Sweet Potato Boats

HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY!

When I think about Autumn here in Canada, it could be likened to a      van Gogh painting. The landscape transforms into a beautiful tapestry of red, gold and yellow. As the days grow shorter and the mornings darker, your tastes turn from salads and cool drinks to your favorite comfort foods. Smells that bring you back to your childhood……. evoking so much from one moment in time is the sheer essence of Autumn.

The truth being is that fall just gives us a different perspective. The word Thanksgiving  itself makes one pause and ask, what am I thankful for this year? We start to reflect on the year we have had with it’s inevitable highs and lows.

Fall also represents a time of change. As nature bursts with it’s fabulous fall foliage, it gives us a little bit of extra time to make the most of what we have left in this year before the grand finale.

For the last 60 years, Canada has celebrated Thanksgiving Day on the second Monday in October. It’s one of those holidays that tend to bring families together, both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately though, in this highly technological age, it seems as if we have become more connected digitally than emotionally. Thinking about the food aspect of this holiday, sweet potatoes have become synonymous with Thanksgiving (and Fall).

Native to Central and South America, sweet potatoes are some of the oldest vegetables on the planet. Distantly related to commonplace, starchy Russets and Yukon Golds. Western markets have tagged some sweet potatoes with the deceptive name ‘yams’ to differentiate the southern from the northern crops. True yams are rough-skinned tubers, related to lilies.

Enter the ‘Candied Yam Casserole’. It seems to be the most divisive of the side dishes served, a real ‘love-it-or-hate-it’ kind of thing. Definitely not a venerated Thanksgiving tradition but more of a marketing promotion that caught on. It was 1917 when the first instance of sweet potatoes baked with a coat of marshmallows appeared in a recipe booklet commissioned by Angelus Marshmallow Company. The recipes in the booklet showed you how to incorporate marshmallows into everyday dishes so that their product wouldn’t fail and ‘viola’, the classic and capitalistic pairing was born.

I do remember my mother making this casserole for our special Thanksgiving dinner. Of course, being a kid that loved sweets, it tasted real good. At this point in time, I would rather just have them with salt and pepper for most part.

My blog recipe is one I came across in a Pillsbury booklet from 2010          ( pillsbury.com ). We have enjoyed it several times as it fits in perfect with a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Sweet Potato Boats
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Sweet Potato Boats
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray. Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork & rub with oil. Place on baking sheet & bake 45-55 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, fry bacon until crisp; remove & drain on paper towel. In bacon drippings, cook onion & celery about 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Add broth & 2 Tbsp butter; heat to boiling. Stir in stuffing mix, cranberries & 2 Tbsp of the walnuts. Remove from heat, cover & set aside.
  3. Remove sweet potatoes from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 375 F. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out potato flesh, leaving a 1/3-inch thick wall on inside of shell; set aside. Place potato flesh in a large bowl. Add 2 Tbsp syrup, remaining 2 Tbsp butter & the nutmeg; mash. Spoon about 1/2 cup of stuffing mixture into each potato shell; spoon mashed sweet potato mixture over stuffing, leaving some stuffing exposed around side of shell.
  4. Line a baking sheet with foil again & spray with cooking spray. Place potato boats on sheet. Bake 15 minutes or until hot. Sprinkle potatoes with crumbled bacon bits & remaining 2 Tbsp walnuts; drizzle with additional syrup.
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Dinner ‘En Croute’

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.

 

Turkey / Seafood 'en Croute'
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Alternative ideas for those special occasions.
Servings
4
Servings
4
Turkey / Seafood 'en Croute'
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Alternative ideas for those special occasions.
Servings
4
Servings
4
Instructions
Turkey en Croute
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  1. Mix all ingredients & refrigerate until serving time.
Recipe Notes
  • 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. 
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Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Chutney

As I mentioned before, pork tenderloin regularly pops up in my supper menus. Over time, I have prepared it in many different ways and hardly ever remember any that we didn’t care for.

Since my three rhubarb plants seem to still be producing those lovely stalks, why not use them! This blog recipe is easy, wonderful tasting and a great presentation all in one. Here’s my interpretation of Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Chutney. Enjoy!

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Chutney
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The spice rub 'marinating' adds so much to the overall flavor.
Servings
2-3
Servings
2-3
Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Chutney
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Print Recipe
The spice rub 'marinating' adds so much to the overall flavor.
Servings
2-3
Servings
2-3
Ingredients
Rhubarb Chutney
Servings:
Instructions
Pork Tenderloin
  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine spice rub ingredients. Butterfly pork tenderloin & flatten to uniform thickness. Place in plastic bag with spice rub & shake to distribute seasoning well. Close bag & allow to stand in refrigerator for several hours.
Rhubarb Chutney
  1. In a heavy saucepan, combine first 9 chutney ingredients. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add rhubarb, onion & dried cranberries; increase heat to medium & cook until rhubarb is tender & mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Can be made ahead of time & refrigerated until needed.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a piece of aluminum foil & place on a wire rack on a baking pan. Cut plastic bag open; lay tenderloin flat with cut side up. Spread chutney over tenderloin & carefully roll (using plastic bag), starting with the long side as you would with a cake 'jelly roll'. Place on greased foil on pan.
  3. Lightly rub a small amount of olive oil or a 'fig balsamic dressing' over top of tenderloin. Bake for about 45 minutes or until tests done. DO NOT OVER BAKE! Remove from oven & allow stand for a few minutes before slicing.
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Barbecue Salads x Five

No barbecue is complete without adding a few salads. More than just greens topped with a dressing, there are many versions of coleslaw and pasta salads as well as vegetable and gelatin salads. Without a doubt, you can make them as simple or fancy as you like or have the time for.

Every family seems to develop its own salad favorites. For our family, it was my mother’s ‘German’ version of potato salad. This was not the ‘Hot German Potato Salad’ which you most often see in recipe books. Her’s was a very basic potato salad, not a lot of ingredients, but the dressing was what made it special to us. Like so many German recipes it had that sweet-sour taste.

Over the years, either in the commercial food industry or at company barbecues, etc. I have used and shared her recipe many times. It has never failed to draw great reviews but strangely enough I think my husband is the only person I’ve known who didn’t care for potato salad in any fashion.

There are endless ideas for barbecue salads. In today’s blog I thought it would be nice to post a medley of five different kinds. I think you will find they are reasonably quick and easy to prepare as well as good accompaniments to most any meat being barbecued.

        Potato Salad   –   Chick Pea Pasta Salad   –   Candied Nut & Gorgonzola Salad                          Barley, Corn & Pepper Salad – Fresh Spinach & Vegetable Salad 

Barbecue Salads x Five
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Servings
8-10 servings
Servings
8-10 servings
Barbecue Salads x Five
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
8-10 servings
Servings
8-10 servings
Ingredients
Potato Salad
Candied Nut & Gorgonzola Salad
Barley, Corn & Pepper Salad
Servings: servings
Instructions
Potato Salad
  1. Cook potatoes in salted water. Cool, peel & cube. Combine potatoes, eggs, & onion. Blend together dressing ingredients & pour over potato mixture; mix well. Cover & refrigerate for several hours. Just before serving time, add sliced radishes & more salt if necessary. Mix well.
Chick Pea Pasta Salad
  1. Cook pasta according to pkg. directions. Drain & rinse under cold running water until cold. Combine pasta with next 8 ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat evenly. Cover & refrigerate for several hours. Arrange greens on serving plate & top with chick pea mixture or mix greens into salad, your choice.
Candied Nut & Gorgonzola Salad
  1. In a skillet over medium heat, melt sugar stirring constantly. Add nuts, stir until nuts are coated. Remove nuts from skillet; spreading them out on a sheet of aluminium foil to cool. In a large bowl, combine greens, dried fruit & Gorgonzola cheese; refrigerate. At serving time, combine salad with dressing, toss gently; add candied nuts & toss again.
Barley, Corn & Pepper Salad
  1. Cook barley to desired tenderness. Drain; rinse with cold water. In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients; toss well. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine all dressing ingredients; shake well. Pour dressing over salad; toss to combine. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Fresh Spinach & Vegetable Salad
  1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. At serving time, drizzle with dressing choice & top with toasted seeds.
Recipe Notes
  • If you like raw cauliflower, try adding a cup of it sliced along with some crisp, crumbled bacon bits to your potato salad. It adds a whole new dimension to an old favorite.
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