I guess because of my German heritage I forever gravitate to German cuisine and food history. Although my mother’s cooking was a mix of German and Canadian, I can definitely see how she correlated the two quite well.
When most people think of pizza, Italy comes to mind. That’s why I’d like to talk about Flammkuchen, a crisp, smoky bacon German pizza. The name translates to ‘flame cake’ and comes from south Germany and the Alsace region of France. Originally it was used by bakers to test the temperature of their ovens. A bit of dough was rolled flat, topped with ‘sour cream’ and baked in their wood fired bread ovens for a few minutes. The oven’s temperature was told in the nearly blistered crispiness of the flammkuchen. When it came out just right the oven was ready to bake bread.
The classic version of German pizza is characterized by its thin, crisp, blistered crust. The dough is spread with soured cream (creme fraiche) then topped with partially cooked bacon, caramelized onions and spices.
Other savory variations include Gruyere or Munster cheese and mushrooms while sweet versions may include apples, cinnamon and a sweet liqueur.
For those of you who enjoy a thin, crispy crust pizza, this one’s for you!
In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, water & oil. Mix until dough begins to form; turn dough out onto lightly floured surface & knead until soft & smooth about 3-5 minutes. Place dough back in bowl; cover & set aside. In a small bowl, mix together yogurt & nutmeg; set aside.
In a large skillet, heat oil. Add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat; sprinkle with vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Remove from skillet & set aside.
In skillet, saute bacon until it is half way to crisp, 2-4 minutes. Remove bacon to drain on paper towel. Break or cut bacon into small pieces.
Preheat oven to 400 F. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about a 11 x 16-inch rectangle. Generously sprinkle a large baking sheet with cornmeal & place dough on it. Spread yogurt mixture over crust, leaving a small border. Distribute onions & bacon evenly over yogurt. Top all with a dusting of black pepper.
New Years Eve and Christmas are the traditional occasions to serve tourtiere. This classic French Canadian meat pie originated in the province of Quebec, Canada as early as 1600. While it may seem foreign to some, tourtiere is as Canadian as maple syrup or hockey. It is one of Canada’s better contributions to the culinary world being enjoyed throughout Canada as well as the upper mid west and eastern United States.
Fundamentally, tourtiere is a pie that contains meat and spices baked in a flaky crust. The meat is generally diced or ground, including any or all of pork, veal, beef or wild game. Other less common varieties include salmon or poultry. No matter what the meats used, or the presence or absence of potato, bold seasoning is the rule for all varieties. The four original spices used in the classic tourtiere are cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg. Like so many of these recipes that have been ‘handed down’ over generations, each family alters it to suit their taste.
Something sweet and sour or something with a ‘kick’ pairs well with the spiced meat and flaky crust of tourtiere. Some choices might be cranberry sauce, pickled beets, chili sauce, green tomato relish, olives, spicy fruit chutney or salsa.
Even in today’s increasingly fast-paced world, these time consuming dishes are still being prepared. Just to clarify – Brion and I are not French Canadian but like many Canadians , we enjoy our seasonal ‘fix’ of this classic.
Apart from making tourtiere in the traditional form, try it as tourtiere meatballs, phyllo rolls, burgers, turnovers or chicken tourtiere tartlets. The recipe I’m posting today comes from a tiny little pamphlet I probably have had for 30 years from a meat packing company. It has been one that I have worked with the spices to suit our taste. Spices listed as ‘optional’, lets you do the same.
Cut bacon into small pieces & fry over moderate heat until cooked but not crisp. Add pork, veal & onion; cook until meat is lightly browned. Add water & spices; reduce heat to simmer; cover pan & cook 45 minutes more. Combine meat with mashed potatoes; cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 450 F. Meanwhile, line a 9" pie pan with pastry; fill with meat mixture. Place top crust in position; seal & flute edges, slash several times for air vents. If preferred, cut 'leaves' from pastry & place on top of pie. An egg wash can be brushed over pastry before placing in oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes; reduce heat to 350 F. & continue to bake 30 minutes longer.
I have a great pastry recipe on my Thanksgiving blog in October 2016 if you choose to make your own.
Brunch! The word evokes thoughts of a lazy week-end morning, sleeping late, eating ‘brunch’ while sipping a glass of sangria in the late morning or early afternoon.
In the food industry, brunch was a fun meal to prepare. Being a combination of both breakfast & lunch means the options are endless. If you are serving a large amount of people, generally eight food groups make up the menu along with beverages. I always enjoyed the visual beauty of a large brunch presentation all carefully prepared and set out.
At our house, Brion and I have always been early risers so brunch isn’t a meal that really works for us. That being said, I do have some special memories of a time when we enjoyed brunch.
It was in the south of France. In 2001, after we had left Paris, we drove 613 km (380 miles) south to the sleepy village of St. Thibery. This little medieval village, population of 2481, can be traced back more than 4000 years of known history.
As I had mentioned in an earlier blog, my sister Loretta had joined Brion and I on this French vacation. For this segment of the trip we had rented an apartment in St Thibery to use as ‘home base’ during our time there. Many of these houses are from the 14th, 15th and 17th century. The apartment was quaint but adequate even having a roof top patio. What’s not to love, amidst the beautiful French vineyards, close to that blue Mediterranean.
We spent about a week in St Thibery and it was there that the three of us made some special memories enjoying our leisure Frenchbrunches. In view of all the world crisis we are experiencing today, I cherish the many memories we have from our world travels in more peaceful times.
A few brunch options that I think are noteworthy and would like to share with you today are Bacon & Egg Croissants with Lime-Ginger Fresh Fruit, Peaches & Cream French Toast as well as Asparagus Cordon Bleu Crepes.
Bacon & Egg Croissants/Lime-Ginger Fresh Fruit * Peaches & Cream French Toast * Asparagus Cordon Bleu Crepes
In a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, dry mustard salt & pepper. Add milk. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens & bubbles. Reduce heat to low & stir in cheese. Cook, stirring constantly, until cheese is melted. Keep warm.
Lime-Ginger Fresh Fruit
In a saucepan, mix sugar & cornstarch. Stir in water. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Cook & stir until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in lime peel, lime juice & gingerroot.
In a large bowl, gently toss prepared fruit. Pour lime mixture over fruit; gently toss. Cover & refrigerate until ready to serve.
Bacon & Egg Croissants
Cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Split croissants, lay on a barely warm griddle to warm. In a saucepan, pour water to a 3" depth & bring to boiling. Reduce to simmering. Break an egg into a shallow dish; gently slip into water. Repeat with the remaining 3 eggs. Cook 2 -3 minutes. Remove eggs from water with a slotted spoon.
Place 2 bacon slices on bottom half of each croissant then top with a poached egg. Ladle some cheese sauce over egg, placing croissant top on the side. Serve with side dishes of Lime-Ginger Fresh Fruit.
Peaches & Cream French Toast
In a small bowl, whisk eggs & 3 Tbsp peach preserves. Beat in half & half. Place a single layer of bread slices in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Pour egg mixture over bread. Cover & refrigerate a few hours or overnight until most of the liquid is absorbed. In a small bowl, beat 1/3 cup peach preserves & 4 Tbsp softened margarine with an electric mixer on high until fluffy; set aside until ready to serve.
At serving time, Heat griddle to medium-high heat; melt 2 Tbsp margarine. Add bread slices & cook until lightly browned, turning once. Serve French Toast topped with peach butter & fresh peach slices. Sprinkle with toasted almonds & powdered sugar.
Asparagus Cordon Bleu Crepes
Prepare crepes (see recipe on 'French Crepe' blog from July 25/16). Trim asparagus spears. In a large saucepan, cook asparagus spears in boiling salted water just until tender-crisp; drain. Place a slice of ham on each crepe. Spread ham slice with mustard. Top with a slice of cheese, asparagus spears & tomatoes. Sprinkle with parsley & tarragon, as desired.
Roll up crepes. In a 13 x 9-inch baking dish, place crepes seam-side down. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium saucepan, melt margarine; blend in flour, 1/2 tsp tarragon, salt & pepper. Whisk in half & half, stirring constantly over medium-high heat until mixture thickens & bubbles. Stir in sliced mushrooms. Pour sauce over crepes in baking dish. Bake 25 minutes or until heated through.
Lime-Ginger Fresh Fruit adapted from from pillsbury. com
Brunch ideas adapted from Pat Jester's Brunch Cookery (1979)
Today’s pork is leaner and more tender due to breeding and feeding changes over the last number of decades. Ounce for ounce, pork tenderloin is almost as lean as boneless, skinless chicken breast as well as being economical. Its one of those meats that can be an elegant company meal or used in a stir fry for a weekday supper. Pork tenderloin’s mild flavor partners well with sweet and savory ingredients. Unbelievable in its versatility, you can cook it whole, slice into medallions, butterfly and stuff it, or use it in stir fry. It’s great grilled, roasted or simply seared.
When I was growing up on the farm, pigs were a part of the ‘mixed farming’ my parents did. At that time, there wasn’t much about the animal I cared for. They squealed, smelled and were not much fun to feed. My parents cured their own bacon, which always seemed to be so salty to my liking. To this day, bacon is not something that has a big draw for me for that reason.
My dad was not a man that did any cooking. With my mother being such a fabulous ‘cook’, there certainly was no need. For some reason, every once in a while, dad thought he would show us the way he thought bacon should be cooked. The cast iron frying pan was made ‘smoking’ hot to which he would then put the bacon in to fry it. That little episode was definitely cause to have to ‘air’ out the house for the next couple of hours!
Years later I have come to enjoy today’s lean pork tenderloin as a staple in my rotating household menu choices. With mangoes being quite plentiful right now, it seemed fitting to feature some Spiced Pork Medallions with Mango Salsa.
Mix together cubed mangoes & red pepper, green onions & sauce. Set aside.
Cut tenderloin into 4 equal pieces. Flatten cut side down into about a 3 1/2" circumference. In a small bowl, mix together all SPICE RUB ingredients. In a resealable plastic bag, combine medallions & spice rub, seal bag & shake well. Refrigerate for several hours.
When ready to cook, wrap bacon slice around edge of each medallion; secure with wooden toothpicks. Heat BBQ to medium-high heat. Grill 8-10 minutes on each side or until done (160 F.)
Heat a large skillet sprayed with cooking spray medium-high heat. Add medallions; cook, partially covered 25 minutes or until done (160 F.) , turning after 15 minutes.
Serve topped with Mango Salsa.
Mango Salsa can be marinated with other choices of 'sauces' or salad dressing marinades if you prefer something less sweet.
In the early 1950’s, my father was able to purchase another piece of land about 4 miles from our home place. Between the two farms it became the equivalent of a ‘section’. Before this time, the cattle had to be moved to a community pasture in the foothills where they would have enough grass to graze on over the summer. At that time to transport them, you had no choice but to herd them down the road allowance for approximately 20-30 miles on foot. To say the least it was a long grueling event for both the cattle and family members.
The ‘other farm’, as we referred to it, had originally been a slaughter house for the town meat market. It consisted of one large building, corals and a few other buildings. There was a slough on the land which dad had converted to a ‘dug out’ where the cattle could go and drink freely. The land was used for grain crops where in turn the cattle could be pastured on.
One of my fondest memories about the other farm was our picnic lunches. In the summer when dad would be working on the land, instead of my mother just packing a lunch for him that he could take in the morning, she would fix a wonderful ‘picnic lunch’. At about 11:30 in the morning, mom would pack up the lunch she had prepared, complete with plates, silverware, a tablecloth, etc., and we would drive to the ‘other farm’. There was just the right amount of space between two grain buildings to set up a make-shift table and stools. We would put the table cloth down and spread out our little picnic ‘feast’. Dad would be so surprised and we would all enjoy our lunch immensely. Mom always knew how to make the most simple things fun for us.
Lunch was always different from the your usual lunch box meal and my mother never seemed to be short on tasty ideas. I think you will enjoy trying this Spiced Chicken Stuffed Potato Loaf the next time you you have a crowd to feed.
Butterfly chicken breasts & carefully pound to flatten. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine marinade ingredients; add chicken breast. Seal bag & turn to coat; refrigerate for 4 hours, turning occasionally. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 9" baking dish with foil. Place chicken on foil & bake about 45 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Remove from oven, cool & chop.
Cut broccoli into small florets & microwave for 1 minute. Boil potato, mash & cool. Fry bacon, drain & crumble. Chop chives.
In a small bowl, combine yeast with lukewarm water; whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand about 3 minutes until foamy. Add butter, salt, sour cream & potato; mix well. Add bacon & chives; mix until just combined. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured surface (using some of the remaining 1/4 cup flour). Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Remove risen dough from bowl, turn onto lightly floured surface; roll dough to about a 12" X 15" rectangle. Place a large piece of parchment on a sheet pan. Roll dough onto a rolling pin then unroll onto parchment paper. Place 1/2 of the cheese down the center of dough, top with chicken, broccoli & remaining cheese. Fold short ends in about 1". Using parchment, fold one side over filling, overlapping with opposite side. Cover with plastic; allow to rise for 15 minutes while preheating oven to 375 F. Brush with egg wash. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.
If you prefer less dough to filling ratio; make half of the dough into 'potato pan rolls' for another time.
If you would like to serve with a quick 'sauce', combine a can of cream of mushroom soup with 1/2 can of milk.
To simplify the process, use purchased frozen bread dough or pizza crust.