It seems there has been a bacon explosion in North America, in more ways than one. Novelty bacon dishes and other bacon-related items have been popularized rapidly via the internet. Fast-food chains boast about double bacon burgers, and upscale restaurants are wrapping steaks in bacon — even adding it to chic desserts. It’s the old sweet and savory marriage of flavors that seems to work so well.
Bacon mania has made bacon the star ingredient. The movement has been traced to the late 1990s when high-protein foods became a more prominent diet focus due in part to the Atkins diet.
The huge popularity of bacon has also encouraged product introductions such as bacon salt, maple bacon donuts, baconnaise, bacon-infused vodka, bacon ice cream, bacon jerky and chocolate covered bacon just to name a few. Condiments are the unsung heroes of the culinary world. A finishing sauce can be an important part of every meal. Whether you’re serving pork tenderloin, pork chops, pork loin, or pork roast, a flavor-filled sauce will guarantee to take the meal from good to great. We found this blackberry bacon sauce to do exactly that.
Pork Medallions w/ Blackberry Bacon Sauce
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In a saucepan, cook bacon until almost crisp, remove to a paper towel.
To the bacon drippings, add sliced mushrooms & garlic, sauté until cooked. Remove to a plate, set aside.
To the saucepan, add remaining sauce ingredients & bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer & allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.
Remove from heat & allow to cool slightly then place in a food processor & pulse a few times.
Pour sauce through a wire sieve & press to get everything but the seeds for your sauce.
Add bacon & mushroom/garlic mixture. Combine well & set aside.
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Slice the tenderloin into even, 1 1/2 inch thick, medallions, sprinkle with garlic & onion powder & the salt & pepper.
Then, heat the olive oil and butter in a large heavy skillet, cast iron if you have one. Braise the pork tenderloin medallions, you may have to work in 2 batches. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes on each side, remove from the skillet and cook the remaining pork. Using 2 wooden skewers, thread meat first with one & then with the other. It should resemble the unsliced tenderloin but do leave a tiny bit of space between each piece.
Place on a baking sheet & roast for 30-35 minutes.
To serve, plate the tenderloins and spoon (reheated) sauce over them. Garnish with a few whole blackberries & serve any remaining sauce on the side.
Some years ago I started using leeks and have never looked back since. Brion & I have never tired of that subtle flavor. When a recipe calls for leeks, it usually indicates to use the white and light green parts only and to either discard the ‘tough dark green tops’ or save them for another use.
So what are these ‘other uses’? Usually it refers to using the green tops as add-ins for soups or stock, only to be removed once they have imparted their wonderful layer of flavor and discarded.
When you think about it, we cook up all kinds of vegetables that are ‘tough’ to start out with yet end up nice and tender when cooked or braised. I find, using the dark green tops presents no issues, just cook them a bit longer than the tender leaves.
On the other hand, you can braise the dark green tops with some butter/olive oil, chicken or veg stock, minced garlic, dried chili flakes, salt & pepper & some lemon juice and make a great side dish to serve with fish or pasta etc.
Stuffed Pasta Shells w/ Wild Salmon, Leeks & Mushrooms
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Pasta & Filling
In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add pasta shells & cook 3 minutes less than the cooking time indicated on the package instructions. Drain pasta
In a large saucepan, over medium-high heat, saute chopped bacon until cooked. Remove from saucepan with a slotted spoon to a paper towel. Add leeks, garlic & mushrooms to bacon drippings. Sauté until leeks are soft; season with salt & pepper. Add salmon, gently combine & set aside.
In a saucepan over medium heat, add butter & olive oil. Once melted, add garlic then sauté until light golden brown, about 30 seconds, being careful not to burn. Sprinkle in flour; whisk & sauté for 1 minute. Slowly pour in chicken broth and milk while whisking until mixture is smooth. Season with salt & pepper then switch to a wooden spoon & stir constantly until mixture is thick & bubbly, 4-5 minutes.
Remove saucepan from heat & stir in mozzarella cheese, garlic powder & parsley flakes until smooth. Taste then adjust salt & pepper if necessary.
In a small saucepan, over medium heat, add olive oil. Add breadcrumbs & cook, stirring until toasted & golden in color. Remove from heat & place in a small bowl; combine with parmesan cheese.
Assembly & Baking
In a 13 X 9-inch baking dish, spread a small amount of garlic sauce over the bottom. To filling mixture, add reserved bacon & enough garlic sauce to help the filling stick together.
Divide filling between the 16 cooked pasta shells & place in baking dish. Top with any remaining garlic sauce then sprinkle topping over all.
Bake for about 30 minutes making sure not to overcook the salmon. Serve.
Scallops are beloved by pretty much everyone who can eat them …. they’re tender, sweet and taste ever so slightly of the sea. Being not only expensive and easy to overcook, scallops are often considered restaurant only fare.
Wild scallops feed by filtering microscopic plankton from the water. They are hand shucked immediately and frozen at sea to capture their fresh sweet flavor.
Pan-seared scallops pair well with bright, tangy flavors that contrast their meaty sweetness or in creamy dishes that emphasize their richness.
One of my go-to ‘sauces’ that I’ve used on numerous occasions on the blog, contains hot red pepper jelly. I’ve added a raspberry preserve to the jelly for a new twist on the flavor this time. The parmesan risotto brings it all together, definitely making this meal a ‘keeper’.
Pan-Seared Scallops w/ Spicy Raspberry Sauce
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In a large skillet over medium heat, cook & stir diced bacon until browned, about 5-10 minutes. Drain the bacon & reserve.
In the skillet, melt the butter & sauté onion & garlic for about 4 minutes until soft & translucent. Add the rice & mix well until it is fully coated with the butter.
Pour in 1/2 cup of the broth & lemon/lime juice. Once the rice has absorbed all the liquid, turn heat to medium low. Add one cup of broth & continuously stir until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat, one cup at a time, with the remaining broth. This will take about 20-25 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup water & take the pan off the heat once risotto is at your desired consistency. Add the parmesan cheese, reserved bacon & parsley; stir to combine. Add salt & pepper to taste.
In a food processor, puree ingredients for sauce & set aside.
Thaw scallops as directed on package. Rinse & pat dry with paper towels; season with salt & pepper. Add oil & butter to a non-stick skillet & heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Sauté scallops by turning over once until browned & just cooked through, 4-6 minutes total.
Serve over a bed of parmesan risotto & drizzle with sauce.
- Of course, if you live where you have access to fresh scallops, your in a whole different class!!
One thing for sure — pizza worldwide, never gets ‘old’. The fact that pizza can be topped with almost anything, creates some of the most unique flavors.
But, first we must think about the cheese used as it has been a part of pizza forever. Food experts seem to agree that mozzarella is the best choice. There are four different kinds of mozzarella used for pizza: fior di latte (made of cow’s milk), mozzarella di bufala (made from the milk of water buffalo), burrata (a fresh Italian cheese with a creamy filling), and the type most commonly used in North America, pizza cheese (whole milk or part skim mozzarella). Of course you can always opt for a kind that you favor more personally.
Around the world, regional ingredients and local foods create some interesting combinations such as: Australia: bacon, ham, egg, shrimp & pineapple Brazil: green peas, corn, raisins, boiled eggs & hearts of palm China: mini hot dogs Costa Rica: shrimp & coconut France: bacon, onion & fresh cream Germany: canned tuna Greece: feta cheese, olives, oregano, onion, tomato, green pepper & pepperoni India: tikka chicken, minced mutton, pickled ginger, paneer cheese & tofu Japan: squid, eel, teriyaki chicken, bacon & potatoes Netherlands: lamb, as well as the so-called ‘double Dutch’ – double meat, onion & cheese Pakistan: tikka chicken, achari chicken & curry Portugal: local garlic sausage or chorizo Russia: a combination of several types of sea food with onions called ‘mocaba’ Sweden: chicken, peanut, curry powder as well as pineapple & banana
This wild shrimp pizza uses a light garlic-lemon sauce with a mozza-parmesan cheese combo. We love shrimp (or seafood), so what’s not to like!
Wild Shrimp & Red Pepper Pizza
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In a large skillet, melt butter & add oil over medium heat. Add garlic & lemon zest, cook for 1 minute. Add broth (or wine) & lemon juice, simmer for 2 minutes. Add shrimp & red pepper. Saute ONLY until shrimp is pink. Remove from heat; place shrimp & red pepper in a dish & set aside. Add Parmesan cheese & Italian seasoning to broth remaining in pan; combine well. Cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large pizza pan with parchment or sprinkle with cornmeal. Press out pizza dough evenly in pan & brush with slightly cooled 'sauce'. Top with shrimp, peppers, mozzarella cheese. Bake 8-10 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.