Bacon Archives | Parsley, Sage, and Sweet

Focaccia with Bacon, Cheddar and ‘Eggs in Wells’ and Part 12

May 31, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Posted in Appetizers, Breads, Breakfast, Lunch, Rainbow, Vegetables, Yeastspotting | 46 Comments
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There’s a new bread challenge in town.  It’s called the Bread Baking Society (Twitter handle @Breaking_Bread – hashtag #BreakingBread), - founded by Lora from Cake Duchess and Shulie from  Food Wanderings.  This month the bread they asked everyone to bake is focaccia and of course, I wanted to take part. Thankfully I got it in on the last day, last minute, of the month.  Once again, there was humidity, but not as bad as last week.  But, no braiding or shaping of focaccia – just dimpling (awww) – so humidity foiled.  Ha!


Of course, there was free creative reign, so the variety of focaccias linked up, sweet and savory, is pretty amazing, from sweet potato to southern charm.

I made a Focaccia McMuffin.  I call it that because it’s all bacon, eggs and cheddar.  What makes it kind of cool is, the eggs are in focaccia wells.  I scrunched up 6 large pieces of tin foil into 3-inch balls, coated each one generously with olive oil, then stuck them into the cheese and bacon filled dough before rising.  When fully risen, I pressed them down again, and baked the focaccia for 20 or so minutes, then removed the tin foil balls –  giving me perfect wells to crack 6 eggs into.  I put the focaccia back in the oven for 8 to 10 more minutes, and voila, six  perfectly cooked eggs, in six bacon – cheese bread squares (when cut), per person.

Of course I had to make it pretty, so before baking the focaccia, I topped it with some roasted red peppers, arugula, more bacon – and a few drizzles of olive oil.  When done, the eggs were seasoned with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and chopped chives.

Finally, I used Nick Malgieri’s focaccia dough in this recipe, which Lora also used. But, due to the humidity, I had to add an extra cup of flour.  I also took down the salt because of the bacon.  I’m sure Nick wouldn’t mind..he’s a pretty awesome pastry chef and guy. He left a comment on THIS post back in 2010…thanks to Meaghan from The Decorated Cookie, alerting him to the post.  I was pretty stoked since I’m such a fan girl when it comes to my favorite chefs.

By the way – please excuse the poor photos.  Ego Lights never do well with yellow or white.  Yellow (cheese and eggs) in this case, not to mention I really rushed it, I didn’t give it the time it deserved.

Bacon, Cheddar and ‘Eggs in Wells’ Focaccia
Basic focaccia recipe adapted from How to Bake, by Nick Malgieri, with my revisions
Copyright (c) Nick Malgieri 1995, All Rights Reserved
6 individual servings

1 1/3 cups warm tap water (about 110 degrees)
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour ( I ended up using 1 more cup due to humidity)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
6 to 8 oz cheddar cheese, cubed
10 slices cooked bacon, chopped

Topping
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese plus 6 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese for the egg wells (1 tablespoon per well)
4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and sliced (optional, or add your favorite vegetable(s)*
arugula leaves (optional, or use your favorite greens)*
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 medium or large eggs
chopped chives
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

*If you don’t want to add greens or veggies of any sort, top with extra bacon and cheese.  Herbs would be nice too.

101/2 x 151/2-inch jelly roll and parchment paper

DIRECTIONS:
1.  In a small bowl,water sprinkle the yeast over the water.  Add the 3 tablespoons olive oil and stir.

2. In large bowl, combine the flour and 1  1/2 teaspoons of salt; whisk together or mix together on low speed in your mixer.

3. Stir the yeast, water and olive oil into the flour and salt until you have a dry dough.  Slowly add the 1 1/3 cup of water while mixing, until you have a soft, but slightly raggedy dough.  You may or may not use all the water.

4.  Place the dough in an oiled bowl.  Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

5.  When dough has doubled, fold it onto itself, then flatten it on a floured board.  Scatter the cheddar cheese cubes and 2 pieces of chopped bacon all over the flattened dough.  Fold it over a few times, adding flour as needed.  Use a bench scraper because you will run into stickiness.  Keep folding and kneading until the bacon and cheese is disseminated throughout the dough evenly. If bacon and/or cheese pops out during kneading, just shove it back in.   Let rest, covered for 5 to 10 minutes to relax the gluten.

6.  While the dough is resting, oil the jelly roll pan, then cut a piece of parchment to fit.  The oil will keep the parchment paper down.  Flatten the ball of dough onto the parchment lined pan and spread it as best you can until it almost reaches all four corners.  If it resists, let it rest a few minutes, then start pushing and spreading again.  Tuck in any cheese or bacon that pops out.

7.  Make 6 tin foil balls..about 3 to 4-inches each, and coat each one with olive or any oil, generously (I used spray olive oil) Press each tin foil ball into dough, deep..two on each row, equally apart.

8.  Cover pan with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.

9.  Prehaet oven to 425 degrees F.  Once risen, press the foil balls down again (they rise with the dough), then dimple focaccia and drizzle with olive oil.  Top with remaining chopped bacon, pepper strips, and arugula.

10. Bake at 425F for 20 minutes, then remove pan from oven..keeping oven at 425F, and pull out foil balls.  Sprinkle a 1 tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese in each well. Crack each egg, one at a time, into a ramekin or small bowl, then slowly and carefully pour each egg into a well, until all six are filled.

11.  Place pan back in the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until the whites are cooked and the yolks are still jiggly, like a sunny-side up egg.

12.  Remove pan from oven, sprinkle all over with remaining shredded cheddar cheese (the heat will melt it), and salt and pepper each egg.  Sprinkle with chopped chives, if desired. Serve immediately, cutting the focaccia into 6 squares, each containing an egg.  Gently reheat leftovers, as not to overcook the egg.

Now to Part 12 of Bad Boy First Love.  If you’re just tuning in, Part One is HERE, Part Two is HERE , Part Three is HERE, Part Four is HERE, Part Five is HERE, Part Six is HERE, Part Seven is HERE, Part 8 is HERE, Part 9 is HERE,  Part Ten is HERE, and Part 11 is HERE.

Once again, he read my mind.

“Wanna get going, honey?”

Ahhh..he was good.  I was called sweetheart so many times that night, he had to mix it up with honey.

Honey, sweetheart, baby…it didn’t matter.  He could call me dingbat, and I’d be putty in his hands.

After a half hour of goodbyes, we were finally alone.  My head was still filled with the cacophony of ‘youse guys’, ‘dose guys, ‘deez guys’, and ‘dem guys’. One guy even called a toilet a ‘terlet’.  Sounded more like a bird than a porcelain waste station.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adored his friends, they were vibrant and they were real.  No phoniness, no airs, no BS, and under their tough exteriors, genuine warmth.  I was just a little overwhelmed and intimidated that first night.  Within a week, I was as comfy as a kitten in a quilted basket, talking almost as fast as they did.

Unfortunately, the girl I connected with, the bride-to-be, broke off the engagement and relationship, so I never saw her again.  J was a hurting puppy for a long, long time.  He fell hard for one of my friends later on, which I’ll get to in another part.

Through his friends, his ‘bad boy’ was confirmed.  The stories they told me were scary, but again, thrilling, because that ‘bad boy’ thing was my weakness.  The knife to his leg was nothing compared to the other tales they weaved.  It would literally take up 8 pages telling all of you.  He’d almost been arrested a few times, once for almost killing a guy who was attacking his cousin so violently, his cousin ended up in the hospital for weeks.

WHOA.

Truth be told, he didn’t like to fight.  It’s not like he got his jollies kicking ass, he was just very protective of friends and loved ones and if someone or someone(s) were  bullying or attacking them, as one of his friends would say, ‘fuhgeddaboutit’.

The ironic (although his friends thought it was funny) part of the story was the that the perpetrator ended up in the same hospital as his cousin, right across the hall.  Soon the cousin, and the guy who nearly killed him, were talking and buddies.  That’s just how these people were.  They could forgive most anything.

That being said, my relationship with Dreamboat was better than ever – it was almost gross in its saccharine salacity.  We saw each other at least once every weekend, because I had to hang out with my friends too (You know..the old ‘friends come before guys’ teenage rule/mantra).  But, we’d also sneak in weeknights (school nights for me, my curfew was midnight, and work the next day for him), so, I’d sneak him into my bedroom once my parents were fast asleep, or I’d sneak out after he dropped me off by 11 (1 hour early to make it look good), just to spend more time with him.  When we weren’t together, we were on the phone for hours, even though he wasn’t a phone person.

I showed him where I used to stack my pillows against the window, put on his favorite radio station, and cry myself to sleep missing him.  He laid down on the pillows next to me, the cool night air caressing us as he wrapped me up in his arms.  Like clockwork, Stairway to Heaven came on.  It was almost all too surreal – he was lying next to me in my year long ‘mourning’ space for him.  Now it was a space of love, joy and content, especially when I could smell him on my pillows after he left.

He finally told me he loved me on a chilly autumn evening in early October, parked on the side of a dead-end street with a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline.  Just as he said the words, “I love you, Lisa” my diamond stud earring caught on the shoulder of my sweater when I wrapped my arms around him - ready to make this moment as perfect and disgustingly romantic as possible - and popped out, hitting the floor of the Beetle somewhere.  They were a gift from my grandmother and they were very expensive, but, the sentimental value far outweighed the price.  I loved her dearly.  I couldn’t lose one of them.

I was bent over in seconds, blindly running my hands all over the floor in front of and underneath the passenger seat, hoping to feel the sharpness of the stud against the flattened, coarse carpet.

So, I’d been waiting desperately for the ‘I love you’ moment and when it finally came, I was scouring the floor of a Volkswagon Beetle – now scraping my fingers across the rug, bemoaning the possible loss of this earring.

Like I always say, it figures,  This is my life to this day.  Welcome to it.

He opened the door for light as we searched diligently.  I sat up quickly to really dig between the seats – forgetting about the  dashboard.

THWACK!

I slammed my head against it hard. I saw spots for a moment and then my eyes started to tear because it hurt like a bitch.  Dreamboat started examining the area.

Dr. Dreamboat in the house again!

I started to panic.. “Is it bleeding?  Is there a gash?  Does it look like I need stitches??”

I couldn’t believe how perfect the first ‘I love you’ moment was turning out!

“No, sweetheart, it’s just a bump..you’ll be fine.” Dreamboat said with a soft smile, as he continued to evaluate my rapidly forming goose egg.

I loved him so much.  Oh, wait, I could tell him that now.

“I’m not dunking my head in the East River and I love you too.”  Not exactly romantic, but I’d just banged my noggin hard.  I don’t think I was all there for a few moments.

But, I finally got to say what I’d been feeling since I’d first laid eyes on him.  We had a good laugh at my East River barb, then the romantic and mushy talk followed.

I completely forgot about my earring.

As he rubbed my head, he told me he had known he loved me for a while, but wanted to make sure it wasn’t rushed – such serious words.  That made me love him even more, so I said it again, and again, and again..I think I must have said it like 10 more times that night, just to hear him say it back.

was and am such a sap.

He found my diamond stud a few days later and presented it to me in a box with a beautiful, thin gold chain with one simple, matching diamond stud attached to it.  I’m not a bling girl, I like delicate, understated jewelry, so it was perfect.  I still occasionally wear it to this day.

Bacon, Cheddar and 'Eggs in Wells' Foccaccia

My senior year was amazing, mostly because of him.  I was so happy, you could stick a needle in my eye and I’d tell you not to worry about it.  The year before, my miserable junior year, I never would have thought it would turn out this way. How did I get so lucky?

However, there was a problem.  The more I snuck out during the week, staying out or ‘in’ super late on school nights, the more exhausted I was, and I couldn’t get up for school no matter how loud my mother screamed or how hard she tugged at my blanket. I was late to school about twice a week.

My mother thought I was doing drugs and wanna know how I found that out?

I opened my eyes one morning to see my freakin’ guidance counselor sitting on a chair in the middle of my bedroom, surrounded by dirty clothes I’d thrown on the floor the night before and a plate with a half-eaten crusty tuna salad teetering precariously on the edge of a table next to her.  I almost wanted it to fall on her lap.

I rubbed my eyes several times, I MUST be dreaming.  This was crazy!  Teachers and any ‘school employees’ weren’t supposed ever see your bedroom, much less be in it!

I was going to kill my mother.

To make matters worse, I’d fallen asleep in my bra and panties, too tired to fully undress and put on a T-shirt.  I pulled my blanket up to my chin.  She didn’t even leave to let me put some clothes on.  I know, woman to woman, but when you’re in high school, teachers and guidance counselors aren’t human beings, they’re just teachers and guidance counselors.  For instance, if you saw one out shopping or picking up a pizza, living their life outside of school, it was almost like spotting an alien shopping or picking up a pizza.  Just plain bizarre.

Once I convinced her I wasn’t on drugs, could barely drink alcohol without puking, and there was no one or no situation at school that was upsetting me, she started veering into other areas.  Pregnant? Sick?  Oh, come on now…I finally stopped her..

Im up all night having sex with my boyfriend, okay?

But I didn’t say that.

“I have a boyfriend and we stay on the phone for hours late at night, plus I talk to my friends too.” I lied, gauging her expression while pulling the blanket tighter around myself.

She seemed to accept that explanation, her faintly lined face softening, human for a brief moment. She let out a sigh, “Young love, I remember it well…”.  Then she sort of stared into space for a minute.  I was waiting for a good story, but then she snapped out of it and said,”…BUT, you need to get up on time for school. so cut the phone calls short, okay?”

I agreed, waited until she left, then tore into my mother for embarrassing the hell out of me.

My father later solved this problem by taking my phone out of my room  at 11 pm each night.  I’d gotten away with it and continued to sneak with him, but made sure I got up on time every day, torturing my body under a blasting, ice cold shower for a few seconds to shock myself wide awake.  Worked like a charm, but those few seconds were hell.

So, except for that small fork that almost led me down rehab road, my senior year was happy and breezy.

One day in January, the Beetle met it’s maker, it just died and was beyond repair.  Hey, he got almost three years out of a junkyard mess he restored into working condition, not too shabby, but I still think she died of a broken heart.  I stole her man.

Now that I had my driver;s license and full use of my parent’s cars, I would drive to him then let him take over the driving because I liked it that way.  I’m sure my parents wouldn’t have liked it, but like I said in the previous part, teenagers in love don’t usually think rationally or weigh the possible consequences of their actions.  Besides, I was always more of a passenger seat gal since I like to play with the music and well, look at him instead of the road.

When prom time was approaching, I didn’t bring it up because there was no way I thought he’d want to spend the evening with a bunch of high school kids.  I was too nervous to ask him to take me, so I was either going to skip it, or maybe go with a guy friend – but then I changed my mind, Dreamboat was the only man I would to go to prom with.  I’d skip it.

Remember that scene in Pretty In Pink where Annie Potts talks about the girl who missed her prom going through life feeling like something was missing every.single.day, not understanding why, then realizing it was all because she didn’t go to prom?  We had the movie on video, and that scene haunted me when I thought of not going.

Lo and behold, he brought it up one Saturday night on our way to see a movie.

“Hey, isn’t your prom coming up?” He said, not taking his eyes off the road,

I started twirling a strand of my hair – a nervous habit, “Yeah…but I don’t think I’m going to go..it’s stupid anyway.” I replied, trying to convince him and myself.

He kept driving..awkward silence, still not taking his eyes off the road. Then he finally spoke..

“Why skip it?  I’ll take you.”

My heart did a little flip. “Really?  You wouldn’t mind hanging out with a bunch of 17 and 18 year olds?” I asked, unconsciously biting on the twirled strand of hair.

He smiled “I’m hanging out with a 17 year old now.”

I laughed, he had a good point.

So, he took me to my prom.  He looked just as hot in a tux as I imagined he would when I conjured up images of of our future wedding.

I was a little worried he might experience some snootiness from some of my insanely wealthy classmates, but the opposite happened.  The guys were drawn to him..maybe because he was older and tough, and the girls couldn’t stop telling me how gorgeous he was.

I couldn’t help thinking that these girls would love a piece of him, but would never marry him.  He wouldn’t be able to give them the lifestyle they were used to and had no plans of giving up.  They’d end up marrying wealthy men with similar cultural/religions backgrounds and/or investment bankers with roman numerals following their name.

Soon summer was upon us and I graduated – for real this time.  It was a bittersweet time in so many ways, but what hurt the most was that I had so little time left with him. I was leaving for college in Florida in the Fall.  I had applied early, my junior year, and only applied to one school in the northeast because I wanted to attend a college in a warm weather state, near a beach.  All the schools I applied to, outside of Boston, were in SoCal and Florida.  Not the best reason to choose a college, but I was thinking more sun and fun than academics.

My priorities were about as straight as Lombard Street.

Then, I chickened out.  I couldn’t be that far away from him, the thought of it made me queasy.  It would be too expensive or damn near impossible to see him at times other than school vacations, so I changed schools at the last minute.  Boston was still a 4-hour drive, but only a 45 minute to 1 hour flight before 9/11 and all the security.  It actually turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made because I think Boston is one of the best cities to attend college in, but I’ll get to that later.


He was going to work on the pier again that summer, but wasn’t going down until mid-July, so we could spend lots of time together before I went to our place in Florida with my friends, mother, sister and her friends, for 2 weeks.  Me, and two of the three friends from the summer before, rented a bigger, better apartment in the same apartment complex we stayed at the previous summer, for the last three weeks of August., So, although I wouldn’t see him for 2 weeks, it worked out perfectly, or so I thought….

I need to stop here because several people have told me I’m shortening the memories to finish my story, stuffing an elephant into a sausage casing, so to speak, diluting it – the Cliff Notes of my first love.

I deleted the second half of this post, the end of the story, because it was a bunch of quick paragraphs finishing everything up, no substance – no meat.  By forcing it – I’m cheating myself and cheating anyone who’s reading it..so, there is going to be a Part 13.

Bacon, Cheddar and 'Eggs in Wells' Flatbread

I’m submitting this focaccia to Yeastspotting, hosted by the talented Susan of Wild Yeast.

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Potato Rosti with Bacon, Brie, Scallions and a Quick and Easy Brown Butter Applesauce – Plus, Bad Boy First Love, Part Four.

February 15, 2012 at 2:44 am | Posted in Breakfast, Daring Cooks, Dinner, Gluten Free, Pork, Vegetables | 44 Comments
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Happy Valentines Day, err, Eve, everyone!  I had this post scheduled to go up at 5pm last night.  Apparently I didn’t use GMT, so it’s now the 15th.  Well, it’s still Valentine’s Day on the West Coast! I hope you all had an amazing day and are now getting your lips kissed off – or eating chocolate.

Since I have Part Four of my Bad Boy First Love written and it’s like a mile long, I’m going to try and keep my Daring Cooks section as short and sweet as I can.  We were asked to make fried patties of some sort, and one of the recipes offered to us was potato rosti, which is sort of a mix between a giant potato latke and hash browns.  I added bacon lardons, scallions and brie to mine.  It was suggested that the use of a cast iron skillet was ideal, and I have three; an 8-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch, all well-seasoned, or so I thought.


Once the underside of my rosti was cooked, some careful inspection revealed there was no way I was flipping this baby over without it falling apart. SO, I stuck it under the broiler to finish it and brown the top.  We cut slices out of the pan, and it came out well, but it still would have broken into pieces had I tried to flip it.

I topped some slices with a sunny side up egg with roasted red bell pepper hearts (cutting the egg into a heart shape proved difficult since the white was so delicate and thin in some areas, but I did my best, and I think it still resembles somewhat of a heart ??).  For the rest of the rosti, I made a super quick brown butter chunky applesauce to top it, which was absolutely wonderful.

The Daring Cooks’ February 2012 challenge was hosted by Audax (my pal) & Lis (one of my wifeypoos) and they chose to present Patties for their ease of construction, ingredients and deliciousness! We were given several recipes, and learned the different types of binders and cooking methods to produce our own tasty patties.

The next time I make a potato rosti, I will use a non-stick pan, or make damn sure my cast iron skillet is VERY well seasoned, and I will definitely use an 8-inch pan since I halved the recipe, and 10-inches gave me a rather thin rosti.  I prefer them a little thicker.

Now to Part Four, very apropos for Valentines Day eve, I think..until the twist.  For those reading for the first time, Part One is HERE.  Part Two is HERE . Part Three is HERE.


After drowning out my Mother’s yelling, I fell asleep, just to be nudged awake by my friend only a few short hours later.  We always hit the beach by 10 am at the latest and went all the way until 4 to 5 pm.  A savage tan was always the goal.  Crazy to even imagine it now since I don’t even entertain the idea of the beach without 1 billion UVB sunblock!  Being super young and feeling immortal is fun while it lasts.  I’m a staunch supporter of the occasional spray tan, nowadays.

On our way out the door, my mother viciously warned me that she was going to go to a pay phone and call my father (the cottage had no phone, but when you’re at the beach you really don’t care) to inform him we’d been sneaking out.  I blew off her threatening words as we pushed the door open and got the hell out of there.

After a breakfast of orange julius at Kohr’s, we made our way to the most populated area of the beach…the one between the two piers.  We always rented places at the end of the boardwalk near Ortley Beach and usually used the less crowded beach there, but it really depended on our moods.  On that particular day we wanted quick access to some clothes and accessories we were eyeing at Sand Tropez, a cool sort of ‘everything’ store on the boardwalk.

I was still floating on air as we trudged through the hot sand to grab a spot close to the ocean.  I knew my friend wanted to talk about everything, but I just couldn’t give it all up..it was so special, so personal (little did I know, many years later, I would be giving every detail to a lot of people I don’t know, on a food blog no less!).

“Yes, we kissed, but I spilled lemonade all over his lap in the middle of it” I told her as I slathered bain de soleil up and down my arms,  We cracked up as I explained the whole scenario in more detail.

“Was he good kisser?”  she asked

That part, I also couldn’t contain, and I went all googly 15-year old on her.  “OMG, the best, we made out for hours!  I’m so in love.  I know it sounds weird, but it’s for real!”

She looked over at me, squinting, using her hand as a visor to shield her eyes from the bright sun, “You just met him, you can’t love him!” She said, laughing.

I just smiled and settled in to bake, Oh, little did she know.  I knew she was going to ask more questions so I quickly asked her about her night,  It was strange, but I needed to keep it all to myself for a while.  There was something so sacred about it, that I felt if I told her all the details, the magic we had would blow away in wind and I’d never get it back.

Luckily, she bit.  She liked hunky monkey, but apparently he couldn’t keep his ‘paws’ off of her once they had some time alone.  He didn’t force it, but it left her kind of ‘meh’ on him.  But, she wanted to see him again, so he hadn’t been kicked to the friend , or worse, pig zone, just yet.

While we played in the ocean, baked in the sun, joked with guys who came armed with bad pick-up lines, and made up ‘pretend’ stories about people lounging around us..I couldn’t help looking over at the pier every so often, butterflies zipping through my belly, knowing he’d be there at 4pm, and then, at midnight, we’d meet again.  I kept replaying the night/early morning over and over in my head.  I could still smell him on me..especially in the crook of my left arm, which I’d bury my face in when lying on my stomach to even my tan.

On our way back to the cottage, well-baked, happy and exhausted from doing nothing, we passed the Casino Pier.  She grabbed my arm and pulled it hard..

“Come on, go say hi to him now!”  she exclaimed, laughing hysterically.  She knew there was no way I’d show my NOT showered, ocean-haired, greasy skinned ‘self’ to him.  We pulled back and forth – screaming and laughing even harder.

I bet you can guess what happened.  I turned around and there he was, walking toward us – he’d taken a quick break to buy some sodas.

OH NO. OH NO. OH NO.  Now it was over for sure!  I quickly pulled my sticky, tangled hair out of the pony tail holder and fluffed as best I could.

Then I started plotting my friend’s sudden death.

“Just get off the beach, silly girls?”  he asked as he approached us.  That smile again.  JELL-O legs.

He took my hand and pulled me to him for a kiss, then wrapped his arms around me.  I was so gross!  How could he even look at me, much less touch me!?!

“Mmmm…your skin is so warm – you smell like a pina colada.” He whispered while my friend, a few feet away now, watched us with a wicked smile.

I started explaining why I looked so hideous.  He laughed and told me I was “too cute” and looked beautiful.  I hadn’t realized he had such bad eyesight.

He lightly rolled a cold soda can down my back..which initially made me jump, but felt good in the heat.  Then he asked if all went well when I went inside after he dropped me off.  I told him the truth, leaving out the ‘curfew’ and ‘snuck out’ part, making it as if she was just pissed because she couldn’t sleep when it got really late and I wasn’t home.  He looked concerned, then said;

“Would it be better if we picked you up tonight so you don’t have to walk all the way down the boardwalk that late?  I’ll turn off the ignition and coast to the house next door so we don’t wake her up.”

Potato Rosti with Bacon, Brie, Scallions and a Quick and Easy Brown Butter Applesauce

He was too awesome for words.  I again wondered how many lives I’d saved in my previous life.

I looked at my friend and she flashed me an affirmative with her eyes.  Remember, we had ‘brain wave’ communication skills.

“That would be great, you’re so thoughtful..thank you so much.” I said, sweetly.

“You’re so polite.” He said, pulling me back to him for another kiss.  DAMN..can spontaneous combustion occur from one, little kiss?

“I’ll be there about quarter after midnight, okay?” He said pushing my disgusting hair back, his finger getting tangled in a greasy strand.  I wanted to die, but then he gave me a reassuring smile, laughing as he untangled it.

“Yes, perfect!” I replied too eagerly, but I didn’t think it necessary to play it cool anymore - he knew I was nuts about him, so why hide it?. *I love you..I know I love you, I definitely love you*  Oh, how I wanted to say it!

Stop by tonight and visit me if you’re around the pier”  He said, kissing my cheek a few times then turning to leave.  I watched him walk away, mesmerized and still in utter disbelief that this man wanted me.

As we turned and started home, I got a whole bunch of “Are you going to thank me, huh? huh?” cracks from my friend.

Little did she know how precariously close to death she had been had he walked away in horror.

When we got back to the cottage, we showered then napped for about two hours.  During a quick dinner of chicken salad sandwiches, we devised a plan to sneak out without getting caught now that Mommy Dearest was on to us. We’d stay in tonight, just hang outside with our new local girlfriends.  No ‘getting ready’ while my mother was awake, just a casual night in the neighborhood.  Then we’d get ready and stuff clothes and whatever we could find that resembled heads, under our blankets.  An oldie, but goodie.

All was perfect come midnight.  My mother bought our ‘casual night’ at home and conked out around 10:30 pm.  After we showered and after confirming she was asleep for the long haul with some really loud noises, we rushed to get ready..brushing our teeth, flipping and fluffing our hair in unison in front of the mirror, applying eye-liner, tinted lip gloss, and carefully dabbing the sunburn on our noses with cover-up.  Earrings in, then a walk through a spritz of our favorite scents and we were out the door by 5 after midnight.  Within minutes they were coasting up, headlights off.

When I settled into the front seat, he said he had a surprise for me,  He motioned toward a cup holder attached to the door next to me.  I laughed, but almost cried at his gesture.  I wanted to kiss his face all over – but saved that for when we were alone.  No need to disgust the backseat occupants chatting away about some obscure movie the monkey wanted to see.


We dropped my friend and hunky monkey off at his place, then he asked if I minded if we stopped at a friend’s house because he had to pick up some CD’s.  Like I said in previous parts of this story, as long as I was with him, I could watch paint dry.  Onward to your friend’s place, future husband – but really…

“Sure, that’s fine” I said, trying to keep my voice from squeaking because I was way too overjoyed being in his intoxicating, foxy presence.

Then came the face kissing to thank him for the cup holder.  He laughed and wrapped one arm around me for a quick squeeze. My god, even his laugh was perfect. *Is it okay for the woman to propose?*

When we got there, his friend was hanging with his girlfriend watching TV.  Introductions all around soon followed.  Dreamboat came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist, kissing my cheek as he and his friend talked.  His boundless affection was like being showered in warm, melted chocolate, and I couldn’t get enough of it.  We stayed for about a half-hour, Dreamboat always near, holding my hand or keeping his arm around me.  I chatted with his friend’s girlfriend a bit and she told me how many woman were after my bad boy.  Great, just what I needed to hear.  I told her I’d seen it with my own eyes.  She laughed and said..

“He’s like a rock star on the pier, does it bother you?”

A little, I thought, but actually said  “Noo, not at all, I mean, he doesn’t even seem to notice it, he’s so down to earth and cool about it.”, patting myself on the back for such a brilliant, but chill, answer.

“He’s a really great guy, and he’s really into you - I’ve never seen him like this with anyone.” she said very nonchalantly while sipping her beer and glancing at a commercial about bed bugs.

Obviously I wasn’t the first girl who did a stint at Andy’s.  It didn’t bother me one bit, though, because there was no way this guy was dateless and celibate before me.  I just hoped I was the one who stuck.  Wait, make that desperately hoped.

When we finally left..he told me he’d take me anywhere I wanted to go.  I wanted to go back to ‘our place’, the scene of the lemonade disaster.  He held my hand as he drove, in between switching gears, which I found unbelievably charming.  The connection between us was crazy intense, and just holding his hand sent all kinds of sexy reverberations from the tips of my toes to the ends of every strand of hair on my head

He kissed my lips off again for the next 2 1/2 to 3 hours, in between a walk along the bay, lots of playfulness, and again, a monster connection.  I almost told him I loved him – but stopped short. You just couldn’t say that on a second date, it was impossible – we were feeling the ‘newness’, right?  Scratch that.  I KNEW I loved him by then.  I don’t care how crazy it sounds, it was there and it wasn’t going away anytime soon.  Thank god I had 8 days left with him.

The next night was much of the same, except we played on the boardwalk a while, then went to a secluded beach in Seaside Park – laying down a blanket and just staring into each other’s eyes in the moonlight, in between major make-out sessions, again.  This little romance was turning into a mix of every early Bruce Springsteen song where he falls in love beneath the stars over the boardwalk, under the boardwalk, on the avenue, beneath the carnival lights, etc etc etc.

We had to pick up my friend and hunky monkey that night, so we said our real goodbye before we went to get them.  He told me he had the following Sunday off, all day and night  and he’d love to finally be able to take me out at a reasonable hour. *Any hour with you is more than reasonable – I’d go out with you every night from midnight on, forever, if need be.”

“We could drive down to LBI (Long Beach Island). ..there’s a lot of beautiful beaches there, then go out for an early dinner, maybe see a movie.” He suggested while stroking my hair.

I wanted to stand up and jump up and down like a little kid – not unlike one Friday night when I was 9, and my father surprised me and my sister, telling us we were going to Six Flags Great Adventure the very next day.

I could spend a whole day and evening with him worry-free, no sneaking out. I couldn’t wipe the damn, ’15 -year old’ goofy smile off of my face as I pictured us doing all kinds of romantic stuff all day and night long.  I felt so grown-up, especially since I hadn’t been on many ‘dates’, unless you count pizza after school on a Friday, a date, or kissing at a Sunday afternoon disco for teens, a date.

We made our usual plans for the next night, took forever to say goodbye, then drove to pick up the music/movie connoisseurs.

Potato Rosti Napoleon?  I sandwiched three slices of rosti with some extra brie and put it in the oven for a few minutes, then topped it with a quick pan brown butter apple sauce. A glorious tasting mess!

My friend and I had them drop us off on the corner, not wanting to chance my mother being up and looking out the window.  As we walked up the street, I saw my father in the driveway packing up the car.  It was 4 am!  What the…?  It was also a Thursday night, why was he here??  He wasn’t here at midnight when we snuck out!

I ran with all my might right up to him.

“What are you doing here?  It’s not the weekend, and why are you packing up the car?  That’s one of my suitcases!!” I questioned loudly, and in a fierce panic.

He ignored me and politely asked my friend to go pack up her stuff.  We were leaving because we kept sneaking out and my mother had called him yet again in distress.  He got in the car at almost 2 am and made the drive to destroy my life forever.

“BUT WE HAVE 8 DAYS LEFT!!  YOU’RE GOING TO LOSE MONEY!” I screamed, trying to sort of reason with him – anything to get him to change his mind.

“I don’t care, enough is enough, you continued to sneak out even when warned, you blew it, not me, not your mother” He said as he continued loading suitcases into the trunk, not once looking at me.

I begged I pleaded, I cried – all to no avail.  Then I ran down the street in hopes that Dreamboat and Hunky Monkey hadn’t gotten that far yet.  Maybe they were stuck at a really long red light, I pleaded to fate.  I ran as fast I could, stopping and spinning around at points, looking desperately for the navy blue Beetle.  I had to find him and tell him! And even worse, we hadn’t exchanged any of the vital info yet, like last names, phone #’s etc.  I could barely catch my breath..I was almost hyperventilating and my heart was pounding ferociously in my ears,  I was also shaking like a leaf, rivers of tears streaming down my face nonstop. It was all very The Notebook-y and all very over if I didn’t find him.

He was going to think I just up and left him.  I was going to shrivel up and die without him.  No Sunday with him, no more of his kisses.  I’d probably never see him again.

I sobbed as I walked back to the cottage.  Of course, as an adult, I would probably do the same if my teenage daughter was sneaking out every night – with older boys, but the 15-year old me felt it was the most awful thing any parent could do to their child.

The best 3 nights of my entire life, and it was over…just like that.

The car ride back home was NOT pleasant, to say the least.

Part Five coming soon.

If you have a few minutes, please check out some of the unique, creative and delicious patties my fellow Daring Cooks came up with, by clicking on the links to their blogs, HERE.  For a bounty of recipes for all kinds of patties, from the challenge, click HERE.

Rest in Peace Whitney Houston.  The tragic loss of a beautiful woman with the voice of angel.

Potato Rosti with Brie, Bacon and Scallions
Servings: makes two large rosti
Adapted from a family recipe from the Daring Kitchen, with my additions
2 1/2 lbs russet potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons feshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons cornstarch, or use all-purpose flour
1 lb slab bacon without the rind, or thick cut bacon
7 oz wheel of Brie or any other good melting cheese you like.  Great with cheddar!
! bunch scallions, sliced, dark ends saved for garnish
3 tablespoons oil, for frying

DIRECTIONS:
1.  Dice bacon into cubes and fry until fat is rendered and it’s a deep rust color. Strain off bacon grease and save for another use. Set aside on a paper towel in a bowl.

2. Cut white, papery rind off of brie (you can keep it onI prefer it off).  Dice into small cubes, or shred, if brie is cold and firm.

3. Slice white and light green parts on the diagonal.  Save dark green slices, also sliced on the diagonal, for garnish.

4. Grate the peeled potatoes with a box grater or a food processor shredding disk.5. Wrap the grated potato in a cloth and squeeze dry, you will get a lot of liquid over ½ cup, discard liquid since it is full of potato starch. Return dried potato to bowl add the egg, brie, bacon, scallions, cornstarch, pepper, and salt. Mix until combined.

6. Preheat a frying pan (a well seasoned cast iron is best,  8 to 10-inch) until medium hot, add 2 teaspoons of oil wait until oil shimmers.

7. Place half of mixture into the pan, flatten with a spoon until you get a smooth flat surface. Lower heat to medium.

8. Fry for 8-10 minutes (check at 6 minutes) the first side, flip by sliding the rösti onto a plate then use another plate invert the rösti then slide it back into the pan, then fry the other side about 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Repeat to make another rosti.

Quick and Easy Brown Butter Cinnamon Apple Sauce
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick – 4 tablespoons - 2 oz)
4 large Granny Smith (or any tart apples), apples – peeled, cored and chopped into cubes.
1/4 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar, entirely depending on how sweet you like it
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, scraped, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 good pinch kosher salt

DIRECTIONS:
1.  In a large saute pan, melt the butter on medium low heat.  Raise the heat to medium and cook the butter until the liquid beneath the milk solids that rise to the top is golden brown.

2.  Add the chopped apples to the browned butter and saute until the apples start to soften.  Sprinkle on the sugar and let the apples caramelize in the sugar, stirring until the apples are caramelized and soft  Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon, vanilla bean or extract and kosher salt.

3.  Pour the apple mixture into a bowl, scraping out all the caramel goodness left in the pan. Mash with a fork for chunky apple sauce, or give it a whirl in the food processor (or use a blender or stick blender) for a smooth apple sauce.  When cool, place in an airtight container in the fridge – it should last about 2 weeks, or serve warm over potato rosti.


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Almost Sweet NOTHINGS – Eat the Bowl Part Two

April 30, 2011 at 10:13 am | Posted in Cakes, Cookies, Daring Bakers, Dessert, Puddings | 55 Comments
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So everything went horribly wrong – but then it went a little right, but not after much cursing, screaming, and a mess of epic proportions.  Then my knee acted up due to a big storm, delaying this entry even more.  I’m now three days late.  I think that’s a record for me.

That’s how I’m going to begin this entry because everything did go horribly wrong.  Ultimate FAIL, disaster.  I planned out this latest Daring Baker’s Challenge last week.  I tried to plan it out weeks before, but every time I came up with something, either someone else had done it, or after much thought, I decided it was A) Too much trouble since it might not work, B) Probably wouldn’t work, or C) Not cohesive.


The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

I’m not going to get into the details of what went horribly wrong with my first idea, since I plan on doing it again, within a few weeks, but I will tell you that I had everything ready to go except for two components, both forgotten about when it came time to put everything together for photographs.

I had the post written out, the photo area set up, and planned to have this up by 11:59 pm April 26th - one minute before the clock struck April 27th.  Then I would get a good night’s sleep, dreaming of my next entry.  All sounds great, huh?  Well, I never slept, because I ended up working on a completely different idea all night long – had to start from scratch using Plan B, and Plan B, although pretty, didn’t initially work out very well either.

This month is the sweet version of edible containers, and I almost didn’t have a container, just a stand, stump..whatever you’d want to call a small round of french toasted pound cake.  BUT, I persevered, and let my mousse stand tall in it’s own, edible container, although that really didn’t turn out how I wanted either.  Beats the stump container, though.

I can tell you what went wrong with Plan B.  When Plan A, which I loved, backfired on me at the very last second, I decided I would make little entremet like cakes, since our lovely hostess asked us to make an edible container to hold this yummy maple mousse recipe she provided.  Mousse cakes, love them, in case you didn’t know.  A joconde as my ‘container’, then maple mousse and whatever else struck me while preparing it.

So, i had some joconde left over from the Joconde Imprime/Entremet challenge last January, in the freezer.  I let it defrost, still calm and sure this was going to be a piece of cake..ha ha.  As the joconde defrosted, I made the mousse, candied some bacon  (part of this challenge was the option of pairing the mousse with candied bacon – I decided a little wouldn’t hurt, although I’m still not sold on meat in sweets), then thought long and hard about what else I wanted to add to these little towers of maple mousse.

I decided on a strawberry confit of a sort (I felt the addition of bacon afforded me that right – heh), -diced strawberries macerated with a little sugar, then combined with a bit of finely diced candied bacon, a grind or two of black pepper, and a bit of gelatin to stabilize it so it would remain suspended in the middle of the mousse, a surprise in the center!

This is the moment I first blew it.  A ‘What was she thinking?’ moment.  I could have sworn I had gelatin leaves and powder left.  I didn’t, I should have double-checked.  It was now 2 am, nothing open.  I saw a box of strawberry JELL-O. I felt this was genius in a pinch, just a little bit to set it up, completely forgetting all the red food color in a package of strawberry JELL-O.  Enough said, my inner cloud of strawberries and bits of bacon now looked like Leatherface stopped by for dessert.  Oh, and it didn’t ‘suspend’ in mid-mousse because of the clockwork red JELL-O blood-letting seepage into pound cake crumb labrynith.

Oh well, at least the flavors were there.  The contrast of slightly tart strawberries and bacon bits with this maple mousse, was sublime ( I tasted A LOT of the two together to make sure before layering), although some might find it odd, trust me on this one.

    Hershey’s chocolate syrup is NOT recommended as a substitute for joconde paste.  Stripes of fudge was my hope, until I tried to pull off the parchment paper.  One of my stupidest baking moments lol

Now that I had everything ready to go (it’s still early enough to finish and get a good night’s sleep, at this point) I returned to my defrosted joconde.  All I needed to do was cut some circles and strips to line the mousse rings – then pour the mousse – strawberry confit – mousse.  Whoohoo, sooo easy!!  The joconde is actually the biggest pain in the butt when using one for an entremet, the mousses and any other components are usually simple and fail proof.

I didn’t have to make it again because here it was..READY to go (Thank you, freezer!)!  I anxiously unwrapped it.  As I removed each sheet, it started to fall apart in my hands.  WTF??  Removed another piece more carefully, it felt very delicate, and not right – I’m suspecting freezer burn here – zip-not-lock-completely.  I placed it down verrry gently on a sheet pan, and started to cut – then gingerly lifted the cut piece up, insta-disintegration.  Soon I was whimpering into a sea of wet crumbs, chocolate and vanilla crumbs – not even a joconde paste stripe remaining or remotely recognizable.  Now what???  I need to think of something, quick!

Against my better judgement, especially since there was a lot of humidity in the air that day, I decided to make another joconde/imprime.  I would make a walnut sponge, and forget about the damn joconde paste!  Again, against my better judgement, and ‘What was she thinking?, NUMBER TWO, I hastily grabbed a bottle of Hershey’s chocolate syrup from the fridge and went all Picasso on parchment paper - then chucked it in the freezer and made the sponge.  Yes, good chance this won’t work, but also just as good a chance it will.

Here’s a lesson learned -  it’s not a good idea to ‘try’ or experiment with something when you’re on a sort of deadline – better to stick with something tried and true.  You guessed it, didn’t work!  See photo! I should have avoided the Hershey’s syrup – who cares if I had an undecorated  ‘container’ of simple, walnut sponge?  Lesson learned, lesson learned, lesson learned – yeah, whatever.

I grabbed a frozen pound cake and cut out circles to fit in my mousse rings, then french toast battered and fried them up.

So, this was my container, a circle of french toasted pound cake.  That’s a stand – a stump.  Kind of sad, isn’t it?  Well, since I was already late, I decided to give one more container a try, a more tried and true one.  Hazelnut lace cookie bowls.  However, a little twist.  I added a tiny bit of chopped, partially cooked bacon to the lace cookie batter.  Voila.  Now I have an edible container, and it’s three days late.  Most Daring Bakers have probably moved on and won’t see it.  The reveal thread is rife with tumbleweeds.

If you want some more recipes for edible containers. and a recipe for vegan maple mousse, click HERE.  To see all the cool edible containers created by my fellow Daring Bakers, click on the links to their blog, HERE.

Maple Mousse Towers in Hazelnut Bacon Lace Cookie Bowls

Hazelnut Bacon Lace Cookie Bowls

makes 7-9 cookie bowls but you only need 4 for this recipe
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 Tablespoon finely chopped, partially cooked bacon

French Toasted Pound Cake Circles
4 3-inch circles cut from 4 1-inch slices of your favorite homemade pound cake,
2 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream (You can use half and half or milk)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons butter
Maple syrup to brush cake circles

Maple Mousse
1 cup (240 ml/ 8 fluid oz.) pure maple syrup (not maple-flavoured syrup)
4 large egg yolks
1 package (7g/1 tbsp.) unflavoured gelatine (I added an extra 1/2 teaspoon since I was pouring to mold)
1 1/2 cups (360 ml. g/12 fluid oz) whipping cream (35% fat content)

Strawberry ‘Confit’ Filling
6 fresh strawberries, stemmed and diced finely
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons finely diced, candied bacon
1/2 teaspoon powdered gelatin, dissolved in 1 scant Tablespoon of cold water
freshly ground black pepper, about 1 or two grinds.

FOR THE HAZELNUT BACON LACE COOKIE BOWLS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, combine the hazelnuts and flour. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir the dry ingredients into a pan. Transfer the batter to a bowl and stir occasionally until it thickens into a dough and is cool enough to handle, about 25 minutes.

2. With moistened hands, roll the dough into heaping tablespoon size balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets, 2 at a time, since they’re large and will spread quite a bit. Bake about 10-12 minutes, or until the active bubbling subsides. Place the baking sheet on rack and let cool until the cookies are firm enough to lift with a flexible metal spatula but are still malleable, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Using 2 small soup bowls measuring 4 1/2 to 5-inches across the tops – when set but still malleable, lift the cookies, one at a time, and place each in a bowl, nutty, bumpy side up. Gently press the bottom to flatten.  Let set, then remove and continue with rest of cookie bowls.  You should get about 7 – 9  bowls.  You need 4 bowls for this recipe.

FOR THE FRENCH TOASTED POUND CAKE CIRCLES;
1. In a medium bowl whisk egg, cream, spices. Soak pound cake circles in the mixture, making sure all sides are soaked. Let sit for 5 minutes.

2. Heat butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Transfer soaked pound cake circles to the skillet and fry until golden brown on each side.

FOR THE MAPLE MOUSSE:
1. Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.

2. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).

3. Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.

4. Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.

5. Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.

6. Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.

7. Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream.

FOR THE STRAWBERRY CONFIT:
1. Place diced strawberries in a bowl with sugar, and let macerate for about 10-15 minutes. Melt softened gelatin in the microwave for 5 seconds, or place bowl in a saute pan of simmering water, to melt. Stir bacon and melted gelatin into strawberries, then a grind or two of black pepper. Let sit until strawberry liquid thickens, like egg white.

ASSEMBLE:
1.  Line 4 mousse rings with acetete or parchment paper, extending a few inches above the rims.

2.  Place one french toasted pound cake circle in the bottom of each mousse ring.  Brush each with maple syrup.

3.  Divide half of mousse equally between the four mousse rings.  Top each with a heaping tablespoon of strawberry confit, then pour the reamining  mousse on top, again equally in each mousse ring,  Place in fridge and let set for several hours to overnight,  Top with a drizzle of maple syrup, some candied bacon, and a piece of strawberry.


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Two Cups of Breakfast – Eat the Bowl Part One

April 14, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Posted in Breakfast, Daring Cooks, Vegetables | 61 Comments
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I’d like to preface this entry with an announcement.  I’ve just joined the social network world.  See the little birdie right underneath where it says Follow on the right?  I’m now on Twitter.  Will you follow me?  This way you’ll know about giveaways the minute I post them and you get to enjoy my quirky and deep thoughts on food, life, food, entertainment, food, grievances, food, whining, food ad nauseam.

Have you ever gone out to breakfast, ordered bacon/ham/sausage and eggs/omelet or pancakes/french toast, then after eating, craved the other?  I learned from this, and now whenever we go out for breakfast, I always order some egg preparation with a salty pork side, usually bacon, AND two pancakes or french toast.  This way, I’ve satisfied all spectrums of my tastebuds and I’m good to go (translation – pure, unadulterated, gluttony).

Have you ever dipped your bacon in maple syrup (what’s with all the questions in this entry?)?  I bet 95% of you have and love it.  I think it was this practice that led to candied bacon and bacon in desserts.  I’m not sure I can do bacon in desserts yet, as there’s something about meat in let’s say a cupcake or a donut, that still hasn’t quite settled in yet.  However, I’m still a dipper, and during those bacon and egg breakfasts, I always divvy up the bacon between both plates – one side for maple syrup dipping, one side for salty, savory egg yolk dipping.

Whole Wheat French Toast Cups with Brie, Bacon and Eggs
This month’s Daring Cooks challenge is to serve some kind of meal in an edible vessel.  Taco salad in a deep-fried tortilla shell, bread bowls to serve soup in, stuffed bell peppers,
oven-baked shredded parmesan cheese flats called frico’s (pronounced freak-O) . shaped into a bowl and filled with whatever suits your mood etc.  You get the gist, you can have your bowl and eat it too.

Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! is our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers! Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 17th to May 16th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

Welllll..I wouldn’t say my cups are the most creative, considering eggs baked in cups, especially muffin tins, have been done.do.death.  I bet just about every Mommy blog has at least one muffin tin egg recipe because kids adore compact, portable food.  How-ev-er, in the words of the oh mighty Emeril Lagasse, words I swore I’d never use on this blog, but it really fits the moment, I kicked it up a notch , or two or three notches, rather.

First off, I made two bowls.  The first, the eggs are cracked over a small wedge of brie in a french toast cup wrapped in partially cooked bacon, then baked.  The second, thinly sliced prosciutto holds a creamy leek and red bell pepper saute, which is topped with a little shredded fontina and an egg.  I got part of this idea from a Rachael Ray show several years ago, and tucked it away in my lobes.  Wow, ‘kick it up a notch’ and Rachael Ray in one entry.  Sans Chopped, I haven’t been into TFN for quite some time.

Creamy Vegetables, Cheese and Eggs in Prosciutto Cups.  Also called..Sunny Side Up 'Omelet' Cups!

Sweet and savory and savory! Take your pick, a creamy, filled, cheesy omelette flavor, plus a yolky texture.  AND then, oh, yes, THEN..a bite of crispy prosciutto OR a melty layer of brie topped with egg, nestled in a crisp french toast cup wrapped in bacon, a light drizzle of maple syrup on the edges – sweet and savory glee.

Creamy Vegetables, Cheese and Eggs in Prosciutto Cups.  Also called..Sunny Side Up 'Omelet' Cups!

Two whole breakfast offerings in two edible cups so  you never have to make separate dishes again, unless you just prefer it that way.  Most normal people do, but you have to try this, seriously.  Look at it this way, by combining a full breakfast in a standard size muffin cup, it’s much less than two whole dishes, so that’s less calories and fat, right?  I ate two of these – almost three, of both. Gluttony rears it’s ugly head again.

 

Wow, is it just me, or have I lost my chattiness?  I used to talk about more than the food.  I’m in a wordless pit right now..writer’s block of a sort..ARGHH.

Prosciutto Breakfast Cups
Idea from Rachael Ray, with my revisions

6 servings
2 tablespoons butter
2 leeks, light green and white parts cleaned and thinly sliced
1 small red bell pepper, or half a large one, diced
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/3 cup shredded fontina cheese (or whatever cheese you prefer)
12 very thin slices prosciutto or ham (try to use a less salty prosciutto like di parma or san daniele)
6 eggs
salt and black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Spray the insides of a standard 6-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Line each cup with two slices of ham or prosciutto – .enough to cover bottom and sides of muffin well, folding if you have to.

2. In a medium-size skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the leekss and bell peppers to the pan – sauté 5-6 minutes, until very soft. Add the cream and cook until thick and reduced, about 5 minutes.  Season with kosher salt and pepper.

3.  Spoon a heaping tabslespoon of the  leek – bell pepper saute into the bottom of the prosciutto lined cup, then 1 tabslespoon of the cheese on top of it.  Press down a little to make room, then crack an egg into each well.

4.  Season the tops of the eggs with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Place the muffin tin on a baking sheet. Transfer sheet to the oven and bake 15 minutes, until the eggs are set, but still ‘yolky’.

5. Remove baking sheet with tin from the oven and allow the baked eggs to cool in the muffin cups for a couple of minutes before removing them from pan.

French Toast Breakfast Cups
6 servings
3 eggs
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
6 slices Whole Wheat or Whole Grain Bread (I now use this Oatmeal Bread recipe from Red Star Yeast - but any kind of whole wheat or whole grain bread is fine)
6 slices partially cooked bacon (2 minutes in microwave or 10 minutes in a 400 oven)
1 small wheel of brie, cut into 6 equal wedges (I cut off the rind)
6 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
maple syrup or honey

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Spray the inside of each cup of a 6-cup JUMBO muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.  Spray really well, as these can stick!

2. In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3. Dip each slice of bread in the egg mixture, then lightly press them into the cups of the muffin tin, squeezing in the middle to make a sort of heart shape to fit.

4. Place a wedge of brie in the bottom of the cup, pressing down lightly.  Wrap a slice of the partially cooked bacon around the middle, outside of the french toast, so some if it digs into the wet bread.  Crack an egg over each wedge of brie.

5.  Place the muffin tin on a baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the bacon and toast are crispy and the egg is set.

6. Allow to cool slightly in the muffin tin before removing them. To serve, drizzle each toast cup lightly with maple syrup or honey, if desired.

This was so much fun, thank you Renata!  For some more savory edible container ideas and fillings, click HERE..  To see what my incredibly, creative and talented fellow Daring Cooks came up with, click on the links to their blogs, HERE.

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