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Did someone say bacon?? I love when I’m greeted at the mailbox by the newest Bon Appetit magazine. Each month a few dishes just jump off the page at me, while others need revisiting before interest develops. In the case of these Bacon + Date Scones, not only did they catch my immediate attention, but they were singing the hallelujah chorus. I tried to put them out of my mind, I did. I mean, nothing good can come from all that bacon and butter. Nothing that involves fitting into my jeans anyway. But as the days ticked by, these scones became a bona fide obsession. So I decided to meet the situation head on – see if they really measured up. Fantasy is often better than reality, right? Well, turns out they are indeed all that AND a bag of chips. Think of them as your new secret weapon… baking them for the guy in your life practically guarantees a proposal or vow renewal!

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10 oz. thick cut bacon slices (I used 10 slices Maple Smoked)
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup chopped pitted Medjool dates
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter
2/3 cup buttermilk
raw/turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 400. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Cook bacon in skillet or oven until cooked through but still tender and not crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain + cool. Reserve bacon drippings. Whisk dry ingredients together in large bowl. Coarsely chop cooled bacon. Add bacon + dates to mixture and toss to coat. Coarsely grate butter into mixture. Use fork to stir in butter. Add buttermilk and stir until large clumps form. Using hands, knead mixture briefly in bowl until dough forms. Transfer dough to floured work surface and pat into 8 inch round. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Cut into 8 wedges, place on parchment lined baking sheet. Use pastry brush to brush each scone with reserved bacon drippings and then sprinkle each with turbinado sugar. Bake until golden brown and center comes out clean, 16-18 minutes. Serve warm or room temp. Note: it is essential to work the dough as little as possible, if there are streaks of unincorporated butter or flour, that’s fine.

I am an enormous fan of the rotisserie chicken. But there seems to be some debate around our house as to its edible content. My husband routinely (exasperatedly) exclaims that I throw away half the chicken. This has grown tiresome. I have made my argument time and time again about fat content, heart attacks, etc. to deaf ears. So… I have now mastered the art of pulling the meat from the bones in mere moments and burying the carcass at the bottom of the trash before he can object – and where I can be guaranteed he won’t pull it out to gnaw on the bones (or so he has threatened). Yes, you heard that right. Must be some evolutionary defect leftover from the caveman days. I love a hearty salad that has enough good stuff in it to satisfy as an evening meal. This citrus dressing is light, really versatile and gives all the other ingredients a pop of freshness. I love it on arugula with any mix of fresh citrus (or pears) and either chicken or quickly seared scallops. I’ll substitute blue cheese and a sprinkle of toasted nuts if I’m in a meatless mood. Right now with kumquats in season, I can’t get enough of their petite sublimity and their counter-intuitive flavor profile with the sweet exterior rind and tart center… yum.

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1 large navel orange (both juice and zest)
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar or champagne vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
sprinkle of kosher salt + several generous turns of coarse pepper
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar
1 large clove garlic, smashed

Combine in mason jar or other airtight container and shake. Can be made in advance for flavors to meld! Enjoy over arugula (or other greens) with avocado slices and fresh fruit of your choosing – remove garlic clove before serving.

I’m not sure why, but I had a sudden hankering for the bacon and cheddar bread my mom used to make. It never occurred to me to document any of her recipes because parents live forever, right? I haven’t had any of the dishes I grew up with since I was 21, and many have now faded from memory but today was just the sorta day that I was going to have some bacon cheddar bread! Now, mind you, this wasn’t one of the more sophisticated numbers she’d serve her bridge ladies for lunch, but it was a family fave. In fact, as it was the 70′s, the original was probably made with Bisquick (mother’s helper of that era – in the 60′s it was valium). It was always served alongside a bowl of soup and usually on a Sunday following church services. Did I mention that I’m a P.K.? Yes, I’m a recovering Preacher’s kid- but more on that another time. My new rendition turned out to have a nice crumb, yet be sturdy enough to put a thick slice in the toaster the next day. Of course, it’s best enjoyed hot from the oven dripping with melted butter – because when it’s the 70′s and you are 13, you have no concept of the price you’ll pay for putting butter on your butter…. enjoy!

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1/4 cup grated good Parmigiano Reggiano
2 cups flour
1 T baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp coarse-ground pepper
2 T fresh chopped herbs (I used rosemary and chives)
4 T butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk
3 eggs, room temp
* 6 oz. prosciutto, pre-baked at 400 until crispy (12-15 min) and then chopped
1 (generous) cup grated sharp cheddar

Heat oven to 350. Generously butter loaf pan with butter and then use the 1/4 cup Parmigiano to “dust” sides and bottom of pan (like you would with flour). Mix dry ingredients (flour through herbs) together by hand in mixing bowl. In separate smaller bowl or glass 2 cup measure, melt butter, add buttermilk and 3 eggs – beat with fork until combined. Add to dry ingredients and mix, fold in cheese + prosciutto being careful not to over-mix. Pour into buttered loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for 50 minutes in center of oven. Rest on cooling rack until cool enough to gently coax from pan, slice with serrated knife and slather with butter (or not) and enjoy. * Bacon can be subbed (and approximated) for the prosciutto, and I use inexpensive Costco Prosciutto for this.

“Burgundy makes you think of silly things;
Bordeaux makes you talk about them,
and Champagne makes you do them!”

-Jean Anthelme Brillat Savarin

Ooh Valentines Day… an occasion which encourages Champagne drinking with abandon! And there’s artisanal cheese which is an exceedingly romantic food – from the earth, rich in history and representative of time honored tradition. A truly successful Champagne and cheese pairing is a match made in heaven, elevating the experience of both the Champagne and the cheese. May I suggest kicking off with the proverbial POP of Champagne in all it’s floral & fruity effervescence, set off by it’s favorite companion: luscious, delectable, triple crèmes + Bries. Consider including a few less cliché but equally fitting pairings such as Piave Vecchio, Garroxta or Beaufort. Taste a seductive Rosé with its perfect mate: Forsterkase or Hoch Ybrig. Lastly, another classic coupling: Sauternes paired with a creamy blue such as St. Agur. Now, top off your perfect evening with a sweet taste of chocolate and call it an affair to remember. There you have it… the requisites for romance!

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