Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Carpool Wars: Cease Fire!


Anchor:  There has been a startling development in the long-running South of the Boulevard Carpool War hostilities.  For more details, we go live to our reporter on the ground.  Are you there?

Field Reporter:  Indeed, I'm here in Encino, where we have learned that a cease fire has been declared by the warring Carpool Moms.  The impetus for this radical shift in the tenor of the dispute was, I am told by my sources, bacon.

Anchor:  Would that be Kevin Bacon? I had heard that both John Kerry and Hillary Clinton have Bacon Numbers of 2 . Given his relatively close connection to those diplomats, is it possible he was involved?

Reporter:  They are not ruling that out, but for the moment, it appears that regular, smoked bacon is responsible.

Anchor:  Can you give us some background here?  How did things reach this critical juncture?

Reporter:  If you will recall, during the most recent skirmish over the braising title, the combatants vowed to take up their oven mitts again, waistlines and livers be damned. Ensnared by the spatula-wielding women and the promise of yet another outstanding meal, innocent children and husbands chose to remain in the thick of the conflict as well. It certainly seemed that there was no end in sight to this dire situation.  In fact, the stakes were raised even higher when it was suggested by a bystander that the next confrontation be focused, not on a particular dish, like bolognese, steak, or tacos, the type of meal, or even a proscribed preparation method, but on just one, single ingredient.  That ingredient? Bacon.

Anchor:   There is precedent for this on the Food Network, I believe, but that battle is massively edited for television, and they have trained staff with them in the arena. These brave women probably had no idea of the danger they were setting themselves up for.

Reporter:  That's exactly right. The whole plan was fraught with peril.  But, as we know, bacon does exert an uncanny power over the human brain.  Experts now believe that just the idea of a bacon-based meal somehow created a unity of purpose in the minds of these former enemies. Instead of pitting their bacon creations against each other, in an unprecedented step, they agreed to collaborate on the dinner.

Anchor: What about the coveted "taste" prize? This is one of the most divisive issues of the whole campaign, is it not?

Reporter:  Stunningly, that was thrown out completely. There was no vote. I repeat, there was no vote, rigged or otherwise. They just happily stuffed themselves and went home.  I spoke with one of the diners on condition of anonymity, and she said it was a tremendous relief not to feel disloyal for voting against her mother, and also that the bacon potato things were really good. Apparently, the new mantra here at Carpool headquarters is, "Everybody wins when dinner is full of bacon."

Anchor:  Incredible. How long can this cease fire possibly hold?

Reporter:  I have it on good authority that Carpool Wars, as we know it, is no more, but that we can expect many more Carpool Truce dinners in the months and years to come.

Anchor:  I think I speak for all of us when I say, "Phew." Thank you.  We'll be following this story closely, very closely, in case they have leftovers, and will bring you updates as we have them.


Carpool Wars:  The Bacon Accords

We did, indeed, come together and lay our Le Crueset cookware down for greater glory of an entire meal honoring bacon.  It was a moment for the ages.

The appetizer course was Christy D.'s drool-worthy and addictive Bacon Wrapped Potato Bites with Spicy Sour Cream Dip.  Recipe from The Kitchn.

Christy F.'s tender, smoky bacon-braised chicken dish.   Find the recipe from Fine Cooking here.

Christy D's spectacular BLT salad with Feta, Candied Bacon and Cherry Tomatoes. 

My Mac & Cheese with Bacon, after two teenagers had been through and helped themselves.  

And yes, there was bacon dessert.

Maple Bacon Sugar Cookies 

And the over-the-top Vanilla Ice Cream Sundaes with Pecan Bacon Crunch* and Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce.

Peace out.

Maple Bacon Sugar Cookies

by Sharon Graves
Prep Time: 30 min, plus an hour of chilling time
Cook Time: 8 minutes
A classic sugar cookie becomes a warm, spiced treat with the addition of smokey bacon bits and a maple sugar glaze.  The recipe was tucked into my monthly delivery of Vanilla Bourbon Bacon, so I had to try it! Lightly adapted from BaconFreak.com

For the Bacon Sugar Cookies:
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • generous grating of nutmeg
  • 10 Tbs. (1 1/4 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. pure maple syrup
  • 3 slices of thick-sliced bacon, cooked until crisp, finely chopped (about 1/3 c. total)
For the Maple Frosting:
  • 3 Tbs. milk or cream
  • 1 Tbs. pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 c. (est.) powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl.

In a larger bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla and maple syrup, and mix until well combined.

Stir in the dry ingredients, either by hand, or using the mixer at low speed. Add the crumbled bacon and stir gently. The dough will be crumbly.

Turn dough out onto a long sheet of wax paper or parchment paper, and use your hands to form a log, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the log up and transfer to the fridge for at least an hour, or as long as overnight.

To bake, preheat the oven to 350. Slice the log into cookies about 1/3 of an inch thick, and place cookies a few inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until the edges are just turning golden brown. Remove from the heat and cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the milk/cream and the maple syrup in a medium bowl, and slowly add powdered sugar, mixing well as you go, until the frosting is thick but still easily spreadable. Top cooled cookies with the icing, and allow to set a bit before serving.


"BLT" Salad with Candied Bacon, Feta, and Cherry Tomatoes

by Christy DImitriades
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes, plus cooling time, for the bacon.
Crisp, tangy, creamy, salty, sweet...what more can you ask for in a salad?
  • About 4-5 slices of thick-cut bacon
  • Brown sugar
  • Chopped romaine
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Crumbled feta
  • 2/3 c. Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c. Lemon juice
  • 2 heaping Tbs. of chopped shallots
  • Salt and pepper
Make the candied bacon:

Press brown sugar onto both sides of raw bacon to coat lightly.
Line bacon on a flat wire rack on top of cookie sheet.
Bake on 375* until desired doneness, flipping half way through. Bacon should be crispy but not burnt.
Remove from oven, let cool completely.

Prep the salad:
Chop romaine and tomatoes. Toss with crumbled feta. Set aside.

Make the dressing:
Chop shallots into tiny pieces.
Squeeze lemons to make fresh juice.
Put shallots in a bowl. Pour lemon juice on top. Add olive oil, mixing thoroughly.

Final assembly:
Chop bacon.
Toss salad with dressing and bacon. Add salt and pepper to taste.


* I adapted the Hazelnut Bacon Crunch recipe from Everything Tastes Better with Bacon cookbook.  It was kind of a pain, but the results were tasty.  You can try this link for the recipe.

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