Are you aware that today, May 20th, the USA celebrates ‘National Quiche Lorraine Day’. It is one of their many ‘fun food holidays’. Who makes up these holidays is not clear but it gives a great excuse to enjoy this classic quiche.
In a strict sense, there are no national holidays in the United States. Each of the 50 states has jurisdiction over its own holidays. The federal government proclaimed ten holidays that most states observe on the same dates. These are called ‘legal’ or ‘public’ holidays.
Fun food holidays usually originate from and are promoted by industry groups, clubs, health organizations and occasionally individuals.
Over 50 years ago, Julia Child introduced us to French cuisine with her cooking series, The French Chef, on PBS television. Among the many dishes she introduced was the original or classic Quiche Lorraine.
Quiche Lorraine (named for the Lorraine region of France) was originally an open pie with a filling of custard and smoked bacon. It was only later that cheese was added to this quiche. Today we have many variants to the original that include a wide variety of ingredients. Myself, I could eat quiche anytime, for any meal. This fun food holiday sure seems like a great idea. To our quiche Lorraine I am adding some mushrooms for a little extra flavor since we both enjoy them.
In a skillet, fry bacon. Remove from skillet & lay on paper towel. In bacon drippings, saute mushrooms, onions & garlic until moisture evaporates. Crumble bacon. Grate cheese.
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper & thyme. In the bottom of quiche shell place half of the grated cheese. Top with bacon, mushrooms, green onion & garlic. Carefully pour egg mixture over all. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until quiche tests done in center. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
If your using milk it will take a bit longer to bake but does cut down those calories.
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.
In a large bowl, combine water & seasonings. Add pork & mix well. In a skillet, cook pork mixture until no longer pink. Remove from heat; drain on paper towels while it cools.
Boil potato, mash & cool. Fry bacon, drain & crumble. In a small bowl, combine yeast with lukewarm water; whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand about 3 minutes until foamy. Add butter, salt, sour cream & potato; mix well. Add bacon; mix until just combined.
Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Remove risen dough from bowl, turn onto lightly floured surface; roll dough to about a 12" x 15" rectangle. Place a large piece of parchment on a sheet pan. Roll dough onto your rolling pin then unroll onto parchment paper. Place 1/2 of the cheese down the center of dough, top it with pork, green onions & remaining cheese.
Fold short ends in about 1". Using parchment, roll from the long side in a jelly roll fashion. Press down slightly to make a flatter shape. Cover with plastic wrap; allow to rise for 15 minutes while preheating oven to 375 F. Brush with egg wash if preferred. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.
If time is of the essence, use purchased frozen bread dough or pizza crust.
This picnic is definitely favored by men due to the 'hearty' potato loaf sandwiches.
Summer time is salad time! Taco Salad is the full meal deal, infinitely customizable, inviting experimentation and creativity. Being so versatile, it can be enjoyed in almost any setting.
This Texas-Mexican inspired salad was very popular in the late 1960’s. It’s name comes from the Texas-Mexican Railway. Pioneers brought Anglo influences to Texas, where the Texas-born Mexicans lived. As a result, the ingredients from their different cultures blended together. Tex-Mex combines elements of Anglo, Spanish and Mexican.
The taco salad is unique in that it can be served in an edible tortilla bowl. I recall in the food industry, this meal had huge visual appeal for the customer. How could you resist ordering one after seeing it’s impressive presentation? The ingredients in a taco salad can vary according to preference and can be made to fit into any type of cuisine with different seasonings and modifications.
Typically the taco salad includes lettuce, beans, tomatoes, green onion, meat, cheese and sour cream. Other condiments might include guacamole, salsa, garlic and cumin.
The salad featured in today’s blog picture is the beef version but I have included similar recipes for chicken and vegetarian ideas as well. Tortilla bowls are easily made by baking them in the oven. No need to add those calories by deep frying them. I love the full meal salad idea — be it a Chef’s salad, Cobb, Taco you name it! I hope you will enjoy one to this summer.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Warm tortillas slightly until pliable. Spray or butter both sides of tortilla lightly, then drape over oven proof bowls, pinching sides to form bowl shape. Bake 5-7 minutes, watching carefully as not to burn. Remove from oven & cool on wire rack.
Beef Taco Meat
In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion & cook until softened, about 5 minutes.Stir in chili powder & garlic & cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ground beef & cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until almost cooked through but still slightly pink, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, broth, vinegar & sugar; simmer until slightly thickened but still saucy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat & season with salt & pepper.
Chicken Taco Meat
Place chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap & pound to flatten to uniform thickness, about 1/2-inch. In a small dish, combine spices. Sprinkle over chicken breasts. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts to pan & cook until juices run clear & the center is no longer pink. Remove from pan & allow to rest 5 minutes. Slice into bite size strips.
In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients.
To assemble salads: In a large bowl, combine romaine, beans, green onions, cilantro, olives, jalapeno peppers. Toss with salad dressing. Place tortilla bowls on serving plates. Divide salad among bowls. Top with taco meat choice; sprinkle with tomatoes & cheese. Top with avocado slices if desired.
Sour cream & salsa are also nice as extra condiments or in place of the salad dressing.
If you prefer a Vegetarian Taco Salad, just eliminate the meat part, equally as good.
Be adventurous, customize to your preference so you get the most enjoyment out of 'your' salad.
Today’s pork is leaner and more tender due to breeding and feeding changes over the last number of decades. Ounce for ounce, pork tenderloin is almost as lean as boneless, skinless chicken breast as well as being economical. Its one of those meats that can be an elegant company meal or used in a stir fry for a weekday supper. Pork tenderloin’s mild flavor partners well with sweet and savory ingredients. Unbelievable in its versatility, you can cook it whole, slice into medallions, butterfly and stuff it, or use it in stir fry. It’s great grilled, roasted or simply seared.
When I was growing up on the farm, pigs were a part of the ‘mixed farming’ my parents did. At that time, there wasn’t much about the animal I cared for. They squealed, smelled and were not much fun to feed. My parents cured their own bacon, which always seemed to be so salty to my liking. To this day, bacon is not something that has a big draw for me for that reason.
My dad was not a man that did any cooking. With my mother being such a fabulous ‘cook’, there certainly was no need. For some reason, every once in a while, dad thought he would show us the way he thought bacon should be cooked. The cast iron frying pan was made ‘smoking’ hot to which he would then put the bacon in to fry it. That little episode was definitely cause to have to ‘air’ out the house for the next couple of hours!
Years later I have come to enjoy today’s lean pork tenderloin as a staple in my rotating household menu choices. With mangoes being quite plentiful right now, it seemed fitting to feature some Spiced Pork Medallions with Mango Salsa.
Mix together cubed mangoes & red pepper, green onions & sauce. Set aside.
Cut tenderloin into 4 equal pieces. Flatten cut side down into about a 3 1/2" circumference. In a small bowl, mix together all SPICE RUB ingredients. In a resealable plastic bag, combine medallions & spice rub, seal bag & shake well. Refrigerate for several hours.
When ready to cook, wrap bacon slice around edge of each medallion; secure with wooden toothpicks. Heat BBQ to medium-high heat. Grill 8-10 minutes on each side or until done (160 F.)
Heat a large skillet sprayed with cooking spray medium-high heat. Add medallions; cook, partially covered 25 minutes or until done (160 F.) , turning after 15 minutes.
Serve topped with Mango Salsa.
Mango Salsa can be marinated with other choices of 'sauces' or salad dressing marinades if you prefer something less sweet.