Bill E’s Bacon – Fairhope, Alabama

You know I love my husband. The other day I asked him to go to the Apple Market which is not close to our house, but not terribly far either. It is just one of those place I do not get to often enough. I wanted some ham salad for Easter and it was great ham salad. [See post about letting others do things if they can do them better than you.]

Well, since the MotH had not been to Apple Market in donkey’s years, it was like a field trip for him and he just kept sending me photos at the office. One really struck a cord – Bill E’s bacon out of Fairhope, Alabama. It wasn’t ridiculously priced and, well, I am a sucker for local foods of all sorts. “Serenaded by Songwriters. Savored by Carnivores.” Interesting, if nothing else. Still not sure what it means. D&D_1831

Damn, I fried up a few strips to adorn the deviled eggs and the German potato salad for Easter brunch. That is totally gilding the lily.

Now, what do I do with the rest of it. Ah, we shall see. I love bacon-wrapped dates (or any dried fruit for that matter) stuffed with cheese, or even better some other piggy parts. Although that may be over kill.

This bacon is really smoky, so I think going with a dried fruit and some kind of neutral cheesy-ness that I think might be just amazing.   D&D_1833

Lemon Bars – again

Yep! One more time, but this time I will take some to the office too. Share the love as it were –   or as my office says I’m just trying to make them fat – not really. But I made these for a friend for her birthday which is tomorrow. She will be 21.

But it is nice to make things that make people happy. And that is what I try to do.

When I used this recipe for the first time I was expecting the same kind of big failure that I have had before with this idea  – many times. But these were an amazingly pleasant surprise. dd_1599

Sometimes you just have to keep trying to see what will happen. In this case, this recipe is just golden. I do not think I will ever try another one for this favorite lemon bar cookie of mine. The crust and curd ratio is damn near perfect.

Right now I am trying (not very hard) to talk myself out of ordering lots of Meyer Lemons on-line since my little (Charlie Brown Christmas Tree version) of a Meyer Lemon did nothing for me this year. I think I have to pot it up*, but I am so not sure what time of year to do that because now it is blooming – and it smells like orange blossoms – because the Meyer is a cross between a lemon and an orange – it is just heavenly. There never seems to be a good time to pot it up and I will NOT plant this in the ground. It has spent 10 years with me and while not very promising, usually I get a couple Meyer lemons or maybe three. I always want it to be with me. Sounds strange, but when you invest yourself in something – well, there it is.  I may be reduced to ordering from California since our Palafox Market seems bereft of Meyer Lemons. Sad since it has been not such a terrible “winter” (and I use that word very loosely) for us so far.
We already have pollen on the vehicles and azaleas are blooming. This is not going to make an easy spring for us, um, at. all.

* That means putting it in a different (larger) pot. You weirdos.

So here, again, are lemon bars.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1 – 2 tsp ice water

5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and line with parchment with an overhang on the long sides. Or all the sides really.

In the bowl of a food processor, mix all purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water as needed to bring dough together. Press dough into prepared pan, pressing firmly against the inside edges. Bake crust for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly golden. Set pan on wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until well combined and paler in color. Stir in zest, lemon juice, 1/4 cup flour and a pinch of salt. Carefully pour topping over warm crust. Bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until set.

Set the pan on a rack to cool completely. Remove squares using parchment. Cut into bars. Dust with 3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar. Or more if you want. I use way more confectioners’ sugar than that. Just me.

 

 

 Sugar Cookies with Hershey Kisses

Another cookie at the request of someone to help me push my limits. I cannot remember the last time I purchased Hershey Kisses – it might be never, but someone at my beach local requested a Hershey Kiss cookie and I was loathe to do it with the traditional peanut butter cookie part. Guess that’s my prejudice – it is not a combination that I care for. So I found this recipe for a sugar cookie, to my mind, a more neutral base.

It is the hazard of being a food blogger: You make something, but do not get to shoot photos because a certain 20-something year old lives with you or at least stops by often eats everything before you have the chance to take pictures. Damn it. Well, guess that means I will have to make this again sometime soon. I do have a shite load of Hershey Kisses still left in the pantry, sort of like all those M&M’s I have in pantry.

It is not that I do not like chocolate, I just don’t seem to be distracted by it like lots of people (read: women) are. A chocolate kiss here and there is nice, but I can let an open bag sit in the pantry for just about ever. It is always the way it has been for me.

1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons milk
35 Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped, um … duh
1/2 cups powdered sugar (optional – for rolling – really, not optional in my opinion)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift over a piece of waxed paper, flour, salt, and baking soda.

Beat butter, egg, sugar, and vanilla until blended. Slowly blend the dry ingredients and the milk into the butter mixture.

Shape  cookies into 1 inch balls. Roll each ball in powdered sugar.

Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes until the cookies are just slightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for 1-2 minutes. Press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. Move cookies to a wire rack to completely cool. Makes around 35 cookies.

Bench Notes: This dough takes a little work. It is not easy. You have to man-handle it a bit to get round balls of dough, but it is certainly worth the effort. The Boy was my taste tester for the first one.

Yes, I do that. Bake the single cookie just to see how it works. Since I had never done something like this before – I mean with the Hershey Kiss – I figured it was a wise thing to do. Nothing worse that throwing a whole pan of cookies in the oven and not really having a clue how things are going to work. And then have to throw them in the trash can. That just about kills me. So I have learned my lesson – a test cookie is a good thing.

Maybe next time there will be a picture. Hopefully.

“Meyer” Lemon Bars

I have this habit of asking people what they would like me to bake or cook for them. It keeps me interested in baking and cooking and pushes me outside of what I typically do. I do it at work, “what do you guys want me to make for the pot-luck?” and I do the same thing at my favorite restaurants. I think restaurant staff is not appreciated enough. Guess that comes from being a server ages ago. I hope they appreciate it, but it is more to get me to try to do different things.dd_1599

So I asked Berta, at my beach local, to tell me what she would like in the baking department, and she said my baking nemesis – lemon bars. I have not had good luck with these in the past – at all. That said, I was going to give it another go – it is a challenge after all. And I never back down from a challenge.

This is a recipe on my little USB drive of recipes that I have been working on for ages and I just sort of picked it out of the two I had. It was daunting – I have to admit that I was not comfortable trying this idea again. I did this on a Thursday because I figured if I fucked it up, I would have Friday to try again. And I am really not scared in the baking department, but you never know if things are going to go pear-shaped.

I have to say, I just cut a corner out of this and just got stupid over how good it was. That is, indeed, a good sign. I guess when I get silly about something in the kitchen, that makes me happy and pleased with myself. And that makes me think it will be something other people will like too.

Personally, I would like to keep the entire pan of these lemon bars to myself, but I won’t. But I will damn sure to make this recipe again. The original called for Meyer lemons, but I only have those when my (precious) little tree produces Meyer lemons and this is totally the wrong time of year, so I just used regular lemons. It was amazing. Stupidly so. Yeah me! yep.

Meyer Lemon Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1 – 2 tsp ice water

5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs Meyer lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and line with parchment with an overhang on the long sides. Or all the sides really.

In the bowl of a food processor, mix all purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water as needed to bring dough together. Press dough into prepared pan, pressing firmly against the inside edges. Bake crust for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly golden. Set pan on wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until well combined and paler in color. Stir in zest, lemon juice, 1/4 cup flour and a pinch of salt. Carefully pour topping over warm crust. Bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until set.

Set the pan on a rack to cool completely. Remove squares using parchment. Cut into bars. Dust with 3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar. Or more if you want. I use way more confectioners’ sugar than that. Just me.

I think I made a few friends with these – at least I really hope so. Berta loved them and her daughter asked for them on her birthday at the end of November. I guess there are more lemon people than I had imagined. I shared one of my favorite lemon things ever – lemon, white chocolate chip cookies – they sound slightly weird, but they are stupid good.

And then in my head – lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for another person that is a lemon person. I think we have to stick together. There just are not that many of us. Lemon People Unite – or something?  No, that just does not work. I guess you chocolate people have us outnumbered. Again.

Chocolate Chip Cookies – redux

I have had a habit of making cookies in the fall/winter (when the baking is so much easier) for people that I really appreciate. Especially for all the staff at the restaurants that we go to. And now it is time to start baking again for this fall, at least our version of fall – which is not saying much — sigh. dd_1578

There is a sweet boy that works at our favorite local on the beach and I have been remiss to ask his name, but I finally did last weekend and asked him what kind of cookies he liked. I think I might have scared him a bit – I mean who does that. He said chocolate chip, so this is a new version of the standard. Because Toll House Cookies are a total standard – at least for me. But I totally wanted to make some really exotic kind of cookies …  but he said chocolate chip cookies, so there we are. Simple as it is ….

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups unsifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz bag)

Preheat  oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment.

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt over a sheet of waxed paper.

In a stand mixer, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color. Add eggs, one at a time and then add vanilla. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Gradually mix in flour mixture into butter mixture. Stir in Ghirardelli chocolate chips.

Drop by disher* #30 onto parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.

* a disher is apparently a name for a cookie scoop – or an ice cream scoop. Had no idea at all, but thanks to Alton Brown I know how to determine the size of the disher. The one I had was a 40, so I then purchased a 30 and a 20.

I really liked these cookies. They were crispy on the edges and that is what I like in a chocolate chip cookie. Not a huge fan of the chewy cookie, unless they are oatmeal cookies. These seemed to go over well with the Boy, and the office. So, all in all that is a good thing. I do value the opinions of my friends and family – just as long as they are honest in their assessments. I think these were a success.

Milton Bakery

Milton Bakery is an old school bakery. They make muffins, pastries, croissants, and lots of specialty cakes, and pies in the fall. They also bake breads and rolls. And they also make donuts.

Since our nephew mentioned it recently, I cannot forget Shipley’s donuts in Texas. Those donuts holes were amazing and I ate way more than I should. But would still love to eat so many more. I might even get up a little earlier for those next time we are in Texas. Not kidding, and I never do that on the weekend. Ever. Do not get me started about kolaches. That is a entire different story.

I have taken pictures of the Milton Bakery donuts, but, I did kind of decimate the box. Six donut holes out of a dozen. And I still want more. That is so not good.

D&D_1511This just reminds me of the Donut Shoppe in Jacksonville. My Dad would go and get donuts there pretty much every weekend. The shop was on University Boulevard, and right next to a 7-11, not very promising, but the donuts were pretty much amazing. Yep. It has moved since I lived there – still on University – next to a, wait for it, gas station, but the donuts are still amazing and dear lord they open at 5:00 am – ugh – who does that? I guess bakery people, but sure the hell, not me.

When we were kids we would always get donuts at the Donut Shoppe on our way out of town on our way to North Carolina to visit our parents’ families, and also go to the 7-11 for candy for the trip too. The donuts were eaten on our way and enjoyed. But the funny thing is that since we were on a road trip were were only allowed to bring a shoe box of our own stuff to pass the time, and I did fill my box with candy – especially the big ass (at the time but not anymore) everlasting gobstoppers. Yes, I did love Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Also did read the book which it was based on, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was such a library dork. I guess I have always been a reader – not a bad thing, in the grand scheme of things.

Okay, back to donuts. I think I just might be going back to the Milton Bakery this weekend. I know Krispy Kreme is a Southern tradition, but my favorite way to eat them is without the glaze, and you can order them that way. Krispy Kreme was founded in Winston-Salem North Carolina and is an iconic Southern treat. When we lived in Chapel Hill, I had a colleague and friend whose father made the first neon Krispy Kreme sign for the first store. What a very cool story. But that being said, that glaze kind of makes my teeth hurt a bit. The Boy used to go by our one little Krispy Kreme for coffee and donuts before classes at high school, can not say that I blame him.

Either way, I am a giant fan of the Milton Bakery. It reminds me of my dad and that makes me happy. Oh, and can I have just about a dozen more donut holes, please.

 

 

Hello Tourists

Tourists –  We thank you for visiting our fair state. It makes it possible for us not pay state income taxes. But here is the problem – do you act like such jerkish dillweeds at home?  I am just wondering, because I am really hoping you do not. I would like to think I would not be a total dillweed in your hometown. Honestly, I am pretty sure I would not be.

Pensacola Beach SignYou drive like the speed limits do not apply to you, especially on our bridges which are our lifelines between Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, and Pensacola Beach. Honestly, we have enough of our own dillweeds for this idiocy – just saying.

We do not mind not being able to get to our own beach in the summer.  We understand first, the snowbirds, then the spring breakers, and then the tourists – we get it. Just please do not try to run us down on our own streets. It is just not right.

It will not be long until we get our beach local back, and while we appreciate you supporting our places for a few months each year, we support them when you are all gone – through the fall and winter. This is our hometown and it would be lovely if you were not so cavalier in our home.