Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Cookbook Review: The Bacon Cookbook

I have gotten a few new cookbooks lately. One that I really like is called The Bacon Cookbook by James Villas. I was afraid of posting about it before because Bacon is not a politically correct food to talk about lately. After all, it's full of fat, sodium and calories. But I for one think it's just SO good that I had to buy the book and review it for you.


Book Title: The Bacon Cookbook
Author: James VillasCategory: General - American
ISBN: 978-0-470-04282-3
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons
Publisher Address: Hoboken, NJ
Website or E-mail:
Copyright: 2007
Description: hardcover – 8 ½ x 11 x 1 ¾
Pages: 276Illustrated: none
Photographs: full color and full-page photos interspersed throughout the book
Price: new from $35 to $23.10

Crispy, salty, smoky, sweet - who can resist the allure of bacon? Certainly not food writer James Villas who's been beguiled by bacon since he was a boy.

In recent years, the variety and quality of most supermarket bacon have improved immensely, and many premium American artisan bacons, as well as delicious foreign ones, are now available at finer outlets and online. The book takes one around the world and introduces new and familiar bacons to the reader and cook.

If health concerns sometimes make you feel guilty about loving bacon, Villas urges you to relax. Yes, it's high in sodium and fat, but if eaten in moderation or used as a flavoring agent, as it is in many recipes in the book, bacon is a guilt free indulgence. In fact, using bacon in a pea soup for example and leaving out added salt, makes the recipe actually lower in sodium than if you omitted the bacon and used salt as a seasoning instead. Oh and it tastes better too!

The book begins with 17 pages of bacon history and pictures of bacon from all over the world. How to buy, store, cook and mail order bacon is included. As well as a 2 page section on the health issues associated with bacon.

Following the introduction are chapters called

Canap├ęs and Appetizers
Breakfast and Brunch Dishes
Soups and Chowders
Salads and Sandwiches
Casseroles and Stews
Main Courses
Vegetables and Fruits
Pasta and Rice

I really love this book. There are so many great ideas for adding that wonderful flavor as well as new recipes for the old standards. One interesting one that I want to try is called Caribbean Beef and Bacon Stuffed Plantains, I didn't have plantains in the house though so I settled for an old standard. Believe it or not, I have never made lentil soup. I have always made split pea soup instead. This recipe was great. It said it feeds 6, but my husband and I ate it for dinner and there was 1 serving left for me to have for lunch the next day. It was great. Very tasty and easy to make too.

Austrian Lentil and Bacon Soup

1/2 pound smoked slab bacon (preferably Speck), rind removed
2 quarts water
2 cups dried quick-cooking lentils, rinsed
1 medium leek (part of the light green leaves included), finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 frankfurters, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds

Cut 2 slices from he bacon slab and set the slab aside on the plate. In a large skillet, fry the bacon slices until they render their fat. Transfer the slices to a plate and set the skillet of fat aside.

In a heavy 4-5 quart pot or casserole, bring the water to a boil. Add the lentils, the slab and slices of cooked bacon and the leek, celery, and carrot. Return to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Heat the fat in the skillet over moderate heat, add the onion, and stir till softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onion, reduce the heat to low, and stir till the flour is golden brown. Ladle about 1/2 cup of lentil soup into the skillet and whisk till the mixture is thick and smooth. Add the vinegar and salt and pepper and stir well. Scrape the contents of the skillet into the lentil soup, stir well. Cover and simmer till the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

With a slotted spoon remove the bacon to a cutting surface, cut into small dice and return it to the soup with the frankfurter rounds. Simmer about 5 minutes longer and serve the soup hot in heavy soup bowls.

Makes 6 Servings

1 comment:

Portia Little said...

Diane, congrats on an attractive and informative blog. I was intrigued by your review of The Bacon Cookbook - and the lentil-bacon soup is on my to-try list. Mmm, love that bacon!
Portia Little
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