Down-Home Biscuits & Gravy

Bisquick BiscuitThis is one of my favourite childhood dishes; it was usually served as a hearty breakfast on my grandparents’ farm.

Biscuits:

2 C. flour

1/2 to 1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 C. milk

Blend together until the mixture “cleans” the sides of your bowl. Turn out onto a floured board and knead slightly (if you handle it too much, the biscuits can become tough). Pat out to 1/2″ thickness, and cut out rounds with the floured rim of a glass. Bake at 200°C (400°F) for 10-12 minutes, until light brown. In the meantime, prepare the gravy.

[For the biscuits, you could also use this Bisquick mix.]

Gravy:

225 gr. ground meat (hamburger, sausage, etc.)

Flour, milk (this is where you’ll need to go by feeling; for me, it’s about coating the meat with the flour – the milk amount will become apparent as it cooks)

Brown the meat; drain, but not thoroughly. Mix flour into the moist meat, then over low heat, gradually stir in the milk, letting it thicken between additions while stirring constantly. Keep adding milk until the gravy is the amount and thickness desired.

In a serving bowl, split the biscuits, then pour gravy on top. Spice to taste (usually just a bit of salt and pepper will be enough with the meat flavours). Enjoy!

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Basic Crepes

crepes

Photo Credit: krampouz.com

I’ve used this recipe for years; in fact, it’s one of only a few that I have taped to the inside door of one of my kitchen cupboards for fast access. Crepes are quite popular in many European countries, and each one has their own variations, so the possibilities are endless!  Sweet or savoury, side dish or main dish or dessert, these crepes will fit the bill!

 

Basic Crepes

100 gr. flour

3 eggs

1/4 tsp. salt

3 dl. milk

30 gr. oil (+ oil for the pan)

Blend until smooth; let the batter rest, room temperature and covered, about 30 minutes.

Fry with a minimum amount of oil (I usually use only a drop or two, spread around the pan), pouring batter as you turn the pan (holding it and tilting it around) just until it coats the bottom of the pan. Once it firms up, flip it over and fry until golden brown.

Slip the crepe onto a plate, covering it with another plate – this keeps them warm, and warms the plates, too! Add to the stack as you go – either directly onto the previous crepe, or separated with squares of baking (wax) paper.

Serve with whatever you choose – fresh fruits, jams, grated cheese, spiralized vegetables, meats… the sky is the limit!  Enjoy!

Tex Mex Party Menu

Last night we had a large dinner party, and I made Tex Mex.  Not many people are familiar with such cuisine here in Switzerland, so it was an adventure for quite a few of our guests!  Rather than a recipe this time, I’ll give you my menu with links to the recipes I based my dishes on:

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For the Apero:

Spiced nuts, Guacamole & Salsa with tortilla chips, and Pina Colada (virgin, with Coruba Rum or Malibu Coconut Rum on the side for those who like it spiked)

Drinks served for the main meal:

Corona beer; Desperados tequila beer; a variety of drinks such as Coke, 7-Up, etc.

Main Meal Choices:

Nopales (cactus salad) [I used Feta cheese, as Cojita is not available here.]

Spanish Rice (with coriander cooked in)

Chicken *

Barbacoa Beef *

Guacamole

Salsa

Tortillas, Tortilla chips

Toppings:

Sour Cream with Chives, shredded lettuce, grated Cheddar cheese

Desserts:

Apple Tiramisu

Sopapillas (Cheesecake bars) (I used phyllo dough, as crescent roll dough is strictly an American product)

I made the meats without hot peppers; I cannot eat spicy, and many people don’t like it, so I served spices and tabasco on the side for those who wanted a zing.

I basically set up the kitchen counter as the buffet, with tortilla chips and bowls of guacamole & salsa along the tables.  Needless to say, the whole menu was a hit!  The Apple Tiramisu has become my signature dish, as it’s requested again and again; I couldn’t leave it out, though it’s not Mexican, which is why I included the Sopapillas, for the authentic theme.

* I cooked both of these simultaneously in my crockpot:  I put the beef into a metal bowl that just fit into my crockpot width-wise; the chicken was in the main pot, and then I sunk the bowl up to the rim in the liquid, to get an even heat distribution.  They both cooked beautifully, though occasional stirring of the chicken was a bit tricky.  To serve, I set the bowl into a pan next to the crockpot to minimize mess.

[In gathering the recipes for these links, I was reminded again of why I have Firefox!  If you don’t yet have it, do yourself a big favour and download it as your browser:  It has a function that allows you to look at a basic website without all of the flashing, pop-up annoyances they call “ads”!!]

Chicken Taco Pizza

Today I was in the mood for a pizza, but also Tex-Mex; so why not combine them?  I hunted around for a simple recipe and found a lot of complicated ones, so I came up with my own.  This literally has 4 simple steps – the meat, the base, the topping prep, and baking, DONE!  So without further ado, here it is:

Chicken Taco Pizza

Chicken Taco Pizza

The Meat:

600-800 gr. Chicken meat, diced

1 spring onion, finely chopped

Taco spice * to taste

Toss into a pan & turn the stove on high.  Stir, cooking until the meat is done; set aside to cool.

Mix into the meat:

~ ½ C. mayonnaise or sour cream or plain yoghurt, along with a squirt of lemon juice and about 1 garlic clove’s worth of garlic paste.

The Base:

Instead of the typical pizza base of tomato sauce, essentially this is a bean sauce.

1 tin of beans, drained – either white beans or kidney beans; if you’re daring, a tin of refried beans!

Pop the contents into a blender, sprinkle in a few chives & a bit of seasoning or lemon juice, and blitz until a smooth paste.

The Toppings:

Slice any or all of the following toppings:

6-8 button mushrooms

10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved

Black olives(pitted), chopped

1 red bell pepper, finely diced

1 avocado, halved, pitted & peeled, and sliced thinly

~1 C. grated Cheddar cheese

On a tray, roll out your phyllo dough onto a sheet of baking paper, and spread the base mixture from edge to edge.  Pour the meat mixture on (drain, if too juicy) and spread it out, then toss on the toppings, and top with the cheese.

The Baking:

Pop it in the cold oven, and 45 minutes to an hour before you’re ready to eat, turn the oven on to 180°C (350°F).  Serve hot, and enjoy!

Can be served with tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole, or just as-is!

 

*You can use any taco or fajita spice you like; if you don’t have access to such a spice in the store, or you want to make your own to ensure you know what’s in it, click here for a DIY recipe.

Dietary note:  For those who are lactose intolerant, Cheddar cheese is naturally lactose-free; the yoghurt or sour cream can be the LF variety, and you’ve still got a tasty meal!

Quick & Easy Lentil, Chickpea, Coconut & Curry Stew/Dip

I was recently in the hospital for surgery, and as a result, our meals are mainly liquid (or at least smooth) at the moment as I can’t swallow anything more solid!  This situation has led to my discovering new ways to make soup tasty, healthy and keep it from getting boring.  The following recipe came out of my soup pan yesterday, so I thought I’d share it with you!

It turned out delicious, and is just as tasty cold as it is hot; in fact, this comes out so thick as a puree that it could be served as a dip with crackers or crudité.  As I keep both chopped frozen coriander & onions on hand, this literally took 3 minutes to toss together… quick & easy is my favourite method!

Lentil,Chickpea,Coconut Curry Stew & Dip

Lentil, Chickpea, Coconut & Curry Stew

1 tin lentils

1 large tin chickpeas (or 2 smaller tins)

1 tin coconut milk (2, if you want it soupier)

1 handful fresh or frozen coriander

1 onion, finely chopped

curry spice to taste

1 tsp. each of ginger paste, lemon grass paste, and garlic paste (or amount to taste in whichever form you have available)

Tumeric, salt and pepper to taste

 

Toss it all into a pan, bring to a boil.  For those who want it smooth, puree the mixture before serving.

Serve with bread or crackers, or Naan bread.  Serves 4-6.

Basque Pintxos

This is not so much a recipe, as a tip on what to serve the next time you want starters for a meal, or a meal eaten by hand.

I just returned from a long weekend in Bilbao, Spain; it’s a thriving city on the Bay of Biscay.  The Basque have one food that they are probably most famous for:  Pintxos (pronounced “Pintchos”).  These are a similar concept to the Spanish Tapas, but far more elaborate.  5 or 6 of these will make a meal.  Any good Pintxos bar worth its salt will have a wide variety spread out along the length of the bar (which is not usually for drinking at, but for selecting your food), and they pride themselves in personal specialities, so you have to bar hop to get the full experience; I’m sure they’ve got a local term for it – bar hopping, pub crawling, or as my husband and I dubbed it, “Pintxopping”.

They usually come served atop a slice of toasted Baguette bread, and some of the combinations we had were:  Diced crab with tomato sauce; an unusually non-distinct mushroom patè fried in a hushpuppy-like batter; crab and vegetables sautèd in tomato sauce and served in an open clam shell, overbaked with cheese; baked squid atop a fish pate; a skewer of breaded and fried vegetables; a variety of fish and seafood in spring roll wraps; breaded chicken on a skewer with rounds of goat cheese; one bar’s signature Pintxo was a mound of crab meat overbaked with a quid-ink-tinted cheese, in the shape of the local mountain.  The possibilities are endless!  Below is an example found on Pinterest; if you want more ideas and recipes, you’ll find them there.  En Guete!

Pintxos

Puff Taco Strudel

Today I pulled some ground beef out of the freezer and had a pastry dough to use up, so I went to my Pinterest board for savoury baking and decided to go with “Puff Taco Strudel”.  Obviously, I adapted the recipe – I refuse to use pre-mixed, chemical-laced products; making them myself is just as fast and a whole lot healthier.  So here’s my version (photo, courtesy of Pinterest):

Puff Taco Strudels

450 gr. ground beef

1 stalk of leek, thinly ringed

1-2 beefy tomatoes, finely diced

Black olives (amount to taste), coarsely chopped

Taco spices to taste

———————-

~100 gr. grated cheese

1-2 puff pastry doughs, rectangular OR Bisquick dough, rolled out

2 eggs

a bit of milk, egg, or Ranch dressing diluted with a bit of milk for a dough wash.

Combine the first ingredients into a frying pan, until the meat is browned (no butter or oil is necessary unless you’re using lean meat; then I would recommend a bit of virgin coconut oil).  Remove from heat.

Stir in the cheese while it’s still warm, and then the eggs.  Spoon along the centre of a rolled-out puff pastry sheet or rolled-out Bisquick dough; fold over and pinch to close, then flip the strudel seam-side down.  poke a few air holes along the top, then brush with your choice of wash – I used a bit of the Ranch dressing with milk.

Pop into a pre-heated oven at 210°C for 20-40 minutes (depending on your oven), until golden brown.  Serve as-is, or with the typical Tex-Mex side dish of guacamole, salsa, or a salad of your choice.  Enjoy!

Puff Taco Strudel

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