Asiago Potato Stacks

Asiago Cheese is one of my personal favorite kinds of cheese. Coupled with a rich history and unique flavor profile, asiago cheese is a deliciously versatile and ranges from smooth and silky to crumbly and brittle.

Asiago cheese has a characteristically sweet and mildly nutty taste. However, the flavors develop as it ages, getting sharper, more intense, and piquant.  As it matures, the cheese develops a slightly acidic and tangy undertone and a fruity appeal. The scent of the cheese is aromatic, with a floral smell that gets deeper with maturity.

A semi-hard cow’s milk cheese, asiago originated in Italy and takes its name from the famous plateau located in the north-eastern part of the peninsula.

Because this cheese features so much variety the everyday cheese lover might know they like asiago but not really be able to describe exactly what it tastes like. Asiago is actually considered one of the best cheeses to use for cooking due to its mild but noticeable flavor.

These ‘asiago potato stacks’ are a nice change from your typical roasted potatoes. Sure, you can dump any kind of cheese on top of potatoes, and they’ll turn out tasty. But elevate those cheesy ‘taters with freshly grated asiago and a fresh burst of rosemary and they’re amazing!

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Asiago Potato Stacks
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings
Votes: 1
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Using a mandolin, thinly slice potatoes & place in a large bowl.
  2. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil to skillet & mix to combine. Add shallots & garlic; sauté for 1 minute. Add thyme, salt & pepper & sauté for for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
  3. Pour butter mixture over potatoes & toss until each side is coated. Add cheese to potatoes & continue tossing until well combined.
  4. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Stack potato slices in muffin cups & top with additional cheese.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes until stacks are golden brown & crispy. Serve immediately.

Turkey-Bacon Rolls w/ Mushroom Risotto

Bacon is not one of my most favorite foods. I have a very clear ‘taste of a memory’ from the bacon my father would cure on the farm when I was growing up. It was way too salty and fatty for my liking, so I avoided it like the plaque. Brion, on the other hand, loves bacon!  Over the years I have come to find there are many versions of smoked bacon that can really take a recipe to another level. I have used it on, in and around so many things.  I have dipped filets in it, encrusted filets in it, wrapped chicken and salmon filets in it, extra, extra …

Bacon fans are an innovative bunch. Forget the simple slice alongside eggs. Diehards have dipped the meat in chocolate, crumbled it into ice cream, infused it into vodka and the list goes on. You’d have to be living under a rock to miss the signs of our cultural obsession with bacon these days.

In this meal I’m making some sliced turkey-bacon rolls to have with our mushroom risotto. Should be quite flavorful.

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Turkey-Bacon Rolls w/ Mushroom Risotto
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Instructions
Turkey/Bacon Rolls
  1. Chop the rosemary & thyme leaves, add a pinch of dried marjoram, parmesan, breadcrumbs & a little lemon zest.
  2. Lay out turkey slices on a work surface, brush them with mustard, distribute the prepared mixture & roll them up to perfectly contain filling. Wrap each roll tightly with a slice of bacon. Secure with a toothpick if necessary.
  3. Sauté garlic in a drizzle of oil for 1-2 minutes over low heat. Add more oil if necessary & brown mini rolls evenly for 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally & adding salt & pepper to taste.
  4. Add wine, lower heat a little & put the lid on & continue cooking for 5-6 minutes, adding very little boiling water if necessary, Remove from heat & keep warm until risotto is cooked.
Mushroom Risotto
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the porcini mushrooms, remove the pan from the heat & set aside for 30 minutes until mushrooms are tender. Then, using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms & set aside.
  2. Return the broth to a simmer & keep warm over low heat.
  3. In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp of the butter over medium-high heat. Add onion & mushrooms & cook for about 3 minutes, until the onions are tender but not brown. Add rice & stir to coat with butter. Add wine & simmer for about 3 minutes, until the wine has almost completely evaporated.
  4. Add a soup ladle full of warm broth & stir for about 2 minutes, until almost completely absorbed.
  5. Continue with remaining broth, adding a ladle full at a time & allowing each addition to be absorbed, until rice is tender to the bite & the mixture is creamy. This should take about 20-25 minutes in total.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the parmesan, gorgonzola, chives, salt & pepper. Transfer to a warm serving bowl & serve immediately.

Asiago Shrimp Risotto

Risotto is one of those dishes that’s purely Italian in nature. Most traditionally made with Parmesan cheese, which is stirred in right at the very end of cooking to not only boost the rice’s creaminess but also lend its signature salty, nutty flavor to the dish. Don’t get caught up in tradition though, because risotto is one of the most flexible meals you can make.

While there is nothing wrong with Parmesan, the cheese possibilities for risotto are nearly endless and you quickly discover that the world of this comfort-food staple really has no boundaries.

Risotto is one of those gourmet meals that is really not difficult to make, and it doesn’t take long either. You can have it on the table in 30 minutes or less. It takes some work stirring — not the kind of stirring where you must stand at the stove and stir constantly. You can step away for brief moments, but you do want to do lots and lots of stirring. It’s the stirring that breaks up the starches in the rice and makes the risotto so incredibly wonderfully amazingly creamy.

This rich and creamy risotto with tender shrimp, uses Asiago over Parmesan cheese for a semisweet touch, plus tarragon and flat leaf parsley to give the dish some freshness.

Asiago is a whole milk cheese that originated in Northern Italy, around the Po River Valley where Italy borders Austria. Coming from the mountains, Asiago is similar to other mountain cheeses, such as Switzerland’s Gruyere or France’s Beaufort. Asiago is made in large wheels designed for long-term aging to get through tough winters. Dense and flavorful, Asiago’s flavor profile changes as time polishes the wheels over the course of several months or years. Taken from the milk of cows grazing on the grasses and wildflowers of the mountains, Asiago can have a fresh, fruity flavor or a savory, zesty taste on the palate.

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Asiago Shrimp Risotto
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
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Instructions
Risotto
  1. Heat 1 tsp oil in a LARGE POT or DEEP SKILLET over high heat. Add bacon & cook until fairly crisp. Blot on paper towel & crumble. Transfer to a small microwave-proof bowl. Leave about 1 Tbsp bacon drippings in pot & discard the rest. Add mushrooms & cook until browned. Remove to a dish, set aside.
  2. Turn heat down to medium & return pot to the stove. Add butter & melt; then add garlic & onion. Sauté for 3 minutes or until softened. Turn up heat, add rice & stir until grains become partially translucent, about 1 minute (do NOT overcook).
  3. Add wine & cook, scraping the bottom of the pot to get any brown bits, about 2 minutes. Turn down heat to medium-low; add about 3 cups of chicken stock. Leave, uncovered, stirring just once or twice, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Check firmness of rice & add 1/2 cup of broth at a time, stirring in between until absorbed & rice is cooked to YOUR taste.
Spicy Shrimp
  1. While the risotto is cooking, combine spice mix in a plastic bag. Add shrimp & shake to coat well. In a skillet, heat butter & olive oil; add shrimp & sauté for 2-3 minutes, just until cooked. Keep warm.
  2. Add the mushrooms back into the risotto towards the end, just to heat through. Right at the end when the risotto is ready, add a 'splash' more chicken broth to make the risotto slightly soupy, then take it off the stove.
  3. Add butter & Asiago cheese, then stir vigorously (this will activate the starch & make it super creamy). Add shrimp & gently stir to incorporate them into the risotto.
  4. Serve immediately. Garnish with reheated bacon & extra Asiago if you wish.

Flammekueche – Alsatian Pizza w/ Onions & Bacon

Nestled on the border of France and Germany is a little area known as the Alsatian (All-Say-Shun) region. There, cultures have collided, blended, and meshed to create some of the most unique culinary experiences. One such specialty is the Flammekueche, also known as the Alsatian Pizza, or Tarte Flambée. A combination of baked flat dough topped with fresh cheese known as fromage blanc, bacon, and onions. All of this is baked to a crisp perfection.

The most underrated and underused topping in every pizzeria is the onion. The flavor potential of this glorious root can be either bold or a sublime succulent whisper, but it is usually taken for granted.

Known as flammekueche in Alsatian and flammkuchen in German, tarte flambée is pure and uncomplicated. Typically made on a piece of thin, rolled-out bread dough, it has only three or four other main ingredients: the sour cream, cheese, onion and the bacon.

But don’t let the few ingredients fool you because they’re wonderfully paired. The creamy, slightly sharp sour cream is tamed by the sweet onions and salty bacon.

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Flammekueche - Alsatian Pizza w/ Onions & Bacon
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Potato Pizza Crust
Caramelized Onions
Servings
Ingredients
Potato Pizza Crust
Caramelized Onions
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Instructions
Pizza Crust
  1. Cook potato, peel & mash. Combine yeast with lukewarm water; whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand about 3 minutes until foamy. Add butter, salt, sour cream & potato; mix well. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a tea towel & allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Caramelized Onions
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil. Add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat, sprinkle with vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Remove from skillet & set aside.
Bacon / Cheese
  1. In skillet, sauté bacon until it is halfway to crisp, 2-4 minutes. Remove bacon to drain on paper towel. Break or cut bacon into small pieces. Grate cheese.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll or press dough into 4 ovals. Transfer with paper to a baking sheet.
  3. Add minced garlic to sour cream & spread over crust, leaving a small border. Distribute onions & bacon evenly over sour cream. Top all with grated cheese & a sprinkling of black pepper.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven & slice.

German Krautstrudel w/ Bacon

CELEBRATING OKTOBERFEST!

Sauerkraut strudel is a popular savory strudel version in beer gardens and during Oktoberfest which is the German fall folk fest celebrated during and after the harvest season.

A tradition dates back to 1810 in Munich, Germany. Originally a celebration of the marriage of the King of Bavaria and Princess Therese. Everybody had so much fun that it was resolved to repeat the celebration, which has been done, every year since. In 2022 it runs from September 17-October 3.

Oktoberfest is not only about the beer, singing, dancing and fair attractions. Many of the best known and most loved Bavarian specialties are enjoyed during the festival.

German strudels are not limited to the classic fruit fillings for the pastry. Savory examples are very common and this simplified sauerkraut strudel with soft sautéed strands of cabbage, the smoky flavor of bacon, and a savory crunch of caraway seeds; all wrapped in a delicate, flaky crust is a good representative. 

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German Krautstrudel w/ Bacon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Dice the bacon & cook in a pan over medium heat until it renders the fat but is not yet crispy. Drain on paper towel & sauté the diced onion in the rendered bacon fat. Cool down. In a bowl combine the drained sauerkraut, bacon, onion, egg, bread crumbs & seasonings. Mix well together.
  3. Roll out the puff pastry sheets, brush with half the melted butter. Reserve the rest. Spread half of the sauerkraut mixture over each sheet, roll & pinch to tuck in the ends. Place each strudel seam side down onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet & brush with melted butter.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before slicing with a serrated knife.
  5. Serve with sour cream, sliced green onions or mustard as a dip.
Recipe Notes
  • To make a STRUDEL DOUGH from scratch:
  • Sift 2 cups of all-purpose flour into a bowl. Mix with 1 tsp of salt. Add a beaten egg, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 2/3 cup lukewarm water. 
  • Mix well together and knead into a dough. Cover with plastic and let rest 30 minutes.
  • Flour work surface and knead dough for a few minutes. Roll it out very thin.
  • Flour one side of a large, kitchen towel, spread it out. Place the rolled out dough on top and using your hands stretch it out, aim for a rectangle shape, roughly 16 by 24 inches.
  • Proceed as above and use the towel to help you roll the dough over the sauerkraut filling. 

Cheesy Zucchini w/ Bacon

Zucchini can be used as a canvas for so many combinations. Stuffed zucchini recipes usually contain ground meat, cheese, tomatoes, rice, spices, etc. I decided to take ours in a different direction today using bacon.

We enjoy zucchini in any form, not just when its in season but anytime. Its amazing how zucchini can be the perfect ingredient in so many recipes. Not all vegetables can take on so much. I’ve used it in just about everything I can think of from crispy fries, zoodles, desserts, breads, main dishes, etc. etc.

This stuffed zucchini meal was real good with steamed rice and roasted tomatoes.

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Cheesy Zucchini w/ Bacon
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Slice ends from zucchini & cut each one into 4 equal pieces. Carve out the inside, being careful not to go all the way through the bottom.
  3. Chop pieces of the zucchini removed from the insides. Place in a bowl with the grated mozzarella, panko crumbs, egg & spices. Cut slices of bacon in half.
  4. Place a half slice bacon in the shape of a 'U' inside each piece of zucchini. Divide filling between the 8 pieces of zucchini, placing it on top of bacon.
  5. Bake filled zucchini in a buttered, foil lined baking dish for about 30 minutes. After removing from oven, sprinkle parmesan cheese over top & garnish with fresh basil if you wish.

Tourtiere Galette

Tourtiere is a traditional French Canadian meal enjoyed by many people throughout Canada. There is no one correct filling; the meat depends on what is regionally available. In coastal areas, fish such as salmon is commonly used, whereas pork, beef and game are often included inland. The name derives from the vessel in which it was originally cooked, a tourtiere.

While the smell and flavor are unique, they aren’t difficult to like. The flavors are ultimately simple and comforting and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand often. This galette version works perfect in my favorite basic cornmeal pastry crust. Tourtiere can be made ahead and frozen, then baked off as needed.

Apart from making tourtiere in the traditional form, try using the filling in tourtiere meatballs, phyllo rolls, burgers, turnovers or chicken tourtiere tartlets. The filling recipe I’m posting today comes from a tiny little pamphlet I probably have had for 30 years from a meat packing company. It has been one that I have worked with the spices to suit our taste.

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Tourtiere Galette
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine French
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Cornmeal Pastry
Course Main Dish
Cuisine French
Servings
Ingredients
Cornmeal Pastry
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Instructions
Cornmeal Pastry
  1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or finger tips, cut in butter until mixture resembles BOTH coarse crumbs & small peas.
  2. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not, add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. DO NOT overwork dough.
  3. Press dough into a disk shape & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Filling
  1. Cut bacon into small pieces & fry over moderate heat until cooked but not crisp. Add pork, veal, onion & garlic; cook until meat is lightly browned. Add water & spices; reduce heat to simmer; cover pan & cook 45 minutes more. Combine meat with mashed potatoes; cool slightly.
Assembly/Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Remove pastry from refrigerator. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll out pastry dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer pastry (leaving it on the parchment paper) to a large deep pie dish. You should have about a 1 1/2-inch pastry overhang. Place tourtiere filling in the pastry shell then carefully fold pastry over it, making a pleated look. Brush pastry with egg wash.
  3. Bake for about 30 minutes or until pastry is cooked & golden brown. Basically you are only baking the pastry since the filling is already cooked.
Recipe Notes
  • Very often tourtiere recipes call for cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves. Neither Brion or I care for those spices in this recipe so its a personal choice you can add or leave out.

Roasted Garlic Chicken w/ Asiago Gravy

Tender, juicy roasted chicken leg quarters are easy to prepare and delicious. The leg quarter is made up of the thigh, drumstick and part of the back of the chicken. It’s named a quarter because it consists of about a quarter of the whole bird. The dark meat takes well to roasting and yields moist and flavorful chicken.

Asiago has long been a favorite cheese of Brion & I. It is a brilliant cheese to bake into bread for a cheesy treat or grate over soft pretzels before baking. It also works particularly well with chicken dishes.

Asiago is a whole milk cheese that originated in Northern Italy, around the Po River Valley where Italy borders Austria. Coming from the mountains, Asiago is similar to other mountain cheeses, such as Switzerland’s Gruyere or France’s Beaufort. Asiago is made in large wheels designed for long-term aging to get through tough winters. Dense and flavorful, Asiago’s flavor profile changes as time polishes the wheels over the course of several months or years. Taken from the milk of cows grazing on the grasses and wildflowers of the mountains, Asiago can have a fresh, fruity flavor or a savory, zesty taste on the palate.

This is a very simple recipe but has an amazing flavor and is well worth trying, especially if your an Asiago lover.

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Roasted Garlic Chicken w/ Asiago Gravy
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Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, fry bacon, blot on paper towel & set aside. Add the seasoned chicken & brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. Set aside.
  2. Add onion, mushrooms & garlic to saucepan; sauté until tender crisp & lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle in the thyme & flour; cook for a minute.
  4. Add the broth & deglaze the pan by scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a spoon while the broth is sizzling.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 F. Mix asiago cheese into the sauce & season with salt & pepper to taste.
  6. Add the chicken, cover with a lid or foil & roast for 15 minutes. Alternately, you can turn heat down to a medium-low & simmer on top the stove for 15 minutes.
  7. Add crumbled bacon to sauce after roasting. Serve.

Gorgonzola Stuffed Shrimp Wrapped in Bacon

Bacon wrapped shrimp is one of the most popular appetizers in culinary history dating back to the early 1940’s. Let’s face it …. bacon has a way of getting into our meals one way or another. Although shrimp prepared in this way are usually appetizers, there is no reason they can’t become the main course.

When done right, bacon wrapped shrimp make such such a great entrée. I find its important to partially cook the bacon before wrapping it around the shrimp. It takes 8-10 minutes to make juicy, flavorful shrimp in the oven. Baking bacon until crispy takes 15-20 minutes, so you need to give the bacon a head start.

Many recipes call for heavy seasoning with spices or sauces. Shrimp stuffed with Gorgonzola and wrapped in bacon need absolutely nothing else to be utterly delicious.

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Gorgonzola Stuffed Shrimp Wrapped in Bacon
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Servings
SERVINGS
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. With a sharp knife, slice the bacon lengthwise & place the half strips on a baking sheet to precook them in the oven. This should only take about 5 minutes as you want to slightly render the bacon but not cook it to a point where it isn't still pliable.
  3. Take most of the shell off of the shrimp, leaving the tails on & devein them. With a sharp knife, butterfly-cut the shrimp in half, being careful to split them but not cut right through.
  4. Lay the butterflied shrimp on a work surface. Cut Gorgonzola cheese into sticks & place one inside each shrimp. Wrap the shrimp/gorgonzola in a bacon strip. I should mention, there is no simple way to do this. It just takes a bit of time & patience but they are worth it.
  5. Place the bacon wrapped shrimp on a piece of foil paper & place on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes. If you wish, you can finish them under the broiler if you want crispier bacon.
  6. Remove from the oven. On a serving platter, slide stuffed shrimp & any cheese & shrimp broth over a bed of Jasmine rice. Nice to serve with steamed broccoli.

Herbs de Provence Shrimp

If you are not familiar with ‘Herbs de Provence‘, it is a mixture of dried herbs considered typical of the Provence region in Southeastern France. This region is known for endless vineyards, olive groves and its vibrant, purple lavender fields. Lavender is the herb that adds a distinctive scent as well as working beautifully with the rest of the herbs (thyme, marjoram, savory, oregano & rosemary) that make up this blend.

Prior to the commercialization of the product in the 1970’s, the person responsible for bringing the French phrase into the vocabulary of cooks around the world was non other than Julia Child (American-turned-French chef), who included it in a recipe in her classic cookbook ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking‘.

This iconic French spice blend can easily elevate any number of meals. Like most spice blends, there is no set formula for the ideal Herbs de Provence. While it uses ingredients that are found in the North American creation known as ‘Italian Spice‘ (with the exception of basil), it also includes lavender flowers and has a strong floral taste.

Although I am using the individual herbs in this recipe, you can easily substitute with bottled, dried Herbs de Provence with no problem. They are readily available in the larger grocery stores. This makes such a great tasting meal …. well worth your time.

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Herbs de Provence Shrimp
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, fry chopped bacon until crisp, about 3 minutes; remove from pan & blot on a paper towel. Saute mushrooms, onion & garlic in bacon drippings until softened.
  2. Add peas, basil, lemon zest & 1 Tbsp oil. Season with salt & pepper.
  3. In a bowl, combine shrimp, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, lavender & remaining tablespoon of oil. Add shrimp mixture to saucepan; cook, turning once, until opaque throughout, about 2-3 minutes. Place in a dish & set aside to keep warm.
  4. In the saucepan, bring vegetable broth to a boil & add couscous. Cover saucepan & remove from heat; set aside until liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add shrimp mixture along with cooked bacon, lemon juice & tarragon. Gently stir together with a fork. Serve immediately.