Tag Archives: baking

Bake, Don’t Fry Your Bacon!

There is a better way to cook bacon that doesn't involve a frying pan.

You’ll be blown away how much easier it is to BAKE your bacon.

I may be stating the obvious but frying bacon is a real hassle. Everyone loves the taste, hardly anyone complains about the smell of bacon cooking BUT, to be perfectly honest, I don’t know a single home cook (myself included) or chef who actually likes to watch bacon fry.

Here’s the scenario: you’ve invited everyone for brunch and decided that your menu will include bacon – which, to be fair, is an integral part of most brunches.  You need to make bacon for a group of 8-10 people but the last thing you want to do is stand over a spitting frying pan cooking enough bacon for the crowd all while watching your stovetop go from shiny and clean to a total greasy mess.  And, the bacon curls – won’t stay nice and flat and some parts cook quicker than others leaving you with some pieces crispier than others.

So, that’s your dilemma – you need crispy bacon for your guests, you don’t want to have to watch the frying pan and create a serious mess that will take a bit of time to clean up.  What can you do?

Here’s a fun trick that has been passed down through my family since—hold your breath—World War II!

My grandfather was an Army field cook who apparently had no problem standing over a hot griddle for hours on end. He was both the proverbial and literal Army cook. The normal “GI” bacon was to drop as much of the meat into a hot pan as you could manage and keep flipping. But my grandfather couldn’t waste time with frying.

Who knows who actually came up with this idea—there are hints that the GI field cooks picked this technique up from a French cook. Anyway, the big revelation was that baking bacon was not only more efficient, but cleaner, easier, and you can cook up a whole lot of bacon all at one time with virtually no mess, no watching and perfectly flat strips every time.

It’s so easy to do:

  1. First, place your oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven, then preheat your oven to 400 degrees. My grandfather used 375, which makes the bacon a little softer but also greasier. I use 400 which makes it a bit crispier.
  2. Place baking racks inside rimmed baking sheets (very important for catching the grease). Line the baking sheets with tin foil—makes cleanup that much easier.
  3. Lay bacon on the racks. One pound of bacon usually has between 16 to 20 slices (depending on how thinly cut). Half-size baking sheets (13×18) ought to hold about 8-10 slices. Space the slices out. They can touch, but don’t overlap the slices, unless you want to end up with one big slab of baked bacon.
  4. Bake for about 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the slices. It’s very important to move the baking sheets from front to back and top to bottom racks ½ way through until they are brown and crisp. Start checking it for the crispness you want at about 18 minutes.
  5. Be very careful about the grease that pools up in the baking sheet (that’s why I recommend 1” rimmed baking sheets). It doesn’t take much to make that grease slosh around, so move the sheets slowly.
  6. When your bacon gets to the crispness you desire, remove it from the oven and transfer the slices to paper towels to drain the rest of the grease. Just about any spatula will remove the bacon from the baking rack

Now, you DON’T have to watch your bacon frying! Watch my video to really see how easy this is. No more bacon grease splatter on you and your utensils, no stove top to clean up, evenly crisp perfectly flat strips and the best bacon you will ever eat!

Enjoy!

Fran shows us a different way to cook bacon.

A Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinner Recipe for Tomato Feta Galette

Recipe for Tomato Feta Galette

Nothing fancy and so very easy; you can even serve this recipe at room temperature!

A long time ago I learned that the tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable. So, for years now I have been enjoying the expressions I get when someone asks me to name my favorite fruit and I say “tomato.”

Okay, so I’m siding with the botanists here because nutritionists still categorize it as a vegetable. Maybe it’s both! Uh oh, now I’ve just triggered a new conversation that’ll take at least an hour or so for people to Google on their phones. You know me and how much I love triggering conversations! It’s an art!

Seriously, though – fruit or veggie – the tomato is lovely to behold and sweet to eat no matter the variety – especially when it’s in season like it is now. I love them on anything – pasta, salads, and savory dishes. I’ll even eat one like an apple with a pinch of sea salt!

No surprise, I will try just about any recipe where tomatoes are the attore principale or ‘main actor’ in a dish like this quick and easy Tomato Feta Galette I found on one of my favorite recipe sources: The Kitchn (www.thekitchn.com).

The recipe involves just a bit of quick and easy preparation.  Check out my video where I show you how it’s done. Don’t be intimidated – everything you need is found at the store. The pie crust is even found in the refrigerated section of your grocery store (you can make it from scratch but it’s definitely NOT necessary).

The wonderful thing about this recipe is that it comes during the last weeks of summer where tomatoes are still in season (through September) and the patio beckons us to dine al fresco. Make this, add a simple salad and a glass of pinot grigio (if you like) and I guarantee a lovely informal evening with friends and a few more wonderful food memories.

You’ll need:

  • 1 pie crust; make one yourself if you really feel adventurous, but I used a store-bought pie crust and it tasted great.
  • 6 ounces of feta cheese.
  • 1 medium-sized shallot, sliced and separated into ‘rings’
  • 1 TBS fresh thyme leaves (just slide your fingers down the stalk – and pull the leaves off) plus a couple of sprigs of thyme for decoration
  • 1 TBS basil leaves, chopped
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 3 medium-sized tomatoes (about 1 pound), sliced about ¼” thick.
  • A large baking sheet (at least 12” wide).
  • Parchment paper, or a Silpat nonstick baking mat if you have one for the baking sheet

Preparation:

  1. Be sure to preheat your oven to 400°F and position the rack in about the middle of the oven.
  2. Lightly flour a flat surface and use a floured rolling pin to roll out the pie crust dough to about 12” diameter. It doesn’t have to be perfectly round. The pie crust will end up about 1/8” thick.
  3. When you’re done, gently roll up the pie crust dough around the rolling pin and lay it out onto the prepared baking sheet. You’ll want that parchment paper or silpat to make sure the galette won’t stick to the pan.
  4. Sprinkle the feta evenly onto the dough. Leave about a 2” margin from the edge, then add the shallots, thyme leaves, basil, salt, and pepper. Lay the tomatoes over the cheese and herbs.
  5. Fold the edges of the dough over the top of the tomatoes. Pleat the dough every so often by pinching it. My video will show you how that’s done. Don’t sweat perfection – the more ‘lumpy’ it looks, the better.
  6. Top it off with the sprigs of thyme.
  7. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes or until the crust is golden-brown and the tomatoes are soft. Remove from the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes, then transfer it to a wire baker’s rack to chill out for another 10-15 minutes.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature for a party of six with good-sized portions.

A tip about the tomatoes in this recipe: tomatoes are super juicy and full of water. Avoid ending up with a soggy crust bottom by making sure that you use enough feta to cover the pie crust dough entirely. This will keep tomato juices from soaking into the crust while baking.

That’s about it. Enjoy the last days of summer!