Bacon jam, Kahlua French toast, and more!

Today’s post is all about bacon jam. An innovative condiment from Skillet Street Food, bacon jam is essentially all the things you like about baked beans without the beans themselves. There’s a little vinegar, a little brown sugar, a shitton of bacon, and some onions, all rendered down into this spread.The taste of bacon jam, licked off a spoon, is a tad disconcerting after it’s been lightly chilled, especially when you realize about 30% of what you’re consuming is cold bacon fat. It looks like cat food straight out of the can. After that initial shock, though, it flows into a nice, very tangy, meaty flavor highly reminiscent of pulled pork. This tang makes it difficult to pair with everything. The suggestions lean towards the savory or mildly seasoned, like mashed potatoes. We found that this worked best on oatcakes, or a similar cracker with a sweet and salty taste. Maybe a graham cracker would work well, too.

Of course, we had to try it on French Toast.And with eggs.

Keepitcoming and I made a batch of French Toast using a country bread from Bread Euphoria. This bread was very dense and floury, with a crispy, chewy crust and a fluffy inside with a taste of sourdough. Good for absorbing French Toast batter, and even better for topping with bacon jam. The French Toast provided an interesting sensation unto its own. The onions clashed with the syrup and custardy sweetness of the toast. This might be more of a lunch brunch item than a breakfast staple. It lacks the crunch of bacon and the versatility, like an empty meat canvas, the strips hold, firmly stapling it into the category of savory spreads. It is not the most versatile of condiments.Overall, bacon jam is fun. It’s riding on the coattails of the Great Bacon Wave of Fame, or GBWoF, thus making it popular and novel to all, and it has the potential to be more than just a dip for crackers or a topping with nachos. I’d like to try this in the future with some hearty sandwich combinations or in a bread dough.I couldn’t leave you hanging on the recipe front, so without further ado, A Duo of Bacon Jam.

I. Kahlua French Toast
Ingredients (serves two)
Six slices of bread, medium thickness
2 eggs
A shot of Kahlua
A shot of milk or cream, about 1/4 cup
Salt to taste
A little brown sugar

1. Get out two pans, one to fry in and one to soak the bread in. Cut your bread and cram into the deeper soaking pan until all pieces fit.
2. Mix together your liquid ingredients until they’re blended thoroughly.
3. Pour sauce all over the pieces of bread and let them soak until the liquid is completely absorbed or until each piece is mushy and heavy with deliciousness.4. Start heating up your pan. When you can drop a slice of butter in and have it sizzle, but not brown, it’s ready. Butter the pan.
5. Fry pieces two to a batch until golden brown and crispy on the outside. Top with syrup or bacon jam.

II. Green eggs and jam
Ingredients (serves 2)
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp sour cream
1 heaping tbsp bacon jam
a few grates of cheese, any sort1. Mix your eggs and one of the tablespoons of sour cream together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
2. Heat up your pan on a very low heat and grease with your chosen lubricant. (We used bacon grease; WE ARE SO BAD!) When it’s hot and sizzling, pour in the eggs.
3. As your eggs lay in a flat layer, gently push them towards the center and make soft, medium sized curds. This will take some time, but it will yield perfect, very tender eggs. Around the time when half the eggs are curds and the rest are starting to solidify, plop your jam in the center along with the sour cream.
4. Turn the heat up and move the eggs around, making sure there is no excess liquid on the bottom, sauce included. Mix in the bacon jam and sour cream thoroughly and grate cheese on top.
5. Finish when the eggs are completely cooked, tender, and coated with sauce, cheese, and jam. Serve immediately and enjoy.
Bacon jam. It works.

Bread Euphoria, Haydenville, MA

I apologize for a lull in posts as of late. My faithful, yet archaic, Mac Powerbook, may or may not have bit the dust and is currently in critical condition in the ICU, aka, under a chair in the living room. Le sigh.

For the moment, I’m on Keepitcoming’s laptop and have wonderful news for all my Western Massachusetts readers. Yes, all three of you. I have found edible pizza. I’m a New Haven county transplant. Trust me, I know pizza. I’ve been to the Big Three since my youth, Sally’s, Pepe’s, Modern, and when I found myself an ex-pat in the wild mountains of the Pioneer Valley, admittedly an excellent host to indulgent food as well, I found myself missing the crispy, thin crusted pies I knew and loved.

This has been an ongoing search for a while, but I gave up for the most part, choosing to focus on the foods the Pioneer Valley did exceptionally well, breads and pastries being one. So when Keepitcoming suggested we take a trip to Bread Euphoria in Haydenville, I didn’t bat an eye. Of course it would be delicious. But when she suggested one of their pizzas for lunch, I was more than curious.The view from the other side.

It is typical to find a restaurant that spreads its specialties across the globe of international favorites. In a single three course dinner at a local Applebee’s, one can eat Chinese-Southwestern appetizers, an American burger with Italian-inspired toppings, and force down some sort of flaming dessert, but it is extremely rare to find a restaurant that does that and does it well. Not only does Bread Euphoria make their own bread, one that I’ll later report on after tomorrow’s French Toast, but they make sandwiches with house-cured meat, pastries, cakes, and pizza, all done to a level of craftsmanship and expertise seen only in bakeries with a far more limited selection.

We got a 12 inch pie with prosciutto, caramelized onions, fresh mozzarella, julienned basil, and a garlic oregano oil. The pie was more than enough for the two of us and made a satisfying lunch as well as dinner. Six large slices to a pie, with ample toppings. The crust was of a medium thickness and was perfectly balanced with a crispy exterior, topped with that delicious garlic oil, yielding to a fluffy, bubbly interior. The crust held up to the toppings well, especially the ill-fated fresh mozz, which has the tendency to turn a crusty exteriored base to a soggy mushy triangle. Luckily, this wasn’t the case, with only the middle area being slightly damp and buttery on the bottom and the crust supporting the toppings with ease.The cheese was sliced thinly enough to leave the liquidy mess out of the way, but in a good enough portion so as to impart a creamy saltiness and nice flavor to the pie. The prosciutto was more than ample, thick honking slices haphazardly dotting the pizza, perfectly cooked so as not to invoke too much chewing but never reaching a burnt or inedible point. The caramelized onions balanced out the saltiness of the proteins and made it sweet and even sugary, with a nice char on the top and a thin cut. These were plentiful and crispy on top. The basil was unimposing and spicy, and added yet another flavor profile to the pizza. With this aromatic and delicious garlic oil, this was a perfect pizza. It needed no sauce or external doctoring and made us extremely happy.Folks, I’m serious. This might just be the best pizza in the Pioneer Valley. Other joints have the allure of a thousand toppings and the deal of a lifetime, but here, they make it made to order with quality ingredients and with fresh, fresh pizza dough. It’s a little pricy, but it’s worth it. This is gourmet pizza in a quirky, relaxed establishment.

Effie’s Homemade

This little company was the “it girl” of the FFS with their gourmet biscuit-cookie-cracker conglomerates, but we never really had a chance to check them out in further detail. It might have been because cookies were kind of the bitch of the show, really. When we needed to sample at least fifty new things each day, cookies were filling and high in calories and weighed us down, thus preventing us from getting a wider range of oddities in our gullets.

But this was definitely a massive oversight on my part, in not trying these earlier. When I got the samples, Effie’s Oatcakes had already won the gold SOFI for best cookie, and her corncakes had won the silver SOFI for best cracker.

And let me tell you, these are cookies you want to talk about. Seriously, stop writing Facebook updates to your friends about ninjas and nudie pics of Dumbledore, I want you to get the word out about these cookies. Better yet, try them. They are excrutiatingly versatile and so. Damned. Good.What’s especially neat about these is that they’re versatile enough to serve as vehicles for savory toppings just as well as they perform on their own, or dunked in milk as a cookie. Starting with the oatcake, the ingredient list is spartan, but the overall result is stunning. The oatcakes are thin and crispy, and liberally sprinkled with oats. Upon the first taste, you are hit with an immediate note of sea salt, segueing smoothly into a buttery, rich, and even sweet flavor, without being too sugary and cloying. The texture is like shortbread, but even that comes off as a little rough and Wallace-esque. It’s smoother, it’s crumblier, it’s better. There’s an omnipresent nuttiness that I could see lending itself beautifully to the application of pumpkin cream cheese or a spicy chutney.

The intensity of this sea salt is what really throws these into another dimension of flavor. Really. I’d have thought too much would have been overwhelming, but it treads the balance between sweet and salty so damned well, and proves itself to be a very unique cookie. Cracker. Thing.The next cookie in the selection was the pecan nutcake. They are thinner and denser than the oatcakes, but still soften in a bit of liquid. The flavor is quite impressive, with a dark, rich, molasses infusion. The clover honey is ideal in this and makes it rich and sweet, but like the oatcake, diffuses the sweetness well so as not to bother the palate. The pecans were present in the form of little, finely ground pieces, but the moniker is a little misleading. The cake, made more with nutmeal than actual nuts, leads one to search for nuts when there aren’t many.This is an issue I can overlook, though, because the flavor is so buttery and the dark caramelized flavor of the molasses with the salt is a treasure on its own.

The last cake is the most delicate and exquisite of this divine triad, eliciting such a reaction from your faithful scribe, dear readers, that Keepitcoming put them on the top shelf of the cupboard so that I could no longer reach them without my stepstool. These are incredible. We start with the texture, densely packed, condensed little pieces of cornmeal that crunch, each piece sweet and rough against the tongue. The scent is aromatic with the addition of anise, a staple in Italian Christmas cookies, and gives a gentle caress of licorice flavor, less of a candied taste than a spice, a fennel reminiscent, sweet flavor.The combination of these bright, rustic flavors creates a sophisticated and texturally ingenious cookie that I’d be proud to serve at any small party. These cookies also have the ability to soak up any liquid they’re immersed in and still maintain their crunchy, crumbly texture. Cornmeal. Who’d have thought? I love these cookies. The six dollar price tag might dissuade some from making them a regular household staple, but for a special event or a party, spring for these. They will not disappoint.