Grilled Pear Sandwich

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  • 1 pear, sliced and grilled
  • small handful of chopped cilantro
  • 2 slices of multi-grain bread
  • cream cheese

 

I went to Harvest Share, an Oregon Food Bank project, at Impact NW on Friday morning. it takes place the fourth Friday of the month and Harvest Share programs are more likely to have fresh fruits and vegetables. This month there were sacks of potatoes, onions and pears. I think my sack of Bosc pears is about 10 pounds. They aren’t quite ripe, but you know pears, once they ripen, your window of perfection is short.

I thought cooking the pears would be a good option for using them while I wait for them to ripen, so I experimented with grilling the pears for a sandwich. I heated my cast iron griddle on medium heat, put no oil or butter on it, leaving it completely dry. I sliced the pears and let them heat. They were softening, but I wanted a caramelized pear, so I turned up one of the electric burners on the stove up to high. I turned on the  fan and opened the door and windows. When the pears were nearly done on the griddle, I laid them directly on the hot burner for a few seconds to give them the charred look and caramelized flavor I wanted. Just a few second, because you don’t wan them to catch fire. My fire alarm still went off for a bit, so it’s a good thing I didn’t make these when I woke up at 6 a.m.

I set them back on the griddle to stay warm while i toasted two slices of multigrain bread (also from Food Bank) and chopped a handful of cilantro. I spread the bread with cream cheese, laid the cilantro on top and then added the pear slices.

This makes one serving. It was delicious, the cream cheese and cilantro complement the sweetness of the pears beautifully. I can’t think of anything to make it more delicious except maybe chèvre or crème fraîche instead of cream cheese. Cream cheese fits my budget better, though.

 

Grilled Egg Salad and Cream Cheese

Grilled Egg Salad with Cream Cheese

I love a grilled sandwich, especially on rye bread. Rye bread has such a rich, nutty taste and grilling only enhances that unique rye flavor. I buttered two slices of rye bread. I spread the butter as thinly as possible. I laid the two pieces of bread on a medium high griddle and toasted them on one side. While it the first side was toasting, I buttered the other side of the slices. I flipped them over when the first side was crisped and then grilled the other so they were both nice and crispy. I could have toasted the bread, but it would not have the same nutty flavor that gets brought out by grilling buttered bread.

Grilled egg salad

To make this sandwich filling, I chopped and mixed up 1 TBSP each of yellow onions, celery, red pepper, cucumber, 1/2 tsp of mustard, salt, pepper and just enough cream cheese to hold them together in a spread (about 1.5 TBSPs. This made a thick, creamy spread. I also sliced up two hard-boiled eggs. When the bread was grilled, I laid it on a plate, spread the cream cheese and veggies on one slice and laid some romaine and sliced hard boiled eggs on the other with a dash of salt and pepper.

To make good hard boiled eggs, put them in a cooking pot with about 1 inch of water over them. Bring them to a boil and remove from the heat, putting a lid on top to hold in the steam. Let them rest 6 to 11 minutes depending on how much you want them done. I like mine well done.

The crunchy bread and crispy celery with the creamy sauce, tender cucumber and eggs all mixed together in a wonderful blend of flavors and textures. Makes one serving.

 

Sausage, Mushroom and Chard Omelet with Dill/Garlic Cream Cheese

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Every once in a while I just have to make myself a decadent, delicious omelet full of good stuff. This was a new one for me as I have never used chard before in an omelet, but it works well. It is slightly bitter so so I added some flavored cream cheese to add a bit of sweetness to balance its bitterness. It was absolutely delicious.

First I sliced up 4 small Crimini mushrooms into thin vertical slices. I heated a small non-reactive pan to low-medium  and tossed the mushrooms in the pan without any oil or water. I stirred them to keep them from sticking or burning. Dry heating the mushrooms for 5 minutes or so will suck out some of the excess moisture so your omelet stuffing won’t be too full of liquid and get all messy. The mushrooms will have a deeper, richer flavor if you dry cook them first and will retain a firmer texture. It’s a win all the way round and anytime mushrooms are featured in your dish, you should just dry cook them before you start cooking your recipe. You can read more about the dry sauté method here, though I think low-medium gives me better results, but then I did not want them browned and caramelized.

Now that the mushrooms are ready to cook, I put a tbsp of butter in the pan with the mushrooms. I also added small pieces of breakfast sausage that I cut into pieces about 1/3rd of an inch long. I let the mushrooms and sausage cook together while I chopped up the leaf from one stalk of chard (about 1 cup of chopped chard) that I had cleaned and removed from the stem earlier (I used the stems in a salad.) I layered the chard on top so and put a lid on and let it all cook together.

While that cooked, I flavored 1/3 cup of cream cheese by adding 1 tsp of dried dill weed and 1 tsp of garlic powder and stirring and stirring and stirring and stirring until the cream cheese was softened and it was all mixed together. I added some salt to bring up the flavor a bit and cut the sweetness.

Checking back on the mixture of sausage, mushrooms and chard, I stirred a few times, mixing them together and added a touch of salt and pepper. The idea is to season the components of your dish so that when they come together the dish is well-seasoned. If you wait to season at the end, it will probably be under-seasoned and bland and then when you sit down to eat you will put too much salt and pepper on to compensate.

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When the sausage was done and the chard was tender, it was time to make the omelet. I used a lefse griddle, but you can use a pancake griddle or other large flat cooking surface. I heated the griddle to 250° F while the sausage mixture was cooking. I also mixed up 3 eggs, beating them until smooth and adding about 2 TBSP of water. I also added some pepper. Now, you don’t salt scrambled eggs because you want them to be light, tender and fluffy. If you are cooking eggs over easy or sunny side up, you can salt them, but not for scrambled eggs or omelets.

I took ! TBSP of butter on the end of a fork and spread it all over the griddle, letting it melt and cover the entire surface with a thin layer of butter. Then I poured the beaten eggs onto the center of the griddle, taking the handles on the side of the griddle and tipping it forward and backward, left and right to make the eggs spread out into as large and thin a surface as possible. Then I let it cook. The heat is low so it will cook in about 3 minutes or so, ample time to fork small dollops of the flavored cream cheese all over the center area of the omelet. After that, I spread the sausage, mushroom and chard over the center, spreading it thinly and leaving about 2 inches on all sides uncovered.

When the eggs were done, I used a lefse turner, but you can use a thin spatula, to turn that two inch edge inward over the omelet stuffing and then began rolling the omelet over and over sort of like a burrito. As you can see, I folded it over four times, making several layers of egg and stuffing. I slid it onto a plate and cut it in half before serving.

So, the flavored cream cheese was decadent as all get out and melted into the sausage, mushrooms and chard it was amazing. The omelet filing was delicious, rich and hearty with just enough spiciness from the sausage and the garlic in the cream cheese. The eggs were tender and lightly done. The real secret to delicious eggs is low heat.

 

 

Kale & Italian Sausage Lasagna

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I seldom make lasagna. How seldom was brought home to me when I was washing out my food storage bins and discovered that my lasagna was past its expiration date. I had not realized pasta had an expiration date, so there you have it. That poor box of lasagna has been dragged through two moves and I still had not emptied it, so I decided to finish it off and actually make a pan of lasagna. Now, I didn’t happen to have ricotta or mozzarella on hand since I seldom buy specialty cheese as I don’t use them quickly enough and they spoil. So, I made do with substitutes that made a tasty but totally inauthentic lasagna.

But let’s work through it. First I started water boiling. When it began a rolling boil I added eight pieces of lasagna pasta. I also added 3 pieces of Italian Sausage right out of the freezer. I figured why dirty two pans…and if anything the sausage might add some flavor to the pasta.

I got out a rectangular baking dish that was about as wide as 2.5 pieces of lasagna and just a bit shorter than the pasta. I laid down three pieces of lasagna, the middle one overlapping the two outer pieces. I then thinly sliced one of the pieces of Italian sausage and laid it down over the pasta. Taking about 1/2 cup of cream cheese, I dotted cream cheese in the spaces between the sausage. I then layered finely chopped kale on top. I used one full stalk, removed the ribs, and then chopped the kale.

Then I laid down two more strips of lasagna for another layer. I took the other two Italian sausages and  removing the skins, I chopped them up in a bowl and added 1 14.5 oz can of chopped tomatoes with jalapeños. I would have used fresh but didn’t happen to have any on hand. I mixed the sausage and tomatoes together and layered them on the pasta. On top of that I added a layer of black beans from a can, thoroughly rinsed in cold water.On top of that I added some sour cream which made a nice bed for the next layer of kale – using one more more stalk of kale finely chopped. I added a final layer of pasta and baked until done in a 350° oven. When it was done, I sprinkled some parmesan and some pepper jack cheese on top and broiled for just a few minutes to brown the cheese.

So, this made 12 servings which is why I don’t make lasagna very much. Luckily my friend came over and had some, too. It was delicious and easy to make and really did a good job of cleaning out some remnants in my fridge (cream cheese and sour cream). It was not too spicy, rich and flavorful.

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Kale, Red Peppers and Onions with Bacon and Cream Cheese on an Everything Bagel

Kale, Bacon and Red Pepper with Cream Cheese on a Bagel

For a fulfilling, but easy, breakfast bagel, I fried one slice of bacon. When it was nicely crisped, I removed it and let it rest. While it cooked, I chopped 2 tbsp of yellow onion, 2 tbsp of fresh red pepper and 2 stalks of fresh kale. I chopped everything to about 1.4 inch size. After I removed the bacon slice, I tossed the onions in the bacon fat along with a pinch of anise seed. I let the onions get tender and added the red pepper. When the red peppers softened just a bit, I tossed in the kale.

As soon as I added the kale, I put an Everything bagel in the toaster to toast. When it popped up, I spread some cream cheese on each half. I then spread the kale and red peppers on top of the cream cheese. I sliced the bacon into 4 pieces and put two pieces on bagel half. This made two servings, or two half bagels.

You could make a vegetarian version without the bacon because the kale was delicious with the cream cheese and bagel on its own.