Bacon Bread

It has been a very long time since I made bacon bread. A very long time. But it was Dad’s birthday and I wanted to make him something that I knew he would like. So … bacon bread.

Bacon bread was inspired by the bacon buns grandmom use to make. She never wrote down the recipe so when I started to try to figure it out, the bread never turned out exactly right. But eventually I got it right. There is a slight sweetness to the bread which matches to the salty bacon. Add some onion and keep some of the fat from cooking the bacon and you get a moist bread that tastes delicious. I’ve thought about trying to make a vegetarian version, but I don’t think it would work nearly as well.

The nice thing about this dough is that there is enough for two loaves. I could have made one large one, but making them slightly smaller means less baking time. It is also easier to tell when the bread is done and the crust is pretty without getting overly dark.

Recipe:

  • 3-4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon yeast (or one packet)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg (optional) for brushing on top
  • 12 oz. bacon
  • 1/2 large sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (if using uncured bacon – skip if bacon is cured)

Heat milk, water and butter until warm (120 degrees). Add yeast and let sit for five minutes until foamy. Combine one cup of flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl and stir together. Slowly combine the yeast mixture, the mix (using a dough hook if using a mixer) until a very soft dough forms. Add the eggs and one additional cup of flour and mix well.  Beat on medium-high speed (if using a mixer) for two to three minutes. If mixing by hand, mix until soft dough forms and is smooth. Mix in about a half cup flour and mix well (about 8 minutes with mixer).

Flour a clean surface. Turn dough onto floured surface and add about 1/3-1/2 cup flour to the top. Mix and knead the dough by hand for about ten minutes. Add more flour as necessary to prevent sticking, but keep dough soft. Return to bowl, cover and let rest while you make the filling.

Rough chop the onion so the pieces are small enough to be in a filling, but large enough to be noticed. (No, this isn’t very precise, but that’s okay – the onions can be a variety of sizes and it still works). Chop the bacon into pieces, discarding some of the fat as you cut.

Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat and once heated, add bacon. Cook, stirring frequently, until bacon is cooked. Drain the fat. Reduce heat to medium and add the chopped onion. Cooke, stirring frequently, until onion is soft. Drain fat again. If your bacon is uncured, add maple syrup and stir well. Remove from heat.

Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface roll dough into large rectangle. Add half the filling and spread evenly over the dough. Tightly roll the dough starting from the long edge. (Fold dough over edge, pick up and roll onto itself until you reach the end.) Form rolled dough into a circle and place seam side down on a baking sheet. (I like using a Silpat as I find it keeps the bottom from burning for me.) Repeat with the other half of the dough. Cover and let rest/rise in a warm area for about an hour.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Once pre-heated, beat remaining egg and brush onto the loaves the bake for about 35 minutes. If loses sound somewhat hollow when tapped, they are done.

Let rest and cool on wire rack.

Wagner Vineyards, Rielsing – 2016

  • Basic info:Wagner Vineyards estate bottled Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, NY – 2016
  • Type: White
  • Price estimate: $12.50 (Total Wine)
  • Look: Translucent pale straw
  • Smell: apple and petrol (I know, it sounds awful and I have definitely smelled better wine)
  • Taste: Good acid, apple, pear and some mineral notes. Not too harsh with a nice petrol finish. (I know, that sounds weird, but it was a nice finish.)
  • Conclusions: This was a really nice wine and one that won’t break the bank.
  • Other notes: When I looked through the whites we had on hand one day I noticed that they were all “better” bottles. Bottles that I want to open when we have company or can bring with us somewhere to enjoy with friends. I needed something I could just sit and enjoy and so a trip to Total Wine was made. (It was a Sunday, or I would have suggested our local wine store, but was what it was.)  I picked up a few sub $15 bottles and so far have not been disappointed in a single one. Most of them were nothing spectacular, but they paired well with food and were perfectly enjoyable, which to me is the mark of a good wine. This one was particularly interesting to me because it is from the Finger Lakes area of NY and I’ve been hearing about the whites in this region for a while. As a girl who grew up in Jersey and know there is good wine outside the west coast, I really wanted to try it.
  • From the bottle: From the winery notes, “A beautiful pairing wine that will compliment whatever is on your table with a fresh finish and a silky mouthfeel. This wine will continue to unwind beautifully with time in the bottle. This dry Riesling is an outstanding food wine, with nectarine and lime aromas, flavors of citrus and mineral and a crisp clean finish. The opulent fruit is restrained and there is just the right amount of lively acidity to pair beautifully with myriad foods without being bitey.”  12.9% alcohol by volume.

img_20180807_181251

Machin Breaker, Pinot Noir – 2012

  • Basic info: Machine Breaker “The Innocents” Pinot Noir, Eloa-Amity Hills, Oregon – 2012
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $45
  • Look: Opaque ruby in color turning to rose at the edges
  • Smell: Tiny bit of cherry, some mineralogy and a touch of blackberry
  • Taste: Soft. Slightly sour cherry, some bramble and stone fruit. Medium finish with peach pit and a nice tart taste.
  • Conclusions: This was okay. Both Bob and I liked it, but it didn’t live up to the description or the reviews. I liked the wine just fine, but it wasn’t phenomenal.
  • Other notes: We opened this bottle to celebrate me new job and I kind of wish I had picked a different bottle. It is definitely a well structured wine, but it wasn’t really to my taste. A little too sour and maybe a touch too much wood to be truly enjoyable.
  • From the bottle: I completely forgot to look at the back of the bottle on this one. 13.5% alcohol by volume.

img_20180803_172112

Israeli Couscous White Bean Salad

In my quest to pack my lunch, and pack things that A) can be eaten in a car, B) do no require a microwave or refrigerator, and C) will fill me up I’ve started eating more beans than I ever had before. I’m still not crazy about the texture of beans, but I’m getting there.

This salad I found in the NY Times Cooking section and have to say, I kind of love it. It holds for a while and has both protein from the feta and beans and grains from the couscous to fill me up. Add in some heirloom tomatoes and basic from the garden and what is not to like. Admittedly I can’t eat this while driving, but it can be eaten in a parking lot and it holds up well with an ice pack in my lunch bag. We had this for dinner one day as is, then I added some celery and yellow pepper to the leftovers to stretch it for lunch for a few days. The only real change I made to the original salad was using cannellini beans instead of pinto and adding a little more garlic (I think 2 large cloves instead of one).

Ca n’Estruc, Xarel-lo – 2017

  • Basic info: Ca N’Estruc, Xarel-lo, Catalunya, Spain – 2017
  • Type: White
  • Price estimate: $17 (Weekly Tasting)
  • Look: Translucent light yellow
  • Smell: Apricot – I kept sniffing this to see if I could get more out of it, but I just couldn’t
  • Taste: Stone fruit, specifically white peach. Subtle citrus notes that are almost lemon, but not quite. Tiny bit of slate towards the back end of this wine with a medium finish.
  • Conclusions: I was so happy drinking this wine. It had a nice acidity, but it didn’t overpower. It went well with food and just as good as a sipper on the back patio. It was unique – it had a bit of a floral quality but it was subtle. That seemed to be the key word for this wine – subtle. There was a lot going on, but it was all understated and really well done.
  • Other notes: I had never heard of Xarel-lo before and it isn’t something I expect to find on the shelves of my local wine store, but if I do, I’m picking some up. This was great, and perfect for a warm summer day and it went perfect with our cheese plate.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes. 13.5% alcohol by volume

I Made a Scarf (aka another knitting project)

Surprisingly I’ve kept up with learning to knit. It is one of those things that is relaxing in its repetitiveness and can be done in small chunks of time. Since I’m still adjusting to the drive with the new job, it is really nice to have something to do in the evenings that doesn’t require a ton of brain power but enough concentration to keep me awake.

(I did work on another kitty blanket but it isn’t totally finished yet, so I’ll probably post that one next month.)

I wanted to learn the lace stitch and started with one pattern that was just not working for me. I think I was a little too ambitious with one of the stitches in the pattern and so I took a step back and tried a more basic stitch. I found one I really liked at Give me a purl. I actually found a few stitches I liked, so I’m sure I’ll be going back there soon.

But the scarf! Yes, I actually knitted a scarf. It isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty darn good for a beginner.

I must have started this about 6 times over one weekend. I started getting frustrated because I would mess up around row ten and then have to start over. But I finally decided that I wouldn’t start over, I would just keep going. Originally this was going to be a sample piece, not a whole project, but once I really got started, I decide to just finish it and make myself a scarf. It is a little wider than ideal, but I like it. (And really, I live in Florida, so how often do I need a scarf?)

 

Homemade Margherita Pizza

The ten year old in me sometimes (ok often) likes basic food and one classic kid-friendly food is pizza. You can justify it by saying it contains several food groups including vegetables (tomato sauce), dairy (cheese) and grains (the crust) but really, it isn’t the healthiest of foods. However, you really can’t beat a good pizza.

The best thing about a basic sauce and cheese pizza is that it is fast and takes almost no brainpower – perfect after a long day at work. I cheated on the crust on this and bought the dough at the grocery, and used leftover sauce and cheese. Add a few sun-dried tomatoes and basil from the garden and you have a near perfect pizza.