Sage-Dijon Pork Tenderloin w/ Pistachio Couscous

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Many cultures around the world believe the key to a happy, healthy, prosperous & productive year begins with eating certain lucky foods on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The theory is ‘do good, eat good’ on the 1st day of the year, to begin the New Year right.

It hard to believe we have arrived at the end of another ‘complicated’ year and its time to reflect and assess the year it was. The word ‘new’ brings thoughts of hope and makes us realize how precious time is.

The tradition of eating pork on New Year’s dates back to …. well, no one really knows when. If your a meat eater, chose pork over chicken or beef on New Year’s Day because pigs dig with their snout, representing forward movement or progress, while chickens or turkeys scratch backward, the cows stand still. That’s it, that’s the folklore behind the tradition!

Many European countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland & Ireland, eat pork not only because of the belief of moving forward but because fatty meat is also symbolic of ‘fattening’ their wallets. Germans feel that pigs are so lucky that they give marzipan pigs known as ‘Glucksschwien’ or lucky pigs, as gifts to bring good luck in the coming year. They can also be given in other forms, such as little wooden or glass figurines.

With the pandemic situation that seems to be never ending, I think anything that will help in the good luck department is a good thing.

Print Recipe
Sage, Dijon Pork Tenderloin w/ Pistachio Couscous
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
SERVINGS
Ingredients
Pistachio Couscous
Servings
SERVINGS
Ingredients
Pistachio Couscous
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Cook the couscous according to package directions. Add parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper, and pistachios. Stir to incorporate. Taste and adjust for seasonings. Cover and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350º. Spray an 9” x 13” baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Using a knife poke several holes in the tenderloin about a half-inch deep so marinade can penetrate.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together the shallots, garlic, soy sauce, mustard, honey, juice, sage, salt and pepper, and olive oil.
  5. Pour the marinade over the tenderloin.
  6. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes basting every 10-15 minutes.
  7. Transfer the tenderloin to a large cutting board and allow them to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  8. Slice the tenderloin and transfer to a serving dish placing atop warmed couscous. Drizzle the marinade from the pan over the sliced pork medallions & couscous.

Mushroom ‘Holly’ & Olive Straws

CELEBRATING NEW YEAR’S EVE!

A time to look back on the passing year and generally take ‘stock’ as well as looking forward to the new year approaching. New Year’s Eve means different things to different people. Before covid entered our lives, parties & celebrations were the order of the day, a happy way to speed the old year out and the new year in. Many traditions are involved in the New Year’s celebration, one of which is the singing of ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

The words and music of Auld Lang Syne have evolved over the years. Although the song has often been credited to the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, he never claimed to have written the poem or compose the melody but was inspired by someone singing it. The best translation of the Scottish words are ‘for the sake of old times’.

The traditional melody of the song is rarely heard nowadays and is more folkish. The version we’re familiar with dates to 1929. It was Guy Lombardo, the Canadian born bandleader that helped make Auld Lang Syne a New Year’s Eve tradition in North America. His band, the Royal Canadians, played the song at the turn of the new year in a series of popular radio (and later television) broadcasts that began on December 31, 1929 and continued for more than 30 years. This musical tradition is still sung all over the world, evoking a sense of belonging and fellowship, tinged with nostalgia.

Until I researched this songs history, I didn’t actually know the English ‘translation’ of it. This is what I found it to be:

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

And surely, you’ll buy your pint cup! And surely, I’ll buy mine! And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes and picked the daisies fine; But we’ve wandered many a weary foot, since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream, from morning sun till dine; But seas between us broad have roared Since auld lang syne.

 And there’s a hand my trusty friend! And give me a hand o’ thine! And we’ll take a right good will draught, For auld lang syne.

So here we are, with a new year just around the corner. As a farmer’s daughter, I still hang on to the mind set of my father and that was, that next year will definitely be better.

I am posting a couple of little hors d’oeuvres you might enjoy if you are bringing in the new year at home with family.

Print Recipe
Mushroom Leaves & Olive Straws
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Servings
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Mushroom Leaves
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Using a holly leaf cookie cutter, cut 18 leaves from thawed puff pastry. Place in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate while mushrooms cook.
  3. In a skillet over medium-low heat, heat olive oil & add the shallot & salt. Sauté until beginning to brown & caramelize. Remove the shallot to a bowl & set aside.
  4. In the same skillet, heat the remaining olive oil & sauté mushrooms until tender & moisture has evaporated. Add garlic, thyme & pepper; sauté for an additional minute. Place in the bowl with the shallot. Stir in the cheese.
  5. In a dish, whisk egg & milk. With your finger tip, moisten edges of the pastry leaves with egg wash. Put a tiny bit of mustard in the center of each leaf.
  6. Divide mushroom/cheese mixture between leaves. Bake until pastry is golden brown and puffed, about 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Serve warm.
Olive Straws
  1. On a lightly floured work surface, unfold 1 (10"x10") sheet of puff pastry. Roll pastry with rolling pin to increase size slightly (about 1/2 -3/4-inch. Cut the sheet in half.
  2. Place about 10 olives, end to end in a straight line across the pastry starting about 3/4 of an inch from the edge. Repeat with 2 more rows, leaving about the same width between each row.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and milk. Brush egg mixture on all exposed spaces between olives. Cover with the other half of the puff pastry, pressing the whole surface of the dough between the olives & outside edges firmly with your fingertips. Transfer to refrigerator; let chill 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  5. Using a very sharp knife, trim edges of dough; cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide straws. Lay flat-side down on a baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake until pastry is golden and crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer straws to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm. Yield: 24 olive straws

Turkey Thighs w/ Persimmon Sage Stuffing

Cooking turkey parts instead of the entire bird serves a few purposes. It not only cuts way back on the cooking time but it allows you to cook more of your favorite pieces. For dark meat lovers, roasted turkey thighs are the perfect option as the meat is succulent and flavorful without losing its moistness during the roasting time.

As soon as I spot persimmons in the grocery store I can’t resist them. Persimmons are in season between November and February. They are mildly sweet and juicy with a slight crunch reminiscent of a cross between a peach and a pear. Since there is only a short window in which you can enjoy this exotic fruit, persimmons make up for it by working well in both sweet and savory recipes.

In acknowledgement to the USA Thanksgiving today (November 25th), I’m stuffing some turkey thighs with an interesting dressing containing persimmons & fresh sage. I know most people have their own traditional, go-to‘ stuffing recipes, but I’m hoping at least a few will venture from the norm and try a little persimmon in your stuffing. I can assure you, its worth it.

Print Recipe
Turkey Thighs w/ Persimmon Sage Stuffing
Instructions
Stuffing
  1. Preheat oven to 200 F. On a parchment or foil lined baking sheet, spread out the cubes of bread. Bake for about 10 minutes, until lightly toasted yet still pale in color. Set aside. Turn oven off until ready to bake ready to roast thighs if you wish.
  2. In a large saucepan or pot over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp olive oil & 1 Tbsp butter. When butter has melted, add the shallot, celery & leek. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, sage, thyme & pepper; cook until mixture is fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour in the broth and toss lightly until everything is completely mixed. Give the stuffing a taste & add salt to your personal taste. Fold in the beaten egg & cubed persimmons; toss lightly till combined.
Herb Butter
  1. In a small dish, combine all herb butter ingredients & set aside.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Arrange turkey thighs, skin side down on a work surface so they lay open & flat. Cover with plastic wrap, then pound lightly with a meat mallet to flatten to an even thickness.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. Discard plastic wrap; spread stuffing over 2 turkey thighs, leaving a 1/4-inch border around edge. Top each with a remaining turkey thigh. Butter a casserole dish with remaining butter & transfer any leftover stuffing to casserole dish, spreading it out evenly.
  4. Line a roasting pan with heavy duty foil paper. Grease foil on the bottom of pan & place the stuffed turkey thighs in roasting pan. Carefully spread HERB BUTTER over tops of stuffed thighs.
  5. Roast uncovered, basting occasionally, until thighs reach an internal temperature of 180 F. about 2 hours. Cover with foil if top browns too quickly. Bake the extra stuffing for about 30-40 minutes, until the top of the stuffing is golden brown.
  6. Remove turkey thighs from oven, tent with foil & allow to rest for about 5-10 minutes. Slice & serve.

Pork Tenderloin w/ Bulgur Apricot Stuffing

Just for a change of pace, I decided to make a nutty tasting bulgur wheat stuffing instead of the traditional bread version for our tenderloin today.

Bulgur is more than just something to make tabbouleh with. Its nutty taste and hearty texture work in so many dishes or you can just use it as a substitute for other grains like brown rice, couscous or quinoa.

This kind of wheat should not be confused with its less-tricky-to-harvest cousin, cracked wheat. While they are similar, cracked wheat is completely raw while bulgur is pre-cooked and has a much shorter prep time.

For me, if the recipe involves grain, I’m in! I guess you can take the farmer’s daughter off the farm but you can never take away her love for food with grain in it.

Print Recipe
Pork Tenderloin w/ Bulgur Apricot Stuffing
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, place bulgur & vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium low & simmer until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Add chopped apricots during the last 5 minutes. Remove from heat & drain any excess liquid. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together egg & spices. Add almonds, scallions & reserved bulgur & apricots; mix to combine.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  4. Butterfly pork tenderloin & pound with a meat mallet to an even thickness. Place on an oiled piece of foil paper on a baking sheet. Cover one half of the tenderloin with stuffing; press to flatten a bit. Fold other half of tenderloin over top stuffing. Secure with kitchen twine to keep stuffing from falling out during roasting.
  5. Brush with olive oil & season with salt & pepper. Roast about 45 minutes or until tenderloin has a slight pink color remaining. Remove from oven & allow to sit for a few minutes before untying & slicing.
  6. For the blog picture, I opened our whole tenderloin before slicing to show how nice this filling is. These flavors are so good!

Salmon Leek Pelmeni ‘Rose’

Classic pelmeni are dumplings of Russian cuisine that consist of a filling wrapped in thin, unleavened dough. There is debate about the exact place of origin with Ural and Siberia both maintaining strong claims. This Russian comfort food is part of the group of Eastern European dumplings like ‘vareniki, pierogis and uszka’. The word “pelmeni” describes the ear-shaped appearance of these dumplings. Fillings generally consist of ground meat such as pork, lamb, beef or mushrooms as well as salt, pepper and sometimes herbs and onions.

In Russia’s Far East the locals replace meats with salmon to make a native version of this common national dish. This is an exotic region with a unique climate, landscape, flora and fauna. Basic fruits and vegetables that grow in most Russian home gardens must be shipped to this region because of its harsh climate does not allow much to grow. Dairy products are also imported at high cost so they rarely are found in the local diet.

Fish and seafood are the basic staples in the Far Eastern diet and are not delicacies for special occasions as is the case in Russia’s European and Siberian regions. Fish is often used instead of meat in cooking common Russian dishes such as cutlets, cabbage rolls and pelmeni.

Back in March of this year (2021), I had posted a blog about traditional pelmeni containing beef filling. We enjoyed that meal a lot and have since had it numerous times with various fillings. After doing some research, I realized that fish pelmeni was a ‘real thing’. I had also seen an idea from the internet about using salmon and pastry to form a ‘salmon rose’. I thought, why couldn’t that tender pelmeni dough be used along with fresh salmon & leeks to make something special? I realize I have strayed a long way from the classic ear shaped pelmeni but the flavor is just as wonderful.

Print Recipe
Salmon Leek Pelmeni 'Rose'
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine European
Servings
Ingredients
Pelmeni Dough
Leek & Salmon Fillings
Veggies
Course Main Dish
Cuisine European
Servings
Ingredients
Pelmeni Dough
Leek & Salmon Fillings
Veggies
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Dough
  1. In a bowl, combine all dough ingredients & knead until a smooth dough ball forms, about 10 minutes. Wrap in plastic wrap & set aside to allow dough to rest until the filling is prepared.
Leek & Salmon Fillings
  1. In a sauce pan, sauté garlic, leeks & mushrooms in 1 Tbsp olive oil until tender. Remove from heat & place in a dish to cool until needed later.
  2. Prepare fresh salmon (skin, debone & slice thinly); refrigerate until ready to assemble. In a small bowl, combine all remaining filling ingredients. Set aside
Soya Broth & Veggies
  1. In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté onion until it starts to soften. Add mushrooms, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, zucchini & oregano. Cook for about 2 minutes; remove veggies to a dish & set aside.
  2. In the NON-STICK saucepan, bring all broth ingredients to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes; turn off heat.
Assembly & Cooking
  1. On a LIGHTLY oiled work surface, roll out dough as thin as possible. Cut (20) 4-inch discs from pastry with a fluted, circular pastry cutter. Align the discs in 2 lines, making them overlap slightly. One line should consist of 12 circles & other other line the remaining 8. With your rolling pin, slightly roll over each line to help press the circles together a bit.
  2. On the shorter line of dough, distribute cooled leek/mushroom filling. Roll up to form the center of the salmon 'rose'. The roll should hold together but not be tightly rolled so it will steam properly. On the longer line of dough circles, distribute the thinly sliced salmon. Top salmon with Panko crumb 'filling' & press with a spatula to flatten slightly.
  3. Carefully place the rolled leek/mushroom 'center' at one end of the salmon 'line'. Roll up to form the outside rings of the 'rose'. Using a large heavy spatula, gently lift the 'rose' pastry into the center of the broth in the saucepan.
  4. Turn on heat & bring soya broth to a gentle simmer. Cover & steam salmon/leek 'pelmeni' for about 35 minutes or until both salmon & dough are cooked. Remove to a serving plate & keep warm.
  5. To the remaining broth in saucepan, add 1/4 cup milk & the previously sautéed veggies. Gently stir together then drizzle sauce & veggies over salmon/leek pelmeni 'rose'. Serve.

Roasted Salmon & Plantains w/ Guacamole

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.

Print Recipe
Roasted Salmon & Plantains w/ Guacamole
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Ingredients
Salmon
Plantains
Guacamole
Servings
Ingredients
Salmon
Plantains
Guacamole
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Guacamole
  1. 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,
Plantains
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Place the salmon & plantains in the oven & roast for about 10 minutes or until salmon flakes when you cut into it & is slightly opaque.
  5. Serve salmon topped with guacamole alongside plantains. Steamed rice compliments this meal as well.

Salmon, Leek & Potato Gratin

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!

Print Recipe
Salmon, Leek & Potato Gratin
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish lightly with olive oil.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
Recipe Notes
  • 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.

Salmon Zucchini Parcels

When it comes to zucchini, there is virtually nothing it seems it can’t be made into. To be honest, my love affair with this vegetable spans many years. Long before the internet and Pinterest gave us access to any recipe you could ever want, print cookbooks were the go-to. So to make a long story short, I actually have a recipe book solely devoted to zucchini that is still relevant in today’s cooking and baking procedures.

The blog recipe I want to share today is a dish suitable to be prepared all year round. Baking the salmon parcels in the oven only takes a short bit of time, making it feasible even on warmer days. The thin slices of zucchini are first grilled & then woven together to form parcels of seasoned salmon.

A versatile meal in that you can vary the ingredients of the filling by choosing other types of fish or seafood. Although it could be made into an appetizer size we enjoyed ours as a main course with rice.

Print Recipe
Salmon Zucchini Parcels
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Slice the zucchini lengthwise into long, thin strips. You will need 16 good slices.
  3. Trim the salmon pieces into pieces approximately 2.5-inches square. Count on 2 pieces per serving. On a plate, combine spices, grated parmesan & panko crumbs.
  4. In a hot, non-stick skillet, grill zucchini strips quickly. You're only trying to soften them a little bit as well as giving them some color.
  5. Lay 2 strips of zucchini out on a work surface. Take 2 more & weave them into the center of the first two.
  6. Dredge the salmon pieces in seasoned cheese/panko mixture. Place a piece of salmon on the woven part (it should be about the same size as the interwoven section of the zucchini).
  7. Bring the sides up & around & weave them over the top. Turn parcels over to show the weave. Brush the parcels with olive oil & sprinkle the remaining seasoned cheese/panko mixture evenly over the 4 parcels. Pat the breading gently to help it adhere to zucchini strips.
  8. Bake for about 15 minutes; remove from oven & serve immediately.

Apple Butter Onion Turkey Burgers

CELEBRATING FATHER’S DAY!

Honoring your father on Father’s Day doesn’t require his physical presence. I feel what is more important, is just the act of doing it.

It seems as we get older, reminiscing becomes part of our lives. It is an important psychological process called ‘life cycle review’. Father’s Day, for Brion & I, is a day that brings back many fond memories. My father passed away in 2005 and Brion’s in 2011. There is never a week that goes by that we don’t reminisce about something we remember about one or the other. Both of our Dad’s loved to talk and tell you stories from their lives. I think back to when I was just a kid and my Dad would recount the same story more than once. At the time, it all seemed a bit boring but now I realize how the benefits of storytelling and review are greatly underestimated. I would give anything to retrace those years once again.

A father’s love and influence is never fully appreciated until he is no longer with you. It is so important to make the most of every day they are in your life.

For my Father’s Day blog recipe, I am doing a barbecue meal I think they both would have enjoyed.

Using apple butter not only in the turkey burgers but also in the caramelized onion is so unique tasting. Apple butter is in its own class of spreads, its not really a jam or jelly and it doesn’t have the thin texture of apple sauce. It is thicker, silkier and a highly concentrated paste produced by slow cooking. The apples caramelize turning the apple butter a deep brown.

Contrary to what the name suggests, there’s zero actual butter in apple butter. The name is derived from the fact that it is a dense spread.

These ‘gourmet’ burgers have a great apple butter flavor that pairs perfectly with smoked gouda cheese and caramelized onions. It seems apple butter, as ordinary as it is, cannot be found in every grocery store and when you find it, the price is amazingly high. I made a small batch from ‘scratch’ that worked out good in this recipe.

Print Recipe
Apple Butter Onion Turkey Burgers
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Apple Butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Peel, core & cut apples into wedges; place in a baking dish.
  2. Cover the pan tightly & bake for 30-45 minutes or until apples are cooked & soft. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
  3. Place the cooked apples to a food processor; add spices, honey & apple cider vinegar. Pulse until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan & simmer mixture over low heat to reduce down. Stir the mixture occasionally as it cooks. This process reduces the liquid in the apple butter & will take 30-90 minutes all depending on how much moisture was in the apples. When finished cooking, cool slightly before adding it to your burger mixture.
Burgers
  1. In a bowl, add ground turkey, panko crumbs, apple butter, cilantro, cumin, smoked paprika, salt & pepper. Combine well & shape into 6 slider or 4 full-size burgers. Set aside in fridge until onions are made.
Apple Butter Onions
  1. Remove the papery skin from the onion & trim off top & bottom. Cut in half & thinly slice.
  2. In a large skillet add olive oil & set over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add onions, salt & pepper. Cook for 20 minutes or until the onions are soft & caramelized. Add the apple butter & stir to combine. Keep warm while burgers cook.
Grilling/Serve
  1. Preheat barbecue grill to medium heat. Grill burgers 8-10 minutes depending on size. Top each burger with cheese & allow to melt. Toast buns if you wish, top with burgers, apple butter onions & tomatoes.

French Mussels w/ Bacon & Leek Risotto

Thanks for the memories! This phrase says it all when I think back to the wonderful time we spent in France. Although this holiday is now 20 years past, the memories remain very vivid and special.

My sister, Loretta had joined Brion & I on this French vacation which had made it even more special. Our journey began in Paris where we had rented a car, then travelled south (about 613 km/380 miles) to the sleepy little village of St Thibery. For this segment of our trip we had rented an apartment to use as ‘home base’ during our time in this part of France. Many of these houses are from the 14th,15th & 17th century. The apartment was quaint but adequate even having a roof top patio.

St Thibery is situated between the larger towns of Agde & Pezenas and is just a short distance from the Mediterranean Sea. On one of our day trips we visited the town of Agde. It is one of the oldest towns in France and is captivating by its maze of narrow streets. Agde was built of black basalt from a volcanic eruption thus the black color of its buildings.

It was here we discovered a nice restaurant where we enjoyed some classic French steamed mussels. It would be an understatement to say how much the three of us enjoyed this feast of fresh seafood.

During the time we spent in the area, we made the 20 minute drive from St Thibery to Agde just to have some more mussels on numerous evenings.

Brion & I decided to revisit the taste of those ‘French’ mussels today with our supper meal. Of course, nothing compares to the ‘taste of a memory’!

Print Recipe
French Mussels w/ Bacon & Leek Risotto
Instructions
Risotto
  1. Bring vegetable broth to a boil in a saucepan, then turn heat to low & keep at a simmer.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add bacon & sauté until crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain & set aside.
  3. Remove all but 2 Tbsp bacon drippings from skillet (add extra olive oil if necessary to equal 2 Tbsp) then add leeks, mushrooms & shallot. Turn heat up to medium-high; season with salt & pepper. Sauté until vegetables are tender & starting to turn golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. Add garlic & sauté for 1 minute. Add rice; stir to coat & cook for 1 more minute.
  4. Turn heat back to medium; add wine & stir until absorbed by rice. Add hot vegetable broth; stir near constantly until rice is tender & all the broth is absorbed, about 25 minutes. If broth gets to a hard boil, turn heat down. Remove skillet from heat; stir in thyme, parmesan cheese & cooked bacon. Keep warm until mussels are ready.
Mussels
  1. Heat olive oil & butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Sauté the onion & garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mussels, wine, cream, butter & parsley. Season well with salt & pepper to taste.
  3. Mix well, cover pot with a lid & cook until mussels are cooked through & opened, about 12-15 minutes.
  4. Serve mussels along with the juices in the pan with risotto & crusty or garlic bread.