Chicken & Pear Bundles

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Thanksgiving represents many things to me. I have wonderful memories of growing up on the farm and all the hustle and bustle of harvest time before winter came. Of watching the Autumn landscape transforming into a beautiful tapestry of reds, gold and yellows.

As the fall comes in, the days grow shorter and the mornings darker, we start to reflect on the year we have had with its inevitable highs and lows. The Autumn season gives us a little bit of extra time to make the most of what we have left in the year before the ‘grand finale’. It is so important to just take the time to be grateful and appreciate the blessings we are fortunate to have in our lives and make every day count.

Since turkey is usually our Christmas meal, I’m making some chicken breast with pears and Gorgonzola cheese ‘bundled’ in puff pastry for our Thanksgiving dinner today.

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Chicken & Pear Bundles
Instructions
Raspberry Coulis
  1. In a small bowl, combine coulis ingredients well & set aside.
Chicken & Filling
  1. Peel, core & chop pear. Chop walnuts & crumble cheese. Slice breasts in about 1/4-inch thickness; sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  2. On parchment paper, roll thawed puff pastry to about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut 4 circles large enough to fit custard cups & have extra on top to gather & tie. Using the custard cup only as a form, place a circle of pastry in each. Line the pastry with thin sliced chicken breast, then sprinkle some walnuts & cheese in the bottom. Add some pear pieces, cheese, more walnuts. Top with another piece of chicken, cut to fit. Bring sides of pastry together in the center on top, pinch then tie with a chive green if you wish.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a cup, beat together egg wash. Lift bundles out of custard cups & place on baking sheet. Lightly brush egg wash over each bundle. Bake about 30-40 minutes or until pastry is puffed & golden & chicken is done (I sliced into one of the bundles just enough to see if the chicken was cooked).
  4. Slightly warm coulis in microwave & pour some on the serving platter. Carefully lay bundles on top & garnish with fresh herbs if you wish.

Russian Salmon & Cabbage Pie

The ‘stuffing’ principle seems very predominate in Russian cooking, from pelmeni (little meat dumplings) and vareniki (dumplings with potato & cheese) golubzi (stuffed cabbage), meat or cheese blintzes and of course, blini wrapped around lox.

Then there’s kulebiaka, the ‘grand’ oblong pie, that features several fillings. Its main distinction from any other Russian pie is that the quantity of the filling should be two or three times the quantity of pastry.

The word was derived from the verb ‘kulebyachit’ meaning to make with hands, to shape, to bend and to knead. This pie contained a flavorful mixture of salmon, rice, cabbage, mushrooms, shallots, hard-boiled eggs, dill and/or visiga — a spinal marrow of the sturgeon.

The crust was classically made with a yeast dough or puff pastry, although modern adaptations often include French crepes. In the 19th century, French chefs, who had worked in Russia, brought the recipe to France and adapted it to modern cookery.

This kulebiaka has a wonderful flavor with its many layers. I wanted to make it in the authentic oblong style but it can easily be baked in a 9-inch deep dish pie pan.

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Russian Salmon & Cabbage Pie
Instructions
  1. In a skillet, melt butter & saute onion about 7 minutes over medium-low heat. Stir in mushrooms, cabbage & vinegar; increase heat to medium. Cover skillet & cook 4 minutes; uncover, toss & cook 2 more minutes. Remove vegetables from skillet, season with salt & pepper to taste; set aside.
  2. Wipe out skillet, add oil & set over medium-high heat. Add salmon & season lightly with salt & pepper. Cook salmon 5 minutes per side; remove to a plate & let cool. Flake salmon into large chunks & set aside.
  3. Spread brown rice over bottom pastry. Peel & chop the hard-boiled egg, then add to pie, followed by flaked salmon. Sprinkle with cheese, then bread crumbs. Mound vegetable mixture on top. Sprinkle with fresh dill.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 F. Roll out remaining sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface until it is large enough to cover pie. Brush edge of bottom pastry with egg wash & place second sheet of pastry directly on top. Use a fork to crimp down edges so sheets of pastry will adhere. Cut a few small slits in the top of pie to allow steam to escape. Brush pastry with remaining egg wash. Bake 35-40 minutes until pastry is puffed & golden.

Papaya, Mango & Pear Pie

A wide variety of fruit has be used to make pie, from crisp apples to juicy berries or tender stone fruit. Tropical fruit, not as commonly used, can make amazing additions to pie filling creations. One such combo is papaya and mango.

Once considered exotic, papaya can now be purchased pretty much throughout the year. A very versatile fruit which contains enzymes that help in tenderizing meat as well as using it in salads, puddings, yogurt, chutney etc. For the sweetest flavor, select a papaya with a yellowish-orange skin that yields to the touch. Green papaya can be peeled like a carrot. It is similar to winter squash and can be baked or barbecued in the same fashion.

Mangoes have a rich sweetness with an aromatic floral note that isn’t present in many other fruits. As well as holding their shape during baking, mangoes become extremely tender, which makes them an excellent choice for pie filling.

Regardless of what type of pie your eating, the general consensus is that it should have a base made of some kind of pastry. When people first began cooking food in ovens there was little to protect the filling from searing heat. As a result, juices would fizzle out and everything would burn rather quickly. As a solution, dough was used to protect the filling. The dough or pastry absorbed the juices, making the entire case and filling a dish in itself. Since then, many complex forms and fillings have evolved in the world of pie making.

My objective today, was to create a ‘tropical’ pie. I had picked up a papaya as well as a couple of pears on my last shopping trip. I already had some mango chunks in the freezer. I thought pears would compliment the papaya and mango well. Between the fruit and spice combos, the flavor was just incredible. I think I ‘nailed it’!


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Papaya, Mango & Pear Pie

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Ingredients
Pastry Crust

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Pastry Crust

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Instructions
  1. Prepare pastry if making from 'scratch'. Line a 8-9-inch pie pan.
    Peel & core papaya, mango & pear. Cut & dice into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine fruit with lemon zest & juice. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch, sugar, spices & salt. Carefully mix 3/4 of dry mixture with fruit reserving remainder for later.

  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Pour filling into pastry lined pie dish. Sprinkle with the rest of dry mixture & dot with butter. Roll out pastry for top crust. Make into design of choice or just place over pie; pinch top & bottom together to form a seal & cut 'vents'. Brush with egg wash & sprinkle with sugar.

  3. Place in oven & bake for about 10-15 minutes to bake bottom crust somewhat then reduce heat to 375 F. & bake another 30 minutes or until golden brown & filling is bubbling.

Tourtiere – Cooking with a French Accent

New Years Eve and Christmas are the traditional occasions to serve tourtiere. This classic French Canadian meat pie originated in the province of Quebec, Canada as early as 1600. While it may seem foreign to some, tourtiere is as Canadian as maple syrup or hockey. It is one of Canada’s better contributions to the culinary world being enjoyed throughout Canada as well as  the upper mid west and eastern United States.

Fundamentally, tourtiere is a pie that contains meat and spices baked in a flaky crust. The meat is generally diced or ground, including any or all of pork, veal, beef or wild game. Other less common varieties include salmon or poultry. No matter what the meats used, or the presence or absence of potato, bold seasoning is the rule for all varieties. The four original spices used in the classic tourtiere are cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg. Like so many of these recipes that have been ‘handed down’ over generations, each family alters it to suit their taste. 

Something sweet and sour or something with a ‘kick’ pairs well with the spiced meat and flaky crust of tourtiere. Some choices might be cranberry sauce, pickled beets, chili sauce, green tomato relish, olives, spicy fruit chutney or salsa.

Even in today’s increasingly fast-paced world, these time consuming dishes are still being prepared. Just to clarify – Brion and I are not French Canadian but like many Canadians , we enjoy our seasonal ‘fix’ of this classic.

Apart from making tourtiere in the traditional form, try it as tourtiere meatballs, phyllo rolls, burgers, turnovers or chicken tourtiere tartlets. The recipe I’m posting today comes from a tiny little pamphlet I probably have had for 30 years from a meat packing company. It has been one that I have worked with the spices to suit our taste. Spices listed as ‘optional’, lets you do the same. 

                   HAPPY NEW YEARS TO EVERYONE READING MY BLOGS

                                           BEST WISHES FOR 2017 !!

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Tourtiere - Cooking with a French Accent
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Course Brunch, Main Dish
Cuisine French
Servings
servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
  1. Cut bacon into small pieces & fry over moderate heat until cooked but not crisp. Add pork, veal & onion; cook until meat is lightly browned. Add water & spices; reduce heat to simmer; cover pan & cook 45 minutes more. Combine meat with mashed potatoes; cool slightly.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 F. Meanwhile, line a 9" pie pan with pastry; fill with meat mixture. Place top crust in position; seal & flute edges, slash several times for air vents. If preferred, cut 'leaves' from pastry & place on top of pie. An egg wash can be brushed over pastry before placing in oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes; reduce heat to 350 F. & continue to bake 30 minutes longer.
Recipe Notes
  • I have a great pastry recipe on my Thanksgiving blog in October 2016 if you choose to make your own.