Apparently I am stuck on a soup train lately, but you should always have some tasty soup recipes to share at this time of year. Cauliflower is a fairly under-utilised vegetable. When you roast it, it gets a rock, meat-y sort of flavour, which makes it an awesome addition to a pot of soup. Couple that with some salty bacon and, well, you are pretty much winning at life.
I first made this soup earlier this winter while I was traveling in Australia and New Zealand. It was one of many rainy days we experienced while exploring down under, so a warming soup like this was the perfect thing to enjoy. Try it this weekend!
Did you know it’s Elvis’ 78th Birthday today? I’m not sure if I’m on the ‘Elvis is still alive’ bang wagon (if that wagon still exists?), but I can’t argue that the man had taste. Rumour has it that his favourite dish in the whole, wide world was a Peanut Butter, Bacon and Banana Sandwich.
I shared a recipe for this guilty pleasure sandwich in a blog entry on this site back in December as a quick and easy lunch for a day when you don’t feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches have always been a favourite of mine, so adding in some crisp bacon just takes it to another level.
Not that this one really needs a recipe, but, nonetheless, here it is…
What you’ll need…
8 slices bacon
8 slices white bread (keeping’ it classic, old-school all the way!)
2 bananas (1/2″ sliced)
peanut butter (the more the merrier!)
Fry up the bacon in a large frying pan until they’re nice and crispy. Place onto some paper towel to absorb any excess grease and to cool slightly. Toast all bread slices until they’re golden brown. Slather each piece with some peanut butter, top with sliced bananas and one piece of bacon. Combine slices into pairs, slice in half and chow down!
Always so simple and satisfying! Happy Birthday Elvis!
Total prep time…10 min
Well, it is almost time for this season of Top Chef Canada to come to a close. Tonight, we all will find out if Trevor, Jonathan, or Carl will take home the title of ‘Canada’s Top Chef’. It’s been great watching these three skilled gentlemen show off their chops throughout the past 13 weeks, so, regardless of who wins, it will be well-deserved.
Yet again, I’ve found myself out of town during one of my weekly Top Chef Canada dish recreation challenges. I was lucky enough to head back to Vancouver this week to attend Trevor Bird’s restaurant opening bash for Fable Kitchen. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because it was the name of his team’s one-day dining establishment during this season’s ‘Restaurant Wars’ episode.
When I popped by the event, I told Trevor I had to recreate his Apple Bacon Tart from the current episode. Not being much of a dessert-maker himself, he assured me that I would be fine baking his dish this week!
In addition to baking some apple bacon tarts this past weekend, I also signed on to cook a birthday dinner party for my friend Jillian. After coming up with a simple menu for her and some friends to enjoy, we decided that some Top Chef-inspired tarts would be the perfect way to end the evening, on a sweet note.
I’ve cooked many of my Top Chef Canada recreations for friends before, but making a dessert dish at a birthday dinner was definitely upping the ante. Jillian is not an easy lady to impress!
6 strips bacon
1 small red onion (diced)
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP brown sugar
2 cups butternut squash (peeled, 1/2″ cubed)
1 cup celery root (peeled, 1/2″ cubed)
1 TSP chili powder
1 TSP yellow curry powder
1 TSP cumin
1/2 TSP cayenne pepper
1/4 cup maple syrup
8 eggs (soft poached and waiting to be eaten)
salt and pepper
Not exactly the healthiest thing you could eat for breakfast, but everyone loves some bacon grease on the weekends, right? It looks kind of sexy too…just saying. Continuing on my quest of not just using squash for soups, I decided to try and cook it up in a breakfast hash. Maple and squash is a pretty traditional flavour pairing, so I tried to spice it up a bit with, well, some other spices. Definitely hits the spot on a weekend morning when you’re feeling a tad tired from last night’s escapades.
Start by cooking the strips of bacon in a large pan on medium-high heat until they’re nice and crispy. Remove from pan and place on some paper towel to absorb any excess grease. Once the bacon has cooled slightly, chop into small pieces and set aside. Next, add the red onion, butter and brown sugar to the pan and let cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In the meantime, place the next six ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and toss to combine. Add the squash mixture to the onions, stir to combine and let it continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Finally, return the chopped bacon to the pan and stir in the maple syrup. a healthy dose of black ground pepper, some salt, then you’re good to go!
For serving, place a generous scoop of hash on a plate, top with a couple poached eggs and a final drizzle of maple syrup.
As for poaching the eggs, don’t be afraid. It’s easier than it seems. There are approximately 12000 YouTube videos on how to do it successfully. You can do it, I believe in you. If you want to skip the poaching, fried eggs on top are just as tasty, but make sure to keep that yolk runny!
Total cook time…25 min
There are only a few things that I will wake up early in the morning for…
1. An unexpected zombie attack, from which I must run away.
2. To catch a flight.
3. To catch my neighbour stealing my newspaper.
4. A delicious breakfast meal.
Now, to the point, reason #4 will be why I am setting my alarm clock for 5:30AM this coming week. I am taking part in Breakfast Television’s ‘Best Breakfast’ (dare I say) battle next week. I was asked to join the ’Best Breakfast’ judging panel. I was extremely flattered, very excited, and slightly intimidated, to sit on this panel which also includes renknownd food critic John Gilchrist and Avenue Magazine’s executive editor Jennifer Hamilton. In addition, Jill Belland will be hosting this friendly culinary competition. She’s seems like a sweetheart! Aside from getting over the butterflies in my stomach, I knew I had to do one thing before Monday: Get my haircut, which I did. Today.
So, bring it on Monday! I’m ready to roll!
We’ll be dining at four different establishments that specialize in breakfast (obviously), and then head into the BT studio on Friday morning to announce one restaurant as having the ‘Best Breakfast’! Yes, there are a lot of great breakfast diners in Calgary, but BT has narrowed it down to four that will duke it out.
Here is the schedule for the coming week…
Monday: Red’s Diner
Tuesday: Blackfoot Truck Stop
Wednesday: Galaxie Diner
Thursday: Diner Deluxe
Friday: And the winner is…?
Feel free to check back here for updates throughout the week. Although my scores for each restaurant will remain top secret until Friday (points for taste, value, and visual appeal), I’ll be sharing a short recap of each day’s adventure. As well, I’ll also share the BT video clip, just in case you’re not planning on getting up early next week.
If you are up and about in the mornings next week, feel free to tune into Breakfast Television between 7AM-8AM for all of the breakfast-y excitement! Woot!
8 strips bacon (chopped, 1″ pieces)
1 yellow onion (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1 cup beer (preferably Steam Whistle Pilsner)
2 1/2 cups homogenized milk
1 cup parmesan cheese (shredded)
1 cup romano cheese (shredded)
1/2 cup smoked gouda (shredded)
2 TSP chili powder
2 TSP hot sauce
1 TBSP chipotle paste
salt and pepper
5 cups macaroni pasta (cooked)
baked with bread crumb topping… (optional)
1 cup mozzarella cheese (shredded)
1 cup bread crumbs
Sometimes, even a food blogger can have a bit too much to drink. A few too many beers at karaoke, over-indulging in martinis, birthday celebrations… Yes, it does/can happen. Waking up the morning after is never all that pleasant. Let’s assume that the cooking breakfast ‘deadline’ has passed. Now, what to do? Nothing helps soothe a sore head more than some greasy, cheesy food. This recipe calls for one cup of beer because, if you’re anything like me, there’s still a half-full bottle on your counter…
Place the chopped bacon into a large pan. Cook on medium-high heat until the bacon starts to crisp up, about 6-8 minutes. Then, add-in the onion and garlic. Stir, and cook until the onions soften. Now, pour in the cup of beer. Once the mixture starts to simmer, reduce to low heat, and let bubble away for 10 minutes.
Once the beer and co. mixture has thickened, you can add all remaining sauce ingredients, aside from the cooked pasta (also preheat your oven to low broil if you’re going to bake the pasta). Turn up to medium heat and stir regularly until the cheese has melted completely, about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce is a bit thin, add some corn starch to thicken it up.
Add the cooked pasta to the pan and gently stir until the macaroni is completely covered in the sauce. Dish out and let the healing cheese and bacon work their magic.
*If you’re not too hurtin’ to bake the pasta, place the combined macaroni and sauce into a prepared 8″ square baking dish. Sprinkle the bread crumbs and mozzarella cheese evenly over the top of the pasta and bake until the cheese is bubbly and starting to turn golden brown, approximately 10 minutes.*
Total cook time… 25 minutes (35 minutes if baked!)
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