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Potatoes Tantalize Combined with Bacon, Mint


The potato may be a New World food that only made its way to Europe in recent centuries, but the Irish have certainly made it their own.

In fact, a chapter of American history in the mid-19th century would not have been written if the Irish diet weren’t so dependent on potatoes. When the Great Famine wiped out the potato crop from 1845 to 1852, 1 million died and 1 million more left for life elsewhere, including the American shores, according to Wikipedia.

“The potato was introduced to Ireland as a garden crop of the gentry,” the site says. “By the late 17th century, it had become widespread as a supplementary rather than a principal food, as the main diet still revolved around butter, milk, and grain products. In the first two decades of the 18th century, however, it became a base food of the poor, especially in winter. The expansion of the economy between 1760 and 1815 saw the potato make inroads in the diet of the people and become a staple food all the year round for the cottier and small farm class.”

Potatoes have long been a staple of the Irish diet.

St. Patrick’s Day is a and a celebration of the Irish that is in all of us, here are three recipes featuring the mighty spud that are perfect for the holiday and year-round. We also include a Green Goddess dressing with its festive green color as a way of making your salad even more fitting for the day.

Beannachtam na Feile Padraig! (ban/ocked/tee nah fail/eh pawd/rig) That’s Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all.

Potato Onion Soup, Irish Style

Potato and Mint Salad

Bacon-Potato Salad

Green Goddess Dressing

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Potato Onion Soup, Irish Style


Potato Onion Soup, Irish Style

“During the great potato famine of 1845, many Irish immigrants came to this country with the hope that they could continue to make this wonderful soup,” writes Jeff Smith in “The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors.”

Potato Onion Soup, Irish Style

4 tablespoons butter
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced
3 cups milk
5 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, whole
1 cup half-and-half
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Roux:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour

Garnishes:
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
6 slices lean bacon, crisply fried and chopped

Heat a 6- to 8-quart stockpot, add the butter and onion, and cook gently. Do not let the onion brown. Add the peeled and sliced potatoes, milk and stock. Add the herbs. Cover and cook gently for about an hour. Prepare a roux: Melt the butter in a small saucepan and whisk in the flour. Let the flour and butter mixture (roux) bubble for 2 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Thicken the soup with the roux, whisking carefully to avoid lumps. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes and then purée the soup in a food processor or blender, if desired. (You could also purée half of the mixture, so you have a variety of textures in the soup.) Add the half-and-half and gently reheat, but do not boil. Season with the salt and pepper. Serve with chopped fresh chives and the crisply fried bacon as garnishes.

This soup can be made with the chopped white part of 5 or 6 large leeks instead of onions. Additional garnishes you can use instead of bacon are chopped prawns or  a small dice of lobster.

To make a vegetarian version, use vegetable stock and leave out the bacon.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Adapted from “The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors” by Jeff Smith

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Ever Had a Bacon Lollipop?


Das Lolli lollipops

Looking for a candy that’s corn syrup-free yet full of flavor?

Keep an eye our for Das Lolli lollipops, which come in several unique flavors, such as Maple Bacon, Naughty Ginger, Fab-O-Pom and Caramel Me Happy. The flavors mean these treats are more likely to appeal to adults, than youngsters.

Naughty Ginger proved to be quick favorite, if only because the ginger had a strong, cleansing burn that was well-matched with the sweet-tart of added lemon flavor. It’s made with sugar, rice syrup, citric acid, crystallized ginger pieces, citric acid, lemon oil and natural ginger extract, according to Das Food’s website.

Caramel Me Happy promised to be a salty caramel, but it was more sweet than salty, though the caramel flavor was exceedingly rich. Fab-O-Pom is a combination of orange and pomegranate, and it made the mouth pucker in delight. If the Maple Bacon was the least of the four treasures, it was because the flavor was more maple and smoke than anything remotely porky, even though the ingredient list includes both bacon bits and natural bacon flavor.(That’s right, this is not a vegetarian lollipop.)

The lollipops sell for about 50 cents apiece at Central Market.

Sweetriot chocolates

Sweetriot is a chocolate pick-me-up that packs more flavor than you could imagine in each tiny “peace” (the owners are hippies, the company’s website says, so they can spell however they choose). This is, after all, “all-natural, anti-oxidant-rich, dairy-free, kosher, gluten-free cacao with a mission.”

That mission is to give your mouth great flavor while giving your body better health, all in a recyclable container filled with equitably sourced chocolate from Latin America.

That’s all well and good, but how does it taste? Super. I bought the 100 percent dark cacao nibs dunked in 70 percent dark chocolate with espresso, and one or two candy kernels explode in the mouth with a burst of intense chocolate flavor. And the lingering aftertaste means you won’t have to keep popping more in your mouth every few seconds.

No corn syrup here, either. At least I don’t think so. The label says they are made from “cacao mass, sugar, cacao beans, cacao butter, soy lecithin, natural vanilla, natural coffee flavor, glaze and lovin’.” I’ve never seen a harvest of “lovin'” before, so I’m not quite sure how much is needed per tin, and I’ll have to trust them on the glaze.

The candies come in tiny tins that won’t take up much room in pocket or purse. The price is $3.99 a tin at Central Market.

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Chico’s World Famous Barbecue Shrimp


A worker passes out Chico's World's Famous Barbecue Shrimp.

These shrimp are guaranteed to please. OleTVShow.com served these to great acclaim at the World’s Championship Shrimp Cook-Off in Port Isabel this fall.

The dipping sauce will be a hit in its own right. Serve the sauce with pork tenderloin, grilled chicken breast, fresh fish, even beef. The flavor combination will surprise you, as it did many who gobbled up the treats in Port Isabel.

Chico’s World Famous Barbecue Shrimp

1 pound jumbo shrimp (18-20 count)
4 large nopal pads, cut in strips
1 can sliced pineapple
1 pound thinly sliced bacon, strips cut in half

Dipping sauce:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large avocado
1 1/2 chopped fresh jalapeño
1 1/2 chopped fresh serrano
1/2 cup milk

This recipe uses shrimp with bacon, pineapple and nopal.

Peal and butterfly shrimp. Place inside shrimp 1 thin slice nopal, 1/3 slice of canned pineapple ring. Wrap entire shrimp with 1/2 bacon strip. Secure each with wooden skewer. Grill over hot coals for 5 to 8 minutes each side, until bacon crisps.

For dipping sauce: Combine cream cheese, avocado, jalapeño and serrano in a blender or food processor, slowly adding milk. Blend until smooth.

Makes about 20 appetizer servings.

From OleTVShow.com

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Add a Little Green to Your New Year’s Menu


Shred your own cabbage or buy some already shredded.

For many, eating something green on New Year’s Day is a sign of wealth and prosperity for the coming year. Plenty of wonderful foods come in green, including cabbage. The following recipe calls for a package of already-shredded cabbage, but you can certain shred your own.

Wilted Cabbage and Bacon

3 slices bacon, fully cooked
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 package (about 16 ounces) shredded cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Chop the bacon and place in a large nonstick skillet with onion. Cook over medium heat about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cabbage, carrots, cider vinegar and salt. Cook until tender-crisp.

Makes 6 side-dish servings.

From “The Good Housekeeping Cookbook”

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Brussels Sprouts with Warm Brown Butter Vinaigrette


“As a child, I used to feed the brussels sprouts my mom would make for dinner to my dog under the table — and the dog didn’t even want them,” writes chef Andrew Swallow in “Mixt Salads.” “Over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate them, however. The leaves taste earthy and delicious, and have a sweet, savory bitterness. I add the turnip to the mix for its raw crunch.”

Brussels Sprouts with Warm Brown Butter Vinaigrette

2 pounds brussels sprouts (should yield 12 ounces of leaves)
8 strips bacon, cut into lardons (1/2-inch chunks)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Fuji apple, cored and sliced 1/2-inch thick
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1 white turnip, julienned

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil on the stove and prepare a large bowl of ice water.

Remove the bottom of each sprout and peel apart all the leaves. Blanch the leaves for 2 minutes in the boiling water, then shock them in the ice bath; drain and set aside.

In a sauté pan over medium high heat, sauté the bacon until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate and set aside. Drain the fat from the pan. Add the butter to the pan and let it slowly melt, browning slightly, then add the sage and sauté for 1 minute to infuse the butter. Add the mustard and vinegar to the pan, then whisk the mixture until emulsified.

Place the sprout leaves in a serving bowl or on a platter and toss with the apple slices. Top with the brown butter vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with the bacon, pomegranate seeds and turnip.

Makes 4 servings.

From “Mixt Salads” by Andrew Swallow with Ann Volkwein

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Hatch Green Chiles Stuffed with Chived Cream Cheese


Hatch Chile Stuffed with Chived Cream Cheese

Garrett Stephens of the County Line recommends Hatch chiles and County Line sausage with this appetizer. Banana peppers and other smoked sausage could be substituted.

Hatch Green Chiles Stuffed With Chived Cream Cheese and County Line Smoked Sausage

8 ounces cream cheese
1 bunch green onions, finely diced
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
4 mild or hot Hatch chiles
8 thin slices bacon
2 links County Line smoked sausage

Combine cream cheese and green onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill in refrigerator.

Slice chiles lengthwise and remove seeds and pith.

Stuff the cream cheese into the chile.

Cut sausage links into quarters along the length of the link. This should approximately the length of the chile. Place sausage on top of cream cheese. Wrap the stuffed chile in bacon so that the cheese will not seep out. Bind ends with a toothpick.

Place on grill using indirect heat. Cover grill and cook until desired grill marks are achieved. Move chiles to upper section of grill and cover until bacon is cooked through. Be careful not to burn.

Makes 8 appetizer servings.

From Garrett Stephens/The County Line

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Get More Pork on Your Fork at Copa


Copa Wine Bar & Tasting Room, 19141 Stone Oak Parkway, wants you to get your vitamin P. Pork, that is.

So, it’s having a bacon dinner that covers all four courses, including dessert. The fun begins at 7 p.m. Sept. 30.

Swine & Dine, as the dinner has been dubbed, includes the following menu:

  • Arugula Salad with crisp, peppery arugula, grapefruit, red onion and crispy pancetta tossed in a warm bacon and balsamic dressing
  • Wild Mushroom & Jalapeño Bacon Empanadas
  • Polynesian-style Slow-roasted Pork Belly with flavors of pineapple, chiles and spices
  • Pig-out Bars to close out the evening.

The cost of the dinner is $40 a person and includes matching wines.

For more information, call 210-495-2672 or click here.

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Taste Mayonnaise Two New Ways


If you’ve checked out the mayonnaise section at your neighborhood supermarket lately, you’ve probably noticed a few additions to the usual lineup of Hellman’s, Kraft and the generic store brands.

One is Duke’s Real Mayonnaise, which has been a favorite in the South for years. The word “real” means that it is made with eggs, something you don’t find in every mayonnaise on the shelf. What Duke’s doesn’t have is sugar, something you’ll find in too many other commercial mayonnaises.

Sugar-free does not mean low-calorie, mind you. There is a low-calorie version, which you can differentiate by label color. The regular version has a yellow label, while the low-cal’s is blue.

Of all the commercial mayonnaises I’ve tried, I prefer Duke’s. It’s got a more natural egg flavor without the ghastly acrid taste sugar often gives to mayonnaise and salad dressings. I used to have to drive across town to pick up Duke’s, so I’m real happy to be able to find this around the corner from me.

The price is about $2.75 for an 18-ounce jar. For recipes and tips on using Duke’s, click here.

Baconnaise is for a more targeted audience, to be sure.

Bacon lovers Justin and Dave took their winnings from “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and created an eponymous food company in which all of the products taste like bacon, according to the label.

They started with Bacon Salt, which comes in four flavors and is, believe it or not, a vegan product. Now J&D’s offers bacon-flavored mayonnaise in a recipe that is certified kosher (!?!).

Baconnaise also comes in a regular and light version that’s made with real eggs. It has a touch of sugar in it, but not enough to produce 1 gram in a tablespoon-sized serving.

If you taste it by itself, you may find the natural smoke flavor to be a little too pronounced. But that seems to balance out on a sandwich. In fact, the flavor on sourdough with lettuce makes me long for the fresh tomatoes coming in a few weeks.

J&D’s lineup doesn’t stop here. It also produces bacon-flavored popcorn and envelopes among other products.

The price is about $4.50 for a 15-ounce jar. Click here for more information on J&D’s and recipes.

Because both of these mayonnaises are made with egg, it is recommended that you refrigerate them after opening.

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Egg Salad With Bacon and Pecans


Egg Salad

Egg Salad With Bacon and Pecans

I loved the sounds of this recipe from the moment I looked at it because the egg salad isn’t sweet. Instead of pickle relish, there’s horseradish and cayenne pepper, if you want it. I added arugula to boost the peppery quality, but you could also add tomatoes, lettuce, even more onion to taste.

To chop the eggs quickly and finely, I placed them in the food processor and pulsed it for about 10 times.

Egg Salad With Bacon and Pecans

12 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions, (green part only)
3/4 pound bacon, chopped, cooked crisp and drained
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoons Creole mustard
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Combine the egg, celery, onion and bacon in a large mixing bowl.

Combine the horseradish, mayonnaise and mustard, and fold into the salad. Season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne. Add the pecans and parsley, and mix gently.

Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Makes 8 servings.

From “Pecans” by Keith Courrégé and Marcelle Bienvenu

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