Monthly Archives: March 2011

Viva la Bacon

“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.” – Doug Larson

This year the Handsome Husband and I got tickets to the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival.  The festival is in its fourth year and tickets to the event sold out in less than 30 minutes!!  We had never been before and didn’t know quite what to expect.  Here are a couple pics from the day….

Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival

Ohhhhh BACON!!

The rally cry of the day is  “ooooooHHHHH BACON!”.  It was sort of like  the group “PROST” at Oktoberfest except without the lederhosen.  Or the shared heritage.  And it was greasier.

blue ribbon bacon festival

The Bacon Explosion

The Bacon Explosion is ground Italian Sausage wrapped in a lattice-work of bacon.  It’s like the granddaddy of things-wrapped-in-bacon.

Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival

Bacon frying in a skillet....made of balloons

We ate the classic maple donuts with bacon sprinkled on top, bacon wrapped breadsticks, pork belly tacos, bacon sandwiches, and the best thing of the day: buffalo style bacon with deep fried ranch dressing.

Yes: deep friend ranch dressing.  God I love the Midwest.

The one weird twist was that the festival was sponsored in part by Beggin’ Strips.   As in the faux meat bacon scented dog treats.

Beggin' Strips

Beggin' Strips are NOT bacon. Critical distinction.

There was something really unsettling about seeing bags of the dog treats on tables everywhere as people were eating strips of real bacon.  I’m not sure bacon scented canine snacks should play a role in any food festival.

But the highlight of the day was when two parents and their baby, dressed as bacon, were on stage singing a song they wrote for the festival.  The dad was bouncing the little bacon strip around and Handsome Husband exclaims “Is that a real baby?!?!”  Deep fried ranch dressing was no biggie, but the little baby was just TOO much for him to handle.

So all in all, it was an indulgent pork adventure…..

bacon fest

See ya next year.

xoxo Flyover Foodie

p.s. There is a whole week of bacon themed activities surrounding Bacon Fest each year.  Follow @BRBaconFest on Twitter for fun stuff year round.  And if you want…you can follow me too (blushes) @flyoverfoodie

Pommes Annas

“The potato, like man, was not meant to dwell alone.” – NY Times food columnist, Sheila Hibben

Potatoes aren’t the first food that comes to mind when you think “romance”.  I mean, you can’t dip a potato in chocolate.  BUT- when the potato is elevated by adding it’s soul mate, butter, then things start to get a little more amorous.   Which leads us to the traditional French side dish, Pommes Annas.

Legend says the dish is named for one of the coquettes of Paris in the late 19th century.  Leave it to the French to make potatoes sexy.

Pommes Annas has 4 ingredients: potatoes, butter, salt and pepper.   The thinly sliced potatoes get layered in a pan and baked, forming a “cake” of delicious buttery potatoes.   A sexy coquette inspired potato dish seemed perfect for our Valentine’s dinner.

Step one is to peel and thinly slice the potatoes.

Pommes Annas

Sliced potatoes....not sexy.

The sliced potatoes now get layered in your pan.  The classic French method uses a special copper pan, which of course I am without. (Feel free to remedy that, Handsome Husband)  But, an ovenproof skillet is a common substitute and that I did have.  A little melted butter goes in the pan and the potatoes get layered in pretty circles with some salt and pepper.

The pan goes over heat to start forming a “crust” on the bottom layer of potatoes.   The remaining melted butter gets poured over the layered potatoes:

pommes annas

Just a splash/stick of butter

The potato cake cooks on the stove top for several minutes, pressing down to help the cake form and shaking occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the pan.  Although, I don’t know how anything could stick to a pan that has 8 tablespoons of butter in it….

pommes annas

A potato cake in the making

After sauteing and pressing down for 10 minutes or so, cover the whole thing, and into the oven it goes:

pommes annas in the oven

Let's see how this turns out.....

Every once in a while, I’d reach in and shake the pan again, just to make sure the potatoes weren’t sticking.  Again…there was a lot of butter in there.  But wouldn’t you know it….

They stuck.

So much for the power of 8 tablespoons of butter.  I don’t even have a picture of the “pommes annas” (quotes intentional) because it was basically a pile of buttered potato slices. Not terribly sexy.

UNFORESEEN BONUS:  Although a failure by French standards, this recipe still yeilded a pile of buttery potoatoes.  And who doesn’t like buttery potatoes? Not moi.  We ate them all with our Valentine’s fondue.

So, my apologies to the coquette Anna (whoever you are) for ruining your potato namesake.  Some of us just don’t have that same j’nes se quoi.

xoxo Flyover Foodie

An interesting tip

“Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow they may make it illegal.”

You may have noticed that when I’m trying out a new dish, I like to read a handful of recipes from different sources.  I feel like this gives me sort of a “baseline” for a recipe.  In addition, when I’m looking at recipes on websites like Epicurious, I like to read the reviews that the bevy of home cooks who have given the recipe a try.

Granted, you have to account for a certain amount of user error on recipes  (ie. the critical distinction between kosher salt and table salt), but the tips are usually pretty helpful.  Notes on ingredients,  timing, and tweaks always come in handy.

But I had to share the most hilarious review I’ve seen to date, from a registered user on the website.  Who knew Eggplant Parmesan could induce such delirium?!

“I made food good. added 2 hershey bars at the end. I melted funny, so i laughed. Sat up on roof while i eated it. Ha. fun. Plants.”

I haven’t decided how I’m going to incorporate the “Plants.”  in eggplant parmesan, but I’m totally game.

xoxo Flyover Foodie

Raw Eggs and La Dolce Vita

“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.” – director Federico Fellini

If life is a combination of pasta and magic, then Pasta Carbonara is la dolce vita itself.   Using a little cooking magic and mound of cheese, it was a guaranteed winner in the Flyover House.

I started with a recipe from this little book, which I picked up 5 years ago at a sale at Barnes and Noble; which means that book has been moved to 4 different addresses.  But I digress….

Carbonara is relatively simple.   Hot pasta is tossed with bacon and an egg/cheese mixture.  The heat of the pasta cooks the eggs and turns everything into an otherworldly mix of creamy saltiness.   And unlike most magic,  you can do this without any slight of hand or even a lovely assistant.

Start by bringing the water to boiling for your pasta.  Also, heat your oven to 200° and place an ovenproof bowl in there to warm.  This will be the bowl the pasta gets tossed in.

Cook the chopped bacon and then the garlic.  I added some asparagus, thinking that it would at least make the pasta a little “healthy”.  However, I cooked that asparagus in bacon fat.  Which I’m pretty sure negates any positive impact.

Pasta Carbonara

Cheese, garlic, asparagus....

As the bacon and asparagus were cooking, I mixed the Parmesan, mozzarella, and two eggs together in a separate bowl and set aside.

Pasta Carbonara

Egg and cheese mixture

I know your getting all nervous about those eggs.  No, they haven’t been cooked.  No, we’re not going to cook them.  Don’t worry, you’ll be fine…’s part of the magic.

Once the pasta is done, drain it, and place it in your oven warmed bowl.  Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the pasta and toss thoroughly.

pasta carbonara

If you look closely, you can see the magic happening!

The magic here is in the timing.  The hot pasta gets drained and then immediately gets tossed with the eggs and cheese.  The heat of the bowl and the heat of the pasta cook the eggs.  PRESTO!  No magic words needed….just good kitchen timing.

Now add in the bacon/garlic/asparagus mixture and toss again.  I also added a dash of heavy cream, but mostly because it was leftover from another recipe and I was getting in the nasty habit of putting it in my morning coffee.  Seriously…that stuff is dangerous.

pasta carbonara

That asparagus really lightens it up....

And presto chango….the eggs and cheese heat and make the most decadent sauce for the pasta.  It’s not as heavy as you might think because a lot of the creamy quality comes from the eggs, not from actual cream.  Actually, most traditional carbonara recipes use no cream at all.

UNFORESEEN BONUS: From start to finish this whole recipe probably took about 25 minutes.  And it was delicious.  Rachel Ray, you’ve been served.

pasta carbonara

As beautiful as an Italian art film!

Plus, it has crispy flecks of salty bacon.  Which honestly, makes anything just a little bit magical.  Dished out in big bowls with a couple glasses of a cool, crisp white wine, our kitchen was dangerously close to a Fellini film….

pasta carbonara and Ferderico Fellini

La Dolce Vita

Or as close to a Fellini film as a German/Irish girl in the Midwest can get.

xoxo Flyover Foodie

p.s. Thanks for the patience.  This is the busy season at work, which I promise will be followed by a busy blogging season.  The latter containing noticeably more butter.