Monthly Archives: December 2010

bacon buttermilk gingerbread pancakes

bacon gingerbread buttermilk pancakes

Want some of these? Bacon buttermilk gingerbread pancakes?

Okay, here’s how they happened in our house this morning and how you can make them too.

1. Our daughter reads voraciously, even if she can’t read yet. Her favorite spot is under the dining room table, where she pulls one book after another from the giant basket of books and stares and talks and turns the pages. She’s actually reading words on her own, but certainly not entire books. Our favorite moments are when she pulls out a book and “reads” it to her Elmo doll.

This morning, she pulled out her battered copy of Pancakes for Breakfast. Since this is a book without words, she really is reading it. When Danny and I saw it, we knew what would happen next.

She clambered her way from under the table and shouted to us, “Pancakes! Please?”

Breakfast.

2. I didn’t want to just make plain pancakes again (Lu asks for pancakes often). So I asked on Twitter: “What kind should I make?”

Many lovely suggestions jumped to the screen, including lemon pancakes, ricotta pancakes, cornmeal pancakes. Yum. But three different suggestions sparked something in me: gingerbread pancakes, buttermilk pancakes, and pancakes with bacon in them.

That was it. Gingerbread buttermilk bacon pancakes.

3. Ten minutes of frying up the bacon and mixing the flours, then 10 minutes of waiting for the batter to bubble on top of the hot griddle pan and keeping a stack warm in the oven? We were eating these.

Well, after I took a photograph, of course.

Now you can make them too.

BACON BUTTERMILK GINGERBREAD PANCAKES

These are lightly spiced, so they taste like a gingersnap without the assertive heat that fresh ginger can give. Using the bacon grease in the pancake batter, along with the crisp bacon bits, give these pancakes a good bacon flavor without being obvious about it. And the buttermilk makes the pancakes creamy smooth.

These are a special treat, not meant for every day. This was a pretty special morning.

Bacon. Buttermilk. Gingerbread. Pancakes. Go.

4 slices smoked bacon, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 ounces (½ US stick) unsalted butter
8 (about 1 ½ cups) ounces flour (if you are gluten-free, use the weight and this flour)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon dried ginger
½ teaspoon fresh nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
8 ounces (1 cup) buttermilk
2 eggs

Cooking the bacon. Set a skillet on high heat. Add the bacon pieces and the oil. (Adding a bit of oil to a pan of bacon helps to coax out the fat and crisp up the bacon. This is what I learned from Danny.) Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the bacon is crisp and the grease covers the bottom of the pan. Remove the bacon from the pan and put it on a paper towel. Set aside.

Melting the butter. Add the butter to the hot pan and melt it. Set aside.

Combining the dry ingredients. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Use a whisk to combine and aerate the flour.

Combining the liquid ingredients. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk and eggs, whisking them together until they are fluffy. Add the cooled butter and bacon grease. Whisk well.

Making the batter. Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry and liquid ingredients together until they are well combined, not a bit of flour showing. Let the batter sit for at least 15 minutes before making the pancakes.

Preheat the oven to 250°.

Cooking the pancakes. Set a pan over medium-high heat. (For best taste, use the pan in which you melted the butter and cooked the bacon.) Grease the pan with your favorite grease, if you are not using the bacon pan. Pour about 1/3 cup of the batter into the heated pan. When the top of the pancake is dotted with bubbles that have popped, flip the pancakes. When the bottom is lightly browned, put the pancake into a waiting pan in the preheated oven.

Repeat until all the pancakes are cooked and warmed in the oven.

Makes about 8 pancakes.

Nigella Lawson’s Christmas ham

nigella1_228x336

It’s the day before Christmas. Those of you who celebrate are hopefully settling down with your families and friends, baking cookies, listening to Harry Belafonte or A Charlie Brown Christmas or Glee. Or maybe you’re still out shopping, braving the rain and the frantic folks, watching one car back up into another one and listening to the crunch. Merry Christmas!

We have bags of groceries ready to be loaded into the car, a menu plan, and all our gifts purchased. (wahoo!) It will be days of feasting at my parents’ home.

If we had found this recipe for Nigella Lawson’s Christmas ham last week, this would be on our table.

Maybe you can pull together the ingredients today and make this tonight. Or at least for New Year’s Eve.

If you do celebrate Christmas, we hope you have a splendid time with the people you love, with more food than you eat in one sitting in a warm home. Merry Christmas.

And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, have one heck of a good weekend!

a gift guide for pork lovers

the season

It’s the season, right? Whether you are still looking for presents to put under the tree in a few days, or you celebrate the new year by giving to other people, this is when we are searching for gifts.

If you love pork, we have a few to suggest:

Alarm clock that wakes you up with the smell of sizzling bacon

Bacon peanut brittle

Boudin from Poché’s Market in Breaux Bridge, LA

Charcuterie from Fra’Mani

Christmas ornament in the shape of a peace sign, made out of bacon

Everything but the Squeal: Eating the Whole Hog in Northern Spain by John Barlow

Falling Off the Bone by Jean Anderson

Hams from Harry and David by James Villas

Maple Bacon Pretzels

Pig: King of the Southern Table

Skillet Bacon Jam

The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson

smoky bacon ginger cookies

smoky bacon ginger cookies

Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness!

(That’s my edited version of the string of happy and amazed expletives that Danny shouted in the bedroom as he ate the first of these cookies.)

Really, I don’t have to say much, do I? Those of you who are perplexed and even offended at the idea of bacon in a cookie? You are silly. In this case, you should bend your mind around it and take a bite.

For those of you who are drooling, here’s the recipe.

smoky bacon ginger cookies II

Smoky Bacon Ginger Cookies, adapted from Martha Stewart’s cookies iPad app

Now, before you start thinking that we have lost our finds with wacky bacon experimentation, may I tell you something? This recipe is adapted from one by Martha Stewart. Martha Stewart, people! She’s not exactly known for her avante garde flavor profiles. However, in her new cookies iPad app (and boy, that puppy is worth every penny), this recipe showed up in the Trendsetters section. Well, if you haven’t had bacon — and we mean real bacon — in a dessert yet, this is the time.

The edges of these cookies are crisp, like the dream of a gingersnap. As you crunch toward the center, you’ll find the cookie growing more and more chewy, without ever turning gooey. The taste is definitely ginger, mellowed a bit by the subtle taste of sorghum syrup. And throughout are bits of crisp bacon, sea salt on top. What more do you need?

Well, you need a bite of this cookie, so start baking.

8 ounces thick-cut smoked bacon (here in the Seattle area, we used Hempler’s), cut into 1/4-inch dice
350 grams flour (if you are gluten-free, use our AP mix, plus ½ teaspoon xanthan gum and ¼ teaspoon guar gum)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (we recommend Saigon cinnamon)
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/3 cup sorghum syrup (or molasses, if you cannot find sorghum syrup)
raw sugar for rolling
smoked sea salt for sprinkling

Cooking the bacon. Set a large skillet over medium heat. Put the bacon dices into the hot pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon bits are crisp and have released their fat entirely. Reserve the bacon fat (you want about ¾ cup, plus 2 tablespoons) and set aside the crisp bacon (about ¾ cup as well) on a paper towel. Let the bacon and fat cool.

Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combining the wet ingredients. Pour the flour (and if you are gluten-free, the gums), baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk them together to combine well and aerate the flour.

Creaming the butter, sugar, and bacon fat. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter and brown sugar and white sugar until they become fluffy together, about 3 minutes. Add the bacon fat and mix well, about 1 minute.

Finishing the dough. Add the egg and mix until well blended. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour in the sorghum syrup and mix until it has disappeared into the dough. On slow speed, pour in the dry ingredients, mixing until just blended. Toss in the bacon bits and fold them in with the rubber spatula.

Baking the cookies. Roll the dough into a 1-inch ball, then roll it in the raw sugar to coat entirely. Put the balls of dough 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. (You’ll need to make 3 or 4 cookie sheets full, so just be prepared to bake for a bit.) Flatten the balls of dough a bit, then top with a pinch of the smoked sea salt. Slide the sheet tray into the oven and bake until the edges of each cookie is starting to crisp but the center is still soft, about 8 minutes. (Turn the baking sheet halfway through.) Trust us — you might think these cookies are not done yet. They will harden and set as they cool.

Allow the cookies to cool on a rack until they have not a bit of warmth to them, about 15 minutes.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

you need some slab bacon

potatoes, bacon, and onions, sizzling from the oven

Danny made this for the three of us for breakfast: red potatoes he had blanched for a few moments so that the roasted potatoes would be crisp on the outside and tender on the inside; sliced white onions; bits of slab bacon made by our friend Larry. A few moments of prep and pop it in the oven.

We all knew when it was ready. That smell of roasting bacon, the warmth, the onions adding their glow, the quiet hum of potatoes in the background, all of it together, ready, about to be on our plates…

When Danny opened the oven door, our daughter leaned toward that warmth and said, “Mmmm!”

Yep. You got that right, kiddo.

If you don't have any right now, you need slab bacon in the house. The pre-sliced bacon is great for when you want those sizzling strips. However, slab bacon is great for the way it lends flavor to other foods. You don't need much — just a few small pieces (or lardons, as the French call them) cooking in the skillet before you add everything else. And what a beautiful flavor those other foods will bathe in!

We're lucky enough to have friends who make bacon and give us some. Also, we make our own bacon.

You can too. You'll never regret the work, particularly when there is breakfast like this in the morning.

zp8497586rq

Iron Chef Michael Symon and pork

Last week, we were lucky enough to shoot some questions at Chef Michael Symon (he of Iron Chef fame) about pork. What is his favorite cut? What is the best pork dish he has ever eaten? What do chefs know about cooking pork that home cooks may not?

And finally, bacon or prosciutto?

Watch his entertaining and thoughtful answers here:

zp8497586rq

sausage pizza at Delancey

sausage pizza

The light was lousy for photographs, but I had to take one anyway.

It was such a special night.

My dining companions were smart as hell, laugh-out-loud funny, and such interesting people that I could have stayed there all night. But that wasn’t the extra-special part.

We are at Delancey, which I have written about here before. It’s one of our homes, a place where you feel welcomed and well fed. Always.

On this night, I felt particularly welcomed.

You see, I had watched Danny and friends eat the padron pepper and sausage pizza in front of me. No problem. I couldn’t eat it for the gluten. But oh, it looked good. Brandon, who owns the place with his wife Molly (dear friends of ours), makes the sausage from scratch. It’s lightly spiced, holds together, doesn’t dominate the chorus but sings out well. I’ve eaten the sausage before, just not on the pizza.

That night, however, Brandon made me a gluten-free pizza, based on the recipe in our cookbook. Finally, I ate pizza at Delancey. A pizza topped with charred padron peppers and juicy pork sausage.

It was a special night indeed.

salad with salami

welcome home salad

If you have been reading this site, you might know that we have been traveling often this fall and winter. (You can tell from the tone of some of the posts as well as their absence at times!) This has been one of the most joyful and exhausting times of our lives together.

Climbing on an airplane and checking into a hotel are always exciting. Our daughter chants “Airplane!” whenever we say we’re going somewhere now. She saw one shot of a bathtub in a Sesame Street video and said, “Hotel!” (She was right. It was a hotel bathroom.) She has been in front of lots of people, helping us to cook, in a number of cities across the country. Now, whenever I need to leave her with Danny or my parents or a beloved friend for a few hours, she says, “Mommy give a talk about cookbook!”

It’s going to take her awhile before she realizes not everyone’s lives are like this.

Luckily, soon, ours will not be so much like this either.

On late Wednesday morning, we returned from Portland, after braving a sort of harrowing drive in monsoon rain up I-5. We stopped at the grocery store on the mainland side before driving onto the ferry. We had been gone for a few days. We needed food.

“What do you want for lunch?” Danny asked.

“Vegetables,” I said immediately.

We love so much about being on the road, promoting our cookbook. The best part is meeting people in every city, laughing and answering questions, talking about food and hearing stories. Nothing will compare to that. The other is simply being in new places. Nothing opens your eyes like travel, even if it’s simply to another city in the United States. Every time we have gone on a trip for our book tour, our daughter has come home filled-to-bursting with new words.

But the only part that is hard about all this travel? How much I miss vegetables.

When we’re out there, people want to share their creations. And we’re happy to partake! Gluten-free lemon pound cake, pizzas, sugar cookies, and candy. We are bombarded by gifts. We are not complaining. We’re grateful for every one. But the sum experience of this, plus eating a lot of restaurant food? I come home craving vegetables.

“Vegetables,” I told Danny. “Let’s have a big salad for lunch!”

So we gathered romaine lettuce, fennel bulb, broccoli, and avocado. We knew we needed something more.

If I’m going to have a salad as a side to dinner, I’m fine with it being simply vegetables and dressing. But if it’s the meal? We like a little protein, a little unctuous taste, a little flavor different from the green.

Salami.

Oh yeah. It’s good to be home.

bacon caramel toffee

bacon caramel toffee

Bacon.

Caramel.

Toffee.

Faint.

Thank you, Vosges.

p.s. In all honestly, I have to say that Danny and I were split on this one. The toffee itself has the perfect yielding crunch, the milk chocolate is sweet without being cloying, and the effect of the flavors together is memorable. The bacon flavor comes in at the end, after the sweetness, the crunching, the smoked salt. Danny didn’t want more than one piece because he felt the taste was unctuous, like bacon fat. I tasted bacon. Maybe he has more tastebuds than I do. Maybe I’m more adventurous food-wise than he is. Frankly, I think he’s nuts.