Bedfordshire Clangers w/ Variations

July is such a wonderful month. The weather’s warm, there’s still plenty of summer left, and the produce is literally amazing.

Midsummer means the farmer’s markets are brimming with great fruit & veggies. With such a colorful bounty of goods, we can settle into our summer cooking routines with tasty meals hot or cold.

But, even in summer, we sometimes crave ‘comfort food’ such as a ‘hand pie’. The humble hand pie goes by many different names: call it a pasty, a turnover, an empanada, or a ‘Bedfordshire clanger’….

A Bedfordshire Clanger dates back to at least the 19th century. It was typically made for agricultural workers to take with them to work as their lunch. The original pastry was made from suet and cooked by a boiling method. There is a theory that the pastry crust was not originally intended for consumption but as a vessel in which to protect the filling from the soiled hands of the workers.

The clanger originated from the county of Bedfordshire, a small, low-lying and predominantly agricultural county nestled in the east of England and adjacent counties, including Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. 

The name is as intriguing as the food itself. The word clanger, it had been suggested, referred to the mistake of mixing sweet and savory fillings. But a more likely explanation was that in nearby Northamptonshire dialect, ‘clang’ means to eat voraciously.

Knowing their husbands would need lots of protein and carbohydrate sustenance, homemakers came up with the brilliant idea of a doubled, loaf-shaped pie. One end contained a savory filling that used the famed pork of the area while the other end was filled with stewed apples (made from local apples) as dessert. So, the two fillings didn’t combine, there was a ‘pastry wall’ in between blocking any flavors from mixing. A ‘secret code’ denoted which end was meat, and which was dessert: two knife slits on one end of the pastry top means meat, three small holes on the other shows the sweet. This was brilliant, an entire meal for the field workers – handheld, portable and delicious.

The version we have today is not its beginnings but its evolution. Once you’ve nailed this basic Bedfordshire clanger recipe you can experiment with all sorts of flavor combos, there’s really no limit to what you can combine in this savory/sweet pastry.

Since Brion takes lunch to work, I became intrigued with the idea and decided to get creative with the fillings. That way I could make a variety and freeze them and use as needed. These tasty little ‘clangers’ can be served as the main course for a warm-weather picnic or for a hand-held, backyard meal with the addition of a nice fresh salad at home.

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Bedfordshire Clangers w/ Variations
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Chicken w/ Caramelized Onions
Raspberry / Nectarine Filling
Blueberry Filling
Apple / Apricot Filling
Plum / Rhubarb Filling
Rhubarb / Apple Filling
Servings
Ingredients
Chicken w/ Caramelized Onions
Raspberry / Nectarine Filling
Blueberry Filling
Apple / Apricot Filling
Plum / Rhubarb Filling
Rhubarb / Apple Filling
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Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sage & salt. Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour mixture & use your fingers to work them in. Alternately you could use a pastry cutter to do this.
  2. When the mixture resembles cornmeal with pea-sized bits of butter remaining, stir in cheese with a fork until evenly distributed. Sprinkle 6 Tbsp ice water over mixture & stir with a fork until dough begins to come together. If needed, add an additional Tbsp or two of ice water.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface & knead for about three times. Gather the dough into a disk & wrap in plastic wrap. refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Pork Filling
  1. Bake potato in microwave, peel & cut into small cubes. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet & sauté celery, onion, garlic & bacon together on medium heat until veggies are soft & bacon is cooked. Add ground pork, breaking it up well. Stir in dried herbs & spices. Cover & simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat & stir in cooked potato & cheese. Set aside to cool.
Spiced Meat Combo
  1. In a saucepan, sauté onion & garlic. Add ground meat, basil, thyme, cardamom & salt & pepper. Scramble fry until cooked, remove from heat & add parmesan & potato. Place in a dish.
  2. In the saucepan, melt butter; add flour to make a roux. Cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes. Slowly add beef broth, stirring until sauce thickens. Season to taste. Add to ground meat mixture & combine to form filling. Set aside until ready to use.
Turkey Filling
  1. In a skillet, cook bacon until just crisp, then remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain; chop when cooled. Remove all but 1 Tbsp of the bacon drippings from skillet.
  2. Add butter to the skillet, sauté onions, garlic & mushrooms with herbs & spices, scraping up any brown bits, until the onions have softened & mushrooms have lost most of their size & moisture. Stir in the bacon & shredded cooked turkey, taste for seasoning. Cook for another minute or two, then remove from heat & set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, combine Boursin, milk & spices (if using). Stir until Boursin has melted. Remove from heat. Add to turkey/veg mixture.
Chicken w/ Caramelized Onions
  1. Heat butter over medium low heat in a heavy ovenproof skillet. Add the onions cook for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. When the onions are a deep golden color, remove them from the pan and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. Combine the flour, salt, chili powder, thyme, allspice, & black pepper. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess. In the same pan as the onions, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add each piece of chicken & fry for a few minutes until golden brown; flip & cook for a few more minutes. Transfer to a plate (it will not be fully cooked at this point, just browned – it will finish cooking in the oven).
  4. Turn the heat down & let the oil cool off a little bit. Make a roux with excess oil in skillet & dredging flour. Add chicken broth & cook until a sauce forms. Add the onions & chicken to the pan. Bake for about 20 minutes longer. When chicken/onion mixture is cooked, remove from oven. Allow to cool until ready to use.
Raspberry/Rhubarb Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cardamom & salt. Add water & stir then add chopped nectarines. Simmer until nectarine is slightly soft & liquid is thickened. Remove from heat & carefully fold in raspberries. Set aside to cool.
Blueberry Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients except blueberries. Cook until sauce starts to thicken then gently fold in blueberries & cook a couple of minutes more. Remove from heat & set aside to cool.
Apple/Apricot Filling
  1. Peel & dice apples. Drain canned apricot juice into a small saucepan. Add sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon & salt & combine. Add apples & cook until apples are tender. Cut canned apricot halves into quarters. When apples are cooked & sauce has thickened, remove from heat & add apricots. Gently combine & set aside to cool.
Plum/Rhubarb Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt & lemon zest. Add rhubarb & plums. Gently stir over a low heat. When enough juice has formed, allow to simmer until rhubarb is soft & juice has thickened. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool.
Sour Cherry Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, place sugar, cornstarch & salt. Add juice/water mixture & stir to thoroughly combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Immediately remove from heat. Gradually fold in cherries. Set aside to cool.
Rhubarb/Apple Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, add the rhubarb, apples, salt & sugar. Add a drizzle of water if necessary & heat on medium. The rhubarb will begin to release liquid & break down as the apples soften. Heat the mixture until the moisture has evaporated & begins to thicken. Once the mixture is thickened, add the lemon juice, lemon zest and cinnamon. Place it in a bowl & allow to cool.
Apple/Pear Filling
  1. Heat butter in a small skillet until melted, add apples & pears & cook until fruit begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle sugar over mixture & continue to cook stirring often until fruit begins to lose its juices. Mix together cornstarch & lemon juice & add to pan. Simmer until mixture has thickened, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat & allow to cool.
Assembly/Baking
  1. Divide pastry into 5 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface (or dry wax paper) roll out each piece of pastry into 14 x 7 1/2-inches. The excess trimmed from the sides will be used for little pastry ‘walls’ dividing the sweet & savory fillings. Roll excess pastry into a 3-inch length.
  2. Cut each piece of pastry in half horizontally so you have (2) 7-inch long pieces from each piece of pastry. From the top of each piece, LIGHTLY make a line across your pastry 4-inches from the outside edge. This will help to place your fillings properly.
  3. On the 3-inch wide section, place savory filling to cover 2/3 of the area. Place one of the rolled strips after that then place sweet filling on the remaining 1/3 to complete the 'clanger'. The little rolled piece of pastry divides the savory & sweet filling.
  4. On the sweet side make 3 holes for vents & on the savory side make 2 slashes. This is the 'code' to let the person eating the clanger which was savory or sweet.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  6. Brush the edges of each pastry with egg wash. Lift the pastry from the opposite side over the fillings & seal the edges with a fork.
  7. Brush clangers with remaining egg wash & bake for about 30-35 minutes or until golden.
Recipe Notes
  • Due to the length of this recipe, I found making the savory & fruit fillings on one day & the pastry, assembling & baking the next, worked out well for me. Although these pastries are VERY time consuming, believe me, the are well worth it in the end, especially if your freezing some to use later. I baked them all & then wrapped them well before freezing.
  • You will probably find there will be enough savory & sweet fillings left over to make about 10 more clangers.
  • All of them will freeze well which will be a time saver for your next batch. Just make a recipe of pastry & your ready to assemble & bake.
  • If your not interested in freezing the 'leftovers', the fruit combined will make a wonderful crisp & the savory fillings can be used in quiche or casseroles.

Italian Sausage Cannelloni

Although it might seem that cannelloni have been eaten since ancient times, this is a recent custom. You could not find it in any Catalan cookbook until the start of the 20th century. Cannelloni originally came from Italy, brought to Catalonia at the end of the 18th century by foreign chefs working in hotels.

There is a basic difference between Catalan and Italian cannelloni. With Catalan, the meat is cooked first, then ground, whereas the Italians put the ground meat straight into the cannelloni tubes.

Manicotti is the Italian American version of cannelloni. Both are pasta tubes, but the difference between the two is fairly minimal: Manicotti tubes are ridged, larger and slightly thicker. Cannelloni tubes are smooth, a touch smaller and slightly thinner.

Over the years, no-boil (also called oven-ready) cannelloni tubes have become a permanent fixture on supermarket shelves. Much like ‘instant rice’, no-boil pasta is precooked at the factory. The pasta tubes are run through a water bath and then dehydrated mechanically. During baking, the moisture from the sauce softens, or rehydrates, the pasta, especially when the pan is covered as the cannelloni bakes.

This baked pasta can be stuffed with a myriad of fillings that suit any taste, from chicken with asparagus to shrimp and lentils. Whether you make a meat sauce, a mixture of herbs and ricotta cheese, or fish accompanied by a tomato sauce, the filling can be made the day before. In fact, this will make it even tastier. 

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Italian Sausage Cannelloni
Instructions
Filling
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add oil, onion & mushrooms. Cook for 5-10 minutes allowing the onion to soften & mushrooms to release their liquid.
  2. Once most of the liquid has dissipated, add sausage crumbling it with a wooden spoon into small pieces as it cooks. Stir & cook all ingredients until the onion is softened & the sausage is no longer pink & is starting to brown. Set aside.
Béchamel Sauce
  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, paprika & Italian seasoning & stir until well incorporated. Slowly, add milk & whisk together until smooth. Continue whisking until sauce comes to a slow boil & starts to thicken. Stir 1/3 of the sauce into the sausage mixture. (Reserve the other two thirds to pour under & over the cannelloni.) Add 340 gm shredded mozzarella to the sausage & sauce mixture & mix to combine.
Assembly/Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Spread a bit of sauce over the bottom of (2) 13 X 9-inch baking pans. Using a large pastry tube with a star tip, fill (oven ready) cannelloni shells. Nestle the cannelloni in the sauce & cover with remaining sauce.
  3. Top with a combo of 50 gm shredded mozzarella & 25 gm shredded Parmesan. Cover with foil.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, remove foil & bake another 5 minutes or until cheese starts to turn golden. Remove from oven, let stand 5 minutes then serve.
Recipe Notes
  • As far as the cheese goes in this recipe, use whatever kind you prefer or have on hand. You know it will always be great because 'cheese makes it better' right!
  • This meal freezes well so if it is to big for your family in one setting just freeze the rest for another time.

Beef Stroganoff w/ Barley Risotto

Beef Stroganoff is a perfect dinner party dish – inexpensive and easy to prepare yet rich and luxurious. History reveals a simple but elegant dish of steak meat sautéed with onion and cooked in a sauce of sour cream, seasonings and usually, mushrooms.

This dish was invented sometime in the early 1800s and had its North American heyday in the 1950s and 1960s.

The best cuts of beef for stroganoff are tender, juicy cuts such as:

  • boneless rib eye
  • boneless sirloin.
  • sirloin steak tips.
  • beef tenderloin.

In researching beef stroganoff, I’ve seen recommendations for all sorts of things to serve it with, including kasha, egg noodles, French fried potatoes, rice, mashed potatoes with chives, wild rice, and the leftovers on buttered toast points.

Since Brion & I always enjoy risotto, it seems like a good choice to pair with our stroganoff. I’ve made risotto from rice, couscous, orzo and they were all good so today I’m using barley.

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Beef Stroganoff w/ Barley Risotto
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- 6 SERVINGS
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Servings
- 6 SERVINGS
Ingredients
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Instructions
Beef - Marinade
  1. In a large zip-lock bag or glass dish, whisk together oil, soy sauce & Montreal Steak Spice. Add cubed steak & marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours.
Mustard Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually whisk in chicken stock and mustard. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir until thickened, 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cut tomato into thick strips. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, cook tomato until softened, 3-5 minutes. Stir into mustard sauce; add salt, liquid smoke & sour cream.
  3. In same skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Drain beef using a strainer, discarding marinade. Add sliced onion & mushrooms to pan; cook and stir until onion is softened. Add beef & cook until meat is no longer pink, 6-8 minutes. Add mustard sauce; reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened. Keep warm until serving.
Barley Risotto
  1. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat to maintain simmer. In another large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add chopped onion & salt. Cook and stir until liquid evaporates. Add barley; toast in pan.
  2. Stir hot water into barley 1 cup at a time, waiting until liquid has almost absorbed before adding more. Cook until barley is softened but still slightly chewy, 15-20 minutes; stir in parsley. Serve immediately with beef.

Guacamole Prosciutto Chicken Breast

One of my basic, unwritten, rules for food preparation is: everything that can be baked in the oven should be baked in the oven. I have no doubt that there are others who will say that baking in the oven is expensive, that it consumes a lot of electricity, but baking in the oven has some other advantages compared to classic frying in a pan. 

Apart from the fact that food is prepared faster, which consumes less energy and consumes much less fat, you need much less time to prepare, as well as to wash the sprayed and greasy stove (or fryer). When I mention the speed of preparation, it is certainly much faster and easier to bake a few kilograms of chicken in one or two pans at the same time in the oven than in a pan. And if you also use baking paper, the profit is incomparable.

I always thought guacamole was an unlikely stuffing or topping for chicken breast as it usually served as a cold tortilla chip dip. It’s one of those taste ‘sensations’ you must taste to believe. Of course, you must start with liking avocados —and you guessed it, Brion & I do.

Then enter Italian prosciutto … which, is like ham that went to university abroad — sophisticated and cultured. What’s not to love about chicken oven baked, or air fried, loaded with guacamole; prosciutto & pepper jack cheese for some ultimate juicy and tender chicken roll ups.

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Guacamole Prosciutto Chicken Breast
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Guacamole
Chicken Breasts
Servings
Ingredients
Guacamole
Chicken Breasts
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Instructions
Guacamole
  1. In a large bowl, coarsely mash avocados, lime juice & salt. Stir in garlic, onion & cilantro; blend well. Cover & set aside until ready to use.
Chicken
  1. Slice chicken breasts in halve lengthwise. Place the chicken in the air fryer basket. Rub olive oil on the chicken.
  2. Rub creole seasoning (or seasoning of choice) on each side of the chicken pieces.
  3. Cook in the air fryer at 360 degrees for 9 minutes. Open the air fryer and flip the chicken. Divide guacamole, prosciutto & cheese between the 8 pieces of chicken. Cook for another 9 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer to oven roast your chicken breast without using an air fryer, just preheat the oven to 375 F. After oiling & seasoning, wrap the prosciutto loosely around the chicken breasts. Place the chicken on a foil lined baking sheet & bake for about 30 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Remove from oven, top with cheese & guacamole, return to oven until cheese is melted. 
  • I roasted some grape tomatoes for the garnish which adds more flavor to the end result.

Breakfast Turkey Hashbrown Burgers

There’s something fundamentally satisfying about the textural contrast of biting through a crisp savory shell into a juicy turkey burger. It’s not like burgers needed to be reinvented, but I’m all about trying new things to see if there’s something novel and delicious to be discovered. 

Breakfast can be many things to many people. Hash browns come in many shapes and sizes. They can be prepared in various ways. Some consider it the ultimate breakfast food that needs to be served with eggs.

Brion has always enjoyed hashbrowns, not the diced, fried to a crisp in a deep fryer kind, but the nice shredded, golden kind. My inventions for new culinary techniques that revolutionize the way we eat usually happen in the middle of the night during a bout of insomnia. But all it takes is a quick Internet search to reveal that I’m far from the first person to have invented the cookery method, and hundreds of recipes already exist. Nevertheless, this idea for an interesting breakfast is a good example of that.

I crusted the turkey burgers with some shredded potatoes, so when they cook and get crispy, they act as a barrier that locks in all the juices.  The roasted tomatoes add a nice little garnish to the burgers.  I topped the burgers with poached eggs, because when you cut into it, the velvety, creamy yolk pours out onto the burger and acts as a sauce…and what goes better with potatoes than eggs, right?  So, there you have it …. crispy, golden hashbrowns, meat, eggs & tomatoes …. what a breakfast!

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Breakfast Turkey Hashbrown Burgers
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Course Brunch
Cuisine American
Servings
Course Brunch
Cuisine American
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Hashbrowns
  1. Thaw shredded hashbrowns on paper towel. In a bowl, place the flour, cheese, egg, onion, garlic, coriander, smoked paprika, salt & pepper. Add 'dried' shredded hashbrowns. Using a fork, mix everything until combined being careful not to break up the hashbrowns. Set aside until burgers are ready to be coated with the mixture.
Turkey Burgers
  1. In a bowl, combine burger ingredients & divide into 4 equal portions. Form into burger patties. Coat burgers with hashbrown mixture, gently pressing coating down to make sure it adheres well.
Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
  1. In a small bowl, place cherry tomatoes & add some Italian dressing to coat. Place on a foil lined baking dish.
Cooking
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a skillet, heat 1 Tbsp EACH butter & olive oil. Carefully place hashbrown burgers in skillet & cook burgers on each side only until they are a golden brown. Remove to a baking pan & place in the oven to continue the cooking process until the meat is fully cooked. Roast the cherry tomatoes at the same time.
  3. While the burgers are in the oven, prepare the poached eggs. Heat a small pot of water until it is almost at a boil. Add 1 Tbsp vinegar to help the eggs to congeal. Crack the eggs gently right above the surface of the water. Turn off the heat & cover the pot for about 3-4 minutes or until the whites of the eggs are fully cooked but the yolks are still runny. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon.
  4. When the burgers & tomatoes are cooked, remove them from the oven. Place them on serving plates & top each burger with a poached egg. Garnish with sprigs of fresh thyme if you wish.

Turkey, Bacon & Apricot Pie

HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY!

For the last 66 years, Canada has celebrated Thanksgiving Day on the second Monday in October. It’s one of those holidays that tend to bring families together, both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, though, in this highly technological age, it seems as if we have become more connected digitally than emotionally.

We have now entered into our Autumn season with all its breathtaking fall foliage. Part of Canada’s appeal is it’s four seasons that offer changing landscapes and temperatures. Fall also represents a time of change. As nature bursts with its fabulous fall foliage, it gives us a little bit of extra time to make the most of what we have left in this year before the grand finale.

I, for one, have always loved the changing seasons. That’s not to say that I like freezing cold and slippery roads but that I have come to understand the important role each one plays in the ‘big picture’. When Brion and I initially landscaped our property, careful consideration was given to what plants were planted. Over the years it has developed into a beautiful tapestry of color through our growing season.

Growing up on the farm, Fall was an especially busy time with the grain crops being harvested, garden vegetables being canned, frozen or just stored for use over the coming months. So much needed to be done before winter would set in. As a teenager it all just seemed like a lot of work. Even as hard as my parents worked at making a living from farming, I think they felt a real sense of satisfaction in what they were able to achieve. I realize now that even without being aware of it the visual beauty of the farmland at harvest was imprinted on me forever.

Most of us here in Canada, have far more things to be grateful for than not. I have fond memories of my wonderful parents, carefree childhood days with my siblings, having enjoyed a successful career, a loving husband, our home, the many wonderful world travels we have been able to enjoy together, but above all we are both in relatively good health. It is so important to just take the time and appreciate the blessings in our lives and make every day count.

For our Thanksgiving meal I am preparing a turkey, bacon & apricot pie. Should be good!

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Turkey, Bacon & Apricot Pie
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Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the bacon & cook until slightly crispy. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon to paper towel & set aside.
  2. Add the onion to skillet & sauté over a low heat until soft but not colored. Add the mushrooms & cook until soft & any liquid has evaporated, add thyme; set aside.
  3. Melt butter in skillet, then add the flour & stir over heat for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, gradually add the milk a little at a time, stirring well. Return to heat & bring to a boil; add turkey broth & stir. Simmer for 2-3 minutes; add seasonings.
  4. Add bacon, turkey, apricots & mushroom mixture to the sauce. Stir well.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  6. Roll 1 sheet of puff pastry to fit a DEEP 9-inch pie dish. From the second sheet of puff pastry cut pastry designs of your choice for top crust.
  7. Spoon filling into pie dish & top with pastry designs. Brush pastry with egg wash & place in oven.
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until pastry is golden brown & filling is piping hot. Remove from oven & allow to cool slightly before serving.
Recipe Notes
  • Don't hesitate to use your own spice combination in place of the coriander & cumin.
  • Spiced cranberries make an extra special condiment for this meal.

White Cheddar Broccoli/Cauliflower Gratin

Perfect veggies to roast together because they cook at the same rate and broccoli’s grassy, earthy and slight bitterness complements cauliflower’s sweet nutty flavor.

The same vegetable, however, they are not. For whatever reason, these two vegetables are often confused for one another, even though they are strikingly different in many ways.

Broccoli is green, except when it’s purple and its cauliflower. Cauliflower is usually white, except when it’s orange or green, and looks like broccoli, or when it’s purple, and it actually is broccoli.

The word ‘broccoli’ is derived from Italian and means, ‘flowering crest of a cabbage.’ The word ‘cauliflower,’ on the other hand, comes from Latin, and means, ‘the flowers of a cabbage’.

This is such a nice fall side dish. Broccoli and cauliflower coated with a rich, creamy, cheesy sauce, covered with Panko breadcrumbs, baked to perfection and garnished with bacon. How good is that!

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White Cheddar Broccoli/Cauliflower Gratin
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook florets until tender-firm, about 5-6 minutes. Drain well.
  3. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add in onions & sauté until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add in garlic & sauté 20 seconds longer. Add in flour & cook whisking constantly, 1 1/2 minutes.
  4. While whisking, slowly pour in milk & add nutmeg. Whisk constantly until mixture reaches a boil, then remove from heat & stir in 1 1/4 cups cheddar cheese & the parmesan. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  5. Pour & spread 1/3 of the cheese sauce into a 9 x 9-inch baking dish. Top with drained broccoli/cauliflower combo then slowly & evenly pour remaining 2/3 of the cheese sauce over top.
  6. Sprinkle over remaining 1/4 cup white cheddar then sprinkle evenly with panko crumbs. Spray panko with olive oil cooking spray to lightly coat.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for 1-2 minutes to help brown further as needed. Remove from oven, sprinkle with bacon & parsley & serve warm.

Chicken Portobello Mushroom Roll-Ups

Lasagna noodles aren’t just for layering. Lasagna, the casserole, is without a doubt the most famous use for the unique lasagna pasta shape. The shape and length of lasagna noodles makes them perfect for rolling up with all manner of fillings.

When it comes to comfort food, we often think of a hearty, gooey pasta dish that will feed an army, lasagna comes to mind. The traditional lasagna you’re used to eating combines layers of tomato sauce, cheese, and meat.  While the traditional portion of lasagna is wonderful, you know how filling it is. For the nights when you want to create easy, individual portions, try making some roll-ups.

The unique flat, wide shape of lasagna pasta makes an interesting canvas for culinary creations such as these chicken portobello mushroom roll-ups.

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Chicken Portobello Mushroom Roll-Ups
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Servings
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Instructions
Noodles
  1. Cook noodles in boiling water & salt in a large pot for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but firm. Drain. Rinse & drain well.
Chicken Mushroom Filling
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add chicken, onion & garlic. Scramble fry for about 7 minutes until onion is softened & chicken is no longer pink.
  2. Add next 4 ingredients. cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid is evaporated. Sprinkle with flour. Stir; add broth & herbs. Heat & stir until boiling & thickened. Transfer to a medium bowl. Let stand for about 15 minutes until cool.
  3. Spread 1/4 cup filling down length of each noodle. Roll up, jelly-roll style. Place rolls in a greased 8-inch pan
Parmesan Cheese Sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Stir milk into flour in a small saucepan until smooth. Heat & stir on medium for about 8 minutes until boiling & thickened. Add cheese, salt & basil paste. Stir. Pour over noodle rolls. Sprinkle shredded, smoked cheddar cheese over all.
  3. Cover with greased foil & bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil & broil, uncovered (if you wish) for 10 minutes until bubbling & golden. Serve.

Quiche Lorraine w/ Hash Brown Crust

Quiche seems like a springtime dish, but the truth is its an ‘any season’ dish in my opinion. This version skips the pastry and is built on a crispy, grated, potato hash brown crust.

Hash browns can always be counted on to add heartiness and can be made several different ways, incorporating a variety of ingredients, including leftovers or whatever happens to be on hand in the fridge. Although hash browns are credited as being from the USA, there are similar dishes elsewhere that likely contributed towards the hash browns of today, and should be mentioned:

  • Rösti of Switzerland – like a potato pancake
  • Latkes of the Jewish folks – also like a potato pancake, but with eggs
  • Tortilla de papas (or patatas) of Spain – like an omelet

The original ‘quiche Lorraine’ was an open pie with a filling consisting of an egg and cream custard with smoked bacon. It was only later that cheese was added to the quiche Lorraine. The bottom crust was originally made from bread dough, but that has long since evolved into numerous other ideas such as puff pastry or hash brown crusts.

Although quiche is now a classic dish of French cuisine, quiche actually originated in Germany, in the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, under German rule, and which the French later renamed Lorraine. The word ‘quiche’ is from the German ‘Kuchen’, meaning cake.

The specialty quiche from Lorraine features gruyere cheese, onion, bacon as its primary flavors. The nice thing is, quiche is something that anyone can make and can be served as an entrée, for lunch, breakfast, or an evening snack.

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Quiche Lorraine w/ Hash Brown Crust
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Instructions
Potato Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Thaw & pat dry shredded hashbrowns on paper towels. Lightly toss with remaining crust ingredients. Press into the bottom & up the sides of a 9" quiche pan. Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F.
Filling
  1. In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp, 5-6 minutes; transfer to a paper towel lined plate & allow to cool.
  2. Wipe out skillet & heat oil. Add leeks & garlic; cook covered , stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes or until tender.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, heavy cream & smoked paprika. Stir in bacon, leeks & cheese. Spoon mixture into hashbrown crust. Slightly press sliced tomatoes , cut side up, into quiche. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp each salt & pepper.
  4. Bake until set & golden brown about 20-25 minutes. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes
  • To cut out a few calories, I use a low fat milk instead of the heavy cream. It just requires a little longer cooking time but still tastes great.

Shrimp Stuffed Whitefish w/ Hashbrown Crust

When you stuff fish, you expand the flavor profiles available with fish. It’s such a great way to make your fish dinner more interesting and flavorful. You can stuff a whole fish or wrap thin fillets around the stuffing and then bake or grill the fish as usual. 

Whitefish is a freshwater fish that is commonly called Atlantic Cod, Halibut or Flounder. Whitefish, when cooked, are dry and compared to other fishes, the flesh of the whitefish is completely white.

Whitefish can be classified into different, unique species that can easily be identified according to their appearance and where they live.

These flaky white fish fillets are stuffed with a creamy shrimp filling and flavored with onion, garlic and spices. For something different I gave them a spicy hashbrown crust. This seafood dinner is just as tasty as it is eye appealing and definitely not dry.

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Shrimp Stuffed Whitefish w/ Hashbrown Crust
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Rating: 5
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Servings
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Spicy Hashbrowns
  1. Thaw shredded hashbrowns on a paper towel. In a bowl, place the flour, cheese, onion, garlic, coriander, smoked paprika, salt & pepper & egg. Add 'dried' shredded hashbrowns. Using a fork, mix everything until combined being careful not to break up the hashbrowns. Set aside until stuffed fish is ready to be coated with the mixture.
Stuffed Fish
  1. In a saucepan, add olive oil & heat . Add onions until they begin to soften & caramelize a bit then add garlic. Add shrimp pieces, cream cheese, seasonings & chives; stir until well incorporated. Remove mixture from heat & allow to cool.
  2. Lay out whitefish, remove all bones, skin & wash & dry thoroughly. Place fillets between two pieces of plastic wrap & pound gently to flatten a bit for easier rolling. Lay on work surface & divide shrimp mixture between the two fillets & spread until it is even.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  4. Roll up each fillet with the seam side down in a greased baking dish. Spoon hashbrown mixture over stuffed fillets. Press down coating to ensures it adheres well to top & sides of each stuffed fillet.
  5. Bake for about 45 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Cut each fillet in half to make four servings. Nice to serve with a few roasted cherry tomatoes & a side of guacamole.