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Friday, October 18, 2013

A Frank Take On... Bacon Shortbread Cookies

When I started "Frank About Food", one of the purposes of the blog was to have a place to record culinary experimentation that I brainstorm. After nearly two years, this is basically the first post that falls under that category. This creation comes from being inspired from cooking book. (Realize, I did not say "cookbook", as this is a book about cooking, and not a list of recipes.) This is a perfect example of how to read something, and work through it in your mind, to come up with something of your own. 


A couple years ago, for Christmas, I received the book "Ratio" by Michael Ruhlman. I've finally begun reading it! In simplest terms, it's all about how you can take many foods and create them without a recipe, if you know a simple ratio. For example, a basic cookie dough recipe is the 1-2-3 ratio: 1 part sugar, 2 parts fat, and 3 parts flour. While reading that cookie dough chapter on lunch break one day, I began wondering if I could substitute out bacon drippings for the fat portion to make a bacon shortbread cookie. I was unsure what portion of the fat I should replace. I also began thinking about a nice topping for the cookie. I thought maybe chocolate. 

Finally, a couple months later, I decided to try my experiment. I started with replacing half the butter with bacon drippings. The bacon flavor was subtle, as I wanted. I didn't want to overpower the cookie with the bacon. I tried melted dark chocolate chips in which to dip the cookies. At the same time, I thought a simple maple glaze might work nicely, as well. So, I mixed some maple syrup with powdered sugar. I despise bacon creations that have enormous chunks of bacon that you have to sit and chew, so I finely chopped the bacon, that I fried to yield the drippings, and topped the still moist chocolate and maple glazes. 

From my own taste testing, and feedback from friends and coworkers, it was unanimous that the maple glaze was much better than the chocolate glaze. It was also agreed that the 50-50 butter & bacon drippings ratio was adjusted well, as the flavor came across subtly, and not overpowering.  



Bacon Shortbread Cookies

2 oz. sugar (about 4.5 Tblsp.)
2 oz. butter (about 1/2 stick), soft but not melted
2 oz. bacon drippings
1 pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 oz. flour (about 1 to 1.5 C.)
1 C. powdered sugar
2-3 Tblsp. real maple syrup
4-5 slices bacon, fried, and very finely chopped

1.  Combine the sugar, butter, and bacon drippings. Mix., beat, or whisk until the sugar is    
     evenly distributed throughout. 
2.  Add the salt and vanilla. Mix into batter. 
3. Gradually fold in the flour and continue to mix until the dough is uniform. 
4.  Now, you have two options: 
     a.  You can roll the batter into 1.5 inch balls, and gently flatten on a cookie sheet. OR
     b.  You can make a log out of the batter and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate this log, and     
          you can slice thinner, more uniform cookies. 
5.  Bake in a 350 degree oven until cooked through, approximately 15-20 minutes. 
6.  While cooling, add the maple syrup to the powdered sugar, and mix well. Add more   
     powdered sugar or syrup, as needed to achieve a nice spreadable, or drizzling, 
     consistency. 
7.  You can dip, drizzle, or spread the maple glaze over the top of the cookies. 
8.  Immediately top the glazed cookies with the finely chopped bacon. Allow the glaze to set up 
     before serving. 

This recipe scale will give you approximately 5 to 10 cookies. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Frank About... Hot German Potato Salad

I had the wonderful opportunity this afternoon to appear on the Cooking With Carol segment of KSN 16's Living Well afternoon show. I had a great time chatting with Carol Parker about the blog, cooking, and German traditions, while preparing Janice Peiffer's (my wife's grandmother) handed-down hot German potato salad recipe.

As I explained in the segment, German potato salads primarily differ in the way the potatoes are prepared and served, and the type of dressing. Many German potato salads use a strong, vinegar-forward dressing, diced potatoes, and are often cold. This is the style of German potato salad you would find in the Southeast Kansas chicken restaurants.  This recipe differs in that it uses a sweet & sour, creamier dressing. Also, I prefer to prepare the potatoes by boiling them whole, with skin on. This style is referred to in German cooking, as "boiling with their jackets on." It takes longer to cook the potatoes, but it seems to result in a better consistency of the potato texture. I also like slices of potato in the salad, rather than diced or rough chopped. The slices should hold up well enough to not turn the salad into a mushy mess.

Here is the segment from the Living Well website:


If you have arrived at my blog after seeing the show, today, please check out my Facebook page for Frank About Food, where I post food-related articles, pictures, and similar tidbits, on a more discussion-inspiring forum at Facebook.com/FrankAboutFood

I also have a Twitter account for the same type of postings. The Twitter handle is @FrankAboutFood

And now, the recipe... Pros't!


Hot German Potato Salad

5 lb. Russet potatoes
1 pkg. (1 lb.) bacon
3-4 C. (~ 3 medium) white onion, diced
½ C. sugar
4 Tblsp. flour
1 Tblsp. salt
3 eggs, beaten
1½ C. white vinegar
1 C. COLD water
1 C. HOT water
2 tsp. yellow mustard

  1. Scrub the potatoes and boil them, whole, until fork meets a slight resistance when       inserted. Drain, cool, peel, and slice.
  2. While the potatoes cook, cook the bacon, reserving all the drippings. Chop or crumble the cooked bacon.
  3. Using approximately half the volume of the bacon drippings, sauté the diced onions over medium to medium-high heat until translucent, and very lightly browned. Do not drain the drippings from the onions.
  4. Combine the sugar, flour, and salt in a small bowl.
  5. Combine the beaten eggs, cold water, and vinegar in a saucepan. Slowly whisk in the dry ingredient mixture, and add the 1 C. of hot water. Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until it thickens.
  6. Finish the dressing by whisking in the yellow mustard.
  7. Combine the potatoes, bacon, and onions (including the bacon drippings in which they cooked) in a large mixing bowl, or pan. Add ladles or spoonfuls of the dressing and stir to combine. If serving the next day, reserve some dressing to warm and add to the warmed up salad the next day.

Frank’s Notes:
  1. The salad is best made the day prior to your dinner or event, and refrigerated overnight. The next day, warm it in a 350° until heated thoroughly, adding reserved dressing to achieve desired consistency.
  2. The 5 lb. potato batch of salad is perfect for average events and dinner parties. Recipe can easily be scaled for larger events, or scaled down for a very small dinner. But, believe me, you will hardly EVER have leftovers!