Seafood Tarte Soleil

Tarte Soleil or sun tart, is a stunning example of how the simplest recipe can be turned into an artistic creation. I’m forever looking for a new idea to incorporate seafood into our meals. I’ve never been a huge fan of puff pastry but it certainly does have its place. A flour, water and butter based preparation that has a neutral flavor makes puff pastry perfect for either sweet or savory dishes.

You have probably heard the phrase ‘laminated’ dough. This refers to the process of folding butter into dough multiple times to create very thin alternating layers of butter and dough. The gluten in the flour also gets developed during the folding and rolling process. This is unlike other baked goods where butter is creamed in with the sugar and flour. The laminated dough, when baked, results in a pastry with hundreds of flaky, airy layers.

The three original laminated dough’s are puff pastry, croissants and danish. Croissants and danish contain yeast, puff pastry does not. In addition, danish contains egg which the others don’t.

Whether you like this type of pastry or not, there is no denying, it has lent itself to many ‘creations’, giving them a unique taste, that most will enjoy.

With a nice combo of wild salmon and baby scallops inside my sun tart, it was not only a pretty presentation but had a great taste.

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Seafood Tarte Soleil
  1. In a bowl, combine salmon, scallops (or shrimp), cream, onions, parsley, dill, garlic, pesto, salt & pepper. In another bowl, beat egg white on medium speed until soft peaks form; fold into seafood mixture. Set aside in refrigerator.
  2. Cut 2 pieces of parchment paper to fit a baking sheet at least 12 X 12-inch in size. Remove 1 sheet of thawed, puff pastry from refrigerator & roll out on 1 of the sheets of parchment to form an 11 1/2-inch square. Using a pot lid or bowl, cut the largest possible circle from the pastry. Transfer the pastry (on parchment) to baking sheet & place in refrigerator. Repeat procedure with the second piece of pastry.
  3. Remove the first pastry circle from the fridge. Spread the filling mixture on the circle, to within 1/4-1/2-inch of the outer edge. Use a pastry brush to lightly wet the edge of the pastry. Top with the second circle of pastry, using your fingers to lightly press the pastry together.
  4. Place a 2 1/2-inch diameter glass or jar lid in the center of the pastry. Use a ruler & the tip of a sharp paring knife to score the pastry from the edge of the glass to the outer edge of the pastry at 12, 3, 6 & 9 o'clock. Score each quarter in half, making 2 triangles. You will have 8 triangles when your'e done. Place tart in freezer for NO MORE than 5 minutes before continuing.
  5. Use a sharp scissors to cut each triangle cleanly along the score lines from the outer edge of the glass. Remove the glass. Place your index finger of your left hand at the top of a triangle (where the glass was). Use your right hand to twist that triangle 3 times. Go around the circle, repeating with each of the remaining triangles. Refrigerate tarte for at least another 5 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare egg wash & brush it over the tarte. Bake about 20 minutes. Rotate the tarte 180 degrees & lower the temperature to 375 F. Bake another 10 minutes or until a rich golden brown color. Remove from oven & transfer to serving dish. Nice to serve with a dill cream sauce & fresh steamed broccoli florets.

Chicken Ranch Mac & Cheese

Despite our ever present nostalgia for the foods of childhood, tastes and recipes are always evolving. I came across this recipe in a Taste of Home magazine recently. It has all the flavors of a favorite casserole come together in the comfort of ‘mac & cheese’.

During the Great Depression era, the idea for boxed macaroni and cheese was born when a salesman used a rubber band to pair packets of the then newly developed, grated Kraft cheese with boxes of pasta and convinced stores to sell them. In 1937, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (known as Kraft Dinner in Canada) was introduced with the slogan ‘make a meal for four in nine minutes for the cost of around nineteen cents’. It was an immediate success in the USA & Canada.

Traditional mac & cheese is a casserole baked in the oven, however, it may be prepared in a saucepan on the top of the stove. This particular casserole recipe takes the whole idea to a new level. Chicken, bacon, macaroni, three cheeses and Ranch dressing! I had tasted ranch dressing on chicken and bacon pizza so why not? Brion and I loved the end result making it a ‘keeper’ in our meal rotation.

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Chicken Ranch Mac & Cheese
  1. In a large pot, cook macaroni to al dente stage; drain & return to pot. Lightly butter a 13 x 9-inch baking pan; set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, salt & pepper until smooth; gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook & stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheeses until blended. Stir in ranch dressing. Add chicken & sauce to macaroni, tossing to combine. Transfer to baking dish.
  3. Toss bread crumbs with melted butter; sprinkle over macaroni. Top with bacon. Bake, uncovered, 30-35 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Sprinkle with minced parsley.
Recipe Notes

Egyptian Kofta

Over the years, our travels have taken Brion and I to many interesting places in the world. Each has left us with amazing memories.

In November of 2009, before Egypt was in such disarray, we explored this ancient country. You could safely say that time has not lessened the mystique of the world’s oldest tourist attraction. No matter how many pictures you look at, or how much you read on the internet, there is just nothing as powerful as seeing the real thing. Brion’s ability to speak fluent Arabic was a huge bonus for us while in Egypt.

The flight from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to Cairo, Egypt was a bit grueling at 16 hours long but we ‘recovered’ fairly fast. To make the most of our vacation, we divided it into four segments; – five days in Cairo, six days in Alexandria, eight days on a Nile River cruise and the last week at Sharm El Shiekh on the Red Sea.

The Nile River cruise was definitely the highlight of the vacation. We boarded the ‘Helio’ cruise ship in Luxor which took us to Aswan and back. Each day the ship would dock at various sites along the way and our personal guide would take us to explore temples, tombs, the high dam and the beautiful botanical gardens at Kitchener Island. It was such an incredible experience viewing the sights and sounds as you slowly sailed along. Travel is a good reality check to make us appreciate what we have in our own lives and so often take for granted.

Every evening, the supper buffet on the ship was created with a different theme. One of the items Brion really enjoyed was ‘EGYPTIAN KOFTA’. Egypt’s local and rich resources of fresh foods coming from the Nile Valley, has given the world some of the most coveted cuisines. Egyptian food is a mixture of all the different civilizations that came to Egypt in the history of its existence.

The word kofta (or kefta) has its origins in Persia. Although you can make meat, seafood or vegetarian kofta, the most popular in Egypt is a mixture of ground beef and lamb combined with onions, garlic, parsley and a ‘BAHARAT’ spice blend.

Along with my recipe today, I thought you may enjoy to look at some of the photos from our Nile River cruise. 



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This is the burger meat of the Middle East.
  1. Soak 16 wooden skewers in water for about 1 hour; remove from the water when you are ready to begin. Lightly oil grates of grill or BBQ & preheat to medium high temperature.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients thoroughly. Divide meat mixture into 16 portions. Mold each onto a wooden skewer to form a 'kofta kebab' about 1-inch thickness.
  3. Place kebabs on lightly oiled, heated grill or BBQ. Grill for 4 minutes on one side, turn over & grill for another 3-4 minutes. Serve immediately with mini pita breads, tahini, hummus or yogurt dip.

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.


Print Recipe
Turkey / Seafood 'en Croute'
Alternative ideas for those special occasions.
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
  • 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  which has always been my favorite 'go-to' recipe company forever. 

Garden Grain Burgers

Some of my favorite foods have always been vegetables and grains. Being a farmer’s daughter I guess it all makes good sense. When ever I had the opportunity to try a ‘veggie’ burger in our travels I would do so only to be disappointed.

When my parents were still alive, they lived in Southern Alberta. Whenever Brion & I could take time from our jobs, we would make a weekend trip to see them. We would leave Edmonton right after work on a Friday night. We always made Red Deer our supper stop and then continue on. The trip usually took about five hours. 

Our favorite restaurant at that time was a place called Glenn’s. I came across the perfect Garden Grain Burger on their menu, which tasted like non other I had tasted before. For a long time I tried to replicate it with no real success. Then one day I happened to see a recipe on the website  that had all the same ingredients. I tried it, made a few very minor adjustments and loved it.

I’m passing it on to you today, adding it to the ‘burger series’. Even if you are not into vegetarian eating I’m sure you will enjoy the flavor. The ingredient list is long but it makes twelve patties so some can be frozen for another meal when time is of the essence. 

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Garden Grain Burgers
A satisfying combination of brown rice, bulgur wheat, oats, mushrooms & cheese gives an almost nutty flavor to this meatless 'burger'.
  1. In a large saucepan, combine the rice, bulgur, seasoning blend, poultry seasoning & water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover & simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat; cool completely. Cover & refrigerate overnight if possible.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the mushrooms, oats, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese & onion. In a food processor, process cottage cheese & egg substitute until smooth; add to the mushroom mixture. Stir in parsley, salt, basil, celery seed & chilled rice mixture. Shape 1/2 cupfuls into patties.
  3. On a large non-stick griddle, cook patties in oil for 5 minutes on each side or until lightly browned & crisp. Serve on lightly grilled buns with mustard, lettuce & tomato slices.
Recipe Notes
  • If you decide to freeze some of the patties, do so before grilling. 'Flash freeze' them on a tray individually, then wrap in foil tightly & place them in a plastic bag in a air tight plastic container. When you are ready to use them just thaw & grill.