By Carolyne

Here are some handy recipes for entertaining that busy salespeople can make in a hurry with ordinary pantry fare.

Turkey Breast Stuffing – just a little bit Italian

Squeeze out about two pounds of Italian sausage (if you enjoy the really spicy one, that’s fine) into a skillet with about a cup of sautéed shallots. Add a pinch of ground cloves and salt, pepper and fresh chopped parsley. Sprinkle with your favourite herbs.

Push the meat mixture around the skillet on medium-high heat, just until sausage loses its pink colour.

Add a half cup of my Offley Ruby Port fruit compote. Remove the mixture to a bowl to cool. Deglaze the skillet with a splash of Marsala wine (the fragrance is wonderful) and add the drippings to the meat. Stir in a cup or two of fresh, loose breadcrumbs made from leftover dried black-olive bread, and a half cup of fresh, grated, Sartino BelleVitano raspberry cheese.

Whisk two large eggs and add to the mixture. Use your hands or the paddle for your kitchen machine. Try to keep the mixture loose, rather than too compact.

Cover in a glass, airtight container and refrigerate overnight.

Open the split turkey breast. Brush with duck fat if you have it, otherwise brush with clarified butter. Sprinkle with your favourite herbs and spices.

Fill it with the stuffing, roll and tie it postage style. Roast on the bottom rack, tented with foil, shiny side in, at medium heat 350 F, until the turkey meat is perfectly cooked. Do not overcook. During the last five minutes of roasting, remove the foil and baste with port compote.

Serve with two vegetables such as sautéed rapini, and split in half a roasted acorn squash in its skins served in a separate side dish, with a little brown sugar (alternate to brown sugar: use a drizzle of marinating jus from your Asbach cognac marinating jar) and butter, along with a fabulous serving of my mashed, whipped potatoes (swirl in a little horseradish cream for an additional gourmet touch, or for a completely different taste, stir in a little Petite Maison white truffle Dijon).

This special Christmas meal will be a regular at your house, even at Thanksgiving or other celebration meals.

If you have extra stuffing, form into generous rolled sausage shapes, place in a pound cake baking pan, cover in foil, shiny side in and bake alongside the turkey breast. Ideal for serving a day later on crostini with my recipe for grilled, roasted bell peppers and onions mix (see my giant meatballs recipe).

This stuffed turkey breast is a great between-the-holidays treat, if guests arrive unexpectedly who were not part of the initial Christmas turkey dinner. It is also a perfect recipe for a buffet service for a take-along to a pot luck event. The host or hostess will be pleased to share your special treat with other guests and will welcome your contribution to any event, large or small.

Rapini Bruschetta

Cut off about an inch of root ends. Blanche fresh rapini in salted cold tap water, brought to a boil. Rapini will wilt much like spinach does. Test a thick stem to be sure the stems are cooked through. Drain thoroughly in a large colander. Push out excess water. Chop fine on a cutting board. Add the rapini back to the hot pot that you have melted unsalted butter in, with a teaspoon of oven roasted garlic purée from your refrigerated jar.

I learned that oven-roasted whole garlic puree will keep for ages in an airtight glass jar and not grow those deadly mould spores if you do not store the purée in oil. Just plain garlic purée, straight from the oven to the fridge. Air-tight.

Mash as much purée as you like into the melted butter and stir in the chopped hot rapini.

Spread toasted, buttered crostini with garlic purée and top with the finely chopped rapini. Crumble Celebrity brand Canadian goat cheese over the rapini and sprinkle with minced sun-dried tomatoes, oil packed.

ALTERNATE for adults: Drizzle with a little congealed figgy jus from your black mission fig Asbach brandy marinating jar.

Next time you go to a pot luck, prepare everything ahead of time and assemble when you get to your destination. Many people would be introduced to rapini for the very first time. They might wonder how they missed out on this terrific veggie. Delicious! Leaves a wonderful after-taste on the palate.

Suggestion to take along: Make a mixture of various bruschetta combinations (peaches, anyone?).

Bruschetta is a perfect accompaniment to any baked Italian pasta dish.

Want a whole meal? Serve the wonderful bruschetta selection with a hot bowl of my homemade minestrone soup or my delicious bean soup. Make plenty. Everyone will want an extra or two, maybe three crostini? (I love to make crostini using toasted, buttered, black-olive bread.)

Apples Gone Puff

Peel, core and cut six firm cooking apples into eighths. Sauté apple segments in hot butter. Sprinkle with just a tiny bit of salt. When fork tender, add a half cup of golden brown sugar and a quarter cup of Canadian maple syrup. Sprinkle with nutmeg, cinnamon and just a most tiny pinch of ground cloves. This should only take about five minutes. Drizzle with a little oil from your Celebrity brand Canadian creamy goat cheese pucks marinating jar. Sprinkle with chopped candied walnuts from your pantry jar. Mince a little citrus rind from your pantry sugar jar and stir in after the apples are soft.

No fresh apples? Keep a few tins of apple pie filling handy in your pantry for when the urge to make this quick treat appears. Sprinkle the pie filling with the nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, and the maple syrup; drizzle with a little oil from your goat cheese marinating jar.

Bake butter-made frozen puff pastry as per package directions. Cut in square napkins, or using a ring, cut circle shapes of the puff pastry, brush with a little egg wash before baking and line with fresh coarse homemade breadcrumbs to catch any extra liquid (same as you would do making homemade strudel).

Top the baked pastry with a heaping mound of the sautéed apples or apple pie filling.

Crumble a log of Canadian Celebrity label Cinnamon Goat Cheese over the hot sautéed apples, or the apple pie filling, mounded on the pastry, and serve immediately with a hot cup of your favourite coffee.

A nice weekend brunch treat, especially if you are entertaining house guests.

ALTERNATE: Top the hot baked puff pastry with chopped firm marinated black mission figs from your Asbach Uralt brandy jar. Crumble the creamy Canadian goat cheese over top of the figs, while puff pastry is still hot from the oven. Sprinkle with candied minced citrus rinds and slivered pistachio nuts.

Special ‘Pigs in a different blanket’

Squeeze out the innards of your favourite raw sausage. About four cups. Mix with sautéed minced onion, garlic (you could use your pantry oven-roasted garlic purée, loads if you love it), and your favourite herbs and spices. You could mince a little sun-dried tomato packed in oil and add to the meat mix. Add just a little grated orange zest.

Let cool enough to handle. Shape into sausage shapes. For something a little different, shape into one-inch balls. Wrap in full fat bacon strips and poke each with a skewer. Sauté in the skillet in sizzling hot butter until the sausage meat is cooked and the thin bacon wrapping is crispy. Turn to keep from burning.

Remove from the skillet and deglaze the pan with just a little Offley Ruby port or Asbach cognac. Perhaps a half cup. Scrape all stuck-on bits loose. Strain. You will use this as a dipper sauce.

Position each sausage on a skewer with an Asbach brandy marinated half black mission fig and a firm chunk of your favourite blue cheese. A perfect opportunity to use Stilton. Serve immediately at room temperature.

In the skillet. reduce the deglaze, add a little congealed figgy jus or some of your favourite honey or maple syrup. Spritz with white balsamic vinegar. Add a knob of butter. Don’t stir. Just swirl the skillet. You should have about a quarter cup of dipping sauce to drizzle over your serving skewers.

This special treat is a grand accompaniment to my spectacular caesar salad served with crispy black-olive bread croutons. Lay a loaded skewer across the top of each salad plate.

For an alternate way to serve the pigs in a blanket, prepare ice cold butter puff pastry and bake in cut squares. Top each square with a ready to eat piggy. Or, you could wrap each ready-to-eat piggy in a phyllo pastry sac and bake on high heat (400 F) on a cookie sheet, just until the phyllo is crisp.

Serve as individuals or top the caesar salad with three piggy phyllo sacs.

© From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks – Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. The cookbook will be available in the coming year. Email Carolyne.


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