Chili Cheese Quiche

If you haven’t had quiche lately, it is time to remedy that situation. I could eat quiche for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without ever growing tired of it. This recipe takes the classic chili con carne and turns it into a quiche which makes an ideal winter meal, right?

Cornmeal crust is the perfect foil for meaty and cheesy savory pies. Not only is the rustic texture and flavor of cornmeal pastry a nice change, but it also helps if you have something that is super juicy to avoid soggy bottom pies.

If you like quiche and cornbread, you’ll love this. The cornmeal crust gives a sort of cornbread feel while maintaining the flaky composure that any great crust should have. This is one of my favorite crusts to use for savory pies, tarts and galettes.

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Chili Cheese Quiche
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
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Cornmeal Pastry
Eggs/Milk
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Cornmeal Pastry
Eggs/Milk
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Instructions
Cornmeal Pastry
  1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or fingertips, cut in butter until mixture resembles both coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it.
  2. After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. DO NOT overwork dough. Press dough into a disk & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Filling
  1. In a large skillet, sauté beef, onion & garlic until meat is cooked & any liquid has evaporated. Stir in spices, corn, tomato sauce, beans. Remove from heat & allow to cool slightly. Grate cheese.
Eggs/Milk
  1. Whisk together eggs, milk & seasoning.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Roll out pastry to fit a 9-inche quiche pan. Place filling mixture in crust; sprinkle with cheese then pour milk mixture over the cheese.
  3. Bake for about 45 minutes or until set. Top with more grated cheese if you wish.

Couscous & Beef Stuffed Butternut Squash

Israeli Couscous is an invention of the North American culinary mind, just like French and Italian dressing. In Israel, the dish is known as ‘petitim’, which means little crumbles in Hebrew. It was created by the Osem food company in the early 1950’s at the request of Ben Gurion, the prime minister of Israel at the time. Israel was in its early beginnings as a new state and resources were very scarce. At that time the government imposed a period of rationing known as ‘tzena‘. Osem was asked to develop a starch that was more affordable than rice which was very expensive at the time. The company’s response to this request was petitim or small rice shaped pieces of pasta that were toasted. Later, Osem expanded it’s product line to include the little round balls of pasta we know as Israeli couscous.

Couscous has a neutral taste, just like pasta, but infused with broths, stocks, meats, vegetables, and spices will become a satisfying meal. If you are a fan of butternut squash, this dish pairs the lovely sweetness of butternut squash and spicy beef with Israeli couscous.

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Couscous & Beef Stuffed Butternut Squash
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a sheet pan with foil & butter.
  2. Cut butternut squash in half. Remove seeds & membrane. Rub oil on cut sides & place cut-side down on roasting pan, season with salt & pepper. Bake for 40 minutes or until tender but not soft.
  3. Place couscous in a mixing bowl. Pour boiling water over couscous & set aside until the couscous has absorbed all of the water. Fluff with a fork.
  4. In a saucepan, scramble fry ground beef in olive oil; add onion, celery & garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until celery softens, about 3 minutes. Stir in seasonings & salt; cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat, add to couscous mixture & pepita seeds; stir gently until mixed. Set aside.
  5. Remove squash from the oven. Flip the squash so that the cut side is up. With a teaspoon, create a tunnel in the middle of the straight end of each squash, scooping out the flesh but leaving a border of flesh on each side. Remove the flesh, chop coarsely and gently mix into the couscous mixture. Divide the couscous between the two squash halves, filling the tunnel and the round hole that held the squash seeds.
  6. Return to the oven for about 10 minutes or until heated through. Cut squash into four to six portions and serve.
Recipe Notes
  • Adjust the amount of ground beef used according to the size of squash you have.

Pizza w/ Cabbage & Meatballs

Don’t think for a moment that cabbage doesn’t belong on pizza — it definitely does. When the days grow shorter, we start to crave heartier meals. Cabbage is good … meatballs are good … cabbage/meatball pizza is double good! Here’s a new spin on the classic pizza – topping a pizza crust base with meatballs, cabbage, spices & cheese.

People have been piling ‘stuff’ on dough, and then heating it up, for thousands of years. That includes the Chinese, who some believe gave Marco Polo scallion pancakes, leading to the theory that he introduced pizza to Italy.

Others point to the ancient Greeks, who covered their flatbreads with herbs, oil, and cheese. But no matter who is responsible for pizza, there is no denying that it has serious global appeal.

Cabbage is an unsung kitchen hero. It’s actually one of the most versatile veggies in your arsenal. If you’re just reserving it for slaws and salads, it’s time to broaden your horizons and discover some of the amazingly delicious things a simple head of cabbage can do.

While the dough is pretty critical, the toppings are just as important to get right. Specific toppings will come down to personal preference.

The duo of sautéed cabbage & meatballs makes for a hearty, satisfying topping perfectly suited for crisp autumn weather. 

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Pizza w/ Cabbage & Meatballs
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Potato Pizza Crust
Cabbage
Cheese
Sauce
Servings
Ingredients
Potato Pizza Crust
Cabbage
Cheese
Sauce
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Instructions
Pizza Crust
  1. Cook potato, peel & mash. In a bowl, combine yeast with lukewarm water. Allow to stand for about 3 minutes until foamy; add butter, salt, sour cream & potato & mix well. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise in a warm draft free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Cabbage
  1. In a large pot, place thinly sliced cabbage, water, sugar & salt. Cover & simmer for a few minutes until cabbage is soft & has reduced in volume. Place cabbage in a dish. Melt butter & oil in pot then add flour & cumin to make a roux. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring so that there are no lumps as it thickens. Add cabbage to roux & cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from stove & stir in fresh dill & chives; set aside.
Meatballs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a bowl, combine all meatball ingredients & mix well. Form into 28 balls & place on foil lined baking sheet that has been lightly greased. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until JUST cooked. do not OVERBAKE as they will bake some more when they are on the pizza.
Assembly
  1. Line a 9 x 11-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Press out pizza dough over the bottom & up the sides of the pan. Sprinkle a bit of the smoked cheese on the crust, then place a layer of half the cabbage mixture & lightly drizzle with a small amount of tomato soup (sauce). Repeat again with cheese, cabbage & sauce. Roll cooked meatballs in remaining tomato sauce. Place meatballs, in rows on top, then sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  2. Bake for 40 minutes or until crust is golden. Garnish with fresh dill, slice & serve.

Beer Can Burgers

CELEBRATING VICTORIA DAY!

For many Canadians, Victoria Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer. It is Canada’s oldest non-religious holiday and although we still hang on to the British Queen’s name (for old times’ sake), this truly Canadian holiday has everything to do with the end of the cold weather and short days and a lot to do with some great food.

This holiday is called ‘May 2-4’ in some parts of Canada, a name that refers both to the date around which the holiday falls (May 24th) and Canadian slang for a case of twenty-four beers (a ‘2-4’), the popular beverage during the long weekend.

I’m sure, for many this weekend, barbecuing will be up front and center with burgers, steaks and ribs taking top billing. By now we’ve all heard of or tasted Beer Can Chicken but what about Beer Can Burgers? One might think that the burgers were cooked with the beer can inside like the beer can chicken is. They’re not. The burgers are just shaped around the beer can or bottle, then they are filled with whatever you choose to put in them. What you’re trying to achieve is really just a bacon wrapped ‘cup‘ from the ground beef with a filling inside. After this you can either grill (with indirect heat) or bake them low & slow. The bacon renders and caramelizes, so the beef is flavored by both the bacon and the filling inside.

As for the fillings, the sky is the limit as long as you’re using something that’s both pre-cooked and can withstand the long slow cooking. Just a few ideas would be caramelized onions, peppers, mushrooms, hash browns, cheese (of course!), avocado, chili etc. etc.

When making beer can burgers its good to use an 80/20 blend of beef and the standard (not thick) slice bacon. The thing about this kind of burger, is that they are best made with about 285 gms (about 10 oz.) so you can wrap two rows of bacon around them. Reason being, if made smaller, as the burger cooks, the meat shrinks and the filling falls out. The ideal height going up the can or bottle would be about 3 1/4 – 3 1/2 inches.

Beer can burgers can be baked in the oven or done on a grill. They are going to take some time to cook, about 50 minutes to an hour. Low and slow is the key so aim at about 300 F. Once they’re cooked, you can eat as is or add some tomato, lettuce, pickles, etc. I could hardly imagine anyone needing a bun with the size of these burgers … but?!

Whatever you decide to have today, the main thing just enjoy it!

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Beer Can Burgers
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
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Instructions
Caramelized Onions
  1. In a skillet, heat 1 Tbsp oil; add sliced or chopped onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat; sprinkle with 1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar & 1 Tbsp brown sugar. Cook, stirring until caramel brown in color. Transfer to a dish to cool.
Sautéed Mushrooms & Avocado
  1. In the same skillet, add sliced mushrooms, minced garlic & a few drops of water (just to get them sautéing). Sauté until moisture evaporates. Set aside. Peel & cut avocado into 1/2-inch slices; set aside
Cheese
  1. Shred or cube cheese of choice; set aside.
Burgers
  1. In a bowl, combine ground beef with spices. Divide beef in half & form each piece into a ball. Place on a work surface; using a beer can or bottle, press down firmly. With your hands, form beef around can/bottle to a height of about 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 inches. Horizontally wrap, two slices of bacon, one to the bottom of the beef & the next just above on each burger. Carefully remove can/bottle.
  2. Set up grill for indirect heat at around 300 F. Alternately, set a wire rack over a rimmed, foil lined baking sheet & preheat oven to 300 F.
  3. Fill burgers with prepared fillings & cook for about 50 minutes or until meat is cooked. Once cooked, allow them to sit for a few minutes so the burgers & cheese firm up slightly without the burger losing its juiciness.
  4. Enjoy as is or top with whatever you prefer.

Beef Cabbage Rolls – Reconstructed

Some years ago I acquired a great little book from the Lea & Perrins Company. The main focus of the book was to promote their Worcestershire Sauce.

Worcestershire sauce was created in the heyday of the great English table sauces. In 1838, the commercial Worcestershire sauce was ‘born’. The story of the origins of the recipe for the sauce is entangled in a web of legends, but the common thread is that its place of origin was India. Versions of how the recipe came to England usually credit a member or members of the prominent Sandys and/or Grey families. Typically the stories indicate an effort to reproduce a Bengali recipe for a sauce with the assistance of chemists (pharmacists) John Wheeley Lea & William Henry Perrins of Worcester. In most editions of the tale, the first attempt is a failure, but the results are stored away; fermentation occurs and a later tasting reveals the delightful concoction now enjoyed all over the world.

The exact recipe is ‘secret’, but it is known to include both common and exotic ingredients: anchovies, shallots, chilies, cloves, tamarinds (brown pods from a tropical tree), garlic, sugar, molasses, vinegar and salt. There are about as many ways to incorrectly pronounce Worcestershire as there are ingredients in the sauce. The tremendous depth of flavor of the sauce is the result of many different ingredients being fermented individually, blended and fermented again.

Worcestershire sauce contains something for everyone …. sweetness, acidity and saltiness. This probably explains the reason we still see it on our grocery shelves 184 years after it was first created.

I’ve used this simple little recipe from the Lea & Perrins book numerous times and it always tastes great.

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Beef Cabbage Rolls - Reconstructed
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Instructions
  1. Cook cabbage & rice: set aside. Sauté chopped onions; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine beef, cooked rice, salt, Worcestershire sauce, egg & catsup (or BBQ sauce).
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  4. Roll out meat mixture between 2 sheets of parchment or foil paper into an oblong 1/2-inch thick. Spread meat with cabbage & onions & sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
  5. Using the help of the bottom sheet of paper, roll up in jelly-roll fashion. Place on greased shallow baking pan.
  6. Bake for 40-50 minutes. Slice & serve as is or with a sauce of your own choice.

Ground Beef Ratatouille Galette

Ratatouille is a classic dish of southern France. Served as a side dish, hot or cold, arranged in a casserole or individual plates, its a recipe that lends itself to many different main dishes.

Ratatouille can be a challenging dish to pair with meat because the rich and luxurious flavors come from the freshness of the vegetables. There are, however, many types of meat that would not compete with ratatouille and still keep the meal light & satisfying.

For the meat lover, beef can make this meal quite enjoyable. Hence the inspiration for this galette: eggplant, squash, onion and tomato. Roasted together in the oven over a layer of seasoned beef all in a sturdy homemade pastry crust. Brion & I thought this vegetable-beef ratatouille came together in one harmonious blend and made a super nice meal.

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Ground Beef Ratatouille Galette
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine French
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Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, work the butter into the mixture until most of it resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces. Form a well in the center. Sprinkle with 4 Tbs. of the ice water. Mix with your fingertips until the dough holds together enough to form a ball. If too dry, add the remaining water by the teaspoon, and mix until the dough comes together.
  2. Form the dough into a ball, put it between two sheets of plastic wrap, and then press it into a 12-14-inch round. Wrap it tightly in more plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Veggies
  1. Wash & slice veggies; set aside in refrigerator until ready to use.
Beef Filling
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat. Brown beef until no longer pink; season with salt & pepper. Remove beef from skillet with a slotted spoon & set aside.
  2. In the beef drippings, sauté shallot & 1 tsp Herbs de Provence until caramelized. Add beef back to pan with crushed tomatoes & 1 Tbsp olive oil. Stir & simmer for 6-7 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
Assemble & Bake
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Remove dough from fridge. Transfer pastry circle to a sheet of parchment paper.
  2. Spread beef /sauce mixture evenly inside the circle leaving about 3" of dough from the edge. Place the veggies in a spiral, rotating for some color interest. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt 2 tsps Herbs de Provence & some black pepper.
  3. Fold edges of dough over filling, making sure there are no cracks. Brush the galette dough with egg wash.
  4. Bake for about 45 minutes or until veggies are roasted & pastry is golden. Allow to cool slightly then slice & serve.

Layered Zucchini Cheddar Meatloaf

Food history is full of surprises. The history of meatloaf, a North American staple, offers more than a trip down culinary lane. It provides a glimpse into how advances in technology have shaped the way we eat and prepare food today.

It turns out, the idea of mixing meat with a tenderizing filler traces back to the 4th & 5th century AD, when a Roman cookbook presented a recipe for patties made of chopped meat, bread & wine. But it wasn’t until the late 1800’s that American meatloaf was born, inspired by recipes offered by manufactures of the newly invented meat grinder.

In the 1940’s, WWII rationing spawned meat-free loaves, whereas postwar creativity in the 1950’s & ’60’s produced the likes of Bacon-Dill Meatloaf. In the 1970’s & ’80’s, veal, pork & beef ‘meatloaf mix’ came into vogue. In the 1990’s, restaurateurs marketed upscale versions and today, innovations continue as loaves are stuffed, wrapped or laced with international flavors.

When we cook meatloaf, we’re connected to something bigger: a tradition, a time line. Meatloaf is elemental. It’s enduring, served without undue fuss or expensive implements …. comfort food without a doubt.

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Layered Zucchini Cheddar Meatloaf
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine tomato sauce, oregano, basil & garlic powder.
  3. In a bowl, combine beef, bread crumbs, egg white, salt, pepper & HALF of the tomato sauce mixture; mix well.
  4. Divide meat in half. On a sheet of wax paper, form 2 rectangles each about 8 X 10-inches. Spread zucchini over half of each rectangle. Divide cheese & sprinkle over zucchini, still covering only half the meat. Fold the meat over so that zucchini & cheese are inside. Pinch edges of meat to seal.
  5. Place layered meat loaves on top of each other then place on a rack in a shallow baking pan. Top with remaining tomato sauce & sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake uncovered for about 1 1/2 hrs. or until meat is cooked. Allow to stand 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Guacamole Beef Burgers on Portobello ‘Buns’

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’.

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Guacamole Beef Burgers on Portobello 'Buns'
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Guacamole
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Guacamole
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Instructions
Portobello Caps
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. & place rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with foil paper & set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
Guacamole
  1. On a piece of plastic wrap, mash avocado with lime juice, salt, garlic, onion & cilantro. Fold plastic wrap over guacamole & set aside in fridge.
Beef Burgers
  1. Preheat barbecue grill (or roast burgers in oven).
  2. 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.
Assembly
  1. 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!

Mushroom Beef Roll

When you cook meatloaf/roll were connected to something bigger …. a tradition and a time line. A comfort food that has been enduring not only an answer to hunger but is served without undue fuss or expensive implements. It reigns supreme.

The reason meatloaf has stayed with us through so many generations is because it is a master of evolution. It can be personalized and adapted any number of ways, all the while requiring only basic skills.

In the 1955 edition of the Good Housekeeping Cookbook, a recipe for ‘mushroom-stuffed meatloaves’ was featured. To enliven a simpler offering, there was an inexhaustible trend for garnishing, glazing, saucing and decorating.

Then in 1966, the Campbell’s Soup Company featured a recipe for a ‘rolled, stuffed meatloaf’ to promote their tomato soup (in place of traditional tomato sauce). The idea was that by rolling a vegetable into the meatloaf, you could save the work of creating a separate side dish. A new one dish meat and vegetable dinner …. and soup makes it great!

The fact that meatloaf takes on variations so easily shows how it dresses up just as well as it dresses down. This meal definitely does not lack in flavor.

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Mushroom Beef Roll
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Beef
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Beef
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Instructions
Filling
  1. In a saucepan, saute onion in butter until translucent. Add mushrooms, garlic, soy sauce, salt & thyme. Cover & simmer on low for 10 minutes. Remove from heat; add heavy cream & cheese. Allow to cool.
Beef
  1. In a bowl, combine beef with kalbi sauce; mix well.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. On a piece of plastic wrap, press out meat in a rectangle about a 1/4-inch thickness. Sprinkle meat with green onions. Top with mushroom filling. Using the plastic wrap, roll from the short end in a jelly-roll style.
  3. On a piece of parchment paper, spread crushed french onions in a rectangle shape. Place meat roll on top & roll to cover it with the crushed french fried onions.
  4. Place parchment paper with meat roll on a baking sheet & bake for about 50 minutes.

Beef w/Porcini Risotto en Croute

Italy, often regarded as the home country of pasta, still has a deep love for another popular dish called risotto. Risotto like pasta can be dressed with an endless variety of ingredients.

Mushroom risotto is a delicious variation on this classic dish. The beauty of mushroom risotto is in its earthiness of the mushrooms you choose. Italians make mushroom risotto with fresh porcini mushrooms when they are in season in spring and fall. If you are unable to find some at an Italian store, dried porcini mushrooms make an excellent substitute in this recipe.

The key to preparing items en croute is that however long it takes to cook the pastry until its golden brown, is how long the item will spend in the oven.

Normally, Beef En Croute can be an expensive proposition. By using a well seasoned ground beef instead of ‘Beef Tenderloin‘, it can be transformed into a more economical meal but still have a degree of richness & elegance to it.

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Beef w/ Porcini Risotto en Croute
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Risotto
Porcini Mushrooms
Pastry
Servings
Ingredients
Risotto
Porcini Mushrooms
Pastry
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Instructions
Risotto
  1. Dice onion & garlic finely. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a saucepan & cook until tender soft. Add risotto mix along with hot chicken broth. The rice should be soft cooked in about 20 minutes. Stir in Parmesan & 1 1/2 tsp butter. Your mixture should not be loose or dry. Set aside to cool.
Beef
  1. In a saucepan, saute ground beef along with diced onions, garlic & spices. Cook ONLY until beef is no longer pink. Remove from heat & allow to cool.
Mushrooms
  1. Brush mushrooms with a clean damp cloth & slice. Heat oil in saucepan & saute mushrooms with thyme to release some of their moisture. Remove from heat & set aside to cool.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Brush one of the puff pastry sheets with egg white. Down the center of the pastry sheet, spread the risotto & top with half of the mushrooms. Next, top with the spiced beef & remaining mushrooms.
  3. Lay the second sheet of pastry on top & either braid the edges or press pastry together with a fork. Beat together egg yolk & remaining white plus a bit of water. Brush pastry evenly with beaten egg. Bake until golden about 20 - 25 minutes.
Recipe Notes
  • When using dried mushrooms for this or any dish, soak them in boiling water for 30 minutes, strain the liquid, & add it to your dish or save for another day. In this preparation, add it to the broth.