Asian Pear & Brie Strudel

Perhaps its no surprise that Asian pears suffer an identity crises. They are often called ‘apple pears’ because of their crisp texture and apple flavor characteristics. Asian pears are a cross between the Ussuri pear and the Japanese Sand pear, having no relation whatsoever to apples.

Some of the Asian pears made their way west with Chinese and Japanese immigrants in the 1850’s. Their shape and taste were modified into fruit like the well known ‘Bartlett’pear. Other pears travelled eastward to Korea and Japan. These ‘Asian’ pears became more like an apple in shape and crisper in texture. Unlike other types of pears, which you want to eat when they have a bit of give to them, ripe Asian pears are firm. Even though they are hard, they still bruise easily, which is why you often see them sporting ‘foam net sweaters’ for protection in the grocery stores.

Since I had a couple of these nice juicy pears on hand as well as some Brie, putting them into strudel seems like a good idea. I’m just going to ‘wing it’ as the saying goes, and combine a few ideas to see what develops. What’s not to love about strudel, right?! 

Print Recipe
Asian Pear & Brie Strudel
Course Brunch, dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Streusal
Strudel Pastry
Course Brunch, dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Streusal
Strudel Pastry
Instructions
Pear Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, combine pears, apple juice & maple syrup. Bring to boiling; reduce heat & simmer uncovered about 5 minutes or until pears are tender. Drain pears; add nuts, cherries, brown sugar & apple pie spice. Toss gently until mixed; set aside.
Streusal
  1. In a bowl, stir together flour, oats, sugars, spices & salt until fully combined. Gently stir in melted butter & crumble ingredients together. Set aside
Strudel Pastry
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder & salt. With a pastry blender, cut in cream cheese & shortening until mixture resembles coarse peas. Stir in milk. On a lightly floured work surface, knead dough gently about 20 times. On a sheet of parchment paper, press dough out to a 14"x 14" square & lightly butter pastry.
  2. On another large sheet of parchment paper, spread streusal topping out evenly. Lay pastry, buttered side down over streusal & press down lightly. Lay thinly sliced BRIE cheese over pastry, then top evenly with pear filling. Roll up pastry from the longest side using parchment to do so.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lay filled strudel roll with parchment on a baking sheet. Slice top of strudel part way through at 1" intervals. Remove any excess streusal. Bake about 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove strudel from baking sheet & place on a wire rack. Sprinkle with excess streusal.

Seafood Salmon Roulade

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!

Print Recipe
Seafood Salmon Roulade
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Instructions
Seafood Stuffing
  1. 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.
Salmon
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
Dill Sauce
  1. 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.
Recipe Notes
  • You can prepare the salmon roulade up to 2 hours ahead, just cover & refrigerate.

Dinner ‘En Croute’

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.

 

Print Recipe
Turkey / Seafood 'en Croute'
Alternative ideas for those special occasions.
Instructions
Turkey en Croute
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  1. Mix all ingredients & refrigerate until serving time.
Recipe Notes
  • 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. 

Sour Cream Blueberry Tarts

I’m not sure, but when it comes to blueberries, I don’t think there is a food category they can’t be used in.

Blueberries date back to the early 1600’s when they were dried and ground to make seasonings for meats, soups and stews. As a remedy, infused blueberry leaves become a tonic, while the juice was made into a sweet cough syrup. Blueberries rank highest of any fruit for antioxidants which can have a positive effect on the heart, brain, stomach, bladder and many more organs and tissues.

Although blueberry growers have increased, the price of fresh blueberries remains fairly high. While in ‘season’ its hard to resist these little ‘blue pearls’. You don’t have to look to far to find endless amounts of blueberry recipes for everything imaginable. These Sour Cream Blueberry Tarts  have been an old standby recipe for me that never fails to get great reviews.

Print Recipe
Sour Cream Blueberry Tarts
Don't you love the flowers --- straight out of my garden!
Course dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Pecan Shortbread Tart Shells
Tart Filling
White Streusal Topping
Course dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Pecan Shortbread Tart Shells
Tart Filling
White Streusal Topping
Instructions
Pastry Shells
  1. In a large bowl, combine butter & powdered sugar; cream well. Add flavorings & combine. In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients; gradually add to creamed mixture. Blend well. Using a 12-cup regular muffin tin, line with paper cups. Divide dough into 12 balls. Place one in each cup. With fingers, press dough evenly up sides & on bottom of paper cups. Set aside in fridge.
White Streusal Topping
  1. In a small dish, combine streusal ingredients until mixture forms coarse crumbs.
Tart Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Gently rinse & dry blueberries. In a small bowl, combine all other filling ingredients & whisk together until smooth. Fold in blueberries. Divide filling evenly among the 12 pastry shells. Top with streusal & bake for about 25 minutes. ( Filling will rise slightly when set). Remove from oven; let cool for 5-10 minutes. Once cooled remove tarts from pan. The paper cups will come off easily, leaving a pretty little corrugated design.
Recipe Notes
  • Using fat free sour cream & egg substitute (simply egg whites) in the filling works well for reducing calories.
  • If you need a smaller amount of tarts, the recipe divides in half without problem.