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.
Its hard to say if its the bright color of the fruit or the crisp flavor …. lemons just remind me of spring. I think, when you incorporate some limoncello liqueur into dessert recipes it takes them to a whole new level. Its tangy, refreshing and balances the sugary sweetness of cookies, cakes and many other confections.
Our first introduction to the taste of some authentic limoncello was in the town of Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. In 2013, Brion & I had a wonderful holiday travelling throughout Italy. The Amalfi coast is known for its production of limoncello liqueur. It is only here, thanks to the Mediterranean climate, lemons grow with a thick skin that is rich with essential oils, fragrant and with a strong aroma. The lemon skin is the most important ingredient when it comes to making limoncello.
Stunning Amalfi , with its electric blue sea, terra cotta rooftops, bright white sand beaches, emerald hillsides and lemon tree lined streets, will be forever etched in our memories.
The hint of limoncello in the icing gives these simple little shortbread cookies such a nice flavor.
Pistachio Limoncello Cookies
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch & salt.
In a large bowl, beat butter & sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy & aerated, 4-5 minutes. Add milk & limoncello liqueur; beat for 1 minute.
Sift in half the flour mixture, then fold in with a spatula until just combined. Repeat. Spoon half of the shortbread batter into a piping bag fitted with a large, open star tip.
Pipe batter into 1 1/2-inch wide rosettes, 1 inch apart on a prepared sheets.
Bake shortbread ONLY until edges are lightly browned, 15-16 minutes. Let cool for 3 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.
While shortbread cookies are baking, combine powdered sugar & limoncello. Drizzle over warm cookies. While icing is still wet, sprinkle the chopped pistachios over the tops. Allow to set before serving.
- Trace 1 1/2 inch circles onto parchment paper. Flip the paper over & use circles as a guide when piping rosettes.
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.
Although we may change the way we celebrate Easter this year, we can still enjoy some great food. One of the special things about any holiday is the brunch that seems to come with it and Easter is no different. The word itself sounds like coziness.
The practice of creating special breads to celebrate holidays, harvests, religious rites and other occasions worldwide, dates back thousands of years. In some cases, breads aren’t symbolic as much as traditional, baked as a reminder of family, togetherness and celebration. They often contain warm spices like cinnamon or cardamom. Some have a touch of liqueur added to them while others are created in special shapes or have little surprises baked in them.
Cardamom may not get the acclaim of cinnamon, nor does it pop up in recipes as often as ginger, but its flavor pairing capabilities are extensive. This is a flavor that you may love or hate, but for me it is very addictive. Warm, subtly spicy, exotically aromatic, a flavor that transforms both sweet and savory recipes into heavenly dishes.
With some simple snipping and shaping, this cardamom sweet dough turns into adorable bunnies for Easter brunch. Edible table décor!
Cardamom Lime Easter 'Bunnies'
In a small bowl, whisk together yeast , 1 tsp sugar & lukewarm milk. Set aside until yeast mixture begins to form a frothy foam, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, remaining sugar & salt. Add yeast mixture, melted butter & egg. Knead until dough comes together in a ball & no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Transfer dough to a greased bowl & cover with a tea towel. Set aside in a draft free place until dough doubles in size, about an 1 hour.
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, lime zest, cardamom & butter. Mix well. Set aside.
In a small bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter & lime juice. Add powdered sugar & mix until glaze consistency. Set aside until buns are baked.
Assemble & Bake
Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide in half; roll each half into a rectangle about 12x10-inches. Sprinkle filling evenly over one of the rectangles. Place the second sheet of pastry on top. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the pastry & lightly roll with a rolling pin.
With a pizza cutter cut 14 strips. You will use 12 of the strips for 'bunnies' & 2 strips for their tails. To form bunnies, overlap one end of strip over the other to form a loop; bring the end that's underneath up over the top end, letting one end extend on each side to make ears.
Place the shaped 'bunnies' on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving about 2-3-inches between them as they will expand a bit. Cut each of the remaining strips into 6 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball & place it in the loop to form the tail. Loosely cover the 'bunnies' & let them rise for about 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush bunnies with egg wash & bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven & allow to cool slightly on a cooling rack.
While still slightly warm, brush bunnies with glaze. Sprinkle with lime zest & top tails with whites candies.
- If you prefer your bunnies to be a bit more plump, instead of making 12, just make 8 or 10.
The ultimate Easter bun! Who doesn’t love hot cross buns?! Given the baked good’s long history, legends and superstitions have had ample time to develop and grow around them.
Hot cross buns are inseparably linked to Easter and to Christianity. But in reality, they probably have pre-Christian origins. Cross buns were baked to celebrate ‘Eostre’, the Germanic Goddess after which the season of Easter is said to be named.
Over the years, the bun has evolved and changed. Victorian recipes suggest various glazes to top the bun with after baking, including molasses or a honey/turmeric combo. The buns have become spicier too, with the addition of mace, caraway seeds and even coriander.
While some hot cross buns appear on grocery and bakery shelves as early as New Year’s Day, the sweet bun is usually associated with the end of Lent.
Every year I like to try and make a different version of these traditional, seasonal treats. This year I’m going with a ‘rum raisin‘ idea. Should be good!
Rum & Raisin Hot Cross Buns
Rum & Raisin Filling
In a bowl, combine raisins, warm rum & sugar. Cover with plastic wrap & allow to sit for at least 40 minutes. Strain, discarding liquid.
In a large bowl, combine lukewarm milk, yeast & 1/4 cup sugar. Let stand until mixture is frothy, about 10 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk together 5 1/3 cups flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg & allspice. When yeast mixture is ready, add half of the flour mixture to it, beating until just combined. Beat in melted butter, eggs & rum/raisin mixture. Gradually add remaining flour mixture, kneading until smooth dough forms. Add remaining 1/3 cup flour if needed as the dough should not be sticky.
Grease a large bowl, place the dough in it& turn to grease top. Loosely cover & allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Cream Cheese Filling (Balls)
In a shallow dish, combine sugar & cinnamon. Cut cream cheese into 12 cubes. Roll each into a ball shape then roll them in the cinnamon sugar, coating evenly. Divide dough into 12 pieces. Place a cream cheese ball in the center of each piece of dough, pinching to seal seam. Roll each piece of dough into a ball & place in PARCHMENT lined muffin cups. Cover & let stand in a warm, draft-free place for about 20 minutes.
In a small dish, whisk together egg & a Tbsp milk. When buns are ready to bake, brush with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. While the are baking prepare RUM GLAZE & CROSS PASTE.
Rum Glaze & Cross Paste
In a small saucepan, place water, spiced rum & sugar. Over medium heat, bring ingredients to a simmer & allow to bubble gently for 3-5 minutes. The volume of the mixture should drop by at least half. Remove from heat & set aside until ready to use.
In a small dish, whisk together cornstarch, flour, sugar & water until a thick paste forms. You want your paste to be stiff enough to be able to pipe in a clean line, but still manageable.
Brush warm rolls with rum glaze & allow to cool. Using a pastry bag fitted with a piping tip, pipe paste over top of buns to form a cross.
- If you prefer, don't hesitate to make these buns without the cream cheese inside. I'm sure they will be just as good --- they're hot cross buns!!
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.
HAPPY ST PATRICK’S DAY!
It’s that time of year when everything goes green in honor of Ireland’s patron saint. What was once simply a religious feast day back in the 17th century has somehow evolved into a grand celebration of Irish culture.
Of all the Irish myths that exist, the story of the leprechauns and their pots of gold, seems to have infiltrated American culture the most. There are many old European stories describing fictitious creatures that hoard treasures. In Irish folklore, fairies put a pot of gold at the end of each rainbow with leprechaun’s guarding it.
These moist cupcakes use fresh avocado in the batter then are filled with raspberry filling & topped with a lime cream cheese frosting. I think they definitely make a real ‘pot of gold’ treasure fitting for St Patrick’s Day.
Pot of Gold Cupcakes
Lime Cream Cheese Frosting
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin pan with 8 cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder & sugar. Add butter to dry ingredients & rub in until it resembles crumbs.
In a blender. place avocado, egg, milk & lime juice; blend until creamy & smooth. Stir into flour mixture until JUST mixed.
Divide batter between the 8 paper cups. Bake 20-25 minutes or until they test done. Remove from oven & allow to cool before filling & frosting.
In a bowl, using a hand mixer, cream avocado with butter & cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar. Once all the sugar is incorporated, add the lime juice & vanilla. Add milk as needed until frosting is light & fluffy. Beat on medium spread for 5 minutes.
When cupcakes are cool, cut a cone shape out of the center of each cupcakes with a sharp knife. Fill a piping bag, fitted with an opening that the raspberry will pass through. Pipe filling into each cupcake. Cut a small piece (of cake) from your cake 'cones' & place over filling.
Fill another piping bag (fitted with a star end). Pipe a swirl of lime frosting on top of each cupcake. Sprinkle your little 'pots of gold' with some gold pearls & lime zest if you wish.