Monday, June 25, 2012

The Whole Hog

 Last Saturday the Hudson Farmers' Market inaugurated its Book Tent with author Libbie Summers signing copies of her new book, The Whole Hog.  It was a beautiful day in Hudson - a welcome relief after a week of unbearable heat and then a frightful lightening storm accompanied by a proverbial hail storm the "size of golf balls".  Charming Libbie, who had braved the storm by flying in from a job in Colorado - arriving in the Hudson Valley about 10 hours later than expected - then had gotten up early in morning on the "left bank" of the river, and arrived at the market just on time to sign the first copy of her book.
Libbie says her book  is "the quintessential pork for chicks cookbook that will make you laugh about old boyfriends, teach you how to make your own bacon, and give you the butchering know-how to boss your husband around in the kitchen."    I can only assume that that's Libbie's good natured way of saying that this book is  for everyone and the recipes are easy as can be.

Libbie went on to Rhinebeck and bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy and to do another book signing.  After that it was back over to the "left bank" to Kingston and a real honest to goodness whole hog roast at the brewery, Keegan Ales.
The meal included three dipping sauces prepared by Libbie; hot guava, pineapple chili and mustard,  pork and beans, radishes from the Hudson Farmers' Market, and bacon banana cookies all cooked to by a chef and students from the nearby CIA - not that one - The Culinary Institute of America.

Guest James Aguiar taking a brief rest best returning to the carving table for another roast pork sandwich.

Libbie read an essay from her book to the delight of the guests.

When I finally got a chance to seriously peruse the book I stopped at
 Best Ever Family Reunion Sheet Cake (with bacon pecan icing) and my mouth watered.  Non stop.   Libbie swears that this cake will take 20 minutes - uh hah.

Let's give it a try.
Serves 20

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teapoon kosher salt
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cup leaf lard or vegetable shortening
1/4 cup good-quality cocoa powder
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Bacon Pecan Icing (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 by 2-inch baking pan and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and lard.   Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a separate small pan.  Whisk the cocoa powder and boiling water into the butter mixture over the dry ingredients.  Stir until just combined.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Add to the cocoa mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.  Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake for 15 minutes, or until set.  Frost the cake while it's still warm.  Let the frosting set up for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Bacon Pecan Icing
yields 3 1/4 cups

14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unslated butter at room temperature
1/4 cup good-quality cocoa powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
4 slices bacon, cokked crisp, finely diced

Put the butter, cocoa powder, buttermilk, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk until all the ingredietns are fully incorporated.  Add the confectioners' sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the pecans and bacon.

SUSANSIMONSAYS:   I made a salsa verde with garlic scapes the other day;  finely chopped garlic scapes, finely chopped flat leaf parsley, chopped preserved-in-salt capers, the zest and juice of a few  lemons, and extra virgin olive oil. I already know the resulting sauce is going to be useful in many ways.  For a start I used it as a quick marinade before I roasted some chicken breasts.  I'm thinking about brushing it on just-grilled fish, mixing it with a bit of sour cream as a topping or dip for just about anything from raw vegetables to fried potatoes.  Anything.

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