style pizza using tomato, bacon, and leeks in place of the onions.

As usual, once you decide what to put on the pizza, it’s pretty easy going from there. I simply prepared the leeks just as you would the onion base for the pissaladiére with lots of roasting and butter and olive oil, added the bacon fried crisp, and the tomatoes soaked in an aged balsamic to enhance the fruitiness of the tomato. Once the pizza was assembled, I decided to add a little bit of cheese as well, deciding on a light crumbled goat cheese. The result was a deceptively complex pizza with an amazing flavor from the leeks, permeated through the fruity taste of the tomatoes, the tartness of the goat cheese, and the salty smoky flavor of the bacon. I usually think my pizza's are pretty plain or boring in comparison to Daniel's concoctions, but I have to say I was pretty proud of this one. Enjoy!

BLT Pissaladiére
 Pizza Crust Recipe, available here
Cornmeal sufficient for dusting (1/2 cup)
3 Large Leeks, Sliced thin, white & light green parts only.
3 Tablespoons Butter
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 Fresh Thyme Sprigs
2 Fresh Rosemary Sprigs
Salt & Pepper to taste.
3 Pieces of Bacon; Fried Crisp, Crumbled
1/2 Cup Tomatoes, Diced
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Cup Goat Cheese Crumbles
1 Tbsp Olive Oil* (Optional)
1/2 Tsp Dried Rosemary
1/2 Tsp Dried Thyme

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees while slicing the leeks. Place butter in bottom of casserole dish and place in oven to melt. Once butter has melted add 1/3 of leeks to bottom of pan. Place herbs on top. Drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil. Place another 1/3 of leeks on top. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Season with Salt & Pepper. Return to oven. Bake until leeks are tender and mostly golden, stirring every 20-30 minutes, approximately 1-1/2 hours. Cool mixture, and discard herbs. (Can be made prior and cooled in fridge overnight).
2. When ready to make pizza, place pizza stone in oven and preheat to 450, allowing at least 45 minutes.Place diced tomatoes in balsamic to soak while you fry or bake the bacon until crisp. While bacon cools, prepare pizza dough and place dough on pizza peel dusted with cornmeal.
3. Spread cooked leeks on prepared pizza dough. Top with crumbled bacon, tomatoes, and goat cheese crumbles. Drizzle with balsamic. Sprinkle herbs on top. *Optionally, can also brush crust with olive oil.
4. Carefully dust pizza stone with corn meal, and carefully slide pizza from peel on to the stone. Cook approximately ten minutes, until crust is golden brown in color. 
5. Remove from oven, allow to cool 3-5 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pork: The Versatile White Meat

Pork is such a versatile meat that can be both light and sumptuous in the same dish; and as of late I have found myself focused on the “the other white meat’s” versatility. The richness that pork loin provides rivals roast chicken but certainly does not topple it. It is a battle that will be going on in my mind forever as far as I can tell.

I was daydreaming about pork loin a few days ago when Dawn and I ran in the grocery store to grab some ingredients for something or other and I walked past a meat fridge with a few packs of butter-flied pork loin cutlets. After staring intently at them for a few moments I had the idea of stuffing them with something but was unsure of what until I started looking through the ingredients I had to work with at the house.

After probing through the fridge for a couple minutes, I found the plump Brown Turkey figs from Whole Foods a couple days prior. After some contemplation, couscous came to mind as the missing link to the dish that I was dreaming of but could not initially connect. Perhaps it was some kind of Freudian dream and I was repressing couscous like the overly simple relative. But despite the repression that became the opus- fig and couscous stuffed pork loin with a hint of herbaceous goat cheese.

Fig and Couscous Stuffed Pork Loin
2 butter-flied pork loins
3-4 fresh brown turkey or black mission figs
Several pats of soft herb infused goat cheese
1 C Chicken Stock
½ C small grain couscous
2 T olive oil
1 T soy sauce
1 T fresh mint plus more for garnish
Salt & Pepper to taste
Lay pork flat on grill pan and cook for three to five minutes per side or until meat registers 140 degrees in center.
Bring one cup chicken stock to a boil, add couscous, salt, pepper. Place lid on pot and remove from heat.
Chop figs in quarters and place in skillet with oil, salt and pepper, goat cheese, and soy sauce. Cook on low until ingredients are well incorporated.
Spoon several tablespoons of couscous and then fig sauce into the mouths of each pork loin. A few more crumbles of goat cheese can be added on top of fig sauce with mint shreds for garnish.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Savory Breakfast Treat

One of the things Daniel and I enjoyed doing most for each other after we were married was to make breakfast for each other, trying infinite combinations in omelets and all forms of pancakes and waffles. We’ve somewhat slowed down significantly since then, and during the week breakfast is often not more than fruit or yogurt or cereal, unless we bake muffins or scones or bagels sometime earlier in the week. Since I’m on a break for the next week or so, I’ve enjoyed getting to make breakfast for Daniel again in the mornings, and this morning decided to try for a savory scone recipe.

Scones are definitely a hit or miss source of breakfast delight. The line between a crumbly dry flavorless biscuit, and a flaky, crumbly, melt in your mouth delicious scone is sometimes difficult to navigate. I’m ashamed to say that my first attempt at lemon poppy seed scones produced small inedible bricks that self-destructed at the slightest touch. Since then, I’ve learned that no, the butter does not need to be softened if you want an edible scone treat, and have expanded my scone repertoire to include sweet and savory combinations. Having picked up some delicious bacon from a local farm at this weeks farmers market, I decided to try a savory bacon scone, to pair with a tomato jam I’d prepared earlier in the week.

The scone recipe I used below is straightforward enough. To try to obtain more of a bacon flavor, I cut a little bit of the butter out of the recipe and substituted approximately one-half a tablespoon of the cooled grease from the fried bacon. The result was a slightly flakier scone, almost more buttermilk biscuit-like, but with a smoky bacon flavor permeating every bite. Overall, I was quite satisfied with the scone on its own. I’m typically a purist when it comes to a lot of breakfast foods. I don’t eat syrup on pancakes, butter on biscuits, etc. I’m not sure why, just habit I suppose. Nonetheless, I was really happy with the results of my tomato jam adapted from Natalie’s Killer Cuisine, so I decided to put the two together. As usual, the sweet pairing with the smoky, peppery bacon was both rewarding and satisfying, and gave us a quick, enjoyable breakfast for a few mornings.

Bacon Scones (Makes four scones)

1 Cup All Purpose Flour

½ Tsp Salt

½ Tbsp Baking Powder

½ Tsp Sugar

1-1/2 Tbsp Cold Butter

½ Tbsp Bacon Grease

½ Cup Shredded Cheese (the obvious choice is cheddar, but I used Monterrey Jack since that’s what we had already shredded, you choose!)

1 Green Onion, diced, with diced scallion tops

Approx 4 Slices Bacon Fried Crisp and Crumbled (approx 2/3 Cup)

1/3 Cup Heavy Cream (Approximate, less maybe)

Preheat oven to 425. Lightly grease pan.

Sift together flour, salt, baking powder and sugar.

Using fingers or fork, work butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Mix in cheese, chives, and crumbled bacon. Until evenly distributed. Add cooled bacon grease and most of the cream. Stir quickly to combine. If dough still appears too crumbly and does not stay together, continue adding cream until dough comes together, mixing as little as possible. Divide evenly into four large, biscuit sized minds. Place on baking sheet and cook approximately 20 minutes until golden brown. Cool on pan. Remove, and serve warm. Will keep in a covered container for a day or two, re-warm before serving.

Tomato Jam (adapted from Natalie’s Killer Cuisine)

Makes approximately eight ounces of jam

2 lb Tomatoes, very ripe
3/4 cup Sugar
¼ Tsp Ginger

½ Tsp Cinnamon

½ Tsp Red Pepper Flakes

Pinch of Salt

Chop Tomatoes in medium dice, discarding seeds and skins where easily removable.

Add all ingredients into stockpot and bring mixture to a boil.

Reduce to low heat and let mixture reduce to a jam-like consistency, stirring occasionally (approx 1 hour). Once jam reaches desired consistency and has thickened, remove from heat and transfer to another container to cool.