Stuffed Pork Medallions w/ Cabbage & Apples

Tenderloin has always been one of my favorite ‘go to’ meats. Lean, tender, tastes great, so what more could you ask for?! I’m forever pairing it with another kind of stuffing or roasting it with different glazes or marinades.

Today I wanted to roast it with the classic combo of cabbage and apples. The perfect accompaniment probably because you really don’t need to add much else to the meal to make it taste great.

Cabbage isn’t glamorous. It doesn’t have a fancy name but it is common, versatile and lasts forever in the refrigerator. Even the smallest head yields enough for at least two or three meals.

When cabbage is roasted, a caramelized sweetness comes out, giving it such a nice flavor and especially when paired with apples.

Sometimes, cabbage is avoided because when cooked, the sulfur that it contains multiplies, giving off an unflattering odor. It helps to avoid using aluminum pans when preparing cabbage; aluminum reacts strongly to the sulfur present in the leaves. Stainless pots make a much better choice.

You can neutralize the odor by adding 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. Certain ingredients will also help absorb the odor. Try adding a bay leaf or a couple of ribs of celery to sautéed cabbage. The sulfur odor will be absorbed without changing the taste of the cabbage. Simply discard the bay leaf or celery before serving.

No doubt about it, the flavor in this meal doesn’t lack for anything.

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Stuffed Pork Medallions w/ Cabbage & Apples
Instructions
Tenderloin Stuffing
  1. Cook rice. Place in a bowl & set aside. In a skillet, heat oil & sauté onions until tender crisp. Add garlic & mushrooms & sauté for another 3-4 minutes. Add all herbs & spices; cook another minute than transfer to bowl with rice. Add Panko crumbs & egg, stirring to combine.
  2. Remove silver skin from tenderloins. Cut a slit all the way down the long end of your tenderloin, making sure not to cut all the way through. Open the tenderloins like a book, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap & pound with a meat mallet until they are about 1/2-inch thickness.
  3. Divide filling mixture between the two tenderloins & spread evenly over the surface of the tenderloins, leaving 1/2-inch at the borders. Roll tightly starting with the long end & secure the ends with toothpicks. Season all over with salt & pepper.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 F. Heat a large oven proof skillet with 2 Tbsp oil. Once oil is hot, place tenderloins in the skillet & sear about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the skillet with the tenderloins to the oven & bake for about 18-20 minutes or until thermometer reads 145-150 F. in the thickest portion of the meat. Transfer to a cutting board, brush with pan drippings. Cover loosely with foil & allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Cabbage & Apples
  1. While tenderloin is roasting, prepare cabbage/apple mixture. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook onion in butter until soft & translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic & continue cooking just until fragrant, 1 minute more.
  2. Add the cabbage & continue cooking until wilted, 6-8 minutes. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Continue cooking until cabbage begins to caramelize, 4-5 minutes longer.
  3. Add the cubed apple, cider, mustard & brown sugar; carefully combine. Cover & cook until any liquid has evaporated & apples are soft. Place on a serving platter. Top with sliced tenderloin medallions & serve. If you wish, you could also serve the tenderloin with some mashed potatoes & oven roasted carrots.

Mushroom, Caramelized Onion & Gruyere Finger Food

New Year’s Eve ……. normally this eve would bring about lots of parties and celebrations but the start of 2021 looks much more subdued. As expected, cities have cancelled or modified their plans due to the pandemic. Although tradition has been silenced this year, one thing that will never change is the ticking of time and the arrival of a New Year at midnight on December 31st.

When I was growing up, I recall one of the Christmas tree ornaments my mother had was a mushroom with a white spotted red cap. At that time, I remember thinking it seemed unusual as a Christmas tree ornament but never really questioned it. Many years later, through my interest in food history, I understand the connection.

In Germany and other parts of Central and Eastern Europe this iconic mushroom (Amanita muscaria) has long been considered a symbol of good luck and is intertwined with the Yuletide Season.

‘The Mushroom’ of Christmas and the New Year is frequently found growing underneath pine trees because the roots of this specific mushroom can only grow in the root zones of certain trees. There is some speculation that the red & white of Christmas and the use of pine trees may be linked to these humble mushrooms.

Even though the Amanita muscaria mushroom is toxic and should never be eaten it is still symbolizes the hope for good fortune in the coming year. The tradition of gifting mushroom imagery has stuck around, especially for those of German or Austrian descent who still exchange the pretty red & white mushrooms at Christmas time (often in the form of cards or other trinkets). Its not hard to understand why ‘meringue’ mushrooms are a popular decoration for the ‘Yule Log’ cakes.

After all these years, I understand the meaning of my mothers little mushroom ornament. New Year’s of 2020 seems like a good time to make a mushroom finger food in hopes of having the good fortune of Covid 19 coming to an end so we can all resume ‘normal’ life in 2021.

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Mushroom, Caramelized Onion & Gruyere Finger Food
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, heat olive oil over medium-low heat; add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to caramelize, about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the butter to the pan. Once melted, add the mushrooms & sauté, stirring occasionally, until they are completely soft & all the liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, sage & thyme; sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  5. Add the broth, scraping the bottom of the pan to pull up all of the browned bits, & cook until all of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat.
  6. Unfold the thawed sheet of puff pastry & cut out 36 circles from dough, placing them evenly spaced on the baking sheets. Using a very sharp knife, make four small scores around the perimeter of the dough, about 1/4 to 1/2-inch from the edge.
  7. Top the rounds of puff pastry with a small spoonful of the mushroom mixture, trying to keep the filling within the score marks. Top with grated Gruyere cheese. Brush the edges of the dough rounds with the egg wash.
  8. Bake until the pastry is golden brown, about 15-25 minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Seed Encrusted Ham Cordon Bleu

Many variations exist to the basic idea of the French ‘cordon bleu’ dish. It would seem that its one of those recipes that has evolved over time, starting in the late 1840’s. Veal cordon bleu was created in Paris, France to later be swapped out for chicken in Moscow.

Chicken Kiev, stuffed with an herb butter was likely the meal that inspired chicken cordon bleu. In North America, the first mention of this upscale dish was in 1967. It consists of chicken breast, pounded thin, stuffed with a slice of ham and Swiss cheese then breaded and baked or fried.

Today, a lot of interesting versions are being made using everything from bacon, avocado, spinach, onions, cheese varieties as well as numerous ways in which to prepare them.

I have chosen to kind of reverse the basic idea by using ham slices and stuffing them with turkey, stuffing and cheese. The sunflower seeds in the breading added a nice flavor dimension.

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Seed Encrusted Ham Cordon Bleu
Votes: 1
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, French
Servings
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, French
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Filling
  1. In a saucepan, saute mushrooms, onions & seasonings in butter until tender. Add water & bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add stove top stuffing & allow to stand, covered for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork; cool slightly. Grate cheese.
Breading
  1. In a food processor, pulse sunflower seeds for a few seconds ONLY. In a bowl, combine seeds, Panko crumbs, grated Parmesan & melted butter.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9 X 13-inch baking pan. Set aside.
  2. On a work surface, lay out the ham slices & spread with mustard. Divide stuffing mixture evenly between ham slices. Top each with a turkey slice then divide the Swiss cheese between the 8 'cordon bleu'. Wrap each by laying one side over the other, securing with toothpicks. Carefully transfer each roll to the baking pan. Using your fingers, place some beaten egg on all exposed ham slices. With a spoon, sprinkle breading mixture over ham rolls, covering evenly.
  3. Place a pan of water on the bottom shelf of oven. Position the pan with ham rolls directly over your water bath. This will help to 'steam' the rolls as opposed to drying & over baking them since all ingredients are already cooked. The flavors come together nicely as a result. Bake for about 15- 20 minutes.
Mushroom Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, saute sliced mushrooms in melted butter. Whisk in flour & continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Whisk in chicken broth, continuing to simmer mixture until sauce is thickened & bubbly. If you are using cream, whisk it in now.
  2. Top baked ham cordon bleu with mushroom sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes & a hot veggie of choice.

Savory Chicken Picnic Scones

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 choose whether or not to recognize the day as a general holiday, which most do.

In our city of Edmonton, a three-day outdoor festival is held to sample food, see performances and celebrate Canada’s multiculturalism. It features 60 pavilions that represent more than 85 cultures from all over the world.

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

I am posting some savory chicken scones that should work real well with that idea.

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Savory Chicken Picnic Scones
Votes: 1
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Course Brunch, Lunch
Cuisine American, French
Servings
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Instructions
Savory Scones
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, combine yogurt & sage leaves; allow to stand for 10 minutes. In a saucepan, heat olive oil & saute onion for 5 minutes until soft, then set aside to cool.
  3. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder & salt; rub in butter to form fine breadcrumbs. Stir in yogurt/sage mixture as well as sauteed onion. Turn out onto a floured surface & knead very lightly. Divide dough into 4 or 6 equal pieces. Form into balls & lay on prepared baking sheet. Flatten to 3/4" thickness; brush tops with beaten egg. Bake about 10 minutes or until risen & golden.
Assembly
  1. When scones are cool, slice in half & spread lightly with butter. Top each of 4 (or 6) halves with chicken & bacon slices. Drizzle with Ranch dressing & place some cut pickled asparagus spears on top. Cover with remaining 4 scone halves. Serve with tomato wedges on the side.

Mushroom Wellington

Mushroom Wellington is a vegetarian spin on the French classic ‘beef wellington’. The original is an elegant meal, using a beef tenderloin covered with liver pate’, wrapped in pastry and baked. The key to preparing items in this fashion, is that however long it takes to bake the pastry to a golden brown is how long it will be in the oven. In other words, the filling needs to require less time to cook.

A plant based filling makes that even easier to achieve than its meat filled cousin. The use of different types of mushrooms cut into varying sizes gives the dish texture and heartiness along with an earthy flavor. The secret to a deliciously juicy yet flaky mushroom wellington is to drain everything dry and make sure it is completely cold before wrapping it in the puff pastry. Skip this step and your pastry is not only going to be soggy, it will tear when you try to wrap up your wellington. Believe me — ‘bin there, done that’!

Although this would probably be the center piece of a vegan meal, it works beautifully as an accompaniment to meat and roast veggies as well.


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Mushroom Wellington

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Course Lunch, Main Dish

Servings

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Instructions
Mushroom Wellington
  1. In a skillet, fry diced bacon until crispy. Remove bacon to paper towels & blot dry, leaving drippings in skillet. Chop mushrooms, onion & garlic. Saute veggies with spices in bacon drippings until moisture has evaporated. Remove from heat, add bacon & drain or blot off any excess moisture. Cool mixture completely then add cold, cooked Basmati rice, stirring to blend. While the mixture cools prepare vegetable gravy if you are using it.

  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line your choice of preferred baking pan mold with thawed puff pastry. You should have excess enough to fold over the 'top' of filling. This will form the bottom of your wellington when baked. In each wellington, place 1/4 of the filling, topping each with 50 gms of the cheese. Divide remaining filling between the two wellingtons & fold the excess pastry over it.

  3. If you choose to make a decoration for your baked wellingtons, cut it from some of the excess before closing them. Bake the decorations on a separate pan. Place molds on a baking sheet & bake for about 35 minutes or until pastry is cooked. Remove from oven. I like to flip them onto paper towel at this point just to blot off any excess butter from pastry. Do what you prefer in this case.

Vegetable Gravy
  1. In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add bouillon powder, garlic, carrot, celery & onion. Cover & simmer until veggies are very soft. Remove from heat & cool slightly. Puree in food processor or blender. Combine cornstarch & water in a small dish. Stir into puree; return to heat & stir until boiling & slightly thickened. Stir in sour cream IF USING. Serve over mushroom wellingtons.


Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer, omit bacon & use butter to saute your veggies in making it a more vegetarian friendly entree.

Chicken, Squash & Pasta Soup

The season of squash and soup have arrived. As the days and nights get cooler, few dishes satisfy like a bowl of soup.

Roasting the chicken and squash before turning them into soup gives a deeper flavor that wouldn’t normally be there if you just simply simmered the ingredients together. You can go a number of ways with the preparation. If you have the time, roast a chicken (for a previous meal). That will give you both some chicken meat and broth needed for your soup. Second, you can roast some chicken thighs with the celery, onion, garlic and squash. Third, purchase a deli roasted chicken, roast the veggies and squash in the oven to caramelize them for flavor needed. In the case of the second and third options you will need to make some good, rich vegetable or chicken stock (from scratch or bouillon cubes). The pasta cooks in the soup to help bulk things out.

Whatever route you chose to go in making this soup, the results will be incredibly flavorful I’m sure. Imagine the aroma coming from your kitchen  — pure comfort food!

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Chicken, Squash & Pasta Soup
Votes: 1
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Servings
Course Lunch, Main Dish
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Roast Chicken & Veggies
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. On a foil lined sheet pan, arrange vegetable pieces & chicken thighs. Drizzle with olive oil & sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake until chicken is cooked & veggies are tender-crisp. Remove from oven. Chop or shred chicken into soup size pieces.
Soup
  1. In a Dutch oven, Place chicken broth, seasonings & pasta. Heat to boiling, add pasta & cook until pasta is almost done. Add roasted chicken & veggies & continue cooking to finish cooking pasta. Serve.
Recipe Notes
  • If you care to make some chicken stock from 'scratch', this ingredient list might be helpful-- 
  • 1 chicken carcass with any bits of meat & skin left on it
  • 2 whole stalks of celery
  • 2 whole carrots
  • 1 onion, halved (skin on or off)
  • 1 head of garlic (left intact, skins on)
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 8-10 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a dash of dried thyme, rosemary or any sprigs of herbs you care for

The Magic of Christmas

The Christmas season makes us reflect on many different things; to live life a little more grateful, more hopeful and a little more peaceful. It is a time to connect with friends and loved ones to enjoy the traditions we grew up with. 

Today, December 25th, our family celebrates my sister Rita’s birthday as well as Christmas. I have fond memories of her Christmas Eve family birthday ‘parties’. On the eve of Christmas, our family would go to church. After returning home, we were joined by some family friends to have  birthday cake and homemade rootbeer. My parents wanted my sister to always have this special time to honor her birthday apart from the Christmas festivities.

As I write about this memory, something else comes to mind. Our church at that time, was a small, old building. For the choir it had a small loft. As long as I can remember, the same lady played the organ as well as directing the choir members in song. She in turn, had a teenage daughter gifted with an unbelievable voice. One of the highlights of the Christmas service was to hear her sing a solo version of ‘Oh Holy Night’. You could hear a pin drop, it was breathtaking how angelic and beautiful her voice was. I get emotional even now remembering it.

Brion and I have spent many Christmas seasons in other parts of the world. One of the many ‘scenes’ that has left a lasting memory was in Italy, in the town of Assisi. We arrived in late afternoon with the  Trafalgar  group. The town sits atop one of the rolling hills in the region. The Basilica is a massive structure that dates back to the 13th century. By the time we finished visiting the Basilica the sun was setting. Brion and I stepped outside and in the meadow of the church stood a huge nativity scene with human size, terracotta figures. It was just an amazing sight to see and especially right at that time of day.

As much as I love to look at and appreciate the beauty of seasonal decorations, I’ve never been one who gets to involved with that aspect of the season. Food preparation has always been my calling and probably always will be. I hope you have enjoyed my pre-Christmas blogs as well as found them useful. I’m keeping it simple today with just two recipes. One is  SAVORY STUFFING  for your bird. This recipe is my best effort at a ‘taste of a memory’ from my mother’s stuffing. The second recipe is for MINI CHEESECAKES.  These are my virtual ‘birthday cakes’ for you Rita.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY –we love you — enjoy your day!

                     SEASON’S GREETINGS to anyone reading my blog.

                  THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS IS FOUND ANYTIME SOMEONE’S

               DREAM  BECOMES REAL BY THE KINDNESS ANOTHER EXTENDS!

 

 

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Savory Stuffing / Mini Cheesecakes
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Course dessert, Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Savory Stuffing
Base for 3 dozen Mini Cheesecake Cups
Lemon Cheesecake (1 Dozen Minis)
Chocolate Cheesecake (1 Dozen Minis)
Orange Cheesecake (1 Dozen Minis)
Course dessert, Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Savory Stuffing
Base for 3 dozen Mini Cheesecake Cups
Lemon Cheesecake (1 Dozen Minis)
Chocolate Cheesecake (1 Dozen Minis)
Orange Cheesecake (1 Dozen Minis)
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Savory Stuffing
  1. In a saucepan, boil potatoes; drain & mash. Set aside. Saute onion, celery, garlic, mushrooms & seasonings in margarine. Remove from heat. Combine with bread cubes, mashed potatoes & broth. ADD ONLY ENOUGH BROTH TO MAKE A PROPER STUFFING CONSISTENCY. You may not need the full amount of broth. This will make sufficient stuffing for a 4 - 4.5 kg (9 - 10 lb) turkey.
Base for Mini Cheesecakes
  1. Combine crumbs, sugar & margarine. In each of 36 paper-lined, mini tart pans (2 1/4" dia.), press 1 Tbsp of crumb mixture. Bake at 325 F. for 5 minutes.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium speed, combine cream cheese, sugar, zest, juice & vanilla until well blended. Beat in egg; fill cups. Bake for about 25 minutes. Cool before removing from pan. Chill. Garnish as desired before serving. For the chocolate cheesecakes, blend beaten egg & vanilla with cooled chocolate before beating in cream cheese & sugar so the chocolate does not harden into lumps.

Gourmet Stuffed Potatoes with Caramelized Onion-Apple Burgers

CELEBRATING FATHER’S DAY!

Father’s Day, a time to honor our fathers and father figures who have influenced our lives. Honoring your father on Father’s Day doesn’t require his physical presence. I feel what is more important is the just act of doing it

….. ‘Remembering you is easy, we do it every day.      Missing you is the heartache that never goes away’.

My father passed away in 2005 and Brion’s in 2011. The passage of time will never dim those precious memories we have of them. They followed very different paths in their life’s journey; my father was a farmer and Brion’s an army soldier. Both of them gave so much of themselves to their life’s work as well as to their families.

Since both of our Dad’s were ‘meat & potatoes’ kind of men, it seems fitting that my Father’s Day  blog recipes would center around just that. When I made the Caramelized Onion-Apple Burger combination for us, I made it with ground pork but I’m sure it would taste great with either ground beef or chicken. The Gourmet Stuffed Potatoes are definitely a tried & true recipe that has been around forever but are always enjoyed. 

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Caramelized Onion-Apple Burgers with Stuffed Potatoes
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Servings
Ingredients
Caramelized Onion-Apple Burgers
Onion-Apple Burger Filling
Gourmet Stuffed Potatoes
Servings
Ingredients
Caramelized Onion-Apple Burgers
Onion-Apple Burger Filling
Gourmet Stuffed Potatoes
Votes: 1
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Instructions
Caramelized Onion-Apple Burgers
  1. To Caramelize Onions/Apples: Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onions & apples; sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until both are tender. Reduce heat; sprinkle with vinegar. Cook, stirring until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color.
  2. To Make Stuffed Burgers: Place ground meat in a large bowl & combine with spices. Mix well. Shape into 8 thin patties. Divide onion/apple mixture into 8 portions. Place one portion on each of 4 patties ( reserve other 4 portions for later use). Top with remaining 4 patties & press gently to seal enclosing filling completely. Place burgers on preheated, greased barbecue grill over medium heat, close lid & grill, turning once. Cook approximately 14 minutes total. Top with remaining onion/apple mixture. Serve on buttered, lightly grilled Ciabatta buns.
Gourmet Stuffed Potatoes
  1. Pierce potatoes with a fork; rub with oil if desired. Bake at 400 F. for 1 hour or until tender. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Cut a slice off the top of each potato lengthwise. Scoop out pulp, leaving a thin shell. Place pulp in a large bowl & mash.
  2. In a small skillet, saute onions in 1/4 cup butter until tender. Stir Ranch salad dressing mix into sour cream & add to potato pulp along with cream, salt & pepper. Fold in cheese & bacon bits. Spoon into potato shells. Place on a wire rack in a foil baking pan. Melt remaining butter; drizzle over the potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika. Place pan on barbecue to heat through while meat is cooking. If you prefer, you can always put them in the oven at 350 F. for about 20 minutes instead.