Sunday, February 26, 2012

Black Bean Soup.

You may have noticed I haven't posted a recipe in a bit. I just didn't think I could top bacon jam. I considered pulling a Costanza and going out while I was on top, but I just couldn't do it. So tonight I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite soups. It comes courtesy of my college roommate Maggie and goes well with homemade cornbread. Now Maggie was (and still is, I bet) a stickler for following a recipe. I was (and no surprise, still am not) a stickler for that sort of thing. But in her honor, I will actually write explicit directions for this soup. A word to the wise, make it in the winter. I've made it only once in the summer, the summer after college to be exact. I was living with my dear friend Anne in Milwaukee, it was over 100 degrees and we didn't have AC. I don't know what I was thinking, making soup in that kind of weather. I mean, my glasses fogged up every time I stepped out of the air-conditioned bliss of my Subaru and into the muggy, humid hell that was Milwaukee. This particular time I added way too many chili flakes and I think Annie and I killed a sixer of Leinie's Red just getting through one bowl of soup each. So here is the original recipe...

Magstar's Black Bean Soup

1 link chorizo (beef or pork, both are good)
1 medium yellow onion
2-3 garlic cloves, minced (honestly, I use 6-7)
1 green pepper, chopped (I use 2)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (this girl uses 1-2 tsp)
1/2 tsp ground cumin (again 1-2, but really I just shake that shit in there until I think it looks good)
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
3 c chicken broth (I have never measured this, just pour it in until it looks good...are you sensing a theme here? Maggie must have hated cooking with me.)
2 16oz cans of black beans, rinsed and drained

Cook first seven ingredients for 10 minutes. Add broth and beans and cook for another 20-30 minutes on low heat. Mash beans to thicken soup if you wish. Serve it up, garnish with cilantro, sour cream/yogurt, or cheese if you wish.

So I did write the original, but added my alterations as parenthetical asides, mostly so I could use the word parenthetical. I like big words. And good food. And leaving only one space between sentences, as old copywriting habits are hard to break. I just also think it looks good. Just like I think food should usually look as good as it taste. So make it pretty when you eat. Add a cloth napkin, or a garnish, just something that makes you appreciate what you're about to eat just a little bit more. It will taste even better. Promise.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bacon Jam. For Reals.

Does it sound weird? Yes. But it tastes delicious. Trust me on this. I would never steer you wrong when it comes to bacon. Before I get into the bacon jam, please allow me to wax philosophical about bacon. It will only take a moment. It's the gateway meat. Seriously. Ask any person who used to be a vegetarian, and most likely it was bacon that lead him/her back to the dark side. For me it was a Portillo's Maxwell Street Polish Dog, but it could have been bacon. I am such a fan of bacon that my brother got me an "I heart bacon" sticker a few years ago for Christmas. It's on the ski box on my car and yes, I do feel a bit superior riding around town with it. Don't be jealous. I can get you one too. I know a guy.

But I digress... Bacon jam was not something I ever intended to make. My friend Jamie suggested I try some on a previous post, so I went and looked it up.

Instead of buying it from the place she suggested, I decided to make my own.

So I googled some recipes and picked one, ad-libbing it just a bit. It's super easy, basically you cook the bacon, carmaelize a bunch of onions, add some spices, toss it all in the slow-cooker and three hours later, dump it out and blitz it in the food processor, can it and chill it.

So easy and so delicious. And yes, I was drinking martinis while I made the bacon jam. They were delicious too. Thanks for asking.

Now, as for the jam, the original recipe I used is here. I added a few more onions and didn't really measure the brown sugar or garlic. I let it cool before I tried it...the night after I made it, I just added a dollop to some roasted sweet potatoes and I thought it was just divine. It had a bit of kick to it, thanks to the hot sauce in the recipe. But I didn't quite trust my own judgement, and knew I needed to have some other people sample it.

Luckily, I went to a G.N.A.R. party Saturday night, where the average party attendee was male and in his 30' target audience.

Sidenote, if you love skiing, you must watch G.N.A.R. now. Seriously, stop reading and go find it. It's a bad-ass ski movie. Also, I'm the best skier on the mountain. Just keep that in mind. End sidenote.

So naturally, I brought some bacon jam and had them all try it. We even put some in dough and deep-fried it. (I really love it when a bunch of people get together and just start frying shit. It's pretty rad.) This photo is pre-deep fry. And yes, we also deep-friend Kit-Kats. And M & M's. And tomato and cheese balls. Also, beer goes really well with all these things.

The jam got rave reviews all around. Not too shabby for my first batch. My roommate and I had some more on a baguette tonight, you know, just to make sure it was still okay.

It so was.

The bottom line is, make it if you like bacon. It's easy and delicious. Have it on hand to take to a party, or eat it with a spoon right out of the jar. I know I'm not the only one out there who loves bacon.