Vegetable Torte w/ Chicken/Turkey Sausage

There is so much to love about summer, not least of which is the amazing bounty of fresh produce. This summer vegetable torte is a great way to showcase flavorful late-summer vegetables and savory herbs that are available. It is similar to a crustless quiche or a frittata that makes a wonderful addition to a brunch or a backyard barbecue.  It can be served warm or cold.  Either way, it’s delicious. 

One of the baking pans I have found extremely useful over the years is the ‘springform pan’. The function of this pan is to make it possible to take out of the pan a cake which is too fragile to trust to the conventional method of turning it upside down. A pan with a removeable bottom eliminates the need to risk inverting the cake.

A cheesecake might be the best example of a cake needing such a specialty pan. This was just what the late Pierre Franey was thinking of when he introduced the springform pan to New York Times readers back in 1980.

The pan he had in mind was made by Kaiser, a German metal goods company founded in 1919 by Wilhelm Ferdinand Kaiser to provide quality equipment to avid bakers like his wife. The company claims to have invented the springform pan, which it calls ‘the intelligent round cake pan’, and is the world’s largest manufacturer of them. They make 30 types, including one with a glass bottom that can double as a serving plate.

Thinking beyond cheesecake, the springform pan works so good when used to make this torte. The high sides of the torte gives it such a special look. It bakes up firm, but still creamy and delicious. It can be served as a vegetarian main course with a side salad, or served alongside some grilled sausage as we did for our meal.

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Vegetable Torta w/ Chicken/Turkey Sausage
Instructions
  1. Place the zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes tossing occasionally. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a sheet pan with a rack. After the zucchini sits for 30 minutes, rinse off the salt, drain and pat dry with a few paper towels. Pour the zucchini slices onto the rack and place in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove and cool.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F. Brush the bottom & sides of a 9-inch springform pan with oil. Line bottom with parchment paper & brush parchment with oil. Wrap outside of pan with aluminum foil.
  3. In a skillet, heat oil & sauté onion & mushrooms until veggies are tender-crisp, about 10 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in eggs until combined ( can still be a bit lumpy). Beat in cream or 1/2 & 1/2. Stir in garlic, basil, Italian seasoning, salt & pepper. Using a slotted spoon to drain off any liquid on sautéed veggies, then add sautéed vegetables & zucchini to egg mixture along with drained sun-dried tomatoes & marinated artichokes. Add grated Swiss cheese; stir with a rubber spatula to combine. Spread mixture in prepared pan & set pan on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 1 1/2-1 3/4 hours or until top is puffy & golden brown & the center no longer jiggles when shaken. Remove from oven & allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan, then run a sharp knife around edges of torte to loosen. Gently remove pan sides. Serve warm, room temperature or cold.

Rhubarb Cheesecake

I guess I’ll have to take the blame for Brion’s love of dessert. When we were first married years ago, he really didn’t care much about sweets. I, on the other hand, had grown up in a German family where every meal was finished with something sweet. It didn’t have to consist of anything more than a dish of vanilla pudding, but it was sweet and that’s what mattered. Funny how something like that can become so ingrained in your life. Of course, over time Brion has come to like dessert as much as I do, not really a good thing now that we are getting older … hmmm!

But I need to explain today’s decadent blog dessert. I just happens, we are celebrating Brion’s birthday so we are pulling out all the stops and having cheesecake! Of course, some of it will probably end up in the freezer but that works to.

Brion and I have never been much on giving each other ‘gifts’ for special occasions. Our time spent together ‘just living’, whether its at home or on a vacation has always been the best gift. Throughout our married life Brion has always gone above and beyond to look after us. I’m grateful to have the privilege of such a loving and caring husband.

So here we are, celebrating you, my love with rhubarb cheesecake and all the trimmings. Life is good!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY WITH LOVE!

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Rhubarb Cheesecake
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Candied Rhubarb Curls
Rhubarb Layer
Cheesecake Layer
Crust/Crumb Layer
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Candied Rhubarb Curls
Rhubarb Layer
Cheesecake Layer
Crust/Crumb Layer
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Candied Rhubarb Curls
  1. Make the simple syrup, combining the sugar & water in a small pot and heating until dissolved. Let the syrup cool to room temperature, add gel food coloring stirring to combine. Using a paring knife (or try a vegetable peeler), slice long, thin strips of rhubarb from the outer stalk. Soak the ribbons in the cooled simple syrup for about 5 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200 F. Line or lightly grease a baking sheet. Lay each ribbon on the baking sheet. Bake until the ribbons have dried out. Note: they will still be sticky and flexible from the heat. If you want to make curls, work with one or two ribbons at a time so the remaining ribbons can stay soft in the oven. Wrap each ribbon loosely around skewers or the handles of cooking utensils, and let dry for around 10 minutes before gently sliding the curled ribbons off.
Rhubarb Layer
  1. Cook rhubarb, sugar & water. Simmer for 8 minutes over medium heat. Add in the cornstarch & cook 2 more minutes. Set aside to cool.
Cheesecake Layer
  1. Beat together the cream cheese with icing sugar until smooth then add eggs. Try not to overmix at this point. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Crust/Crumb Layer
  1. Line a 9-inch springform pan with foil paper. Crumble together butter, flour, oats, brown sugar & salt. Add two thirds of the mixture to springform pan & press firmly. Add walnuts to the remaining crumbs & set aside.
Assembly
  1. If using a silver springform pan, bake at 325 F. If using a dark nonstick springform pan, bake at 300 F. Bake bottom layer of crumbs for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, pour cheesecake mixture over the crust & spread with a spoon, being careful not to disturb the crust layer too much.
  2. Spread the rhubarb mixture on top of the cheesecake.
  3. Crumble the remaining crust/crumb mixture evenly over the top & lightly press down.
  4. Bake until topping is golden brown & cheesecake is set, about 50 minutes.
  5. Cool completely, then decorate with fresh strawberries, rhubarb curls, chocolate malt balls & silver sugar pearls or as you wish.
Recipe Notes
  • You will have extra candied rhubarb to nibble on!

Summer Vegetable & Shrimp Pizza

CELEBRATING HERITAGE DAY!

In 1974, the first Monday of August was made an official provincial holiday to recognize and celebrate the varied cultural heritage of Albertans. Businesses can chose whether or not to recognize the day as a general holiday, which most do.

The Heritage Festival held in our city of Edmonton, Alberta Canada is a three-day event to sample delicious food, see creative performances and celebrate Canada’s multiculturalism. Thousands of visitors come to enjoy the tastes, smells and sounds of different nations around the world.

Even though many people will take in the day’s events and cultural food at the festival, some chose to pack a picnic lunch and take a drive somewhere just to relax.

I am posting a summer veggie & shrimp pizza that should work real well with that idea.

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Summer Vegetable & Shrimp Pizza
Instructions
  1. In a skillet, fry bacon until almost done. Remove to paper towel.
  2. Add zucchini, onion & garlic to skillet with bacon drippings & sauté for 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Increase heat slightly & add 1/2 tsp. of oil. Add shrimp & cook for 1 minute, turning halfway through. Transfer to a plate. Cut cooked corn kernels off of the cobs.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  4. Brush Naan breads with olive oil & sprinkle with salt, pepper & Parmesan cheese. Top with zucchini, onions, garlic, shrimp, corn, bacon bits & mozzarella cheese.
  5. Bake until cheese is bubbling & naan bread is 'toasted', about 7-8 minutes. Allow pizza to rest for 5 minutes, then cut into 8 slices. Sprinkle with basil & parsley. Serve

Rainbow Trout w/ Mushroom Stuffing

There is something about fresh roasted fish that always appeals to me. This simple preparation really allows the fish to be the star of the meal.

Trout are fresh water fish, with firm textured flesh and a medium to high (good) fat content. Rainbow trout is probably the best known and one of the most popular varieties in the world. Being a mild, white fish with a light, clean flavor and just a touch of ‘sweetness’, makes it perfect for even a non-fish lover.

Rainbow trout fillets vary from ivory to pink as they belong to the same family as salmon. They’re most often fried but can be poached, baked, steamed, grilled or broiled. Whole trout is often stuffed before being cooked. Mushrooms and fish are an underrated combination but a good one nonetheless. Fish cook very quickly so its important to make sure the stuffing is cooked first.

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Rainbow Trout w/ Mushroom Stuffing
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Clean & scale trout; set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, heat butter. Add onions & celery; sauté for 3 minutes. Stir in mushrooms & season well; continuing to cook 3 more minutes. Add breadcrumbs & mix well. Add cream, fennel & chives; cook 3 minutes.
  4. Remove pan from heat & stuff trout. Tie with string. Dredge with flour & bake 12-15 minutes.

Asian Pork Chops

Plum sauce is one of several commonly used Chinese condiments. The sauce is both sweet and tangy, allowing the product to work well in a number of different applications.

The basic plum sauce is made using plums that have been allowed to ripen to the point where the flesh of the fruit is at its sweetest. As part of the preparation, the skin of the plum is usually removed by immersing the whole plums in hot water for a short period of time, allowing the skin to be peeled away from the fruit with relative ease.

Often you will find plum sauce made from other fruits, most commonly apricots. Or made from a combination of apricots & plums. It is also common to add other seasonings to plum sauce like garlic, star anise or Chinese 5-spice powder. The additional seasonings add different nuances to the flavor of the sauce and vary depending on the tastes of whoever is preparing it.

In this particular recipe, I’m using plum sauce as an ingredient in my sauce mixture rather than on its own. The combination creates a unique Asian flavor for the pork.

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Asian Pork Chops
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Asia
Servings
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Asia
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, brown chops in oil. Combine the plum sauce, orange juice, soy sauce, garlic, mustard, ginger & pepper; pour over chops.
  2. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover & simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender.
  3. Remove pork chops to serving platter & drizzle with sauce. Sprinkle with sliced green onions & sesame seeds. Serve with steamed rice.

Lime Berry Tart

The small pleasures of life are found in the little things, in the landscape by the window, in the sky in spectacular colors, in the great sea that sends waves towards us, in a quiet strip of endless beach.

In people who make us smile, in people who understand us even without words, in dishes that go into the oven and create the most incredible smell throughout the house, in rolls of stuffed pasta that are slowly baked in the oven.

The little pleasures in life lie in the little things we almost always take for granted, just assuming they will always be there. Over the last number of years, it has come very clear to me there are so many ‘little’ things to appreciate and be grateful for daily. My sister, Loretta once said to me, ‘nothing ever stays the same’. At the time I was much younger and didn’t give much though to those words. As the years have passed, I understand what she meant.

Today, July 25th is Loretta’s birthday. I am very grateful to have her in my life. Although we don’t live in close proximity, our connection is always there.

I find this quote from Steven Aitchison so fitting, ‘If I could give you one special ability in life it would be the gift of seeing yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you …. then you would realize just how amazing you truly are’.

Today, I am making a blueberry themed dessert in honor of Loretta’s birthday because she is a huge blueberry fan.

BIRTHDAY WISHES LORETTA WITH LOVE!

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Lime Berry Tart
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword lime berry tart
Servings
Ingredients
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword lime berry tart
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Shortbread Crust
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 F.
  2. In your food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, salt & butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. This should only take about 30 seconds. Press the crumbly mixture into a 4 X 14-inch tart pan (making the sides slightly higher than the center. Do this by pressing the mixture up towards the edge of the pan).
  3. Bake the crust for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden brown. Make sure to watch it carefully to make sure the crust doesn’t burn. Once the crust has finished baking, remove it from the oven and set it aside to cool completely.
Filling
  1. In a medium heatproof bowl, place eggs, sugar, lime zest, lime juice, and heavy cream, if using, & whisk to combine. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (bain-marie). Cook on moderate heat, whisking constantly, until mixture becomes thick (mine was ready in 10 minutes, but it can take up to 20). It should coat the back of a wooden spoon and leave a clear pass if you run your finger through it. The filling will thicken more once cooled.
  2. Remove from heat & immediately strain mixture through a sieve. Add butter, a few cubes at a time, and whisk until completely melted and incorporated, and mixture is smooth. Take your time with it—the whisking makes for an airy and light texture. Allow to cool to room temperature before filling the tart.
  3. Fill the tart shell with the lime filling, smooth it as best you can & decorate to your liking. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours until chilled.

Fruit Salad w/ Limoncello

It’s summer and there’s nothing better than the simple sweetness of fresh fruit. Barbecues are the highlight of the season and no doubt you will be making numerous ‘cool’ desserts.

I realize fruit marinated in alcohol is not for just any barbecue, but if it fits the occasion, it adds a nice finishing touch. Marinating fruit in alcohol is nothing new. Many cuisines have special recipes that include dried fruits such as raisins, currants and prunes. You can create endless combinations using fresh fruit with wine, spirits or liqueurs. Of course, the added bonus is this dessert does not require you to turn on your oven.

Limoncello is a traditional digestif of southern Italy, where the lemon trees give an abundance of bright, yellow fruit. The drink concentrates the flavor of those fresh golden fruits, making it the perfect palate cleanser after a rich meal. If you wish, store it in the freezer and serve it over ice.

Fruit is thirsty stuff and will soak up basically any kind of wine or liqueur you chose to pour over it. Put together your own personal ‘magical’ concoction and enjoy!

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Fruit Salad w/ Limoncello
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Marinade
  1. In a bowl, whisk together yogurt, lemon curd, honey & vanilla; set aside at room temperature.
Fruit
  1. Prepare & carefully toss fruit together with sugar & limoncello. Allow them to stand at room temperature for about 5 minutes to let fruit macerate with sugar & liqueur.
  2. Serve in dessert dishes with a dollop of lemon yogurt on top. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Recipe Notes
  • If limoncello isn't what you enjoy, other suggestions would be cognac, grand marnier, marsala or Kahlua.

Sweet & Sour Pineapple Chicken Balls

Chicken balls aren’t authentic Chinese food but they were probably inspired by Chinese sweet and sour pork. The pork is replaced with chicken, it’s battered instead of breaded and the sauce is sweeter but its in the same ball park. These sweet and sour pineapple chicken balls are a type of modern Chinese food served in Canada, Ireland, United States and the UK as a staple of Chinese take-out. Due to their vast popularity among the masses, they have become linked unwilling to Chinese cuisine, for better or worse. They are largely unheard of in China, depending on the recipe and referred name.

Here in Canada, in our province of Alberta, many of the Chinese dishes that are served in small-town Chinese restaurants have a distinctly Canadian twist. Chinese Canadian food evolved over the decades and has developed into a its own unique cuisine. Some dishes that are unique to Canada and Alberta include ginger beef, cabbage chow mein & sweet and sour chicken balls. Across Canada, Chinese Canadian food has evolved from recipes that were created using the ingredients that were available to the restauranteurs decades ago.

The chicken balls we prefer are dipped in a light batter then baked in the oven as opposed to deep frying them. Brion & I enjoy them served over rice with the tangy pineapple sauce.

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Sweet & Sour Pineapple Chicken Balls
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Ingredients
Chicken Batter
Pineapple Sauce
Servings
Ingredients
Chicken Batter
Pineapple Sauce
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Instructions
Chicken
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a food processor, chop chicken meat with seasoning, JUST until it is a roughly ground texture. Divide into 12-16 portions. Wet hands & roll into balls. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Do not overbake. Remove from oven & cool slightly on paper towels until batter is ready.
Sauce
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar & cornstarch. Stir in pineapple with juice, Zesty Italian dressing, (soy sauce), & minced garlic. Cook & stir over low heat until thickened. Set aside & keep warm.
Batter
  1. In a bowl, combine all batter ingredients; beat until smooth. Add chicken balls; stir until covered well with batter.
Baking or Frying
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper & place a wire cooling rack over it. Lift chicken balls out of batter with a fork & place on wire rack. Bake at 400 F. for about 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven to a serving plate. Alternately, you could cook battered chicken on a griddle with oil or deep fry it in a pot of oil.
Serving
  1. When chicken balls are cooked in your preferred choice; pour pineapple sauce over them & serve with steamed rice.

Apricot Strawberry-Rhubarb Tart

Strawberry-rhubarb … raspberry-peach … blackberry-plum … the possibilities for combining summer fruit in amazing ways are truly endless. I’ve recently became aware of the apricot, strawberry & rhubarb combination. This combo had never occurred to me, superseded as it is by the mighty strawberry/rhubarb duo.

Fruit tarts are stunning desserts that look like they should be in a French bakery window, but the truth is they can easily made at home. This super simple, mixed fruit tart with an oat pastry really celebrates the flavors of the season.

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Apricot Strawberry-Rhubarb Tart
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Oat Pastry
Servings
Ingredients
Oat Pastry
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Instructions
Oat Pastry
  1. In a bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, spices & salt. Add melted butter & vanilla; stir to combine. Press 2/3 of mixture onto the bottom & up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan; set aside.
Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Prepare fruit & place in a mixing bowl; add the orange juice, vanilla, sugar & spices. Stir to coat & set aside.
  3. Pour the fruit over crumble mixture; sprinkle the rest of the crumble around the outside of the fruit.
  4. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until crust turns golden brown. Serve warm or cold.

Pineapple & Canadian Bacon Pizza

CELEBRATING CANADA DAY!

It seems there’s no pizza topping quite as polarizing as pineapple. While some pizza lovers might crave that sweet, sour & salty combination of fruit combined with melted cheese, others not so much.

Hawaiian pizza, which usually comes topped with canned pineapple and ham, doesn’t come from Italy, the birthplace of pizza, nor does it come from Hawaii, a pineapple paradise. Rather surprisingly, the country responsible for the odd combination of ingredients is Canada. The pizza was actually created in 1962 by a Greek immigrant called Sam Panopoulos.

Along with his brothers, Sam Panopoulos, owned a restaurant in Ontario, Canada. The food was initially very simple … traditional diner food such as pancakes and burgers. Inspired by a recent trip to Naples, Panopoulos decided to introduce pizza to the menu.

It was a relatively new idea in North America as most pizzas, at that time, were served topped with mushrooms, bacon and pepperoni. Panopoulos became more adventurous, introducing Americanized versions of Chinese meals such as sweet and sour chicken, which includes pineapple so he decided to take a risk with his pizzas as well.

He added canned pineapple to one pizza, with ham, not knowing whether it would be a hit or not. Soon , the combination of sweet and savory was proving a winner with his customers.

At the same time, there was a growing fascination with Tiki culture. Hawaii had officially became an American state in 1959 and people had fallen in love with the island lifestyle. Canned pineapple began to be imported into North America, along with pineapple juice. The brand of tinned pineapple Panopoulos used in his pizzas was called Hawaiian, so his creation became known as ‘Hawaiian Pizza’.

From its humble Canadian beginnings, the combination spread across North America and ultimately the world … but despite its global appeal, pineapple pizza has remained controversial. Today, Brion & I are having a version of this Canadian Pizza on naan bread. Yum!

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Pineapple & Canadian Bacon Pizza
Instructions
  1. Drain pineapple chunks on paper towel. Grate cheeses & mix into a combo. Slice green onions. Chop bacon into bite size pieces.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place a shallow baking pan with some water in it on the bottom shelf.
  3. Brush each naan bread with a Tbsp of BBQ sauce; top with some cheese, leaving 1/2-inch border. Arrange bacon, then top with pineapple & some green onions. Finish with a bit more cheese then sprinkle with 'everything bagel spice'. Your goal, of course, is to divide all ingredients equally between the four Naan breads. Place pizzas on a baking tray & place on rack above pan with hot water.
  4. Bake 15-20 minutes or until bottom is crispy & cheese is bubbling. Because the Naan bread has already been baked, I found with using the tray of water in the oven allowed the pizzas to become hot & melty while the crust heated & stayed chewy without over baking. These were soooo... good!