Reuben Pie

On a road trip about 15 years ago, I had a culinary epiphany. Little did I know how well the
initial test would turn out, or how much demand there would be. I conceived something we like to call Reuben Pie.

If you like Reuben sandwiches , you’re likely going to love this one. For those not in the know, the Reuben is an American hot sandwich composed of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, grilled between slices of rye bread. There are plenty of variations out there, but only one real Reuben.

This dish is not an inexpensive one due to the ingredients, and it’s deceptive in it’s
simplicity. Making one, let alone two of these things is a labor of love.
Rueben Pie
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients:
1 raw pizza crust or preferred dough
2 lbs corned beef sliced at 0.5

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Grated Swiss cheese

1 pound Swiss cheese, shredded or grated
1 15 oz jar of sauerkraut, drained, rinsed, and pressed
1 bottle Thousand Island or Russian salad dressing
10″ spring-form pan
Parchment paper

Directions:

Grate the cheese and set aside.

Drain, rinse and press as much water as you can out of the sauerkraut.

Line the bottom of a spring-form pan with parchment paper and lock the ring in place. You may cut away the excess paper on the outside of the ring, or leave it for a larger “handle” when removing the pie after baking. If your pans are non-stick, don’t bother spraying them olive oil. If using a cast iron or other pan, spray the sides and line the bottom as with the spring-form.

Roll out the pizza crust and fit it into the pan. Be sure to cover the bottom and sides,
pinching any seams or holes closed, and pushing the dough into the edge where the side meets the bottom. You may have to cut away corners and pinch them in to fill gaps along the sides.

Place in a 400F oven for about ten minutes to give the crust a little more definition. If you
have an extra pan that will fit to keep the sides upright, I suggest using it.

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Upon removing the crust from the oven, remove the shaping pan (if you used one) and begin layering in your other ingredients. Begin with a thin layer of dressing, spread evenly around the bottom and sides. Add a sprinkle of Swiss. Add a layer of meat, thick enough so that you cannot see the bottom crust. Spread a layer of kraut around, as thick as you like. Next is a layer of Swiss.

Begin again with the dressing and continue layering until the pan is full. Be sure that your
top layer is cheese and that nothing is hanging over the edge of the pan.

Bake at 350F for 45 minutes to ensure cheese melts and dish is heated through.

Once out of the oven, unlock and remove the ring from the pan. Using the edge of the parchment paper slide the pie onto a cutting surface. Allow to sit for three or four minutes before cutting.

Cut into eight wedges and serve with deli mustard and kosher pickles.

 
I’ve made some notes on the process and ingredients I prefer for this dish, as well as some
excellent alternatives. You might find some or all of them helpful.

DSC_0176The Pan
I use a spring-form pan for this dish for it’s ease in releasing the pie once it’s baked. A
deep dish cake pan or cast iron would do as well, provided you don’t mind it getting scratched from having the pie cut in it. This is not a dish that turns out like a cake with anyreliability, tending more to oozing cheese everywhere.

Parchment Paper
Parchment paper in the bottom of the pan will make it easier to remove. With a spring-form, you simply unlock the ring and lift it away, then slide the parchment paper and it’s burden onto a cutting surface. With any other type of pan, the corners of the parchment paper may be used to lift the pie out of the pan and onto a cutting surface. Parchment paper also helps give the bottom crust a crunchier texture, reminiscent of the grilled bread of a Reuben sandwich.

DSC_0180Pizza Crust
A pizza crust found in the canned biscuit case is readily available and easy to use. If you
have other breads available (at one time I could get pre-made rye bread dough at the grocery), or prefer to make your own, it’s entirely up to you. Be sure that with whatever crust you choose, the flavors will be compatible with the filling ingredients. We have tried pizza crust, rye, sourdough, and pumpernickel over the years and found them all to be quite tasty.

DSC_0192Corned Beef
Corned beef is typical of the Reuben sandwich, though you may prefer pastrami. Pastrami or even a mix of the two meats is perfectly acceptable. While I have always preferred corned beef sliced extremely thin, you may choose to use thicker slices (tougher) or even chunks/strips if you have home-cooked a corned beef and have leftovers. I know – such leftovers are not likely. Thinly sliced meat will not only allow fats to more readily cook out to combine with the other ingredients, it will give you a more tender texture overall, and allow your cheese to melt into the meat as well as the kraut layers.

Turkey also makes a decent Reuben style sandwich, though I have yet to try it in a Reuben pie. White meat especially is rather dry on it’s own and should be compensated for by adding a bit of an oilier cheese such as Mozzarella to compensate.

DSC_0184Sauerkraut
There are actually several styles of kraut on the market. There is a sweetish kraut (Bavarian style), a red kraut, and the generally well known white sauerkraut. Most people are unaware that when buying commercial kraut, it should be drained of the can/jar fluids, and rinsed before being used. That’s a trick I learned from my father after he had spent some time in Germany. For this recipe, the less fluid in the kraut, the less fluid will run off and move down to make the bottom crust mushy, so be sure to press it well after rinsing.

Swiss Cheese
I recommend buying your cheese in block form and grating it yourself. You may slice it if you prefer, but you will not get the same coverage in the end. Pre-grated or shredded cheeses are commonly coated with an anti-caking agent such as corn starch. If you don’t want those extra calories and carbs, you might consider avoiding the temptation. Besides, pre-shredded Swiss is more expensive per pound than the block.

 

DSC_0200The Dressing
Russian dressing is reputed to be the original dressing used for the Reuben sandwich. Many restaurants over the years have switched to using Thousand Island due to it’s accessibility and popularity on salads. I like either dressing, though this time around Thousand Island was requested.

 

Pickles
Reuben sandwiches, being a deli creation, are generally served with a pickle spear or a whole kosher dill on the side. The same is true for the Reuben Pie. I do not recommend putting slices of pickle into the layering of the pie for a couple of reasons. Pickles hold a a lot of liquid, and it will bake out into your pie. While the flavor may be delicious, the potential for a mushy crust is not. Pickles also change texture somewhat when baked or otherwise heated, losing the lovely crunch and often becoming mushy themselves, rather like sliced squash.

If you like the recipe, experiment with different flavor combinations and let us know what you come up with.

Here are a couple of extra photos of the no-sauerkraut pie and the crust-less pie that I made at the same time. One was a special request, though not strictly in the Reuben tradition, while the crust-less pie was simply a test of the ingredients without bread.

 

Enjoy!

— Ann Cathey

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Breezes on the Bay – George Town, Grand Cayman

As an offshoot of our Cruise Cuisine series, allow us to share with you the stop we made on Grand Cayman for lunch.

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When visiting George Town on Grand Cayman, be sure to look up Breezes by the Bay ~ Tropical Grill & Rhum Deck. It’s a lovely casual dining experience forlunch and dinner, complete with a brick oven for pizza and Caribbean fare. While they do not currently have a website, their Facebook account stays pretty active.

Breezes is located in the heart of George Town with great views of the waterfront from just about any seat in the house. They focus on classic Caribbean fare rather than touristy food, except for the pizza, of course. That is a familiar favorite in many countries. They have a large lineup of tropical cocktails, too.

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What Breezes has to say for itself.

 

The folks working there were all very nice, though keep in mind that English is not always their primary language. There were some barriers, but we got over most of them with little trouble. Our waiter was a first-day employee, and while he was trying hard, one of my table mates later wondered, “What was that guy DOING?”

Our excursion group had to try a little bit of everything. From snacking on jerk seasoned fries (“I’ve never paid that much for fries in my life, but hey – Grand Cayman is ‘spensive”), to the local version of pepper steak, to the brick oven pizza, everything was a delight for the palate, if a bit pricey.

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Jerk seasoned French fries.

 

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Quattro Fromage – the four cheese pizza.

 

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Jerk chicken pizza.

 

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Cayman Pepper Steak, with black bean rice, cole slaw, grilled plantain and breadfruit.

 

 

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Pina Colada

Frosty drinks in hurricane style glasses give the place a festive feel, though they do maintain a full bar for those not into frozen concoctions. This Pina Colada was overwhelmingly pineapple, which drowned out the more delicate coconut flavor, though the rum was full bore.

 

We also gave a local beer a shot. This is a glass of Iron Shore Bock from the Cayman Islands Brewery. It gave us a light head over a clear brown beer with only a little lacing. The aroma was simple and pleasing, mildly hoppy with a flavor of caramel malts. Not particularly strong on the alcohol, but that allowed a nice smoothness to the mouthfeel.

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Iron Shore Bock

 

 

This establishment is on the second and third floor of it’s building. There are wide tread stairs, but no elevator available as of our visit.

On the 1-5 scale, Breezes has earned:
Cleanliness – 4.5
Service – 3
Quality of food – 4
Flavor – 4.5
Pricing – 2.5 (Grand Cayman can be expensive)
Overall experience – 3.5

 

 

Breezes by the Bay
8 Harbour Drive
George Town, Cayman Islands
Phone: +1 345-943-8439

— Ann Cathey and Cruise Cohort
Additional photos by Christopher

Make-ahead Meatballs

I have a habit of planning and buying ingredients for meals I never get around to making. This happened very recently. I purchased some items and they sat around mocking me. 

“You’ll never make stuffed pork chops,” they said. 

“Even sketti and meatballs is beyond you,” they told me.

And they were right. Like many, my roommate and I are constantly on the go, and we usually get home late enough that I don’t want to spend an hour or more cooking up a meal from scratch. Stuffed pork chops are a time sink (though so delicious!), and even putting together some meatballs and jarred sauce for spaghetti takes more time than I’ve been willing to invest lately.

So when I found myself with a little spare time, I decided to try something different: making meatballs in the oven, to be refrigerated or frozen and eaten later. 

I ended up with more meatballs than I counted on, and boy was I glad! My fellow bloggers and I snacked on some miniature meatballs (along with all sorts of cheese), and I still had enough minis for a pizza and more than enough full-size meatballs for spaghetti. Score! Best of all, they turned out even better than I had hoped they would.

Meatballs, like meatloaf, are a matter of personal taste. For the meatballs that would be covered in sauce, I kept things simple: meat, bread crumbs, egg, and seasonings. For the mini meatballs, I added some cheese and some more seasoning. Both are very tasty.

The basic recipe is as follows:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c bread crumbs (seasoned or unseasoned, depending on your personal preference)
  • 1 pound ground beef (I used chuck)
  • 1 pound Italian sausage (I used a chub)

To these basic items I added some seasonings, as I said: salt, pepper, and a mushroom and pepper blend called “mushroom truffle hunt” that I found in the clearance bin at a local supermarket. For the mini meatballs, I added a few things to about half the seasoned meat: about 1/4 cup grated parmesan and maybe a tablespoon of a garlic/romano/spice blend from Garlic Festival called Garli Ghetti. 

Mix all ingredients thoroughly by hand until the mixture will easily form balls that hold their shape. Drop the meatballs in a greased sheet pan or baking pan and bake at 400 for about 20-30 minutes (until they are partially browned on the outside). 

Freeze, refrigerate, or eat immediately. Great for pizzas, spaghetti, meatball subs, or finger foods. 

You can, of course, change up the seasonings to suit your tastes or what you have on hand:

  • Fresh or granulated garlic and onion
  • Italian seasoning blend, oregano, basil, parsley, and/or thyme
  • Shredded cheese (you’ll probably need to use less of the bread crumbs)
  • Shredded spinach
  • Different ground meats (or combination of meats) such as lamb, turkey, chicken, venison, or pork
  • If you don’t have any bread crumbs on hand, pulverize Saltine crackers or bread you’ve dried in the oven (250 degrees for about 30 minutes) in a food processor or chopper. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Bon appétit!

~LB

 

 

Cruise Cuisine – Supper in Sapphire

On our third day of the cruise, we were back in Sapphire for dinner. Things were pretty relaxed, and while there was a dress code, no one was really enforcing it.

We were getting more into the swing of things and finally noticed this little addition to the menu that featured an unusual appetizer: “Rare Finds”. My partner in food was much more willing and able to take advantage of this particular little gem. While I returned to the shrimp cocktail, he adventurously ordered the Escargots Bourgignonne (snails in Burgandy). They were not presented in shell, but on a special plate with numerous cups around the rim, each holding a snail. The flavor of the sauce they had been cooked in was outstanding, the heartiness of wine mixed with spices and butter. I was at least brave enough to try that, if not the gastropods themselves.

Sadly, in our excitement, neither of us remembered to take photos of the appetizers.

Our main courses were more mainstream, being beef and chicken, but were as delicious as everything else we had been served to date.

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Chicken Milanese with charred lemon, sautéed green beans, and steamed vegetables.

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Flat Iron Steak with au jus, a baked potato and steamed veggies.

On we went, after a measured pause, to dessert. One of the selections truly surprised me, being lower calorie and having no added sugar. Of course I had to try it and I was not disappointed.

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Chocolate Panna Cotta. A deliciously chocolate dessert with lowered calories and no added sugars.

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Cheese Plate with whole grain bread, blueberries and strawberries, A Swiss-type cheese, a bleu cheese, a Gouda, a Cheddar and a Brie.

If for nothing else, time spent together with excellent food readily available made this trip more than worth the price.

— Ann Cathey

Stuffed Steak a la Italiana

Hello and welcome once again to a round of foraging in my kitchen to produce a meal worthy of my family. In this episode we will discover so many little treasures, and combine them to make a delicious main course!

Tucked away in my freezer was a package of thin cut beef steaks and a small parcel of pre-cooked, shredded chicken breast. A step down into the refrigerator produced fresh mozarella, sliced Provalone, shredded parmesan, some leftover tomato based pasta sauce, and couple of ounces of pepperoni.

What to do with such a combination? Stuffed Steak a la Italiana, of course!

Stuffed Steak a la Italiana
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Bake time: 45 minutes at 350F
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
1-1/2# steak, thinly sliced
6 oz chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dry parsley
1 tsp olive oil
Olive oil spray
6 oz Provolone, sliced thin
6 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced thick
2 oz Parmesan, shredded or sliced
2 oz pepperoni
8 oz pasta or pizza sauce

Spray a baking dish with olive oil and set aside.

Spray a saute pan with olive oil, heat, and sear steak on both sides. Add salt and pepper if desired. As steaks come out of the skillet, curl them like taco shells and place into the sprayed baking dish.dsc_0032

Lightly deglaze pan with water, then toss in chicken and spices, stirring over heat until everything is hot and thoroughly combined.dsc_0034

Lay strips of Provolone into the bottom of each curled steak. Using tongs, divide chicken mixture evenly into the curled steaks. Place another layer of Provolone to cover the chicken. Fold slices of pepperoni and tuck two into each steak. If you have extra, go ahead and add it.

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Spoon a teaspoonful of sauce into each steak, spreading to distribute fairly evenly.

Layer sliced mozzarella across top of entire dish, covering as much of the surface as possible. Spoon a teaspoonful of the sauce into each corner, then dole out the rest and spread it across the top of the mozzarella evenly. Any leftover Provolone may be sliced or diced and added to the top of the dish, as decoratively as you prefer. Sprinkle shredded (not powdered!) Parmesan evenly over the top.

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Bake for 45 minutes at 350F to ensure even heating of meats and melting of cheeses.dsc_0043

Serve on a bed of pasta, with a side of garlic bread, or any other preferred accompaniments.dsc_0044

 

Yes, I know things like this are normally rolled and tied, but I was lacking cooking string at the time and feeling a tad lazy besides.

If you have such things available, feel free to add fresh spinach, extra garlic, sauteed onion, mushrooms, olives, or whatever else strikes your fancy.

Enjoy!

–Ann Cathey

Eggplant Lasagne

Don’t curl your lip until you hear me out. Seriously.

A friend recently mentioned that eggplant could be used in a lasagne instead of the traditional flat pasta. For me, being diabetic, this concept would be a huge bonus in my enjoyment of Italian cuisine, so I decided to give it a go.

As with any lasagne, this is not an inexpensive project, running between $35-40 before any sides like garlic bread or salad. On the flip side, it will feed a goodly number of people.

I used my crock pot to test this dish, though you are welcome to use a conventional oven, baking at 350F for between 1-2 hours depending on the depth of the baking dish you choose.

Eggplant Lasagne
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours on High
Servings: 8-12

Ingredients:
2 med eggplant, sliced
salt
1 lb hamburger
12 oz tomato paste
20 oz crushed tomatoes, partially drained
24 oz tomato based spaghetti sauce of choice
2 tsp garlic powder (NOT garlic salt!)
2 tsp onion powder (NOT onion salt!)
2 tsp parsley, dry or fresh
1 tbsp wheat germ (for added fiber)
1/2 oz basil leaves, coarsely chopped
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
15 oz seedless black olives, drained, sliced or crushed
1 lb mozzarella, shredded
1 lb ricotta
8 oz Provolone, sliced or shredded
6 oz Parmesan, shredded or shaved

Prep 01

Eggplant in zipper seal bag layered with salt to pull out moisture.

Clean and slice the eggplant to about 1/8″ thickness, either in rounds or long flat pieces. Place in a zippy bag in layers, sprinkling salt between each layer. Seal and refrigerate overnight. This treatment will not only pull moisture out of the eggplants slices, it will also reduce any potential bitterness.

 

Prep 02 Salted Eggplant and drainage

Excess moisture collecting in bag.

Prep 03 Rinse

Rinsed eggplant.

When you are ready to assemble the dish, rinse the sliced eggplant and pat dry to further reduce additional moisture.

 

In a large bowl, mix dry spices including the parsley, pasta sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, olives, and wheat germ. Slice the black olives, or simply crush them between your fingers for a chunkier texture. Pitted olives have a hole on one end and a cross shaped cut on the other. Putting pressure on the sides of the olive will cause it to split into between 2 and 6 odd shaped chunks.  Cover the bowl and set aside.

 

Prep 04  sauce

Building the sauce.

Prep 05 Meat

Ground beef.

Crumble hamburger and pre-cook until completely cooked through. Drain off any fluid. For a less fatty dish, rinse the meat and allow to drain thoroughly before adding to sauce.

Prep 06 BAsil

Slicing basil.

 

Slice mushrooms. Roll and slice basil leaves.

 

 

Set up the crock pot with a liner and/or olive oil spray, as preferred.

First Layer Composite - Taylor

Photos by M. Taylor

Spread just enough sauce along the bottom of the crock to ensure other things won’t stick. Lay down first layer of eggplant slices. Add a layer of mushrooms, basil, mozzarella, ricotta, and a little parmesan and provolone. Cover with a layer of sauce.

 

Second Layer Composite - Taylor

Photos by M. Taylor

Repeat layering, adding the meat in on the next layer, until all ingredients are used up. Make sure that the very top of the dish is covered in cheeses.

Third Layer composite - Taylor

Photos by M. Taylor

Push any cheese bits that may fall under the lip of the lid away from the edge enough to ensure that the cheese should not touch the lid during cooking. This will help avoid a later mess that can be difficult to clean off the chrome, rubber, and/or glass of the crock pot lid.

Ready to serve

Ready to serve!

Allow to cook on high for 6 hours. A wooden skewer should pass down through the middle of the dish with little to no resistance.

Allow to rest for a few minutes after turning the heat off, about as long as it takes to bake up the garlic bread and toss your salad or other accompaniment. Serve and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

Emplate - Asher

Photo by Asher

Please drop us a line if you try this one out, and let us know how your version turned out!

— Ann Cathey

Additional photos by M. Tanner and Asher (Thank you!)

 

 

Italian Style Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

I seem to have a hang-up on spaghetti squash recently! It’s tasty and filling and I’m collecting recipes that my family is enjoying in spite of the squash.

This is a quick and fairly simple recipe that can be baked up in either the oven or a crock pot. As ever, you may alter it to suit your own tastes. There are no hard and fast rules here.

Italian Style Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
DSC_0760Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 4 hours
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:
1 small to medium spaghetti squash
1 – 6 oz can tomato paste
1 – 40 oz package of frozen meatballs, or the equivalent home-made
1 – bottle or can spaghetti sauce, your choice of flavor/style
4-8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
12 oz mozzarella, sliced
2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
Garlic, basil, oregano, and other additional spices to taste

DSC_0753In the crock pot, place the spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, mushrooms and additional spices. Stir well and put the crock on medium heat.

 

Render the squash. Fold the stringy meat into the sauce, making sure that the squash is well coated.


Add a dusting of Parmesan on top of the squash mixture.

DSC_0757Place meatballs in crock, distributing evenly across the other ingredients.

Cover and cook on low for 2 hours.

 

DSC_0758Open the crock and arrange the slices of mozzarella across the top of the dish. Re-cover and cook on high for 2 more hours.

Serve with an additional dusting of Parmesan and a side of garlic bread.

 

–Ann Cathey