Herb Salad with Egg Yolk Dressing & Bacon Fat Croutons

I love frisée salads with lardons, poached egg and perfectly crispy croutons. This recipe encapsulates all those French elements, plus some.

This salad is all about indulgence.

I bought a crazy good cheese from Whole Foods – Brebirousse D’Argental – and felt the need to share this discovery. It was the bright orange rind drew me in.

Goat_Cheese.JPG

Brebirousse D’Argental

If you want a punchy, funky cheese with a wow factor, this is your cheese. It’s flavorful in all the right ways. And, it liquefies in a matter of minutes after sitting at room temperature. I want that quality in my cheese, to be clear. Any fresh goat cheese would be wonderful in this recipe though, so stick with your favorite.

If you can get a fat slab of pork fat, which I couldn’t find, this is going to be that much better. I went with the highest-quality, thickest bacon I could find.

cheesecubes

Can we talk about bacon fat croutons?  Yes, French baguette croutons broiled in garlic, olive oil and sea salt are addictive. But these are next-level good. And take a lot less time, if you’re already going through the hassle of browning bacon.

If you’re anything like me, it takes time for me to establish new cooking habits – especially extra steps that seem like added work, but I know are worth the payoff. I always thank my past self for the effort.

Think – re-using frying oil, saving Reggiano rinds, grinding your own spices, regularly preparing chicken and beef stock, and flavoring batches of olive oil. In the case of bacon fat, I’ve started to save a jar of it in the fridge, leftover from previous frying sessions. I use it instead of butter in dishes that are begging for a bacon boost. A spoonful packs a whopping punch.

The key to this salad though, is the combination of the runny egg yolk and the basic vinaigrette. The simplicity of the dressing emphasizes the in-your-face richness of the other ingredients in this salad – the heavy goat cheese, crispy bacon fat, and croutons browned in said bacon fat.

If you aren’t enthused about eating raw scallion stalk, chives would work just as well here. But I have a feeling there are others out there who like raw scallion flavor as much as I do. Slightly less harsh than biting into fresh onion, and much more herbaceous. Plus, it adds to the greenery of the salad.

What are some of your favorite French bistro salads?

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2 as a main course.

  • 4 cups mustard greens or frisee lettuce, roughly chopped
  • 2 scallion stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup curly parsley, roughly chopped
  • 6 oz. goat cheese, of your choosing, crumbled or cubed
  • 1 medium heirloom tomato, cut into wedges
  • 2 cups French baguette, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 endive, leaves removed
  • 1 / 2 lb. bacon or lardons, cut into small cubes
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Whisk the Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat the bacon in a skillet. Brown until crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. While still on low heat, add the cubed bread to the pan with the bacon drippings. Toast the bread, tossing often, until crispy and golden brown. Remove the croutons from the heat, sprinkle liberally with salt, and set aside.
  4. Prepare the salad – in a large bowl, combine the mustard greens, parsley, scallions, goat cheese, heirloom tomato, endive, croutons and lardons. Toss with the dressing.
  5. Plate the salads, topping each with an egg yolk. Sprinkle the salads with salt, and serve immediately.

 

Pork Chops with Horseradish Cream Sauce

There’s a restaurant called The Pig, self-dubbed the Nose to Tail restaurant, here in D.C. – and all their menu items feature – you guessed it – pork products.

Garden salad? House-made bacon bits.

Burger? That’s going to be ground pork. Yum. Pork chop? That’s wrapped in bacon for some double pig action.

Order a Bloody Mary? You’re getting a strip of bacon in that.

These are just examples, and the only one I can attest to being true is the bacon Bloody Mary, but you get the point.

I don’t buy or cook pork chops regularly. I actually totally forgot about pork chops.

But during a routine trip to the butcher counter to leer at the meats, my eyes settled on a very thick, bone-in slab of pork. It was love at first sight at the butcher counter.

I love strong, woody herbs and garlic with pork, but I wanted some to add an unexpected, punchy element. Enter horseradish.

Pork chops want to be crunchy and seared so juices lock in, just like steak – so achieving that is priority number one.

The sauce starts with the juices from the pan the chop is broiled in, so you’re losing zero percent of that flavor that seeps out from the meat while roasting.

From start to finish, you’re really only turning on the oven and smashing a couple garlic cloves to pull this dish together. And you’re getting a restaurant presentation with little to no effort. That’s a loveable, go-to recipe in my book.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 2 thick, bone in pork chops
  • Approximately 20 stems thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 6 tablespoons grated horseradish
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed
  • 1 / 3 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
  2. Pat dry the pork chops. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet, large enough to hold both pork chops. Add the garlic cloves and the stems of thyme.
  4. When the oil is very hot, almost smoking, put the pork chops in the skillet so they are settled amongst the herbs and garlic cloves. Allow to sear on one side for 4 to 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Flip the pork chops, sear for 2 minutes, and place the skillet in the oven.
  5. Bake the pork chops for 25 to 30 minutes, depending on thickness, until the pork chops are cooked through. The meat thermometer should reach *160.
  6. Remove the pork chops and thyme stems from the pan, leaving the garlic. Add the cream, butter, horseradish a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper to the pan. Scrape up the brown bits from the pan while the sauce reduces for 5 minutes or so.
  7. Pour the sauce over the pork chops, and serve hot.

Green Bay Cheddar Fondue with Soft Pretzels & Beer Sausage

Fondue is a amazing concept. I feel like I’ve said that already.

We don’t eat it frequently because we think of it as a special occasion dish, something for a crowd.

In reality, it’s so much less complicated than many recipes we make on a regular basis. And because the dippers are up to you, the whole process can be as simple as you want it to be. My whole point being, I think I’ll be making fondue more regularly, because I &^%*ing love it. And I can.

During our trip to Lexington, VA, I was brought along to a local country shop near the Natural Bridge landmark by my parents – they were right in thinking I would love it there. I walked out with a locally packaged version of HamBeen’s 15 Bean Soup, some blue raspberry jam, and most importantly – a just cut-off-the-wheel wedge of Wisconsin-sourced Hoop cheese.

I had big plans for this cheese. My boyfriend is a Packers fan – I mean it. All the TV yelling, furor over bad calls, and green and yellow trinkets in our living area. I’ve never seen anyone like something, so much.

The cheese’s meltability wasn’t the best – but all that meant was that we were going to have to eat the fondue screaming hot, to allow for the cheese solids to remain pull-able.

I had to bake soft pretzels to bring home this Bavarian-esque theme, along with beer-flavored sausages. Had to.

For the soft pretzels, having never made them before, I went with Alton Brown’s recipe. For some reason, I trust the guy on baking-related escapades like these. I am not a baker, so I rely heavily on well-tuned recipes when I do. They turned out great. Except, the portions of liquid to flour were a bit off, and I ended up adding about a half cup more flour than suggested. In the event anyone wants to make them, I’d recommend doing the same and it’s reflected in the recipe.

This recipe go-round was a fun test for me. First, making soft pretzels for the first time, which reminded me of the Amish store owners and bakers in Germantown, MD who can twist pretzel dough into shape in half a second and throw others into the baking soda water bath simultaneously with their other hand. Mine did not come out as uniformly as theirs. Next time, maybe.

The second lesson – a rule in melting down cheese. Not all cheese is going to get to that gooey state. There were several rounds and strategies used to melt the cheese that turned into the pot of scalding gold you see here.

Ultimately, know that the more notoriously meltable, softer cheeses – mozzarella, gruyere and processed stuff are your safest bet, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have your cheddar cheese and melt it too. 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 4 to 6. Soft pretzel recipe makes 8 pretzels.

  • 1 lb. cheddar cheese, of your choosing, grated
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 / 4 bottle Heineken beer (3 oz.)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter, salted or unsalted
  • 4 beer-flavored sausages
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse mustard, if desired

F o r  t h e  S o f t  P r e t z e l s ( a d a p a t e d  c / o  A l t o n  B r o w n )

  • 1 1 / 2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1 / 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 1 / 4 cups flour
  • 2 ounces butter, melted
  • 10 cups water
  • 2 / 3 cup baking soda
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Pretzel salt or kosher salt, as needed
  • Vegetable oil, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

( S o f t  P r e t z e l  D i r e c t i o n s  a d a p a t e d  c / o  A l t o n  B r o w n )

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Brown the beer sausages on medium-high heat for 10 to 15 minutes, turning often, until all sides are deep brown and the sausage is cooked through. Remove from the heat, and slice on the diagonal. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  2. Preheat oven to 450*. Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with oil. Set aside.
  3. Combine the 1 1/2 cups warm water, the sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 5 minutes, or until the mixture foams.
  4. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl, then oil it well. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  6. Bring the 10 cups water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a large saute pan or a roasting pan (something wide and shallow is best).
  7. Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, and, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place on a half sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
  8. One by one, place the pretzels in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return them to the sheet pans, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture, and sprinkle liberally with salt.
  9. Bake until dark golden brown in color, 12 to 14 minutes. Allow to cool.
  10. To make the fondue, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet. Add the garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes or so. Add the heavy cream, beer and cheese, and allow to melt, stirring constantly. Allow to simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. While the cheese is scalding hot, serve the fondue, and eat with the soft pretzels, beer sausage and coarse mustard.

Scotch Egg Ramen Noodle Bowl

Scotch eggs. Oh my word. Where to even start?

They’re a traditional British snack food, often considered a picnic-ready food – and although they’re pretty much born to be a breakfast food item considering it’s an egg enclosed in sausage, we couldn’t help but figure, eh, let’s just eat these all day long.

I can’t think of a more delicious concept – jammy egg, Worcestershire sauce-doused ground pork, and other savory elements, all deep fried until golden and sizzly. Here, I went with an Asian flair and added soy sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil. I had a hankering for a bowl of piping hot ramen, and wanted the scotch egg to jive with the Asian flavors in the broth.

A local ramen joint – Jinya, is doing ALL the business. Over the past few months, my sister has been ordering from them four to five times a week – no exaggeration. One time, she had Jinya deliver across the city to her office. For lunch. If she’s any indication – those guys are doing ramen right.

I love the new topping options I’m seeing for ramen. An egg is the classic must have protein-booster, but now I’m seeing crunchy fried pork belly, roasted eggplant, slices of American cheese, and other super delicious topping ideas that go beyond just bean sprouts.

Not that there’s anything wrong with bean sprouts.

This bowl features all my favorite umami flavors – or at least, what I consider umami flavors for my weird palate. Mushrooms, cheese, egg and pork from the scotch egg, toasted sesame seeds, grated onion, spicy chili garlic paste, and corn for a bit of sweetness.

How do you like your ramen to be topped? What’s a cool addition that’s a bit out of left field? I’d love to hear your favorites! 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 1.

  • 1 egg plus 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 / 3 lb. pork sausage, out of its casing
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dash soy sauce
  • 1 dash fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus 1 dash
  • 1 / 4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 / 4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi powder
  • 1 3 oz. package ramen noodles
  • 1 quart chicken or beef stock, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1 yellow Kraft Singles American cheese slice
  • 1 / 4 lb. mushrooms of your choosing, sliced thick
  • 1 / 4 cup corn
  • 1 / 4 white onion, grated
  • 2 Thai chilis, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon Dynasty Hot Chili Oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed
  • Enough vegetable oil to reach two inches-high in a fry-safe pan

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Toast the sesame seeds. Add them to a dry, hot pan. Toast them on medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, tossing often, until the seeds are golden brown and aromatic. Set aside.
  2. Combine the ground pork, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, and 1 dash sesame oil, along with a few grounds of black pepper. Set aside.
  3. Cover an egg with water in a small pan, and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes, and remove from the heat. Place the egg in an ice bath, and allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  4. Coat a saute pan in olive oil, and add the mushrooms. Sprinkle with a large pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Saute for 5 to 7 minutes until the mushrooms shrink and become tender. Set aside.
  5. Prepare the scotch eggs. Combine the flour and the wasabi powder in a bowl. Set aside. Take the egg out of the ice bath and smash the egg on both sides, slowly rolling the egg until the shell slides off. Take the pork mixture and flatten it, putting the egg inside and carefully enclosing the egg in the ground pork, until it’s covered evenly on all sides. Place the egg in the flour mixture, then the beaten egg, then the panko bread crumbs. Set aside.
  6. Heat the vegetable oil in a fry-safe pan – enough that the oil rises 2 inches high in the pan. To test the oil readiness, put a pinch of flour in the oil. If it begins to sizzle and brown, the oil is ready to use.
  7. Place the scotch egg in the hot oil with a slotted spoon. Turn the egg carefully throughout the cooking process, about 4 minutes total, until all sides are browned. Remove the egg from the oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
  8. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a separate pot, and add the garlic. Saute the garlic in the oil for 3 minutes or so. Add the quart of stock, and bring to a low simmer. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes or so, until the stock has concentrated slightly. Add the ramen noodles, and cook according to package instructions, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  9. Serve the ramen in bowls, topping with the corn, Thai chilis, sauteed mushrooms, grated onion, chili oil, toasted sesame seeds, American cheese and the scotch egg, cut in half lengthwise. Serve hot.

 

Chinese Dumpling Ravioli with Soy-Cream Pan Sauce

Whoever first called them dumplings is a visionary – because the name dumpling sounds exactly like what they are. A cute little pasta package with filling. Adorable.

Dumplings are the broad term used to describe any dough-filled pocket that can be prepared in many ways – fried, steamed, stewed, fire-grilled – you name it.

Ones that come to mind are empanadas, tortellini or ravioli, pierogis and mandu. An understandably universal culinary concept, every culture has their own version of a protein or vegetable filled dough pocket.

I worship the filling inside Chinese takeout meat dumplings – always have. When it came time to put in requests for our family’s go-to takeout order, you could always count on me ordering wonton soup and dumplings.

This graduated to include crab rangoon, an upgrade to hot and sour soup in place of wonton soup, and some extra, extra hot General Tso’s chicken. “And don’t forget one of those mini containers of spicy mustard!”, I’d annoyingly yell to my parents mid-order.

When I imagined this dish, I knew I wanted to try a meat-filled dumpling. But what about the sauce?

I couldn’t recall every having a soy sauce-flavored cream sauce before. I doubted there was any way it wouldn’t go great with the ravioli, and I was right. Soy sauce is inherently buttery flavor-wise, as is the cream and actual butter that serves as the base of the sauce.

It was extremely good. Just like the no dairy with seafood rule, I can’t think of many dairy-heavy dishes in American-style Chinese takeout. But low and behold – it works incredibly well here.

The most daunting task will be rolling out the pasta, without a pasta maker. Which if you are in the same boat as me, is what you’ll have to do here.

It all turned out OK. The world didn’t end. And of course, rolling it out by hand contributed to a rustic appearance and heartier bite of the homemade pasta. I’m cutting myself some slack here as should you – I’ve only ever made homemade pasta in a cooking class, but do make gnocchi relatively frequently at home.

The Asian condiments used in the pan sauce are the same as those used to flavor the ground pork and mushrooms in the filling, so the dish tastes relatively uniform throughout. I toyed with the idea of adding parmesan cheese or ricotta to the filling, but ended up leaving it out. I bet it would have been even more delicious with a little dollop of cheese folded in. If you do, let me know how it tastes!

I know I’ll be making this dish again, because my boyfriend was cooing as he was eating it. However, by the time that rolls around, I hope I will have purchased a pasta maker attachment to make this pasta rolling task a bit easier. 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

F o r  t h e  P a s t a  D o u g h

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Flour, as needed
  • Water, as needed

F o r  t h e  F i l l i n g

  • 1 / 4 lb. ground pork
  • 1 scallion stalk, sliced
  • 4 large button mushrooms, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon mirin
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon hot sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

F o r  t h e  S o y – C r e a m  P a n  S a u c e

  • 1 / 2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot sesame oil, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 scallion stalk, sliced
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Prepare the pasta dough. Sift and combine the flour and salt. Pour onto a hard, cold surface, creating a well in the center. Crack the three eggs in the middle of the flour pile, and fold using your hands until combined. Once in a dough ball, knead 10 times until the consistency is silky. If the dough is too hard and not elastic, add some water. If it is too sticky, add some flour. Place the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow it to rest.
  2. Heat the teaspoon of olive oil in a small skillet, and add all the filling ingredients. Sautee until the pork is completely cooked through, and the mushrooms are browned. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Once the dough has had a chance to rest, remove it from the fridge and begin rolling out with a floured rolling pin on a floured surface. Continue to roll out until the dough is less than 1 / 8 inch thick.
  4. Using a ramekin or other small circular dish, create imprints on the dough, and cut out 20 circles, enough for 10 ravioli total.
  5. Place 1 to 1 1 / 2 teaspoon of the filling on one side of each ravioli dough halve, and pinch the sides together moving in a circular fashion until all the raviolis are enclosed with the filling. Set aside.
  6. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. In a separate large and shallow skillet, melt the butter, then add the rest of the soy-cream pan sauce ingredients. Let the sauce come to a low boil and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat.
  7. Add the ravioli to the pot, and cook for 5 – 7 minutes until the pasta is tender. Remove the ravioli from the pasta with a slotted spoon and put it directly into the pan sauce.
  8. Plate the ravioli, garnishing with extra scallions and hot sesame oil.
  9. Final step – enjoy this way too much. 😉