Peanut Butter Bacon Pizza

It’s been a few weeks of continuing to make pizza.  I had my refrigerator freezer go out on me a few weeks ago and I found myself cooking up the leftover pizza dough in the freezer, cooking with my sourdough starter, and trying to make sure I didn’t have too much extra.  One item I found in the freezer was some bacon from Nick’s Country Meats in Hayward, Minnesota.  I had seen someone suggest on Reddit that people put peanut butter, provolone, and bacon on pizza, so I thought it was time to try it.  Overall, I thought it tasted okay, and probably would have been better if I had heated the peanut butter to help it spread a little bit more on the pizza and be a little more even.

Peanut Butter Bacon Pizza

Peanut Butter Bacon Pizza

sourdough pizza crust
peanut butter
provolone cheese
cooked bacon

Partially cook the pizza crust, according to the instructions.  Spread peanut butter on the crust, lay the provolone cheese slices on top, and sprinkle cooked bacon on the top of cheese.

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Brown Sugar Bacon Crackers

I made a meal and took it into work for a group that was having trouble finding a meeting time during an especially busy week.  It was a week when dining services wasn’t in service and so I promised them food.  One of the individuals had just returned from his family’s house in Virginia and so I wanted to provide a few snacks that were inspired from the south.  The most popular item I brought to eat were these crackers from The Southerner’s Cookbook.

Brown Sugar Bacon Crackers

Brown Sugar Bacon Crackers

12 bacon slices (not thick-cut)
48 saltines or buttery club crackers
6 tsp dark brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Line the bottom of a broiler pan with foil for easy cleanup.  Cut the bacon slices in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise to create 4 long strips.

Arrange the crackers on a work surface and wrap a bacon strip around each cracker, overlapping the ends on top.

Carefully sprinkle 1/8 tsp brown sugar on the top of each cracker, pressing it to help adhere (avoid getting sugar on the cracker or it will burn).

Set a perforated rack on the top of the foil-lined broiler pan and arrange the crackers seam-side down 1/2 inch apart in a single layer and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the bacon is at your desired level of crispness.  Transfer the crackers to a cooling rack and cool completely before serving.

Corn and Bacon Risotto with Wisconsin Cheese Curds and Paprika Oil

In the middle of Iowa, there’s a fairly short period of time when sweet corn comes fresh from the cob, and this dish, from Denver and Boulder Chef’s Table, is full of Midwestern goodness.  It incorporates bacon, sweet corn, and cheese curds (preferably from Wisconsin — luckily only an hour away from here, so Wisconsin cheese curds are plentiful).  This recipe was a little time-intensive, and a little heavy for the hot summer day when I made it, but the flavor was great.  I also love a cheese curd and incorporate them all the time into things, but if you find a great one, you’ll hear the curd squeak as you eat it, so something to watch for when purchasing your curds.  While not Wisconsin, one of my favorite local cheese curd purveyors is WW Homestead Dairy.  With fresh sweet corn, leftover milk from my ice cream making adventures this summer, and some bacon ready-to-be cooked, I knew it was time to make this recipe.

Corn and Bacon Risotto with Wisconsin Cheese Curds and Paprika Oil.jpg

Corn and Bacon Risotto with Wisconsin Cheese Curds and Paprika Oil

Paprika Oil:
2 fluid ounces canola oil
1 tsp smoked paprika

Roasted corn:
2 ears sweet corn, shucked
1 Tbsp canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Roasted garlic puree:
2 heads garlic
1/2 c canola oil

Corn puree:
3 ears corn, shucked
1 quart milk
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme

Risotto:
1 quart chicken stock
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 c finely diced yellow onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1 c Arborio rice
1/2 c white wine
salt to taste
1 medium red bell pepper, deveined and diced small
3/4 c Wisconsin cheddar curds
6 strips, bacon, cooked until crispy, divided
2 Tbsp chopped chives, divided
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the paprika oil: Pulse the ingredients to combine in a blender, pour into a small container or squeeze bottle, and let sit until the paprika settles.  Strain and reserve.

To prepare the roasted corn: Slice the kernels carefully off the cob with a knife.  In a pan with canola oil over medium heat, lightly saute them until tender, about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Next, roast the garlic: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Slice off the tops of the bulbs so that the tips of the cloves are showing.  Place top-down in a shallow baking pan and pour oil over the top.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in oven until tender and golden, about 1 hour.  Remove and let cool, reserving the oil in the refrigerator for future use (it’s great on bread or in pasta sauce).  hen ready to handle, press the roasted cloves out of the bulb and mash them with a fork or use a food processor to grind them into a paste.  Set aside.

To make the corn puree: Slice the kernels carefully off the cobs.  Add them along with the milk and herbs to a small saucepan and, over medium heat, bring to a simmer.  Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.  Strain the kernels, reserving the milk but discarding the herbs; place in a blender and puree, adding milk as necessary (use as little as possible) until the consistency is smooth.  Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap to prevent the formation surface skin and set aside.

Begin the risotto: In a medium pot, bring the stock to a simmer.  Add canola oil to another good-size pot and sweat onion and garlic over medium-low heat.  Add rice and toast until translucent.  Deglaze with white wine.  Add 3/4 c stock to the risotto, stirring continuously.  When the liquid is almost gone, add another 3/4 c and keep stirring.  Repeat until rice is tender yet still has tooth, about 20-25 minutes.  (You will likely use all the stock, though a little less or more may be needed to ensure the proper al dente texture.)  Salt to taste.

When the risotto is finished, fold in the roasted corn kernels, 2 Tbsp of roasted garlic puree, 4 Tbsp corn puree, diced red pepper, cheddar curds, 4 pieces of bacon crumbled into small pieces, and 1 Tbsp of chives.  Heat a few minutes until the cheese begins to melt.  Season to taste.  Ladle into four bowls and garnish each with a half piece of the other two bacon slices, remaining tablespoon of chives and paprika oil.  Serve at once.

Bacon-Wrapped Peaches

This is another recipe I’d put in my “meh” folder.  They were not as savory as I was hoping for.  But, I could also chop this up to a few other issues: the peaches weren’t completely ripened, the grill flared up on the bacon quite quickly.  I think they probably deserve another chance.  From Food and Wine 2015 cookbook, these bacon-wrapped peaches went alongside the brined pork chops I made for a peaches and pig, two ways, themed dinner.  I may decide to give these another shot later this summer, once the peaches are better, but at the moment, these were not something I would quickly endorse.

Bacon-Wrapped Peaches.jpg

Bacon-Wrapped Peaches

6 scallions, white and light green parts only
Vegetable oil, for brushing
Kosher salt
4 large peaches, halved and pitted
16 thin strips of bacon (about 1/2 lb)
16 toothpicks, soaked in water for 30 minutes

Light a gas grill.  Brush the scallions with oil and season lightly with salt.  Grill them over moderate heat, turning, until softened and lightly charred, about 3 minutes total.  Let cool and cut into 3/4 inch lengths.  Leave the grill on.

Fill the peach pit cavities with the scallion pieces and season with salt.  Wrap 2 strips of bacon around each peach half and secure them with toothpicks.

Lightly brush the stuffed peaches with olive oil and grill them cut side down over moderately high heat until lightly charred, 1 to 2 minutes.  Carefully flip the peaches and grill them over moderately low heat, turning occasionally, until they just start to soften and the bacon is crisp at the edges, 7 minutes.  Transfer to a platter and serve.

Bacon Candied and Curried Cashews

I was looking for a way to put together some cashews and use some up that I had in my cabinet, when I came across this recipe in the Smoke and Pickles cookbook.  I’ve been doing a fair bit of cooking from that cookbook recently, so you can anticipate more recipes will come from there.

Besides my oven rack being a little warmer than I would like, these were easy to do (I made them on Sunday morning before church) and had a good bit of kick to them.  The cayenne pepper was a nice addition to the other flavors.  The bacon, pre-oven cooking was nice and candied, and the cashews have been great to snack on this week.  I’d recommend trying them if you are looking for something different to have when sitting on the patio, sipping your cold beverage after having taken care of some yardwork.

Bacon Candied and Curried Cashews.jpg

Bacon Candied and Curried Cashews

6 slices applewood-smoked bacon, diced
2 Tbsp sugar
1 c cashews
2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the diced bacon and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until most of the fat has rendered and the bacon has started to get crispy.  Drain off all but about a tablespoon of the bacon fat into a small bowl; reserve.

Add the sugar to the skillet and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes, until it has coated the bacon and the bacon starts to look shiny.  Add the cashews, curry powder, cayenne, salt, and black pepper, and toss together to coat the nuts.  If they seem a little dry, add another teaspoon of bacon fat and toss to coat.

Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 12 minutes, or until lightly toasted.  Let cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Braised Bacon Rice

Recently, I have been flipping through a few random cookbooks where I had recipes flagged.  One such cookbook was done by a Top Chef contestant and is called Smoke and Pickles.  It features an updated take on southern cooking, an area of cooking where I have not done much experimenting, but was eager to try.  I found this recipe for braised bacon rice, and while I didn’t see a photo in the cookbook of the recipe, it looked yummy.  I was also pleased because I had the opportunity to incorporate some more cayenne pepper into my cooking, something that this midwestern gal is sometimes apprehensive to do, to say the least.

I was delighted by this recipe.  It had great flavor and with the hint of spiciness at the end of the dish.  It was nice and creamy, almost comfort food-like, and in the heat of the summer, it was a great option for on the stovetop.

Braised Bacon Rice

Braised Bacon Rice

8 oz slab bacon, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 1/2 c chopped onions
1 c chopped celery, plus 2 Tbsp chopped celery leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
4 c chicken stock
1/2 c tomato juice
1 c long-grain rice
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook the bacon in a large pot over low heat until it has rendered most of its fat, about 5 minutes.  Add the onions, chopped celery, and the garlic and cook about 6 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid burning the bottom of the pan.

Add the mustard, cayenne, and paprika and stir, then add the chicken stock and tomato juice and bring to a boil.  Add the rice, stir, and lower the heat to a slow simmer.  Let the rice cook, uncovered, for about 16 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Add the chopped celery leaves, butter, and salt and pepper to taste to the rice.  Turn off the heat and let the rice stand for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve hot.

Brussels Sprout, Bacon, and Gruyere Frittata

Sometimes, breakfast for dinner sounds delicious.  And, sometimes I want to figure out how to incorporate my favorite brussels sprouts into breakfast.  This frittata accomplishes either in a fantastic way.  It’s the right balance of all the tastes.  I really don’t have anything else to say, except this is perfection in a skillet.  Recipe is from 2015 Food and Wine Annual Cookbook.

brussels-sprouts-bacon-and-gruyere-frittata

Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, and Gruyere Frittata

1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, diced
2 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
3/4 pound brussels sprouts, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
8 large eggs
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
1/4 cup snipped chives

Preheat the broiler and position a rack 6 inches from the heat. In a 12-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts, season with salt and pepper and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

 Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the eggs with the milk, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in the shredded cheese and snipped chives. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring gently, until the eggs start to set and the bottom is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and broil the frittata for about 3 minutes, until the center is just set. Run a rubber spatula around the edge of the frittata and slide it onto a serving plate, then cut it into 6 pieces and serve.