Bacon

Week 62: Leek and Bacon Tart

I’ve always been firmly of the opinion that the secret to good pastry is lard.  I know it’s an unfashionable thing to think these days, but it’s true. This recipe has been staring at me from the good granny cookbook every time I make toad in the hole, I’m not sure why it’s taken me over a year to give it a try.

First you need to make the pastry, which is nothing to be scared of. You will need 225g plain flour, 55g butter and 55g lard.  Roughly cut the butter and lard into cubes and rub it in to the flour with your finger tips.  Add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time and stir it with a knife after each spoonful. When it clumps together squash it into a bowl, wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge for at least half an hour.

To make the filling you will need: 30g butter, 650g leeks (thinly sliced across), 85g smoked bacon, 90g Gruyere cheese (grated), 4 egg yolks 280ml single cream and salt & pepper to season.

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When end the pastry has stiffened up take it out the fridge, roll it out and line your trusty 9″ tart tin; make sure you prick the bottom with a fork.  Turn the oven on to 190c and heat the butter in a frying pan.  Once it’s melted gently cook the leeks for about 5 minutes until they’re soft but not brown.  Spread them over the pastry case.

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Cut the bacon into strips and fry for 5 minutes, grate the Gruyere while you wait.  I bought quite thick bacon for this, but I wish I’d bought much thicker bacon or gammon – next time!

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Spread the bacon over the leeks and sprinkle the cheese on top.  In a jug whisk together the cream and egg yolks, season with salt and pepper and pour over the tart mix.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until set.

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I had this hot and cold, and it was delicious both times; but I think cold from the fridge was my favourite – ideal for a quick dinner after work!  As I said I’d probably use thicker bacon/gammon next time but I’d definitely have it again with the normal bacon if that’s all I had in.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good quiche, but this was somehow better.

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Good Granny Cookbook by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall (Short Books 2007 ISBN 978 1 906021 10 8)

good granny

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Week 47: Chicken Schnitzel with Bacon and White Wine

So this was the week that nearly didn’t happen – I asked my lover to choose a recipe because I was crazy busy at work, and I couldn’t find the ingredients for what he chose.  So as an emergency replacement, I am very proud to present: Chicken Schnitzel. Tadaaa.

I was interested to try Nigella’s take on Chicken Schnitzel, my Lover made his Polish Grandmother’s Polish Schnitzel (breadcrumbed etc) so I was keen to try it German style.

Absolutely no ingredients: 1 chicken breast each (an escalope), 2 rashers of bacon each, 25ml of white whine each, and a teaspoon of garlic oil for the frying pan.

Nigella says to use escalopes, but as usual I couldn’t find exactly that in Hammersmith Sainsbury’s, so I bashed a pair of breasts with my rolling pin.  I could have worded that better… then my lover said I was being too gentle with them then bashed them really flat – about half an inch I think.

Turn the pan on quite high, add the oil and then the bacon.

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Fry the bacon until crispy and then set it aside in some foil to keep warm.

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Fry the chicken for 2 minutes on each side, make sure you check the chicken is cooked before taking it out the pan (Nigella recommends cutting into it to check for pinkness – mine took about 5 minutes in total)

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When the chicken is done plate it up (or remove it to a serving plate if it takes your fancy).  Crumble the bacon into the pan, pour in the wine and stir it around until it all bubbles up (this bit happened far too quickly to take a picture)

Pour this over the chicken and eat it.  I was surprised how quickly this cooked – if I hadn’t chosen to serve it with oven chips dinner would have been done in 10 minutes!

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As my lover just this minute said “This weekend you’ve cooked two quick meals that we’ll definitely have again” and we definitely will.  Sorry Babushka, I prefer my Schnitzel German style!

Nigella Express, by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus 2007 ISBN 9780701181840)

nigella express

Week 31: Quiche Lorraine

A familiar cry that goes out around the kitchens of Britain on an unusually sunny day:  “Oo it’s nice out, lets just have a salad”.  The weather needs to perk up before I start plonking a bit of iceberg on a plate and calling it dinner,  so I went for the next best thing – quiche.

It is actually illegal to eat quiche in winter, so I’ve been holding back on the ‘picnic foods’ until the weather perked up.  I have a love-hate relationship with quiche.  I like it, but one bad quiche can put me off for a whole ‘quiche season’, so I thought it was quite a gamble making my first ever quiche at the start of May.  Daring huh?

For quiche number one I chose a classic Quiche Lorraine, which is basically an egg and bacon tart.  The recipe I chose marked my second go at a recipe from Rachel Khoo’s ‘The Little Paris Kitchen’ – I’d been itching to have a crack at French style pastry!

To make the pastry for a quiche that will serve 4 – 6 you will need 90g soft butter, 1 teaspoon sugar, pinch of salt, 180g plain flour, 2 egg yolks and some ice-cold water.

For the filling, Rachel Khoo recommends 150g lardons or cubed of smoked bacon, 4 eggs, 2 extra egg yolks, 300g creme fraiche or double cream, salt and pepper.

With a wooden spoon beat together the butter, sugar and salt until soft and creamy.  Mix in the flour then the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of ice-cold water.  Keep mixing until it comes together into a smooth ball.  The recipe says that if its a bit too crumbly you should add a bit more water, but I didn’t need to do that.  Wrap it in cling-film and pop it in the fridge overnight (but an hour or two is fine).

Thirty minutes before you want need to use it, take the pastry out of the fridge.  Roll it out between two sheets of greaseproof paper until it is 5mm thick and big enough to line your quiche dish.  I’ve never rolled out pastry in this way, it was surprisingly hard work but worked well.  Line the tin in one go, brush with some of the egg whites you saved earlier (I should have mentioned that earlier) and put the pastry case back in the fridge.

Turn the oven on to 180 and make a start on the filling.  Fry the bacon until golden brown then leave to cool on some paper towel to soak up the extra grease.  My lover likes his bacon burned to a crisp, so I really should have bought bigger lardons…

Lightly beat the eggs and egg yolks, add the creme fraiche (I used double cream) and season.  Take the pastry out of the fridge, spread the bacon on the bottom, then pour in the egg mix and put in the oven to 35 – 40 minutes.

This is where I started to panic.  The quiche swelled up like a massive eggy-bouffant.  I had no idea what to do.  I thought about poking it but decided against in case it exploded.

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Luckily it deflated when it cooled down.  I had no idea that quiches did this while cooking, but it does at least explain why some shop bought ones look a bit like cats arses.

It was getting a bit late by the time I served it up so I had to eat it hot – I have a genuine dislike for warm quiche, but this was alright.  If I could make it again I would get taller bacon so it was more than just a massive scrambled egg on top of a thin layer of carbonised lardons, but it tasted really good.  The bacon wasn’t as good cold the next day, but I shouldn’t have bought ready-cut lardons from Tesco’s.

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I’ve not forgotten about quiche-ing that risotto.  I declare quiche season open!

 

The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo (Penguin Books 2012 ISBN: 978-0-718-15811-8)

Little Paris Kitchen

Week 1. Pasta with Eggs and Bacon (Carbonara)

For my first New Recipe Night I decided to make something quick.

One of the key reasons I introduced New Recipe Night was to find tasty new meals to make during the week, rather than spending all night on dinner.

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I first bought Cupboard Love for my mother, mostly because I thought she’d like the idea of making simple but tasty meals from things in your larder.  She wasn’t keen and I don’t think she’s ever actually used it.  I got my copy about six months’ later from a charity shop, and it’s one of the few books I own that I’d actually cooked from… but only two recipes!

The first recipe chapter is Pasta, and that’s where I decided to start.  At the bottom of page 25 is a recipe called Pasta with Egg and Bacon (Carbonara) The recipe says “The speed and ease with which this meal comes together is something I’ve never managed to get blase about.  Make it tonight.” so I did.

I won’t lie to you, I was surprised at how quickly it was ready.  One moment the pasta was boiling and I was stirring egg yolks and frying bacon, the next I was stirring everything into the drained pasta and it was off to the table.  Wham!

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It was very very tasty.  It was a little richer than I’m used to; which is unsurprising considering the amount of egg yolks and butter and cheese that go into it… but I would definitely make it again.

The only downside to the recipe is it requires three egg yolks for two servings – and I didn’t like to waste the whites so I ended up hand-whisking meringues at 9pm… but on spare-yolks-day I would not hesitate to make this for a quick lunch/dinner.

Cupboard Love by Tom Norrington-Davies (Hodder & Stoughton 2005 ISBN 0 340 83525 5)