Wednesday, January 21, 2015

BKT: A New Twist on an Old Favorite

I try not to eat a ton of meat, but I do make a few exceptions, like a high-quality cheeseburger or steak once every month or so, and of course as much bacon as I can get. Bacon is terrific. It's crispy and salty and chewy. And, there's no better order at a greasy spoon than a BLT. You know you're going to get perfection every time, no matter where you are. Crispy bacon, crunchy lettuce, juicy tomato, and a bit of creamy mayo on buttered, toasted bread. Drool...

However, since we should all try to eat healthier in the new year (and beyond), why not mix it up a bit? Use homemade bread or slices from a lovely multi-grain loaf, and use wilted kale instead of the lettuce. It's what I like to call, a BKT.

Soup and Sandwich
Gourmess' Bacon, Kale & Tomato Sandwich
6-8 slices, thick-cut bacon
2 cups chopped kale leaves, no stems
Kosher salt /ground black pepper
1 large ripe tomato
4 slices of homemade or sandwich-worthy bread
2 TBS good quality mayonnaise
Makes: 2 sandwiches

Minimal MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 1

To Do:
  • Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until brown and crispy. Transfer via a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm.
  • Add the kale leaves to the bacon drippings and cook until wilted. Season with salt/pepper to taste, then set aside and keep warm.
  • Slice your tomato and season with a pinch of salt.
Almost too pretty to eat! (Almost.)
  • Toast the bread, then lightly butter one side of each slice. 
  • Spread mayo evenly over each buttered side.
  • Top one slice with bacon, kale and tomato, then cover with the other piece, mayo-ed slice down.
  • Repeat for sandwich #2.
  • Cut sandwiches in half diagonally and serve with a lovely soup like this butternut squash version for a lovely lunch or light dinner. Yum! 
The makings of a BKT!
Butternut Squash Soup.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thinking of You: Tres Leches Cake

Isn't it great, how sometimes eating a certain food can automatically make you think of a loved one?

A few years back, my younger (and taller) sister came for a visit and on one of our outings, had a delicious tres leches cake (in Spanish: "three milks cake") that she still talks about. I snagged a bite of that cake myself, and yes it was delightful. Unfortunately, the restaurant where we had it is no longer in business. Still, whenever I see tres leches listed on a dessert menu, I think of my sister.

Disappointingly, while delicious in their own right, nothing we've sampled on a menu has ever come close to the cake we had back then, so the last time we were together, we decided to try to make it ourselves. Baking makes me nervous, and I've never tried to make tres leches cake before, but my sister is an incredible baker, so I chose the recipe, and then let her take the lead on the actual baking part.

I searched and searched until I found the "Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche" from Food & Wine magazine. You can get the recipe here.

I chose this recipe because not only do you top the cake with dulce de leche before serving, but it also has rum listed as one of the ingredients.

This is important because:
A) I like cake
B) I like rum
C) I like to have my rum and eat it too
D) All of the above

Answer: D
Try the recipe. This cake is amazingly delicious. And now when I think of tres leches cake, I'll think of making and eating it with my sister.

We may or may not have added too much rum, but with the addition of some vanilla ice cream on top, it made for a fantastic girls' night treat. Just maybe don't operate heavy machinery after you've had a piece.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Roasted Cauliflower Panini with Sriracha-Tomato Chutney-Mayo

I know in my heart that I was born to spend my life on a tropical island, but until Chris and I become millionaires and can hop on our private jet to the Caribbean, I must endure the winter.

I like sweaters and slippers, and of course all those cute boots, but the best thing about winter is all of the comfort a melty sandwich. (Try this ooey, gooey one filled with roasted veggies that would satisfy even the pickiest of carnivores.) Yum!
Roasted Cauliflower Panini with Sriracha-Tomato Chutney Mayo
1 large head cauliflower, cored and thinly sliced
1 large eggplant, sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
Olive oil
Kosher salt
2-3 small poblano peppers
1 bunch mustard greens, stems removed and leaves chopped
2 oz bacon, diced
4 oz aged cheddar
1/4 cup mayo
2 tsp sriracha
1 TBS tomato chutney
Sliced homemade or thick-sliced bread
Salted butter

Minimal MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 2

To Do:
  • In a 400 degree oven, roast the sliced cauliflower and eggplant with a couple garlic cloves, a few pinches of salt and a heavy drizzle of olive oil in separate pans until the eggplant is creamy and the cauliflower is crispy.
  • Carefully hold each of the poblano peppers over an open flame until charred, then let them cool. When cool, peel off the skins, discard the stem and seeds, and cut the peppers into thin slices. Alternatively, roast in the oven until the skins burst, then peel off the stems and follow the steps from there.
  • Sauté the mustard greens with the bacon in a hot pan on the stove until they are wilted.
  • Thinly slice the cheese. (I used a gorgeous 6-month cheddar from Shelburne Farms.)
  • In a bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sriracha and chutney until blended.
  •  Now, build your sandwich. (Recipe should make enough for two large sandwiches plus some leftovers.)
    • Take two slices of bread and spread both pieces with the butter, then turn over and spread the mayo mixture on both. 
    • On one slice, add the eggplant, cauliflower, and peppers. On the other, the cheese and then the greens.
    • Smoosh together, then place on a hot griddle or panini press, butter side down. 
    • Repeat these steps for the second sandwich.
  • Cover the sandwiches with a lid if using a pan or the top of the panini press and toast until both the top and bottom pieces are golden brown and the cheese has melted.
  • Devour.
And that my friends, is how you survive the winter.