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Posts Tagged ‘cider vinegar’

We’re knee-deep in that frenzied holiday season when there are parties, unscheduled drop-ins and quick festive glasses of vino. I never like to drink on an empty stomach so I like to stock the freezer with hors d’œuvres that can be made up in bulk and pulled out in a pinch. One of my favourites is the Devil on Horseback or bacon wrapped dates that I first came across from a Tapa’s cookbook from a friend about 8 years ago and finally blogged about it here. I needed to stock up so when I recently saw naturally smoked bacon (low sodium) on sale at my grocer, I asked JT to pick me up a couple of packs so I had them in the fridge ready to be made into the little devils. Fast forward to my second food styling assisting job, I assisted for a breakfast sandwich and there was a lot of bacon. Probably close to a hundred pounds? OK, I may be exaggerating but there was a lot of bacon left over and I was kindly given some of it! So now I needed to figure out what to do with so much bacon and then it hit me, I knew exactly what that was!

I first came across Bacon Jam at Lorraine’s lovely blog Not Quite Nigella in 2009 and it’s been sitting in my data bank since. I usually don’t have an excess of bacon lying around so the bacon I was given from the job was very welcomed indeed. JT was ecstatic, like most men, he adores bacon. So I made bacon jam. I didn’t have everything Lorraine’s recipe required plus I needed something that I could leave all day to cook on its own, so I found good old Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker Bacon Jam.

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Cooking down the bacon; the aromas enticed dogs and neighbourhood men to walk in zombie-like fashion towards the house!

There was an overwhelming aroma of bacon for days.

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Thick, sweet and salty all at once. Who knew bacon could taste THAT good?

There are a few precautions one must take with bacon jam. Contrary to what you would think, it is highly susceptible to salmonella which is a very dangerous bacteria. You may have heard that this past summer our Canadian National Exhibition’s Cronut Burger (poor refrigeration) lead to the contamination by Staphylococcus aureus toxin poisoning of their bacon jam! Go figure. You would think that with ALL the preservatives in bacon it wouldn’t be an issue, but it was. In further reading it seems that garlic increases this issue even more. So, my words of caution is that you MUST refrigerate your bacon jam and not even keep it in a processed jar outside of refrigeration. I even went a step further and froze any extra I wasn’t able to eat in a short time frame.

Bacon Jam

Makes 4 small jars

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced small
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup brewed coffee

Directions:

  1. Cook bacon over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
  2. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Reserve 1 tablespoon of fat from the bacon skillet, discard the remainder.
  3. Add onions and garlic, and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, and coffee and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up browned bits from skillet with a wooden spoon, about 2 minutes. Add bacon and stir to combine.
  4. Transfer mixture to a 6-quart slow cooker and cook on high, uncovered, until liquid is syrupy, 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Transfer to a food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped. Allow to cool slightly then refrigerate in airtight containers, up to 4 weeks (see caveat above).
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I may have gotten carried away with the photos. But is it Bacon dog gamn it!

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Last one, promise.

The jam is slightly sweet, tangy and a perfect accompaniment to cheese or pâté. Add it to your charcuterie platter for New Year’s Eve celebrations. I might have even added it to scrambled eggs once or even a sandwich. Be creative. Where would you add such a decadent jam?

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I still have one more cookie to bake, but I had to take a break. I did cut down and made only made 7 things this year. We’ll see how it pans out.

The sale of alcohol is controlled by the Government in Ontario. The LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) is the single largest alcohol buyer in the world! Crazy, but true. Recently, the Auditor General conducted a study (see article in the Toronto Star) that found Ontarian’s pay too way much for booze since the LCBO is the single largest purchaser in the world! We’ll see what happens with that! The LCBO has an enormous marketing budget and they produce some very classy promotional material. One such promo is their Food & Drink magazine. This magazine promotes booze, of course, but it also contains a huge number of recipes that are exceptionally beautifully photographed.

Entertaining season is in full swing and I always like to have a quick something that I can easily serve in case friends drop by; the recipe below is a delicious dip of sharp cheddar, caramelized onion and goats cheese. I noticed our local grocer had old cheddar bricks on sale, so I stocked up (I usually grate the cheese and freeze in a zip-lock baggy — it’s great for baking and cooking). Click here for the original recipe.

Freezing the dips in the shape of the ramekin for later use

Caramelized Onion and Cheddar Dip

Makes about 3 3.5 oz ramekins or one really big one!

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) cider vinegar or beer
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) butter
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 oz (125 g) goats cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup (250 mL) shredded aged cheddar cheese
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) dry mustard or Dijon
  • 1 tbsp low fat mayo
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh thyme, or ¼ tsp (1 mL) dried
  • Thick pretzels or crackers, for dipping

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF (230ºC) or barbecue to medium-high.
  2. Combine onion, vinegar, butter and pepper in a shallow baking pan (for oven) or in a foil pan (for barbecue). Roast, stirring twice, for 15 to 20 minutes or until soft, translucent and starting to brown. Let cool slightly.
  3. Mash softened cream cheese with the mayo, mustard and thyme in a bowl. Add onion mixture and cheddar cheese stirring until well blended. Pack into an ovenproof ramekin or serving dish or a foil pan. Cover and refrigerate. To freeze, line your individual ramekins with plastic wrap and freeze. Once frozen, remove the little package from the ramekin and store in a zip lock bag. The dip freezes in the shape of the ramekin and all I need to do is remove the plastic wrap and tuck back into the ramekin and it’s ready for baking. (Make sure you try to remove the folds in the plastic wrap, otherwise you may not be able to get it all off).
  4. To serve, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) or barbecue to medium-high.
  5. Heat dip, uncovered, in oven or on grill, for about 15 minutes or until hot and bubbling around edges. Stir and serve with thick pretzels or crackers for dipping.

Of course, we had to have a wee taster. YUM!

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