Versatile & plentiful, zucchini has endless applications. To mention a ‘few’, we’ve made zucchini bread & muffins, noodles, roasted it and put it on kabobs with chicken. It’s used in curry, ratatouille, stir fry and relish, etc. etc. etc. But just when I think there’s nothing I can do different with it, another idea pops into my head.
Among the family of sausages there is perhaps none so beloved in North America as the bratwurst. There are many interpretations of bratwurst, with variations on texture, flavor, size and cooking methods. Traditional bratwurst, which is German in origin, is made with pork & veal. Turkey bratwurst is a popular alternative to this traditional kind because of its low fat content.
For this recipe, I combine ground turkey with a combination of ‘German’ bratwurst spices and formed them into long sausage shapes. The shredded zucchini/cheese ‘crust’ is wrapped around each sausage and baked. All the flavors blended so well, creating yet one more use for zucchini!
Zucchini Crusted Turkey Bratwurst
Place the shredded zucchini on paper towel & sprinkle LIGHTLY with salt. Cover & blot with another piece of paper towel. Allow to sit for about an hour to release excess moisture.
When zucchini is ready, place in a bowl & combine with remaining 'crust' ingredients.
Combine all ingredients & mix well. Divide mixture into 5 equal portions, shaping each into a 5-inch long sausage.
Assembly & Baking
Divide zucchini mixture into 5 equal amounts. On a piece of plastic wrap, place a portion of the zucchini mixture & pat it into a small rectangle large enough to enclose a sausage in it. Lay a sausage on the zucchini; use the plastic wrap to help roll the sausage & enclose in the zucchini crust. Repeat with remaining sausage,
Oil a piece of foil paper. Place foil on a baking sheet. Top with crusted sausages & bake for 30 minutes or until slightly browned.
These are nice served with baked potatoes & corn.
Scallops are beloved by pretty much everyone who can eat them …. they’re tender, sweet and taste ever so slightly of the sea. Being not only expensive and easy to overcook, scallops are often considered restaurant only fare.
Wild scallops feed by filtering microscopic plankton from the water. They are hand shucked immediately and frozen at sea to capture their fresh sweet flavor.
Pan-seared scallops pair well with bright, tangy flavors that contrast their meaty sweetness or in creamy dishes that emphasize their richness.
One of my go-to ‘sauces’ that I’ve used on numerous occasions on the blog, contains hot red pepper jelly. I’ve added a raspberry preserve to the jelly for a new twist on the flavor this time. The parmesan risotto brings it all together, definitely making this meal a ‘keeper’.
Pan-Seared Scallops w/ Spicy Raspberry Sauce
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook & stir diced bacon until browned, about 5-10 minutes. Drain the bacon & reserve.
In the skillet, melt the butter & sauté onion & garlic for about 4 minutes until soft & translucent. Add the rice & mix well until it is fully coated with the butter.
Pour in 1/2 cup of the broth & lemon/lime juice. Once the rice has absorbed all the liquid, turn heat to medium low. Add one cup of broth & continuously stir until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat, one cup at a time, with the remaining broth. This will take about 20-25 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup water & take the pan off the heat once risotto is at your desired consistency. Add the parmesan cheese, reserved bacon & parsley; stir to combine. Add salt & pepper to taste.
In a food processor, puree ingredients for sauce & set aside.
Thaw scallops as directed on package. Rinse & pat dry with paper towels; season with salt & pepper. Add oil & butter to a non-stick skillet & heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Sauté scallops by turning over once until browned & just cooked through, 4-6 minutes total.
Serve over a bed of parmesan risotto & drizzle with sauce.
- Of course, if you live where you have access to fresh scallops, your in a whole different class!!
Here on the Canadian prairies we have a native berry called a ‘Saskatoon’. These berries are very special …. the kind of special that only comes once a year.
Saskatoon berries look much like blueberries, but in fact are part of the rose family which includes apples, cherries, plums and of course roses. Saskatoons ripen in late June or early July. They grow in many conditions from sea level to mountain peaks and are less picky about soil conditions than blueberries. Trying to explain their flavor to anyone who has never tasted them is difficult and elusive. They’re sweet, dense, rich, seedy, slightly blueberryish, more almondish, a bit apple-y, dusky and deep. Like I said …. difficult to explain!
Throughout North America, saskatoon berries have a variety of names including: prairie berry, service berry, shadbush or juneberry.
Saskatoon berries work equally good in sweet treats as well as savory recipes. This pork tenderloin entrée is a good example of the latter.
Honeyed Saskatoon Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
In a small bowl, combine panko crumbs, Parmesan, thyme, oregano, garlic & pepper.
Remove silverskin from tenderloin & 'butterfly'. Place meat between 2 sheets of plastic wrap & pound, making it all the same thickness. Spread mustard evenly on flattened cut side & top with 'stuffing'.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Starting with the long side, carefully roll the tenderloin as opposed to just folding it over.
Place a rack in a shallow roasting pan & lay a piece of foil on top creating sides for it. Lightly oil center of foil; place tenderloin on it & brush with Fig Balsamic Olive Oil Vinaigrette or just use olive oil. Roast for about 45 minutes until just a hint of pink remains.
In a small saucepan over low heat, add 1 tsp oil & sauté green onions & ginger for a couple of minutes. Add honey, water, cider vinegar, cornstarch & salt; mix well. Add saskatoons; bring to a simmer & cook until chutney thickens slightly.
Slice roast tenderloin into medallions about 1-inch thickness. Pour some chutney onto serving platter; place sliced tenderloin medallions on top & drizzle with remaining chutney.
No matter what the stuffing or style is, love for the empanada is not a difficult one to understand. They are cheap, easy to eat, transportable, and versatile.
Empanadas look as good as they taste; perfect food for a picnic. Eating outdoors, spaced apart is probably one of the safest ways to gather during the ongoing pandemic crisis. The great thing about picnicking is that you can do it practically anywhere you can throw a blanket down. If you can’t make it to a park or field, your yard, porch or any flat surface with a little grass (or sand), some sun (& shade) will do.
Empanadas can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They can be served as appetizers or snacks (hot or cold), but they can easily make a full and satisfying main course.
The very basics for an empanada are a combination of three things; dough, filling and a cooking method. The dough can be made from wheat flour, cornmeal, mashed plantains, potatoes, yuca, sweet potatoes etc. and the fillings can consist of meat, fish or vegetables. The cooking method is usually to be baked or fried although some can be cooked on a griddle or grill.
According to food historians, empanadas with seafood filling first appeared in a 1520 cookbook, published during the Moorish invasions.
I was real interested to see what I could do to make some salmon empanadas taste special. We found they were good as a hot meal served with the remaining ‘sauce’ or eaten COLD for a picnic lunch.
Salmon Picnic Empanadas
In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or finger tips, cut in butter until mixture resembles both coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. Do NOT overwork dough.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least an hour.
In a skillet, melt butter & sprinkle with flour. Allow to cook for a few minutes. In a bowl, whisk together broth, milk & soy sauce. Slowly add to flour/butter mixture, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Remove from skillet & set aside.
In the skillet, sauté salmon filet in 1 Tbsp oil until JUST cooked. Remove to a dish. With a fork, 'shred' salmon; set aside.
In the skillet, sauté vegetables in remaining Tbsp of oil for a couple of minutes. Add seasonings, shredded salmon, 1/3 cup prepared soy sauce & grated cheddar. Toss to combine; set aside to cool.
Assembly & Baking
Divide chilled pastry into 10 balls. Roll each one in cornmeal. Place a ball between 2 sheets of plastic wrap & roll into a 6-inch circle.
Divide filling into 10 portions. Place a portion on one side of the pastry circle, leaving about a 1/2-inch border (on filled side). With your fingertips, moisten edge of pastry with a bit of milk or water. Flip opposite side over filling & press edges together to enclose it well. Use a fork to make the classic look.
Repeat with remaining pastry & filling. Lay empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 20 minutes or until pastry is baked & slightly browned.
CELEBRATING HERTIAGE 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.
Our choice of meal for today are some special beef burgers on Portobello buns. Mushrooms are often cooked and served as a meat substitute in today’s ‘plant based’ society. Large Portobello mushrooms are the general size and shape of hamburger buns so using them to sub for buns seems only logical. I guess you could say they are the earth’s natural burger bun!
I have fond memories of my first introduction to a Portobello ‘burger‘. It was in the quaint little village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, located about 190 km (120 miles) from San Francisco.
Some 35 years ago, actor Clint Eastwood, was elected mayor of Carmel for a two-year term. During that time he opened a restaurant/bar there called the ‘Hogs Breath Inn’. You had to enter it through a long cobblestone alley/corridor. The outdoor patio was nestled between the restaurant and the bar. A massive wall mural and numerous stone fireplaces all added tremendously to the wonderful ambiance. It was here that I first tasted a Portobello Mushroom Burger.
This version , the Portobello mushroom seemed to have been marinated and then grilled on a barbecue. On top of it were some battered onion rings, lettuce and tomato. All of the came in a grilled ciabatta bun with pickles and a side dish of your choice.
In the case of today’s blog recipe, we are using the mushroom cap as the bun. The guacamole is a great accompaniment to the beef burgers along with smoked Gouda cheese, tomatoes and the mushroom ‘buns’.
Guacamole Beef Burgers on Portobello 'Buns'
Preheat oven to 400 F. & place rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with foil paper & set aside.
Brush the mushroom caps (top & bottom) with Italian dressing & place them, gills side up , on the lined baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes then flip them over & bake for an additional 10 minutes.
When mushrooms are ready & the juices have been released, remove them from the baking sheet. Place them on a wire to drip off a bit.
On a piece of plastic wrap, mash avocado with lime juice, salt, garlic, onion & cilantro. Fold plastic wrap over guacamole & set aside in fridge.
Preheat barbecue grill (or roast burgers in oven).
In a bowl, combine all burger ingredients & mix well. Divide beef mixture into 4 equal parts & shape into patties. Grill patties 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Divide cheese between patties & allow to melt.
Top each of the 4 mushroom caps with some guacamole, a burger patty & tomato slices. These are definitely the kind of 'burger' you want to eat with a fork & knife. Of course you could always squeeze the whole thing in a ciabatta bun!
Most often guacamole is relegated to a small bowl next to some tortilla chips. Brion & I love ‘guac’ and since its so quick and easy to make, we use our fair share. This creamy, citrus infused quac is the perfect foil for this salty, savory salmon.
Plantains make another good pairing to this meal. While technically, they can be eaten raw when they are very ripe, the fruit is called a ‘cooking banana’ for a reason. For most part, they are prepared like a vegetable …. specifically, a potato. Around the world, the fruit is used to make breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert.
The unripe plantain is traditionally prepared with a deep-frying method. The frying is done twice to ensure a crispy chip. You first peel the green plantains and slice them. Then the chips are fried on both sides, removed from the oil and blotted on paper towel. The plantains are now flattened somewhat and re-fried to provide extra crispiness. Salt may be used to add flavor to the chips. The thicker version should be served hot or warm and are nice eaten with guacamole, garlic sauce or grated cheese as a side dish.
As always, in my quest to bake rather than deep fry, I decided to bake our plantains today.
Roasted Salmon & Plantains w/ Guacamole
In a large bowl, coarsely mash avocados with lime juice & salt. Stir in garlic, onion, cilantro & diced tomato. Cover & set aside until ready to use,
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil placed shiny side up. Brush one side of foil lightly with oil.
Peel & slice plantains into 1/3-inch slices. Place the plantains on the oiled side of the baking sheet & roast for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven & with the bottom of a tumbler, 'squash' each piece down flat. Thinner = crispier. Season with coarse sea salt.
Brush opposite side of pan with olive oil & add the salmon fillets to the baking sheet. Brush salmon lightly with a bit of oil & season with your choice of seasonings.
Place the salmon & plantains in the oven & roast for about 10 minutes or until salmon flakes when you cut into it & is slightly opaque.
Serve salmon topped with guacamole alongside plantains. Steamed rice compliments this meal as well.
Special birthday wishes are going out to my sister Loretta today on July 25th. Loretta you are a treasure that our family holds dear. We appreciate you as a person, sister, friend, mother and any other function that you hold in your life! You don’t have a bad bone in your body and you never do anything to compromise your kind heart and tender soul, you are one special lady.
Even if Brion & I can’t have a ‘birthday supper’ together with Loretta, I still like to post a meal I think she would enjoy to have on her day.
This is a gourmet take on a classic potato dish. Its creamy, cheesy and comforting but instead of making this gratin with cream, I am using a béchamel sauce made with milk and two cheeses. Gruyere and Parmesan together with parsley, thyme & Dijon mustard give it a lovely flavor which highlight the taste of the leek & salmon.
WE CELEBRATE YOUR BIRTHDAY WITH LOVE, LORETTA!
Salmon, Leek & Potato Gratin
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté garlic, lemon zest & thyme for 2 minutes. Add flour & cook 1 minute, stirring to combine. Remove from heat & gradually add the milk, stirring constantly, then return to the heat & cook, stirring until thickened.
Add salt, pepper, Dijon mustard & 3/4 cup of the combined parmesan & Gruyere cheese (reserving 1/4 cup) & stir until the cheese melts. Remove from the heat & stir in the parsley & lemon juice.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish lightly with olive oil.
Wash & pare potatoes (leave the skin on if you prefer). Slice very thinly; place one sliced potato in a layer on the bottom of the baking dish, overlapping slightly.
Arrange one third of the sliced leek & salmon evenly on top, then spoon one quarter of the cheese sauce over all. Repeat the layers with the remaining potatoes, leek & salmon, finishing with the final layer of potato & topping with the last quarter of the cheese sauce.
Sprinkle with reserved 1/4 cup grated cheese. Cover with foil & bake for 45 minutes, then remove the foil & bake for a further 30 minutes. Allow the gratin to stand 10 minutes before serving.
- If your making this for a 'special' occasion, you may want to make them in individual servings as I did in the picture. I used 5-inch round pans with removeable bottoms & lined them with parchment paper so they couldn't leak.
The kebab idea is often said to have had huge impact in global cuisine, starting in the Middle East where initially they were simply grilled meat heavily seasoned. There are two particular varieties which those of us in the West are particularly familiar, being shish kebab and doner kebab.
Shish kebab is by far, the more commonly known term and while we usually see these dishes prepared with the vegetables and meat on the same skewer, they were initially done separately.
Almost every culture has its own take on skewered meat, but one theme connects them all …. whether simple or intricate, kebabs are uncomplicated and easy to cook and offer near instant gratification. I love any excuse to eat zucchini but these turkey slider-inspired skewers take my love to a whole new level.
Turkey Zucchini Kebabs
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with foil paper. Slice zucchini into (18) 1/4-inch slices & place in a bowl. Add Italian dressing & gently toss. Remove from dressing allowing excess to drip off & transfer to the baking sheet, laying the slices in a single layer. Roast for 5 minutes to brown a bit. Remove from oven; drain off any excess moisture.
Wipe off dressing from foil paper on baking sheet. Place a wire rack over a foil lined baking sheet. Spray lightly with cooking spray.
In a bowl, combine all of slider ingredients; mix ONLY until just combined. Form into (18) 2-inch patties; place on prepared baking sheet & bake approximately 15 minutes. Remove from oven & set aside until cool enough to handle.
On 6 soaked wooden skewers, alternately thread turkey sliders & zucchini slices (about 3 each per skewer). Dot with some salsa & sprinkle with grated cheese.
Lay on wire rack over the foil lined baking sheet & return to oven to bake until cheese is melted & bubbly. sprinkle with a bit of extra parsley before serving if you wish.
- If you prefer to make these on your barbecue, that works just as well.
In a time when people chatted over the fence rather than the internet, backyards had rhubarb patches. The big, old-fashioned plant with its huge ruffled green leaves is easy to grow and its extremely hardy. The same roots can produce rhubarb for up to 15 years. Pioneer women smuggled rhubarb cuttings across the plains, even though they were not supposed to take anything worth less than a dollar a pound because of the crowded covered wagon conditions.
Most often we cloak rhubarb in sugar for cake, cheesecake or pies. This recipe shifts rhubarb to the savory side, a chutney that is fabulous in pulled turkey pizza. This pizza concept changes up the usual tomato sauce base with a spiced rhubarb chutney. Chutney is good with pretty much everything and takes on unexpected flavors when paired with different foods.
This pizza was an experiment that turned out to be amazing with the combination of salty and sweet. The addition of a potato crust and some caramelized onions, what’s not to like?! Of course, you have to start with being a rhubarb lover.
Pulled Turkey Pizza w/ Rhubarb Chutney
- 250 gm pulled turkey Either slow roast some turkey thighs or pick up at a deli counter already cooked
In a large heavy pot, combine sugar, vinegar, ginger, cumin, cinnamon & pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add rhubarb & onion; increase heat to medium high & cook until rhubarb is tender & mixture thickens. Cool completely. (I prefer to make this a day ahead).
In a skillet, heat oil until hot. Add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture has evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat; sprinkle with vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Add brown sugar, stirring until caramel brown in color. Remove from heat & cool. ( I prefer to make these a day ahead as well).
Potato Pizza Crust
Cook potato in microwave, peel, mash & cool.
Combine yeast with lukewarm water & allow to sit about 3 minutes until foamy. Add butter, salt, sour cream & potato; mix well.
Stir in flour until completely blended. Turn onto lightly floured work surface. Knead dough until elastic & smooth. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise in a draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Turkey & Cheese
If you are slow roasting your turkey thighs its best to have done this a day ahead so you had ample time to 'pull' the meat. Shred the cheese & set aside.
On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll or press potato dough into a 16-inch circle. Transfer dough (& paper) to a 14-inch pizza pan.
Carefully spread 1 1/3 cups rhubarb chutney over bottom of pizza crust. Sprinkle with a bit of grated cheese.
Layer with the pulled turkey meat & caramelized onions. Top with remaining grated cheese & bake 15-20 minutes or until crust is baked & cheese is melted. Remove from oven; cool slightly & slice.
- When I slow roasted my turkey thighs for this pizza I used a covered roasting pan. To give them a nice flavor I poured a bottle of Zesty Italian Dressing over them. They were super tender & so flavorful, perfect for this pizza.
- Alternatively, you can purchase the meat (either turkey or pork) as well as a pre-made pizza crust if time is of the essence.
- We have also tried this pizza with pulled pork.
- Any extra rhubarb chutney will come in handy for another kind of meal.
CELEBRATING CANADA DAY!
Every year Canada celebrates its birthday on July 1st with parades, fireworks and other fun events. This year, due to the pandemic and out of respect for Canada’s Indigenous people, celebrations here in our city of Edmonton, Alberta will be virtual or be on a smaller scale.
No matter which way you decide to celebrate the day, we know good food will be an important part of it. Gorgonzola has been a favorite of Brion & I for many years. It’s actually kind of surprising as neither of us care for ‘blue’ cheese or Roquefort.
Gorgonzola is one of those classic Italian ingredients that’s more famous than understood here in North America. The name itself, refers to the little town in Lombardy, near Milan, where the cheese was invented.
There are two kinds of gorgonzola, Dolce (sweet) and Piccante (spicy). In Italian these terms mean fresh verses aged cheeses. Because dolce is softer and creamier, its great for spreading on bread or used in salad dressing, pasta sauce, pizza or burgers. Piccante is harder and tends to crumble.
This turkey burger is made special with the combo of gorgonzola, bacon and guacamole. Just great for celebrating Canada Day!
Gorgonzola & Bacon Turkey Burgers
In a skillet, fry bacon until soft cooked. Remove from pan & blot on paper towel. Chop & set aside.
Using bacon drippings, saute finely chopped leeks & garlic until tender. Remove from skillet & cool.
In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, sauteed leeks & garlic, panko, salt, pepper, sugar, coriander, sage & ginger. Mix well.
Shape into (8) 1/2-inch thick patties. Place 1/8 (10 gm) of the crumbled Gorgonzola & 1/4 of chopped bacon on each of 4; top with another patty, pressing edges to seal, making (4) 1-inch thick patties.
Place on a preheated grill over medium heat. Close lid & grill, turning once, until meat is no longer pink inside, about 12-14 minutes.
Alternately, you can place them in a 375 F oven on a foil-lined tray & bake for about 20-25 minutes.
When burgers are almost done, top each with remaining Gorgonzola.
Serve in toasted ciabatta buns with your choice of toppings.