Bacon Broccoli w/ Dijon Vinaigrette

Bacon BroccoliThere’s a reason to keep bacon on hand. It enlivens pretty much everything…Sundaes? Add bacon. Chocolate Chip Cookies? Add bacon. Kale, Broccoli, or any other good for you veggie? Oh yeah…definitely add the bacon.

Many of you have indicated you’re working towards incorporating more veggies into your diet, but that you can’t get past the idea you grew up with that veggies don’t taste that great. Inevitably, you reach for them last, not first, and they become the hurried afterthought, not the delicious dinner companion they could be.

Broccoli is a superfood that should be a mainstay in your weekly diet. It’s high in lutein (meaning it’s good for your eyes) and rich in antioxidants that may help prevent certain kinds of cancer.

We just think it tastes good- especially when paired with a little bacon, sundried tomato & shallots.. Not that we think you’ll have leftovers, but if you do, leftover bacon broccoli is perfect the next day in scrambled eggs. We often make extra large portions so that we can include vegetables in our breakfast the next morning. Any vegetable that works with scrambled eggs and cheese is a winner with the Kitchen Divas in Training.

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Gluten Free French Onion Soup – Braised Endive Apple & Bleu Cheese

Should I start with the story of how I ventured out on my own today, and purchased enough ingredients for two delicious meals? (Gluten Free French Onion Soup and Braised Endive w/ Apples & Bleu Cheese- see recipes below) or how I asked for eau mineral avec gas, when the waiter asked me how I wanted my steak done?

I may be able to make myself understood in the food department, but I still have a long way to go in terms of actually understanding what is said to me! C’est la vie! Two days in, and we’ve experienced sunshine, snow, sleet, and rain. The kitchen divas in training have been real troopers and have logged at least twelve miles of walking over the last two days. Once again, I’m such a proud mommy! The mini experiences are too vast to number, and I’m still crummy about taking pictures on our adventures out and about. Hopefully, as I get to know some of the vendors in this neighborhood, I’ll be able to post some cool food pics, but in the meantime, you’ll have to be content with a few anecdotes.

First off, being gluten free in Paris is far from a death sentence. In fact, I was thrilled to discover that on my market street (Rue Montorgueil) I can even get fresh gluten free bread! Now, after eating a few gluten free loaves around town over the last few days, I do think the French are behind the curve when it comes to gluten free bread- but I can see why- it’s not really their thing. I’ve had better fresh gluten-free bread in the states, and am still working on a GF sourdough-ish of my own that I like to think, when perfected, would make any Parisian smile. The Parisians take their bread very seriously- so much so, that as I wandered down the snowy street this morning in search of today’s meals, I noticed a woman leaving a boulangerie clutching a freshly baked, still warm loaf to her chest and smiling beatifically as if she was holding a baby!

We’ve eaten three meals out- and I’ve had no issues at all being gluten-free. I won’t go into that here, I’ll save all the restaurant reviews for a later post. I can say though, that in spite of the foul weather, I LOVE Paris! I always felt I was a New Yorker, but I think I can say unequivocally, after visiting here a few times in the winter, that if I could live anywhere in the world, it would be next to a market street in Paris. I do appreciate that everything here is done with an artistic eye. There’s an understanding here that food is as much as an art as music, or dance, or paintings. As an artist with experience in multiple disciplines, I respond to that.

On that note, enjoy a few visual highlights of The Adventuresome Kitchen’s first few days here, and a few very quick and easy recipes.  Groceries, by and large, are very affordable, although, finding ingredients that you need is another story. I accept that perhaps, I’m just looking in the wrong place- for instance, where does one find chicken stock? I ended up using vegetable bouillon for my onion soup- with surprisingly delicious results. But that was only because chicken stock was not on the shelves at the mini grocery store, nor did I see it at the meat vendor…. If anyone knows how to ask for it, and where to find it, by all means let me know.. The same for lardon… I know that lardon is the closest thing to bacon the French have, but I didn’t see it at the meat vendor’s…. I did, however, purchase something that had it been cured, would have been bacon, and the butcher behind the counter looked at me like I had three heads when I asked for one tiny slice, totaling 0.41 Euro.  And so what I hoped would be endive with bacon, was endive with pork. Still heavenly, but not what I had intended.. But, that’s part of the adventure, right? Cooking with new ingredients, less cookware, etc… and in the process, learning a thing or two! For instance, the oven in the petite apartment is too small for the jelly roll pan I brought. And now, I have to visit E. Dehillerin tomorrow to purchase something appropriate…. oh so sad (she says with a twinkle in her eye) and yet- if I’m bold, another adventure awaits!  More to come, and in the meantime, enjoy the recipes below!

Braised Endive with Bacon, Apples, Shallots and Bleu Cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients 

2 endive, sliced in half, lengthwise

2-3 tbs olive oil

1 thick slice bacon (or uncured pork if bacon is not available)

3 shallots, diced finely

1/2 golden apple, diced

1 1/2 tbs sherry vinegar

1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles

Directions

Preheat the oven to broil. Slice endive in half lengthwise, and brush both sides with olive oil. Place face down on a broiling pan covered in parchment. Place in the broiler for 3-4 minutes, or until outer layer of endive has begun to carmelize and brown. Meanwhile, in a separate pan on the stove, sautee bacon (or pork) over medium until well cooked and beginning to crisp. Add shallots and stir briefly, allowing to saute until  shallots are translucent. Deglaze the pan with the sherry vinegar, and pull from the heat. Add the apples and gently stir.

Remove the endive from broiler, and with a pair of tongs, flip the pieces over so that the cut side is face up. Replace in the broiler for another 2-3 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Remove from the broiler. Spoon the bacon/shallot/apple over each endive, and crumble about 2 tablespoons of  bleu cheese over each half. Replace in the broiler, and allow to cook another 2-3 minutes, or until the bleu cheese is bubbling. Remove and serve promptly.

Golden Onion Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

6 medium onions (white or yellow)

4 tbs butter (unsalted- if using salted, omit salt initially, and adjust for taste)

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tbs sorghum flour

1/3 cup white wine

2 cups vegetable stock (for traditional onion soup use beef stock)

1/2 tsp pepper

4 slices gluten-free bread

2 cups shredded gruyere cheese

Directions

Finely slice the onions lengthwise. Meanwhile, warm a stock pot over medium heat. Add the butter, and when it foams, add the onions. Cook until the onions have begun to change color- at least 20-30 minutes. The longer you cook the onions, the darker they will become and the darker your soup will be.

While the onions are cooking down, turn the oven on to broil. Take the slices of bread and place them on a parchment covered broiling pan. Sprinkle a 1/2 cup of gruyere cheese onto each slice, spreading evenly. Broil for 5 minutes, or until  cheese is bubbly and brown.

Meanwhile, sprinkle the sorghum over the onions and stir until sorghum has turned golden brown, and is beginning to stick to the bottom of the stock pot. Deglaze with the white wine. Stir until everything that has been sticking to the bottom of the pan has been removed. Add the two cups of vegetable stock and stir to incorporate the ingredients. Add the pepper, and if needed, more salt to taste. Cover and allow to heat through.

When you are ready to serve, ladle soup into the bowls, and float a piece of the toasted bread in each dish. Traditionally this is achieved by placing the soup in ovenproof ramekins, and broiling all at once. If you don’t have oven proof ramekins, this method will achieve the same result.

Purple Potato Salad

This purple potato salad satisfies my love of colorful food. I’m obsessed with colorful food. Why have a regular colored food item when you can have an exotically colored one? Think blood oranges, chocolate peppers, blue corn, green eggs and ham, purple potatoes….you get the idea…

My favorite potatoes ever are these little purple guys- they are indigo on the inside and royal purple on the outside. My locally grown variety is called “Inca Blue”. Potatoes are a New World food. They are native to South America, and come in over 100 varieties. A far cry from that Idaho Russet you’re used to seeing in the grocery aisle. Not that Idaho or Russets are bad- I actually love both…but there’s something so..cute about a purple potato. And whimsical…and when you mash them- they are really fun to eat- right out of a Dr. Seuss story! So when I saw these purple baby potatoes at my farmer’s market the other week, they were too cute to resist.

We created this salad for our annual 4th of July foodie picnic and backyard barbeque. The combination of bacon, potatoes, kale, mustard, mayo, & chives, makes this salad easy to prepare and delicious to eat. Typically kale isn’t an ingredient in potato salad, but we love the flavor and color it adds, as well as the nutrient value. Typically, there’s not much nutrition happening in a potato salad, so by adding kale, you can sneak something healthy onto your picnic table. And the taste? No worries there,  I’ve never seen potato salad disappear so fast.

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Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies- Carnivore Cookies- Aptly named by my dear husband, this fun cookie is sure to turn heads at your 4th of July Picnic. I was inspired in part by our family’s ‘special breakfast’ chocolate chip pancakes, and by Mo’s Milk Chocolate Bacon Bar from Vosges chocolate. If you’ve never tried their adventuresome chocolate combinations, splurge on one the next time you’re at the store. Snobby and expensive, yes. Startlingly amazing, yes. But, if you’re a dark chocolate lover, the whole milk chocolate thing just doesn’t cut it. Not for my tastebuds anyway. We use dark chocolate chips in our pancakes, and the flavor combination got me thinking- a pancake’s a lot like a cookie, why not add the bacon and get the dark chocolate/bacon combination in a cookie? What the heck- it’s only batter right?

What I discovered was that if you fry the bacon super crispy, and use a thin, very meaty cut, it adds an almost rice-like crunch to the cookies. Plus the extra salt really compliments the chocolate. These cookies won’t be to everyone’s taste. And, if you’re taking them someplace, you should probably note that they’re not vegetarian. Bacon is not exactly an ingredient you go looking for in a cookie. But, if you love dark chocolate, and you love bacon, then I’m pretty sure you’ll gobble up a batch of these like there’s no tomorrow!

* As a postscript, when I researched the Vosges link, I noticed that they’ve just come out with a dark chocolate bacon bar. Someone at that company’s been thinking! I’ll be going out tomorrow to look for it, taking a bacon chocolate chip cookie with me, of course!

 

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookie

makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients      

1 cup butter (2 sticks)

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs brought up to room temperature

1/2 cup Maple Syrup

1 cup sweet rice flour

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup tapioca starch

1/4 cup potato starch (not potato flour)

2 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 cup crispy bacon pieces (about 1 lb of bacon prior to cooking)

1 1/2 -2 cups chocolate chips

Directions

Cook bacon strips over medium-low heat until very crispy (the key to crispy but not burned bacon is the lower heat). Set aside on a towel to drain.

Preheat oven to 375. Remove butter and egg from refrigerator. In a non-mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients and set aside.

Place butter in basin of stand mixer, or in a bowl if you’re using a hand mixer. Add sugar.     Turn stand mixer to medium and cream for about 3 minutes- until butter and sugar are thoroughly mixed together and have the consistency of a creamy paste. (If you’re using a hand mixer this may take a little longer)

Add the vanilla and 1 egg. Continue mixing until egg has been absorbed. Add the second egg. Continue mixing until egg has been absorbed. At this point, if it’s a hot day, the batter may look a little lumpy/watery. If this is happening to you, add a little bit of the flour mixture and mix until smooth. Then, add maple syrup by slowly pouring into the batter while still mixing. Once maple syrup has been incorporated, add the dry ingredients a little at a time until thoroughly mixed. Add bacon and chocolate chips.

With a melon baller, or two spoons, place on a parchment covered cookie sheet and flatten gently. Cook for 11 minutes or until nicely browned. These cookies will be soft, not crispy.