Salmon Wellington

HAPPY EASTER!

Easter is here and Salmon Wellington is the perfect holiday meal! The richness of the mushroom duxelles, pairs perfectly with the hearty salmon fish fillet and scallops and the buttery puff pastry just takes this dish to the next level.

Mushroom duxelles is an intensely flavored combination of finely chopped mushrooms, shallots, and fresh herbs such as thyme or parsley that are slowly cooked to a paste-like consistency. French in origin and named after the marquis d’Uxelles, this mushroom condiment is traditionally used in the preparation of beef Wellington, but it can also be used to flavor soups and sauces as well as to fill omelets and ravioli. 

Wellington fillet as we know it today was first made famous by the American chef and star Julia Child, who introduced the filet de bśuf en croûte, the French crust beef fillet, as ‘Filet of Wellington Beef’ during her TV show ‘The French Chef’, on the 1965 New Year’s Eve episode. From that day on, the recipe began to appear in various recreational circles in North America, as well as being taken up in the most important cookbooks.

A Salmon Wellington is a copycat version of the popular English ‘Beef Wellington’. Because puff pastry takes about 20 minutes to bake (salmon takes 12-15 minutes), keep the salmon refrigerated until you’re ready to assemble. Starting with cold salmon ensures it doesn’t overcook. To prevent the bottom from getting soggy, pat dry the salmon thoroughly before assembling. Also, make sure to cut slits on the puff pastry once assembled to allow the steam to escape. Don’t open the oven until ready since puff pastry needs full consistent heat to bake into flaky layers.

You’ll be so impressed when it’s time to take it out of the oven because it just looks amazing. However, you’ll be more impressed with how it tastes. Just like an elegant and flavorful fish pie!

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Salmon Wellington
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Cuisine French
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Instructions
Mushroom Duxelles
  1. In a food processor, pulse the mushrooms to a roughly diced consistency,15-20 seconds. In a saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, a heavy pinch of salt & pepper, shallots, garlic, rosemary & thyme. Sauté until moisture from the mushrooms has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl & set aside.
Scallop Filling
  1. In a small bowl, combine the scallops (or shrimp), cream, onions, parsley, dill, garlic, pesto, salt & pepper. In another small bowl, beat egg white on medium speed until soft peaks form; fold into scallop mixture.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll each pastry sheet into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle. Cut each sheet into FOUR- 6 x 5-inch rectangles. Divide mushroom mixture evenly & spread over 4 pieces of pastry leaving a 1/2-inch border.
  3. Center the salmon pieces on top. Next, top each salmon piece with a quarter of the scallop filling.
  4. Top each with a pastry rectangle & crimp to seal. With a sharp knife, cut several slits in the top to let steam escape. Place on the baking sheet & brush with egg wash. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160 F.
Dill Cream Sauce
  1. While salmon is baking, mix all sauce ingredients & refrigerate until serving time.

Greek Spanakopita Pasta

January is kind of a different month — all the holiday hoopla is done for another year, in our part of the country its fairly cold, bringing on the winter ‘blaas’. I have numerous friends that say they find themselves feeling a bit ‘down’ at this time. That being said, It seemed the perfect time to be a ‘mental traveler’. I’d like to share an experience Brion & I had which was totally amazing in 2010.

Your day begins in central Greece. A misty fog blankets the Kalambaka Valley as the tour takes you to your morning destination.

Here, in the shadow of the Pindus Mountains and just beyond the town of Kalambaka, massive gray colored pinnacles rise out of the valley towards the sky. Over thousands of years, this landscape has been sculpted by wind and water into a strange and breathtaking sight. Perched miraculously on the tops of these pinnacles are monasteries. The area is called METEORA   and literally means ‘columns in the sky’.

The sandstone peaks were first inhabited by Byzantine hermits in the 11th century, who clamored up the rocks to be alone with God. Though it is unknown how the first hermits reached the tops of these vertical rock faces, it is likely that pegs were hammered into tiny gaps in the rocks. Around 1382 the first monastery was built. By the 1500’s, 24 monasteries were built on these sheer cliffs, but by the 19th century most had fallen to ruin.

Because there were no steps, the main access to the monasteries was by means of a net that was hitched over a hook and hoisted up by rope and a hand cranked windlass to winch towers over hanging the chasm. Monks descended in nets or on a retractable rope ladders up to 40 meters long to the fertile valley below to grow grapes, corn and potatoes.

The natural rock buildings blend so evenly with the scenery, they are hard to spot at first. Only the red tile roofs give them away. Centuries of weather have caused natural streaking of the rock which acts as a camouflage. In the 1920’s, roads, pathways and stairs were built to make today’s remaining six monasteries more accessible as they are now largely dependent on tourist donations.

Inside the walls of these monasteries, life goes on as it has for more than 900 years. Wine is still made in giant oak vats where the monks climb in with bare feet to crush grapes. Most of the carpentry and masonry tools are hand made in the same style as their ancestors. Terracotta pots/bowls are fired by hand pumped bellows on a furnace. Traditional icons are painted using hand ground pigments bonded with egg yolk to make tempera paint that was common in the Middle Ages.

Among the existing monasteries is a convent called Saint Stephen’s that was built in 1798. The occupying nuns are courteous and friendly, but no visitor gets past them with bare shoulders or knees. Novices holding piles of blue aprons and capes meet the visitors at the gate. Anyone not meeting the exacting dress code must don the local sackcloth or be turned away.

To experience this rare geographical phenomenon is something you will not forget easily. If you have the opportunity, be sure to take it. In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed this mental journey I have taken you on. Check out a few more pictures I’ve added in the recipe section of the blog.

Now, in keeping with the food part of the blog, I made a savory  GREEK SPANAKOPITA PASTA  meal. Easy, quick and tasty.

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Greek Spanakopita Pasta
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Cuisine Greek
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine Greek
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Instructions
Pasta
  1. Cook pasta in salted boiling water 8-10 minutes, until al dente. Drain & set aside.
Cheese Sauce
  1. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk until hot but not boiling. Combine flour & butter in another saucepan. Whisk until the mixture has gently bubbled for 2 minutes, being careful not to brown the flour.
  2. Begin to add the hot milk to the flour mixture a little at a time while whisking vigorously. Continue to add the milk until it is fully incorporated. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring constantly, until it thickens, 6-8 minutes ( it will resemble heavy cream). Crumble the feta cheese & add to hot sauce, whisking until smooth. Add dill & pepper; stir. Remove from heat & let cool.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Squeeze water from frozen, thawed spinach. Toss the pasta, cheese sauce, spinach, ricotta & garlic in a large bowl until well combined. Taste to see if any more salt & pepper is needed.
  4. Place in a casserole dish & top with Parmesan Cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until cheese browns a little.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer to make this a day ahead of baking, cover well & refrigerate.
  • If you do not care for feta cheese you can substitute 285 grams of either Gorgonzola or mozzarella in place of the 140 grams of feta.

Beef & Barley Pie

Barley has a storied history that extends well beyond the beef and barley soup. It’s Canada’s fourth largest crop, after wheat, canola and corn, and is an ancient grain that has been grown and consumed for thousands of years. In North America, barley is used for pet food, as a malt for brewing beer, and what it’s perhaps most famous for, as an ingredient in soup. But its applications go far beyond these examples. This is Canada’s homegrown wholegrain. Dried, it lasts for months. Ground, it makes a cake-like bread. Cooked, it triples in size and provides an ample amount of fiber. Its nutty flavor blends well with winter vegetables.

The beef-barley combination is a classic that is cooked in many households across the globe. Usually, it comes up in the form of either soup or stew but today I’m incorporating the combo in a ‘pie’ with potatoes.

Beef & Barley Pie is a rustic dish with plump barley and tender beef. It’s savory and satisfying with flavors that are reminiscent of the classics. This is a ‘no fuss’ easy to make meal.

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Beef & Barley Pie
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Cuisine American
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a DEEP 9-inch pie pan. Set aside.
  2. Place half of the butter in a large skillet over low heat & sauté leek, onion & mushrooms for 5 minutes or until softened. Transfer to a plate & set aside.
  3. Add olive oil to pan, increase heat to high. When oil is hot, add beef & brown. Transfer to a separate plate. Add garlic & barley to pan, season with salt & pepper & cook for 1 minute then return beef to pan & stir to combine.
  4. Place half the potatoes in base of pie pan. Layer meat over top followed by leek mixture. Use back of a spoon to flatten contents of pie, the overlap remaining potatoes on top. Pour in beef broth & sprinkle with thyme. Cover with foil & bake for about 2 hours.
  5. Remove from oven, top with grated cheese, return to oven & bake uncovered for 15 - 20 minutes or until pie is golden. Remove from oven & serve with a vegetable of choice.

Fruity Roast Chicken w/ Couscous

I’m not sure how far back I came to really enjoy using fig balsamic dressing as a marinade for various roasted meats. This dressing marinade adds a bold, zesty flavor to almost anything. Bursting with fig juice, balsamic vinegar, and herbs and spices. So, it only makes good sense that I take the idea further and test the possibilities of using fig preserves with savory meals.

Most people think of fig jam or preserves as what you find in the middle of a fig newton…basically dried figs and sugar, but a good preserve is a combination of sweet figs with a nice balance of balsamic acidity and the mustard heat lends itself to a whole lot of dishes far beyond a simple cheese plate.  

The flavor of the preserves is more complex and less sweet than most fruit spreads, so it gives you enough of a contrast with salty items without tasting too sugary.

This is the very definition of a winning weeknight chicken dish: quick, sweet and savory, a little something different. The herbs enhance the savory quality of the dish and provide a touch of earthiness to balance the sweet. 

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Fruity Roast Chicken w/ Couscous
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Ingredients
Spicy Fruit Filling
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Ingredients
Spicy Fruit Filling
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Instructions
Fruit Filling
  1. Combine apricots, raisins, apple & orange juice in a small bowl. Season with spices; mix well. Set aside to marinate.
Chicken
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place chicken thighs in a heavy freezer bag. Gently pound until about 1/4-inch thick. On a sheet of plastic wrap lay out thighs to form a 'solid' piece. Sprinkle chopped fresh herbs over meat (if using). Mound the filling on flattened thighs then using the plastic wrap, roll up, tucking in the ends.
  3. Line a baking sheet with foil & lightly spray center area. Transfer chicken roll to foil & top with fig preserves. Pull foil up around meat to form a catch 'basin' for meat & fruit juices (leave top open).
  4. Roast about 25 minutes until meat is cooked. When you remove it from the oven reserve fruit & meat juices to use over your couscous if you wish. While the meat is cooking, prepare the couscous.
Couscous
  1. Heat first amount of oil in a medium saucepan. Add next 4 ingredients. Cook & stir for about 3 minutes until green onion is softened. Add honey. Heat & stir for about 30 seconds until green onion is coated.
  2. Add broth. Bring to a boil. Add couscous & second amount of olive oil; simmer covered for about 10 minutes. Fluff with fork & stir in remaining 3 ingredients.
  3. Place couscous on a serving plate topped with sliced chicken thigh roll. Serve.

Salmon -Stuffed Savoy Cabbage w/ Tomato Sauce

Stuffed cabbage rolls are believed to have originated in the ancient Middle East where it spread to Eastern Europe as trade routes flourished and various ethnic groups migrated. Many countries lay claim to its origins, which accounts for the several interesting riffs on the traditional recipe.

German cabbage rolls called kohlrouladen is the quintessential German comfort food that’s a complete and hearty dinner on its own, but it also goes well with boiled mashed potatoes or spaetzle.

Jewish cabbage rolls (called holishkls, a concoction of ground beef, rice and raisins enveloped in cabbage leaves and simmered in a sauce of brown sugar, lemon and tomatoes) have been traced back 2,000 years to Eastern Europe.

Romanian sarmale combines ground pork, caramelized onions and rice nestled in a pickled sauerkraut leaf, and then smothered in dill and tomato sauce. It is often topped with bacon or smoked sausage.

Poland’s golabki, translating to ‘little pigeon feet’ (named after the French dish that wrapped cabbage around cooked pigeon), stuffs the leaves with pork, beef, rice or barley, accompanied by sour cream and sweet paprika.

Ukrainian holubtsi are typically vegetarian, filling pickled cabbage leaves with either buckwheat and wild mushrooms or a mixture of whole grains and root vegetables, braised in tomato juice or vegetable stock served with perogies.

Egyptian mahshi kromb are simmered in an aromatic tomato-based sauce with mint, cumin and other Middle Eastern herbs and spices.

The Asian variation wraps Chinese cabbage around seafood blends, tofu and shiitake mushrooms.

On a blog some years ago, I made a whole stuffed cabbage but used a ground turkey filling. Today, I wanted to try doing it with a salmon filling. I think this should be real tasty!

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Salmon -Stuffed Cabbage w/ Tomato Sauce
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Instructions
Stuffed Cabbage
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté onions, mushrooms & garlics for 5 minutes in oil. Add rice & broth; bring to a boil. Cover & cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat or until rice is tender & all liquid has been absorbed. Add salmon cubes. Cook uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until salmon begins to flake. Season with salt & pepper; set aside.
  2. In another large saucepan of salted boiling water, blanch cabbage leaves for 5 minutes or until tender. Cool in an ice bath & drain. Pat dry with paper towels. Lay cabbage leaves flat & using a paring knife, trim the thickest section of the stem at the base of each leaf.
  3. Line a bowl with a 9-inch opening with 7 cabbage leaves, starting with the greenest leaves. Cover with 1/3 of the salmon mixture. Layer with 4 cabbage leaves. Cover with remaining salmon mixture & remaining 4 cabbage leaves. Press stuffed cabbage into the bowl to create a rounded shape.
Sauce
  1. In a small bowl, combine the broth & tomato paste. Set aside.
Cooking
  1. Gently turn stuffed cabbage out into a large skillet. Reshape, if needed. Pour broth mixture into skillet & place tomatoes around cabbage. Season with salt & pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover & simmer over low heat for 15 minutes or until tomatoes are cooked & cabbage is tender but still bright green.
  2. Gently cut stuffed cabbage into wedges & serve with tomatoes & sauce.

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.

Turkey-Bacon Rolls w/ Mushroom Risotto

Bacon is not one of my most favorite foods. I have a very clear ‘taste of a memory’ from the bacon my father would cure on the farm when I was growing up. It was way too salty and fatty for my liking, so I avoided it like the plaque. Brion, on the other hand, loves bacon!  Over the years I have come to find there are many versions of smoked bacon that can really take a recipe to another level. I have used it on, in and around so many things.  I have dipped filets in it, encrusted filets in it, wrapped chicken and salmon filets in it, extra, extra …

Bacon fans are an innovative bunch. Forget the simple slice alongside eggs. Diehards have dipped the meat in chocolate, crumbled it into ice cream, infused it into vodka and the list goes on. You’d have to be living under a rock to miss the signs of our cultural obsession with bacon these days.

In this meal I’m making some sliced turkey-bacon rolls to have with our mushroom risotto. Should be quite flavorful.

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Turkey-Bacon Rolls w/ Mushroom Risotto
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Instructions
Turkey/Bacon Rolls
  1. Chop the rosemary & thyme leaves, add a pinch of dried marjoram, parmesan, breadcrumbs & a little lemon zest.
  2. Lay out turkey slices on a work surface, brush them with mustard, distribute the prepared mixture & roll them up to perfectly contain filling. Wrap each roll tightly with a slice of bacon. Secure with a toothpick if necessary.
  3. Sauté garlic in a drizzle of oil for 1-2 minutes over low heat. Add more oil if necessary & brown mini rolls evenly for 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally & adding salt & pepper to taste.
  4. Add wine, lower heat a little & put the lid on & continue cooking for 5-6 minutes, adding very little boiling water if necessary, Remove from heat & keep warm until risotto is cooked.
Mushroom Risotto
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the porcini mushrooms, remove the pan from the heat & set aside for 30 minutes until mushrooms are tender. Then, using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms & set aside.
  2. Return the broth to a simmer & keep warm over low heat.
  3. In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp of the butter over medium-high heat. Add onion & mushrooms & cook for about 3 minutes, until the onions are tender but not brown. Add rice & stir to coat with butter. Add wine & simmer for about 3 minutes, until the wine has almost completely evaporated.
  4. Add a soup ladle full of warm broth & stir for about 2 minutes, until almost completely absorbed.
  5. Continue with remaining broth, adding a ladle full at a time & allowing each addition to be absorbed, until rice is tender to the bite & the mixture is creamy. This should take about 20-25 minutes in total.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the parmesan, gorgonzola, chives, salt & pepper. Transfer to a warm serving bowl & serve immediately.

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.

Reuben Stuffed Shells

The Reuben ‘sandwich’ is a North American grilled sandwich composed of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing, or Russian dressing, grilled between slices of rye bread.

The Reuben actually has a couple of origin stories. It just depends on who tells it.  Of course, all the ingredients have roots in places besides North America. You have the cheese which is Swiss. The rye bread comes from eastern Europe. Corned beef is an ancient way of preserving meat in cultures all over the world. Sauerkraut has a very ancient history and most likely originated with the Mongols or in ancient China. 

The combined flavors of a Reuben sandwich are so amazing that its inspired many recipe ideas and ways to incorporate the flavors into other foods.

Reuben Stuffed Shells pack all that flavor into a jumbo pasta shell and the homemade croutons make sure that you won’t miss out on the rye bread that Reubens are known for.

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Reuben Stuffed Shells
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Cuisine American
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SERVINGS
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
SERVINGS
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Instructions
Croutons
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in garlic; cook 1 minute until fragrant. Stir in dried parsley. Add bread cubes & toss to coat. Place directly on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until crisp. Crumble the croutons into small pieces. Set aside.
Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter & add flour. Cook until bubbly for 2-3 minutes. Slowly add milk, whisking continuously until heated & slightly thickened. While continuing to whisk, add mustard & cheese. Cook until a thin sauce consistency develops; season to taste with salt & pepper. Cover & set aside until ready to use.
Stuffed Shells
  1. Shred corned beef with a fork. In a large bowl, add corned beef (reserve 3-4 Tbsp for topping), 60 gm Swiss cheese, sauerkraut (drained), cream cheese & Thousand Island dressing. Mix well
  2. Spread cheese sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Fill cooked shells with corned beef mixture & place in baking pan. Top with reserved corned beef. Sprinkle croutons & remaining 120 gm Swiss croutons over shells. Cover with foil.
  3. Bake about 30 minutes or until slightly bubbling.

Garlic Orzo Tuscan Shrimp

Quite often confused with rice, orzo is a short-cut and petite pasta that is often used in place of other grains. Also known as risoni, this little pasta, or pastina, is a wonderful base for many meals.

Orzo offers enormous culinary potential made with 100% enriched durum semolina wheat. However, there are other varieties, including whole wheat orzo made with whole wheat flour and tri-color orzo which is enriched with red tomato and vibrant green spinach.

Orzo can be used in a wide variety of recipes such as mixed bowls, soups, salads, casseroles, and side dishes. Another way to take advantage of orzo pasta is by using it as a filling or stuffing. It makes a hearty option for anything from stuffed peppers and tomatoes to orzo stuffed zucchini boats.

The shape of orzo may resemble a large grain of rice; however, while both are rich in carbohydrates, these two plant-based ingredients are quite different. Apart from their composition, rice does not contain gluten, whereas pasta, made from wheat, does.

With its origins in the Mediterranean, it’s no wonder that orzo wonderfully complements the tastes and vibrant colors of a variety of coastal cuisines. I think it compliments this Tuscan shrimp dish very well.

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Garlic Orzo Tuscan Shrimp
Instructions
  1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil & cook orzo pasta about 8-9 minutes. Drain the orzo using a colander & set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, melt butter & add minced garlic & shrimp; fry for 2 minutes on each side or until cooked & pink. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl & set aside.
  3. Add the onions & mushrooms to the butter remaining in the skillet. Stir in sun dried tomatoes & Swiss chard leaves; fry for 1-2 minutes or until leaves are wilted.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low & add the cream; bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  5. Stir in parmesan cheese; allow the sauce to simmer for about a minute until the cheese melts. Sprinkle the herbs & parsley over the mix & toss to combine.
  6. Add shrimp & cooked orzo pasta; toss to combine. Serve.