Recipe: Bacon Jam

So it’s all just been lots of travel posts around here lately, but can you blame me? Who wants to be indoors at all during the summer, let alone in the kitchen cooking. But I recently had a pound of bacon staring back at me in the fridge and needed to use it up, so what better to do than whip up a batch of bacon jam.

Yes it’s just what it sounds like, a sweet sticky bacon mixture that’s perfect for spreading on just about everything. The flavour is actually pretty deep and complex – sweet, spicy, smoky, and salty all at once.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1lb thick cut smoked bacon
2 medium onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp crushed red pepper
black pepper, to taste (optional)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
4 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup brewed espresso
1/4 cup brown sugar

I get my bacon from the farmer’s market because I think it has a lot more flavour than anything you can get from the plastic packets in the supermarket.

Cut the bacon in to small pieces and cook on medium-low heat in a wide bottomed pan. You want the pan to have a large enough surface area so all of the bacon browns. If the pan is too small the bacon will just stew and you won’t get any of that lovely caramelisation you’re looking for.

While the bacon is cooking, chop the onion in to a smallish dice and mince the garlic.

This is the bacon cooked about half way. You want the bacon to brown but not become crispy, that should take 15-20 minutes.

When the bacon is ready, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Take out all of the rendered fat save a tablespoon or two. In the same pan add the onions, garlic, crushed red pepper and black pepper.

Cook until the onions are softened and translucent, do not let them brown too much. Add more of the bacon fat as needed. You really want to release as much of the sugars in the onions as possible.

When the onions are done, add back the bacon and all of the remaining ingredients and scrape all of the bacon flavour from the bottom of the pan. Bring this mixture to a boil for 2-3 minutes and then lower to a slow simmer. Taste at this point to make any adjustments.

Cook on a very low heat for 45-60 minutes until you get a thick, syrupy consistency. The jam should be shiny when finished.

Once cooled take a portion of the jam (about two thirds) and coarsely chop it in the food processor. Mix the chopped jam back in with the rest of the batch.

As I mentioned you can use this with pretty much any dish – sandwiches (especially breakfast sandwiches), burgers, bruschetta, on eggs – but my favourite way to eat it is to tear of a piece of crusty bread and top it with a thick slice of cheddar and a heaping spoonful of the jam. So good.

Jazz Fest New Orleans

One of my favourite trips to take is to New Orleans for Jazz Fest. Good weather, amazing food, friendly people, and great music – it has it all.

I’m already looking forward to this year’s trip and so I thought I would share some photos with you from years past.

We always start the day with bloody marys from Liuzza’s by the Track. They’re stuffed full with olives, pickled green beans and pickled onions. Delicious.

The food at the fairgrounds is good and varied, unusual for most music fests. Above, the famous cochon de lait po’ boy, the first stall I head to.

After the fest everyone sets up their chairs in the streets outside Liuzza’s to hang out and grab a drink. It’s also not unusual for musicians (even some performers from the festival) to set up here and start playing.

Clubs and bars all over the city have amazing shows every night throughout the fest. It’s a great time in a great place and if you ever have the chance to go, you should!

Recipe: Spicy Mayo

I was in Toronto a few weeks ago, and of course any trip to Toronto means a sushi date with my Canadian twin Claudia. The location always different, but the scene the same – a big pile of pickled ginger next to my plate, and extra spicy mayo for C.

When I told her I often make it at home she insisted that I post the recipe. So here it is.

It’s so simple, all you need is:

Mayonnaise, preferably Kewpie
Sriracha
Sesame oil
Scallions – green part only – finely chopped
Chili oil, optional
Tobiko (flying fish roe), optional

If you use standard mayonnaise the resulting sauce will be thicker than it will be with the Kewpie. I recommend using Kewpie as it is much creamier, more tangy, has less egg flavour than traditional mayonnaise, and marries well with the other ingredients here.

You’ll notice I haven’t listed any quantities for the ingredients above. This recipe is really about taste and the amount of heat that you prefer.

Begin with equal parts mayo and sriracha and adjust from there. You only need a small amount of the sesame oil as it is fairly strong and can quickly overwhelm the other flavours if you add too much – I’d estimate about a quarter teaspoon per half cup of sauce. The chili oil has a really intense heat and I use it to add an extra punch without watering down the sauce, which the sriracha can do. Sprinkle in the green onion and a heaping spoonful of tobiko at the end to finish. The pearls of roe add a little fishiness and pops of crunch.

This sauce isn’t just for sushi, in fact I probably use it much more with other foods, adjusting the ingredients – adding lime juice, omitting the tobiko – depending on the application. It’s great with french fries, on fish tacos, dressing for coleslaw, the list goes on.

Missing in Action

I haven’t updated here in a while and I’ve been trying to figure out how most of the summer went by without a single post. So what have I been doing?

There was some volunteering, which is hungry work, so naturally it was followed by long, boozy brunches and lunches.

Brunch at Recipe

Lunch at Fatty Crab

A few great shows, because without them no summer of mine is complete.

There has been a LOT of house hunting which, again, is hungry work. Pounding the pavement all day rushing to appointments means you grab something along the way. But as you can see fast food doesn’t have to be boring.

The Wangding from Asia Dog comes topped with Chinese bbq pork belly.

The Cardoz Num Pang – black pepper braised lamb with chili yoghurt.

Lots of laughs at Indecision in the Park during Summerstage.

John Hodgman was the MC for the night. A lot of regulars from the show – Kristen Schaal, Wyatt Cenac, Al Madrigal – were there, but the highlights for me were Rory Albanese (one of the show’s producers), Mr. John Oliver, and the hysterical Lewis Black.

Sushi of course…

And an amazing performance by The New York Philharmonic on the Great Lawn in Central Park. Alan Gilbert conducted Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and Respighi’s Fountains of Rome and Pines of Rome.

The night ended with a fireworks display over the city.

Travel: Kansas City

S and I had worked together for all of about 3 days when we knew we’d be friends forever. Just over a year and a half later the crazy girl decided to move back to Kansas City (her hometown). Cut to me crying for days on end…

A couple of months ago (I can’t believe it’s already been that along, I’ve really been neglecting this space!) I took a quick weekend trip to visit her.

Kansas City is known as the City of Fountains and comes second only to Rome in number. The one above is the JC Nichols fountain which was originally located on an estate in New York, but was shipped to Kansas City in the 1950s. Its four horses are said to represent the four mighty rivers of the world, which reminds me of Bernini’s Fountain of Four Rivers. Not the fountain itself, as you can see, but the theme.

This is little Lu, she only likes the girls if there are no boys around so it was difficult for me to get a good photo of her.

Do I smell barbecue??

Why, yes Lu, you do. My only ask for this trip is that I get my fill of great barbecue. And the lovely S delivered.

Somehow these were the only food pics I managed to get the entire trip, disappointing… But it was just too hard to resist this stuff, you want to dive right in and there’s no time to stop and take photos. I don’t think a day went by when I didn’t have barbecue in some form. They do it really well, and we just can’t get this in NY, so why not?

A baseball game and some quality time with my Kansas family and it was time to come home.