Shrimp Pot Pie

There are many kinds of comfort food. The humble pot pie seems to be one that fits into that category quite well. In 1951, the first frozen pot pie was created by the C. A. Swanson Company and was made of chicken.

If you do a search for a seafood pot pie on the internet, very often what you find is basically a copy of chicken pot pie with seafood subbed in. The sauce or gravy is a ‘cream of whatever’ can of soup. Nothing wrong with that, but I find if you use a combo of clam juice, half & half cream and some seafood spices, you can come up with a more defined flavor.

The nice thing about a pot pie is that it can be made to feed a crowd or as an individual meal. Whether it has a bottom crust or not is up to you. Toppings can vary from mashed potatoes to cornbread or biscuits etc., etc. Above all else, you can make some extras to freeze for another day. As the saying goes … its all good!

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Shrimp Pot Pie
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword shrimp pot pie,
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Instructions
  1. Thaw frozen puff pastry in refrigerator. Keep chilled until you are ready for it. The pastry will be used for a top crust ONLY. Butter the bottom & sides of your casserole dish; set aside.
  2. In a large pot, pour the clam nectar; bring to a simmer over medium heat & add the shrimp. Poach shrimp JUST until they are opaque & cooked through, 2-3 minutes. Pour the broth & shrimp into a bowl & set aside.
  3. Return the pot back to the stove; over medium heat & melt the butter. Stir in onion, celery & mushrooms; saute until vegetables are translucent, 5-6 minutes then stir in the garlic, flour & seasoning. Cook, stirring for 1 minute then add the shrimp & broth. Cook for several minutes, stirring until sauce thickens. Add 1/3 cup half & half & simmer gently for a minute or two. Remove from heat.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  5. In a small saucepan, place potatoes & peas. Add enough lightly salted water to barely cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce the heat & cook at a low boil until the potatoes are just tender, 7-8 minutes. Drain. Taste the shrimp sauce; add salt & pepper to taste. Add potatoes, peas & tomatoes (if using). Pour mixture into buttered casserole dish.
  6. Place the chilled pastry over the filling, tucking it down between the filling & the dish or drape it over the sides. Poke a steam vent in the top with a paring knife. Place the casserole on a baking sheet. Beat the egg with remaining Tbsp of half & half. Lightly brush the pastry with egg wash.
  7. Bake casserole until filling is bubbly & top is golden brown about 30-35 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack & allow to cool about 10 minutes before serving.

Bacon & Chicken En Croute

The debate between chicken thighs and breast has been one that’s continued over generations. Juicy, inexpensive and highly versatile, chicken thighs are the unsung heroes of the protein realm. You can enjoy them baked, glazed or simply grilled.

In the flavor department, chicken thighs naturally have a more intense and flavorful edge to them. As for fat content … yes, there is more fat on a thigh than on a breast. However, the monounsaturated fat in chicken thighs can help aid in weight loss, control and reduce cholesterol numbers and even lower you risk of heart disease and cancer.

From an economical point of view, in our part of the world, chicken thighs are generally more affordable than breasts. Let’s face it, at the end of the day, both chicken breasts and thighs are good for you. It all comes down to personal choice.

This meal is good, homey, comfort food that’s easy to prepare using frozen puff pastry but elegant enough to serve at a holiday supper with friends.

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Bacon & Chicken En Croute
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Instructions
Filling
  1. In a skillet, cook bacon until just crisp, then remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain; chop when cooled. Remove all but 1 Tbsp of the bacon drippings from skillet.
  2. Salt & pepper chicken thighs on both sides. Place in skillet with remaining hot bacon drippings & cook until browned. Remove & cut into bite-size pieces. Set aside on a plate.
  3. Add butter to the skillet, cook onions, garlic & mushrooms, scraping up any brown bits, until the onions have softened & mushrooms have lost most of their size & moisture. Stir in the bacon & chicken thighs; taste for seasoning. Cook for another minute or two, then remove from heat & set aside to cool.
Gravy
  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, then add the flour. Whisk until flour darkens & begins to thicken then add broth. Season with herbs, salt & pepper (to taste) & continue to whisk until gravy boils. Allow it to boil for 2 minutes, stirring often, until it thickens. Remove from heat & cool.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. At this point you can either make individual servings or bake as one long tart. Fit thawed puff pastry into tart pan or cut into 4 equal squares. You can roll the dough out on a floured surface to accommodate the size you need.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cooled filling & gravy. Place evenly in pastry shell(s). Brush edges with beaten egg wash & bake for about 20 minutes until puffed & golden brown.

Savory Ham, Olive & Cheese French Toast

Like so many other dishes throughout history, french toast was created as a way to utilize everything and eliminate waste. Practically anyone who likes bread, milk and eggs will enjoy french toast.

Known by many names around the world, in France itself, the dish is known as ‘pain perdu‘ or ‘lost bread’. The dish is made by dipping hard or stale bread in a mixture of milk and eggs, then fried. In the process, you ‘lost’ the original bread and what you had was a sweet dish held together by the eggs and milk.

Over the years, french toast has seen many gourmet makeovers. Savory or sweet, it can be eaten for brunch, dinner or a late night snack either hot or cold. The best french toast is browned and crispy on the outside while incredibly custardy and rich on the inside. I found there are a few things you might want to avoid to achieve success …. not choosing the right type of bread …. using anything less than whole milk …. not whisking the custard enough …. not soaking the bread long enough …. cooking the french toast at too high of a heat.

The inspiration for this recipe came to me when I had made some ham & olive bread. Out of curiosity, I decided to see what it would taste like as french toast. The flavor was absolutely amazing!

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Savory Ham, Olive & Cheese French Toast
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Ingredients
Bread Dough
Filling
Egg Dip for 8 thick slices bread
Servings
Ingredients
Bread Dough
Filling
Egg Dip for 8 thick slices bread
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Instructions
Bread Dough
  1. Cook potato, peel, mash & cool. 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.
  2. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto lightly floured surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Filling
  1. In a skillet, saute onion with bacon until slightly cooked. Drain well on paper towel. In a large bowl, combine all prepared filling ingredients.
Assembly
  1. When dough has risen, place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll into a large rectangle then scatter filling ingredients evenly over dough. Roll up like a jelly roll, starting from its longest side. Place in a bundt pan or a 9-inch round spring form pan. Make deep slashes on the top (making sure NOT to go right to the bottom). Cover with plastic & allow to rise in a draft-free place for about an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Brush with a bit of milk or beaten egg. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until bread has a nice golden brown color. Remove from oven & allow to cool. Nice if made a day ahead of preparing french toast with it.
French Toast
  1. In a small bowl, beat together 1 cup milk & 3 eggs. Slice 8 thick slices from olive bread. Pour half of the egg/milk mixture on to a rectangle plate. Lay bread slices in it, then pour the rest over top. Heat griddle. When bread has soaked up all the egg/milk mixture place slices on griddle & fry to a golden brown. Serve just plain or with butter.

Seed Encrusted Ham Cordon Bleu

Many variations exist to the basic idea of the French ‘cordon bleu’ dish. It would seem that its one of those recipes that has evolved over time, starting in the late 1840’s. Veal cordon bleu was created in Paris, France to later be swapped out for chicken in Moscow.

Chicken Kiev, stuffed with an herb butter was likely the meal that inspired chicken cordon bleu. In North America, the first mention of this upscale dish was in 1967. It consists of chicken breast, pounded thin, stuffed with a slice of ham and Swiss cheese then breaded and baked or fried.

Today, a lot of interesting versions are being made using everything from bacon, avocado, spinach, onions, cheese varieties as well as numerous ways in which to prepare them.

I have chosen to kind of reverse the basic idea by using ham slices and stuffing them with turkey, stuffing and cheese. The sunflower seeds in the breading added a nice flavor dimension.

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Seed Encrusted Ham Cordon Bleu
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, French
Servings
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, French
Servings
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Rating: 5
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Instructions
Filling
  1. In a saucepan, saute mushrooms, onions & seasonings in butter until tender. Add water & bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add stove top stuffing & allow to stand, covered for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork; cool slightly. Grate cheese.
Breading
  1. In a food processor, pulse sunflower seeds for a few seconds ONLY. In a bowl, combine seeds, Panko crumbs, grated Parmesan & melted butter.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9 X 13-inch baking pan. Set aside.
  2. On a work surface, lay out the ham slices & spread with mustard. Divide stuffing mixture evenly between ham slices. Top each with a turkey slice then divide the Swiss cheese between the 8 'cordon bleu'. Wrap each by laying one side over the other, securing with toothpicks. Carefully transfer each roll to the baking pan. Using your fingers, place some beaten egg on all exposed ham slices. With a spoon, sprinkle breading mixture over ham rolls, covering evenly.
  3. Place a pan of water on the bottom shelf of oven. Position the pan with ham rolls directly over your water bath. This will help to 'steam' the rolls as opposed to drying & over baking them since all ingredients are already cooked. The flavors come together nicely as a result. Bake for about 15- 20 minutes.
Mushroom Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, saute sliced mushrooms in melted butter. Whisk in flour & continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Whisk in chicken broth, continuing to simmer mixture until sauce is thickened & bubbly. If you are using cream, whisk it in now.
  2. Top baked ham cordon bleu with mushroom sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes & a hot veggie of choice.

Savory Chicken Picnic Scones

CELEBRATING HERITAGE DAY!

In 1974, the first Monday of August was made an official provincial holiday to recognize and celebrate the varied cultural heritage of Albertans. Businesses can choose whether or not to recognize the day as a general holiday, which most do.

In our city of Edmonton, a three-day outdoor festival is held to sample food, see performances and celebrate Canada’s multiculturalism. It features 60 pavilions that represent more than 85 cultures from all over the world.

Even though many people will take in the days events and cultural food at the festival, some choose to pack a picnic lunch and take a drive somewhere to just relax.

I am posting some savory chicken scones that should work real well with that idea.

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Savory Chicken Picnic Scones
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Course Brunch, Lunch
Cuisine American, French
Servings
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Instructions
Savory Scones
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, combine yogurt & sage leaves; allow to stand for 10 minutes. In a saucepan, heat olive oil & saute onion for 5 minutes until soft, then set aside to cool.
  3. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder & salt; rub in butter to form fine breadcrumbs. Stir in yogurt/sage mixture as well as sauteed onion. Turn out onto a floured surface & knead very lightly. Divide dough into 4 or 6 equal pieces. Form into balls & lay on prepared baking sheet. Flatten to 3/4" thickness; brush tops with beaten egg. Bake about 10 minutes or until risen & golden.
Assembly
  1. When scones are cool, slice in half & spread lightly with butter. Top each of 4 (or 6) halves with chicken & bacon slices. Drizzle with Ranch dressing & place some cut pickled asparagus spears on top. Cover with remaining 4 scone halves. Serve with tomato wedges on the side.

Coquilles St. Jacques

Today, July 25th is my sister Loretta’s birthday. The sibling bond is thought to be one of the most important and longest relationships in our lives. No other peer relationship involves a shared upbringing, shared genes and shared secrets. In childhood, an older sister is an admirable guide to the adolescent world. As we grow older, it is so wonderful to be able to reminisce about events or times you both recall even though to everyone else they are boring. Life events often change the dynamics of many sibling relationships. Thank you, Loretta for being such an amazing sister who has enriched my life in too many ways to count.

I chose this meal for today’s blog not only because Loretta is a seafood lover but from what I have read, it is also ‘St James Day’.

It seems, when you look for any food history that surrounds this meal there isn’t a lot available. The most repeated story is that a knight was saved from drowning by St. James. The knight emerged from the water covered with shells. Coquille St. Jacques translates as the shell of St. James with the origin dating back to the Middle ages.

Classically served in a scallop shell, this special dish consisted of scallops in a creamy wine sauce, topped with breadcrumbs or cheese and browned under a broiler. Scallops, because of their delicate, subtle nature, make a fine marriage with any number of foods and seasonings.

For our meal (in Loretta’s honor), I have used a seafood blend, mashed potatoes and a Gruyere/Parmesan topping. I wish you were here Loretta, to enjoy it with us.

OUR FAMILY CELEBRATES YOU WITH LOVE & AFFECTION ON YOUR DAY!

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Coquilles St. Jacques
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
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Ingredients
Course Lunch, Main Dish
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
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Instructions
Mashed Potatoes
  1. Cook potatoes in salted boiling water until fork tender. Drain & transfer to a bowl; add butter, milk, salt & pepper. Using a hand mixer, whip potatoes, cover & set aside.
Sauce
  1. Drizzle a tiny bit of oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, salt & pepper & cook until tender-crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Add flour & whisk until well combined with onions & garlic. Pour the milk slowly while whisking constantly, making short pauses from time to time to whisk until sauce becomes nice & smooth, then start pouring again. Once the milk has been added, whisk in the Dijon mustard, basil paste, dried dill & parsley. Stir in clams & set aside.
Seafood
  1. Drizzle a medium saucepan with a bit of olive oil. Saute mushrooms until liquid evaporates, set aside. Add a few more drops of olive oil to the saucepan, add the scallops & cook without moving for about 1 minute. Flip the scallops over & continue cooking until they form a nice crust on that side. Remove from pan & set aside.
  2. Add the shrimp to the pan & quickly saute them until they just turn pink & opaque, not much more than a minute. Remove from pan & set aside. Add the salmon to the pan & cook until it just turns opaque, about a minute or two. Add the salmon to the reserved sauce & stir in. Set aside.
Topping
  1. Grate cheese & place in a small dish. Add Panko breadcrumbs, parsley & melted butter. Combine well.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Place Place a scallop in the center of each individual oven safe shell; surround with four of the shrimp. Cover with sauce, dividing it equally between each shell. Give the potatoes a quick stir & place them in a large pastry bag equipped with a star tip. Pipe a border around the filling; sprinkle topping mix over filling. Place in oven for about 15-20 minutes until golden & bubbly. Serve immediately. Nice to serve with garlic bread.

Overnight Shrimp Newburg Strata

Brunch has been sometimes been thought to be distinctly North American but probably started in 16th century Vienna. At that time, the custom was to have five official meals a day. Early breakfast was mostly liquid like hot chocolate or other beverages. The mid morning meal was called ‘gabelfruhstuck’, meaning  fork breakfast. The custom of having fork food in the middle of the morning supposedly spread throughout Europe among the wealthy classes before coming to North America.

Whatever its specific origin, ‘brunch’, as it has become known as, is always the combination of breakfast and lunch foods. It seems to increase and wane in popularity but never really goes out of style. It is always open to new interpretations as well as just staying with the classics.

One such iconic brunch meal is Shrimp Newburg Strata. Evolving from the original, Lobster Newburg that was served at New York’s famed Delmonico restaurant in the United States. It became a standby of the after-theater suppers that were in vogue at the time. 

The limitless choices that can be made for brunch have always made it one of my favorite meals to prepare. Overnight strata is the perfect choice to serve for an Easter brunch. This Shrimp Newburg pairs well with a Waldorf salad and hot cross buns.


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Overnight Shrimp Newburg Strata

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Course Brunch, Lunch
Cuisine American, European

Servings

Course Brunch, Lunch
Cuisine American, European

Servings

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Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil & saute mushrooms & onion for 3 minutes or until tender. Set aside.

  2. In a buttered, shallow baking dish, arrange half of bread slices. Peel & devein raw shrimp & coarsely chop. Top bread with half of the mushroom mixture & half of the shrimp. Arrange remaining bread slices over shrimp; top with remaining mushroom mixture & shrimp. Sprinkle strata with grated Gruyere cheese.

  3. In a bowl, whisk together milk, eggs & spices; carefully pour over casserole. Cover & chill at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake, strata, uncovered for 55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Panko-Crusted Green Bean & Mushroom Casserole

Having always had a passion for collecting recipes, I recall one of my mothers cupboard drawers being full of recipe pamphlets. I loved sifting through them to find a recipe I could make. Anyone who’s ever checked out the kitchen section of an antique store can attest, recipe pamphlets were once big business. Long before we had access to the internet, home brands like General Mills & Cuisinart regularly released pocket-sized magazines full of tips, recipes and instructions on their products. Glossy covers depicted the recipes inside, the price was right and they were easy to use. There was no reason to buy an expensive big cookbook when it was all here in a pamphlet form.

The Campbell Soup Company had its own kitchen dedicated to pumping out such pamphlets. In 1955, Dorcas Reilly, the recipe supervisor at the time, devised and tested the infamous ‘green bean casserole’ recipe. Her inspiration for the dish was to create a quick and easy recipe around two things most folks always had on hand in the 1950’s. They were green beans and Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup. Reilly’s recipe became immediately popular. This simple combination consisted of green beans, cream of mushroom soup, soy sauce, milk and french fried onions. The idea that it could be made ahead and reheated, made it perfect for holiday dinners. Even in the face of North America’s obsession with fresh, locally grown and artisan foods, its popularity continues.

Like with most iconic dishes, time brings changes and healthier upgrades or just different personal tastes. I’ve never been a fan of those french fried onions, so I opted for a crispy panko topping. Along with fresh green beans and mushrooms I’m using a bechamel sauce. It worked out quite nice.

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Panko-Crusted Green Bean & Mushroom Casserole
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large skillet, fry bacon until almost crisp. Add onions, cook until soft & translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add mushrooms & garlic; cook another 4-5 minutes until mushrooms are soft. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
  2. Using the same skillet, melt butter & whisk in flour. Once combined, continue whisking for another 2 minutes until mixture has slightly deepened in color. Add half & half, Worcestershire sauce & chicken broth while constantly whisking to prevent lumps. Once slightly thickened, add grated cheese & whisk until melted & smooth.
  3. Add the mushroom/bacon mixture along with thyme, salt & pepper. Let the sauce simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the blanched green beans. Stir to combine.
  4. Pour the bean mixture into a 13 X 9-inch casserole dish. Combine panko crumbs with melted butter & sprinkle over casserole. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
Recipe Notes
  • Everything can be done in advance except for adding the panko crumbs. Add those just before baking. Let casserole sit for at least 30 minutes after removing it from the fridge before baking.

Overnight Breakfast Enchiladas

As I mentioned in my previous blog, Brion and I would like to share some more January holiday adventures while they are still fresh in our minds.

Merida, Mexico made a perfect home base for us to enjoy many interesting things. The cultural capital of the Yucatan peninsula, Merida is a city steeped in Colonial history. It has some of the region’s best museums, beautiful historic mansions and architecture as well as many Mayan ruins to make for some amazing day trips.

One tour we took was to the archaeological sites of Uxmal and Kabah.              Uxmal (pronounced Ush-mal) covers around 150 acres. The central area is reasonably well preserved due to the high quality of the buildings which are constructed of well-cut stones set in concete. The most famous structure at Uxmal is the Temple of the Magician. This temple was rebuilt three times; this is where Uxmal got its name, which means ‘thrice built’. The structure towers above the surrounding jungle, crowned with intricately carved stonework.

The city of Uxmal was erected with its buildings at precise angles from and in relation to each other. Astronomical, geometrical and metaphysical calculations were carefully considered when the layout of the site was designed.

Unlike many other Mayan sites, no stone quarry has been found at Uxmal. Where the Maya quarried the stone and how it was moved to this site without the help of the wheel or animal strength is unknown. How such a large city could grow up in an area without springs, rivers or cenotes (sinkholes) to provide water is totally amazing. Uxmal residents were completely dependent upon cistern rain water collection systems. This explains their reverence to the Mayan rain god Chac.

The Kabah ruins are also very interesting in their own right. This city is connected to Uxmal by a Mayan ceremonial causeway called a ‘sacbe’. It’s most famous structure is the ‘Palace of the Masks’. The facade is decorated with hundreds of stone masks of the long-nosed rain god.

My recipe for today is originally meant for breakfast but Brion and I enjoyed it just as much for our evening meal. 

Hope you enjoy my briefed info as well as some more of Brion’s great pictures.

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Overnight Breakfast Enchiladas
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Course Brunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings
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Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add green pepper, onion, garlic & all spices; cook 3-4 minutes or until softened.
  2. Add chicken sausage & cook, stirring frequently, for another 5-6 minutes or until cooked through, breaking up the sausage into small pieces. Once fully cooked, stir in 3/4 cup of cheese.
  3. Spray a 13 X 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. On a work surface, lay out tortillas. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the sausage filling onto one side of the tortillas; roll each tightly. Place seam side down in the baking pan; sprinkle any extra sausage mixture on top.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together eggs & half & half until completely combined. Pour over enchiladas & sprinkle with remaining 1 1/4 cups shredded cheese. Cover with foil & refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove chilled enchiladas from fridge, bake for 20 minutes covered, then remove foil & bake for an additional 15 minutes OR until center is set (eggs should no longer be jiggly) & cheese is lightly browned. If you prefer, leave the casserole covered & bake longer, before removing foil. Serve with your choice of toppings.

Pork Loin Chops with Crab meat Stuffing

Combining pork with seafood has been going on for centuries in Europe and Asian countries. For example, take the Spanish with their paella — a mix of chorizo, prawns and mussels and the Chinese with pork and prawn dumplings.

During January, Brion & I spent a few weeks at the Los Cactus resort in Varadero, Cuba. Varadero is a 1.2 km wide peninsula situated along Cuba’s northern coast with 20 km of white sandy beaches. This vicinity has a variety of natural attractions as well as cultural and historical. Varadero is primarily visited by European and Canadian tourists.

Cuba is one big classic car museum. These 1950’s cars are everywhere, in every color and in many shapes, makes and models. While in the USA & Canada these cars would be collector’s items, in Cuba, they are used as everyday vehicles as well as taxis, often providing a good income for their owners.

Being so close to Havana we took the opportunity to take a guided day tour of the capital city. One thing we found really amazing in Cuba, was their bus system. The buses were relatively clean and comfortable with professional drivers. Our day trip to Havana was about 10 1/2 hours long, round trip, with an English speaking guide. Brion & I found the day very interesting. It consisted of a walking tour of Old Havana, lunch and then a panoramic tour of modern Havana to Revolution Square, the famous ‘Malecon’ seawall promenade, Christopher Columbus Necropolis and the Vedado Residential area.

This city is a mixture of opulence and decay, old world and new, socialism and capitalism, Europe, Africa and America. In Old Havana, effort has gone into rebuilding for tourist purposes, and a number of the streets and squares have been rehabilitated. The fact is that Old Havana is a large city, and the restoration efforts concentrate in all on less than 10% of its area. It seems whatever your interests, Havana offers an interesting mix of rhythms, rum, revolution and history.

During the tour, our guide took us to the top floor of the Gomez Vila. You climb up to the tower, about eight flights of stairs where there is a rooftop veranda. Here you can get a 360 degree view of the city. Located here as well, is the ‘Camera Obscura’. This optical device of lenses and mirrors projects an aerial image of the city into a giant concave screen taking you on a bird’s eye tour of Havana in real time. The projections are so clear that you can even pick out individuals walking on the cobble stone streets. It is one of the 74 cameras like it worldwide. Amazing!

In Revolution Square, we viewed some iconic images on the buildings of two Revolutionary heroes, Che Guevara and Camillo Cienfeugos. It was very interesting listening to our tour guide in regards to the Cuban Revolution, giving us this history from a Cuban perspective. There is a complex system of three fortifications that protected Havana, it’s port and it’s dockyard. From the seawall we got some photos of Morro Castle at the entrance with its emblematic light house that was built four centuries ago.

Cuban cuisine is a blend of several cultures — Taino, Spanish, African and Caribbean, with each adding their own methods of cooking and choice of spices. The most common spices used are garlic, cumin, oregano and bay or laurel leaves. Black beans and rice are Cuban staples.

The popularity of pork in Cuban cuisine has long historical roots. Spanish explorers brought pigs to the Caribbean islands back in 1492. From what I understand, one of the secrets of moist and flavorful Cuban pork is that the pigs feed on palmiche, the fruit of a palm tree.  The ‘Royal Palm’ is the national tree of Cuba. It is native to the island and is such a characteristic symbol of its scenery. Notice the big clusters of palm nuts at the top of the Royal palm tree in one of the blog pics.

I wanted to share a recipe today that seemed very in keeping with our Cuban travels. These pork loin chops are stuffed with crabmeat filling and drizzled with a raspberry pepper jelly sauce. 

Brion has added a few of his great pics from Cuba for you to enjoy.

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Pork Loin Chops with Crab meat Stuffing
Instructions
Pork Chops
  1. Trim all excess fat from loin chops. Place meat on a sheet of plastic wrap & cover with a second sheet. Using a meat tenderizer, pound meat flat until double in diameter. Set aside.
Crab meat Stuffing
  1. In a saucepan, saute onions & garlic in 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat until onions are tender. Remove from heat. Add remaining stuffing ingredients, including the 2 Tbsp of reserved crab liquid. Mix just until incorporated.
Assembly/ Cooking
  1. Lay TWO chops on lightly oiled griddle or skillet. Divide filling between them; place remaining TWO chops on top. Brown the stuffed pork chops on both sides, turning carefully.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place stuffed chops in an ungreased casserole. Cover & bake for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake for 15 minutes longer or until meat thermometer reads 160 F. when inserted into the meat & juices run clear.
Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, heat chicken broth, red pepper jelly & raspberry preserves. Divide sauce between 2 serving plates & top each with a stuffed pork chop.