At one time, the typical North American pantry included a single cannister of flour. Today, supermarkets stock a host of milled options, reflecting increased consumer demand for diversity in the baking aisle. Whether you are exploring health trends, culinary interests or ethnic cuisines, when it comes to flour, there are more choices than ever.
I chose a mixture of rye and all purpose for my crust today because I think rye pairs well with these quiche ingredients. Rye flour is almost malty and sweet in flavor with hints of molasses. Rye also has the benefit of being lower in gluten than wheat flour, which means the dough can be handled longer before becoming tough as compared to traditional pastry. Rye pastry, besides being flavorsome and flaky, is great paired with both sweet and savory fillings.
One of the things I find most fascinating about working with food, is that even if you’ve been doing it for a long time, there’s always something new to try, or a new way to try something you’ve already perfected. Food is amazing!
Leek & Mushroom quiche w/ Rye Crust
In a small bowl, whisk together flours & salt. Using your fingertips, rub in butter until coarse meal forms & small lumps remain. Slowly sprinkle dough with cold water, 1 Tbsp at a time, quickly stirring with a fork or your fingers until the dough becomes sticky & begins to clump together.
Form dough into a disk & wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least one hour. Once chilled, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface. Carefully transfer the dough to a quiche pan & neaten edges.
To avoid a soggy quiche crust, prebake the crust on 400 F. Using a fork, lightly prick the bottom of the crust. Take a sheet of aluminum foil & layer it on top of the pie crust, gently nudging it down so its snug on the bottom & the sides. Fill the foil covered crust with pie weights to hold it in place. Bake 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven & remove pie weights & foil.
Cook rice; set aside. In a skillet, brown ground turkey. Transfer to a plate & set aside.
Wash & trim leeks well. Dry with paper towel & slice thinly. In the skillet, heat oil & butter combo. Add the leeks & a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic & mushrooms & saute until browned.
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk & seasonings. Grate cheese.
Place cooked ground turkey on bottom of crust. Top with cooked rice & a small bit of the cheese. Next add the leek/mushroom mixture. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Carefully pour egg/milk mixture over the entire quiche.
Bake for 30 minutes or until set & just beginning to brown on top. Remove from oven & allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.
- I divided my pastry & made 2 individual quiches instead of one 9-inch size. Just a matter of personal preference.
A tian itself, is a no-frills round earthenware dish that goes from the oven to the table. Its usually filled with layered, overlapping vegetables and sometimes a sauce, baked in the oven and served as a main or side dish.
The classic vessel is a truncated cone, flattened at the base and flaring outward to a wide rim. It is traditionally glazed on the inside but is unglazed on the outside.
As far as the ingredients go, tian and ratatouille generally share a lot of similarities. Both use some combination of vegetables such as squash, potatoes, onions and tomatoes, etc. The difference between the two is largely found in how they are prepared and cooked. With tians, thinly sliced vegetables are aesthetically arranged in a casserole baking dish. Ratatouille, on the other hand, usually involves cooking cubed or thinly sliced vegetables in olive oil until they create a hearty stew.
If your a vegetable lover, this recipe will work for you. We rounded it out with some nice chicken/turkey sausage but I’m sure just adding a loaf of French bread would be just great.
French Tian w/ Chicken & Turkey Sausage
Preheat oven to 375 F. Coat a baking dish with olive oil spray.
In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onions until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add garlic & cook for another 60 seconds. Spread onion mixture on the bottom of the greased baking dish.
Slice potatoes, zucchini, squash & tomatoes in 1/4-inch thick slices. Layer them alternately in the dish on top of the onions, fitting them tightly into a spiral, making only one layer. Season with salt, pepper & dried thyme to taste. Drizzle the last Tbsp of olive oil over the top.
Cover the dish with foil paper & bake for 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Uncover & sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top & bake another 25-30 minutes or until browned.
Tenderloin has always been one of my favorite ‘go to’ meats. Lean, tender, tastes great, so what more could you ask for?! I’m forever pairing it with another kind of stuffing or roasting it with different glazes or marinades.
Today I wanted to roast it with the classic combo of cabbage and apples. The perfect accompaniment probably because you really don’t need to add much else to the meal to make it taste great.
Cabbage isn’t glamorous. It doesn’t have a fancy name but it is common, versatile and lasts forever in the refrigerator. Even the smallest head yields enough for at least two or three meals.
When cabbage is roasted, a caramelized sweetness comes out, giving it such a nice flavor and especially when paired with apples.
Sometimes, cabbage is avoided because when cooked, the sulfur that it contains multiplies, giving off an unflattering odor. It helps to avoid using aluminum pans when preparing cabbage; aluminum reacts strongly to the sulfur present in the leaves. Stainless pots make a much better choice.
You can neutralize the odor by adding 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. Certain ingredients will also help absorb the odor. Try adding a bay leaf or a couple of ribs of celery to sautéed cabbage. The sulfur odor will be absorbed without changing the taste of the cabbage. Simply discard the bay leaf or celery before serving.
No doubt about it, the flavor in this meal doesn’t lack for anything.
Stuffed Pork Medallions w/ Cabbage & Apples
Cook rice. Place in a bowl & set aside. In a skillet, heat oil & sauté onions until tender crisp. Add garlic & mushrooms & sauté for another 3-4 minutes. Add all herbs & spices; cook another minute than transfer to bowl with rice. Add Panko crumbs & egg, stirring to combine.
Remove silver skin from tenderloins. Cut a slit all the way down the long end of your tenderloin, making sure not to cut all the way through. Open the tenderloins like a book, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap & pound with a meat mallet until they are about 1/2-inch thickness.
Divide filling mixture between the two tenderloins & spread evenly over the surface of the tenderloins, leaving 1/2-inch at the borders. Roll tightly starting with the long end & secure the ends with toothpicks. Season all over with salt & pepper.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Heat a large oven proof skillet with 2 Tbsp oil. Once oil is hot, place tenderloins in the skillet & sear about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the skillet with the tenderloins to the oven & bake for about 18-20 minutes or until thermometer reads 145-150 F. in the thickest portion of the meat. Transfer to a cutting board, brush with pan drippings. Cover loosely with foil & allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Cabbage & Apples
While tenderloin is roasting, prepare cabbage/apple mixture.
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook onion in butter until soft & translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic & continue cooking just until fragrant, 1 minute more.
Add the cabbage & continue cooking until wilted, 6-8 minutes. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Continue cooking until cabbage begins to caramelize, 4-5 minutes longer.
Add the cubed apple, cider, mustard & brown sugar; carefully combine. Cover & cook until any liquid has evaporated & apples are soft. Place on a serving platter. Top with sliced tenderloin medallions & serve. If you wish, you could also serve the tenderloin with some mashed potatoes & oven roasted carrots.
Bangus, the (unofficial) national fish of the Philippines, is called ‘milkfish’ in English. Milkfish has a distinct flavor; its not a neutral bland white fish. It’s natural flavor is mild enough that it can be cooked in the manner of white fish but it tastes best when its flavor is selectively paired with complimentary ingredients and cooking methods.
Milkfish is usually cooked in soups, fried, grilled, barbecued, stuffed or stewed in various spices, ginger and vinegar. Although milkfish is one of the bonier fish species, its a good source of protein and is rich in omega 3 fatty acids so it shouldn’t be missed.
Brion & I had never tried this kind of fish before so we picked some up that were smoked. The flavor was real nice and paired well with this simple veg mac & cheese meal. Its always great to try something different.
Vegetable Mac & Cheese w/ Milkfish
In a pot of salted boiling water, cook macaroni until tender. Drain & rinse; set aside in a dish.
In a saucepan, sauté leek until tender. In the microwave, cook broccoli & cauliflower for about 1 1/2 minutes, or tender crisp.
In the cooking pot, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Add flour; stirring until flour is cooked & slightly browned. Slowly whisk in chicken broth & mustard. Stir in about a third of the cheddar cheese & season with salt & pepper. Carefully fold in macaroni, veggies & milkfish.
Spoon mixture into a baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheddar cheese. Arrange diced tomatoes on top & lastly sprinkle with the tablespoon of parmesan cheese.
Bake until hot & bubbly & cheese is melted, about 30 minutes.
Scallop shell pies are a nice touch in the savory pie world, I guess you could say it’s a seafood inspired twist on a classic!
We are only in the month of March, so there’s plenty of time to savor comfort food at its finest. Typically, pot pie does not have an abundance of ingredients so it is imperative to build a good flavor profile.
When making the sauce, I always use stock as opposed to water. Any thickened sauce depends on a roux. Making sure its cooked to a light golden brown helps to avoid the ‘flour’ taste and allows the other ingredients to come to the forefront.
Within the loose definition of a ‘pot pie’, its easy to add (or remove) flavors that interest you. Its all about creative expression!
When choosing the pastry, there are no right answers, just numerous possibilities that depend on the maker. Modern convenience embraces the use of puff pastry as a flakier, more delicate solution. You could call it a weeknight comfort food’s best friend.
This pot pie is made with a puff pastry ‘scallop shell’ lid and no bottom crust. The golden crust acts like a piece of bread and soaks up some of the decadence with every bite. Adding scallops to a creamy vegetable based filling creates an amazing meal.
Scallop Shell Pies
Thaw puff pastry. Leave on parchment & cut out 2 shell shapes to cover your ramekins. Mark with the lines on them to replicate sea shells. Place in fridge until ready to use.
In a saucepan, fry bacon until crisp; remove & drain on paper towel. Sauté leek, mushrooms & garlic in bacon drippings for a few minutes. Add cooked, diced potatoes, flour & seasoning.
Sauté for another minute, making sure to coat everything with the flour. Add chicken broth, stirring well to dissolve the flour; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, add scallops, crumbled bacon, cream & salt & pepper to taste; gently stir to combine.
Remove filling from heat & divide between ramekins. Top with chilled puff pastry & brush with egg wash. Bake for about 20 minutes or until nice & golden.
- When I have some pastry scraps leftover, I make a bit of cinnamon/sugar to sprinkle on it. It makes a few little tasty sweet snacks to nibble on.
Today, March 21st, our family honors the memory of my father. He passed away at the age of 92, sixteen years ago. As a teenager, I never realized what a special privilege growing up as a farmer’s daughter really was. Coming home on the school bus and having to do ‘chores’ seemed so boring as opposed to being able to spend after school hours with your friends. As I look back on those times now, it all comes clear as to how treasured and valuable those life lessons were.
To be a successful farmer takes a tremendous amount of strength and courage. I think back to those days with great admiration and appreciation of the special man he was.
If you follow my blog, you’ve probably noticed I love ‘all things stuffed’. I have always been under the impression that ‘cordon bleu’ was a French invention. It seems it actually originated in Switzerland as a schnitzel filled with ham and cheese. The first reference to it in a cookbook came in 1949.
Thrift is often the best catalyst for for culinary invention and as the story goes, this meal originated in a restaurant in Brigg, Switzerland, when two large bookings turned up and the cook did not have enough portions to serve everyone.
The resourceful lady came up with the idea of making schnitzels and filling them with ham and cheese, ensuring there was enough to accommodate both groups. The restaurant owner was delighted with the cook’s creation and offered her ‘Le Cordon Bleu’ (the blue ribbon) used in France to recognize an excellent cook.
Being extremely modest, the cook said she did not need a blue ribbon, but suggested instead that it would be the ideal name for her invention.
Stuffing pork chops elevates them from ordinary to a special meal. It would have been a meal my Dad would just have loved.
SPECIAL MEMORIES OF OUR WONDERFUL FATHER TODAY
Pork Chops Cordon Bleu
Slice pork chops horizontally throughout the middle. Insert a slice each of cheese & bacon. Seal edges with a toothpick.
On a plate, whisk together egg & milk. On a separate plate, combine Panko, salt & pepper.
Season pork chops with extra salt & pepper, then lightly dust in flour. Dip in egg mixture. Immediately dip into Panko, pressing into pork chops.
In a skillet, heat oil & brown pork chops on both sides until golden. Transfer to a baking pan with a rack & continue baking until cooked, approximately 30-40 minutes.
Nice to serve with a steamed green vegetable, French fries, mashed potatoes or rice.
Cornbread is one of those culinary creations that pairs well with almost anything. Over the years, I have prepared so many cornbread ‘pairings’, I have lost count. Needless to say, I love ‘everything corn’.
When it comes to chili, the version made with ground beef usually comes to mind. Although, Brion & I enjoy the original, this shrimp chili is a nice change up for us seafood lovers.
These little cornbread ‘cakes’ have only a hint of honey. This makes them a good compliment to the spicy chili as opposed to the sweeter, dessert version of cornbread (which, of course is wonderful too!)
March seems like a good month to still enjoy a bowl of chili before our thoughts turn to some lighter meals for the spring & summer.
Shrimp Chili w/ Cornbread
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms & garlic; cook, stirring for 30 seconds.
Stir in zucchini; cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Stir in spices & salt; cook for 20 seconds. Pour in tomatoes with their juice; bring to a simmer. Remove from heat. Stir in shrimp & cilantro. Pour into a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder & salt. In another bowl, whisk together milk, oil, egg & honey until smooth. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring only until just moistened.
You can either drop heaping tablespoons of the cornbread batter over the shrimp mixture OR bake it in greased individual pans.
Bake until the cornbread is golden brown (& the filling is bubbling) about 40-45 minutes if baked as a casserole. If your cornbread is baked on its own, test the cakes for doneness after about 15 minutes.
Garnish with grated cheddar & sliced green onions before serving.
- We enjoy the addition of some black beans in this chili as well.
Borek (buhr-ECK’) is an essential part of life in Turkey. They are made for any occasion and can be eaten at any time of the day.
There are many variations with different kinds of fillings (cheese, potato, meat), different ways to cook them (fried, baked), different kinds of dough (filo, puff), but in the end they are all called ‘borek’.
You might not have have heard of ‘yufka’, but you have probably already eaten it in the dessert called ‘baklava’. Yufka is used in a lot of traditional Turkish recipes. Some say that it may have been the earlier form of phyllo/filo dough.
The dough itself is made from wheat flour, water and a bit of salt. Yufka finds its way onto the table in the form of casseroles, strudel or a filled pastry roll as well as just flat bread. Traditional Turkish specialties such as borek are made from thin sheets of this wheat dough that are filled and rolled.
Brion & I have many wonderful memories of the holiday time we spent in Turkey some years ago.
Turkish Borek w/ Beef, Leeks & Potato
Beef, Leek & Potato Filling
in a medium bowl, whisk together flour & salt. Make a well in the center & pour in the water & oil. Using your fingers, draw the flour in from the sides, working mixture into a sticky dough.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface & knead, adding more flour as necessary to prevent sticking, until the dough is smooth & elastic, about 3 minutes.
Transfer to the mixing bowl, drizzle with a little bit of oil & turn to coat. Cover the dough with plastic wrap & allow to rest in a draft-free place for 4 hours.
In a saucepan, stir-fry ground meat with spices. Remove from saucepan, place in a bowl & set aside. Add 2 tablespoons oil to saucepan & sauté leeks & garlic until tender. Microwave potato, peel & mash with Parmesan cheese. Add leeks, garlic, potato & cheese to meat & spices. Season with salt & pepper to taste; combine well.
Assembly & Baking
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a round 11-inch diameter baking pan & set aside.
Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll the balls into very thin rounds, using more flour as needed to prevent sticking.
On one side of the dough, put a line of filling. Try to build a continuous line. Divide the filling between the 2 rounds. Roll the dough making sure filling is in the whole length of the roll.
Form a spiral with the meat roll in the baking pan, starting in the center. Add the second roll to complete the spiral, filling the pan. Brush borek with egg wash, making sure to brush all visible surfaces.
Bake on middle rack for 45 minutes or until pastry is golden. Let it cool for a bit before serving. Borek is best when freshly baked, however it still tastes great if stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
My love for noodles, dumplings, etc. probably could be accredited to my German heritage. This recipe for Russian pelmeni has been hovering in my ‘must try’ file for quite some time, so today’s the day.
It seems most food historians agree that these Russian dumplings originated in Siberia. Although pelmeni forms the heart of Russian cuisine and culture, it does have numerous look-a-likes in particular the Ukrainian vareniki and the Polish pierogi. The easiest way to spot the difference is to look at the shape and size; a typical pelmeni is almost circular and about two inches in diameter. The other forms are usually more elongated and larger in size. Also, the fillings in pelmeni are usually raw, while the fillings of vareniki and pierogi are typically precooked. Pelmeni will never have a sweet filling , unlike its Ukrainian counterpart. The recipe may actually be an adaptation of Chinese pot stickers.
Fillings differ but essentially they are ground meat (pork, beef or sometimes lamb), fish or mushrooms as well as being quite spicy.
The word pelmeni comes from ‘pelnyan’ which means ‘bread ear’, a reference to the food’s ear-like shape.
Although this meal was favored by hunters who were looking for light, easy to prepare, nourishing food to take with them on long trips in the winter, its also seen as Russian fast food among students or bachelors.
This recipe gives you the option of making traditional pelmeni or using an alternate method called ‘lazy’ pelmeni. Both equally as good.
For Cooking 'Lazy' Pelmeni
In a bowl, combine all dough ingredients & knead until a smooth dough ball forms, about 10 minutes. Cover, set aside & allow dough to rest until your filling is prepared.
In a bowl, combine ground meats, onion, garlic, salt & pepper. Mix well.
FOR THE TRADITIONAL PELMENI:
Divide the dough in half & roll each portion out into 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 2-inch diameter circles & place about a teaspoon of the filling on each circle. Fold the circle in half & crimp edges well, then bring the ends together & crimp. Repeat to use remaining dough & filling. It is best to refrigerate or freeze finished pelmeni before you are ready to boil them.
To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place pelmeni in the boiling water & cook until they float to the top then cook for about 5 minutes more. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Add butter & mix to coat. Serve with sour cream & fresh parsley.
FOR 'LAZY' PELMENI VERSION:
Once dough has rested, transfer to a floured surface. Roll out the dough into a large thin rectangle. Spread meat filling over the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch at the far side of the dough.
Tightly roll the dough up, starting from the wider side, forming a log. Put seam side down to seal the edges. Seal ends of the dough as well. Using a very sharp knife, cut the dough log into 2-inch sections.
In a large skillet that will accommodate all pelmeni, heat oil & cook onion until translucent. Add garlic & continue cooking until fragrant. Add carrot & 1 bay leaf; cook until the carrot is tender, about 1-2 minutes.
Place pelmeni rolls into the skillet with veggies, add the vegetable broth, salt, pepper & the other bay leaf. Cover with the lid & cook for 30 minutes on low heat. Check pelmeni from time to time, to make sure there is liquid in the skillet. Add more if it evaporates too fast. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately with sour cream if you wish.
When you cook meatloaf/roll were connected to something bigger …. a tradition and a time line. A comfort food that has been enduring not only an answer to hunger but is served without undue fuss or expensive implements. It reigns supreme.
The reason meatloaf has stayed with us through so many generations is because it is a master of evolution. It can be personalized and adapted any number of ways, all the while requiring only basic skills.
In the 1955 edition of the Good Housekeeping Cookbook, a recipe for ‘mushroom-stuffed meatloaves’ was featured. To enliven a simpler offering, there was an inexhaustible trend for garnishing, glazing, saucing and decorating.
Then in 1966, the Campbell’s Soup Company featured a recipe for a ‘rolled, stuffed meatloaf’ to promote their tomato soup (in place of traditional tomato sauce). The idea was that by rolling a vegetable into the meatloaf, you could save the work of creating a separate side dish. A new one dish meat and vegetable dinner …. and soup makes it great!
The fact that meatloaf takes on variations so easily shows how it dresses up just as well as it dresses down. This meal definitely does not lack in flavor.
Mushroom Beef Roll
In a saucepan, saute onion in butter until translucent. Add mushrooms, garlic, soy sauce, salt & thyme. Cover & simmer on low for 10 minutes. Remove from heat; add heavy cream & cheese. Allow to cool.
In a bowl, combine beef with kalbi sauce; mix well.
On a piece of plastic wrap, press out meat in a rectangle about a 1/4-inch thickness. Sprinkle meat with green onions. Top with mushroom filling. Using the plastic wrap, roll from the short end in a jelly-roll style.
On a piece of parchment paper, spread crushed french onions in a rectangle shape. Place meat roll on top & roll to cover it with the crushed french fried onions.
Place parchment paper with meat roll on a baking sheet & bake for about 50 minutes.