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.
With Valentines Day almost here, I decided to do a prelude post with a few dessert ideas.
In the food industry, this day was always fun to prepare food for. Definitely a more intimate occasion, all revolving around chocolate, ‘hearts’ and roses. Strangely enough, every time Brion and I have tried to go out for supper on Valentines we usually come home wondering why we did that. The restaurants were packed, the wait is long, the music is loud, etc, etc. Nonetheless, I’m always happiest if I can prepare a ‘special meal’ for us to enjoy at home. That being said, my choice of dessert for this Valentines Day areStrawberry Yogurt Parfaits with Chocolate Cheesecake Squares.
The fresh strawberry compote has a nice lemony tang that pairs well with the creamy Greek vanilla yogurt. Brion isn’t much for cheesecake but just loves these chocolate cheesecake squares.
Rinse, hull & slice strawberries. Zest & juice lemon. In a small saucepan, whisk together sugar, water, lemon juice, zest & cornstarch. Add strawberries, mixing gently while bringing to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cool.
In parfait glasses, spoon layers of strawberry compote & Greek yogurt. Garnish with a strawberry leaf if desired. Refrigerate until serving time.
Chocolate Cheesecake Squares
Line a 9-inch square baking pan with 2 sheets of parchment paper so cheesecake can easily be lifted out later. In a small bowl, combine the graham crumbs, pecans & butter. Press into prepared pan; set aside. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar & sour cream until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in vanilla. Pour over crust.
Bake at 325 F. for 35-40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate until chilled. Freeze overnight.
Melt chocolate & shortening; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Using parchment paper, lift cheesecake out of pan. Gently peel off paper; cut into 49 squares. Remove a few pieces at a time for dipping; keep remaining squares refrigerated until ready to dip.
Using a toothpick, completely dip squares, one at a time, in melted chocolate; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets; spoon about 1 tsp chocolate over each, reheating chocolate if needed to finish dipping. Let stand for 20 minutes or until set. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Yield 49 squares.
Today, December 21st, a very special member of our family is having his 13th birthday. He is ‘our’ little mini German Dachshund with the Mexican name. My sister Loretta, adopted Amigo when he was only two months old, so needless to say, they are inseparable.
Amigo is everything you could want in a pet. I’m pretty sure he feels his mission in life is to play ball. He has never been one to like being left alone or to play by himself. Being so incredibly smart, it only takes a few minutes for him to understand what you are doing, playing or even thinking!
On occasion, Loretta has put him in our care. He accepts Brion and I like going to stay with your aunt and uncle and very quickly adapts to our routine. Curious, charming, brave, stubborn and comical are all words generally used to describe Dachshunds and certainly they describe our ‘Miggy’. He has probably done more airplane travel than a lot of people. Although travelling in any mode is not his thing, if Loretta is going somewhere, no question, he’s going to.
Since this is supposed to be a ‘story and food‘ blog I guess I should get to the food part. Since Amigo loves chicken I decided to post STUFFED BREAST of CHICKEN with APPLES, WALNUTS & BRIE today. Now that’s not to say he’ll be eating any but it kind of fits the occasion.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO AMIGO!
Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Apples, Walnuts & Brie
In a large skillet, saute onion in 1 Tbsp. butter about 1 minute. Add apple; cook 2-3 minutes longer or until apple is golden brown. Remove from heat; add walnuts, rosemary & a dash of salt & pepper.
Flatten chicken breasts to 1/4" thickness; sprinkle with garlic powder & remaining salt & pepper. Place apple mixture & Brie on half of each chicken breast; fold over. Secure with toothpicks if necessary.
In same skillet, brown chicken in remaining butter. Stir in cider vinegar & 1/4 cup apple juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover & cook for 15-20 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 170 F.
Remove chicken to serving platter; discard toothpicks. Combine cornstarch & remaining apple juice; add to the pan. Bring to a boil; cook & stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve with chicken.
This recipe is another one of my favorites I acquired from the tasteofhome.com site.