Broccoli Soup w/ Boursin Cheese & Bacon Chips

Comfort food is many things to many people. One of the things that I think of as comfort food is a warm bowl of cream of broccoli soup. Its creamy texture and subtle flavors have the power to soothe your taste buds as well as your soul. But this soup is more than just a comforting dish; it’s a culinary gem with a fascinating history and impressive nutritional benefits. This velvety delight has its roots in the traditional French soup known as Potage Saint-Germain. Originating from the Saint-Germain-en-Laye region in France, this soup was originally crafted with peas. However, as culinary creativity knows no bounds, innovative cooks began swapping peas for broccoli, giving birth to Cream of Broccoli Soup.

Cream of Broccoli Soup has the incredible ability to cater to a wide range of palates and dietary preferences. Whether it’s a casual family dinner, a gathering with friends, or a formal occasion, this soup fits the bill perfectly.

In 1990, the Campbell Soup Company debuted a commercial variety of cream of broccoli soup. They devised it to be used as a soup and as an ingredient to be used in other dishes. During that time, the Campbell Soup Company published a booklet of broccoli dishes that are prepared using their canned cream of broccoli soup, which was offered free to consumers through the provision of a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the company. Some of the dishes in the booklet included ‘Easy Broccoli Bake’ and ‘Two-Step Chicken Broccoli Divan’. After the original soup’s debut, the company devised and marketed additional cream of broccoli-style soups, such as broccoli cheese soup, chunky chicken broccoli cheese soup and cream of chicken and broccoli soup.

Today, I decided to make our broccoli soup using Boursin cheese instead of cheddar. The garlic and herbs in the Boursin give some added depth to the flavor. Plus, it melts into the soup so smoothly and provides extra creaminess. Another nice thing about this recipe is it’s super creamy without the use of heavy cream. Such great comfort food!

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Broccoli Soup w/ Boursin Cheese & Bacon Chips
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Instructions
  1. Peel & slice onion & garlic. Cut broccoli into pieces. Peel & dice potato into pieces. In a saucepan sauté onion for a few minutes, add the garlic & broccoli & potato pieces.
  2. Cover with water, add chicken or vegetable stock powder & simmer for 25-30 minutes until veggies are tender. Meanwhile, grill bacon & slice for garnish.
  3. With a slotted spoon, remove some of the broccoli florets if you wish to keep whole & set aside. In a food processor, puree remaining veg/broth mixture.
  4. Add the Boursin & seasoning, puree again to obtain a homogeneous preparation. Fold in reserved broccoli florets. Serve hot topped with bacon bits.

Shrimp Pizza w/ Artichoke & Garlic Sauce

It’s hard to get bored of pizza, but sometimes you want to change things up a bit. In addition to trying new toppings and cheeses, consider using an alternative to tomato sauce on pizza.

Pizza night is a cherished tradition in many households, but sometimes, it’s good to break away from the routine and experiment with new flavors. One of the easiest ways to do this is by trying out different alternative pizza sauces.

The other day Brion & I were in a Winners/Homesense store. Of course, my favorite spot is always the area where they have all the cookware and specialty food items. I saw bottled sauce made with artichokes and garlic. Immediately my thoughts were as to how I could use it. It was quite pricey, so I opted to try and make a copycat version at home.

While tomato sauce has long been associated with traditional pizza, there is a whole new world of flavors waiting to be discovered by breaking from tradition. Tradition of course has its place—there’s a reason classic tomato-topped pizza has been a staple for generations. But there is more to pizza sauce than regular tomato. There are exciting flavors, interesting textures, sweet things, spicy things, cheesy things, even exotic things!

Here are some ideas for making pizza without tomato sauce:

  • White pizza – Make a white sauce with olive oil, garlic, parsley, and a dash of salt and pepper. Spread it on the pizza dough instead of tomato sauce. Top with cheeses like mozzarella, ricotta, or feta, and veggies.
  • Pesto pizza – Spread pesto sauce on the dough instead of tomato sauce. Top with veggies and cheeses.
  • BBQ chicken pizza – Use BBQ sauce as the base instead of tomato sauce. Top with chicken, red onion, cheddar cheese, etc.
  • Mediterranean pizza – Make a tahini sauce base. Top with artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, feta, red onion, etc.
  • Breakfast pizza – Scramble eggs with veggies and meats. Spread it on the dough. Sprinkle with cheeses.
  • Buffalo chicken pizza – Spread buffalo wing sauce on the dough. Top with chicken, blue cheese, mozzarella, celery, onion.
  • Thai pizza – Make a spicy peanut sauce base. Top with chicken, carrot, onion, cilantro, mozzarella.
  • Carbonara pizza – Spread an alfredo sauce base. Top with bacon, onion, Parmesan, egg, parsley.

The best thing about pizza is that there are endless ways to enjoy it. So here you have it … shrimp pizza with artichoke & garlic sauce. Yum!

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Shrimp Pizza w/ Artichoke & Garlic Sauce
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Instructions
Sauce
  1. Place all ingredients except oil in food processor. With motor running, Add olive oil in a slow stream to make an emulsion. Place in a dish & set aside.
Pizza Toppings
  1. Fry bacon until done but not crisp. Drain on a paper towel then chop into bite-sized pieces. In the same skillet, sauté shrimp until just cooked & remove it from skillet.
  2. Sauté sliced mushrooms & sliced onions until just cooked.
  3. Slice cherry tomatoes in halves & prepare fresh herbs.
  4. Shred mozzarella cheese.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Spread each naan bread with artichoke & garlic sauce.
  3. Top pizzas with onions, mushrooms, shrimp & bacon. Sprinkle shredded cheese over all then dot with halved cherry tomatoes & herbs.
  4. Bake 10-15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly & tomatoes are roasted. Serve.
Recipe Notes
  • You will no doubt have extra artichoke & garlic sauce. Store it in an air-tight container for up to one week. Enjoy it on toasted bread or swirl into cooked pasta.

Benedictine Liqueur Coffeecake w/ Strawberries

Today, March 28, was the birth date of my mother. She passed away in 1978 at the age of sixty. Although 46 years have passed, it seems like it was only yesterday. She was truly an ‘Angel on Earth’, never to be forgotten by her family or by the people whose lives she touched.

I have so many memories of her wonderful cooking and baking. In her honor today, I decided to post a unique coffeecake recipe.

Since I have become a huge fan of Dom Benedictine Liqueur in sweet & savory recipes, this is the fifth recipe I have developed using it in the ingredients. When I first ‘discovered’ this interesting liqueur, I searched high and low for recipes to incorporate it in my baking and cooking. After having no success finding any, I resorted to my favorite ‘hobby’ of recipe development. So far, I have had good results.

If you’re not familiar with this liqueur, here is a brief bit of history about it. For more in-depth info, check out my blog article from December 2022 under Benedictine Liqueur Cupcakes.

The story of Benedictine dates back to 1510 when a Venetian monk of the Abbey of Fécamp, Dom Bernardo Vincelli, created an elixir intended to support good health. It includes a combination of 27 herbs and spices derived from plants from around the globe, including juniper, myrrh, saffron, vanilla, thyme, coriander and more. The liqueur tastes primarily of honey and baking spices, with citrus peel, herb, and stone fruit notes.

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Benedictine Liqueur Coffeecake w/ Strawberries
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Instructions
Strawberry Puree
  1. In a food processor, puree strawberries (SET ASIDE ABOUT 8 SLICING INTO THE TOPPING). Over medium-low heat, simmer puree until you have reduced the mixture by about half. Allow to cool completely before using in cake batter.
Coffeecake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a large cylinder pan (or a 9-inch round). Dust with flour & set aside.
  2. Toast pecans on a sheet pan in the oven for 7-8 minutes. Remove nuts from pan right away to prevent further toasting & place on a cutting board to cool, then finely chop.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder & salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat eggs on high until light in color, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium & add sugar; beat until mixture is pale & thick, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low; mix in oil & liqueur.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, lightly fold in flour mixture in 3 batches. Fold in toasted pecans. Spread half the cake batter in prepared baking pan. Place dollops of strawberry puree in a zigzag pattern down center of batter. Using the handle of a spoon, swirl puree lightly into batter. Top with remaining batter.
  6. Bake cake until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Allow cake to cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Strawberry Puree Topping
  1. With the remainder of the strawberry puree, add honey & vanilla to taste. Combine well. Slice remaining fresh strawberries & fold into puree.
Serving
  1. Slice coffeecake & top with strawberry puree topping. Of course nothing says you can't add some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream!

Boursin French Bread w/ Pork & Shrimp Stuffing

Today, March 21, our family celebrates the birth date of my father. Although he left this earth many years ago, I have so many memories of the wonderful childhood I enjoyed due to the parents I had. As my life unfolds, I realize more each day the impact having had a strong role model has made on my life. The word ‘thank you’ is so inadequate.

In the early 1950’s, my father was able to purchase another piece of land about 4 miles from our home place. Between the two farms it became the equivalent of a ‘section’. Before this time, the cattle had to be moved to a community pasture in the foothills where they would have enough grass to graze on over the summer. At that time to transport them, you had no choice but to herd them down the road allowance for approximately 20-30 miles on foot. To say the least it was a long grueling event for both the cattle and family members.

The ‘other farm’, as we referred to it, had originally been a slaughter house for the town meat market. It consisted of one large building, corals and a few other buildings. There was a slough on the land which dad had converted to a ‘dug out’ where the cattle could go and drink freely. The land was used for grain crops where in turn the cattle could be pastured on.

One of my fondest memories about the other farm was our picnic lunches. In the summer when dad would be working on the land, instead of my mother just packing a lunch for him that he could take in the morning, she would fix a wonderful ‘picnic lunch’. At about 11:30 in the morning, mom would pack up the lunch she had prepared, complete with plates, silverware, a tablecloth, etc., and we would drive to the ‘other farm’. There was just the right amount of space between two grain buildings to set up a make-shift table and stools. We would put the table cloth down and spread out our little picnic ‘feast’. Dad would be so surprised and we would all enjoy our lunch immensely. Mom always knew how to make the most simple things fun for us.

Lunch was always different from the usual lunch box meal and my mother never seemed to be short on tasty ideas. Today’s stuffed French bread meal is definitely a more elevated version of a picnic meal but it did bring me back to those wonderful cherished memories from childhood.

This meal seems so fitting to have today in honor of my father’s birthday. He loved bread, pork & seafood so I’ve got it covered.

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Boursin French Bread w/ Pork & Shrimp Stuffing
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Instructions
Shrimp Stuffing
  1. In a saucepan, cook rice & barley in vegetable broth until tender. Drain (you can use this broth elsewhere) & transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Sauté celery, onion & mushrooms in 2 Tbsp butter until tender-crisp. Combine sautéed vegetables with rice/barley mixture. Stir in shrimp & seasonings & cook for a few more minutes until shrimp is just cooked. Remove from saucepan & set aside.
Boursin Cheese Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Stir in the spices. Add the milk & adjust heat to steaming -- do not simmer or boil. Add Boursin to the milk mixture, break it up into pieces with the side of a large spoon & stir until Boursin has melted into the mixture. Remove from heat & cool.
Tenderloin
  1. Remove silver skin & butterfly tenderloin. Using a meat mallet, pound out the tenderloin to about 3/4-inch thickness. Heat a griddle & sear meat on both sides. Set aside.
Assembly /Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Cut the French bread in half lengthwise & scoop out the soft insides. Remove only just enough to be able to fit the tenderloin in the cavity. Spread the hollowed out cavity with the Boursin cheese sauce (save some for inside the butterflied tenderloin). Cover bottom & sides completely.
  3. Spread remaining cheese sauce over inside of butterflied tenderloin. Close the tenderloin so you can fit it inside the bread cavity. Once you have it in there, open it as much as possible & fill it with the shrimp stuffing. It will be slightly mounded.
  4. Using a large piece of foil paper, place the bread 'boat' in the center & pull the foil up around it. Lightly cover the top just to keep the stuffing from drying out until the rest is cooked.
  5. Bake for 1 1/2 hours in a baking pan with a wire rack in the bottom to prevent the bottom of the bread from burning.
  6. Remove from oven & allow to sit for about 5 minutes then remove foil & place on cutting board & slice.

Reuben Naan Pizza w/ Corned Beef & Dijon Béchamel Sauce

The ‘Reuben’ is a deeply early 20th century American Midwestern creation. Not everyone agrees on the exact recipe for a Reuben, but there are a couple of key components that most seem to agree upon: sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. The meat can be either corned beef or pastrami, the bread can be rye or otherwise, and dill pickle slices can be either added or omitted. The spread is also a point of contention, with some choosing Russian dressing, another choosing Thousand Island dressing and yet another Dijon mustard. 

Enter Dijon béchamel sauce! This Reuben Naan bread pizza is similar to the sandwich except that the spread is Dijon béchamel sauce rather than a dressing. It’s topped with sauerkraut, provolone, Swiss cheese and corned beef. 

Béchamel is a standard white sauce and one of the five ‘mother’ sauces of classical cuisine. Dijon béchamel makes a great alternative to pizza sauce.

Dijon mustard is a traditional mustard of France, named after the town of Dijon in Burgundy, France. When you think of Burgundy you probably think of its world-famous wine, and the region’s wine is part of the reason Dijon mustard was born. Mustard-making became an industry in France’s wine regions because mustard seeds provide essential nutrients to grapevines, so they were planted as a complementary crop. The condiment was then produced in these areas by mixing mustard seeds with wine must, a wine byproduct.

Dijon mustard has always felt like the fanciest mustard for some reason. That’s not to say Dijon is better than other mustards; everyone has their tastes, but compared to yellow mustard or a spicy brown, Dijon has always carried an air of refinement and complexity. Honey mustard is the party crowd-pleaser, and whole grain mustard is the rustic workman, but Dijon is as cosmopolitan at home in a vinaigrette as it is atop a sausage.

By most culinary standards, mustard is an ancient condiment. Before it was made in France, it was grown and used as a spice in Egypt and the ancient Middle East, dating back to almost 3000 B.C.

Still, it took 500 more years for true Dijon mustard to be born. Mustard was made in a variety of ways around France, and over time, vinegar replaced grape must as the common additive. Then in 1856, a citizen of Dijon named Jean Naigeon started using yet another wine product, verjus, (translates to ‘green juice’ in French. It is a middle ground between vinegar and grape juice, made from the juice of unripened wine grapes) in place of vinegar, which gives Dijon mustard its unique heat.

Since July 15, 2009, eighty percent of the mustard seeds used in the manufacture of contemporary Dijon mustard come from Canada. Due to smaller than usual Canadian crop of mustard seeds in 2021, a shortage of Dijon mustard began in France in 2022. The shortfall in Canadian production was caused by a heatwave, attributable to climate change. The shortage has been exacerbated by customers stockpiling.

Nevertheless, I managed to secure some for this unique Rueben pizza!

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Reuben Naan Pizza w/ Corned Beef & Dijon Béchamel Sauce
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Instructions
Dijon Béchamel Sauce
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add the flour & whisk for 1 minute. Add 1/2 of the milk & whisk until smooth. Whisk in remaining milk. Bring to a boil. Add salt, pepper & nutmeg. Reduce heat & simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk in Dijon mustard until combined. Remove from heat & set aside.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Lay out Naan breads on a baking sheet. Spread sauce over each one liberally.
  3. Arrange corned beef on top of sauce. Sprinkle pizzas evenly with Swiss & provolone.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the crust is crispy. Remove from oven & top with caraway seeds & red pepper flakes if you wish.

Baileys Irish Cream Biscotti

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

Chocolate and Baileys Irish Cream are a natural combo for St. Patrick’s Day food goodness. Wrap it all up into a biscotti and you have a little bit of Irish perfection.

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and has been a cause for celebration each spring since the 17th century. Irish people have migrated worldwide, and wherever there’s an Irish community, you can count on a legendary St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

St. Patrick’s Day parades, dyed green rivers, overcrowded ‘taverns’, festive green drinks mark the March holiday. Many wear green and Irish imagery abounds. St. Patrick’s Day is also a great excuse to feast. While boiled bacon and cabbage may not be everyone’s favorite, desserts are always welcome.

Baileys is not just for St. Patrick’s Day. Speaking of, it’s also not just for mixing drinks either! You might be most familiar with the magical combo that is Baileys + chocolate. It took two years of trial and error but by 1974, the founders had added the finest spirits, rich chocolate and vanilla flavors along with a little magic, to create the famous Baileys recipe. The Irish have been distilling whiskey since somewhere around 1000 A.D., when Irish monks brought the technique home from their visits to Mediterranean countries. The word whiskey translates from the Irish language to ‘water of life’. Mixing the ‘water of life’ with other fine spirits and luscious cream, then adding rich chocolate & vanilla flavors with other flavors and ingredients made such an incredibly delicious treat.

Whether you dunk, drizzle, shake or bake. Adding some Baileys liqueur can be a total game-changer. These Irish Cream Biscotti served with some Irish coffee will be a perfect treat for the day.

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Baileys Irish Cream Cookies
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt; mix well. Add eggs and 1/4 cup liqueur; mix well.
  3. Cut dough into 4 equal pieces. Place 2 pieces of dough on each baking sheet, leaving space between them. Form a slightly rounded 2-1/2- x 8-inch loaf that is about 1/2 inch thick.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow loaves to cool 5 minutes. Cut each loaf into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Lay slices cut side down on baking sheets and bake an additional 15 minutes. Turn biscotti over and bake an additional 15 minutes. Let cool.
  5. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, Irish cream liqueur, mix well. Take a small amount of the prepared icing, place in a cup & add food coloring, mix well.
  6. When biscotti is cool, place white icing in a piping bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe a line about 1/8 in from edge of biscotti. Flood inside with white icing. With green icing make 3 shamrock designs on each biscotti on top of white icing.
  7. Melt chocolate & place in a small piping bag with a round tip. Outline the edge of each biscotti with a line of chocolate. Set aside to dry before storing in an airtight container.
  8. Serve with Irish Coffee!

Pomegranate Apple Cobbler

Cobblers are simply delicious desserts. Often made with in-season fruit—from strawberries in the summertime to apples in the fall. Pairing pomegranate with apples seems like a good choice except when it’s already March. Fresh pomegranates are available usually from September through January. But then if you’re using pomegranate juice that makes it feasible.

The pomegranate is a unique fruit with distinct edible seeds. The brilliant color and odd shape are eye-catching. Because of their high amounts of these antioxidants, pomegranates have gained a reputation as a superfood.

Yet, despite its health benefits, the consumption of pomegranates is relatively low in our country in comparison to other fruits for several reasons. First is its limited availability. In addition, they are expensive, and it also takes a bit of work to get through to the sweet fruit.

But nevertheless, the popularity of pomegranates seems to be growing. They have crept into salads, main courses, smoothies and even alcoholic mixed drinks. Now there is even pomegranate-flavored candy and gum.

These nice little individual cobblers are some of that comfort food we all like to enjoy but with a healthy twist.

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Pomegranate Apple Cobbler
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Instructions
Apples
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, simmer pomegranate juice for 5-8 minutes.
  2. In a small dish, combine 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, spice & salt. Add prepared apples & sugar/cornstarch mixture to pomegranate juice.
  3. Simmer apple mixture for 10 -20 minutes or until apples are soft. Remove from heat & divide evenly between 8 ramekin dishes. Set ramekins on a large baking tray.
Biscuit Dough
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt & sugar. Add cold butter, then using a pastry blender or your finger tips, work butter into flour mixture until it resembles small peas. Add cold milk & combine with a fork ONLY until mixed.
  3. Top each ramekin with dough, dividing it evenly between them. If you wish, you can sprinkle them with coarse sugar.
  4. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until biscuit dough test done with a wooden pick.
  5. When baked you can serve them right in the ramekins or flip them upside down on serving plates. If you wish you can serve them with whipped cream or ice cream & top the with pomegranate seeds.

Chicken, Potato, Boursin & Thyme Tart w/ Caramelized Onions

Our love affair with Boursin started about a year ago. Being cheese lovers I’m not sure why it took us so long to try it, but we are definitely under its spell now. Years ago, it was an imported delicacy from France, so creamy and so garlicky. Now made in Canada, and even though manufactured on an industrial scale, the garlic and herb Boursin is very similar to the French version.

It’s easy to understand why Boursin may well be the most popular flavored soft cheese in the world. More than 50 years later, the original recipe remains unchanged and food lovers in more than 35 countries have spread their passion for Boursin all around the world.

Boursin was developed by French cheesemaker Francois Boursin in 1957 in Normandy. He was inspired by a traditional fromage frais dish in which dinner guests use bowls of fine herbs to season their own cheese.

A major newspaper in France reported incorrectly that Boursin’s cheese was flavored with garlic. It was actually a competing cheesemaker who had introduced the garlic cheese. The newspaper article generated such interest and demand for garlic Boursin that the cheesemaker spent two years developing a garlic-flavored cheese—which was introduced in 1963 to quickly become a household name across France.

Not only was Boursin an excellent cheesemaker, but he also had marketing smarts. In 1968, Boursin made history as the first cheese featured in a TV ad campaign. It featured famous French comedian Jacques Duby cast in the role of the first ‘Boursinophile,’ a cheese lover unable to resist the alluring taste of Boursin whatever time of day or night. Waking in the middle of the night, he rushes to the fridge in his pajamas yelling for Boursin over and over again. You may recall seeing Boursin commercials on Canadian TV.

Today’s tart consists of a puff pastry shell encasing a layer of sweet caramelized red onion, topped with roughly broken up chunks of potato and chicken dotted with luscious Boursin. The tart is then baked in a creamy egg filling and sprinkled with a little thyme. Yum!

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Chicken, Potato, Boursin & Thyme Tart w/ Caramelized Onions
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a heavy based pot. Add onions, salt & pepper; cook over a medium heat for 20 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add balsamic vinegar & sugar, remove the lid; cook a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
  3. Put potatoes in a medium pot, cover with water, season with salt & bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cook potatoes 15-20 minutes until just able to be pierced with a knife. Drain & set aside to cool.
  4. Roll out pastry to fit a 10-inch round removable base tart tin. Pop in the freezer to chill.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  6. Layer the onion, potato and chicken into the pastry shell. Dot with Boursin cheese and thyme. If you happen to be using left-over roast chicken & have a bit of stuffing spare, pop that in too! Whisk eggs and cream and pour over filling.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the filling is set & pastry is golden.

Banana Cream Pie Cookie Cups

It’s hard to pin down the origin of banana cream pie, but it seems adding bananas to the pie happened around the end of the 19th century, when bananas went from exotic to commonplace. Until then, most North Americans have never seen, never mind eaten, a banana.

The turning point in the banana business came with technological advances in transportation and refrigeration. Steamships and railroad cars brought the fruit to market faster, and refrigeration slowed the ripening process. The combination was a bonanza for the industry.

One of the earliest known published recipes for banana cream pie called for sliced bananas and powdered sugar placed in a pre-baked pie shell. The ‘Woman’s Exchange Cook Book’ from 1901 advises cooks to then put the filled pie in the oven for a few minutes and then remove it once the bananas have been softened. After the pie is removed from the oven, the cookbook instructs the cook to cover the filling with whipped cream and to flavor it with lemon juice.

A recipe published just five years later in ‘The Blue-Ribbon Cookbook’ provided a banana and custard filling, but the two were not blended together into today’s familiar, creamy banana filling. Instead, sliced bananas lined the bottom of the crust, and the custard was poured over it. By 1950 we get a version covered with whipped cream and toasted coconut.

An old fashioned dessert , but one of the most comforting treats, banana cream pie offers a rich, sweet and velvety filling. If you like bananas like I do, it’s one of those desserts where you put a spoonful in your mouth and can’t help but lean back and close your eyes as you savor the buttery crust and creamy filling.

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Banana Cream Pie Cookie Cups
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Banana Cream Mousse Filling
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Banana Cream Mousse Filling
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Instructions
Base
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper cups.
  2. Use a food processor to grind gingersnap cookies into a fine crumb. Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl until melted. Combine melted butter with cookie crumbs and stir until there are no dry crumbs left. Divide ginger snap crumbs between the 12 muffin cups. Press down with a spoon or tart shaper.
Banana Cream Mousse Filling
  1. While the cookie cups are cooling, prepare the banana cream mousse filling. Whisk together the box of dry pudding mix and the milk. Add in the whipped topping and stir GENTLY until combined. Transfer to a pastry bag or a zip lock bag and store in the fridge until the cookies are fully cool.
  2. Take cookie cups out of muffin tin. Pipe banana cream mousse into each cup and top with a slice of banana. Sprinkle with a small amount of gingersnap cookie crumbles.
  3. Store in the refrigerator.

Orecchiette au Gratin w/ Salmon & Broccoli

Orecchiette au gratin is an immensely satisfying mac & cheese-like dish. Then take it a step further and add salmon, broccoli and alfredo sauce … pure comfort food! Personally, I’ve always loved the taste of alfredo sauce with its creamy parmesan flavor. You might be surprised to know that alfredo sauce does not exist in Italy! Well, mostly.

The origin of this popular American dish comes from the love story between Alfredo Di Lelio and his wife, Ines. Alfredo, a young cook from Rome, prepared this dish for the first time in 1908 to entice his wife Ines to eat while she recovered from pregnancy; she was very weak and had lost her appetite after giving birth.

Alfredo made egg-fettuccine and dressed it with a mix of fresh butter and parmesan cheese. Fortunately, his wife not only loved the dish, but also suggested that he put this creamy pasta on his restaurant’s menu.

He later did introduce the dish, modestly named after himself, into the menu of his restaurant on via della Scofa in 1914. Some years later, in 1920 he famously served it to American film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, who were visiting Rome on their honeymoon. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Alfredo’s original recipe does not call for cream; that was added when the dish crossed the ocean to North America. In the original version, the cheese is mixed vigorously with the pasta and a bit of the water in which the pasta is cooked, forming a creamy consistency without the actual cream.

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Orecchiette au Gratin w/ Salmon & Broccoli
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta al dente. Add broccoli to the pot 5 minutes before the pasta is done cooking. Drain.
  3. In another saucepan, heat the sauce over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir in pasta, broccoli, flaked roasted salmon & if desired basil.
  4. Transfer the mixture to an 8-inch baking dish, Cover with mozzarella & bake for 20-25 minutes.