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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
- This quiche is nice baked 'galette' style or using a springform pan instead of a regular pie pan.
- Recipe inspired by busycooks.about.com
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
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.
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.
Add shrimp & scallops; cook about 5 minutes, stirring gently. Adjust seasoning if necessary & serve with lemon wedges if desired.
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 Sauce
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
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.
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.
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
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)
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.
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.
Unwrap the loaf; using a long, serrated knife, cut the loaf into 8-10 wedges.
Today, July 25th, is my sister Loretta’s birthday. As I think of her with fondness on her day, I wanted to feature a special meal that I’m sure she would enjoy. I would much rather be making it for her but distance makes that impossible.
The entree I am preparing is WILD SALMON ROULADE stuffed with SHRIMP & SCALLOPS and served with DILL SAUCE.
Roulades have been around since the 18th century. The things that have made them so popular are that they are simple — once prepared they need little attention while cooking. They are versatile — any meat or fish that can be thinly sliced lengthwise will work. There are many options when it comes to the filling — anything that cooks faster than the outside is suitable. Elegant for entertaining — on the outside a delicate fillet of fish or meat; on the inside a hidden second flavor.
In this recipe, the salmon roulade is stuffed with shrimp and scallops and served with a delicate sauce.
Loretta is a few years older than I am so she has always been in my life. I have lots of wonderful memories from our ‘adventures’ while growing up on the farm together. Thank you, Loretta, for those beautiful moments in life that can never be brought back but I will treasure them in memories forever.
OUR FAMILY CELEBRATES YOU WITH LOVE ON YOUR SPECIAL DAY!
In a bowl, whisk egg white until frothy; set aside. Finely chop shrimp; cut scallops into 1/2-inch cubes. Add seafood to egg white. Add bread crumbs, chives, parsley, lemon rind, tarragon, salt & pepper; toss to combine. Refrigerate.
Butterfly (skinned) salmon fillet; sprinkle with salt & pepper. Spread stuffing over salmon leaving a border at edges. Starting at long side , roll salmon, tying with kitchen string at 1-inch intervals. Place on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Roast about 50 minutes or when thermometer inserted into the thickest part reaches 160 F. Transfer to cutting board; tent with foil & let rest for 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix dill sauce ingredients together. Adjust consistency with milk & tartness with lemon juice. Set aside for 10-20 minutes You could use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. It is slightly more tangy & low fat tends to be less creamy but does reduce the calories.
- You can prepare the salmon roulade up to 2 hours ahead, just cover & refrigerate.
Pairing pork with figs and pears may seem a little odd but believe me it tastes great. Pears are one of those fruits that are extremely versatile. Their subtle sweetness and juiciness makes them perfect for recipes from entrees to desserts. Figs could be considered the perfect fruit — low on calories, full of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Figs have always appealed to me since the first time I tasted a ‘Fig Newton’ cookie. Now that seems like eons ago! Figs also bring me back to a place that holds some wonderful memories for Brion & I. In 2014 we visited the eastern side of the Algarve region in Portugal. This coastline is a spectacular site, very similar to the Big Sur coastline of California, USA.
Portugal has an excellent climate for cultivating figs. In the Mediterranean region as well as the Algarve, you can see fig trees almost everywhere. From August until about the end of September, there are plenty of fresh figs ripening on the trees. The only thing, is they have a short harvest time and will go bad quickly once picked. After the season ends you can buy dried figs. Fig jam is a product of fresh figs whereas dried are used for cooking, baking and even in fig liquor.
Portugal possesses great charm in its medieval villages, walled towns and glorious monuments while at the same time embracing progress and modernity with a style all of its own. It was such a memorable experience that will not be forgotten for sure.
There’s very little fuss to preparing today’s recipe and the meat turns out extremely tender.
Fig & Pear Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
In a bowl, combine first 8 ingredients; set aside.
Make a lengthwise cut 3/4 of the way through the tenderloin; open and flatten to 1/4-inch thickness. Brush meat with Fig Balsamic dressing & sprinkle with salt & pepper. Spread pear mixture over tenderloin. Roll up from long side; tuck in ends. Secure with toothpicks.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Place tenderloin on a large piece of foil on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Nestle remaining filling around tenderloin, pulling up foil to make sides to keep it close to meat. Brush with Fig Balsamic dressing. Bake, uncovered for 40-45 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into pork reads 160-170 F. Remove from oven & brush with apricot preserves. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with the additional roasted filling.
As May eases into June and the outdoor work increases, it seems like one area you can simplify in your life is in the kitchen. Making good use of your barbecue, along with the fresh produce that is now available, will help do just that.
Pork tenderloin has always been one of my favorite cuts of meat. One of the easiest ways to transform everyday pork into a special occasion main dish. Its the best part of a pork chop without bone or fat and has that melt-in-your-mouth tenderness.
A winner when it comes to versatility in that you can cook it whole, slice it into medallions, butterfly and stuff it, grill, roast, stir fry…..
My recipe today is a roast pork tenderloin served with a nice fruity, raspberry-nectarine sauce. Great little Sunday meal!
Pork Tenderloin with Raspberry-Nectarine Sauce
In a blender or food processor, place raspberries, nectarine slices, brandy & honey. Cover & process about 1 minute, until smooth.
In a large plastic bag, place flour, salt & pepper. Slice tenderloin into 1/4-1/2" medallions & place in bag. Shake to coat pieces evenly. In a large skillet, heat oil; saute pork medallions about 4 minutes or until no longer pink.
Heat sauce & spoon some on a serving plate. Place pork medallions on sauce; drizzle with additional sauce. Garnish with additional fresh raspberries if desired.
Most of our vacations over the years have been reasonably structured with a focus on a specific country, it’s people and the geographical treasures within. With the world in such disarray lately, we have been keeping a fairly low profile in our travels. Needing a little ‘sea, sun & sand’ it seemed logical that the Dominican Republic would fit the bill. Of course, you first have to go through all the flying trials and tribulations. To simplify things, Brion had us booked on a direct flight so that helped. Nevertheless, after 6 or 7 hours of flying your always happy to land. A couple of years ago we had spent 12 days in the DR so we new what to expect for most part.
For the next 10 days we settled into holiday mode — eat, sleep and walk on those beautiful pristine white sandy beaches. Being in a resort you have endless choices when it comes to food and drink. Brion and I have a shared love of seafood so we took full advantage of that.
For today’s blog it seems fitting to prepare a meal that would combine seafood and pork– both used extensively in the DR. Oysters accented with bacon, maple and apples give this recipe a very unique character.
Oyster Stuffed Glazed Pork Tenderloin
Pork tenderloin makes a wonderful option for smaller dinner parties.
Oyster Stuffed Glazed Pork Tenderloin
Pork tenderloin makes a wonderful option for smaller dinner parties.
In a large non-stick skillet saute bacon, onion, apple, garlic & thyme leaves. Cook, stirring often for 7 minutes or until bacon is crisp. Add chicken broth & oysters; cook for 1 minute or until moisture is evaporated. Add bread & toss to coat with cooked mixture; cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Slice along the length of each tenderloin almost through to the center, so it opens like a book. Sprinkle evenly with salt & pepper. Spread the stuffing mixture down the length of one tenderloin & top with the remaining tenderloin. Secure the layers with kitchen twine tied at equal intervals. Place the roast on a rack set over a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Stir the maple syrup with the mustard until well combined.
Roast for 30-35 minutes or until it registers 165 F. on meat thermometer when inserted into thickest part of meat & stuffing. Baste the meat with the maple mixture twice during roasting. Broil on the center rack for 5 minutes or until glossy. Let roast rest 5 minutes before slicing.
Stuffing chicken breast with a pate is not a new idea but it’s not one I have made use of too often. Pate always seemed to me, it was kind of an upscale thing you would serve at cocktail parties. Over the years, I have probably made more than my share of liver, salmon or pesto pates for various catering events.
Although pate is believed to have originated in ancient Rome, it is essentially a French dish. The recipes are not always extravagant and widely vary from the humble appetizer to one of the world’s most expensive dishes. Traditionally, pate consisted of baked dishes served in a crust or molded into a ‘terrine’. Terrines are usually a coarser, denser texture, making them more satisfying to serve for a main course.
There are no fixed ingredients for preparing a pate — the choice is yours. Classic choices are chicken liver, oysters, bacon, fresh herbs with various cheeses, all ground into a paste-like consistency. Generally with pate, your ingredients are cooked and cooled then processed into a paste. The mixture is then placed in a mold, covered and refrigerated overnight. In the case of terrines, after prepared, they are baked slowly and then refrigerated for at least 24 hours before slicing and serving.
In France, enjoying pate with a baguette, accompanied by wine and cheese for lunch in an outdoor setting would be most common. Pate and it’s variations are actually a very familiar and integral dish to many countries.
My inspiration for this meal today was the fact I had some Brie cheese that I wanted to use up. It actually tasted even better than I though it would which was probably due to the fresh basil used. I hope you give it a try and enjoy it as well.
Pate' Stuffed Chicken Breast with Apricot Glaze
Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a baking dish well & set aside. Between two pieces of plastic wrap, place chicken breast, smooth side down; gently flatten to 1/4-inch thickness. Place 2 breasts in baking dish.
In a food processor, place walnuts, basil & garlic, slowly adding the olive oil, pulsing until mixture becomes paste like. Add brie, cream cheese & egg; pulse to blend. Season with salt & pepper.
Divide mixture between the 2 chicken breasts in baking dish; top with 2 remaining flattened breasts. Spread apricot preserves over each breast. Dot with 'Fig Balsamic' olive oil dressing. Lightly spread to cover apricot preserves. Sprinkle each breast with crushed red peppers.
Bake, uncovered for about 40 minutes or until chicken & pate filling are cooked. Remove from oven, slice each breast in half to make 4 servings.