Strawberry Peach Pie with Sage & Honey

The greatest thing about being a known food lover is hearing about your friend’s fantastic food adventures. My friends are more than willing to tell me anything delicious; from what they had for dinner, to the complicated dessert they tried their hand at.  If something food-related happens to any one of my acquaintances I’m the first to hear about it.  And when my friend’s herb garden becomes so overgrown there’s no possible way they’re going to get through it all, you bet your bottom dollar I’m going home with a ziplock loaded with garden fresh goodies.  This happened to me twice in the course of a week.  The first batch I got from my cousin’s where I gathered a little bit of basil, sage, rosemary and thyme. I got the second round from my friend’s patio, which was experiencing a massive mintfestation.  Needless to say, the mint shall be used for mojito purposes.

Strawberries and Peaches

I told you last time that I promised myself I would use all of my produce and I was almost home free when I discovered four neglected peaches and a forgotten pint of strawberries.  The pie seemed the most logical (and reckless) solution to my problem.

Strawberries and Peaches

It is very dangerous to make an entire pie for a two-person household.  I don’t normally make a pie unless I’m sure there are at least five people to help me eat it, but I had just run close to 10km, so somewhere in my sick and twisted mind I decided I deserved an entire pie.

Sage

I was settled on the idea of strawberry peach pie, but then I found the remnants of my ziplock of herbs.  The thyme was all but gone and the basil looked a little worse for wear, but the sage was untouched and still gorgeous.  Sage in a strawberry peach pie?  Dare I tread into the unknown and possibly waste precious pastry on a potentially strange, inedible pie?  Yes, of course!

Strawberries, Peaches and Sage

The pie came out beautifully.  The strawberries and peaches were the perfect compliment to each other.  The strawberries brought a touch of tartness to the pie, while the peaches dominated with their smooth sweetness.  The sage added an element of savory to the pie, which served as an interesting contrast to syrupy sweetness of the fruit and the shortbread crust.

Filling and Pastry

My beau was adequately impressed.  He and his hallow leg polished off most of the pie, saving me from having to run the equivalent of three marathons.

Unbaked Pie

I know it may seem strange, but every now and then it pays to throw caution to the wind and let your imagination do a little bit of the driving.  While this pie is certainly not groundbreaking it’s a little off beat and unexpected, so if your bored of the same old pies (I can’t imagine why you would be) this might be a good way to break the mould.   I served this pie with a drizzle of maple syrup and it went down quite nicely. I was inspired for this recipe from Vegging at the Shore blog.

Strawberry Peach Pie

Strawberry Peach Pie with Honey and Sage: Serves 8

1 pint strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced

4 peaches, sliced

2 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped

2/3 cup demerara sugar

¼ cup honey

¼ cup flour

1 batch of pastry (see Irish Whiskey Pie)

1 egg

1 tbsp water

Maple syrup for drizzling

Directions:

Preheat oven 400°

Place peaches, strawberries, sugar, honey, flour and sage in a large bowl and stir to combine.

Roll out half of the chilled pastry and line a nine-inch pie plate with it.

Pour filling into the center.

Roll out second half of the pastry and cut into strips a quarter of an inch wide.

Weave strips of pastry on top of the filling to make a lattice top.

Trim and crimp edges.

In a small bowl whisk water and egg together.

Brush pastry with egg wash using a pastry brush.

Fit tin foil over the edge of the crust and bake for forty minutes.

Remove foil and bake for an addition fifteen minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Allow to cool and slice.

Serve drizzled with maple syrup.

Green Salad with Bacon & Peaches

Green Salad with Bacon & Peaches

I arrived home from Nova Scotia to an empty refrigerator.  Panicked, I moved to my cupboards only to find them as barren as my fridge.  I then succumbed to jetlag and shamelessly broke down and ordered sushi.  The next day dawned and all I had to show for the $30 I spent the night before was some sad day old sushi.  I knew I could not survive on takeout forever, my pocket book couldn’t handle such abuse, but I really didn’t want to go to the grocery store.  Grocery shopping in Toronto can be an extreme sport.

Peaches

Have I ever told you how much I hate grocery stores?  Well, I hate them!  I know it’s an odd thing for a foodie to say, but I do.  I love markets (I love that Toronto has so many of them), but I think grocery stores are the devil.  They’re always freezing, the staff is disinterested, other shoppers are oblivious (especially on Saturdays) and I always seem to select the worst possible cart.

Peach with Pit

My blood pressure is elevated just thinking about it.

But what else could I do, eat old sushi?  So I mustered up my courage, took a deep breath and threw myself into the fray… I should probably mention I’ve been on a war movie kick lately.

Red Pepper

I didn’t even have a list.  I was determined to give each isle one shot to inspire me or seduce me with an exceptional buy.  There was no plan; I was more or less blindly pulling things off the shelves.  When I got home I surveyed my loot and scratched my head.  What on earth could I make with all this stuff?  Well, the answer was this salad.  I started with some gorgeous Ontario peaches and the rest wrote itself.  A base of peppery greens, a red bell pepper, a bit of cucumber, some raw cashews and, of course, bacon.  Incidentally, I actually found the bacon in the fridge.  I can always rely on my beau to replenish the all important bacon supply.  Dish soap on the other hand…

Chopped Cashews

The dressing was made with a dollop of my aunt’s homemade strawberry jam (made with Nova Scotian strawberries), some rosemary, and garlic.  I married these bold flavors with some flax seed oil and balsamic.  I watered the jam down a touch to give the dressing the proper consistency.

Bacon

Not surprisingly my beau was a bit apprehensive about the peaches, but he came around and wound up liking the salad quite a bit.  I, on the other hand, think I’ve found the salad of my dreams!  I really dug this salad!  Peaches and bacon laced with punchy accents of rosemary on a bed of peppery greens; what could be better?

Green Salad with Bacon & Peaches

Give this salad a try before the peaches go out of season.

 

Green Salad with Bacon & Peaches: Serves 2

2 cups mixed greens (I used baby spinach and arugula)

1 peach, stoned and sliced

¼ red bell pepper, sliced

1/6 cucumber, sliced

¼ cup raw cashews, coarsely chopped

4 slices of bacon, cooked and coarsely chopped

Strawberry Rosemary Vinaigrette:

1 ½ tbsp strawberry jam

2 tbsp water

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ cup flax seed oil

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a small bowl whisk together jam and water.

Add the rest of the dressing ingredients and whisk until combined.

Place all salad ingredients (except the cashews) in a large bowl and pour in the dressing.

Toss until the ingredients are evenly distributed and coated with dressing.

Serve salad sprinkled with cashews.

Nova Scotian Nightlife: Ginger Plum Daiquiri

I’m sure many of you would assume that the nightlife of rural Nova Scotia is close to nonexistent and you would be right.  But my adaptive relatives have found a way around this problem.  Allow me to welcome you to Seafield Farm’s exclusive bar, aptly named The Bar and Grill.

Signage

A former bunkhouse, The Bar and Grill was transported from its original home next to the farmhouse and was relocated closer to the water.  After a few “rustic” alterations to it’s design, namely the removal of a few walls, The Bar and Grill was opened for business and it has been serving the residence of Seafield Farm ever since.  It is also the first and only BYOB bar I’ve ever come across.

The view from the porch

Sure it may not have any running water and the only methods of cooking are a homemade fire pit and a wood stove, but it has a view that can’t be beat and the traces of its previous life are quite endearing.

My cousin's contribution to the decor

This is a rather “imaginative’ take on pollen collection.  Note the menacing butterfly and the owned flower.  I’m going to go out on a limb and guess one of my male cousins drew this.

The top bunk now houses empties

Evidently the top bunk was for boys only; no girls allowed.  Obviously equality was not on our agenda.

Side porch

As you can see the bunks have been put to better use.  Instead of housing children, they now house our family’s empties.  Please note it has taken us several years to amass such a collection.  Skyy vodka, you can repay me for the free publicity with a few cases, I don’t mind.

Plum

The Bar and Grill rarely sees much beyond a martini or a vodka tonic, but here’s the fanciest drink to ever grace this legendary deck.  I give you the Ginger Plum Daiquiri, made of course with vodka…  I’m all for pushing the envelope, but I can’t completely abandon tradition.

Vodka

This little number is wonderfully sweet, tart and vaguely spicy.  You may be ridiculed for the pinkness of the drink ‘round these parts, but I’ve never let that stop me from celebrating my girly side.

Plum and Lime

Though it may look a little frou frou this ain’t no fruity girl drink.  The spiciness of the ginger carries it far from the candy-like concoctions that fill the glasses of Carrie Bradshaw wannabes.  Grown up, sophisticated, complex and yes intoxicating, this drink will give you all you need this summer.  So, ditch the Cosmo and indulge in this seductive and heady cocktail.

Ginger Plum Daiquiri

With time it may become an east coast classic but I won’t hold my breath.  After all it’s not beer, whisky or scotch.

Ginger Plum Daiquiri: Serves 2

1 plum, diced

1/8 cup lime juice

1 cup ice

1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

1 tsp sugar

2 oz vodka

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a blender.

Blend until smooth.

Pour into frosted glasses and garnish with a slice of plum.

Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

A week ago I took a spontaneous trip to Prince Edward Island.  I hadn’t been to the island in nearly fifteen years and I was keen to a do a little beach hopping, so I seized the opportunity to go.  With no plans in sight and little expectation, we managed to have one of the best getaways I’ve had in a longtime.  I am now determined to never plan a vacation again.  When nothing is expected everything is a wonderful surprise, much like today’s recipe, which is courtesy of the island.

Dates and Ginger

On one of the few sunny days I’ve had since arriving on the East Coast (I seem to curse this area of the world with rain every time I visit), we happened upon Dalvay House located just east of Charlottetown.  Built in 1896, the resort was at one time the summer home of the former president of Standard Oil, Alexander MacDonald.  Recently, Dalvay House became the host hotel to the Royals during their tour of the PEI countryside and to commemorate the happy event, the staff of Dalvay House placed a giant cardboard cutout of Will and Kate on the front porch.

Foamy Dates

I know… It was kind of weird, but I was totally digging Kate’s hat.

Dry Ingredients

If getting a picture with the 2D couple is not enough for you, the adjacent gift shop is happy to supply you with an entire tea set bearing the same priceless shot of the happy couple.  But if you would rather get the full scoop, locate any member of the staff and they’ll be happy to give a full play by play of the royal visit.  I got the details at least half a dozen times in the course of 24 hours and I didn’t even have to ask.

Sticky Date Pudding

But enough about the royals, I’m sure you’d much rather hear about the food.  Dalvay House boasts one of the best restaurants on the island.  They make a point of showcasing the best local produce and seafood in a relaxed, cheerful atmosphere.  Everything was amazing, but this Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce captured my heart completely.  The wait staff must have pick up on this intense bond (perhaps I was smacking my lips a touch too loudly), because they kindly offered me the recipe.  I was so taken aback by this gesture that I very nearly fell off my chair.  This would never ever have happened in Toronto, but in PEI, I suppose anything is possible.

Toffee Sauce

I replicated the recipe a few days after returning home and here it is in all its glory.  It wasn’t quite as good as the piece I had at Dalvay House, but it was pretty damn close and that’s good enough for me.  I followed the recipe quite faithfully, but I did swap in a little fresh ginger instead of the powdered.   I’m madly in love with in ginger, in case you were wondering.

Please make this!  Please, please, please!  Would it help if I told you Prince William ate it?

Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

Honestly, its so moist and delicious; so wonderfully naughty that it’s well worth the effort.  I have a feeling this pudding is going to be a very cozy companion come fall.  Oh, and word to the wise, this dessert was made to be enjoyed with a good single malt scotch.   They go together so well that I added a little scotch to the sauce.  Shhh, don’t tell!

Enjoy!

Dalvay’s Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce: Serves 12 if you have sense, 8 if you are senseless

For Pudding:

1 ¾ cups packed pitted dates, coarsely chopped

2 cups water

1 ½ tsp baking soda

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp fresh ginger, pureed

½ tsp salt

¾ cup unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

For Sauce:

¾ cup unsalted butter

1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar

1 cup heavy cream

2 tsp single malt scotch (I used Redbreast)

Directions:

Pudding – Preheat oven to 375°.

Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.

Place dates, water, and ginger in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat uncovered for 5 minutes.

Remove heat from pan and stir in baking soda.  Mixture will foam.

Let mixture stand for 20 minutes.

While you’re waiting, sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Beat in eggs one at a time.

Mix in the flour mixture in three batches, beating after each addition until just combined.

Add date mixture and stir until combined.

Pour batter into baking pan and set inside a larger baking pan.  Add enough hot water to the large baking pan to reach half way up the sides of the smaller baking pan.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 35-40 minutes.

When done, remove pudding from water bath to cool.

Serve with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream.

Toffee Sauce – In a 2 quart saucepan, melt butter over moderate heat.

Add brown sugar and bring mixture to a boil stirring occasionally.

Add cream and scotch and reduce heat.

Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened.  About five minutes.

Cool sauce slightly and pour over squares of pudding.

Avocado and Cantaloupe Salad

Avocado Cantaloupe Salad

Once upon a time I won a melon baller at my cousin’s baby shower and I was embarrassingly happy.  But I never got to use my coveted melon baller.   I lost it instead.  I know this is by far the most tragic story you’ve heard all week, but try to keep it together it gets better.  Yesterday I came across a melon baller at the dollar store and I bought it.  The End.

Limes

Now that I’ve wowed you with my bard-like story-telling skills, I give you the recipe for melon baller enthusiasts everywhere.  I’m usually against kitchen gadgets that seem to have only one purpose.  I don’t need the clutter.  I have a tiny kitchen, the last thing I want to do is cram one more cooking utensil into my kitchen drawers.  But as a child I had a fascination with melon ballers that I don’t completely understand.  Maybe it was because my mother never owned one and it was a simple case of wanting what I did not have… I dunno, it’s weird!  Whatever the reason I concocted this recipe for the sole purpose of getting use out of my new melon baller and I’m not sorry I did it.

Jalapeno

I am in love with the color combination of this salad.  The bright orange of the cantaloupe pops so beautifully against the various shades of green. I chose to use avocado, because we’re in the midst of steamy summer time affair and I don’t care who knows it.  Seriously, look back at the posts I’ve made since the heat hit, I guarantee there are a ridiculous number of recipes that include avocado…

Also I wanted to see what would happen if I used a melon baller on an avocado… yeah… I’m a dork.

IMG_3678

I added some mint, which was left over from the mojitos and jalapeno to add some interest.  I topped the salad with unsalted cashews for a little nuttiness and crunch and drizzled the whole lot with lime juice and flax seed oil.

Cashews

I mixed this salad when I got home from a run and it was the perfect pick-me-up.  I’m positive this is not the last time we’ll see this salad this summer, I’m dying to find out how it would partner with some BBQ shrimp.  I’ll keep you posted!

IMG_3695

Give this salad a whirl!  It’s oh so refreshing and satisfying even on a day with 94% humidity (please send help, my hair can’t take it).  So, find that melon baller you thought you’d never use and get ready to enjoy yourself more than you’ll care to admit.

Avocado and Cantaloupe Salad

Avocado and Cantaloupe Salad: Serves 4

½ cantaloupe

1 avocado

Juice of one lime

1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced

¼ cup unsalted cashew, roughly chopped

2 tbsp flax seed oil

1/8 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Using a melon baller scoop out individual balls of avocado and cantaloupe.

Place avocado and cantaloupe in a large bowl and drizzle with lime juice to keep the avocado from browning.

Add jalapeno, mint, cashews and flax seed oil and toss to combine.

Serve immediately with a fresh sprig of mint.

Spicy Mango Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork Sandwich

It was my brother’s birthday last weekend and I was lucky enough to spend it at my family’s cottage.  Every year we celebrate my bro’s birthday by consuming a few pigs and whole lotta beer.  We call it Pig Fest (my family is ever so refined).  Sausages, ribs, pulled pork, bacon, pork chops; you name it and we’ve probably served it to mark the occasion.   Clearly the movie Babe never really got to my brother; then again no animal related movie ever does.  The first time I ever ate venison my brother told me it was Bambi’s mother… I was four and yes, I’m still scared from the experience, although it was infinitely less painful than the time he convinced me that Keens Hot Mustard was butterscotch pudding.

Gotta love siblings, they’re so friendly.

Garlic

This was the first time we served pulled pork at our annual family pig out and I was left in charge of the preparation.  The pressure was on!  I knew I had a lot to live up to.  We’ve been throwing these shindigs since my brother’s fifteenth birthday and that was… well; I feel like I shouldn’t say or I may find myself being force fed spicy mustard all over again.  Anyway, it was a touch risky to add a new item to the menu of such a legendary event, but I persevered and wound up with the deliciousness you see before you now.

Mango

I knew going in that the ribs (the pièce de résistance of every pig fest to date) would win out, but I think I gave it my best effort and although I may be slightly biased, I favored the pulled pork over the ribs, but don’t tell my mom.  Since the ribs were slathered in Phil’s (an a amazing BBQ joint in San Diego) BBQ sauce, I wanted the pulled pork to be completely different, so I wouldn’t invite anyone to compare the two.   I chose to contrast the smoky sweetness of the Phil’s sauce with a vaguely Asian concoction that was sweet, tangy and spicy but in a very different way.

Pureed mango with jalapenos and green onion

Since pork and fruit of any kind get along like a house on fire, I grabbed a sad little mango languishing in the crisper and went from there.  For a touch of spice I threw in some jalapenos and fresh ginger.  I added a healthy dose of soy sauce to balance the sweet and enhanced the overall taste with a burst of citrus, courtesy of some lemongrass, a touch of marmalade and a splash of lime juice.  Then I simply doused the pork shoulder in this lovely blend and cooked the hell out of it.

Pork shoulder and marinade

Many of my family members ate it all on it’s own, but that was not enough for me.  Oh no, I had to take it to the next level.  I served this delectable treat in a bun (sadly, this was the only half-way decent bun I could find out in the boonies) and topped it with this coleslaw, which you’ve already met.  The creaminess of the coleslaw melted into the saucy pork and the crunch of the pepitas definitely added something special.  If at all possible consume both these recipes together… unless you’re not a fan of citrus in which case I wouldn’t make either.

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Cilantro Lime Coleslaw

But if you happen to have won a lemon-eating contest at the tender age of fourteen (you may want to forget that tidbit of information) then welcome home!  This sandwich was made for you!

Enjoy!

Spicy Mango Pulled Pork: Serves 8

6-8 pound bone-in boston butt

1 mango, cubed

5 cloves of garlic

1/8 cup lime juice

2 tbsp pureed lemongrass

3 tbsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped

3 tbsp sweet chili sauce (I used President’s Choice)

2 tbsp marmalade

2 jalapenos, divided

2 stalks of green onions, sliced

1/8 cup soy sauce (or to taste)

2 tsp sesame oil

2 cups of water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°

In a food processor place mango, garlic, lime juice, lemongrass, ginger, chili sauce, marmalade and one intact jalapeno.

Blend until smooth.

Deseed and dice the second jalapeno.

Pour puree into a medium sized bowl and stir in soy sauce, green onions, diced jalapeno and sesame oil.

Pat pork shoulder dry with paper towel and place it in a large dutch oven.

Pour mango mixture over the meat making sure to get it in every nook and cranny.  Add water.

Cover the pot and place it in the center of the oven.

Cook for one hour then turn the pork and spoon the juices over the top.

Repeat for six hours or until the meat comes easily off the bone.

Remove the fat and bone and shred the pork using two forks.

You can serve it right away, but I let mine cool and popped it in the fridge over night and reheated it the next day.

Serve it on it’s own or in a sandwich.

Pita Pizzas with Sautéed Apples and Bacon

Phew!

I just finished writing six articles for a soon to be launched nutrition website and my brain is so fried that I’m having difficulty spelling three letter words. So, you’ll have to forgive me if this post doesn’t quite make sense. It’s a good thing today’s recipe was a breeze. Seriously! It’s so simple a monkey could’ve done it… preferably while wearing a full body hair net.
Granny Smith Apples and Red Onion

Pita pizzas are so simple and homey. They saved my life in university.

These adorable little pizzas are cozy food. The kind of food you eat in sock feet while watching reruns of The West Wing… okay so, maybe that’s just me. These pita pizzas are topped with sautéed apples and red onions with a sprinkling of bacon and cheddar cheese. Once again that magical salty, sweet flavor has stolen my heart. My beau was hesitant at first, because he doesn’t really like the texture of cooked apples (applesauce is his arch nemesis) but, the pizza was sporting a few pieces of bacon so, he couldn’t say no. It’s against his religion.
Sautéed Apples and Red Onion

By the way, don’t leave the bacon out. Mmmm! Sweet, salty and smokey all at the same time! These pizzas have it all. My beau loved them so much he told me not to put them on the blog; he decided they were too good to share, but I’m not one to deprive others of good food so, have at it!

Apples and Red Onion

Now that I’ve completely run out of words, I’m going to leave it here to avoid drooling on my keyboard.
Pita Pizza with Sautéed Apples and Bacon

Try this pita pizza. It’s totally delicious, quick and tasty!  Like totally!

Oh gosh! I’ve turned into a Valley girl… I gotta go!

Enjoy!

Pita Pizzas with Sautéed Apples and Bacon: Makes 2 pizzas
2 pitas
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 granny smith apple, cored and sliced
½ red onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced (divided)
¾ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup demerara sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
pinch of cloves
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp crushed chili pepper flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°
Place the onion and apple in a large bowl.
Add sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, chili pepper flakes, salt and 2 cloves of garlic. Toss to coat.
Melt butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
Add apple and onion mixture and sauté until the apples are tender. About five minutes.
Remove from heat and set aside.
Brush the pitas with the rest of the olive oil and sprinkle with the remainder of the garlic.
Top pitas with apples and onions and sprinkle with cheese and bacon.
Bake in the oven for five minutes then turn the oven to broil (keeping a close eye on them) for 1-2 minutes.
Slice into quarters and serve.

Apple Sausage Galette

Apple Sausage Galette

One of the first things I learned how to make in the kitchen was pastry. In truth cinnamon rolls may have been first, but pastry was definitely a close second.

Whole-wheat Pastry

Pastry may be an odd place to start out, but at the tender age of… some point before ten I was already well versed in carefully adding flour to our temperamental Kitchen Aid mixer.  I was ready for a challenge.

Apples

From the time I patched the last hole in my first of many awkwardly rolled out pastries, I had embarked on a nearly twenty year long love affair with all things wrapped in butter and baked with love.

Cored, Sliced Apples

Pies are my specialty. If I get invited to a potluck, I arrive with fresh pie in hand. If I’m heading over to a friend’s for a low-key birthday celebration, you bet I have her favorite pie waiting in the wings.

Red Onion

Pie is fairly universal. You don’t encounter many people who would say no to a slice of pie. Regardless of taste and temperament everyone has a type of pie they would gladly eat any day of the week. Even if you were born without a sweet tooth (is that even possible?) I doubt you could resist the charms of a gorgeously golden Chicken Pot Pie.

Apple Sausage Galette

Whether you live for this flakey indulgence or you approach pie with a hesitant fork this week’s recipe is bound to catch your eye. Prepared to be amazed by this enticing salty-sweet Apple Sausage Galette. At the center of this tawny, homey treat is a generous layer of spiced Cortland apples, which sit atop of a bed of sautéed red onions. The whole mess is enveloped in a rich nutty whole-wheat pastry crust and, to up the naughty factor further, sprinkled with a crumbling of honey garlic sausage. With so many winning attributes, you’ll be hard pressed to find a reason not to invite this crisp buttery guest to your next get together.

Apple Sausage Galette

Soulfully rustic and an intriguing compilation of contrasting tastes and textures, this Apple Sausage Galette is a pastry fanatic’s dream come true.

Apple Sausage Galette: Serves 4

PASTRY:

¾ cup pastry flour

½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour

½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

½ tsp salt

¼ cup cold water

FILLING:

½ red onion, sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

2 honey garlic sausages, castings removed

3 Cortland apples, cored and sliced

¼ brown sugar

1/8 cup pastry flour

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tbsp cinnamon

Pinch of cloves

Pinch of nutmeg

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

1/8 cup milk

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425°

For the Pastry: Combine flours, and salt in a large bowl.

Add butter and cut it into the dry mixture using a pastry blender until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

Add water and stir until the dough starts to come together.

Touching the pastry as little as possible, form the mixture into a ball and flatten into a disc.

Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a minimum of a half an hour or up to 48 hours.

When ready to use, remove the pastry from the fridge and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Place on a cool well-floured surface.

Using a floured rolling, pin roll out pastry in a circular shape until it is 1/8 of an inch thick.

For the Filling: In a medium skillet heat olive oil over medium heat.

Add onion and sprinkle liberally with salt.

Sautee for approximately 10 minutes until translucent.

Remove from heat and set aside.

If necessary add more oil to the pan and add the sausage.

Cook until browned then remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl combine apples, spices, sugar and flour.

To Assemble: Place a layer of onion onto the waiting pastry leaving a 1 ½ inch border along the edge.

Top with ½ of the sausage and ½ of the rosemary.

Add apples and sprinkle with the remaining sausage and rosemary.

Wrap the edges towards the center.

Brush pastry with milk.

Slide onto a pizza pan and place in the oven.

Bake for 20 minutes then reduce heat to 350° and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

Ah, cheese and bread!  Is there anything better? Nothing can rival the simplicity and the level of comfort a buttery, crisp and gooey grilled cheese affords.  I realize I’ve already sung the praises of this simple snack over the equally glorious Open-Faced Warm Mushroom and Brie sandwich, but I cannot contain my love and admiration for this humble slice of culinary bliss.

Pineapple

When cheese, bread, butter and a hot pan come together magical things happen. Since these simple ingredients and implements are all that is required to make a knock out grilled cheese sandwich, the adaptations are endless. One such creation is this sweet, spicy and sharp number that I like to call the Hawaiian Grilled Cheese.

Caramelized Pineapple

You may remember me telling you my beau discovered a love for pineapple this summer. It all started with this Hawaiian pizza. Then, to break the endless and somewhat daunting parade of Hawaiian pizzas I was badgered to prepare, I created this fruitful take on a plate of nachos. Stir-fries studded with pineapple followed and the fruit has since become a staple in our refrigerator; in fact, we gage how badly we need to go to the grocery store based on our pineapple supply.

Jalapenos

After enduring a day that felt like three, I stumbled home horrifically hangry only to find that my beau was in the same state.  The situation was dire so, I knew I had to pull a rabbit out of my hat and fast. Grilled cheese sandwiches (even fancy ones) require less than 15 minutes prep work and less than 10 minutes cook time; in other words, they are weekday perfection.

Pineapple, Cheese, Ham

I caramelized the last bit of pineapple we had in the fridge, grabbed some ham, cheddar cheese and a jalapeno. I placed the whole mess between two pieces of nutty bread and introduced the happy bundle to buttered hot pan. In mere moments I was declared a hero as the golden brown sandwiches found their way to the table. If only all victories could come this easy and taste as sweet.

Pineapple, Cheese, Ham, Jalapeno

Throw some butter and pan and prepare to rid the world of hangriness one Hawaiian Grilled Cheese at a time

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese: Serves 4

8 slices of multigrain bread

¼ pineapple, sliced

2 tbsp brown sugar

4 tbsp butter, divided

1 tbsp olive oil

1 jalapeno, deseeded and sliced

8 slices of deli ham

1-cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

Heat 2 tbsp of butter in a small pan over medium heat.

Add pineapple and brown sugar and sauté until golden turning once – about 3 minutes per side.

Remove from heat and set aside.

Assemble sandwiches by placing dividing cheese amongst four slices of bread.

Next stack some ham followed by a roughly three slices of pineapple and top with a few jalapeno slices.

Close the sandwich with another slice of bread.

In a large pan heat the rest of the butter and olive oil over medium heat.

Add sandwiches to the pan and fry until golden brown – about 3 minutes per side.

Slide onto a plate and slice diagonally.

Serve immediately with a bowl of piping hot soup.

Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad

I am back! Hope you guys had wonderful holidays!

Meanwhile after getting a good rest, I left my zone of comfort….

…and look at me! I fried something!

Mango

I never fry anything! I have a deep-frying phobia.

Cucumber

I, like the rest of humanity, happen to love fried food! Anything deep-fried is positively out of this world. I bet if you deep-fried a boot it would taste delicious, but as much as I love these crispy edibles I’m still wary of deep-frying at home. I’m sure it would be a different story if I had a proper deep fryer, but if I had said deep fryer I would also be 300 pounds. So, I figure it’s in my best interest to make deep fat frying as cumbersome as possible. I didn’t even do a legit deep fry for this week’s recipe. It was more of a shallow fry; I couldn’t quite bring myself to add the full amount of oil, guilt was holding me back. This time, I simply borrowed a deep fryer from my friend, it was Waring deep fryer.

No. No way I am buying one myself.

Red pepper

Yes, it was messy and yes, I did fear my kitchen afterwards, but these almond crusted fried shrimp were well worth the grease burns.  I served them atop a mound of spicy mango salad and garnished the whole lot with fresh cilantro and dry-roasted peanuts. The combination of the piping hot shrimp and chilled salad was out of this world. The shrimp was beautifully juicy and it’s breading brought a subtle crunch to the dish.

Red Onion

My beau was adequately impressed with my efforts. He could hardly believe I fried anything. I’m usually a stickler when it comes to nutrition, but I justified the whole exercise by saying it was for the blog. Do you hear that? If your at all interested in the state of your waistline don’t start a food blog, it messes with your logic.

Almond Crusted Shrimp

As deep-frying adventures go this one was fairly uneventful. Shrimp cooks quickly and the breading process with simple and efficient. Salads are always low maintenance, but I will warn you there is a fair amount of chopping involved.

Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad (II)

Decadently rich and restaurant caliber, Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad is one recipe you’ll be happy to have sitting in your back pocket when all you can think about is expensive takeout. This recipe will subdue those pesky cravings and save you a bundle at the same time.

Almond Crusted Shrimp and Mango Salad: Serves 4

FOR THE SHRIMP

16 shrimp, deveined and shelled with tails on

¼ cup almond meal

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp milk

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups peanut oil

FOR THE SALAD

1 mango, julienned

¼ cucumber, julienned

½ red bell pepper, julienned

¼ red onion, sliced

¼ dry roasted peanuts

½ cup fresh cilantro, torn

DRESSING

4 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp granulated sugar

¼ cup lime juice

1 tsp sambal oelek

1 tbsp fish sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Place veggies, mango and cilantro in a large bowl and toss to combine.

In a small bowl whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.

In another small bowl combine ground almonds and salt and pepper.

Combine egg and milk.

One by one douse each shrimp in the egg and milk mixture then roll them in the almond mixture and set aside on a plate.

When each shrimp has been coated heat oil in a large wok until it reaches about 350°

Drop shrimp into the oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown.

Remove from oil and leave to drain on paper towels.

Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat.

Divide salad amongst four plates and top with peanuts.

Arrange four shrimp on top of each salad and serve immediately.