Posts Tagged ‘Bacon’

This was something I had made with the intention of posting it back in January as part of the Dark Days challenge.  The challenge host got exceptionally busy, so the challenge died.  Clearly, I wasn’t going to be keeping up with it anyway, so while I’ll miss the fun in participating, I also completely understand that life sometimes gets in the way.

But, this soup reminds me of all that I loved about the challenge.  Throwing together a meal of entirely local ingredients is a true challenge, even in this part of the country.  It takes planning and creativity, but it pushes you to cook things you wouldn’t ordinarily.  Like this soup.  Probably not something I would have made if I had my whole pantry and everything in the grocery store available to me.  But, it is absolutely delicious.

It’s relatively simply, hearty, and great for a cold winter’s day.  I topped mine with crumbled bits of Marin Sun Farms pancetta and served it up with a crisp Sonoma rose.  Absolutely delightful.

I took a lot of liberties with the original to work within my local parameters.  It’s a simple recipe and lends itself well to tinkering.

Apple and Parsnip Soup
Inspired by the The Kitchn

3 Granny Smith apples (about 1-1/2 pounds), peeled and cored, and diced into small pieces
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
About 1-1/4 pounds medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
1-2 bay leaves
a few sprigs of thyme, tied
5-6 cups liquid (recipe recommends chicken broth, I just used water and had no problem)
1/4 cup or so of cream or half and half

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and sauté until they start to brown, about 10 minutes.  Add parsnips and sauté for three more minutes. Add the apple pieces and saute for a few more minutes.

Add the broth or water, the bay leaves and thyme and bring to a boil. If you are using water, not broth, add some salt in there before you bring it to a boil – probably a tablespoon or so, maybe a bit less. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes.

Allow the soup to cool slightly. Fish out the herbs.  Purée until smooth, either by working in batches in blender or using a hand blender, thinning with more broth/water by half-cupfuls as desired.  Taste it – if the parsnips are really strong, you might need a dab of honey in there.  Return soup to pot and bring to simmer.  Remove from heat and whisk in the cream.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The original recipe recommends serving it with some sauteed, diced apples.  A commenter suggested crushed marcona almonds, which sounds lovely.  But, I have to say, completely perfect with some crumbled fried pancetta on top.


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Pizza with Peas, Favas, and Bacon

A few weeks ago, some friends came to town.  It was their first visit to San Francisco.  After roaming around Ghiradelli Square and checking out the sea lions, we walked down to the Ferry Building.  After getting meat cones at Boccalone, we wanted some drinks.  Market Bar was serving their happy hour menu, so we grabbed a table in the sun and ordered up some snacks and Pimm’s cups.

One of the things we ordered was a pizza with pancetta and fava beans.  It was delicious.  I’ve been dreaming about it ever since and finally decided to make my own.  I tweaked it a bit, leaving off the onion and red sauce, using some delicious bacon from the Fatted Calf instead of pancetta, and adding a bit of mint.   I had some peas leftover from a salad the previous night, so I added those too.  I think the favas and peas here are pretty interchangeable – use one or both, whatever you have on hand.

Pizza with Favas, Peas, and Bacon

Pizza dough
8 ounces of fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
2 strips of thick cut bacon, cut into thin strips
2 cups of shelled peas and or fava beans
a few mint leaves, thinly sliced
Olive oil
a splash of lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 425.  After the pizza dough rises, roll it out and brush with a light coating of olive oil.  Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the thing and brush it in so it blends with the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Arrange the mozzarella and bacon so its evenly distributed.  Sprinkle with mint and a little more salt and pepper.

Bake for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, toss the peas and favas in a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper.  When 10 minutes have passed, remove the pizza from the oven and add the peas and favas.  Bake again for another 2-3 minutes, until the crust starts to brown and the cheese is melted.

Let the pizza cool for a couple minutes, and slice and serve.

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I had an insane week, running around to meetings all over the place.  When Friday came, I just wanted some good food and a giant glass of wine.  There wasn’t much in the house, but I had a head of escarole crammed in the back of the fridge that I had forgotten I bought last weekend at the farmers market.   Still good!  My lucky day.  With a bit of pancetta and a couple of leeks on hand, I figured I could toss a quick pasta dish together.

I really think you can’t go wrong by just tossing a bunch of spring produce into a pot, and this dish proved to be no exception.  Yum.  Best of all, I could prep and cook the vegetables in the same amount of time it took to boil the water and cook the pasta.  After just 20 minutes, I was eating my yummy spring dinner and drinking my wine.  The bonus was lots of leftovers for easy weekend lunches. 

Pasta with Pancetta, Escarole, and Leeks

1 pound pasta (I used linguine)
1-2 heads of escarole (1 was fine, but next time I’ll do two because I like lots of greens in my pasta)
4 ounces finely diced pancetta
2 leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of dry white wine
olive oil
salt, pepper, and grated parmesan to serve

Bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Meanwhile, wash the escarole and chop into thin ribbons, and prepare the leeks and garlic.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil and the pancetta.  Saute for a couple minutes and add the leeks, sauting for another 5 minutes or so until they start to get soft.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so.

Around this point, the water should be boiling, so add your pasta.

Add the wine to the leeks, scraping up any brown bits from the pancetta from the bottom of the pan.  Add the escarole, cover, and reduce heat to low.  Stir every three or four minutes or so. 

Just before you drain the pasta, take the lid off, add a half cup or so of the pasta water to the escarole, and continue to simmer.  Drain the pasta and add it to the escarole mixture, mixing well.  Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and serve with grated parmesan.  A glass of wine too – I went for St. Supery’s sauvignon blanc, perfect with the dish.


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Happy new year!  I’ve been travelling around visiting family for the holidays and very behind on my blog posting.  Hopefully, you all were busy with your own holiday plans to miss me too much. 

I made this soup right before Christmas, and since it used all local ingredients, it’s my submission for the Week 7 Dark Days Challenge (sadly, I missed week 6 because of travels).  I got the idea from fellow Dark Days Challenge participant, Married With Dinner, who made Emeril Lagasse’s Potato Leek Soup a few weeks back.  I’ve never made potato leek soup before, but this version looked so good that I had to try it out.  It was absolutely delicious.  Next time, I am going to make a double batch and freeze half of it.

Everything I used here except the salt and pepper are local.  All the produce comes from the farmer’s market.   For stock, I used homemade vegetable broth that I had made and froze a while ago, using an onion, carrot, leek trimmings, herbs, and whatever other things happened to be in my produce drawer that afternoon.  The bacon comes from Fatted Calf, the dairy from Clover Stornetta Farms in Sonoma, and the wine is a sauvignon blanc that my husband picked up at St. Supery in Napa on a recent trip. 

Potato Leek Soup
Recipe by Emeril Lagasse

1 large or 2 small leeks, about 1 pound, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
20 black peppercorns (I just ground up a bunch)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons butter
2 strips bacon, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock  (I used vegetable)
1 to 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, diced  (I used Yukon gold)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon white pepper (I skipped)
1/2 to 3/4 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream (I used half and half)
2 tablespoons snipped chives


The original recipe calls for creating a bouquet garni using some leek trimmings to make a packet that you fill with the peppercorns, bay leaves, and thyme.  That is way too much work for a Tuesday night, so I just skipped that step.  I just tossed the bay leaves and thyme right into the broth and fished them out before blending, then just ground in lots of fresh pepper.  So much easier for essentially the same thing.   Just be sure to count the bay leaves as you put them in and take them out because you don’t want to grind one of those up.

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the chopped up pieces of bacon.  Stir occassionally, cooking for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the bacon is very soft and has rendered most of its fat. 

Add the leeks and stir gently until wilted, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine and bring to a boil.  Add the bay and thyme, or the bouquet garni if you are using, the stock, potatoes, and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and falling apart.

Remove the bouquet garni or fish out the herbs.  Working in batches, puree the soup, using a a food processor, blender, or immersion blender.   Stir in the cream or creme fraiche and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.  Sprinkle some of the snipped chives on top to serve. 

Particularly delicious on a cold night with a glass of the wine you poured in (can’t let it go bad!) and a hunk of bread from a local bakery.

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I went to the farmers’ market over the weekend and went on a greens binge.  Among other things, I got my beloved arugula and a bunch of dandelion leaves.   I’ve never cooked dandelion before, but the bunch was only a dollar so I couldn’t resist.  I thought the bittery, peppery flavors of these greens would work well in a risotto dish.

The recipe is my own creation.  I just worked off of the basic risotto technique and incorporated flavors I knew would work well together.  Bacon and bitter greens has always been a heavenly combo for me, particularly when there’s cheese involved, so I’m happy to have created another vessel to enjoy that.

If you can find both dandelion and arugula, I would strongly recommend using both.   I think dandelion on its own might be a little strong, but mixed in with the other ingredients, it gives an unexpected kick to the dish.  Arugula on its own would be delicious too, or mix it with a milder green like spinach if you aren’t a big fan of bitter, pungent greens.

1 cup arborio rice
4-5 cups broth or water  (I use half water and half broth, it helps control the salt)
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 strips of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 shallot, finely minced
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
3 cups (approximately) of coursely chopped arugula (and dandelion if you can find it)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1-2 tablespoons butter


In a sauce pan, bring the water or chicken broth to a simmer.  While that is warming, cook sliced bacon in a large, heavy pan.  Over medium heat, add shallots and garlic and saute lightly until golden.

Add the arborio rice to the bacon mixture and stir for about 2 minutes, until the rice is coated in oil and starts to turn translucent.  Add the wine and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, stirring occassionally.

Using a ladle, slowly add the water or broth to the rice.  Add 1-2 ladles at a time, stirring occassionally.  When the liquid is just about absorbed, repeat until all the liquid is gone or until rice is soft but not too gummy. 

When all the liquid has been added and the rice is cooked, turn the heat down to low and add the greens, one cup or so at a time, followed by a stir.  This will lightly wilt the greens but keep them from turning too mushy.  Once the greens have all been added, stir in a pat of butter and the parmesan cheese.  Stir until the butter has melted and the cheese has been absorbed.

Season with salt and pepper and serve!


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Amazing Fall Gnocchi

I randomly stumbled upon Liz’s Cooking Blog, where she had a divine looking recipe consisting of gnocchi, butternut squash, sage, and pine nuts. I had all these ingredients on hand the other night, plus I had bacon that I needed to use up. I decided to toss that in too. The result was to die for. Really. I want to make this weekly, it was that good.


1 medium butternut squash
4 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh sage leaves
1 package gnocchi
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Grated Parmesan

The original recipe called for an onion, which I didn’t bother with, but I did up the garlic a bit. I probably used fewer pine nuts too.


Heat the oven to 375°. Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the strings and seeds the middle cavity. Flip the squash halves upside down and peel them. Cut the squash into 1-inch cubes. Toss with the garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper. Mince about half of the fresh sage leaves and also toss with the squash.

Spread the squash mixture in a thin layer on a large baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes or until the squash is soft.

As the squash finishes roasting, chop the bacon into one inch strips and fry in a deep skillet. Once the bacon starts getting crispy, push it to one side of the pan and toss whole sage leaves into the oil. Fry for about a minute, then turn the heat down to low and mix into the bacon. If there is too much oil in the pan at this point, drain off a couple tablespoons.

Remove the butternut squash from the oven and add to the bacon and sage mixture.

Heat salted pasta water to boiling and cook the gnocchi. Before draining the gnocchi, spoon a couple tablespoons of the water into the bacon and squash mixture and stir it, deglazing the pan.
Drain the gnocchi and set aside.
With the heat still on low, add the gnocchi to the bacon and squash mixture. Mix together and add the pine nuts. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

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Does something still count as a green vegetable if it is coated with bacony goodness? Probably not, but this is an incredibly delicious way to cook chard, fat content be damned. It also uses the stems, unlike so many other ways of preparing chard, so the dish ends up looking very pretty and colorful, in addition to being so tasty.

This recipe comes from Food and Wine was created by Stephanie Izard, winner of the 4th season of Top Chef. If you drooled over her amazing cooking, here is your chance to try some without having to fly to Chicago.

The original recipe calls for it to be served with scallops, but my husband is allergic to them, so I served it with another part of the pig – pork chops.

2 thick slices of bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1 3/4 pounds rainbow chard—stems sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick, leaves cut into 1-inch strips
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

The bacon I used did not give up enough fat, so I ended up adding some. If the bacon you are using doesn’t look particularly fatty, you may want to use an additional strip or just keep some butter or oil around to add if you need to. I also didn’t bother seeding my tomato and I don’t think it made a difference. Finally, I ended up using a couple tablespoons of chicken broth, which you may or may not need, depending on your pan and your stove.


In a large, deep skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, 4 minutes. Spoon off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until tender but not browned, 2 minutes.

At this point, some of the fat was sticking to the pan, so I added a splash of chicken broth to deglaze it a bit. I think everything would have burned if I didn’t, so use your judgment here. If it looks like it’s drying up and sticking, add a tablespoon or two of liquid.

Add the tomato and cook until it begins to break down, 2 minutes. Even when the tomato broke down, I found I needed another small splash of broth to keep it from sticking and to remove the fatty bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the chard stems and cook until crisp-tender, 4 minutes. Add the chard leaves and cook over moderately high heat, tossing, until wilted, 5 minutes; drain off any liquid. Add the soy sauce and cook until the leaves are tender, 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
I really wish I didn’t have camera issues this time around because the dish really did look colorful and pretty, but this is the best I got.

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