Monday, March 28, 2016

Tiny Eggs ...from Denman!

Bantam Hen eggs on left ~ Regular hen eggs on right
Years back, after writing a food column for the Flagstone on 'Quail Eggs', I had a conversation with a Denmanite at the Saturday Market. She asked, "Why don't you create recipes using local eggs from the Island?" 
A fair enough question. My answer, 'I love to use adorable miniature food when I can find it... quail eggs being one of my favorites!" I continued with my quail egg obsession and wrote a Blog Post on the topic again in November of 2014. 

I support shopping the local farmers and growers, so that conversation stuck in the back of my mind. I love 'Pickled Eggs' in any size but pickled quail eggs in particular are a great conversation piece! I digress... back to local eggs. 
When we moved to Denman Island in 1990, I sold fresh, free range, brown shell eggs supplied by my flock of 30 hens and a handsome rooster named Rory. I loved the hens, besides providing the most incredible eggs, they were a constant source of entertainment. I am considering a smaller flock these days and looking into the beautiful, small eggs from Bantam hens.
Pickled Bantam Eggs ~ 22 per quart!
Bantam Hens require a considerably smaller coupe or chicken tractor compared to the space required for regular sized laying hens. Also, they lay adorable, small eggs ...that can be found on Denman!! This quart was made using the 'Pickled Eggs' recipe on page 226 of my cookbook, 'For the Love of Food'. This is a great way to use up any hard boiled, decorated eggs (of any size) leftover from Easter. Just peel the eggs and pack into a sterilized quart sealer with sliced onion and the brine.
To prepare the Bantam eggs... cook to hard boiled, 7-8 minutes, run under cold water, peel, cool and brine. Pack sliced onions and Bantam eggs 20-22 per jar!! 

Till next time... Bon Appétit!

Photos by Sally Rae

Monday, March 21, 2016

Enchilada Strata

'Strata' is a family of layered casserole dishes in American cuisine. The most common variant is a brunch dish, similar to a quiche or a frittata. Made from a mixture of mainly bread, eggs and cheese, it may also contain meat or vegetables. The usual preparation requires the bread to be layered with a filling in order to create layers (strata). 
Pour egg mixture over, cover and refrigerate overnight
Some recipes merely require the ingredients be mixed together like a savory bread pudding. There can be numerous options used for the bread portion, including; croissants, English muffins, brioche, tortilla wraps etc. A beaten egg mixture is then poured over the ingredients.
It makes breakfast or brunch less hectic because all the prep work is done the night before. The dish requires a rest anywhere between one hour and overnight before it is baked, making it an ideal solution to feeding a crowd. It is served warm.

MEDITERRANEAN SAUSAGE ENCHILADAS              Yield: 8 servings
These flavorful, make-ahead, sausage enchiladas can be served for breakfast or brunch. If you have leftovers, reheat them in the microwave for a quick lunch. 

3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
Sprinkle with remaining cheese; let stand 5 minutes
1 medium onion, ½” dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 small zucchini, ½” dice (about 1 cup)
1 lb. mild Italian sausage meat
6 sun-dried tomato slices, small diced 
¼ cup sliced black olives
8  (8-inch) whole wheat flour tortillas
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

4 eggs

2 cups milk
1 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp. Tabasco sauce
Snipped fresh chives for garnish
Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

In a medium skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. oil over medium heat; cook onion, garlic and zucchini until softened and slightly browned. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. To the same skillet heat 2 Tbsp. oil and cook the sausage meat; keep the meat in about 1-inch chunks, don’t break it up too small as it cooks. Drain off any excess fat and add the fully cooked sausage meat to the bowl. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Cool mixture completely. Place about ½ cup of the sausage mixture into each tortilla and sprinkle each with about 3 Tbsp. of cheese. Roll up tightly and place them seam side down, in a greased 13x9-inch baking dish.
In a bowl; beat eggs, add the milk, and then blend in flour, Worcestershire and Tabasco. Pour over the tortillas, cover and refrigerate overnight or for up to 12 hours. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before baking.
Serve warm with salsa and sour cream
Using a spoon, baste the tortillas with some of the egg mixture in the pan. Bake in a 350˚F oven for 35-45 minutes or until egg mixture is set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining cheese; let stand 5 minutes. Garnish with snipped fresh chives, serve warm with salsa and sour cream.
Till next time... Happy Easter and Bon Appétit!

Photos and recipe by Sally Rae

Sunday, March 13, 2016

'Heart Smart' ~ Chicken En Papillote

February is heart and stroke awareness month in Canada. So why am I writing about 'Heart Smart' in March? Ironically, the morning after Valentine's Day, my partner had a major heart attack. It is taking time, but as we both recuperate from the trauma, I have changed some of my cooking methods to accommodate a reduced salt and reduced fat diet.

I have never been a fan of chicken breast meat, even less if it is boneless and skinless! There is so little fat in a boneless, skinless chicken breast that it is hard to cook it without the meat ending up dry or just tasteless. Wrapping it in bacon was a good option until now. How was I going to prepare my most dreaded protein without the use of fat?

Seasoned with dried thyme, paprika and Garlic Mrs Dash
En papillote is French for 'in parchment' and is a method of cooking where the food is put into a folded pouch or parcel and baked. This is typically done using parchment paper but other wraps can be used. In the case of boneless, skinless chicken breast, the parchment acts as the missing skin to protect and prevent the meat from drying out. The chicken bastes in its own juices and the result is tender, juicy, succulent chicken breasts. It is easy, versatile, dependable and I too enjoyed the meal! Season the chicken with just salt and pepper or any spices you wish. Soon you will be cooking extra for leftovers to use in lunches. If you have struggled with dry, tasteless chicken breasts in the past, this method is worth a try!

This recipe is salt free and very low fat.

1 or more boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Ready for the oven
Dried thyme leaves, rubbed in your palm
Mrs. Dash Seasonings, salt free 
Freshly ground black pepper
Other spices or seasonings 
Parchment paper 

Preheat oven to 400F with a rack in the middle position.
Cut pieces of parchment paper, 10-inches wide, one for each chicken breast. See top photo; place each chicken breast on the parchment at a slight angle, season as desired. Fold the bottom corner over the chicken breast and fold the sides in to create a pouch. Put a few teaspoons of water into each pouch and continue rolling to close. 
Salt free and fat free... yet tender, juicy and succulent
Place parchment wrapped chicken breasts in a pan, spaced slightly apart, seam side down and add 1/8-inch water to the pan. It is OK if some of the water added to the pouch escapes into the pan.

Bake in preheated oven until completely opaque all the way through and registers 165F on an instant read thermometer. Start checking after 20 minutes, total cooking time is usually 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the chicken breast. 
Remove chicken breast from the parchment paper pouch, save the juices for a delicious salt free gravy or add to sauces or soups. Serve the chicken immediately, or let it cool and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

CHEF'S NOTE: For extra flavor try adding; fresh lemon slices, sliced onion, a garlic clove or fresh sprigs of herbs in the packages. 

Till next time... Bon Appétit!

Photos and recipe by Sally Rae