Cheesecake Squares

In June we had a wedding reception at our church to celebrate the start of Michael and Rebecca’s adventure together. These cheese cake squares were the dessert of my choice to bring as they are bit-size, so people can try more than just one dessert and they are easy to decorate at any season. I chose raspberries and small lemon balm leaves this time.

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 3 cups (400g)  graham cracker crumbs
  • a bit less than 1/2 cup softened butter
For the topping
  • 3 blocks cream cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • sugar
  • vanilla
For the decoration
  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • raspberries
  • small lemon balm leaves

Preparation

Knead the crumbs and the butter together and press into a 12×12 inch pan lined with parchment paper. Mix all the ingredients for the topping and pour over top. Bake at 350˚F for 30 min. Open the oven a bit and let the squares sit in there to cool off slowly. Chill for at least two hours before decorating.

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Filed under dessert, easy, for a crowd, for guests

Meat Loaf with Zucchini in Puff Pastry

While living in Zurich, Switzerland, I used to buy cheese at a local cheese store. They carried an amazing selection of Swiss cheese and an terribly good cheese fondue mix. Monthly I picked up the “Chäs-Chuchi”, a magazine that promoted Swiss cheese, from there. The following recipe has it’s origin in this magazine. It calls for Sbrinz and Appenzeller cheese. Sbrinz is the Swiss Parmesan and Appenzeller is a very strong cheese, incomparable to anything else. You can buy it in Deli stores in North America or just replace it by any other kind of cheese. I have used aged Gouda and it worked well.

Ingredients

  • 3 small to medium zucchini
  • 100g Appenzeller cheese, cut in strips.
  • 50g Sbrinz cheese (or Parmesan), grated

For the meat loaf

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 old bun, soaked in water, or breadcrumbs
  • 1 small onion, chopped.
  • 3 twigs of tarragon, minced
  • 3 twigs of parsley, minced
  • 3-4 celery leaves (a European herb), minced
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • salt, pepper, mustard powder, paprika, cayenne pepper.

For the pastry

  • 450g (2 rolls) of butter puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten.

Preparation

Cut the zucchini lengthwise in quarters. Remove and discard the seeds. Blanch the quarters for 2 minutes (or less) in salt water. Drain well and put on paper towels.

Mix all ingredients for the meat loaf and form a roll.

Unroll the puff pastry sheets and put them together. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Cover a long stripe in the middle of the pastry with half of the zucchini. Put the meat roll on top. Press the cheese strips in the roll and top it with the second half of the zucchini quarters. Close the puff pastry roll using some egg as “glue”. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and transfer the roll upside down onto the sheet. Brush with egg to give it a shiny look and prick a couple of times with a fork. Bake at 375˚F for 30-35 minutes. Serve hot.

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Broccoli Ham Quiche

I made this broccoli ham quiche yesterday to take along for lunch with my friend Erika. She loves it! I baked it at home, then wrapped it in aluminum foil to let it sit and cool off a bit while I was driving to her house. There we enjoyed it together.

When embarking on this quiche adventure give yourself enough time.  If you start from scratch it will take at least 2.5 hours before you can enjoy the fruit of your labour, but it is definitely worth it!

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 200 g flour
  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • one pinch of salt
  • 6 tbsp. ice water
  • 1 tbsp. cider vinegar

For the topping

  • 2 cups broccoli florets, precooked or frozen ones
  • 1 cup ham, cubed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg
Preparation

Cut butter over top of the flour and using your fingers mix the butter under the flour until it looks like fine crumbs. Then add the water and the vinegar, quickly mix and form a ball. Chill for one hour. Roll out the dough and fit into a pie pan, prick the bottom with a fork. Line the dough with foil and fill it with pie weights (I use chick peas). Pre-bake it for 10 min. at 400˚F, then remove the foil and the pie weights and bake five more minutes.

While pre-baking the crust mix eggs, cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg then top the crust with the broccoli, the ham and the egg mixture. Bake at 375˚F for 35-40 minutes.

After baking let the quiche rest for about half an hour before serving so the topping is not liquid any more.

 

 

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I love this combination of sour rhubarb and sweet, ripe strawberries for a pie. Here is a basic pie recipe that my friend Tammy taught me. It replaces part of the butter for the pie crust with cream cheese. I sometimes also use a combination of lard, butter and cream cheese.

Ingredients

for the crust

  • 1.5 cup flour
  • 0.5 cup cream cheese
  • 1 cup butter
for the filling
  • 3 cups rhubarb, cubed
  • 1 cup strawberries, cubed
  • 1-2 tbsp tapioca starch
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • cinnamon or vanilla

Preparation

Cut butter and the cream cheese over top of the flour and quickly knead under the flour. Form a ball and chill for at least 1 hour.

Mix all ingredients for the fruit filling. Grease a pie pan. Roll out 2/3 of the dough and fit it in the pan, overlapping the rim. Spread the prepared fruit out evenly over the dough then roll out the rest to fit over the top of the fruits. Turn the overlapping dough over the cover. Poke  several times with a fork. Then bake for 30 min. at 400˚F.

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Tastes great with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Any other fruit filling like apricots, blueberries, prunes or whatever you can think of works well. My latest experiment is apricots and strawberries.

What are your favourite pies?

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It’s Rhubarb Season

I love rhubarb. As soon as it appears in my local produce store or farmers market I buy it. Having grown up on the country side with an abundance of this vegetable available I do not want to miss it.

One of the first things I used rhubarb for this spring were my basic muffins. I added small rhubarb cubes and walnut crumbs and used vanilla flavouring to complement the tangy taste of the rhubarb. I baked those for my neighbour Julia and her family after she gave birth to little Monty.

A fantastic dessert I recently tried was strawberry rhubarb galettes from my favourite cookbook author Lucy Waverman posted in the Globe and Mail. Unfortunately my crust flattened down a bit. I have to try those again.

Much easier than galettes is a strawberry rhubarb pie as it sits in a pan.

Last night I opted for a rhubarb strawberry crumble as dessert. Here is the recipe that my dear friend Alison shared with me years ago when I had no idea about great American recipes yet. Alison is a great baker and has always some treats ready for her family and friends.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Ingredients

for the crumbs

  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • cinnamon

for the fruit layer

  • 3 cups rhubarb cubes
  • 1 cup strawberry cubes
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • vanilla extract or vanilla sugar

Preparation

Mix oats, flour, sugar and cinnamon. Add not completely melted butter and form crumbs. Mix all ingredients for the fruit layer.

Grease a 6×9 inch baking pan, add the fruit layer, top with the crumbs. Bake at 400˚F for 30-40min. Let cool off a bit and serve with vanilla ice cream.

The feature photo originates from La Grande’s Farmersmarket photostream on Flickr.

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Filed under basic, dessert, easy, spring, summer

Lemony Fettuccine with Shrimps and Spinach

I enjoyed this fresh, light summer variation of a pasta meal for the first time at my friend Tammy’s house. She is a great cook and loves healthy meals. So this recipe had to be with whole wheat pasta which is a great combination with the other ingredients such as spinach, lemon, shrimps and olive oil.

Ingredients 

  • 375 g whole wheat fettuccine (or spaghetti)
  • juice and rind of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 300-400g shrimps and/or scallops
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 bunch of spinach, washed, stems cut off
  • more olive oil
  • fresh pepper
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • julienne-d lemon rind
Preparation
While cooking the pasta start the pasta sauce in small sauce pan. Heat olive oil and saute the shallots. Add the shrimps, the parsley, the lemon juice and the rind as well as 2 tbsp. of the water from the pasta. Drain the pasta once it is al dente and return it to the pot. Add the spinach and stir until the spinach leaves start to wither. Then pour the pasta sauce over top, add Parmesan and more olive oil, season with fresh ground pepper and mix everything together.
Sprinkle with some more Parmesan and julienne-d lemon rind for an attractive presentation.

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Filed under pasta, summer

Rosemary Flatbread

The bbq season is here and some fresh herbs start to grow in my garden. Yesterday was the perfect day to try this flatbread inspired by Martha Stewart as a side for steak and corn from the grill. It was extremely yummy. I made the pizza dough from scratch but did not let it rise as I usually would do.

Ingredients (makes 6-7 flat breads)

for the dough:

  • 500g flour (I used half whole wheat, half regular flour)
  • 2.5 tsp quick rise yeast
  • salt, sugar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup lukewarm water.
for the topping:
  •  3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil, (more for drizzling)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. coarse salt, (more for sprinkling)
  • cornmeal
  • 3 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary

Preparation

Mix all dry ingredients for the dough, then add the olive oil and the water (as much as needed) and knead everything for a couple of minutes.

Heat butter and olive oil for the topping in a saucepan, add salt and garlic and cook, but do not brown the garlic.

Sprinkle baking sheets with cornmeal.

Divide the dough into 6-7 portions and roll it out as you would do for a pizza. Brush with the butter-oil-garlic mixture and sprinkle with rosemary.

Bake for 15 min. at 400˚F. When the bread comes out of the oven drizzle some olive oil over top and sprinkle with coarse salt.

A little sprig of rosemary on each bread looks quite decorative.

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Filed under baking, bread, side dish, summer