Sweet Potato Boats

HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY!

When I think about Autumn here in Canada, it could be likened to a      van Gogh painting. The landscape transforms into a beautiful tapestry of red, gold and yellow. As the days grow shorter and the mornings darker, your tastes turn from salads and cool drinks to your favorite comfort foods. Smells that bring you back to your childhood……. evoking so much from one moment in time is the sheer essence of Autumn.

The truth being is that fall just gives us a different perspective. The word Thanksgiving  itself makes one pause and ask, what am I thankful for this year? We start to reflect on the year we have had with it’s inevitable highs and lows.

Fall also represents a time of change. As nature bursts with it’s fabulous fall foliage, it gives us a little bit of extra time to make the most of what we have left in this year before the grand finale.

For the last 60 years, Canada has celebrated Thanksgiving Day on the second Monday in October. It’s one of those holidays that tend to bring families together, both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately though, in this highly technological age, it seems as if we have become more connected digitally than emotionally. Thinking about the food aspect of this holiday, sweet potatoes have become synonymous with Thanksgiving (and Fall).

Native to Central and South America, sweet potatoes are some of the oldest vegetables on the planet. Distantly related to commonplace, starchy Russets and Yukon Golds. Western markets have tagged some sweet potatoes with the deceptive name ‘yams’ to differentiate the southern from the northern crops. True yams are rough-skinned tubers, related to lilies.

Enter the ‘Candied Yam Casserole’. It seems to be the most divisive of the side dishes served, a real ‘love-it-or-hate-it’ kind of thing. Definitely not a venerated Thanksgiving tradition but more of a marketing promotion that caught on. It was 1917 when the first instance of sweet potatoes baked with a coat of marshmallows appeared in a recipe booklet commissioned by Angelus Marshmallow Company. The recipes in the booklet showed you how to incorporate marshmallows into everyday dishes so that their product wouldn’t fail and ‘viola’, the classic and capitalistic pairing was born.

I do remember my mother making this casserole for our special Thanksgiving dinner. Of course, being a kid that loved sweets, it tasted real good. At this point in time, I would rather just have them with salt and pepper for most part.

My blog recipe is one I came across in a Pillsbury booklet from 2010          ( pillsbury.com ). We have enjoyed it several times as it fits in perfect with a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Sweet Potato Boats
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
8
Servings
8
Sweet Potato Boats
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray. Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork & rub with oil. Place on baking sheet & bake 45-55 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, fry bacon until crisp; remove & drain on paper towel. In bacon drippings, cook onion & celery about 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Add broth & 2 Tbsp butter; heat to boiling. Stir in stuffing mix, cranberries & 2 Tbsp of the walnuts. Remove from heat, cover & set aside.
  3. Remove sweet potatoes from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 375 F. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out potato flesh, leaving a 1/3-inch thick wall on inside of shell; set aside. Place potato flesh in a large bowl. Add 2 Tbsp syrup, remaining 2 Tbsp butter & the nutmeg; mash. Spoon about 1/2 cup of stuffing mixture into each potato shell; spoon mashed sweet potato mixture over stuffing, leaving some stuffing exposed around side of shell.
  4. Line a baking sheet with foil again & spray with cooking spray. Place potato boats on sheet. Bake 15 minutes or until hot. Sprinkle potatoes with crumbled bacon bits & remaining 2 Tbsp walnuts; drizzle with additional syrup.
Share this Recipe

Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

With tomorrow being Thanksgiving Day, it seems like baking some special little dinner rolls for the occasion would be in order.

Bread making has always been a carefully protected symbol of civilization. The Greeks would let only priests make bread — they reasoned that dealing with the ‘staff of life’ was the business of those trained in religious matters. The Romans, a practical-minded people, turned bread baking over to the Civil Service and enforced rigid sanitary regulations. In any case, it has always been an integral  part of history.

Pan or dinner rolls, a name given to small pieces of dough, shaped and baked in a pan with their sides touching. This prevents them from flattening out, instead springing upwards.

At our house we love pan buns. For some strange reason, both of us enjoy baked goods when they are very lightly baked rather than dark and crispy. Pan buns usually fit that description.

These PUMPKIN DINNER ROLLS  check all the boxes. For Thanksgiving, they’re just a little bit more special as well as being a suitable accompaniment for soups and stews during the fall and winter months. If you like pumpkin, I think you will enjoy them.

Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
10 rolls
Servings
10 rolls
Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
10 rolls
Servings
10 rolls
Ingredients
Dough
Honey Butter
Servings: rolls
Instructions
  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat milk & butter about 45 seconds. Whisk until butter has melted smoothly into the milk; add egg, pumpkin puree & whisk again to combine. Heat again about 15 seconds to warm total mixture. In a large mixing bowl, add remaining dough ingredients along with pumpkin/milk mixture.
  2. Combine & knead dough on a lightly floured surface 5-8 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Grease bowl lightly, place dough in bowl & turn to grease all sides of dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise in a draft-free place until dough has doubled in bulk.
  3. Spray work surface with baking spray, punch dough down & turn onto surface. Divide dough into 10 equal portions; roll each into a ball. Place dough balls into a sprayed, 9 x 9-inch square pan; cover with plastic wrap & place in a draft-free area until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a small bowl, melt butter & add honey; stir to combine. Before baking, generously brush the rolls with honey butter; reserving any extra to brush on after baking.
  5. Bake 15-17 minutes or until puffed & golden. After removing from oven, brush with any remaining honey butter & allow to cool slightly before serving.
Recipe Notes
  • For some extra 'butter' to serve with rolls, whisk together equal parts softened butter & honey until fluffy.
  • MAKE AHEAD OPTION:   Once you have the rolls in the baking pan, cover with foil & place in refrigerator overnight. When ready to bake, bring the rolls to room temperature & allow to rise about 45 minutes before baking.
Share this Recipe

Corned Beef & Cabbage Quiche

CELEBRATING OKTOBERFEST!

Nothing says fall better than Oktoberfest, a tradition dating back to 1810 in Munich, Germany. Originally a celebration of the marriage of the King of Bavaria and Princess Therese. Everybody had so much fun that it was resolved to repeat the celebration, which has been done, every year since. 

Beer enthusiasts from all over the world flock to Munich for Oktoberfest, where they feast on everything from steins of beer to plates of sauerkraut, bratwurst, cabbage rolls, sausage and wiener schnitzel. Bavarian music fills the air to promote the fun atmosphere of Oktoberfest.

While the true celebration has to be experienced in Munich, there are actually some great Canadian events that try to duplicate the festivities without having to travel abroad. In different parts of the country this is a fun and social sampling event featuring many local craft and authentic Bavarian breweries as well as authentic food, Oktoberfest music, dancers, games, etc..

Even if it is a little hard to admit summer has ended and fall is officially here, Oktoberfest seems like a great little celebration to ease into the coming winter months.

I came across this recipe for CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE QUICHE.  From the reviews I read it sounded pretty good so I thought it was worth a try. It seems to fit the occasion I think.

Corned Beef & Cabbage Quiche
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Servings
6
Corned Beef & Cabbage Quiche
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, melt butter; add onion, cabbage & garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add water, cover & cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover & cook until liquid evaporates & cabbage begins to brown, about 8-10 minutes longer. It is important to get the liquid out of the cabbage or it will cause quiche to become watery.
  2. Stir in corned beef; remove pan from heat & allow to cool for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, flour, caraway seeds, salt & pepper until blended.
  3. Spread half of cabbage mixture in pie crust. Top with half of the Swiss cheese; repeat layers. Slowly pour egg mixture over ingredients in pie shell. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until quiche is puffed & golden. Let cool 5 minutes before slicing to serve.
Recipe Notes
  • This quiche is nice baked 'galette' style or using a springform pan instead of a regular pie pan.
  • Recipe inspired by busycooks.about.com
Share this Recipe

Fideua` — Seafood Paella with Pasta

In 2014, before returning home to Canada from a European holiday, Brion and I spent 12 days in the Dominican Republic. We stayed at a resort called Sanctuary Cap Cana. The beauty of the area was just incredible. This was a little ‘wind down’ to just enjoy a bit of sea, sun and sand. When we went to supper one evening, a chef was preparing a HUGE  pan of Fideau`.

Anyone familiar with Spanish cuisine knows about paella, the saffron-flavored rice dish made with varying combinations of vegetables , meat, chicken and seafood. It belongs to the list of the most popular Spanish icons like bullfighting and flamenco dancing.

  Fideau`, on the other hand is the lesser known dish but is very similar. Instead of using rice, it is made with short pasta and embodies a different texture. Both are cooked in a shallow, wide flat metal pan (paellera) which lets the starch cook evenly and the water evaporate uniformly. Good soup stock or seasoning sauce is a key ingredient to achieve the traditional deep flavor. Another important thing is to add hot water slowly at intervals while cooking to make sure the rice or pasta do not become too dry or too moist.

That was the first time either of us had heard about fideau`. It was a little spicy for me but Brion just loved it. This is my own version I made when we came home!?

Fideua` -- Seafood Paella with Pasta
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
2-4
Servings
2-4
Fideua` -- Seafood Paella with Pasta
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
2-4
Servings
2-4
Instructions
  1. In a 14-inch skillet or paella pan, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil on medium -high heat ; add fideo pasta. Sprinkle with salt & pepper; cook, stirring almost constantly until they darken slightly.
  2. Add broth, clam juice, garlic, salt & pepper, saffron threads (turmeric), Italian herbs, hot pepper sauce; simmer for 5 minutes. Add onion, tomato & peas; simmer about 10 minutes until onion & pasta are tender.
  3. Add shrimp & scallops; cook about 5 minutes, stirring gently. Adjust seasoning if necessary & serve with lemon wedges if desired.
Share this Recipe

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
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
4-6
Servings
4-6
Potato & Brussel Sprouts Gratin
Yum
Print Recipe
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.
Share this Recipe

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
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
8
Servings
8
Homemade Bagels
Yum
Print Recipe
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. 
Share this Recipe

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
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Honey Teriyaki Salmon
Yum
Print Recipe
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
Share this Recipe

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
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
8-10
Servings
8-10
Pan Bagnat - The French Picnic Salad
Yum
Print Recipe
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.
Share this Recipe

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
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Honey Mustard Chicken Salad with Bacon & Avocado
Yum
Print Recipe
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
Share this Recipe

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
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
12
Servings
12
Pita Pockets
Yum
Print Recipe
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.
Share this Recipe