pumpkin-free Halloween

dinner

For years we’ve eaten pumpkin on Halloween. Often in the form of soup, with Yorkshire pudding and sausages alongside, and sometimes in ravioli. This year we decided to take a complete break from it. Instead I made an equally autumnal supper of pan-fried rainbow trout and a rather successful melange of Brussels sprouts, onion and bacon, which worked extremely well. The trout was from Skagit’s Own Fish Market and was just beautiful, lightly floured and fried in a bit of bacon fat. The bacon itself was from Skagit River Ranch, and I wish I could say I liked it better. Everyone we know has been raving about it for the last year, and I finally got hold of some (whoa! expensive), but good lord it’s sugary. It smells wonderful in the pan, like smoke and maple syrup, but it burns really easily, and after a few bites I feel like I’ve eaten a candy bar. Brussels sprouts made the perfect vehicle for it, giving the sugar somewhere to go.

We drank a bottle of Sones Cancion del Mar white wine, gave out a few Butterfingers to the neighbor kids, and didn’t miss the pumpkins at all.

trout

butterflied

prep

sprouts and bacon

Advertisements

what to do with bison bacon

view from Chuckanut Drive

If you ever hop off of Interstate 5 north of Mount Vernon and take Chuckanut Drive north as a scenic route to Bellingham (a side trip well worth taking, except when the road is closed by rockslides), you’ll pass by a number of great opportunities for local food buying. Without going very far out of your way, you can hit Slough Food for cheese, wine and salumi, Breadfarm for wonderful bread, cookies and crackers, Taylor Shellfish for oysters, Samish Bay Cheese (for cheese, obviously), and the Edison Inn for shuffleboard and a burger. Just to mention a few.

Just recently, we started noticing a bison farm out on Chuckanut, advertising meat for sale. We’d never cooked with bison, that I could think of, and weren’t really sure what it might be like. So a few weeks ago Jon was out getting us some oysters and he made an executive decision to stop at Rockin R  Bison. He bought a pound of chuck steak and a pound of “bacon.”

The chuck steak was easy, we cut it thinly and seared it to make a Thai-style stirfry with bamboo shoots. It was delicious, with a strong beefy flavor but marbled enough to be tender. But what to do with bison bacon?

The first few strips I tried cooking in a skillet like pork bacon. It didn’t work particularly well – the meat was done well before the fat rendered, and the taste was very much like beef jerky – not what I really want with my breakfast. Then Jon had a brainwave – use it in a Sichuan-style stirfry, based on the dry-fried beef recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop’s book!

bison stirfry

It worked really, really well. Continue reading

bacon and egg pizza

bacon & egg pizza

It was serendipitous, really. We were already planning pizza for dinner, but hadn’t given much thought to the toppings; usually we just go with tomato sauce, pepperoni and sliced olives if nothing else is really calling to us, and we always have those on hand.

In the nick of time, though, I saw a tweet from Michael Ruhlman about a homemade pizza topped with bacon, egg and asparagus. It looked amazing, and I thought, “Why have I never thought of putting bacon on a pizza? What have I been doing with my brain all this time?” Plus I adore eggs on pizza (especially with bitter greens, like one I tasted at Serious Pie), but I haven’t ever gotten the hang of it. It was time to try again.

I did my usual crust, because I still think it’s one of the best ever – just a little whole wheat, and plenty of crunch without being crackery. I like to transfer the rolled-out crust to a hot pizza stone and top it right there on the hot oven rack, which takes a bit of quick work and gets you all hot and bothered, but is much easier than trying to move a fully loaded pizza. We didn’t have any asparagus, but we did have some diced tomato left over from last week’s kebabs, so I tossed that on with the lightly sauteed bacon lardons. After five minutes I added a raw egg and let it bake another ten minutes.

It ended up being a little overdone, due to my apparent inability to tell the difference between a nicely baked-but-still-runny egg and a completely raw one – next time, I’ll take it out sooner. But it was still a swell pizza, chewy and cheesy and bacon-y. It looked so good we had to cut into it while it was still molten from the oven, and burned ourselves extremely thoroughly – ouch. It was totally worth it though. We’ll be doing this again.

penne carbonara

penne carbonara

I can hardly believe it, but it’s true: I had never eaten pasta carbonara before this week. Shocking, I know. And I might not have gotten around to it, if I hadn’t seen this amazing post. Jennifer’s carbonara was full of delicious local eggs, plus she had some wonderful looking pork jowl to work with; mine was a little more subdued but still very successful.

the last two eggs

We had come home from a wine tasting at our local shop, and were feverishly trying to think what we could cook with what was on hand. We had two eggs left in the fridge, a fresh pack of Hempler’s bacon, some parmesan cheese in the freezer, and some random boxes of Barilla pasta – and I already had carbonara on the brain from the aforementioned blog post. It seemed worth a try.

bacon Continue reading