I guess because of my German heritage I forever gravitate to German cuisine and food history. Although my mother’s cooking was a mix of German and Canadian, I can definitely see how she correlated the two quite well.
When most people think of pizza, Italy comes to mind. That’s why I’d like to talk about Flammkuchen, a crisp, smoky bacon German pizza. The name translates to ‘flame cake’ and comes from south Germany and the Alsace region of France. Originally it was used by bakers to test the temperature of their ovens. A bit of dough was rolled flat, topped with ‘sour cream’ and baked in their wood fired bread ovens for a few minutes. The oven’s temperature was told in the nearly blistered crispiness of the flammkuchen. When it came out just right the oven was ready to bake bread.
The classic version of German pizza is characterized by its thin, crisp, blistered crust. The dough is spread with soured cream (creme fraiche) then topped with partially cooked bacon, caramelized onions and spices.
Other savory variations include Gruyere or Munster cheese and mushrooms while sweet versions may include apples, cinnamon and a sweet liqueur.
For those of you who enjoy a thin, crispy crust pizza, this one’s for you!
In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, water & oil. Mix until dough begins to form; turn dough out onto lightly floured surface & knead until soft & smooth about 3-5 minutes. Place dough back in bowl; cover & set aside. In a small bowl, mix together yogurt & nutmeg; set aside.
In a large skillet, heat oil. Add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat; sprinkle with vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Remove from skillet & set aside.
In skillet, saute bacon until it is half way to crisp, 2-4 minutes. Remove bacon to drain on paper towel. Break or cut bacon into small pieces.
Preheat oven to 400 F. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about a 11 x 16-inch rectangle. Generously sprinkle a large baking sheet with cornmeal & place dough on it. Spread yogurt mixture over crust, leaving a small border. Distribute onions & bacon evenly over yogurt. Top all with a dusting of black pepper.
How is it spelled? Portobello or Portabella – from what I understand there is no ‘right’ spelling. Both versions are accepted, but the Mushroom Council decided to go with Portabella to provide some consistency across the market.
The scientific name ‘agaricus bisporus’, for these giant mushrooms comes from the Greek word ‘agrarius’ meaning ‘growing in fields’. A portabella mushroom can measure up to six inches across the top. On the underside of the cap are black ‘gills’. The stems and gills are both edible, though some people remove the gills to make more room for stuffing or simply to avoid blackening a dish. Did you know that most of the table mushrooms we eat are all the same variety? The difference is just age– white are the youngest, cremini the middle and portabella the most mature. I really wasn’t aware of that for many years myself.
In May and June of 2016, I posted some recipes on my blog for a variety of stuffed burgers including a mushroom burger. They became very popular on the Pinterest site so I thought you might like to try some of them.
This recipe is for a roasted stuffed portabella mushroom. If you don’t care for salmon you can always change it up for ground beef or turkey using your favorite herbs and spices.
Are you aware that today, May 20th, the USA celebrates ‘National Quiche Lorraine Day’. It is one of their many ‘fun food holidays’. Who makes up these holidays is not clear but it gives a great excuse to enjoy this classic quiche.
In a strict sense, there are no national holidays in the United States. Each of the 50 states has jurisdiction over its own holidays. The federal government proclaimed ten holidays that most states observe on the same dates. These are called ‘legal’ or ‘public’ holidays.
Fun food holidays usually originate from and are promoted by industry groups, clubs, health organizations and occasionally individuals.
Over 50 years ago, Julia Child introduced us to French cuisine with her cooking series, The French Chef, on PBS television. Among the many dishes she introduced was the original or classic Quiche Lorraine.
Quiche Lorraine (named for the Lorraine region of France) was originally an open pie with a filling of custard and smoked bacon. It was only later that cheese was added to this quiche. Today we have many variants to the original that include a wide variety of ingredients. Myself, I could eat quiche anytime, for any meal. This fun food holiday sure seems like a great idea. To our quiche Lorraine I am adding some mushrooms for a little extra flavor since we both enjoy them.
In a skillet, fry bacon. Remove from skillet & lay on paper towel. In bacon drippings, saute mushrooms, onions & garlic until moisture evaporates. Crumble bacon. Grate cheese.
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper & thyme. In the bottom of quiche shell place half of the grated cheese. Top with bacon, mushrooms, green onion & garlic. Carefully pour egg mixture over all. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until quiche tests done in center. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
If your using milk it will take a bit longer to bake but does cut down those calories.
In the food service industry, brunch on Mother’s Day is huge. What better way is there to celebrate your mom then by taking her out of the kitchen on her day. As is the case with many culinary traditions, the origin of brunch is a bit hazy.
There are numerous theories, such as the English tradition of feasting after a hunt, or from the Catholic tradition of fasting before church and having a large meal after services. By 1930, ‘brunch’, that blend of breakfast and lunch had caught on in the United States. From some of the classic dishes restaurants offered such as eggs benedict, brunch evolved into decadent spreads that even included morning cocktails.
Today as we celebrate Mother’s Day, many special memories come to mind. My mother passed away in 1978 but even after 39 years, time has changed nothing. I still miss the sound of her voice, the wisdom in her advice, the stories of her life and just being in her presence. I miss her today as much as the day she left us and I always will.
It is also with loving thoughts, I celebrate my mother-in-law, Dolores, for her loving and kind ways and for raising that ‘special’ man I love sharing my life with. To my sisters, who give so much of themselves to be the great mom’s they are.
In July 2016, I posted a blog entitled ‘Brunch in Thibery, France. It has some more brunch ideas for croissants, crepes and french toast you might like.
For today I have two brunch items in mind. One is BAKED EGGS IN PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM CAPS and the other a SAVORY SALMON & DILL MUFFIN. Enjoy your day!
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 8-cup large muffin pan with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour & baking powder; add grated cheese, salmon & fresh dill. In a small bowl, beat together egg, milk & oil. Make a well in center of flour mixture; add wet ingredients, mix only until combined.
Fill muffin cups half full; divide cream cheese between the 8 cups. Top with remaining batter to evenly fill cups. Bake 15-20 minutes or until they test done.
Baked Eggs in Mushroom Caps
Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove stalk from mushroom caps. Make sure mushrooms do not get cracked so the eggs & sauce leak out. Place mushrooms in a baking dish that will keep them from tipping. Divide pasta sauce between mushrooms & spread. Break an egg into each mushroom. Pour cream over the eggs, drizzling to try to cover the whole surface.
Carefully place mushrooms in the oven for about 20 minutes. When eggs are almost set lay cheese slices on top & continue baking for another 5 minutes.
Cooking times can vary between ovens; watch eggs closely.
If you prefer, you can scrape out the mushroom 'gills' to make more room for the filling.
Lasagna has a rich history as a comfort food. Originally it resembled layered macaroni and cheese rather than its present form. The origin is a little unclear but none involve Italy. However, Italians have been credited with its name of ‘lasagna’.
Present day lasagna has become very versatile with recipes such as vegetarian and seafood which use either red or white sauce. Although, lasagna has been a favorite meal of many people, it also comes with a high fat and calorie count. That being said, there are numerous ways to change that. In traditional lasagna, substitute ground turkey or use extra lean ground beef. In the case of a white sauce, substitute fat free plain yogurt for sour cream and use skim or 1% milk to reduce the fat content. Using low fat or non fat ricotta cheese, fat free cottage cheese or part skim mozzarella cheese helps to boost the calcium and protein contents without adding a lot of fat.
In any case, lasagna is just too good to not enjoy it. These SEAFOOD LASAGNA ROLL-UPS can be made with a light version of either homemade or purchased Alfredo sauce. We absolutely loved this meal!
Prepare lasagna noodles according to package directions. Rinse under cool water; reserve. In a large skillet melt butter. Saute spinach until wilted. Remove to paper towels. Add shrimp & scallops to skillet; saute for 3-4 minutes until opaque & just barely cooked; reserve. Grate mozzarella cheese.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a small casserole dish. On a large piece of wax paper, line up lasagna noodles in a row. Spoon about 1/4 cup of Alfredo sauce onto each noodle & spread.
Alternately top with shrimp & scallops, cooked spinach, shrimp/scallops, spinach & crab meat. Sprinkle noodles with grated cheese. Roll each noodle & stand or lay in casserole dish. Spoon remaining Alfredo sauce over rolls.
Place a pan with a small amount of water in it, under the casserole dish & place in the oven. This will help the noodles from becoming dry during baking time. Very loosely, cover with foil, just to keep the noodles from drying on top. Bake for 30 minutes or until slightly bubbly. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese; allow to sit 5-10 minutes before serving.
If you prefer to make your own sauce, I had noticed the tasteofhome.com website has a very similar recipe making the sauce from scratch. It looks real good if you have the time.
Savored for centuries, crepes are popular not only throughout France but worldwide. Crepe making has evolved from being cooked on large cast- iron hot plates heated over a wood fire in a fireplace to pans or griddles that are gas or electrically heated.
Around the 12th century, buckwheat was introduced to Brittany, France from the east. Buckwheat could thrive on the desolate, rocky Breton moors and was high in fiber, protein and essential amino acids. At that point, all crepes were being made from buckwheat flour. White flour crepes appeared only at the turn of the 20th century when white flour became affordable.
Almost every country in the world has its own name and adaptation of crepes including Italian crespelle, Hungarian palacsintas, Jewish blintzes, Scandinavian plattars, Russian blini and Greek kreps.
Although crepes are simple in concept, by creating fillings that are complex in flavors, takes this entree to a whole new level.
On July 25/2016, I posted a blog featuring both sweet and savory crepes you might enjoy to read. For something different today, I made ‘crepe stacks’ which have a savory filling of my own ‘design’. Hope you find time to make some.
In a large container with a cover, beat eggs well on medium speed. Gradually add dry ingredients alternately with milk & oil. Beat until smooth. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before cooking.
In a saucepan, melt margarine; add flour while stirring for a couple of minutes. Gradually whisk in milk, chicken broth & spices. Add cheese; cook, stirring until cheese is melted. Set aside to cool slightly then place in food processor. Process until smooth & fluffy.
In a bowl, combine water & seasonings. Add ground pork & mix well. In a skillet, saute mushroom slices in margarine; remove from skillet & set aside. Scramble fry pork until no longer pink. Spoon onto paper towels to drain. Add to Gouda sauce.
Place one crepe on each dinner plate. Top with slices of sauteed mushrooms & some pork/Gouda sauce. Repeat 3 more times on each plate. Garnish if you prefer. It may be necessary to reheat for a couple of minutes in the microwave before serving.
Although quiche didn’t really take hold in North America until the end of the 1970’s, it had been mentioned in the ‘Joy of Cooking’ cookbooks already in 1931 & 1951.
Considered to be a classically French dish, it actually originated in the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, under German rule. Later, when the kingdom came under French control and was renamed Lorraine, the quiche was reinvented as Quiche Lorraine.
The original quiche Lorraine had a bottom crust made of bread dough and the filling was comprised of a heavy custard, onions and smoked bacon. It was only later that cheese was added. In today’s quiche the bread dough crust has been replaced with pie dough and you can just about put any variety of vegetables, seafood, ham and different cheeses in the filling. Any vegetables you add should be sauteed, steamed or microwaved first, with the exception of things like fresh tomato slices or asparagus tips. Meat definitely needs to be cooked first.
A quote from the 1900’s, that ‘real men don’t eat quiche’ was made in reference to the small quantities of meat quiche contained. I think that train of thought has ‘gone by the boards’, as time has passed though!
This flavorful BLT QUICHE is good with either pork or turkey bacon and your choice of savory cheese.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a deep 9" quiche or pie pan with pastry.
In a skillet, fry bacon until crisp. Remove from skillet onto paper towels; cook the leek in bacon drippings over medium heat until softened, 5-7 minutes. Chop bacon. In a bowl, whisk eggs, half & half & spices until combined. Place half of grated cheese in bottom of quiche shell; layer with leek, bacon & roasted tomatoes. Carefully pour egg mixture over all.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the quiche tests firm in the center. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing & serving.
I have a good pastry recipe that I had posted on my blog October 10/2016 that works real nice for quiche.
The meat traditionally associated with Easter in America is ham, while in many other parts of the world, the arrival of spring is celebrated with lamb. Eating ham at Easter dates back to at least the 6th century in Germany. Pigs thrived in northern Europe, being forest-adapted animals. They were let to roam the abundant woodlands to forage for acorns and roots. Slaughtered and hung in the autumn of the year, pigs were one of the few meats available to eat in early spring. As Christianity spread northward, it merged with the Pagan spring celebration of ‘Eostre’. A convenient uniting of traditions was born, with ham at the center of the Easter feast.
Even though, adding ‘glaze’ while baking a ham seems like a ‘modern’ idea, raw honey was being used in much earlier times.
A glaze that is both sweet and savory has been one of my favorites for many years. Brion & I are looking forward to enjoying some glazed ham for our Easter meal.
HAPPY EASTER TO EVERYONE THANKS FOR YOUR INTEREST IN FOLLOWING MY BLOGS!
Preheat oven to 325 F. Place ham, cut side down, on rack in a roasting pan. Bake about 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 90 F.
In a small saucepan, simmer jelly, preserves, vinegar, mustard, brown sugar & sage stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
Remove ham from oven. With a sharp knife, lightly score outside of ham, making parallel 1/4" deep cuts in crosshatch pattern. Brush ham with some of the glaze & return ham to oven. Bake until internal temperature reaches 130 F., brushing ham with glaze during baking.
Carefully place ham on a serving platter. Cover loosely with foil & let stand 10 minutes before serving. Internal temperature will rise to 140 F. upon standing.
The aroma of Easter bread baking certainly brings back precious childhood memories. What I recall about my mother’s Easter bread, was that it was a dense, mildly sweet & a very egg rich bread. It was always baked in round ‘cans’ and the taste was unforgettable.
Nearly every country around the world has a traditional Easter bread. Each one is different in some way, a mix of symbolism and satisfying taste. They represent a continuity of traditions from centuries past, including much earlier pre-Christian times. Often these rich, yeasted breads are made in symbolic shapes and are elaborately decorated.
Germany and Austria make several shapes such as : Osterzopf – Easter braid, Osterkranz – Easter wreath or crown, Osternester – Easter nests, Eierimnest – Easter egg nest, Striezel – stacked braided bread.
That being said, I couldn’t resist doing a little ‘version’ of my own. I started with my favorite sweet yeast bread, added some anise flavor and a cream cheese filling. So now you have German osterkranz, Italian panettone and Romanian pasca all in one beautiful EUROPEAN EASTER BREAD.
In a large bowl, whisk yeast & sugar into lukewarm water; let stand about 10 minutes. With an electric mixer, beat together 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, oil, anise extract, lemon zest, lemon extract, salt & anise seed. Combine egg mixture, melted butter & milk with yeast mixture.
Add 4 CUPS flour, 1 cup at a time to wet mixture. Stir well after each addition. Turn dough out onto a floured surface & knead until smooth & elastic, about 5-6 minutes, adding remaining 1/2 cup flour if necessary.
Coat a large bowl with oil. Place dough in bowl & turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap & set in a warm place to rise until it doubles in bulk. Meanwhile, cut a piece of parchment paper big enough to cover the bottom & go up the sides of a 10" spring form pan. When dough has risen enough, cut into four pieces.
On the parchment paper, press one piece of the dough into a circle measuring about 10" in diameter. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the mixed peel, leaving a gap at the edge. Press out second piece of the dough on a lightly floured piece of wax paper, place it on top of the first layer & sprinkle with another 1/3 of mixed peel. Repeat with the third & fourth pieces of dough but do not sprinkle mixed peel on the final layer.
Place a glass tumbler on top of the center of the dough circles. Cut dough into 16 segments, starting a the edge of the glass. Lift & twist them away from each other through 180 degrees. Lift & twist through 90 degrees so that the ends are vertical. Press the edges together firmly. Repeat this process with all pairs of segments. Leave glass sitting on top at the center of the circle to form an indentation for the cheese filling. Cover with plastic wrap & set in a warm place to rise for about 1/2 an hour.
Preheat oven to to 325 F. In a bowl, place cream cheese, eggs, sugar & vanilla; mix well. When bread has risen, remove glass & fill indentation with cheese mixture. Bake for about 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool. Brush with honey/water glaze. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Soups have represented cultural traditions while showcasing regional foods and cuisines long before recorded history. To give a few examples for instance — Russia makes borscht, Italy has minestrone, France with its vichyssoise, Spain has gazpacho and so on.
Food historians generally agree that recipes dubbed ‘chowder’, as we know them today, were named for the primitive cavernous iron pots they were cooked in. Each simmering pot is a season’s herald: hearty chowders are comfort food during winter; garden fresh vegetable soups in the spring; refreshing chilled gazpacho or fruit soups during the summer and pumpkin and squash from autumn’s bounty.
Today’s ROASTED PEPPER & CORN CHOWDER is an easy choice to prepare in that it uses bottled roasted red peppers. Nothing says you can’t roast some fresh peppers instead if you prefer. Some people serve corn chowder as a vegetarian alternative to clam chowder. Brion and I enjoy this soup accompanied with some warm garlic bread sticks.