Bacon Takedown!!!

September 12th, 2010

The Results are in… for the Bacon Takedown… First things first, I didn’t win but I had an excellent time!

It was fun to finally put my culinary skills to the test… I made popcorn with cinnamon-chili candied bacon and Bacon Empanadas with pear-swiss-thyme-bacon filling… They were very well received… I ran out in less than an hour…

There were so many other delicious bacon things… My personal favorites: Rafael’s Bacon Greyere English Muffins, Grok’s Science Show (Elise and Caitlyn)’s Bacon, Asiago and Onion Quiche, and McMahon’s Maple Bacon Caramel Corn.

Overall, I had a great day… although I’d rather not see bacon for awhile now… But I definitely would like to continue competing…

Stay tuned recipes coming… I’m still cleaning up bacon grease…

Disclaimer: As a sponsor of the competition, Hormel gave me the bacon for free.

Happy New Year!

January 8th, 2010

Last year I made some culinary resolutions… I accomplished three with sushi, empanadas and souffles… and this year… mmm…

At New Years Eve dinner, Juan’s dad asked me what I was planning on doing with my blog…PANIC!  all I could think of at the moment was to make sure I continue to cook and post even with the stress of school… yep, that is how boring my life has become…

However, I have a couple other little goals… First, I want to continue regularly dining with my fellow Chicago Food Bloggers (those of you reading this… dinner in the next couple weeks?).

Second, I want to continue to work my way through the Omnivore’s 100 list. It has been a fun way for me to try some new things… of course, the carob chip experience of last week was quite gross… I’m sorry to anyone who likes them but wow… Juan’s sister’s reaction was the best “Oh, it gets worse!” and she was in the process of making a tofu cheese-less cheesecake so if she didn’t liked them…

(NOTE:  the tofu cheese-less cheesecake was not as bad as it sounds, even though we made fun of her the entire time.  The texture and taste reminded me of panna cotta.  She served it with a blackberry sauce-see background of photo below.  Perhaps it will be posted soon, as I tried to convince her to guest post!).

Third, I want to continue to stretch myself out of my culinary comfort zone, as with the above Seckel Pear Tart with Poire William Cream.

I saw this recipe on epicurious and then over at Kitchn.  I became a bit obsessed with the idea of making this tart.  I bought some pear brandy, picked up some vanilla beans but could not find the Seckel Pears anywhere.  At this point, I considered making a cake with a Poire William Cream and putting some poached pears on top…  but then Juan and I walked into the grocery store near an amazing Chinese dumpling place and right there were Seckel Pears!  I was so excited about my cute baby pears!  The next day, I got to work on the tart…  My notes:

1. The crust: I did not actually like it.  I do not like to use egg in my pastry crust.  I think a simple butter, flour, and water crust would have been perfect such as Tartine’s.

2. The poached pears: I did not use the wine because I did not want it to be too overpowering with alcohol taste.  I boiled the pear juice, water and sugar together with half a vanilla bean scrapped into the mixture.

3. The pastry cream:  It was delicious.  The pear brandy was a really subtle and delicious addition.

4: The glaze: I did not make it.  The tart does not need more sugar and brandy.

5. Assembly:  I did not have a tart shell so I just put it in a pie pan.  It works fine if you are not super concerned about aesthetics.  The tart was delicious!  I’m really glad I made it.

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year!

A little seasonal inspiration…

October 31st, 2009

Yesterday I discovered that fennel and butternut squash were on sale. I immediately had visions of a warm, comforting fall soup… I couldn’t find a recipe that I liked so I created my own… It turned out really well! One of those dishes that I’m quite proud to have made. The fennel and ginger complemented each other without being over powering (thanks to the suggestion of the Flavor Bible). The butternut squash and pear had just enough sweetness. If you want it to be a little thinner add some more chicken broth. I made a goat cheese grilled cheese to dip in it. A very delicious lunch!

Ginny’s Butternut Squash and Fennel Soup

1 butternut squash, roasted (See Note)
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 pear, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1. In a stock pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until soft.
2. Add the fennel and pear, saute until the pear is soft.
3. Add the roasted butternut squash.
4. Stir in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Boil until a fork goes through the fennel easily. About 15 minutes.
5. In batches, food process the ingredients until smooth.
6. Return to the stock pot, mix in the salt, pepper and ginger. Heat to desired temperature and serve.

Note:  I poked holes in the whole butternut squash with a fork and roasted at 450 for about an hour and a half.  About half way through, I rolled the squash onto another side.  Then I cut it open and scooped out the inside.  I always roast a whole squash, as opposed to trying to split it before roasting it, because the last time I tried to do that I almost took off a hand.  Be careful!