Batter Licker

December 29, 2011

bacon fat-roasted fingerling potatoes stuffed with beet horseradish ricotta

I realize stuffing fingerling potatoes sounds a little … crazy. And it totally is. I admit it. But don’t freak out and leave yet! I have a solution. Just because I’m nuts doesn’t mean you can’t maintain your sanity while still enjoying the delicious benefits of this recipe.

In other words, this would work equally well for stuffing a potato the size of your closed fist. Or even those mini potatoes that are bigger than fingerlings but not quite as big as your fist – you know, the ones that would still be appetizer friendly but also wouldn’t drive you mad trying to stuff them.

The only other fussy component is the beet horseradish, but there’s a way around that too if necessary. I’ve never seen the beet version in a store in real life, although I probably wasn’t looking because I didn’t even know it existed. But it was among the several gallons of pickled items my friend May shipped me from The Pickle Guys in New York as a wedding present. Aside from being slightly sweeter than regular horseradish, the beet horseradish had an incredibly bright pink fuchsia color, which I thought would be fun to punch up this otherwise brown and white dish. If you can’t find some, substitute regular horseradish, or make your own beet concoction.

Whatever you decide, procure some bacon fat. It makes a difference. (more…)

November 8, 2011

project wedding dessert bar: part 11 (cashew bacon brittle)

Until the wedding, I had never made a brittle that wasn’t chock full of peanuts. I also had never been married, and had never had such beautiful signage for my dessert bar designed and made by my dear peanut-allergic friend CB of Darts Meet Heart.

So when I saw Irvin’s bacon peanut brittle pictures on Eat the Love, and subsequently became obsessed with it despite not being a bacon freak, I knew I had to find a way to include it in the dessert bar without causing CB’s cheeks to puff up.

Luckily, CB gets along just fine with cashews, and after a quick Twitter affirmation from Irvin that yes, cashews should substitute just fine, I proceeded to pull out cashews, bacon and sugar. Little did I know how much trouble the sugar would later cause me.

But diced up a heck of a lot of bacon, refilling my cutting board with uncut strips of fatty pork about 6 times.

Then I fried the bacon until super crispy, but not burnt.

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Getting the bacon crisp initially took much more time than I thought, so I quickened the process by draining the bacon fat from the pan a few times.

Per usual, I strained the bacon while removing it from the pan, and scooped it atop paper towels to absorb the excess fat. Rinse and repeat for the several remaining batches.

In retrospect, this bacon-crisping process would have been much easier, faster and cleaner in the oven, given that I was making enough for wedding full of guests.

Bacon aside, it became cashew time. (more…)

January 27, 2011

roasted cauliflower and sunchoke soup

You wouldn’t know it when tasting it – or when looking at it, for that matter – but there’s no cream in this soup … and no cheese. Give your accolades to roasted, pureed cauliflower for the creamily rich texture and to sunchokes (a.k.a. Jerusalem artichokes) for the wonderfully nutty flavor they contribute to this soup. And to Chef Frank McClelland.


And by way of thanking Chef McClelland for inspiring me to recreate his gastronomic invention at home, stop into L’Espalier next time you’re in Boston for a culinarily magical meal. In my three visits, I have never left his restaurant feeling any less than entirely exhilarated about his creations – and entirely full.

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During my second visit to that lovely restaurant, I ordered the cauliflower and sunchoke soup as an appetizer. There is nothing I love more than ordering soup at a fancy restaurant. On this occasion, the bowl came with two (or three?) large scallops sitting center stage, decorated with a sprinkling of crispy pancetta and some watercress. Moments after the bowl’s appearance, I watched as the waiter ladled spoonful after spoonful of thick, creamy soup into the bowl and consciously refrained from drooling as the milky substance slowly shifted to encircle the plump seared scallops. (more…)

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