Zucchini Crusted Turkey Bratwurst

Versatile & plentiful, zucchini has endless applications. To mention a ‘few’, we’ve made zucchini bread & muffins, noodles, roasted it and put it on kabobs with chicken. It’s used in curry, ratatouille, stir fry and relish, etc. etc. etc. But just when I think there’s nothing I can do different with it, another idea pops into my head.

Among the family of sausages there is perhaps none so beloved in North America as the bratwurst. There are many interpretations of bratwurst, with variations on texture, flavor, size and cooking methods. Traditional bratwurst, which is German in origin, is made with pork & veal. Turkey bratwurst is a popular alternative to this traditional kind because of its low fat content.

For this recipe, I combine ground turkey with a combination of ‘German’ bratwurst spices and formed them into long sausage shapes. The shredded zucchini/cheese ‘crust’ is wrapped around each sausage and baked. All the flavors blended so well, creating yet one more use for zucchini!

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Zucchini Crusted Turkey Bratwurst
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Zucchini Crust
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Zucchini Crust
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Instructions
Zucchini Crust
  1. Place the shredded zucchini on paper towel & sprinkle LIGHTLY with salt. Cover & blot with another piece of paper towel. Allow to sit for about an hour to release excess moisture.
  2. When zucchini is ready, place in a bowl & combine with remaining 'crust' ingredients.
Turkey Bratwurst
  1. Combine all ingredients & mix well. Divide mixture into 5 equal portions, shaping each into a 5-inch long sausage.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Divide zucchini mixture into 5 equal amounts. On a piece of plastic wrap, place a portion of the zucchini mixture & pat it into a small rectangle large enough to enclose a sausage in it. Lay a sausage on the zucchini; use the plastic wrap to help roll the sausage & enclose in the zucchini crust. Repeat with remaining sausage,
  3. Oil a piece of foil paper. Place foil on a baking sheet. Top with crusted sausages & bake for 30 minutes or until slightly browned.
  4. These are nice served with baked potatoes & corn.

Honeyed Saskatoon Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Here on the Canadian prairies we have a native berry called a ‘Saskatoon’. These berries are very special …. the kind of special that only comes once a year.

Saskatoon berries look much like blueberries, but in fact are part of the rose family which includes apples, cherries, plums and of course roses. Saskatoons ripen in late June or early July. They grow in many conditions from sea level to mountain peaks and are less picky about soil conditions than blueberries. Trying to explain their flavor to anyone who has never tasted them is difficult and elusive. They’re sweet, dense, rich, seedy, slightly blueberryish, more almondish, a bit apple-y, dusky and deep. Like I said …. difficult to explain!

Throughout North America, saskatoon berries have a variety of names including: prairie berry, service berry, shadbush or juneberry.

Saskatoon berries work equally good in sweet treats as well as savory recipes. This pork tenderloin entrée is a good example of the latter.

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Honeyed Saskatoon Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
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Instructions
Tenderloin/Stuffing
  1. In a small bowl, combine panko crumbs, Parmesan, thyme, oregano, garlic & pepper.
  2. Remove silverskin from tenderloin & 'butterfly'. Place meat between 2 sheets of plastic wrap & pound, making it all the same thickness. Spread mustard evenly on flattened cut side & top with 'stuffing'.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Starting with the long side, carefully roll the tenderloin as opposed to just folding it over.
  4. Place a rack in a shallow roasting pan & lay a piece of foil on top creating sides for it. Lightly oil center of foil; place tenderloin on it & brush with Fig Balsamic Olive Oil Vinaigrette or just use olive oil. Roast for about 45 minutes until just a hint of pink remains.
Saskatoon Chutney
  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, add 1 tsp oil & sauté green onions & ginger for a couple of minutes. Add honey, water, cider vinegar, cornstarch & salt; mix well. Add saskatoons; bring to a simmer & cook until chutney thickens slightly.
  2. Slice roast tenderloin into medallions about 1-inch thickness. Pour some chutney onto serving platter; place sliced tenderloin medallions on top & drizzle with remaining chutney.

Chicken Katsu w/ Saskatoon Chutney

Chicken Katsu is simply a Japanese version of chicken cutlets. While it is great to enjoy a good dish, its worth knowing where the idea originated.

Katsu was first created in the late 1800’s by a restaurant in Tokyo that wanted to offer a European style meat cutlet. Now, katsu can be found everywhere from convenience store takeaway bento boxes to Western style Japanese food restaurants. The name ‘katsu’ comes from the English word ‘cutlet’. It is typically made from either chicken breasts or thighs coated in panko breadcrumbs.

Frying or baking chicken cutlets is simple, but its like cooking pasta, when you get it right, it changes everything. Breading helps to seal in moisture during the cooking time. Its a basic process that’s used for making everything from chicken to onion rings. Japanese panko crumbs are lighter and crispier, the secret to ultra-crunchiness which yields to the kind of crust that you can actually hear when you bite into it.

Since its ‘Saskatoon Berry‘ time here on the prairies, I wanted to make some saskatoon chutney to have with these crispy cutlets.

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Chicken Katsu w/ Saskatoon Chutney
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Instructions
Saskatoon Chutney
  1. Combine all chutney ingredients in a large saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently, cook until mixture is the consistency of runny jam, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat & cool completely.
Chicken Cutlets
  1. Place chicken breasts between plastic wrap & carefully pound to 1/4-inch thickness. Season with salt & pepper. Coat with flour then dip in beaten eggs & lastly coat with Panko crumbs. Cover with plastic wrap & place in fridge for 15 minutes to chill before cooking.
  2. In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter & add oil. Place cutlets in a single layer in skillet & fry on both sides. When no longer pink inside & golden on the outside remove from skillet & blot on paper towel.
  3. Serve immediately with Saskatoon Chutney.
Recipe Notes
  • The standard breading technique includes three steps: dredging in flour, moistening in egg wash, then coating in crispy panko crumbs. The flour helps the egg wash adhere & the egg helps the breadcrumbs adhere. 
  • Once you have all the food coated, you will want to place it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. This will ensure the breading actually sticks to the food instead of falling off in the hot oil.
  • If baking, put breaded food on a rack set over a baking sheet, drizzle with a little oil & place in the oven. Bake until golden brown & cooked through.

Gorgonzola & Bacon Turkey Burgers

CELEBRATING CANADA DAY!

Every year Canada celebrates its birthday on July 1st with parades, fireworks and other fun events. This year, due to the pandemic and out of respect for Canada’s Indigenous people, celebrations here in our city of Edmonton, Alberta will be virtual or be on a smaller scale.

No matter which way you decide to celebrate the day, we know good food will be an important part of it. Gorgonzola has been a favorite of Brion & I for many years. It’s actually kind of surprising as neither of us care for ‘blue’ cheese or Roquefort.

Gorgonzola is one of those classic Italian ingredients that’s more famous than understood here in North America. The name itself, refers to the little town in Lombardy, near Milan, where the cheese was invented.

There are two kinds of gorgonzola, Dolce (sweet) and Piccante (spicy). In Italian these terms mean fresh verses aged cheeses. Because dolce is softer and creamier, its great for spreading on bread or used in salad dressing, pasta sauce, pizza or burgers. Piccante is harder and tends to crumble.

This turkey burger is made special with the combo of gorgonzola, bacon and guacamole. Just great for celebrating Canada Day!

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Gorgonzola & Bacon Turkey Burgers
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Turkey Burgers
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Turkey Burgers
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Instructions
  1. In a skillet, fry bacon until soft cooked. Remove from pan & blot on paper towel. Chop & set aside.
  2. Using bacon drippings, saute finely chopped leeks & garlic until tender. Remove from skillet & cool.
  3. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, sauteed leeks & garlic, panko, salt, pepper, sugar, coriander, sage & ginger. Mix well.
  4. Shape into (8) 1/2-inch thick patties. Place 1/8 (10 gm) of the crumbled Gorgonzola & 1/4 of chopped bacon on each of 4; top with another patty, pressing edges to seal, making (4) 1-inch thick patties.
  5. Place on a preheated grill over medium heat. Close lid & grill, turning once, until meat is no longer pink inside, about 12-14 minutes.
  6. Alternately, you can place them in a 375 F oven on a foil-lined tray & bake for about 20-25 minutes.
  7. When burgers are almost done, top each with remaining Gorgonzola.
  8. Serve in toasted ciabatta buns with your choice of toppings.

Scalloped Potato Turkey Rolls

The wonderful thing about potato casseroles is that you can dictate the flavor by the types of cheese used as well as the added ingredients and flavor aids like herbs, garlic and spices.

There are many versions and variations of potato ‘bakes’. It comes down to little more than a free form of how the potatoes are cut and layered. Other ingredients such as herbs and cured meats like ham or bacon as well as smoked fish and other vegetables can be added.

With this recipe you are combining the best of all variations; scalloped, au gratin and dauphinoise. Béchamel sauce, a variety of cheeses and the flavor of garlic result in an amazing taste as well as the dish makes for some interesting eye appeal.

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Scalloped Potato Turkey Rolls
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Zucchini
Bechamel Sauce
Turkey Sausage
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Ingredients
Zucchini
Bechamel Sauce
Turkey Sausage
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Instructions
Zucchini
  1. Place the shredded zucchini on paper towel & sprinkle lightly with salt. Cover & blot with another piece of paper towel. Allow to sit for about an hour or until moisture is absorbed. Place zucchini in a bowl & combine with panko, cheese, egg & spices. Set aside in refrigerator.
Bechamel Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter, whisk in flour. Cook for about 2 minutes then turn off heat & slowly begin to add milk. Continue whisking until all milk has been added then turn on heat & bring sauce to a boil. Whisk constantly until thickened then add 3/4 of the Gruyere cheese & stir until cheese is melted. Spread the bechamel sauce evenly in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
Turkey Sausage
  1. In a saucepan, saute bacon, leeks & garlic until cooked & tender. Remove from heat & place in a bowl; allow to cool then add turkey & spices. Mix well.
Potatoes
  1. Slice potatoes into about 30 thin slices, keeping them in their original potato shape. Wrap each sliced potato in plastic wrap & bake in the microwave until almost cooked.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Lay the potato slices on your work surface, spread a small amount of the zucchini mixture on each one. Top with a layer of the turkey mixture. Roll each potato slice in a spiral shape then place in rows over the bechamel sauce.
  2. Cover pan with foil & bake for 45 minutes then remove the foil & sprinkle the remaining Gruyere cheese on top. Bake uncovered for another 15 minutes until top is golden.

Belgium Meatballs w/ Sour Cherries

This is an example of great classic Belgium cuisine. Sweet, sour and savory all in one dish! It seems, in Europe alone, many countries have their own special version of meatball dishes, from Swedish and German meatballs in brown or white sauce to Italian meatballs with their classic red sauce.

Although meatballs are a staple of Belgium home cooking, you will find a variety of different recipes throughout the country.

Boulets a la Liegeoise, (a traditional Belgium meatball originating from the city of Liege), are a blend of ground beef and pork, eggs, some bread crumbs, salt, pepper and a bit of nutmeg. That’s it …. no fusion cooking, bells and whistles. Just good, plain food made special with a tart cherry sauce.

I just couldn’t resist making a variation of these since Brion & I have our own little cherry tree in our back yard.

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Belgium Meatballs w/ Sour Cherries
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Instructions
Meatballs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a baking tray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients & mix well. Measure out 20 meatballs, approximately 40 gm each, & place on the baking tray.
  3. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through.
Cherry Sauce
  1. Measure cherry juice & cornstarch into a dish to combine.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat cherries & add cornstarch mixture. Stir until sauce thickens, add honey & stir again.
  3. Remove from heat. Drizzle over meatballs or serve on the side. Serve hot.
Brown Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter; add flour to make a roux. Cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Slowly add beef broth, stirring until sauce thickens. Season to taste.
  3. Serve as an alternate to the cherry sauce with Belgium meatballs.

Panko-Crusted Green Bean & Mushroom Casserole

Having always had a passion for collecting recipes, I recall one of my mothers cupboard drawers being full of recipe pamphlets. I loved sifting through them to find a recipe I could make. Anyone who’s ever checked out the kitchen section of an antique store can attest, recipe pamphlets were once big business. Long before we had access to the internet, home brands like General Mills & Cuisinart regularly released pocket-sized magazines full of tips, recipes and instructions on their products. Glossy covers depicted the recipes inside, the price was right and they were easy to use. There was no reason to buy an expensive big cookbook when it was all here in a pamphlet form.

The Campbell Soup Company had its own kitchen dedicated to pumping out such pamphlets. In 1955, Dorcas Reilly, the recipe supervisor at the time, devised and tested the infamous ‘green bean casserole’ recipe. Her inspiration for the dish was to create a quick and easy recipe around two things most folks always had on hand in the 1950’s. They were green beans and Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup. Reilly’s recipe became immediately popular. This simple combination consisted of green beans, cream of mushroom soup, soy sauce, milk and french fried onions. The idea that it could be made ahead and reheated, made it perfect for holiday dinners. Even in the face of North America’s obsession with fresh, locally grown and artisan foods, its popularity continues.

Like with most iconic dishes, time brings changes and healthier upgrades or just different personal tastes. I’ve never been a fan of those french fried onions, so I opted for a crispy panko topping. Along with fresh green beans and mushrooms I’m using a bechamel sauce. It worked out quite nice.


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Panko-Crusted Green Bean & Mushroom Casserole


Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large skillet, fry bacon until almost crisp. Add onions, cook until soft & translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add mushrooms & garlic; cook another 4-5 minutes until mushrooms are soft. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

  2. Using the same skillet, melt butter & whisk in flour. Once combined, continue whisking for another 2 minutes until mixture has slightly deepened in color. Add half & half, Worcestershire sauce & chicken broth while constantly whisking to prevent lumps. Once slightly thickened, add grated cheese & whisk until melted & smooth.

  3. Add the mushroom/bacon mixture along with thyme, salt & pepper. Let the sauce simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the blanched green beans. Stir to combine.

  4. Pour the bean mixture into a 13 X 9-inch casserole dish. Combine panko crumbs with melted butter & sprinkle over casserole. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.


Recipe Notes
  • Everything can be done in advance except for adding the panko crumbs. Add those just before baking. Let casserole sit for at least 30 minutes after removing it from the fridge before baking.

Smoked Gouda & Asparagus Stuffed Turkey Breast

I think it would be safe to say that turkey still rules the day as the most traditional centerpiece for the Canadian Christmas dinner. Canada is a country with a very diverse background, so we enjoy a mix of cuisines and traditions from all over the world. Although that festive foul remains the center focus, other dishes on the table are undoubtedly reflecting how Canadian tastes are changing.

The fact that people are travelling more, our knowledge of food has expanded dramatically. Its all about flavor now, which has led us to more exotic spices and ingredients. We have become much more sophisticated in our approach to preparing food.

Other changes at the holiday table are a result of the large numbers of people who have opted to become vegetarian or people by choice or health reasons need gluten-free dishes. If you are preparing your holiday meal around these different ways of eating or requirements, it will mean being more thoughtful about what you prepare.

Another noticeable shift has come with the desserts served after the big meal. The days are gone, for most part, for the traditional, heavier desserts. These choices used to consist of mincemeat pies, steamed puddings or fruitcake to name a few. The trend now is leaning more to lighter, fruity and creamy flavors such as lemon.

The big thing is, no matter what your meal entails, enjoy it to the fullest as this time, day and year will never come again. Once again, we opted to have stuffed turkey breast instead of roasting the whole bird. The ‘seeded’ crust added a new dimension that we really enjoyed.

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Smoked Gouda & Asparagus Stuffed Turkey Breast
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
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Instructions
  1. Trim asparagus stems & steam, slightly in microwave. Shred Gouda cheese. In a food processor, combine panko crumbs, oatmeal, 4 kinds of seeds, spices & salt; pulse slightly.
  2. Set out 3 large plates. Add flour to the first one, beat egg with 1 Tbsp water in the second one. The third one is for your pulsed mixture. Preheat oven to 325 F. Butter a large piece of heavy foil, making a circle about the same size of turkey breast.
  3. Keeping the whole breast intact, flatten slightly to create uniform thickness. Coat breast on both sides with flour, then egg wash and lastly in the seed mixture. Coat completely, INSIDE & OUT (the seed mixture acts like a thin layer of bread stuffing).
  4. Place breast on foil & layer one side with half of the ham, asparagus & cheese; repeat again with remaining filling. Place other side of breast on top so your filling is enclosed. If necessary, use some toothpicks to secure stuffed breast during roasting time. Cup sides of foil fairly close to meat.
  5. Roast, covered for 2 hours, remove top piece of foil & continue to bake another hour or until 185 F. is reached on a meat thermometer. Remove from oven & allow to rest for a few minutes before slicing.