July 15, 2010

Chicken Update

The elder of the two Ladies of Stumptown Savoury skips egg production once about every ten days, then makes up for it a day or two later with a really large egg that has two yolks. I have no idea how she manages to walk after laying such a large egg, but somehow she does. My friend, Jennifer, made this omelet using just the large double-yolked egg, then took pictures to show off. Rightly so!

July 14, 2010

Balsamic Sauce

That glistening, dark river of sauce on the ice cream is made with balsamic vinegar. Not just any balsamic, of course, but a Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar from Benessere, an oil and vinegar store in downtown Portland. Coffee and chocolate are an excellent pairing, so I also used some Espresso Sugar from The Spice and Tea Exchange, also in downtown Portland. Full disclosure: I teach at both stores, and they donated the products I used.

This sauce is simple to make. Pour one cup of Dark Chocolate Balsamic into a small saucepan and add 1½ ounces of Espresso Sugar. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then simmer, stirring occasionally until reduced by about one quarter. If you want it a bit thinner--it's rather thick--reduce less. I store it in the refrigerator, but it needs to be at room temperature or slightly warmer to serve.

If you are unable to find Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar where you live, you can use any good, aged balsamic vinegar. You could also substitute other flavored sugar, or even plain sugar if you want. Adjust the amount of sugar to the acidity and bitterness, if any, of the balsamic you're using and you'll end up with an excellent dessert sauce.

July 1, 2010

Apple-Bacon Granita

Let's be clear about one thing right from the start: store-bought bacon is not going to be satisfactory. You have to make your own. And don't waste time with any apples called "Delicious" because they aren't. Use Pink Lady, Fuji, Gravenstein, Braeburn, Jazz, or some other varietal with real flavor and texture, and be sure they're organic. Better yet, wait until the apples on your tree are ready before you make this.

First you'll need to candy some bacon. If you want a vegan version of this, leave out the candied bacon and call it Apple Granita. It will be delightful. Now to candy bacon you need bacon, an oven, a sheet pan, and some sweetener, perhaps brown sugar or maple syrup (the real stuff, not anything "flavored"). Cover the sheet pan lightly with sweetener, lay down strips of bacon, cover them lightly with sweetener, and put into a 250°F oven. Leave it there until you just can't stand it any more (about an hour if the bacon is thick, less time for smaller or thinner bacon). Carefully remove the hot, sticky bacon from the hot, sticky pan and put it (the bacon) on a plate to cool.

Next, make some apple syrup. Simple, really. Two-thirds of a cup of sugar plus one-half cup of apple juice or cider, heat to a simmer, let reduce a bit to thicken, then cool and refrigerate.

Third, juice a lemon into a blender or food processor to keep the apples you're about to peel and core from going brown. If you have ascorbic acid you can use it. If you have Vitamin C tablets do NOT use them instead.

Fourth, peel and core four really good organic apples just as quickly as you can. Put them into the blender or food processor that holds the lemon juice and purée until you're satisfied with the texture. At some point you'll want to add more liquid, so add the apple syrup. If you want some cinnamon in it, add that to the purée as well.

If the purée is reasonably thick, add the candied bacon. If not, start freezing the purée first, then add the bacon later.

You can process this in an ice cream machine and call it sorbet if you wish. Or you can freeze it in a shallow pan and call it granita. If you choose the granita option, you'll need to pull the pan out of the freezer every 15-30 minutes and break up the ice crystals by scraping it with a fork.

How does it taste? Sort of like frozen applesauce with bacon in it. In a really good way. I also enjoyed it hot as a sweet and savory sauce with pork loin.