Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pizza and Beer in NYC

My man and I spent a few days in New York, and among other culinary delights, we stopped for a slice at Ray's Pizza, where I got a bacon and pepperoni:

You'd think, by now, I'd have tried bacon on pizza, but in fact no. And it turned out to be incredibly tasty, bacon and pepperoni go well together.

Later in the evening, we stopped at Char 4, a fantastic whiskey bar in Brooklyn, and my boyfriend got one of these as a beerback:

Unfortunately I have some kind of mysterious beer allergy, so I wasn't able to partake, but I absolutely love the can.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tortilla Española with Chorizo

I know, I know, chorizo isn't actually bacon. But I figured it's been awhile since I updated with an actual recipe, and this really called for chorizo. And chorizo is made of pork (at least I think it is?) so it's kinda the same idea at least. Feel free to sub in bacon if you want.

ANYHOW. Tortilla Española is a kind of potato egg and onion omelet. Its typically served over bread, sliced into wedges. It is delicious. My friend Russ was mentioning how much he loved it the other day, and it inspired me to try making it myself. It turns out to be kind of difficult, at least for me, mainly because anything that involves trying to flip an omelet is difficult for me. The recipe is sort of improvised; I googled it and then made it up as I went along. In the process, I used:

5 (very) small potatoes
1 onion
4 eggs
a few slices of chorizo
garlic salt, pepper, olive oil

Cut the potatoes into slices that are maybe 1/4 inch thick. The recipes I found said to do the same with the onions, and I did, but I think next time I'll dice 'em, actually. Pour a goodly amount of olive oil into a pan and set it on medium low heat. Put in a layer of potatoes, sprinkle liberally with salt, then add a layer of onions, more potatoes (and salt), onions, you get the idea. I happen to think potatoes are terrible without salt, so I used plenty of it. Note here that the heat remains on medium low - you're trying to cook the potatoes, not deep fry them. They shouldn't be sticking to the pan. If you cover them, they actually take less than 10 minutes to cook. Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a bowl and beat em with some pepper. When the potatoes are ready, dump the potatoes and onions into the egg bowl. Chop the chorizo and fry it a bit in the pan. Turn up the heat a bit and add some more oil. Then pour the potato egg onion mixture on top. Use a spatula to prevent the egg from sticking to the sides.

Now comes the tricky part. Once the whole thing appears to be 3/4 cooked, ie, the top is fairly solid, if you are a very brave person, you can try to flip the omelet. If you are somewhat trepidatious, as indeed you should be, get another pan of roughly the same size, put a bit of olive oil into it, heat it up, and then put it on top of your other pan and try to do the flip that way. It mostly worked for me, though it turned out that I hadn't been as good with the spatula as I thought, and parts of the creation stuck to the pan, leading to the loss of a few brave potatoes. Let us remember them a moment in silence.

Anyhow, so here's what it looked like then:

Which, aside from the slightly flawed surface, is basically what it should look like. Ideally, you should then only need to finish cooking the other side and then flip it onto a plate. Unfortunately, the next step didn't go nearly as well. I think, actually, I may have used too few eggs - another one or two might be wise - so the top part wasn't eggy enough. Or maybe I didn't cook it quite long enough. In any case, what happened was this:

The good news is though - it was still totally delicious.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Underground Charcuterie

An interesting article in the Reader about the secret world of pork.

I have mixed feelings on the issue myself - on the one hand, I love food and am naturally inclined to be in favor of those who want to make delicious things for me. On the other hand, yeah, food sanitation laws exist for a reason. A very good reason. Personally, I am somewhat fearless when it comes to meat, and regularly make steak tartarre with ground beef from Whole Foods, but yeah, e. coli and salmonella are for realz yo.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another pasta idea

The inspiration for this came from a recipe in Claudia Roden's Middle Eastern Cooking - one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. It doesn't involve bacon, surprise surprise, it involves stewing beef for over an hour. I didn't feel like doing that tonight, but I saw a recipe on Epicurious for a bacon-tomato-onion pasta that looked sort of mediocre, and I thought hmmm, what if I combine the two, and season the boring pasta recipe with Roden's suggested spices? Voila! Delicious dinner.

Yeah - not the most appealing picture. I dunno why it looks so... pink.

To create, you need

4 slices bacon
1 onion
1 tomato
cumin, salt, allspice, cayenne, cinnamon, ginger, chili powder

Chop up the bacon and fry it up on medium heat. Meanwhile, set the water to boil, with salt and get to work chopping the onions. At some point in this process your water will boil, and when it does, add the pasta.
Once the bacon is mostly done, reduce the heat to low, push the bacon to one side and add the onions. Saute a few minutes until soft, using the time to chop up the tomato. Add the tomato, and then the spices - basically, as much cayenne as you want, depending on how much spice you can handle, a large pinch of everything else. Continue cooking over low heat, basically until your pasta is done - as the tomatoes cook, they sort of collapse, and the whole thing becomes a bit more saucy.

It's a really lovely dinner. I know the spices sound totally bizarre, but together, they're really quite amazing, and are wonderfully complemented by the bacon, as are the softer textures of the tomato and onion. It's an incredibly simple meal, but really quite tasty.

Twitter Bacon Thing

Lauren, who works for a major fast food chain, has asked me to post something about a Bacon competition that's happening on Twitter between November 9th and 20th. So, I guess for a few more days? Huh.
Anyhow, it can be found at @UrBaconMeCrazy (ooooh, I get it now. I was all, who're you calling Bacon, Crazy?) on Twitter. I assume that gives you enough information to find it? I personally kind of despise Twitter. But this apparently allows you to win some money, so I figured hey, you might wanna know about it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bacon Nail Art

Tiana sent me a link to some seriously incredible bacon nail art.

Seriously awesome. It's from a blog that contains a new nail design every day. It is my new favorite blog.

Monday, November 2, 2009

More complaints about bacon

From SF Weekly, another enough already with the bacon! article.
This one, however, has a pretty weak argument, in that it lists 5 things that are meant to serve as evidence that the bacon craze has gone too far, and all of them sound kind of delicious.
Incidentally, they also have a piece on Top 5 Caffeinated Things that Shouldn't Be that's kind of interesting. I don't eat sunflower seeds myself, but I do love coffee cookies, bloody marys and coffee during Sunday brunch (and Sparks! don't even get me started on how much I love Sparks! and how sad I am that it's banned in multiple states and generally seems to be going the way of the dodo). I keep a thingy (tube? stick?) of Spazzstick in my coat pocket (it tastes delicious) and back in college I bought Water Joe by the CASE. So fie on you SF Weekly, y'all are a bunch of haters who don't know what's good in this world.
Caffeinated soap and/or body wash, however, seems kind of ridiculous to me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bacon cook-off winner and enough with the bacon!

I mentioned the Baconfest Cook-off awhile back - well, it came and went, and nobody hooked me up with a free ticket. But you can read about the winners, and the entries, in the Reader. They sound pretty tasty - nothing too wild, aside from maybe the vanilla bacon ice cream.

Meanwhile David Tamarkin at Time Out Chicago says enough with the bacon already people!
And look - he's got a point. I am (obviously) a person who likes bacon. I enjoy cooking with it, and particularly exploring its versatility and the unexpected joy it can add to other things. I started this blog mostly to post bacon recipes - I'd been thinking of doing a food blog for awhile (and occasionally regret that I didn't) - and then figuring, hey, there's all kinds of weird bacon-related stuff out there, I can totally keep a blog going on this. But yeah, personally - the t-shirts, the stickers, the paraphenelia - it's pretty over-the-top. Unlike Tamarkin, I'm all for bacon fest and discovering new ways to eat bacon, but the accessorizing is kind of ridiculous. Though come to think of it, I do have bacon band-aids, and they're pretty awesome. Also, Tamarkin is incorrect - bacon and chocolate can be a fantastically delicious combination. You don't need to be a bacon lover to appreciate it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


A friend of mine just sent me a link to, which generates word clouds from any source text you give it based on frequency. I put in the url for this blog and it made a very nice one, I think.

(click on it for the full size)

Wordle: Bacon Blog

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

New link, and Bacon and Halibut at Elate

First off, I received an email from Michael, author of The Daily Bacon, asking if I could post a link to his blog. So here it is, The Daily Bacon. Bacon recipes, info on bacon sales at grocery chains in Michigan, and lots of Twitter updates.

Secondly, I never really know if this kind of thing is worth posting about*, but I ate some tasty bacon food last night. My boyfriend and I went to Elate, the new restaurant at Chicago's Hotel Felix. We were a bit agog at the prices, but also tired and hungry and unsure what to do, so, well, we stayed and ordered some food. This is why the good lord made credit cards, right?
Sidegripe - I love tapas and small plates. It's a brilliant concept. At a place like Province, where I had a delicious dinner the other night, it's a way to get a lot of different dishes. However, although Province offers a plethora of different small plates, they also do "Bigger" plates, which are basically entree sized, and run you about $12-$17 - entirely reasonable, I think, and you'll get a proper amount of food. Elate, on the other hand, is the kind of small plates place where you need to order at least 6 of them between two people to get a decent meal. Even the "Plates", ie what are presumably the bigger ones, are pretty effin' small.
Amongst other things, we ordered the Halibut, which the menu described rather provocatively as Halibut: chanterelles / favas / mussels / bacon broth.

Which is pretty much what it was, I guess. Oh, except also: / delicious.

The halibut was perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. The chanterelles were juicy and a gorgeous earthy compliment to the delicate fish, nicely balanced with the somewhat woody favas and the chewy, salty bits of bacon. The broth was delicate and wonderful - I seriously deliberated drinking the rest out of the dish. The mussels were also done just right, and a wonderful accompaniment to the whole. All in all - very nice, and an intelligent use of bacon. It added a nice bit of saltiness, but didn't overwhelm the other flavors at all.

* I generally imagine that the most useful thing in this blog are the recipes. I figure that posting pictures and descriptions of bacon-related things I've eaten in restaurants might be nice, in that you could easily be a better cook than I, and could perhaps recreate these delicious things I've eaten (if you do, please post a recipe in the comments!). On the other hand, you may not be such a talented chef, and you may also not live in the city of Chicago, in which case, reading a post like this just makes you an angry, bitter human being. So I dunno.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bacon, Egg and Greens

That title really doesn't do the elegance of this dish justice, but c'est la vie. There are more important things to discuss. Credit for this amazing creation really goes to my friend Harold, who made it himself and told me about it. Oh my god. It is so delicious. The basic concept is fairly simple, though the execution is somewhat tricky - some greens dressed in a light vinaigrette, topped with crispy pork in some form - be it lardon, pork belly, or bacon - and then crowned with - are you ready for this? - a poached egg. Oh, it is a thing of delicious beauty. I had it as a pre-dinner appetizer, but it would really shine on a brunch menu, I think.

The mechanics:

First, cut 2 strips of bacon in half, and roughly chop another one (or more). Set them to work frying over low heat. Next, in a small pot with high sides, pour in water such that it's at least 3 inches deep, and set that to boiling. Now, take a small bowl and prepare your vinaigrette. This can obviously be however you like to do it - I used about 2 gloops of olive oil, 2 gloops of red wine vinegar, the juice of 1/4 lemon, and some garlic salt. Were I doing it again, I'd actually half the oil and double the lemon juice, but do whatever you like. Whisk merrily with a fork.
Now, your bacon should be pretty close to done (you remembered to flip it, right? I know I didn't tell you, but I figured you'd put that together on your own), so pull out a plate and assemble a pile of greens. Your water is boiling, is it not? Turn it down to a simmer. Now, back to the greens. I used a baby arugula blend, because it's what I had lying around (because I LOVE arugula, like the liberal commie I am). Dump the vinaigrette over it and toss carefully (or you could use a bowl, which would require less care with the tossing, but also a somewhat less exciting presentation). Next, remove the bacon from the pan. Toss the chopped bacon in with the salad and lay the strips on top to form a little bed.
Now! Here comes the hard part - the poaching. This was the first time I did it, but it turned out not to be far less daunting than I had anticipated.
Rinse off your egg (because chicken poop is bad for you) and crack it carefully into a bowl (I just used the one from the vinaigrette, because I don't have a dishwasher. And am environmentally conscious.). Your water should be at a very low simmer. Stir it once and slowly slide the egg in. Let it bathe in there for 2-3 minutes, or until it looks like the whites are basically cooked, then turn the heat off and carefully remove it from the pot with a spatula or slotted spoon. Ease it onto its little bacon bed. Mine actually slid off and refused to move thereafter, but whatevs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then, with your fork, lightly scrape the surface of the egg, allowing its tasty little belly to ooze all over your salad.

Oh my gosh. The crisp, slightly sweet bacon, the bitter arugula, the creamy egg yolk, the slightly acidic vinaigrette - it's a symphony in your mouth. It's absolutely incredible. The only thing to add is a slice off good bread to mop up the juices at the end with.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bacon Cocktails in the Red Eye

A short article on bacon cocktails in Chicago's Red Eye. I'm not generally a Red Eye reader, but this piece was brought to my attention by my better half, who works at Nacionale 27 with Adam Seger, the mixologist featured in the article. Non-Chicago readers may be excited by the url to purchase Bakon vodka (for $29.99 a bottle), though be forewarned that it doesn't actually contain bacon.

Incidentally, I infused my own bacon vodka ages ago and for some strange reason, haven't tasted it yet. But there'll be a post on that sometime soon, I imagine. I may have infused mine for way too long - Seger apparently only does his for 72 hours. Mine was significantly longer than that. The color of my creation is... unappealing, to say the least. But I'll report back soon.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Baconfest Chicago Pro Bacon Cook-off

If you're living in Chicago and love Bacon, you might wanna check out the Pro Bacon Cook-Off, part of general Bacon Fest events (though Bacon Fest isn't until April), which will be held at The Publican (and they are definitely worthy hosts - their pork is awesome). It involves 10 chefs competing for best bacon dish. The audience not only gets to watch and enjoy the sweet scent of bacon in the air, but will also receive a tasting portion of each chef's dish, 10 2 oz samples of beer (I wonder if these are official pairings or just, you know, tasty), and a bacon gift bag. Sounds pretty awesome. Tickets are available here.
You may notice that they are not cheap. It's times like this I sort of wish that I had a wealthy benefactor, or wrote this blog in some kind of professional capacity that would involve me being sent off to cover the event with a free ticket. Oh well. I'll cook MY OWN bacon! Yeah! So there!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bacon-Maple lollipops, again

As you may or may not recall, I did purchase, sample, and review these lollipops over a year ago. However, awhile back (longer than I'd like to admit, actually), I received a very friendly email from a guy at Lollyphile offering to send me a free box so that I'd review it. I told him I already had, and sent him a link, but he said they were new and improved and he wanted to send me some***. So of course, I said yes, though I have to admit, I was kinda skeptical.

But actually, they DO taste better! There's definitely a more pronounced maple flavor - kind of a maple-y burnt sugar taste. The bacon tastes bacon-ier as well. Definitely a huge improvement over the weird cotton candy flavor they had before. They're actually kinda good now.

Still, my old gripe persists - these are really, really sweet. I'm not a big sweet tooth in the first place, though I do enjoy a good lollipop here and there, but these are intense.

Also, while I appreciate that this is probably because they're made with natural ingredients, they did not hold up to Chicago summer temperatures so well. They were pretty melty when they arrived, and became sort of a gooey mess within 2 days. Though looking at the site now, they seem to have reinvented them all over again - so who knows. Huh. I wonder if they sent me those just to get rid of old stock and spread some goodwill. Um. Well. I hope the new new ones are continuing the trend of improvement!

*** I gotta say, the offers for free stuff still really surprise me. I still find it hard to believe that anyone thinks its worthwhile to give me free stuff just so I'll say something about it. But it's awfully nice. But never you fear, dear reader! My praise cannot be bought with free products, and I will always tell you if I've received something for free or been otherwise asked to mention it, and I refuse to post something that I think is of inferior quality - unless, of course, it's to tell you that it's of inferior quality. But I occasionally get emails from people that are basically like "Hey! I sell something vaguely bacon related at an outrageously inflated price! Wanna advertise for me on your blog, despite the fact that you know nothing about me or my product and would have to pay that outrageous price to learn more?" Uh, no. Sorry. Does that work on anyone?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tia Linda's Scrambled Eggs

You want product promo? Here's a product promo. I was strolling through my local grocery this morning and happened by a free sample of Tia Linda's Grilled Salsa. Holy crap y'all. It is delicious.

Definitely not made in New York City.

Upon arriving home I discovered that my assumption that I had chips was incorrect. So I had to come up with another way to get that incredible substance into my belly. I considered a spoon, but that seemed unworthy of its greatness. So I decided to make some eggs.
I don't always put bacon in my scrambled eggs, but I thought the salty porky flavor would compliment the smokiness of the salsa beautifully, and you know what? I was totally right. Aside from the pig, I added half a chopped onion, a handful of sliced bell pepper (more product promo - Trader Joe's sells bags of frozen sliced bell pepper. It's one of the more convenient inventions ever, maybe.) and a diced jalapeno from my garden, just to give it a little kick. I sauteed all that together over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until the bacon was darkened and the vegetables were softened but not overdone, then I cracked two eggs in the bowl and commenced struggling with the lid of the jar. Why in the hell am I having such a hard time with jar lids lately? I banged on it with a knife a few times and thankfully, it came right off. I glooped some into the pan and stirred it, breaking up the yolks and initiating the flavor meld, then let it sit for a minute or so while I made toast. I contemplated adding cheese, but decided it would cover up the other flavors too much, so I settled for sprinkling a little on some of my toast (another reason why toaster ovens are so fantastic).

Now, if you are seeking to recreate this at home and you don't live near my grocery store, you're going to run into a big problem, namely, the lack of Tia Linda's salsa. I suspect it doesn't get particularly wide distribution, but the label does include an email address - - so you might try emailing and seeing if you can mail order it? Otherwise, explore your local possibilities. You want a salsa, not a pico de gallo (though that'd probably be tasty too, really) - something with a good smoky flavor. But try emailing Tia Linda. I totally want to give this person more business, because goddamn, it's a good salsa. I've been seeking a good jar of salsa for ages - I've tried Rick Bayliss' Frontera Brand - they're great at the actual restaurant - and numerous options from Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, etc, but none of them gets it right. They verge from uninspired and vaguely preservative tasting to bland and uninteresting to straight up yuck.

Man, I think I need to go back to the store and get some chips.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

International Bacon Day

... is coming up this week. I meant to post about it earlier and forgot - I got an email from Alexa with a link to her International Bacon Day blog. She's keeping track of worldwide festivities and has plenty of recipes, activity ideas, and general enthusiasm. Check her out.

I also received an email from Lindsay, who I suspect is probably an employee of a certain brand of bacon because the product gets mentioned an awful lot in the email. Lindsay thought I might want to embed some videos of Food Network chef Aaron McCargo Jr making some bacon dishes with the aforementioned brand. I'm not jocking anyone's product unless I've tried it and embedded videos irritate me BUT because Lindsay took the time to write me, I did watch the videos and the food is pretty impressive.
He's got one for Bacon, Egg and Cheese Cups and one for Bacon Stuffed French Toast. I've never really understood how stuffed french toast works, actually, so I gotta admit, the video was useful. The Bacon Cups looked incredible. And the videos are mercifully short and to the point, aside from the copious product placement. Might give it a gander - you could even prepare them for your International Bacon Day breakfast.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bacon Arugula Pasta

If you find yourself at home on a Friday night working on a dissertation chapter that seems to be going absolutely nowhere while your friends are out in the city enjoying their summer, you might consider taking a break to make yourself a simple, refreshing dinner, one that won't put a strain on a stomach already overtaxed with copious amounts of caffeine. It's quite simple - all you need is some pasta, bacon, arugula, red wine vinegar, lemon and, in the absence of shallots, garlic and onion. (As you may have guessed, this recipe was inspired by the asparagus with bacon vinaigrette I made awhile ago)

Make water in pot, add salt and set on the stove on high heat.
Meanwhile, chop 4 slices of bacon (this is dinner, after all.) and set it in a pan on low heat. As it starts to cook and grease the pan, finely chop 1/4 of an onion you find in the fridge, and 2 cloves of garlic (if you have a shallot or two, do that instead). Add them to the pan, keeping the heat fairly low.
Your water should be boiling by now, so add some pasta to it.
Once the garlic and onion are softened, add a few handfuls of arugula (also known as ROCKET! which is a nice thing to remember when you're thinking about how this meal will help you get this gdamn chapter written). Drizzle some red wine vinegar over it and stir until the arugula is wilted but not mush. Hopefully your pasta has now cooked, so drain it and plop it in the pan with the rest so they can get friendly. Slice a 1/4 wedge off your lemon and squeeze the juice over the whole mess, then transfer it to a plate and enjoy.

Now light yourself a cigarette and get back to work.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bacon, pesto and roasted red pepper pasta sauce

I harvested a mass of basil from my garden plot the other day, thinking it'd be a nice, simple summer meal over some pasta. Well, here's the thing - I've been out of town for awhile, and my basil plants have grown rather massive. Pesto is delicious if it's made with tender young leaves, but when it's prepared with sun-parched leaves that are nearly palm sized, it becomes the culinary equivalent of a hunchbacked chain-smoking old lady rather than the nubile young maiden one knows and loves. It should be noted, I suppose, that I neglected to add the pine nuts (I really ought to know better by now, but they always seem so gratuitous to me), and my food processor isn't so nimble these days, so the pesto wasn't as smoothly blended as one might like. Also, I only had a one inch cube of parmesan, so I supplemented the cheese with some handfuls of Kraft's pizzeria blend, which also has has asiago, provolone, mozarella. I think that was a nice touch though. My first move in rejuvenating the hag was to slosh in some roasted red peppers, which indeed made a world of difference. Finally, in a burst of genius, as the pasta was cooking I chopped up and fried a few strips of bacon. The improvement was tremendous - the smoky flavors of the bacon mingle beautifully with the sweetness of the pepper and the garlic in the pesto. I decidedly underestimated the amount of bacon that would be appropriate - I used two strips, but really, one ought to use at least 4. I have amended the recipe below to reflect these findings.

Set some salted water boiling.

In a food processor, combine:
1 cup basil leaves*
1/3 cup parmesan
3 cloves garlic
1/4 jar roasted red peppers
a drizzle of olive oil
some salt

Blend into oblivion.

When the water boils, add pasta of your choice.

Chop and fry 4+ slices bacon.

Combine in bowl and eat.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bacon poll, bacon world, bacon lip balm, and my friend's awesome blog

My friend Charlie alerted me to a poll being conducted by Huffington Post about various bacon stuff. They've assembled a slideshow of a series of things made of bacon and ask you to vote on whether it's a good idea or no.

I have to say, a lot of it seems not only silly, but also rather wasteful. I mean, it's obviously temporary - you can drape a bunch of raw bacon on a lamp shade and gleefully declare that you have a bacon lampshade, but I suspect it only lasts long enough to take a photo, because who wants a rancid meat lamp? Stuff like that generally strikes me as kind of ridiculous, unlike bacon martinis or bacon cupcakes, which are probably delicious. Charlie thought that Bacon World would probably be neat to see in real life. I guess artists do kind of get a pass on wasting food if it's for a higher cause.

I was most excited, actually, by the bacon lip balm. That could be pretty awesome. I bet I'd get a lot more kisses with that on my mouth.

In other news, not strictly related to bacon but still kind of neat - my friend Ben recently discovered that he can acquire mussels at $2 a pound, and has embarked on a mission to make 50 different kinds of mussels. He's blogging about it, and if you're into mussels, you should definitely follow his progress - the man knows food. I dunno how much bacon will figure into the picture (he is certainly a big fan of the pork), but there's already one recipe up that involves pancetta, so who knows. Meanwhile, you should definitely tell him about your favorite mussels recipes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

the inventor of bacon and eggs

Martin informs me that Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! mentioned bacon this week. Roxanne was asked which intellectual came up with bacon and eggs. Peter also explains how they were "invented". It can be found here, under Panel Round Two. It starts at about 2:15. I won't ruin it for you - you have to find out for yourself.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bacon and spaghetti

Really, few things in the world are so tasty as bacon and onion fried together. It's one of those elementary dualities, like chocolate and vanilla, bread and butter, Bert and Ernie. It's great on potatoes, pierogi, fried rice, and, if you're living on the cheap - spaghetti.

All you really need is some chopped bacon and chopped onion, fried together. If you're using Irish rashers, you also need some butter in the pan - American bacon provides enough fat of its own. For an extra treat, roll the drained noodles in the pan to collect additional goodness.

If you wanna be _really_ lazy, there's an even simpler option, namely, Dolmio's pre-made sauces. I am generally opposed to pre-made pasta sauces, because they're usually flavorless pap laden with preservatives. What's the point? Just buy a can of tomatoes and spice it up.
Dolmio's smoked bacon and tomato sauce is not so different from my own bacon arabiatta, but it has a more pronounced smoky flavor. And it's more saucy (heh heh), and sometimes you want something properly liquid, you know?

So yes, I approve of Dolmio sauces. At under 2 euro a pop, as well, they're a fantastic deal. My only real beef is that they claim it's 2 servings worth, which is just silly. It's dinner for one. Their other sauces, by the way, are also quite good - but this one was the best.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pork and Potatoes

If you should find yourself in Dublin, living on the super cheap in an apartment with a bare kitchen, let me recommend the following dinner, which has the distinct bonus of not requiring any spices other than salt:

Several potatoes, boiled with salt
Several pork sausages, fried
1 rasher, fried
1 tomato, sliced and salted

Irish pork is so tasty.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Bacon at the Publican

My friend Harold and I hit The Publican for brunch last weekend. The Publican is a fabulous Chicago restaurant that prides itself on its seafood, pork and beer. If you want to eat pig, look no further. I never knew how delicious pig's ears are until I came there. 

Brunch at the Publican is a genial affair. The menu is sort of organized around small plates - there are entree sized dishes, but who can resist throwing on a side or two? Certainly not me and Harold - we ordered a somewhat embarrassing amount of food (I say embarrassing because my boyfriend just ran into the guy who waited on us when we had dinner there, and he apparently remembers us mostly for the astonishing quantity of things we managed to not only order, but also consume. I am slowly developing a reputation...). Of course, there was no way to NOT order the side of Publican bacon. And what a thing of beauty it is:

This is no thin crispy slice of breakfast meat. This is a slab of pig, crisped on the outside, chewy and gooey and marvelous on the inside, perfectly blended flavors of smoked and salty and meaty and delicious. Harold actually moaned with pleasure when he took his first bite. Loudly. It was kind of scandalous. 

But seriously. While you may complain that this isn't really the bacon you're used to, and not what you expected, and bla bla bla -listen. This isn't the bacon you're used to. This is bacon as it SHOULD be.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

bacon-wrapped dates

My boyfriend and I splurged on a dinner at Mercat a la Planxa, an amazing Chicago tapas restaurant, last night. When we asked our server for her recommendations from the menu, she raved about the Datiles con Almendras - bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with almonds. So we had to give them a try.

So first off, the presentation was gorgeous. The picture obviously doesn't fully do it justice (I took it rather furtively - photographing my food at restaurants makes me feel like a total herb), but the dish materializes in front of you as a lovely glass goblet filled with greens, with the charred delights skewered on toothpicks perching delicately on top. Upon being set on the table, they're then topped off with a cheese sauce of some kind, which makes them look less like crispy critters.

The flavor is, quite simply, fantastic. I don't even like dates, or I thought I didn't, but their sweetness blended beautifully with the smoky bacon flavor, and the almonds were a wonderful nutty complement. The cheese sauce was surprisingly subtle, adding a slight saltiness (the bacon actually wasn't that salty). Texture-wise, too, it was a wonderful combination, the silky creaminess of the cheese sauce, the crumbly bacon, and juicy dates and then the smooth almond kernel. Finished off with a few mouthfuls of crunchy greens, it's just beautiful, and a much lighter dish than you'd expect from the ingredients.

Absolutely delicious - maybe I'll even give dates a try in some other dish. If you happen to find yourself at Mercat a la Planxa, definitely give them a try*.

*While we're at it, let me also make it clear that you should do your damndest to find yourself there - I give the restaurant overall a glowing endorsement. The food was great, the cocktails were great, the wine was great, the service was fantastic, the dining room is lovely and has gorgeous views of Chicago, and while we went hog-wild (as per usual, sigh), it is entirely possible to dine there without blowing inordinate amounts of money. 
  Other dishes I recommend - the charcuterie sample was delicious, and a really nice way to start the meal. The Arroz con Morels was absolutely divine. A Morel risotto that was like paradise in your mouth, topped with an asparagus salad in lemon oil, with a fresh green crunch that was an incredible complement to the buttery richness of the morels. Also, the sea bass - Baramundi con Apio-Nabo - not for the fish itself, though it was quite tasty, but for the slices of celery root that came with it, which were soaked in a vinaigrette and nearly brought tears of joy to my eyes. Also, the ice cream/sorbet desserts were lovely - the Meyer lemon-vanilla and berry-basil were as delicious as expected, but we were pleasantly surprised by the sweet pea-lavender and rosemary-olive oil ice creams, which were marvelous.
  I think this might even make it onto my Top 10 Chicago Restaurants list...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

in bacon we trust

My friend Tara sent me this:

Is it an offer or just general advice?

It sort of speaks for itself, doesn't it?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bacon Chips Index

I've reviewed bacon chips on this blog before, but I really had no idea just how many bacon flavored chips/snacks were out there until I saw this.


Gwen of sent me a link to her Baconcyclopedia. Wow. It really might be the ultimate bacon reference. I'm totally blown away. Seriously. Wow. 

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Breakfast Greatness

A long time ago I posted about being a fan of grits and bacon.  It's still one of my go-to breakfasts, great for mornings when you have a little extra time, ie, can do something more exciting than cereal or a banana, or cereal with a banana, but not so much time that you can make pancakes. If, however, you have a spare half hour and want to really treat yourself, then, my friends, there's a version 2.0 that you have GOT to try. You start with your grits and bacon, but then, rather than eating it, you involve senor huevo, and oh man, it is awesome. Basically, you take the grits and bacon, pour em' into a baking dish, then make some dents in it, crack an egg into each dent, and bake. 

To be specific. For a (admittedly rather large) portion for 1, I used:

2 cups water
1/2 cup grits
a few pinches of salt
3 strips bacon
2 eggs
salt, pepper

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350.

Put two cups water in small pot on high heat. Chop the bacon and fry it on low heat. When the water starts boiling, add salt and grits. Stir, turn heat to medium low, and simmer until the grits are done to your liking (generally around 5 minutes?). Your bacon oughta be done by then too. Dump both - together with all the bacon grease! - into a baking dish and stir thoroughly. Then use a spoon to make a sort of divot in the grits and gently crack an egg into it. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Slide it into the oven and bake approx 15 minutes. One could also, perhaps, go really wild and throw some cheese on there too. Oh behave!

Douse with hot sauce and enjoy. 

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pacific Foods White Bean and Bacon Soup from a Can

I had a bit of oral surgery last weekend (kids - don't bite your nails and chew on pencils. Or rip packages open with your teeth. Because apparently all that "trauma" can wear your teeth away under your gums, where you'll never suspect until one day, boom, nothing left, and then you need a bone graft, and that involves cutting your gums open and stitching them back on, and it's not much fun), so I was eating lots and lots of soup. Rather stupidly, I planned ahead by buying canned soup instead of making a batch of my own and freezing it. I say stupidly, because in the process, I learned that canned soup is pretty gross. All those preservatives leave a distinct trace in the flavor, and the consistency tends to be rather glue-like. But of all the soups I ate, one stood out as distinctly better than the rest - Pacific Foods brand organic Savory White Bean with Smoked Bacon.

I'm still not sure how I feel about the color scheme on the can.

(If you're wondering, some of the others were Amy's Thai Coconut Soup, which I expected to be a somewhat bland Tom Kha Kai, and essentially was, but that was a lot worse than I expected, Wolfgang Puck's Organic Old Fashioned Potato - especially glue like, and unpleasantly slimy, and Campbell's Hearty Beef Barley - their beef broth tastes like murder. That's the only way I can describe it. And I love meat.)

I knew fairly quickly that this soup was different, because when I was heating it up, it actually smelled good. Mostly like bacon, but with some good hearty vegetable notes as well. Also, the consistency was less slimy than the other soups I'd tried, which gave me hope.

Apologies for the horrible lighting, but I was on a lot of painkillers, so cut me a break.

As for the taste - well, it does have a hint of artificial, preservative-y flavor. Not nearly as aggressive as the other canned soups on the market, but it's definitely there. However, the vegetables actually look like a person chopped them instead of a machine. Probably it was just a more clever machine, but still, it's gratifying to eat vegetables that actually look and taste like vegetables. The beans and carrots were firm, not overcooked, and much more flavorful than expected. I was disappointed, however, by the lack of actual pieces of bacon in the soup. This also made me somewhat suspicious, because despite the conspicuous absence of our beloved food, there was a distinct flavor of smoky pork in the broth. It was nice - not overwhelming, and a nice compliment to the beans. 

While it wasn't bad, especially as far as canned foods go, more than anything else, it made me want to try my hand at making my own. 

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bacon Thermal Lance

This is so awesome.

"To make an airtight, less-flammable outer casing, I wrapped this fuel core with uncooked prosciutto before attaching one end of it to an oxygen hose. You can't imagine the feeling of triumph when I first saw the telltale signs of burning iron: sparks bursting from the metal, and then a rush of flame out of the other side as I witnessed perhaps the first-ever example of bacon-cut steel. And the lance kept on burning for about a minute."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

iPhone Bacon

There is now a bacon application for iPhones.

Not only does it allow you to experience virtual bacon sizzling on your phone (if only it could somehow produce the smell!) but it will also, apparently, tell you about nearby restaurants that serve bacon, and also features an RSS feed that will tell you the latest bacon-related internet news (I wonder if this site is included. I kind of doubt it, alas.). All that bacon, straight to your iPhone or iPod touch for only $1.99! 

I stand corrected. I just received an email, subject line "Oh yes, we do read your site".
Do not f*ck with these people. THEY SEE ALL.

Also, they are very nice, friendly people who treated me to a free copy of the program. Review coming soon - I'm still test-driving it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Crazy for Flavour, Bacon Salt in Europe

I received a lovely email this morning from Stu, a bacon enthusiast who is working to bring bacon salt to Europe and the UK. So for those of you living in those oh-so-very deprived nations, craving some pork-free bacon flavor, here you go! Stu is also interested in bringing bacon salt to the Middle East, thinking that people there will appreciate a way to get around the ban on pork. I'm not sure I agree with him on that one. I definitely disagree with his opinion that Middle Eastern food tastes like **** to Westerners, because it happens to be one of my favorite cuisines. And I kind of wish he wouldn't promote and disseminate such harmful stereotypes, because Westerners are already awfully close-minded when it comes to trying foreign foods, and this makes it all the more difficult to find food that hasn't been dulled down to suit a Western palate. But anyways.

Also, check out the blog, Crazy 4 Flavour, which features a lot of bacon salt recipes. Personally, I think I'll be using actual bacon when I give them a try, but whatever floats your boat. The recipes are definitely incredibly delicious looking.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Toad in the Hole

Ok, ok, so this isn't, strictly speaking, a bacon dish, but it did involve bacon in its creation, and it was seriously fantastic, so I figure why not. 

It may seem like a basic concept, poke a hole in a piece of bread and fry an egg in it, but there is ARTISTRY involved. If you don't believe me, check out my first attempt:

This is more like if somebody had tried to extract the toad from its hole using dynamite.

So, the basics are obvious perhaps, but I'm going to give you the step-by-step process that produces a truly beautiful toad in a hole. At least, by my standards.

Step 1: Fry a couple slices of bacon in a pan until crispy. Set aside, leaving (of course!) the glorious fat in the pan.

Step 2: Make a hole in a slice of bread. You want it to be about 2 inches in diameter, I'd say - big enough for the toad to fit in. Otherwise, your yolk'll break and doomy doom will ensue (see exhibit A).

Step 3: Place bread in pan. Brown one side, allowing it to absorb some greasy goodness, then flip it.

Step 4: Crack egg into hole - carefully. Some of the white will spill over the top. It's ok. In fact, you can sort of spread the white over the bread a bit so as to help it cook faster. 

Step 5: When the white that spilled over is fully cooked, and the egg generally appears mostly cooked, aside from the filmy layer on the top, grab a spatula, and, using a steady hand, remove the piece of bread from the pan. Then, holding it, carefully put it back in the pan, face down. You get it? Basically, you're flipping it. However, given the toad's fragile nature, it's actually more effective to remove it and flip the pan. 

Step 5: Cook for maybe 30 seconds more - if that. What you're going for here is cooked whites, runny yolk. So you want it in there just long enough to cook that filmy top layer, but not longer. 

Remove from pan. Arrange bacon on the sides in quasi-artistic fashion. I recommend sprinkling it with hot sauce at this point, but if you're gonna photograph it, do that first. It should look like this:

That's a fine looking toad.

And the inside of the yolk should look like this:

Intro bio assignments never looked this tasty.

A good strategy to approach the creature is to begin by dunking the bacon in the yolk, then picking the shortest side and attacking, later using the remnants of bread to mop off the plate.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

This is Why You're Fat

It's not explicitly about bacon, but I suppose it's not surprising to see plenty of bacon inspired entries: This is Why You're Fat is a blog that features creative unhealthy foods. These generally take the form of either deep frying some stuff, or of combining a bunch of unhealthy things into a kind of unholy calorie behemoth. Most of it isn't all that appealing, but some of it does look kind of delicious. Bacon wrapped mozarella? Hamburger crust pizza? Deep fried black pudding? Yummo. But I gotta say, it annoys the hell out of me when people just throw together the most high calorie things they can and deep fry them just for the hell of it. Respect your food man, shit. Don't just throw the bacon on for some token calories. Love the bacon. Savour its fantastic flavors. Just because a lot of delicious things contain a lot of calories, it doesn't mean that a lot of calories are always delicious. 

Saturday, February 28, 2009

some links

I know, I know, I've been terrible about updating. I didn't even post anything about Bacon Explosion, which is probably horrible remiss of me, except it seemed like damn near everybody had heard of it anyhow.

A strange thing about this blog is that whenever I neglect it, I suddenly start getting emails from people with links. As though the universe was like NOOOOOO! You have to persevere!!!!


The editors of what has got to be one of the more fantastic bacon projects out there, Bacon Haikus, sent me a link to their site. Haikus are pretty much always hilarious, except when they're precious and profound, and yeah, it's a great site. One of my favorite haikus, though it violates the laws of form:
The mystery meat
meets man's meat of record
Heart doctors weep out loud.

Moving right along, Aaron sends me a link to his bacon blog, iheartbaconsalt

Heather writes to say that her book, Bacon, A Love Story will be available soon, and includes a link to her blog, Bacon Unwrapped, and to Bacon Nation, a virtual community whose members are united by their love for croquet. 

So thanks to all for dropping me a line and sharing your wonderful bacon projects, not to mention, giving me something to post about. In the meantime, I do have some more bacon recipes to try out in the near future, so hopefully I'll be better about updating soon...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Just add bacon will add a big slab of bacon to any website.

Just insert it before the url of your intended site - for instance - and bam, the screen becomes a good 5 times for interesting.

(Thanks to Katie for the tip)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bacon Bikini

Daniel Adams from ingamenow (which, incidentally, if you're into sports, looks like a pretty cool site) sent me an email to let me know about the ultimate tailgate party snack, the bacon bikini.

Recipe not included, unfortunately, but perhaps you can figure it out? Me, I just dunno how you manage to both cook it and keep it pliable enough to shape to the contours of a woman's body. A ham bikini seems easier.

Anyways, these ladies is lookin' good, no doubt, but as a lady myself, and one who very much enjoys both bacon and tailgate parties, I gotta say, it's not a very practical outfit. Not because it's likely to be removed (with teeth) - that's a plus, really - but because it's one of those sexy women's outfits that makes moving around at all pretty much impossible. Maybe some girls don't mind being a still life centerpiece of bacony delight while football is on, but me, I actually wanna watch the game, and ima find it hard to sit still if anything exciting is going on. 

Meanwhile though, there's a WHOLE bunch of pictures of these lovely ladies modeling the gear. Don't try to look at these while watching football, they require your full attention.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

For our friend Harold's birthday, my friends James and Kelly and I decided to cook him a wonderful dinner. And wonderful it was - we did the scallops as a first course, followed by a mushroom risotto, then a Chilean Sea Bass with a shallot cream sauce. All of it was superb, and the credit should go really to Kelly and James, who have been studying under the tv guidance of Alton Brown and know how to make things both delicious and elegant. The scallops, to my delight, were actually not all that difficult to make, and were fantastically tasty - the bacon is a gorgeous compliment to the delicate scallop flavor.
One needs:

Some large scallops
1 slice bacon per scallop
salt, pepper
lemon juice

Slice each strip of bacon in half lengthwise. Bake (at 350, I think?) for about 10 minutes in the oven, or until the bacon is mostly cooked but still pliable. Meanwhile, using paper towels and some heavy plates, drain as much water off the scallops as you can.

When the bacon is ready, wrap each scallop in the bisected bacon slice, first the meatier one, then the fattier one. Use a toothpick to secure. Salt and pepper the scallops, then put them in a hot frying pan with some oil. Sear them on one side until they're a lovely brown, then carefully turn them over - they stick to the pan a bit, so be sure to protect their structural integrity and delicately pull them up.

Finish cooking them on the other side - I wish I could be more detailed here, but really James was the one doing it, and he cooks by intuition. I'd say it was a couple minutes? But if you do it too long, the scallops will get rubbery. I seem to recall that he spooned some lemon juice over them at the very end.

In any case, they were seriously delicious.