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For a second, I thought, “Oh dear! I have not blogged in so long!” Then I realized that this blog is not read by anyone other than maybe Lauren Bans, and really it is only meant to be a repository of things I have baked or soups I have made—so my worrying was for naught, natch. But I have been baking a little recently, and it is high time that I posted the results. Among other things, I think I have discovered the best peanut butter cookie recipe in the world. For reals!
First, though: Baking* with bacon. So delicious! I sort of feel embarrassed about jumping on the whole bacon-and-sweet-things bandwagon, particularly because that wagon left the station like at least five months ago. But these little babies are so worth it. The recipe comes, again, from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, which I recommend investing in for certain.
1 c. granulated sugar
½ c. packed light brown sugar
½ c. buttermilk
1 T. light corn syrup
½ t. baking soda
¼ t. kosher salt
4 T. (½ stick) unsalted butter
1 c. chopped pecans
½ t. grated orange zest
4 sliced bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled**
Combine the first six ingredients in a deep saucepan, and cook slowly over medium heat until the mixture hits 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
I made these without a candy thermometer—something that, while doable, I would not recommend; the lack of total precision meant that my first batch was a little chalky-colored, even though they still tasted delicious. If you’re without a candy thermometer, you can drop a spoonful of the stuff into a cup of ice water. If this turns into a pliable ball (something that should happen about 20 minutes in), it’s ready to be removed from the heat.
Once you’ve removed the saucepan from the stove, add the butter, vanilla, pecans, zest, and bacon. Beat the mixture like crazy with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy. Drop teaspoonfuls onto parchment paper and let cool until firm.
*Yeah, I know this actually involves baking not at all!
**Next go-around, I would up the bacon to at least 6 slices—maybe even 8 if I’m feeling particularly wild! Seriously, though, I do think this could use more bacon.
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Some people will tell you that soup is only for the winter. Do not believe them. They are wrong. (And this is not a segue into a post about gazpacho.)
Zucchini spinach soup
3 cloves garlic
4 medium-sized zucchinis
1 T. garam masala
1 Idaho potato
8 oz. spinach (frozen is fine)
4 c. stock
1 T. lemon juice
also: olive oil, salt, pepper
*this requires a blender
Chop the onions and the zucchini. Heat a stock pot over high heat, and pour a healthy glug of olive oil into the bottom. Add the onion and zucchini, and lower the heat to medium. Press the garlic into the pot and add the garam masala. Sauté for about 8 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Meanwhile, peel the potato and chop into small chunks. Add the potato and the stock. Bring the soup to a boil, and then add the spinach. Once it returns to a boil, reduce to a simmer until the potatoes are soft.
Blend the soup, either with an immersion blender or in batches with a regular blender. Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.
White bean, chicken, and tomatillo soup
4 cloves garlic
2 carrots, peeled
1 28-oz. can of whole tomatillos
3 15-oz. cans of white beans
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 c. stock
Chipotles in adobo sauce (1 7-oz. can will do just fine)
also: olive oil, salt
Chop the onion and the carrot. Heat a stock pot over high heat, and pour a healthy glug of olive oil into the bottom. Throw in the onion and carrot, and turn the heat down to medium. Press the garlic and add, sautéing for about 8 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the tomatillos, and with a fork or a potato masher, mash the tomatillos until they’re on their way to being pureed but still a little chunky. Drain the white beans and then add to the pot. Add enough of the stock to cover the mixture, and bring to a boil. Let simmer until the chicken is cooked through.
Now, if I may digress for just a moment, let me tell you about how much I love chipotles in adobo sauce. I’m pretty shocked that this ingredient has only recently become a staple in my pantry. This is probably because, as usual, I am late to the party. But this stuff deserves a party: it’s seriously spicy, and it lends a dish a certain smokiness, one that I’ve been searching for—for years, in vain. Hello, adobo!
Once you open the can, the obvious route is to chop up the chipotles and then add in some of the sauce, as you see fit. I’ve been pureeing the chipotles and the sauce together, which also allows you to freeze the leftovers in an ice cube tray for instadobo later.
Back to the soup: add in as much chopped chipotles and sauce (or puree, if you’re rolling that way) to the soup as the chicken is cooking. Either way, be careful to add slowly and deliberately; the chipotles and the sauce both pack a lot of heat, and you won’t want to use the whole can. Once the chicken is cooked and the adobo is added, let the soup continue to simmer for a while more—maybe twenty minutes, less if you’re hungry or people are waiting. Salt to taste.