Fifi’s Lunch Box

Either you love bacon, or you are wrong.

This post is about a bacony place, called Fifi’s Lunch Box, in Terre Haute Indiana. I hadn’t set foot in the United States since 2002, when I was only an eleven year old girl. So, when my trip was booked after a decade, one of the items on my bucket list was to find a bacon themed place to eat. But it seemed that my list was way too long, I had too much to do with so little time to spare. Finally, on my last day, I begged my nan to drive me to this place my aunt had told me about, that had everything with bacon, even bacon soda!

Off we went, through Terre Haute’s chaotic Lafayette Ave., got lost a couple of times, nearly got hit (at least once), even stopped by the police (no ticket thank goodness – people in Indiana seem to be very kind and unusualy nice, police likewise, even if you turn on a red when you’re not suppose to).

We were about to give up, when my baconstinct said “No Megan, you are too close to just go back home now – what if you only come back after another twelve years?!” and asked around at a gas station. Obviously, everybody knew about Fifi’s, this was a good sign, and back on track we went, to find The Bacon Utopia.

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There it was, shut. I panicked, but knocked, and Jaqueline was there so kindly to open the door and question my curiosity. I think I might of gotten of as some type of lunatic, Nikon around my neck, wanting to take pictures of everything, and asking “where are the Bacon Cupcakes?”. I suppose americans are used to this, so in I went, and got talking to Jaqueline, who was just getting prepared for an event of 300 people the next day (so.much.bacon.arrghh). Their food truck was off elsewhere catering to other customer’s bacon needs in some nearby event. I questioned about their products, complimented on the bacon donut burguer (yes, they do it!) and got lost in all the bacon merchandise stacked up neatly on the shelves.

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I had to say that I was desperate into trying something, as I was from Portugal, where nowhere you can find much bacon enthused people nor places (alghtough I think if anybody would open up that type of business oversees, it would be me), and was eager to write about the shop on the blog. In the end, I took three cupcakes home and a box of bacon candy. Tempted into also buying a bacon lipbalm, and a pound of their homemade bacon (but highly doubted that customs would let me go through with that in my suitcase) I curbed my enthusiasm by sticking to my main plan – to take a few pictures of the yummy bacon sweet goodies, because bacon goes good with everything. Jaqueline was so kind into offering a sample of gooey bacon butter cake, which really tasted like bacon. It was delicious.

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My next mission was to get home with three intact cupcakes, so I could try each one of them, take notes, shoot some mouthwatering pictures and show the rest of my bacon crazed family (who lives in Terre Haute) that bacon sweet tooth works very well.

Jaqueline informed me that they are about to open a new shop, in a new location. North Terre Haute ends up being a bit out of reach, and it is a small place to cater to their upcoming fans. I hope I can check it out next time I go back, and actually enjoy having a meal there.

 So what you should know about Fifi’s is:

– They make their own bacon, applewood smoked, also have a great pork purveyor who caters to big orders, with top notch quality suine;

– The menu is amazing;

– It is a humble enviorment with a friendly vibe;

– “Bacon makes everything better” and “Keep Calm and Eat Bacon” are signs posted on the wall;

– Home of the Bacon Latte (omg);

– Bacon, Bacon and, well, Bacon.

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I hope you guys become international and think about visiting Portugal in the near future, I would definitely become a regular customer, and drag all my bacon friends there.

 About the cupcakes I tried:

Beer batter dough, cheddar cheese and bacon buttercream frosting: wow! Loved the frosting and the density of the cupcake, which was more like a muffin.

bacon cupcake with cheddar cheese

bacon cheddar 2 bitten

The Elvis Presley, banana bread base, peanut butter frosting, chocolate chips and a bacon piece on top: anything peanut butter, thumbs up, with bacon? Even better.

elvis presley cup cake

elvis presley up close

elvos presley up above

Dark chocolate and buttercream frosting with a cute decorative salty piece of bacon on top: lovely fluffy texture, great color contast between the black, white and the rosie piece of bacon.

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Beyond recognition, all cupcakes were a success. My favorite was the Elvis Presley, the peanut butter goes so well with the banana and the bacon gives it that extra flavor experience, as salty savory just becomes the “cherry” on top of the “cupcake”.

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3 in a row

Before I go, I have to tell you about this awesome bacon magazine I found in Rural King (the only place in the states where you can take your pet – even a snake, as long as it has a leash on it. Oh! And free popcorn!). Only in ‘murrikuh! Everything bacon related is in it, from how to make it on the comfort of your own home, amazing recipes and plenty of delicious bacon photos.

Don’t forget to check out Fifi’s website, facebook page and if ever in the vicinities of Terre Haute, or thinking about going to a nearby festival, check out if you are close to tasting a bit of bacon heaven. With homemade bacon, what else?

 Thank you Fifi, for making my overdue trip to the states worth while, and putting up with my everlasting curiosity about meeting your shop. I approve this vittle, as a luso-american foodie! Keep up the good work!

 Bacon is life!

Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse

First of all, I have to thank my dear friend N (i’m not spelling his whole name, but he knows it’s him!) for providing this healthy recipe of one of the most decadent desserts I know.

Don’t take me wrong, I love butter! But olive oil in a mousse? Chocolate mousse?! That’s just plain nutrition genius.

up above mousse

Best topping for a chocolate mousse? Salt. Pink pepper is also very nice.

Besides giving you the recipe, I’m also going to share my cooking experience by adding more or less sugar and chocolate to the mix. Obviously the best recipe is the one with more sugar and chocolate! And I’m about to explain why.

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If you look closely at the spoon, you can actually see me taking the picture!

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The first attempt was the low cal recipe, where one tablespoon of sugar per egg is added, with 100 grams of dark unsweetened chocolate and two tablespoons of olive oil.

Ingredients:

  • 7 eggs (separated)
  • 7 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 100 grams of dark unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Procedure: Melt the chocolate with the olive oil and the salt (save some for sprinkling before serving), making sure it does not pass 50ºC. Beat the yolks with the sugar. Incorporate the melted chocolate (when luke warm). Beat the egg whites. Fold the yolk mix into the whites, gently. Spoon into ramekins and let set in the fridge at least one hour before serving.

Now, the low cal recipe was quite a challenge, as I noticed the egg whites didn’t set very well (no added sugar, and don’t expect cream of tartar will do the trick, it is great for an even whiter effect, but not so good at maintaining the whip). The lack of sugar also contributes to a faulty consistency, besides using half the chocolate, which led to lack of cohesiveness. By the next day, the mousse had egg white at the bottom, and just didn’t have the right fluff to it, especially because there was too much available water, ready to leak and ooze out of the protein web (the richer the web, with chocolate, sugar and fat, the easier it will solidify and prevent separation, in a cold envoirment).

The best version of this recipe, decadently delicious and healthy (just because it doesn’t have butter!), has double the chocolate (yum) and four more tablespoons of sugar.

So the best recipe is here:

  • 7 eggs (separated)
  • 11 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 200 grams of dark unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

close up mousse

A trick my patisserie teacher taught me in my second year of college was to slightly warm up the egg whites, until it is warm to the touch, before beating. This supposedly helps keep the whites from separating while in the fridge for prolonged periods of time. As a fact I have researched this, it seems to be quite an antique procedure, for when electrical appliances were scarce, and beating was done manually. I do it anyway, as I can tell a difference, specially when making lemon merengue pie. Just remember to do this over a pan of hot water, and keep stirring and checking, so the mix doesn’t coagulate. It also helps build them and maintains them steady through cold environment without separating the water from the protein. By the time the egg whites are warm, you can start beating, and add two tablespoons of the sugar when they are nearly ready.

The procedure for this recipe is the same as the previous low cal version. Remember to eat within the following three days (raw eggs).

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If your mousse sets like this on it’s side, then you made a good consistent recipe.

Reading Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking – The Science and Lore of the Kitchen will help you understand the science of making a mousse, even if you are a kitchen newby – this is where I got all the information for this post. It is also my food bible.

Another plus about adding the extra sugar and chocolate, is the fact that you don’t even notice the olive oil flavor (for whoever does not appreciate it). Sorry if you are diabetic, I cannot help you with this one (you can try adding frutose, I personally don’t appreciate it because of the metallic after flavor, or isomalt).

Something I have to warn you about this recipe is using raw eggs. If you are a food professional like I am, you know that in your establishment you should apply HACCP knowledge and pasteurization techniques, but it’s also a harder process to achieve good mousse like consistency. By applying the bombe technique, the eggs lose aeration properties, and so lingers the need to use gelatin leaves, which gives a hell of a lot more trouble, and will alter the flavor. Non the less, you should try it out, push your patisserie capacities to the limit, so you can understand why this and that happens!

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Look how the mousse stays steady on the spoon – that’s the perfect, fluffy, gorgeous consistency a mousse should have.

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Not pasteurizing eggs is a microbiological hazard, it is a petri dish of salmonellas, possibly a few campylobacter’s and plenty other egg loving bacteria. But hey, so many, and I mean soooo many people, including chefs and food eccentrics have risky eating habits, like raw oysters that are very dangerous because of the toxins that can act in seconds, leaving you near your death bed (PSP, DSP, NSP and ASP). Oh, the irony. But as Anthony Bourdain once said, “Your body is an amusement park. So enjoy the ride.”. This guy knows stuff.

Make the damn mousse with raw eggs, you will live.

If you are, however, prone to food disease or have a weak imune system, I advise you to purchase pasteurized eggs, or research how to do la bombe technique, where you pasteurize the eggs, with a 121ºC sugar syrup. For smaller quantities, you can use a microwave until the eggs, sugar and a bit of water reach 85ºC (the water is necessary, as it will evaporate, if it is not present, the eggs will scramble) and then beat till cool. Although this is the safest technique, and highly required in the restaurant business, it does lack substance and successful aerating. To counteract this, use gelatin leaves and whipped cream. But that’s a whole other recipe itself, far away from the purpose of this one, which is to opt for a dairy free ingredient.

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empty mousse

I used a leftover jam jar and a white ribbon, for presentation purposes. But I also choose many different jars, with different sizes, because everyone wants a certain amount.

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I couldn’t help myself. I had to eat it while photographing for this post.empty empty mousse

About the olive oil to use, and the best that Portugal can offer, I’m saving that for a future post. I think I might have overwhelmed you a bit with too much technical/scientific patisserie information. So – Keep Calm and make that mousse! 🙂