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Potato & Brussel Sprouts Gratin

One of the supper dishes I remember my mother teaching me how to make was scalloped potatoes. The recipe read something like this:

  • Wash, pare and slice potatoes. Put a layer in a buttered baking dish, season with salt and pepper. 
  • Dredge lightly with flour, dot with small pieces of butter; repeat until dish is almost full.
  • Add hot milk until it comes almost to the top layer.
  • Cover with buttered crumbs. Bake until soft, about 1 hour. A little chopped onion is an improvement.

Gratins are very popular in Germany. Potato & brussel sprouts gratin is a typical dish during fall and winter season. There are numerous variations such as adding ham or combining it with other vegetables like cauliflower, zucchini, peas and carrots. You could also add an egg to the cream if you like.

I always enjoy looking through mom’s ‘vintage’ recipes. I notice there were definitely lots of casseroles — no wonder they still hold appeal for me. Brion is not big on brussel sprouts but I’m going to incorporate this German specialty into our supper meal and see how it goes?!

Potato & Brussel Sprouts Gratin
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Servings
4-6
Servings
4-6
Potato & Brussel Sprouts Gratin
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Servings
4-6
Servings
4-6
Instructions
  1. Clean brussel sprouts, cut in half. Peel potatoes, cut about the size of your brussel sprouts. Boil potatoes & brussel sprouts for about 10 minutes in salted water.
  2. In a skillet, add a small amount of butter & fry onions with ground beef. Combine cheese with 1/2 & 1/2 cream, (add some milk if needed) & spices to your taste.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a 9" buttered casserole dish, layer potato/brussel sprout combo & ground beef. Then pour cream/cheese mixture carefully over all. Combine bread crumbs with Parmesan cheese & sprinkle top of casserole. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven & sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese. Serve.
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Bagels

Its always the story behind the food — not just the bit that we hold in our hands or put in our mouths that makes it so much more than just something to eat.

The origin of the bagel is still an issue for debate. Most food historians have come to the conclusion that the bagel is of Jewish origin. Apparently originating in South Germany, migrating to Poland and then to North America. This boiled and baked roll with a hole, has endured through the centuries not only because of its heroic legend. It also had the advantage of lasting longer than freshly baked bread due to the boiling process giving it an outer sheen and crunchy protective crust.

In the early 1950’s, Family Circle included a recipe for bagels. The copy read: ‘Stumped for Hors d’oeuvers Ideas? Split these tender little triumphs in halves and then quarters. Spread with sweet butter and place a small slice of smoked salmon on each. For variations, spread with cream cheese, anchovies or red caviar.

The morning combination of bagel, cream cheese and lox (smoked salmon), rose in popularity thanks to the advertising efforts of Joseph Kraft for Philadelphia Cream Cheese. It soon became an alternative to Eggs Benedict or the other Sunday trilogy of bacon, eggs and toast.

I remember being in California in the late 70’s and tasting a bagel with cream cheese & lox for the first time. The bakery/cafes were very popular little boutique restaurants at that time and  it was there that I acquired the taste for this glorious combination. 

Bagelmania, replaced, to a certain extent, the doughnut shops of the earlier 20th century. Their popularity was largely because they didn’t taste ethnic. To the bread and sandwich loving population, the bagel was simply a craving for innovation, but not different enough to appear ethnic.

In the 1960’s, preservatives helped create bagels that stayed fresh for more than a few hours and engineers created mixers that didn’t tear themselves apart trying to work the dough.

For classic bagels you require two ingredients that most home bakers’ generally don’t have in their pantries. One is high-gluten flour and the other is malt syrup. Both should be obtainable at natural food markets. If you can’t find high-gluten flour, use bread flour, preferably unbleached. Regular all-purpose doesn’t contain enough gluten to make a proper bagel. As far as the barley malt syrup goes, honey or brown sugar are acceptable substitutes.

All that being said, if you are still up for making a few bagels here is a recipe from cdkitchen.com you might like.

 

Homemade Bagels
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Homemade Bagels
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Dough
Water for Boiling Bagels
'Everything' Topping
Servings:
Instructions
Dough
  1. In a large bowl, stir together water, yeast & sugar. Let rise for 5 minutes. With a wooden spoon, stir in oil, malt & 1 cup of flour. Add salt then enough of remaining flour to make a stiff dough.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, knead for 10-12 minutes. Cover with a floured dish towel & allow dough to rest on board for about 15 minutes. Divide dough into 8 sections & form each section into a ball. Push your thumb through the center, creating a hole, (this method prevents the dough ring from separating as there are no seams). Place on a lightly floured surface, cover & let rest 15-20 minutes, rising about halfway & becoming slightly puffy. In a small bowl, mix all topping ingredients together. Set aside.
Water for Boiling Bagels
  1. Fill a large cooking pot 3/4 full with water. Add the malt syrup & salt. Bring water to a boil. Preheat oven to 450 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. If desired, sprinkle with cornmeal. Set aside.
  2. Line 2 other baking sheets with a kitchen towel, set near stove. Reduce boiling water to a simmer & cook 2 bagels at a time (do not overcrowd pot). Simmer bagels for about 45 seconds on one side, then turn & cook other side for another 45 seconds. Drain bagels on the towel-lined baking sheet.
  3. Carefully place bagels on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Sprinkle bagels with 'everything' topping, leave plain or use a topping of your choice. Place in the hot oven, immediately reduce heat to 425 F., bake about 17-25 minutes. When almost baked, turn bagels over with a pair of tongs. When golden brown remove from oven & cool on a wire rack.
Recipe Notes
  • For a few sweet versions try cinnamon with raisins or use some dried blueberries or cranberries. 
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Baked Honey Teriyaki Salmon in Parchment

I’m sure you use or are probably aware of the technique of cooking in parchment paper. The French call it ‘en papillote, the Italians ‘al cartoccio but we Canadians just call it cooking in parchment. This simple, yet elegant culinary tradition infuses the meats, vegetables and herbs together to create unbelievable flavor. Not only does this enclosed packet keep delicate foods like fish moist and intact but cuts down on your clean-up time. It is a super easy way to cook for one and not have lots of leftovers. 

Since fall is upon us and we are back to more of those oven meals, HONEY TERIYAKI SALMON  is the perfect, no-fuss Sunday meal.

Honey Teriyaki Salmon
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Honey Teriyaki Salmon
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Honey Teriyaki Sauce
Servings:
Instructions
Honey Teriyaki Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together soy sauce, 3 Tbsp water, honey, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger & sesame oil. Bring to a boil over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch with remaining 2 Tbsp water until well combined. Pour into sauce mixture; boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat & allow to cool slightly about 5-10 minutes.
Salmon & Veggies
  1. Toss broccoli & carrots in olive oil; season with salt & pepper. Cut 4 sheets of 14-inch lengths of parchment paper. Divide broccoli & carrot mixture among sheets layering in center in an even layer. Set aside 1/4 cup of the sauce mixture then brush bottom sides of salmon fillets with a scant tablespoon of the sauce then rotate the salmon over veggies.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Brush tops of salmon with another scant tablespoon of the sauce mixture. Pull sides of parchment inward & seal then roll edges up, leaving a little room for heat to circulate, not wrapping to tightly. Place packets on a baking sheet. Bake until salmon is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Serve with white or brown rice if desired & remaining sauce. Sprinkle with green onions.
Recipe Notes
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Rhubarb Tartlets

I never seem to get enough of making use of my rhubarb plants, since this is probably my 4th ‘rhubarb’ blog so far this year. I’m sure any of you that are following my blog stories are tired of hearing about rhubarb but ……… At the risk of boring you with this subject, I still want to share a few other ideas for this seasonal plant.


 Spiced Rhubarb Relish : Place 8 cups chopped rhubarb, 2 cups chopped onion,       1 tsp allspice, 1/2 cup vinegar, 2 cups sugar & 1 1/2 tsp salt in a large pot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer & cook uncovered on low heat, stirring frequently. Cook until onion becomes tender & mixture thickens. Pour into hot sterilized jars & seal. Nice to serve with red meats.                                                                                        Stewed Rhubarb: In a medium saucepan, heat 4 cups sliced rhubarb with 2/3 cup sugar over medium heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Stir often.                      Rhubarb Smoothie: To cold stewed rhubarb add your choice of frozen berries, low-fat yogurt, orange juice & a banana. Mix in a blender & add honey to taste.  Rhubarb Muffins/Scones: Add 1 cup of finely chopped rhubarb & zest of 1 orange to your favorite batter.                                                                                                                   Rhubarb Applesauce: Heat 3 cups of peeled, sliced apples, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 cup chopped rhubarb over medium heat until apples are soft, about 15 minutes. Stir often. To enhance flavor, add raisins, cinnamon or ginger to taste.                              Rhubarb Cherry Pie: Stir 1 cup coarsely chopped rhubarb with 1 – 540 ml can of cherry pie filling. Bake the same as you would for a cherry pie.                                     Savory Rhubarb Pork Sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups sliced rhubarb with 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 Tbsp cider vinegar & 3/4 tsp fresh, grated ginger. Simmer until soft.

Hopefully you will find one of these ideas useful. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Mini Flans
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Rhubarb Mini Flans
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Cornmeal Tart Crust
Servings:
Instructions
Cornmeal Tart Crust
  1. In a food processor, place flour, cornmeal, salt & sugar; pulse several times to combine. Add butter; process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. While machine is running, pour the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, until the dough just holds together (do not process for more than 30 seconds). Turn the dough out on work surface. Place dough on plastic wrap. Flatten to form disk; wrap & refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Rhubarb Filling
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine rhubarb, both sugars, cornstarch & salt. Cook stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb releases its liquid & begins to breakdown, creating a thick, chunky sauce, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat & stir in vanilla. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  2. On a lightly floured work surface, Divide dough into 16 pieces. Line 8 mini flan pans with bottom crusts; rolling the remaining 8 balls into circles for top crusts. Pace circles on parchment paper. Refrigerate bottom & top crusts again for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Divide rhubarb filling among the 8 tarts. Cut a design of choice in the top crusts & fit to mini tarts. Brush with egg wash & sprinkle with sugar. Bake until crust is golden & filling bubbles a little bit, about 20-25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with whipped cream or ice cream.
Recipe Notes
  • These little minis would also be nice made as fruit galettes for something a bit rustic looking.
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Pan Bagnat – The French Picnic Sandwich

HAPPY LABOR DAY!

Can you believe it — Labor Day Weekend already! In our part of the world it signals the last of those coveted summer days. Celebrated in Canada as a national statuary holiday week-end. With the many picnics, gatherings and what have you, this specialty sandwich came to mind.

The ‘pan bagnat’ originated in Nice, a city in the south of France that borders the Mediterranean. The name translates to ‘wet bread’ due to the fact that the traditional sandwich is filled with a ‘Nicoise’ salad. This salad generally consists of leafy greens, olives, hard cooked eggs, with the main proteins being tuna fish and anchovies. It is then dressed with a Dijon vinaigrette.

Although it is typically a French sandwich, it is enjoyed by people all over the world. Overtime, many variations to the classic pan bagnat have been made. For those not fond of fish, ham, chicken and salami are good alternatives. For the vegetarian, artichoke hearts, raw peppers, steamed green beans and shallots. The bread used is usually a round, hearty artisian style bread so that the texture is both crusty and chewy.

To make the sandwich, the center of the loaf is scooped out and the filling is layered inside. It is then refrigerated for at least 2 hours or overnight before slicing and serving. Once the flavors all meld together the taste is incredible, the perfect sandwich for a crowd.

Pan Bagnat - The French Picnic Salad
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Servings
8-10
Servings
8-10
Pan Bagnat - The French Picnic Salad
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Servings
8-10
Servings
8-10
Instructions
  1. Slice the bread in half horizontally. Remove some of the soft interior from both halves; removing MORE from the bottom half than the top. Brush interior of both halves with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil. (If you prefer, you can use mustard/mayo instead)
  2. Layer the meat & cheese inside the bottom half of bread loaf. Begin with ham followed by salami, chicken & cheese. Layer the tomato slices on top of the cheese, followed by the iceberg lettuce Drizzle the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil & the vinegar over the lettuce. Season with salt & pepper.
  3. Place the top half of the bread on the lettuce & press down lightly. Tightly wrap the sandwich in 2 layers of plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day. Sit something heavy on top.
  4. Unwrap the loaf; using a long, serrated knife, cut the loaf into 8-10 wedges.
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Honey Mustard Chicken Salad with Bacon & Avocado

Main course salads, properly thought through are a thing of beauty and ingenuity. Unless you have a dislike for ‘salad’ these are such a great meal option. I guess you could call it ‘all food groups in one meal’.

Having had a food service career, I recall in the 1970’s when the ‘Chef’s Salad’ was all the rage. Of course a decade before that was the self serve salad bars. This idea had started out as a way to keep customers busy until the ‘real’ food came. It was so well liked, people were making it their entire meal. The sideshow had now become the main event so a price had to be set for a ‘salad only’ meal.

Today, the main course salad is only limited by ones imagination. It can be based on ingredients that are already on hand, making the most of your pantry and leftovers in the fridge. Pick up a few fresh ingredients and you got a simple, yet sophisticated salad.

My main course salad choice is a HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN SALAD with BACON & AVOCADO. Super good meal for the last day of August!

Honey Mustard Chicken Salad with Bacon & Avocado
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Honey Mustard Chicken Salad with Bacon & Avocado
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Instructions
  1. Whisk together dressing/marinade ingredients. Pour half the marinade into a shallow dish to marinade chicken fillets for 2 hours at least. Refrigerate other half of marinade to use as dressing.
  2. In a non-stick skillet, heat a teaspoon of oil & grill chicken fillets on each side until golden, crispy & cooked through. Once chicken is grilled, set aside & allow to rest.
  3. Wipe pan with a paper towel; drizzle with another teaspoon of oil & fry bacon until crisp. Bloat on paper towel after frying; crumble in to pieces.
  4. Slice chicken into strips & prepare other vegetables. Place torn Romaine on 4 serving plates; arrange the other ingredients on top. Whisk 2 Tbsp of water into remaining reserved dressing/marinade & drizzle over salads. Sprinkle crisp bacon crumbles over each salad & season with a little salt & cracked pepper if desired.
Recipe Notes
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German Apple Custard Cake

We will soon be heading into fall. For apple lovers, the cool mornings and clear days of Autumn mean one thing; its time for some of the season’s crisp, juicy apple harvest. Apples are available year round thanks to controlled-atmosphere, cold storage chambers that keep them fresh for months. Some varieties even develop better flavor overtime. After 30 plus years in the food service industry, I retired and spent some wonderful years as tree and shrub buyer for a garden center. On this property there were many apple trees. One of the varieties was called Westland. These particular apples don’t taste like much until the first frost had touched them. Apples are a very common fruit but shouldn’t be overlooked due to their versatility.

When you take notice of how many ways apples are used in German baking, cooking, etc. its very clear that Germany loves its apples. For example there’s fresh apples, apple sauce, apple pancakes, apple juice, apple schnapps, apfelschorle (apple juice and carbonated water) and of course the many versions of apple cake …..

This German Apple Cake is served with a nice vanilla custard sauce making it quite special.

 

German Apple Custard Cake
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Servings
12
Servings
12
German Apple Custard Cake
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Cake
Custard
Servings:
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease & flour or line with parchment paper an 8 or 9-inch spring form pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon & cardamom. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add 3/4 cup sugar & mix. Peel apples; slice & cut as suggested. Toss apples with flour mixture to coat.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat eggs & milk together. Add to the apples & flour; mix in with a large spatula until just combined. Batter should look thick & dough-like. Transfer the dough to prepared cake pan & flatten the top using the back of spatula. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp sugar over the cake top. Bake for 45-50 minutes or when cake tests done.
Custard
  1. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks & sugar until pale yellow about 2-3 minutes. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk just to a boil. Slowly whisk the hot milk into the egg/sugar mixture. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan & stir over medium heat until custard thickens, about 4 minutes. Custard should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in vanilla & transfer to serving pitcher. This custard is not a thick, pudding like consistency; it needs to be a pour able.
  2. Serve custard warm or cold over apple cake.
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Pita Pockets

From what archaeologists can determine, pita bread originated with peoples west of the Mediterranean. Pitas have been both a bread and a utensil throughout the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean.It is a rather  simple bread that could be made with limited technology. Pitas are cooked quickly at a relatively high temperature. The flat dough expands dramatically to form an interior pocket from steam. 

Pitas’ popularity is partially attributed to using the pocket like a sandwich bread. Many traditional cultures use the pita more like a soft taco or the pita is pulled apart into pieces and dipped in a variety of sauces.

The possibilities of being able to pack, dip or wrap whatever you choose in the pita bread is limitless. Their taste can only be appreciated when eating your pita with different foods that will compliment them.

Although pitas are enjoyed all through the year, they seem like an easy summer meal to enjoy.

Pita Pockets
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Pita Pockets
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
Filling
  1. In a large skillet, cook beef, onion & green pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder, cumin & Italian seasoning; mix well. Simmer, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes.
Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, bring all the sauce ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes. Spoon meat mixture into pita halves; top with sauce, tomatoes & lettuce.
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Salmon, New Potato & Dill Mini Quiche

It seems logical, since new potatoes and fresh dill are available, to make some of these special little quiche.

When I think of salmon, dill immediately comes to mind. One of the few herbs you can purchase fresh in the supermarkets year round. Dill is a very pretty herb with its feathery leaves or fronds. It has a fresh, grassy flavor that is often referred to as anise-like. A member of the parsley family, it can bring out the flavors of other herbs.

Dill is a commonly used herb in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. Fresh dill is often added to seafood dishes, yogurt sauces, vinegars, potato salads, fresh baked breads and soups as well as making a very gourmet looking garnish.

Quiche had become popular in England after WWII, but it wasn’t until the 70’s and 80’s that it really caught on in North America. Today we have many variations in our quiche fillings. There are also crustless recipes of quiche but some would argue that those can only be classed as ‘baked custard’.

Hot or cold, I have always enjoyed quiche. Brion probably could take it or leave it but I think this SALMON, NEW POTATO & DILL QUICHE  will be real tasty.

Salmon, New Potato & Dill Mini Quiche
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Servings
8 MINIS
Servings
8 MINIS
Salmon, New Potato & Dill Mini Quiche
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Servings
8 MINIS
Servings
8 MINIS
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt. Cut in white & yellow Crisco shortening until it resembles small peas. In a 1 cup measure, place egg & vinegar; combine. Add enough COLD water to fill cup. Pour all at once over flour mixture, mixing quickly, until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. This should only take a couple of minutes; DO NOT OVER MIX PASTRY.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll pastry out on a lightly floured surface. Cut 8 circles about 5 3/4" in diameter (providing your mini tart shell pans are 4 3/4" size). Line mini tart pans with pastry & place them on a baking sheet. Place a piece of parchment in each shell, fill it with dry beans & 'blind' bake pastry crust for 6-8 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 325 F.
  3. Divide grated cheese between tart shells; slice cooked new potatoes over cheese. Top with cubed salmon fillet, green onions & fresh dill. In a small bowl, combine eggs, milk & spices; beat well. Carefully pour equally over each tart. Place in oven & bake for 35-40 minutes or until filling is set & slightly golden. Cool in tin before removing to serve. If desired, sprinkle tops with a little bit more shredded Gouda cheese.
Recipe Notes
  • Smoked or fresh raw, ground salmon can be used instead of salmon fillet.
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French Fruit Tart

European bakeries are famous for their colorful, not to mention, mouthwatering displays of fresh fruit tarts. In France, fruit tarts are one the biggest selling desserts after the eclair and the vanilla custard slice. Many households keep their recipes top secret and the fillings vary according to the region where one lives.

Although there are both savory and sweet variations, over time culinary trends took tarts primarily in the sweet direction. The sheer beauty of the fruit draws one in like no other.

In a blog at the end of June 2016, I featured a FRESH FRUIT PIZZA  with loads of variations you may enjoy to re-visit.

Today’s FRENCH FRUIT TART  has the simplicity of a shortbread crust combined with the sweetness of vanilla custard and a wonderful blend of banana, kiwi and strawberry flavors. It should make a stunning addition to your summer barbecue.

French Fruit Tart
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Servings
6
Servings
6
French Fruit Tart
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Pastry
Filling
Fresh Fruit Topping
Servings:
Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon & salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with ice water, tossing with a fork just until evenly moistened. Shape into a disk; wrap; refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Filling
  1. Using a double boiler, heat milk over simmering water just until bubbles form around the edge of pot. Beat egg whites, sugar & salt in small bowl. Beat a spoonful of hot milk into egg mixture. Whisk egg mixture into milk in pot. Cook, stirring, over simmering water until mixture thickens slightly & coats a spoon, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease an 8-inch flan pan with a removable bottom. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry into a 10-inch circle. Fit pastry into pan; pierce in several places with a fork. Bake just until golden brown. Remove to wire rack & cool completely.
  3. Spoon custard over cooled pastry. Bake for another 18-20 minutes. Remove to wire rack & cool to room temperature. Refrigerate up to 8 hours. Just before serving, arrange banana, kiwi & strawberry slices over custard. Serves 6.
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