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Bacon, Caramelized Onion, and Gruyere Focaccia

bacon

Rich with olive oil, nutty Gruyere cheese, crisp thick-cut bacon and sweet onions, this focaccia is like taking a trip to the Alsace. Serve it as an appetizer, part of a brunch, or in place of bread at the dinner table.

Bacon, Caramelized Onion, and Gruyere Focaccia

1 package (2 1/4 tsp. ) active dry yeast
2 tsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) warm water (110°F/43°C)
3 cups (15 oz./470 g.) all-purpose flour
6 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./90 ml.) olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
1 cup (4 oz./125 g.) loosely packed shredded Gruyere cheese
6 slices thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
2 yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced

In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the brown sugar in the warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the flour, 4 tablespoons (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) of the oil, salt, rosemary, and cheese. Attach the dough hook and knead on medium-low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it back into the bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a large cast-iron frying pan, fry the bacon over medium-low heat until just crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Discard all but a few teaspoons of the bacon fat. Add the onions and saute over medium-low heat until they start to wild, about 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon brown sugar and a pinch of salt and continue to cook until the onions are golden brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the bacon, and let cool.

Oil a rimmed baking sheet with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Dump the dough onto the prepared pan and press it into a rough rectangle. Using your fingers, stretch the dough into a rectangle about 10 by 14 inches (25 by 35 cm.) Cover the dough loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until puffy, about 1 hour.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425°F (220°C). Dimple the surface of the dough with your fingertips. Gently brush the dough with oil, then sprinkle evenly with the bacon-onion mixture. Bake until gorgeously golden, 15-18 minutes. Cut into squares and serve while warm. Makes 1 flatbread.

Baker’s Note: To use the focaccia for sandwiches, omit the onion and bacon toppings and shape the dough into a smaller, thicker rectangle or square. After it has cooled, cut into squares, split through the middle and fill with goat cheese and grilled eggplant and peppers, or any of your other favorite sandwich fillings.

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Goat Cheese and Chive Soufflé

souffle

Perfect for a special weekend brunch or luncheon, this creamy soufflé is lovely accompanied with a spinach salad tossed with toasted pine nuts. The soufflé may be assembled up to an hour in advance, but once it is baked, it should be served promptly, as it deflates quickly. It is fine to let your guests wait for the soufflé, but do not let the soufflé wait for anyone.

Making a soufflé collar will help ensure that your soufflé rises well above the rim. To make a soufflé collar for a large soufflé dish, cut a strip of parchment paper that is wide enough to stand 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) above the rim of the dish when folded in half, and long enough to wrap around the dish with a slight overlap. For individual soufflé dishes, cut the strips to about 5 inches (13 cm) wide by about 12 inches (30 cm) long. Fold the parchment in half and tuck one end into the other. Place around the dish and tighten. Secure the parchment by tying it with a piece of kitchen string.

 

Goat Cheese and Chive Soufflé

 

1/2 lb. (250 g) fresh goat cheese or natural cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) sour cream

5 large eggs, separated

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground white pepper

3 Tbs. minced fresh chives

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

3 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat to 425°F (220°C). Butter a 1 1/2-qt (1.5-l) soufflé dish or six 1-cup (8–fl. oz./250–ml) ramekins and dust the bottom and sides with Parmesan cheese.

If mixing by hand, in a large bowl, using a whisk, cream the goat cheese until light. Beat in the sour cream, egg yolks, mustard, salt, nutmeg, white pepper and chives until combined. In another large, clean bowl, whisk together the egg whites and cream of tartar with a balloon whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form.

If using a mixer, in a large bowl, using a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater or a hand mixer, cream the goat cheese on medium-high speed until light. Beat in the sour cream, egg yolks, mustard, salt,
nutmeg, white pepper and chives until combined. In another large, clean bowl, using the stand mixer
fitted with the whip attachment or the hand mixer, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar
on medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form.

Using a rubber spatula, fold one-fourth of the beaten egg whites into the cheese mixture to lighten it. Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites just until no white streaks remain. Spoon into the prepared dish(es) and smooth the top. Sprinkle the top(s) with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake the soufflé(s) until set and puffed and the center still jiggles when the dish is shaken, 20 to 25 minutes for a large soufflé or 8 to 10 minutes for the individual soufflés. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

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Bite-Size Bacon and Cheese Scones

bitesizebaconcheesescone-00541-652x568

These buttery, bacony cheesy scones are heaven in one easy bite. Perfect for brunch, they would also make for a great lunch alongside a bountiful salad. To take these scones over the top, add a pinch of grated cheese to the top of each one before you slide them into the oven.

 

Bite-Size Bacon and Cheese Scones

3 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon

2 cups (10 oz.⁄315 g) all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup (4 oz.⁄125 g) grated Asiago or Gruyère cheese

Pinch of kosher salt

1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1⁄2 cup (4 oz.⁄125 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1 large egg

3⁄4 cup (6 fl. oz.⁄180 ml) heavy cream or whole milk

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F (200°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a frying pan, fry the bacon over medium-low heat until lightly crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and finely chop the bacon.

In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, cheese, salt, and pepper and pulse briefly to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cream until blended. Pour the egg mixture into the processor and pulse just until the dough comes together.

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead in the bacon and then bring the dough together into a ball. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1⁄2 inch (12 mm) thick. Using a 1 1⁄2-inch (4-cm) biscuit cutter, cut out as many scones as you can. Gather the scraps of dough, roll out, and cut out more scones.

Space the scones evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the scones are golden, about 12 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool slightly on a wire rack before serving. Makes about 4 dozen mini scones.