Sep 042012

There was a time when bacon jams and bacon marmalades were exceptionally rare things. A handful of people made them at home, you might have found a jar or two in the homemade preserves at a specialty food or craft fair, and that was it. Now it seems like bacon spreads of whatever description are the flavour du jour in the culinary world – hell, I’m pretty sure I saw it on the shelves at 7-11 the other day.

This is not a bad thing. The more the merrier, I always say. But leave the store-bought stuff for the plebes. I have tasted a lot of bacon marmalade and I have yet to taste one as good as this. Or, quite frankly, even close. You don’t need any special equipment, but it is easiest (and, I think best) if you have a slow cooker. Beyond that it is just some chopping, some stirring, and an afternoon of amazing smells in your kitchen.

Read on for the ingredients and details.

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Nov 152011

I’ve been kicking around a few ideas on how to deal with quick food ideas that don’t really rate a full “recipe post” treatment. This is what I have come up with – if you like it, let me know and I will make it a regular feature. If you don’t like it, let me know that too, and I’ll deep-six the whole idea. Thanks!
Vietnamese Beef Tortilla Bites
Pro Tip: Click on the image for a full-sized view!

Aug 102011

Let’s just get the name thing out of the way right now. I call these “Turd Rockets” because that is what they were called the first time that I was shown the basic recipe. I have seen them called lots of other things since: Pig Poppers, Atomic Buffalo Turds, and – at one hole-in-the-wall bar in Port Arthur where they made exceptionally good ones – Big Dumpers. I’m a sucker for tradition, though, so despite both the plethora of more interesting names and many tweaks to the recipe I will always call them Turd Rockets.

That said, I have to admit that I have a soft spot for “Big Dumpers”.
Anyway. These are a barbeque riff on the classic jalapeño popper. Instead of battering and deep frying, though, the stuffed pepper gets wrapped in bacon and smoked. And if you were maybe thinking that the combination of sweetened cheese and sausage and jalapeño and bacon and two hours over a smoldering wood fire was a good thing, you would be absolutely right. Keep reading to out just how right.

Mmm … Big Dumpers.

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May 312011

So I was thinking about a nice savoury zucchini appetizer, maybe a bruschetta, and after I got all excited about it I realized it was too hot to be doing anything but the absolute simplest version of anything. So instead of the whole cooking and chopping and macerating and so on and so forth that generally goes along with bruschetta, I pared it down to super-thin grilled strips of zucchini with romano and truffle oil on some toasted rounds of bread.

Get it? Strips? As in “stripper” as in the song “Patricia The Stripper”? That’s where I got the name, see? I really shouldn’t have to explain these things.

Anyway. It turned out to be about five thousand times better than I had ever hoped, so I’m passing it on to you. This works as a super simple appetizer for almost any occasion where you might have the grill up and running. The flavours are bright and summery and sweet and salty and it’s crunchy and warm and I bet you end up making it all summer long.

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Apr 112011

If you have ever spent any time at all in the American south, you will know that cornbread is a deadly serious subject. Every region has its own cornbread dogma, and the true believers in any particular state/county/town/swamp are not likely to welcome any suggestions or comparisons when it comes to their local product. This is both dangerous and unfortunate, since many areas of the south have what can only be categorized as nasty cornbread. In the low country of the Carolinas, for instance, they have a hard and fast rule that nothing approaching either flavour or texture should ever be found in their miserable yellow bricks of doom. If you are unfamiliar with the style of cornbread in a particular locale your best bet is to simply avoid it altogether. It saves all sorts of angst and embarrassment when your host asks you how much you love it.

This rule can be dispensed with in Alabama, however. The folk in Alabama know how to make seriously good cornbread. They like their ‘bread light and sweet, and don’t have the bizarre prohibition against sugar that you will find the Carolinas. This recipe is the real deal – I poached it from my friend Amanda who is Alabama born and bred, and while I have tweaked it specifically to be baked in a Big Green Egg or a hotter-than-average barbeque pit, it will work just fine in your kitchen oven too.
So grab yourself a hot cast iron pan and join me after the jump for some warm golden goodness.

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Aug 132009

Okay – first things first. I realize that “Chicken Shakeys” is a terrible name, but the problem is this: Until about a day ago, these things had no name at all. I have been making them for pretty much ever, but there was never a name beyond “those chicken wing things” and when I got around to taking pictures and getting ready to put the recipe up here, I realized that a name was probably in order. So I went with “Chicken Shakeys” because (a) you do shake them at one point, and (b) the great Jim “Shakey” Hunt could eat more chicken wings at a press box buffet than anyone else on the planet. But the name is definitely not set in stone, and if you can think of something better, I am all ears. In fact, if you do come up with a name and I adopt it, I will name another recipe down the road after you. So get your thinking bibs on and see what you can do.

In the meantime, on with the show.
This is a kind of messy (during the preparation) and somewhat fidgety (during the preparation) but generally simple (during the cooking) take on chicken wings that will really impress your guests as either a side or an appetizer. These look cool, are fun to eat, and taste like greasy heaven on a stick. And, just for extra awesomeness, there is bacon. When you are done, you get what amounts to savory chicken and bacon lollipops with all kinds of layers of sweet and smoky flavour, and if you can eat just one of these then you either have ludicrous amounts of willpower or no taste buds at all.

Sorry, grill-heads, this one needs smoke and no direct heat, so you are on the sidelines for this one. Everyone else, stand by for some serious yum.

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Jul 072009

UPDATE: I have changed the cutting pattern to a far more useful (and more obvious, I don’t know what I was thinking before) layout that gives four equal portions and is easier to finish. New pictures included!
GRILLHEAD ALERT: This one is a pure grilling recipe and takes direct heat, so all of you non-barbeque guys can jump on board today. You will knock your guests out when you serve this up as either an after-meal treat or as an appetizer.

This is a super-simple combination of pineapple, maple syrup, cinnamon, and a hot grill. It brings a smorgasbord or bold and subtle flavours to the party, and looks fabulous on the plate. It gets served in it’s own skin and looks faboo. The only real challenge here is the cutting, and anyone with a couple of sharp knives will do just fine.

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