The humble meatball is one of the most versatile foods. They seem to exist in just about every culture and can be used in any number of ways, not only with pasta and rice but as a tasty little hors d’ oeuvres.
I find apricots to be a good compliment to meatball hors d’ oeuvres. Using Mediterranean (also known as Turkish) apricots is a good choice as their flesh is thicker and plumper as well as having great flavor.
Many people prefer to fry meatballs but it seems to me that usually ends up with a charred outside and they are still raw inside. Baking them in the oven will result in a much more even cooking. Personal choice I guess.
This recipe for APRICOT-SPICE MEATBALLSis one I’ve used many times over the years. They work well at Christmas events when hot hors d’ oeuvres are in demand. Make the meatballs up, bake and freeze ahead of time — thaw when needed! At serving time, make the spicy apricot nectar sauce and your ready to go.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan with foil; lightly grease. Set aside.
In a bowl, combine bread crumbs & milk. Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in egg white, onion, apricots, salt, garlic & chili powder. Add ground pork & turkey; mix well. Shape meat mixture into 30 meatballs. Place on prepared baking pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked. Remove meatballs from pan to paper towels.
Spiced Apricot Sauce
In a small saucepan, combine sauce ingredients. Cook & stir over medium heat until thickened & bubbly.
Place meatballs in a slow cooker. Add sauce, stirring gently to coat. Turn heat setting to low. This should keep meatballs warm, while being used by guests for about 2 hours.
If you find your sauce gets to thick or you prefer it thinner to begin with, just use a little more apricot nectar.
This meat combination makes a real flavorful meatball.
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.
I’m sure you use or are probably aware of the technique of cooking in parchment paper. The French call it ‘en papillote, the Italians ‘al cartoccio but we Canadians just call it cooking in parchment. This simple, yet elegant culinary tradition infuses the meats, vegetables and herbs together to create unbelievable flavor. Not only does this enclosed packet keep delicate foods like fish moist and intact but cuts down on your clean-up time. It is a super easy way to cook for one and not have lots of leftovers.
Since fall is upon us and we are back to more of those oven meals, HONEYTERIYAKI SALMON is the perfect, no-fuss Sunday meal.
In a small saucepan, whisk together soy sauce, 3 Tbsp water, honey, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger & sesame oil. Bring to a boil over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch with remaining 2 Tbsp water until well combined. Pour into sauce mixture; boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat & allow to cool slightly about 5-10 minutes.
Salmon & Veggies
Toss broccoli & carrots in olive oil; season with salt & pepper. Cut 4 sheets of 14-inch lengths of parchment paper. Divide broccoli & carrot mixture among sheets layering in center in an even layer. Set aside 1/4 cup of the sauce mixture then brush bottom sides of salmon fillets with a scant tablespoon of the sauce then rotate the salmon over veggies.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Brush tops of salmon with another scant tablespoon of the sauce mixture. Pull sides of parchment inward & seal then roll edges up, leaving a little room for heat to circulate, not wrapping to tightly. Place packets on a baking sheet. Bake until salmon is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Serve with white or brown rice if desired & remaining sauce. Sprinkle with green onions.
I never seem to get enough of making use of my rhubarb plants, since this is probably my 4th ‘rhubarb’ blog so far this year. I’m sure any of you that are following my blog stories are tired of hearing about rhubarb but ……… At the risk of boring you with this subject, I still want to share a few other ideas for this seasonal plant.
Spiced Rhubarb Relish : Place 8 cups chopped rhubarb, 2 cups chopped onion, 1 tsp allspice, 1/2 cup vinegar, 2 cups sugar & 1 1/2 tsp salt in a large pot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer & cook uncovered on low heat, stirring frequently. Cook until onion becomes tender & mixture thickens. Pour into hot sterilized jars & seal. Nice to serve with red meats. Stewed Rhubarb: In a medium saucepan, heat 4 cups sliced rhubarb with 2/3 cup sugar over medium heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Stir often. Rhubarb Smoothie: To cold stewed rhubarb add your choice of frozen berries, low-fat yogurt, orange juice & a banana. Mix in a blender & add honey to taste. Rhubarb Muffins/Scones: Add 1 cup of finely chopped rhubarb & zest of 1 orange to your favorite batter. Rhubarb Applesauce: Heat 3 cups of peeled, sliced apples, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 cup chopped rhubarb over medium heat until apples are soft, about 15 minutes. Stir often. To enhance flavor, add raisins, cinnamon or ginger to taste. Rhubarb Cherry Pie: Stir 1 cup coarsely chopped rhubarb with 1 – 540 ml can of cherry pie filling. Bake the same as you would for a cherry pie. Savory Rhubarb Pork Sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups sliced rhubarb with 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 Tbsp cider vinegar & 3/4 tsp fresh, grated ginger. Simmer until soft.
Hopefully you will find one of these ideas useful. Enjoy!
In a food processor, place flour, cornmeal, salt & sugar; pulse several times to combine. Add butter; process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. While machine is running, pour the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, until the dough just holds together (do not process for more than 30 seconds). Turn the dough out on work surface. Place dough on plastic wrap. Flatten to form disk; wrap & refrigerate at least 1 hour.
In a medium saucepan, combine rhubarb, both sugars, cornstarch & salt. Cook stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb releases its liquid & begins to breakdown, creating a thick, chunky sauce, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat & stir in vanilla. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
On a lightly floured work surface, Divide dough into 16 pieces. Line 8 mini flan pans with bottom crusts; rolling the remaining 8 balls into circles for top crusts. Pace circles on parchment paper. Refrigerate bottom & top crusts again for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Divide rhubarb filling among the 8 tarts. Cut a design of choice in the top crusts & fit to mini tarts. Brush with egg wash & sprinkle with sugar. Bake until crust is golden & filling bubbles a little bit, about 20-25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with whipped cream or ice cream.
These little minis would also be nice made as fruit galettes for something a bit rustic looking.
This week we celebrate my husband, Brion’s birthday. Family birthdays forever bring me back to my childhood days. My mother always made the birthday person’s favorite meal on their day along with a cake. Although she excelled at cooking in general, her creative talent was put to good use when she decorated our birthday cakes.
Brion has always loved pineapple pie. I’m not sure where it came from but could possibly have been from time spent in the Cook Islands years ago.
In 1950, the Pillsbury company (General Mills) came out with a pie crust mix. Their promotion read that ‘the quality was assured by the finest ingredients, scientifically blended and perfectly balanced’. All you had to do was add water and mix. To further promote their product they included a recipe for Pineapple Pie supposedly having been written by ‘Ann Pillsbury’. This was a fictitious home economist created for marketing purposes. She essentially represented the members of the Pillsbury Home Service department. Unlike Betty Crocker, Ann Pillsbury did not catch on and was replaced in 1965 by the Pillsbury Doughboy who we still see in their current advertising.
My blog recipe is a bit different from the vintage one but is one of Brion’s favorites. Over the last six months, Brion’s love and support have helped me recover from shoulder replacement surgery for which I’m very grateful.
In a saucepan, combine cornstarch & sugar. Gradually stir in water until mixture is smooth. Add lemon zest & undrained crushed pineapple. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture starts to boils; reduce heat slightly & continue to boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat; quickly stir in butter & beaten egg yolks, mixing well. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
In a food processor or with a rolling pin, crush biscuits finely & evenly. Melt butter; add to crumbs, mixing well with fork. Press evenly over bottom & up sides of a 9-inch flan or pie pan. Refrigerate crust while filling is cooling.
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a small bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form, gradually add sugar. Beat until sugar is dissolved. Spread filling evenly into crust; top with meringue making sure to spread it to the edge of crust to form a seal.
Bake for about 5-10 minutes or until surface of meringue is evenly golden brown.
On February 12, 2016, I posted my first blog on this site. It was called ‘Bake Day Surprises’. It featured a simple little recipe from one of my mother’s many versions of dumplings. A sweet, caramel-like, bread dough dumpling that brings back another taste of a memory never to be forgotten.
Dumplings are made from a dough that can consist of ingredients such as flour, potatoes and bread crumbs. Most often formed into a ball shape, then boiled or steamed.
In German cuisine, you will find a dumpling for every occasion and course in a meal. They can be served as a main meal, side dish, part of a soup or as a sweet dessert. Other varieties are filled with fruit or meats.
The fact that my mother baked bread every week when I was a kid, meant that dumplings were the ‘norm’.
With fresh blueberries available at this time of year, why not use some in a few BLUEBERRY DUMPLINGS!
Place blueberries into a skillet. Add water, sugar & cornstarch. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until blueberry juices start to flow & bubble. Turn heat to low.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, zest, nutmeg & salt. Add milk & stir until flour mixture is just moistened. With a spoon, drop 8 'dumplings' onto simmering blueberry mixture. Cover pan & allow to cook 14-15 minutes or until dumplings puff up nicely.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In a bowl, toss together the fruit, all but 1 Tbsp of the sugar, salt, lemon juice & zest & cornstarch.
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.
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.
Strawberries — loved for their sweet taste and heart shape, have symbolized purity, perfection, love and passion throughout the ages. It is very common for us to give little thought to where our food comes from and the back breaking labor that it took to get it to our various parts of the country.
Travel can always be filed under the category ‘learning experience’. I find it so important to set oneself outside our ‘bubble’ to fully understand and not become complacent about the many things we take for granted.
Over the years, Brion and I have spent many holiday hours travelling along the Big Sur coast of California, USA. While there we would use Monterrey as our ‘home base’ and make little day trips to the surrounding area. Just inland from Monterrey is the agricultural jewel known as the Salinas Valley. This is one of the major valleys and most productive agricultural regions of California. Having a unique coastal environment with its western ocean exposure (less than 10 miles away) provides moderate temperatures year round. Warm sunny days and cool foggy nights are the perfect combination for growing strawberries.
I find myself going back to those years I was raised on the farm when we drive along looking at the fields of produce. I have often felt much appreciation and compassion for the farm workers standing, bent over in the heat of the blazing sun for hours tending these crops.
I have many memories of my own parents working long, hard hours to provide for us on our family farm. I am grateful to have learned to appreciate the efforts of others that make life good.
This STRAWBERRY ROSE with DARK CHOCOLATE PUDDING celebrates those wonderful Driscoll strawberries as well as satisfying the chocolate lover.
Melt chocolate. Whisk together 1/2 cup milk & cornstarch. In a small saucepan, bring remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, sugar, cocoa & salt just to a simmer over medium heat. Add cornstarch/milk mixture; bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat & stir in melted chocolate & vanilla. Spoon into serving glasses. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming. Chill.
Before serving, hull 16 strawberries by removing the green stem. Take 4 strawberries & cut the top of the strawberries off. These will be used as the center for the roses. For remaining strawberries, slice into 1/8" slices to use for the rose petals.
Begin arranging the sliced strawberries around the pudding making sure the ends of the slices are facing out & extend slightly beyond the rim of the glass. After the first circle of strawberries is placed, begin making a second circle of strawberries but position slightly more forward toward the center of the glass. Continue with a third layer. Once finished, add the cut strawberry to the center & garnish with mint leaves.
Lemon chicken is the name of several dishes found in cuisines around the world which include chicken and lemon.
In Canada, we usually either use breading or batter to coat the chicken before cooking it and serving it in a sweet lemon flavored sauce. A completely unrelated dish from Italy, also called lemon chicken is where a whole chicken is roasted with white wine, fresh lemon juice, fresh thyme and vegetables. In France, lemon chicken generally includes Dijon mustard in the sauce and is accompanied by roasted potatoes. I would presume the German version would be a chicken schnitzel with fresh lemon.
Having an inherited love of ‘sweet things’, lemon chicken has always appealed to me. I prefer to make a tempura batter to dip the chicken strips in and then fry them on a griddle. I’m not big on anything deep fried so this is as close as it gets for me. Some years ago I came across a recipe on a kraftfoods.com site for a very unique and easy ‘lemon sauce’ for chicken. It might not appeal to everyone but we enjoy it every so often.
Prepare vegetables & saute in 1/2 cup chicken broth until tender-crisp. Drain broth & reserve for later.
In a bowl, whisk together all batter ingredients. Slice chicken breast into thin strips & place in batter; mix well. Heat griddle to 325 F. Add a small amount of oil; remove chicken strips from batter & place on griddle. Fry on each side until cooked & golden. Lay on paper towel to blot off oil.
In a small saucepan, combine jelly powder & cornstarch. Add 1 cup chicken broth, dressing, garlic & ginger; stir until jelly powder is dissolved. Simmer over medium heat until sauce is thickened, stirring frequently. Add reserved broth from vegetables.
Combine vegetables chicken & lemon sauce. Serve over hot cooked rice, if desired.