Being one who appreciates both roasted vegetables and the origins of things, I was curious as to when roasting vegetables became a ‘thing’.
The presence of a platter of blistered carrots and parsnips on our dinner table is happily commonplace these days. However, this was not always the case.
Restaurant chefs have forever roasted vegetables for certain preparations, especially classics like roasted plum tomato sauce and charred red peppers for antipasto.
Dry-heat cooking in an oven has traditionally been associated with meat, poultry and game. Roasting other foods like fish, vegetables and fruit seals in and intensifies flavors, imparts an attractive burnish and often uses less ‘fat’ than other cooking methods. The use of ‘professional’ quality sheet pans, roasting pans and ovenproof skillets is best for such roasting.
This roasting technique came into vogue in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Clearly, roasting is the only way to treat vegetables. The taste is legitimately superior to older techniques in almost all cases as it concentrates and enhances via caramelization. So, it begs the question, why did it take so long to become the default vegetable cooking technique? A lingering preference for boiled, steamed and sauteed veggies seems to be the main reason. Although technology has not changed that much in several decades, sensibilities regarding how certain foods should be prepared have shifted greatly. The days of limp, tasteless, boiled vegetables are gone!
This simple recipe is one Brion and I enjoy often.
Pork tenderloin can be stuffed with anything, imagination is the limit. What’s not to like — easy to prepare, boneless and fork tender. The pairing of pork with cornbread seems perfect, add caramelized onions and you got it!
Cornbread is one of those nostalgic foods for me. It always brings me back to my mother’s kitchen. I remember very clearly that wonderful smell of fresh cornbread coming out of the oven and that small Pyrex, rectangle baking pan she always baked it in. Those special memories came to mind today as I was trying to come up with a supper ‘idea’.
I love stuffing or dressing, whatever you prefer to call it. Of course, my ultimate favorite is the one I grew up with. On the other hand when you just need a very small amount, I see nothing wrong with using a box of ‘Stovetop Stuffing’. Of course I can’t resist telling you just a bit of the history about the product itself —
In 1972, General Foods which is now known as Kraft Foods introduced ‘Stovetop Stuffing’. It was quick, convenient, tasty and therefore was an instant hit.
The secret lies in the crumb size. If the dried crumb is too small, adding water to it makes a soggy mass; too large, and the result is gravel. The nature of the cell structure and overall texture of the dried bread crumb used in this invention is of great importance if a stuffing which will hydrate in a matter of minutes to the proper texture and mouthfeel is to be prepared.
Ruth Siems, a home economist that spent more than three decades on the staff of General Foods was instrumental in arriving at the precise crumb dimensions — about the size of a pencil eraser.
That being said, here is my idea for this great little combination. We really enjoyed it!
Stuffed Pork Rolls with Cornbread & Caramelized Onions
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 cider vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Sprinkle with brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown color.
Prepare as directed on package.
Slice tenderloin into 4 pieces. Using a meat mallet, pound into thin slices. Divide caramelized onions between them and spread over meat. Top with a layer of prepared cornmeal stuffing. Roll tightly encasing the filling inside & tie with kitchen twine. Roll pork rolls in the 1/4 cup flour that has been seasoned with salt & pepper to coat lightly.
In a large skillet, heat butter & oil; brown pork rolls well on each side. Remove rolls to a platter,
Red Wine Gravy
Stir 'brown bits' remaining from frying rolls, with garlic, thyme & red wine. Simmer about 5 minutes. In a small dish, combine cornstarch with chicken broth; add to wine mixture, season to taste. Return pork rolls to the pan. Cover, simmer gently for another 8-10 minutes.
Place pork rolls on serving platter & stir fresh parsley into gravy. Spoon gravy over pork rolls & serve immediately.
Rhubarb was originally cultivated for its medicinal properties and was not used in European cooking until the late 18th century. The history of rhubarb is very complicated but simply put there are only two broad categories, medicinal and culinary.
Thought of by many as an old fashioned ‘vegetable’, it never has really fallen out of favor. In Germany, rhubarb season is from April until June. There are countless recipes using rhubarb as the German people are very passionate about eating produce they have grown themselves.
I have an inherited love of rhubarb — the way it tastes, its huge beautiful foliage, its hardiness, productiveness …….
RHUBARB SOUR CREAM PIE (German Rhabarber Sauerrahn Kuchen) has been in my pie ‘go to’ file forever. The combination of these two ingredients works magic. Just for something different, I decided to use the same recipe but make it into tarts today.
In a small bowl, combine oatmeal, brown sugar, margarine, flour & citrus zest. Cut in margarine until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon & nutmeg; beat in sour cream & egg. Gently fold in rhubarb. Pour into pastry shell. Sprinkle topping mixture over the filling.
Bake at 400 F. for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F. & bake for 35-40 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.
In order to obtain nice slices, refrigerate pie until cold then slice & heat a bit in the microwave if preferred.
Father’s Day, that special day set aside to honor our fathers and the father figures who have influenced our lives. A father’s love is such a special gift beyond compare. You only know the meaning when he is no longer there.
My father passed away in 2005 and Brion’s in 2011. The passage of time will never dim those precious memories we have of them. They followed very different paths in their life’s journey; my father was a farmer and Brion’s an army soldier. Both of them gave so much of themselves to their life’s work as well as to their families.
There are not enough words to describe how important my father was to me and the powerful influence he continues to be in my life even though he’s gone.
As a tribute to our dad’s on Father’s day, I am featuring a CHEESE CRUSTED APPLE PIE. Both of them loved apple pie so it seems like a good choice for the blog recipe.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt & cheese. Cut in half the shortening to resemble coarse meal; then remaining shortening until it resembles small peas. Add water, a little at a time, mixing lightly with a fork. Shape dough into a firm ball; chill for 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 F. On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry out to fit a 9-inch flan pan; trim edges. Cover pastry with a piece of parchment paper; cover with dried beans & bake for 7 minutes. Carefully remove beans & bake another 7 minutes. Remove from oven & cool.
Chop apples coarsely, place in a saucepan with lemon juice; cover & cook about 10 minutes or until just tender. Stir in flour, sugar & cinnamon; cool to room temperature.
In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour & pecans. Rub in butter until mixture is coarse & crumbly.
Place filling into pastry shell, sprinkle with topping. Bake at 400 F. for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 375 F. & bake further for 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Decorate with whipped cream, extra chopped pecans & powdered sugar, if desired.
Due to the fact that ovens sometimes vary in temperature, you may need to adjust the baking temperature a little higher or lower than recipe states.
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.
If you grew up in the 60’s, you probably remember ‘brownie fudge pudding’. Those wonderful pudding cakes every homemaker was making. The ultimate time saver because it could be mixed and baked all in the same dish.
Pudding cakes offer two treats in one. While baking, the cake portion rises to the top and a creamy pudding-like sauce forms on the bottom. They can also come in a variety of flavors and can even be made with fresh fruit. Adding fruit, such as blueberries or cherries, makes a pudding cake even better than a regular fruit cobbler in that it develops a thicker, richer sauce around the fruit than most cobblers would.
This dessert is relatively low in fat and it really isn’t necessary to add an extra topping, although ice cream or whipped cream are good. At the time my mother was making this dessert, it was only the chocolate version. It’s definitely one of those classic recipes that has never been forgotten.
Preheat oven to 350 F. In an 8 x 8 inch baking dish, combine first 5 ingredients. Add milk, margarine & walnuts; combine. Spread batter evenly in dish (batter will be stiff). Sprinkle brown sugar & 1/2 cup cocoa over batter.
Pour boiling water over all & bake for about 40 minutes or until batter rises to the top & is baked through.
Today, November 24, our neighbors to the south are celebrating Thanksgiving. Over the years, Brion and I have been in the USA numerous times on this occasion and enjoyed the food and holiday atmosphere very much. Today’s blog post acknowledges the American holiday with some special meal choices.
At the heart of a memorable dinner is the main entree, so why not make it just a bit more special by serving it ‘En Croute’. In the culinary arts, the term en croute(pronounced ‘on Kroot’) indicates a food that has been wrapped in a pastry dough and then baked in the oven. Traditionally the type of pastry used was a simple dough called pate pastry. Today, puff pastry is frequently used for most en croute recipes.
The key to preparing items en croute is that however long it takes to cook the pastry until it is golden brown is how long the item will spend in the oven. Some of the best choices are beef tenderloin, salmon or a brie cheese, due to the fact they require less time to cook.
In the 1950’s and 60’s, Beef Wellington or as the French called it, ‘Boeuf en Croute’, became very popular. It was an elegant meal, using a beef tenderloin covered with liver pate and wrapped in pastry. My first introduction to this meal was a much more low key version. It was simply achieved by making a nicely seasoned meatloaf, wrapping it a basic pastry and baking it. My mother would serve it with a tomato soup sauce. Definitely good but not quite the elegance of the true en croute entrees.
Two favorites of mine are variations of the classic ‘boeuf en croute’. One uses boneless turkey breast topped with a cranberry, hazelnut stuffing and baked in a tender puff pastry then served with a citrus-fig cranberry sauce. The other one is a seafood en croute using fresh salmon. The salmon is topped with shrimp or scallops in a seasoned egg/cream mixture and baked in puff pastry. A dill cream sauce is served to compliment this entree. Having a few alternatives to change out your traditional holiday meals always keeps it interesting.
Saute garlic & onions in olive oil & butter 1-2 minutes. Add bread crumbs; toss until they begin to brown slightly. Add hazelnuts, thyme, cranberries, salt & pepper. Add only enough turkey stock to make stuffing hold together.
Place the first pastry sheet on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place turkey breast along the center line of the pastry sheet. Brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash. Place stuffing on top of the turkey. Place the second pastry sheet over the turkey & stuffing. Trim the edges to form an oval shape. Save the trimmings in the fridge.
Bring the edges of the dough together & seal by pinching them. Roll the dough from the bottom layer over the top layer & press down all the way around the perimeter of the pastry. This creates a tighter seal. Brush egg wash over the entire surface of the pastry. Decorate, cutting leaf shapes from trimmed pastry & score leaf veining into them with the tip of a sharp knife. Cut four 1/2" slots in the top of the pastry to let steam escape. Chill for 20 minutes or longer in the fridge before baking. This helps the pastry to puff.
Bake at 400 F. for about 15-20 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 F. Use a meat thermometer to make sure that the center has reached at least 170 F. to be sure the turkey is completely cooked, about 35-45 minutes longer. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into servings.
Citrus - Fig Cranberry Sauce
Simmer all ingredients together slowly for 30-40 minutes or until the cranberries are fully cooked & the mixture reduces & thickens to a jam-like consistency. Stir the sauce often as it simmers. Remove the star anise (if using). Store in a plastic container in refrigerator until serving time.
Seafood en Croute
On a lightly floured surface, roll each pastry sheet into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle. Cut each sheet into four 6 x 5-inch rectangles. Place a salmon fillet in center of four rectangles.
In a small bowl, combine the shrimp (or scallops), cream, onions, parsley, dill, garlic, pesto, salt & pepper. In another small bowl, beat egg white on medium speed until soft peaks form; fold into shrimp mixture. Spoon about 1/4 cup over each fillet.
Top each with a pastry rectangle & crimp to seal. With a sharp knife, cut several slits in the top to let steam escape. Place on a 15 x 10 x 1-inch parchment lined baking sheet; brush with egg wash. Bake at 400 F. for 20-25 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160 F.
Dill Cream Sauce
Mix all ingredients & refrigerate until serving time.
The original recipe source for the Cranberry Hazelnut Turkey & Citrus Fig Cranberry Sauce can be found at rockrecipes.com
The cranberry sauce uses star anise or extract but feel free to omit it if you do not care for that flavor.
The Seafood en Croute recipe is one that is featured on tasteofhome.com which has always been my favorite 'go-to' recipe company forever.
Halloween means many things to different people. When I think back to Halloween when I was growing up on the farm, it was fairly ‘low key’. My mother did all that she could to make it fun for us — carving jack-o-lanterns, bobbing for apples and making a special treat of popcorn balls. My dad had his own point of view of such a holiday that being, ‘if he wanted his kids to have candy he would buy it for them’, as opposed to us asking the neighbors for it. Nevertheless, the world didn’t end because of it. There was always the school parties in grade school to ‘dress up’ for that were fun. Looking back at some photos of my sister Loretta and I in our costumes brings back some treasured memories.
Something Loretta and I always had in common was being adventurous. An almost forgotten memory came back to me as I was thinking about my Halloween blog. Whenever we got the chance to explore something mysterious that was right up our alley. One such occasion arose one day when we decided to investigate an old empty farm house. This house was 2 or 3 miles from our farm. The land itself was being farmed by a neighboring farmer and was posted ‘No Trespassing’. Nevertheless, this intriguing old ‘haunted house’ was like a magnet for us. If I remember correctly, it took a little bit of doing to get in but we managed it. For being such an old house, I recall the inside being quite unique in its design. It had one of those staircases that you see in the movies. We went upstairs and snooped around. Of course, to add to the intrigue, one room was locked. When we listened we could hear a distinct buzzing or humming sound. After figuring out how to get in, to our surprise wasps had made it their home. The floor was covered with a huge pile of dead wasps but there was still lots of live ones buzzing around. At this point we decided we best call it a day and leave. Just when we were about to go the farmer had come and was working in the fields close to the buildings. Not to be caught ‘trespassing’ we hid by a granary, then high-tailed it out of there as soon as the coast was clear. Although our haunted house adventure didn’t happen on Halloween it left lasting memories.
It seems every year we have less and less kids ‘halloweening’ in our neighborhood. Either the weather is too cold or it’s just a safer idea to go to the many malls in the city. We have been very lucky to have great neighbors on either side of us. One couple has two little boys and the other, two little girls. I thought I’d like to do something special for the four of them this Halloween. I seem to always have many recipe ideas stored in my head. They are constantly under mental construction and revision every time my feet touch the kitchen floor. Putting a new spin on an old idea never stops with me. In 1969 / 1975, the Better Homes and Gardens company published a couple of cookbooks that had an oatmeal brownie in them called Tri-Level Brownies. So here we are, a vintage brownie with some spookiness for Halloween! Hope they will like them.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Combine all bottom layer ingredients until crumbly. Pat into prepared pan; bake for 10 minutes.
In a double boiler, melt chocolate, remove from heat & add margarine. Stir until combined & slightly cool; add beaten egg & sugar. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder & salt. Add to chocolate mixture alternately with combined milk & vanilla. Fold in walnuts. Carefully spread batter over baked bottom layer. Bake for 20- 25 minutes; cool & slice into 16 squares.
In a double boiler, melt chocolate & margarine; stirring constantly. Remove from heat, cool slightly; stir in powdered sugar & vanilla. Blend in hot water & beat until smooth consistency. Spoon icing into a piping bag that has been fitted with a star tip. Top each square with a rosette of icing & decorate with white chocolate Halloween designs.
White Chocolate Designs
In a small double boiler, melt chocolate wafers. Pour melted chocolate into a piping bag fitted with a fine tip. Place a large piece of waxed paper on a flat surface with a printout of Halloween shapes underneath. Free Halloween templates can be found at blog.candiquik.com Trace shapes & fill in after. Allow to set completely, then peel shapes from waxed paper & press lightly on top of icing rosette.
The second Monday of October has been the day Canada has celebrated Thanksgiving since 1957. We have now entered into our Autumn season with all it’s breathtaking fabulous fall foliage. Part of Canada’s appeal is it’s four seasons that offer changing landscapes and temperatures.
I, for one, have always loved the changing seasons. That’s not to say that I like freezing cold and slippery roads but that I have come to understand the important role each one plays in the ‘big picture’. When Brion and I initially landscaped our property, careful consideration was given to what plants were planted. Over the years it has developed into a beautiful tapestry of color through our growing season.
Growing up on the farm, Fall was an especially busy time with the grain crops being harvested, garden vegetables being canned, frozen or just stored for use over the coming months. So much needed to be done before winter would set in. As a teenager it all just seemed like a lot of work. Even as hard as my parents worked at making a living from farming, I think they felt a real sense of satisfaction in what they were able to achieve. I realize now that even without being aware of it the visual beauty of the farmland at harvest was imprinted on me forever.
Thanksgiving Day in Canada is linked to the European tradition of harvest festivals. A common image seen at this time of year is a cornucopia, or horn, filled with seasonal fruit and vegetables. The cornucopia, which means ‘Horn of Plenty’ in Latin, was a symbol of bounty and plenty in ancient Greece. Turkeys, pumpkins, ears of corn and large displays of food are also used to symbolize Thanksgiving Day.
Over the years, Brion and I have chose to have a variety of different meats for our Thanksgiving meal. Turkey is always the tradition for our Christmas dinner and since the two holidays come fairly close together, why not! All that being said though, we decided this year to roast just the turkey breast with stuffing. I also incorporated some of that wonderful Butternut squash with cranberries into the meal as well. For dessert we are having some pumpkin chiffon tarts. As a ‘kid’, I remember having a great dislike for the regular pumpkin pie — you know the kind –‘solid’. Then one year my mother made pumpkin ‘CHIFFON‘ pie. Well, now that was glorious and I have loved it ever since.
Today in my recipes I have only included the Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Pumpkin Chiffon Tarts.I thought I’d get into the turkey and stuffing recipes later in the season.
Happy Thanksgiving Day!
Butternut Squash with Cranberries / Pumpkin Chiffon Tarts
Preheat oven to 375 F. Split squash in half; place hollow side down on a lightly buttered baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes or until completely soft to the touch.
In a small skillet, saute celery & onion in margarine until tender. Add the apple, salt, lemon juice & pepper. Cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat until apple is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in cranberries, sugar & water. Cook & stir until berries pop & liquid is syrupy. If you prefer, you could process this mixture for a couple of seconds in a food processor.
Remove seeds & membrane from cooked squash; mash well. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, balsamic vinegar & maple syrup. Place some squash in individual custard dishes. Make a hollow in the center for the cranberry 'filling'. Add cranberries & serve.
Pumpkin Chiffon Tart Filling
In a medium saucepan, combine first 7 ingredients; mix well. Add pumpkin, evaporated milk, regular milk & egg yolks; combine well. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens to a heavy custard. Boil 2 minutes, add 1 Tbsp margarine. Place wax paper over custard to prevent a 'skin' from forming. Let custard become cold (it can be refrigerated overnite at this point, finishing it the following day) then stir in 1/4 cup orange juice.
Whip envelope of dessert topping with 1/2 cup milk & 1/2 tsp vanilla until stiff peaks form. It should yield about 2 cups. Put aside the amount you need to garnish tarts with. Fold remaining whipped dessert topping into custard. Spoon custard into a large pastry bag with a large 'star' tip. Fill baked mini tart shells. Decorate with a small dollop of dessert topping.
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt. Cut in white & yellow Crisco shortening. In a 1 cup measuring cup place egg & vinegar; beat well. Add enough COLD water to fill cup. Pour all at once over flour mixture, mixing until pastry pulls away from sides of bowl. This should only take a couple of minutes, making sure not to over mix pastry. Roll out on floured surface. Using the bottom side of tart pans, cut pastry circles & place over each 'cup'. Bake at 350 F. until golden. Cool on wire rack before filling with pumpkin custard. If your using purchased shells follow baking instructions & cool before filling as well.
This pastry & pumpkin chiffon custard recipe was one I started using many years ago while working in the food industry. They were some of my favorites because they were pretty much 'fail proof'. If you want to make a double batch of each it will give you 4 - 9-inch pies. You can make them up to the point of decorating. Freeze until needed then just bring them out & thaw, decorate and you got a nice little homemade dessert just like that!
A few years back, Brion and I discovered how good Butternut squash was. I’m not sure why it took so long but since then I’ve tried to make up for lost time. Being a winter squash I had served it with a cranberry stuffing as a side dish that Christmas. This sweet, nutty tasting squash has since then worked it’s way into numerous meals at our house.
The ebook I have on AMAZON right now, includes about 50 recipes in it. One of the recipes that we have enjoyed a lot is this Ham & Butternut Squash Pizza. For anyone who has a problem with yeast, the crust uses baking powder instead. This recipe puts a whole new spin on a traditional ham & pineapple pizza.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Split butternut squash down the middle & scoop out seeds & fibrous strings. Place the cut side down on baking sheet; roast until it becomes very soft & mushy. Remove from oven; allow to cool then scoop out flesh & place in a food processor. Blend until smooth with milk (or broth), salt & pepper. Adjust if necessary so you end up with a nice 'sauce' for the pizza. Set aside.
Heat oil in skillet until hot. 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.
In a medium bowl, measure dry ingredients for pizza crust. Make a well in center & add milk. Stir until dough leaves the sides of the bowl. With buttered hands, gently knead 5-6 times then press into one 14-inch pizza pan.
Spread with 'sauce'; sprinkle with mozzarella ( or nacho) cheese, onion, ham & pineapple. Top with remaining Gorgonzola (or Gouda) cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes until crust is browned.