I would like to make a formal announcement.
“spoonfulofpixels shall henceforth be known as ‘..the day I was bestowed the Southern Vegetarian Bible’”
Few pieces of flour and fat laden literature have come close to even making such an impressive list, but I just can’t deal with this book. Everything. The Americana. The faux meaty glory. I want to wrap myself up and live in it’s pages. Perhaps roll around naked in a few of the recipes.
I meticulously flicked through it a dozen times before deciding on the dish. The one recipe sumptuous enough to lay the cornerstone for the repast that was sure to follow. I did not hesitate for a moment late Sunday night when the battle was won by the incredibly easy vegan bacon (emphasis on implausibly delicious). One week later and my kitchen still smells like Texas.
Not a smokehouse. Just Texas in general.
..maybe just Fort Worth if we’re being specific.
I don’t know whether it comes from my not so secret desire to eat bacon all the time or the fact that everyone secretly loves these, but I want to put my foot down when it comes to bacon wrapped dates – or rather, these Smoked dates with goats cheese and coconut bacon. They’re a goddamn dream come true.
Vegetarian bacon that doesn’t taste like cardboard? It finally exists.
(as do Unicorns)
To be completely honest, rarely do I delve into the world of fake meat. It’s not that I don’t like it or haven’t tried on desperate occasion. Hell I make a faux lasagne that would turn most die hard BBQ’ing Aussie blokes. There is just something off putting though about soy protein shaped into riblets. If you’re like me however, and will get up on a Saturday morning just to smell the neighbours bacon, then hopefully these bite-sized slivers of gold will do it for you.
No longer should these ridiculously named Devils on Horseback be segregated to pot lucks and your Aunt Esmeralda’s Tupperware parties. They deserve a place in the current decade, because quite frankly – salty bacon, sweet Smokey dates and sharp cheese is a kickass combination.
I’d invite them to my party.
* Thank you to Alex, for not only acknowledging but feeding my inner patchouli burger eating Southern Belle.
Smoked Coconut Bacon
(makes 3 1/2 cups)
3 1/2 cups coconut flakes
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetarian Worcestershire
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon liquid smoke (as an alternative to smoking, instructions below)
Smoke the coconut flakes for four minutes using grill-top method. It’s long enough – this ain’t no pulled pork.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees c. Place the smoked coconut into a large mixing bowl and add the maple syrup, soy sauce, pepper, worcestershire, and sesame oil. (Only add the liquid smoke if you didn’t smoke the coconut. This is just an option for people without access to a smoker – but it honestly works just as well). Toss to coat. Spread the dressed coconut into a single thin layer on a parchment-lined sheet pan or two smaller pans. Cook coconut for ten minutes, stir it around and spread it back out on the sheet pan, and cook it another five minutes or until coconut is nice and dark brown – not black. Don’t be like me. Don’t go for the extra crispy look.
Smoked Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Coconut Bacon
(serves 4-6 as an appetizer)
12 whole Medjool dates (smoked, method follows) **
55 grams soft goat cheese
1/2 cup smoked coconut bacon
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped chives (to garnish)
Using a sharp pairing knife, split each date lengthwise much the same as you would an avocado. Remove the pit and discard it. Next, scoop 1/4 teaspoon of the goat cheese and insert into the cavity of each date half. Add a few pieces of bacon to each before garnishing with salt, pepper, and chopped chives.
Smoking Method (** alternatively, apply a few drops of hickory liquid smoke to each date, available at specialty deli’s or online)
1. Soak a handful of hickory wood chips and two handfuls of applewood chips in water for about 20 minutes (for a less intense smoke flavor, go with all-fruit wood like apple or cherry.)
2. Drain chips and set them in the bottom of your smoker pan. Turn your grill on high. Place the smoker pan directly over the flame of your outdoor gas grill (the side burner works best for this) and leave it alone. After 8 minutes, you will notice a lot of smoke coming from the chips; perfect!
3. Lay mushrooms, dates, tomatoes, garlic or anything else you want to taste smoky in a single layer in the smoker basket and place over the smoking wood chips.
4. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Wait five minutes. It doesn’t take long for vegetables and grit to soak up that smoke flavor. Remove whatever you just smoked from the basket and allow it all to cool. Keep items in an airtight container for up to a week.
Both recipes adapted from The Southern Vegetarian