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sautéed purple cabbage with pasta

purple cabbage with pastaDo you ever wish you could turn back time?  I do, not to alter events but to be more inquisitive with my elders thus being able to pass the story-telling torch onto my children.  My great, great paternal grandmother, Anna Marie Schmeltzer (Nanny Kent), died when I was 11 – she was 86.  My memories of her are limited but what I do recall most was her caring and loving way, the food she cooked was heavenly, and she always seemed happy even though her life wasn’t easy.  Continue Reading →

fiddleheads and baby gnocchi

fiddleheads & baby gnocchiFiddleheads are the unfurled fronds of a young fern and are collected in the wild before the frond has opened.   A spring-time vegetable, you’ll find them in food shops and outdoor markets.  They are called fiddleheads because they resemble the curled end of a stringed instrument such as a fiddle.  If you’re from the Maritimes you might think we’re the only ones who like ’em but that’s a misconception.  Continue Reading →

Roasted Haddock and Bacon

roasted haddock & baconI really try to incorporate fish into our diet (read: lay off the meat for a while).  Sometimes that can be a challenge for me as my childhood memories of fish and tiny bones play havoc with my mind.  I can’t tell you how many times I choked on fish bones!  Yuck!  The only way I’ll eat fish is if it’s been filleted and even then I’m checking to make sure none were left behind.  Haddock is a family favorite and is perfect in this recipe.  I like to buy my fish from our local fishmonger, Afishionado.  Continue Reading →

Barley and Bacon Risotto

barley and bacon risottoStir. Stir. Stir.

This is my cheats version of risotto and does not require frequent visits to the stove top.  A typical risotto recipe involves going back to the pot to stir in each ladleful of stock when the last one has been absorbed.  Although it doesn’t take long to cook (roughly 30 minutes), you do have to keep a watchful eye on it.  I adore a good risotto and it’s one of my all-time favorite comfort foods.  I, like other semi-decent cooks, can multitask my way around a kitchen but when the lazy side of me takes over, I look for ways to cut corners.  Continue Reading →

Fried Green Tomato Sandwich

fried green tomato sandwichAlthough fried green tomatoes (no, I’m not referring to the movie) might be a dish hailing from the southern United States, in the Maritimes we enjoy them, too.  My father loved the sight of green tomatoes in our vegetable patch.  His favorite way to eat them?  Fried with bacon and eggs, of course! Continue Reading →

Aussie Meat Pies

Aussie meat pieMeat pies in Australia and New Zealand are what apple pie is to North America – iconic. Years ago John and I visited Australia and everyone kept telling us to try the Aussie meat pies.  Not one to turn down an opportunity to see what all the fuss was, we tried our very first meat pie from a roadside convenience store in Rosebud.  Wow!  I’ve had meat pies before but none could have prepared me for the down-to-earth flavor sensation of this national dish.  Must have been the gravy-like meat mixture that had us hooked as we tried at least six different locations offering meat pies and all were downright scrumptious!  They’re a favorite at sporting events (football and rugby) and construction sites.  It’s the perfect snack food for on the run.

Makes 10 to 12 pies
adapted from Tobie Puttock

500g medium ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 strips of bacon, chopped
ready rolled pie pastry

meat sauceCook bacon with garlic, rosemary, and onion over medium heat. Let this simmer, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent (8 – 10 minutes). Turn heat up to medium-high and add ground beef. Stir to break up chunks. Lower heat to medium and once the meat is cooked, add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine. Then add about a cup of beef stock. Bring to a boil and turn heat down to low (gentle simmer). While this is simmering, take cornstarch and mix it with a bit of water and pour this over the beef. Simmer until the meat sauce has thickened and has a gravy-like consistency. Remove from heat and allow meat sauce to cool.

pastryPreheat oven to 400f. Lay the pastry on a lightly floured surface and cut out 3-inch circles. Grease a muffin pan and gently place the pastry dough inside the pan. Fill with meat sauce.  Top with a pastry circle and pinch edges or use a fork to press edges to seal. Place pies on a baking tray and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden.  To remove from pan, run a knife around the edge and pop out the meat pie.  The Australians serve their meat pies with ketchup.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
Make sure the meat sauce is cool otherwise it will make the bottom of the pie crust soggy.  These are good the next day and can be reheated or served cold.  Enjoy!

Beans, Bacon & Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

green beans, bacon & blue cheese vinaigrette by The Culinary ChaseMaking a plate of food come alive with a variety of colors not only is visually appealing but healthy.  Think in terms of the rainbow when deciding on what to serve – many colors are already represented by vegetables. You’ll get a good mix of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Keep this in mind next time you prepare dinner. Although local green and yellow beans aren’t being offered in our grocery stores yet, these did look inviting and I had a hankering for veggies with a crunchy bite. The blue cheese and bacon in our refrigerator needed to be used and I knew they would be a perfect compliment to the beans.  Don’t get me wrong, I love string beans with a splash of olive oil, sea salt and black pepper but dress them up with cheese and bacon, who could say no?

Serves 4 as a side

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup blue cheese, plus more for topping
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 to 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
pinch of sugar (optional)
handful each of yellow and green beans
4 strips of bacon, chopped and cooked

blue cheese by The Culinary ChaseTo make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl whisk together mustard, sugar and vinegar. Slowly add olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Add blue cheese and season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

yellow & green string beansToss beans and bacon with vinaigrette. Top with crumbled blue cheese.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Serve right away or allow to cool to room temperature.  Enjoy!

Inside Out Burger

inside out burger by The Culinary Chase America is considered the true home of the hamburger, but chopped beef had been a staple of Eastern European cuisines for centuries.  German immigrants from Hamburg arrived in America in the 19th century bringing their Hamburg-style beef with them.  Burgers are all about the toppings and this recipe focuses on the topping you can’t see.  The idea behind an inside out burger is to sandwich ingredients within the beef patty and when you take a bite, the stuffing is uncovered.  Talk about a taste sensation!

Serves 4

1 1/2 lbs. medium ground beef
1 onion, thinly sliced
cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Gruyère cheese, grated (or any mixture of hard or semi-hard cheeses)
4 slices bacon, cooked
bread and butter pickles
hamburger buns

Divide beef into 4 even chunks.  Divide those chunks in half and form patties.  Using all fingers, grab a generous pinch of Gruyère cheese and place on one half of the patty. Place the other half on top. Using your fingers, crimp and seal the edges closed – you don’t want the cheese exposed. Repeat for remaining patties.  Place in refrigerator until ready to use.  Keeping the patties cold before cooking helps them to stay together and stay as juicy as possible.

In a frying pan over medium heat add a splash of olive oil and sauté onion until golden brown. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, add a splash more olive oil and add mushrooms. Cook until light brown or to your liking. Remove and set aside.hamburger buns by The Culinary ChaseSeason patties with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and grill over medium-high heat (2 minutes per side for rare, 3 for medium-rare, 4 for medium, and 5 for well-done).  Resist the urge to press the burgers while they cook as this releases their natural juices (making for a drier patty) and the cheese will ooze out. IF USING A GRILL PAN: Heat pan over high heat on top of the stove. Cook the burgers the same as you would for the barbecue. Build the hamburger by placing one patty on the base of a hamburger bun followed by thinly sliced cheese (the heat from the burger will soften the cheese), pickles, bacon, mushrooms and onion.

inside-out hamburger by The Culinary ChaseThe Culinary Chase’s Note: The first time I made an inside out burger was 2 years ago when we lived in NY and I haven’t made a regular burger since!  I like my burgers thick and use a pound of ground beef for the two of us.  Get creative and use other toppings to stuff your burger.  Enjoy!

Roasted Squash & Apple Soup with Goat’s Cheese & Bacon

roasted squash & apple soup by The Culinary ChaseSoup. It needs no explanation – everyone knows what it is and it’s been around for a millennia.  There are so many variations.  I love the combination of vegetables and fruit.  There’s something so opposite about the two that you’d think there’s no way they belong together in the same pot…but trust me, the two are a marriage made in heaven.  Throw in some cheese and bacon and you’ll be singing hallelujah! The idea of roasting squash with apples may sound a bit odd but fondly enough they end up being best mates.  Granny Smith apples are tart but when roasted the apples become sweeter as does the squash.  Top this with the distinctive flavor from goat’s cheese and smoky accents from the bacon, it’s a soup that will have you coming back for more.

Serves 4
adapted from What Katie Ate

1kg squash, peeled, seeds removed, cut into small chunks
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons sage powder
olive oil
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into small chunks
8 strips bacon
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
5 cups chicken stock
120g goat’s cheese
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350f and line a baking tray with baking paper.
2. Place the squash, cumin, sage and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl and season, then toss to combine. Place onto the tray, arrange in a single layer and roast 15 minutes. Add apple and cook for a further 10 minutes or until tender.
3. Meanwhile, in a frying pan over medium heat add bacon and cook. Set aside to drain on paper towel.
4. Clean out the same pan and heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the frying pan. Add the onion, garlic and cook until softened.
5. Transfer the squash mixture to a large saucepan along with 2 cups of stock and half the cheese. Use an immersion hand blender and whiz until smooth. Add remaining stock to pan and heat until hot.
6. To serve, top soup with bacon and remaining goat’s cheese.  Season to taste.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: I used 4 cups of broth as I like my soups hearty and thick.  Enjoy!

Broccoli and Bacon Salad

broccoli & bacon salad by The Culinary ChaseBroccoli is a veggie I cannot get enough of and when I see a recipe that includes bacon, it has to be a winning combo. Broccoli is so nutrient-rich I can’t imagine not having it in my diet.  This is a light dish as it doesn’t have a heavy sauce nor does it call for cheese.  Broccoli and bacon salad is perfect for the buffet table or at a potluck dinner.

Serves 4 to 6
adapted from Simply Recipes

1 lb. broccoli florets
8 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped
1 cup of fresh peas, (or if frozen, thawed)
1 cup mayonnaise
red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey

Bring a pot of water, salted with a teaspoon of salt, to a boil. Add the broccoli florets. Cook 1-2 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want the broccoli. Do not cook for more than 2 minutes, or the broccoli will get mushy. Drain broccoli and immediately put into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Let cool and drain. Combine broccoli florets, bacon, and peas in a large serving bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, cider vinegar and honey. Add dressing to the salad and toss to mix well. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Chill thoroughly before serving.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  A scrumptious dish that will have your kids asking for more. Enjoy!