Bacon Rice Krispie Treats

 

Bacon Rice Krispie treats

 

I never really got on the add-bacon-to-it bandwagon. Bacon, though a wonderful thing in and of itself, doesn’t particularly cry out to be deep-fried and served with gravy, infused into vodka, or basket-woven around a slab of sausage and grilled. At least not in my world.

The idea for these came to me in a dream, though, I think, and I became a little bit obsessed with them.  So I gave them a try, and they were good. And then I tweaked the recipe and gave them another try, and they were better.

This definitely doesn’t count as health food; on the other hand, you can set these out at a gathering and pretty much guarantee they’ll be gone in just a few minutes, thereby sparing you the agony of continuing unhealthy temptation. So… why the heck not? Immerse yourself, however briefly, in the world of stunt bacon cooking.

You need to start with some brown sugar bacon. Which you’ll need to make yourself.

 

Making brown sugar bacon

 

Brown Sugar Bacon
Preheat oven to 275. Line a rimmed metal baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a metal rack on the sheet.

Put about a cup of dark brown sugar in a shallow dish. Dredge thick-cut slices of bacon in the sugar, turning to coat and patting the slices gently to encourage the sugar to adhere. Don’t go hog-wild (hee) with the sugar, because the excess will melt, drip off and potentially burn. Arrange the slices on the metal rack. You’ll need about 1/3 to 1/2 pound for this recipe. Your family will be happy to eat any excess.

Bake for about half an hour, maybe up to 40 minutes. This will seem like it is taking forever, but it will smell really good. The bacon will not get crispy at this point. When it seems sufficiently done, remove the sheet and carefully pour off the molten bacon fat into a small bowl. Using tongs, remove the bacon to a paper grocery bag or other nice sturdy absorbent draining surface. (Don’t use paper towels. They will stick to the hot sugar and ew.) Let bacon cool for about half an hour or so, during which time it will crisp up a bit.

Now you’re ready to proceed with:

Bacon Rice Krispie Treats
3 Tbsp bacon fat
2 Tbsp butter
5 cups mini marshmallows
A splash of vanilla extract
2 generous pinches kosher salt
1/2 tsp Drunken Angel or other hot sauce, to taste (optional but highly recommended)
5 cups Rice Krispies cereal (don’t try to get away with the generic kind; they’re just not as good)
About 1/2 pound Brown Sugar Bacon, chopped fairly fine

Thoroughly grease a 9×13 baking dish. Put Rice Krispies in a large bowl and toss with chopped bacon.

In a medium saucepan, combine bacon fat and butter; cook, stirring, over medium-low heat until melted. Add marshmallows, vanilla extract, salt and hot sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, just until marshmallows are completely melted. Pour mixture over Rice Krispies and stir gently to distribute.

Scrape mixture into greased baking dish. Wet your hands and pat mixture into an even layer. Let cool before serving. These are best the day they’re made, though honestly no one will complain about eating them the next day either, and they probably won’t last that long anyway.

Posted in Bacon!, Drunken Angel Hot Sauce, Food and Drink, Recipes | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Potato Tortilla

No, not that kind of tortilla, silly.. the flat Spanish omelet-type thing that’s pretty much just a showcase for veggies or cheese or whatever, loosely bound together with egg.

The nice thing about this recipe is that it’s adaptable to pretty much whatever you have on hand. Zucchini? Why not? Spinach? Oh sure. Jicama? Well, that might be a little weird, but probably not un-doable. Bananas? You’re on your own there, buddy.

Cooking the potatoes first pares the tortilla-cooking time to almost nothing. And yep, traditionally this is made with ultra-thin sliced potatoes fried in the same pan, but (1) I am not so much for the frying of the food, and (2) the purpose of this recipe was to load up on vegetables. Which it did.

Tortilla de Patatas
Serves six-ish

3 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed, unpeeled, and cut into roughly 3/4″ cubes
About 2 quarts cold water with plenty (!) of salt added
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 small-to-medium red bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped
1 or 2 jalapeno pepper(s), seeded (or not) and minced
3 to 6 cloves garlic (depending on their size), minced
A couple teaspoons of Montreal steak seasoning, purchased or homemade (or: coarse salt, black pepper, paprika, red pepper, ground thyme)
8 eggs, beaten
1/2 to 1 cup finely shredded cheese (I used sharp Cheddar)

Put the potatoes into the salted water, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 7 minutes. Drain and set aside. Preheat the broiler to medium.

In a large skillet–cast-iron if you have it, nonstick if you don’t, in which case make sure it’s broiler-safe before you get too much further–heat the olive oil over medium-heat. (Really, cast iron is going to work better than anything else here.)

Add onion and peppers. Cook, stirring regularly, until softened and barely translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, jalapeno and seasonings. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Add potatoes and cook, stirring very gently, for just a few seconds to get them all coated in the nice yummy oil.

Pour the eggs into the pan. Shake gently but determinedly to distribute everything around fairly evenly. Fold the eggs into the mixture very briefly. Then step away and leave the pan alone until the eggs are set enough that they don’t jiggle (tee hee) when you shake the pan. Three or four minutes, tops.

Sprinkle cheese evenly over the top of the tortilla. Pop the pan under the broiler and let it cook for a few minutes until the top is bubbly and the cheese is starting to brown. (Probably another three or four minutes.)

Cut into wedges and serve; for a super happy fun time, top each serving with a dollop of homemade guacamole.

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Arabian squash, like Arabian nights…

Butternut Squash

Photo by Flickr user VancityAllie. Used under a Creative Commons license.

This one’s straight outta Katzen, which is sort of like being straight outta Compton, except a lot less intimidating-sounding. Also, one of my most favorite things to cook/eat ever. Also pretty, which is kinda rare for a casserole, which makes me sad that I don’t have a photo. Humph and alas.

Arabian Squash Casserole (or Bake, if you hate the word Casserole, or heck, call it a Cassoulet, ’cause no one really knows what that is anyway)
Serves… oh, a lot

2 medium butternut squash
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large-ish onion
2 mid-sized red bell peppers
6 or so cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt (or maybe a tinch more)
1 to 2 tsp ground cumin (feel the noize)
A fat pinch of ground cayenne pepper, or maybe a teaspoon or so of red pepper flakes–you know your heat tolerance better than I do
Lots of ground black pepper
1 cup plain yogurt, preferably whole-milk
1-1/2 cups (or whatever you have on hand) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup sunflower seeds or chopped walnuts, divided (optional but Oh So Good)

Preheat the oven to 350. Split the squash lengthwise down the middle, scoop out the seeds, and place them facedown on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until nice and tender. Take them out, let them cool, scoop out the flesh and mash the hell out of it with a potato masher. (Or: wimp out and put it in the food processor.) You’ll need 6 cups, and you’ll probably have about 8 cups, which means… woo-hoo! Two cups left over for butternut squash risotto! Or freeze it, or put it on pizza, or whatever. (You can prep the squash early in the day, or even the night before, thereby leaving yourself plenty of time to ride bikes or paint your nails or something.) Put 6 cups mashed squash in a very large bowl and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, a couple minutes more. Remove from heat and add to the bowl with the squash. Stir well.

Add yogurt, feta and half the sunflower seeds (or walnuts). Stir well. Taste and correct seasoning, and then remind yourself that you should probably not keep on tasting it perhaps quite so enthusiastically, because you want some left over to serve to your friends/family/self.

Spoon into a baking dish; I use my trusty oval gratin dish, which holds a little less than a standard 9×13 Pyrex baker but looks oh so pretty. If you have more left than will comfortably go into the dish, you can bake it separately in a small dish or save it to bake later or even to toss with some hot cooked pasta. Sprinkle the remaining sunflower seeds (or walnuts) over the top.

Bake at 350 for half an hour or so, or until nice and hot and beginning to bubble.

This is particularly lovely paired with a spinach salad with homegrown tomatoes, just as Mollie Katzen suggests.

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Take a picture, it’ll last longer

Le Creuset gratin dish

Imagine this dish, only smaller, whiter and more scalloped, and more full of kale-rice gratin.

So I made this kale-rice gratin-ish sort of thing last night, and I put a bit of it in a wee little white scalloped mini-gratin dish thingy and set it aside, thinking it would be lovely to take some pictures of it today in natural light. Terminally cute, it was, with its topping of slivered almonds and delicately sprinkled paprika. And the recipe made ever so much, and there was plenty left in the great big red gratin dish, and I was happy just musing on how nice that picture would be.

And then Jim came home last night and ate half of what was in the wee little scalloped dish.

(Yes, just half.)

(No, he didn’t even see the big red gratin dish all chockful of the rest of it.)

So you will have to use your imagination to envision how sweet that dear little dish looked all full of kale-ricey goodness. Sigh.

Kale-Brown Rice Gratin
Serves eight; leftovers reheat brilliantly
Adapted from a recipe in Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook

2 cups long-grain brown rice
3 cups water
Butter for greasing pan (or cooking spray, if you insist)
2 Tbsp olive oil (or butter)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 bunches kale, tough stems cut away, leaves finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
A few grinds of black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated=best)
1 to 3 tsp Drunken Angel Hot Sauce or other thick hot sauce (Moroccan harissa would also work well)
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1-1/2 to 2 cups grated Cheddar cheese (medium or sharp=best)
1/2 to 1 cup slivered almonds
Paprika

Combine the rice and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 35 minutes, until rice is tender. Uncover and fluff thoroughly with a fork. Dump into a nice big mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350. Butter a large baking dish–I used a large oval gratin dish and had some of the mix left over.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil (or butter) over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add kale, salt, pepper and garlic. Cook, stirring, until kale wilts down and is heated through, about 5 minutes more. Add to rice, along with nutmeg and hot sauce, and stir gently to combine.

Beat eggs lightly with a fork. Whisk together with milk. Pour over rice mixture and stir to combine. Add cheese and half the almonds; toss gently until nicely mixed.
Spread mixture in prepared dish. Sprinkle with reserved almonds and a goodly amount of paprika.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until browned and a bit crispish up top.

Posted in Drunken Angel Hot Sauce, Food and Drink, Recipes, Vegetarian | 2 Comments

Socca to me

Socca: a chickpea-flour cake, served with sauteed tomatoes

Chickpea flour? Tomatoes? Feta? Sounds like a party!

What, you ask, is a socca? This morning, I couldn’t have told you. Now I know that it’s a chickpea-flour cake or bread, baked on a griddle (especially a special fancy copper griddle pan, one of which I am confident I will never own) or, as in this case, in a cast-iron skillet. It’s native to Southern France, especially Nice, and has counterparts in the cuisine of many other countries (in Italy, it–or its cousin–is called farinata).

Usually, it’s made in thin crepe-like cakes. But this version was a wee bit thicker, and since it made just one big piece, it was easy to cut into wedges and serve with accompaniments (in this case, sauteed tomatoes with feta and basil).

I adapted this from a recipe in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, which had one GIANT whoopsie in the printed version: he called for 1-1/2 cups of water and only 1 cup of chickpea flour. Can you see the problem there, boys and girls?

Yes, this might sound a little odd; and yes, you’ll have to chase down some chickpea flour (I use the Bob’s Red Mill brand–it is local! and inexpensive!). But it went over gangbusters at our house and will probably do well at your house too. Chickpeas are really remarkably kid-friendly. (I’ve been on a bit of a chickpea tear lately. Coming this week: chickpea cutlets! No, really!) The socca‘s flavor is mildly sweet, very deep and satisfying, and pretty darn adaptable to whatever you’d like to serve with it. (Cucumber raita? Meatballs in tomato sauce? Diced cantaloupe with mint and some crisp-fried pancetta? Bring it!)

Socca, Sorta
Serves four, no leftovers.

1-1/2 cups lukewarm water
1-1/2 cups chickpea (garbanzo bean, besan) flour
1 tsp (coarse) salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
Optional: 1/2 tsp ground cumin
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 a small white onion, chopped fine
About a tablespoon fresh rosemary needles, chopped fine

Put the lukewarm water into a medium mixing bowl. Put the chickpea flour into a sifter and schnick-a schnick-a schnick it into the bowl. (Chickpea flour has a decided tendency to lumpify. Show it who’s boss! Use your sifter! Or, lacking a sifter, break it up thoroughly with a fork before adding it to the water.) Add the salt, pepper, cumin and 1 Tbsp olive oil; whisk until smooth and lumpless.

Cover the bowl with a towel and set it aside. Go do something else for at least 30 minutes and for up to 12 hours. Then come back and preheat the oven to 450. Pour 2 Tbsp oil into a heavy pan (like a cast-iron skillet) and swirl to coat the bottom thoroughly. Mix the onion and rosemary into the batter; pour the whole thing into the pan. Pop it into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until no longer jiggly (tee hee).

Remove pan from oven and brush top of socca with remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil. Now set it under the broiler (or, put it back in the oven and turn it up to broil, if you’ve got one of those fancy kind of cookstove things) for about 4 minutes, or until top is lightly browned with darker brown spots here and there. Cut into wedges and serve… perhaps with

Sauteed Tomatoes with Feta and Basil
Really, this hardly needs a recipe. Quarter a bunch of tomatoes (or halve them if they’re grape tomatoes; or sixth or even eighth them if they’re bigger tomatoes). Romas work well here. Mince some garlic. Chop some fresh basil.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of butter (or, I guess, olive oil) in a skillet. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until golden and fragrant. Add tomatoes. Cook, shaking pan regularly, until they seem done enough. Remove from the heat and stir in some crumbled feta. Sprinkle chopped basil over all.

Posted in Food and Drink, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | 1 Comment

Vegan, but not very: Chickpea-Quinoa Pilaf with Roasted Carrots

I had every intention of making this vegan, but then I realized I had chicken broth, not vegetable broth. Do with that as you will.

The pilaf recipe is adapted from Veganomicon, and it’s by far the tastiest thing I’ve made out of said cookbook yet (with the exception of a double pea soup to which I added bacon, tee hee). With the spicy sweetness of the roasted carrots, it made a well-rounded and thoroughly satisfying dinner.

Chickpea-Quinoa Pilaf
Serves six or so; leftovers are Useful and Tasty

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Optional but nice: one jalapeno pepper, seeded if you like, finely chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste (Note: since most recipes don’t call for a whole can of tomato paste, and since I can’t afford the fancy-pants Italian paste in a tube, I’ve taken to scraping the contents of an opened can into a Ziploc bag, squeezing out the air and storing it in the refrigerator. Despite the incontrovertible messiness of this method, it’s working pretty well so far.)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp or so ground coriander
1 tsp salt, or to taste
Generous amount of ground black pepper
1-1/4 cups quinoa, rinsed
About 2-1/2 cups (or, more accurately, “what I had sitting around”) cooked and drained chickpeas, or one can of the same, rinsed and drained (really, the self-cooked ones will be much nicer)
About 3 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, until softened and just translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic (and jalapeno, if you like) and cook, stirring, 30 seconds more. Add tomato paste, spices, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, for another minute. Add quinoa and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes.

Add chickpeas and broth. Bring just to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is done, probably about 17 minutes. Uncover, turn up heat, and stir constantly for about 30 seconds. Turn off heat. Drape a clean dishtowel over the pot; replace lid; let stand 3 to 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, fold in parsley and correct seasoning before serving.

Roasted Carrots
Serves… well, whatever you make will get eaten, so be bold.

Preheat oven to 375. Wash and peel a quantity of carrots. Halve them lengthwise (or quarter them, if they’re overly thick) and slice on the diagonal into roughly 1″ pieces.

Spread carrots on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and some brown (or turbinado) sugar. (For six carrots, I probably used about 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp pepper flakes and 1 Tbsp sugar. But that’s not super exact, and your preferences undoubtedly vary.) Toss ingredients together and spread carrots out relatively evenly. If you put their flat cut sides down, they will crisp up nicely.

Bake until carrots are browned and just beginning to shrivel, probably about 20 to 25 minutes.

Spoon pilaf into bowls and serve carrots on top.

Posted in Food and Drink, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Vegetarian Option | 3 Comments

Dribs, drabs and a little masala

Chili Garlic sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce

The last of the fish sauce; the last of the soy sauce; the chili-garlic sauce stands alone.

What do you get when you have half a pound of pork, half a bell pepper, half a bag of frozen peas, and a whole bunch of rice noodles?

In this case, at least, what you get is curried noodle stir-fry. This recipe is 100% adaptable to whatever sort of veggies (bok choy! eggplant! green beans!) or protein (ground chicken! frozen/crumbled tofu!) you have on hand, and is also a fine way of getting rid of little tag-ends of sauces and other ingredients. The garlic, ginger, garam masala (or curry powder) and soy sauce are fairly critical; everything else is up for interpretation.

Curried Rice Noodle Stir-Fry
Serves four generously, by which I mean Jim got to take leftovers to work

8 to 12 ounces rice noodles (I used wide Thai noodles)
1/4 cup peanut oil, plus maybe a little more if it seems necessary
A 2″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated or minced
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 (or a whole one, if you have it) red bell pepper, cored and roughly chopped
About a cup of frozen peas (unthawed = fine)
1/2 pound ground pork (or other meat/protein; or just double the veggies and leave this part out)
2 Tbsp (or a little more) curry powder or garam masala, or some of each
A pinch of sugar
1/2 cup chicken (or veggie) broth (or 1/4 cup each seasoned rice vinegar and water)
1 Tbsp fish sauce and 2 Tbsp soy sauce, or some such combination thereof
A nice healthy blob (1 tsp to 1 Tbsp) of chili-garlic sauce
1/4 cup (or thereabouts) each chopped fresh mint and cilantro

First, soak the noodles in very hot water to cover. This will take 15 to 30 minutes, so get them started and then do all your other chopping/prepping. When the noodles are very soft, drain them as well as you possibly can–shake them wildly around in the colander, or get a kid or someone to do this for you–and set aside.

Heat 2 Tbsp of the peanut oil in a large, heavy, deepish skillet (or nonstick pan) over medium-high heat. When it is hot enough to sizzle a wee piece of garlic, toss the garlic and ginger in and cook, stirring frantically, for about 20 seconds, or until very fragrant. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring without cease, until barely tender, about 3 minutes. Add the peas and cook, likewise stirring stirring ever stirring, for 2 more minutes or so. Add the pork and cook, stirring to break it up, until there is no more visible trace of pink.

Sprinkle the curry powder/garam masala and sugar over the mixture and cook, stirring wildly, for about 30 seconds more. Scoop everything out with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of peanut oil to the pan and increase heat to high. Dump in the noodles and immediately begin tossing and stirring; they will have a decided tendency to stick and burn. Don’t let them do it! (Probably you won’t be able to prevent this entirely.) Continue tossing and stirring until noodles are hot and beginning to brown, probably 3 to 5 minutes.

Add meat/veggie mixture back to pan, along with chicken broth, and toss thoroughly. When all is well heated and amalgamated, add fish sauce and/or soy sauce; continue tossing and heating for another 30 seconds or so. Remove from the heat and toss with chili-garlic sauce.

Serve in wide bowls, garnished festively with mint and cilantro.

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