Rustic Fruit Galette

A ‘galette’ (French) or ‘crostata’ (Italian) was an early way to form a pie crust in the absence of pie pans. The dough was rolled flat, the filling placed in the middle with the edges turned up to contain the filling.

The origin of the pie (pye) has been traced to Egypt where savory fillings were baked, using woven reeds as the baking vessel. The concept was brought to Greece and then to Rome. It is believed the ancient Greeks created pie pastry and the trade of ‘pastry chef’ was then distinguished from that of a baker. The use of lard and butter in northern Europe led to a dough that could be rolled out and molded into what has become our modern pie crust. Before the emergence of tin or ceramic pie pans, the ancient practice of using the bottom of the oven or fireplace was used to bake this rustic tart.

Galettes can be made in any size, as well as sweet or savory, using only a simple baking sheet. No technique to create an even, fluted crust is necessary. Rusticity is its charm! No worries about tearing the dough or if the final result is perfectly round or rectangular.

The crust of this galette is made with the addition of a small amount of cornmeal to give it a bit of crunch and is equally as good with a sweet or savory filling.

Rustic Fruit Galette
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Servings
6-8
Servings
6-8
Rustic Fruit Galette
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Servings
6-8
Servings
6-8
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
Galette Dough
  1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or finger tips, cut in butter until mixture resembles BOTH coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over the dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you have added all the sour cream, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not, add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. Do not overwork dough.
  2. Press dough into a disk shape & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two or it can be wrapped airtight & frozen for a month. Thaw, still wrapped in refrigerator.
Fruit Filling
  1. In a bowl, toss together the fruit, all but 1 Tbsp of the sugar, salt, lemon juice & zest & cornstarch.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the chilled dough into a circle & set on baking sheet. Place the fruit filling in the middle, leaving a border of 1 1/2 to 2-inches. Gently fold pastry over the fruit, pleating to hold it in. Brush pastry with egg wash. Sprinkle the reserved 1 Tbsp sugar over the crust.
  3. Bake 35-45 minutes until the filling bubbles up & crust is golden. Cool for at least 20 minutes on a wire rack before serving. Best served warm or at room temperature.
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Seafood Lasagna Roll-Ups

Lasagna has a rich history as a comfort food. Originally it resembled layered macaroni and cheese rather than its present form. The origin is a little unclear but none involve Italy. However, Italians have been credited with its name of ‘lasagna’.

Present day lasagna has become very versatile with recipes such as vegetarian and seafood which use either red or white sauce. Although, lasagna has been a favorite meal of many people, it also comes with a high fat and calorie count. That being said, there are numerous ways to change that. In traditional lasagna, substitute ground turkey or use extra lean ground beef. In the case of a white sauce, substitute fat free plain yogurt for sour cream and use skim or 1% milk to reduce the fat content. Using low fat or non fat ricotta cheese, fat free cottage cheese or part skim mozzarella cheese helps to boost the calcium and protein contents without adding a lot of fat.

In any case, lasagna is just too good to not enjoy it.  These SEAFOOD LASAGNA ROLL-UPS  can be made with a light version of either homemade or purchased Alfredo sauce. We absolutely loved this meal!

Seafood Lasagna Roll-Ups
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Servings
2
Servings
2
Seafood Lasagna Roll-Ups
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Servings
2
Servings
2
Instructions
  1. Prepare lasagna noodles according to package directions. Rinse under cool water; reserve. In a large skillet melt butter. Saute spinach until wilted. Remove to paper towels. Add shrimp & scallops to skillet; saute for 3-4 minutes until opaque & just barely cooked; reserve. Grate mozzarella cheese.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a small casserole dish. On a large piece of wax paper, line up lasagna noodles in a row. Spoon about 1/4 cup of Alfredo sauce onto each noodle & spread.
  3. Alternately top with shrimp & scallops, cooked spinach, shrimp/scallops, spinach & crab meat. Sprinkle noodles with grated cheese. Roll each noodle & stand or lay in casserole dish. Spoon remaining Alfredo sauce over rolls.
  4. Place a pan with a small amount of water in it, under the casserole dish & place in the oven. This will help the noodles from becoming dry during baking time. Very loosely, cover with foil, just to keep the noodles from drying on top. Bake for 30 minutes or until slightly bubbly. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese; allow to sit 5-10 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer to make your own sauce, I had noticed the tasteofhome.com website has a very similar recipe making the sauce from scratch. It looks real good if you have the time.
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Chicken Wings Risotto

A popular and versatile dish, risotto is served extensively in the kitchens and restaurants of the world. The history of risotto is naturally tied to the history of rice in Italy. Rice was first introduced to Italy and Spain by the Arabs during the middle ages. The humidity of the Mediterranean was perfect for growing shorter-grained rices.

A hearty rice dish, risotto is rich with the flavors of the stock used in its making, as well as saffron, and any of the hundreds of ingredients that pair so perfectly with it.

The key components of this simple but elegant dish are: rice, stock (usually chicken), onions, butter, wine, parmesan and saffron. It can be served by itself or as an accompaniment to other dishes. The starchy component of the dry grain mixed with the stock creates a thick, creamy sauce.

Brion is a ‘wing’ man. He LOVES chicken wings and rice so it seems quite fitting to make a CHICKEN WING RISOTTO.

Chicken Wings Risotto
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Chicken Wings Risotto
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat butter & oil; add wings, cook until golden brown on both sides; Remove from skillet to paper towels & drain skillet.
  2. In skillet, melt extra butter; add onion & garlic; cook until tender. Add pepper, shallots, zucchini, celery & saffron, cook another minute. Add wine, rice, water, chicken bouillon cube & chicken wings, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat & simmer for 20-25 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, stir in parsley.
Recipe Notes
  • Saffron is extremely expensive to buy in our part of the country. A good trade off would be turmeric or just use the spices that appeal to you.
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European Easter Bread

The aroma of Easter bread baking certainly brings back precious childhood memories. What I recall about my mother’s Easter bread, was that it was a dense, mildly sweet & a very egg rich bread. It was always baked in round ‘cans’ and the taste was unforgettable.

Nearly every country around the world has a traditional Easter bread. Each one is different in some way, a mix of symbolism and satisfying taste. They represent a continuity of traditions from centuries past, including much earlier pre-Christian times. Often these rich, yeasted breads are made in symbolic shapes and are elaborately decorated.

Germany and Austria make several shapes such as : Osterzopf – Easter braid, Osterkranz – Easter wreath or crown, Osternester – Easter nests, Eierimnest – Easter egg nest, Striezel – stacked braided bread.

That being said, I couldn’t resist doing a little ‘version’ of my own. I started with my favorite sweet yeast bread, added some anise flavor and a cream cheese filling. So now you have German osterkranz, Italian panettone and Romanian pasca all in one beautiful EUROPEAN EASTER BREAD.

European Easter Bread
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A heavenly creation!
Servings
16
Servings
16
European Easter Bread
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A heavenly creation!
Servings
16
Servings
16
Ingredients
Bread Dough
Glaze
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk yeast & sugar into lukewarm water; let stand about 10 minutes. With an electric mixer, beat together 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, oil, anise extract, lemon zest, lemon extract, salt & anise seed. Combine egg mixture, melted butter & milk with yeast mixture.
  2. Add 4 CUPS flour, 1 cup at a time to wet mixture. Stir well after each addition. Turn dough out onto a floured surface & knead until smooth & elastic, about 5-6 minutes, adding remaining 1/2 cup flour if necessary.
  3. Coat a large bowl with oil. Place dough in bowl & turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap & set in a warm place to rise until it doubles in bulk. Meanwhile, cut a piece of parchment paper big enough to cover the bottom & go up the sides of a 10" spring form pan. When dough has risen enough, cut into four pieces.
  4. On the parchment paper, press one piece of the dough into a circle measuring about 10" in diameter. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the mixed peel, leaving a gap at the edge. Press out second piece of the dough on a lightly floured piece of wax paper, place it on top of the first layer & sprinkle with another 1/3 of mixed peel. Repeat with the third & fourth pieces of dough but do not sprinkle mixed peel on the final layer.
  5. Place a glass tumbler on top of the center of the dough circles. Cut dough into 16 segments, starting a the edge of the glass. Lift & twist them away from each other through 180 degrees. Lift & twist through 90 degrees so that the ends are vertical. Press the edges together firmly. Repeat this process with all pairs of segments. Leave glass sitting on top at the center of the circle to form an indentation for the cheese filling. Cover with plastic wrap & set in a warm place to rise for about 1/2 an hour.
  6. Preheat oven to to 325 F. In a bowl, place cream cheese, eggs, sugar & vanilla; mix well. When bread has risen, remove glass & fill indentation with cheese mixture. Bake for about 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool. Brush with honey/water glaze. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
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Fresh Salmon Roll-Ups

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, Brion and I never pass up the opportunity to have a good fish/seafood meal. Living in the prairie province of Alberta, Canada, fresh fish is not always readily available. This week when we checked out the fish department at the grocery store, they were featuring ‘wild’ fresh salmon. Along with enjoying our salmon for supper it brought back some very special memories I’d like to share with you today.

I’m not sure if you have heard of or maybe you have visited the island of Burano in northern Italy. Situated 7 km from Venice, it’s just a short, 40 minute trip by Venetian water taxi or ‘vaporetto‘. Burano is an old fishing village, whose traditions date back to Roman times. Fishing was the main source of income for most of Burano’s history but the number of fisherman has greatly declined over the years.

Although the island was settled in the 6th century, its significance came in the 16th century. At that time women on the island began making lace with needles. Due to competition from cheaper machine made lace from Asia and dwindling interest among young people both in making lace and using lacy linens, the industry is dying out. 

With a population of less than 3000, this little, densely built-up island is interwoven by canals filled with colorful fishing boats which match the rainbow of colored houses. The first homes of Burano were built on raised piles, with walls made of woven canes and afterwards plastered with mud. Later these houses were replaced with ones made of bricks and the inhabitants began painting them with bright colors. The origin of the colors is unknown but as the story goes that years ago, when the fishermen returned from sea, they couldn’t recognize their homes through the fog, so they started painting them different colors. The houses follow a special color pattern, based on a specific system that has been in place since the village was founded. If you are a resident of the island, and wish to paint your house, you must send a request to the government, which responds by making a note of the colors permitted for that specific lot of houses.

Another interesting Burano sight is the ominously leaning, bell-tower of the church of St. Martin Bishop. The tower rises some 160 feet with the tower leaning 6 feet from its axis. Yikes!

Brion and I had the opportunity, while on a vacation one year with the Trafalgar Tours,  to visit the island of Burano. We boarded the ‘water taxi’ which took across the lagoon to the island. It like you were stepping into a postcard with its brightly colored houses and clothes hung out to dry on lines strung across second-story windows. Extra splashes of color came from the many flower boxes. As we strolled through the narrow streets, many ladies were sitting in the sun, chatting with their neighbors, while making their intricate and beautiful Burano Lace.

The highlight of the afternoon came when we were treated to a fabulous seafood lunch at a local restaurant. I’m not quite sure how to best describe this meal other than it was ‘just incredible’. 

Memories are priceless gifts to savor!

Fresh Salmon Roll-Ups
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Servings
3-4
Servings
3-4
Fresh Salmon Roll-Ups
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Servings
3-4
Servings
3-4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cook rice. Place salmon fillet in a large plastic bag. 'Gently' pound to flatten to an even thickness. Slice bag down one side and across bottom; open out & set aside in refrigerator.
  2. Microwave broccoli florets about 1 minute; chop. Shred cheese. Melt margarine & add spices; stir well.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine rice, broccoli & cheese with 2/3 margarine/spice mixture. Spread 2/3 of the filling evenly over salmon; pat down. Using the help of the plastic bag, roll filled salmon up in a jelly-roll style. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with foil & spread remaining filling in it. Place salmon roll on top, pushing under layer close up around roll. Spread remaining butter sauce over salmon roll. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Slice & serve.
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Oven Baked Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

The key components needed when preparing a baked pasta meal lies in selecting a good durum wheat pasta, tossed through a rich, creamy sauce with the addition of proper seasonings and the right cheeses.

Baked spaghetti is more accommodating to busy schedules than stove top pastas. Part of the charm of a baked pasta dish is being able to assemble it completely and refrigerate until time to bake. The results will be good but not great. You are better off making the components ahead of time — saute the vegetables, cook (meat) sauce, combine the cheeses, boil the pasta and then combine everything just before baking.

Oven baked pasta has a long history with many variations. Ingredients will vary depending on regional traditions and approaches. A few things that always work for me are; choosing a good durum or egg pasta, cook it al dente, season each element of the dish, be generous with the sauce but go easy on the cheese and if you choose to use a crumb topping, make your own and keep it coarse.

Today’s BAKED SPAGHETTI with MEAT SAUCE  recipe is a very simple one I used many years ago in the restaurant industry. It was put out by the Campbell’s  soup company and worked well in the commercial setting. It can be changed up with beef, pork or chicken, all with good results.

Oven Baked Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
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Very filling as well as satisfying.
Servings
6
Servings
6
Oven Baked Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
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Very filling as well as satisfying.
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, cook spaghetti in salted boiling water for 8-10 minutes or until al dente; drain & set aside. In a medium skillet, brown meat with onion, green pepper, garlic & spices.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Add soups & water to skillet & stir. Combine pasta with 'meat sauce' mixture, mixing well.
  3. Spread mixture into a 9 x 9-inch baking dish; top with shredded cheddar & sprinkle Parmesan over all. Bake for 20-25 minutes & serve.
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Broccoli- Salmon Pasta Shells

When it comes to stuffed pastas, the only limitation is your own imagination. Sometimes it could be inspired by the seasons, maybe what you grew in your garden. Other times, its what you have on hand. Some of the best baked pastas evolve from a little adventure and risk taking.

The filling you choose, gives body and character. The sauce should bring the plate alive and complement the filling, not overpower or mask what is held within the pasta ‘walls’. Generally, there are three types of sauce used when making this entree; either a light tomato sauce, Bechamel or cream sauce or a broth sauce.

I have always favored using ‘Conchiglioni‘ pasta, the name derives from the Italian word meaning ‘seashells’. Their shape, size and consistency are the perfect vessel for bold, rich fillings and flavorful sauces. Baked pastas, or ‘pastas al forno’ as they are called in Italy, date back to the Renaissance when they were being served at the banquets of nobles.

Anyone following my food blogs has long since figured out I have a huge love for ‘stuffing things’. Although this meal may seem a bit ordinary, the recipe is one I developed many years ago and still enjoy using it. You can also find it featured in my eBook  on Amazon,  ‘Living Large on a Lean Food Budget’.

               Today, March 24th, is the birthday of my brother, Tony.

                                                 HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TONY!

                      ENJOY YOUR DAY AS WE CELEBRATE YOU WITH LOVE.

 

Broccoli- Salmon Pasta Shells
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Servings
18 shells
Servings
18 shells
Broccoli- Salmon Pasta Shells
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Servings
18 shells
Servings
18 shells
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta shells in boiling, salted water with a small amount of oil added, for 15 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt margarine & remove from heat. Stir in water & sauce mix. Bring to a boil over medium heat & simmer 3 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine salmon, mushrooms, broccoli, onions & half of dill sauce.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Fill pasta shells with salmon mixture. All the filling should fit into 18 shells as they are nicely 'overstuffed'. In a small bowl, mix together remaining dill sauce, reserved salmon juice & mushroom soup. Spread some sauce over bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Lay filled shells single file in pan. Pour remaining sauce over all & top with grated cheddar cheese.
  5. Cover with foil & bake about 45-50 minutes.
Recipe Notes
  • This meal is easily portioned and frozen for an easy quick fix for supper later.
  • If you prefer, you could use fresh baked salmon instead of canned.
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