My Journey Making Bread

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I love homemade bread. I even plan on making some today, as it’s been a while. I remember as our children were growing up we had two bread machines going every Sunday to prepare for sandwiches and toast during the week for work and school. Now that we are empty-nesters I don’t nearly bake as often as I use to. I love to make bread and rolls to have for a family dinner.

Over the years I have managed to find recipes I liked and I am comfortable making and feel turn out well.  There have sometimes been “failures” but it has been a journey of learning and in this great technical age, the amount of information on social media and videos available out there is wonderful. There is always someone who is willing to share their “secret” to bread baking. So I’ve gone from not only from baking bread in my bread machine but to making No-Knead Artisan bread. I love using my mixer to make dough for bread, rolls and more recently to making bagels for the first time several weeks back.

There are bread snobs who think if you haven’t baked  “real” bread from scratch, by hand and use a bread machine or a dough mixer that it isn’t bread baking. I don’t believe that at all. I have made bread in several different ways and the joy I get from a freshly baked loaf is the same no matter how prepared.

So give bread baking a try. Bread machines can now be purchased at a fraction of the cost from when they first came out or there are many that can be found in really good condition at local thrift shops for great prices. So while you are thinking it over if a bread machine should be something you would want to think about, how about trying to make a loaf fo No-Knead Artisan bread. They are simple, you can prepare a loaf in the evening and then bake it the next day.

A great place to start is   Crusty Bread the Movie

Then you can move onto to these delicious loaves of bread.

cranberry walnut bread no knead

No-Knead Cranberry Walnut Bread
Recipe adapted from My Bread by Jim Lahey

Equipment: a 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 quart enameled cast-iron pot with a tight fitting lid (I use a Le Creuset Dutch Oven)

Ingredients:
3 Cups (400 grams) Bread Flour
1/2 tsp instant or other active dry yeast
1 1/4 tsp (8 grams) salt
½ cup (85 grams) dried cranberries
½ cup (50 grams) chopped walnuts
1 1/3 cup (350 grams) cool water
extra flour for dusting

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt, cranberries, and walnuts. Add the water and using a rubber spatula mix until a shaggy ball forms. If the dough does not feel sticky to the touch, add in a bit more water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for about 12 – 18 hours, until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough has more than doubled in size.

When the slow rise is complete, Lay a 12 x 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside a 10-inch skillet and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Generously dust your counter, a large cutting board, or a silicone mat with flour. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the dough out in one piece. Using lightly floured hands, lift the edges of the dough and fold them in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round. Transfer the dough, seam-side down, to the parchment-lined skillet. A bench scraper is helpful for doing this. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray and cover the dough loosely with the wrap. Place the dough in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled, and if it holds an indentation when gently poked with your finger.

Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third position, and place a covered pot in the center of the rack. Take the pre-heated pot out of the oven, and carefully transfer the dough into the pot by lifting the parchment paper and lowering it into the pot. Quickly cover the pot and put it in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color, 10 – 20 mins more. Make sure to check the bread so it doesn’t burn, because every oven is different. An instant-read thermometer will register 210 degrees, or you can tap the bottom and listen for a hollow sound. Carefully remove the bread from the pot and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

no knead olive bread

No-Knead Mediterranean Olive Bread

Ingredients:

3 cups bread flour. (I use King Arthur bread flour)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. instant yeast
1 tsp. Thyme
Zest of 1 Lemon
3 oz of sliced black olives
3.5 oz of stuffed green olives (sliced)
4 oz of Kalamata olives (sliced)
1 tbsp. Olive oil
12 oz. cool tap water

Directions:

Mix up the dry ingredients and slice up the olives. Add the zest of one lemon and the sliced olives and mix. Now add the olive oil and the water and mix until you have a uniform consistency. Now cover with plastic wrap and let it proof for 12 to 24 hours somewhere on the counter. After the initial proofing scooped it out onto a well-floured poly board. Fold it back onto itself and from this into a ball. Cut the ball in half and form each half into a loaf shape and let this proof again from another 1.5 to 2 hours. Pre-heat your oven baking vessel to 450.  After the second proofing, place the loaf into the preheated baking vessel and bake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes. (adjust this time as necessary)

 

Everything Bread mixed in my Bosch mixer20160228_201417

 

Challah Bread mixed in the Bosch mixer20160131_144852

 

Kaiser Rolls, dough mixed in the Bosch mixer and I used a Kaiser roll stamp to make the design.

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Father’s Day Menu – Chinese Style Pineapple Chicken & Spare Ribs

The weather here has been disappointing on the weekends lately, on again off again showers. This Spring has brought lots of rain and our backyard garden is enjoying it even if we aren’t. My husband had made some of his great smoked ribs for the family for Mother’s day this year but he fought the elements throughout the whole day just to prepare me a fantastic meal. Rain showers are predicted again for all day tomorrow so I decided to plan a fun indoor meal for our family and one I know he will enjoy as well.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there!

Here is my menu:

Eggrolls for an Appetizer – Not making them from scratch this time because of time constraints.

Instant Pot Chinese Spare Ribs – the terrific recipe can be found here:

pressure-cooker-char-siu-pork-ribs

Instant Pot Chinese Spare Ribs

 

 

 

 

Chinese Pineapple Chicken with White Rice

Chinese Style Green Beans – the recipe can be found here:

Chinese Restaurant Green Beans

Sweet baked hawiian chicken

Chinese Restaurant Style Pineapple Chicken

Ingredients:
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
1½ cup cornstarch
3 eggs, beaten
¼ cup canola oil

1 cup pineapple juice
½ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ tablespoon cornstarch
1 red pepper chopped
1 (20 oz) can pineapple tidbits, drained

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.
In separate bowls, place cornstarch and slightly beaten eggs. Dip chicken into cornstarch then coat in egg mixture.
(yes, you dip the chicken first in the cornstarch. I promise this method is amazing.)

Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken until browned. Place the chicken in a 9 x 13 greased baking dish.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, minced garlic, and cornstarch.
Add the red pepper and pineapple tidbits. Pour over chicken and bake for 1 hour.
I stir the chicken every 15 minutes so that it coated them in the sauce.

 

 

Savory Meat & Spinach Pie

“What should I make for dinner?” This usually happens when I know I have made the rounds in recent weeks that seems to cover all the bases. One of my go to recipes when this happens is I like to take any meat I may have leftover and turn it in to a savory meat and spinach pie. This often happens after making a Virginia Ham but you really can use any favorite meat of your choice. This recipe can be easily modified to not only use ham but also ground meat, cooked chicken or sausage instead.

Riviera Egg Pie

 

Savory Meat and Spinach Pie

8 servings

Ingredients
3 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, diced (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 (9-inch) refrigerated, unbaked pie crusts (a 15-ounce package) or freshly made pie crusts
3/4 pound of your favorite ham, diced * You may want to substitute 1 lb of ground meat, cooked chicken or Italian sausage (a mix of sweet & hot sausage is great!)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
1 cup grated Parmesan  ** You may want to add another of your favorite cheeses in place of the Parmesan like mozzarella or cheddar, I usually add 11/2-2 cups of shredded cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
4 eggs, plus 1 yolk, slightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent and just golden, about 8 minutes. *If you are planning to use fresh ground beef or sausage this would be the time to cook that meat as well. Remove from the heat, transfer to a large bowl, draining off any excess oil and allow to cool while preparing crust.

Remove 1 of the prepared pie crusts from the refrigerator, and place in an ungreased, 9-inch pie plate. Shape the crust to fit the form of the pan with about 1/2-inch overlap around the edge.

To the onion mixture, add the ham*, spinach, cheeses**, 4 eggs plus 1 yolk, salt, and pepper, and mix well. Spread mixture into prepared crust. Cover with remaining pie crust; crimp edges and score to vent. Brush with egg white and bake until golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let stand at least 15 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Serve with a Tossed Green Salad and you have a wonderful meal.

Old School Dinners – Salisbury Steak

Cooking dinners have evolved over the years with modern day appliances like the Slow Cooker, the Air Fryer and the Instant Pot to name a few. The one thing that seems to carry on is some of those old school dinner recipes that continue to evolve with the times. The kind of recipes you not only remember your mom making but maybe your grandma as well. I love to see the new ways people are adjusting the cooking of these dishes for today’s popular appliances. Salisbury Steak is one of those meals that has been around since the late 1800’s and people continue to make to this day. There is even a version for the Instant Pot.

This dish takes me back to when I was growing up and my mom would make Salisbury Steak in her large copper bottom Revereware skillet. It would be served with creamy mashed potatoes or buttered noodles and a vegetable.

It’s a meal that can be served in any season and is easy enough to prepare on a weeknight for a hungry family. Hope you will enjoy this recipe.

Salisbury Steak

 

Salisbury Steak with Onion Gravy

1 egg
1 can (10 1/2 oz.) condensed French onion soup (undiluted, divided)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 tsp salt
pinch pepper
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, sliced
8 oz Fresh Mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water or Beef Broth (I use Better than Bullion)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp prepared mustard
6 cups hot cooked egg noodles

In a large bowl, beat egg. Stir in 1/3 cup of soup, bread crumbs, salt and
pepper. Add beef, mix gently. Shape into six oval patties. Brown in a
skillet over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove and set
aside.
Sauté the sliced onions and mushrooms. Until soft and cooked, remove and set aside.
In the skillet, combine flour and water or broth until smooth: add ketchup,
Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and remaining soup. Bring to a boil.
Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Return patties to skillet. Then add the sautéed onions and mushrooms.
Cover and turn down to a simmer for 15 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.
Serve patties and gravy over your favorite noodles, pasta, rice or mashed potatoes.

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Mother’s Day Planning – Luncheon Ideas

 

vintage mothers day

Thought I would post a few days early as Sunday I’ll be busy with my family and I thought I would share some Mother’s Day food ideas for anyone looking. I was always one to do lots of things for my mother throughout the year but I made sure I would do something a little extra special for Mother’s Day. Twice we took mom out to dinner and it was really a big mistake, restaurants are super busy, long wait times and they are looking to turn over tables as quick as possible, leaving you feeling rushed through a meal. So instead I would plan a nice day with an extra special dinner or Spring luncheon. Lunch was often a perfect choice, we would have the entire afternoon to enjoy being together and share some Springtime dishes.

The dining table would be nicely set and a floral centerpiece to pretty things up. Here are an assortment of the recipes I used over the years.

Sunshine Salad

I found this recipe years ago. When prepared for an evening meal, it’s called “Sunset Salad”.

8-10 Servings
Prep: 10 min. + chilling
Ingredients
•1 can (20 ounces) pineapple tidbits
•1 can (11-15 ounces) mandarin oranges
•1 package (3.4 ounces) instant lemon pudding
•1 cup quartered strawberries
•1 cup sliced ripe bananas

Directions

Drain pineapple and oranges, reserving juices. In a large bowl,
combine pudding mix with reserved fruit juices. Fold in pineapple,
oranges and strawberries; chill for at least 2 hours. Add bananas
just before serving. Yield: 8-10 servings.

Chicken Salad for Sandwiches

You can serve this salad on rolls, sandwiches cut in triangles or fill shells made from biscuits.

2 whole boneless chicken breasts
1 stalk celery
1 onions, quartered
1 cup celery, chopped
1 1/2-2 cups mayonnaise (depending on how wet you like your chicken salad)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dill (optional)
Directions
Place chicken, celery stalk and onion in saucepan with water to cover.
Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes or until chicken is done.
Drain and discard onion and celery.
Let chicken cool.
In a food processor chop chicken.
In a medium sized bowl combine chicken with mayonnaise, salt& pepper, parsley, dill seed, chopped celery and lemon juice.
Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Orzo Salad

orzo salad 2

8 ounces orzo pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in olive oil, vinegar, red onion, tomatoes and basil and toss to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.

Salad Nicoise

Romaine Hearts
4 Hard-boiled eggs
1 can artichokes
Steamed Green Beans
3 Roma tomatoes cut into wedges
Nicoise olives (Greek pitted Olives)
Potatoes cooked and cut into quarters
1 sweet red onion, sliced into thin rings
2 cans of white solid tuna
Anchovies
Dressing
1 garlic clove minced
Lemon Juice
olive oil
Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Optional – Fresh chopped basil

Separate romaine heart leaves and arrange on a platter. Arrange hard-boiled eggs cut into quarters, green beans, artichokes, tomatoes, potatoes, and olives decoratively over lettuce leaves. Add the anchovies and onion rings. Break up tuna and arrange over vegetables. Drizzle with dressing.

Cucumber and Onion Salad

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups sliced cucumbers
1 small onion (sliced thinly)

In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar and salt. Add cucumbers and
onions; stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Yield: 6-8
servings.

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Deli Style Tuna Salad

You can easily make as much as needed by doubling or tripling.

One 6 oz can albacore tuna
1/4 cup coarsely chopped celery
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped onion
2 Tbsps drained sweet pickle relish
4 Tbsps mayonnaise
2 tsps fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in food processor and process until consistency of pate.

Tomato & Onion Salad

3 large Tomatoes – sliced into wedges or slices if your prefer
1 small to medium sweet red onion – size depends how much onion you prefer
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh minced parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried parsley)
2 teaspoons fresh basil leaf (or ½ teaspoon dried basil)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced

Directions:

Peel the onion and cut into thin rings. Add slice vegetables into a glass bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.

Pour over tomatoes and onions.
Cover and allow to stand 30 minutes at room temperature or longer, refrigerated.

Serve with a nice loaf of bread.
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Rainy Day Comfort Food – Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Mac and Cheese Casserole

Even though the calendar says it’s Spring there still may be a bit of a chill in the air and right now we have hit several weeks of on again off again rain.  So it’s still a bit early for starting to make those lighter warm-weather dishes and my old stand-by comfort foods still have a chance to be made once again. So why not make a dish of my homemade baked macaroni & cheese. I know there are many preferences on how people enjoy their mac & cheese, anywhere from the “blue-box” to a thick creamy sauce stirred with pasta and sometimes baked or served as is. I have made and enjoyed them with my family so you won’t get any arguments from me.

While I was growing up my mother made a baked macaroni and cheese casserole that we loved and I pretty much make it the same way. Over the years I made a slight revision to my mother’s recipe to make it just a bit richer by adding two eggs to the milk so it has a more custard-like consistency. I also on occasion add other cheeses to the shredded cheddar like Mozzarella or Fontina when I have it on hand to vary the taste and creaminess.

classic make and cheese

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

You will need: A deep casserole dish or pan

1 lb Elbow macaroni (sometimes I use shells or Cavatappi)

Block of a good quality Sharp or Mild cheddar cheese (about 4 cups shredded) I have on occasion mixed other cheeses to the cheddar like adding Mozzarella or Fontina when I had some left over.

1 Quart (4 cups) Whole Milk

2 Eggs,  beaten

1 Stick of Butter

Ground Black Pepper (as desired)

Directions:

Boil pasta according to the package in salted water, al dente works perfectly.

Drain.

Butter a deep casserole dish

Add the two beaten eggs to the quart of milk and mix well

Place a layer of macaroni (about 1/3), enough to cover the bottom, of the casserole dish. Dot with some butter.

Add a layer of the shredded cheese covering the macaroni.

Repeat these layers until you are out of pasta – the top layer is cheese. Don’t push down on the macaroni or it will make it too dense.

Slowly pour milk/egg mixture over the casserole until the milk almost reaches the top of the casserole dish.

Dot top layer of cheese with butter and ground pepper

Bake uncovered for about 50-60 minutes in a 350-degree oven depending on how crisp you like the top, just make sure the milk mixture has turned to a custard-like consistency when a knife is inserted into the casserole.

You’ll know it is finished cooking when the milk is no longer liquid and is custard-like.

Serves 6 – Cook time and servings are approximate.

A secret to switching up this recipe: If you want to push this recipe over the top my daughter sometimes adds BBQ pulled pork in between the layers when building the casserole. It’s fantastic!

 

Good Friday Recipes- Baked Scrod & Mahi Mahi

Good Friday is around the corner so I wanted to make sure I shared a few easy to prepare fish recipes. Here are two of my favorites, both are baked with a crumb topping. Easy to prepare after a busy day on Good Friday or any time. I use either of these toppings on any fish filet whether it be scrod, cod, flounder, catfish or Mahi Mahi, just remember to adjust the cooking time depending on the thickness of the fish you are using. All you need is a few easy to prepare side dishes and you can save yourself from those crowded seafood restaurants this time of year, relax at home and feel very satisfied.

BAKED SCROD WITH LEMONY PANKO CRUMB TOPPING

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1 1/2-2 lbs scrod fillets (cod or haddock)
2 teaspoons butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large juicy lemon also grate the lemon peel from the lemon
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup white wine
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried parsley
Salt and pepper
Olive oil cooking spray
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a skillet, sauté the onion in 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of butter until soft but not browned.
In a medium sized bowl, combine the panko crumbs with the parsley, 1 teaspoon of melted butter, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, half of the lemon juice, and half of the grated lemon peel.
Once the onions are soft, add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, remaining grated lemon peel, salt and pepper, the remaining lemon juice and the white wine and continue to cook for another minute or so until heated through.
Put the onion and lemon mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Place the fish on top of the onions and season the fish lightly with salt and pepper.
Divide the crumb topping evenly over the fish and give a light spray of olive oil.
Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes until fish is cooked through and the crumbs are golden brown. This can be served with spaghetti, even spaghetti squash or zucchini zoodles. Don’t forget to top with the lemon sauce from the baking dish.

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Pesto Crusted Mahi Mahi

Parmesan Baked Crusted Mahi Mahi

A simple and delicious Mahi Mahi recipe with a pesto crust 

• Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

FOR THE FISH:
• 4 six-ounce portions of mahi-mahi
• 1/2 cup of your favorite Pest – Basil Pesto or Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
• 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
• salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
FOR THE FISH:
1. In a medium bowl, mix pesto and breadcrumbs together until they form a coarse paste.
2. Place mahi-mahi portions on a large baking sheet, lightly season with salt and pepper.
3. Spread pesto mixture evenly across all four mahi-mahi portions. Use your fingers to pat the pesto mixture down into the fish to form an even crust.
4. Bake Mahi Mahi at 375 for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through. Fish should reach an internal temperature of approximately 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Memories of Italian Easter Pies

Spring has arrived and Easter is only two weeks away. When I was growing up I remember my mother just before Easter making Italian Grain Pie and on occasion, a meat and cheese filled pie which I never knew the name of back then, but both were so delicious.

Italian Grain Pie

The Italian Wheat Grain Pie is a tasty dessert of cooked wheat berries, sweetened ricotta, the delicate flavors of lemon and orange peel and a bit of candied citron fruit. I have never made the pie myself but thinking this might be the year to give it a try. My mother’s recipe is only a scribbling of pencil notes but I did manage to find a similar recipe that looked close to the one I have.

Easter Grain Pie

This fruity ricotta and wheat pie is dense and moist. A real Italian treat for Easter

Ingredients
• 5 cups water
• 1/2 cup whole wheat berries
• 6 eggs
• 1 cup white sugar
• 1 (8 ounces) package mixed candied fruit
• 1 1/2 pounds ricotta cheese
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
• 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
• 1 tablespoon shortening
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 pastries for 9-inch lattice-top pies
• 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Directions
1. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Pour in wheat and allow to boil 40 minutes. As wheat is cooking, beat eggs in a large bowl while gradually adding 1 cup sugar to eggs. Mix in fruit, ricotta, vanilla extract, cinnamon, lemon rind, and orange rind.
2. When wheat is ready, drain in a colander and rinse with warm water. Place 3/4 cup of cooked wheat in a small bowl, and mix in shortening and salt. Stir until shortening is melted, then stir wheat mixture into ricotta mixture along with the rest of the cooked wheat berries.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
4. Line two 9 inch pie pans with pastry. Cut remaining pastry into strips for tops of pies. Spoon half of filling into each pan. Cover with pastry strips to form lattice tops. Crimp edges.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Sprinkle each pie with 1 tablespoon sugar and allow to cool at room temperature. Chill overnight before serving. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Pizza Rustica or Easter Pie

Over the years, I learned that delicious meat and cheese pie I remember eating was called Pizzagaina or Pizza Rustica. There are so many versions of this recipe to choose from. I have made several versions over the years from a simple easy to make quiche recipe to others that were much more labor intensive but so amazingly delicious. Easter Pie is traditionally served noon or later on Easter Saturday or as my mom would say “After the church bells ring” signaling the end of Lent.

This is the first version of Pizza Rustica I made:

Pizzagaina

pizzagaina

1/2 lb ham (sliced thick from deli-counter or cubed pieces of boiled ham)
• 1/4 lb prosciutto (regular prosciutto)
• 1/4 lb capicola (spiced-hot capicola )
• 1/4 lb genoa salami
• 1 lb mozzarella cheese (1 entire brick of whole milk mozzarella, shredded)
• 2 lbs ricotta cheese (whole milk)
• 1 stick pepperoni (sliced) about ¼ lb or so could be more
• 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
• 12 -14 eggs (start with 12 and if too dry add 1 or 2 more)
• 2 lbs pizza dough (homemade or store bought)

1. Cube ham meat. Cut sliced meat by rolling & slicing or cutting with scissors. Shred mozzarella. In a very large bowl, add ricotta. Add 12 – 14 eggs. Add 3 heaping tablespoons Grated cheese – then stir in the cubed meat and cheese.
2. Brush pan (Large deep lasagna pan about 9 x 13 or 9 x 15) with oil then melted butter. Roll out & lay dough. Add cheese/meat mixture. Add top layer of dough and pinch bottom & top dough seams together tightly.
3. Brush top with oil then egg. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Make Easter Cross with a large fork to vent. Bless.
4. Bake 375º x 10 min. Then 350º x 60 min. Then 325º x 30-45 minute.
5. Remove from oven. Brush top with melted butter. Cool 2-3 hours.
Turn upside down overnight on large board. Cover pizza tightly with paper towels, foil, & dish-towel. Refrigerate.

The Pizza Rustica I am most proud of was one filled with Spinach and Peppers. It was so beautiful when sliced.

Pizza Rustica with Spinach & Peppers

Easter Pizza Rustica

Pastry Dough
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup cold solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
3 large eggs, beaten
3 T ice water, or more as needed

Blend flour and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Blend in the eggs. With the machine running, add the water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough forms. Gather the dough into a ball. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, with 1 piece twice as large as the second piece. Flatten the dough pieces into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is firm enough to roll out, about 30 minutes (and up to 1 day).

Filling
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (or 2 300-gram boxes of frozen spinach)
2 T olive oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce/475 gram) container whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/3 cup plus 2 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 large egg yolks
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped
4 ounces thinly sliced pepperoni
4 ounces thinly sliced salami
1 (10 to 12 ounce/300 ml) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained
1 large egg, beaten

Position the rack on the bottom of the oven, and preheat oven to 375F. Squeeze the spinach to drain off as much liquid as possible. Heat oil in medium, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until tender, about 1 minute. Add the spinach and sauté until heated through about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool. Blend the ricotta, 1/3 cup of the Parmesan cheese, and the egg yolks in a food processor, until smooth.

Roll out the larger dough ball on a lightly floured surface to a 17-inch round. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch springform pan. Sprinkle half of the spinach mixture over the bottom of the dough. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese over the spinach. Spread half of the ricotta mixture (about 1 cup) over the mozzarella cheese. Arrange half of each of the prosciutto, pepperoni, and salami over the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle 3/4 cup mozzarella over the meats. Arrange half the roasted red peppers in an even layer over the cheese. Sprinkle the remaining spinach mixture over the peppers. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the mozzarella over the spinach. Spread remaining ricotta mixture over the mozzarella cheese. Arrange the remaining prosciutto, pepperoni, and salami over the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese over the meats. Arrange the remaining roasted peppers over the cheese.

Roll out the second piece of dough into a 12-inch round. Place the dough over the filling. Pinch the edges of the doughs together to seal. Using scissors, trim the edge of the dough to 1/2 inch. Fold the dough edges in, creating a decorative rim atop the pizza. Brush some of the egg over the dough. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the top. Bake on bottom rack until the crust is brown on top and around the sides (cover the top with foil if it begins to brown too quickly before the sides are brown), about 1 hour.

Let the pizza stand until just warm, about 2 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

Serves: 8 – 10

What a difference a year makes. My Instant Pot & Honey Garlic Chicken

 

My 6 Qt Duo

I know so many people have been enjoying their Instant Pots these days, I know I have. It’s just about a year now and with a busy schedule, the Instant Pot has been a saving grace and allowed me to prepare weeknight dinners when I’m not in the mood to fuss after a long day.

There are a great many wonderful websites from how to take away the mystery of operating it to many delicious recipes. The videos recipes are great!

I’m not totally new to pressure cooking. My first pressure cooker was one I bought at a yard sale that was several years old but had never been used, even included the cookbook still sealed all for $5. Being able to make the occasional weeknight pot roast dinner was such a treat. I didn’t use it too often but meals were enjoyed when I did. I then moved to my first electric pressure cooker making soups or stews but I never really used it to its full potential so it collected “dust”. The Instant Pot really caught my eye last Spring. I never thought someone could make so many different types of dishes in a pressure cooker including yogurt. I knew the Instant Pot was out there for some time but it was now time for me to take the plunge and my 6 Qt Duo came into my life and has it has been a year-long romance ever since. Honestly, I knew my husband had doubts and figured it would be another appliance that would sit in the cupboard. However, week after week I have been making new recipes and to his delight, he has enjoyed every bite.

Left to Right: Potato and Egg Salad, Yogurt, Cranberry Loin of Pork, and Onion Soup, Jambalaya, Teriyaki Chicken, Beef and Bean Chili

So why not join this wonderful world of “pot-heads” as we are affectionately called and open up a whole new world of meals. Here is an easy recipe to try. BTW, I still cook on my stove and use my oven too LOL!

Honey Garlic Instant Pot Chicken

Honey Garlic Instant Pot Chicken is always moist,
tender and flavorful!  Serve with rice and a veggie side dish for a quick dinner!

Ingredients

1/2 cup chicken broth (I use Better Than Bullion)
¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
¼ cup honey
2 cloves garlic minced
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2  pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or boneless chicken thighs
2 teaspoons cornstarch &  1 Tablespoon of water to thicken the sauce after cooking

1. Combine chicken broth, soy sauce, honey, minced garlic, and pepper in Instant Pot and stir.
2. Add the chicken to the Instant Pot.
3. Seal the lid and turn the pressure valve to the sealing position.
4. Set the Instant Pot to high pressure and set the cook time to 10 minutes.
5. The Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure and then will start
counting down the cooking time. Once it beeps to let you know the cooking time has
finished, do a Quick Release.
6. Wait for the steam to release and the pin to drop down.
7.  Remove chicken to a plate, it will be a nice golden color
8. In a small bowl, stir together the 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Turn the Instant Pot on Saute and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Cook, stirring with a spoon or whisk until the liquid has thickened, 2-3 minutes and turn off Instant Pot.
11. Slice the chicken and stir it back into the sauce in the pot or score the chicken slightly and serve the sauce on top over rice. Serve with rice and vegetables, or as desired.

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Instant Pot Corned Beef – Homemade Magic!

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As I mentioned last week I was going to try making my corned beef in my Instant Pot for the first time. The recipes I posted last week are ones I had been making for years and the corned beef was a step above the traditional way of just simmering on the stove with the packet of spices. I did try it in the slow cooker once with a bottle of Guinness and found the corned beef to not be very tender at all. I also really didn’t care for the taste of the Guinness beer. I do use beer in some recipes but I am not a typical beer drinker so that may also have been a part of the problem. Guinness is an acquired taste in my book.

So here are the simple steps I used to cook my corned beef in the Instant Pot and I must say it did not disappoint at all. It was tender and flavorful and making it this way will certainly be in my rotation of recipes for making corned beef.

Corned Beef and Vegetables cooked in Beer

Instant Pot – 6 Qt. Duo

Corned Beef 4 lbs. plus the spice packet included with the corned beef

1 – 12 oz bottle of your favorite beer. (I used Blue Moon Belgian White Beer)

Instant Pot rack/trivet (I prefer using the one from OXO)

1 small head of Cabbage cut into about eight wedges

1 – 1 lb bag ready to use Carrots

About 2 lbs of small to medium Potatoes, peeled and all cut to about the same size whether it be quarters or halves if the potatoes are small. I used Yukon Golds this time.

Take the corned beef out of the package and rinse off the brine and place the rack/trivet into the Instant Pot

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Put the corned beef. fat side up on the rack/trivet, this will help to keep the meat moist and tender. Sprinkle the spice packet on top of the corned beef, you can push the spices down a bit so they stay on top.

Pour the beer along the sides of the pot but not on top of the meat.

Close up the Instant Pot and set on High Pressure for 90 minutes. When the 90 minutes are over let the pressure pin on the Instant Pot come down on its own with Natural Release for about 15-20 minutes.

Remove the Corned beef and let it rest on a cutting board for about 10-15 minutes, you can cover with aluminum foil if you wish while you move on to the next step.

Return the rack/trivet back to the Instant Pot and get ready to add the prepared vegetables.

Add the Carrots first, then the Potatoes and lastly the cabbage arranged evenly on top.  Close, set to High Pressure for 4 minutes. When the 4 minutes are up, do a Quick Release. Open and remove the vegetables to a serving platter. (I used one of those Asian Wire Spider Skimmers to remove the veggies from the pot, works like a charm)

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Proceed to scrape any spices off the fat cap. If you prefer you can slice off the fat cap or leave it on if you prefer then slice it down for serving and remove the fat later.

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Our favorite is to use Stone Ground Mustard to go with our meat and Irish Soda Bread on the side

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If you give this a try I hope you enjoy! Remember you can enjoy Corned Beef any time of year, not just for St. Patrick’s Day.