Posts Tagged ‘gluten free’

Pimento Cheese with Bacon

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Since I was home by my self last weekend I decided to make a half-recipe, I knew I would eat the whole thing regardless of if I made a half recipe or the whole thing!  I had 2-year-aged Grafton cheddar, Hellman’s mayo, a jar of organic roasted red peppers, a good olive oil from Chile, freshly ground pepper, and cayenne. Here are my prepped ingredients:

pimento ingreds

The cheddar was somewhat crumbly, I ended up kind of crushing the larger crumbles against the grater. Good enough though.  I think I used a bit more than half the amount of roasted red pepper. I did remember in time to use half the amount of cayenne, which is good – easy to add more later if needed!

I mixed it up on a bowl, and gave it a taste – very creamy and flavorful.

pimento cheese

Then I covered it and put it in the fridge for lunch the next day.

Next day, I fried up 2 hefty slices of Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon:

Neuske's bacon

til done but not too done (a bit bendy still), and cut them into inch-long or so pieces. I topped seven gluten-free crackers (a brand called Glutino, which is very much like saltines, not like rice crackers) with a generous spoonful of the pimento cheese, laid a strip of bacon on top, put them out on a plate to admire, and then ate them all right away.

pimento cheese n bacon

The tangy cheddar flavor went great with the sweet bacon, and the smoky notes from both the roasted red pepper and the light smoke from the bacon complemented eachother perfectly. The textures went well too – crunchy cracker, soft cheese spread, chewy bacon. A fine appetizer. Or in my case, a fine lunch.

The full recipe follows from page 167 of Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon:


1/2 pound sharp cheddar, coarsely grated (we use the two-year-old raw milk cheddar from Grafton Village)

1 cup mayonnaise (I prefer Hellmann’s up here: out West the same mayo is sold under the brand name Best Foods)

1/4 cup diced roasted red peppers

3/4 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper

Scant 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

Pinch coarse sea salt


Fold all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Mix well.


Repeat as regularly as you like. It’s addictive: as more than one person around here has said more than once, “It’s kind of good on pretty much everything, isn’t it?”

Serves . . . well, it’s kind of hard to say. A real addict could probably consume this entire recipe in a single setting. Being more conservative, let’s say it’s enough to serve 8 as an appetizer. You’ll probably have to test it on your family and friends to see how much they can eat!

New Year’s Eve – Benedictine with Bacon

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

We throw a New Year’s Eve party every year, and while our guests bring lovely snacks to share we always make some too to seed the food table with. This year of course I decided mine should be bacon-based. So, I chose the Benedictine with Bacon recipe from the Bacon book.

But first, I also made one of my favorites that I’ve blogged about before – the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with a sliver of Balinese long pepper. But this time I cut the dates in half, and used 1/3 slice of Broadbent’s bacon per half-date (although I should say, Broadbent’s slices are very long, so with a standard piece of bacon you may need half a slice per rather than a third of a slice). This way I could make a lot more of them. I used the full amount of long pepper in each half though – I love long pepper! And my guests seemed to as well. They were a big hit. Here’s an in-progress photo:


On to the Benedictine. Here’s my ingredients:


I decided to make a double recipe, but I didn’t need to – had plenty left over. Happily it tasted just as good the next day though.  I did make three variations, just in that I used regular bread for some, gluten-free bread for some, and for some I did not put the bacon on top, for the party go-ers who don’t eat pork. (The vegetarian ones were the only kind I had left near the end of the party – all the bacon-topped ones were snapped up fast!)

First you peel and de-seed the cucumbers. This always seems a bit odd, in that it seems like you’re getting rid of most of the cucumber when you take out all the “guts”, but these cukes were large and really there was plenty left.


Then I grated the cucumber, and put it in a sieve and squeezed out the water. And chopped up some onion.


The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of chopped onion, for 1 cucumber and 10 oz of cream cheese. I was using two cukes and 20 oz of cream cheese, but decided to hold the line at 2 tablespoons of onion and I’m glad I did – that was plenty. Maybe my onion was extra powerful. But anyway, then I put the onion, cucumber, and 20 ounces of Zingerman’s Creamery cream cheese in the food processor and blended it til smooth, and then scooped it out into a bowl, ground in some fresh pepper, and probably 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of sea salt. (I’m a salt fiend.)


Then put it in the fridge for a couple hours. During that time, I cooked 8 slices of Broadbent’s bacon, on a rack in the oven, at 350 F, for 20 minutes or so. I watch it closely, since I’ve overcooked Broadbent’s before. It is a dry-cured bacon so has less water than conventional bacon, and cooks faster I find. And its a bit deceptive in how it looks, too – it gets stiff and dry when overdone, but doesn’t look burned, so in order to tell if its done I’m looking at both the color and the flexibility – I want to take it out while it still has some bend to it.

I patted the bacon with paper towel to take off some of the fat, and set it aside for a little while, until I was ready to assemble. Just before the party, I toasted some good white bread, and some gluten-free white bread too. (There is a bakery in Toledo that makes decent gluten-free bread that my grocery store carries, called Pure and Simple. It can’t approach the scrumptious-ness of real  bread, but its much better than some of the others we’ve tried.) I cut the crusts off just because it seemed the thing to do – maybe I was having flashbacks to a high tea I ate at Harrod’s in London when I was in high school. I put the two breads on three different plates (the third plate for the bacon-free), and took the Benedictine out of the fridge.

It had thickened some, but was still a bit runnier than I had thought it would be.  Maybe its because I was using Zingerman’s Creamery cream cheese – which has no guar gum, the standard thickener for commercial cream cheese. But it tasted wonderful – light, fresh, and cucumbery with a gentle onion bite – so it was way worth it to not have guar gum in there!

I spooned a bit onto each piece of toast (probably between 2 to 3 teaspoons per), broke the Broadbent’s up into inch-long pieces and placed a piece carefully on top, on two of the three plates, and served!


Here’s the snack table that we set out, and our guests quickly filled it with more:


And here’s the snack table near the end of the evening – the two plates of Benedictine with Bacon and the Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Long Pepper were emptied long ago, but the vegetarian plate is still hanging on. It was eaten too though, just not as quickly.


Here’s the full Benedictine recipe, from page 168-69 of Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon:

The credit for inventing Benedictine spread goes to Jennie Benedict, a seemingly pretty powerful personality who studied with Fannie Farmer and went on to become one of Louisville, Kentucky’s top caterers. She was the first woman to sit on a Board of Trade in the South. In 1902 she wrote a book called the Blue Ribbon Cook Book, in which she first described this spread. Over the last hundred years Benedictine has become to Louisville what paté is to Paris or baked beans are to Boston. Beyond that bit of background, I don’t have a huge heck of a lot to tell you about Benedictine other than that it’s really, really good and Louisvillians definitely do pretty uniformly seem to love it.
The first time I had it was at Lilly’s, which is one of the best restaurants in the city. It wasn’t on the menu but when I told Kathy Cary, the chef and owner, that I’d never eaten it she went straight to the kitchen and came back 10 minutes later with a plate of little Benedictine-filled finger sandwiches. I really liked the stuff, and I think pretty much anyone who likes cream cheese would like Benedictine. Every recipe calls for cream cheese, and they all have cucumber as well. Most have some onion. A few add other spices. The better the cream cheese and the cucumbers, the better it’s going to be. Many locals add green food coloring, which I think was probably a pretty common ingredient back in the early years of the twentieth century (color was an important part of the way people approached food in that era of “scientific cooking,” and the dishes of a meal were often color coded). Personally, I skip the green, but Kathy’s husband quickly reminded me that rather surreal green color is the one I’d see in most supermarket deli cases.

Part of why I like our Benedictine so much is because I’m so smitten with the traditional, hand-made cream cheese from Zingerman’s Creamery and this is a really good, regionally authentic way to eat it. I like to look at it as sort of a high-society, upper-South version of bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese (slices of pork instead of salmon makes sense when you’re hundreds of miles from the sea). The other reason is because it’s really good with bacon—Kathy made that clear by topping each of the little sandwiches with a half slice of the stuff. Which is why it’s in this book! I’d use Broadbent’s or Father’s to stay true to the Kentucky origins of the dish.


1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated

10 ounces Zingerman’s Creamery cream cheese

2 tablespoons grated onion

Coarse sea salt to taste

Freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper to taste

4 slices bacon

4 slices good white bread


Drain the grated cucumber in a fine-mesh sieve. Combine the cucumber, cream cheese and onion in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and add salt and pepper. Cover and let the spread set up for a couple of hours, refrigerated, to assimilate the flavors. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.
When you’re ready to serve, fry the bacon over medium heat until slightly crisp. While it’s cooking, toast the bread. When the bacon’s done, drain it (save that fat!) and cut the slices into quarters. When the toast is done, cut it into quarters as well, spread on the Benedictine and lay a bit of bacon on top. Serve on a genteel, socially acceptable platter!
Serves 4 as a side dish

Weekend Pot Roast (with bacon)

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

So, this is not actually a recipe from the Bacon book. Its a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated magazine (which they called French-style pot roast), which had the irresistible combination of using bacon in the recipe, and, calling for use of a large dutch oven (since I finally acquired an enameled dutch oven last week and was eager to use it). My husband and I made this dish together, which was helpful because there were lots of steps to follow. Not difficult, just involved. Which is why I call it weekend pot roast – I could only make it on a weekend. We started at 12:45, and we sat down to eat at 6:15. However a lot of that time was just cooking time.

Here’s most of my ingredients, minus the wine and the roast.


The main ingredient in pot roast, of course, was the 4lb boneless chuck eye roast. First I spent some time cutting out any large chunks of fat that were easily reachable, then salted it with a celtic sea salt and let it sit for an hour. Then patted it dry and tied it with butchers string.

Chuck eye roast, salted.

Bacon took a backseat rather than being the star of the show, but was still one of the “supports” in the building of an excellent dish! Here’s my hubbie dicing it, then it was sauteed, removed from the pot, and then I browned the meat in the bacon fat. (A splatter guard is helpful for this – the high heat needed for browning does make the fat fly.)



I used Vande Rose bacon, which I had never had before. Was nicely meaty and mild flavored. Those four slices resulted in a very nice amount of fat, more than I needed for browning the roast in.

Here’s the roast when I first put it in the pot to brown.


When it was browned on all sides I pulled the meat out of the pot. Then sauteed the diced onions and garlic, added the other broth ingredients (including a bottle of a Cotes du Rhone red wine, reduced down to 2 cups first, and the bacon goes back in too), and put the meat back in the pot, put the lid on of course, and baked it in the oven at 300 F for a couple hours.


After 2 hours of cooking, you add the carrots and put it back in for another hour or so, and in the meantime you cook the pearl onions and mushrooms in a pan.


When the roast is done cooking, you pull the meat out of the sauce (temporarily), add the pearl onions and mushrooms and a little gelatin to the sauce to thicken it. Then you put it all in a serving dish.


We served it with white rice and a side of steamed greens, was excellent. Very flavorful, and good textures too – not mushy, as pot roast and veggies can easily be!

Bluefish Fried in Bacon with (not Blue) Grits

Friday, December 11th, 2009

A chilly Sunday afternoon seemed like the right time for this recipe. First, I started the grits. I did not have blue grits, so I used the Anson Mills slow-cooking yellow grits that I had. I used 3/4 cup of the dry grits to 3 cups water, for 2 adults, with about 1/4 teaspoon salt. I cooked them for 3 hours on very low flame. I eventually gave up on not having the bottom stuck on the pan at all – even if I stirred every 10 minutes it still eventually got a coating on the bottom. Not burned, just coated. So I knew that would be a “soaker” on cleanup… Here’s a “before” shot:


After 3 hours of cooking on low the grits were quite smooth:


When the grits were done I started the rest of the process. Here’s the bluefish from our awesome local fish market, Monahan’s, and three slices of medium-thick Edwards bacon:


But before we get to that, a little segue – for inspiration to tackle cooking a fatty fish, here’s a recipe within a recipe – a very tasty cocktail my husband made up on the spot, he called it the “Sunday Surprise” and handed it to me as I was unwrapping the fish, was quite good:

1 oz tequila gold
3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz Cointreau
3 oz mango juice


Nice. While enjoying my cocktail, I cooked 3 slices of Edwards bacon in my large iron skillet.


I pulled them out when done, and chopped them up and set them aside. I left in all the bacon fat, and put in the two 1/2-pound fillets of bluefish, skin side down, and covered it with my round mesh splatter-protector. Bluefish is a fatty fish, so it did splutter a lot while cooking! I didn’t time it exactly, but the fish took a little longer to cook than I thought it would, over medium heat, maybe 10 minutes. I think because the fillets were fairly thick on one end. I ended up flipping them more than once; I think I flipped it too early the first time. Resist the urge for early flipping. I tested them with a fork a few times and finally was satisfied that they were done.

While the fish was cooking, I was also steaming some brussel sprouts I had bought the day before at the farmer’s market, from a local organic farm. They only needed about 5 minutes of steaming, and then I mixed them with a little sea salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar and they were good to go.

I warmed a couple plates in the oven, spread out some grits on each plate, and put a serving of brussels on the side, as well as some pomegranite seeds – we had a ripe one and I thought the seeds would look pretty with the brussels.

(Next time I think I’d sprinkle a little more salt, and a little pepper, on top of the grits once on the plate, but before putting the fish on top.)

Then I put the fish down on top of the grits, sprinkled it with the chopped bacon, and sat down to a feast!


The full recipe follows, from page 186-187 of Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon by Ari Weinzweig:

Bluefish Fried in Bacon with Blue Grits

Bluefish is one of my all-time favorite foods. But once you get off the East Coast it seems like hardly anyone knows it. This is a simple preparation, it has a great name, it’s pretty eye-catching on the plate and, most importantly, it tastes extremely terrifically good. I made it with the really superb, organic, stone-ground blue grits that we get from Glenn Roberts’ Anson Mills in South Carolina. Given that the old corn varieties ranged in color from white to red to yellow to blue and most everything in between (or even all on one cob—try Glenn’s multi-colored “speckled grits” too!), blue grits really aren’t all that strange. It’ll mess up your all-blue color scheme, but this is also good with cooked greens on the side. To get back into the blue end of the spectrum you can follow with fresh blueberries and a dollop of fresh whipped cream (no bacon) for dessert!

For the grits
Since the cooking time is the most challenging element of this recipe, feel free to prepare a larger portion than you actually need and save some for later.

4 cups cold water

1 cup Anson Mills blue grits

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Heat the water in a heavy four-quart stockpot. Start mixing in the grits while the water warms up, stirring regularly—I find it infinitely easier to get lump-free grits this way. Add salt and stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat as low as possible. Stir a few more times, cover and cook on low for as long as you can—a good 2 to 4 hours—the long, slow cooking releases the starches and makes the grits really creamy. Once you get them cooking there’s really nothing to do but stir every 15 minutes or so.

For the fish
When the grits are good and creamy and you’re ready to eat, you can start the fish.

4 ounces sliced bacon (about 2 to 3 slices)(I like the dry-cured Edwards’ bacon for this one)

2 (1/2 pound) fillets fresh bluefish

Coarse sea salt to taste

Freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper to taste

Extra virgin olive oil (optional)


Fry the bacon in a heavy-bottomed skillet over moderate heat. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the fish to the still-hot bacon fat in the skillet, skin side down (I think the skin is the best part!). Cook the fish until the skin is browned, then flip and cook quickly on the other side. If you need more fat, add a glug from your reserves or use a bit of olive oil. While the fish is cooking, chop the bacon coarsely and set aside. When the fish is almost done, set the grits into a couple of warm bowls. Place the fish on top, skin side down. Sprinkle the fat over the whole thing and top with salt, pepper and chopped bacon.
Serves 2 as a main course

Bacon Hash

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

I harvested the last of my potatoes, and decided to try making the Bacon Hash recipe with them. I hadn’t actually planted potatoes this year – my harvest was from the potatoes that escaped being harvested last year! I had a combination of Peruvian Purples and I think German Butterballs.


I had picked up some Arkansas Peppered bacon at Zingerman’s Deli yesterday, sliced medium-thick.


I cooked the bacon on a rack on a cookie sheet in the oven – put it in a cold oven and then turned the oven on to 350, and cooked it for about half an hour – I took it out when the bacon was still bendable, not crisp. I had the rest of the ingredients on hand. I have to admit, this was the first time I had steamed potatoes, OVER salted water, rather than boiling them IN salted water. It worked fine! Although I did cut the potatoes into large chunks before I steamed them, because of the wide disparity in sizes – some of the potatoes were quarter-sized, others were quite large.  I chopped up celery, onion, and a red pepper as called for. The chicken stock was homemade – I make large batches and freeze quarts of it, very handy to have around and so much tastier than what you can buy in the supermarket. The flour was Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten Free, since my husband can’t eat wheat.

The cliff-hanger with this recipe was, would the roux thicken, with gluten free flour?

Here’s all the ingredients, ready to roll:


Cooking the onions/peppers/celery, in 4 tablespoons (yowza) of bacon fat,  in the largest iron skillet I have:


I added the all-purpose gluten free flour, and slowly added the chicken broth, and it did thicken! Not quite as much as a regular flour roux, so I used more like 1 cup of the chicken broth rather than 1.5 cups, but it was thickening:


When it was nice and thick I stirred in the bacon, and potatoes, and since I didn’t have any heavy cream I used a bit of 2% milk instead. Seemed to work just fine!


I also made a quick soup, using the chicken broth I had left over, in the blender with kale and turnip greens I had previously harvested from my garden and blanched and frozen. I cooked up some chopped onions and garlic (both of which I had also grown in my garden), in butter, and added that to the blender too with a bit of salt and a bit of celery seed. Blended it for a good 5 minutes to break down the fibers of the kale. Then put it in a pot with about half a cup of milk, heated it gently, and it was really tasty.

So, here’s dinner, my husband and I enjoyed it very much, and we have some lovely leftovers for brunch tomorrow!


Below is the full recipe, from page  157 of Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon by Ari Weinzweig:

This hash has turned out to be a hit with most everyone who’s had it. It’s an excellent way to take advantage of the big flavor of top-of-the-line bacons. The bacon is the headliner rather than just a couple of strips alongside another main dish. I like making it with the dry-cured intensity of the Broadbent’s, Benton’s, Father’s or Edwards’, but it really would work with any good bacon.

You can make the recipe a day or two in advance if you like, then reheat it in a skillet when you’re ready to serve. Regardless, you’ll want to cook both the bacon and potatoes and let them cool before you move on to the rest of the recipe. Serve with rye toast and a couple of poached eggs if you like, as well.


4 tablespoons rendered bacon fat

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons flour

1-1/2 cups chicken broth

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

10 ounces sliced bacon (about 5 to 7 slices), lightly cooked and chopped

2 pounds potatoes (I like Yukon Golds, German Butterballs or others of that ilk), steamed over salted water until tender, then diced with the skins on

1/4 cup heavy cream

Coarse sea salt to taste

Freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper to taste


Melt the bacon fat in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery and cook, covered, for 5 to 6 minutes, until soft.

Sprinkle the flour over the wilted vegetables and stir well to avoid lumps. Cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly to keep from sticking, until the flour blends with the bacon fat into a thickened roux.

Add the broth, a bit at a time, stirring well after each addition so the mixture stays smooth and creamy. The sauce should coat the back of your spoon before you add more liquid. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce.

Continue simmering the sauce over moderate heat until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the bacon and potatoes and mix well. Add the cream and cook, stirring, a few more minutes. Stir in salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Serve immediately, or cool and reheat in a skillet until you get a nice golden brown crust.

Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish