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.
ENJOY FAMILY DAY!
First held in the province of Alberta in 1990, Family Day is supposed to reflect the values of family and home that were important to the pioneers who founded Alberta. It was to give workers the opportunity to spend more time with their families to help prevent the erosion of family values in Canadian society.
‘Family Day’ is a public holiday in 5 Canadian provinces, where it is a day off for the general population with schools and most businesses being closed. However, there are some provinces where the holiday is named slightly different and for different reasons.
Family Day was scheduled to fall between New Year’s Day and Good Friday in order to grant another day off between these celebrations as they are approximately three months apart.
This meal seems so appropriate for today. Just put breakfast in the oven, sit back, enjoy a coffee while it bakes. What a great way to start a ‘family day’ together!
Easy to make, a breakfast bake sits in the fridge for several hours or better yet, overnight, so when you pop it in the oven the following morning, all the work will have already been done. Plus, variations abound according to your tastes and favorite ingredients: substitute sausage for bacon (or use both). Forego all meats for a vegetarian version and substitute fresh spinach, roasted peppers, blanched broccoli. Of course, make-ahead breakfast bakes are genius and forgiving; it can use up multiple supplies in your kitchen, appeal to a variety of tastes and be absolutely delicious every time.
Breakfast Enchilada Bake
Suggested Ingredients for Serving
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add green pepper, onion, garlic & all spices; cook 3-4 minutes or until softened.
Add chicken sausage & cook, stirring frequently, for another 5-6 minutes or until cooked through, breaking up the sausage into small pieces. Once fully cooked, stir in 3/4 cup of cheese.
Spray a 13 X 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. On a work surface, lay out tortillas. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the sausage filling onto one side of the tortillas; roll each tightly. Place seam side down in the baking pan; sprinkle any extra sausage mixture on top.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs & half & half until completely combined. Pour over enchiladas & sprinkle with remaining 1 1/4 cups shredded cheese. Cover with foil & refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
Remove chilled enchiladas from fridge, bake for 20 minutes covered, then remove foil & bake for an additional 15 minutes OR until center is set (eggs should no longer be jiggly) & cheese is lightly browned. If you prefer, leave the casserole covered & bake longer, before removing foil. Serve with your choice of toppings.
Tourtiere is a traditional French Canadian meal enjoyed by many people throughout Canada. There is no one correct filling; the meat depends on what is regionally available. In coastal areas, fish such as salmon is commonly used, whereas pork, beef and game are often included inland. The name derives from the vessel in which it was originally cooked, a tourtiere.
While the smell and flavor are unique, they aren’t difficult to like. The flavors are ultimately simple and comforting and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand often. This galette version works perfect in my favorite basic cornmeal pastry crust. Tourtiere can be made ahead and frozen, then baked off as needed.
Apart from making tourtiere in the traditional form, try using the filling in tourtiere meatballs, phyllo rolls, burgers, turnovers or chicken tourtiere tartlets. The filling recipe I’m posting today comes from a tiny little pamphlet I probably have had for 30 years from a meat packing company. It has been one that I have worked with the spices to suit our taste.
In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or finger tips, 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 shape & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Cut bacon into small pieces & fry over moderate heat until cooked but not crisp. Add pork, veal, onion & garlic; cook until meat is lightly browned. Add water & spices; reduce heat to simmer; cover pan & cook 45 minutes more. Combine meat with mashed potatoes; cool slightly.
Remove pastry from refrigerator. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll out pastry dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer pastry (leaving it on the parchment paper) to a large deep pie dish. You should have about a 1 1/2-inch pastry overhang. Place tourtiere filling in the pastry shell then carefully fold pastry over it, making a pleated look. Brush pastry with egg wash.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until pastry is cooked & golden brown. Basically you are only baking the pastry since the filling is already cooked.
- Very often tourtiere recipes call for cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves. Neither Brion or I care for those spices in this recipe so its a personal choice you can add or leave out.
Roly poly pudding also known as shirt sleeve pudding is a traditional British pudding. It was probably created in the early 19th century. The dessert was traditionally made with a ‘suet’ (hard animal fat) dough that was spread with jam and then rolled up and steamed or baked. It got the name ‘shirt sleeve‘ as it was steamed in an actual shirt sleeve.
The pudding is a nostalgic one for many British adults, as it was very popular 30-40 years ago as part of British school dinners, topped with a custard.
Today, roly poly is not only made with a jam filling but also with fresh fruit and served when one needs a comforting ‘retro‘ dessert.
Blackberry Roly Poly Pudding
In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. Cut in shortening & butter until crumbly. Add sour cream & blend until ball forms. Roll out on a floured surface into a 15" x 10" rectangle. Spread with 1/4 cup softened butter, sprinkle with remaining filling ingredients. Roll up, jelly-roll style, starting with the long side. Cut into 10 slices. Place slices, cut side down, in a 13" x 9" baking pan.
In a saucepan, combine water, brown sugar & cinnamon. Bring to a boil; remove from heat & stir in cream. Carefully pour hot topping over filled slices.
Bake, uncovered for 35 minutes or until bubbly. The center will jiggle when dessert is hot out of the oven but will set as it sits for a few minutes. Serve warm.
No matter what the stuffing or style is, love for the empanada is not a difficult one to understand. They are cheap, easy to eat, transportable, and versatile.
Empanadas look as good as they taste; perfect food for a picnic. Eating outdoors, spaced apart is probably one of the safest ways to gather during the ongoing pandemic crisis. The great thing about picnicking is that you can do it practically anywhere you can throw a blanket down. If you can’t make it to a park or field, your yard, porch or any flat surface with a little grass (or sand), some sun (& shade) will do.
Empanadas can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They can be served as appetizers or snacks (hot or cold), but they can easily make a full and satisfying main course.
The very basics for an empanada are a combination of three things; dough, filling and a cooking method. The dough can be made from wheat flour, cornmeal, mashed plantains, potatoes, yuca, sweet potatoes etc. and the fillings can consist of meat, fish or vegetables. The cooking method is usually to be baked or fried although some can be cooked on a griddle or grill.
According to food historians, empanadas with seafood filling first appeared in a 1520 cookbook, published during the Moorish invasions.
I was real interested to see what I could do to make some salmon empanadas taste special. We found they were good as a hot meal served with the remaining ‘sauce’ or eaten COLD for a picnic lunch.
Salmon Picnic Empanadas
In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or finger tips, cut in butter until mixture resembles both coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. Do NOT overwork dough.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least an hour.
In a skillet, melt butter & sprinkle with flour. Allow to cook for a few minutes. In a bowl, whisk together broth, milk & soy sauce. Slowly add to flour/butter mixture, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Remove from skillet & set aside.
In the skillet, sauté salmon filet in 1 Tbsp oil until JUST cooked. Remove to a dish. With a fork, 'shred' salmon; set aside.
In the skillet, sauté vegetables in remaining Tbsp of oil for a couple of minutes. Add seasonings, shredded salmon, 1/3 cup prepared soy sauce & grated cheddar. Toss to combine; set aside to cool.
Assembly & Baking
Divide chilled pastry into 10 balls. Roll each one in cornmeal. Place a ball between 2 sheets of plastic wrap & roll into a 6-inch circle.
Divide filling into 10 portions. Place a portion on one side of the pastry circle, leaving about a 1/2-inch border (on filled side). With your fingertips, moisten edge of pastry with a bit of milk or water. Flip opposite side over filling & press edges together to enclose it well. Use a fork to make the classic look.
Repeat with remaining pastry & filling. Lay empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 20 minutes or until pastry is baked & slightly browned.