Chicken & Mushroom Barley Crepes

Crepes come in many flavors and styles and can be eaten as appetizers, side dishes, main courses or desserts. Barley flour is nutty and nutritious and perfect to use in crepes. 

Barley has always been a grain I have enjoyed. Not only a good choice in soups and entrees, but perfect when ground into flour for baked goods. Barley has a weaker gluten than wheat flour, however, so it may not rise as well as recipes made with wheat flour. As a result, barley flour is usually mixed with wheat flour when baking yeast breads.

An underrated and underused grain, barley is actually Canada’s 3rd largest crop after wheat and canola. More barley is grown in Alberta than any other province.  

That lovely nutty flavor that works well with fruits like apples and pears, is amazing in a savory meal of chicken and mushrooms.

Most of us don’t think nutrition when we think of crepes. Generally, crepes use all-purpose flour, milk and butter with more butter added to the pan. These crepes use whole barley flour in both the crepes and the filling .. how good is that!

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Chicken & Mushroom Barley Crepes
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CREPES
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Instructions
Crepes
  1. In a bowl, combine flour & salt. Whisk in milk until mixture is smooth.
  2. Heat a small non-stick skillet or crepe pan (6-8-inches) over medium-high heat. Brush bottom of pan with oil. Using a 1/4 cup measure of batter, add to pan & quickly tilt pan to cover bottom with batter.
  3. Shake pan to loosen crepe & cook until edges of crepe begin to curl & it no longer sticks to the pan, about 30 seconds.
  4. Gently flip crepe over & cook for a few seconds. Remove from pan & set aside. Repeat with remaining batter.
Sauce
  1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter, sauté mushrooms & garlic until lightly browned. Add flour, stirring until completely mixed in. Gradually stir in milk, salt, pepper & dried herbs; cook until thickened, stirring constantly.
  2. If you are using broccoli florets, cook in microwave for 1 or 2 minutes to precook slightly.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Set out a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
  4. Set aside 1 cup of the sauce. Into remaining sauce add the chicken, broccoli & 1/2 of the grated cheese; gently combine.
  5. Spread a small amount of reserved sauce in bottom of baking pan. Divide filling between crepes. Gently fold each side of the crepe to the middle. Place crepes seam side down in baking dish & top with 1/2 of sliced green onion, remaining sauce & cheese.
  6. Since the sauce is fairly thick, I set the pan of crepes into another pan that had about 1/2-inch of water in it to create a 'water bath'. This helped them to cook without getting to crisp on the bottom.
  7. Cover the pan with a sheet of foil & bake for 30-45 minutes. Remove from oven & sprinkle with remaining green onion. Serve.
Recipe Notes
  • If you would prefer to make smaller crepes, use a 1/8 measuring cup or 2 Tbsp instead of the 1/4 cup measure. It should give you roughly 10 crepes.

Wild Mushroom Quiche w/ Parmesan Crust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Savory Sweet Potato Toast w/ Avocado & Poached Egg

Its hard to believe its already Easter Sunday. In North America, many of us like to enjoy or host an Easter brunch. Traditional favorites very often include glazed baked ham, quiche, frittata & French toast casseroles. Of course, there are the classic hard boiled eggs that have been dyed & decorated for the occasion. Many countries make their own signature Easter breads ands buns. The one thing that I always loved about Easter was it signified the coming of ‘Spring’ in our part of the world. Plants were coming to life in the garden, the birds were singing their cheery, little tunes & the stores were filled with beautiful pastel colored Easter ‘things’.

I wanted to come up with something unique for our Easter brunch this year. French toast is always good but I was thinking more along the savory line. Sweet potatoes seem to be one of those polarizing food items, people either love or hate. For most part, I think its the memory of the overly sweet casserole most of us remember from our childhoods. But have you ever thought about using them in a savory context?

I had seen an idea using grated sweet potato patties with avocado and poached eggs. The temptation to kick it up a notch and make a savory sweet potato ‘toast’ for a base become a wonderful Easter brunch for Brion & I.

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Savory Sweet Potato Toast w/ Avocado & Poached Egg
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Ingredients
Savory Sweet Potato Bread
Servings
Ingredients
Savory Sweet Potato Bread
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Instructions
Bread
  1. Pierce sweet potato several times, and wrap in a paper towel. Microwave the wrapped potato 4 - 6 minutes, or until it is soft to the touch & cooked through. Remove from oven, cool slightly, peel & mash. Measure correct amount needed for bread & reserve the rest for another use.
  2. In a small bowl, combine water, milk, sugar & yeast . Allow to sit until yeast is frothy.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour & salt.
  4. In a large bowl, combine sweet potato, butter, black pepper, cumin, coriander, thyme & sage. Taste & adjust seasonings if desired. Add yeast & flour mixtures. Combine well but don't overmix.
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface & knead until dough is smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, & set in a draft free place until doubled in bulk.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a flat work surface lightly dusted with flour. Leave to rest about 10 minutes. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Flatten, shape into a loaf & set inside of pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap & set aside to rise.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 F. When dough is about an inch over the top of pan, place in oven & bake about 45 minutes, rotating pan about half way through baking time. Remove from oven & allow to cool completely before slicing. It is a good idea to make bread the day before you want to serve it.
Additional Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place cherry tomatoes in an oven proof dish. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil & roast for about 15 minutes.
  2. Cut avocados in half & peel off skin. Lay one half of the avocado, cut side down, & slice the avocado thinly. Fan out avocado slices so that they form a long line with the slices overlapping each other. Starting from one end, curl avocado slices toward center. Continue curling the avocado slices until you have a 'rose'. Repeat with remaining 3 halves.
  3. Heat a griddle to 350 F. Slice sweet potato bread to your desired thickness. Lightly butter bread slices on both sides. When grill is heated, grill bread on both sides. Place on serving plates, cover & keep warm.
  4. Bring some water to a boil then poach the eggs for about 2 minutes. Drain.
  5. Top grilled savory bread with avocado roses, poached eggs & roasted cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, salt & pepper.
Recipe Notes
  • This dough is very soft so it is a bit tricky to work with. I would imagine if you prefer it to be firmer you could you less yeast. 
  • When working with it , I used a buttered spatula.

Braided Pork Tenderloin w/ Pineapple Stuffing

EASTER GREETINGS!

Easter is synonymous with spring, it represents a time of renewal. The winter months are now in our rear view mirrors and we can look forward to those wonderful summer days. Fresh new buds are on the trees, just waiting to burst out as the season unfolds. Everything speaks of new life and fresh hope. Spring is so unique (even if we still have snow on the ground in our part of the country).

Though ham is traditional in many homes, there are just as many people who would prefer something different for dinner on Easter Sunday. Holiday cooking is all about making a meal that feels more special than what you would cook on a regular basis.

Pork tenderloin is one of my favorite meats due to its tenderness and versatility. This meal started out with an idea to stuff a tenderloin and developed into so much more. I must say, I was even more pleased with the final results when we both enjoyed it.

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Braided Pork Tenderloin w/ Pineapple Stuffing
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Tenderloin Rub
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Tenderloin Rub
Votes: 1
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Instructions
Pineapple Stuffing
  1. Drain pineapple; reserving 1/3 cup juice. In a large saucepan, melt margarine. Add walnuts, celery & sage; cook stirring until celery is tender-crisp. Stir in green onions, pineapple & reserved juice. Remove from heat; toss in cornbread stuffing mix & set aside.
Tenderloin
  1. Using a sharp knife starting 3-inches from end, slice tenderloin lengthwise twice; making 3 equal strips. Carefully take the knife & cut pockets lengthwise every 3-inches in the center of each of the tenderloin strips. Spread the combined rub ingredients over meat & allow to stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes before continuing with preparation.
  2. When meat is marinated, stuff each pocket with pineapple stuffing. Place a strip of bacon along each tenderloin strip. Braid the stuffed tenderloin/bacon by crossing the right section over the middle section then the left section over the new middle section. Continue until you run out of tenderloin.
  3. Insert a wooden or metal skewer into the end of braided tenderloin to keep it together. Tuck in the remaining stuffing mixture in the folds of the braid.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 F. Bake, uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 160 F. Remove from oven & loosely cover with foil. Allow to rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing. Serve with pineapple salsa.
Pineapple Salsa
  1. In a large skillet, combine pineapple, sugar, vinegar, lime juice, red onion, cumin, salt & pepper. Bring to a boil & cook over medium-high heat until thickened, 7-10 minutes. If there is still a lot of liquid left, use a slotted spoon to transfer the pineapple to a bowl & continue to cook the liquid over high heat for 5 minutes more, then pour the liquid over the pineapple. Mix in the onions & cilantro. Season with salt to taste.