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October 29, 2008

Bacon, butterscotch, apple, thyme

When my friend, Claudia, and I ate at Alinea in July, one of our favorite dishes was this very one.  Visually, it's quite striking, and you can see how the restaurant serves it by clicking here (and then sliding the little, blue slider thingy all the way to the right, since it's the next to last photo) or by referring to page 117 of your hymnals, I mean Alinea cookbooks.  When Claudia posted her photo of it on her blog, a commenter referred to it as "bacon on a sex swing" which stuck in my head because it is the same number of syllables as "heroes on the half-shell" which naturally requires the response of "turtle power!" if you are a nerd like I am.

And now that I've lost fully 85% of my readership, let's carry on.

I wanted to do this dish first, not only because I refuse to believe that bacon has jumped the shark, but also because it seemed like something I could do without great catastrophe.  Another reason I was drawn to this dish is because the recipe features one of many photos in the book that include hands preparing the food.  Look, I love gorgeous food photography as much as the next guy, but one thing I love about the Alinea cookbook is that you actually see people's hands in the shots as they're working with and plating the food.  They're beautifully done, and maybe a lot of cookbooks do this, but for some reason, it really stands out for me in this book.

It's my goal with this project to follow the instructions as explicitly as possible, but I kinda fudged the goal with the very first step because the recipe asks that your bacon be 1/16" thick, and mine was 1/8" thick.  I'd just bought it from my guy at Smith Meadows, and it comes already-sliced, so there you go. 

I don't own a food dehydrator (a Bedazzler, yes, but not a dehydrator), so I followed the instructions for dehyrating the bacon, but did it in a 170-degree oven instead.

Here are the bacon slices (about 4" long apiece) on a parchment-lined baking sheet before they went into the oven:

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And, here they are three hours later (and after three parchment sheet changes, so that they didn't stew in their own grease):

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I let them cool to room temperature, then stored them in a Tupperware container.


Next up?  The apple leather ribbons.  This was the only step in the process I was sort of fertutzed about, because I knew it had the potential to be fantastic, or go horribly, horribly wrong.

I cored and halved two Granny Smith apples and put them. flesh-down, on a Silpat-lined baking sheet:

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Into a 375-degree oven for 30 minutes they went... and had I remembered the second part of that sentence in the cookbook, which went, "or until they are very soft," I might not have ended up with this:

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Whoopsie.  Although, technically, they were very soft, so you know.... not a complete misstep.

The book then instructs to "scoop the flesh from apple halves into a bowl" and "transfer flesh to blender and blend until smooth" which I had to translate to be "pick up the poor, sad apple peels and scrape the apple glop into a bowl because it's as smooth as it's gonna get, child."

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I strained this apple purée through a chinois, and then spread what came out the other end onto a Pam-sprayed sheet of acetate.

Here's an interesting little bit about the acetate -- I called a bunch of cooking and baking supply shops, and not one of them carried acetate sheets.  They all referred me to an art supply shop, which I was in denial about and then finally had to cave and go there because it was my only resource.  See, here's the thing about me and art.  We are not, nor were we ever, sittin' in a tree k-i-s-s-i-n-g because growing up, I had no patience generally in life, but especially when it came to learning how to draw that stupid point on that stupid sheet of paper, then making those horizon lines, and call it "perspective," and in fact my 7th-grade art teacher sent me to the principal's office because when he rather harshly critiqued my really horrible, quarter-assed attempt at perspective drawing, I said something like, "well my perspective on all this is that it's a waste of my time" which he didn't find funny, even though I thought I was quite clever, and HOLY SQUIRREL NUT ZIPPERS, WOMAN, WOULD YOU JUST GET BACK TO THE COOKING PART OF THIS POST ALREADY, why yes, I will.

So, I overcame my fear and loathing of art supply stores (also, there are always hippies in there, and ew), and got some acetate sheets, onto which I used an offset spatula to spread the now-strained apple purée.

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This went into a 160-degree oven for 45 minutes, and it came out looking like this:

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The book refers to it needing to have the texture of fruit leather, which it sort of did, but with a lacy appearance, so naturally, as I'm typing this I'm now hearing Stevie Nicks in my head bein' all "give to me your leather, take from me, my lace" and I do not need to be song poisoned right now, so let's keep moving on.

While the apple leather (lace) was in the oven, I made the butterscotch. Whoever invented butterscotch should get the Congressional Medal of Something or Other because as much as I love caramel, I love butterscotch even more.  It's my favorite sauce on all kinds of ice cream (especially coffee ice cream; try it sometime), and I just love everything about it.  Theoretically, it's not difficult to make.  The ingredients are easy to come by: sugar, corn syrup, heavy cream... it's just the stirring and the heat of the liquid, and the chance that you could really burn yourself if you're not careful that makes me pay extra special attention when I make it.

I heated the sugar and corn syrup over medium heat until it had reached 350 degrees, then added in the cream very slowly -- that's where all the hotty-splatterness happens, and had I not been wearing a silicone oven mitt, I might still be on painkillers from the searing pain of losing parts of my flesh where the liquid propelled its way out of the pan and onto me.  When you add the cream, the temperature falls, so I heated it back up to 240 degrees until it was done, and poured it onto a Silpat-lined baking sheet to cool to room temperature.

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Damnit, I'm still humming "Leather and Lace."

While this was cooling, I went out into the garden to pick some fresh thyme, and then tried to slice the apple leather into ribbons, but it just wasn't happening.  So instead, I trimmed small pieces of apple lace, which you'll see in the final plating.

I laid the bacon pieces next to one another on a cutting board.  Then, I scooped up the liquid butterscotch and put it into a pastry bag with a small tip (honestly, you could use a ziploc bag with a tiny bit of one of the corners snipped off if you don't have a pastry bag).  Going back and forth, left to right and back again, over the top of the bacon (the tip of the bag was about 4 inches above the surface of the bacon), I drizzled the butterscotch over the whole row of bacon, then topped each piece with a piece of apple lace, a tiny pinch of freshly ground black pepper, and added a thyme tip.

Since I have been saving my hard-earned pennies for a new pair of Christian Louboutins instead of eight bacon sex swings (not that they're not beautiful, because they are, but mama actually does need a new pair of shoes, economy be damned, and p.s., the bacon service pieces are backordered, so I couldn't even have gotten them if I wanted to, so there), I presented the bacon quite nicely on a plate, and called the neighbors who came over a minute later.

Here's what greeted them on my dining room table:

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I want to make out with whomever was first decided to pair pork with butterscotch, because wow.

I remember this dish being good at Alinea, but it was nice to be reminded of it once again.

The bacon was tender, yet not crispy, and not really too chewy, either.  It was just the right consistency.  The apple had a nice tang to it, but it was also a little sweet, and the texture worked nicely.  The butterscotch?  Totally pulls this bite together, but the thing I think I liked the most is that when you put the whole piece in your mouth, the first three "chews" yield salt, sweet, and an almost creaminess, and then the fourth chew is totally aromatic as the thyme opens up and brightens everything.

Really outstanding, and totally doable at home.  Just work on the apple leather a little bit -- spread it a little thinner, maybe watch it a little more closely to make sure it's drying evenly.  Or, wing it and see what works best for you.  When the apple leather didn't turn out the way I'd hoped, I thought about doing a small, teeny-tiny dice of a fresh Granny Smith apple and sprinkling it like confetti over the bacon and butterscotch, but then figured that might not be as gentle or smooth a taste and texture as the original preparation intends.  Regardless, these flavors together are gorgeous, and it makes me want to throw a holiday party, just so I can serve these.  Or, maybe I'll throw a holiday party, forget to mail the invitations, make a batch or two of bacon, butterscotch, apple, thyme and eat it all by myself.  Is that so wrong?

Up Next: Dry Caramel, salt

Resources: Bacon from Smith Meadows Farm, Domino sugar, Karo corn syrup, Organic Valley heavy cream, apples from Whole Foods, thyme from my garden.

Music to Cook By: Rush; Moving Pictures.  If you've followed me over here from French Laundry at Home, you may recall that my neighbor's kids graciously let me sit in on their Rock Band tours (and by that I mean that I totally boss them around and make them do the same song sixteen billion times until I get 100% on it), and I am so proud to announce that I recently scored a 91% on "Tom Sawyer" on MEDIUM.  NOT EASY, people, MEDIUM.  How is that not breaking news on CNN?  Wouldn't you rather see footage of me schooling the great Neil Peart on "Tom Sawyer" on Rock Band than yet another stinkin' campaign rally?  I thought so.  The voters have spoken, CNN.  Let's run with this...

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It is so wonderful to see that you are back with cooking. This was a wonderful post thank you carol.

Hmm, that sounds interesting, and really pretty doable. Might have to give that a try - though I won't be ordering one of those bacon sex swings anytime soon.

1) Bravo.
2) There just HAS to be a way to use the bedazzler in the kitchen.
3) I now must make apple-thyme sorbet, and drizzle it with butterscotch, then top it with crumbled, super-crispy bacon. Because I CANNOT LEAVE A RECIPE ALONE!! I know this is a failing, but as failings go, it's not so bad.

Mmmmmmmm Baaaaaacon....

a little trick I use when "baking bacon" is to put a cookie drying rack over the backing sheet and put the bacon on there so I don't have to worry about all the grease issues (and can then later pour the grease in my collection of bacon fat in the freezer. ;)

Yea! Here we go! This is gonna be fun!

Go for the d'Orsay pumps!

After reading this, I predict that this will be a passed appetizer at MANY parties this Christmas season. Maybe even one of mine....

I've got the book. And this recipe may be the only one that's actually doable for me with ingredients I can find.

Thanks, Carol. I'll have to try this.

And this?
"(honestly, you could use a ziploc bag with a tiny bit of one of the corners snipped off if you don't have a pastry bag)"

You, indeed, are the smartest thing on the block!!

Hi Carol!
First of all, you're freaking amazing! Just wanted to let you know.

Next, I thought you'd enjoy this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btcvSWoQWV0 after your 91% on medium.

I'm so ready for this adventure with you. I still can't believe you are cooking this book. You are one brave woman. This dish sounds so delicious, you make me want to actually attempt it!

1. I think that the bacon sex swings would look better if they had some bedazzling done to them.
2. Good to know you're a fellow "turtle power" person.
3. Get those shoes right now! If you were to give a piece of butterscotch bacon to Michael Blomberg in those shoes I bet that he would marry you right on the spot!

91%! Drums or guitar? Keep on with the burning if the hands in your neighborhood, and no one is going to be getting a 100% on any Rock Band-age.

I'm a wee bit worried that you are again advocating the usage of the ziploc bag, however, you totally made up for that one with, "Holy Squirrel Nut Zippers".

Love it. Can't wait to see more.

Question -- acetate doesn't chemically change and combine with apple?? Maybe I missed a step...

* Carol Says: you have to buy baking-safe acetate. It's a little heavier, and the store employees should know which one it is. If you'd like to order them online, you can do so at JB Prince
http://store.webstorepackage.com/jbprince/virtualWeb/pastry-tools-and-equipment/acetate-sheets.asp

Fertutzed?
I love you. Of course.

By the way...what'd you do with all that extra butterscotch?

*Carol Says -- I gave it to my parents when I saw them the next day. Mom's response: Oh yay! Now we have something to dip our apples in!*

Watched my Rays lose the World Series, came here, immediately felt better. Thanks for lifting my spirits, however accidental.

Great start! I'm looking forward to reading through this next adventure...

Wow. This is going to be fun. Good one.

So, you're into ninja turtles, but hippies? not so much?...I'll forgive you that one...I Just finally recieved my preordered copy of Alinea, the autographs kinda gave me goosebumps!...I'm excited to watch you take this on from the beginning...you go girl! and way to start with bacon...(some of us hippies just LOVE bacon)

OMG YES! So excited for more! This was a great first recipe posting. This was the first time I have let myself laugh since I had my appendix taken out last Friday (it has hurt to do so) and it was totally worth it. It was the same Carol humor with completely new challenges, but you still manage to meet them with aplomb and determination that I sadly lack. I am excited to read about your attempts with the more absurd preparations in the book, but I am just glad to have you writing again!

PS Hippies are GROSS. My evil roommate invited two of them to stay with us INDEFINITELY without asking me first and I eventually was the one tasked with throwing them out on the street. NOT FUN. They were 24 years old and actually would talk about the Age of Aquarius LIKE IT WAS A REAL THING! I was like ARE YOU KIDDING ME? It took a month for our house to stop smelling like patchouli.

Stevie Nicks and Don Henley would be proud. I'm also going to picture Don sitting in the corner of your kitchen with a guitar singing this song as a Greek chorus of one from now on.

"Give to me your (apple) leather, take from me my (mise en) place..."

Invoking "Turtle Power" should actually increase your readership by 85%. :)

Hi Carol - Great post

Think the original should be called "Bacon on a G-String" - has more of a twang.

For us UK people, Corn Syrup is hard to find. I would have suggested a mix of caster sugar and water but there is already enough sugar here. (I'm a diabetic and really shouldn't)

I'm going to try and substitute "Golden Syrup" and see how that turns out.

Also again for UK people-- "Heavy Cream" does NOT equate to our "Double Cream". You need to use what we call "Whipping Cream" - Ignore what BBC food and Yahoo answers has to say on it. It's all to do with the percentage of buttermilk content.

As ever, we are seperated by a common language


Blessings

Leonard

As ever

I am wondering what you served it with after completing the dish.
Having had one of those I would be really hungry.
In fact if I was doing a dry run of this dish I would have probably admired them on their pretty plate, then picked them up and stuck them in a pile of mash and had it with a nice piece of meat.

The resturant supply shop I frequent sells zip lock bags packaged with a collection of pastry tips and the dohicky that goes inside the bag.

Personally I would be a little nervous about the art store acetate and heat. I think I would have tried a silcon baking sheet first or just possibly a microwave proof plastic 'cling' wrap sheet.

I inquired at a local art supply store about acetate sheets, and was informed that most art-store acetate isn't acetate at all, but some other kind of plastic. So you do have to let the art-store staff know what you're planning on using it for, and make sure it's food safe and heat safe. (In my case, they asked why I don't just use a Silpat, and I still haven't figured out the answer...)

I'd love to know what you think about dehydrating in the oven, rather than a dehydrator, since you'll be dehydrating a lot of things as you work your way through this book. I don't want to buy any more kitchen toys, but I will if I have to!

Sounds delicious and worth trying! BTW, dehydrators show up frequently at garage sales. I scored a nice one for $2 recently.

Oh, gorgeous.

Turtle Power!!
Now I really want bacon with my lunch.

I'm so excited because I can actually make this recipe. Ok, I'm going to make sure I get the Alinea cookbook before Christmas so i really can make this for an appetizer and impress my family. :)

Did you see the recent episode of "Chuck"? It was "Chuck vs. Tom Sawyer".

<3 the teenage mutant ninja turtle reference. man, haven't thought about them in ages!

i think the final plating turned out really well. and i'm kinda drooling over the dish right now. 'cuz, you know, bacon....

The apples kind of terrified me--it was like they'd been victims of some horrible apple slasher killer.

Everything else looked delicious. . .and bacony.

This would be great as a smaller, nibble sized bite at a holiday party. Going on The Hostess potential menu... now I will have to buy the book but frankly, it seems as though it needs it's own shelf or table! Be well, The Hostess

I'm tellin' ya', any time you see a gaggle of hippies alert your local farmers. They're great fertilizer. Heck, they already smell like it.

You realize that the reason everyone loves you is because they read this stuff and say "YES, YES, YES... that's ME!" We relate. We do, frighteningly, get your sense of humor.

One suggestion... next time you want to do this, consider pulling out your copy of Charcuterie and make a simple homemade bacon. It's easy once you find the pork belly (check your local big Asian market) but you have to plan 7-10 days in advance.

Wonder Twin Powers... Activate!

FYI, New York Cake & Baking Dist. carries acetate sheets.

I was so looking forward to following along however our trusty postal system seems to have lost my book - oh my...boo hoo....however the nice people at Alinea are helping to track it. The anticipation of receiving it is even greater now. Hopefully, it will VERY soon arrive at my doorstep.

A great first endeavour!

Loved your French Laundry blog so naturally, I had to follow you to Alinea. Oooh. I feel stalkerish. Is that bad? Do they have digital restraining orders?

I made the cream of walnut soup last Christmas for my family and it sure doesn't last long. I'll be trying the bacon/apple/butterscotch/thyme one next. Sounds great. You've inspired me to get back into the art of cooking, instead of just 'making dinner'. I don't know that my guinea pigs...er...I meant to say my kids, will thank you, but I sure do! Keep up the (funny, inspiring) great work!

Moving Pictures is one of the finest albums ever recorded!

BTW...are you starting with desserts?

They look perfectly lovely and appetizing without the fancy serving apparatus. I can just imagine the aroma! I love how you keep trooping on despite occasional minor disappointments along the way. In this case the apple leather obviously turned out just fine despite your initial misgivings. I am so craving bacon now...

Painkillers...its what's for dinner.

That's what I call coming out of the gate with full force, Carol. Holy Moses, does that ever look and sound incredible.

Someone once told me "Everything goes with bacon." And while I thought they were full of it at the time, I'm starting to find truth in that.

1. u probably had a bad omen brewing when your bacon was double the size it should have been
2. I know what a Bedazzler is
3. I also know that acetate can only be bought in art shops but did u know u can buy them in two finishes? one for a computer printer and one for an overhead projector (remember those in school)
4. Someone told me of a place in NYC where once a year Christian Loubertin's go 50% off
5. I am deathly afraid of making homemade Caramel
6. Feel free to ask me for ideas cause I am really crafty
7. And finally, I would do anything for a sex swing if only I would be able to get my fat ass up on one!! I am in total awe of your determination and motivation to let us all share your experiences throughout this book

Loved this post Carol...

The other day I was in Safeway and Tom Sawyer came on. I sat transfixed in the canned fruit section with absolute no intention of buying anything but I was close to a speaker and didn't want to miss the guitar solo.

I'm currently applying for graduate school in structural engineering and I went to my concrete professor's office to ask for a letter of recommendation. When I walked in the room, I saw this fat book sitting on his desk and then I realized it was the Alinea cookbook! He seemed really surprised that I would even know about the Alinea cookbook although I have to thank this blog for that. Perhaps I've secured a good letter now...

You had me at Louboutins and "sex swing"...adding bacon was (almost) overkill. :-)

I'm looking forward to trying this - we are getting our bacon/smoked meats next week from our meat CSA. I'm going to sub thin silicone sheets for the acetate as I've had pretty good luck making fruit roll-ups with it.

And I just gotta tell you, I am cracking up at the "Easy" tag on this post...use it while you can (insert evil cackle here). Myself, I've been divvying up the recipes into "Doable", "Difficult", and "What the F*** Was I Thinking?". Funny thing is, as I read through the book I switched several of the "What the F" recipes to "Difficult" because, holy smokes, they just get more and more complex.

For the apple ribbons...like other commenters, I wonder why acetate is used instead of a silicone sheet. It seems like silicone should work, doesn't it?

The bacon post is timely, as I did a bacon project last night. Chocolate-covered bacon. My first attempt a couple of weeks ago was mediocre because I didn't consider tempering the chocolate--so it didn't set up. Last night I did attempt tempering chocolate for the first time ever, and it worked pretty well (but could be better, I think). Anyway the resulting chocolate-covered bacon is pretty tasty! It's hard to beat sweet/salty as a flavor combination.

Carol,

Do you know you are referenced on Amazon .com when you look up the Alinea cookbook? How cool is that?!! So excited to be reading along again...

Looks like you're out of the gate strong. Looking forward to taking this adventure with you.

Are you coming to NYC to the Alinea Experience at the Astor Center?

I'm sure I'll enjoy following your adventures here as much as I did at the TFL blog! good job on the cooking and plating.
I am stiull reading through my Alinea copy but will be cooking some stuff soon. This one seems like a good seasonal start. I wonder if I can juts do a cook the blog blog. LOL.

Welcome to your new home...and what a dish! I love the shoes by the way. I've always been a sucker for a mary jane.

Carol,

I have recently stumbled over your French Laundry blog and loved it. Still haven't finished reading it. What is great is that now I can actually follow your adventures on Alinea from the very beginning!

I am studying cuisine and patisserie in Paris and naturally I love reading about food. I am impressed with your courage and dedication!

One trick I learned at school when making butterscotch is heating the cream as well and adding it to the caramel away from heat, so the temperature shock is minimal.

Looking forward to your posts!

Irina

Wow. Your posts just make my day, time after time. I couldn't imagine tasting this, but you made it so appealing that I may have to try it. Looking forward to the weeks ahead following your fun adventure!

You had me smiling at the bacon and the sex swings. Those photos on the Alinea site are incredible. I wanted to reach out and taste them and taste your version of the bacon, butterscotch, apple and thyme, too. The SF Chron just featured the dry carmel recipe. Can't wait to see how you do it.
Re : the acetate vs the silpat. Could be an esthetic thing. I think the acetate would create a higher shine on the apple leather/lace (damn earworm!, humming now) than the silpat.

Frugality and a disinclination to treck to an art supply store led me to try to make that apple leather on parchment paper. It worked like a charm. I put the paper on top of a silpat to moderate the temperature which I put at 150 instead of 160. In a couple of hours it was ready, and it was easy to cut up the paper into ribbons and peel off the leather with a sharp spatula.

A big thank you for your blog, Carol. Although I had mined the FLC extensively I had avoided things I didn't think I would like which are now, thanks to you and your enthusiasm, great favorites.

OK, I've got my museum-curator, acid-free gloves, so will open my *signed* (squeeee!) copy of The Book to follow along. I haven't figured out yet how I'm going to cook from it while still keeping it perfectly pristine. Perhaps a camera-based remote viewing system. (I feed engineers -- that should be easier than ad hoc (no pun intended) sex swings.)

Carol,

Great start. Everyone loves bacon. Looking forward to this Alinea ride.

On a side, saw the note on Rush and was reminded of high school. To keep it very short, we had to write a poem for 10th grade english. We show up to 5th period English to hear our teacher say she was submitting our friend's poem to the national poetry contest. She read us the poem and then we started singing along. Our friend submitted the lyrics to Trees by Rush....

There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas

Take care,
Brad

Looking forward to following your adventures!

1. Mmmm, maple bacon sex swing shoes.
2. Crisscross d'Orsay for sure.

Welcome back Carol. It was exciting to follow your kitchen exploits and I'm so looking forward to all your attempts at kitchen "chemistry" with this challenge. Agreed it will be most interesting to see how you adapt, where the failures present and how you overcome them. You always do even it with no other means but humor.

On the upside, I don't think you have to worry about soft shell crabs or lamb anatomy this go round. Your project became my sanity break most weeks and I've already bookmarked you for round two. Good Luck. Be Safe. Eat Well. Buy Shoes.

Girlfriend, are you honestly telling me you could walk in those shoes? Sure, Mike Bloomberg is a man, but he's also a straphanger, and I don't see those heels on the subway, much less on the stairs down and up from same.

Long time FLAH reader and am so happy to see the adventure continue. This dish looks wonderful and, with all your other fans, I am happy to see this project off to a great start.
However, now I am humming Leather and Lace. Speaking of which, have you seen this?
www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlLzAWUY6Xo
Cracks me up and now reminds me of your blog, which I am looking forward to following in the future. Thanks for always providing reasons to smile (and eat).

i have totally blog-stalked you through french laundry, and now alinea... and i just have to say - you freakin' crack me up! i'd read your blog even if you wrote about physics. seriously.

Wow! You sure make that look easy! Really, I may have to look into getting that book after all. I thought I'd be able to resist, but if the recipes are actually do-able...

Anything with bacon... Surely, all of the financial problems in our country could be solved with a fabulous dish of bacon. Notwithstanding any of our brethren who are subject to religious dietary restrictions, the rest of us could get together, bacon-out, and then save the planet. And, I'm sorry for calling you Shirley.

When I had this dish at Alinea (how sweet the memory!) it was called "Swine on a Swing" by the server. I call it heaven.

My signed copy of the book arrived today (I live in Canada) and I am still swooning. Good luck on working and cooking your way through this - I can't believe the number of components in each dish. Achatz is a genius!

This recipe reminded me of how much I used to love crispy bacon, fresh Macintosh Apple wedges and cottage cheese with lots of fresh ground black pepper for breakfast. Now I think I have to throw a little fresh thyme and butterscotch into the mix and resurrect that breaky.

It's good to know you are back,

Happy cooking Carol

I.Want.Those.Shoes.
With a side of bacon, s'il vous plait.

Nice job, even the apples, and I much appreciate the diversion from election-obsessing. :) But goodness, I don't get the hippie-bashing. It's thanks to the hippies that I can buy amazing local produce and bulk grains at our local co-op. We still have active communes up here.

Now clowns, on the other hand...clowns are scary.

The only time I've attempted caramel was for the esteemed Mr. Lebovitz's salted caramel ice cream. Sad to say that burns were involved and I did NOT execute that recipe properly. Not sure I will go there again.

And thanks for the 7th grade art memories...I think my teacher ended up doing that "perspective" lesson for me. To this day I can't draw a friggin' cube properly.

*Carol says: The hippie-bashing comes from the fact that the hippies in my town have been doing drum circles for peace... which actually cause quite the opposite effect because they are SO FREAKIN' LOUD and annoying. ;) *

To the reader from the UK - Golden Syrup *is* Karo here, you're right about the whipping cream vs. your heavy cream. I'm married to a Kiwi, regular conversations over the last 11 years have been hilarious a times as have some recipe "translations."

The UK Castor sugar is US Baking Sugar but you can substitute confectioners (icing) sugar in your Pavlova. ;-) Just sift it twice.

"Holy Squirrel Nut Zippers!" My coffee is still dripping off my monitor! Glad you're back, Carol - loved every minute of FLAH and am buying the book.

Carol, perhaps the reason you had problems with the apples is that often Granny Smiths are grainy and don't cook down well. Which is why you don't see much apple sauce made of granny smith apples but you DO see a lot of granny smith apples in pie. I think you might try making the leather with a cortland or some other type of apple that is better served as a cooking apple. But those Grannies make one hell of a pie!

Carol, I understand that it may have been a busy period for Americans with election fever hitting home. However, you have a duty to the blogging world to get the next post out some time this week as it will be the only thing that will enlighten my day in the face of impending British redundancies.

Sooo... apparently there is something wrong with the stove in this house as after nearly 5 hours at 200 degrees it's finally producing the right texture.

Mind you this was really thick cut bacon, and a 30 year old stove.

However, my girlfriend upon trying a piece paused for a uncomfortably long time, sighed and finally said "You realize this bacon means I have to marry you? You've ruined me for other men."

I guess that means it was success?

That looks delicious.

Just wanted to give you some advice re: the CL's, in case you are ordering online and are new to them. Most CL's, and certainly the one's you linked, run at least 1/2 size small to 1 1/2 sizes small. So size up!

your neighbors are the luckiest people on earth. let us know if they want to move out - i am sure this dish alone would be enough to spark a bidding war.

Quick question: How much leather does two apples make? Is there a lot left over? If I were to make this (also without sex swings) for a cocktail party with, say, 2 lbs of bacon (about 8X the original, so far as I can tell), it looks like I'd have enough butterscotch, but how many times more apples do you think I'd need?

OK, it wasn't so quick a question.

By the way, I picked up a copy of the hymnal, and I'm concerned that you're front-loading with the easy recipes, with only a couple of preparations. If you stack all the biggies like "Lamb with cubism" or "Rhubarb in 7 textures" for the end, you'll probably run out of steam.

**Carol Says: I think you'd have enough apple leather if you cocked it up the way I did an only ended up putting small pieces on each slice of bacon. To accommodate 64 pieces of bacon, you should do 8 apples -- but that's going to take a lot of trays and a lot of dehydration time, so perhaps instead you could do a brunoise of fresh apple and sprinkle the bacon and butterscotch with that?

As for running out of steam, I'm a culinary marathoner -- warming up, starting out at a reasonable pace, and in it for the long haul.**

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