Most families have a roundup of classic holiday dishes that they make every year. Those dishes provide plenty of leftovers for days (maybe even weeks) after the holiday has passed. It follows that during the holiday season, the meals start to look the same. We love leftovers, we really do, but every meal enjoyed after Christmas Day starts to seem identical. That is, until you plan a boxing day feast with a spicy twist? These tasty enchiladas are a saucy, cheesy way to use up any leftover turkey from your Christmas dinner.
CELEBRATING CANADA DAY!
It seems there’s no pizza topping quite as polarizing as pineapple. While some pizza lovers might crave that sweet, sour & salty combination of fruit combined with melted cheese, others not so much.
Hawaiian pizza, which usually comes topped with canned pineapple and ham, doesn’t come from Italy, the birthplace of pizza, nor does it come from Hawaii, a pineapple paradise. Rather surprisingly, the country responsible for the odd combination of ingredients is Canada. The pizza was actually created in 1962 by a Greek immigrant called Sam Panopoulos.
Along with his brothers, Sam Panopoulos, owned a restaurant in Ontario, Canada. The food was initially very simple … traditional diner food such as pancakes and burgers. Inspired by a recent trip to Naples, Panopoulos decided to introduce pizza to the menu.
It was a relatively new idea in North America as most pizzas, at that time, were served topped with mushrooms, bacon and pepperoni. Panopoulos became more adventurous, introducing Americanized versions of Chinese meals such as sweet and sour chicken, which includes pineapple so he decided to take a risk with his pizzas as well.
He added canned pineapple to one pizza, with ham, not knowing whether it would be a hit or not. Soon , the combination of sweet and savory was proving a winner with his customers.
At the same time, there was a growing fascination with Tiki culture. Hawaii had officially became an American state in 1959 and people had fallen in love with the island lifestyle. Canned pineapple began to be imported into North America, along with pineapple juice. The brand of tinned pineapple Panopoulos used in his pizzas was called Hawaiian, so his creation became known as ‘Hawaiian Pizza’.
From its humble Canadian beginnings, the combination spread across North America and ultimately the world … but despite its global appeal, pineapple pizza has remained controversial. Today, Brion & I are having a version of this Canadian Pizza on naan bread. Yum!
Despite the similarities in Asian cuisines, there are marked differences. Korean cuisine reflects a complex interaction of the natural environment and different cultural trends.
Korean food is bold, unique and well worth exploring. Strangely enough, it never has achieved the stature of Chinese food in North America and in recent years has been overtaken by Thai and Vietnamese.
Korean cuisine is largely based on meat, rice, vegetables and seafood. Dairy is fairly absent from the traditional diet.
The key ingredients needed in Korean cooking are garlic, fresh ginger, green onions, sesame seeds and oil, rice vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, dried red chilies and hoisin sauce. Each contributes to the oriental rule of five flavors: sweet, hot, sour, salty and bitter. Traditionally, Koreans also have tried to adhere to an arrangement of five colors in their meals: red, yellow, green, white and black.
Balancing flavor is both science and an art. The five taste elements build our overall perception of flavor. When each element is perfectly balanced, not only on the plate, but across the entire meal, its just amazing!
Today, February 16th, is officially known as ‘Shrove Tuesday’. This date varies from year to year and falls somewhere between February 3rd & March 9th. This traditional ‘feast’ day marks the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday and is always 47 days before Easter Sunday. The expression Shrove Tuesday derives from the word ‘shrive’, meaning absolve.
This day was observed by many Christians who wanted to make a point of self-examination to consider what wrongs they needed to repent. The ingredients for pancakes can be seen to symbolize four points of significance at this time of year.
EGGS -creation, FLOUR -the staff of life, SALT -wholesomeness, MILK -purity
For something different this year, I’m going the savory route with our Shrove Tuesday pancakes. When it comes to versatility, there aren’t too many dishes that can hold a candle to a Dutch Baby pancake. They easily go savory or sweet. You can go as minimal or maximal as you wish for the toppings or just have them warm from the oven as is.
The Dutch Baby is one of the simplest forms of pancakes to make. Just mix up a few pantry staples, pour the batter into a hot, buttery skillet or oven proof glass bowl and bake it until its puffed and golden.
I’m using a chicken/broccoli filling today. This meal is one of our favorites so we have enjoyed it with a variety of savory fillings.
Today July 25th, is my dear sister Loretta’s birthday. Having an older sister is a very unique experience that not everyone can truly know about. We are all products of our environment, and even if we are completely unaware of it, having that ‘big sis, little sis’ dynamic as you grew up, was a huge influence.
I remember how much I enjoyed being with Loretta and doing things together. She always seemed to have the answer to the ‘question’ and was just so much fun to be with.
Since Loretta was the ‘older’ one, she was expected to be more responsible and set an example, leaving me more lee-way to be a bit of a ‘dreamer’ at times. I have always valued Loretta’s advice and honest opinions. I am truly grateful to have her in our lives.
Although Loretta can’t be with us today, I think she would enjoy these little seafood crepes.
Crepes, whether they are rolled or stacked, sweet or savory make such a special meal. I remember some years ago, Brion & I had the pleasure of Loretta’s company on a trip to France. One of the first foods we enjoyed in France was crepes. They definitely made a lasting memory for the three of us.
Today, I wanted to do something a bit different. Sometimes, the name of a dish is simply inspired by its appearance. Such is the case of the crepes called ‘Beggar’s Purse’. The traditional dish consists of mini crepes topped with a good serving of high quality caviar and a dollop of sour cream. The edges of the crepe are pulled up into pleats and tied with a bow of chives. The resulting little bag looked like a purse.
Since then, the dish has been cloned thousands of times and the name beggar’s purse has become a somewhat generic term applied to dishes with various toppings tied in a similar way to resemble a purse. In addition to crepes, phyllo pastry, wonton wrappers or tortillas are used.
In North America, the beggar’s purse, reportedly derived from the French ‘aumoniere‘ pastry, has gilded origins. The dish became popular in the 1980’s. Aumoniere is a type of pastry but it also a medieval term for a small purse or pouch generally used in the 13th & 14th centuries. These purses were often embroidered.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LORETTA!
Something about summer makes us want to add more fish, preferably WILD CAUGHT, to our meals. Whole fish is usually less expensive than fillets and the presentation looks amazing.
Its common knowledge that fish is one of the easiest and fastest meals you can prepare. Their muscle fibers are much shorter than they are in beef, so fish cooks quickly and there is no tenderizing to do. In fact, the biggest challenge in preparing fish is to keep it from falling apart after cooking it.
To prevent it from drying out, fish require higher temperatures and shorter cooking times than meat. The transition from ‘almost done to perfectly cooked’, happens in minutes. Remember that residual heat means the fish continues to cook for a few minutes even after it is removed from the heat, so if it seems tough when you bite into it is probably overcooked. As it moves from ‘done to overdone’, the flesh continues to firm then shrinks, pushing out moisture, which evaporates and leaves the fish dry and chewy. It seems that cooking fish rests on science as well as the art of restraint.
This seafood stuffing is a great compliment to the rich flavor of the salmon as well as keeping it moist. If this seems like a lot of fish, it really isn’t when you think all all the other meals you can create with the leftovers.
Despite having a fairly short history, Mexican fajitas are one of the most popular dishes in the world today. Apart from the fact that fajitas are incredibly tasty, they are actually very healthy not to mention the ease in cooking and assembling them.
As with many foods, time has changed the contents of the fajita and has evolved slightly from the original simplicity of the ranch worker’s dish, with different cuts of meat being chosen such as chicken or seafood. The vegetables have not changed as much as the meat, with peppers, onions & chilies still being predominant ingredients in the dish.
Probably, the most important thing when making fajitas is the marinade. It not only makes the ingredients incredibly tender but very flavorful.
Fajitas usually require some tortillas. While they are wonderful tasting, using zucchini noodles (or zoodles) as a base for the fajita chicken gives this meal an amazing flavor. Zucchini is perhaps the most popular choice for vegetable noodles. It’s long, thin shape makes it easy to spiralize and its neutral flavor allows it to pair well with almost any sauce or topping. This meal has such eye appeal along with a great taste.
With the last day of December right around the corner, its time to focus on New Year’s Eve celebrations. Even if you don’t have big party plans, you will no doubt still want to enjoy a few finger foods to ring in the new year with. The fact that so much emphasis is placed on sweets over Christmas, now is a good time to enjoy something savory.
During the many years I worked in the commercial food service industry, new years eve was all about finger food. I remember making hundreds of these little bite size morsels. The thing about this type of food is, it takes hours of prep work but they can be devoured in a very short space of time.
Although the humble potato skin appetizer is pretty basic, its easy to make and quite tasty. Originally served as a clever way to repurpose food scraps, potato skins have been around since the 1970’s.
Today’s recipe works well in that you can prepare them the day before needed and refrigerate. Half an hour before you are ready to serve …. bake, sprinkle with toppings and bring on the new year!
Unlike some meats that are best served only as the main entree or at certain times of the year, pork tenderloin is perfect at anytime or occasion. You can grill, roast or bake it, making pork one of the most widely eaten meats across the globe.
Sometimes there is a bit of confusion in regards to pork loin and pork tenderloin. The truth is, they are cut from two different regions of the pig. Pork loins are thicker and are also referred to as ‘white’ meat. True to that name, they do turn white when cooked. Pork tenderloin is usually smaller in size, about 2″ thick. This is the softest part of the whole pig coming from the side under the back bone.
Pork is never served by itself, always being accompanied by various side dishes. I never fail to enjoy cooking pork tenderloin. It’s one of those reliable meats that is always tender, pairs with unlimited ingredients and can be ‘dressed’ up or down.
This particular meal uses a cornbread stuffing with red peppers and pears. Sort of unusual but has good flavor and is easy to prepare.
The word ‘gratin’ or ‘au gratin’ has been given numerous alternative and incorrect definitions. Many think that the term is French for ‘with cheese’, others say that it refers to a dish with a browned topping and some even claim that gratin means a baked casserole.
The word gratin actually derives from the French word grater or gratter, meaning ‘to grate’. Originally it meant something more like ‘scrapings’. This referred to the browned crusty material that forms on the bottom or the act of scraping loose these crusty bits and stirring them back into the dish during baking. However, it now tends to refer to the browned crust that forms on the top of the baked dish. Toppings generally consist of breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg and/or butter.
The word gratin is also used to identify the types of cookware in which such a meal is cooked. Traditionally, they are oval, but can also be round and come in graduated sizes and are made of clay-based ceramic, metal or oven-proof glass.
This au gratin combines ham and cauliflower in a creamy, Parmesan sauce and is topped with cheddar cheese. We really enjoyed it.