Caramelized Onion, Apple and Brie Flatbread with Rosemary

 

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Flatbreads are one of my new comfort foods!  There are endless variations, most are quick and simple to prepare, and I have not made one I did not like yet. The combination of flavors from caramelized onions, brie, and tart apples pared with a layer of herbed goodness from sprigs of our garden rosemary is wonderful. We enjoyed this flatbread for a light evening meal, along with extra apple slices. Try different apples – we like Granny Smith, but also favor Honeycrisp and Smitten. The sweet, crisp crunch adds perfectly to creamy cheese and onions.

Caramelized Onion, Apple and Brie Flatbread with Rosemary

1 ball of premade pizza dough from the freezer shelf of your supermarket (or Naan, if you prefer)

1 apple of your choice, cut into thin slices (I used Honeycrisp)

1/2  cup cubed Brie cheese 

caramelized onions (see recipe below)

chopped fresh rosemary (Save a sprig for garnish)

Balsamic Caramelized Onions:

1 large sweet onion

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

salt & pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a skillet over low/medium heat.Slice the onions and add them to the skillet. Stir in the balsamic vinegar.Turn the heat down to low, and cook the onions until they are soft, beginning to brown, and there is no liquid in the pan, about 15-20 minutes. Set aside until you are ready to add them to flatbread.

If using frozen pizza dough, thaw overnight in refrigerator. Set out on counter to come to room temperature before handling. When ready to assemble flatbread, pat dough out to a long oval on baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Spread caramelized onions over, then scatter slices of apple and cubes of Brie. Sprinkle with chopped fresh rosemary and a few Malton salt flakes if you wish.

These flatbreads can also be grilled on the BBQ. Just set them right on the grill , and bake them the same way you would in the oven. Remove when crust browns and cheese is melty. They cook fast and can burn easily, so be ready with spatula and plate to lift them off.

French Muffin Doughnuts

Long before my cookbook collection grew, and even longer before internet and Google,I clipped recipes from the newspaper and taped them to note cards to save. This recipe is taped to a  bright pink card;the newsprint is yellowed. Our young family members loved these tender little bites as much as Joe and I did.  Fun to make and fun to eat!  They did not last long once out of the oven and rolled in cinnamon and sugar! There are a variety of recipes online with a variety of names – Muffin Doughnuts, French Puffs, Doughnut Muffins.

French Muffin Doughnuts

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup milk

1 egg, beaten

Melted butter, 1/3 cup plus more for sugaring.

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg to mixing bowl. Combine milk, egg, 1/3 cup melted butter and vanillla.  Add liquid ingredients to flour mixture, stirring only until all ingredients are moistened. Fill cups of greased 24 count mini muffin pan half to 1/3 full and bake for 15-20 minutes, until turning golden brown. Remove from pan, immediately brush with melted butter, and roll in mixture of remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon.

Pennsylvania Red Cabbage and Apples

I have delayed a new food posting as I thought about how my meal planning has changed recently. In late August, a storm approached the Texas Gulf Coast that would turn life upside down for millions of people. Hurricane Harvey’s unprecedented rainfall and aftermath flooding left our home and neighborhood mostly dry, with only some minor inconveniences like needing to boil water, rebelling septic systems, brief power outage, and nearby roads, businesses, even a hospital shut down. As we watched rising water very close to us, another storm hit, one of much less magnitude but yet still impacting my life and that of my family.  Even as we gathered supplies and learned more about the Category 4 Hurricane that was spinning nearer, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 renal disease. The time spent being confined to the house during the storm was spent in a number of ways but one of them needed to be planning for the diet restrictions I would now have. I need to be on a low salt diet, and began to research new tools and recipes, trying out a few new things.  One of the biggest things I have learned is that although I can and will add new recipes to my collection of favorites, and can use vinegars, lime and lemon juice, and some available salt substitutes, I need to look at old recipes in a new way and adjust the amount of salt. I am also trying to use more of the list of fruit and vegetables that are the best ones for me to eat.  Here is a good example.
When I got married in 1963, my mother gave me a new Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. As years went on I added many cookbooks to my collection, but I still go back to this one as I remember some of the first recipes I tried as a new wife, many of which became favorites. Cabbage is one of the top 15 in my preferred fruit and vegetable list. I use it often in salads, cabbage rolls, and soups, but this is the prettiest and tastiest cabbage dish  you will ever add to your table.  It is particularly nice served with pork tenderloin or pork chops.

Pennsylvania Red Cabbage and Apples

1 strip bacon, cooked until crisp, lifted to drain, leaving the fat in the skillet. (The original version called for 2 Tablespoons bacon drippings. In those years, we always saved bacon drippings for later use!

1 Tablespoon olive oil

6 cups shredded red cabbage

2 cups chopped unpared apple

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash salt substitute

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon caraway seed (optional)

Heat drippings and oil in iron skillet; add remaining ingredients. Stir and cover, stirring occasionally. Cook 15 minutes of longer if you want the cabbage to be more tender. Makes 6 servings.

 

 

Summer Squash Casserole

Whether you get your summer squash from your own garden, the farmers market, or you local grocery store, there is always plenty, and plenty of recipes for ways to use it. When I was growing up, my favorite way to eat it was fried.  Mother sliced yellow squash, put it in a bowl with a handful of cornmeal and some chopped onions to coat and fried it, usually in bacon grease. We also had it boiled down to limpness, also flavored with a little bacon fat. For me in those years, squash was yellow and crookneck. Now we grow it and find it many places and many varieties – yellow crookneck, zucchini (straight and ball), calabacita, white pattypan -ranging from dark green to bright yellow, long to stubby, smooth to lumpy to ridged.  Although they vary a little in texture and flavor, they all have thin skins and most adapt to being steamed, fried, grilled or stuffed.  But a classic dish, one that is a favorite for church potlucks, is squash casserole. There are hundreds of recipes. My favorite of all that I have tried has the fewest ingredients and is simplest to make.

I am a fan of Jan Karon’s Mitford series books and even have her cookbook, Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader, which has recipes along with stories to link with characters in the books. The recipe I adapted to make my Summer Squash casserole comes from one called Puny’s Squash Casserole, named for the feisty, hardworking house helper who cooks for the series’ principal character, Father Tim Kavanaugh. It is the kind of recipe you look for when you need to keep it simple!  I have used zucchini and calabacita squash in the dish with equal success.

Summer Squash Casserole

6-8 medium yellow squash, coarsely chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 large eggs, beaten

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 Tablespoon butter

1 cup crushed potato chips or corn flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Steam squash and onions until tender. Pour into large bowl and mash with a potato masher. Add butter and stir to melt butter. In a small bowl, combine eggs to cheese, salt and pepper, then add to squash mixture.  Pour into baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes then add topping of crushed chips or corn flakes. Bake another 10-15 minutes, until topping begins to brown.

 

 

 

 

Chicken Marengo

More than any of the cream sauces or pastries or souffles, I love to cook French dishes with fish or chicken and hearty tomato sauces that include garlic and olive oil and olives. I like to think my French great grandmother’s bloodline has something to do with this – she and her family sailed from the south of France (Marseilles) when they immigrated to the southern United States so perhaps that region is where they came from, although I have no way of knowing. If so, my love for Provencal cooking comes honestly. My favorites to eat and to cook have many common ingredients – Bouillabaise, Cacciatore, and Chicken Provencal. This dish, called Chicken Marengo has an interesting legend about its origin. Chicken Marengo is not Italian, as the name implies, but very French as the story goes, it was hastily invented by the cook who accompanied Napoleon when he went to battle. Following the narrow victory at the battle of Marengo in Italy in 1800, Napoleon is said to have been famished and directed a meal to be prepared right away. His cook gathered what local ingredients he could come up with, making this dish with its chicken, tomatoes, herbs, and olives. Tradition includes the addition of a fried egg and some crawfish on top but I chose to omit those!

Chicken Marengo

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • Salt and pepper for chicken
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small shallots, diced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried French thyme
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives
  • 1/3 cup green olives
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  1. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat , then sauté chicken, smooth sides down, until golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over and sauté 1 minute more. Scatter mushrooms around chicken and cook, until chicken is just cooked through, 10-15 minutes.
  2. Transfer chicken to a plate, then add shallots, garlic, and thyme to skillet and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and simmer, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, and water and simmer until mushrooms are tender and sauce is reduced by half, about 4 minutes.
  3. Return chicken to skillet, add olives, and simmer, spooning sauce over until chicken is heated through   Serve with rice.

Slow Cooker Brisket

SlowCookerBrisket

Since we live a short distance from one of the best BBQ restaurants in the state, I don’t often cook brisket at home these days. But we had a small one in the freezer I wanted to use and I thought it was too hot to heat up the oven in the kitchen, even hotter to cook it outside on the grill or in the smoker.  I remembered a recipe and a story I could adapt to the crockpot, loaded it with the few ingredients necessary, set the slow cooker on low and went about a busy day.  The results favorably compared with other methods, and nobody got hot cooking!

The recipe could not be simpler.  The story brings back fond memories.  In 1973, Joe worked with a young man whose name was Steve Greenwell. He and his wife Sondra had not been married long, had no children, and were fond of ours. They came to stay with Sean and Jeremy on the Sunday afternoon 44 years ago that Ben was born.  Sondra was learning to cook.  She told me she bought a brisket and asked  the butcher how to cook it.  He told her to heat her oven on low, put the brisket in a pan, and pour over 1 bottle of liquid smoke, 1 bottle of barbecue sauce, and enough water to cover the meat. Cover and cook for hours. Here is the story in recipe form.  I did not have a crockpot all those years ago and if you do not, you can always use the oven.

Barbecue Brisket

2-3 pound beef brisket

1 bottle barbecue sauce (any kind)

1 bottle Liquid Smoke (optional – omit if you prefer)

2 bottles of water (rinse out the barbecue sauce bottle), enough to cover meat

Add all ingredients to slow cooker set on low and cook for 7 to 8 hours.

Lift out brisket to slice.  Pour sauce into pitcher or bowl to pass when served.

 

 

 

Brunswick Stew

Brunswick Stew is one of our favorite hearty soups and stews. A list that included them all would be a long list!  But if filtered by how many years they have been appearing on our table, this one makes the short list.  In 2012, a post on KItchen Keepers mentions Brunswick Stew along with other dishes. The following quote introduced our fondness for it along with the timing.

In 1984, I traveled with friends to Colonial Williamsburg.  We loved the living history lessons at every turn and enjoyed stopping by its inns and taverns for meals. The cookbook I purchased there has remained one of my favorites for nearly 30 years not only because it reminds me of travels and tastes of the past, but also for recipes that have become keepers for our family like…Chowning Tavern’s Brunswick Stew.

So if you do the math, I have been serving this stew for 33 years!  It is a traditional dish, popular in the South. The origin of the dish is uncertain, but it is believed to have been invented in the early 19th century, with both Virginia and Georgia making claims for originating it. That explains its inclusion in the The Williamsburg Cookbook. A photo of this dish is used for the cover of that book, and  that recipe is the starting place for the ways I prepare it. Although various meats can be used, I always use chicken, but not always the same combination of vegetables, although lima beans, okra, and some tomatoes are consistently included. In this photo, I have used a shortcut, 3 cups of frozen mixed vegetables.

Brunswick Stew

2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded

2 Tablespoons butter

2 garlic pods, peeled and minced

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup okra, ends trimmed and sliced into rounds

2 cup fresh tomato, peeled and chopped (1 15 oz. can chopped fire-roasted tomatoes)

1 cup lima beans

2 cups corn (fresh corn, cut from the cob is best, but may use frozen)

4 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Hot sauce (serve when stew is served so each can add his own)

Melt butter in heavy pot.  Add onions and garlic, then saute until onions are soft.  Add chicken and all other ingredients.  Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for at least an hour. Traditionally, this stew is cooked for a long time over low heat and is believed to be at its best when reheated the next day!

I like to serve with a skillet of hot cornbread. Pass the hot sauce after serving!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Ann’s Pot Roast

There are so many versions of pot roast; there have been several posted. But I have never shared the one I have used most during my cooking years. My mother (long before crock pots)  always browned a small chuck roast on top of the stove, added onions, carrots, and celery sprinkled with salt and pepper, plus enough liquid to simmer for several hours. She probably put this into the oven at times, but I remember clearly the ways she avoided “heating up the kitchen.”  My own version started with this. Early in my marriage, a friend told me her mother-in-law shared her secret to a tasty pot roast – don’t just brown the meat to start but “burn” it on both sides before adding vegetables. Later I read another hint for adding flavor and tenderizing the roast:  For liquid, add any leftover coffee from the morning pot before topping off with water!

So that is what I do when I decide to make a pot roast the old way!  The vegetables I add may vary, but browning the meat very dark and adding some coffee produces a rich, dark cooking liquid that can be served as is or thickened as a gravy. This works whether you have the pot roast bubbling away on the back of the stove, cooking in the oven, or in a slow cooker. Any way you cook it, a pot roast is not a quick cooking dish.  The hours it cooks along with fragrant vegetables and herbs produces tender, fall-apart delicious food – an old-fashioned favorite that will never go out of style in our kitchen.

Mary Ann’s Pot Roast

3-4 pound chuck or shoulder roast

2 Tablespoons cooking oil

1/4 cup flour

salt and pepper

3 medium potatoes,  coarsely chopped

4 carrots, sliced00

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 onion, sliced

dried or fresh herbs of your choice

Rinse and pat the meat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and flour.  Heat oil in a heavy skillet and brown the roast on both sides until dark brown and charred. Place roast in a baking dish if cooking in the oven or crock pot if using a slow cooker. Layer all vegetables around and on the sides of meat. Add salt, pepper, and herbs if you wish.  Pour at least 1 cup of strong coffee over all, top with enough water to almost cover.  Add lid and cook for several hours.  If baking, cook in 325-degree oven for at least 3 hours, or until roast is very tender, adding water if necessary. In a slow cooker, the roast should cook for 4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low.

To serve, lift the pot roast and veggies out and place on a platter. Serve the broth in a small bowl with ladle.  For gravy, thicken the broth by heating 2 Tablespoons oil with 2 Tablespoons flour, stirring while adding the cooking liquid.  Stir and simmer until thickened, season with salt and pepper if needed.

Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

There are almost as many versions of gumbo as there are cooks, especially in this corner of Texas, near the Gulf of Mexico for seafood, and near Louisiana, the place of gumbo’s origin. It is said that gumbo is to Louisiana as chili is to Texas!  But, here on the south Texas Gulf Coast, both are famous.  I think that most often gumbo is either Seafood Gumbo or Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, but the gumbo I make in my kitchen can be either or both – or in this case, both Shrimp and Chicken. It is a matter of what ingredients I have on hand to use!  Last week, we had some leftover jumbo boiled shrimp and some chopped rotisserie chicken.  I had put both into the freezer to wait until Gumbo night. Since our garden tomato production is at its peak, I also had ripe heirloom tomatoes that went into the pot.  A simmering pot of gumbo tempts almost any appetite. I have several cookbooks collected through the years from Louisiana. The basic recipes I started with came from 2 of those books:  River Road Recipes II and Shadows on the Teche, Cuisine of the Cajun Country.  

I enjoy making the roux and prepping as I go This dish has quite a story.        www.southernfoodways.org/interview/a-short-history-of-gumbo/

Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

2-3 cups chopped chicken

2 cups large boiled shrimp

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil (you will use 2 for the roux, and 1 to prep the okra)

2 Tablespoons flour

2 large onions, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3-4 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and rough chopped

1/2 lb (or more to taste) okra, small to medium pods, sliced thin

1 hot pepper

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Prepare okra by frying in 1 Tablespoon oil in small iron skillet 5- 10 minutes,  until okra is dried out and beginning to brown. Remove from heat and set aside. Begin making the roux by heating 2 Tablespoons of oil in large heavy pot.  Add flour, stirring constantly while cooking on medium heat until roux is a deep caramel color. Add onions, then bell pepper and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes.  Add okra and stir.  Then add 6 cups chicken broth or stock.  Add tomatoes and chicken and simmer for about an hour. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are heated through.  (If you are using raw shrimp, follow the same instructions but cook until shrimp are pink and done.) Add 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar just before serving.

We like to add a few hushpuppies on the side.  I usually buy frozen ones and either bake or fry them while gumbo is cooking.

 

 

Pulled Pork and Pasta Bake

This delicious dinner happened because I did not have hamburger buns!  I wanted to use 4 cups of leftover pulled pork, which we usually pile on a bun with a spicy slaw for hearty sandwiches.  There were no sandwich buns in the pantry, but we did have a variety of dried pasta, including an interesting artisanal pasta made in Gragnano, Italy called Gnocchi Napoletani. It almost seemed a shame to combine a leftover with such a fancy pasta, but I did and the results were wonderful.  This pasta dish is not heavy with cheeses and buttery sauces so the flavors are bright.

Pulled Pork and Pasta Bake

One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

3/4 cup red wine

fresh thyme sprigs, 2 for chopping, and 2 for garnish

2  cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon chopped Italian or flat-leaf parsley

3 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped teaspoon plus extra oregano sprigs for garnish

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or more if you like more heat

3/4 pound pasta, preferably orecchiette, or gnocchi (unfilled) – shell shape holds sauce

1/2 cup grated or flaked Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cook pasta al dente, only about 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in skillet. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook until softened and beginning to brown.  Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the red wine and thyme sprigs and cook over high heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and simmer over low heat. Stir in the chopped parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper. Add 4 cups of pulled pork and cooked pasta.  Pour all into large baking dish sprayed with cooking spray and sprinkle grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over top.

Cover and place in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until all is heated through. Remove cover and continue baking for 10 minutes.  Serve hot, with crusty bread and a green salad.