Monday, October 30, 2006

Ready, Set, Cook! #20: Bite-Sized Bacon Bundles.... Booya!

Oh yeah, and some noodles. Another one of my creations from Ready, Set, Cook! looked so appetizing, that I had to attempt it.The original recipe from the event can be found here.

After looking over the recipe, I decided to simplify a few things. First of all, the tasty-sounding ginger-sesame dressing was axed in favour of a much less complicated and slightly more subtle spicy mushroom sauce. Secondly, I had overestimated the pliability of green onions, and after several futile attempts to "tie one on", so to speak, I decided to toothpick them in place.More on that in a bit, but first here's the revised recipe.

Seafood Bacon Bundles with Noodles
serves 2 or 3 (or just one if there's a hockey game on)

Bacon bundles:
1 227g (8 oz) package of imitation crab meat
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
12 slices bacon
bunch of green onions, sliced lengthwise

4 bricks dry ramen noodles, with flavour packs ("Oriental" is my favourite)
3 large brown mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 tsp ancho chili flakes
2 green onions, chopped
1 tsp freshly-grated lemon zest
freshly ground pepper
fresh basil (for a garnish)

* Preheat oven to 350F.
* Place one piece of crab meat with two slices of chestnut (one on either side) on a bacon slice and roll up. Wrap with a piece of green onion and secure with a toothpick. Repeat for all peices of bacon.
* Place bacon bundles on a lightly greased baking sheet and cook for 40 minutes at 350F.
* When the bundles are almost done, prepare the noodles as follows:
* Put 6 C of water on to boil in a large pot.
* While the water is boiling, empty the flavour packets into a large bowl, and add the mushrooms, the chopped green onion, the chili flakes, the lemon zest and the pepper. Toss to combine.
* When the water boils, remove about 1/2 C of the boiling water, pour it over the seasoning mix and stir to combine. Place the dry noodles in the water and cook until separated and soft, about 3-4 minutes.
* Drain the noodles, dump them into the bowl with the seasoning mix, toss to combine, and cover with a towel to keep warm until the bacon bundles are ready.
* Remove the bundles from the oven, and check that they're not stuck to the tray.
* Place some noodles on a plate, then arrange four (or more) of the bacon bundles on top, with some fresh basil for a garnish.

One thing you might want to check when starting out is that the toothpicks you're using are not the minty variety(!). Unbelievable. When I popped the first one in my mouth, I had a bit of a shock, and it's not even the same as if I'd put fresh mint in, either. This was the taste of nasty synthesized mint essence-type flavouring. Yeesh. Good thing there was lots of sauce. Also, I have a package of wooden skewers that I bought over a year ago and hadn't found a use for, so I tried threading four of the little bundles of joy onto a skewer as well. That was harder that I thought it was going to be. The green onion kept ripping, and I had to re-skewer a couple of the bundles several times. I almost pulled out the duct tape. It was a close thing.Despite all of that, the bacon-bedecked bundles of beauty tasted absolutely excellent, with the nice creamy texture of the seafood contrasting the crunchiness of the water chestnuts and the smoky salty taste of the bacon. Oh, and the ghostly minty taste from those flippin toothpicks.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Ready, Set, Cook! #17: High-Class Spuds

It's fall once again, and Anne over at Cooking With Anne has started up her Ready, Set, Cook! events every Tuesday. The rules are simple: using the three ingredients provided, and whatever other ingredients you want, create an original recipe. No actual cooking is required to participate, just the submission of the recipe.Last week, the three theme ingredients were:
* any kind of mushrooms
* heavy cream
* boiled ham

My original recipe submission can be found here. The recipe looked so tasty, I decided to actually attempt it. Here is the revised recipe that I actually used.

High-Class Spuds
Makes Two Huge Potatoes

2 large baking potatoes
1 small celeriac (celery root), peeled and cut into chunks
2 C chinese mushrooms (any kind will do), cleaned, trimmed, and sliced
3/4 C cooking sherry
(for company I would use cognac, but for myself, the cooking sherry was fine)
1 C 35% heavy cream
2 tbsp + 2 tbsp butter
150g sliced ham with rosemary (I got some nice stuff from the deli section at the Grocery Palace)
2 large slices swiss cheese, whole
2 large slices swiss cheese, julienned
2 green onion, chopped
Worcestershire Sauce
fresh ground pepper

* Preheat oven to 400F.
* Bake the potatoes for about 60 minutes until done.
* While the potatoes are cooking, do the following:
* Place the celeriac pieces into a pot, just cover with cold water. Boil, covered, then reduce heat to half, tip the lid, and continue cooking until the pieces have softened.
* Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.* Dry sauté the mushrooms in a medium skillet over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, then add 2 tbsp of the butter and sauté for another few minutes. Add the sherry, bring to a boil, and reduce liquid by half, about 3-4 minutes. Lower heat to medium, add cream, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.
* When the potatoes are done, let them cool a little, then cut a 'cap' off the top of each one, and scoop out the insides leaving about 1/3 inch of potato all the way around each one.* Puree the potato with the celeriac, the garlic, 2 tbsp of the butter, a splash of Worchestershire Sauce and some fresh ground pepper.
* Place a few slices of the ham into the bottom of each potato skin. Then place one slice of the swiss cheese into the bottom of each potato.* Using a piping bag (or a spoon), pipe the mashed potato mixture evenly into each potato skin. I found some cheap piping bags at the local Bulk Barn. I think they were about $1.29 apiece.
* Pour some of the mushroom-sherry reduction over each. With the addition of the celeriac, there will be LOTS of filling, so don't overdo it. You'll probably have a bit left over.Sprinkle the remaining ham, grated cheese and green onion on the top of each one.
Bake at 425F for 15 minutes.

AS I mentioned before, with the addition of the celeriac, there was WAY too much filling. Also, there was WAY too much mushroom-sherry reduction for only two potatoes. If doubling the recipe for four potatoes, do not double the mushrooms, and still only use one small celeriac. I made another whole meal from the leftovers. Mmmmmm....

Ready, Set, Cook! happens every Tuesday at Cooking With Anne. Check it out, it's fun!