Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Taco Lasagna

By Paul Briand

Here's a simple fusion recipe for you: The taste of tacos fused with the heartiness of lasagna.

Getting this lasagna onto the table first requires the assembling of a variety of ingredients from the market and deciding what garnishes you want to add to the dish.

1 pound of ground beef
1 package of taco seasoning mix
1 bottle of beer (or a cup of water)
4 soft tortillas that fit into a 9-inch pie plate
Fresh mozzarella cheese, about 8 ounces
1 package of shredded cheddar cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees;
2. In a skillet heated to medium high cook the ground beef, add taco seasoning mix and beer (or water) and continue to stir until the mixture starts to bind up. Remove from heat and set aside;
3. Place a tortilla into ungreased glass or metal pie plate;
4. Layer in one third of the meat mixture, strips of mozzarella cheese, and a third of the cheddar;
5. Add another tortilla and another layer of meat, mozzarella and cheddar;
6. Add third tortilla and another layer of meat and cheese;
7. Top with last tortilla;
8. Bake for about 15 minutes;
9. Remove and top with your favorite garnishes.

The lasagna yields six pie-like slices. My choice of garnishes included guacamole, salsa, and jalapeno peppers. Other choices could include black olives, more cheddar cheese, sour cream, and nacho cheese sauce.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009


By Paul Briand

Growing up, my Mom frequently exposed our family to some of the food from the Eastern Europe branches of her family tree, especially around Easter, when she would make paska, a traditional Polish egg bread.

But we never explored the culinary side of my Dad's French-Canadian upbringing. So I was pleased to find in a recent issue of the American Automobile Association magazine a recipe for Tourtiere, a traditional French-Canadian meat pie dish normally served around the holidays.

There are any number of varieties of a Toutiere. Though considered a meat pie, you can play with combinations of ground beef, pork, turkey, chicken or veal. You can add some chopped up vegetables. I used ground beef and veal, and chopped onions and mushrooms.

It's not a complicated dish, by any means, but what sets it aside is a blend of spices -- particularly cloves -- that you might otherwise associate with mulling cider or wine. I'll play with this recipe in the future. I'd like it to stand up better once I cut into it, which means I need something to hold the ingredients together as they bake in the pie crust.

1 pound of ground beef
1 pound of ground veal
1 onion, diced
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Pastry for double-crust 9-inch pie
A little milk

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees;
2. Add the beef and veal to a large skillet over medium high heat;
3. Add the onion, mushrooms, garlic, chicken stock and spices and bring to boil;
4. Simmer on low, uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally;
5. Drain off excess fat;
6. Line a pie pan with half of the pastry and spoon the meat filling into the shell;
7. Top with the remaining pastry, crimping the edges together;
8. Cut slits in the top crust and brush with a little milk;
9. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until the crust is brown;
10. If crust browns too quickly, reduce heat to 350 degrees or cover crust edges with foil;
11. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Roasted Pork Loin with Apples and Cinnamon

By Paul Briand

This recipe came from a visit my wife Jane made to New York state for a girls' weekend with her three daughters. One of the daughters, Reilly, is a student at Ithaca College, so Jane, daughter Kelsey and daughter Eileen made arrangements to travel to Ithaca for a weekend of touring wineries and sightseeing and visiting.

Jane picked up a little brochure with information about apples, in particular apples native to New York state, such as the Empire and Cortland.

The brochure contained information about various apples and various recipes that use apples, including one for Roasted Pork Loin with Apples and Cinnamon.

I made the recipe recently for a big family Sunday dinner and it was a big hit with only a moderate amount of preparation involved.

The idea here is to create a rub for the pork using olive oil, pepper, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Also, the recipe called for two apples, I used three. And, since we couldn't find a 2-pound pork loin, we bought two loins of about a pound each.

2 pounds boneless pork loin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger, divided
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 Cortland apples, cored, peeled and sliced into wedges

1. Rub pork loins with a mixture of the olive oil, pepper and a 1/2 teaspoon each of the ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon;
2. Roast pork in a shallow pan in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until the interior of the meat reads at least 155 degrees;
3. While the pork is roasting, mix together in a small bowl the rest of the ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon along with the wine, honey and lemon juice;
4. Place mixture in a medium sauce pan and add apples, then simmer until the apples break down into the sauce;
5. When the pork is done, let sit for 10 minutes before slicing and add pork roast juices to the mixture in the sauce pan;
6. Serve sliced pork topped with the apple sauce.
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