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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Chicken, Mozzarella & Gorgonzola Strudel

Strudels are a versatile bunch, really – they can be sweet like the traditional apple strudel, or savoury with either meats or simply vegetarian.  I keep phyllo dough on hand in the freezer for a quick make-ahead meal; I mix the stuffing together in the afternoon and roll it up into the dough, flip it seam-side down on an oven tray lined with baking paper, then score a few steam-vent gashes with a knife, brush it with a bit of cream or whipped egg, and pop it in the cold oven.  When it’s time to bake, I turn on the oven and let it bake for ~50-60 minutes.  Wah-la!

Here’s a mixture I put together yesterday; it was fabulous, and I promised to write down the recipe so that I could make it again! The image below is not mine, but it represents how it comes out looking, sans sauce on the side; if you want to add a sauce, start off with a good Belchamel sauce, and perhaps toss in a bit of thyme and a grainy mustard to give it pizazz!

This amount makes 2 strudel, which will feed 6-8 people.  Without further ado, here it is:

Chicken, Mozzarella & Gorgonzola Strudel

800 gr. chicken, finely diced

5-6 small spicy sausages, finely chopped

1 onion, finely diced

2 leeks, finely sliced

~5 small potatoes, finely chopped

200 gr. Gorgonzola (bleu cheese), cubed

400 gr. Mozzarella, finely chopped

2 eggs

Thyme, salt and pepper to taste

2 x rectangular phyllo dough (flaky pastry dough)

In a pan, slowly cook the chicken, sausages, potatoes and onions until done; season to taste (the thyme gives a nice rustic accent to the meats).  Set aside to cool.

In the meantime, chop up the cheeses into a large bowl, and whip in the eggs.  Pour the warm meat mixture into the bowl, and stir thoroughly.

Roll out the first pastry dough, and line half of the mixture down the centre, leaving a finger or two’s width at each end.  Fold the sides of the dough in; pinch the ends together, and, using the baking paper that the dough is wrapped in, fold it under to flip the dough into place (seam-side down) on the baking tray at one side (leaving room for the second).  Score the dough along the top, then brush with a bit of cream or beaten egg.  Repeat for the second strudel, laying it along the opposite side of the tray.

Pop into the oven.  Bake at 190-200°C (375-390°F) for 50-60 minutes.

chicken-strudel

Source:  Pinterest

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OLD-FASHIONED CAULIFLOWER PIE with POTATO CRUST

Old-Fashioned Cauliflower Pie with Potato CrustI recently made this for dinner, and loved it!  It takes about an hour to pre-prepare, but the potato crust is well worth the effort.  I prepared it when I had time in the afternoon (you could do so the evening before as well), and then did the final baking before serving dinner.

POTATO CRUST

2 firmly packed C. of grated raw potatoes

½ tsp. salt

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 C. grated onion

2 green onions, thinly sliced

Vegetable oil (I use coconut oil)

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Spray a 9-inch pie pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place the raw potato strings in a colander. Add salt to the potatoes & let them set for 10 minutes, then, using your hand, squeeze out the excess water.

In a medium bowl, combine the potatoes, eggs, & the onions & stir to mix well.  Pat the potato mixture into the greased pie pan gently with the back of a spoon.   Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove the pie pan from the oven & let rest & cool a bit before adding the cauliflower mixture. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F (180°C).

 FILLING

½ tsp. salt

3 eggs, beaten

1/4 C. half & half cream

2-3 Tbs. Mascarpone (cream cheese)

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. paprika

Make the potato crust & bake it while you are preparing the pie mixture. In a small bowl, beat together the salt, eggs, half & half, pepper & paprika, then set aside.  You may be tempted to make more liquid than this, but believe me, this is enough!

3 Tbs. butter

½ C. onion, chopped

4 green onions, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

½ tsp. seasoned salt

1 tsp. savory

½ tsp. dried thyme

½ tsp. dried oregano

2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 large cauliflower, broken into small florets

In a frying pan over medium heat, sauté the onions, garlic & seasoned salt until the onions soften & the garlic just begins to colour.  Add the savory, thyme, oregano, parsley & cauliflower & cook, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.

1 C. grated Cheddar cheese

1 C. grated Swiss cheese

Paprika, for garnish

Optional:  Top with pretzels, coarsely crumbled, for a nice crunch

Layer the baked potato crust with half of the cheeses, then the cauliflower-herb mixture, then all the remaining cheese.

Pour the cream mixture over the top.  Bake 35-40 minutes at 180°C (350°F), until the pie is firm & set & the top is just beginning to brown up.  Remove the pan from the oven, let sit for 10 minutes to firm up, sprinkle with paprika & serve.

Savoury Curry Fruit & Vegetable Pie

Recipe No 302 with cream, egg mix & Amaranth toppingThis savoury pie may be a bit counter-intuitive as far as flavour combinations go, with apricots and curry, but the combination is delicious!  If you don’t have puffed Amaranth on hand, you can sprinkle the top with something else, such as breading mixture, or crumbled crackers or even crumbled pretzels.

Here’s an image of puffed Amaranth, with a lentil, for size comparison:

Amaranth, puffed & Lentil for size

puff pastry, enough for 1 regular pie plate
a little oil of choice (e.g. coconut oil)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, finely chopped
1 -2 tsp. of curry powder
2 medium sized potatoes, cubed quite small
3 medium carrots, cubed the same
about 10 dried apricots, chopped
1 apple, peeled then finely chopped
¼ C. vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

3 eggs, whisked
1/2 C. Cream

Amaranth, puffed

In a frying pan, fry the onion & garlic in the oil, then add the curry powder. Add the fruit & vegetables & pour over the wine or stock. Cook for a few minutes until everything is well combined & starting to soften.

Grease your pie plate, and lay the pastry into it, poking it with a fork a few times in the base. Pour in the pan vegetable mixture.

Either in the pan or in a separate container, mix together the eggs and cream; you can spice to taste if you’d like, but none is necessary at this point.

Pour across the pie mixture, and sprinkle puffed Amaranth over the top.

Bake at 200°C (400°F) for 20-30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Tex-Mex Pizza on a Bisquick Crust

This week we tossed together a delicious pizza (pizza’s big on the menu with a teenager in the house) with a Tex-Mex twist.  The photos didn’t turn out well, so you’ll just need to use your imagination!  It’s worth the effort – this is going on my go-to list!

The baking pan we used was one of those large oven sheets that usually comes with your oven; for that size you’ll want about 4 cups or more of bisquick, with enough water to knead it into a springy dough.

Tex-Mex Pizza

 

Mix the Bisquick dough (click here for a DIY mix) with enough water to make an elastic dough, then roll it out and put in onto a buttered pan (I use coconut oil).  You can either leave it raw to top with the ingredients, or pre-bake it a bit.

 

Pan Dish:

2 Chicken breasts, diced and cooked with:

2-4 shallots, sliced in thin rings

a handful of freshly chopped coriander

lime juice – a good dose to sauté into the meat and onions

Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté this mixture together until the meat is cooked through, and remove from heat.  Into the warm mixture, toss:

1 small can of garbanzo beans

1 small can of kidney beans

a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

spices to taste (fajita spice mix, or chilli powder, or a bit of mesquite spice)

Toss to combine, then set aside.

 

1 avocado

a handful of black olives, chopped

300 gr. grated cheese of choice (Cheddar would work great, but there are several Swiss cheeses that are great alternatives too)

Preheat your oven to 220°C (430°F)

Slice 1 avocado in “half-moon” slices, and chop the olives; distribute both over the crust.

Pour the pan mixture over the avocado and olives, spreading it out to the edges evenly.

Top with the grated cheese and pop into the oven.

Bake ~20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and browning slightly.

 

En Guete!

 

 

Lavadino Della Cucina d’Italiana

Pastas 2Sometimes you just have to experiment, right?  And sometimes, it’s worth repeating.  In English the idiom “Everything but the kitchen sink” means that something is a conglomeration of, well, nearly everything.  In our house, when a recipe contains “everything but the kitchen sink”, I usually include the sink in the name, just to be thorough.

Tonight I made a dish that was literally tossing things in that needed to be used up; the result was scrumptious, and I have to admit, the ingredients that I was doubtful about as to whether or not they’d taste well together ended up enhancing the flavours, adding a spritz that will definitely be worth repeating!

Since the resulting dish had a decisively Italian touch, I’ve named it the Italian equivalent of “kitchen sink” – it just sounds so much more sophisticated in Italian.  Enjoy!

Lavadino Della Cucina d’Italiana

4 chicken breasts, diced

1 cube Feta cheese, diced

10 sun-dried tomatoes, diced

¼ – ½ C. Any pasta sauce (I used Peperoncino, a bit spicy)

½ jar of Preiselbeeren sauce (Lingonberries, but you could use cranberry sauce)

2 leeks, sliced in thin ringlets

150 gr. Sour cream

¼ C. pitted black olives, halved

Italian spice, salt & pepper to taste

 

To serve with:

Pasta of choice, cooked el dente

Grated Parmesan cheese

 

Toss it all together, and simmer slowly until the meat is tender and cooked through; keep the lid on when not occasionally stirring, to keep the moisture in.  Take the lid off and let the liquid reduce slightly, before serving.  Meanwhile, cook the pasta of your choice until done.

 

Serve hot, topping the pasta with the meat mixture and sprinkling on Parmesan cheese.

Serve with a chilled white wine such as Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling.