Asian Pork Chops

Plum sauce is one of several commonly used Chinese condiments. The sauce is both sweet and tangy, allowing the product to work well in a number of different applications.

The basic plum sauce is made using plums that have been allowed to ripen to the point where the flesh of the fruit is at its sweetest. As part of the preparation, the skin of the plum is usually removed by immersing the whole plums in hot water for a short period of time, allowing the skin to be peeled away from the fruit with relative ease.

Often you will find plum sauce made from other fruits, most commonly apricots. Or made from a combination of apricots & plums. It is also common to add other seasonings to plum sauce like garlic, star anise or Chinese 5-spice powder. The additional seasonings add different nuances to the flavor of the sauce and vary depending on the tastes of whoever is preparing it.

In this particular recipe, I’m using plum sauce as an ingredient in my sauce mixture rather than on its own. The combination creates a unique Asian flavor for the pork.

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Asian Pork Chops
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Asia
Servings
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Asia
Servings
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Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, brown chops in oil. Combine the plum sauce, orange juice, soy sauce, garlic, mustard, ginger & pepper; pour over chops.
  2. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover & simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender.
  3. Remove pork chops to serving platter & drizzle with sauce. Sprinkle with sliced green onions & sesame seeds. Serve with steamed rice.

Mexicali Quiche w/ Avocado & Roasted Tomatoes

There are so many great things to make with tortillas. You can load up burritos for breakfast, stuff some quesadillas with shrimp or make tortilla chips and cover them with cheese, guacamole and spicy salsa.

A tortilla quiche combines a classic breakfast quiche and a tortilla tart without having the traditional pastry crust.

Breakfast for supper is always good with Brion & I. Making this meal a day ahead of serving it allows the flavors to become exceptional.

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Mexicali Quiche w/ Avocado & Roasted Tomatoes
Instructions
  1. In a skillet, cook ground pork, onion, mushrooms & garlic. Cook until meat is brown & crumbly & moisture has mostly evaporated from the mushrooms. Stir in corn, beans, chili powder & cumin. Remove from heat.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. In a bowl combine eggs, milk, green chili peppers (if using), salt & pepper. Grate cheese.
  4. Lightly butter bottom of an 8-inch baking dish. Place one of the tortillas on the bottom of dish; sprinkle with a bit of grated cheese & top with half of the pork mixture. Tear other tortilla into pieces & place on top then sprinkle with a bit more cheese & remaining pork mixture.
  5. Carefully pour milk mixture over quiche then top with remaining cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes or until set.
  6. While the quiche is baking, place cherry tomatoes in a foil lined baking pan, drizzle with olive oil & roast until skins pop.
  7. On a plate, mash avocados; add salt, garlic & lime juice. When quiche is ready, top with avocado mixture & roasted tomatoes. Serve.

Wild Mushroom Quiche w/ Parmesan Crust

I realize mushrooms aren’t for everyone but if you do enjoy them, it seems there are no end to recipes you can use them in. As well as making a great filling for your quiche, its nice to add even more color and flavor with crust variations. Keep in mind that the best time to add extra ingredients to your pastry is after you’ve blended your flour and butter together in the food processor and before pulsing in the cold water.

Here’s a few ideas to elevate savory quiche crusts:

Herbs: Try adding 2 tablespoons each of any of these fresh herbs – chives, thyme, parsley, rosemary & sage. If you only have dried herbs, cut back to about 1/2-1 teaspoon each.

Cheese: As we all know, cheese makes everything better! Adding it to pastry is amazing. Try mixing it up with different combinations of cheese: Gruyere in the filling and parmesan in the crust for example.

Spices: Such as turmeric, fennel seed or even a grind of peppercorn (black, white or pink) can significantly alter any savory crust.

Bacon: Even just a little bacon will add some smokiness to the quiche. Be sure to chop it small enough after frying so it can be well incorporated into the crust.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes: Although they add tanginess and a nice smoky red color, they are often best as a background flavor. Since they can easily overpower when used in the filling, add them to the crust.

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Wild Mushroom Quiche w/ Parmesan Crust
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Ingredients
Parmesan Crust
Filling
Servings
Ingredients
Parmesan Crust
Filling
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Instructions
Pastry Crust
  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, grated Parmesan & salt. Cut in shortening & butter, using pastry blender or fork, until mixture forms coarse crumbs the size of small peas.
  2. Combine ice water and lemon juice (or vinegar); drizzle 1/2 of the lemon water over cold flour mixture and stir until the dough just starts to come together or turns “shaggy”. Begin adding a few more tablespoons of water at a time, stirring between each addition. Once most of the water has been used (but you have a tablespoon or two remaining) use your hands to gather the shaggy strands into a ball and knead the dough two or three times. If you have dry bits remaining in the bowl, add a little additional water.
  3. Gather the dough in a ball, dust your counter with a tiny amount of flour, and quickly pat dough into a small flat disk. Cut dough in half and then stack one piece on top of the other, flour side down. Use the heel of your hand and press the dough down and divide once more. Cover each piece with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator, but overnight is best.
Filling
  1. Slice green onion & mushrooms. Sauté in butter, add minced garlic, stirring often. Allow to cook for five minutes uncovered so the moisture evaporates.
  2. Cut broccoli into florets & add to pan along with chopped red pepper. Cook another 6 minutes then remove from heat.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  4. Grate Havarti cheese. In a container, whisk together eggs, milk & seasonings.
  5. Remove pastry from refrigerator & place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll dough out to fit a 9-10-inch pie pan. Trim away any excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang to form the crust.
  6. Sprinkle a small amount of the Havarti over bottom; top with vegetable mixture then remaining Havarti.
  7. Bake until quiche tests done. Since the quiche is made with milk instead cream it will take longer to bake. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing. This quiche tastes great just out of the oven, but even better the next day.
Recipe Notes
  • Don't hesitate to use cream instead of milk if you would like a richer filling.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust w/ Barbecued Chicken

According to writer Mark Twain, ‘cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education’. This uniquely versatile veggie has graduated above its many cousins, …. broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, kale and kohlrabi to become the sophisticate darling of the species. Delicious raw, fried, grilled, pickled, riced, roasted, steamed or sautéed.

Cauliflower ‘rice’ came on the scene as a popular grain-free alternative to rice. As with many food trends, the ‘riced’ craze has continued using other veggies like sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, onions, and peas.

The grocery stores have jumped on the bandwagon with fresh and frozen products and in a variety of plain and flavored versions.

Making your own riced vegetables is even easier than in days gone by. Just trim, chop and pulse your veggies in a food processor. Cook with a quick steam or sauté and flavor with some fresh herbs and spices. Of course, you can always change it up with other chopped veggies, nuts, or a sprinkle of cheese.

Riced cauliflower makes an interesting pizza crust. A different texture than the traditional bread dough crust but loaded with flavor. It’s sort of firm, chewy and soft all at the same time. I had tried this idea some years ago and we quite liked it so why not try it with a different topping and have it again!

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust w/ Barbecued Chicken
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Instructions
Cauliflower Crust
  1. In food processor or blender, pulse cauliflower until it reaches consistency of coarse crumbs.
  2. Place cauliflower and 3 tbsp water in microwaveable dish and cover with plastic wrap, leaving one edge lifted. Microwave on high, stirring once or twice during cooking time, until cauliflower is tender, 5 to 7 minutes; let cool. Drain cauliflower in colander lined with cheesecloth or thin, clean tea towel. Wrap cauliflower in cheesecloth and twist while pressing to remove all liquid (this step is essential).
  3. Place pizza pan or baking sheet in oven and preheat oven to 425°F.
  4. In bowl, combine cauliflower, egg, mozzarella, Parmesan, garlic powder and oregano, season with salt and pepper. Using your fingers, transfer cauliflower mixture to piece of parchment paper and press into 12-inch circle. Slide parchment paper with cauliflower crust onto hot baking sheet from preheated oven. Bake until crust is golden brown, 13 to 15 minutes.
Toppings
  1. In a saucepan, sauté red onion & mushrooms until tender and moisture has evaporated.
  2. Evenly spread half of the barbecue sauce over baked cauliflower crust, leaving 1/2-inch border. Top with half of the mozzarella cheese & all of the onion & mushrooms . In bowl, toss chicken with remaining barbecue sauce; evenly arrange over crust and top with remaining mozzarella. Bake until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with green onion.

Scalloped Potatoes w/ Mushrooms

Every person who makes a homemade version of scalloped potatoes usually has had that recipe passed down to them from their mother, their mother’s mother or even further in their history, so the emotional attachment to the recipe immediately precludes any other scalloped potatoes from contention.

At an early age, I remember my mother ‘teaching‘ me the art of making scalloped potatoes. It came down to very thinly sliced potatoes sprinkled with flour, salt & pepper then covered with scalded milk and baked. I think it was dotted with butter and quite possibly topped with bread crumbs. For that matter, there might have even been a few thinly sliced onions involved but I have to admit, I’m a bit fuzzy on that. As plain and simple as it was, it tasted glorious to us.

This scalloped potato recipe starts with Yukon Gold potatoes. They have loads of great flavor and are a beautiful color both when they are raw as well as when they are cooked. For this particular recipe, keep the skin on the potato as it will add loads of fiber to the dish.

Food trends come and go and nothing highlights this more than looking up old recipes. Still eaten today, scalloped potatoes were the prolific side dish of the 1920s. Dairy was no longer rationed and the rich casserole took full advantage of this.

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Scalloped Potatoes w/ Mushrooms
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Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, place potatoes & cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook, uncovered until tender, 8-12 minutes. Drain.
  2. In another saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms & onion; cook & stir 6-8 minutes or until tender. Stir in garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish; set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk flour, broth & seasonings until smooth; stir into mushroom mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook & stir until sauce is thickened, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream.
  5. Thinly slice potatoes. Arrange half of the potatoes in baking dish. Spread half of the hot mushroom sauce over top; sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese. Layer remaining potatoes , sauce & cheese & sprinkle with French Fried Onion Toppers if using.
  6. Bake, uncovered, until heated through & cheese is melted, 12-15 minutes. Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving. Top with sliced green onions to garnish.

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
Servings
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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.

Baked Salmon Balls w/ Orange Pineapple Glaze

Salmon croquettes are basically a version of a salmon cake, salmon balls or patties and can be fried or baked. They were originally made of beef, probably leftovers that needed to be used up. Croquettes originated in France in about 1898 by the founder of classical French cuisine, Escoffier. As Escoffier’s chefs started to travel throughout the world, they took the recipe with them to other cultures where it was transformed based on local cuisines. From the original beef croquette, it branched out into salmon croquettes, chicken, vegetarian, and many other versions.

There are many variations of ‘croquettes‘ on the market, and just about every culture has developed their own recipe. Constantly, new recipes are formulated and something new is invented and created. With the input of different cultures, the original recipe has taken itself into many directions, different applications and ingredients. Very often salmon croquettes (cakes, balls or patties) are made with canned salmon though there are quite a few newer recipes that use fresh salmon that has been either chopped finely or ground to mold into the various shapes.

I think, using a zesty orange-pineapple glaze is the perfect compliment to these baked salmon balls.

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Baked Salmon Balls w/ Orange Pineapple Glaze
Instructions
Salmon Balls
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. If using canned salmon, drain & flake well. If using fresh salmon, brush with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill for about 6 minutes or bake wrapped in foil at 350 F. for approximately 10 minutes. When cool, flake salmon. Add carrot, green onion, potatoes, tartar sauce, egg, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, cilantro paste, Old Bay Seasoning, salt & pepper. Combine well.
  3. Using a small scoop (about 1/2 oz size), measure salmon mixture out into palm of your hand & gently roll into balls. Mixture should make about 32 balls.
  4. Roll salmon balls in Panko crumbs & place on a well buttered or sprayed baking sheet. Lightly spray tops with spray as well.
  5. Bake about 30-40 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove from oven.
Glaze
  1. Place all glaze ingredients into a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir gently & simmer for 15-20 minutes or until liquid begins to thicken slightly & reduces by half.
  2. Drizzle over salmon balls or serve on the side. These salmon balls are nice served with rice & a steamed veggie.

Mushroom Crust Quiche

Quiche, the great savory dish that originated in Germany, was perfected by French cooks who went on to create one of the most popular quiche in the world called the quiche Lorraine. Since then, many new variants of the quiche have been added. But all of those creative modifications involved mainly the filling, and the crust had that same nice and familiar, but plain taste. For that reason, many cooks didn’t bother with the crust dough preparation; instead they would buy good frozen puff pastry and concentrate on the filling.

Enter the unique mushroom crust quiche! To my knowledge, the first publication of the recipe was in the mid 1970’s in ‘Sunset’s Favorite Recipes’ cookbook magazine. The main advantage of this recipe is that the mushroom crust is nice and light as well as it goes with almost any quiche filling.

For a crunchier crust, use wheat thins instead of saltines, regular onions instead of green or change up the spices. Use your choice of cheese, instead of Swiss go with Monterey Jack, gruyere, Jarlsberg or cheddar. Add bacon, sausage or some pulled turkey as I did. Of course, nothing wrong with just using veggies and cheese …. endless possibilities!

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Mushroom Crust Quiche
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Instructions
  1. In a skillet, melt 3 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms & garlic; cook until soft. Stir in crushed crackers. Remove from heat & press the mushroom mixture evenly over the bottom of a well-greased 8-9-inch pie pan.
  2. In the skillet, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Add green onions & cook until soft; spread over mushroom crust.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  4. Sprinkle about 3/4 of the grated Swiss cheese over the onion then top with the cooked, pulled turkey.
  5. In a small container, whisk together eggs, milk, spices, salt & pepper. Combine the remaining Swiss cheese with the parmesan & sprinkle it over the turkey. Pour egg mixture over all & bake for about 30 minutes or until set. Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving.

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.

Chicken Legs w/ Mushroom Cornbread Stuffing

We tend to believe that if something takes more work, it automatically means that it has more value. Of course, anyone that follows this blog knows that I, being a ‘food industry’ person, quick isn’t generally what I’m all about. But in a world that thrives on making things complicated, dare to be simple some times. Enter the Stove Top Stuffing universe….

These chicken leg ‘quarters’ make such a nice meal when paired with stuffing. The smoky bacon flavor, the earthiness of the mushrooms as well as the slight sweetness of the cornbread stuffing complement each other well.

In a society that gravitates towards labels stamped with terms like organic or GMO-free, sometimes the simplicity of quick fix food can be a treat.

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Chicken Legs w/ Mushroom Cornbread Stuffing
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Instructions
  1. In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp; remove with a slotted spoon to paper towel. Drain, reserving 2 Tbsp of drippings.
  2. Sauté celery & onion in drippings until tender. Add mushrooms, herbs & seasoning; cook & stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in stuffing mix, celery leaves, parsley & bacon. Add broth & gently combine. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 13" x 9" baking pan or line with greased foil paper.
  4. Wash & trim any excess fat from chicken leg quarters. Loosen skin over thighs to form pockets for the stuffing.
  5. Fill thigh 'pockets' with stuffing & place in baking pan. Place any remaining stuffing around the 2 leg quarters to bake at the same time. Cover with foil for about 30 minutes then uncover & finish roasting until chicken is cooked through & stuffing is lightly browned.