Wednesday, June 27, 2012

DIY - Bacon Bourbon (or Whiskey)

(Note the photos show a popular version of a "Tennessee"/ sour mash whiskey, which is not by definition a bourbon)

In writing last week's popular post on Bacon Chocolate Bourbon Truffles, I began to wonder why I never tried to make bacon infused bourbon/ whiskey (other than the fact that whiskey and I aren't close drinking buddies).  It's super simple, only requires two ingredients, and uses the nifty, Bill Nye-esque trick of differential freezing points.

I can tell you that the finished product (in my case Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey) will taste like bacon with a sultry alcoholic kick to the back of the palate.  It's definitely not something I would to drink everyday, but it's so easy to make I'll let you try it and see for yourself.

Bacon Bourbon (in this case Tennessee Whiskey) being mixed before freezing

Step 1-
Cook bacon; save grease.  In this case, the exotic smoked flavors found in some designer bacon cuts could lead to some funky flavor combinations in the final product.  I would stick to more neutral hardwoods (hickory, maybe apple) for your first experiment.  To cook the bacon, simply put it on a wire rack on top of a sheet pan and place in a un-preheated oven.  Then turn the heat to 425 degrees and let it cook until crispy (approximately 20-25 minutes depending on how quickly your oven comes to temperature)

Step 2-
Eat bacon (revel in the fact that your at the top of the food chain and someone's not eating you on a BLT)

Step 3-
Pour the fat through several layers of cheese cloth to remove any crunchy bits of bacon/ gristle.

Bacon Grease prior to straining

Step 4-
Cool the fat to room temperature or slightly colder, but still retaining it in a liquid state.  Remember alcohol evaporates from solution at approximately 170 degrees (f), so if your grease is too hot the alcohol will evaporate leaving you with watery fat.

Step 5-
Combine one part bacon grease to three parts bourbon/ whiskey in a container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake vigorously.

Bacon Bourbon, post shaking

Step 6-
Allow the grease and bourbon to mellow at room temperature for approximately 6-12 hours.

Step 7-
Without disturbing the top layer of grease, transfer the container to the freezer.  Leave it in the freezer until the top layer of grease has formed a solid mass.

chillin in the freezer (sorry for the pun) next to its lemon-infused cousin

Step 8-
Remove the layer of grease... and voila; Bacon Bourbon (or in my case whiskey)!

Eat good food.  Drink good beer.  And above all, stay classy!

New Food Wednesday - June 27, 2012

For our "neighbors to the north"

Find out what it is after the jump!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Random Food Photo - Raspberry and Jack Daniels Brownies

Dark chocolate brownies combine with tart raspberries and smoky Jack Daniels in this complex cake
Just a random photo for the time being.  I still need to tweak the recipe a bit more.  But for aspiring home cooks out there, it might give you a glimmer of inspiration. Enjoy!

Eat good food.  Drink good beer.  And above all, stay classy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New Food Wednesday - June 20, 2012

No it's not a new incarnation of that damnable retro-cheese ball monstrosity, but it does involve bacon.

Find out what it is after the jump!

Recipes - Chipotle Pimento Cheese

Chipotle Pimento Cheese (processed in a food processor for a spreadable consistency)

In college, I was fortunate to have the means and opportunity to spend several summers studying in the small state of Guanajuato in central Mexico.  And while the old Mexican grandmothers in Guanjuato make some fantastic tortillas and mole, their real culinary triumph is the bolillo.

Bolillos in Mexico (photo courtesy of

Similar to small individually portioned baguettes, these little morsels of heaven have a light, fluffy interior with a hard crusty outer shell that explodes upon first bite.  These perfect examples of regionalized French cooking are frequently served in restaurants with a spicy and lightly tinted sauce that pleasantly warms your mouth and leaves you wanting more.

Every time I would visit, I would have this sauce and ask the waitstaff how to prepare it.  They would always come back with a long list of ingredients and preparation techniques that at the time I was unfamiliar with.  Finally, I gave up and relegated it a back of mind where it would wait undisturbed for 3 years.  

Fast forward 3 an attempt to elevate ordinary fat-free Greek yogurt I added a few drops of chipotle hot sauce when it dawned on me; IT WAS ADOBO AIOLI!   So I grabbed a can of chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, some mayonnaise, and my handy stick blender and 30 seconds later had a sauce fitting a bolillo.  The only problem was I didn't have a bolillo.

Now in the South, every home cook know how to make at least two things: grits and pimento cheese.  The later is nothing more than mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, pimentos, and a proprietary blends of spices.  And so my rendition of a Very Deep South pimento cheese was born from a need to use that absolutely delicious adobo aioli.

Pimento cheese on crackers, pictured with a thicker consistency (photo courtesy of

*when preparing this dish it can be processed in a food processor for a more even and spreadable consistency ideal for crackers, or it can be simply mixed and retain its "chunkiness" which is perfect for a more hearty sandwhich. 


-2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
-2/3 cup mayo
-1 lb. finely shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
-1 lb. shredded pepper jack cheese
-4 oz. cream cheese
-6 oz. pimentos in juice
-1 small can green chilies (optional)
-1/4 tsp. garlic powder
-1/2 tsp. onion powder
-1/2 tsp. black pepper (or to taste)

Puree the chipotle chilies until they are a finely ground, uniform consistency.  Combine with the mayo (you could stop here and a have a great sauce perfect for dinner rolls).

Combine the remainder of ingredients.  Mix until the desired consistency is reached.  For a more uniform and spreadable texture, consider lightly combine in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to combine.

Serve on bread, toast, celery, crackers, hamburgers, bacon, tortillas, pizza, fried green tomatoes, ice cream... Really anything you can think of!

Eat good food.  Drink good beer.  And above all, stay classy!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Recipes - Springtime Italian Cake (Limoncello & Thyme)

Limoncello and Thyme Cake with Amaretto Icing
 I admit that the combination of flavors in this cake may be a little intimidating to some... After all who puts a savory herb like thyme in a dessert?

Well, the Italians of course.  Folks from "the boot" have an affinity for herbaceous accents in a variety of foods from desserts to cocktails (to this day they produce some of the best bitters in the world).  And although it may not necessarily be of Italian origin, this cake captures the essence of Italian desserts and into a single scrumptious bite.  Tart lemon meets sweet honey meets light thyme meets amaretto in an homage to Italian grandmothers everywhere.

Simply decorated in more rustic / homemade idiom for Fathers Day 2012

For the cake:
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
11/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup honey
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons limoncello
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

For the lemon filling:

1 cup confectioners sugar
Grated rind of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons butter (+ 4 more tablespoons)
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Dash of salt 

For the Amaretto buttercream frosting:
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
4-5 cups confectioners sugar
1-2 teaspoons almond extract (depending on taste)

The "fancy version" produced for a friend's birthday


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two, 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray.  Line the bottoms with parchment paper. Spray a light layer of non-stick cooking spray over the parchment paper, and dust the pans with flour.

Combine the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder,  and baking soda in a large bowl.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy.  Add the sugar, honey, and salt and mix until well combined.

One at a time add the eggs the butter and sugar mixing thoroughly after each addition.

Working in alternating batches, add the flour and buttermilk to the mixture of butter and sugar.  (e.g. mix a third of the flour into the butter/ sugar, then add a third of the butter milk).  Continue in this alternating fashion until all of the ingredients have been incorporated, but not overmixed.

Add the limoncello, lemon juice, and lemon zest to the batter.  Stir to combine.

Pour into the floured pans and bake for 27 - 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes away free of batter/ sticky crumbs.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the lemon filling.

Combine the ingredients for the filling (minus the four additional tablespoons of butter) in a small bowl and whisk violently until everything is uniform and well mixed.  Heat the mixture on the stove top until boiling.  Reduce heat to low and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes.  (Make sure to constantly stir with a wire whisk while the mixture is cooking).  Remove from heat and add the additional butter to the mixture one tablespoon at a time, stirring until each addition has melted.  Allow to cool to room temperature before filling the cake.

To prepare the icing, beat the butter and 2 cups of confectioners sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the milk and almond extract. Gradually beat in 2 to 3 more cups of confectioners sugar until the buttercream is thick and creamy.

Remove a small indented area from the top of one of the cakes.  Into this indention pour the filling.  Invert the remaining cake on top of the filled section and frost with the icing.

Eat good food.  Drink good beer.  And above all, stay classy!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Random Food Photo - Rustic Italian Bread

Rustic Italian Bread
My most recent foray into Italian gastronomy didn't stop with the Limoncello Thyme Cake from the previous post.  (After all, why should one stop with dessert?  I know I never have). No, it only stopped after a rare self-indulgence into the wonderful world of carbs, with this terrific buttermilk-based, rustic Italian Bread.

Mangiare del buon cibo. Bere buona birra. E, soprattutto, rimanere di classe.
(Eat good food.  Drink good beer.  And above all, stay classy!)

Random Food Photo - Limoncello and Thyme Cake

Limoncello and Thyme Cake for a Friend's Birthday
So... Last weekend I was feeling very Italian.  And for a friend's birthday I made a limoncello thyme cake.  Recipe to follow next week after Father's Day.

Eat good food.  Drink good beer.  And above all, stay classy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What's in a table?

So for the past year, I've been eating all of my meals either on the sofa or on the patio.  I could say that I was being ironically chic, the food blogger doesn't have a kitchen table.  But the plain truth is that I'm single and didn't really see the immediate need to purchase a dining room set. 

But along with insurance payments, car payments, and the less-pleasant accoutrements of adulthood, one's transition to maturity also involves a shift to more sophisticated entertaining.  You know, the kind where the table isn't used strictly for beer pong. 

My plan for the table all started about 6 months ago, when I noticed a picture of a refinished table on a design blog.  It had been transformed using a dark oak stain with white words stenciled on its surface.  It was creative and fun, while still conveying a necessary sense of style and whimsy.  Almost as if were saying "Hey so I'm supposed to be a grownup, but I don't always know how to act like one." I knew that I wanted something similar for my small dinning nook.

The trouble with my plan; I didn't have a table to refinish.  I spent months crawling through thrift stores, searching antique outlets, and frequenting yard sales without so much as a single possibility.

I finally found the table I was looking for tucked away in the back of a neighbors garage.  $70 later, it was mine.

I know it's not food related (exactly), but I had to share the before and after photos!

Before (note the spider webs near the closest leg)

After (minwax red mahogany stain with white stenciled letter)
Eat good food.  Drink good beer.  And above all, stay classy!

New Food Wednesday - June 13, 2012

We're back after a two week hiatus!

For today's NFW post, think Venice and Northern Italy, and remember most of Italy is coastline...

Find out what it is after the jump!