Alex got me the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for Christmas (I’m sure you’ve noticed that I link over to Smitten Kitchen regularly), and the first, oh, dozen recipes I read in it were all things that I would really like to make. Definitely a sign of a good cookbook. Since my focus right now is bread, however, the first one I made was for Bread 47, Maple Bacon Biscuits. I’d wanted to make a recipe like this for a while, but the one I’d found online that I really wanted to try involved maple extract, which I didn’t have and hadn’t gotten around to getting. So Deb’s version of the biscuits – which only made 6, which is a reasonable number of biscuits for me and Alex – with bacon and actual maple syrup, was a clear choice.
I am really, really glad that I decided to make the biscuits from this cookbook. Based on how good this recipe was, I have very high hopes for everything else in the book. This recipe was easy to make, the dough easy to handle, and the resulting biscuits themselves – very delicious.
For my third week of bread, I decided I wanted to try Peter Reinhart’s Cornbread recipe again. I made this as one of my 365 recipes in 2010, but I used the corn frozen and had to bake it much longer than it originally called for. I also wanted to try course-ground cornmeal this time around, which I didn’t use the first time around. This time, I cooked the bacon in the oven as the recipe instructed, and I am now a convert to oven bacon. It cooked perfectly.
Winter has finally arrived in St. Louis. Yesterday we reached a balmy high of 56F, and Alex and I took our dog for a leisurely walk. Today, we’ve had a few inches of snow, and when I walked my dog, it was 17F and felt like -1.
I decided this winter weather made tonight perfect for soup. As always, I just happened to have some potatoes and bacon around, and thought that a hearty and thick bacon and potato soup was exactly what the change in weather demanded.
I’m a somewhat picky eater, and discounted all recipes involving any kind of cream cheese, shredded cheese, or sour cream in the broth. That essentially brought me to this Baked Potato and Bacon Soup recipe, which I’ve adapted below. I liked the simplicity of the ingredient list – potatoes, bacon, onion, garlic, milk, and chicken broth, with a few seasonings.
My dad bought a package of boneless ribs that he was very excited about us having while Alex and I visited. I decided that I’d toss them in the crockpot with some barbecue sauce, but I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to make to go with it, until I remembered the Cornbread recipe I’d noticed from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice. [Edit: you can see the recipe and my 2014 review here.]
This is a very serious cornbread. I (used to) make cornbread relatively often – a standard, slightly sweet cornbread that pairs perfectly with chili. This recipe takes actual corn in it, which makes it a heftier side than a normal cornbread square or muffin. However, the thing that attracted me to this recipe for this meal, though, was bacon. You use a half pound of bacon in this recipe. I was using the oven when I started this recipe, though, so I couldn’t try making the bacon in the oven as the recipe instructs.
[Those instructions aren’t available via the link. You arrange bacon on 2 sheet pans and bake for 15-20 minutes in a 375F oven, until bacon is crisp. You remove bacon to a paper towel lined pan or plate to let it cool, and you drain off the fat and save for greasing the cornbread pan. I didn’t do this, but I kind of wish I could have tried it.]
Actually, the first thing you do for this cornbread is soak coarse-ground cornmeal overnight in buttermilk. We didn’t have coarse-ground cornmeal available (and I don’t think I have any at my own home either, actually), but I tried soaking regular cornmeal in a sour-milk mixture for a few hours before I started the recipe.
This recipe messed up quite a few bowls. I combined flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in one bowl, and added the sugars. I dissolved honey in melted butter in another. I added the honey butter and eggs to the milk-cornmeal, and whisked it together the best that I could. I added the wet ingredients to the dry, mixed them together, and added a bag of frozen corn.
I altered the next step a bit too. You’re supposed to put 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in a 10-inch round pan (I used a springform) and heat it in the oven to make the grease nice and hot. Mine was still hot, so I just swirled it around the pan to grease it. I poured in the batter and pressed crumbled bacon on top.
I baked it for 30 minutes originally, but the bread was nowhere near done. I had to bake it nearly an extra 15-20 minutes to get a toothpick to come out clean.
This was very good cornbread, once it was done. The bacon gave it a nice savory flavor and looked good in addition to tasting good. The corn gave us something to chew on while we ate it. The cornbread itself had a good texture, even though I used regular cornmeal as opposed to coarse ground. Next time, I would heat the pan after adding the bacon grease to make sure that the outside gets a nice crust. I would also be sure to thaw my corn kernels before adding them, because I think that the frozen corn slowed down the baking process. I would like to try a coarse-ground cornmeal in this, and I might try a different size pan to make it easier to eat. Even with my adaptations, though, I liked this cornbread and will almost definitely make it again.
This is probably my favorite thing to make with cabbage. I don’t love cabbage, but I’d make it again. (I suppose I do love bacon and potatoes.) It’s actually supposed to be Potato Torte with Cabbage, Bacon, and Cheddar, but since I don’t like cheese, I left it out. This potato torte turned out much better than the potato and sweet potato torte I tried a few years ago.
Alex put cheese on it, and he thought it should go with eggs. I guess that’s what you get with bacon, potatoes, and cheese.