Pancakes for me, are not just a breakfast food. I could eat them at any time of day … hot or cold. Originally, pancakes were made from wheat flour, olive oil, honey and curdled milk. At one point in time, they were often flavored with rose water, various spices, sherry and apples.
The name ‘pancake’ became a standard name in the 19th century. Before that, they were often referenced as johnny cakes, journey cakes, buckwheat cakes, hoe cakes, griddle cakes and flapjacks. Most early North American pancakes were made with buckwheat or cornmeal.
Pancakes exist all throughout the world, but each culture has their own unique way of preparing them whether its for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Avocado seems to be a trend that will ‘never’ die. This versatile fruit is found in guacamole, on toast, stuffed with fillings, etc., etc. Since I’m a lover of all things avocado, why not put them in pancakes?!
Finding a ripe avocado at the supermarket is hit and miss most of the time. Here’s a suggestion I hope you find helpful. Because ripe bananas or apples release a lot of ethylene, the hormone that triggers ripening in mature fruit, place one in a closed paper bag with your under ripe avocados and it will speed up the process.
In a blender, whisk avocado & milk until creamy. Slowly add the dry ingredients, blending & scraping sides down with a spatula until mixture is smooth. Add the whole eggs & blend just until combined.
Heat a large skillet or pan on the stove to a medium-low heat. Melt butter & spread evenly across the pan (or spray with cooking spray).
Pour or ladle batter onto the pan forming round cakes about 3-inches in diameter. Allow to cook about 3-4 minutes, flipping carefully & pressing down on each to get more surface area on the pancakes to cook. Cook opposite side for 3-4 more minutes, & flip one more time. Gently press pancakes down with back of the spatula. The avocado wants to remain in its creamy state, so the center of the pancakes may be just slightly doughy.
Serve immediately with some crispy bacon & a soft fried egg.
If you like corn, chances are you are also a big fan of cornbread in its many interesting forms. I used to think that cornbread was so good it didn’t need anything extra thrown in the ‘mix’.
Cornbread appeals to all of our senses, a pop and sizzle as batter pours onto a hot griddle, the earthy fragrance that fills the kitchen when its baking. Then there’s the taste …. !! We love what makes us feel good, especially comfort foods that are warm, simple and delicious.
The beauty of cornbread is that it can take on so many different flavors. It can be sweet, savory or as spicy as you would like. Thanks to its simplicity, there are very few food items it wouldn’t pair with, so the limits to cornbread-based culinary creations are endless.
While this isn’t necessarily your classic cornbread it makes a very interesting meal served with a baked potato and some Parmesan zucchini fries.
Ham & Cheese Cornbread Roll
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a 15 X 10 X 1-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar & baking powder; set aside. With a hand mixer, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff but not dry. Alternately fold in cornmeal mixture & oil; fold in cheddar cheese saving some to sprinkle on top of roll before placing in the oven.
Spread batter evenly in prepared pan & bake for 5-6 minutes (top should spring back when lightly touched with finger; do NOT over bake). Remove from oven & turn bread onto a towel that has been lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Remove & discard parchment paper. Starting at narrow end, roll bread with towel; set on a wire rack & allow to cool for 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, mash together butter, mustard, onion & Worcestershire sauce until combined & thick. Unroll bread, remove towel & top with ham slices; spread filling mixture over ham & sprinkle with shredded Swiss cheese. Reroll bread & place, seam side down on lined jelly roll pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese & bake until cheese is melted, about 5-6 minutes.
Although, the classic meatloaf seems to come and go, it probably never really goes out of ‘style’ in some form or another.
Great meatloaf is not just a hamburger shaped in a loaf pan. Experimenting with different flavor combinations will add new dimensions to this vintage meal. Don’t overlook the benefits of a good meatloaf, not only is it comfort food, but the leftovers make great sandwiches.
I recall, my brother and I thought ‘any’ leftover in my mother’s fridge was fair game for a sandwich filling. To this day, I still love sandwiches. As far leftovers go, its hard to top meatloaf. Of course, I’m not talking about just any random joining of bread and meat. It needs to be well-crafted with varying textures and flavors that compliment and contrast, arranged between slices of preferably fresh, wholegrain bread, not your average ‘squishy’ loaf.
Sandwiches can be just about anything … simple, on-the-go street food, affordable to the masses or luxurious creations. They can be sweet, savory, hot, cold, big or small. Sometimes they even offer a glimpse into traditions and customs of the regions from which they’ve sprung. Sandwiches bridge gaps between cultures and classes. No matter where you go, odds are you’ll find a variation on that ‘starch and something delicious’ formula known as the ‘humble sandwich’.
In this turkey meatloaf, instead of bread crumbs, I’ve used packaged stuffing mix. Roasting the tomatoes on top not only gave the meatloaf some extra flavor but added to the sandwiches made from the leftovers. You could say its one of those ‘cook once … eat twice’ meals.
Turkey Meatloaf w/ Roasted Tomato & Mozzarella Cheese
Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a 9 X 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, set aside.
In a bowl, combine all ingredients, except tomatoes & fresh basil, just until blended
Press mixture into prepared loaf pan; top with tomatoes. Bake 50 minutes or until cooked. Garnish with fresh basil (or thyme) if you wish.
When I think about Easter, one of the first foods that comes to mind are hot cross buns. I’m sure you think I’m going to have a nostalgic memory of my mother’s hot cross buns, but strangely enough, I don’t. The memory I do have from that time in my life is of some very yellow, cylinder shaped loaves. They were soft, sweet and yellow from the many eggs used in the dough. My mother just called it ‘Easter Bread’. It didn’t have icing, candied fruit and nuts or extra spices, it was just plain and gloriously good.
Each year, at Easter time, I really enjoy to make some version of Easter bread or buns (of course, trying to make it just a bit better than the year past). This year I’m going to make a hot cross bun ‘loaf’.
While hot cross buns are now sold and enjoyed throughout the year, they were once reserved for Good Friday alone. There is no one clear explanation … some theories rest in Christian symbolism while there are also more than a few stories that indicate hot cross buns were baked on Good Friday for superstitious reasons.
No matter what the reason, Brion & I have always loved these soft, spicy little buns. No doubt, this ‘loaf’ will probably make some good french toast for an Easter brunch.
Hot Cross Bun Loaf
In a large bowl, whisk together milk, oil, eggs & sugar. Sprinkle yeast over mixture. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
In a bowl, combine 4 cups flour with 3/4 tsp cinnamon. Add to yeast mixture & combine. Mixture will be very sticky. Cover bowl with a tea towel & let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
In a small dish, combine 1/4 cup sugar with cardamom & ginger; set aside. In another small dish, combine paste ingredients for crosses, stirring until smooth. Transfer to a piping bag with a small opening; set aside.
In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/2 cup flour with baking powder, baking soda & salt. When dough has risen, add this mixture & combine. Move dough to a lightly floured surface. Press to slightly flatten dough.
Sprinkle 2 Tbsp spiced sugar & a third of the fruit mixture over the dough. Fold dough over on itself & flatten again. Repeat the process two more times, ending by folding the dough in on itself. Divide the dough into 12 pieces. With floured hands, quickly roll the pieces into balls.
In a buttered, OVERSIZE loaf pan, place 6 rolls then top with remaining 6 rolls. Pipe whatever cross design you prefer on loaf. Cover & allow to rise for about 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake for 30-40 minutes. If the loaf is browning too fast, place a sheet of foil over it to prevent this.
Combine sugar & lemon juice. When loaf is baked, warm glaze for a few seconds in microwave then brush over loaf.
- If you do not have an oversized loaf pan, a bundt pan will work just fine.
One of the more interesting aspects of cooking is combining flavors to create something unique. Case in point would be meat and fruit. Some of the classic pairings such as turkey with cranberry sauce or lemon chicken are delicious, yet the idea of using both fruit and meat in the same dish is undoubtedly a little controversial. Nevertheless, these flavor companions with their sweet and salty relationship does work.
Pork for one, pairs well with an endless array of fruits. Pork comes in many forms so it gives us the opportunity to find the perfect combination.
In mid November, I had tried using some quince paste in some pastries. We quite enjoyed them so today I want to do the meat/fruit thing using the paste in a different context.
To make quince paste, the fruit is cooked in water and the strained pulp is then cooked with sugar. It turns red after a long cooking time and forms a relatively firm jelly. The taste is sweet but slightly astringent. Quince paste is usually sold in squares and is served by cutting it into thin slices to accompany cheese. It can also be served on crackers, spread on toast, used in baking or as a glaze for roasted meats.
With a fragrance that hints of vanilla, musk, pineapple and lemon blossom, quince deserves a little culinary exploration. Even if they are not a fresh fruit that is seen readily in our part of the country, I do think its worth enjoying some in ‘paste’ form.
Roasted Pork Chops w/ Quince Glaze
Preheat oven to 250 F. Rub pork chops with oil & place on a piece of foil on a baking sheet. Season with salt & pepper. Bake about 1 1/4 hours until very tender.
Add cider vinegar to a small saucepan over medium-high heat & bring to a boil. Add quince paste, honey & mustard. Whisk to dissolve the quince paste & blend the mustard. Continue to boil sauce until it reduces to around 1 cup & becomes syrupy, about 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat & pour into a small pitcher. Set aside.
Onions & Apples
In a large skillet over medium heat, add butter & saute onions, stirring often, until they are slightly translucent, about 5 minutes. Add apple wedges & thyme; cook until apples are tender. Add 1/3 of the quince sauce, tossing to coat both onions & apples well then simmer for about 1 minute. On each serving plate, place some apples & onions & top with a roasted pork chop. Serve with remaining quince sauce.
Today, March 28th is the birth date of my mother. Her imprint on my life was huge and I will forever miss her. I read an article recently which I would like to share with you today. It read:
‘I’ve met two kinds of strong women. The first kind is snippy, closed off and only too happy to point out when something isn’t up to their standards. The second kind is like a majestic tree with roots firmly planted and arms open wide. They plant and nurture the seeds of the future and parts of them are passed on through the generations’. My mother was definitely the second type of woman.
When I was thinking about what I wanted to post today, my mind drifted to the recipe archive that lives in my head, eventually making its way to the yeast breads. This is an area my mother had mastered down to a science.
Bread is such a staple food in the diet of most populations and will have featured heavily in most people’s childhoods. This explains why it is one of those smells that evokes such strong memories, particularly of family, childhood and comfort.
I love yeast breads that have spices and dried fruits in them. I recall a combination I had used in another way sometime back so I decided to see if I could make it work in my bread today.
WONDERFUL MEMORIES OF OUR BEAUTIFUL MOTHER!
Moroccan Spiced Fruit Bread
In a small bowl, combine fruit, juice & spices. Set aside to marinate.
In a small dish, heat milk to lukewarm. Add yeast & 1 tsp sugar; let sit for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup melted butter, sour cream & egg. Add yeast mixture & stir to combine.
In another bowl, whisk together flour & salt. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture 1 cup at a time, combining after each addition. Once all flour has been added, knead on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes.
Lightly grease the large bowl, place dough in it & cover with plastic wrap & a tea towel. Allow to rest for at least one hour, in a draft-free place until doubled in volume.
Punch dough down & place on a lightly floured surface. With your hand, pat & shape the dough into a rectangle 14 X 12-inches in size & about 1/2-inch thick. Using a ruler & a pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut the rectangle into 5 strips. Cut each strip into diamonds about 2-inches long. With a pastry brush, lightly butter tops of 'diamonds' as well as the bottom & sides of a bundt pan with the melted butter.
Arrange a layer of diamonds side by side in a ring on the bottom of the bundt pan. Divide fruit mixture in half & sprinkle half over diamonds in pan. Repeat with another layer of buttered diamonds & sprinkle with remaining fruit. Top with last buttered diamonds, arranging each successive layer so that it fits over the spaces left in the previous ring.
Don't concern that the diamonds do not fill all the available space; as they rise & bake they will expand. Cover bundt pan with plastic wrap & a tea towel & allow to rise in a draft-free place until doubled in volume.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake bread for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. To test for doneness, turn bread out & rap the bottom sharply with your knuckles. The bread should sound hollow; if it doesn't, return it to the pan & bake for 5-10 minutes longer. When baked, turn out on a wire rack to cool slightly.
In a small bowl, beat together drizzle ingredients until smooth, adding only enough milk to make preferred drizzle consistency. Spread or drizzle over warm fruit bread & sprinkle with reserved orange zest.
While there are numerous ways to enjoy spaghetti squash, I favor stuffed. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to stuffing. Beef, turkey, chicken along with rice and a nice smoky cheese like Gruyere or even mozzarella and Parmesan work really well.
It’s called spaghetti squash for a reason. Just steam, microwave or bake the squash in its shell and scrape out the flesh with a fork or spoon. No need for a spiralizer as it separates its own flesh in slender pasta-like strands. It makes for a remarkable stand-in for pasta dishes and with such a mild flavor you can chose from any number of sauces to give it a flavor boost.
This stuffed squash is the full meal deal. Along with veggies, you have chicken, sausage and cheese. Super good!
Sausage & Chicken Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
Preheat oven to 400 F. Drizzle cut sides of spaghetti squash with oil & season with salt & pepper. Place cut side down on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender, 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Using a fork, break up squash strands. Set aside.
Filling & Topping
In a large skillet, scramble-fry sausage in olive oil; drain on paper towels. Add another Tbsp oil to skillet; saute onion & pepper about 3-4 minutes then add tomatoes, zucchini, garlic & lemon zest. Season with salt, pepper & Italian seasoning & cook 3-4 minutes more. Gently stir in squash, cooked chicken & sausage & remove from heat.
Divide mixture between spaghetti squash halves (or quarters). Top each spaghetti squash portion with mozzarella cheese & return to oven to melt for 5 minutes. Garnish with Parmesan & serve.
Today, March 21st, our family honors the memory of my father on his birth date. Being of German decent, my dad always enjoyed having meals he recalled from his childhood. My mother excelled at cooking, so I can only imagine that she got the ‘taste of his memory’ perfect. A meal that dad enjoyed but was not one that came up very often at our house, was ‘wiener schnitzel’.
‘Wiener schnitzel’ is actually a geographically protected term in Germany and Austria and can only be made with veal. In researching this subject, I came across at least eleven more versions of schnitzel which still followed the preparation techniques of the original wiener schnitzel. In addition to different types of meat used, a schnitzel can be served with a topping or a filling.
As usual, I’m doing an oven-fried version instead of pan frying in oil or butter. It would be so nice if Brion and I could be sharing this meal with my Mom & Dad today.
Time slips by and life goes on,
But from our hearts your never gone,
We think about you always, we talk about you too,
WE HAVE SO MANY MEMORIES BUT WE WISH WE STILL HAD YOU.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Lightly oil a wire rack & place over a baking sheet.
Place each cutlet between two pieces of plastic wrap & pound with a meat mallet until about 1/4-inch thick.
In a bowl, whisk together Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, garlic powder, salt, pepper & milk. Place the flour in a plastic bag & buttered bread crumbs on a plate.
Place one cutlet at a time in the bag with flour; shake to coat. Then dip in egg mixture; covering each. Finally, dip in buttered bread crumbs, coating each side well. Place breaded cutlets onto the prepared rack.
Bake for 15 minutes; flip & bake for another 5 minutes. Check to be sure they are cooked. Serve with lemon slices & your choice of veggies.
- Boneless pork chops can be substituted for veal & taste excellent.
Is there anything potatoes can not do! Many cultures make some form of potato cakes with any kind of filling you can imagine. Sauteed cabbage, ground meat, egg and onions, you name it, the possibilities are endless. Mushrooms are by far, one of my most favorite fillings.
Did you know that most of the table mushrooms we eat are all the same variety. The difference is just age.
The white button mushrooms, are simply the youngest variety. They have been cultivated, too, for that white color and soft texture. In the wild these mushrooms are usually browner.
The Portobello is the most mature mushroom; it’s really just an overgrown white mushroom! They are left to grow for longer, until they have spread out into that delicious meaty cap.
The Cremini mushroom is just in between these two varieties. It’s a moderately mature version of the white button mushroom. Mature state means that they have a browner color, firmer texture and better flavor than the younger white mushrooms. Who knew!!
These stuffed potato cakes are such a nice addition to a winter meal.
Mushroom Stuffed Potato Cakes
Cook potatoes in salted, boiling water until soft. Drain & mash.
In a saucepan, saute mushrooms & garlic in olive oil. Season with salt & pepper & add chopped parsley.
Place mashed potatoes in a bowl; add egg, butter, grated Parmigiana cheese, a pinch of salt, pepper & nutmeg. Combine well. Divide mixture into 8 equal patties. Roll into balls & then flatten into patties. In the center of 4 of the patties place 1/4 of the mushroom mixture. Top mushrooms with a cube of mozzarella cheese. Place one of the remaining potato patties on top of each filled one & gently press edges to seal.
Heat a griddle to 350 F. Brush with some butter & fry stuffed potato patties to a golden brown on each side. Be careful when turning as they will be quite soft.
Cauliflower used to be a boring vegetable. That reputation couldn’t be more different today. The cauliflower craze has managed to last longer then anyone would have expected. It seems to have checked all the boxes … healthy, versatile and ‘tasteless’. Not only can you turn it into rice, steak, pizza crust, gnocchi etc., but you can use any sauce, seasoning and/or flavoring on it as well. It’s entirely a blank canvas for all your cooking needs.
This casserole pairs cauliflower with some tasty bratwurst. The spices used to flavor traditional German bratwurst typically include salt, pepper, nutmeg and marjoram. Other seasonings like coriander, cardamom, ginger, caraway and garlic are sometimes used depending on the region and personal preference. The name is derived from old high German. ‘Brat‘ which means finely ground meat and ‘wurst’ which means sausage. The fine grind of the meat gives the sausage a lighter texture.
There are many ways to make bratwurst so don’t hesitate to put your on personal touch on it. This combination of the cauliflower, bratwurst and potatoes in a cheese sauce is so good. If you would prefer, don’t hesitate to just pick up a package of ‘brats’ at the store and make it even quicker to prepare.
Cauliflower, Bratwurst & Potato Casserole
In a bowl, combine all ingredients & mix well. Form into small meatballs. In a saucepan, fry meatballs until just cooked & drain on paper towel. Spread out on bottom of a 9 X 9-inch casserole dish.
Peel potatoes & cut into small cubes. Cook in salted, boiling water for about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove & distribute potato cubes evenly with bratwurst in casserole dish.
Break cauliflower into florets; add to potato water & boil for 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove & add to other casserole dish ingredients.
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a saucepan, heat butter & stir in flour. Cook until slightly browning then whisk in milk & 1/2 cup reserved potato/cauliflower water. Bring to a boil, while continuing to whisk add salt & pepper to taste. Cook for a few minutes more.
Pour sauce over other casserole ingredients, sprinkle with the cheese & bake for about 20 minutes.