Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bacon and Date Snacks

These little morsels are sweet and salty at the same time. Easy to make, easy to eat. Barely a recipe with just two ingredients.

Dried Pitted Dates
Bacon Slices

Cut bacon slices so that they can be wrapped around the dates. I cut my slices in half, then ended up trimming a little of the fatty end off of the bacon before wrapping the dates. 

Wrap the dates, slightly overlapping the bacon ends, and fasten with a toothpick. 

Place on a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the bacon is crisp. Use the top third of the oven so the bottoms don't burn. Turn the rolls over about halfway through. Cool slightly before eating so as not to burn your mouth.

If you like, stuff an almond into the date before wrapping it in bacon. I prefer them without the almond - the crunch of the bacon and the melting sweetness of the dates are enough for me.   

Brie, Bacon and Onion on Polenta Squares

One of the things I enjoy most about planning a party or event is deciding what food to make. Our third grandchild's baby shower recently was a morning event, so savoury things appealed to me more than sweets. These polenta squares, based on a photo, were easy to make with much prep done in advance, and they tasted so good. The softly caramelized onions, the melting Brie, the crunchy salty bacon and the cornmeal base all melded together wonderfully. 

The polenta can be made the day before and chilled, covered with plastic wrap. Caramelize the onions ahead of time, too, and keep them in the fridge. I also baked the bacon, cut it into pieces and refrigerated it (stuck waaay back in the fridge so I wouldn't sneak bits.) The topping recipe follows the polenta square recipe.

Brie, Bacon and Onion on Polenta Squares

4 cups of chicken broth, or vegetable broth
2 cups of polenta corn
2 teaspoons of pizza spice or herbes de Provence, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt

olive oil for greasing baking sheet and brushing on top

Bring the broth to a boil over high heat in a large saucepan. Slowly stir in the polenta corn. Add the spice/herbs and salt. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer until very thick, about 15-20 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. 

While the mixture is cooking, oil a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. When the mixture is thick, pour it into the prepared baking sheet. Level out the mixture with a flat metal spatula. I found an off-set spatula very useful. Spread the mixture 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. You want the squares to be able to hold the toppings without being floppy when picked up. 

Let the polenta cool. Brush the top with olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.

When ready to serve, cut the polenta into squares, about 1 1/2 inches square. Top each with a spoonful of caramelized onions, a small wedge of Brie cheese, and a few pieces of crisp bacon.

Bake the squares at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until warmed through and the Brie is softened and slightly melting. Serve hot or warm.

2 large yellow onions, peeled, halved and sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and gently saute them until softened. Add salt to taste and the thyme. Continue stirring and cooking the onions until they are very soft and just beginning to caramelize. Remove from heat and set aside to cool, or make ahead and refrigerate until needed.

Brie cheese (one small wheel), cut into small wedges

Bacon, about 8 slices, baked until crisp at 350 degrees, drained, and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces