Monday, October 5, 2009

Everything's Better with Bacon

As a mother and caterer, I've come to realize that there is a strange, but undenial, similarity between cocktail appetizers and kid food. Some of the best loved hors d'oeuvres have both a sense of humor and a simple appeal. Take for example, pigs in a blanket. While the dish doesn't really fit in with my company's style, I certainly understand the recipe's popularity: portable, clever and delicious.

I think that my love of hors d'oeuvres all began with my childhood fascination with miniatures. I love dollhouses, with their tiny details, like miniature phones, kitchen tools, books and toys. Creating hors d'oeuvres is like shrinking dishes, making bite-size versions of adored menu items. And so I'm always looking for ways to miniaturize my food, while retaining the full flavor. When you satisfy the two criteria, you'll delight the palate and the imagination. For example, I've served with Lambs in a Tuxedo (my elegant version of pigs in a blanket), Salad on Stick and Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese (Tomato Consomme and Cheese Wafers). This goal is equally important when creating good kid food. If kids find a dish clever and visually appealing, you're likely to have great success in their trying and enjoying it.
Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese
Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese from The Local Beet Farm Dinner. Photograph courtesy of Michael Morowitz.

So I was quite tickled when I perfected the bacon cup. When I told my son about it. He looked at me quizzically envisioning what this might look like, finally declaring it Wonka-like in concept. Tonight, we turned it into an inside out BLT with Wild Arugula and Black Tomato Slices.

Bacon Cups
Makes 12 cups

16 thin slices of bacon

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Fill each cup of a muffin tin with bacon slices leaving a slight overhang. It will take a little over a slice of bacon to fill each.
You can either put a silicone muffin cup on top of the bacon or fit another muffin tin on top of the first tin making sure that bacon remains clinging to the sides of the cup.
Set an oven proof rack on top of the muffin tin and flip it, setting it into a sheet pan with sides.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the bacon is set. Remove the top muffin tip, leaving the cups on the muffin cups or the second muffin tin and bake until the bacon is golden brown and turning crisy. Remove the bacon cups and set onto the rack. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until the base of the cups is browned.

Creamy Parmesan Dressing
Approximately 1/3 cup of dressing

2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 small garlic clove, mashed into a paste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 anchovy filet, mashed
1 tablespoon parmesan

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Inside Out BLTs
6 Servings

Bacon Cups
1 bunch wild arugula
1 medium black tomato
creamy parmesan dressing

Fill the bacon cups with wild arugula, top with slices of tomatoes and a dollop of dressing. Grind fresh pepper on top. Serve as an appetizer or as a salad.

Kids Cooking Tips
Kids can fit the bacon into the cups, wash the greens, make the dressing and plate the final product.

Bacon from Whole Foods, unfortunately most farmers' market bacon is too thick for this recipes
Sarvecchio parmesan from Wisconsin
Garlic from Growing Home
Wild arugula from Nichols Farm
Black tomato from Genesis Growers

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