How to Make Homemade Applesauce

Applesauce
Homemade Applesauce

A true old-fashioned comfort food, homemade applesauce is so simple to make and, best of all, it does not take a lot of ingredients or any unusual ones.  I like to make a big batch of applesauce in the fall when the local apples are fresh in-season and when I can buy, bulk, the different varieties of apples.

While I have often made good applesauce using only one variety of apple, I have discovered that blending several varieties, each with its own properties, adds wonderful flavour to the sauce.  I like to use at least three varieties, and sometimes four, in my applesauce so I choose varieties known for their sweet, tart, and tangy properties because their flavours play well off of each other.  In the sauce in the photographs in this posting, I have used four varieties – Cortland from the sweet category, Jonagold and MacIntosh from the tart group and, to add a tangy dimension, I added some Honeycrisp.

Applesauce
Homemade Applesauce

You don’t want to use too much liquid when cooking the apples – basically, just enough to keep the apples from scorching as they cook.  The apples, themselves, will release their juices as they cook.  Using too much liquid will make for a very runny, soupy sauce that will lack good consistency. While the applesauce can be made with a little water, using apple juice really kicks the apple flavour of the sauce up a notch.  I use brown sugar in my applesauce and also add some pure maple syrup because I like a rich applesauce and both of these ingredients contribute to the lovely color of the sauce.  I don’t add much in the way of spices because it’s the apple flavour I am looking for.  So, just a small amount of cinnamon and nutmeg is all I add.

Applesauce
Homemade Applesauce

Let the apples simmer away on the stove until they are perfectly soft and mushy.  For chunky style applesauce, simply mash the cooked apples with a potato masher.  If you like a smoother sauce (like the the sauce photographed here), let the apple mixture cool for a bit and then purée it to desired consistency using either an immersion or regular countertop blender.

Applesauce
Homemade Applesauce

This applesauce freezes very well in airtight freezer containers. It’s delightful on its own with a good chunk of cheddar cheese and biscuits warm from the oven.  Applesauce has a multitude of uses, including as an ingredient in my Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins. Of course, it’s a dandy side to porkchop dishes, as well.

Applesauce
Homemade Applesauce with an Extra Sprinkle of Cinnamon

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Homemade Applesauce

Ingredients:

5 lbs apples (e.g., any combination of Cortlands, Jonagold, MacIntosh, Honeycrisp varieties)
1 tbsp lemon juice
¾ cup apple juice (or water)
1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/8 tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg

Method:

Wash, peel, and core apples.  Cut apples into four wedges and then cut each wedge into three to four smaller wedges, depending on the size of apples.

Place apples in large stockpot, sprinkling with lemon juice and tossing gently with a large spoon to coat with the lemon juice.  Add remaining ingredients and stir well.  Place stockpot over medium-high heat and bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, and stirring occasionally, for 25-30 minutes, or until apples have completely softened.

Remove from heat and mash apples with a potato masher for chunky-style sauce. For smoother sauce, let apples cool for several minutes and use an immersion blender (or regular countertop blender) to purée apple mixture to desired consistency.

Refrigerate sauce, covered, for up to 3-4 days or freeze in airtight freezer containers for longer storage.

Yield:  Apx. 7 cups

Homemade Applesauce

A combination of sweet and tart varieties of apples are the basis for this delicious homemade applesauce that is simple to make and freezes well.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword applesauce
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs apples e.g., any combination of Cortlands, Jonagold, MacIntosh, Honeycrisp varieties
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¾ cup apple juice or water
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Wash, peel, and core apples. Cut apples into four wedges and then cut each wedge into three to four smaller wedges, depending on the size of apples.
  2. Place apples in large stockpot, sprinkling with lemon juice and tossing gently with a large spoon to coat with the lemon juice. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Place stockpot over medium-high heat and bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, and stirring occasionally, for 25-30 minutes, or until apples have completely softened.
  3. Remove from heat and mash apples with a potato masher for chunky-style sauce. For smoother sauce, let apples cool for several minutes and use an immersion blender (or regular countertop blender) to purée apple mixture to desired consistency.
  4. Refrigerate sauce, covered, for up to 3-4 days or freeze in airtight freezer containers for longer storage.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 7 cups

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Applesauce

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Gluten Free Butter Tarts

Butter Tarts
Gluten-free and Lactose-Free Butter Tarts

These old-fashioned butter tarts are actually both gluten free and lactose free.  If you are not lactose intolerant, simply substitute regular butter and milk in the recipe.

Quite some time ago, I shared my traditional butter tart recipe.  However, folks have been inquiring about a gluten-free recipe for the tarts so here it is. I won’t repeat my hints and tips for making butter tarts in this posting because the same ones hold true for the gluten-free version so I am directing readers to my original posting for butter tarts for this information.

Butter Tarts
Gluten-Free and Lactose-Free Butter Tarts

I don’t like a big glob of thick pastry in my butter tarts. As far as I am concerned, it is the gooey, sweet filling that is the star in these tarts.  The pastry is involved just because it is the vessel to hold the filling. So, I use a thin rolled pastry and fit the pastry neatly and tidily into the muffin tin cups.

The pastry, nonetheless, still has to be tender and flaky because it is half the equation in these Canadian culinary delicacies.  The gluten-free pastry recipe is the one that I developed and perfected first for my gluten-free apple pie, originally published to my website on January 11, 2018.  It is now my go-to pastry recipe since it is perfectly tender and flaky and works well with sweet and savory pies as well as tarts.

As with my traditional butter tarts, you will find that the filling is slightly gooey but not too runny.  I don’t care for tarts that, as soon as you bite into them, the filling pours out.  The reason why I like a semi-solid filling is that I believe butter tarts should be able to be picked up off a plate and eaten by hand with no need for a plate and fork to catch a runny filling.  This, of course, is purely a personal preference.

Butter Tarts
Gluten-Free and Lactose-Free Butter Tarts

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-Free Lactose-Free Butter Tarts

Ingredients:

For Pastry:

2 cups (276g) gluten-free 1-to-1 flour
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp sugar

¼ cup cold lactose-free butter (76g)
¼ cup cold lard (76g)

1 large egg
1 tsp white vinegar
Enough water to make 2/3 cup liquid

For Filling:
½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 extra-large eggs, light beaten
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
¼ cup melted butter (no substitutes)
2 tbsp lactose-free milk (2%MF or 3%MF)
1½ tsp pure vanilla
1 tsp white vinegar
Dash salt

Method:

For Pastry:  Lightly grease 12 muffin cups.  In medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and sugar together.  Cut the butter and lard into chunks and add to the flour.  With a pastry cutter, cut the butter and lard into the flour until the fats resemble the size of large peas.

In a measuring cup, whisk the egg and vinegar together.  Add enough cold water to measure 2/3 cup.  Add the egg-vinegar-water mixture to the flour, small amounts at a time, and mix with a fork or hands.  Add only enough water that the dough clings together and can be gathered into a ball (it may not take all the liquid).

Divide the dough in four pieces.  Form disk shapes with each piece. Place disks in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes to chill. Remove one disk at a time from the refrigerator and break off chunks, about 2 oz in size, which should give ample for 4” circles to be cut for each tart.  Place dough between two sheets of parchment paper (or wax paper) lightly dusted with flour. Roll pastry to desired thickness, generally between 1/16”and 1/8” thickness. Peel the top piece of parchment from the rolled out pastry. Cut out pastry circles with a floured 4” round cookie cutter.

Carefully transfer each cut out pastry circle to muffin tin cup. Fit the pastry into the cup, ensuring there are no air pockets between the pastry and the muffin cups. Repeat with chilled dough to make enough pastry circles for 12 tart shells, gathering up and re-rolling pastry scraps as necessary.  Place pan of tart shells in freezer for about 12-15 minutes to chill to prevent shrinkage of pastry during baking.

For Filling:  Preheat oven to 400°F.  Add all ingredients, in order given, into a 4-cup measuring cup.  Whisk or stir until ingredients are well blended.  Remove the muffin cups from the freezer and pour filling equally into the 12 muffin cups. Bake at 400°F for 5 minutes then reduce temperature to 375°F and bake tarts for 17-19 minutes or until filling domes and appears set.   Let tarts cool at least 30 minutes in muffin tins on cooling rack.  Using the tip of a sharp knife, gently lift the tarts from the muffin cups.

Yield:  12 tarts

Gluten-Free Butter Tarts

These gluten-free (and lactose-free) melt-in-your-mouth pastries are filled with a delectable, slightly gooey, but not too runny, buttery rich caramel-like filling. A classic Canadian culinary delicacy.

Course Dessert
Keyword butter tarts
Servings 11
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

For Pastry:

  • 2 cups gluten-free 1-to-1 flour (276g)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • tsp sugar
  • ¼ cup cold lactose-free butter (76g)
  • ¼ cup cold lard (76g)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • Enough water to make 2/3 cup liquid

For Filling:

  • ½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 extra-large eggs, light beaten
  • 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup melted butter (no substitutes)
  • 2 tbsp lactose-free milk (2%MF or 3%MF)
  • tsp pure vanilla
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • Dash salt

Instructions

For Pastry:

  1. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups. In medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and sugar together. Cut the butter and lard into chunks and add to the flour. With a pastry cutter, cut the butter and lard into the flour until the fats resemble the size of large peas.
  2. In a measuring cup, whisk the egg and vinegar together. Add enough cold water to measure 2/3 cup. Add the egg-vinegar-water mixture to the flour, small amounts at a time, and mix with a fork or hands. Add only enough water that the dough clings together and can be gathered into a ball (it may not take all the liquid).
  3. Divide the dough in four pieces. Form disk shapes with each piece. Place disks in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes to chill. Remove one disk at a time from the refrigerator and break off chunks, about 2 oz in size, which should give ample for 4” circles to be cut for each tart. Place dough between two sheets of parchment paper (or wax paper) lightly dusted with flour. Roll pastry to desired thickness, generally between 1/16”and 1/8” thickness. Peel the top piece of parchment from the rolled out pastry. Cut out pastry circles with a floured 4” round cookie cutter.
  4. Carefully transfer each cut out pastry circle to muffin tin cup. Fit the pastry into the cup, ensuring there are no air pockets between the pastry and the muffin cups. Repeat with chilled dough to make enough pastry circles for 12 tart shells, gathering up and re-rolling pastry scraps as necessary. Place pan of tart shells in freezer for about 12-15 minutes to chill to prevent shrinkage of pastry during baking.

For Filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Add all ingredients, in order given, into a 4-cup measuring cup. Whisk or stir until ingredients are well blended. Remove the muffin cups from the freezer and pour filling equally into the 12 muffin cups. Bake at 400°F for 5 minutes then reduce temperature to 375°F and bake tarts for 17-19 minutes or until filling domes and appears set. Let tarts cool at least 30 minutes in muffin tins on cooling rack. Using the tip of a sharp knife, gently lift the tarts from the muffin cups.

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Butter Tarts
Gluten-Free Butter Tarts

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Classic Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Classic Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Nothing beats homemade soup!  True comfort food – a bowl of hot soup, especially on a cool fall or cold winter day, warms the tummy and the soul. This Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup fits that bill nicely.

I make lots of soups and, for my purposes, they have to be freezer-friendly.  I have a large collection of single-serving plastic containers that I use to freeze my soups. Each is labelled and dated. Most days, I take a soup to work – I have the different varieties of soup I make all stacked on shelves in my large upright freezer.  Each stack contains a selection of the different soups so I am not eating the same kind of soup two days in a row.  My alarm clock rings at 4:50am and I am on the highway early and at work by 7:00am so I need healthy, nourishing lunches I can pull together quickly on my way out the door.  Frozen soups are my lifesaver!  I can pull together my lunch bag contents in under a minute – usually a frozen soup, a frozen pre-wrapped muffin, yogurt, and a couple of pieces of fruit. By noon, the soup has thawed and heats quickly, in my Corningware soup mug, in the microwave for a tasty, filling, and nutritious lunch.

Cream of Broccoli Soup
Classic Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup

This Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup is a favorite.  With its velvety texture and soft green color, this soup is also packed full of flavourful and aromatic ingredients – leek, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, parsnip, potato, chicken broth, milk, cheese, and a carefully curated blend of spices for subtle seasoning.

This soup, like all good homemade soups, takes some time to make.  The leeks, onions, celery, garlic, carrots, parsnips, and sliced broccoli stems get sautéed in butter and olive oil until the ingredients are fragrant and the onions transparent.  Chicken broth is added along with the potatoes, broccoli florets, and seasonings. The veggies are cooked in the broth until they are soft.  This method ensures that no nutrients are lost and nothing is poured down the drain.  The recipe calls for 3 oz of leek. If leeks, which always seem to be sold in bundles of three, are not something you presently have other uses for (but my Potato Leek Soup, for example, would make good use of them….just sayin’) then, rather than buying a bundle of them for this recipe alone, substitute an additional half cup of chopped onion.  The leeks do add a lovely layer of flavour to the Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup but, because of their expense, a substitution amount of onion is provided here.  This half cup of onion would be in addition to the half cup called for in the recipe.

Broccoli is the primary ingredient in this soup and both florets and stems are used except for the big base stalk.  The florets cook quickly but their stems can take longer and they can be difficult to get puréed. The more cooked the veggies are, the easier it will be to purée them and get a lovely smooth-textured soup.  I have found that, if I use my small handheld mandolin to slice the broccoli stems all the way up to the florets, they cook better and faster.  I slice them very thin – 1/16” thick.

Prepping Broccoli for Soup
Prepping Broccoli for Soup

The cooked vegetables need to be cooled before being puréed. I don’t like pouring hot mixtures into my blender jug.  The mixture does not have to be completely cooled, but certainly cool enough to work with.  I often set the stock pot in a sink of ice-cold water to flash cool the cooked vegetables so that the soup can be completed faster.  Work in batches to purée the vegetables. Fill the jug of a blender with about a cup of the soup mixture to start then, when it is puréed, add another 1 – 1½ cups, never filling the jug more than half full. Purée the mixture until perfectly smooth.  Transfer the puréed mixture to a clean stock pot.  Continue with this process until all vegetables have been puréed.

This is a cream soup so, obviously, its texture is meant to be creamy.  For this reason, I do not recommend fat-reduced milk be used in this recipe for Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup.  Not only will it not have a velvety texture but, for freezing purposes, soups made with fat-reduced milk do not, in my opinion, have an appealing consistency nor appearance.  I recommend using whole milk or even a combination of whole milk and cream.  Cream soups are one food item in which I recommend “the really good stuff” be used.  There are several steps and some time involved in making cream soup so the time and effort is worth using high quality ingredients. I like this soup fairly thick; however, if someone likes their Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup thinner consistency, additional milk may be added to achieve the desired consistency.  The additional milk should be added by small amounts at a time as this soup is not meant to be watery and thin.

Cream of Broccoli Soup
Classic Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup

For this Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup, I thicken the milk separately and add it to the puréed vegetables at the end of the cooking process.  To do this, use a small saucepan to melt some butter. Add the flour for thickening along with the milk, cooking this mixture until it is thickened before adding it to the puréed vegetable mixture.  Once the soup mixture is heated (never boiling), add the grated cheese and heat the soup just until the cheese is melted. A medium-to-old cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded can be used for this soup.  However, the soup will be more flavorful if a blend of melting cheeses, such as cheddar, mozzarella, and provolone  is used.  Today, there are a number of pre-shredded cheeses packaged in blends and my favorite for this soup is a mix of cheeses.

Garnish the soup with sour cream, shredded cheese, and fresh herbs, if desired.

Cream of Broccoli Soup
Classic Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

 Classic Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Ingredients:

1 medium-large head of broccoli (apx. 1½ lb)
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
3 oz leek (white and light green parts only), sliced thin (about 1/8“ thick) [Note: ½ cup chopped onion may be substituted if leeks are not available]
½ cup onion, chopped
¼ cup celery, chopped
6 – 7 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup carrots, sliced thin
1/3 cup parsnip, sliced thin, about 1/16“ thick
1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced into ¼“cubes
¾ tsp dry mustard
½ tsp dried summer savory
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp dried dill
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Pinch cayenne
4 cups chicken stock
2-3 bay leaves

3 tbsp butter
½ cup minus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup cheddar cheese (or a blend of melting cheeses of choice, coarsely shredded
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2-3 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
Freshly ground pepper and fine sea salt, to taste

Method:

Remove broccoli stems from large thick base stalk. Discard stalk and break the broccoli head apart, leaving the long floret stems intact.  Wash and drain broccoli well.  Using a handheld mandolin, slice the broccoli stems thin, about 1/16” thick, all the way up to the florets.  Break apart florets into smaller pieces so they will cook faster.

Melt butter in large stockpot over medium heat.  Add olive oil.  Reduce heat slightly and add the leek, onion, celery, minced garlic cloves, carrots, parsnip, and sliced broccoli stems. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring briskly, until vegetables are fragrant and onion is transparent.

Add the potato, spices, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Cover and bring to a boil.  Cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the broccoli florets and cook for 15-20 minutes or until all vegetables are quite soft.  Cool. Remove and discard bay leaves. Purée vegetables in blender until mixture is very smooth. Work in batches, starting with one cup of the mixture, puréeing it until smooth, then adding another 1 to 1½ cups, never filling the blender jug more than half full at a time.  Transfer puréed mixture to clean stockpot.

In small saucepan, over medium heat, melt 3 tbsp butter.  Sprinkle with the flour and stir vigorously for several seconds.  Slowly whisk the milk into the butter-flour mixture, ensuring there are no lumps.  Stir mixture until it thickens then pour it into the pureed vegetables.  Heat soup over medium heat but do not boil.  Add the cheeses and stir until cheeses are melted.  If soup is thicker than desired, add additional milk, small amounts at a time, to thin it to desired consistency. Lastly, add the parsley. Soup freezes well. Garnish as desired.

Yield:  Apx. 10-12 servings (apx 1 cup per serving).

Notes:
To make this soup lactose-free, use lactose-free butter, milk, and cheese. To make the soup gluten-free, use same amount of gluten-free 1-to-1 flour to thicken the soup and ensure all other ingredients called for in the recipe are gluten free.

Classic Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Cozy up with a bowl of this delicious homemade Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup that is sure to satisfy the tastebuds.
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 10
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-large head of broccoli, apx. 1½ lb
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 oz leek, white and light green parts only, sliced thin (about 1/8“ thick) [Note: ½ cup chopped onion may be substituted if leeks are not available]
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup celery, chopped
  • 6 - 7 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup carrots, sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup parsnip, sliced thin, about 1/16“ thick
  • 1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced into ¼“cubes
  • ¾ tsp dry mustard
  • ½ tsp dried summer savory
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp dried dill
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup minus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese (or a blend of melting cheeses of choice), coarsely shredded
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • Freshly ground pepper and fine sea salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Remove broccoli stems from large thick base stalk. Discard stalk and break the broccoli head apart, leaving the long floret stems intact. Wash and drain broccoli well. Using a handheld mandolin, slice the broccoli stems thin, about 1/16” thick, all the way up to the florets. Break apart florets into smaller pieces so they will cook faster.
  2. Melt butter in large stockpot over medium heat. Add olive oil. Reduce heat slightly and add the leek, onion, celery, minced garlic cloves, carrots, parsnip, and sliced broccoli stems. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring briskly, until vegetables are fragrant and onion is transparent.
  3. Add the potato, spices, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broccoli florets and cook for 15-20 minutes or until all vegetables are quite soft. Cool. Remove and discard bay leaves. Purée vegetables in blender until mixture is very smooth. Work in batches, starting with one cup of the mixture, puréeing it until smooth, then adding another 1 to 1½ cups, never filling the blender jug more than half full at a time. Transfer puréed mixture to clean stockpot.
  4. In small saucepan, over medium heat, melt 3 tbsp butter. Sprinkle with the flour and stir vigorously for several seconds. Slowly whisk the milk into the butter-flour mixture, ensuring there are no lumps. Stir mixture until it thickens then pour it into the pureed vegetables. Heat soup over medium heat but do not boil. Add the cheeses and stir until cheeses are melted. If soup is thicker than desired, add additional milk, small amounts at a time, to thin it to desired consistency. Lastly, add the parsley. Soup freezes well. Garnish as desired.

Recipe Notes

To make this soup lactose-free, use lactose-free butter, milk, and cheese. To make the soup gluten-free, use same amount of gluten-free 1-to-1 flour to thicken the soup and ensure all other ingredients called for in the recipe are gluten free.

For other great soup, chowder, chili, and stock/broth recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

SOUPS

Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup
Cream of Celery Soup
Ham Lentil Soup
Roasted Cream of Cauliflower Soup
Rich and Hearty Goulash Soup
PEI Potato Leek Soup
Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup
Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Roasted Cream of Asparagus Soup
Hamburger Soup
The Bistro’s Beefy Minestrone
Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

CHOWDERS

PEI Mussel Chowder
Turkey Chowder

STOCKS/BROTH

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Beef Stock

CHILI

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Chili

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Broccoli Soup
Classic Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup
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On The Sandwich Board: Turkey, Pear, Brie, and Cranberry Sandwich

Turkey Sandwich
Turkey, Pear, Brie, and Cranberry Sandwich

On my sandwich board today, I have a lovely gourmet turkey sandwich and this one comes fully dressed!  Note this sandwich can also be made with chicken as a substitute for turkey.

This is often a sandwich I make when I have roasted a turkey or chicken and have leftover meat.  However, sometimes, I will roast some boneless, skinless chicken breasts specifically to use for sandwiches and that works equally well.

The dressing for this sandwich is made with mayonnaise combined with some cranberry sauce or cranberry blueberry sauce (pictured in these photos) and a bit of Dijon mustard.  I typically just apply this dressing to one of the slices of bread although it can certainly be used on both. This dressing adds both flavor and color to the sandwich.  The cranberry sauce can color the turkey and Brie; however, if some lettuce is added between the sandwich contents and the dressing, the lettuce will act as a barrier and prevent any discoloring of the meat or cheese.

The trick to coming up with a tasty sandwich is to consider what flavors blend well together in harmony.  For this sandwich, I have paired the turkey with some thin slices of Bosc pear and some Brie cheese.  This sandwich is lovely cold or it can be heated in a panini maker. It’s best served immediately.

Serve the sandwich with bread and butter pickles, fresh vegetables, potato chips, or a cup of your favorite soup.  This sandwich pairs particularly well with Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.

Turkey Sandwich
Turkey, Pear, Brie, and Cranberry Sandwich

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Turkey, Pear, Brie, and Cranberry Sandwich

Ingredients:

2 slices bread of choice
Butter, softened

1 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp cranberry sauce (or cranberry-blueberry sauce)
¾ tsp Dijon mustard

2-3 tsp mayonnaise

Leafy lettuce of choice

2½ oz – 3 oz cooked turkey (or chicken) breast slices
2 thin slices Bosc pear, sprinkled with lemon juice to retard browning
1 oz Brie cheese (rind removed), sliced about 1/8 – ¼” thick
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

Butter bread slices. In small bowl, mix mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, and Dijon mustard.  Spread mayonnaise-cranberry sauce mixture on one slice of bread.  Spread 2-3 tsp mayonnaise on the other bread slice.

Lay lettuce on slice of bread spread with mayonnaise.  Top with the turkey (or chicken) slices.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Layer with 2 slices of pear.  Arrange Brie over pear.  Arrange lettuce over pear. Top with second slice of bread spread with cranberry-mayonnaise mixture.

Slice sandwich in half, diagonally, and serve.

Serving Suggestions:  Serve with Bread and Butter Pickles, Fresh Vegetables, Potato Chips, or a cup of your favorite soup.  Pairs particularly well with Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.

Serves:  1

NOTE:  Sandwich may be heated in panini maker

 

Turkey, Pear, Brie, and Cranberry Sandwich

A tasty sandwich that combines sliced cooked turkey with Bosc pear, Brie, and a delectable sandwich dressing made with cranberry sauce, Dijon mustard, and mayonnaise.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 1
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 slices bread of choice
  • Butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp cranberry sauce or cranberry blueberry sauce
  • ¾ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 tsp mayonnaise
  • Leafy lettuce of choice
  • oz – 3 oz cooked turkey or chicken breast slices
  • 2 thin slices Bosc pear, sprinkled with lemon juice to retard browning
  • 1 oz Brie cheese, rind removed, sliced about 1/8 – ¼” thick
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Butter bread slices. In small bowl, mix mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, and Dijon mustard. Spread mayonnaise-cranberry sauce mixture on one slice of bread. Spread 2-3 tsp mayonnaise on the other bread slice.
  2. Lay lettuce on slice of bread spread with mayonnaise. Top with the turkey (or chicken) slices. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Layer with 2 slices of pear. Arrange Brie over pear. Arrange lettuce over pear. Top with second slice of bread spread with cranberry-mayonnaise mixture.
  3. Slice sandwich in half, diagonally, and serve.
  4. Serving Suggestions: Serve with Bread and Butter Pickles, Fresh Vegetables, Potato Chips, or a cup of your favorite soup. Pairs particularly well with Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.

Recipe Notes

Serves: 1 NOTE: Sandwich may be heated in panini maker

 

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Turkey Sandwich
Turkey, Pear, Brie, and Cranberry Sandwich
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An Autumnal Themed Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner
Autumnal-themed Thanksgiving Dinner

Undisputedly, a big roasted turkey is the traditional star of the Thanksgiving dinner in many North American homes.  Playing the supporting roles, of course, are all the fixins’, including the variety of vegetables and gravy. This year, however, I am deviating from the norm and putting a new twist on Thanksgiving dinner, lightening it up and sizing it down for smaller households, while still staying true to some of the elements of what one would expect to be on the Thanksgiving dinner table.  Here’s why I’ve shaken up the norm a bit.

Sizing Down and Lightening up the Thanksgiving Dinner

I sometimes hear people say they don’t want to cook a big turkey, or even a whole chicken, because perhaps they have a small household of only one, two, or three people and it’s just too much meat for them.  And, then there is the large carcass to deal with – though I am a big proponent of using it to make great homemade stock (click here for my stock recipe).  Others have indicated they don’t have a big roaster in which to roast a turkey and still some others say they don’t know how to roast a turkey to get it cooked properly.  I have heard some say that, while they like a roast turkey dinner, it can be a heavy meal with rich gravy, heavily spiced stuffing, and so forth. Others may be on a restricted diet making it a challenge to, alternatively, dine out for Thanksgiving dinner.  Whatever the reason, I have decided to create a Thanksgiving dinner menu suitable for the smaller household and those looking for lighter fare.

Now, it can be challenging to size everything down precisely to one or two servings and, to be frank, it’s not the most cost-effective or efficient approach to meal preparation for the smaller household.  I learned that many years ago and that’s when I moved to batch cooking for the freezer which allows me to have much greater meal variety than would be the case if I was to spend time in the kitchen preparing unique daily meals for one or two.  This menu, by the way, is also suitable for any autumnal dinner party and the recipes referenced are scalable to the number of servings required.

Bread
Baguette

Menu Inspiration

The inspiration for the menu was drawn primarily from seasonal foods, those that would be considered to be fall flavors. While varied from the traditional Thanksgiving dinner style, I aimed to still maintain elements of a typical Thanksgiving dinner. From the gourd family comes the butternut squash for the soup.  From the garden come the fresh greens, vine-ripened tomatoes, beets, and carrots.  From the fields of a local farmer, come the potatoes.  From the cranberry bogs and high bush blueberry field come the cranberries and blueberries.  And, from a local orchard and distillery come the apples and liqueur for the dessert. In lieu of turkey, I have opted to go with chicken breasts though turkey breasts could certainly be used.  The chicken breasts are smaller to roast and plate quite attractively. The steamed mussels for an appetizer have been included because, well, it’s PEI and we love our mussels any time of the year!

The table is set – it’s time to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner!

Placesetting
Thanksgiving Dinner Placesetting

The Menu

Food is meant to be enjoyed and savored, not hurriedly consumed.  This menu and its serving style aim for that objective.

Appetizers

Island Blue Mussels steamed in Upstreet’s “Rhuby Social” beer

Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini

Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Served with a toasted baguette slice topped with cheese, bacon, and chives

Salad

Mix of Garden Greens with Vine-ripened Mini Tomatoes and Button Mushrooms

Dressed with Raspberry Vinaigrette and served from the salad urn, tableside

 Main

Roasted Chicken Breast with a dry rub of spices

Served over Sausage Bread Dressing

Accompaniments

Petite Roasted Potato Stacks

Thinly sliced potato tossed with melted butter, herbs, and cheese then roasted

Roasted Beets and Carrots

Cranberry Blueberry Sauce

Dessert

Apple-Maple Bread Pudding with Maple Sauce

Wine Pairing

   Clean Slate 2016 Riesling (Germany)

 

The Appetizers

It’s almost bordering on the sacrilegious if either (or both) steamed mussels and oysters are not on the menu for a gathering here in PEI!  Yes, we love our seafood!  I’ve chosen Island Blue Mussels steamed in Upstreet’s “Rhuby Social” beer (recipe here).  Steaming mussels in beer lends a wonderful flavor to the mussels.  Easy and quick to prepare, these mussels are a great start to a wonderful meal.

PEI Mussels
PEI Mussels Steamed in Rhuby Social Beer from Upstreet Craft Brewing

The second appetizer I’ve chosen is the Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini (recipe here).  These little morsels are ever-so-tasty.  This recipe is easy to reduce or increase in size, depending on the number of guests and either wheat-based or gluten-free baguettes can be used.

Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini
Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini

The Soup

Our Thanksgiving dinner this year starts with Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, a stunning golden yellow soup that is smooth and luxurious and filled with the warm flavors of fall (click here for recipe). This soup is a great way to kick off an autumnal dinner. My recipe for this soup makes 8-10 servings so, if making the soup specifically for Thanksgiving dinner in a small household, the remainder can be frozen for later enjoyment.  Alternatively, the soup can be made in advance of Thanksgiving, frozen, and then the number of servings needed thawed and reheated for the dinner.  I love when I can do prep work for dinners days ahead as it relieves some of the work and stress on the day of the dinner.

Squash Soup
Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Serving the soup at the table from a soup tureen adds a lovely touch to a special meal or dinner party.

Squash Soup
Classic Butternut Squash Soup

The soup tureen can also serve as a table centerpiece for the soup course.

Soup
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

The Salad

Our garden did fabulously this year.  We grow a grand selection of lettuce that usually takes us well into the fall, sometimes until late October.  Our one tomato plant with mini tomatoes has literally produced hundreds of tiny orange tomatoes this year.  It was a very prolific producer and we have been blessed to have its produce right through to Thanksgiving, even if it meant blanketing it down on frost nights in order to keep it producing.

Salad
Salad Urn

My salad bowl is a small ceramic urn-shaped planter which also serves as the table centerpiece for the salad course.  It’s a great conversation piece and it elevates the status of the salad! When using a unique vessel, like this urn, for the salad ingredients to be assembled at the table, opt for few ingredients that can easily be divided between plates. It’s not always necessary to have a multitude of ingredients in a salad, particularly if it is a starter to a meal.  In this salad, all I’ve used is a selection of lettuce, tiny tomatoes, and button mushrooms served with a simple raspberry vinaigrette. I like vinaigrettes because they allow the flavour of the vegetables to shine through as they are not masked by a heavy cream dressing.

Salad
Edible Salad Centrepiece

Chicken Breasts

Chicken breasts sometimes get a bad rap for being dry.  I think this is because they have not been properly prepared and cooked.  I always brine my chicken breasts – it makes such a huge difference in both flavor and texture and no more dried out, stringy chicken.  All I do is place the chicken breasts in a salt brine for 1½ – 2 hours, rinse them off, then pat them dry with paper towel followed by a light brushing of some olive oil and a sprinkle of selected dry spices.  Then, into my convection oven set at 400°F they go just until they test done on my trusty meat thermometer.  The high heat locks in the juices and cooks the chicken fast so it does not get a chance to dry out.  The result is perfectly cooked and juicy chicken …. every time.  The great thing about boneless skinless chicken breasts is it’s all meat and no waste and they slice beautifully for plating, sandwiches, etc.

Chicken
Sliced Roasted Chicken Breast

The Dressing

For my Thanksgiving dinner, I have plated the sliced chicken over sausage bread dressing – recipe here.  This is not a heavily spiced dressing so it is in keeping with my “lighter” Thanksgiving dinner theme yet it still bows to the tradition of having stuffing/dressing as a side dish at dinner.  In fact, I will often make this recipe and freeze it for later use when I am having some kind of chicken dish for a meal.  So, this is also something that can be made ahead for this dinner and the dressing can be heated for just a few seconds in the microwave.

Stuffing Recipe
Sweet and Savory Sausage Bread Stuffing

The Potatoes

Because this meal is meant to be light, the traditional gravy is absent.  This meant I needed to come up with a potato side dish that did not need gravy.  These Roasted Potato Stacks (recipe here), are the perfect potato side dish.  These are not difficult to make and, with the butter, garlic, herbs, and cheeses, these tasty morsels are simply divine.  They bake perfectly in muffin cups and plate beautifully.  They are best served fresh from the oven.  However, they can be pre-made, roasted, and refrigerated for up to 24 hours then reheated for a few minutes in the oven.  So, again, this is a menu item that can be made in advance of the dinner.  While my published recipe makes eight potato stacks (serves four), the recipe is easily halved (or, alternatively, make the whole recipe and enjoy leftovers the following day).

Potato Stacks
Roasted Potato Stacks

The Roasted Vegetables

For my vegetable side dishes, I decided to go really local — all the way to our backyard garden!  Beets and freshly dug carrots were roasted with herbs in the oven.  I love roasted vegetables because their true flavors are evident and no nutrients or flavor are washed down the drain as can be the case with boiled vegetables.  The beets were tossed with a spritz or two of raspberry balsamic vinegar and the same of orange juice.  The key is not to add too much liquid to the roasted vegetables that would make them soupy or lose their roasted flavor.  Both the vinegar and orange juice are just meant to be flavor enhancers so very little is needed.

Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving DInner

The Condiment

For the condiment, I’m serving my Cranberry Blueberry Sauce.  This sauce is a beautiful deep burgundy-plum color and combines two complementary flavors.  The tartness of the cranberries is enhanced by the sweetness of the high bush blueberries.  Click here for my recipe.

Sauce
Cranberry Blueberry Sauce

The Dessert

To bring one of the quintessential fall flavors into the menu, I am serving Apple-Maple Bread Pudding with Maple Sauce (recipe here).  Both the pudding and the sauce freeze well for later use and both can be made ahead of the dinner, thawed, and reheated for dessert.

Bread Pudding
Apple-Maple Bread Pudding

The Wine Pairing

The wine I’ve paired with this meal is Clean Slate, a 2016 Riesling from Mosel, Germany, an affordable wine that appeals to a variety of tastes.  When selecting the wine for this meal, I considered the menu items, both individually and collectively.  Thanksgiving dinner plates tend to have a variety of foods with flavors that span the spectrum from sweet (Cranberry-Blueberry Sauce) to the moist and gently spiced (Sausage Bread Dressing) to the herbed and roasted (the vegetables) to the slight saltiness (brined chicken breast).  With that variety, it can be a challenge to select one wine that will temper and balance all the flavors and cleanse and refresh the palate between bites so that the true flavors of each of the foods can be enjoyed.

A Riesling wine is a great choice because it has low alcohol content with lots of palate-refreshing acidity along with a slight touch of sweetness to balance and complement the variety of flavors.

Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Dinner

So, whether you’re looking for inspiration for a Thanksgiving dinner with a lighter fare, one that is suitable for smaller households, or for an autumnal-themed dinner party, this menu is scalable to virtually any number, big or small. All recipes referenced can be found on My Island Bistro Kitchen’s website, a one-stop destination for recipes for a tasty fall dinner.

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Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Dinner 2018
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Roasted Potato Stacks

Potato Stacks
Roasted Potato Stacks

Living in a province known for its potato production, it’s almost inevitable that potatoes are served at many meals on PEI dinner tables.  There are any number of ways this versatile veggie can be served and, later in this posting, you’ll find links to some of my favorite potato recipes.

Roasted Potato Stacks are my latest creation involving potatoes. They are very tasty and do plate quite attractively. They are also suitable for serving at buffets.

Potato Stacks
Roasted Potato Stacks

Because these potato stacks are free-standing when cooked and removed from the muffin cups, they need to be able to stand on their own when plated. The goal is also to see the individual slices of the potato. I recommend choosing potatoes that have a medium starch content, are semi-waxy, and have somewhat firm flesh such as Yukon Gold, or an all-purpose round white potato variety. These are the types of potatoes that will hold their shape after cooking and when plated and they can take the higher heat at which the stacks are roasted without falling apart or becoming mushy.  Choosing potatoes that have good moisture content also helps to keep the roasted potato stacks moist.  Potatoes high in starch and low in moisture don’t hold their shape as well and tend to break down easier than less starchy or waxy potatoes. For this reason, they are not as suitable for these Roasted Potato Stacks as are their semi-waxy cousins.  Select potatoes, about 2” around, so that, when sliced very thinly, they will easily fit flatly in muffin tin cups.

Potato Stacks
Roasted Potato Stacks

The key to making these Roasted Potato Stacks is to have the potato slices very thin and uniformly sized.  I have tested my recipe with three different thicknesses of potatoes – 1/16”, 3/16”, and 1/8” and my preference is 3/16” as the layers of individual potato slices in each stack are still intact and identifiable when fully roasted but they are not so thick as to cause issues getting them cooked.

Potato Stack
Roasted Potato Stack

I recommend using a mandolin for quick and uniform slicing.  I have a dandy hand-held mandolin that is slick and easy for this kind of work and it saves the set up of my larger mandolin or the trials, tribulations, and time to thinly slice the potatoes by hand.

Made with seasoned butter and a blend of cheeses, these delectable easy-to-make roasted potato stacks are a great side dish or appetizer. 

Potato Stack
Roasted Potato Stack

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Roasted Potato Stacks

Ingredients:

2¼ lb potatoes, peeled, washed, and dried (e.g., Yukon Gold or all-purpose round white variety)
3 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp liquid chicken bouillon
1 tsp garlic salt
¾ tsp onion powder
2 tsp fresh lemon thyme, chopped
2 tsp fresh parsley, minced
Pinch nutmeg (optional)
½ – ¾ tsp fine sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
½ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
3 tbsp Cheddar Cheese, finely grated
1 tbsp whole milk or cream

3 – 4 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
Paprika (for sprinkling tops of stacks)

Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish

Method:

Position oven rack in center of oven.  Preheat oven to 375°F.

Butter eight (8) regular-sized non-stick muffin cups with butter.  Set aside.

In small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter.  Add the olive oil, liquid chicken bouillon, garlic salt, onion powder, thyme, parsley, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Stir well to mix.  Stir in the Parmesan and Cheddar cheeses along with the milk or cream.

Choose potatoes that are not overly starchy and that will hold their shape after cooking – e.g., Yukon Gold or an all-purpose round white variety.  Select potatoes the size that, when sliced horizontally, the slices will easily fit flat into the muffin cups. Using a mandolin, slice potatoes horizontally into slices 3/16” thick.  Place half the potato slices in large bowl.  Add half the mixed butter, seasonings, and cheese ingredients.  Using hands, toss the potatoes in the mixture until the slices are well coated. Add the remaining potato slices and butter mixture and continue mixing until the potato slices are coated with the mixture. Either create the stacks of potatoes in hands and place in buttered muffin cups or individually stack the potato slices directly in the muffin tin cups, stacking the slices as evenly as possible until they are about ¾ – 1” above the muffin cup rims. The stacks will shrink a bit during the roasting but building them a little higher than the muffin cup rim will ensure a good sized potato stack when cooked.

Roast the potato stacks for about 25 minutes, then sprinkle each stack with additional grated Parmesan cheese and a light sprinkle of paprika.  Roast for 20 minutes longer, or until the tops of the potato stacks are golden and crispy, and a skewer or thin knife inserted in center of a stack indicates potatoes are tender and cooked through.  Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes then carefully run the tip of a knife around the perimeter of each muffin cup to ensure the potato stacks are loose for easy removal.  With the aid of a fork, or soup spoon, and the tip of the knife, carefully remove each potato stack and serve immediately sprinkled with additional finely-grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

Yield:  8 potato stacks (Suggested serving size – 2 stacks per person)

Potato Stacks
Plated Roasted Potato Stacks

For other potato recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Twice Baked Potatoes
Best Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
Bistro Style Potato Patties
Potato Salad

Roasted Potato Stacks

Made with seasoned butter and a blend of cheeses, these easy-to-make roasted potato stacks are a great side dish or appetizer.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Cook Time 50 minutes
Resting Time 5 minutes
Servings 4
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • lb potatoes peeled, washed, and dried (e.g., Yukon Gold or all-purpose round white variety)
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp liquid chicken bouillon
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • ¾ tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon thyme, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh parsley, minced
  • Pinch nutmeg (optional)
  • ½ - ¾ tsp fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 3 tbsp Cheddar cheese finely grated
  • 1 tbsp whole milk or cream
  • 3 - 4 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Paprika for sprinkling tops of stacks
  • Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish

Instructions

  1. Position oven rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Butter eight (8) regular-sized non-stick muffin cups with butter. Set aside.
  3. In small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Add the olive oil, liquid chicken bouillon, garlic salt, onion powder, thyme, parsley, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir well to mix. Stir in the Parmesan and Cheddar cheeses along with the milk or cream.
  4. Choose potatoes that are not overly starchy and that will hold their shape after cooking – e.g., Yukon Gold or an all-purpose round white variety. Select potatoes the size that, when sliced horizontally, the slices will easily fit flat into the muffin cups. Using a mandolin, slice potatoes horizontally into slices 3/16” thick. Place half the potato slices in large bowl. Add half the mixed butter, seasonings, and cheese ingredients. Using hands, toss the potatoes in the mixture until the slices are well coated. Add the remaining potato slices and butter mixture and continue mixing until the potato slices are coated with the mixture. Either create the stacks of potatoes in hands and place in buttered muffin cups or individually stack the potato slices directly in the muffin tin cups, stacking the slices as evenly as possible until they are about ¾ - 1” above the muffin cup rims. The stacks will shrink a bit during the roasting but building them a little higher than the muffin cup rim will ensure a good sized potato stack when cooked.
  5. Bake the potato stacks for about 25 minutes, then sprinkle each stack with additional grated Parmesan cheese and a light sprinkle of paprika. Bake for 20 minutes longer, or until the tops of the potato stacks are golden and crispy, and a skewer or thin knife inserted in center of a stack indicates potatoes are tender and cooked through. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes then carefully run the tip of a knife around the perimeter of each muffin cup to ensure the potato stacks are loose for easy removal. With the aid of a fork, or soup spoon, and the tip of the knife, carefully remove each potato stack and serve immediately sprinkled with additional finely-grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

Recipe Notes

Yield: 8 potato stacks (Suggested serving size – 2 stacks per person)

 

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Potato Stacks
Roasted Potato Stacks

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Sweet and Savory Sausage Bread Stuffing

Quite some time ago, I shared my standard “go-to” recipe for basic poultry stuffing/dressing.  At the bottom of this posting, you will find the link to that recipe and an explanation for the difference (if you don’t already know) between stuffing and dressing.

In this Sweet and Savory Sausage Bread Stuffing recipe, I have jazzed up the stuffing by adding sausage meat to it.  Dried cranberries can also be added so long as they have first been plumped in some warm rum (or warm chicken stock) for 10-15 minutes.  Otherwise, the cranberries can be a bit hard and chewy in this stuffing.  The cranberries are an optional ingredient but they do lend a pop of color and texture to the finished product.  I sometimes, though not always, add them in. The sweetness in this stuffing comes from both the chopped apple and a bit of maple syrup which also adds to the moistness of the stuffing.

Sausage Stuffing Recipe
Sweet and Savory Sausage Bread Stuffing

What gives this stuffing its unique flavour is the kind of sausage used.  My local butcher shop (KJL Meats in Charlottetown) is known for its creativity in making sausages.  To get the best choice, it means an early visit on Saturday mornings when they have their best selection available.  I have a couple of favorites I gravitate to for bread stuffing/dressing and they are sundried tomato or honey garlic sausages. Other flavours may, of course, also be used, according to personal taste preferences.  I remove the sausage casing and break up the meat then lightly scramble fry it with the aromatics (onion and celery) for 3-4 minutes, or until the meat is no longer pink.

Here, in PEI, the seasoning of choice for many folks when it comes to poultry stuffing/dressing is the herb called summer savory and that’s what I use in my stuffing/dressing recipes. In my household, it would not be considered to be stuffing/dressing unless it is made with summer savory! Old traditions prevail!

Sausage Bread Stuffing
Sweet and Savory Sausage Bread Stuffing

This recipe should yield approximately 4-5 cups of stuffing/dressing, depending on how dry/wet the potatoes are when cooked and the texture of the bread crumbs used.  The recipe, however, is easily scalable so it can be doubled, tripled, halved, and so forth to meet the size of the chicken or turkey.

To make this recipe gluten free, simply substitute gluten-free bread crumbs in the same amount called for in this recipe and ensure that all other ingredients called for are also gluten free, including the sausage and liquid chicken bouillon.  Some butchers, like KJL Meats, do make gluten-free sausages. I save all the crusts from gluten-free bread and then use my food processor to crumb them coarsely for use in stuffing and then freeze the crumbs in airtight freezer bags for use as needed.

Sausage Bread Stuffing
Sweet and Savory Sausage Bread Stuffing

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Sweet and Savory Sausage Bread Stuffing

 

Ingredients:

2-3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
2 tbsp finely chopped celery
4 oz honey garlic or sundried tomato sausage, casing removed
2 cups warm mashed potatoes (apx. 1 1/8 lb, uncooked)
1½ tsp summer savory
2 tsp liquid chicken bouillon
¼ cup dried cranberries, plumped in 2 tbsp warm rum or warm chicken stock (optional)
2 tbsp finely chopped apple
1 cup soft, coarse bread crumbs  (apx. – see note below)
¼ cup melted butter
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:
 
Melt butter in small frypan over medium heat.  Add the onion and celery. Briskly stir the vegetables for 2-3 minutes. Break apart the sausage meat and add to the onion and celery. Scramble fry the sausage meat until no longer pink, about 3-4 minutes.

Place the warm mashed potatoes in a large bowl. Sprinkle with summer savory. Add the onion, celery, sausage, and chicken bouillon.  Mix.  Add the dried cranberries and chopped apple.

Mix in the bread crumbs along with the melted butter, water, maple syrup, parsley, and chives.  Stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Loosely fill the body cavity of turkey or chicken with the stuffing. Roast turkey/chicken according to package directions for stuffed poultry and use a food thermometer to ensure that both the poultry and the stuffing have reached the safe minimum temperature.

Alternatively, make the stuffing into dressing by lightly pressing the mixture into one or two greased tinfoil-lined loaf pan(s). Cover with tin foil and bake in 350°F oven for apx. 15-20 minutes then remove tin foil and bake for 10-15 minutes longer, or until lightly browned on top. Let cool in pan(s) for at least 15 minutes then lift the tinfoil out of the loaf pan(s) and slice the dressing.

NOTE:  Depending on how wet the variety of potatoes may be when cooked, additional bread crumbs may be needed to achieve the desired texture of the stuffing.
 
Yield: Approximately 4-5 cups

Sweet and Savory Sausage Bread Stuffing

This moist sweet and savory sausage bread stuffing is made with sausage meat, bread crumbs, summer savory, apple, cranberries and maple syrup. The perfect side dish to roast chicken or turkey dinners.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped celery
  • 4 oz honey garlic or sundried tomato sausage casing removed
  • 2 cups warm mashed potatoes apx. 1 1/8 lb, uncooked
  • tsp summer savory
  • 2 tsp liquid chicken bouillon
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries plumped in 2 tbsp rum or warm chicken stock (optional)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped apple
  • 1 cup soft coarse bread crumbs (apx. – see note below)
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in small frypan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery. Briskly stir the vegetables for 2-3 minutes. Break apart the sausage meat and add to the onion and celery. Scramble fry the sausage meat until no longer pink, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Place the warm mashed potatoes in a large bowl. Sprinkle with summer savory. Add the onion, celery, sausage, and chicken bouillon. Mix. Add the dried cranberries and chopped apple.
  3. Mix in the bread crumbs along with the melted butter, water, maple syrup, parsley, and chives. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Loosely fill the body cavity of turkey or chicken with the stuffing. Roast turkey/chicken according to package directions for stuffed poultry and use a food thermometer to ensure that both the poultry and the stuffing have reached the safe minimum temperature.
  5. Alternatively, make the stuffing into dressing by lightly pressing the mixture into one or two greased tinfoil-lined loaf pan(s). Cover with tin foil and bake in 350°F oven for apx. 15-20 minutes then remove tin foil and bake for 10-15 minutes longer, or until lightly browned on top. Let cool in pan(s) for at least 15 minutes then lift the tinfoil out of the loaf pan(s) and slice the dressing.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Approximately 4-5 cups

NOTE 1: Depending on how wet the variety of potatoes may be when cooked, additional bread crumbs may be needed to achieve the desired texture of the stuffing.

NOTE 2: To make this recipe gluten free, simply substitute gluten-free bread crumbs in the same amount called for in this recipe and ensure that all other ingredients called for are also gluten free, including the sausage and liquid chicken bouillon.

For my basic poultry stuffing recipe, click here.

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Sausage Bread Stuffing
Sausage Bread Stuffing
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Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

When days are cooler, or downright cold, there is nothing better to warm the tummy than a bowl of comfort soup.  One of the soups I place in that category is homemade Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.  Full of flavour with a lovely velvety texture, Roasted Butternut Squash Soup has a rich natural golden-yellow color that can’t be beat!  This is a showstopper soup on both the taste and appetizing color fronts, the latter of which is drawn from the orange, fleshy pulp of the squash.

Squash Soup
Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This soup offers a delicate balance of sweet and savory notes and, while it can certainly be made year-round, this soup is most often served in the fall because its ingredients speak to autumn flavours like the squash, apple, and root vegetables that are fresh and local in most places in autumn.

Butternut squash is inexpensive, readily available year-round and, because of its bulk and substance, goes a long way as an ingredient in various dishes, including soup. That’s in addition to it being both healthy and delicious with its slightly sweet nutty flavour.

Squash
Butternut Squash

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup freezes well, so long as it is made with whole milk (not fat-reduced) or, alternatively, with a blend of whole milk and cream. In fact, this soup has now joined the ranks of being one of my staples that I freeze in single-serving portions ready for weekday lunch bags. It’s lovely on its own or paired with a favorite sandwich. A real treat in the middle of a work day!

Butternut Squash Soup
Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasting vegetables brings out deep, rich flavours that, in my opinion, are sometimes lost in other cooking methods like boiling, for example, where some of the flavour and nutrients get washed down the sink when the cooked vegetables are drained.  With roasting, all nutrients and flavours are retained.  Butternut squash is very easy to roast.  Simply slice the squash in half, vertically, and clean out the seeds and fibrous membrane.

Squash
Butternut Squash

Lightly brush the cut sides and cleaned out hollow of the squash halves with a light coating of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place squash halves, cut side down, on greased tinfoil-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Bake at 425°F for about 35 minutes then flip the squash halves over, brush again very lightly with olive oil and roast for another 15-20 minutes, or until the flesh is soft when pierced with a fork. Make sure the squash does not start to burn or char.  If you see this happening, loosely place a piece of tin foil over the squash. Remove the squash from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes then, with a large spoon, scoop the pulp away from the skin and transfer to a bowl.  This can be done the day before the soup is made. Make sure to cover the squash and refrigerate it until needed.  Don’t let the squash cool completely before removing it from its skin as, otherwise, it will be difficult to remove it away from the skin (experience speaking here).  I like to roast the squash, cut-side down, because it keeps the moisture in and caramelizes the flesh of the squash.  I do, however, flip the squash halves over part way through the roasting process because I find it gives the squash a nice roasted flavour.

Butternut Squash
Roasted Butternut Squash

I also find that roasting the squash whole versus cutting it into chunks is preferable.  First, it’s hard to cut uncooked squash but it is very easy to scoop out soft roasted pulp from the squash skin.  And, second, the roasting needs to occur at a reasonably high temperature and small chunks will burn easily and won’t have the caramelized flavour that can be achieved through the roasting process, particularly in the early stage where the squash is roasted, cut side down.  A lovely deep roasted flavour is the objective, not a burnt/charred taste.  This, to say, I think I have more control over the flavour if the squash is roasted whole.

Squash Soup
Classic Butternut Squash Soup

The base for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup starts out like many other cream soups with the aromatics being sautéed till fragrant and starting to soften.  The chicken broth and seasonings are then added to the pot and the vegetables, along with the apple, continue to cook in the broth until tender.  I don’t add the squash into the soup at this point because I think that cooking it too long in the broth causes it to lose some of its rich caramelized/roasted flavour and, since it is already cooked, it is not necessary to cook it further.  The vegetable/broth mixture is removed from the heat and cooled for about 30 minutes – I don’t like to put hot mixtures into my blender jar. To speed up the cooling process of the broth, I often place the stockpot containing the vegetables and broth into a sink filled with ice cold water. The mixture does not have to be completely cooled, just not boiling hot.  Once cooled enough to work with and ready for puréeing, remove the bay leaves, stir in the roasted squash, then purée the whole mixture until velvety smooth.

The puréed mixture goes back on to the stove with some maple syrup for a touch of sweetness and the whole milk (or a combination of whole milk and cream) along with a blend of Parmesan and cheddar cheeses. Continue to taste the soup throughout the cooking processes and add additional salt and pepper, to taste, if and as necessary. Heat only until the mixture is heated and the cheeses melted.  Never boil a cream soup.

Squash Soup
Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Serve this soup plain or garnish it with seasoned croutons, a dollop of sour cream with a sprinkle of fresh herbs or toasted butternut seeds, or a toasted baguette slice topped with cheese, herbs, and bacon.

Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup is a rich, velvety-smooth and comforting soup that is filled with the wonderful flavours of autumn.  This luxurious, yet economical, cream soup is sure to be one you will make again and again, anytime of the year.

Squash Soup
Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash (apx. 3 lbs)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

3 – 4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2/3 cup onion, finely chopped
¼ cup celery, thinly sliced
¼ cup carrot, thinly sliced
¼ cup parsnip, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups chicken or turkey stock, homemade or store-bought
1 small apple (any variety), peeled and diced
3 bay leaves
¾ tsp dried summer savory
¼ tsp dried sage
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Pinch ginger
Pinch cayenne (optional)
Salt and freshly Ground Pepper, to taste

2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1¼ cups whole milk (or combination of whole milk and cream)

2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese

Method:

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Wash butternut squash.  With large chef’s knife, slice the squash in half, vertically.  With large spoon, scoop out the seeds and fibrous matter from the interior of each squash half (save the seeds for roasting!)

Prepare large rimmed baking sheet by lining with tin foil sprayed lightly with cooking oil.  Lightly brush the cut sides and scooped out hollow of the squash halves with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place the squash halves, cut side down, on the baking sheet.  Roast the squash in preheated oven for about 35 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and, with a large flat lifter, carefully flip the squash pieces over, applying another light brushing of olive oil to the flesh side. Return the squash to the oven for about another 15-20 minutes, or until the flesh of the squash is very soft when pierced with a fork.  Remove from oven and let squash cool for 10 minutes or so.  Scoop out the flesh and place in medium-sized bowl.  (Do not let squash cool completely as it will be difficult to remove from its skin.)

In large stockpot, heat the butter over medium heat till melted.  Add the olive oil.  Add the onion, celery, carrot, and parsnip.  Stir briskly for 4-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute, continuing to stir the mixture.

Add the chicken stock, apple, and spices.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat then reduce heat to medium-low and cook until vegetables are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for about 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves.  Stir in cooked squash.

Purée soup mixture in blender until very smooth.  Work in batches, starting with one cup of the mixture, puréeing it until smooth, then adding another 1 to 1½ cups, never filling the blender jug more than a scant half full at a time.  Transfer puréed mixture to clean stockpot. Add the maple syrup and milk.  Stir well.  Heat slowly over medium-low heat but do not boil.  Add the Parmesan and cheddar cheese.  Stir until cheeses are melted.  Serve plain or garnish with croutons and some toasted squash seeds, a dollop of sour cream with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, or a toasted baguette slice topped with cheese, herbs, and bacon.

Yield:  Apx. 8-10 servings (apx. 1 cup per serving)

Note:
To make this soup lactose-free, use lactose-free butter, milk, and cheese.

Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This classic roasted butternut squash soup is luxuriously thick, velvety smooth, and is packed full of flavourful aromatics, light seasonings, and a blend of cheeses. Pure comfort food at its finest!
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash apx. 3 lbs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3 - 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 cup onion finely chopped
  • ¼ cup celery thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup carrot thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup parsnip thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 cups chicken or turkey stock homemade or store-bought
  • 1 small apple any variety, peeled and diced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ¾ tsp dried summer savory
  • ¼ tsp dried sage
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch ginger
  • Pinch cayenne optional
  • Salt and freshly Ground Pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • cups whole milk or combination of whole milk and cream
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Wash butternut squash. With large chef’s knife, slice the squash in half, vertically. With large spoon, scoop out the seeds and fibrous matter from the interior of each squash half (save the seeds for roasting!)
  3. Prepare large rimmed baking sheet by lining with tin foil sprayed lightly with cooking oil. Lightly brush the cut sides and scooped out hollow of the squash halves with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the squash halves, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Roast the squash in preheated oven for about 35 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and, with a large flat lifter, carefully flip the squash pieces over, applying another light brushing of olive oil to the flesh side. Return the squash to the oven for about another 15-20 minutes, or until the flesh of the squash is very soft when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and let squash cool for 10 minutes or so. Scoop out the flesh and place in medium-sized bowl. (Do not let squash cool completely as it will be difficult to remove from its skin.)
  4. In large stockpot, heat the butter over medium heat till melted. Add the olive oil. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and parsnip. Stir briskly for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, continuing to stir the mixture.
  5. Add the chicken stock, apple, and spices. Bring to a boil over medium high heat then reduce heat to medium-low and cook until vegetables are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for about 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves. Stir in cooked squash.
  6. Purée soup mixture in blender until very smooth. Work in batches, starting with one cup of the mixture, puréeing it until smooth, then adding another 1 to 1½ cups, never filling the blender jug more than a scant half full at a time. Transfer puréed mixture to clean stockpot. Add the maple syrup and milk. Stir well. Heat slowly over medium-low heat but do not boil. Add the Parmesan and cheddar cheese. Stir until cheeses are melted. Serve plain or garnish with croutons and some toasted squash seeds, a dollop of sour cream with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, or a toasted baguette slice topped with cheese, herbs, and bacon.

Recipe Notes

To make this soup lactose-free, use lactose-free butter, milk, and cheese.

For other great soup, chowder, chili, and stock/broth recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

SOUPS

Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup
Cream of Celery Soup
Ham Lentil Soup
Roasted Cream of Cauliflower Soup
Rich and Hearty Goulash Soup
PEI Potato Leek Soup
Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup
Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Roasted Cream of Asparagus Soup
Hamburger Soup
The Bistro’s Beefy Minestrone

CHOWDERS

PEI Mussel Chowder
Turkey Chowder

STOCKS/BROTH

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Beef Stock

CHILI

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Chili

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Cranberry Blueberry Sauce

Combining the sweet and tart flavors of blueberries and cranberries makes for a delectable cranberry blueberry sauce.  Their flavors play well off of each other. Most will be familiar with the traditional cranberry sauce that, for many, has to be part of a roasted turkey or chicken dinner.  Click here for my recipe for classic cranberry sauce.

Cranberries
Cranberries

As a variation to that sauce, I have created a recipe using a blend of cranberries and high bush blueberries.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

This sauce, in a gorgeous deep burgundy-purple color, pairs well with poultry and even with beef and pork dishes.  The blueberries add a layer of natural sweetness to the sauce and pair well with the more tart cranberries, toning them down just a bit but still letting the cranberry flavor come through.

Cranberry Blueberry Sauce
Cranberry Blueberry Sauce

The key to making a nice consistency sauce with blueberries and cranberries is to, first, make a simple syrup of water and sugar then add the cranberries that take longer to cook than the blueberries which are added to the late stage cooking.  The secret to getting a thickened sauce is to stir it both while it is cooking and cooling.  Stir it lots during the cooling process – it will appear quite watery when it comes off the stove but, by stirring it as it cools, you’ll be amazed how it thickens well.

If I am plating a meal, I like to put the sauce in a small condiment dish on each plate.  This contains the sauce which, regardless how thick it is, tends to run into other foods on the plate.

Cranberry Blueberry Sauce
Cranberry Blueberry Sauce

This sauce, like my traditional cranberry sauce, freezes well.  I make up a batch or two at a time and freeze it in airtight serving-size dishes – some are single serving, some are double, and some are larger size.  To thaw, simply remove the sauce from the freezer and thaw at room temperature for an hour or so (depending on the size of container, of course).

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Cranberry Blueberry Sauce

Ingredients:
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 cup water

1½ cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
½ cup apple, finely chopped
1/4 cup orange juice

2/3 cup high-bush blueberries, fresh or frozen
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Pinch allspice
1 star anise pod (optional)

1 tsp finely grated orange rind
Method:
In medium-sized saucepan, bring sugars and water to boil. Boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

Add cranberries, apple, and orange juice. Bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat, stirring periodically throughout the cooking process for about 8 minutes then add the blueberries and spices. Increase heat to return mixture to boiling point then reduce heat to medium-low and continue to stir the sauce periodically while cooking it for another 10 minutes or until mixture thickens and blueberries have softened.

Remove saucepan from heat and remove the star anise pod.  Add orange rind. Stir frequently as the sauce cools to help it to thicken.

Store, covered, in refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for longer storage.

Yield: Apx. 2 cups

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Cranberry Blueberry Sauce
Cranberry Blueberry Sauce
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Green Tomato Marmalade Recipe

Marmalade
Green Tomato Marmalade

Green Tomato Marmalade is not an altogether common variety of marmalade. It’s not the “garden” variety of typical marmalades likely to be found on many supermarket shelves, or at least not in my neck of the woods anyway.  That, in my view, makes Green Tomato Marmalade all the more special because it’s more unique and exclusive!

Marmalade
Green Tomato Marmalade

But, wait, in another sense, Green Tomato Marmalade is very much a “garden” variety of marmalade in that it is a great way to make use of the usual abundance of green tomatoes many gardeners end up with in their gardens in late summer or early fall and are wondering what they can do with them so they aren’t wasted.

Variations of green tomato jam and marmalade have been around for years.  I expect many homemakers of years ago made one or the other (either the jam or marmalade) because they would have likely had lots of tomatoes in the garden so it was an economical ingredient to use and to have as a spread for bread or biscuits over the winter.  Those homemakers were frugal and resourceful as there were no big supermarkets with a large selection of jams and marmalades we see today and, in some cases, families were large and did not have a lot of money. So, consequently, they figured out ways to feed their families economically, making good use of food they grew themselves.

Green Tomato Marmalade
Green Tomato Marmalade on Toast

Green Tomato Marmalade is one of those food items I would class as “don’t knock it till you’ve tried it”.  This marmalade is both sweet and savory, making it a versatile product to have on the pantry shelf.  Combining the green tomatoes with citrus flavours (orange and lemon) and some crushed pineapple for sweetness balance and texture, this marmalade is versatile and can be used just as one would use orange marmalade, for example – spread on toast, biscuits, and scones.  Green Tomato Marmalade can also be eaten as a savory condiment with cheese, charcuterie, and cracker boards.

Green Tomato Marmalade
Green Tomato Marmalade with Brie and Crackers

Almost any variety of medium/large tomatoes can be used for this marmalade. Tiny Tims variety or grape tomatoes, however, do not work well in this recipe because they are way too small to work with and are full of seeds.

Tomatoes
Green Tomatoes

My advice would be to try to find a variety that does not have a lot of seeds as the tomatoes will yield more tomato meat per pound for the marmalade and the tomatoes will be a lot easier to prepare.  This is because the seeds and the watery/gelatinous sack that are inside the tomatoes need to be removed for this marmalade.  Leaving them in will result in two things: 1) Too much water in the marmalade causing issues getting it to jell; and 2) tomatoes are tremendously seedy and all those seeds just simply do not look appetizing in the finished product and are a nightmare for anyone who cannot digest seeds well. The odd few seeds may make their way in to the marmalade and are not, generally, a problem for most but the intent is to remove as many seeds as possible from the tomatoes.

Green Tomatoes
Green Tomato Wedges

Cut each tomato in half, then each half into several wedges.  Scoop, or cut, out and discard the watery gelatinous sack and its seeds.

Green Tomatoes
Preparing Tomatoes for Green Tomato Marmalade

Cut up the remaining tomato pieces into small, bite-sized chunks.  These don’t need to be minced, by any means, but they need to be small enough to get cooked properly and to look appealing when spread on toast or biscuits.

Chopped Green Tomatoes
Chopped Green Tomatoes for Marmalade

The addition of lemon and orange (and their zests) is what, in my opinion, makes this a marmalade as marmalades traditionally contain citrus fruit.  This recipe calls for a small amount of crushed pineapple.  This adds an element of sweetness, flavour, and texture.  There is no need to drain the pineapple in a sieve or colander but, instead, use a slotted spoon to scoop the pineapple out of the can and let some of the juice drip off for a few seconds before measuring the pineapple.  There will still be juice in the pineapple and up to a couple of tablespoons of juice will be fine.  Any more and, like the watery part of tomatoes, it would add too much liquid to the marmalade content, potentially causing issues getting it to jell. Adding a small piece of cinnamon stick injects a subtle hint of cinnamon to the marmalade. However, it is not recommended to leave the cinnamon stick in the marmalade for the entire cooking process because it can result in too intense and excessive cinnamon flavour which is not the intent with this marmalade.

Marmalade
Green Tomato Marmalade

Care must be taken to ensure the marmalade does not scorch as it slowly cooks.  With the sugar content, scorching is always a risk.  Once a jam or marmalade has scorched, there is no fixing it and it’s a batch destined for the green compost cart.  Stirring the marmalade fairly regularly as it cooks will help it to thicken and prevent scorching (as will keeping it at a low boil and using a heavy bottomed stock pot).  It’s all about heat control. If desired, a few cut up red maraschino cherries can be added for color at the end of the cooking process.

Patience is required to make marmalade – it takes time for it to set, which can be upwards of two hours.  Getting the marmalade at the right jelling stage is the key part of marmalade making.  Temperatures for finished marmalade can range from 217°F to 222°F  and the temperature at which the marmalade is taken off the stove will determine how runny or thick it is. Undercooking the marmalade will result in a very runny product while overcooking it will make it too thick and sticky to spread on anything and it will become very dark in color.  I boil my marmalade slowly until it reaches a sustained temperature of 220°F on the candy thermometer. I find, at that stage, it has a lovely thick, yet still spreadable consistency. Marmalade is meant to be thicker than jam but still needs to be spreadable.

Marmalade
Green Tomato Marmalade

I could not get along without my candy/food thermometer for accurately checking food temperature.  If, however, you do not have a candy thermometer, a “wrinkle” test of the marmalade on a cold saucer can also be used to test the marmalade for doneness (see notes at the end of the recipe below for how to conduct this test).

Half-pint bottles, like those shown in the photo at the beginning of this posting, are perfectly sized for marmalade. The bottles must be washed in hot, soapy water and rinsed thoroughly before being sterilized in boiling water for 10 minutes.  Fill the sterilized jars with the marmalade to within ¼“ of the jar rim.  Seal with the heated lids secured with the bands that came with the jars.  Process the half-pint bottles in a hot water bath for 10 minutes to give them shelf stability for several months – if the Green Tomato Marmalade lasts that long! (Note the marmalade in the tiny jelly jars in the photos below have been transferred, for cracker board presentation purposes, from the half-pint bottles in which they were bottled and processed in the hot water bath – they were not processed in these jelly jars which I have not tested in a hot water bath process.)

Marmalade
Green Tomato Marmalade

The lemons, orange, and crushed pineapple turn the bright green tomatoes into a superb marmalade of glorious golden amber color. Don’t expect this marmalade to taste like tomatoes as might be expected.  Rather, it has a surprisingly sweet and savory blend of flavours that make it a tasty and luxurious marmalade for which a multitude of creative uses can be found.

Give it a try!

Green Tomato Marmalade

Ingredients:

4 lbs green tomatoes, cored, seeded, and diced or cut into small chunks (should equal apx. 9½ – 10 cups cut up)
2½ lbs granulated sugar
1½ lemons, chopped + zest
1 orange, chopped + zest
10 oz crushed pineapple with some of its juice
2” piece of cinnamon stick
4 oz maraschino cherries, chopped (optional)

Method:

Wash tomatoes.  Cut into sections and remove the stem end, core, seeds, and the watery/gelatinous sack around the seeds.  Dice, or cut the tomato pieces into small chunks. Place in large bowl and add the sugar.  Let stand for three hours to draw the juice from the tomatoes and allow the sugar to dissolve.  Stir two to three times.

Wash the lemons and orange well.  Zest the lemons and oranges.  Remove any seeds and cut lemons and orange into small pieces.

Transfer tomato–sugar mixture and the liquid to a medium-sized stock pot. Add the chopped lemons and orange and the zest, along with the crushed pineapple.  Add the piece of cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil over medium high temperature, stirring to prevent scorching.  Immediately lower the temperature and cook, uncovered, at a slow gentle boil until mixture reads 220°F, sustained, on a candy thermometer*.  Stir mixture regularly to prevent scorching. Be patient, this can take upwards of 2 hours. Remove the cinnamon stick after about an hour.  When marmalade has reached its temperature, remove from heat and stir in the maraschino cherries, if using.

While the marmalade is cooking, fill a large pot of water, about ¾ full.  Place 6 half-pint jars, upright, into the water.  Ensure the jars are fully submerged, are each filled with water, and that the water is at least an inch over the tops of the jars.  Cover, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave the jars in the hot water while the marmalade finishes cooking.

Meanwhile, fill the canner about one-third to one-half full of water. Cover and bring to a boil to have it ready for the filled jars.

When the marmalade is cooked, use a jar lifter to remove the hot jars from the water.  Using a canning funnel, pour marmalade into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar.  Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth. Seal jars with heated lids and fingertip-tightened ring bands.

Place jars in hot water bath wire basket, ensuring jars do not touch each other or fall over. Carefully lower basket into canner of hot water. Ensure the water level is at least 1” above the tops of jars, adding more boiling water as necessary. Cover with canner lid. Increase the heat to return the water to a rolling boil then decrease the heat to just keep the water at a rolling boil but not boiling over. Process half-pint jars in the hot water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting time for altitude. Start timing the processing from the point where a full rolling boil is reached after basket of jars has been added to the canner. At the end of the processing time, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Using a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars, one at a time, and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few minutes or hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward.  Let jars rest, undisturbed, on wire rack for 12 hours. Store in cool, dark place. Refrigerate marmalade once opened.

Yield:  Apx. 6 half-pint bottles

*If you don’t have a candy thermometer, place 2-3 freezer-safe saucers in freezer. To test for doneness, place a small amount of marmalade on chilled saucer and swirl saucer around. Let marmalade sit, untouched, for about a minute, then gently push your finger through the marmalade.  If the marmalade holds its shape (i.e., does not immediately run back together after the finger has been removed from the marmalade), it is set and ready to bottle.  If not, continue to cook mixture, repeating the “chill” test about every 3 minutes or so (always removing the pot from the heat while conducting the chill test) until the marmalade passes the “chill” test.  Do not overcook as it will result in a very thick marmalade, dark in color.

Green Tomato Marmalade

Lemons, orange, and crushed pineapple turn green tomatoes into a glorious golden amber-colored sweet and savory spread for toast, biscuits, scones, or crackers.
Cuisine American
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs green tomatoes cored, seeded, and diced or cut into small chunks (should equal apx. 9½ - 10 cups cut up)
  • lbs granulated sugar
  • lemons chopped + zest
  • 1 orange chopped + zest
  • 10 oz crushed pineapple with some of its juice
  • 2 ” piece of cinnamon stick
  • 4 oz maraschino cherries chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Wash tomatoes. Cut into sections and remove the stem end, core, seeds, and the watery/gelatinous sack around the seeds. Dice, or cut the tomato pieces into small chunks. Place in large bowl and add the sugar. Let stand for three hours to draw the juice from the tomatoes and allow the sugar to dissolve. Stir two to three times.
  2. Wash the lemons and orange well. Zest the lemons and oranges. Remove any seeds and cut lemons and orange into small pieces.
  3. Transfer tomato–sugar mixture and the liquid to a medium-sized stock pot. Add the chopped lemons and orange and the zest, along with the crushed pineapple. Add the piece of cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil over medium high temperature, stirring to prevent scorching. Immediately lower the temperature and cook, uncovered, at a slow gentle boil until mixture reads 220°F, sustained, on a candy thermometer*. Stir mixture regularly to prevent scorching. Be patient, this can take upwards of 2 hours. Remove the cinnamon stick after about an hour. When marmalade has reached its temperature, remove from heat and stir in the maraschino cherries, if using.
  4. While the marmalade is cooking, fill a large pot of water, about ¾ full. Place 6 half-pint jars, upright, into the water. Ensure the jars are fully submerged, are each filled with water, and that the water is at least an inch over the tops of the jars. Cover, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave the jars in the hot water while the marmalade finishes cooking.

  5. Meanwhile, fill the canner about one-third to one-half full of water. Cover and bring to a boil to have it ready for the filled jars.
  6. When the marmalade is cooked, use a jar lifter to remove the hot jars from the water. Using a canning funnel, pour marmalade into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar. Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth. Seal jars with heated lids and fingertip-tightened ring bands.
  7. Place jars in hot water bath wire basket, ensuring jars do not touch each other or fall over. Carefully lower basket into canner of hot water. Ensure the water level is at least 1” above the tops of jars, adding more boiling water as necessary. Cover with canner lid. Increase the heat to return the water to a rolling boil then decrease the heat to just keep the water at a rolling boil but not boiling over. Process half-pint jars in the hot water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting time for altitude. Start timing the processing from the point where a full rolling boil is reached after basket of jars has been added to the canner. At the end of the processing time, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Using a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars, one at a time, and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few minutes or hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward.  Let jars rest, undisturbed, on wire rack for 12 hours. Store in cool, dark place. Refrigerate marmalade once opened.
  8. Yield: Apx. 6 half-pint bottles
  9. *If you don’t have a candy thermometer, place 2-3 freezer-safe saucers in freezer. To test for doneness, place a small amount of marmalade on chilled saucer and swirl saucer around. Let marmalade sit, untouched, for about a minute, then gently push your finger through the marmalade. If the marmalade holds its shape (i.e., does not immediately run back together after the finger has been removed from the marmalade), it is set and ready to bottle. If not, continue to cook mixture, repeating the “chill” test about every 3 minutes or so (always removing the pot from the heat while conducting the chill test) until the marmalade passes the “chill” test. Do not overcook as it will result in a very thick marmalade, dark in color.

Recipe Notes

After marmalade has completely cooled, if there are any jars on which the lids have not curved downward, refrigerate those jars and use the marmalade within a month.

For more great jam, jelly, and maramalade recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Peach Marmalade
Rhubarb Marmalade
Crabapple Jelly
Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam
Gooseberry Jam
Zucchini Jam
Pumpkin Jam 

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Marmalade
Green Tomato Marmalade

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Breakfast Picnic on the Beach

Picnic
Breakfast on the Beach

When we think of picnics, we most often think of lunch time or dinner events. Rarely, do we think of a breakfast picnic and yet it’s probably one of the easiest picnic meals to pack!

Breakfast Picnic on the Beach
Breakfast Picnic on the Beach

Recently, I suggested we pack up a continental breakfast and head to the beach for a morning picnic.  We had just been to a nearby blueberry U-pick so, naturally, blueberries were included in the picnic.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

The menu was simple.  Orange juice, Greek yogurt topped with homemade granola and fresh blueberries, homemade muffins, peaches, and coffee.

Breakfast Picnic
Breakfast Picnic Fare

I love these little multi-purpose jelly jars.  They are perfect for yogurt parfaits!

Yogurt Parfaits
Yogurt Breakfast Parfaits

A breadboard makes an easily transportable platform upon which to set the food. I find, with beach picnics and an uneven sand base, it can be a bit of a challenge to keep the food from tipping over and spilling. However, the breadboard provides a stable, level surface eliminating the problem.

Breakfast Picnic
Continental Breakfast at the Beach

All that needs to be added is the quintessential coffee!  I have a small thermos/coffee butler that holds exactly two cups of coffee and is great for these types of events.

Breakfast Picnic
Breakfast Picnic at the Beach

I love my wicker picnic baskets and this one came equipped with the plates, mugs, and cutlery.

Picnic Basket
Wicker Picnic Basket

Let’s take a peek inside the picnic basket!

Breakfast Picnic
Breakfast in a Basket

A good book for one and the morning newspaper for the other found their way to the picnic, too! No need to take along lawn chairs – an old blanket and a couple of comfy pillows will suffice.

Breakfast on the Beach
Breakfast is Read!

Our summers are short here in Prince Edward Island so we make the most of the lovely fine days and our close proximity to the beach. What better way to savour the last days of summer than to pack a breakfast picnic and head to the beach to enjoy breakfast with a view like this! Self-imposed time-outs can be a good thing!

Beach
PEI Beach

 

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Chill Out with Great Ice Cream in PEI

Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream

It’s hard to think of summer without thinking of ice cream.  Those hot, sultry summer days just seem to beg for an ice cream fix.

Here, on PEI, we have no shortage of ice cream venues to choose from.  Whether you are a soft-serve ice cream fan or a hard ice cream aficionado, you’ll find lots to choose from.  After a summer of research (full disclosure – the waistline may have been harmed by this initiative!), here’s the scoop on my favorite places on the Island for hard ice cream and for soft-serve ice cream. Readers will note that opinions expressed are my own based on personal experience at all venues mentioned below.  None of the establishments knew I was sampling their products for this review. This is not a sponsored post and I received no compensation in any form for my reviews.

My review is broken down into two parts – hard ice cream and soft-serve ice cream. Readers will note that I was not reviewing every product sold by dairy bars and ice cream parlours. Rather I was reviewing two very specific products – hard ice cream and soft-serve ice cream. This to say that, for example, a dairy bar that specializes in, or is most known for, its soft-serve ice cream, may also serve other frozen products such as hard ice cream, too. In that example, if I was reviewing their soft-serve product, that’s all I was reviewing from that particular dairy bar.  Likewise, if a business is known primarily for its hard ice cream but also sells, for example, frozen yogurt or sherbet, I only reviewed their hard ice cream product(s). Of those I sampled in 2018, what follows were my top favorites.

For Best Hard Ice Cream

Two locations that specialize in the production of the traditional hard ice cream stood out for me:

COWS Inc.

Creamery Location: 12 Milky Way (397 Capital Drive), Charlottetown, PEI
(11 Canadian locations + 1 in Beijing, China)

COWS Creamery, PEI
COWS Creamery, PEI

Churning out delectable flavours since 1983, the flagship creamery is located on the aptly-named “Milky Way” just off of one of the famous roundabouts outside Charlottetown.  This venue is open year-round so locals do not have to go through withdrawal due to seasonal closures (phew!).  Other COWS locations, however, may be seasonal.

The Truck That Says It All!
The Truck That Says It All!

Apart from the high-quality ice cream (yup, 16% butter fat), COWS is legendary for its creative and unique ice cream flavour names often involving a play on words related to anything “cow” – like Cownadian Maple, Fluff ‘n Udder, Messie Bessie, and Moo Crunch, for example.

COWS Ice Cream Flavours
COWS Ice Cream Flavours

When I visit a COWS location, I go in with the best intentions to try a new flavour but, once I’m standing in front of the display case, I inevitably choose “Wowie Cowie”, a delectable concoction of vanilla ice cream, English toffee marble, chocolate flakes, and Moo Crunch.  Ice cream is available in dishes or cones but their handmade waffle cones are hard to pass up! In my view, the cones are part of the “udderly” wonderful COWS ice cream experience!

COWS' Wowie Cowie Ice Cream
COWS’ Wowie Cowie Ice Cream

There is no indoor seating at this COWS location though there are some nearby picnic tables outside.  Some COWS locations may have indoor seating available. Tours of the creamery at this location are also available.

Scooping COWS Ice Cream
Scooping COWS Ice Cream

One of the things that makes COWS ice cream extra special is that it is available exclusively at COWS stores so heading to a COWS outlet just makes the experience that much extra special because you know you can’t buy it at the local supermarket.  You can check out the story I earlier wrote on COWS here.

Holman’s Ice Cream Parlour

286 Fitzroy Street, Summerside, PEI

Holman's Ice Cream Parlour, Summerside, PEI
Holman’s Ice Cream Parlour, Summerside, PEI

The newbies on the Island ice cream scene, this family-owned and operated ice cream parlour opened its doors in 2016 and is quickly earning a reputation for high quality homemade ice cream.

Located in a heritage home, known as the Holman Homestead, in Summerside, this ice cream parlour has fast become a favorite stop for ice cream aficionados.  Much of the charm of the historical property has been maintained and gives an air of stepping back in time to a vintage ice cream parlour.

Holman's Ice Cream Parlour, Summerside, PEI
Holman’s Ice Cream Parlour, Summerside, PEI

The premium homemade hard ice cream, manufactured on the premises, is made with all-natural ingredients.  Several flavours of ice cream are available – my favorite is the Salted Caramel though I have heard rave reviews of their Cookies and Cream variety.

Ice Cream
“Salted Caramel” Ice Cream – Holman’s Ice Cream Parlour, Summerside, PEI

Ice cream is available in cones or dishes but, as you walk up the sidewalk toward the house, you can catch the tantalizing waft of the waffle cones being made – it’s hard not have one of those cones and they don’t disappoint!

At Holman's Ice Cream Parlour, Summerside, PEI
At Holman’s Ice Cream Parlour, Summerside, PEI

The parlour also offers sundaes, banana splits, and soda fountain floats made with their homemade ice cream.

Ice Cream Sundae at Holman's Ice Cream Parlour, Summerside, PEI
Ice Cream Sundae at Holman’s Ice Cream Parlour, Summerside, PEI

They also make sherbets and have at least one variety of ice cream made with sheep’s milk.  Service is provided by friendly staff.  Eat inside or, on lovely weather days, enjoy the ice cream in the garden.  The ice cream from Holman’s is made all the more special because it is only available at their Ice Cream Parlour and you won’t find it in the frozen dairy section of any supermarket.  Open seasonally.  (Hint – In my view, it’s worth the drive to Summerside just to have an ice cream at Holman’s!  Just sayin’, this might have happened on more than one occasion….for research purposes, of course, you know….just sayin’…..)

For Best Soft-Serve Ice Cream

Two locations that are known primarily for their soft-serve ice cream particularly caught my attention.

Sunny’s Dairy Bar – New Discovery 2018

559 Water Street, Summerside, PEI

Ice Cream Dairy Bar
Sunny’s Dairy Bar, Summerside, PEI

This dairy bar came recommended to me by a couple of folks who thought I should check it out.  Can soft-serve ice cream really be all that different from one place to another? Yes, it can and Sunny’s proves it!

Opened in 2011, in the west end of Summerside, this is a traditional style dairy bar in that you place your order at the window and take your ice cream back to your vehicle or to the Green Shore Park across the street.  There is no indoor seating.

This dairy bar was a new discovery for me this year and I will be back!  I opted for a Hot Fudge Sundae, my all-time favorite. The ice cream was the creamiest and richest I have ever had and the hot fudge topping was, well …. sublime!

Hot Fudge Sundae at Sunny's Dairy Bar, Summerside, PEI
Hot Fudge Sundae at Sunny’s Dairy Bar, Summerside, PEI

Sunny’s has a long list of ice cream treats on its menu, too numerous to mention here.  Portion sizes are very generous.  I ordered a small sundae and, as can be seen in the photo, it is a very generous helping! Open seasonally, this is definitely a place to check out for ice cream in Summerside!

Frosty Treat Dairy Bar

Two (2) locations – Original at 109 Victoria Street West and new one in 2018 at 25010 Veteran’s Memorial Highway, both in Kensington, PEI

Frosty Treat Dairy Bar #1 in Kensington, PEI
Frosty Treat Dairy Bar #1 in Kensington, PEI

A long-time favorite with Islanders, this traditional-style dairy bar is well known for its catchy TV ads “Don’t Drive By! Drive In!” For many Islanders, it will come as no surprise as to why Frosty Treat made my list of “go-to” places for yummy ice cream in PEI.  Frosty Treat has been synonymous with great soft-serve ice cream for many years and the frequent line-ups at the dairy bar window on hot summer days and evenings attest to this.

This popular ice cream bar serves up creamy soft-serve ice cream that will satisfy any craving for soft swirly ice cream.  Other ice cream treats are also available on Frosty’s menu.

Frosty Treat has been a summer tradition for us for many years.  Their Hot Fudge Sundae, in particular, is a perennial favorite. Open seasonally.

Hot Fudge Sundae from Frosty Treat Dairy Bar, Kensington, PEI
Hot Fudge Sundae from Frosty Treat Dairy Bar, Kensington, PEI

If you are in the Kensington area, “don’t drive by, drive in” to one of the Frosty Treat locations for a cool ice cream treat.

Frosty Treat #2 Location in Kensington, PEI
Frosty Treat #2 Location in Kensington, PEI

Special Mention

Somerset Ice Cream Bar – New Discovery 2018

2 Somerset Street, Kinkora, PEI

Somerset Dairy Bar, Kinkora, PEI
Somerset Dairy Bar, Kinkora, PEI

Located in the small rural village of Kinkora, midway between Charlottetown and Summerside, the Somerset Ice Cream Bar opened for business in summer 2018.  What makes this ice cream bar unique, and what earned it a special mention in this article, is that its owner and operator is a young entrepreneur, still in high school (yes, you read that right)!

Soft-serve Ice Cream
Ice Cream from Somerset Dairy Bar, Kinkora, PEI

Many cones of generous-sized portions of creamy swirled soft-serve ice cream were served out of this new dairy bar this past summer.  In traditional dairy bar style, orders are placed at the window.  There is no indoor seating but there are benches on the deck around the dairy bar and limited picnic table seating. Open seasonally.

If you are traveling Rte 225 between Summerside and Charlottetown, make it a plan to stop for a tasty treat at this ice cream bar.

So, this is what the waistline could handle this summer!  Again readers will note that some of these establishments also serve other types of ice cream and ice cream related treats.  However, the purpose of my exercise this summer was to simply find great establishments that specialized in, or were best known for, either hard ice cream or soft-serve ice cream.  Others may have differing opinions on my choices but, based on my personal experience on the days I visited the venues, I had great ice cream and service at each of these five (5) venues this year.  In my view, you can’t go wrong with an ice cream treat from any of these five (5) venues. All establishments have active social media accounts (and some have websites) that you can check out for more information and hours and season of operation.

Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

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Perfect Peach Blueberry Crisp Recipe

Summer Dessert
Peach Blueberry Crisp

There are so many options for summertime desserts.  I try to use fresh fruits in desserts throughout the summer season and often look for combinations that will work well together.  Some fruits just naturally complement each other, like blueberries and peaches, for example.

Summer Berries
PEI Blueberries

We eagerly await the arrival of the peaches from the Niagara region as this is not a fruit commonly grown on PEI (though I know of one farmer who has been testing them with our growing season and did have some crop in 2017).

Peaches
Peaches

I live not far from a high bush blueberry u-pick and, in August, we have a steady diet of these lovely berries.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

After I have had lots of the peaches and berries on their own, I tend to start looking for other ways in which to use them.

Summer Crisp Dessert
Perfect Peach and Blueberry Crisp

For this dessert, I have combined the blueberries with the peaches to create this lovely summer crisp dessert.  Much as I love the traditional apple crisp (click here for my recipe), I have to say that I think this one might just edge out the apple crisp for my favorite.  The peach and blueberry flavours work very well together.  In order to keep the color of the filling from being too dark, I use peaches as the predominant fruit and a much lesser amount of the blueberries as the secondary fruit to tease the tastebuds.

Summer dessert
Peach Blueberry Crisp

Use peaches that are fully ripe. They will be easier to peel and slice if they are dipped into hot water then immediately into ice cold water.  Slice the peaches into wedges about ½” – ¾” thick. You want to see lovely identifiable slices of peaches in the filling for presentation.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

I like the use of the high bush blueberries in this dessert because they are large enough that they give a real flavour burst when they meet the palate.

I use cornstarch for the filling thickener instead of flour.  I find, especially for light-colored fruits, the cornstarch will allow for a more clear/transparent filling than will flour which will sometimes create a more murky or cloudy filling. In my view, the cornstarch renders a more silky textured filling. The addition of some cinnamon and nutmeg makes this a very aromatic dessert. It smells simply divine when it is baking!

Summer Desserts
Peach Blueberry Crisp

The streusel topping is easy to make and just takes standard pantry ingredients.  Chopped pecans can be added to the topping but they are optional.

Peach Blueberry Crisp
Peach Blueberry Crisp

This dessert can be made in either a baking pan or a casserole that has an 8-cup capacity as this will allow the crisp to cook evenly and, hopefully, not bubble out during baking.  I do, however, place a foil-lined baking sheet either directly under the baking pan(s) or on the rack below to catch any drips that may occur during baking.

Peach Blueberry Crisp
Peach Blueberry Crisp

This dessert can be made in individual oven-safe baking dishes as well.

Peach Blueberry Crisp
Peach Blueberry Crisp

I often serve this dessert plain but it can be dressed up with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Summer Dessert
Peach Blueberry Crisp

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Peach and Blueberry Crisp

Ingredients:

Streusel Topping:
¾ cup all-purpose flour (to make it gluten-free, use an equal amount of gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour)
¾ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup quick rolled oats (to make it gluten-free, use the small-flake gluten-free rolled oats)
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ cup cold butter (no substitutes)
1/3 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Filling:
2 lbs fresh peaches
1 cup high bush blueberries
1½ tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla
2 tbsp light brown sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
¾ tsp cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch salt

Method:

Streusal Topping:
In medium-sized bowl, combine, the flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Mix well.  Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.  Add the chopped pecans if using.  Cover and refrigerate until peach and blueberry filling is prepared.

Filling:  
Place oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 375°F.

Score an “X” about an inch long into the bottom of each peach. Dip peaches in hot water for apx. 1 – 1½  minutes then immediately dip them into a bowl of ice water for 20-30 seconds to shock them and stop them from cooking. Peel peaches and slice each peach into wedges ½” – ¾ thick”. This should equal approximately 5 cups cut peaches. Sprinkle peaches with lemon juice and toss gently to coat the peaches. Sprinkle with vanilla. Add the blueberries. Stir gently.

In small bowl, mix the brown and white sugars with the cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt. Mix into the peaches and blueberries, being careful not to break down the peach wedges.

Grease 8-cup capacity casserole dish or baking pan (or 6 – 8 small individual oven-safe serving-sized baking dishes).  Transfer filling to baking dish.  Sprinkle evenly with the streusel topping.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until topping is browned and juices from filling are bubbling.  Remove from oven and let crisp stand for 30-35 minutes before serving.  Add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Yield:  6 – 8 servings

Peach and Blueberry Crisp

This summer crisp features plump blueberries and sweet peaches covered with a delicious buttery streusel topping. Serve plain or with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Blueberry and Peach Crisp, Peach Blueberry Crisp, Summer Dessert
Servings 8
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

Streusel Topping:

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour to make it gluten-free, use an equal amount of gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup quick rolled oats to make it gluten-free, use the small-flake gluten-free rolled oats
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup cold butter no substitutes
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans optional

Filling:

  • 2 lbs fresh peaches
  • 1 cup high bush blueberries
  • tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

Streusal Topping:

  1. In medium-sized bowl, combine, the flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Add the chopped pecans if using. Cover and refrigerate until peach and blueberry filling is prepared.

Filling:

  1. Place oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Score an “X” about an inch long into the bottom of each peach. Dip peaches in hot water for apx. 1 - 1½ minutes then immediately dip them into a bowl of ice water for 20-30 seconds to shock them and stop them from cooking. Peel peaches and slice each peach into wedges ½” - ¾ thick”. This should equal approximately 5 cups cut peaches. Sprinkle peaches with lemon juice and toss gently to coat the peaches. Sprinkle with vanilla. Add the blueberries. Stir gently.
  3. In small bowl, mix the brown and white sugars with the cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt. Mix into the peaches and blueberries, being careful not to break down the peach wedges.
  4. Grease 8-cup capacity casserole dish or baking pan (or 6 - 8 small individual oven-safe serving-sized baking dishes). Transfer filling to baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the streusel topping.
  5. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until topping is browned and juices from filling are bubbling. Remove from oven and let crisp stand for 30-35 minutes before serving. Add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Yield: 6 - 8 servings

 

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Summer Dessert
Peach and Blueberry Crisp

 

Peach and Blueberry Crisp
Peach and Blueberry Crisp
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Picnic Lunch in the Gazebo in St. Peter’s Bay, PEI

Picnic in the Gazebo at St. Peter's Bay, PEI
Picnic in the Gazebo at St. Peter’s Bay, PEI

We thoroughly enjoy our home province of Prince Edward Island! Our special Island is small enough that we can get to know all parts of it quite well.  In summer, especially, we do a lot of day trips all around the Island.  Most times, for our day excursions, I pack a picnic lunch and we head off for the day.  Sometimes, I have a particular picnic destination in mind and have a good idea if there will be a park nearby that would be suitable for a picnic and, other times, it’s totally by chance where we land at picnic time. Apart from the opportunity to dine outdoors in our all-too-short summer season here on Canada’s Atlantic Coast, transporting our own meal means we can eat wherever we are whenever we are hungry without having to try and be at a certain location where there is a restaurant which may, or may not, be able to accommodate dietary needs.

Our recent day trip took us to the north shore area of the eastern part of the Island.  I love PEI lighthouses – the iconic red and white structures are dotted here and there all around the coast of the Island.  I had been searching to find the St. Peter’s Bay Lighthouse for some time and was determined to find it this year.  So, this was our primary destination on this particular day trip.

St. Peter's Harbour Lighthouse, PEI
St. Peter’s Harbour Lighthouse, PEI

It wasn’t particularly easy to find this elusive lighthouse  but, with assistance of an acquaintance who provided directions, I was able to locate it.  Access is via a single lane red clay road with a canopy of trees.  The adventure was indeed worth it!

Lighthouse Road, Morell, PEI
Lighthouse Road, Morell, PEI

After we enjoyed the vista surrounding the lighthouse, not to mention the beautiful beach, we decided it was time to find a place to set out our picnic.

PEI North Shore Beach
Beach by St. Peter’s Bay Lighthouse, Morell, PEI

I knew of the small park by the water in nearby St. Peter’s Bay where I had had a picnic before (click here to view those photos).  What I didn’t recall was the lovely gazebo at this site. This find was a blessing since the temperature had soared to 28C by this time and it was way too hot to eat out in the open with no shelter!

Gazebo at St. Peter's Bay, PEI
Gazebo at St. Peter’s Bay, PEI

When we arrived, we found the large gazebo unoccupied so immediately went about setting out our picnic lunch.  Someone had planted beautiful flowers in boxes around the gazebo and that formed a ready backdrop that I could not have planned or hoped for. Bonus! See how gorgeous the flowers look in the photo below and how they fortuitously match my color scheme and complement the color of the lemonade!

Picnic in a Gazebo
Picnic in a Gazebo

The color theme of my picnic was turquoise, always a summery color. The burst of hot pink in the drink certainly adds a punch of color!

Picnic Salad Bowls
Picnic Salad Bowls

I found the bowls, matching small salad dressing containers, and rectangular dishes at Walmart.  Not only are they all color-coordinated in turquoise blue but the dishes come with the needed cutlery built in, a real bonus because there is no need to remember to bring cutlery separately.

Turquoise-themed Picnic
Turquoise-themed Picnic

The bowls match my insulated picnic basket.  A blue-checked tablecloth and checkered napkins, already part of my picnic arsenal, were found to match as well.

Turquoise and Blueberry Blue Details
Turquoise and Blueberry Blue Details

A small model sailboat in matching colors and a collection of shells formed the centerpiece for my tablescape. I figure if I am going to dine outside, I might as well go all the way and set the table attractively! It makes for a more fun and memorable picnic.

Sailboat and Shells Tablescape
Sailboat and Shells Tablescape

For lunch, I prepared my version of a picnic buddha bowl, ensuring it contained contents that would travel.  There is no one right way to make a buddha bowl but, typically, they contain some kind of grain (preferably high fibre), veggies and fruit, a protein source, and greens.  I began by layering the bowl with lettuce from our garden. Our garden has been a good producer this year so the cherry tomatoes, celery (it’s there but it’s hiding in the photo), and carrots are garden-fresh. The grain I chose to use was a tri-colored quinoa. To make the meal more substantial and to add some protein, I included a half hard boiled egg in each bowl. The addition of the red onion gives a flavor and color boost. I love how colorful and healthy this salad is!

Main Meal Picnic Salad
Main Meal Picnic Salad

I often brine and roast boneless skinless chicken breasts for various uses and they are perfect sliced for a main meal salad or as added protein in a buddah bowl.

Picnic Salad
Picnic Salad

Some freshly picked blueberries from the Tryon Blueberries U-pick added a bit of color, texture, and sweetness to the salad.  A simple balsamic dressing was all that was needed to finish the salad.  This type of meal is great for a picnic.  The meal is completely prepped at home and contained in a bowl with the dressing added at the time of serving.  The meal travels well – I use several ice packs in my insulated picnic basket to keep the food good and cold.  At meal time, it is simply a matter of removing the cover from each diner’s bowl and the meal is ready to go. Clean-up is super easy because the covers pop back on to the bowls and the utensils fit inside the bowls so there are no messy plates and utensils.

I love the little bottles in the photo below.  When I made the rhubarb lemonade earlier in the summer, I froze some in these bottles to have it ready for picnics.  The bottles help to keep the food cool as we travel and they quickly finish thawing completely when removed from the cooler as the picnic is being laid out. This is a super tasty (and colorful) summer drink – you can access my recipe by clicking here.

Rhubarb Lemonade
Rhubarb Lemonade

These high bush blueberries are great snacking berries and I often pack them in my picnic basket when the berries are in season.  Today, their blue color matches my color scheme, too!

High Bush Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

Peanut butter cookies are always a great stand-by picnic treat.  They are easy to make, easy to transport, and satisfy the sweet tooth.  For my recipe, click here.

Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies

Peaches are also a great fruit to take along on picnics. I love to incorporate the flavors of summer into my picnic menus.

Peaches and Cookies
Peaches and Cookies

I hope you have enjoyed a peek into my picnic in the gazebo in St. Peter’s Bay, PEI! The Island has many picturesque places suitable for picnics and each comes with its own unique view.

Picnic in St. Peter's Bay, PEI
Picnic in St. Peter’s Bay, PEI

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Picnic in St. Peter's Bay
Picnic in St. Peter’s Bay

For other picnic inspiration from My Island Bistro Kitchen, check out these:

Picnic by the Confederation Bridge in PEI
Sliders and Salad Sunday Picnic
A PEI Picnic in the Park
Casual Summer Picnic
A Canada Day Picnic in St. Peter’s Bay, PEI
A Casual Summer Afternoon Picnic
A Beach-Themed Picnic
A Pretty Pink Picnic
Canada Day Picnic
Oh Canada! A Picnic to Celebrate Canada Day
Labour Day Picnic by the PEI Seaside with Lobster Croissants on the Menu
A Plaid Picnic on the Verandah
Locovore’s Picnic – Food Day Canada 2016
Late Summer Charcuterie Picnic
Sunday Afternoon Wine and Cheese Picnic
Old Country Rose Afternoon Tea Picnic

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Cooking Classes at The Table Culinary Studio in PEI

"Bounty of the Sea" Cooking Class at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
“Bounty of the Sea” Cooking Class at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

Tucked away on the Graham’s Road (Route 8), in the picturesque rural community of New London, Prince Edward Island, you will find The Table Culinary Studio that offers short (between 3.5 and 4.5 hours) cooking classes that focus primarily on cooking with fresh, local Island foods.  This experience is a great way to learn about the Island food culture.

The Gently Rolling Hills of New London, PEI
The Gently Rolling Hills of New London, PEI

The rural setting is quintessential PEI. Fields in shades of green contrasted with the Island’s iconic red soil take visitors to the heart of some of the Island’s most fertile farm land.

Field of Potatoes in PEI's Red Soil
Field of Potatoes in PEI’s Red Soil

Just down the road is New London Harbour, home to a small lobster fishing fleet and the grounds for other seafood like oysters, quahogs, and mussels.  Not far away, quality food can be sourced from dairy and beef farms, organic farmers, beekeepers, cheesemakers, and garlic growers. Could there be a more authentic location for a PEI culinary studio!

New London Harbour
Lobster Boats at New London Harbour, PEI, Canada

While it is no secret that PEI has lovely scenery to enjoy, spectacular beaches and golf courses, and many attractions to keep visitors busy exploring our Island, many come to the Island knowing that PEI offers great food from the land and sea.

Cavendish Beach, PEI
Cavendish Beach, PEI

Our potatoes, oysters, mussels, and lobster, in particular, are shipped all over the world and these Island products are well known, respected, and sought after for their high quality.

PEI Potatoes
PEI Potatoes

So, what better way to experience the Island foods first hand than to take a short cooking class to learn more about them and how they can be prepared.

The Table Culinary Studio (formerly Annie’s Table) has been in operation since 2012, offering an array of short cooking classes on a myriad of topics.  Under new ownership in 2016, The Table, with owner/chef Derrick Hoare at the helm, continues with the tradition of engaging culinary aficionados in ways to prepare local Island foods such as lobster, oysters, mussels, scallops, beef, cheese, and so forth.  The focus is very much on using fresh local ingredients that are in season and, by extension, acquainting participants with the rich Island food culture.

The Table offers a number of hands-on cooking classes that include (at the time of writing) Bounty of the Sea, Black Gold (cured garlic), Farm to Table, Marilla’s Table, Hive to Table, Let Them Eat Beef, Oyster Obsession, Say Cheese, Vivacious Vegan, Applelicious, Artisan Bread, Gluten Free Gourmet, and Helping Hands.  The Table operates seasonally from May to October to coincide with the Island’s tourism season.  Several of the cooking classes involve field trips to farms and other local food producers to see, first-hand, how food is grown or produced and to pick up some local ingredients to bring back to The Table to be used in the class that follows.  This form of experiential tourism provides the opportunity for the learners to create wonderful memories of their vacation time in PEI, connect directly with PEI food producers, and to learn more about the Island’s food culture and the role that farming, fishing, and other food production play in the Island’s economy and way of life.

I recently participated in the “Bounty of the Sea” cooking class at The Table which is located within walking distance to the house in which famed Island authoress Lucy Maud Montgomery was born and not far by vehicle to the resort municipality of Cavendish.

Birthplace of authoress Lucy Maud Montgomery, New London, PEI
Birthplace of authoress Lucy Maud Montgomery, New London, PEI

But, before I take you on the adventure with me, here is a brief description of the venue and what a cooking class is like at The Table.

The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

What makes this culinary studio unique is its venue.  It is located in a small white repurposed country church, very typical of so many seen in several Island communities.  Inside the church, the pews have been removed and, in their place, is a large harvest table where, in a few hours time, class participants will gather to enjoy the lavish spread of the morning’s cooking. The church’s altar has been elevated to a loft setting and the building is tastefully furnished.

Students Gather at the Harvest Table Following a Cooking Class at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Students Gather at the Harvest Table Following a Cooking Class at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

The original altar and choir loft locations have been transformed into an open teaching kitchen.

The Kitchen at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
The Kitchen at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

Class size is small and intimate – only a maximum of 10 participants per cooking class.  This ensures that each person has a front row view as the culinary team teaches the cooking or baking techniques in the open-style kitchen. It also allows for participants to be actively engaged and participating in the cooking or baking activities.

The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

The culinary team consists of owner/chef Derrick Hoare, Executive Chef Michael Bradley, and Events Coordinator Christine Morgan. The atmosphere is unhurried and very sociable. Strangers become friends over the commonality of food. With a growing hunger for knowledge about where one’s food comes from and how it is grown, produced, or harvested, cooking classes appeal to most age demographics and skill levels. No need to worry if you are not an experienced or accomplished cook – the classes offer something for everyone, including a scrumptious meal after the class in the beautifully appointed old country church.

So, now on to my adventure as a participant in The Table’s “Bounty of the Sea” cooking class.  After morning coffee upon arrival, everyone got suited up with their aprons and side towels.

At The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
At The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

The class began with Chef Derrick giving a brief talk on lobster fishing on PEI, recounting his own experiences going out on a fishing boat to learn, first-hand, about lobster fishing on the Island.  Chef Michael then gave a short biology lesson on how to identify the gender of a lobster.

Executive Chef Michael Bradley at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Executive Chef Michael Bradley at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

It’s a good thing those lobsters were banded because, if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having a finger caught in the claws of one, you are likely to end up with a broken finger – they’re strong!

Lobsters
Fiesty Lobsters

Everyone was given a lobster and instructed on how to carefully de-band them before placing them in hot water to be cooked. Chef Michael explained how much salt was needed in the water to boil the lobsters and how long they needed to cook.

Cooking Lobsters at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Cooking Lobsters at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

Chef Derrick kept a watchful eye on the lobsters so they were removed from the pot at just the right time.

Derrick Hoare, Owner/Chef at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Derrick Hoare, Owner/Chef at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

Next came the lesson on how to crack open a lobster.

Cooked Lobster
Cooked Lobster

Chef Michael capably gave instructions as each student cracked open a lobster to reveal the succulent meat inside.

Meat from the Lobster
Meat from the Lobster

Yes, a basic table knife will do the trick!

Cracking Open Lobsters
Cracking Open Lobsters

Having never made homemade pasta before, I was particularly interested in the procedure.

Making Homemade Pasta at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Making Homemade Pasta at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

The Table is very accommodating to class participants who have dietary restrictions.  On this day, there were two participants who were gluten-intolerant so a separate station on an adjacent workspace was set up for them to make the gluten-free pasta and Chef Michael alternated between the two groups giving information and instruction on pasta making.

Making Gluten-Free Pasta at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Making Gluten-Free Pasta at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

Black garlic from nearby Eureka Garlic, not far from Kensington, was used in the pasta to give a unique flavour.  If you have never tasted black garlic, it’s not nearly as garlicky as you might think – I personally think it tastes like a cross between a fig and a prune.  You can check out my story here on Eureka Garlic.

Black Garlic from Eureka Garlic near Kensington, PEI
Black Garlic from Eureka Garlic near Kensington, PEI

The chopped black garlic was kneaded into the pasta dough.

Adding Black Garlic to Pasta Dough
Adding Black Garlic to Pasta Dough

The pasta dough was cut and gathered into circles ready to be dropped into the cooking pot.

Cutting the Pasta Dough
Cutting the Pasta Dough
Homemade Pasta Ready for Cooking
Homemade Pasta Ready for Cooking

With the pasta made, we took a brief break from the food prep to listen to Christine explain how mussels are grown and harvested on PEI.

Christine Morgan Explains How PEI Mussels are Grown and Harvested
Christine Morgan Explains How PEI Mussels are Grown and Harvested

PEI mussels are world famous and they are shipped all over the world.   Mussels are a common food to serve at many events, year-round, on PEI. They are easy to prepare and ever-so-tasty dipped in melted butter!

Steamed PEI Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Christine Morgan Serves Up Steamed PEI Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

Chef Michael then guided the group in making Lobster Bisque.  Once the Mirepoix started cooking, you can only imagine how tantalizing the scent was as it wafted through the old church building.

Stirring the Mirepoix for the Lobster Bisque at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Stirring the Mirepoix for the Lobster Bisque at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

Ohhhh, that lobster is going to make a dandy lunch – can’t you just taste it!

Lobster Bisque in the Making at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Lobster Bisque in the Making at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

The third seafood that we learned to cook was scallops, those tasty little morsels!

Cooking Scallops at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Cooking Scallops at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

The morning went super fast and, before we knew it, it was time for lunch to be served by the culinary team.

Chef Michael Bradley of The Table Culinary Studio Preparing the Lobster Bisque for Serving
Chef Michael Bradley of The Table Culinary Studio Preparing the Bowls of Lobster Bisque for Serving

The table was beautifully set (those of you who follow my food blog regularly know how I love well-set tables).  The napkin at each place setting had either a small lobster trap or lobster napkin ring.

Place Setting at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Place Setting at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

These napkin rings tied in well with the theme of the morning’s class – “Bounty of the Sea”.

Place Setting at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Place Setting at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

How inviting does this look! Wouldn’t you love to sit in at this table!

At The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
At The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

Fresh homemade sourdough bread was on the table.

Homemade Sourdough Bread
Homemade Sourdough Bread

The landing at the top of the spiral staircase in the church provided a great vantage point for photography.

Spiral Staircase at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Spiral Staircase at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

The group assembled at the big harvest table which is the focal point in the middle of the studio. This 12’ table was hand-crafted from old attic boards extracted from the house which The Table’s former owner restored just up the road at New London corner.

Class Lunch at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Class Lunch at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

How great does this lobster bisque look with that succulent lobster claw!  It tasted even better!

Lobster Bisque
Lobster Bisque

We were very anxious to taste the homemade pasta and it did not disappoint! The pasta in the photo below is gluten-free.

Homemade Pasta Topped with Lobster and Scallops at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Homemade Pasta Topped with Lobster and Scallops at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

This was accompanied by big bowls of PEI mussels with squeaky cheese topping melting down through the mussels.  If you are a mussel lover, these are hard to resist!

PEI Mussels with Butter at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
PEI Mussels with Butter at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

And as if we weren’t stuffed enough, out came dessert. The dessert in the photo below is a chocolate beet cake.

Chocolate Beet Cake at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Chocolate Beet Cake at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

And, for the gluten-free dessert, it was a deconstructed blueberry pie which I can attest was simply yummy!

Gluten-free Deconstructed Blueberry Pie - The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Gluten-free Deconstructed Blueberry Pie – The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

The Table is set with the right ingredients – small class size, fresh local Island foods, quality instruction, hands-on cooking, a shared meal, and a charming venue with a history of its own.  If you are looking for an authentic and affordable cooking experience to allow you to more deeply engage with the local food scene and pick up some cooking tips and skills, check out course offerings at The Table.  With the short half-day classes, visitors can have the best of both worlds – a cooking experience to learn more about local PEI foods in the morning followed by a delicious lunch and then the rest of the day free to explore other Island adventures and sights. For more information on cooking classes and prices, visit The Table Culinary Studio website at: http://www.thetablepei.ca/classes

The Table also offers fine dining in the evening (reservations required).  Click here to read my recent story on The Table’s North Shore Surf and Turf Dinner.

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Cooking Classes in PEI
Cooking Classes at The Table Culinary Studio in PEI
Cooking Classes in PEI
Cooking Classes at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Cooking Classes in Prince Edward Island
Cooking Class at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

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My thanks to The Table Culinary Studio for the opportunity to experience their “Bounty of the Sea” cooking class and for the fine hospitality. My participation in the class was complimentary for the purpose of conducting a review of the “Bounty of the Sea” cooking class. However, this in no way influenced my opinions of the class experience. All opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.

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Classic Peach Pie Recipe

Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

One of the things I most look forward to in summer is all the fresh produce. I especially love all the seasonal fruits and berries because they make grand pies and pastry making is one of my favorite baking activities.  In August, we eagerly await the wonderful peaches that come from the Niagara region – the baskets of large yellow/orange plump, juicy peaches.

Ontario Peaches
Peaches

Today, my feature recipe is the classic fresh peach pie, simply sublime when served with a scoop of fine vanilla ice cream.  This is a perfect end to a lovely summer dinner. It’s like summer sunshine in a pie!

Classic Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

This recipe calls for about 2 pounds of peaches so, depending on their size, this translates into about 6-7 good-sized peaches. Choose peaches that are ripe, have a slight “give” to them when their flesh is gently pressed, and are free from blemishes, cuts, and bruises.  The peaches will be easier to peel if they are placed in hot water for about a minute then immediately dipped into ice cold water to stop them from cooking and to cool them enough to handle as they are peeled.

Peaches
Peaches

Peaches are very juicy but all that juice can make for a very “soupy” pie.  A soupy pie presents problems cutting and plating it. It’s not very appetizing to see a pie that has broken apart and gone “splat” on a plate! But, there is a remedy to prevent the pie becoming too soupy.  I recommend draining the cut peaches in a colander for 10-12 minutes.  The ones I drained for this pie released 2/3 cup of peach juice, far too much for a slice of pie to stay intact when cut.  The peaches will still release more juice as the pie bakes. What I do is reserve 2½ – 3 tablespoons of the peach juice and put it in to the filling to keep the pie from becoming too dense and dry.  I find this is just the right amount to give the consistency and texture of pie I am seeking, still lovely and juicy but not too solid.

Classic Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

The pie is not difficult to make and does not take any uncommon ingredients.  I do add a bit of lemon juice (which helps to slow down the peaches from turning brown) and a small amount of almond flavouring along with some cinnamon and nutmeg.  The addition of some finely grated orange peel goes well with the peach flavour but does not mask or overtake it – after all, we want the natural peach flavour to be the star in this pie.  The peaches are plenty sweet on their own so don’t require much additional sweetener.  I do add a small amount of granulated and brown sugar but not a whole lot because the pie would be sickeningly sweet. The addition of a small amount of brown sugar lends some richness to the filling. I do not use all brown sugar in this recipe because it will result in the lovely peach color being diminished.  Hence, the reason why I use a combination of both white and brown sugars.

Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

I use cornstarch as the thickener in this pie as I find it results in a more translucent filling than does flour which can become pasty and cause certain pie fillings (especially light-colored ones like peach pie) to have a cloudy appearance. The drained peaches are mixed with the dry ingredients and the reserved peach juice.  I recommend letting the mixed filling sit for about 5 minutes to give the sugars time to break down and blend well into the filling. After the filling has set for 5 minutes, gently stir it being careful not to break apart the peach wedges. This will ensure the dry ingredients are well blended and distributed throughout the filling.

Use your favorite pastry for a two-crust pie.  This pie lends itself well to either a full top crust or a lattice top, whichever you prefer.  To make this pie gluten-free, click here for my gluten-free pastry recipe.  The photos of the pie in this posting are made with this tender, flaky, and flavorful gluten-free crust.

Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

Make sure the oven rack is placed in the lower third of the oven.  This helps the bottom crust to bake better and prevents the top crust from browning too quickly.  If, however, the crust starts to brown too fast, simply loosely tent the tin foil over the pie as it continues to bake.

Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

 

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Peach Pie

Ingredients:

Pastry for a two-crust pie to fit 9” pie plate

Approximately 2 pounds fresh peaches (about 6 – 7 large peaches), peeled and sliced into wedges about ½” to ¾” thick [This should equal 4½ – 5 cups sliced ripe peaches]
1½ tbsp lemon juice

1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ cup cornstarch
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
¾ tsp finely grated orange peel
1/8 tsp almond flavouring
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp butter

1½ – 2 tsp cane sugar (optional for decoration)

Method:

Score an “X” about an inch long into the bottom of each peach. Dip peaches in hot water for 1 minute then immediately dip them into a bowl of ice water for 20-30 seconds to shock them and stop them from cooking. Peel peaches.

Place colander over deep bowl.  Cut the peaches into halves or quarters.  Gently pull the sections apart and remove and discard the stones.  Cut the peaches into wedges, lengthwise, between ½” and ¾“ thick and place in colander.  Sprinkle peaches with lemon juice and toss very gently to coat with the juice to prevent the peaches from rapidly browning.  Let the peaches drip for about 10-12 minutes to remove excess juice that would make the pie “soupy”.  Reserve 2½ – 3 tbsp of the peach juice and discard any remaining juice. Transfer the peaches to a large bowl.

In separate bowl, combine the sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and grated orange rind. Mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the peaches and toss very gently to coat the peaches.  Add the almond flavoring to the 2½ – 3 tablespoons of reserved peach juice and sprinkle over the peaches.  Stir gently to mix ingredients. Let stand for 5 minutes then stir carefully again to ensure all ingredients are incorporated and equally distributed. Be careful not to break apart the peach wedges.

Roll out pastry into a circle approximately 12” – 13” round and about 1/8“ thick. Transfer pastry to a lightly greased 9” pie plate, fitting the dough over the bottom and sides of the plate, ensuring there are no air pockets.  Trim pastry flush with edge of pie plate.  Roll out top crust to same thickness.

Brush the bottom crust in the pie plate with a light coating of the beaten egg to keep the crust from getting soggy.  Reserve the remainder of the egg.

Transfer the peach filling to the prepared pie plate fitted with the pastry dough. Cut the butter into chunks and distribute on top of the filling.

Add ¾ tsp water to remaining beaten egg.  Brush the bottom crust edge all around the pie plate lightly with the egg-water mixture. Place top pie crust over peach filling. Trim excess pastry from the pie plate around the pie plate edge.  Press the edge of the pastry all around the pie plate rim with tines of a fork to adhere the top crust to bottom crust. Cut a “X” (or 2-3 slits) about 2” long in center of top crust to allow steam to escape as the pie bakes.  For additional venting, prick the pie in several places with the tines of the fork.  Lightly brush egg wash over top crust of pie.  If desired, sprinkle with 1½ – 2 tsp cane sugar.

Place pie in refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow filling to settle and to chill pastry to reduce shrinkage while it bakes.

Place oven rack in bottom third of oven.  Preheat oven to 425°F.  Place chilled pie on tinfoil-lined baking sheet to catch any drips should filling bubble out as pie bakes.  Transfer chilled pie to oven.  Bake for 15 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 375°F.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until crust is baked and golden brown and pie shows signs that filling is bubbling.  Check pie after it has been in the oven for about 30-35 minutes – if top crust is browning too quickly, loosely tent pie with tin foil.

Remove pie from the oven and transfer to wire rack to cool completely (minimum of 4 hours for the filling to set) before cutting and serving with a scoop of fine vanilla ice cream.

Yield:  1 – 9” double-crusted pie

Peach Pie

This classic homemade peach pie is like summer in a pie with its fresh ripe peaches encased in tender flaky pastry. Serve the pie with your favorite vanilla ice cream.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • Pastry for a two-crust pie to fit 9” pie plate
  • Approximately 2 pounds fresh peaches about 6 - 7 large peaches, peeled and sliced into wedges about ½” to ¾” thick [This should equal 4½ - 5 cups sliced ripe peaches]
  • tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp finely grated orange peel
  • 1/8 tsp almond flavouring
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1½ - 2 tsp cane sugar optional for decoration

Instructions

  1. Score an “X” about an inch long into the bottom of each peach. Dip peaches in hot water for 1 minute then immediately dip them into a bowl of ice water for 20-30 seconds to shock them and stop them from cooking. Peel peaches.
  2. Place colander over deep bowl. Cut the peaches into halves or quarters. Gently pull the sections apart and remove and discard the stones. Cut the peaches into wedges, lengthwise, between ½” and ¾“ thick and place in colander. Sprinkle peaches with lemon juice and toss very gently to coat with the juice to prevent the peaches from rapidly browning. Let the peaches drip for about 10-12 minutes to remove excess juice that would make the pie “soupy”. Reserve 2½ - 3 tbsp of the peach juice and discard any remaining juice. Transfer the peaches to a large bowl.
  3. In separate bowl, combine the sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and grated orange rind. Mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the peaches and toss very gently to coat the peaches. Add the almond flavoring to the 2½ - 3 tablespoons of reserved peach juice and sprinkle over the peaches. Stir gently to mix ingredients. Let stand for 5 minutes then stir carefully again to ensure all ingredients are incorporated and equally distributed. Be careful not to break apart the peach wedges.
  4. Roll out pastry into a circle approximately 12” - 13” round and about 1/8“ thick. Transfer pastry to a lightly greased 9” pie plate, fitting the dough over the bottom and sides of the plate, ensuring there are no air pockets. Trim pastry flush with edge of pie plate. Roll out top crust to same thickness.
  5. Brush the bottom crust in the pie plate with a light coating of the beaten egg to keep the crust from getting soggy. Reserve the remainder of the egg.
  6. Transfer the peach filling to the prepared pie plate fitted with the pastry dough. Cut the butter into chunks and distribute on top of the filling.
  7. Add ¾ tsp water to remaining beaten egg. Brush the bottom crust edge all around the pie plate lightly with the egg-water mixture. Place top pie crust over peach filling. Trim excess pastry from the pie plate around the pie plate edge. Press the edge of the pastry all around the pie plate rim with tines of a fork to adhere the top crust to bottom crust. Cut a “X” (or 2-3 slits) about 2” long in center of top crust to allow steam to escape as the pie bakes. For additional venting, prick the pie in several places with the tines of the fork. Lightly brush egg wash over top crust of pie. If desired, sprinkle with 1½ - 2 tsp cane sugar.
  8. Place pie in refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow filling to settle and to chill pastry to reduce shrinkage while it bakes.
  9. Place oven rack in bottom third of oven. Preheat oven to 425°F. Place chilled pie on tinfoil-lined baking sheet to catch any drips should filling bubble out as pie bakes. Transfer chilled pie to oven. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake for about 45 minutes or until crust is baked and golden brown and pie shows signs that filling is bubbling. Check pie after it has been in the oven for about 30-35 minutes - if top crust is browning too quickly, loosely tent pie with tin foil.
  10. Remove pie from the oven and transfer to wire rack to cool completely (minimum of 4 hours for the filling to set) before cutting and serving with a scoop of fine vanilla ice cream.

Recipe Notes

Yield: 1 - 9” double-crusted pie

 

For other great pie recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Rustic Apple Pie
Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie
Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
Squash Pie
Glazed Strawberry Pie
Rustic Rhubarb Pie
Coconut Cream Pie
Mock Cherry Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

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Classic Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

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How to Make Dill Pickles

Pickles
Dill Pickles

Dill pickles are one of the easiest pickles to make. Cold-packed into hot sterilized jars, this recipe transforms tiny 3” – 4” cucumbers into tangy pickles that, for any dill lover, are the quintessential pickles to accompany many sandwiches and burgers.

This recipe is sized with the smaller household in mind. Many don’t have large storage capacity for big batches of pickles such as our ancestors made and stored in their cold rooms or cellars. Yet other households are comprised of only one or two people so they don’t need large batches of pickles but still want to have a taste of homemade goodness that comes from home preserving.

Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles

Freshness Counts with Pickling Cucumbers!

As with any pickle recipe, freshness of ingredients is key. That means the cucumbers should, ideally, be processed the same day they are picked from the vine or, certainly, within 24 hours. Otherwise, the cucumbers start to lose their flavour and get soft and punky and, as we all know, dill pickles are meant to have crunch.

Use Pickling Vinegar

It is very important to use vinegar which is made especially for the pickling process. It will usually have 7% acidity, making it stronger than table vinegar. This helps to preserve the pickles longer. Most large grocery stores will stock this vinegar, especially around “pickling time” in late summer or fall. The container should state that it is “pickling vinegar”.

Pickling Vinegar

Use Pickling Salt, Not Table Salt, in Pickles

One of the biggest tips I have for pickling is to never use table salt in the pickling process. Always use proper pickling salt. This is a coarse salt specifically for pickling and it will be marked as such on the package label. Apart from it being way too salty for pickling, iodized table salt can cause some discoloration of the cucumbers and will likely form a cloudy brine. The brine should be bright and clear. Table salt, because of its fine texture is too easily absorbed into the cucumbers, resulting in overly salty pickles. I can always tell if someone has used table salt in making pickles just by simply looking at the bottles of pickles – the contents of those bottles just do not have an appetizing look to them.

Coarse/Pickling Salt

Preparing the Jars 

The jars should be examined to ensure they are free of cracks, chips, and nicks. They should then be washed, rinsed, and sterilized. I sterilize mine in a pot of boiling hot water on the stove. Use a jar lifter to place the jars, upright in the water, holding each one steady until it fills with water. Bring the water back to a boil, reduce the heat slightly to prevent boil-overs, and boil the jars gently for 10 minutes from this point. Turn the heat to simmer and leave the jars in the water until they are ready to be filled with the cucumbers. The jars must be kept hot because, once filled, they will be going into a hot water bath and cold jars meeting up with boiling water will crack.

Making the Brine

The process I use to make my dill pickles is quite simple. This involves making a simple brine of equal parts of pickling vinegar and water along with some pickling salt, a bit of sugar, and some pickling spices. To keep the brine clear, bundle the pickling spice into a double (or triple) layer of cheesecloth. Gather up this little sachet and tie with string. Once this brine has simmered for about 15 minutes, discard the spice sachet and bayleaf. The brine is then ready to be poured over the cucumbers.

Spice Sachet
Preparing the Spice Sachet
Pickling Spice Sachet
Pickling Spice Sachet

Preparing the Cucumbers and Filling the Jars

The small 3” – 4” dill-sized cucumbers can be left whole or they can be sliced in two (or even quartered) lengthwise or they can be sliced into “coins”. Just note that the pickles are likely to have more crunch if the cucumbers are left whole. Make sure to trim the blossom end of each cucumber by 1/8” – these blossom tips have enzymes that can lead to limp, punky pickles. Pricking each cucumber 3-4 times with the tines of a fork will help the vinegar brine penetrate the cucumbers better resulting in more flavorful pickles.

Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles

The point where you start to place ingredients into the jars is the point where it is necessary to work along quickly because the jars cannot be allowed to get cold before they go into the hot water bath. Ensuring all ingredients and pickling equipment are laid out before starting the process and following a set order will help this process move along quickly.  Further along in this posting, you will find an outline of the step-by-step sequence I follow to quickly get the jars filled while they are still hot and then into the hot water bath.

A slightly smashed garlic clove along with some mustard seed and a whole clove are first placed in the bottom of each jar. Where, in the jars, the small bunch of feathery dill fronds and the umbrella-shaped seed head of the dill plant are placed is a matter of personal preference. I like to place the dill fronds on one side of the jar and the seed head on the opposite side. These can, of course, be placed on the bottom of the jar or the feathery dill fronds on the bottom and the dill head on top of the cucumbers. The taste will be the same. However, if you like your jars to have a nice appearance that immediately signifies they are dill pickles, placing the fronds and dill head so they are visible will do the trick!

Ensure the cucumbers are tightly packed, compactly, into the jars but not so tight that they are squished. Once all the ingredients are placed in the jar, pour the hot brine into each jar, leaving ½” head space at the top of each jar.  A chopstick, or small non-metal spatula, is useful to remove any air bubbles that may appear and more of the brine may need to be added, as necessary, to bring it to about ½“ from the jar rim.

Add a Grape Leaf to Keep the Dills Crunchy

I add a grape leaf on top of the cucumbers in each jar. This is an old trick to keep the cucumbers crisp – the tannin-rich grape leaves have enzymes that help to keep the cucumbers crunchy. Some say, with the removal of the blossom ends of the cucumbers, it is not necessary to add the grape leaves to the jars but I have access to them so I add them and my dill pickles always turn out super crunchy.

Heat the Jar Lids and Metal Ring Bands

Always use brand new metal jar lids; never re-use them for pickling purposes as their seal is only meant for single use. Check the metal ring bands (which can be re-used multiple times) to ensure they have no dents or nicks in them and there is no rust. The jar lids are heated in hot simmering water, just until they are hot and the gaskets softened —  3 – 4 minutes should do it. Heating the lids too long or in rapidly boiling water will weaken the rubber on them causing them not to seal properly. Wipe each jar rim with a clean, damp cloth before applying the lids, rubber side down, to the jar tops. Tighten the metal ring bands, fingertip tight. At this point, the dills are ready, without delay, for their hot water bath.

Heating Jar Lids
Heating Jar Lids

The Hot Water Bath

Processing the jars of dills stabilizes the contents for longer shelf life. Make sure the hot water canner is ready to go with the boiling water in it by the time you fill the jars. Load the filled jars into the metal basket that comes with the canner. The jars should remain upright during the hot water bath process and they should not touch each other. Once the basket is lowered into the boiling water, ensure the water level is at least 1” above the jar tops. Add more boiling water, if necessary, to bring the water to this level.

I recommend following your canner manufacturer’s instructions for the canning process as the length of time the jars need to be processed will depend on the altitude of your locale. Here on PEI, I process my half-pint jars of dills for 10 minutes and I start the timing from the time the hot water returns to a full rolling boil after the basket of jars has been placed in the canner of hot water. Once the 10 minutes is up, remove the jars, one by one, with a jar lifter and place them on a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal. Sometimes, this will take place almost immediately and sometimes it can take a few hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Let the jars rest, undisturbed, on the wire cooling rack for 12 hours. Then, let the sealed jars stand in a cool, dark place for 6 weeks before opening. This gives time for the dill flavour to develop fully.

Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles

The Sequence

To help organize your work to make these pickles, I offer the following suggested order for the sequence so that the steps happen when they should and the hot jars do not have a chance to cool before they are filled and placed in the hot water bath.

  1. Fill the hot water canner with hot tap water, place it on the stove, and start the heating process to get it to the boiling point. Starting with hot tap water will reduce the amount of time it takes to get the large canner of water to a boil. Make sure the water is at the boiling point before the wire basket of filled bottles is placed in the canner.
  2. Heat a pot of boiling water to sterilize the jars. Wash jars. Boil them gently for at least 10 minutes. Keep them, at simmer level, in the hot water until they are needed for filling.
  3. Wash and cut blossom ends from cucumbers and prick each with tines of a fork, 3-4 times.
  4. Gather spices for the jars and prepare garlic cloves.
  5. Start making the brine.
  6. Make a quick trip to the garden to pick the fresh dill heads and fronds.
  7. As the brine is nearing completion, remove the sterilized jars from the hot water and place the garlic, spices, dill fronds and dill head in each jar. Pack in the cucumbers.
  8. Heat lids in small pan of hot water. Boil extra water in case it is needed to top up hot water canner to 1” above jar tops.
  9. Pour brine over cucumbers, remove air bubbles with a chopstick (or small non-metal spatula), and top up with more brine, as necessary. Add the grape leaf to top of each jar. Wipe the jar rims with clean damp cloth.
  10. Place lids and metal ring bands on jars. Place jars in canner basket and lower into canner of hot water. Add any additional water necessary to bring water level to 1” above jar lids. Cover. Bring canner water back to full rolling boil. Start timing the canning time from this point.
  11. Have wire rack set out for bottles as they come out of the canner.

Note: The garlic clove is likely to turn a blue-green-gray color. Don’t be alarmed by this – it’s just the effect of the acid from the vinegar coming into contact with the garlic.

Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles
[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Dill Pickles

Ingredients:

2 lbs – 3” – 4” pickling cucumbers, freshly picked and washed

1 tbsp pickling salt
1¼ cups + 1 tbsp pickling vinegar
1¼ cups + 1 tbsp water
2 tbsp granulated sugar
½ tbsp pickling spice, gathered into double (or triple) layer of cheesecloth and tied into spice sachet
1 bay leaf

3 – 4 whole cloves
1 tsp mustard seed, divided equally among the jars
3 – 4 small garlic cloves, slightly smashed
Fresh dill heads, one per jar along with small bunches of feathery dill fronds
Grape leaves, medium-sized, 1 per jar

3 – 4 half-pint jars, lids, and metal ring bands (the number of jars needed will depend on the size of the cucumbers, whether they are sliced or left whole, and how compactly they are fit into the jars)
1 chopstick

Method:

Wash and trim 1/8“ from blossom end of each cucumber. Prick cucumbers 3-4 times with tines of a fork. Leave cucumbers whole or cut into two or four spears, lengthwise (or slice into “coins”). Fill the canner with hot tap water and heat to boiling point while making the brine. Begin sterilizing the jars in large pot of hot water to have them ready when brine is heated.

To make the brine, combine the pickling salt, vinegar, water, sugar, pickling spice sachet, and bay leaf in small stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce heat to low and cook brine, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring periodically. Remove from heat and discard pickling sachet and bay leaf.

Place 1 whole clove, ¼ to 1/3 teaspoon mustard seed (divide the teaspoon of seeds equally between number of jars used), and 1 small slightly smashed garlic clove in each hot, sterilized jar. Place a small bunch of feathery dill fronds along one side of the jar and one umbrella-shaped dill head on the opposite side of the jar. Fill the jars with the cucumbers, packing tightly (but not squashing them), and keeping the dill fronds and dill head in place against the sides of the jars.

Pour the hot brine into each jar, filling to within ½ inch from jar rim (head space). Use a chopstick (or small non-metal spatula) to remove any air bubbles that may have formed in the brine. Add more brine, if necessary, to bring it to ½“ from the jar rim. Add 1 grape leaf to top of each jar, pressing it below the surface of the brine, to keep cucumbers crisp. Wipe each jar rim with a clean, damp cloth. Seal the jars with heated lids. Screw on metal ring bands, fingertip tight.

Place jars in hot water bath basket, ensuring jars do not touch each other or fall over. Lower basket into canner of hot water. Ensure the water level is at least 1″ above the jar tops, adding more water as necessary. Cover with canner lid. Increase the heat to return the water to a rolling boil then decrease the heat to just keep the water at a rolling boil but not boiling over. Process half-pint jars in the hot water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting time for altitude. Start timing the processing from the point where a full rolling boil is reached after basket of jars has been added to the canner. Turn off heat and remove canner lid. Using a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars, one at a time, and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few minutes or hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Let jars rest, undisturbed, on wire rack for 12 hours. For maximum dill flavour, let sealed jars stand in cool, dark place for 6 weeks before opening.

Yield:  Approximately 3- 4 half-pint jars

Dill Pickles

These easy-to-make dill pickles combine dill, garlic, and pickling spices to transform tiny cucumbers into crunchy pickles that, with their tangy flavour, are a great accompaniment to many sandwiches and burgers.
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs – 3” - 4” pickling cucumbers, freshly picked and washed
  • 1 tbsp pickling salt
  • cups + 1 tbsp pickling vinegar
  • cups + 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ½ tbsp pickling spice, gathered into double (or triple) layer of cheesecloth and tied into spice sachet
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 - 4 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp mustard seed, divided equally among the jars
  • 3 – 4 small garlic cloves, slightly smashed
  • Fresh dill heads, one per jar along with small feathery dill fronds
  • Grape leaves, medium-sized, 1 per jar
  • 3 – 4 half-pint jars lids, and metal ring bands (the number of jars needed will depend on the size of the cucumbers, whether they are sliced or left whole, and how compactly they are fit into the jars)
  • 1 chopstick (or small non-metal spatula)

Instructions

  1. Wash and trim 1/8“ from blossom end of each cucumber. Prick cucumbers 3-4 times with tines of a fork. Leave cucumbers whole or cut into two or four spears, lengthwise (or slice into “coins”). Fill the canner with hot tap water and heat to boiling point while making the brine. Begin sterilizing the jars in large pot of hot water to have them ready when brine is heated.
  2. To make the brine, combine the pickling salt, vinegar, water, sugar, pickling spice sachet, and bay leaf in small stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce heat to low and cook brine, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring periodically. Remove from heat and discard pickling sachet and bay leaf.
  3. Place 1 whole clove, ¼ to 1/3 teaspoon mustard seed (divide teaspoon of mustard seed equally between number of jars used), and 1 small slightly smashed garlic clove in each hot, sterilized jar. Place a small bunch of feathery dill fronds along one side of the jar and one umbrella-shaped dill head on the opposite side of the jar. Fill the jars with the cucumbers, packing tightly (but not squashing them), and keeping the dill fronds and dill head in place against the sides of the jars.

  4. Pour the hot brine into each jar, filling to within ½ inch from jar rim (head space). Use a chopstick (or small non-metal spatula) to remove any air bubbles that may have formed in the brine. Add more brine, if necessary, to bring it to ½“ from the jar rim. Add 1 grape leaf to top of each jar, pressing it below the surface of the brine, to keep cucumbers crisp. Wipe each jar rim with a clean, damp cloth. Seal the jars with heated lids. Screw on metal ring bands, fingertip tight.

  5. Place jars in hot water bath basket, ensuring jars do not touch each other or fall over. Lower basket into canner of hot water. Ensure the water level is at least 1" above the jar tops, adding more water as necessary. Cover with canner lid. Increase the heat to return the water to a rolling boil then decrease the heat to just keep the water at a rolling boil but not boiling over. Process half-pint jars in the hot water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting time for altitude. Start timing the processing from the point where a full rolling boil is reached after basket of jars has been added to the canner. At the end of the processing time, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Using a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars, one at a time, and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few minutes or hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Let jars rest, undisturbed, on wire rack for 12 hours. For maximum dill flavour, let sealed jars stand in cool, dark place for 6 weeks before opening.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Approximately 3- 4 half-pint jars

Be sure to read blog posting that accompanies this recipe for more information on the procedure to make dill pickles.

For other great pickle, relish, and chow recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Mustard Pickles
Bread and Butter Pickles
Pickled Beets
Mustard Beans
Green Tomato Chow
Rhubarb Relish

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Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles

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Sensational Strawberry Lemonade Recipe

Lemonade
Strawberry Lemonade

One of the wonderful things about lemonade is that it can be served simply as is or it can be flavoured with fruits in season such as I am doing today by making strawberry lemonade. How fabulous is that natural red color in the lemonade!

Lemonade
Strawberry Lemonade

This strawberry lemonade is great on a scorching hot day when you need to stay hydrated and crave a thirst-quenching drink.  The lemonade starts with the making of a simple syrup of water and sugar.  This gives the drink that lovely silky smooth texture which could not be gotten by simply combining sugar with cold water – no matter how much you stir it, sugar and cold water will never fully mix and you will be left with a grainy texture drink.  By boiling the sugar and water to make the syrup, you are sure the sugar is fully dissolved.  I find using super-fine sugar (which you may know as caster sugar, instant dissolving sugar, or berry sugar) is the best to use to make simple syrup although regular granulated sugar may also be used. Typically, a simple syrup for drinks is made with a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water.  However, I find that that is too much sugar for my taste in this lemonade so I use 1 cup of the superfine sugar to 1 1/2 cups water.

For this recipe, purée the strawberries, add some water to them along with freshly squeezed lemon juice and the simple syrup.  In order to get rid of the hundreds of little tiny strawberry seeds and to have a clear drink, the mixture will need to be strained through a very fine wire mesh sieve.  You’ll be amazed at how many seeds strawberries have!

Lemonade
Strawberry Lemonade over Ice

This is a delightful summertime drink served over ice and it has an absolutely fabulously rich colour that is all natural thanks to the ruby red strawberries.  To add a bit of fizz to the drink, mix half a glass with the lemonade and half with your favorite clear soda (lemon-lime is especially good). Add ice and garnish with a fresh strawberry and/or lemon wedge or wheel.

Lemonade
Strawberry Lemonade

This is often a drink I make to take along on picnic outings. It’s handy to have frozen because, as it thaws on the way to the picnic location, it also helps to keep the food cold.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Strawberry Lemonade

Ingredients:

1½ cup water
1 cup super-fine sugar (aka caster sugar or instant dissolving sugar)

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp coarsely grated lemon rind

3 cups strawberries, sliced
2 cups water
Pinch salt

Method:

For the simple syrup:  In small saucepan, combine the 1 1/2 water and 1 cup sugar together.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Reduce heat to medium-low and boil gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature (apx. 30-40 minutes). Add the lemon juice and lemon rind. Let mixture stand for at least an hour (or up to three hours) to allow the flavors to blend.  Strain mixture twice through a fine mesh sieve to remove the lemon pulp and rind.  Discard the pulp and rind.

For the strawberry purée:  Place strawberries in large blender.  Purée until smooth.  Slowly add in the 2 cups of water, continuing to pulse/purée until mixture is smooth.  Slowly add the strained simple syrup with lemon juice and a pinch of salt.  Purée until all ingredients are well combined.  Strain mixture through very fine wire mesh sieve to remove the strawberry seeds.

To assemble:  Transf