Wordless Wednesday: Killer Apps

Tempeh Larb

Sausage Pizza Wontons

Potato Oyster Half Shells

Pigs Belong In A Blanket

Pepperoni Stuffed Mushrooms

Be’ef Phyllo Samosas

Recipe testing for Fake Meat by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Don’t Go Bacon My Heart

How can you make bacon that tastes even richer than pork? I’m not talking about other meats, but plants that are naturally imbued with deeply savory flavors. Concentrated umami brings out a bold world of intensely earthy, almost gamey notes that put animal products to shame. What I’m talking about, of course, are dried Sugimoto shiitake mushrooms.

All it takes is an overnight soak for these substantial caps to spring back to life. Transforming this humble fungus into America’s favorite breakfast food is as simple as switching out plain water for a boldly seasoned brine. Smoky, gently peppered, and subtly sweet, simple pantry staples transform mundane ingredients into something truly sublime.

Once plump and fully rehydrated, the larger, flatter Koshin variety have the perfect texture, primed for slow roasting in the oven. Gradually toasting in the low heat, the edges caramelize and become extra crispy, while the thicker centers retain a hearty, substantial, super chewy bite. It’s the best of all worlds, in both the plant and animal kingdoms.

Stock up on shiitake bacon, double down or even triple the batch, because there’s simply no dish that wouldn’t benefit from this umami bomb topper. Keep them in short strips, roughly chop them into bacon bits, or grind them into a fine powder to use as a savory sprinkle. Just a few of my favorite ways to use shiitake bacon include:

There’s nothing wrong with just munching on a handful of bacon as a snack, instead of potato chips or crackers. Unlike conventional options, there’s no cholesterol, very little fat, plenty of fiber, and zero cruelty.

For bacon-lovers and animal-lovers, this is the best recipe yet.

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A Date with Destiny

I hope I’m not dating myself here, but I still think dates are one of nature’s candy. Especially when you get a perfectly plump fruit, thick and juicy, bearing the tiniest pit and a very thin skin, nothing compares to that pure sweet taste. It’s rich and voluptuous but never cloying, never overtly sugary. Worlds of flavor beyond that pure fructose hit bolster the experience with notes of molasses, brown sugar, caramel, butterscotch, toffee, and sometimes even cinnamon and chocolate. Nothing added, nothing removed, a single date can be far more satisfying than the most elaborate pastries.

It’s shocking to me that dates aren’t more popular for exactly this reason. Even if you think they’re too sticky or messy to eat solo, they’re such promising ingredients to use in other applications, especially with a little additional finesse. For example, date syrup is one of my favorite sweeteners du jour. Also known as date honey, date nectar, or date molasses, this thick treacle has been a prime ingredient in Middle Eastern households for millennia, but is slow to take root overseas in the US. This alone is utterly baffling. For a society generally fixated on healthier options, bearing so many food allergies and intolerance in mind, it should be flying off the shelves.

Being unrefined is a good thing in this case. In contrast to highly processed white sugar, date syrup still has all of its beneficial nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants intact. It’s even been shown to have antibacterial properties, much like conventional bee’s honey. As with whole dates, it has a much lower glycemic index than typical sweeteners, making it a better choice for those who need to watch their blood sugar.

Even if date syrup remains elusive in local markets, it’s a snap to make your own from scratch. To make date syrup, simply pour boiling water over pitted dates to cover. Let soak for about 2 hours, drain, and transfer to your food processor. Thoroughly puree until completely smooth, adding a tiny amount of water, as needed, for it to continue blending. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, or keep the pulp to retain more fiber. Store in a glass bottle in the fridge or a cool, dark place for up to a year.

Once you have the raw materials, you’re ready to create riches beyond your sweetest dreams. Leaning into warm spices to complement the deep, robust, and subtly earthy taste of the date syrup, gingerbread is always top of mind. Sweetened solely by the power of this supple fruit, buttery scones take shape with ease. Falling somewhere between flaky biscuits and fluffy cake, you genuinely feel like you’re eating a dessert for breakfast, without any sugar rush or crash to worry about mid-morning.

Date-nut gingerbread scones will delight those with serious sweet teeth all year round, not just during the holiday season. Best of all, you won’t wreck your New Year’s resolutions when you indulge, even if you go back for seconds.

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