Pancakes with Bacon and Chili

Yes you read that right…Pancakes, Bacon and Chilies OH MY!PCdone3Look at these! So pretty all stacked up with salty bacon on top, glistening with syrup and a sprinkling of pequin chilies. I was alone when I made these and I was seriously talking out loud to myself about how f*cking great they tasted. The sweet, salty, spicy blend was perfect! They really are more like crepes, but April calls them pancakes. I’ve made crepes for my son Ben his whole life, he is going to flip his lid when he tries these! I kind of feel like James and the goat cheese souffle….where have these been all my life? I LOVE the stacked and slice it like a pie way to serve it. Genius April!

Here is what you will need

For the Batter

1/2 pound of all-purpose flour (1 3/4 cup)

kosher salt

4 large eggs

1 3/4 cups milk

3/4 cup water

4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

For the Pancakes

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and bit more for finishing

12 slices of bacon

maple syrup

dried pequin chilies

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl with the salt. Make a well and crack the eggs into the well.eggwellSlowly add the milk and water, whisk until smooth. Add 4 tablespoons melted butter and whisk again. Batter will be liquidy.smoothbatterMelt the remaining butter and set aside. Ready your pan, I used a 6″ non stick saute pan, April called for an 8″ pan, use whatever you have, non stick is key. butterpanAdd a scant teaspoon of the melted butter to your hot pan, add about 2 tablespoons of the batter and quickly swirl it around so it covers the bottom of the pan like a crepe. The pan should be hot enough so the batter cooks up quickly and browns the edges within a minute or so. When you see browned edges, flip it over. There are two ways to do this, flip it in the pan with a quick jerk of your wrist while tossing it up and back to catch it. Or you can grab the edge of the pancake and flip it with your hands or use a spatula. Do whatever works for you, once you get your groove going, you’ll start kicking them out pretty fast. Add new melted butter each time you make a new one. Repeat until all the batter is gone. It was hard to photo this part, since I was alone, so the pictures don’t really show the detail I’m trying to share. I hope I am explaining this well and I wish you luck. Don’t get discouraged, keep at it, you will want to eat these. PCcookThis is color you’re looking for on the pancake.PCstackThis is the thinness you’re looking for. Stack them on a plate and keep warm in the oven. While all your pretty cooked pancakes stay warm in the oven, cook up the bacon.PCdone2Cut the stacked pancakes like a pie and serve with real maple syrup, bacon and chopped pequin chilies. Oh My God! you’ll die these are so dang good!

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Goat Cheese Souffle

Recipe 14 of 103

Souffle’s are decadently light and airy, like eating a cloud of cheese. Souffles can be very tricky to make. It’s the balance of perfectly folded egg whites into a smooth creamy mixture of flour, butter, milk, yolks and cheese for a savory souffle or sugar for a sweet souffle. You will achieve success with this souffle, I promise…if you do what I say via April’s brilliant recipe. This dish can be treated as a starch side dish instead of potatoes or polenta. It also shines on its own as a main dish served with a side salad. My husband James had one comment for this souffle “where has this been all my life?” 🙂 He really enjoyed it!

Here is what you will need

Preheat oven to 350°

1/2 cup unsalted marcona almonds or regular blanched almonds

4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temp plus more for the baking dish

2 cups whole milk   –  YES whole milk

1 teaspoon finely grated garlic, preferably with a microplane (about 3 cloves)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 cup AP flour

1/2 pound fresh goat cheese

4 large eggs, yolks and whites separatedalmonds

Toast the almonds in a small saute pan over medium heat until golden brown, let them cool. I used regular blanched almonds.grindnutsFinely grind the almonds in a food processorbutteralmondsGenerously butter your casserole baking dish (2 qt with at least 2″sides) and coat with the ground almonds, making sure to get all the sides and bottom evenly. Set aside.garlicgratedGrate the garlic like this. In a sauce pot add the milk, garlic, salt and bring to a boil.spiltmilkDon’t be a spazz like me and let your milk boil over…ugh! I hate it when this happens. As soon as the milk mixture boils, remove from heat right away and pour into a heat proof measuring cup.rouxIn a nice clean pot, melt butter until frothy and add flour.roux2Whisk together until fully incorporated, cooking on a low heat for about 3 to 4 minutes. This is called a roux.rouxandmilkOn a low heat add 1/2 cup at a time of the hot milk mixture to the roux, whisking vigorously to incorporate. It will thicken right away and lump up a bit, don’t worry, get to whisking and it will smooth out. Cook for about 5 minutes, add half the goat cheese and stir until melted. Set aside and let cool. addyolksAdd the yolks to the cooled cheesy mixturewhipwhites Whip the whites to stiff peaksfoldedwhitesFold the whites into your smooth cheesy mixture, very carefully. Try your best not to deflate all that air you whipped into those whites. If there are bits of egg white still showing, no biggie, just go with it. bakereadyPour the batter into your prepared casserole dish and crumble the remaining goat cheese over the top. Ready a bain-marie, set the baking dish in a larger baking pan with a dish towel on the bottom and fill with boiling water half way up your casserole. Bake for 40 minutes to an hour or until its puffed up and golden brown.souffledoneLike this!! Golden brown goodness! The best part for me is the crispy nutty almond crust. So good! I made this early in the day, let it cool completely, wrapped in plastic and chilled in fridge. I reheated for dinner in a 325° oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, it puffed right back up and it was amazingly perfect.

Green Pea and Ham Soup


Recipe 13 of 103

How about some soup?

PeaSoup01

photo by Jenny

Creamy, earthy, sweet and savory green pea soup with lovely chunks of smoked ham hock. April has you make a ham stock with smoked ham hocks. So lets chat about ham hocks for a moment. The ham hocks you get at a regular grocery stores are smoked and cured, usually all bone, very little meat and that weird overly cured pink color making them very salty. If you can avoid these, please do so, this way you can control the flavor of your soup and it won’t taste like curing salt. Try to find fresh smoked ham hocks, whole foods whole paycheck has them or most good butchers should too. Cooking beans all day with the cured smoked hocks works very well, they stand up to each other much better, but for this soup, you want the delicate pea flavor to shine.

Here is what you will need

For the Broth/Stock

2 pounds meaty smoked ham hocks

1/2 medium spanish onion or any yellow onion

3 small celery stocks

1/2 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

1 head of garlic, halved horizontally, not peeled

1 fresh bay leaf or 1/2 a dried bay leaf

6 black peppercorns

Combine hocks, veggies, bay leaf, peppercorns and 8 cups of water in a stock pot and simmer for 4 to 5 hours. hamstockThe meat on the hocks should be tender and falling off the bone. Remove the hocks to a big bowl, strain the cooking liquid through a sieve into the same bowl and let the hocks cool in the liquid. When the hocks are cooled, remove all the meat, discarding any fatty hard bits. If you’re lucky and you get hocks with the skin still on them, reserve the skin after cooking and crisp them up in the broiler for a crunchy garnish. Since the hocks I got weren’t cured they needed some salt. I salted mine and crisped them in the broiler. You can make the broth/stock a day or two ahead. hamhockmeat

For the Soup

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 medium spanish onion or any yellow onion

1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 teaspoons maldon salt

1/2 cup dry white wine, sauvignon blanc would work nicely

five finger pinch of fresh mint leaves and more torn leaves for finishing

2 10oz packages of frozen peas

extra virgin olive oil

freshly ground black pepper

3 -4 tablespoons creme fraiche

PeaSoup02

photo by Jenny

Melt the butter in a large pot, add the onions, carrots and salt. Cover and cook, stirring every now and then until onions are creamy and carrots are tender but still firm. about 15 minutes.

PeaSoup04

photo by Jenny

Add the wine and bring to a boil. Let the wine boil until it’s all but gone, about 5 minutes.

PeaSoup05

photo by Jenny

Add 4 cups of broth (freeze the remainder for another batch of soup) bring to boil. Look at that lovely ham hock broth!

PeaSoup06

photo by Jenny

Add the mint and frozen peas. Cook at a simmer for about 5 minutes until peas are warmed and tender.IMG_3264Puree soup with an immersion blender right in the pot or transfer in batches and puree in a blender. Add the ham chunks (save some for garnishing) back into the soup and simmer until the ham is warmed. Check seasoning, depending on how salty your hocks were, you may need more salt.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, black pepper, a few mint leaves, chunk of ham and a big dollop of creme fraiche. YUM! nothing like home-made soup.

Carrot, Avocado and Orange Salad

Recipe 12 of 103

Avocado…Yes

Oranges…Yes

Carrots…..Meh

My history with carrots starts when my skin turned orange at the wee age of 18 months, after being fed too much carrot juice when my Mom received a juicer for Christmas. Thinking I had jaundice she took me to the doctor, he said slow down on the carrot juice. Simple mistake. Simple remedy. The next carrot drama was the shredded carrot salad with raisins. Why was this every where in the 70’s?  Most of you know raisins and me do  not get along, so this salad would never make it in my world. Maybe its the raisins fault carrots flew off my radar? As I grew older I made my peace with carrots, but sadly most carrots today taste like crap unless you get them from a friends garden or a good local organic market. I have found that roasting carrots makes them sweeter and more tolerable,  so I was thrilled to see in this recipe that were going to be roasted.

The textures and flavors in this salad are surprisingly compatible. The cumin, coriander and garlic roasted carrots become as soft and luscious as the avocado and the oranges pair well with all the players.

Here is what you will need

Preheat oven to 400°

4 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

maldon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground

1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted and ground

1 1/2 teaspoons pequin chilies crumbled

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 2 tablespoons

30 or so baby/young carrots, scrubbed with an inch of tops left on or scrub 10 regular sized carrots and cut into small sticks about the size of your index finger

3 oranges, try to get valencia oranges, they are lovely right now

3 ripe haas avocados or try the fuerte avocado they are amazing!

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

a handful of small cilantro sprigs

dryroastStart by toasting the spices in a small saute pan over medium high heat, careful not to burn them. When you start smelling their aroma, they’re done. Set aside and let cool.toastyspices

Add the spices to a mortar and pestle and grind until it resembles a corse powder, reserve in large mixing bowl. garlicrushWipe out the mortar and pestle, add the garlic and salt together and smash until it resembles a paste. dressingAdd the chilies, garlic and olive oil to the mixing bowl with the ground spices. Mix well. Toss the prepped carrots in the dressing and coat well while adding 3 healthy pinches of salt as you toss. Place carrots in a baking dish so they’ll all settle in a single layer. Scrap out all the spiced oil from the bowl and drip it over the carrots. Pour 1/4 cup of water into an open area of the pan so you don’t wash off all the lovely spiced oil, cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes.rawdoneafter the first 15 minutes, remove foil and continue to cook another 15-20 minutes. You want the carrots soft like the texture of an avocado but not falling apart. Let them cool a bit.segmentTime to segment the oranges, the above picture is a little visual on how to do this. Does it make sense? If not watch this, it takes practice so don’t get too discouraged on your first try, keep at it. Segment your oranges over a bowl and keep the juiceavosNow ready your avocados, slice in long pieces, add the lemon juice, the orange juice from the segmented oranges and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large mixing bowl.tossitToss the roasted carrots with the avocados, coating with the juices and the spicy mixture on the carrots, add the oranges and toss gently, careful not too break up the avocado too much. saladoneStack all the items together and top with cilantro leaves. Enjoy the color, texture and spicy kick this salad has to offer. Avocados and oranges are in full swing here in So Cal, get out to a farmers market and make this happen, you won’t regret it.