April 24, 2011

Pasta with Bacon Vodka Cream Sauce

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I love all things pork, especially bacon. I've even made bacon vodka a couple times.

Yes, that's right...BACON vodka. I first made it for a bacon class I was teaching; we used it to make Bloody Marys & BLT martinis (with lettuce water, fresh tomato juice, a crouton rim & a sprinkle of bacon salt that tasted JUST LIKE the sandwich...no joke).

To make your own bacon vodka, you just cook up some bacon. Add it to a big jar with an entire bottle of vodka. Let it hang out in your pantry for a few weeks (it will look like a science experiment after a while, but don't be alarmed). Fish out the bacon. Freeze the jar of vodka. Strain. Strain. Strain. Drink. It's tasty shit. For real.

If you don't want to make your own, you can now buy a bacon-flavored vodka called Bakon Vodka. I have to tell ya, though...homemade taste more like real bacon. The flavored stuff smells and tastes like bacony Bac~Os. So, just make your own. Homemade bacon vodka has a smokey, rich taste. REALLY good in mixed drinks AND food.

I made a vodka cream sauce...because pasta, tomatoes, cream, and bacon seemed like a natural combination. Initially, I used a Rachel Ray recipe (gasp!) called You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Pasta that I found on Smitten Kitchen. I chose this particular recipe because it calls for an entire cup of vodka, unlike most recipes which only use 1/3 to 1/2 cup, and only 1/2 cup of cream. I wanted to taste the bacon essence, dammit! Still, even with my omitting the addition of 1 cup of stock in favor or more vodka, I simply couldn't distinguish any of the bacony goodness.

So, I decided to create my own vodka cream sauce recipe to highlight my bacon vodka:

1. Saute a small onion, diced, in about a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil. When the onion is soft, carefully add 1 cup of bacon vodka. It shouldn't ignite, but it's best to turn off the heat when you add the booze. Simmer this until slightly reduce, 3 minutes or so.

2. Then, add 1 cup diced tomatoes (I blanched & peeled a few Campari tomatoes; you should use the freshest, ripest tomatoes you can find). Season with salt & pepper (and, if you'd like, some fresh thyme or oregano). Cook until the tomatoes start to break down, 5 minutes or so.

3. Stir in 1/4 cup heavy cream and cook just until the cream is warm. Serve over penne noodles.

April 15, 2011

Thomas Keller's Rubbed & Glazed Pork Spareribs

Today is my blogiversary. Four years ago, I started this food blog with a post about Julie Powell's book Julie & Julia. My first posted recipe was Julia Child's potato & leek soup. Since then I've written about nearly 400 new recipes that I've tried for the first time.

Over the past four years, my life has gone through many changes. There have been many, many happy moments but also lots of heartbreaking drama and a couple really scary events. Through it all, though, I've continued to cook at home, try new recipes & ingredients & techniques, and write about it here. This blog continues to be my therapy, my creative outlet. As a result of blogging, I've met some fabulous people, several of whom have become great friends. I've also had some awesome experiences because of blogging...flying to LA to meet Julie Powell, working at Kitchen Conservatory, being "chef for a day" with Josh Galliano at Monarch, & writing for Sauce Magazine.

It may sound cliche but blogging has changed my life. Not that I've become rich & famous or anything by any means...but this little blog of mine gave my life some kind of purpose at a time when I felt like I didn't have any.

This blog has also given me an excuse to spend four hours on a Sunday afternoon making the most delicious ribs I've ever eaten.