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.
The wonderful thing about potato casseroles is that you can dictate the flavor by the types of cheese used as well as the added ingredients and flavor aids like herbs, garlic and spices.
There are many versions and variations of potato ‘bakes’. It comes down to little more than a free form of how the potatoes are cut and layered. Other ingredients such as herbs and cured meats like ham or bacon as well as smoked fish and other vegetables can be added.
With this recipe you are combining the best of all variations; scalloped, au gratin and dauphinoise. Béchamel sauce, a variety of cheeses and the flavor of garlic result in an amazing taste as well as the dish makes for some interesting eye appeal.
Scalloped Potato Turkey Rolls
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 or until moisture is absorbed. Place zucchini in a bowl & combine with panko, cheese, egg & spices. Set aside in refrigerator.
In a saucepan, melt butter, whisk in flour. Cook for about 2 minutes then turn off heat & slowly begin to add milk. Continue whisking until all milk has been added then turn on heat & bring sauce to a boil. Whisk constantly until thickened then add 3/4 of the Gruyere cheese & stir until cheese is melted. Spread the bechamel sauce evenly in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
In a saucepan, saute bacon, leeks & garlic until cooked & tender. Remove from heat & place in a bowl; allow to cool then add turkey & spices. Mix well.
Slice potatoes into about 30 thin slices, keeping them in their original potato shape. Wrap each sliced potato in plastic wrap & bake in the microwave until almost cooked.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Lay the potato slices on your work surface, spread a small amount of the zucchini mixture on each one. Top with a layer of the turkey mixture. Roll each potato slice in a spiral shape then place in rows over the bechamel sauce.
Cover pan with foil & bake for 45 minutes then remove the foil & sprinkle the remaining Gruyere cheese on top. Bake uncovered for another 15 minutes until top is golden.
Due to the fact that rice flour pairs perfectly with taco-worthy fillings such as avocado, beans, cheese etc. gave me inspiration for this meal. This flour is a staple of South east Asia, Japan & India. Rice flour or rice powder is very different from rice starch, which is produced by steeping rice in a strong alkaline solution.
The technique of frying with rice flour has become universal. Rice absorbs less oil than other flours while frying, resulting in fewer calories from fat and a less oily product. Even many fast food restaurants dust their french fries with rice flour to give them that characteristic, satisfying crunch. By blending traditional wheat or cornstarch batters with rice flour will lighten the batter up and reduces some of the ‘gumminess’.
Rice flour is well suited to crepes but it is important to make them in thin, crisp rounds. If they are too thick the most likely they will crack if you are wrapping filling inside.
The recipe I’m using for my crepe stacks is pretty much a basic crepe recipe with rice flour substituted for all purpose flour. For the classic Asian rice ‘crepe’, coconut milk and turmeric are generally used.
This combination of flavors was very interesting. The recipe seems kind of long but it comes together fairly quickly. It certainly will be a ‘keeper’ for us.
Rice Flour Crepes with Black Beans & Guacamole
Rice Flour Crepes
In a pitcher, whisk all ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes while preparing the rest of the recipe.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add turkey; stir-fry until no longer pink. Stir in water chestnuts, carrot, cilantro, garlic, apricot preserve, soy sauce, ginger & red pepper flakes. Remove from heat & set aside.
In a bowl, coarsely mash avocados, lime juice, salt, garlic, onion & cilantro with a fork. Cover & refrigerate until ready to use.
In a bowl, combine all ingredients except chicken broth (or water). In a food processor, pulse 1/2 cup of the mixture with broth until smooth. Add to mixture in bowl & stir to combine well.
Heat griddle to a medium-high temperature. Using a 1/4 measure, pour batter on griddle. With bottom of 1/4 cup measure, enlarge crepe by making circular motion in the batter. Cook each crepe for about 2 minutes until bottom is lightly browned. Lay on a plate until ready to use making sure not to let them dry out.
On each serving plate lay one crepe. Spread each with some of the guacamole, top each with some of the turkey filling, black beans, diced fresh tomato & a sprinkle of smoked Gouda cheese. Repeat with 2 more layers on each plate. End with a swirl of guacamole for some eye appeal. Serve extra beans on the side if you wish.
Pasta shells, filled with a range of flavors and baked in a creamy sauce — what’s not to like? I think my love affair with stuffed pasta shells started somewhere in the 90’s. The versatility of this meal makes it king of the comfort food dinners served family style. Easy to prepare, makes everyone happy and are perfectly portioned for individuals and groups alike.
Another bonus, is that this meal can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated. The concern with reheating pasta is always that the pasta will absorb any additional sauce or liquids as it is sitting in the fridge. In order to make this meal ahead of time, cook pasta and stuff shells but keep the sauce in a separate container. When ready to serve, microwave sauce just until its liquified, pour over pasta shells and bake until hot and bubbly.
Unbaked shells can be frozen for up to one month. To bake from the freezer, first thaw in the refrigerator, then let them stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Cover and bake for 30 minutes, uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer until bubbly.
The hickory smoked bacon in these pasta shells adds such a unique flavor to the turkey filling.
Turkey & Hickory Bacon Stuffed Pasta Shells
In a small saucepan, melt butter; stir in flour & cook until lightly browned. Slowly whisk in chicken broth. Add mustard & cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Set aside.
Pasta & Filling
Cook pasta shells in boiling, salted water with a few drops of oil added for 10-12 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water, drain again. Grate Gouda cheese. In a saucepan, fry bacon to a soft crisp stage, blot on paper towel & chop.
In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, onion, garlic, Parmesan, soy sauce, basil, thyme, 1/2 of chopped bacon, salt & pepper. Add a small amount of prepared sauce (to help to hold filling together).
Preheat oven to 350 F. Using a 9-inch baking dish, spread some sauce over the bottom. Divide turkey filling between shells. Place filled shells, single file in pan. Pour remaining sauce over all & top with remaining bacon. Sprinkle smoked Gouda cheese evenly over top. Cover & bake for 30-40 minutes or until filling is cooked.
Early turkey burgers were definitely not the most exciting of meals. For most part, they were dry, tasteless, fat free patties with an unappealing beige color. In the 1970’s, people became aware of the fact that by substituting ground turkey for ground beef made a burger that was a whole lot healthier.
The ‘secret’ we all know, to cooking moist and flavorful turkey burgers is by adding enough moisture to replace the fat they lack. Eggs and breadcrumbs, traditionally used to moisten and bind are good, but a little imagination can add a whole lot more flavor as well as eye appeal. Before adding vegetables, saute them for a few minutes and use a heavier hand with fresh herbs if you choose to use them. Turkey burgers require delicate handling so a heavy, cast iron skillet or one of those ‘Gotham Steel’ copper grills you can place on your barbecue would work great.
I came across this recipe for BACON TURKEY BURGERS on website called lisasdinnertimedish.com It combines the turkey with bacon, zucchini and onion. I found it to be real good — not to dry with a hint of the smoky bacon flavor. Well worth trying.
Bacon Turkey Burgers
In a skillet, cook bacon until crispy; drain on paper towel. Reserve 1 Tbsp bacon grease. Finely chop bacon, onion, garlic & shred zucchini. Heat bacon grease that remained in skillet & saute onion & garlic until tender.
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients & mix with your hands until everything is combined. DO NOT OVER MIX as it tends to make the burgers tough. Form mixture into 8-10 patties.
TO BAKE; transfer patties to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 F. for 15 minutes or until cooked.
TO FRY: saute patties on a large griddle or in a large skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes per side, until browned.
TO BARBECUE: refer to blog information above.
I was interested to know a little more about this idea of ‘food on a stick’. It seems its a fairly wide spread way of eating food. In Indonesia there are many forms of chicken satay and of course the shish kebab originating from Turkey. It all comes from a culture that has been around since before the 1840’s.
The North American classic ‘corn dog’ was patent in 1929. The patent cited that it was for a ‘combined dipping, cooking and article holding apparatus’ and was intended for ‘impaling foods such as wieners, boiled ham, hard boiled eggs, cheese, sliced fruit, etc., on a stick, covering them in a batter and deep frying it’.
This food on a stick phenomenon has grown greatly over the past 20 years or more. It has become some sort of extreme ‘sport’ on a stick. For entrepreneurs, its whatever I can put on a stick that nobody’s done before. I was reading an article that listed 83 different possibilities!
Here’s a couple of ideas I found interesting to try. TURKEY MEATBALL BREADSTICKS and BACON WRAPPED MUSHROOMS ON A STICK.
Turkey Meatball Breadsticks/ Bacon Mushroom Kebabs
Bacon Wrapped Mushroom Kebabs
In a large bowl, combine lukewarm water, yeast, sugar, oil & salt. Allow to become frothy, about 10 minutes. Gradually add flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing until dough forms a ball. Transfer to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise about 1 hour in a warm, draft-free place. While bread sticks are rising, prepare turkey meatballs.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a bowl, combine turkey, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, oregano, basil, parsley, red pepper & garlic. Form into 36 - 1" diameter meatballs. When dough is ready, turn out onto a floured surface. Press or roll into a 12 x 8" rectangle. Cut into twelve strips about 1-inch wide x 8-inches long.
Starting with one bread stick, thread dough then a meatball, repeating process with 2 more meatballs alternating dough-meatball, ending with dough. Make sure to spread dough & meatballs away from each other by about 1/4", so the meatballs bake through & the dough has room to expand.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Stir together garlic powder & melted butter. Brush bread stick dough ONLY with mixture. Bake for 20 minutes until meatballs are cooked through. Remove from oven & sprinkle each skewer with 1-2 Tbsp of shredded mozzarella cheese. Place back in oven for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted. Serve while hot with warm marinara sauce for dipping.
Bacon Wrapped Mushroom Kebabs
Soak skewers 30 minutes. Cut bacon strips in half. Wrap each mushroom with a bacon strip & thread 4 on each skewer. Grill on medium heat until bacon is done, about 10-15 minutes, basting with barbecue sauce. Serve immediately.