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MND – Because

August 7, 2013

bacon to bake

When I was growing up I was always told that ‘because is not an answer’.  However, this week as far as Dinner is concerned, ‘because’ is absolutely the answer.

Why make peach moonshine?  Because I could.  Okay, also because I came across a recipe for it about 2 months ago and have wanted an excuse to infuse the essence of peach into alcohol ever since.  It is delicious, and also a gorgeous color.

Why make homemade boursin?  Because I could.  And, because when I saw a recipe for it I was (a) shocked by how easy it was; (b) shocked by the fact that traditionally there’s no goat cheese in boursin (it’s not just me that thinks it tastes like it has goat cheese in it, right?); and (c) immediately curious about whether something that simple really would taste like the store bought version.

Answer?  Yes.  Although, also no, because I couldn’t resist and did add goat cheese to mine and therefore, my version has a little more tang and funk to it than what comes from the grocery store, but I’m sure if you left the goat cheese out it would in fact taste exactly like the factory version.  I made the garlic-herb version this week, but making any of the other versions (spicy read pepper, fig & nuts, cranberry & cinnamon apple) would probably be equally easy.

Why have a ‘make your own BLT party’?  Does there really need to be a reason for bacon?  Oh alright, because.

Cloudy with a Chance of Peaches (cocktail)

Make your own BLTs
Green Salad
Melon

Cloudy with a Chance of Peaches
(drink name courtesy of a friend who’s cleverer than I am at the naming of things)

This drink is somewhere in between a summer version of a Dark-n-Stormy (traditionally made with dark rum & ginger beer), and a classic Mint Julep (bourbon & mint & sugar).  It has a base of peach infused moonshine, and then you add spicy ginger beer, and garnish it with fresh peaches and mint.  It goes down far too easily.

peach drink

1 oz lemon juice
Mint
2 oz peach moonshine*
4 oz ginger beer
2-4 slices fresh peach

Muddle the mint and lemon juice lightly in the bottom of a highball glass.  Add the moonshine and ginger beer.  Mix lightly to combine.  Add ice.  Garnish with slices of fresh peach.

Sip slowly – preferably while gently rocking on a porch swing to the music of cicadas.

Peach Moonshine
750 oz bottle vodka or white whiskey (save the bottle)
2 (15 oz) peaches in heavy syrup
1 cup dried peaches, cut into a ½” dice
2 sticks cinnamon
8 allspice berries

Combine everything in a large pitcher.  Cover tightly.  Allow to marinate at room temperature for a week.  Strain (try not to eat all the alcohol infused peach slices).  Pour into the vodka/white whiskey bottle you remembered to keep.  Enjoy on its own cautiously, or in cocktails a little more freely.

* If you did not feel like going to the effort of making peach moonshine, or having half a bottle of peach moonshine left lying around afterwards, you could also make this recipe using ½ oz ginger simple syrup per drink (bring ¼ cup water, ¼ cup sugar, 1 cracked cardamom pod & 1” piece of thinly sliced ginger to a boil; cook until sugar is dissolved; cool and strain), substituting your favorite bourbon for the moonshine, and muddling some of the fresh peaches with the mint and lemon juice to release their juices into the drink.

Make Your Own BLTs
Lay everything out on the table and let people assemble sandwiches as they so desire.  Serve it all with an enormous green salad and some fruit.

Note about clean up – DO NOT POUR YOUR BACON GREASE DOWN THE SINK – I mean not ever, but particularly not the amount of bacon grease you’re going to generate from this meal.  Allow it to cool and then scrape the solidified grease either into a container you’re willing to throw away, or into a container you plan to stash in your fridge for the purpose of having bacon fat to fry things in later.

The required elements:

Tomatoes
Vine ripe summer tomatoes bursting with flavor.  Get a range of varieties – I got a a few each of Carbons, Pineapples, Flammes, Genoveses, and some just good old fashioned red field tomatoes.

tomatoes

Lettuce
Romaine – or something with some crunch & structure

Bacon
Some fried, some baked with a brown sugar/black pepper crust.  Figure on about 1/2 lb of bacon per person.  This sounds obscene, but trust me if you have leftover bacon there will be a lot less of it than you’d think.

bacon

Bacon with a Brown Sugar-Black Pepper Crust
Preheat your oven to 375-400.  Line a baking sheet (or two) with foil or parchment paper.  Lay the bacon in a single layer on the pan.  Crumble a little brown sugar over each strip of bacon (or paint with maple syrup).  Sprinkle generously with black pepper.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your bacon (keep an eye on it – I let mine get a little burnt because I was frying batches of bacon on the stove top and not paying attention).  Drain on paper towels.

Bread
A nice bread, but something a little yielding.  This is not the place for the super crusty hard roll.  It’s also not the place for Wonder Bread, but then I think that nowhere is the place for Wonder Bread.  I went with a whole wheat Pullman loaf, and a French (white) Pullman loaf.  You can toast or not – I didn’t mostly for logistical reasons.

bread

Mayo
Regular + a spicy chipotle/lime version

Spicy Chipotle-Lime Mayonnaise
½-2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/8 cup plain yogurt (optional)
½ – 1 chipotle in adobo sauce (depending on how you feel about spicy things)
Dash cayenne or ground chipotle pepper
Pinch of salt
Juice of ½ – 1 lime (depending on how juicy your lime is)

Mince/crush the chipotle in adobo.  Whisk all ingredients together.  Season to taste.

The optional elements:

Cold Cuts
So you can make club sandwiches, and also so that bacon isn’t the only protein on the table.  I opted for turkey and ham, but any cold cut that turns you on would work.  Alternatively you could set out chicken salad, tuna salad, or egg salad as additional fillings.

Cheese
I went with cheddar, harvarti, & homemade boursin (because I could).  American would also be good, as would goat cheese.  I’d stay away from cheeses like brie because I think they have too much of a distinct flavor that would fight with the bacon, and really the point of a BLT is the bacon.

boursin

Homemade Boursin (makes 1 ½ cups)
I used goat cheese in my boursin because I could, but if you were goat cheese averse you could omit the goat cheese and double the amount of butter which is, in fact, the traditional recipe.

1 (large) clove garlic, grated
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 oz butter, softened
2 oz goat cheese, softened
1 ½ Tbsp parmesan
½ Tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp dried marjoram
¼ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender or mixer.  Blend until smooth.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

Other Vegetables
I was abstemious (well, for values of abstemious that include frying 3lb of bacon) and just got an avocado to slice up – mostly because I think avocado on a BLT sandwich is as close to nirvana as you can get on a random Tuesday evening.

However, roasted peppers would be nice – either sweet red peppers, or one of their spicier cousins like a poblano or jalapeno.  If you like raw onions, some thinly slivered red onion would be a nice addition.

You could also offer sliced mangos or peaches to use instead of the tomatoes, which sounds like an interesting idea I chose not to explore this week because there’s only so much surface space on my table.

Enormous Green Salad

With an orange vinaigrette + blueberries (because they’re in season now) + leftover coconut from last week’s Dinner.

salad

Assorted Melons

Whatever was in season & local at Wilson’s this weekend.  I am uniquely terrible at choosing melons, so I got the farm guys to do it for me, and as a consequence I actually have no idea what kinds of melons I ended up buying.  They were tasty whatever they were.

halved melons

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3 comments

  1. Are you trying to torture me!?!


    • We all commented on how much you should have been there for all the bacon. Sorry.


    • We all commented on how much you should have been there for all the bacon. Sorry.



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