Lemon Chicken in Dill Cream Sauce

Dill is an herb I have always favored. Due to its tangy taste and fragrance this herb has two groups of fans: those who are enthusiastic about it and those who push the plate aside in disgust if there is even a sole leaf of dill in the meal.

The herb is native to southern Russia, western Africa and the Mediterranean region.

In the 1st century Rome, dill weed was considered a good luck symbol. Ancient Egyptians used it to ward off witches. To the Greeks, dill signified wealth. Many cultures cultivated it for medicinal qualities, particularly its ability to soothe an ailing stomach.

Dill is a unique plant in that both its leaves and seeds are used as a seasoning. The thin, feathery green leaves become the aromatic herb called dillweed, and the oval flat seeds the more pungent spice referred to as dill seed.

The flavor of dill weed resembles the licorice-like flavor of mild caraway or fennel. The plant is, in fact, often mistaken for fennel fronds.

The classic combo of fresh lemon and dill create a quick Greek-inspired pan sauce for these simple sautéed chicken thighs.

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Lemon Chicken in Dill Cream Sauce
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Season chicken with salt & pepper to taste along with oregano, basil & garlic powder. Combine butter & oil in a large skillet. Once butter is melted add honey & stir to combine.
  3. Add chicken to pan, brown chicken 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a baking dish (it won't be cooked through at this point). Add butter & garlic; sauté for 1 minute until fragrant. Add chicken broth, cream & lemon juice & whisk over medium heat to form a smooth sauce.
  4. Pour sauce over chicken in baking dish & bake for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from oven, sprinkle dill over the chicken & sauce. Add cracked pepper to taste & serve.
Recipe Notes
  • Being rice lovers, I cooked some long grain rice & used it as a base under our lemon chicken & dill sauce before baking it. Real tasty!

Pork Skewers w/ Broccoli Orzotto

CELEBRATING CANADA DAY!

What is it about summer that makes us crave smoky, charred meat? Or has it got something to do with that wonderful barbecue aroma created by cooking outdoors that gets our attention? Whatever it is, its hard to resist.

This is another great barbecue option and can be prepared a few hours ahead or the night before and stored in the fridge. The best thing is it is super simple and quick to prepare.

You’ve heard of risotto, but what about ‘orzotto‘. It’s a spin on the classic dish with orzo pasta rather than rice and it takes very little time to make. I’m serving it here with broccoli and tender pieces of pork seasoned with a zesty Montreal steak spice blend.

Montreal steak spice, also known as Montreal steak seasoning, is a combination of various spices. It is based on the dry rub mix used to make Montreal smoked meat. Although the actual steak spice will vary depending upon the brand or restaurant making it, it is primarily made up of garlic, coriander, black pepper, cayenne pepper, dill seeds and salt.

Coat pieces of pork with oil then season with Montreal Steak Spice, cover it and refrigerate it well in advance before you plan to cook. This gives it time to rehydrate.

These pork fillet skewers not only look incredible but make a great meal for a warm summer evening!

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Pork Skewers w/ Broccoli Orzotto
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Instructions
Pork Tenderloin
  1. In a plastic bag, place Montreal steak spice & 1 Tbsp oil. Add cubed meat & shake well to combine. Place in refrigerator for a few hours or overnight to marinate.
Broccoli Orzotto
  1. In a pot over medium heat, sauté onion & garlic in oil. Add the orzo & 2 cups of the broth. Bring to a boil & let simmer for 6 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Add the broccoli & remaining broth. Continue cooking for 6 minutes or until the orzo is al dente & the broccoli is JUST tender. Remove from heat & add parmesan & lemon zest. Season with salt & pepper if you desire. Allow to rest for 2 minutes before serving.
Grilling
  1. Preheat the grill on high heat. Thread each skewer with 6 pieces marinated pork. Place the skewers on the grill for 8-10 minutes, turning every 2-3 minutes until all sides are lightly charred and pork is cooked through but not OVERCOOKED.
  2. Remove from grill & sprinkle with fresh dill. Serve with broccoli orzotto.
Recipe Notes
  • You can prepare the orzotto a day ahead & refrigerate. It is just as good reheated if your short of time on BBQ day.

Salmon & Leek Naan Pizza

The Naan which is known for its soft and fluffiness and original flavour also led to other types of it being created.

Different types of Naan also became popular depending on them either being stuffed or coated with specific toppings. The many varieties include:

  • Plain Naan – simplest form which is brushed with ghee or butter
  • Garlic Naan – topped with crushed garlic and butter
  • Kulcha Naan – has a filling of cooked onions
  • Keema Naan – includes a filling of minced lamb, mutton or goat meat
  • Roghani Naan – sprinkled with sesame seeds
  • Peshawari Naan and Kashmiri Naan –  filled with a mixture of nuts and raisins including pistachios
  • Paneer Naan – stuffed with a filling of cheese flavored with ground coriander and paprika
  • Amritsari Naan – stuffed with mash potatoes and spices 
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Salmon & Leek Naan Pizza
Instructions
  1. In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until leeks are softened, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine sour cream, dill, mustard and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place naan on prepared baking sheets. Evenly spread sour cream mixture on naan, leaving 1/2-inch border. Top with leek mixture, salmon and Swiss cheese. Bake until edges of naan are lightly browned and salmon is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle with dill fronds, if desired.

Chicken Avocado Fiesta Salad

For some of us, the best part of salads is everything but the greens! I have always had a hard time digesting lettuce so I’m never drawn to it when we get to salad season.

The idea of a full meal (lettuce-less) salad has always appealed to me. Of course there are many of these using a variety of ingredients. Probably one of the most popular was the taco salad. The earliest record of it dates back to the 1960’s with its predecessor being the small teacup-sized ‘Tacup’. It consisted of beef, beans, sour cream and cheese, served in a small ‘bowl’ made entirely of a Fritos tortilla.

The taco in a Tacup was invented by Charles Elmer Doolin, the founder of Fritos (tortilla chips). He created a device that looked like tongs but with two tart molds at the end of each tong. One mold would fit within the other mold with a tortilla sandwiched between them. The scalloped-edged shell was the dipped into hot oil. Holes in the bottom mold exposed the tortilla to the hot oil, enabling it to cook evenly.

Tacups were first served in Dallas, Texas in the early 1950’s and by 1955, he was selling them in Fritos’ flagship restaurant, ‘Casa de Fritos’, at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It became popular enough that the Tacup was made bigger and served as a full, main-dish sized salad bowl.

Today’s salad is a satisfying meal (without a shred of lettuce) served in an edible tortilla bowl.

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Chicken Avocado Fiesta Salad
Instructions
Marinade
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients. In a large resealable plastic bag, pour marinade. Add sliced chicken; seal & turn to coat. Refrigerate for 1-4 hours. When finished marinating, cook chicken over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. Remove from heat & set aside.
Salad
  1. Cook corn cobs in a pot of boiling, salted water, covered for 5-7 minutes. When cool enough to handle, hold the corncob vertically on a slip-proof cutting board & cut corn kernels from top to bottom around the sides with a sharp knife. Leave corn in bite-sized pieces.
  2. Fry bacon slices until brown & crispy. Chop into small pieces.
  3. Peel, pit & cube avocados. Sprinkle with a bit of lime or lemon juice to keep from turning brown. Dice Roma tomato. Slice green onions, chives & dill. Drain sliced black olives. Cube Gouda cheese.
Tortilla Bowls
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush the inside of 2 heat-resistant glass bowls with oil. Place one tortilla in each bowl so that the shape more or less adheres to the bowl. Line each tortilla with cheddar cheese slices & then place the second tortilla on top.
  2. Place the bowls with the layered tortillas in the oven & bake for 7 minutes. Remove the bowls from the oven & allow to cool before removing the 'edible tortilla bowls'.
Assembly
  1. Place tortilla bowls on serving plates. Place cooked chicken on the bottom, top with corn, avocados, tomato, onions, olives Gouda & herbs. Drizzle with Ranch dressing (or dressing of choice). If you wish, before putting the dressing on, give it 30 seconds in the microwave to warm it slightly again.

Baked Avocado Bacon Omelette with Salmon/Dill Scones

What to call it — an omelette, frittata or quiche? While this trinity of brunch egg dishes all contain eggs, the preparation methods vary. All are delicious but here’s what defines them.

The traditional French omelette contains eggs, a splash of water and a pinch of salt and pepper. The briskly whipped eggs are cooked in clarified butter then turned out of the pan when still a little custardy and unset. These (colorless) omelettes are rolled up like a business letter and served with only a few herbs. In North America, we seem to want to ‘clean out the fridge’ so to speak, adding just about anything and everything. This version is cooked until mostly dry on top and golden on the bottom. As a rule, they are folded over once, then served.

Frittatas are generally thicker than omelettes. The ingredients are mixed in, instead of sprinkled on. While started on the stove, sometimes they are finished under the broiler then served in slices like a pie.

Quiche, on the other hand, is a savory custard baked in a pastry crust or a potato crust. Quiche gets its richness from the addition of whole milk, half & half or even heavy cream. Just to add another twist to the mix — enter the ‘crustless quiche-omelette’.

This particular meal at our house, was one of those ‘clean out the fridge’ ideas that turned out absolutely wonderful. I had posted the salmon/dill scones on a blog a number of years ago. They made an ideal compliment for this meal.

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Baked Avocado Bacon Omelette with Salmon/Dill Scones
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Instructions
Baked Omelette
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a deep pie plate with cooking spray.
  2. In a skillet, saute bacon until cooked but not real crisp; dry on paper towel & crumble. Add onions, mushrooms & garlic to skillet, sauteing in bacon drippings until tender crisp. Chop tomato & 1 avocado. Grate cheese. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt & pepper. Add all prepared ingredients; gently stir.
  3. Pour mixture into pie plate distributing evenly. Bake 35-40 minutes, rotating once half way through. Let omelette cool for 5 minutes. Top with remaining sliced avocado & serve.
Salmon/Dill Scones
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 8 muffin cups with paper liners. In a bowl, mix together flour & baking powder. Add grated cheese, smoked salmon & dill. In a separate bowl, whisk egg, buttermilk & oil.
  2. Place half of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients & stir well. Then add the rest of the wet ingredients & mix until completely combined. Spoon into paper liners until each is filled halfway, then place a heaping tsp of cream cheese in the middle of each scone. Divide the rest of the batter between the 8 cups.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate pan & continue to bake for another 10 minutes or until scones are just browning on top & test done.

Salmon, New Potato & Dill Mini Quiche

It seems logical, since new potatoes and fresh dill are available, to make some of these special little quiche.

When I think of salmon, dill immediately comes to mind. One of the few herbs you can purchase fresh in the supermarkets year round. Dill is a very pretty herb with its feathery leaves or fronds. It has a fresh, grassy flavor that is often referred to as anise-like. A member of the parsley family, it can bring out the flavors of other herbs.

Dill is a commonly used herb in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. Fresh dill is often added to seafood dishes, yogurt sauces, vinegars, potato salads, fresh baked breads and soups as well as making a very gourmet looking garnish.

Quiche had become popular in England after WWII, but it wasn’t until the 70’s and 80’s that it really caught on in North America. Today we have many variations in our quiche fillings. There are also crustless recipes of quiche but some would argue that those can only be classed as ‘baked custard’.

Hot or cold, I have always enjoyed quiche. Brion probably could take it or leave it but I think this SALMON, NEW POTATO & DILL QUICHE  will be real tasty.


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Salmon, New Potato & Dill Mini Quiche

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Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt. Cut in white & yellow Crisco shortening until it resembles small peas. In a 1 cup measure, place egg & vinegar; combine. Add enough COLD water to fill cup. Pour all at once over flour mixture, mixing quickly, until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. This should only take a couple of minutes; DO NOT OVER MIX PASTRY.

  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll pastry out on a lightly floured surface. Cut 8 circles about 5 3/4" in diameter (providing your mini tart shell pans are 4 3/4" size). Line mini tart pans with pastry & place them on a baking sheet. Place a piece of parchment in each shell, fill it with dry beans & 'blind' bake pastry crust for 6-8 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 325 F.

  3. Divide grated cheese between tart shells; slice cooked new potatoes over cheese. Top with cubed salmon fillet, green onions & fresh dill. In a small bowl, combine eggs, milk & spices; beat well. Carefully pour equally over each tart. Place in oven & bake for 35-40 minutes or until filling is set & slightly golden. Cool in tin before removing to serve. If desired, sprinkle tops with a little bit more shredded Gouda cheese.


Recipe Notes
  • Smoked or fresh raw, ground salmon can be used instead of salmon fillet.

Brunch – Celebrating Mother’s Day

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

In the food service industry, brunch on Mother’s Day is huge. What better way is there to celebrate your mom then by taking her out of the kitchen on her day. As is the case with many culinary traditions, the origin of brunch is a bit hazy.

There are numerous theories, such as the English tradition of feasting after a hunt, or from the Catholic tradition of fasting before church and having a large meal after services. By 1930, ‘brunch’, that blend of breakfast and lunch had caught on in the United States. From some of the classic dishes restaurants offered such as eggs benedict,  brunch evolved into decadent spreads that even included morning cocktails.

Today as we celebrate Mother’s Day, many special memories come to mind. My mother passed away in 1978 but even after 39 years, time has changed nothing. I still miss the sound of her voice, the wisdom in her advice, the stories of her life and just being in her presence. I miss her today as much as the day she left us and I always will.

It is also with loving thoughts, I celebrate my mother-in-law, Dolores, for her loving and kind ways and for raising that ‘special’ man I love sharing my life with. To my sisters, who give so much of themselves to be the great mom’s they are.

In July 2016, I posted a blog entitled ‘Brunch in Thibery, France. It has some more brunch ideas for croissants, crepes and french toast you might like.

For today I have two brunch items in mind. One is BAKED EGGS IN PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM CAPS  and the other a SAVORY SALMON & DILL MUFFIN.  Enjoy your day!

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Salmon/Dill Muffins & Baked Eggs in Mushroom Caps
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Course Brunch, Lunch
Cuisine American
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Ingredients
Salmon/Dill Muffins
Baked Eggs in Mushroom Caps
Course Brunch, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Salmon/Dill Muffins
Baked Eggs in Mushroom Caps
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Salmon/Dill Muffins
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 8-cup large muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour & baking powder; add grated cheese, salmon & fresh dill. In a small bowl, beat together egg, milk & oil. Make a well in center of flour mixture; add wet ingredients, mix only until combined.
  3. Fill muffin cups half full; divide cream cheese between the 8 cups. Top with remaining batter to evenly fill cups. Bake 15-20 minutes or until they test done.
Baked Eggs in Mushroom Caps
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove stalk from mushroom caps. Make sure mushrooms do not get cracked so the eggs & sauce leak out. Place mushrooms in a baking dish that will keep them from tipping. Divide pasta sauce between mushrooms & spread. Break an egg into each mushroom. Pour cream over the eggs, drizzling to try to cover the whole surface.
  2. Carefully place mushrooms in the oven for about 20 minutes. When eggs are almost set lay cheese slices on top & continue baking for another 5 minutes.
Recipe Notes
  • Cooking times can vary between ovens; watch eggs closely.
  • If you prefer, you can scrape out the mushroom 'gills' to make more room for the filling.

Stuffed Salmon Burgers with Fresh Cucumber-Dill Sauce

In the quest for a real good fish burger I turned my thoughts to using ground ‘fresh’ salmon. Living in the ‘prairie’ Province of Alberta, here in Canada, the most economical way to buy fish is either canned, frozen or smoked. The fresh fish we buy in our grocery stores here has to travel somewhat before it gets to us. Definitely, it goes without saying that the flavor is not going to be what people living on the coast experience.  Nevertheless, with a little ingenuity we make it work. Brion and I both enjoy to have fish or seafood at least a couple of times a week.

To complete my ‘stuffed burger series’, I’ve made a a serious attempt to come up with a Mushroom-Cheese Stuffed Salmon Burger. I like the idea of putting a filling in between the salmon meat patties. So often fish burgers are deep-fried and overcooked, resembling the taste of what I imagine cardboard would taste like. Using fresh mushrooms and cheese certainly makes for a nice moist burger. Then just to make it a little more ‘gourmet’, top it off with a dollop of Fresh Cucumber-Dill Sauce.

Hopefully, out of the seven options, you were able to find at least one that will become a favorite at your house. By using some of these strategies to save you time, effort and money you will be able to get the most out of those wonderful days of summer ahead.

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Stuffed Salmon Burgers with Fresh Cucumber-Dill Sauce
A flavorful moist stuffing compliments the fresh salmon in this burger which is equally as good served with rice instead of a bun. The cucumber-dill sauce works as a good condiment in either case.
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Instructions
Cucumber-Dill sauce
  1. In a small bowl, combine all sauce ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Mushroom-Cheese Stuffing
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter & saute mushrooms with onions until golden. Add the garlic & saute for one more minute. Season with thyme, salt & pepper. Remove from heat, drain any excess liquids from sauteed mushrooms; chop the cooked mushrooms into small pieces. Add bread & cheese to mixture. Set aside.
Salmon Patties
  1. In a bowl, combine all salmon patty ingredients; mix well. Shape into 12 patties. Divide filling among half of the patties. Top with remaining 6 patties & press gently to seal edges enclosing all the filling.
  2. Preheat barbecue grill to a medium heat. Place salmon burgers on a sheet of greased aluminum foil or in a foil baking dish. Set pan on barbecue & cook for 6-8 minutes on each side or until burger is cooked through. Serve on lightly grilled Ciabatta buns with Cucumber-Dill sauce.
Recipe Notes
  • Like in the case of some of the other burger choices, I made up a double recipe of the salmon patties ahead of time. Scoop them into an air-tight plastic container; cover them well with plastic wrap & freeze. When you want to serve, make the stuffing & sauce for however many your cooking, thaw some salmon 'scoops' & flatten into patties. Fill & cook as directed. Fast & easy, works for me!