I returned from a trip to Scotland this week to find an interesting message on my answering machine. I had been selected as a finalist in the dessert category of the Central Market bacon recipe contest. Finalists were required to bring their prepared dishes to the Southlake store where they would be judged by a panel of 3 judges who work at Central Market's cooking school. Needless to say I was thrilled to have been chosen but a little nervous at the thought of having real people , instead of my diplomatic husband who happily eats anything I prepare without comments. He knows better by now..
But I digress.. Despite being hesitant to make a fool of myself, I realized this would be a great learning experience. I convinced my neighbor, Carol, to accompany me on my adventure and she thankfully obliged. There were 3 entrants in the dessert category and 3 in the savory category. It didn't really hit me what I was doing until I saw the other contestants setting up their displays.
In this recipe thick juicy bacon is candied with a spicy caramel coating then topped with a scoop of creamy goat cheese and berries to create a taste sensation that is out of this world. Be sure to make enough as these are guaranteed to disappear fast.
6 strips thick cut bacon
3 teaspoons sriracha seasoning
1 ½ teaspoons ground cardamom
½ cup brown sugar
7.5 oz creamy goat cheese
¾ cup mixed berries, fresh or frozen and thawed
Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
Begin by preparing the cheese topping. In a small bowl mix together goat cheese and berries until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
In a separate bowl mix together sriracha seasoning, sugar and cardamom. Set aside.
Cook bacon for 4 minutes in center of oven then turn strips over and cook for a further 4 minutes. Remove from oven, pat dry then transfer to a separate baking sheet. Liberally sprinkle sugar mix on both sides of bacon slices then return to oven and broil for approx. 90 seconds. Turn slices over and cook for a further 90 seconds. Remove bacon from oven, place on a sheet of waxed paper and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Using a melon baller place 1 – 2 scoops of cheese mix on each bacon slice and serve immediately while bacon is still slightly warm. Enjoy!
I was recently excited to learn that I placed 2nd in the Canadian Albacore Tuna recipe contest! Several years ago when I decided to reduce my meat consumption I was worried that a diet featuring mainly vegetables and grains might be boring and lack taste. I started experimenting with fish recipes and have never looked back. My favorite fish is definitely tuna, which helps satisfy my protein needs and is my go-to meal when time is of the essence. The fruit salsa was a happy discovery. I was looking for something to complement the heat of the pepper crusted tuna and happened to have a bag full of mangoes and cantaloupes. I had initially been planning on preparing a fruit salad for dessert but realized that the sweet, juiciness of the fruit was the perfect pairing for the tuna. Served with a dish of couscous this meal is easy to prepare, healthy and delicious. It is also now a family favorite. I have included the recipe below. I hope you like it!
Pepper Crusted Tuna Fillets with Cantaloupe and Mango Salsa and Couscous
3 x 4 oz albacore tuna steaks
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup black peppercorns, roughly ground
1/4 cup pink pepper berries, roughly ground
1 cup cantaloupe, diced
1 cup mango, diced
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon minced Ginger
1 1/2 cups couscous
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lime juice
Marinate tuna fillets in lime juice and soy sauce for at least an hour.
Prepare salsa by combining diced fruit with lime juice, cilantro and ginger in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use. Pour couscous in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to sit for approx. 5 minutes then fluff with a fork. Add more water if necessary. Couscous should be light and fluffy. Add olive oil and lime juice. Cover with foil and set aside.
Remove tuna fillets from marinade and coat with ground peppercorns and pink pepper berries. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and broil for approx 6 minutes on each side. Remove from oven and cut into thin slices. Arrange on a plate with fruit salsa and serve with a side of couscous.
Nibbles and Fluff
In 2008 I co-founded the rescue group, Animal Advocates of North Texas (AANT) to help lost and abandoned animals find forever homes.