Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Chorizo, Bean and Brussel Sprout Soup

This is one of the most delicious soups I have ever made. I based it off this recipe, but with a significant variation which saved two hours of cooking time, turning it into a soup that could be made in 20 minutes.

It involves:

5 oz dry cured chorizo (I used Daniele chorizo, which I am completely addicted to)
1 small onion
2-3 large cloves garlic
2 big handfuls (?) of brussel sprouts
1 small bag frozen shelled soybeans
1 small sausage (I used Garrett County Farm chorizo, because I love it, but any sausage that you love will work)
Chicken broth (I use Knorr chicken broth powder and water)

Finely dice the dry cured chorizo and put it into a pot over low heat. As the fat renders and it gets crispy, chop your onion. Add the onion, stir, then mince the garlic and add that. Let this saute over the same low-ish heat until the onion is translucent. Also, fill your kettle with water and set it to boil (unless you're using actual chicken broth, in which case, boil that)

Meanwhile, wash your brussel sprouts, trim off the ends, and halve them. When the onion is good to go, add the brussel sprouts and toss them. Let them fry a bit - rumor has it, this is what gets rid of the bitterness. When the water/chicken broth boils, pour 6 cups of it into the mix (adding chicken broth powder if you're going that route.) - actually, you might wanna do 5 cups and one cup water, depending on how salty your chicken broth is. Mine was just a hare too salty. Anyhow, yeah, add the boiling liquid and turn the heat to high. Meanwhile, slice your sausage into thin rounds and put it in a pan on low heat. When your liquid has returned to a boil and been boiling for approx 4 minutes, add the frozen soybeans. Once it's returned to a boil, it takes another 4 minutes or so for the soybeans to cook.
I should say that this is a corrected version - I cooked the brussel sprouts for ca. 8 minutes before adding the soybeans, and then cooked all that for 5 minutes or so, and my brussel sprouts were overdone. It wasn't the end of the world, but it would have been better if they were less mushy.
Anyhow, ladle into a bowl and top with some of the fried sausage. Serve with some good crusty bread.

It's seriously incredible. The brussel sprouts and beans are nice and buttery (I really wanted to use fava beans, but couldn't find any in the store), the dry-cured chorizo bits are crispy, the fried sausage is slightly chewy, and the broth is rich and porky. Really warms the soul.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bacon Egg and Cheese Biscuits

I stumbled across a delightful cooking blog* which included this wonderful post on bacon egg and cheese biscuits. So I decided to try it myself.

I basically followed his instructions, except I only used 2 eggs, and only made 4 biscuits (and I didn't grease the muffin tin - no need to, I figured, and was right). It turned out, 2 eggs is way too much for 4 biscuits. I realized this when Better Half kindly pointed out that one of the biscuits was spilling egg, and that adding bacon would only make things worse, but his idea of emptying out some egg and adding another biscuit did not seem feasible. So I stubbornly forged ahead, which is how I ended up with this monstrosity:

Fail! Next time, two eggs for 6 biscuits will be just fine I think.

The good news is, after peeling off all that egg spillover (I tried eating it, but it was kinda gross), the biscuits were still pretty fantastic. I don't know what Pillsbury puts in their shit, but goddamn it's tasty. I'm a complete fiend for their crescent rolls, and the biscuits turn out to basically be a bigger and chewier version. Bliss. But the egg, bacon and cheese (I used cheddar) are definitely a worthy addition, and less messy than making a bacon egg and cheese breakfast sammich. Also, actually less effort, though you do have to factor in baking time.

*The author seems to have gone on long-term blogging vacay, and most of the last posts were pictures of his (very cute) cats, but it's worth checking back from time to time to see if he's started up again, because the writing is entertaining and the food looks tasty. He has a post about Monkey Bread that links to this recipe, which looks frickin' incredible.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bacon Cheese Turtle Burger

I randomly stumbled across these on the internet, and I don't know why, but there's something really endearing about them. I think it's the little toes.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Beer Braised Cabbage with Bacon

Although the recipe I used said that bacon was "distracting" when added to this, I decided to give it a try anyhow, and I gotta say, I didn't think it was distracting at all. I thought it was delicious. The recipe is fairly quick and straightforward, and tasty. However, I ended up having to make quite a few modifications, so I'll give my version, with some discussion to follow.

Beer Braised Cabbage with Bacon

4-6 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 beer
2 tbs whole grain mustard
1 tsp thyme (preferably minced fresh)
4 tbs cider vinegar
1 small head cabbage, cored and chopped
salt, pepper

Fry up the bacon. Drain some grease, but only some - you want a good tablespoon or two still in the pan. Add the onion, saute until softened over medium heat. Add the thyme, beer and mustard and simmer for a minute or two until thickened. Add the cabbage and cider vinegar and cook covered, stirring occasionally, until tender - about 8 minutes. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

So, the recipe I used called for half a cup of beer, preferably a light-bodied lager. All I had in the house were a few bottles of porter and cream stout and a can of Busch light that someone left behind. So in went the Busch light. This was somewhat unfortunate, because, ahem, it doesn't have a whole lot of flavor. So next time, I'd definitely pick something with more character. However, half a cup didn't seem nearly enough. Same with the cider vinegar, which I doubled - though I wouldn't do more than that, because it'll get too vinegary. I also increased the thyme and mustard, because they weren't especially noticeable, and I might even increase them more if I do it again. I might also up the onion, come to think of it - it called for one medium, but you could do two. You might wanna do them on low heat into a more buttery brown kind of onion style. Also - don't assess until you've really seasoned it up with salt and pepper - that made a huge difference.

Overall though, definitely tasty, and definitely quite improved by the bacon, in my opinion.

Jones Bacon Soda

I received an email today from Annie Arnold, who does PR for Jones Soda. She wanted me to know that Jones Soda released a Bacon flavored soda today (in parternship with the people who make Bacon Salt). She included a cocktail recipe -

Yankee Breakfast Fizz
1.5 oz bourbon
1 oz Jones Bacon Soda
1.5 oz Natural Maple Syrup
1 Egg White
2 oz Heavy Cream
Soda water

- Combine everything except the soda and cream in a shaker with ice. Shake like mad (on account of the egg white) and strain into a glass. Add the cream, stir to combine, then top off with soda water.

I have to say, it does sound tasty, though I reserve judgement until I've tried the bacon soda. As you may recall, I had rather mixed impressions of Bakon vodka, so without tasting the soda, it's hard to say. I'm definitely curious though. I'm surprised that the cocktail recipe calls for the addition of soda water - you'd think the soda itself would provide that?

In any case, the bacon soda can be acquired at or
They have assembled a bacon grab bag of sorts:
bacon fans can purchase two bottles of the salty new soda; a bag of J&D’s Cheddar BaconPOP™ bacon and cheddar flavored popcorn; J&D’s Bacon Lip Balm and a package of J&D’s Bacon Gravy for $9.99 plus shipping and handling.

Pretty reasonably priced, all in all. Feel free to buy me one =-)

I will point out that I was unable to learn from the webpage whether or not the soda is made with actual bacon, which is pretty important information. I will also note that they apparently also have a tofurkey and gravy soda. Woah.

Edit: I asked, Annie says it's vegetarian (and kosher). Which is all well and good, but it does make me worry about the flavor, I gotta say.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chestnut and Pancetta Soup

¾ lb chestnuts, or 7 oz. dried, soaked overnight in cold water
half stick butter
3 oz pancetta, diced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise

The first thing to do is peel the chestnuts. There are several ways to go about this – the cookbook we were using suggested that you slit the shell along the rounded side, and then either cover in cold water, bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or roast in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. I did not notice that it said to slit them beforehand, consequently several of them exploded in the oven. Ooops. Peeling them wasn’t as big of a pain as I expected, though it was slightly tedious.

Next, you’re probably gonna wanna chop your pancetta and vegetables (or you can do that while your chestnuts roast). Once everything is ready: melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the pancetta. Fry over medium heat until the fat runs. Add the onions, carrot, and celery and cook for 5-10 minutes, until they’ve softened. Add the chestnuts, rosemary, bay leaf and garlic and cover with water. Bring to a boil, half cover, and simmer for 30-45 minutes, until the chestnuts disintegrate. Season with salt and pepper (we also grated a little parmesan in there).

This was a very tasty soup, and surprisingly flavorful, given that it was cooked with water, not stock. The rosemary really came through powerfully, it was great. Better Half loved it, but personally, I had some reservations. One, I thought it was a hair too salty. This may be because Better Half over-salted it at the end, or it may be the pancetta. Secondly, I thought it lacked a certain je ne sais quoi – I think maybe a touch of white wine could make the flavor a little more complex? Finally, I’d also wanna add some texture to it – I think it would be fantastic if there was some crunch in there, maybe with some croutons. Still, it was very tasty. We don’t make soup much, but now that it’s getting colder, they’re much more appealing.