Salmon Wellington

HAPPY EASTER!

Easter is here and Salmon Wellington is the perfect holiday meal! The richness of the mushroom duxelles, pairs perfectly with the hearty salmon fish fillet and scallops and the buttery puff pastry just takes this dish to the next level.

Mushroom duxelles is an intensely flavored combination of finely chopped mushrooms, shallots, and fresh herbs such as thyme or parsley that are slowly cooked to a paste-like consistency. French in origin and named after the marquis d’Uxelles, this mushroom condiment is traditionally used in the preparation of beef Wellington, but it can also be used to flavor soups and sauces as well as to fill omelets and ravioli. 

Wellington fillet as we know it today was first made famous by the American chef and star Julia Child, who introduced the filet de bśuf en croûte, the French crust beef fillet, as ‘Filet of Wellington Beef’ during her TV show ‘The French Chef’, on the 1965 New Year’s Eve episode. From that day on, the recipe began to appear in various recreational circles in North America, as well as being taken up in the most important cookbooks.

A Salmon Wellington is a copycat version of the popular English ‘Beef Wellington’. Because puff pastry takes about 20 minutes to bake (salmon takes 12-15 minutes), keep the salmon refrigerated until you’re ready to assemble. Starting with cold salmon ensures it doesn’t overcook. To prevent the bottom from getting soggy, pat dry the salmon thoroughly before assembling. Also, make sure to cut slits on the puff pastry once assembled to allow the steam to escape. Don’t open the oven until ready since puff pastry needs full consistent heat to bake into flaky layers.

You’ll be so impressed when it’s time to take it out of the oven because it just looks amazing. However, you’ll be more impressed with how it tastes. Just like an elegant and flavorful fish pie!

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Salmon Wellington
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine French
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Instructions
Mushroom Duxelles
  1. In a food processor, pulse the mushrooms to a roughly diced consistency,15-20 seconds. In a saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, a heavy pinch of salt & pepper, shallots, garlic, rosemary & thyme. Sauté until moisture from the mushrooms has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl & set aside.
Scallop Filling
  1. In a small bowl, combine the scallops (or shrimp), cream, onions, parsley, dill, garlic, pesto, salt & pepper. In another small bowl, beat egg white on medium speed until soft peaks form; fold into scallop mixture.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll each pastry sheet into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle. Cut each sheet into FOUR- 6 x 5-inch rectangles. Divide mushroom mixture evenly & spread over 4 pieces of pastry leaving a 1/2-inch border.
  3. Center the salmon pieces on top. Next, top each salmon piece with a quarter of the scallop filling.
  4. Top each with a pastry rectangle & crimp to seal. With a sharp knife, cut several slits in the top to let steam escape. Place on the baking sheet & brush with egg wash. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160 F.
Dill Cream Sauce
  1. While salmon is baking, mix all sauce ingredients & refrigerate until serving time.

Mushroom Crust Quiche

Quiche, the great savory dish that originated in Germany, was perfected by French cooks who went on to create one of the most popular quiche in the world called the quiche Lorraine. Since then, many new variants of the quiche have been added. But all of those creative modifications involved mainly the filling, and the crust had that same nice and familiar, but plain taste. For that reason, many cooks didn’t bother with the crust dough preparation; instead they would buy good frozen puff pastry and concentrate on the filling.

Enter the unique mushroom crust quiche! To my knowledge, the first publication of the recipe was in the mid 1970’s in ‘Sunset’s Favorite Recipes’ cookbook magazine. The main advantage of this recipe is that the mushroom crust is nice and light as well as it goes with almost any quiche filling.

For a crunchier crust, use wheat thins instead of saltines, regular onions instead of green or change up the spices. Use your choice of cheese, instead of Swiss go with Monterey Jack, gruyere, Jarlsberg or cheddar. Add bacon, sausage or some pulled turkey as I did. Of course, nothing wrong with just using veggies and cheese …. endless possibilities!

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Mushroom Crust Quiche
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Instructions
  1. In a skillet, melt 3 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms & garlic; cook until soft. Stir in crushed crackers. Remove from heat & press the mushroom mixture evenly over the bottom of a well-greased 8-9-inch pie pan.
  2. In the skillet, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Add green onions & cook until soft; spread over mushroom crust.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  4. Sprinkle about 3/4 of the grated Swiss cheese over the onion then top with the cooked, pulled turkey.
  5. In a small container, whisk together eggs, milk, spices, salt & pepper. Combine the remaining Swiss cheese with the parmesan & sprinkle it over the turkey. Pour egg mixture over all & bake for about 30 minutes or until set. Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving.

Herbed Seafood Crepe Cake

Crepes hail from the Brittany region of France and can be served either sweet or savory. While savory crepes are traditionally made with buckwheat flour, this particular recipe calls for wheat flour.

In North America, pancakes are a breakfast time staple best served with a large helping of syrup. However, crêpes — the humble French pancake’s ‘skinny‘ cousin — come in both sweet and savory form and can be enjoyed any time of the day. Crepes differ from typical North American pancakes in that they don’t contain a leavening agent causing the batter to rise, hence the flat outcome.

Around 2001, Emy Wada, a Japanese pastry chef who had studied in France, introduced a ‘mille crepe cake’ at her New York city bakery. The word mille means ‘a thousand‘, and while there really aren’t a thousand crepes, it might seem like it! 

Crepes have become a favorite, sweet or savory delicacy all over the world. Made with just flour, sugar, salt, milk, eggs and butter, its simplicity is transcended by its versatility. A crepe can be used as a wrap or even stacked to create an elevated dessert or entrée.

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Herbed Seafood Crepe Cake
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Herbed Crepe Batter
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Herbed Crepe Batter
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Instructions
Crepe Batter
  1. In a bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together eggs & milk. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients then whisk in melted butter. Batter should be runny. Place in refrigerator while preparing the filling & sauce.
Filling
  1. In a large skillet, sauté shrimp in olive oil for several minutes. Add zucchini, green onions & garlic; stir-fry for several minutes. Add mushrooms & sauté over medium-high heat until mushrooms release their liquid & soften, about 5-6 minutes. Add ginger, soy sauce & water; cover pan & cook on low heat for several minutes or until cooked. Set filling aside. Grate cheese.
Sauce
  1. Sauté minced garlic & onion in butter. Add crushed, undrained tomatoes (& water, if using). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer uncovered 15 minutes. Place in a food processor & puree. Reserve for serving with crepe cake.
Cooking & Assembly
  1. Using a large nonstick skillet or crepe pan, add a small amount of butter over medium-high heat. Pour about 1/4 cup crepe batter onto skillet & form a circle with the bottom of cup or swirl it around the crepe pan so it flattens out. Cook 30 seconds on the first side or until it firms up, then carefully flip the crepe & cook for another 15-20 seconds. Repeat until all batter is used.
  2. Place a crepe on a large serving plate, top with a portion of the shrimp filling & some of the grated cheese. Continue with remaining crepes, filling & cheese.
  3. When ready to serve, place entire crepe cake in microwave & heat only until warm & cheese has melted. Slice & serve with warm tomato-onion sauce.

Shrimp Quiche Casserole

Quiche has always been an incomparable, one dish meal in my opinion. It’s kind of a whole food with protein, vegetables, dairy and carbohydrates. Quiche’s convenience wins hands down. After mixing the basics … eggs, milk or cream … any ingredients will work from leftovers to freshly cooked. You can use just about anything that you have in the refrigerator.

While some recipes are crust-free, most quiches have some kind of foundation. Potatoes, rice, cauliflower all make nice ‘crust’ options. Quiche makes a great choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. To keep it interesting, I’m always trying to find ways to tweak the ingredients to make it taste just a bit different each time.

Two of Brion’s favorite foods are broccoli and rice. I decided to make a rice/cheese crust, which I pre-baked so it would get a little crispy. Then, when it bakes with the filling, it holds together quite nicely. The seasoning plays a crucial part in the quiche.

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Shrimp Quiche Casserole
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, French
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Instructions
Rice Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Blend crust ingredients. Using the back of a large spoon, press into a greased 8-inch round baking dish & bake for 15-20 minutes.
Filling
  1. In a skillet, melt 1 Tbsp butter; saute garlic & mushrooms, stirring for about 5 minutes. Stir in onions, cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Pour 2 cups water into skillet & bring to a simmer. Cook shrimp for about 1 minute or JUST until pink. Reserving 1 cup of the liquid, rinse shrimp under cold running water. Shell & devein shrimp; arrange over rice in baking dish.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 F. (If you have turned it off after pre-baking crust). In a heavy saucepan, melt remaining butter & stir in flour. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, without browning; gradually whisk in reserved liquid & milk. Cook, stirring, for about 20 minutes or until thickened.
  4. Remove from heat; stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese, lemon zest & spices until cheese is melted. Stir into vegetable mixture & pour over shrimp in rice crust.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together remaining 1/4 cup cheese & bread crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over 'quiche'. Bake for about 40 minutes or until quiche is 'set'. Cut into wedges & serve.

Slow Roasted Baby Back Ribs

HAPPY LABOR DAY!

This is crazy! Where did those summer months go?? I remember as a kid, once we arrived at the Labor Day week-end all those ‘lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer were gone’. Back to school for another year.

One of my fondest memories from childhood summers was my mom’s ‘lunchtime’ family picnics. In the early 1950’s my father was able to purchase another piece of land about four miles (about 6.5 km) 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, to get to their ‘summer’ home, for approximately 20-30 miles (roughly 30-50 km) 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 in the summer.

In the summer when dad would be working on the land, instead of my mom just packing a lunch for him that he could take in the morning, she would fix a wonderful ‘picnic lunch’. At about 11:30, mom (with our help) would pack up lunch, complete with plates, silverware, a tablecloth etc., and we would head for 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.

Okay, so now that I’ve taken you on a little side trip down memory lane, here are some nice ribs for your Labor Day picnic.

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Slow Roasted Baby Back Ribs
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, German
Servings
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, German
Servings
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Instructions
  1. In a bowl, combine soy sauce, brown sugar, water, garlic, green onions, sesame oil & seasonings, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  2. Place ribs in a large resealable plastic freezer bag. Pour marinade over the ribs, squeeze out all the air & refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  3. When ready to cook the ribs, preheat oven to 250-275 F. On the bottom of a large roasting tray place a wire rack. Over the rack, place a large sheet of foil paper. Lay marinated ribs ON foil, do not cover with foil. Instead 'crinkle' the foil close to the ribs leaving them open to SLOW roast. Pour any marinade left in the bag over them. Roast in this very slow oven for about 3 hours. You will find at this temperature your kitchen does not get hot, the ribs look after themselves & they are incredibly tender.

Coconut Rice Crepes with Seafood Filling

CELEBRATING MOTHER’S DAY!

Here in Canada, we set aside the second Sunday in May to honor our Mother’s with expressions of love and gratitude.

As I grow older, I realize how many ways I unconsciously emulate my mother. I loved everything about her and as a kid I could never imagine life without her. But in the natural sequence of events, that’s not how it works. I guess along with many other things, I’m grateful for the fact that she was there through my childhood. She passed away at the age of sixty and although she is no longer on this earth, her wonderful memory will live on in our hearts forever.

It is also with love, Brion and I celebrate his mother Dolores, for all of her kind and loving ways.

In honor of these two precious women who prepared so many wonderful meals for us years ago, I like to post something special on this day. My choice this year are these unique looking crepes.

The crepe has its roots in Malaysia and is called ‘Roti Jala’ which literally translates to ‘Net Bread or Crepe’. The intricate lacy pattern is created with a special mold or ladle that has five nozzles.

Roti Jala is eaten with a chicken curry, generally a spicy one, which is the perfect accompaniment to these coconuty pancakes. Usually homemade, this crepe is served at events such as weddings or festivals in Malaysia, Sinapore and Indonesia. It has also become a popular tea time snack and street food.

There are a few methods for preparing the batter, some use coconut milk, others with regular milk. The use of rice flour in the batter produces a very light and tender crepe.

Since neither Brion or I enjoy the taste of curry, I gave these crepes a seafood/veggie filling and served them over a Gouda sauce. I think they make such a special, lacy little crepe for brunch.

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Coconut Rice Crepes with Seafood Filling
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Cuisine American, Asia, Korean
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Ingredients
Coconut-Rice Crepes
Gouda Sauce
Seafood Filling
Cuisine American, Asia, Korean
Servings
Ingredients
Coconut-Rice Crepes
Gouda Sauce
Seafood Filling
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Instructions
Coconut-Rice Crepes
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch & salt. In another bowl or pitcher, lightly beat eggs, add coconut milk & oil; stir to combine. Pour this over flour mixture & stir until a smooth batter is achieved. Allow to stand for at least 20 minutes or as long as two hours. ( If leaving more than 30 minutes, cover & refrigerate until 10 before using.)
  2. Place an 8-inch non-stick skillet over high heat. When it is hot, lower heat to medium & rub a paper towel oiled with coconut oil over the cooking surface. Transfer the batter to a large squeeze bottle or a traditional Roti Jala maker. Squeeze the batter onto the hot pan, starting from the side of the pan, in sort of an up & down motion, then move to the top of the pan making a left to right motion to create that net look.
  3. Cook for about 45 seconds or until lightly browned on the first side, then turn the crepe over & cook for another 30 seconds. Turn out onto a rack & repeat with the remaining batter, wiping the skillet with an oiled paper towel between each one.
Gouda Sauce
  1. In a small dish, combine spices. Grate cheese & set aside. In a skillet, melt butter, stir in flour & cook until bubbly but not browned. Whisk in milk, chicken broth & spices, stirring until smooth & bubbly. Stir in grated Gouda. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap & set aside.
Seafood Filling
  1. In a skillet, heat oil & saute shrimp & scallops for a few minutes. Add zucchini, green onions, garlic, mushrooms & peppers & saute for another minute or two. Add ginger, soy sauce & water; cover & cook over low heat for several minutes until cooked. Do not overcook. Divide mixture between warm crepes, carefully roll. Ladle some Gouda sauce onto each serving plate & top with filled, rolled crepes.

Mushroom Quiche Lorraine

Are you aware that today, May 20th, the USA celebrates ‘National Quiche Lorraine Day’. It is one of their many ‘fun food holidays’. Who makes up these holidays is not clear but it gives a great excuse to enjoy this classic quiche.

In a strict sense, there are no national holidays in the United States. Each of the 50 states has jurisdiction over its own holidays. The federal government proclaimed ten holidays that most states observe on the same dates. These are called ‘legal’ or ‘public’ holidays.

Fun food holidays usually originate from and are promoted by industry groups, clubs, health organizations and occasionally individuals.

Over 50 years ago, Julia Child introduced us to French cuisine with her cooking series, The French Chef, on PBS television. Among the many dishes she introduced was the original or classic Quiche Lorraine.  

Quiche Lorraine (named for the Lorraine region of France) was originally an open pie with a filling of custard and smoked bacon. It was only later that cheese was added to this quiche. Today we have many variants to the original that include a wide variety of ingredients. Myself, I could eat quiche anytime, for any meal. This fun food holiday sure seems like a great idea. To our quiche Lorraine I am adding some mushrooms for a little extra flavor since we both enjoy them.


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Mushroom Quiche Lorraine

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Course Brunch, Lunch
Cuisine American, French, German

Servings


Ingredients

Course Brunch, Lunch
Cuisine American, French, German

Servings


Ingredients

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Instructions
  1. In a skillet, fry bacon. Remove from skillet & lay on paper towel. In bacon drippings, saute mushrooms, onions & garlic until moisture evaporates. Crumble bacon. Grate cheese.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper & thyme. In the bottom of quiche shell place half of the grated cheese. Top with bacon, mushrooms, green onion & garlic. Carefully pour egg mixture over all. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until quiche tests done in center. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.


Recipe Notes
  • If your using milk it will take a bit longer to bake but does cut down those calories.

Dinner ‘En Croute’

Today, November 24, our neighbors to the south are celebrating Thanksgiving. Over the years, Brion and I have been in the USA numerous times on this occasion and enjoyed the food and holiday atmosphere very much. Today’s blog post acknowledges the American holiday with some special meal choices.

At the heart of a memorable dinner is the main entree, so why not make it just a bit more special by serving it  ‘En Croute’.  In the culinary arts, the term en croute (pronounced ‘on Kroot’) indicates a food that has been wrapped in a pastry dough and then baked in the oven. Traditionally the type of pastry used was a simple dough called pate pastry. Today, puff pastry  is frequently used for most en croute recipes.

The key to preparing items en croute is that however long it takes to cook the pastry until it is golden brown is how long the item will spend in the oven. Some of the best choices are beef tenderloin, salmon or a brie cheese, due to the fact they require less time to cook.

In the 1950’s and 60’s, Beef Wellington or as the French called it, ‘Boeuf en Croute’, became very popular. It was an elegant meal, using a beef tenderloin covered with liver pate and wrapped in pastry. My first introduction to this meal was a much more low key  version. It was simply achieved by making a nicely seasoned meatloaf, wrapping it a basic pastry and baking it. My mother would serve it with a tomato soup sauce. Definitely good but not quite the elegance of the true en croute entrees.

Two favorites of mine are variations of the classic ‘boeuf en croute’. One uses boneless turkey breast topped with a cranberry, hazelnut stuffing and baked in a tender puff pastry then served with a citrus-fig cranberry sauce. The other one is a seafood en croute using fresh salmon. The salmon is topped with shrimp or scallops in a seasoned egg/cream mixture and baked in puff pastry. A dill cream sauce is served to compliment this entree. Having a few alternatives to change out your traditional holiday meals always keeps it interesting.

 

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Turkey / Seafood 'en Croute'
Alternative ideas for those special occasions.
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine French
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Instructions
Turkey en Croute
  1. Saute garlic & onions in olive oil & butter 1-2 minutes. Add bread crumbs; toss until they begin to brown slightly. Add hazelnuts, thyme, cranberries, salt & pepper. Add only enough turkey stock to make stuffing hold together.
  2. Place the first pastry sheet on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place turkey breast along the center line of the pastry sheet. Brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash. Place stuffing on top of the turkey. Place the second pastry sheet over the turkey & stuffing. Trim the edges to form an oval shape. Save the trimmings in the fridge.
  3. Bring the edges of the dough together & seal by pinching them. Roll the dough from the bottom layer over the top layer & press down all the way around the perimeter of the pastry. This creates a tighter seal. Brush egg wash over the entire surface of the pastry. Decorate, cutting leaf shapes from trimmed pastry & score leaf veining into them with the tip of a sharp knife. Cut four 1/2" slots in the top of the pastry to let steam escape. Chill for 20 minutes or longer in the fridge before baking. This helps the pastry to puff.
  4. Bake at 400 F. for about 15-20 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 F. Use a meat thermometer to make sure that the center has reached at least 170 F. to be sure the turkey is completely cooked, about 35-45 minutes longer. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into servings.
Citrus - Fig Cranberry Sauce
  1. Simmer all ingredients together slowly for 30-40 minutes or until the cranberries are fully cooked & the mixture reduces & thickens to a jam-like consistency. Stir the sauce often as it simmers. Remove the star anise (if using). Store in a plastic container in refrigerator until serving time.
Seafood en Croute
  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll each pastry sheet into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle. Cut each sheet into four 6 x 5-inch rectangles. Place a salmon fillet in center of four rectangles.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the shrimp (or scallops), cream, onions, parsley, dill, garlic, pesto, salt & pepper. In another small bowl, beat egg white on medium speed until soft peaks form; fold into shrimp mixture. Spoon about 1/4 cup over each fillet.
  3. Top each with a pastry rectangle & crimp to seal. With a sharp knife, cut several slits in the top to let steam escape. Place on a 15 x 10 x 1-inch parchment lined baking sheet; brush with egg wash. Bake at 400 F. for 20-25 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160 F.
Dill Cream Sauce
  1. Mix all ingredients & refrigerate until serving time.
Recipe Notes
  • The original recipe source for the Cranberry Hazelnut Turkey & Citrus Fig Cranberry Sauce can be found at rockrecipes.com
  • The cranberry sauce uses star anise or extract but feel free to omit it if you do not care for that flavor.
  • The Seafood en Croute recipe is one that is featured on tasteofhome.com  which has always been my favorite 'go-to' recipe company forever. 

Summer Picnic # 3

                                                      MENU

SPICED CHICKEN POTATO LOAF    *    SAVORY PORK POTATO LOAF

BARLEY, CORN & PEPPER SALAD * CANDIED NUT & GORGONZOLA SALAD

                                  SOUR CREAM BLUEBERRY TARTS

 

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Savory Pork Stuffed Potato Loaf
Recipes from some of this picnic menu are featured in previous blog posts. SPICED CHICKEN STUFFED POTATO LOAF - from April 8/16. SALADS - from June 9/16. SOUR CREAM BLUEBERRY TARTS - from July 7/16.
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Instructions
Savory Pork Filling
  1. In a large bowl, combine water & seasonings. Add pork & mix well. In a skillet, cook pork mixture until no longer pink. Remove from heat; drain on paper towels while it cools.
Potato Loaf
  1. Boil potato, mash & cool. Fry bacon, drain & crumble. In a small bowl, combine yeast with lukewarm water; whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand about 3 minutes until foamy. Add butter, salt, sour cream & potato; mix well. Add bacon; mix until just combined.
  2. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Remove risen dough from bowl, turn onto lightly floured surface; roll dough to about a 12" x 15" rectangle. Place a large piece of parchment on a sheet pan. Roll dough onto your rolling pin then unroll onto parchment paper. Place 1/2 of the cheese down the center of dough, top it with pork, green onions & remaining cheese.
  4. Fold short ends in about 1". Using parchment, roll from the long side in a jelly roll fashion. Press down slightly to make a flatter shape. Cover with plastic wrap; allow to rise for 15 minutes while preheating oven to 375 F. Brush with egg wash if preferred. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.
Recipe Notes
  • If time is of the essence, use purchased frozen bread dough or pizza crust.
  • This picnic is definitely favored by men due to the 'hearty' potato loaf sandwiches. 

Taco Salad in Edible Tortilla Bowls

Summer time is salad time! Taco Salad  is the full meal deal, infinitely customizable, inviting experimentation and creativity. Being so versatile, it can be enjoyed in almost any setting.

This Texas-Mexican inspired salad was very popular in the late 1960’s. It’s name comes from the Texas-Mexican Railway. Pioneers brought Anglo influences to Texas, where the Texas-born Mexicans lived. As a result, the ingredients from their different cultures blended together.           Tex-Mex combines elements of Anglo, Spanish and Mexican.

The taco salad is unique in that it can be served in an edible tortilla bowl. I recall in the food industry, this meal had huge visual appeal for the customer. How could you resist ordering one after seeing it’s impressive presentation? The ingredients in a taco salad can vary according to preference and can be made to fit into any type of cuisine with different seasonings and modifications.

Typically the taco salad includes lettuce, beans, tomatoes, green onion, meat, cheese and sour cream. Other condiments might include guacamole, salsa, garlic and cumin.

The salad featured in today’s blog picture is the beef version but I have included similar recipes for chicken and vegetarian ideas as well. Tortilla bowls are easily made by baking them in the oven. No need to add those calories by deep frying them. I love the full meal salad idea — be it a Chef’s salad, Cobb, Taco you name it! I hope you will enjoy one to this summer.

 

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Taco Salad
Taco Salad doesn't have to be 'old school' and boring --- customizing it to your personal tastes makes a huge difference.
Instructions
Tortilla Bowls
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Warm tortillas slightly until pliable. Spray or butter both sides of tortilla lightly, then drape over oven proof bowls, pinching sides to form bowl shape. Bake 5-7 minutes, watching carefully as not to burn. Remove from oven & cool on wire rack.
Beef Taco Meat
  1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion & cook until softened, about 5 minutes.Stir in chili powder & garlic & cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ground beef & cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until almost cooked through but still slightly pink, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, broth, vinegar & sugar; simmer until slightly thickened but still saucy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat & season with salt & pepper.
Chicken Taco Meat
  1. Place chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap & pound to flatten to uniform thickness, about 1/2-inch. In a small dish, combine spices. Sprinkle over chicken breasts. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts to pan & cook until juices run clear & the center is no longer pink. Remove from pan & allow to rest 5 minutes. Slice into bite size strips.
Salad Dressing
  1. In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients.
  2. To assemble salads: In a large bowl, combine romaine, beans, green onions, cilantro, olives, jalapeno peppers. Toss with salad dressing. Place tortilla bowls on serving plates. Divide salad among bowls. Top with taco meat choice; sprinkle with tomatoes & cheese. Top with avocado slices if desired.
Recipe Notes
  • Sour cream & salsa are also nice as extra condiments or in place of the salad dressing.
  • If you prefer a Vegetarian Taco Salad, just eliminate the meat part, equally as good.
  • Be adventurous, customize to your preference so you get the most enjoyment out of 'your' salad.