While I sincerely adore each and every classic Thanksgiving dish from stuffing to sweet potatoes, this year I’ll be treating my guests to a delightful “amuse bouche” before we dig into the main meal. This deliciously Decadent Butternut Squash Bisque will prime everyone’s palates for the meal to come and, as an added bonus, it can even be prepared in advance! I must admit I came... Read More
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Many years ago I dated a guy who was obsessed with health. For him, every waking moment was focused on exercising and eating right and he eschewed any possible enjoyment in food. To him it was solely “fuel for the body” and while I tried to respect his regimented point of view, when he started judging people who ate bacon... Read More
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Many years ago I dated a guy who was obsessed with his health. Every waking moment was focused on exercising and eating right to the point of eschewing any iota of enjoyment in food, viewing it solely as “fuel for the body.” I tried to respect his regimented point of view but when he started judging people who ate bacon (myself included) because it had no redeeming nutritional value, I knew we were definitely doomed!
For me, food is about much more than “fuel for the body” and enjoying it is all about balance. The majority of the time we should eat healthy in the interest of taking care of our bodies and managing our weight, but there are also times to splurge in the interest of satisfying our souls. We can probably all name those special dishes we’re nostalgic for having enjoyed them in our youth when lovingly prepared by a parent or grandparent; or those we associate with our own or another beloved culture; or dishes discovered during personal travels which have brought us much joy. Depriving ourselves of food we love seems to inevitably lead to binging, so why not allow ourselves to indulge that craving every so often so it doesn’t spiral out of control?
This recipe for Browned Butter & Bacon Ice Cream is just such an indulgence, combining two of my favorite things, butter and bacon, into one delicious confection. Will I make this recipe more than once this season? In the interest of fitting into my clothes and maintaining my cholesterol level, probably not but if you’re in a “comfort food” kind of mood, it sure hits the spot and also makes an excellent dessert choice paired with last week’s Fall-inspired recipe for Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions.
After my boyfriend and I broke up one of the first questions I would ask any date was, “Do you eat bacon?” and now I’m happily married to a man who shares my porcine passion. To me, bacon and other cherished dishes are one of life’s great pleasures that definitely aren’t worth missing but in doing so, balance is key.
“Browned Butter & Bacon Ice Cream”
5 strips of good bacon
7 1/2 teaspoons of light brown sugar
3 Tablespoons salted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 3/4 cups half-and-half, divided in half
5 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons dark rum
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the candied bacon: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay the strips of bacon on baking sheet lined with either aluminum foil or a Silpat.
Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of light brown sugar evenly over each strip of bacon.
Bake for 12-16 minutes. Halfway through baking, turn the bacon strips over and dredge them through the syrupy dark molten sugar on the baking sheet. Continue to bake until the bacon is the color of rich mahogany. Remove bacon from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Once bacon is cooled and crisp, finely chop into little pieces.
For the ice cream: melt the butter in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat and cook until lightly browned, careful not to let it burn (if the butter burns, definitely start over). Stir in the brown sugar and half of the half-and-half and cook until the sugar is dissolved, stirring frequently. Keep the rest of the half-and-half in the refrigerator until ready to use.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and then gradually whisk in 1/4 cup of the warm brown sugar mixture, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes to prevent the eggs from cooking (a process known as “tempering”). Then pour the egg and brown sugar mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium-low heat until the custard thickens enough to coat a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, stirring constantly. Once desired consistency is reached, stir in rum and vanilla extract.
Put remaining chilled half-and-half into a large bowl, place a sieve or strainer over it and strain the custard mixture into it to remove any bits of cooked egg (even if you don’t see them they’re there so don’t eliminate this step!). Chill the mixture for at last 5 hours and then pour into an ice cream mixture and churn according to your machine’s directions. Add the chopped bacon during the last moments or fold in after you’ve removed the mixture from the machine. Reserve a few pieces of the bacon for garnish if you wish.
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Last May I asked my Mom friends what their ideal Mother’s Day would look like. Almost unanimously, right after “sleeping in” they said “breakfast in bed” so I posted a delicious recipe for baked Blueberry French Toast that was very well received. This year I thought I’d continue the tradition and share another one of my favorite breakfast dishes that would make the perfect surprise for Mom: Neiman Marcus Popovers with Strawberry Butter.
If you’re not familiar with the Neiman Marcus popover, let me give you a little background. Of course when I say Neiman Marcus I’m talking about the glamorous department store founded in Dallas, Texas in 1907 by Herbert Marcus Sr, his sister Carrie Marcus Neiman, and her husband A.L. Neiman. While the store has endured many changes since then, one of the most important was the addition of their first in-store restaurant in Dallas in 1953. The success of the first restaurant led to the addition of others and today some of their most well-known restaurants include Zodiac in the flagship Dallas store (which celebrated its 60th anniversary last year), the landmark Rotunda restaurant overlooking Union Square in San Francisco, and Mariposa in Coral Gables, Florida. We are also fortunate to have a Mariposa at the Neiman Marcus store in Boca Raton which is the quintessential spot for “ladies who lunch,” bridal and baby showers, or a quick bite after an arduous day of shopping.
Regardless of which restaurant you’re at, in keeping with sacred Neiman Marcus tradition, you will be greeted with a freshly baked popover accompanied by fragrant strawberry butter and a demitasse of flavorful, heart-warming chicken broth. This tradition dates back to the days of Helen Corbitt, a New York-born Chef hired to run the Neiman Marcus kitchen in 1955. Stanley Marcus called her the “Balenciaga of food” and she was well known for her larger than life personality and how efficiently she ran her kitchen. Even today, many decades later, several of Corbitt’s touches live on at Neiman Marcus which includes the sacred popovers and chicken broth.
A popover is an airy, hollow roll made from an egg batter which is baked in a “Popover Pan” (pictured above & available at Williams-Sonoma) which gives the roll its signature shape. Popovers can be made in either sweet or savory incarnations but for Mother’s Day breakfast, the sweet version is the way to go. Fresh out of the oven, they look like misshapen, golden brown globes of bread but on the inside, they are hollow and delicate with a deliciously mouth watering aroma. And once the strawberry butter hits the warm popover – forget about it. Positively intoxicating!
Because making popovers is a little time consuming, its probably best to pair them with something simple like a beautiful plate of sliced fruit or berries and/or maple glazed bacon depending on how Mom rolls (no pun intended!). I would advise making the strawberry butter the night before to cut down on prep the morning of. Also, be sure to read through the recipe once or twice. There are a few ingredients that need to be at room temperature and the batter need to rest for an hour halfway through the process which can be a big momentum killer if you’re not expecting it. If you find this recipe makes too many popovers for your celebration, it can be halved for future reference. Any extra popovers can be reheated in the microwave. Heat in increments of 10 seconds at a time until you get a feel for your microwave just so you don’t overheat them.
For something to drink, a rosé Champagne or other bubbly is sheer perfection! The flavors of the rosé pick up the strawberry notes of the butter beautifully. The J Vineyards Brut Rosé from California’s Russian River Valley is a lovely choice as well as the Charles Ellner Brut Rosé Champagne. You can check out these wines as well as our other Mother’s Day selections at our online store by clicking here. I promise this menu will have you looking like Husband, Daughter, and/or Son of the year. Wishing all the fabulous Moms out there a truly delicious day!
Neiman Marcus Popovers with Strawberry Butter
6 large eggs, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups of milk
4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 lb. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups strawberry preserves
Beat the softened butter in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add strawberry preserves and beat until well combined. Put in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Microwave the milk on high for 2 minutes, or until warm to the touch. Beat the eggs at medium speed for about 3 minutes, until foamy and pale in color. Slowly stir in the milk at low speed. Beat again for 2 minutes on medium speed. Let the batter rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Spray the popover pan heavily with non-stick spray or grease with butter. Fill cups almost to the top with batter. Place popover pan on cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees, then reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for 30-35 minutes more. Popovers should be a deep golden brown on the outside and airy on the inside, Serve hot with strawberry butter.