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

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies 

The Boy asked for these and I always try to make things that make him happy. So I made these for Easter. It is a peanut butter cookie that I had never tried, but instead of peanut butter chips, I used semi-sweet chocolate chips because that is what the Boy requested.

It is an odd thing. I love peanut butter – peanut butter and apple jelly sandwiches, peanut butter toast, peanut butter in my oatmeal – with raisins if possible – but I am not a huge peanut butter cookie fan. I think it is because so many of them have a dry, sandy texture. I also do not like peanut butter mixed with chocolate. As I have said over and over, I am not a chocolate person and there are only a couple of things I like mixed with my chocolate – caramel, toffee, or nuts – or some combination of the three. No peanut butter, no coconut, certainly not orange, oh dear lord, please no mint, blech. I know, I am seriously fussy – about just about everything.

Anyway, back to peanut butter – this is a recipe I’ve had for years and have never tried so this gave me the perfect opportunity to do so. This is … wait for it … a Gwyneth Paltrow recipe that I have modified, but I will qualify that by saying it is a recipe from her maternal grandmother that her grandfather loved. Family recipes are the vast majority of the time a very good thing. So I tried this – it’s easy to put together with things that I had on hand which to me is a huge bonus. If you compare it to the original, I did make a few changes (I only use light brown sugar for instance) and swapped out the peanut butter chips for semi-sweet chocolate chips, per the Boy’s request.D&D_1841

I have learned over the years that if you taste the raw dough you will get a good sense of what the cookie will taste like and I thought this worked out well. I also made a test cookie with no chocolate chips just to try it as a straight up peanut butter cookie. It worked well. That said, it is a soft cookie, so it is best to let it cool completely before moving it about too much.

Hood approved of, and ate half of, the plain peanut butter cookie – think there might be some dog treats with this in the future.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour*
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
8 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter **
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sanding sugar for the top (optional)

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together dry ingredients over a piece of waxed paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar. Mix in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture a little at a time. Stir in chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop (disher), place cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheet. Sprinkle with sanding sugar if your going for that thing (nice crunch). Bake about 10 minutes rotating pans half way through baking. Let rest on baking pan for at least 4 minutes then move to cooking rack to cool completely

* I always use unbleached, just a habit.

** I am a Jif PB person.

Source:  Modified from Epicurious

Sausage, Cheddar, & Scallion Biscuit Bread

I do love a breakfast bread that includes … um, sausage. I think that I just love anything that includes sausage. That is pretty much me. And you know cooking bacon or sausage will just make everyone in the house hungry. Even if think you are not hungry, you get that way with the smell of sausage. It is kind of like smelling rosemary in the garden – you don’t think you are hungry but then you smell rosemary (or basil) and everything changes.dd_1759

10 ozs breakfast sausage, hot*
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar, grated
two diced scallions, green and most of the white
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp fine salt
1/4 tsp black powder
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup milk**

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown sausage in a skillet over medium heat until cooked through and crumble as you go along. Transfer to paper towel lined plate to drain well. Try not to eat too much.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper over a piece of waxed paper. Cut the butter in with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the butter is the size of peas.

Stir in buttermilk until well mixed in, the add the cream and milk. The dough will be shaggy. Fold in sausage, cheese, and scallions. Do not overmix. Transfer to loaf pan coated with baking spray,  lined with parchment, and coated again.

Bake for 40 minutes until top is brown and toothpick comes out clean.

dd_1750

* I can totally find something else to do with the other 6 ozs of sausage – so just cook the pound of it. This is called breakfast for me with lots of real maple syrup – yes, the very expensive stuff – but that is the real deal. Most times that is just enough to be a great breakfast.

** or you could use 1/2 cup half and half – just depends on what you have on hand because they are the same thing really when you mix milk and cream together.

2015 – Two Years Ago – Apple Turnover

 

Edna Frillmann’s Warm Potato Salad 

I have not made “German” potato salad for Thanksgiving before, but I did this year just for kicks. Once again, we shall see how this works.

I love family recipes which, based on what I’ve read, this is, from a good Lutheran family (read: German) in the Midwest. It was from the NPR show Here & Now just before Thanksgiving and well, any excuse to try a new German potato recipe – I will take it. dd_1657

1 3/4 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled – my decision to use Yukon Golds
6 slices of thick cut bacon
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup cider vinegar

Place potatoes in medium sized pot, cover with water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil until tender but still holding its shape. Drain well, let cool and slice into 1/4 inch slices.

Fry bacon in a large skillet until crisp.  Remove bacon to paper towel-lined plate. Leave bacon fat in skillet.

Cook onion in bacon fat until soft. Stir in sugar, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer until mixture is bubbly. Add water and vinegar and heat to boiling, stirring and watching carefully. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add the potatoes. Stir until all potatoes are coated. Check seasoning. Serve warm.

In my case for this Thanksgiving, I will reheat and add bacon just before serving. 

This was not bad, but did not live up to my ideal version from The Creamery. I honestly don’t think any recipe would. But I would give just about anything for that recipe. No, really, just about anything.  

No-Roll Butter Pie Crust 

Not sure about how this recipe is going to work. I have my fingers crossed.

1/3 cup unsalted butter
4 Tbs water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Melt butter in the microwave [or brown the butter in a sauce pan].  Let cool slightly. Add  water.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in butter & water mixture. Mix together but do not over mix. If the dough seems dry, add a little extra water, but do that judicially.

Dump dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate and press until an even layer over bottom and sides of the plate.

Dough can be pre-baked at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 30 minutes, for a no bake filling.

Or in my case refrigerate for 30 minutes and fill with America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe for Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie.


I have found that having experience in clay, which I have in spades, makes making pastry a lot easier. It really is, pretty much, the same thing. You just have to get a feel for it and trust your hands but not necessarily your eyes.  And the more often you do it, making pastry dough, the easier it gets.

Source: Baking Bites

Well, for all the finger crossing this crust just did not work. And I am not entirely sure why. This is going to bother me for a while, but I will get to the bottom of it. I think David Lebowitz and version of a French press in pie crust that I will give a shot next time. It is all just science after all. Or something like it. Or maybe it just simply is baking and trying new things that sometime work and sometimes do not.

Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins

I am trying to expand my collection of muffin recipes – both sweet and savory. Blueberries come to mind immediately for me. And in this case with buttermilk, to keep the sweet from overpowering the whole thing, I think I will be a happy camper at the end of this little experiment. Besides, I topped each muffin with Turbinado sugar – love the crunch of that.dd_1581

A notice, though, to all you people developing recipes for muffins – those of us baking muffins have one of two sized pans – a 6 cup muffin pan or a 12 cup muffin pan – strange numbers, like 15, are not appreciated at all. Come on, really? Thankfully, this is sane recipe that makes – wait for it – 12 muffins.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups blueberries*
Turbinado sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract. Stir in one third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk. Mix in another third of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining buttermilk. Stir in all remaining flour, mixing until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Fold in blueberries until well-distributed. *If using frozen blueberries rinse first, dry well, and then toss in 1 tbsp flour before folding in.**
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Each cup should be full of batter. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake for 21-24 minutes, until the muffins are domed, lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each muffin comes out clean. Transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12, thankfully.

Source: Baking Bites

** I have also heard you can toss with confectioners’ sugar too which makes a degree of sense since confectioners’ sugar has corn starch in it. May try that next time.

These were pretty damn tasty blueberry muffins. I do think frozen fruit, in this case, organic, was the way to go. With that you can make blueberry muffins in December if you get yourself in the mood. Which I just might – these went over well with the MotH and The Boy and also the office. That just makes me really happy. I suppose I’m just a simple creature. Making food that makes people happy, makes me happy. I suppose that can be a bit dorky, but it is what I am.

Also, I do love those muffin cups. They are supposed to be like grass and I really like them. They are Wilton Petal Grass Baking Cups. We just don’t have a lot of options for cool muffin cups around here, and sometimes I need something not too terribly expensive to make up my free shipping order on Amazon, so there we are. There are several more on my list … yeah!

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

Chickpeas are so slightly amazing. Think hummus, think salads, and now roasted chickpeas.  I had being seeing recipes for this for a while, but this is the first time I tried it. But as usual, had to make a modification or two. D&D_1489

So this is …

2 cans of chickpeas, rinsed  – yes, that is a must – rinse them. Not kidding.
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
pinch cayenne
1 tsp dried chipotle chili pepper – do love this stuff for the smokey thing going on.
juice of half a lemon
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a roasting pan with foil, for easy clean up.

In a bowl, combine chickpeas, olive oil, salt, cayenne, chipotle pepper, lemon juice and Worcestershire. Mix to coat. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, mixing the pan and rotating half way through. The chickpeas should be lightly browned. Allow to cool completely.

These were pretty amazing in my opinion. I think they might be good on a salad and they also might pretty good hummus too. Just a thought.