Sunday, September 16, 2007

Recipe Madness

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know... I'm posting recipes, of all things. First I told a brief story about my cat and now I'm posting recipes. Next thing you know I'll be camwhoring and posting surveys normally associated with 16-year old girls.

Anyway...confession time.

I like bacon. No, I love bacon. Oh, yes; I love bacon in all its trans-fatted, artery-hardening, coronary-inducing glory--which is why I rarely buy the stuff because, to my shame, when I do I'll cook up the entire damn package and devour every last piece over the course of an evening. On those rare occasions when I raid the breakfast buffet at Shoney's my plate is piled shamefully high with bacon, sausage patties, baked apples, maybe some scrambled eggs... but mostly bacon. I'm a Bacon Whore. Remember that poor, hyperactive dog on the old Beggin' Strips commercial? Yeah, it's like that.

From Pulp Fiction:
Vincent: Want some bacon?
Jules: No man, I don't eat pork.
Vincent: Are you Jewish?
Jules: Nah, I ain't Jewish, I just don't dig on swine, that's all.
Vincent: Why not?
Jules: Pigs are filthy animals. I don't eat filthy animals.
Vincent: Bacon tastes gooooood. Pork chops taste gooooood.
Jules: Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I'd never know 'cause I wouldn't eat the filthy motherfucker. Pigs sleep and root in shit. That's a filthy animal. I ain't eat nothin' that ain't got enough sense enough to disregard its own feces.
Vincent: How about a dog? Dogs eats its own feces.
Jules: I don't eat dog either.
Vincent: Yeah, but do you consider a dog to be a filthy animal?
Jules: I wouldn't go so far as to call a dog filthy but they're definitely dirty. But, a dog's got personality. Personality goes a long way.
Vincent: Ah, so by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, he would cease to be a filthy animal. Is that true?
Jules: Well we'd have to be talkin' about one charmin' motherfuckin' pig. I mean he'd have to be ten times more charmin' than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I'm sayin'?

Sid-the-Cat likes bacon; in fact, Sid-the-Cat disdains all other people food except bacon. And Elvis Presley! Elvis liked bacon (more on this later)! And my friend Margie! Oh, sweet Jeebus, Margie is every bit the Bacon Whore I am; on more than one occasion the two of us have intentionally positioned ourselves in our favorite greasy spoon so as to have a full view of the kitchen griddle where there is always a HUGE pile o' bacon. You'd think we were watching porn the way we stare. And, though deep down we know it's not completely true, we both argue that everything is better with bacon.

I may be putting this to the test soon. See, I was cruisin' the Intarwebs the other day and ran across something called Bacon Brittle--toffee and bacon cooked up together--and had one of those "WTF?" moments. "Could this possibly be good?" I asked myself. "Toffee? Bacon? I mean, bacon tastes gooooood. Toffee tastes gooooood. But together?" Well, a few minutes on Google seemed to answer that question--search for "Bacon Brittle" or "Bacon Toffee" and you'll come up with a slew of positive reviews, recipes, and, to my complete surprise, a number of commercial outlets.

Once again, I'm late to the party.

This is what you do:

Bacon Toffee (aka Bacon Brittle)
1. Line a baking tray with a Silpat, or oil it very well.
2. Crisp 5 pieces of bacon in a skillet or a broiler and drain on paper towels. Break or chop them into 1/4” bits and set aside. Don’t go too small, because you want them to have personality in your mouth. Use a smoky bacon, ideally lightly cured. Mine had Niman Ranch bacon in it.
3. Place in a heavy saucepan, in this order: 1/4 cup (63g) water, 1 stick (115g) butter, a large pinch of salt, and 1 cup (200g) sugar.
4. Over medium-high heat, cook till the mixture reaches 285F, stirring often. In practice, this means that you cook it until it’s a good toffee colour, about the same colour as the old tan m&ms. I’m not kidding about the stirring, though.
5. Pull it off heat, mix in the bacon bits, and pour onto the baking sheet. Spread quickly to about 1/4” thick, and let cool for 2 hours.
6. Using a hammer or the handle of a large knife, break the toffee into shards. This is best accomplished by whacking it through a folded paper towel.

Guess I'm gonna be firing up the stovetop soon.

And since I'm all about Sweet 'n' Salty today, I thought I'd mention this: my friend Cathy's online friend Ewokgirl posted about banana bread; specifically, Peanut Butter Banana Bread, which made me smack my forehead and wonder why the HELL didn't I think of that? Okay, sure, it conjures images of Elvis Presley's Fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich, aka The King-Killer, aka The WBWT Coronary (White Bread, White Trash), but still, creamy peanut butter and ripe bananas were made for one another, though perhaps without the lard and (possibly) apocryphal bacon strips (then again, there's Bacon Brittle, so ya never know).

Peanut Butter Banana Bread
1/3 cup cooking oil
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups mashed, ripe bananas
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda

In a large bowl, cream oil, peanut butter, and sugar; beat in eggs and bananas. Add flour mixed with baking powder, salt, and soda alternately with banana combination; mix with each addition until combined. Pour batter into a greased 9x5x3" loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes. Makes one loaf.

Sounds good, huh? Unfortunately, my tiny little gas oven is a bit on the temperamental side, which means I won't be experimenting with this recipe any time soon; however, should you be so inclined, well, uh, you know...

One more before I go:

Chinese Chews
(stolen from The New James Beard)

"I have no idea why these are called Chinese Chews, but I've been making them for over 15 years and I've yet to find anyone who doesn't find the combination of flavors irresistible. Makes about 30 cookies." --James Beard

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 lb (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)

1 1/2 cups brown sugar (light or dark)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder

Mix 2 cups of the flour, the butter, and 1 cup of the sugar until crumbly, and spread this in a shallow 8-by-16-inch baking pan. Bake in a 300F oven for 10 minutes, then remove from oven.

Beat the ingredients for the topping together and spread the mixture evenly over the prepared crumb crust. Return to the oven and bake until light brown, about 30 to 40 minutes. Cool. Cut into fingers.

I have made these before and all I'm going to say is "OMFG, Best. Thing. EVER!"

Y'all will visit me when I'm in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, won't you?


Cathy VanPatten said...

Oh. My. God. Bacon toffee. Sigh.

You realize I am trying to drop some poundage, right? Now I am trying to calculate how many Weight Watchers points bacon toffee will cost me!

By the way... may I just say that Franklin was wrong, and that it is bacon and NOT beer that is proof that God exists and loves us. Heh!

By the way, yet again, I will be in the big W on Fall Foliage Art Show weekend, in case you are planning a visit to the parentals...Jeff lacks sufficient vacation, alas, and so he will stay home to feed the cat. Bacon toffee, no doubt.

Alexis said...

I only buy Boars Head Bacon!

To me it's the best brand out there.

G. W. Ferguson said...

To Cathy--see, if God truly loved us, bacon would have a negative caloric content, build strong bodies twelve ways, cure cancer, dispel impotence and frigidity, make us unbearably attractive and intelligent, reverse the aging process, and put an Aston-Martin DB9 in our driveways.

To Alexis--hmmmm...guess if I'm to remain in your good graces I'd better try out (no pun intended) Boar's Head Bacon!

Cathy VanPatten said...

LOL! Point taken!

By the way... I have actually eaten the Elvis version of the fried banana and peanut butter sandwich AT the diner at Graceland (well the touron complex across the street). I was skeptical, but it was yummy! But very fattening.

Alexis said...

You won't be disappointed with the Boars Head Bacon. It's a more modern traditionally flavored bacon that fries quickly and gets quite crisp without burning.

If you really want to get hardcore about bacon try some European cuts like bacon from the UK. It's a totally different cut which is leaner but has more meat than fat.