Bacon Jam

I know, I know. The combination of these two words just blew your mind. After you’ve picked up the pieces of your cranium, please, take a deep breath and read the rest of IMG_20130106_141048this post.

Bacon and jam are usually separate parts of a delicious breakfast. But I have found a way to marry them together in a deliciously amazing concoction. However, I can’t take full credit for it. The internet is full of people posting recipes for bacon jam, and they vary widely. I studied many of them before coming up with my own. This is encouraging because it means that this recipe is flexible. If you don’t have *just* the right ingredient or amount of something, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have your own delicious bacon jam.  It will just be a slightly different version.

Now let me abate your worries. This is not a jammy-sweet, stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth kind of food. It is bacon in a somewhat sweet, somewhat savory mixture that loosely resembles the consistency of jam. It is really more like bacon chutney. I recently made this for a BLT appetizer where I spread some on crostini with arugula and tomato a la Spoon Fork Bacon. It was a big hit! But then, people started using it in different, creative ways, like on top of scrambled eggs. Delish! So let your little bacon-obsessed brain get creative with this surprising little dish.

Bacon Jam – A Delectable Endeavors original

1/2 lb bacon, cut into small pieces (I use Trader Joe’s Classic, sliced dry rubbed)

1 Tablespoon bacon fat

1 Tablespoon butter

1 large shallot, minced

6 ounces of your favorite dark beer, scotch ales and stouts work best (I used Tyranena’s Sheep Shagger Scotch Ale)

1 Tablespoon maple syrup

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup strongly brewed coffee (do not used flavored coffee)

1/2 tsp dried thyme

Cook bacon in a large pan on medium heat. Render the fat completely so that bacon is nice and crispy. Remove bacon from pan using a spatula, so you can save the bacon fat in the pan. Place cooked bacon on a paper towel to drain.

Drain all but 1 Tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan. Add 1 Tablespoon of butter to Tablespoon of reserved fat in the pan. Add chopped shallot and cook until translucent (this should only take a couple of minutes). Add beer, maple syrup, vinegar, and coffee to pan and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add bacon bits and thyme and mix.

Let this mixture simmer lightly for approximately 30 minutes, or until it reaches desired jam-like consistency. Like I said, this recipe is flexible, so if it gets too thick, feel free to add a little coffee or beer. If if is too loose, let it simmer a little longer.

Once cooked, let cool before putting into your favorite jar. Keep in the refrigerator for up to a week (if you don’t eat it all before then). Canning will keep the jam for longer.

Brunch Series – Pumpkin Oatmeal Pancakes

These are so delicious and easy, I’d be crazy NOT to post them. I have quite the affinity for fall food. Squash, and dark greens, apples and blood oranges. If I had to choose one season to always eat in, Nay, live in, I would choose fall.  That is why my husband I and I chose to get married in the fall – because we love it so much. I feel a special kind of happiness when a chill hits the air and the trees start to turn, and these pancakes are the perfect companion for a brisk autumn Sunday.

Even though you have to process your oats to make these pancakes, it is a small effort that makes it totally worth it. These pancakes are surprisingly fluffy and delicious. My husband, especially loved their sweet, creamy pumpkin flavor, coupled with the airy texture. With just a little bit of butter and a light drizzle of maple syrup, they are all the things I love about fall bundled into a delicious little concoction.  I highly recommend.

Adapted from Running to the Kitchen

1 1/3 cups of quick oats

2 eggs

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 cup of almond milk (although, I’m sure cow’s milk would work as well)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp mace (optional)

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

pinch of salt

Heat a large griddle or pan.  In a food processor, grind oats into a fine meal, nearly flour consistency.  Add all ingredients into a large bowl and whisk to combine.  Grease griddle and pour mixture into small circles.  Cook until edges begin to bubble, then flip.  Cook the other side completely.  Enjoy warm.

Brunch Series – Dutch Baby

I can’t help but giggle a little every time I hear the name “dutch baby”. 

It’s a rather funny name for a pancake.  The dutch baby is one of my husband’s favorite breakfasts.  He likes ordering it at pancake houses and then cracking a joke about how it is the best way to eat an infant, or some other joke of questionable taste.

Dutch babies look like you took a large, oversized pancake that deflated and flopped back on top of itself.  Because, essentially, that is what a dutch baby is – a type of  German pancake.  In fact, the word dutch stands for “Deutsch” or German, kind of like the Pennsylvania dutch.  These are the fun facts you learn when you marry someone who is German and has an affinity for pancakes.  And a dutch baby is De-licious and somewhat reminiscent of an eggy popover.  It has a crispy crust and custardy, but light center.  I prefer them served with freshly squeezed lemon and  copious amounts of powdered sugar.

This was my first try at a dutch baby, and I have to say, it turned out great!  I was a little concerned because they seem so large and intimidating at The Pancake House.  It turns out, there is very little to be afraid of.  In fact, this might be one of the simplest, quickest brunches EVER.  There, I said it.  Now try it out for yourself.

Foodiecrush has a great Dutch Baby recipe and little graph that explains how to make it with great ease.  I am not even going to attempt to recreate their explanation, as it is seamless.  Check out the website!

Soup Sundays – Curried Carrot Soup

Along with the Brunch Series, I am starting Soup Sundays.  This winter I started making soups on Sunday afternoons.  I like to take leftovers, or fresh ingredients that need to be used and make them into a delicious soup – the perfect Sunday night meal for those chilly winter afternoons.  I decided to post this little ritual for all of you to share.  Not only is making soup a nice, relaxing way to spend the afternoon, but then you have delicious leftovers to eat all week.  If you double the recipes you could free some as well.

Additionally, I’m not sure if I have adequately expressed my love of carrots.  I do love carrots.  They have to be on my top 5 of all vegetable options.  Of course, in America, we are often resigned to eating them raw with Ranch Dressing.  Gross.  I don’t not approve. (Speaking of which, if you have never seen Saturday Night Live’s skit on Ranch dressing, you much check it out here.)   There are so many better ways to utilize such a versatile veggie.

Carrots are actually a root vegetable, related to the potato and the dandelion.  Which means they are hearty, starchy, and packed with vitamins.  It also means there are many, many different types of carrots.  Did you know you can actually get a purple carrot?  No lie.  Check them out the next time you go to the farmer’s market.

I wanted to make a soup that highlighted my love of carrots and their versatility.  This soup is a great example of how carrots can rise above Ranch dressing and even complement Eastern spices.  In this recipe, I use crushed garlic and ginger because I like how they lend flavor to the soup.  I feel as though they permeate the soup better in this form.  Of course, you can just as easily substitute minced garlic and grated ginger.  I also use finely ground black pepper for the same reason.  My favorite is Tellicherry black pepper from The Spice House.

Curried Carrot Soup – A Delectable Endeavors Original

2 Tbl vegetable oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

4 cups of roughly chopped carrot

4-5 cloves garlic

1 Tbl grated ginger

1 Tbl of your favorite curry paste, or 2 tsp. of your favorite curry powder (I used red curry paste)

3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth

1 14 oz can of coconut milk (I often use the lowfat kind and it works just fine)

1 Tbl lime juice

soy sauce to taste

Heat oil in a dutch oven or other large saucepan.  Add garlic and ginger.  Saute until fragrant (only about a minute).

Add onions and saute for a few minutes.  Add carrots and season generously with salt and pepper.  Let cook until they begin to soften.

Make a small space in the middle of the pan and add curry.   Let it cook a bit, then mix in the rest of the vegetables.  Pour stock over curry and vegetable mixture.  Let simmer until all of the vegetables are softened and cooked through.

Add coconut milk and reduce heat to low.  Let cook and combine for as long as you would like.  When you are ready to serve, add lime juice and soy sauce to taste.  Either let soup cool and blend it in a blender, or do what I do and take a hand blender to the pan.  I like to leave my soup a little chunky.

To serve, you can reserve a little of the coconut milk and swirl in the soup for a nice touch.

Brunch Series – Vanilla Pear Muffins

This is how my morning started.  Red pears and coffee, yum.  I began my day by peeling pears for this delicious recipe, which is actually quite a delightful, relaxing way to start the morning.   Now that the husband and I have some free weekend time, I wanted to wake up and make him a big, delicious brunch. This was the weekend was the weekend for that.

I found a recipe for vanilla pear muffins that I wanted to make for some aging pears I had on hand.  Unfortunately, the recipe wasn’t *exactly* what I had hoped for, because they called for applesauce and had no actual pear in them.  I changed the recipe slightly to add more of a pear punch by switching the applesauce to ground up pears.  I peeled and cored 2 of my own pears and chopped them up in the food processor, which worked great, because there were some little bits of pear that didn’t get pulverized which cooked wonderfully in the muffins.  However, if you don’t want to make your own, it is pretty easy to get pear sauce now.

These muffins are not your normal muffins; they are incredibly moist and fragrant.  In fact, my husband asked if I was making cookies while they were baking, they smelled so good. 😉  The vanilla and pear delicately balance each other and the granola topping adds a nice crunch.

Adapted from The Pastry Affair

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 Tablespoons (that’s correct, Tablespoons) vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup pear sauce or approximately 2 pears, ground in a food processor
granola, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt).

In another bowl, mix together the eggs, vanilla, zest, brown sugar, butter, oil, and pear sauce until well combined. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. Do not worry about lumps; it is ok to have some in a muffin mix. Distribute the muffin batter evenly between 12 baking cups. Sprinkle granola on top of muffins, if desired.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the muffin tops are lightly browned and bounce back to the touch. Serve hot or at room temperature.