Victoria Day is the distinctly Canadian holiday that officially wraps up winter. Even if the date marks the informal start of summer, you could be planning for a backyard barbecue or an impromptu indoor shut-in due to an array of snow, sleet, rain or hail.
Although we are well into the 21st century, in Canada we still celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday over 100 years after her passing. The only other country in the Commonwealth to observe this celebration is Scotland. This is our oldest statuary holiday in Canada and is celebrated annually on the Monday preceding May 25th. In the maritime provinces it is a non-statuary ‘general’ holiday and in Quebec, ‘National Patriots Day’ is observed instead.
While we might hang onto the British queen’s name for old times sake, the tradition of Victoria Day is truly Canadian and has everything to do with the end of the cold weather and short days, and a lot to do with some great food.
My choice of food for today’s blog should work well with your own ‘barbecue’ meal. It is APPLE-TURKEY SAUSAGE ROLLS and STUFFED POTATO SKINS.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, saute apple, onion, sage, thyme & allspice in olive oil for 5 minutes. Apples & onions should be soft but not browned. Remove from heat & set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine cooled apple mixture with ground turkey, salt & pepper. Using your hands, gently mix until everything is evenly combined, making sure not to overwork the mixture.
Unroll the puff pastry sheet onto a lightly floured work surface, cut crosswise to make three long, strips ((about 10 x 3.5" each) Brush a line of mustard down the middle of each strip. Divide filling into 3 equal portions. Roll into sausage shapes & place down the middle of each pastry rectangle. Brush edges firmly to seal.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Arrange the rolls, seam side down, on prepared baking sheet. Brush with remaining beaten egg, & sprinkle with poppy seeds. Cover with plastic wrap & place in the freezer to firm up, about 15 minutes.
Using a very sharp knife, cut each roll into 8 bite-sized pieces & arrange 1" apart on baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown & sausage is cooked through.
Stuffed Potato Skins
Microwave potatoes, uncovered, on high for 14-17 minutes or until tender but firm, turning once. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4" shell ( pulp can be used elsewhere).
Combine oil & hot pepper sauce; brush over potato shells. Cut each potato shell in half lengthwise again. Place on baking sheets coated with baking spray. Sprinkle with the tomato, bacon, onion & cheese. Bake at 450 F. for 12-14 minutes or until heated through & cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream.
Anyone growing a vegetable garden will now be reaping the benefits of all your hard work. Have you ever stopped and thought about how many summer vegetables are fantastic for hollowing out and stuffing? Any vegetable with a fairly sturdy shape can become an edible vessel for dinner. All we need to do is scoop out the middle and fill the inside with a stuffing of our choice. A little time in the oven until everything is heated through and dinner is ready!
When my siblings and I were growing up, my mother had many unique ways of teaching us how to take responsibility. On one side of her huge farm vegetable garden, she designated a ‘strip’ each for the three of us older siblings. The strips were each about 4 feet (1.22 m) wide and the length of her garden. The deal was that we could grow whatever we choose to, but it was ours to weed and care for all summer. At the end of the season, it was fun to see who had the most success. One of my sisters absolutely loved to grow pumpkins as they grew fast and large. I can’t really remember my mother stuffing a lot of vegetables but the idea of stuffing ‘things’ always appeals to me. The blended flavors make for some pretty tasty meals.
I couldn’t resist making a few kinds even if I’m not a vegetable gardener. These blog recipes have been adapted from tasteofhome.com which just happens to be one of my favorite recipe companies.
Stuffed Onions, Tomatoes & Zucchini with Herb / Cheese Bread Sticks
Cut a 1/2" thick slice from tops; discard. Trim just enough off bottom for onions to stand upright. Scoop out all but outer 2 or 3 layers from each onion. Chop scooped out onion reserving 2/3 of it for tomato/zucchini filling.
Cook bacon until crisp; transfer to a paper towel, reserving fat in skillet. Add onion, celery, salt & pepper to skillet; saute, stirring until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic & saute, stirring about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a bowl & stir in spinach, bread crumbs, margarine, chicken broth & bacon; cool.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Arrange onion shells, open sides up, in a small baking pan. Add 1/2 cup water & cover tightly with foil. Roast onions until JUST tender. Do not over bake! Remove from oven. Lift carefully to work surface & fill with stuffing. Set aside until tomatoes & zucchini are prepared.
Stuffed Tomatoes & Zucchini
Cut a thin slice off the top of each tomato; remove core, discard. Using a melon baller, scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/2" shell. Reserve pulp. Invert tomatoes onto paper towels to drain. Slice each zucchini into thirds. Using melon baller, scoop out centers, leaving one end of each piece in tact to hold filling.
In nonstick skillet, cook turkey & reserved, chopped onion until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in basil, salt, pepper & reserved tomato & zucchini pulp; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes. Stir in rice, cheese & pesto; heat through. Cool slightly; spoon into tomato & zucchini shells.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place any remaining filling in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Place stuffed onions, tomatoes & zucchini on top. Bake, uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes. Do not over bake as it is best when vegetables still have a bit of crispness rather than being completely soft or mushy.
Herb / Cheese Bread Sticks
In a large bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. In a small dish, beat egg & divide. In another dish, whisk yogurt with 1/2 beaten egg. Stir into dry ingredients until mixture forms a ball.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Divide into 12 pieces & roll each into an 8" length. Lay on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with remaining beaten egg & sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack.
Don't hesitate to add some tomato sauce to your tomato/zucchini filling if you think it needs a little more flavor.
There’s something special about pairing turkey or chicken with apples and herbs. It seems to me the whole idea probably stems from ingredients used in stuffing a turkey for Christmas dinner. I’ve tried a few different recipe combinations for these sausage. This one seems to be the one we always enjoy the most.
Speaking of turkey, I’d like to tell you about a very old memory since I brought the subject up. As you know, if you have been following my blog, I was raised on a farm in southern Alberta, Canada. It was dry land farming so it was imperative my folks not only grew grain but also raised animals. Along with cattle, pigs and chickens, my mother raised a few turkeys. On one occasion, my sister and I were making our way across the farm yard on our tricycle. Loretta was the driver with me standing on the back when all of a sudden I was accosted by a huge turkey. With his large wings, he knocked me to the ground and started pecking me for some reason. My mother saw the commotion from the kitchen window and came running to my rescue. Needless to say, from that time on, I have always been leary of animals bearing beeks and feathers. Nevertheless, I do like the taste of turkey.
Heat oil in skillet; add onion & saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add apples & saute until until apples are very tender, 3-5 minutes longer. Transfer to a large bowl & cool completely. Add turkey, cracker crumbs, egg & spices; mix well. Divide the sausage into 6 equal portions & roll into approximately 8-inch lengths. When ready to cook, they can either be baked in the oven at 450 F. or lay on a sheet of greased foil & cook on the barbecue.
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tsp oil; add next 4 ingredients. Cook & stir for about 3 minutes until onion is soft. Add honey; heat & stir for 30 seconds to coat onion. Add broth; bring to a boil. Add couscous & 1 tsp oil. Stir, cover & remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes without lifting lid. Fluff. Stir in remaining ingredients.
Dijon - Apricot Mustard
In a small bowl, whisk together Dijon mustard & apricot preserves. Serve with turkey-apple sausages.
I like to make extra sausage and freeze them for other meals. They come in so handy when your time is short.
If you prefer a plain couscous instead of spicy, omit cumin & ginger replacing it with dried basil or a spice of your choice.
This meal is nice to serve with a mixed green salad of your choosing.
Spread each tortilla with herb & garlic cream cheese as well as a thin layer of hot red pepper jelly.
For the 3 ROSEMARY PEPPER HAM pinwheels, place 1 of the Asiago cheese slices on left side. Next lay 1/3 of ham slices followed by a length of 6 spinach leaves. Repeat with 2 more tortillas. For the 3 CAJUN JAMBALAYA CHICKEN pinwheels, place 1 of the strong cheddar slices on left side. 1/3 of chicken slices followed by a length of 6 spinach leaves. Repeat with 2 more tortillas.
Starting on the left side, roll tortillas up tightly. Wrap in plastic wrap for several hours or overnight. At picnic time, trim a bit off each end; slice each roll into 8 pieces. Secure with a tooth pick if you think its necessary. Place in fridge until picnic time.
On lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry sheets slightly. Spread mustard over all pastry. Divide & arrange pepperoni slices on the 2 pastry sheets, sprinkle with cheese & oregano. Tightly roll up pastry; gently pinch edge into roll to seal. Wrap in saran wrap & refrigerate 2-3 hours. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut pastry into 30 - 3/4 slices. Place on baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes or until golden & slightly puffed.
Thai Turkey Pastry Pinwheels
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add turkey; cook 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cool before using.
On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry sheets slightly. Spread Thai turkey mixture over all pastry to within 1/2" of edges. Tightly roll up pastry; gently pinch edge into roll to seal. Wrap in saran wrap & refrigerate 2-3 hours. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut pastry into 30 - 3/4" slices. Place on baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes or until golden & slightly puffed.
Fresh Fruit with Cheese, Cake Cubes or in Cups
On 6 wooden 8" skewers, alternately thread the strawberries, cheese cubes & cantaloupe. On another 6 skewers, alternate strawberries with cake cubes. Layer 6 plastic cups with colorful fresh fruit combos. Serve all as is or with a flavored yogurt for an easy dip.
Herb & Garlic Cream Cheese Spread can be purchased or make your own. I found a great recipe for this spread on allrecipes.com which I used in my pinwheels.
If you choose, you could lay some pickle strips or red pepper strips at the edge of the left side of the tortillas creating a center in your pinwheels.
If you feel like your picnic needs one more item, add your favorite salad to the mix.
You might want to include some flavored yogurt for dip to go with the fruit items.
You should have roughly about 48 pinwheels, 60 pastry pinwheels & 18 desserts.