WHISKEY CANDIED BACON:
10 slices bacon
1/2 cup Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey or whiskey of your choice
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
MACARONI & CHEESE:
1 pound macaroni pasta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
2 cups milk
3 cups medium or sharp cheddar cheese
4 slices provolone cheese
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.
In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup Jack Daniel’s to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until reduced to 2 tablespoons. Remove from heat. On a plate, combine brown sugar and cayenne. Dip bacon into Jack Daniels and then press each side into brown sugar mixture to coat. Place on prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 7 minutes, then flip and bake for about 5 minutes. Watch the bacon so it doesn’t burn!! (The sugar will run all over the pan, and the bacon with have a shiny lacquered look.)
Remove the bacon to a plate coated with non-stick cooking spray to cool completely. Chop bacon; set aside.
Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. Drain pasta; set aside.
While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour, and whisk to combine. (You will have a tight roux.) Add 1 tablespoon Jack Daniel’s and whisk into roux.
Whisk in 1 cup milk until combined. Add remaining milk. Whisk frequently until sauce thickens and begins to bubble.
Add cheeses; whisk until cheeses melt and sauce is smooth. Add paprika and salt and pepper to taste.
Pour sauce over pasta, and add bacon. Stir until pasta is completely coated in sauce. Add more salt and pepper if desired.
Watch your bacon like a hawk! The sugar can go from awesome to burnt quickly if you’re not paying attention.
NOTES FROM JAMES
I totally skip the candied bacon and just air fry the bacon and chop it up. The flavor it adds is wonderful. I am a little heavy handed with the Jack Daniel’s (only when cooking!!!) It will burn off once it cooks down. It freezes well.
I have lived in the Bay Area for 11 years but this was my first time visting Lake Temescal. It had been on my “must see” list for a couple of years. I noticed the sign for the beach house as I was recently sitting in traffic on Highway 24. I went to see Lake Temescal the next day. It is beautiful and definitely a place to visit.
I got a very late start on my weekly walk around Lake Merritt which is about 3.1 miles. If I am without my camera, I can get around the lake in about 45 minutes. I remember seeing Lake Merritt for my first time in 1998 and knew that I wanted to live in Oakland.
I got a shot of my favorite Samoyeds relaxing at Walden Pond Book’s on Grand Avenue in Oakland. I usually stop at the bookstore on Sundays to see them after morning walk. They are adorable and very friendly.
This photo was from my first night apprenticing at Bakesale Betty. My personal goal is to sharpen my baking skills. Also, this is a far cry from being a computer geek. It was a lot of work but very fun. More photos here.
My task for the evening was prepping rhubarb pies. Betty started me out cutting out dough in circles and pressing it into the pie tins. Next, I prepared the rhubarb filling which consist of 25 pounds of rhubarbs, sugar, freshly squeezed orange juice, and orange zest. I mixed the rhubarb filling in a very large steel bowl with a large paddle which was like an oar. I rowed through the mixture and poured it into the pie shells. I took a dinner break and feasted on Betty’s pasta with portobello mushrooms (very yummy!) then she showed me how to make the lattice to cover the pies. I had never made a lattice before. It was much simpler than I expected but it took me a couple of pies to get the hang of cutting away the extra dough. The final touch was brushing the lattice with cream and spreading sugar on the top of each pie. I loaded each cookie sheet of pies on the rack and placed the rack into oven. I prepped a total of 13 pies. I learned from Betty that it is not about speed but quality when baking.
Betty’s oven rack is amazing. The rack spins in the oven so the baked goods cook evenly. Here are the finished pies:
Betty gave me a couple of the pies I made and some other baked goodies to take to work with me. My co-workers loved everything and asked that I give Betty their thanks. Thank you to Betty and everyone at Bakesale Betty for a great experience. I definitely look forward to doing it again.
This is my new orange silicon loaf pan and I made banana bread in it. Being an old school baker, I was a little caution about trying this type of pan. I got it for $10 so I would not feel too bad if I did not like it. Preparation for use is the same as with a steel or aluminum. Place a light coat of cooking spray in the pan before adding the batter. Also, place a cookie sheet under the pan since it will wobble. Amazingly, this pan can handle up to 500 degrees. Notice how the silicon pan expands to accommodate the bread which means it will not rise as high as it would in an aluminum pan. After cooling for a bit, the banana bread came out of the pan very easily. I may have to try out the silicon bundt pan though I am partial to my cast aluminum bundt pans. I added about 10 minutes to my baking time. The bread cooked evenly without any mushy spots.
This has been a very restful day after having a fairly busy weekend. I stopped by Blackberry Bistro for lunch and had a wonderful burger and fries. It opened about 3 months ago and I have been there several times for breakfast and have never been disappointed. Their menu is eclectic comfort food and you do not want to miss out on their biscuits. Chef/Co-Owner Robert Dorsey III prepares all the wonderful dishes while co-owner Sherrie Sparks handles the business end of the restaurant. Blackberry Bistro is located on a cozy corner at 4240 Park Boulevard in the Glenview district of Oakland and is open for breakfast and lunch, Tuesday thru Sunday. There is a great write-up on the restaurant in the Montclarion newspaper.
If you are wondering how this remotely relates to music, Robert had The Best of the Gap Band playing while I was there which made it even more relaxing. Hey, that could be a flashback one day.