Potato Pancakes w/ Pork Filling

Potato pancake variations are present in National cuisines all over the world and considered by many to be pure comfort food. The nice thing is, you can create this great meal by using leftover mashed potatoes. It can be kept simple or you can amp up the flavor with cheese, onion, bacon or a variety of spices. I recall my mother making them. I think she just added some eggs, onion, a bit of flour and some salt & pepper to the leftover, mashed potatoes. They were made into patties and pan fried as you would a pancake.

Depending on which part of Eastern Europe you come from, the name varies — Kolduny, Zrazy, Kartoffelpuffer are just a few. Regardless of the name you call them, they are just simply delicious. The Russian version takes it a bit further. The potato pancake is stuffed with a filling and then fried to a golden brown.

After reading through numerous recipes, I decided to ‘meld’ some of them into my own creation. These are what developed — nothing pretty but really good flavor. Yes, truly comfort food.

Potato Pancakes w/ Pork Filling
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Potato Pancakes w/ Pork Filling
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Ingredients
Potato Pancakes
Servings:
Instructions
Pork Filling
  1. In a bowl, combine pork filling ingredients; divide into 8 portions & form each into a patty shape. Refrigerate until potato pancake 'batter' is prepared .
Potato Pancakes
  1. In a skillet, fry bacon until crispy; drain on a paper towel until cool. In skillet with remaining bacon grease, saute onion & garlic until translucent.
  2. In a large bowl, crumble bacon into small bits. Add cold mashed potatoes, onion, garlic, beaten egg, cheddar (if using), flour, salt & pepper. Combine well. Using a large piece of waxed paper, form 16 patties. On top of each one, place one of the pork patties & then top each with the remaining potato patties. With a pair of scissors, cut waxed paper to separate filled potato pancakes so it will be easy for you to place them on a griddle for frying.
  3. Lightly oil a frying pan or griddle. Using the waxed paper remaining under each pancake, carefully flip each filled pancake onto the griddle. Flatten a bit & press edges to enclose filling better. Fry first side to a nice golden brown then carefully flip with a spatula & brown second side a few minutes. Cover with a lid (or foil) for remaining cooking time to ensure pork is cooked through.
  4. Once cooked, remove from griddle & serve with sour cream or Ranch dressing.
Recipe Notes
  • Don't hesitate to make the pancakes the size that works best for you.
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Roasted Parsnip Loaf / Sticky Lemon Frosting

Root vegetable desserts aren’t exactly a new concept. Incorporating vegetables such as beets, asparagus, mushrooms and sweet potatoes can lend themselves to new creative dessert ideas if you start thinking ‘out of the box’. 

Parsnips, traditionally used in savory dishes, can bring a subtle sweet tenderness to your baked goods. When roasted or sauteed, their sugars caramelize richly and are well complemented by a variety of seasonings such as orange or lemon zest, ginger and cardamom. 

As the autumn weather turns cooler, root vegetables like carrots and parsnips convert their starch to sugar. After a few fall frosts, parsnips develop a higher sugar content than those harvested before the freeze.

My original idea was to make a loaf cake with shredded raw parsnips as you do with carrots when making  a carrot cake. Knowing how sweet they become when roasted, I decided to do that first. If you have any roasted parsnips leftover from a previous meal they would work just great.

I realize parsnips are not for everyone. It probably seems a bit odd to make them the ‘star’ in dessert but I have to say we both loved this cake. The tart sticky lemon frosting was truly the ‘icing on the cake’.

Roasted Parsnip Loaf / Sticky Lemon Frosting
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Roasted Parsnip Loaf / Sticky Lemon Frosting
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Ingredients
Roasted Parsnips
Cake
Frosting
Servings:
Instructions
Roasted Parsnips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Peel parsnips & quarter lengthwise; remove core. Chop into medium size pieces & place in a plastic bag. Add a little veg oil & shake to distribute evenly. Line a baking sheet with foil; place parsnips on it & sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool, then puree in food processor.
Cake
  1. Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder & salt. Using a mixer, beat eggs & sugar together. Add parsnip puree, oil, sour cream, vanilla & spices. Fold in flour mixture, combining gently until well incorporated. Fold in walnuts & chocolate, creating a marble appearance ONLY.
  3. Pour batter into loaf pan & bake for about 40 - 45 minutes or until it tests done. Remove from oven & cool slightly before topping with frosting.
Frosting
  1. While cake is baking, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest & extract in a small bowl. With hand mixer, beat until smooth. Frosting will be thick & sticky. Top loaf cake while it is still slightly warm. Slice when cool & serve.
Recipe Notes
  • I had personalized the spices in this cake but if my combination doesn't appeal to you, simply use 1/2 tsp each nutmeg & cloves with a teaspoon of cinnamon instead.
  • When purchasing parsnips, look for the small to medium size. Large parsnips are often bitter & have an undesirable woody quality.
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Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Ground Beef & Olives

Ricing vegetables has been around for as long as I remember. Maybe not to the degree that is happening today. I recall a utensil my mother had that resembled a large garlic press. It was called a potato ricer and to my knowledge was only used for potatoes to change the texture.

As time has passed, this idea has evolved into so much more. Cauliflower ‘rice’ came on the scene as a popular grain-free alternative to rice. As with many food trends, the ‘riced’ craze has continued using other veggies like sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, onions and peas.

The grocery stores have jumped on the bandwagon with fresh and frozen products and in a variety of plain and flavored versions.

Making your own riced vegetables is even easier than in days gone by. Just trim, chop and pulse your veggies in a food processor. Cook with a quick steam or saute and flavor with some fresh herbs and spices. Of course, you can always change it up with other chopped veggies, nuts or a sprinkle of cheese.

Riced cauliflower can be used on its own, fried, in baked casseroles or as I’m using it today, in a pizza crust. A different texture than traditional pizza crust but loaded with flavor. Its sort of firm, chewy and soft all at the same time. I wasn’t sure how well we would like this pizza but it tasted just great with the addition of some homemade bread sticks.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Ground Beef & Olives
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Servings
8-12 slices
Servings
8-12 slices
Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Ground Beef & Olives
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Servings
8-12 slices
Servings
8-12 slices
Instructions
Cauliflower Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 14-inch pizza with parchment paper. Process cauliflower. In a bowl, combine all crust ingredients. Pat mixture onto pizza pan & press to form pizza crust. Bake 15-20 minutes; remove from oven.
Pizza Toppings
  1. In a skillet, crumble fry beef & mushrooms with spices until cooked. Drain & cool slightly. Carefully 'spread' cauliflower crust with tomato sauce. Top with mozzarella cheese, meat mixture, red peppers & sliced olives. Sprinkle with grated parmigano-reggiano & bake an additional 7-10 minutes, until cheese melted. Remove from oven & allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
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Pineapple Chicken over Wild Rice

This week we are celebrating Brion’s birthday. We have never felt the need to give gifts on ‘occasions’ but rather just enjoy another holiday travelling together or ‘gift’ each other at random. As we grow older, it comes clearer everyday, the special privilege it is to simply have each other to share life with. I appreciate the fact that Brion has always believed in me and supported my endeavors and I’ll be forever grateful for the love we share. This picture of Brion was taken in Havana, Cuba this year along the beautiful seawall. 

               THANK YOU FOR BEING THE SPECIAL PERSON YOU ARE!

                                   BIRTHDAY WISHES, WITH LOVE

 

Pineapple Chicken over Wild Rice
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Pineapple Chicken over Wild Rice
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Lightly spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
  2. Trim chicken, rinse & pat dry; season with salt & pepper. Place the chicken in pan, not overlapping.
  3. Drain pineapple chunks, reserving 1/2 cup of the juice. In a saucepan, whisk together juice, honey, ginger, vinegar & soy sauce. Place over medium heat & simmer, whisking often until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in the water; whisk into the pineapple/honey sauce.
  4. Place the pineapple chunks on top of chicken; pour pineapple/honey sauce over all & sprinkle with the almonds. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until chicken registers 165 F.
Recipe Notes
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Baked Chicken Breast with Marinated Artichokes

Strangely enough, it has taken Brion and I quite a while to become interested in eating artichokes. When we spent some time in Cuba this year we had a nice meal at an Italian restaurant one evening. The main course was served with some artichokes on it. After tasting them, we realized we should have tried them a long time ago — we have been missing out!

The globe artichoke is a variety of a species of thistle. The edible matter are buds that form within the flower heads before the flowers come into bloom about six months after planting. The buds that are not harvested,  change to a coarse, barely edible form when the flower blooms. They can be harvested as many as 30 times in a season. The peak seasons are spring and early autumn.

Since the bottled marinated version has all the same things you would use in marinating chicken, why not keep it real simple. Combine the chicken with the marinated artichokes, a little salt and pepper and you end up with some nice tender chicken covered in artichokes. Yum!

Baked Chicken Breast & Marinated Artichokes
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Baked Chicken Breast & Marinated Artichokes
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, combine chicken breasts & artichoke hearts with liquid. Cover & refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 F. Place chicken, artichokes & 1/4 cup of the liquid into a baking dish. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. If you prefer, place under broiler for 2-4 minutes to brown chicken before serving.
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Amigos Birthday

Today, December 21st, ‘our’ precious little Amigo is having his 14th birthday. Technically he belongs to my sister Loretta, who adopted him when he was only two months old. If you are a dog lover and have ever been in the presence of a Dachshund, you will understand how easily they can ‘velcro’ themselves onto your heart. Brion and I are accepted by him as if we were his aunt and uncle, so I guess you could call us part of his ‘pack’.

The antics of a Dachshund are priceless. During visits to our house he could come up with all kinds of games. One such game was to put his ball in a chosen spot then sit, out of sight, patiently waiting and watching to see how long it would take you to find it.

To be loved by a Dachshund is truly a privilege of a lifetime never to be taken lightly.

For today’s blog recipe, I thought it would be nice to have roasted chicken breast with a savory-sweet stuffing of apricot and brie, accompanied with small roasted potatoes.

                                       HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO AMIGO!

Apricot & Brie Stuffed Chicken Breasts
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Apricot & Brie Stuffed Chicken Breasts
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Potatoes
Servings:
Instructions
Potatoes
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a plastic bag, combine potatoes, olive oil, seasoned salt, pepper, garlic & lemon zest; toss well. Place on a foil lined large baking sheet & roast for 10 minutes.
Chicken Breast/Stuffing
  1. Place walnuts, 1 cup fresh basil & garlic in food processor; slowly add 1 Tbsp olive oil until mixture becomes paste-like. Next add brie, cream cheese & egg to the food processor & pulse until mixed well. Season with salt, pepper & pepper flakes.
  2. Place chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap & carefully flatten with a meat mallet. Divide stuffing between the 4 breasts. Roll up or fold over, enclosing filling well. In a small bowl, combine apricot preserves, balsamic vinegar & remaining Tbsp olive oil.
  3. Remove potatoes from oven & slide them around a bit to make room for the chicken. Place the chicken on the pan; brush apricot mixture all over breasts. Place the pan back in the oven & roast for 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through & potatoes are golden. Garnish with fresh basil if preferred.
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Corned Beef & Cabbage Quiche

CELEBRATING OKTOBERFEST!

Nothing says fall better than Oktoberfest, a tradition dating back to 1810 in Munich, Germany. Originally a celebration of the marriage of the King of Bavaria and Princess Therese. Everybody had so much fun that it was resolved to repeat the celebration, which has been done, every year since. 

Beer enthusiasts from all over the world flock to Munich for Oktoberfest, where they feast on everything from steins of beer to plates of sauerkraut, bratwurst, cabbage rolls, sausage and wiener schnitzel. Bavarian music fills the air to promote the fun atmosphere of Oktoberfest.

While the true celebration has to be experienced in Munich, there are actually some great Canadian events that try to duplicate the festivities without having to travel abroad. In different parts of the country this is a fun and social sampling event featuring many local craft and authentic Bavarian breweries as well as authentic food, Oktoberfest music, dancers, games, etc..

Even if it is a little hard to admit summer has ended and fall is officially here, Oktoberfest seems like a great little celebration to ease into the coming winter months.

I came across this recipe for CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE QUICHE.  From the reviews I read it sounded pretty good so I thought it was worth a try. It seems to fit the occasion I think.

Corned Beef & Cabbage Quiche
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Corned Beef & Cabbage Quiche
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, melt butter; add onion, cabbage & garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add water, cover & cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover & cook until liquid evaporates & cabbage begins to brown, about 8-10 minutes longer. It is important to get the liquid out of the cabbage or it will cause quiche to become watery.
  2. Stir in corned beef; remove pan from heat & allow to cool for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, flour, caraway seeds, salt & pepper until blended.
  3. Spread half of cabbage mixture in pie crust. Top with half of the Swiss cheese; repeat layers. Slowly pour egg mixture over ingredients in pie shell. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until quiche is puffed & golden. Let cool 5 minutes before slicing to serve.
Recipe Notes
  • This quiche is nice baked 'galette' style or using a springform pan instead of a regular pie pan.
  • Recipe inspired by busycooks.about.com
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Fideua` — Seafood Paella with Pasta

In 2014, before returning home to Canada from a European holiday, Brion and I spent 12 days in the Dominican Republic. We stayed at a resort called Sanctuary Cap Cana. The beauty of the area was just incredible. This was a little ‘wind down’ to just enjoy a bit of sea, sun and sand. When we went to supper one evening, a chef was preparing a HUGE  pan of Fideau`.

Anyone familiar with Spanish cuisine knows about paella, the saffron-flavored rice dish made with varying combinations of vegetables , meat, chicken and seafood. It belongs to the list of the most popular Spanish icons like bullfighting and flamenco dancing.

  Fideau`, on the other hand is the lesser known dish but is very similar. Instead of using rice, it is made with short pasta and embodies a different texture. Both are cooked in a shallow, wide flat metal pan (paellera) which lets the starch cook evenly and the water evaporate uniformly. Good soup stock or seasoning sauce is a key ingredient to achieve the traditional deep flavor. Another important thing is to add hot water slowly at intervals while cooking to make sure the rice or pasta do not become too dry or too moist.

That was the first time either of us had heard about fideau`. It was a little spicy for me but Brion just loved it. This is my own version I made when we came home!?

Fideua` -- Seafood Paella with Pasta
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Servings
2-4
Servings
2-4
Fideua` -- Seafood Paella with Pasta
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Servings
2-4
Servings
2-4
Instructions
  1. In a 14-inch skillet or paella pan, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil on medium -high heat ; add fideo pasta. Sprinkle with salt & pepper; cook, stirring almost constantly until they darken slightly.
  2. Add broth, clam juice, garlic, salt & pepper, saffron threads (turmeric), Italian herbs, hot pepper sauce; simmer for 5 minutes. Add onion, tomato & peas; simmer about 10 minutes until onion & pasta are tender.
  3. Add shrimp & scallops; cook about 5 minutes, stirring gently. Adjust seasoning if necessary & serve with lemon wedges if desired.
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Baked Honey Teriyaki Salmon in Parchment

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, HONEY TERIYAKI SALMON  is the perfect, no-fuss Sunday meal.

Honey Teriyaki Salmon
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Honey Teriyaki Salmon
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Honey Teriyaki Sauce
Servings:
Instructions
Honey Teriyaki Sauce
  1. 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
Recipe Notes
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Pan Bagnat – The French Picnic Sandwich

HAPPY LABOR DAY!

Can you believe it — Labor Day Weekend already! In our part of the world it signals the last of those coveted summer days. Celebrated in Canada as a national statuary holiday week-end. With the many picnics, gatherings and what have you, this specialty sandwich came to mind.

The ‘pan bagnat’ originated in Nice, a city in the south of France that borders the Mediterranean. The name translates to ‘wet bread’ due to the fact that the traditional sandwich is filled with a ‘Nicoise’ salad. This salad generally consists of leafy greens, olives, hard cooked eggs, with the main proteins being tuna fish and anchovies. It is then dressed with a Dijon vinaigrette.

Although it is typically a French sandwich, it is enjoyed by people all over the world. Overtime, many variations to the classic pan bagnat have been made. For those not fond of fish, ham, chicken and salami are good alternatives. For the vegetarian, artichoke hearts, raw peppers, steamed green beans and shallots. The bread used is usually a round, hearty artisian style bread so that the texture is both crusty and chewy.

To make the sandwich, the center of the loaf is scooped out and the filling is layered inside. It is then refrigerated for at least 2 hours or overnight before slicing and serving. Once the flavors all meld together the taste is incredible, the perfect sandwich for a crowd.

Pan Bagnat - The French Picnic Salad
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Servings
8-10
Servings
8-10
Pan Bagnat - The French Picnic Salad
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Servings
8-10
Servings
8-10
Instructions
  1. Slice the bread in half horizontally. Remove some of the soft interior from both halves; removing MORE from the bottom half than the top. Brush interior of both halves with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil. (If you prefer, you can use mustard/mayo instead)
  2. Layer the meat & cheese inside the bottom half of bread loaf. Begin with ham followed by salami, chicken & cheese. Layer the tomato slices on top of the cheese, followed by the iceberg lettuce Drizzle the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil & the vinegar over the lettuce. Season with salt & pepper.
  3. Place the top half of the bread on the lettuce & press down lightly. Tightly wrap the sandwich in 2 layers of plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day. Sit something heavy on top.
  4. Unwrap the loaf; using a long, serrated knife, cut the loaf into 8-10 wedges.
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