Chocolate Rhubarb Brownies

While I’ll never grow tired of the classic pairing of strawberries and rhubarb, I love rhubarb too much to let it simply be a sidekick to those sweet berries. Not only can it hold its own, but it also begs to be matched up with many other flavors that give it new life.

Eating seasonally doesn’t have to be difficult when it tastes so delicious. Finding inventive ways to incorporate locally grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables into breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes is actually a very easy task.

When making desserts, chocolate and rhubarb bring very different flavors to the table. The result makes a perfect balance. High-cacao chocolate is rich, subtly sweet, and creamy. Fresh rhubarb, meanwhile, is tart and comes into its own when offset by a dash of sweetness.

Celebrate rhubarb season with a stellar dessert like fudgy rhubarb brownies.

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Chocolate Rhubarb Brownies
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk sugar, butter, eggs & vanilla.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder & sea salt.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients & mix until they are just incorporated. Add the rhubarb, chocolate chips & nuts. Mix only until they are combined. The batter will be quite thick. Pour batter into baking pan & spread it out so that it is even.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or just until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. DO NOT OVERBAKE.
  6. Remove brownies from the oven & allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. Slice into squares.

Bedfordshire Clangers w/ Variations

July is such a wonderful month. The weather’s warm, there’s still plenty of summer left, and the produce is literally amazing.

Midsummer means the farmer’s markets are brimming with great fruit & veggies. With such a colorful bounty of goods, we can settle into our summer cooking routines with tasty meals hot or cold.

But, even in summer, we sometimes crave ‘comfort food’ such as a ‘hand pie’. The humble hand pie goes by many different names: call it a pasty, a turnover, an empanada, or a ‘Bedfordshire clanger’….

A Bedfordshire Clanger dates back to at least the 19th century. It was typically made for agricultural workers to take with them to work as their lunch. The original pastry was made from suet and cooked by a boiling method. There is a theory that the pastry crust was not originally intended for consumption but as a vessel in which to protect the filling from the soiled hands of the workers.

The clanger originated from the county of Bedfordshire, a small, low-lying and predominantly agricultural county nestled in the east of England and adjacent counties, including Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. 

The name is as intriguing as the food itself. The word clanger, it had been suggested, referred to the mistake of mixing sweet and savory fillings. But a more likely explanation was that in nearby Northamptonshire dialect, ‘clang’ means to eat voraciously.

Knowing their husbands would need lots of protein and carbohydrate sustenance, homemakers came up with the brilliant idea of a doubled, loaf-shaped pie. One end contained a savory filling that used the famed pork of the area while the other end was filled with stewed apples (made from local apples) as dessert. So, the two fillings didn’t combine, there was a ‘pastry wall’ in between blocking any flavors from mixing. A ‘secret code’ denoted which end was meat, and which was dessert: two knife slits on one end of the pastry top means meat, three small holes on the other shows the sweet. This was brilliant, an entire meal for the field workers – handheld, portable and delicious.

The version we have today is not its beginnings but its evolution. Once you’ve nailed this basic Bedfordshire clanger recipe you can experiment with all sorts of flavor combos, there’s really no limit to what you can combine in this savory/sweet pastry.

Since Brion takes lunch to work, I became intrigued with the idea and decided to get creative with the fillings. That way I could make a variety and freeze them and use as needed. These tasty little ‘clangers’ can be served as the main course for a warm-weather picnic or for a hand-held, backyard meal with the addition of a nice fresh salad at home.

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Bedfordshire Clangers w/ Variations
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Chicken w/ Caramelized Onions
Raspberry / Nectarine Filling
Blueberry Filling
Apple / Apricot Filling
Plum / Rhubarb Filling
Rhubarb / Apple Filling
Servings
Ingredients
Chicken w/ Caramelized Onions
Raspberry / Nectarine Filling
Blueberry Filling
Apple / Apricot Filling
Plum / Rhubarb Filling
Rhubarb / Apple Filling
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Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sage & salt. Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour mixture & use your fingers to work them in. Alternately you could use a pastry cutter to do this.
  2. When the mixture resembles cornmeal with pea-sized bits of butter remaining, stir in cheese with a fork until evenly distributed. Sprinkle 6 Tbsp ice water over mixture & stir with a fork until dough begins to come together. If needed, add an additional Tbsp or two of ice water.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface & knead for about three times. Gather the dough into a disk & wrap in plastic wrap. refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Pork Filling
  1. Bake potato in microwave, peel & cut into small cubes. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet & sauté celery, onion, garlic & bacon together on medium heat until veggies are soft & bacon is cooked. Add ground pork, breaking it up well. Stir in dried herbs & spices. Cover & simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat & stir in cooked potato & cheese. Set aside to cool.
Spiced Meat Combo
  1. In a saucepan, sauté onion & garlic. Add ground meat, basil, thyme, cardamom & salt & pepper. Scramble fry until cooked, remove from heat & add parmesan & potato. Place in a dish.
  2. In the saucepan, melt butter; add flour to make a roux. Cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes. Slowly add beef broth, stirring until sauce thickens. Season to taste. Add to ground meat mixture & combine to form filling. Set aside until ready to use.
Turkey Filling
  1. In a skillet, cook bacon until just crisp, then remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain; chop when cooled. Remove all but 1 Tbsp of the bacon drippings from skillet.
  2. Add butter to the skillet, sauté onions, garlic & mushrooms with herbs & spices, scraping up any brown bits, until the onions have softened & mushrooms have lost most of their size & moisture. Stir in the bacon & shredded cooked turkey, taste for seasoning. Cook for another minute or two, then remove from heat & set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, combine Boursin, milk & spices (if using). Stir until Boursin has melted. Remove from heat. Add to turkey/veg mixture.
Chicken w/ Caramelized Onions
  1. Heat butter over medium low heat in a heavy ovenproof skillet. Add the onions cook for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. When the onions are a deep golden color, remove them from the pan and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. Combine the flour, salt, chili powder, thyme, allspice, & black pepper. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess. In the same pan as the onions, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add each piece of chicken & fry for a few minutes until golden brown; flip & cook for a few more minutes. Transfer to a plate (it will not be fully cooked at this point, just browned – it will finish cooking in the oven).
  4. Turn the heat down & let the oil cool off a little bit. Make a roux with excess oil in skillet & dredging flour. Add chicken broth & cook until a sauce forms. Add the onions & chicken to the pan. Bake for about 20 minutes longer. When chicken/onion mixture is cooked, remove from oven. Allow to cool until ready to use.
Raspberry/Rhubarb Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cardamom & salt. Add water & stir then add chopped nectarines. Simmer until nectarine is slightly soft & liquid is thickened. Remove from heat & carefully fold in raspberries. Set aside to cool.
Blueberry Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients except blueberries. Cook until sauce starts to thicken then gently fold in blueberries & cook a couple of minutes more. Remove from heat & set aside to cool.
Apple/Apricot Filling
  1. Peel & dice apples. Drain canned apricot juice into a small saucepan. Add sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon & salt & combine. Add apples & cook until apples are tender. Cut canned apricot halves into quarters. When apples are cooked & sauce has thickened, remove from heat & add apricots. Gently combine & set aside to cool.
Plum/Rhubarb Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt & lemon zest. Add rhubarb & plums. Gently stir over a low heat. When enough juice has formed, allow to simmer until rhubarb is soft & juice has thickened. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool.
Sour Cherry Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, place sugar, cornstarch & salt. Add juice/water mixture & stir to thoroughly combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Immediately remove from heat. Gradually fold in cherries. Set aside to cool.
Rhubarb/Apple Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, add the rhubarb, apples, salt & sugar. Add a drizzle of water if necessary & heat on medium. The rhubarb will begin to release liquid & break down as the apples soften. Heat the mixture until the moisture has evaporated & begins to thicken. Once the mixture is thickened, add the lemon juice, lemon zest and cinnamon. Place it in a bowl & allow to cool.
Apple/Pear Filling
  1. Heat butter in a small skillet until melted, add apples & pears & cook until fruit begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle sugar over mixture & continue to cook stirring often until fruit begins to lose its juices. Mix together cornstarch & lemon juice & add to pan. Simmer until mixture has thickened, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat & allow to cool.
Assembly/Baking
  1. Divide pastry into 5 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface (or dry wax paper) roll out each piece of pastry into 14 x 7 1/2-inches. The excess trimmed from the sides will be used for little pastry ‘walls’ dividing the sweet & savory fillings. Roll excess pastry into a 3-inch length.
  2. Cut each piece of pastry in half horizontally so you have (2) 7-inch long pieces from each piece of pastry. From the top of each piece, LIGHTLY make a line across your pastry 4-inches from the outside edge. This will help to place your fillings properly.
  3. On the 3-inch wide section, place savory filling to cover 2/3 of the area. Place one of the rolled strips after that then place sweet filling on the remaining 1/3 to complete the 'clanger'. The little rolled piece of pastry divides the savory & sweet filling.
  4. On the sweet side make 3 holes for vents & on the savory side make 2 slashes. This is the 'code' to let the person eating the clanger which was savory or sweet.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  6. Brush the edges of each pastry with egg wash. Lift the pastry from the opposite side over the fillings & seal the edges with a fork.
  7. Brush clangers with remaining egg wash & bake for about 30-35 minutes or until golden.
Recipe Notes
  • Due to the length of this recipe, I found making the savory & fruit fillings on one day & the pastry, assembling & baking the next, worked out well for me. Although these pastries are VERY time consuming, believe me, the are well worth it in the end, especially if your freezing some to use later. I baked them all & then wrapped them well before freezing.
  • You will probably find there will be enough savory & sweet fillings left over to make about 10 more clangers.
  • All of them will freeze well which will be a time saver for your next batch. Just make a recipe of pastry & your ready to assemble & bake.
  • If your not interested in freezing the 'leftovers', the fruit combined will make a wonderful crisp & the savory fillings can be used in quiche or casseroles.

Mini Roast Beef & Cheese Slider Buns

The name ‘slider’ originated in the 1940’s when sailors in the US Navy would refer to mini-burgers as sliders because of their extreme greasiness. In just one or two bites, the burger would just slide right down. Fortunately around 2007, sliders evolved from miniature ‘grease bombs’ to elegant culinary creations that now appeal to people of all backgrounds and tastes.

There’s something inherently appealing about a small burger. For the diet-conscious, the idea of a small gourmet burger is more feasible. When dining out, ordering sliders instead of an average sized hamburger also allows you to try several different varieties as they are often served in pairs.

The modern day slider has been reinvented from the traditional beef patty to being made from chicken, pork and veal as well as various seafood options.

These tasty little slider buns are layered with thinly sliced roast beef then topped with warm cheese sauce. Yum!

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Mini Roast Beef & Cheese Slider Buns
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SLIDERS
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SLIDERS
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Instructions
Sliders
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Heat skillet over medium heat, adding butter & oil. Sauté sliced onions in butter & oil until soft, brown & slightly caramelized, reduce heat to low if necessary. Stirring occasionally, about 15-30 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, prepare the sliders. Slice the “loaf” of brioche rolls in half lengthwise, with the bottoms slightly thicker than the tops, do not separate individual rolls.
  4. Layer roast beef to slider bottoms, then layer cheese over the top of the roast beef, finishing with caramelized/sautéed onions. Cover with tops of bread rolls.
Drizzle
  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; add mustard, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic & onion powder, & dried thyme, stirring until the drizzle is warmed & the sugar has dissolved. Just a minute or two.
Baking
  1. Evenly pour drizzle over the tops of the brioche rolls. Cover with sprayed aluminum foil & bake in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Remove foil & bake for 7-10 minutes until tops are lightly browned. Serve immediately.

Ube Cream Puffs w/ Craqueline Topping

Ube (pronounced OO-bay), is a purple yam native to the Philippines and other areas of Southeast Asia. Ube is a very versatile ingredient. It is not a purple sweet potato or taro, it is a purple yam. Its special taste reminds one of vanilla, pistachios or chestnuts. The vibrant purple color inside and out is uniquely photogenic.

Ube has been used for decades in Filipino cuisine and has now caught on in North America, especially in the form of desserts. In fact, one of the world’s top 10 food and beverage flavor manufacturers has identified the official 2024 Flavor of the Year as Ube. The 2024 Food and Beverage Flavor Trends Report is an annual summary by California-based T. Hasegawa USA.

Globally recognized for its innovation and expertise in flavor development and proprietary flavor enhancing technologies, T. Hasegawa remains at the forefront of consumer trends and shares these developments and research findings throughout the food and beverage industry.

Today, I’m making some ube cream puffs with a craquelin topping. Cream puffs start with choux pastry, a heady mixture of butter, milk, water, eggs & flour. When you combine these ingredients, they become so dense and sticky that it seems impossible they’ll come together as soft, puffy, light, tender. Heat is what initiates the expansion of the dense paste. Steam from the milk and water expands the pastry’s edges, puffing up its capacity until the oven heat provides just enough crispness and structure to hold the puffs’ boundaries. A cream puff expands so dramatically in the oven that it creates a cavern inside to hold any number of things—whipped cream, pastry cream, ice cream or savory fillings.

Cream puff pastry (or choux pastry) is the base for profiteroles (smaller puffs filled with ice cream), éclairs (elongated puffs filled with pastry cream and glazed), croquembouche (a tower of cream puffs held together and drizzled with caramel) and savory appetizer puffs called gougeres with cheese and herbs.

Craquelin (pronounced kra-ke-lan) is a thin biscuit layer that can be added over choux pastries before baking them. It is used to create a crackly appearance, crunchy texture and a buttery sweet taste as well as helping the choux pastry bake evenly to form hollow rounds. It certainly dresses up ordinary cream puffs and the taste is so unique.

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Ube Cream Puffs w/ Craqueline Topping
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Servings
CREAM PUFFS
Ingredients
Ube Pastry Cream
Craquelin Topping
Choux Pastry
Servings
CREAM PUFFS
Ingredients
Ube Pastry Cream
Craquelin Topping
Choux Pastry
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Instructions
Ube Pastry Cream
  1. In a medium saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch & salt. Pour the milk & egg yolks into a bowl & whisk until combined then add liquid mixture to the saucepan slowly & whisk together.
  2. Add butter, bring mixture to a boil whisking constantly for one minute before removing from heat then mix in the ube extract.
  3. Transfer the pastry cream to a separate container (optional: first strain it through a mesh sieve to ensure the cream has a really smooth consistency) Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap, ensuring that the plastic wrap touches the top of the pastry cream to discourage the formation of a skin on top of it.
  4. Place in refrigerator & chill for at least 2 hours before using.
Ube Craquelin
  1. Soften the butter then mix the ube extract into it. Add in the flour, brown sugar & salt. Mix together until thoroughly combined. Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper & flatten until the dough reaches about 1/4 inch thickness. Freeze the dough until ready to use.
Choux Pastry
  1. Pour the water, sugar, salt & butter into a saucepan & heat over medium heat. Stir the mixture together until the water is boiling & the butter is melted. Remove the saucepan from the heat & add the flour.
  2. Vigorously mix the flour into the butter/water mixture so that all the water is absorbed. Once the dough is formed, return the saucepan to the heat. Continue to mix & cook down the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the saucepan, about 2-5 minutes. You should be able to place a spoon into it & have it stand straight up.
  3. Transfer the dough to a bowl & allow it cool down for a couple minutes. Crack in the eggs one at a time, ensuring the previous egg is fully incorporated into the dough before adding in the next egg.
  4. Transfer the dough into a piping bag.
Assembly
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Remove the craqueline topping from the freezer & cut out disks of a desired size to put on top of the choux pastry.
  3. Pipe out mounds of choux pastry onto the prepared baking tray & top each mound with a craqueline disk.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the choux mounds. DO NOT open the oven for the first 25 minutes of the baking process of the steam will release & the choux won't puff up properly.
  5. After about 25 minutes, open the oven & prick each choux with a toothpick, then return to the oven to cook for another 5-10 minutes depending on the choux size (this helps to dry out the insides to maintain a firm choux).
  6. Remove from oven once the choux is nice & golden brown. Prick each choux again with a toothpick to allow them to dry out even further while they cool.
  7. Remove the pastry cream from the fridge & fill a piping bag with it. Slice each choux pastry in half keeping them connected slightly on one side. Divide ube pastry cream between the 'cream puffs'.

Pumpkin Angel Food Mini Bundt Cakes

Pumpkin angel food?! That’s probably not what you’d expect when you think of angel food cake or pumpkin, but this recipe is actually a very tasty combo. 

Of course, pumpkin-based desserts are a traditional fall dessert, so I am sure that you will be surprised that I am posting this pumpkin angel food cake recipe in April. It seems I have some pumpkin puree that’s in the freezer just waiting to be used before we get too far into the spring and summer season.

Brion has always loved angel food, so I thought why not add the pumpkin puree to kick it up a notch. Pairing it with the right fruits can also enhance its flavors. Instead of frosting or a whipped topping I am making some caramelized apples and raisins spiced with anise and cardamom.

  • Anise has a distinct licorice-like flavor. It adds depth and enhances the overall aromatic profile of the compote.
  • Cardamom is a fragrant spice with citrusy and herbal notes. It adds warmth and sophistication and complements pumpkin beautifully.

For a cake that’s quite sweet, some salted pepita seeds sprinkled on top are a bit of necessary and delicious balance.

Simply put, it’s an easy cake mix recipe dressed up with warm spices and pumpkin purée served with caramelized apples, raisins and salted pepita seeds. Yum!

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Pumpkin Angel Food Mini Bundt Cakes
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MINI BUNDT CAKES
Ingredients
Pumpkin Angel Food Mini Bundt Cakes
Caramelized Apples & Raisins
Servings
MINI BUNDT CAKES
Ingredients
Pumpkin Angel Food Mini Bundt Cakes
Caramelized Apples & Raisins
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Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine everything except the Angel Food Cake mix and ingredients to prepare cake. Mix until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a different bowl combine the Angel Food Cake mix and ingredients required to make the cake. Carefully fold in 1/4 of the batter into the pumpkin mixture. Then gently fold in the rest of the batter.
  4. Carefully pour or spoon into an 24 ungreased mini bunt cake pans. Place pans in oven on the middle rack.
  5. Bake for 15 -20 minutes or until cake is golden brown and springs back. Immediately invert pans onto a wire rack.
  6. Cool for 10 minutes.
  7. Serve with caramelized apples & raisins & a dollop of whipped topping. Sprinkle with salted pepita seeds.
Apples & Raisin Compote
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter then add water & sugar. When the caramel is golden brown, add the raisins, swirling them into the caramel.
  2. When raisins begin to plump, add apples & orange zest, then sprinkle with spices. Lower heat & simmer 5-10 minutes to thicken.
  3. Do not overcook compote as it will thicken when cooled.

Potato Lefse

From a traditional homemade staple to a quick on-the-go snack from a gas station to ferries or even a fancy dish at a wedding, the story of lefse is intertwined with Norwegian history.

The first lefse didn’t contain potatoes, they were made from flour. Women would travel from house to house, village to village to make lefse to last the winter months. The flour lefse would cook up like a cracker and be able to last through the season. Many households stored their lefse is wooden boxes covered in cloth or just stacked on shelves. When you were ready to enjoy some lefse it was dipped in water and soaked between damp cloth until softened.

Then came the introduction of potatoes, abundant and easy to grow. The potato was incorporated into many Norwegian foods. Like Ireland, Norway suffered from the effects of the potato famine in the mid-1800’s, which is about the time that many Norwegians came to North America. They brought their knowledge and rolling pins. The result is a Norwegian ‘potato bread’ delicacy that is part of a special tradition replicated in many Norwegian-American homes for more than 150 years.

In Norway, the lefse is sweet or savory, thick or thin, can be made from wheat or potatoes, and can be served with a wide variety of accompaniments. Recipes and even names vary considerably across Norway. 

In many parts of western, eastern and central Norway, lefse are used as an alternative to bread. They are eaten with savory, salty foods or with sweet foods.

Common savory fillings include cured ham and cheese. They can also be served as wraps, with fillings such as smoked salmon and cream cheese. Common sweet fillings are sugar and cinnamon. These are often served folded or rolled into tubes. As with waffles, the combination of brown cheese (or ‘brunost’ is a tan-colored ‘whey cheese’ with a distinctive caramel flavor) and jam is another sweet option.

There is no one best lefse recipe. You can choose to make thick, sweet lefse, or thin ones for savory wraps, with potato or without. There are so many options, not to mention the countless ‘secret’ family recipes handed down through generations.

I recall the first time I ever had the opportunity to try Norwegian lefse. I was in grade school and my friend asked me to come to her house for lunch. At the time, I wasn’t really sure what to make of it, but I remember it tasted good … just like a thin potato pancake!

Brion & I decided to use our lefsa as a wrap and make fish ‘tacos’ out of them. It turned out to be a great choice!

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Potato Lefse
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine Norwegian
Keyword potato lefse
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Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Norwegian
Keyword potato lefse
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
  1. In a pot, place potatoes & cover with cold water. Put a lid on the pot & bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer & cook until soft. Drain & put potatoes through a ricer (or grate fine) while still hot. Combine with butter & refrigerate until cool.
  2. Combine potatoes with the rest of the ingredients. Mix just until blended. Add milk only if needed to combine dough. Cover & chill thoroughly.
  3. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces & roll into balls. Between 2 sheets of dry waxed paper roll each ball to a 6-inch diameter.
  4. Heat a flat griddle to 400 F.
  5. Grill lefsa, flipping mid-way through, about 60 seconds on each side, or until freckled.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature as is or with topping or 'filling' of choice.
Recipe Notes
  • The yield will vary depending on how much dough you use for each one.
  • SOME FILLING SUGGESTIONS:
  • Spread with butter & a sprinkle of brown sugar
  • Spread with mustard & wrap around sausage, brats or hot dogs
  • Spread with butter or cream cheese & wrap around leftover chicken, turkey, pot roast or your favorite deli meat. Eat hot or cold.
  • Use as a wrap for salads such as egg, tuna, chicken & salmon.
  • Spread with cranberry sauce, applesauce or Nutella.
  • Wrap around warm meatballs.
  • Wrap around scrambled eggs with or without crumbled sausage or bacon.

Onion Scones

You might imagine scones as a food that is only served with jam and cream, but there are many variations on this classic tea cake. This flaky treat can also come in a savory scone version with add-ins like cheese and chopped bacon or sun-dried tomato & basil etc.  A scone is closer to a pastry than it is to bread mainly because it doesn’t include any yeast and has almost identical ingredients to a short crust with different fat to flour ratios.

So why not onion scones?? Because onions really form the foundation of our cooking, they are often the first thing that goes in the pan, and they are the flavor base for everything from chicken soup to a quick skillet pasta. Cooked onions give dishes a rich savory flavor and a subtle sweetness — you don’t always know onions are there once the dish has been spiced and sauced, but you’d definitely miss them if they weren’t.

Scone ingredients prefer to be cold. All your starting components need to be kept as cool as possible – this will help to guarantee the soft, light and well-risen qualities of your next batch of scones.

North American or British scones – what’s the difference? British scones are served with butter/cream whereas North American scones or ‘biscuits’ are far butterier and are typically served alongside meat and veg style savory dishes.

These onion scones make such a nice addition to a beef stew meal.

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Onion Scones
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Course Main Dish
Keyword onion scones
Servings
Course Main Dish
Keyword onion scones
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the yellow onion, green onions, garlic & butter. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, then stir. Microwave for another 1-2 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Remove bowl from microwave & let the vegetables cool for 10 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cheese, sugar, baking powder, pepper & salt.
  4. Add the sautéed onion mixture to the flour mixture along with the light cream & egg. Stir JUST until combined.
  5. Gently press the dough together with your hands to form a ball.
  6. On an ungreased baking sheet, press the dough into an 8-inch circle. Cut the circle into 8 wedges. Separate the wedges slightly.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until scones are lightly browned. Brush with more melted butter & serve immediately.

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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Rating: 5
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Servings
Ingredients
Bread Pudding
Vanilla Sauce
Servings
Ingredients
Bread Pudding
Vanilla Sauce
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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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.

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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Servings
Votes: 1
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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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Rating: 5
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Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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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.