Chai Spiced Hot Cross Bread Pudding w/ Vanilla Sauce

CELEBRATING GOOD FRIDAY!

Bread pudding always gives me reason to remember good things. Truly a comfort food for those of us that recall it from childhood days. It’s not that the dish was invented here — that honor likely goes to clever medieval or even ancient cooks in Europe and the Middle East who had a surplus of stale bread on their hands. The perfect embodiment of the virtues of frugality and indulgence: day old bread, too precious to waste, is bathed in a mixture of milk and eggs and made into either a sweet or savory bread pudding (with a few other additions) and baked into something sublime. What makes it special is the blend of spices mixed into it and the sauce.

The chai spice baking blend, which is sometimes overlooked, adds a distinct warm flavor and depth. It can include a number of different spices. Cardamom is the most common ingredient, followed by some mixture of cinnamon, ginger, star anise and cloves. Pepper, coriander, nutmeg and fennel are also used but they are slightly less common.

This bread pudding combines hot cross buns with spices inspired by the world’s love affair with Indian chai. The origins of hot cross buns may go back as far as the 12th century. According to the story, an Anglican monk baked the buns and marked them with a cross in honor of Good Friday. Over time they gained popularity, and eventually became a symbol of Easter weekend.

Bread pudding, when done right, should have the perfect balance of gooey goodness and chewy texture. That’s why stale bread/buns are important. The bread needs a degree of crunch otherwise you will have ‘mush pudding’. For additional flavor, the pudding is served with a vanilla sauce. Who says bread pudding has to be boring!

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Chai Spiced Hot Cross Bread Pudding w/ Vanilla Sauce
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Bread Pudding
Vanilla Sauce
Servings
Ingredients
Bread Pudding
Vanilla Sauce
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Instructions
Bread Pudding
  1. Place cubed hot cross buns in a greased 9 x 9-inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the milk, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, spices & salt. Pour over buns, making sure that the bread is completely covered by the milk mixture.
  3. Cover & refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.
  4. Set out the chilled bread pudding while you preheat the oven to 350 F.
  5. Bake 40 - 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the pudding comes out clean. Remove from oven & serve with vanilla sauce.
Vanilla Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter & add flour. Stir until mixture has a nutty aroma.
  2. Add salt, cream & sugar; stir until mixture becomes thick. Remove from heat & stir in vanilla.
  3. Spoon over servings of warm bread pudding.
Recipe Notes
  • You will notice I have only used 2 Tbsp sugar in the vanilla sauce to offset the sweetness of the pudding.

Creamy Orzo w/ Bay Scallops, Broccoli & Parmesan

Oblong and common in Mediterranean cooking, orzo has a look of rice and the texture of pasta. While orzo’s origins lie in Italy, it is now a staple in cooking across Europe, especially Greece, and the Middle East. Its use in North America can be traced to the mid-20th century or even earlier. It seems there are recipes that date back to the early 1950s like orzo pasta salad, orzo stuffed tomatoes and Betty Crocker’s Chicken Orzo Soup.

The pasta itself is made from durum semolina wheat… a particularly hard variety of wheat. It holds up perfectly during the cooking process and has a very pleasant clear flavor and chewy ‘mouthfeel’. The name is somewhat misleading though as orzo actually means barley in Italian, but there is no barley in it. Instead, the pasta derives its name from its shape, which closely resembles the grain.

Orzo has been around a long time… and stands on its own as a versatile and tasty pasta in a supporting role as a side dish, or as the star in a main dish. Because of its size, and ability to absorb flavors very well, orzo can be combined with other ingredients and become a perfect filler for things like stuffed peppers and squash.

Orzo pasta also comes colored, and flavored with vegetables. Spinach is common, but it can also be mixed with beets, carrots and other vegetables. Rainbow orzo pasta combines several different vegetables to create a highly colorful take on this wonderful, and versatile pasta.

Today, I’m pairing it with bay scallops and broccoli in a nice cheesy parmesan sauce. Yum!

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Creamy Orzo w/ Bay Scallops, Broccoli & Parmesan
Instructions
  1. Rinse scallops & pat dry. Set aside.
  2. Melt 1 Tbsp of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion & sauté until soft, about 4 - 5 minutes. Remove the onions to a plate. Set aside.
  3. Add 2 Tbsp of the butter to the skillet & melt over medium heat. Add the prepared scallops & sauté for 4 - 5 minutes. Place scallops on a heated platter & cover with foil.
  4. Fill a large sauce pan of water with 4-6 quarts of water & bring to a boil. Add the orzo & stir.
  5. After the orzo has been boiling for 5 minutes, add the broccoli florets to the same pot and continue to cook for 5 additional minutes. Once the orzo & broccoli are cooked and tender, drain well and pour into a large mixing bowl.
  6. Quickly add the parmesan cheese & the final 2 Tbsp of butter to the orzo & broccoli mixture. Stir thoroughly, allowing both the cheese & butter to melt. Slowly add the cream, while stirring. Next, add the sautéed onions, scallops. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley if you wish. Serve immediately

Beef Stroganoff w/ Barley Risotto

Beef Stroganoff is a perfect dinner party dish – inexpensive and easy to prepare yet rich and luxurious. History reveals a simple but elegant dish of steak meat sautéed with onion and cooked in a sauce of sour cream, seasonings and usually, mushrooms.

This dish was invented sometime in the early 1800s and had its North American heyday in the 1950s and 1960s.

The best cuts of beef for stroganoff are tender, juicy cuts such as:

  • boneless rib eye
  • boneless sirloin.
  • sirloin steak tips.
  • beef tenderloin.

In researching beef stroganoff, I’ve seen recommendations for all sorts of things to serve it with, including kasha, egg noodles, French fried potatoes, rice, mashed potatoes with chives, wild rice, and the leftovers on buttered toast points.

Since Brion & I always enjoy risotto, it seems like a good choice to pair with our stroganoff. I’ve made risotto from rice, couscous, orzo and they were all good so today I’m using barley.

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Beef Stroganoff w/ Barley Risotto
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- 6 SERVINGS
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Instructions
Beef - Marinade
  1. In a large zip-lock bag or glass dish, whisk together oil, soy sauce & Montreal Steak Spice. Add cubed steak & marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours.
Mustard Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually whisk in chicken stock and mustard. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir until thickened, 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cut tomato into thick strips. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, cook tomato until softened, 3-5 minutes. Stir into mustard sauce; add salt, liquid smoke & sour cream.
  3. In same skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Drain beef using a strainer, discarding marinade. Add sliced onion & mushrooms to pan; cook and stir until onion is softened. Add beef & cook until meat is no longer pink, 6-8 minutes. Add mustard sauce; reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened. Keep warm until serving.
Barley Risotto
  1. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat to maintain simmer. In another large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add chopped onion & salt. Cook and stir until liquid evaporates. Add barley; toast in pan.
  2. Stir hot water into barley 1 cup at a time, waiting until liquid has almost absorbed before adding more. Cook until barley is softened but still slightly chewy, 15-20 minutes; stir in parsley. Serve immediately with beef.

Sausage, Bacon & Perogy Casserole

Casseroles are my go-to dish when I have a busy day ahead of me! They’re simple to make and Brion & I just love them. You can prep them ahead of time and then just pop them in the oven for a nice hot meal that is ready when you are or cook them and reheat in the microwave.

This perogy casserole makes life simpler by relying on frozen perogies. This recipe starts with ingredients you may already have in your kitchen, such as frozen perogies (either store bought or homemade), onions, bacon, Alfredo sauce and cheese. The onions, bacon and perogies are browned in a skillet along with some garlic, then layered into a casserole dish with the Alfredo sauce. The final step is a generous amount of cheddar cheese. Bake your casserole until golden brown, then dinner is served.

There are a lot of flavors of frozen perogies in grocery stores these days that you can try this casserole with such as cheese, onion, potato, garlic, bacon, etc. All of which will help switch up the flavor to keep it a little new and different each time you make it. 

Perogies are truly one of the world’s best comfort foods and as an added bonus, casseroles are an inexpensive way to stretch those food dollars and still taste delicious. 

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Sausage, Bacon & Perogy Casserole
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a saucepan over medium high heat, cook bacon for 4-5 minutes or until slightly crisp. Remove from pan & drain on paper towel.
  3. In a pot of boiling, salted water cook perogies for about 3 minutes. Drain. With a spatula gently stir perogies with a TINY bit of butter just to keep them from sticking to each other.
  4. In the saucepan with bacon drippings, place onion & sauté until translucent. Add garlic & sausage; sauté for a couple of minutes. Remove from pan to a dish. Add half of the perogies to the pan & cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until browned. Repeat the process with remaining perogies. Place bacon, onions & garlic in the pan & stir to combine.
  5. Spread 1/3 cup of the alfredo sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 9-inch baking dish. Place 1/2 of the perogy mixture on top of the sauce.
  6. Add another 1/3 cup of the sauce, then use the remaining perogy mixture to create another layer. Spread the remaining alfredo sauce over the top of the perogy mixture, then top the casserole with shredded cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese has melted & started to brown.
  7. Top with green onions & serve.

Chicken, Veal & Shrimp Pastetli (Vol-Au-Vent)

Pastetli were invented in the early 1800s in Antonin Carême’s pastry store in Paris, France where they’re called vol-au-vent, French for ‘windblown’ to describe its lightness. While they’re served as an appetizer in France, they’re eaten as a main meal not only in Switzerland but also in Belgium and the Netherlands. It is also from the Netherlands where the Swiss name Pastetli origins from. The Dutch call them pasteitje (little pastry). From there it came to the German Pastete. Just to add a little complication though, a Pastete in Switzerland is rectangle cake shaped puff pastry pie filled with sausage meat, mushrooms in a creamy sauce.

A vol-au-vent is a light puff pastry shell that resembles a bowl with a lid. The shell is generally filled with a creamy sauce (most often a velouté sauce) containing vegetables, chicken, meat or fish. The lid is placed on the filled shell and the pastry is then served as an appetizer, also known as bouchée à la Reine, or as the main course of a meal. When prepared, the pastry dough is flattened and cut into two circles. A smaller circle is cut out of the center of one of the circles, which then will be used as the lid. The circle without the center cut and the circle with the center cut are then joined together around the edges so as the pastry bakes, it rises into a shell with a hole in the top. The lid, which is baked separately, is added later. The pastry shell may be made the size of an individual serving, or it can be made in several different sizes to become a main serving for one or a larger size to be served for more than one.

Vol-au-vents rose to prominence in Paris in the 19th century. In post-war Britain, they were a mainstay of any self-respecting buffet, served to suitably impressed guests alongside welcome drinks at dinner parties. By the 1990s, they had become unfashionable and remained so for decades. Updated vol-au-vents started reappearing in chic restaurants a year or two before the covid pandemic (2020) erupted and have become the retro appetizer or main course to have.

You can even adapt them to make some elegant desserts. Fill with cream and fresh fruit or melt a chocolate orange with a dash of Grand Marnier and orange zest then spoon this quick-fix mousse into the cases and top with sweetened Chantilly cream and chocolate shavings.

For our main course vol-au-vents, I am making an interesting filling which includes, chicken, shrimp, mushrooms and tiny meatballs. Sounds a little odd but is packed with flavor.

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Chicken, Veal & Shrimp Pastetli (Vol-Au-Vent)
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Instructions
Chicken/Broth
  1. Add the rosemary, garlic, bay leaves, cloves, chopped celery, carrot and onion to a stock pot. Season generously with pepper and salt. Cut the chicken up: legs, wings and breasts. Also chop up the remaining carcass. Add it all to the pot. Then fill it with water (about 7 cups) until the chicken is fully submerged.
  2. Place the pot over high heat until boiling, then leave it there for 10 minutes. Turn the heat lower and gently cook the chicken for about 30 minutes. Remove the chicken from the heat and let it cool down for another 45 minutes.
Mushrooms/ Shrimp/ Cheese
  1. Chop the mushrooms into bite-size pieces. Peel & devein shrimp. Grate parmesan cheese.
Puff Pastry Shells
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Cut (4) 5-inch circles from puff pastry. Beat the egg & prick holes in the large circles with a fork & brush with egg. Cut 12 more RINGS from pastry about an inch wide. Lay a ring on each of the 4 circles & brush with egg wash. Repeat this until there are 3 rings on each large circle. Bake the puff pastry shells for 25 minutes.
Finish the Broth
  1. Remove the cooked chicken from the hot stock. Reserve stock for later. Remove any chicken skin, bones, veins, cartilage, or sinew (discard all this) & pick the cooked meat from the bones. Shred the larger bits up roughly. Then transfer the chicken meat to a large saucepan.
  2. Strain the chicken stock in a fine sieve or colander over a large pan. You should end up with about 6 cups (1,4 l) of chicken stock. Discard the cooked vegetables.
Meatballs
  1. In a bowl, combine ground veal (pork), salt & pepper, egg & breadcrumbs. Mix well and make tiny balls of ½ oz (15 g) each. You should end up with about 20 of them. Cover the meatballs with cling film and store them in the fridge until later.
  2. Bring the stock to a gentle boil again. Once warm, add the meatballs, shrimp & mushrooms. Poach them for about 5 minutes. Then remove the meatballs, shrimp & mushrooms using a slotted spoon. Add them to the shredded chicken in the large saucepan.
Béchamel Sauce
  1. Take the chicken stock off the heat now. In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk well until you get a wet crumble. Gently cook this over medium-low heat for about a minute. Then gradually add splashes of the warm chicken stock until you get a sticky flour paste. Keep stirring. Don't add too much at once or the sauce will become lumpy.
  2. Whisk well. Gradually add more chicken stock (about 3 to 4 cups) until you get a pretty runny sauce. Bring the sauce to a low simmer & cook for 3-4 minutes or until thickened. whisk in Montreal Steak Spice, onion salt, garlic powder, mustard & grated parmesan.
  3. Add the béchamel sauce to the chicken, meatballs, shrimp & mushrooms. Stir carefully. Cover the pan for another 5 minutes and let the vol au vent filling warm through or place it back over very low heat.
  4. Put the vol au vent puff pastry casings onto 4 serving plates. Top with the chicken, meatball, shrimp & mushroom filling. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired. Serve the vol au vents hot.

Lemon Gel ‘Crumble’ Wedges

Nothing says spring more than the zesty, fresh flavor of lemons. I think this lemon dessert is the perfect way to celebrate spring.

Crumbles are a true British dessert, which can be made any time of the year. They are believed to have originated around the time of World War II which brought the world to a standstill; shops were closed, people were left unemployed. As the war progressed, food scarcity became a major scare and due to inflation and rationing, the accessibility to basic food ingredients became a problem. In these hostile times, British housewives came up with many recipes; some of these recipes were lost in time, but some stayed and even gained cult status with time. One such British recipe is that of ‘apple crumble’.

Typically, crumbles use soft fruit like apples, pears, rhubarb or plums, but berries or even a lemon filling can be used. The crumb topping can be made with flour, nuts, breadcrumbs, cookie or graham cracker crumbs, or even breakfast cereal.  

This dessert is very different from the usual crumble. You start with a crumble crust/ topping but the filling is uncooked. It is so nice with fresh lemon juice and zest in it. As it bakes, it becomes almost gel-like and the top crumbles soak slightly into the filling. The flavor of lemon always seems to give such a refreshing taste to everything its used in.

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Lemon Gel 'Crumble' Wedges
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Course dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword lemon crumble
Servings
Ingredients
Crust & Crumble Topping
Lemon Filling
Course dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword lemon crumble
Servings
Ingredients
Crust & Crumble Topping
Lemon Filling
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Instructions
Crust/Crumble Topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all topping ingredients. Mix well with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 1 cup of topping; set aside. Place remaining topping in a 14 x 4-inch baking pan pressing it up the sides as well as on the bottom. Set aside.
Filling
  1. Mix all filling ingredients well, then pour into crust.
  2. Place baking pan in oven & bake for 30- 35 minutes or until filling is set & crust is golden.
  3. Remove from oven & cool completely. This dessert is best refrigerated overnight or at least 6 hours. Cut into wedges or bars & serve with WHIPPED TOPPING.

Beef Stroganoff French Bread

The original recipe of beef stroganoff did not include paprika or mushrooms, but both are a popular variation on the theme, as is the practice of serving beef stroganoff over egg noodles.

In the 50s and 60s, the famous stroganoff saw quite a bit of popularity in North America, but with the passage of time the image was marred by the availability of canned cream of mushroom soup and poor cuts or pieces of meat that were ‘slopped’ over cooked noodles or rice and is served in school cafeterias.

This dish saw so much popularity, it actually became an iconic food and cuisine. But unfortunately, it was this cafeteria version of this delicious dish that everyone in North America came to associate with the name.

As with so many dishes as time passes, every variation adds a different twist on the classic. In Australia and the UK, the recipe of beef stroganoff is quite similar to that of North America and is simply eaten with rice.

In the British restaurants, beef stroganoff is cooked to a creamy consistency and then served with a white wine while the authentic or original stroganoffs, which are similar to red stews, are generally served with scoops of sour cream.

In Portugal & Brazil, beef stroganoff is better known as ‘estrogonofe,’ and is cooked with tomato paste, beef strips or dices, with mushrooms, onions and with heavy whipped cream.

Chicken Stroganoff, made with the strips of chicken breast is also famous in Brazil, which is known as ‘fricassee,’ and it is served with crispy straws of potatoes & white rice. In Sweden, sausage stroganoff is more common.

Some other variations of beef stroganoff are also made with canned sweet corn, with ketchup and wine. This dish is also served creatively in crepe fillings or as toppings for all kinds of pizzas and with baked potatoes.

I’m making our beef stroganoff with ground beef as well as some of the classic ingredients. Instead of serving it with French bread, we are having it inside the French bread.

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Beef Stroganoff French Bread
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Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté mushrooms with 1 tsp salt & pepper; add thyme. Cook until mushrooms are golden, approximately 4 minutes. Remove from pan & set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. To the saucepan, add butter, onions & garlic & sauté 2 minutes. Add ground beef & cook until browned, approximately 4 minutes. Add flour, paprika & remaining 1 tsp salt. Add beef broth, sour cream & mustard; mix thoroughly & add reserved mushrooms.
  4. Fill hollowed French loaf with stroganoff & top with shredded cheese. Place on a foil lined baking sheet & bake for 20 minutes until cheese is golden & melted.
  5. Sprinkle with sliced green onions & serve immediately.

Polish Easter Placek

I always enjoy researching and baking traditional Easter breads. Maybe its because I have such fond memories of my mother’s Easter bread which wasn’t fancy but just ‘to die for’. This year I decided to try my hand at making some Polish Easter bread called ‘placek’.

Just for the sake of interest I wanted to post some of the various countries and their traditional Easter breads.

  • Babka (Poland, Ukraine, Belarus): a tall, cylindrical bread often baked in a Bundt-type pan and containing raisins and/or candied citron or orange peel, optionally with icing on the top, thus making it much sweeter than Paska, a broad, round, rich, white bread decorated on the top with symbols, including crosses, flowers, braids, wheat, or other designs representing aspects of Orthodox (Eastern) Christianity—made only for Easter to celebrate the rising of Christ from the dead.
  • Placek (Poland): refers to a sweet yeast bread topped with sugary crumble, with or without golden raisins served on Easter. (Pronounced plah-sek)
  • Cozonac (Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia): a slightly sweet yeast bread containing raisins and walnuts or pecans—a type of Stollen.
  • Folar (Portugal): a bread that may be either sweet or salty and is traditionally offered to godfathers, and priests at Easter in imitation of Jesus’ distribution of bread to his disciples at the Last Supper.
  • Hornazo (Spain): a yeast bread meat pie stuffed with pork loin, spicy chorizo, and hard-boiled eggs
  • Hot Cross Buns (Great Britain): a spiced sweet bun containing currants or raisins (and sometimes other dried fruits), marked on top with icing in the shape of a cross, and traditionally eaten on Good Friday.
  • Kalach (Serbia, Hungary): similar to brioche and usually baked in a braid arranged to form a circle.
  • Mazanec (Czech Republic): a sweet bread eaten throughout Holy Week made of dough containing rum soaked raisins and dried fruit, baked as a round loaf, with slivered almonds on top and a decoration made of icing or powdered sugar in the shape of a cross.
  • Osterbrot (Germany): a yeast bread containing raisins and slivered almonds and usually cut into thin slices, spread with butter, and enjoyed at breakfast or at teatime.
  • Paasstol (Netherlands): a fruit-bread containing raisins and usually filled with almond paste (also made at Christmas).
  • Pasca (Romania, Moldova): a sweet bread served with sweet soft cheese that may also be decorated with fruits, nuts, or chocolate.
  • Pasqua (Italy): a cake containing candied peel but no raisins and topped with pearl sugar and almonds before being baked in the shape of a ‘dove’.
  • Pinca (Croatia, Montenegro): a sweet bread loaf with the sign of a cross carved on top before being baked and eaten at the end of Lent.
  • Tsoureki (Greece, Armenia): a sweet holiday bread commonly seasoned with orange zest, mastic resin (from the mastic tree), or mahlab (an aromatic spice made from the pits of the Mediterranean “St. Lucy’s” cherry tree).

Hope you enjoyed reading this info as much as I did.

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Polish Easter Placek
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Course Brunch
Cuisine European
Servings
Ingredients
Sponge
Crumble Topping
Course Brunch
Cuisine European
Servings
Ingredients
Sponge
Crumble Topping
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Instructions
Sponge
  1. In a bowl, dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk with sugar & allow to stand until foamy, about 15 minutes. Stir in the flour, then cover the bowl & let the sponge rise until doubled in size, 30 minutes to an hour.
Dough
  1. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter & sugar, then add the eggs in one at a time; beat until fluffy. Add in the salt, nutmeg zest & 1 cup of flour; beat well. When the sponge is risen, add that to the creamed mixture along with the last cup of flour & the raisins. Knead dough until a very smooth, elastic, sticky dough forms.
  2. Using greased hands, place dough into a greased or buttered bowl. Cover the bowl & allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.
Crumble Topping
  1. Cut butter into sugar & flour until it is fully mixed in & crumbly, then stir in the almonds.
Assembly
  1. When the dough has risen, use greased or wet hands to place in greased baking pans. Sprinkle the crumble over the dough, pressing in lightly. Cover the pans, then let the dough rise until doubled or until almost risen to the top.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  3. Bake for 30-45 minutes until golden brown on top. Let the bread cool on a wire rack,
Recipe Notes
  • I used one 12" x 5 " loaf pan & one 5" x 2" round spring form pan for this amount of dough.

Savory Dutch Baby Pancakes

I’m sure you are probably quite familiar with the Dutch Baby or German pancake. I have featured them on the blog numerous times over the years.

A cross between a pancake and a crepe, a Dutch baby begins with the thin pancake-like batter which is poured into an oven proof dish. When it cooks it starts to rise and puff up. When the edges of the pancake are brown, it is ready to come out of the oven. The center is perfect for adding either sweet or savory ingredients.

The recipe is a basic, universal one that can be adapted in a number of different ways. For example, you could add berries or other fruit to the batter or omit the sugar and vanilla and make a savory version with veggies and different spices.

We haven’t had a Dutch baby meal for a long time so I’m making a savory ones with zucchini, mushrooms & some Italian chicken sausage. Should be good!

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Savory Dutch Baby Pancakes
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Instructions
Dutch Baby Pancakes for 2
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. In a bowl, whisk eggs & milk. Add flour & whisk until incorporated. Whisk in parmesan cheese, sliced scallions, parsley, thyme, salt & pepper. Set aside.
Filling
  1. Heat oil in a skillet. Add onions & sauté until translucent. Add zucchini & sauté for 3-5 minutes until zucchini is tender. Season with salt & pepper. Transfer to a bowl. Add another 2 teaspoons of oil to skillet. Add mushrooms & sauté for 5-7 minutes. Cook until mushrooms are tender & most of the moisture has cooked off. Season with salt & pepper; transfer to another bowl. Keep filling ingredients warm will you bake the Dutch Baby pancake,
  2. Add 1 tsp of oil to skillet. Add sliced chicken sausage. Cook until browned. Transfer to another bowl. Add vegetable broth to skillet; whisk in flour & seasoning. Bring to a simmer while whisking until mixture thickens. Remove from heat & keep warm.
Bake /Serve
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Melt 4 Tbsp butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is melted & the skillet is hot, pour in the batter. Carefully transfer the skillet to preheated oven & bake 25 minutes, The Dutch Baby will puff up during cooking, but once it's removed from the oven & starts to cool it will deflate slightly.
  3. When Dutch Baby is cooked, remove from oven & place some of the chicken sausage in it then top with the veggies & the remainder of chicken sausage. Ladle sauce over top & sprinkle with grated cheese & fresh thyme. Serve immediately.

Quiche Lorraine w/ Hash Brown Crust

Quiche seems like a springtime dish, but the truth is its an ‘any season’ dish in my opinion. This version skips the pastry and is built on a crispy, grated, potato hash brown crust.

Hash browns can always be counted on to add heartiness and can be made several different ways, incorporating a variety of ingredients, including leftovers or whatever happens to be on hand in the fridge. Although hash browns are credited as being from the USA, there are similar dishes elsewhere that likely contributed towards the hash browns of today, and should be mentioned:

  • Rösti of Switzerland – like a potato pancake
  • Latkes of the Jewish folks – also like a potato pancake, but with eggs
  • Tortilla de papas (or patatas) of Spain – like an omelet

The original ‘quiche Lorraine’ was an open pie with a filling consisting of an egg and cream custard with smoked bacon. It was only later that cheese was added to the quiche Lorraine. The bottom crust was originally made from bread dough, but that has long since evolved into numerous other ideas such as puff pastry or hash brown crusts.

Although quiche is now a classic dish of French cuisine, quiche actually originated in Germany, in the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, under German rule, and which the French later renamed Lorraine. The word ‘quiche’ is from the German ‘Kuchen’, meaning cake.

The specialty quiche from Lorraine features gruyere cheese, onion, bacon as its primary flavors. The nice thing is, quiche is something that anyone can make and can be served as an entrée, for lunch, breakfast, or an evening snack.

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Quiche Lorraine w/ Hash Brown Crust
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Instructions
Potato Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Thaw & pat dry shredded hashbrowns on paper towels. Lightly toss with remaining crust ingredients. Press into the bottom & up the sides of a 9" quiche pan. Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F.
Filling
  1. In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp, 5-6 minutes; transfer to a paper towel lined plate & allow to cool.
  2. Wipe out skillet & heat oil. Add leeks & garlic; cook covered , stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes or until tender.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, heavy cream & smoked paprika. Stir in bacon, leeks & cheese. Spoon mixture into hashbrown crust. Slightly press sliced tomatoes , cut side up, into quiche. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp each salt & pepper.
  4. Bake until set & golden brown about 20-25 minutes. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes
  • To cut out a few calories, I use a low fat milk instead of the heavy cream. It just requires a little longer cooking time but still tastes great.