If you haven’t had quiche lately, it is time to remedy that situation. I could eat quiche for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without ever growing tired of it. This recipe takes the classic chili con carne and turns it into a quiche which makes an ideal winter meal, right?
Cornmeal crust is the perfect foil for meaty and cheesy savory pies. Not only is the rustic texture and flavor of cornmeal pastry a nice change, but it also helps if you have something that is super juicy to avoid soggy bottom pies.
If you like quiche and cornbread, you’ll love this. The cornmeal crust gives a sort of cornbread feel while maintaining the flaky composure that any great crust should have. This is one of my favorite crusts to use for savory pies, tarts and galettes.
Chili Cheese Quiche
In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or fingertips, cut in butter until mixture resembles both coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it.
After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. DO NOT overwork dough. Press dough into a disk & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
In a large skillet, sauté beef, onion & garlic until meat is cooked & any liquid has evaporated. Stir in spices, corn, tomato sauce, beans. Remove from heat & allow to cool slightly. Grate cheese.
Whisk together eggs, milk & seasoning.
Roll out pastry to fit a 9-inche quiche pan. Place filling mixture in crust; sprinkle with cheese then pour milk mixture over the cheese.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until set. Top with more grated cheese if you wish.
Let’s face it: we live in a world of portable food. Much like with many heritage recipes, there’s room for debate about how to make a proper hand pie. Historically, hand pies were primarily created with reconstituted dried fruit–apples, peaches–since fresh fruit often is too wet to be supported by the delicate pastry. Today, a blend of dried and fresh fruit (or a generous amount of thickener) yields a nicely balanced mixture of flavors and texture.
Hand pies are very often deep fried, but can be skillet fried (preferably in cast iron) or baked for those who are wanting something more health conscious. The dough is typically an adapted form of biscuit dough instead of traditional pie crust, which is better able to withstand the frying process without splitting or leaking filling.
Persimmons are typically in season from September to December. As soon as I see them at the grocery store, I just can’t resist making them into something special. Using my favorite cornmeal pastry gives them a bit of an interesting crunch and balances out the sweet persimmon filling.
Persimmon Lemon Hand Pies
In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or fingertips, cut in the butter until mixture resembles BOTH coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not, add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. Do not overwork dough.
Press dough into a disk shape & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. This dough can be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two or it can be wrapped airtight & frozen for a month. Thaw, still wrapped in refrigerator.
In a skillet, melt butter & sprinkle sugar evenly over it. Add peeled, sliced persimmons & sauté until liquid is bubbling & lightly golden. Reduce heat & continue cooking until persimmons are tender (if you wish, thicken any juices with cornstarch). Add 5-spice & salt. At this point you can either mash persimmons to make a filling or you can puree them in a food processor,
Prepare egg wash. Remove pastry from fridge & roll out to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut into 18 rounds. On each round place a heaping teaspoon of persimmon filling. Fold in half & seal with your fingertips. Place the mini hand pies on a parchment lined baking sheet & keep in the fridge or freezer while you continue to make the rest of the pastries.
Brush egg was all over the pastry crusts. Bake for about 12 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven & place pastries on a wire rack to cool.
Grate lemon to make lemon zest for top of pastries. In a small dish combine powdered sugar with enough fresh lemon juice to make a runny glaze. Dip pastry tops in glaze then sprinkle with lemon zest & silver dragees.
Nestled on the border of France and Germany is a little area known as the Alsatian (All-Say-Shun) region. There, cultures have collided, blended, and meshed to create some of the most unique culinary experiences. One such specialty is the Flammekueche, also known as the Alsatian Pizza, or Tarte Flambée. A combination of baked flat dough topped with fresh cheese known as fromage blanc, bacon, and onions. All of this is baked to a crisp perfection.
The most underrated and underused topping in every pizzeria is the onion. The flavor potential of this glorious root can be either bold or a sublime succulent whisper, but it is usually taken for granted.
Known as flammekueche in Alsatian and flammkuchen in German, tarte flambée is pure and uncomplicated. Typically made on a piece of thin, rolled-out bread dough, it has only three or four other main ingredients: the sour cream, cheese, onion and the bacon.
But don’t let the few ingredients fool you because they’re wonderfully paired. The creamy, slightly sharp sour cream is tamed by the sweet onions and salty bacon.
Flammekueche - Alsatian Pizza w/ Onions & Bacon
Cook potato, peel & mash. Combine yeast with lukewarm water; whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand about 3 minutes until foamy. Add butter, salt, sour cream & potato; mix well. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a tea towel & allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
In a large skillet, heat oil. Add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat, sprinkle with vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Remove from skillet & set aside.
Bacon / Cheese
In skillet, sauté bacon until it is halfway to crisp, 2-4 minutes. Remove bacon to drain on paper towel. Break or cut bacon into small pieces. Grate cheese.
On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll or press dough into 4 ovals. Transfer with paper to a baking sheet.
Add minced garlic to sour cream & spread over crust, leaving a small border. Distribute onions & bacon evenly over sour cream. Top all with grated cheese & a sprinkling of black pepper.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven & slice.
Don’t think for a moment that cabbage doesn’t belong on pizza — it definitely does. When the days grow shorter, we start to crave heartier meals. Cabbage is good … meatballs are good … cabbage/meatball pizza is double good! Here’s a new spin on the classic pizza – topping a pizza crust base with meatballs, cabbage, spices & cheese.
People have been piling ‘stuff’ on dough, and then heating it up, for thousands of years. That includes the Chinese, who some believe gave Marco Polo scallion pancakes, leading to the theory that he introduced pizza to Italy.
Others point to the ancient Greeks, who covered their flatbreads with herbs, oil, and cheese. But no matter who is responsible for pizza, there is no denying that it has serious global appeal.
Cabbage is an unsung kitchen hero. It’s actually one of the most versatile veggies in your arsenal. If you’re just reserving it for slaws and salads, it’s time to broaden your horizons and discover some of the amazingly delicious things a simple head of cabbage can do.
While the dough is pretty critical, the toppings are just as important to get right. Specific toppings will come down to personal preference.
The duo of sautéed cabbage & meatballs makes for a hearty, satisfying topping perfectly suited for crisp autumn weather.
Pizza w/ Cabbage & Meatballs
Cook potato, peel & mash. In a bowl, combine yeast with lukewarm water. Allow to stand for about 3 minutes until foamy; add butter, salt, sour cream & potato & mix well. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise in a warm draft free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
In a large pot, place thinly sliced cabbage, water, sugar & salt. Cover & simmer for a few minutes until cabbage is soft & has reduced in volume. Place cabbage in a dish. Melt butter & oil in pot then add flour & cumin to make a roux. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring so that there are no lumps as it thickens. Add cabbage to roux & cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from stove & stir in fresh dill & chives; set aside.
In a bowl, combine all meatball ingredients & mix well. Form into 28 balls & place on foil lined baking sheet that has been lightly greased. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until JUST cooked. do not OVERBAKE as they will bake some more when they are on the pizza.
Line a 9 x 11-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Press out pizza dough over the bottom & up the sides of the pan. Sprinkle a bit of the smoked cheese on the crust, then place a layer of half the cabbage mixture & lightly drizzle with a small amount of tomato soup (sauce). Repeat again with cheese, cabbage & sauce. Roll cooked meatballs in remaining tomato sauce. Place meatballs, in rows on top, then sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake for 40 minutes or until crust is golden. Garnish with fresh dill, slice & serve.
The name ‘pound cake‘ comes from the fact that the original pound cake contained one pound each butter, sugar, eggs and flour. Originally, no leaveners were used in the cake except for the air whipped into the batter. It was only in the 1900’s that artificial leaveners like baking soda and baking powder were added to reduce the density of the cake. Other variations include the addition of flavoring extracts like vanilla and almond or dried fruits such as cranberries or currants. At times, some or all of the butter was substituted by a cooking or vegetable oil to obtain a moist cake.
One of the most popular variations is the sour cream pound cake. The butter is substituted by sour cream to moisten the cake and also get a tinge of a tangy flavor. Despite all these variations which alter the characteristics and the flavor of the cake drastically, the name pound cake is still used today.
Raspberry Swirl Pound Cake
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter or line pan of choice with parchment paper. (loaf pan or a Bundt pan)).
In a bowl, cream butter & sugar with an electric mixer until pale & fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add salt, vanilla & sour cream.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour & baking powder. Combine wet & dry ingredients, then beat on low for about a minute.
Transfer about 1/3 of batter to another bowl. Add raspberry preserves & beat until combined. Add 2-3 drops red gel food color if desired. To remaining batter, add lemon juice & beat until combined.
To preferred baking pan, add a layer of white batter then alternate between pink & white batter. Use a knife to swirl the batters together but don't overdo it or you will end up without a marble effect.
Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean. If top browns too quickly, lightly cover with a piece of foil paper.
Allow cake to cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove pan & finishing cooling on a wire rack.
In a small bowl, beat cream cheese for about 20 seconds on medium speed. Add powdered sugar & mix to combine well. Drizzle frosting over cooled cake, slice & serve.
- My choice of baking pans were some mini Bundt pans. I thought they made a nice individual presentation.
Bread, cheese, bacon & leeks all baked together in the ultimate picnic loaf! This recipe idea derives from a Portuguese traditional stuffed bread made in the North of Portugal called ‘Bola’. This was made by the farmers wives for their husbands to take to work when they were out working the fields. It consists of bread dough enriched with ‘lard’ or butter and then put in layers in a baking tray, filled in the middle with meat leftovers like roast pork, veal, chicken or chourico (smoked pork sausage).
This kind of reminds me of Pan Bagnat, the traditional Nice ‘sandwich’, in which the top of a round loaf would be sliced off and some of the crumbs hollowed out, mixed with tuna, olives, anchovies, etc. then spooned back in and the ‘lid’ put on top. Later variations are often made with ham and cheese and sometimes peppers are added.
In September 2017, I posted a blog on Pan Bagnat. Once the flavors all meld together the taste was incredible. I thought this stuffed bread would be perfect for an outdoor summer meal or picnic.
Baked Stuffed Picnic Loaf
Very lightly grease a skillet with olive oil, put in the bacon & sauté until browned. Add the chopped shallot; sauté until softened, then add the leek. Stir together and remove from the heat – you want the leeks to keep their color so don't overcook.
In a bowl, whisk sour cream, eggs, mustard & spices together. Don’t overmix: keep the mixture a little lumpy.
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Slice into the bread, but not all the way through. You need to cut deep enough into the bread to open out the loaf and fill between the “slices, while leaving the loaf connected at the base. Place the bread on a sheet of parchment paper.
Into each slot in the bread, place a slice of potato, followed by some of the bacon, shallot and leeks.
Use the paper to lift the bread onto a baking tray. Spoon some of the sour cream/egg mixture into each slot, so that the bread absorbs as much as possible.
Finally insert the slices of cheese. Enclose the loaf fully in the baking paper and then wrap it in foil to make a tight parcel.
Put the wrapped bread into the preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, then remove the tray and open the foil and parchment paper. Return to the oven until the top of the bread and its filling is golden brown. Remove and serve!
Like their Italian cousin pizza, calzones originated in Naples, Italy during the 18th century. The calzone’s original purpose was to serve as a ‘walk around pizza‘ that were not meant to be eaten with utensils. This Italian style turnover is created by folding a pizza in half. When correctly prepared, the calzone’s outer crust is baked to crispy perfection while the inside filling contains a warm, gooey blend of ricotta and mozzarella cheeses along side an assortment of hearty meats and vegetables. The crust of calzones, traditionally made with yeast, olive oil, water, flour, and salt, makes them extremely portable. Calzones, are always baked. The original calzones of Naples, were most likely much smaller than the modern calzones seen in North American restaurants today, because the pizzas created in 18th century Italy were for a single person to enjoy.
Calzones are similar to stromboli and the two are sometimes confused. Unlike calzones, which are always stuffed and folded into a crescent shape, a stromboli is typically rolled and folded into a cylinder. Both are pizza derivatives. They utilize the same ingredients to achieve different versions of a sealed, portable meal. Calzones are traditionally stuffed with cheese, tomatoes, and marinara. But much like the pizza, any sort of toppings can be added inside the calzone.
Today, I wanted to put a bit of a different spin on the calzone idea. I’m making a potato/leek yeast dough, filling them with chicken & mushrooms & adding a bit of pizazz to the shape. What’s old is new again!
Chicken & Leek Calzones
Rinse & slice leek. In a skillet, place oil, sliced leek, sage leaves, garlic, salt & pepper. When the garlic is fragrant & the leek is tender, turn off heat & transfer to a dish to cool.
In a small dish, combine yeast with lukewarm water; allow to stand for a few minutes until frothy. In a large bowl, combine butter, salt, sour cream, cooked, mashed potato & 1/2 of the leek mixture. Beat together well.
When yeast is ready, add it to the wet mixture. Mix in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is blended, turn onto a lightly buttered work surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough ball in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. While dough is rising prepare filling.
In a skillet, fry bacon to a cooked but not real crisp stage. Transfer to a paper towel, reserving bacon drippings to sauté mushrooms in. When mushrooms have cooked & released most of their moisture, remove from heat.
In a bowl, combine remaining other half of cooked leek mixture, bacon, cooked chicken (or turkey), & mushrooms. Add Ranch dressing & salt to taste. Set aside.
Assembly & Baking
On a lightly greased work surface, divide risen dough into 8 balls. Roll each ball into an OVAL shape, about 7 x 6-inch size. Divide filling into 8 portions. On each oval, place a portion of the filling in a straight line on the middle of the dough.
Keep one side free & cut the other side of the dough into thin strips using a knife. Fold the uncut side over the filling first, then continue rolling over the cut side.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper & place the 'calzones' on it, curving them into a C shape. (Place the side with the 'strips' curving to the outside). Brush calzones lightly with egg wash; cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise for about 20 minutes.
Bake calzones for 40 minutes until a golden brown. Serve hot or room temperature.
The Naan which is known for its soft and fluffiness and original flavour also led to other types of it being created.
Different types of Naan also became popular depending on them either being stuffed or coated with specific toppings. The many varieties include:
- Plain Naan – simplest form which is brushed with ghee or butter
- Garlic Naan – topped with crushed garlic and butter
- Kulcha Naan – has a filling of cooked onions
- Keema Naan – includes a filling of minced lamb, mutton or goat meat
- Roghani Naan – sprinkled with sesame seeds
- Peshawari Naan and Kashmiri Naan – filled with a mixture of nuts and raisins including pistachios
- Paneer Naan – stuffed with a filling of cheese flavored with ground coriander and paprika
- Amritsari Naan – stuffed with mash potatoes and spices
Salmon & Leek Naan Pizza
In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until leeks are softened, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine sour cream, dill, mustard and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place naan on prepared baking sheets. Evenly spread sour cream mixture on naan, leaving 1/2-inch border. Top with leek mixture, salmon and Swiss cheese. Bake until edges of naan are lightly browned and salmon is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle with dill fronds, if desired.
The ‘poke cake‘ is an advertising invention of the late 1970s, when Jell-O created it to increase sluggish sales. The Jell-O salads of the ‘50s and ‘60s were outmoded and on the wane so this was a way to bring it back. These cakes were colorful and easy to make. A fork, chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon is used to poke deep holes all over the top of the baked cake. Next, it is topped with a colorful Jell-O syrup, which trickles into the cake looking like brightly colored streamers.
But, like all successful desserts, even the poke cake has undergone numerous reinterpretations over time. Starting from the base no longer cooked only in vanilla flavor but also made with coconut, lemon, chocolate, with fruit & yogurt, arriving at the holes that are filled in other choices such as chocolate, cream, jams, etc. etc.
Although it would seem like poke cakes are a phenomenon born in corporate American kitchens, drenching cake in flavorful liquids is not new, or an entirely an American creation. England’s sticky toffee pudding, a single layer date cake, is poked all over while still warm from the oven with a fork or skewer and drenched in sticky butterscotch sauce. Genoise, the classic French sponge cake, is almost always soaked in sugar syrups spiked with liqueur, not just for flavor, but to keep the cake fresh and prevent it from drying out. Pastel de tres leches, or ‘three-milks cake’, is a beloved Latin American classic. Made from sponge cake soaked in a milky syrup combining evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream. All three called for this hole-poking action long before the 1970’s.
Of course, getting back to my German heritage, brings to mind a German butter cake or butter kuchen. This classic yeasted cake (actually more like bread), seems to be very closely aligned with the poke cake idea. After the dough has risen and been rolled out, deep impressions are made for the filling to nestle in. I think some blueberries and lemon curd will work nicely here.
Blueberry Lemon Poke 'Bread'
In a small dish, heat milk to lukewarm. Add yeast & 1 tsp sugar; let sit for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup sugar, melted butter, sour cream & egg. Add yeast mixture & stir to combine.
In another bowl, whisk flour & salt. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture 1 cup at a time, combining after each addition. Once all flour has been added, knead on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes.
Lightly grease the large bowl, place dough in it & cover with plastic wrap & a tea towel. Allow to rest for at least one hour, in a draft free place until dough has doubled in volume.
Assembly & Bake
Line a 15" X 10"-inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Place dough on paper & press out evenly in pan. Make about 20 deep impressions in dough with your fingertips. Fill each one with a spoonful of lemon curd & top with a couple of large blueberries. Allow cake to rise 10 minutes.
Bake bread/cake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Meanwhile, combine glaze ingredients. Remove from oven: cool for just a few minutes then drizzle with glaze. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Cut into 15 serving pieces.
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.
Scalloped Potatoes w/ Mushrooms
In a large saucepan, place potatoes & cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook, uncovered until tender, 8-12 minutes. Drain.
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.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish; set aside.
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.
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.
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.