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.

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MOROCCAN SPICED CHICKEN PIE with MINT & CORIANDER SAUCE

Moroccan Spiced Chicken Pie WatermarkedThis typical Middle Eastern pie is crammed with lovely contrasting flavours, and a main dish well worth the effort!  It looks complicated, but it’s really not – put on some good music, and enjoy the experience!  If you want to spread this preparation over two days as I did, then you can dry-roast the spices, toss the meat mixture together raw, and keep chilled in the fridge until you’re ready to put it all together; then, cook the meat mix, wilt the spinach and toss into the meat mixture, along with the roasted spices.  When you’re ready to bake it, follow the assembly directions as below.

MOROCCAN SPICED CHICKEN PIE

 

1) Dry-Roasted Spices

2  tsp. coriander seeds

2  tsp. cumin seeds

1  tsp. paprika, plus extra for dusting

½  tsp. ground cinnamon

140  gr. whole blanched almonds

140  gr. pistachios, shelled

In a pan, dry-roast the spices and nuts together, stirring regularly.  It only take a couple minutes – be careful not to allow them to burn.  This process brings out the flavours.  Set them aside to cool.

2) Wilted Spinach

A dash of olive (or coconut) oil to sauté

225  gr. fresh spinach

A dash of salt and pepper

Sauté the fresh spinach leaves with a bit of oil and salt and pepper; pour into a bowl and set aside for now.

3) Meat Mixture

2-3  shallots, quartered

4  cm gingerroot, finely chopped

1  tsp. ground cumin

2  whole garlic cloves

A dash of olive (or coconut) oil to sauté

900  gr. chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks

75  gr. dried cranberries

6  Tbs. clear honey

400  gr. canned chickpeas, drained & rinsed (either as-is, or blend into a paste)

3  Tbs. lemon juice

4  Tbs. fresh coriander, chopped

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).  Sauté the shallots, ginger, garlic and cumin together with the chicken; when the meat is nearly done, add the remaining ingredients and heat through, adding the roasted spices and the wilted spinach, tossing well to mix.  Set all aside while you prepare the pastry.

4) Pastry

100  gr. butter or coconut oil

2 flaky rectangular pastry doughs

A bit of cream to brush

Grease a rectangular casserole dish and line with one of the rectangular pastry doughs.  Poke with a fork a few times.  Pour in the filling mixture, and top with the second dough; pinch the edges together and trim off any excess dough.  Brush the top of the dough with a bit of cream, and then pierce several places with a fork.

Bake at 200°C /400°F for 35-45 minutes, until the dough is golden brown.  Serve with the Mint & Coriander Sauce.

MINT & CORIANDER SAUCE

Moroccan Mint & Coriander Yogurt Sauce Watermarked

100  gr. low – fat Greek yoghurt

50 gr. Plain yoghurt

1-2 mint tea bags – contents only, or 2 sprigs fresh mint, leaves very finely chopped

3 sprigs fresh coriander, finely chopped

¼ C. Red bell pepper, finely diced

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Prepare the ingredients and toss all together, stirring thoroughly to blend.  Serve as a side sauce, chilled.

Apple, Leek & Sweet Potato Casserole with Pretzel Crunch

PretzelsThis is an amazing combination – on the sweet side of savoury, but the thyme and leeks balance it well!  Add a few regular potatoes to expand the recipe if you need to, but try to keep the sweet and savoury balance as you do.  I made this last week as I had a few shrivelled apples to use up, and a ton of pretzels left over from the holidays.  My husband says it’s his new favourite, though that usually tends to last only until I concoct something new…

Apple, Leek & Sweet Potato Casserole with Pretzel Crunch

2 large leeks, washed and thinly sliced
2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme, or 2 tsp. dried
salt and pepper to taste
A grating of fresh nutmeg, or a dash or two of pre-ground
1 lg. sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
1-2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into bite-sized chunks

Sauce:

2 C. grated cheddar cheese
1 ¼ C. heavy cream
3-4 eggs, whipped

2-3 handfuls of pretzels, blended to a coarse crumble (chunks of pretzels remaining are good!)

Combine the prepared vegetables, apples and spices in a bowl and toss with a splash of your favourite oil.  Pour the mixture in a buttered baking dish.  Mix together the grated cheese, cream and eggs and pour over the vegetables.  At this point, you can chill it until you’re ready to pop it in the oven.  When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven as you sprinkle on the pretzel crumble and bake uncovered at 190°C (375°F) ~ about 45 minutes, until bubbling & golden brown.

Vegetarian Savoy Bundles

Savoy Cabbage Rolls - ResizedNearly a year ago, I posted a recipe for Beef & Feta Cabbage Rolls; my husband loves Savoy cabbage, and so here’s a vegetarian version I made this week.  It can be assembled ahead of time, and then baked before serving.  It goes well with rice, or potatoes and gravy, and a fruity red wine, or chilled white wine that goes well with cheese.

Vegetarian Savoy Bundles

1 head Savoy Cabbage

1 onion, finely chopped

~500 grams (18 ounces) mixed mushrooms (either fresh or packaged)

1/2 – 1 Cup tomato juice, apple wine, or bouillon of choice – any liquid to help it cook down

Spices to taste – salt, pepper, herbs of choice

200 gr. (7 ounces) grated cheese

breading crumbs for topping

To Prepare the Savoy:  Per person, take 2 of the outer leaves (without ripping them, though they’ll still roll if you do rip them) away from the head of cabbage; wash them, and then with a sharp knife, carefully pare away the thick stem area as thin as possible without breaking through.  Place 2-3 leaves at a time on a large plate in the microwave, and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes; remove and set aside, repeating for the amount of leaves required.  Set aside.

To Prepare the Filling:  Meanwhile, finely chop the rest of the head of cabbage, the onions, and slice the mushrooms.  In a deep frying pan, with a dash of your favourite oil (I used refined coconut oil), sauté the filling; the cabbage looks like way too much, but it will cook down – just add a bit at a time, and as it cooks down add more.  Spice to taste, adding the tomato juice as the filling cooks down.  Once the filling is cooked to your taste (you can either leave it a bit crunchy, or cook it thoroughly), set it aside.

Savoy Cabbage Rolls6 - ResizedTo Roll:  On the (still warm) pile of Savoy leaves, spoon a spoonful or more of filling into the centre of the top leaf; fold in the sides and then the ends into a “square”, and turn upside down as you place it into a casserole dish.  Repeat with the rest of the leaves.

Top with the grated cheese, and then the breading crumbs for a crunchy topping.

Bake at 200°C (400+F) for ~30-45 minutes, until the topping becomes golden brown.  In the meantime prepare your side dish of potatoes, rice, gravy, or whatever you choose.

En Guete!

Suggestible Vegetable Casserole

Vegetables

Credit: Instantpot.com

There are probably as many recipes out there for vegetable casseroles as there are cooks; if you’ve been in the kitchen for awhile you develop a feel for how much, how long, and when to start.  This is one of those non-recipes that I can prepare in about 20 minutes (30 if I clean up afterwards), set it in the cold oven, and turn it on an hour before my husband gets home from work.  He rides his bike to work, and it takes him roughly an hour to get home through the city of Zurich; years ago we developed the habit of him calling me when he’s ready to leave the office (there was an episode of ruined homemade ravioli because he was stuck in a business meeting, which I won’t dig up…), so when he calls I can just switch on the oven and forget about it – it will be ready when he gets in.  The title is simply because this recipe is a suggestion – amounts are arbitrary, and it all depends on how big your casserole dish is.  So without further ado…

Suggestible Vegetable Casserole

Choose your weapons:  A good cutting knife, cutting board, and the right-sized casserole dish; set out a large bowl to toss the cut veggies into (you’ll see why).

Choose your victims:  I use whatever I have on hand, and I look for veggies that need using, or leftovers (e.g. I had a bit of leftover topping from the Baked Tomatoes, and used that as part of my topper).  I used the following:

5-6 smallish potatoes, quartered and diced

3 large tomatoes, diced

6-8 carrots, diced

A handful of celery, diced (I keep a bag of this in the freezer to grab for such occasions)

A handful of spring onions, chopped  (ditto)

A handful of chopped tender-stem broccoli (any sturdy greens will do)

1 package of Feta cheese, cubed

 

  • Toss them in as you go.  Now comes a “secret” technique:

2 x 2-portion dried soup powder (I use complementary flavours, e.g. spring veg, onion, etc.)

 

  • Toss the vegetables with these powdered soups to coat them thoroughly; doing this ahead of baking time allows the flavours to soak in; you can toss a bit of chives in, but otherwise you won’t need any other spice or flavouring.
  • Pour the veggies into your casserole dish and spread them out – they should loosely fill the dish to the rim, with air-space in between for the liquid mixture.  Now use that bowl to mix the following:

 

4 eggs

~ ½ – 1 Cup half & half cream

1-2 Cups milk

 

  • Pour evenly over the vegetables.  Now sprinkle on the topping:

 

120 gr. (just over ½ cup) grated cheese

Breading crumbs

 

  • Set it into the oven and let the flavours marry until time to turn on the heat.
  • Bake at 190°C (375°F) for ~1 hour, checking it the last 10 minutes or so.