Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Pasta Salad

Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato is one of our favorite sandwiches.  Combining all of those ingredients in a salad had to be a good idea.  A perfect accompaniment to burgers or sausages on the grill.  Most recently I served it as a side dish to barbecued beef brisket.  My daughter always says bacon and butter make everything taste better.  She’s right.

Ingredients:

1 pound of dry pasta (your choice)

1 pound bacon

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 T minced shallots

3 T minced fresh basil

2 T cider vinegar

1 T sugar

3 T bacon drippings (cooled to room temperature)

salt and pepper to taste

4 cups of lettuce (I used baby kale and arugula)

4 cups cherry tomatoes halved

Cook your pasta according to package instructions.  Once it’s cooked shock it in ice water to stop the cooking.  Set aside to drain.

Cook your bacon until it is crispy.  Drain it on paper towel and set aside 3 T of the drippings.  Allow the drippings to cool to room temperature before adding them to the dressing.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, shallots, basil, cider vinegar, sugar, and bacon drippings.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  I whisk it in a large mixing bowl because that becomes my salad vessel.

With the dressing on the bottom of the bowl layer the remaining ingredients.

Pasta first, followed by the cherry tomatoes.

Add your salad greens.  I chop the bacon and put it in a zip lock until the salad is ready to serve.  That keeps a little more of the crunch on the bacon.

When you’re ready to serve the salad toss all the ingredients together and enjoy.

NOTE:  You can use your favorite pasta, or whatever you have on hand.  Diced green onions or a little red onion can be substituted for the shallots.  And chopped romaine or even iceberg lettuce, if that’s what you enjoy, works equally well.  The fresh basil is a bonus and adds a great flavor to the salad.  As with most recipes you can customize this based on your personal preferences.

ENJOY!

Spanish Rice

Pork Loin with Tomatillo Salsa and Spanish Rice.  That was last nights supper.    (You can find the recipe for Roasted Tomatillo Salsa in an earlier post.)

This Spanish Rice recipe is one I started making in the early 70s. It is listed under “Pork Casseroles” in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book that I received as a gift from my Home Economics teacher, Mrs. Little.  It has a serious burn mark on the back cover…another down side of electric stoves I say, and several pages that have splatter on them.  For several years, when I first started cooking, it was my go to book.

We all either own one of these books or have seen them in antique shops.  The Spanish Rice recipe is listed next to the Cantonese Casserole which calls for frozen French style green beans, soy sauce, sour cream, cubed ham and water chestnuts topped with buttered soft bread crumbs and then baked.  I never did make Cantonese Casserole.  On the opposite page are Glamorous Rice Rings…which call for pressing hot cooked rice with chopped canned pimientos and peas into a ring mold.

As you read this cookbook you’ll find that the ring mold was a must have in every kitchen.  It was used for salads like the Harvest Fruit Mold, Frosted Cranberry Salad or Rosy Strawberry Ring; vegetable dishes like Tomato Aspic; and main dishes like Jellied Chicken Salad.  Back in the day we had lots of “molds” hanging in our kitchens.  Of course the conventional ring mold but others shaped like a fish or fruit or fancy loaf shapes.  I  love this cookbook.  There are some tried and true recipes that I still use today including a never fail pie crust recipe written in the margins.

Back to my Spanish Rice.  I have modified the recipe a bit but even in its original form it is a good recipe.

Ingredients:

3-4 slices of bacon

1 cup diced sweet onion like Vidallia

1 half sweet bell pepper diced

2 cloves of garlic minced

1 pint tomatoes

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup uncooked long grain rice

1/2 cup chili sauce

1 tsp brown sugar

1 T Worcestershire

Fresh cilantro to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

In Dutch oven or heavy skillet cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Set aside.

Add the onion, pepper and garlic to the bacon grease and cook over medium heat until tender but not brown.  Two to three minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, broth, rice, chili sauce, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce.

Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed.  Once the rice is done stir in the crumbled crisp bacon and cilantro.

Dish up and enjoy.  This was a perfect side to my pork loin but would also go well with pork chops or roast chicken.  The tomatillo salsa kicked the pork up a bit.

NOTE:  When I buy bacon I freeze some in 3-4 slice servings to use in recipes like this one.

The original recipe calls for 8 slices of bacon, thus qualifying it as a Pork Casserole.  I reduced that significantly but you’re welcome to add more bacon if you’d like.  If you do use significantly more bacon be sure to drain off most of the grease before cooking the vegetables.

I was fortunate to have a jar of chili sauce that someone had made and given to me.  It was excellent!  Perfect for this recipe.  I wish I remembered who gave it to me so I could thank them.  I think I’ll add chili sauce to my tomato canning this summer.

 

Southern Style Green Beans

image

Might not be the healthiest green beans but they are really yummy.  Good things happen when you add bacon to things.  My daughter always says, evereything is better with butter and bacon.  I think I agree.  I got this recipe from an old friend who no longer speaks to me.  Glad she shared the recipe before she stopped talking to  me.  There are loads of fresh green beans available right now and this makes a perfect side to almost any main dish.

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh green beans cut into 2-3 inch pieces

4 slices of bacon diced

1 medium sweet onion diced

1 T reserved bacon drippings

2 tsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/2 cup water

1 T brown sugar

1 T cider vinegar

image

Steam green beans just until tender.  If you have someone in your family who likes their green beans overcooked, keep steaming until you consider them done.  Cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Drain and reserve about 1 T of bacon drippings.

image image

Cook diced onion in the reserved drippings until tender but not browned.

image

Whisk together cornstarch, salt, mustard and water.  Stir into the onions and simmer until thickened.  Happens quickly.

image image

Stir in brown sugar and vinegar.

image

Add the steamed green beans and heat thoroughly.

image

Top with bacon bits and serve immediately.

image

I served the green beans with lightly breaded and baked lake trout but these would be excellent with pork chops, meat loaf, fried chicken.

NOTE:  My mother always saved bacon drippings in a metal container that said
“GREASE” on it.  She kept it in the cupboard, unrefrigerated.  It had a kind of basting brush in the container and she would brush the top of fresh baked bread with it, grease baking casseroles, etc.  All of the savory dishes we use PAM for she used her container of bacon grease.  And we all lived to tell about it.  I still save bacon drippings and use them frequently to saute onions and other veggies.  However, I keep my bacon drippings in the refrigerator.

 

Tomato and Cheese Tart

image

I have taken a bit of a hiatus from blogging. Not from cooking and baking. But from blogging. My father was visiting for a couple of weeks and I made a lot of very basic meals that he really likes. Potatoes in various forms, pork chops, baked ring bologna, fish, spaghetti and meatballs. And I didn’t blog those dishes. I also spent quite a bit of time recently in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with my dad and cooking in his kitchen is quite challenging. No good chefs knives, an electric stove, and odds and ends of cookware…never exactly what you’re looking for.  You need to be cautious of expiration dates and the spice cabinet has salt, pepper, garlic, Lawrys, cinnamon sticks that should only be used for art projects, and a huge jar of mustard seed. Actually I SHOULD blog from his house because cooking there is more of a challenge but there is also no internet.   Now I’m back home and back to experimenting with recipes as well as blogging old favorites.   In a recent issue of one of my many cooking magazines I found a recipe for a Tomato, Bacon, and Gruyere Tart. I first made this as a savory breakfast dish for guests and later made it as a dinner dish with the help of a friend. Both times I modified the recipe. More modifications the second time. But both times it was absolutely yummy.   Both times I doubled the recipe and made two tarts.  The ingredients listed are for two tarts.

Ingredients:

2 thawed Puff Pastry sheets

1/2 pound bacon cooked crisp, drained and crumbled

2 cups shredded gruyere cheese

1 cup shredded asiago cheese

3 thin sliced heirloom tomatoes

1/2-1/4 cup diced onion

1/2 cup chopped baby portabella mushrooms

1/2 cup thin sliced fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

1 egg beaten with 1 tsp of water for brushing the pastry

(The second time I made it I added the onions and mushrooms.)

image

Preheat your oven to 400.

Roll out the pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface into approximately a 10″x14″ rectangle and transfer to a backing sheet lined with parchment paper.

image

Shred the cheeses.

image

Leaving a couple inch border on each side sprinkle each sheet with half of the cheeses.   Top with the crumbled bacon, onion, and mushrooms.

image

Using a sharp knife or mandolin slice the tomatoes thinly. If you are using heirlooms alternate colors.

image

Fold the long sides over and cut small vents. Fold the short ends a little and pinch them together.   Brush with the egg wash.

image

Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.   Enjoy every bite. We did!!

image

When I served this for breakfast we has toasted cinnamon bread and fresh fruit.

This recipe is only limited by your imagination. You can change up the cheeses and add other veggies like thin sliced summer squash, artichokes, spinach or kale. I think I’m going to make it with gruyere and blue cheese next time.

 

 

 

Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato and Egg Sandwich (BLTE)

image

This is by no means original. Nor does it really require a recipe.  But it sure is an awesome sandwich!  The New York Times food section recently had a peanut butter banana sandwich as one of their feature dishes and I personally think a BLTE trumps a PBB. But that’s just my opinion.  A quaint little brewery we stopped at in Indiana last December had the option of adding an over easy egg to any sandwich on their menu. I had their BLT with an over easy egg.  It was great!

We spent today on the home end of a road trip and this was an easy thing to make for dinner.

Ingredients:

Bacon

Beef steak tomato

Romaine lettuce

Eggs

Italian sour dough bread

Mayonnaise

image

These ingredients are my personal favorites. Obviously you can substitute your personal favorites…turkey bacon, miracle whip, wheat or white bread, Roma tomatoes, ice berg lettuce. There are no rules. It’s a sandwich.

Cook your bacon until it’s nice and crispy. Again, that’s my taste. My mother used to like her bacon just barely warm. Floppy. I set my oven on a low temp and keep the bacon warm while I work the rest of the ingredients.

image

If you’re making multiple sandwiches go ahead and toast your bread and keep that warm in the oven as well. Slice your tomato. I like thin stackable slices. Wash your lettuce and trim the cores back a bit.

image

Fry your eggs and just flip them briefly. Over easy does it.

image

Now that everything is cooked and sliced some assembly is required. Give your toasted bread a nice coat of mayonnaise.

image

Next add the lettuce. This line up keeps the tomato from making your bread all soggy.

image

Now you can add the tomato. I sprinkle it with a little coarse sea salt.

image

Bacon comes next. As many slices as you’d like.

image

The grand finale. That over easy egg.

image

Isn’t that just a thing of beauty?  If you like a good BLT the E is the icing on the cake. Serve with a couple napkins.

I have to be honest. Maybe this isn’t for everyone. I put this sandwich in front of my 87 year old father tonight.  He looked at it for a minute like perhaps I had made a mistake with the placement of that egg.  Then he proceeded to deconstructed it. He slid the egg off the top of the sandwich and said, “I’ll just eat mine on the side.”  He enjoyed his dinner. And really, that’s all that matters.

Eggplant for Breakfast

image

I rarely watch Rachael Ray but on a cold, stay at home, afternoon last week we were watching. And Rachael made her husband an eggplant breakfast. Eggplant, wilted kale and spinach, pancetta, and poached eggs topped with a bechamel sauce. This is my own interpretation of Rachael’s eggplant breakfast which was our breakfast Monday and our dinner tonight. It’s our new favorite.

Ingredients:  (Breakfast for two)

Eggplant slices

1/4 cup of flour

2 eggs beaten

1 cup panko crumbs

1 cup asiago grated cheese (divided)

4 T olive oil

oven roasted tomatoes (see my October 27, 2014 post)

Bacon fried crisp

4 eggs

image

Slice your egg plant rounds about 1 inch thick. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Dip rounds in flour, then egg, then in panko crumbs mixed with 1/4 cup grated asiago cheese.

image

image

Fry until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towel and keep warm in the oven until assembly.

image

Fry your bacon until it’s crispy, unless you like it more flexible. Once it’s cooked to your liking put it on a plate lined with pepper towel and keep it warm in the oven until assembly.

image

Cook the eggs to your liking. Poached, over easy. Whatever you prefer.

image

Now you’re ready for assembling. First the eggplant, then the tomatoes, then the bacon, then the egg, and finally a generous sprinkle of the asiago cheese.

image

 

image

image

image

image

And there you have it. Simple. Delicious. Even a tad bit elegant.

I have always liked eggs Benedict but ask for my hollansaise on the side. Some of you may prefer this dish with the bechamel. You’re welcome to make whatever modifications suit your taste.   To me the key is building on the eggplant.

Serve this with some toasted sourdough, a dish of fresh fruit and maybe a mimosa.

 

Cabbage and Sausage Bake

image

We all like one pan dinners with simple, very basic ingredients. This is a hardy meal that makes a great supper on a cold winter night. Easy to prepare and only one pan to wash!  Preheat the oven to 375.

Ingredients:

1 head of cabbage

dozen or so new potatoes

6 slices thick bacon

2 cups (one large) yellow onion sliced thin

Polish sausage, kielbasa or bratwurst

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups chicken stock

image

Dice the bacon and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

image

 

image

I did everything in my roaster. Thin slice the onion. I used a mandolin but I good knife will work fine. Add the onion to the bacon and drippings and cook over medium heat until the onion is tender.

image

 

image

Once the onions are tender set them aside and sear the sausages to brown them up a bit.

image

While the sausages are browning up wash your potatoes. Cut the cabbage in half, then into quarters. Core the cabbage and cut each quarter in half again.

image

Remove the browned sausage from the roaster and turn off the flame. Arrange the cabbage wedges in the roaster rounded side down.

image

Arrange the potatoes around the cabbage.

image

Add the browned sausage.

image

Add the onions and bacon as well as the drippings. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

image

Pour the broth over everything and cover the pan tightly with foil.

image

 

image

Bake for 90 minutes. Let it sit covered for 15 minutes after you remove it from the oven before serving.

Serve with steamed fresh green beans or broccoli and some nice crusty bread. And, of course, some spicy mustard.

image

Cabbage and sausage bake. It’s what was for supper. My dad would have enjoyed sharing this supper with us.

NOTE:  If you prefer a tomato taste substitute a can of diced or fire roasted tomatoes and one cup V-8 juice or tomato juice for the chicken stock.