Scallop Crepes w/ Cauliflower Sauce

Can you believe the New Year is almost here and as the clock approaches midnight, it is a time to reflect and assess the year that has gone by…to hopefully, realize how precious time is. The word ‘new’ brings about thoughts of hope, and an opportunity to focus on a list of fresh goals, challenges, and opportunities.

Many cultures around the world believe the key to a happy, healthy, financially secure, and even productive year begins with eating certain lucky foods. The theory is ‘do good, eat good’, to begin the New Year right.

New Year’s Eve calls for a celebration. Whether you’re spending the night in, or you’re hosting an intimate party with friends, a scallop dinner is the perfect treat to finish off the year because scallops symbolize new opportunities or the opening of new horizons.

Brion & I enjoy seafood a lot so its not hard to fit some elegant scallop crepes into the menu.

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Scallop Crepes w/ Cauliflower Sauce
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Crepes
  1. Place all crepe ingredients in a small blender & whirl for 1 minute at high speed. Scrape down sides, whirl for another 15 seconds. Pour into a small bowl & cover. Refrigerate 1 hour or more.
  2. Brush an 8-inch non-stick skillet lightly with melted butter; heat. Stir crepe batter; pour 2 Tbsp into center of skillet. Lift & tilt pan to coat bottom evenly. Cook until top appears dry; turn & cook 15-20 seconds longer. Remove to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with melted butter as needed.
Sauce
  1. Pour chicken broth into a medium saucepan, add cauliflower florets & bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cauliflower is tender. Drain in a colander, reserving the liquid, then place the cauliflower in a food processor & allow it to cool for 5 minutes before blending. Process, slowly adding 1 cup of reserved chicken broth. Add seasonings & process until 'creamy'. Set aside.
Filling
  1. In a large skillet, bring scallops, wine & pepper to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until scallops are firm & opaque, 3-4 minutes. Drain & set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, fry chopped bacon until slightly browned. Add 2 Tbsp butter, mushrooms & green onions & sauté until moisture has evaporated from mushrooms. Return scallops back to skillet & add cheese & enough of the cauliflower sauce to bring mixture together into a filling consistency.
Assembly & Cooking
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Divide filling among the 12 crepes, spreading filling down the center of each one. Place remaining cauliflower sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Roll up crepes & place in a single layer on top of sauce. Cover & bake until heated through about 30 minutes.
  3. Garnish with sliced green onions if you prefer.
Recipe Notes
  • These crepes look & taste indulgent, but I've made the sauce with pureed cauliflower rather than lots of cream. It sounds a bit odd, but it works beautifully & compliments the flavor of the sweet scallops & salty bacon.

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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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
SERVINGS
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
SERVINGS
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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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.

Vegetable Torte w/ Chicken/Turkey Sausage

There is so much to love about summer, not least of which is the amazing bounty of fresh produce. This summer vegetable torte is a great way to showcase flavorful late-summer vegetables and savory herbs that are available. It is similar to a crustless quiche or a frittata that makes a wonderful addition to a brunch or a backyard barbecue.  It can be served warm or cold.  Either way, it’s delicious. 

One of the baking pans I have found extremely useful over the years is the ‘springform pan’. The function of this pan is to make it possible to take out of the pan a cake which is too fragile to trust to the conventional method of turning it upside down. A pan with a removeable bottom eliminates the need to risk inverting the cake.

A cheesecake might be the best example of a cake needing such a specialty pan. This was just what the late Pierre Franey was thinking of when he introduced the springform pan to New York Times readers back in 1980.

The pan he had in mind was made by Kaiser, a German metal goods company founded in 1919 by Wilhelm Ferdinand Kaiser to provide quality equipment to avid bakers like his wife. The company claims to have invented the springform pan, which it calls ‘the intelligent round cake pan’, and is the world’s largest manufacturer of them. They make 30 types, including one with a glass bottom that can double as a serving plate.

Thinking beyond cheesecake, the springform pan works so good when used to make this torte. The high sides of the torte gives it such a special look. It bakes up firm, but still creamy and delicious. It can be served as a vegetarian main course with a side salad, or served alongside some grilled sausage as we did for our meal.

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Vegetable Torta w/ Chicken/Turkey Sausage
Instructions
  1. Place the zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes tossing occasionally. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a sheet pan with a rack. After the zucchini sits for 30 minutes, rinse off the salt, drain and pat dry with a few paper towels. Pour the zucchini slices onto the rack and place in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove and cool.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F. Brush the bottom & sides of a 9-inch springform pan with oil. Line bottom with parchment paper & brush parchment with oil. Wrap outside of pan with aluminum foil.
  3. In a skillet, heat oil & sauté onion & mushrooms until veggies are tender-crisp, about 10 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in eggs until combined ( can still be a bit lumpy). Beat in cream or 1/2 & 1/2. Stir in garlic, basil, Italian seasoning, salt & pepper. Using a slotted spoon to drain off any liquid on sautéed veggies, then add sautéed vegetables & zucchini to egg mixture along with drained sun-dried tomatoes & marinated artichokes. Add grated Swiss cheese; stir with a rubber spatula to combine. Spread mixture in prepared pan & set pan on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 1 1/2-1 3/4 hours or until top is puffy & golden brown & the center no longer jiggles when shaken. Remove from oven & allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan, then run a sharp knife around edges of torte to loosen. Gently remove pan sides. Serve warm, room temperature or cold.

Salmon & Leek Naan Pizza

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 
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Salmon & Leek Naan Pizza
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine sour cream, dill, mustard and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. 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.

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.

Corned Beef & Potato Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed cabbage is a humble food and probably originated , as most comfort food has, from leftovers. Common place in Russian, German, Irish, Hungarian and Slovakian cooking, cabbage is an ingredient that is filling and inexpensive.

Readily available, this cold season crop is the under-appreciated cousin of brussel sprouts. There’s nothing particularly mysterious, alluring or exotic about it. Cabbage’s distinctive odor might have something to do with its unpopularity. When cooked, it has a pungent and pervasive, slightly sour, sulfur-y smell.

All that aside, cabbage becomes buttery soft when cooked. This allows its wide and sturdy leaves to be used as wraps for soft fillings. Any type of ground meat can be used, seasoned with garlic, onions and spices. Additional ingredients may include rice, breadcrumbs, barley, eggs, dried fruit, nuts, veggies, dried or fresh mushrooms, etc. The ‘sauce’ for baking stuffed cabbage, varies widely by cuisine.

These cabbage rolls are the full meal deal’, all rolled up in one …. corned beef, cabbage, mashed potatoes and cheese. Yum!

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Corned Beef & Potato Cabbage Rolls
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Servings
SERVINGS
Ingredients
Cabbage
Filling
Sauce for Baking Cabbage Rolls
Servings
SERVINGS
Ingredients
Cabbage
Filling
Sauce for Baking Cabbage Rolls
Votes: 1
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Instructions
Cabbage
  1. Place about 1-inch of water in a large kettle. Using a sharp knife, Cut the thick stem out of the bottom of the cabbage head leaving all of the leaves intact. Place the cabbage head into the pot of water. Cover the pot & bring the water to a boil. Steam the cabbage for 15 minutes. Once the cabbage is steamed, remove it from the pot & place it on a plate to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease an 8 X 8-inch baking dish.
Filling
  1. In a large bowl, combine 'pulled' (cooked) corned beef, mashed potatoes, egg, mustard, parsley, salt & pepper. Mix well & set aside.
  2. Gently remove 15 (there will be a few extra in case of any that tear) cooled outer leaves from the cabbage head. Set them aside. Chop a cup of the remaining cabbage & add it to the filling mixture. Mix well.
  3. Lay a one cabbage leaf on a cutting board, with the stem facing towards you. Cut out the tough bottom section of the vein in the leaf, creating a V-notch. Place roughly 1/4 cup of the filling at the center of the leaf (around the tip of the notch). Roll the bottom (cut side) of the leaf up over the filling. Fold the two sides in. Continue rolling away from you to wrap the filling tightly in the remaining leaf.
  4. Place roll in baking dish. Continue with the remaining filling & leaves, creating two rows of 5 rolls each in baking dish.
Sauce
  1. In a small dish, whisk together beef broth & flour until no lumps remain. Pour over cabbage rolls. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil & bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove from oven & sprinkle top of the rolls with Swiss cheese. Cover & allow to sit for 5 minutes. Nice to serve with some RYE BREAD STICKS.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer not to cook your own corned beef, just purchase a thick piece of 'deli' corned beef, using forks you can easily 'pull' the meat apart that's needed in this recipe.

Seed Encrusted Ham Cordon Bleu

Many variations exist to the basic idea of the French ‘cordon bleu’ dish. It would seem that its one of those recipes that has evolved over time, starting in the late 1840’s. Veal cordon bleu was created in Paris, France to later be swapped out for chicken in Moscow.

Chicken Kiev, stuffed with an herb butter was likely the meal that inspired chicken cordon bleu. In North America, the first mention of this upscale dish was in 1967. It consists of chicken breast, pounded thin, stuffed with a slice of ham and Swiss cheese then breaded and baked or fried.

Today, a lot of interesting versions are being made using everything from bacon, avocado, spinach, onions, cheese varieties as well as numerous ways in which to prepare them.

I have chosen to kind of reverse the basic idea by using ham slices and stuffing them with turkey, stuffing and cheese. The sunflower seeds in the breading added a nice flavor dimension.

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Seed Encrusted Ham Cordon Bleu
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, French
Servings
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, French
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Filling
  1. In a saucepan, saute mushrooms, onions & seasonings in butter until tender. Add water & bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add stove top stuffing & allow to stand, covered for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork; cool slightly. Grate cheese.
Breading
  1. In a food processor, pulse sunflower seeds for a few seconds ONLY. In a bowl, combine seeds, Panko crumbs, grated Parmesan & melted butter.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9 X 13-inch baking pan. Set aside.
  2. On a work surface, lay out the ham slices & spread with mustard. Divide stuffing mixture evenly between ham slices. Top each with a turkey slice then divide the Swiss cheese between the 8 'cordon bleu'. Wrap each by laying one side over the other, securing with toothpicks. Carefully transfer each roll to the baking pan. Using your fingers, place some beaten egg on all exposed ham slices. With a spoon, sprinkle breading mixture over ham rolls, covering evenly.
  3. Place a pan of water on the bottom shelf of oven. Position the pan with ham rolls directly over your water bath. This will help to 'steam' the rolls as opposed to drying & over baking them since all ingredients are already cooked. The flavors come together nicely as a result. Bake for about 15- 20 minutes.
Mushroom Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, saute sliced mushrooms in melted butter. Whisk in flour & continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Whisk in chicken broth, continuing to simmer mixture until sauce is thickened & bubbly. If you are using cream, whisk it in now.
  2. Top baked ham cordon bleu with mushroom sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes & a hot veggie of choice.

Chicken Ranch Mac & Cheese

Despite our ever present nostalgia for the foods of childhood, tastes and recipes are always evolving. I came across this recipe in a Taste of Home magazine recently. It has all the flavors of a favorite casserole come together in the comfort of ‘mac & cheese’.

During the Great Depression era, the idea for boxed macaroni and cheese was born when a salesman used a rubber band to pair packets of the then newly developed, grated Kraft cheese with boxes of pasta and convinced stores to sell them. In 1937, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (known as Kraft Dinner in Canada) was introduced with the slogan ‘make a meal for four in nine minutes for the cost of around nineteen cents’. It was an immediate success in the USA & Canada.

Traditional mac & cheese is a casserole baked in the oven, however, it may be prepared in a saucepan on the top of the stove. This particular casserole recipe takes the whole idea to a new level. Chicken, bacon, macaroni, three cheeses and Ranch dressing! I had tasted ranch dressing on chicken and bacon pizza so why not? Brion and I loved the end result making it a ‘keeper’ in our meal rotation.


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Chicken Ranch Mac & Cheese

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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, European

Servings

Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, European

Servings

Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
  1. In a large pot, cook macaroni to al dente stage; drain & return to pot. Lightly butter a 13 x 9-inch baking pan; set aside.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, salt & pepper until smooth; gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook & stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheeses until blended. Stir in ranch dressing. Add chicken & sauce to macaroni, tossing to combine. Transfer to baking dish.

  3. Toss bread crumbs with melted butter; sprinkle over macaroni. Top with bacon. Bake, uncovered, 30-35 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Sprinkle with minced parsley.


Recipe Notes