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Bacon, Cheddar and Chive Mini-Muffins

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Try these for breakfast with a bowl of fruit, as an afternoon snack with a tall, cool iced tea, instead of cornbread with a cup of chili or with your go cup of coffee on the run on your way out of the house for work or school. You’ll be surprised how quickly these will disappear.

Buttermilk, Bacon, Cheddar and Chive Mini-Muffins

Makes about 36 Mini-Muffins

Ingredients:

6 slices of bacon, diced, cooked in a sauté pan until browned, and drained on paper towels
2 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and set aside to cool for 10 minutes
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
A dash or two of your favorite hot sauce (optional)

Preparation:

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease three mini-muffin pans. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, chives, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

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In another medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, melted butter, and hot sauce (if using) together. Add half the dry ingredients and half of the buttermilk and mix to combine, then the other half of the dry mix and the other half of the buttermilk. Stir in the bacon and the cheddar, mix well and fill the muffin tins. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on racks and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

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Classic Coconut Macaroons

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Not to be confused with their elegant and delicate French cousin, the macaron, this is a satisfying mound of a cookie that I seem to crave just a couple of times a year, …Continue reading: Classic Coconut Macaroons

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White Asparagus Gratin

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Growing up in Germany in the early 60s made for many interesting childhood memories, but few of them had anything to do with vegetables. We ate a lot of canned fruits and vegetables from the military P/X in those days—not much to remember about those items except they tasted great to childhood me even though they were mushy and laden with either sugary syrup or lots of salt. …Continue reading: White Asparagus Gratin

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Lemon Shrimp

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Going into the weekend with a well-stocked refrigerator makes for more relaxing time on the couch and since I’m in the middle of three books that I’m thoroughly enjoying (see note below), I’m going to make this shrimp for the weekend. …Continue reading: Lemon Shrimp

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Irish Potato Pancakes

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St. Patrick’s Day is Monday and in honor of those of us with some “Irish” in us—today’s recipe is for a delicious side dish of potato pancakes. …Continue reading: Irish Potato Pancakes

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Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons

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For people in my age bracket, cauliflower spent some years in the penalty box. I remember it as part of a bland and boring “vegetable medley” in restaurants and in frozen foods and was sort of a crumbly, tasteless additive. Freshly cooked, it was only boiled or steamed and gave off a sort of unpleasant cabbage-y aroma as it cooked. Coming home to the smell of cooking cauliflower, never elicited a cheerful “mmm, what’s for dinner?” more of a suspicious “uh, what’s for dinner?” with a follow-up disappointed “oh.”

Then a few years ago, some genius cook came up with the idea of roasting it, and a yummy new vegetable was born. Roasted, it tastes buttery, nutty and creamy, all at the same time—and loves to be sauced with flavors like curry, capers, garlic and lemon. So when I saw a version of this soup in Food and Wine magazine, I was inspired to try it, and I am happy to report that the results are really good.

This made a very satisfying lunch for us—we just had this soup and kept two small bowls of croutons and snipped chives nearby to replenish our toppings every so often. It also reheats well, so we repeated this meal several times, with no change at all to the taste or texture.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons

12 servings

For the Soup

1 large head of cauliflower, leaves removed, stem trimmed
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided
Kosher salt
1 large onion, minced
¼ cup heavy cream
Fresh chives and olive oil for garnish

For the Croutons

8 slices pumpernickel bread, torn into ½ inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 sprigs rosemary
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

To make the soup:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the whole cauliflower in a pie pan (or other baking dish). With clean hands, take four tablespoons of the softened butter and rub it all over the cauliflower. Sprinkle all over with kosher salt. Pour ½ cup of water into the dish. Roast for an hour and a half until the cauliflower is very tender. Remove it from the oven and set aside to cool.

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Meanwhile, make the croutons:

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Melt the butter and the olive oil over low heat in a medium skillet. Add the rosemary sprigs and the garlic and gently cook for a couple of minutes. Remove the rosemary and the garlic from the pan and add the croutons. Stir the croutons to coat with the flavored oil and butter and sauté over low heat until crisp. Set aside to cool.

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To finish the soup:

In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter on low heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft but not browned, for about 10 to 15 minutes. Chop the cauliflower and add it to the mixture, along with 4 cups of water. Simmer the soup for about 10 minutes. If you have one, use an immersion blender to puree the soup until it is smooth or work in batches and puree the soup in a blender or processor. Add the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter, the cream and kosher salt and pepper to taste.

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Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of oil, a small handful of croutons and chopped chives.

 

 

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