Put two cups of cold water in a deep saucepan. Add a half pound of regular old-fashioned full-fat bacon, uncut. Bring to a boil on high heat and then turn heat down to medium. Just parboil for a few minutes to render some of the fat. (Save the fat-water for other recipes, reduced. For example, in my green pea soup.)
Using tongs, remove the bacon rashers (they will have separated) to a large flat surface sauté pan, or use your flat-top element if you have one. I use my 14″ low sides stainless steel paella pan. Brown the bacon rashers in a single flat layer on medium heat, until quite crisp. Turn only once.
Remove the bacon and let rest on a paper towel until cool enough to handle. Using a large blade, heavy, very sharp chopping knife, chop the bacon quite fine, using the butt end of the knife (closest to handle), on a chopping block surface or pulse the bacon quickly in a kitchen beaucoup. Careful not to turn the crispy bacon into powder. Keep the crushed crispy bacon coarse.
Mix the minced cooked bacon with just a little cooked rice, a little chopped caramelized onion and a little coarse freshly made loose breadcrumbs. Just enough to hold a patty together.
Add minced fresh parsley, basil and mint. Sprinkle with sweet paprika, crushed dry thyme, a few grains of clove granules and a pinch of dry mustard powder. Salt, pepper and a pinch of your refrigerated homemade golden oven-roasted garlic purée.
(Serious note: If you store your roasted garlic cloves in the refrigerator in a sterilized covered glass jar with airtight lid also sterilized, this garlic puree lasts for many weeks and no mould grows on it. The mould that can grow on garlic puree is literally life-threatening; if you find mould on your stored garlic, toss it and wash the container and lid with hot soapy water, then sterilize with boiling water immediately; the lid, too.)
Pat a one-inch ball-size bacon mixture into a 1/4″ flat round. Very thin. Cook the round bacon mixture briefly on a flat surface in just enough unsalted butter to coat the pan. Turn once. Or use your flat top.
You will use a very thin, crunchy patty as a base and another one as a top.
Make ahead: a Parmesan tuile by placing fresh ground Parmesan cheese in tiny piles on parchment paper on a baking sheet, in a pre-heated 350 F oven for just a few minutes (not more than five). The crispy tuile will go on top of the thin bottom crunchy bacon patty. And place a second parmesan tuile just beneath the thin topper bacon crisp patty.
Next, place a mound of shredded iceberg lettuce, a thick slice of firm fresh tomato (any colour; or you could substitute a thick slice of oven-roasted red or yellow beet), salt, pepper and a little sour cream/fresh horseradish mix and a dab of any homemade aioli. Spread a half teaspoon of my watercress pesto stirred into a little homemade mayo. Add a thin slice or even two of Norwegian Jarlsberg cheese and a thick slice of fresh firm bosc pear. Top with another very thin warm bacon patty with a second tuile beneath the patty.
Now for the piece de resistance: gently place a runny yolk poached egg on top and drizzle with homemade hollandaise. (Always serve freshly made hollandaise at room temperature so it doesn’t split.) You could add sautéed shallots (marinated in Noilly Pratt before sauté) to the hollandaise and it becomes a béarnaise.
Dust the hollandaise that covers the poached egg presentation with sweet paprika and cover with Noilly Prat marinated paper-thin red Spanish onion slices. Save the Noilly Prat marinade, refrigerated, in a glass airtight container, to deglaze a sautéed chicken or pork chop pan. Waste nothing.
As a special treat, serve on an oversize plate drizzled with generous second-season maple syrup or congealed Asbach Uralt cognac figgy jus from your black mission fig marinating jar. You could add a marinated fig along with the Spanish red onion topper for a little added je ne sais quoi.
Serve with a long thin blade steak knife for easy cutting. It’s a special weekend treat breakfast that can be served as a full meal any time of day. You won’t be hungry for hours. Serve with crispy, buttered toast points, or with extra parmesan tuiles.
Alternate: Once you have made the bacon mix flat thin patties, not yet cooked, dredge each patty in flour, whisked egg and coarse loose fresh breadcrumbs and deep fry for a minute (this is a good opportunity to use up dried black-olive bread, stored breadcrumbs). Continue assembling your presentation as above.
A slice of a homemade mocha-crème-filled genoise layer cake is an amazing light dessert completer served with fresh-brewed or real filter coffee such as Melitta.
Note for “instant coffee” consumers: If you knew the chemicals that are used to prepare coffee beans to make instant coffee, and then the addition of preservatives, you would never drink it. I’m no expert, but the chemicals are said to be carcinogenic according to some reports.
I keep a two-cup paper coffee triangle and a Melitta two-cup glass pot on the counter and boil water, then let the water come just off-boil to pour onto real coffee grains. Coffee needs to be made using just off-boil water; tea requires full roaring boiling water to steep properly. It is said that to make tea properly, one must take the pot to the kettle, not the kettle to the pot.
It’s like magic how quickly the real coffee is ready to drink. Very quick and apparently much safer. I don’t like coffee machine filter systems, but that’s just personal. It’s maybe an old-fashioned way to make filtered coffee, but very good and very quick.
Canadian Celebrity goat cheese heavenly clouds faux bread
First, note there’s no flour in my recipe. Research shows hundreds of variations on cloud bread.
There’s delicious old-school bannock, Asian Bahn Steamed Bao, Naan Bread and now this movement in another stratosphere entirely. And with an oven at only 300 F, your kitchen shouldn’t overheat your house.
Since I had a jar of marinating Canadian goat cheese log coins ready to enjoy at a moment’s notice, I decided what better way to create a very special cloud treat.
Gently whisk six large room-temperature egg yolks in a cold glass or copper bowl. Mash six herb-marinated room temperature Celebrity goat cream cheese coins and add to the whisked yolks. I find a pastry whisk does a nice job of gently marrying the two textures.
Whip the six egg whites, being ultra cautious that there are no yolk bits in the whites, until stiff peaks form. Very carefully fold in a half teaspoon of mixed crushed, minced fresh rosemary, minced fresh basil and fresh lemon-thyme. You could add a pinch of dried crushed onion flakes.
Now, using a generous rubber spatula, fold the herbed whites into the herbed creamy goat cheese egg yolk mix. Keep folding until all the whipped whites have blended.
Using a large soup ladle, scoop out enough mix to make about a three-inch round on a parchment-covered baking sheet, so each round has room to spread. Place the baking sheet on the middle rack and watch carefully. Do not leave the kitchen. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Dust with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
You end up with a focaccia-like herb bread, in individual servings.
You can butter with unsalted butter and eat right away or store in an airtight tin with a sheet of white paper towel and eat at room temperature. Best not to refrigerate.
If you move quickly when first from the oven, using a long-blade thin serrated knife you can slice the cloud in half, butter with unsalted butter and fill with your favourite treat: chicken salad, tuna or salmon salad or even just greens.
You could build a BLT and top with a poached egg and drizzle hollandaise over top. Light and friendly yet completely tasty. You could choose from the many Celebrity Goat Cheese logs, cut into coins and marinated in your favourite herbed oil. I often use Mazola Corn Oil for countertop marinating.
Alternate: You could fill your herbed clouds with sliced marinated bottled sweet baby beets and fresh yummy beet greens, drizzled with my warm blue cheese dressing. You might even add a macerated Asbach Uralt cognac marinated black mission fig. Oh my!
Another presentation: Slit a cloud open like a pita pocket and fill with scorched spicy ground beef, chopped fresh tomato, bell peppers, chopped raw white button mushrooms, shredded iceberg lettuce, chopped raw white onion if you like and loads of grated cheddar cheese. You might enjoy the very mild Celebrity White Cheddar Goat Cheese.
© “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks” | Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience