No, not for dinner – but you don’t really want to hear about how I ate chateaubriand all over again, do you? (That’s beef tenderloin with béarnaise sauce – like hollandaise, made with egg yolk and clarified butter. Oh yes. I’m a bit ashamed of myself for how much of it I ate. On everything. Turns out it’s pretty damn yummy on bread, too. And vegetables. And fingers. I gave my dessert to Mike, but downed a few chocolate truffles and fancy martinis.
It snowed all day today – thick, slow, quiet snow so ideal for the holidays that I fully expected to see a bunch of JPL elves on the roof outside my session dumping bagsful of fluff over the edge. (You know The Snowman by Raymond Briggs? Like that.) We snuck out for an hour in the afternoon and made snowmen and threw rocks through the thin ice at the edge of the lake. I don’t want to go home tomorrow. How could it have been seven days already?
But the food. My sessions this year have been on the subject of sweet gifts from the kitchen: my Grandma’s Peanut Brittle, sugar plums, chocolate bark, candied pecans and chocolate mint cookies made with After Eights. Setting up after lunch W came into my room and helped himself to bowls and ingredients and started doing his own impromptu chocolate dinosaur cake demo. It was pretty damn cute if I do say so myself. I mean, look at him! What makes it even more funny is that he’s never actually seen me do this.
The inspiration for the bacon brittle came at breakfast, when faced with chafing dishes overflowing with the stuff. I piled some on my plate and brought it to my session, chopped it and stirred it into peanut brittle along with the nuts. (Mixed salted nuts – delicious, but I think if I planned it I’d stick to pecans.) It was almost as big a hit as W.
Bacon Pecan Brittle
The recipe for my grandma’s peanut brittle is written by hand on an old recipe card I still have; it turns out to make a great basic recipe whether you want to make a nut brittle with peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds or mixed nuts. Or bacon.
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup or honey
3/4 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans or other nuts
a few slices of bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled or chopped
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved do not stir, but swirl the pan occasionally until the mixture reaches 325°F on a candy thermometer.
Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda – the mixture will foam up in the pan. Stir in the bacon and nuts. Immediately pour onto a rimmed baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray and spread out fairly thin with a spatula or the back of a spoon that has been sprayed as well.
Cool completely and break into chunks. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Serves about 10.