Tag Archive for Bacon

Spaghetti all’amatriciana

I’m a bit on a pasta-spree, so here is another delicious and simple pasta recipe.

Spaghetti All'Amatriciana

Spaghetti all’amatriciana (serves 2)
From nrc.next koken

2 tbsp olive oil
75 g pancetta, diced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/2 – 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 can peeled tomatoes
200 g spaghetti
some flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan on medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and fry until it releases its fat and turns golden. Add the garlic and chilli flakes, fry all stirring for another minute. Turn up the heat, add the tomatoes and mash them with a fork. Leave to bubble for a bit, then turn down the heat. Leave to bubble gently while cooking the pasta.
Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, or by your own preferred method.
Add the pasta to the sauce and mix well. Add the parsley and cook for another 20 seconds. Check for seasoning. Serve with the parmesan and a grater on the table.

Spaghetti with herbed cream cheese, spinach and bacon

A very simple, but satisfying pasta dish. Make this when you are in a hurry and need something comforting to eat. Also a classic for students on tight budgets. It is usually made with freezer spinach, but I like to use fresh spinach because freezer spinach is horribly overcooked and mushy. You could use chicken instead of bacon to make the dish a bit lighter.

Spaghetti with herbed cream cheese, spinach and bacon (serves 2)

200 g spaghetti
salt
150 g bacon, cut into lardons
150 g herbed cream cheese (like boursin or philadelphia)
300 g spinach, washed

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add salt liberally. Add the spaghetti and bring the water back to the boil. Stir after 1-2 minutes to make sure the spaghetti isn’t sticking. Cook until your preferred done-ness (the times on the package are an indication, but tend to be a bit on the long side).
Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a dry pan on medium heat until it releases its fat, and the bits are golden and slightly crisp. Discard (some of) the bacon fat if you want (keep it to fry an egg or some bread in). Add the cheese and let it melt on low heat. It might curdle a bit. Then add the spinach (in portions if necessary), place a lid on the pan and cook until just wilted. Add the spinach and mix well. Serve immediately.

Caesar salad

Ceasar salad is another one of those classic salads. They become classic because the ingredients complement each other perfectly: crisp and fresh lettuce, a tangy dressing with the savoury kick of parmesan, soft and rich cooked eggs and salty bacon. For me that’s enough, but crunchy croûtons and hearty salty anchovies fillets also are part of the classic recipe.
Add a few bits of smoked or grilled chicken breast and a few slices of crusty sour dough bread and you have a lovely lunch or dinner.

Caesar Salad

Ceasar salad (4 servings)
Adapted from “Marie Claire de ultieme keuken – Michele Cranston”

1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 egg
125 ml olive oil
3 tbsp grated parmesan
salt and pepper

4 eggs
4 tbsp olive oil
8 slices bacon
3 thick slices of sourdough bread
2 heads romaine lettuce
4 anchovies fillets, chopped (if you don’t like anchovies, leave them out, in a salad they can be quite punchy)

Whisk together the dijon mustard, lemon juice and egg. Add the olive oil gradually while whisking. Stir in the parmesan. Taste and season with salt and pepper
Boil the eggs, I like them soft cooked (place them in hot water, bring to the boil, turn down and cook for 6 minutes, then dunk into cold water). Peel and quarter.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Cook the bacon until browned and crisp, set aside. Slice the bread into cubes. Add to the olive oil (that now has a nice baconny flavour) and fry until golden and crisp.
Slice the romaine lettuce. Place on a serving platter or in a salad bowl. Add the dressing and the chopped anchovies, mix well (in this way the lettuce is coated in dressing). Arrange the eggs, bacon and croûtons on top. Serve immediately. When you make this salad in advance, prepare everything, but mix it only just before serving.
When you make this salad for 2, make the whole batch of dressing, since it is quite difficult to make half a batch. It is really too much for a salad for 2, but can be kept a few days in the fridge.

Coq au Vin

Coq au vin (literally rooster with wine) is one of the most famous dishes of France. And with all traditional and popular dishes, there are many recipes available, good and bad, fast and extensive. This is my version, which I love to cook and eat on cold winter nights. I like to serve my coq au vin with rice, this is not very traditional, but works perfect to absorb all the delicious juices. You can also serve it with bread, which is more traditional. Other less traditional things that I do are: using only legs or thighs, not marinating the chicken, not binding the sauce and adding all the accompaniments (shallots, bacon, mushrooms) already at the beginning of the stewing time.

Some people like to remove the skin from the chicken, but I just leave it on as it protects the meat and gives extra flavour. If you don’t like skin, remove it before browning the chicken and fry it in a small pan with a little coconut oil. With a sprinkling of salt this is a delicious appetizer. Or remove it after cooking and give it to someone who does like skin. I think throwing it away is a waste.

Depending on the wine you use the chicken will be more deep red or more purple, but it should be a decent wine and be quite robust for a good result. Burgundy is the traditional choice, but a Shiraz, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon is also nice.

Coq au Vin

Coq au vin (2 generous servings)

2 chicken legs or 4 chicken thighs (with bone)
200 g bacon, in lardons
200 g small shallots, peeled but left whole
150 g small mushrooms, whole (or quarter larger muhsrooms)
1 bay leave, few sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper
1/2 bottle of wine

Heat a Dutch oven or other heavy based pan with lid suitable for stewing.
Fry the bacon until the fat is rendered out and the bacon is brown and crisp. Take out of the pan and set aside.
Make sure the pan is nice and hot again and add the chicken. Brown on all sides. Add the shallots and mushrooms and fry for a few more minutes. Add the bacon back in, together with the bay leave, thyme and some pepper (no salt, the bacon is salty). Add the wine, cover the pan and stew for about 1 hour. Chicken thighs are smaller so will be ready earlier, legs will take a little longer. Check for seasoning and serve immediately.
Alternatively you can leave out the mushrooms at the beginning and fry them in a separate pan just before serving.

Club sandwich

The club sandwich is one of the real classics, containing flavours that complement each other perfectly. It is usually made with two layers of filling between three slices of white bread (sometimes toasted), sliced diagonal to form two triangles and pinned with a cocktail stick to prevent falling apart. I make my variant with a multigrain demi-baguette to make it a bit more substantial as a diner sandwich.

Classic accompaniments for sandwiches are chips, soup, coleslaw, pasta salad, fruit yoghurt or a baked goodie like a chocolate chip cookie or a brownie. Because the sandwich alone is already quite a substantial meal I usually choose a soup, coleslaw, another vegetable salad or some fruit yoghurt to prevent the feeling of eating ‘just’ a sandwich for diner, but not upping the calories/fat/sugar content too much.

Club sandwich

1 multigrain demi-baguette
3 slices of bacon
1/2 chicken breast
pepper (optional: herbs and spices of choice)
1 slice of cheese
a few little gem leaves or other lettuce (enough to cover the baguette generously)
a few slices of tomato
2 gherkins, slices thinly (enough to just cover the baguette)
1 tbsp mayonnaise

Fry the bacon until crisp. In the remaining fat, fry the chicken until cooked. I think the flavour of the bacon fat together with some pepper is enough to season the chicken, but of course you can add all sorts of herbs and spices.
Slice the baguette in two. Divide the mayonnaise over both halves and spread it out. Then start layering the ingredients on the bottom halve. I start with the lettuce, then the tomato, then the gherkins, then the chicken, then the bacon and then the cheese. Top off with the other baguette halve. It is the tastiest when you divide the ingredients in such way over the sandwich that you have a little of everything in each mouthful, for example by slicing the chicken and cheese in longish strips.
Serve immediately or wrap tightly in cling film to eat in a few hours. The bread will get a bit soggy when you make the sandwich in advance, so if you don’t like soggy bread, choose another sandwich to make in advance.

Potatoes with bacon, onion, mushrooms and cheese

There is a brand in the Netherlands that makes all sorts of things with potatoes. One of their products is a range of frozen potato dishes with add-ins based on different foreign countries/dishes. And actually, their ideas are quite good, but… their execution is very poor. I especially like the idea of the Swiss version, it contains small potato bits, bacon, onion, mushrooms and bacon. But it sits all in one bag, so you prepare it together as well, which causes the add-ins to be overcooked when the potatoes are crispy (or you have nice add-ins but soggy potatoes). And the add-ins are just not of great quality and there is only a small amount of them. So even though I like the idea of this product, I never buy it because it is just not nice to eat.

Later on I figured I could perfectly make it myself with good products and in separate pans, so I did, with great results. As portions are completely up to personal preferences, I will just give the description without a real recipe. Start with frying some lardons. Meanwhile slice the onions, mushrooms and cheese (I used belegen farmhouse Gouda). Make fried potatoes the way and shape you like (this time I shallow fried frozen precooked slices of potatoes). When the bacon is ready, take it out onto a plate and use the bacon fat to slowly cook/caramelize the onion. When those are ready, take them out and put together with the bacon. Probably a little bit of bacon fat will be left in the pan, which you can use to fry the mushrooms (use a hot pan). Add the lardons and bacon back in, and add the cubes of cheese as well. Mix and serve together with the potatoes (either mixed or separate), mayonnaise (as dip for the potatoes) and a refreshing salad. The timing depends on how you prepare your potatoes/if you use raw or precooked, and the type of lardons (the good stuff takes quite a bit longer to fry).

Omelet

Every once in a while I really don’t know what to prepare for diner, and I really don’t have much time either. Then making an omelet is a really good option. It is fast, easy, packed with vegetables and proteins and it is also a perfect opportunity to use up all those leftover vegetables from other meals. Served on some bread it is a complete meal.

Omelet (2 servings)

6 eggs
splash of milk
herbs and spices (pepper, salt, garlic powder, mixed dried or fresh Italian/French herbs)
200 g bacon, cubed
1 onion, sliced
1 paprika, cubed
150 g mushrooms, sliced
1/2 courgette, sliced
2 small baguettes (or other bread of choice)

Heat a large, lidded pan (set the lid aside for now). Start with frying the bacon until it is crisp and has rendered its fat. Scoop out the bacon on a plate, leaving the fat behind. Pour out most of the fat, so that the remaining fat is enough to fry the rest of the things in.
Add the onion to the pan, fry until soft and translucent. Add the other vegetables and cook for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, make the egg mixture. Whisk the egg with some milk and the herbs in a bowl until mixed well.
Add the bacon to the veggie mix, then pour over the egg mixture. Place the lid on top of the pan. Cook on low heat until the top of the omelet is just cooked. Don’t overcook it! Overcooked egg is disgusting. Serve the omelet on the bread.

Bacon and egg salad

This recipe is perfect if you fancy a side-salad that is a bit more substantial than just the standard dressed salad leaves, or as a simple starter. Besides, bacon and egg make everything better, so why not salad? I can imagine this very well as a starter or side for a Christmas diner, certainly because it can be made in advance. Just prepare your lettuce, prepare your dressing, cook and peel the eggs (cut them when serving) and bake the bacon in the morning, then mix everything when ready to serve. Some people like to make a hot bacon fat dressing, but I am not one of them, so I leave the choice of dressing to you (I think a bit of oil and vinegar is enough). I do like to serve this salad on individual plates, as the egg quarters and bacon bits tend to sink to the bottom of the salad bowl, which makes it difficult for everyone to get a bit of egg and bacon with their lettuce elegantly.

Bacon and egg salad (2 servings)

100 gram lettuce of choice
2 eggs
100 gram bacon
dressing of choice
optional: other vegetables like cucumber, tomato, etc.

Cook the egg: I have medium eggs, place them in hot water from the tap, bring them to the boil, turn the heat down to just boiling to prevent the eggs from breaking and cook them for 6 minutes. When ready, I cool them under the running cold water tap and leave them for a few minutes to cool. In this way the egg yolk is nice and soft, but not runny. Peel the eggs and slice them in quarters.
Meanwhile, slice the bacon in lardons, bake them in a frying pan until crisp. Wash the lettuce and dry it in a lettuce centrifuge (otherwise your salad will be watery, ick).
When ready to serve, mix the lettuce (and the other vegetables when using) with the dressing, divide onto serving plates, place the egg quarters on top and sprinkle over the bacon.

Potato and leek soup

This delicious, hearty and filling soup transforms the humble ingredients potato and leek to a refined and delicate dish. There is one problem: the soup doesn’t look very nice. The combination of the colours of leek and potato give it a slightly icky colour, and the texture before binding the soup with butter and cream doesn’t help either. Therefore I use a picture of the ingredients instead of the finished soup for this recipe. But don’t let the slightly icky look hold you from making and eating this soup, after the first spoon you will know that it is completely worth it! In France this soup is called potage bonne femme (good woman’s soup).

Potato and leek soup

Potato and leek soup (serves 2 as a main course, more if you also serve bread)

50 gram butter
1 large onion, cubed
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
600 ml chicken or vegetable bouillon (from cube is fine)
1 bay leave
2 large leeks, rinsed well and sliced in rings
150 ml cream
salt and pepper
Optional: crisp bits of bacon

Melt a quarter of the butter in a soup pan. Add the onion, cook until soft and translucent.
Add the potato, cook them a few minutes, then add the stock and the bay leave. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are just tender. This takes about 10 minutes.
Add the leeks, bring to a simmer and cook until the leeks are soft. This will take about 5 minutes.
Puree the soup. Place a sieve over another pan, scoop some of the soup in there and use a wooden spoon to press most of it through, leaving the tough bits behind. Repeat until all the soup has passed through. It may seem tempting to use a blender for this, but don’t! The starch in the potato will get free and your soup will resemble wallpaper glue.
Stir in the cream and bring back to serving temperature. Don’t let the soup boil any more, as the cream might split. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir through the remaining butter in small cubes. The cream and butter will give the soup a lovely texture and shine.

Pasta carbonara with broccoli

There are a few important things about pasta carbonara. First: don’t overcook it! It doesn’t matter which version you make, if you overcook the sauce it will be disgusting. By adding the sauce to the pasta off the heat, you will prevent this. Second: don’t add cream. This is not authentic. Third: don’t add any vegetables. No onion, no garlic, and certainly no peas or broccoli. And fourth: the pasta should always be spaghetti.

Well, I think the first thing is completely true, but the other three are debatable. If you ignore the ‘rules’, you will not have an authentic dish, but who said food should be authentic anyway? It should be delicious, and if possible, good for you as well! So this is my take on pasta carbonara, with cream and vegetables. I use broccoli, because it is one of my favourite vegetables, but peas would be nice as well.

Pasta carbonara with broccoli

Pasta carbonara with broccoli (2 servings)

175 g dry spaghetti or tagliatelle
1 head broccoli, in florets
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced finely
150 g bacon, cubed
2 eggs
50 g parmesan + extra for serving
50 ml cream
salt and pepper

Cook the pasta in a lot of well salted water until al dente (time depends on the brand). Cook the broccoli until al dente.
Saute the bacon until it starts to brown, then add the onion and cook further until the bacon is nice and crisp, and the onion cooked. At the last minute, when it is almost there, add the garlic. If you add it earlier, it has the tendency to burn. Whisk the egg, parmesan and cream together, season with salt (you will only need a tiny amount) and pepper.
Reserve a bit of the cooking liquid of the pasta. Add the drained pasta and drained broccoli to the bacon and onions, mix. Take the pan of the heat and add the sauce. Stir and add a little of the cooking liquid of the pasta to make a nice, smooth sauce that coats everything. Scoop onto plate and grate a little extra parmesan cheese on it.