Old-fashioned Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

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Homemade Ice Cream
Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

Summer just would not be summer without ice cream and what better way to enjoy it than to combine two of the season’s best flavors – strawberry and rhubarb – into homemade Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream!

I have been making ice cream for a long time. I have an electric churn that has been in the family for probably close to 50 years.  I keep thinking that, one of these days, I will have the custard made and the motor will give out on the churn.  But, amazingly, it always works!  It’s not fancy but it does the job. There are various types and styles of ice cream makers on the market today but I like my old faithful electric churn. It may look rusty on the outside from all the contact it has had over many years with rock salt that sloshes around with ice in the bucket but the canister is in perfect condition and the churn still makes great smooth ice cream!

Ice Cream Maker
Electric Ice Cream Maker

It usually takes about 20-25 minutes for the ice cream to churn.  The ice cream will come out of the canister quite soft textured but placing it in the deep freeze for about 3 hours will result in it firming up very well.

Homemade Ice Cream
Homemade Churned Ice Cream

I use the traditional custard method for making ice cream. It’s amazing how such basic, simple ingredients can turn out such a delectable treat.  Milk/cream, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla form the standard base for the custard and then other flavorings may be added.

Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream
Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

The trick to making homemade ice cream is to use the good stuff! Yes, the real cream, whipping cream, and whole milk.  This will give the custard the rich base and the ice cream its smooth texture. While granulated sugar can be used, my preference is to use the super-fine caster sugar as there is no grit at all to it. I always make my custard the night before I churn the ice cream and place it in the refrigerator overnight as it gives the flavors time to develop as they “mix and mingle” and the custard needs to be very cold to start the churning. In fact, I put the churn canister and beaters in the freezer for an hour or so before churning so they are cold as well.

Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream
Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

One ingredient I add to this particular ice cream recipe is strawberry balsamic vinegar – yes, vinegar goes in this recipe but not just any vinegar and not a lot of it. One tablespoon of high quality strawberry balsamic will deepen and enhance the strawberry flavor and, no, it will not leave a lingering vinegar taste in the ice cream. If you have rose water, the addition of just 1 1/2 teaspoons will give a hint of floral flavor. Don’t over-do the rose water or it will start to taste like perfume.  All this small addition is doing is adding a subtle layer of flavoring.

Use the freshest ingredients you can – i.e., make this ice cream when the local rhubarb and strawberries are available as they have the best flavor.

Strawberries
Fresh From the Field PEI Strawberries

Choose the reddest stalks of rhubarb you can find. This recipe does not call for any artificial food coloring (and I don’t use any) so the pink color comes naturally from the red rhubarb and strawberries.  Each batch I make has a slightly different tint of pink to it depending on the quality of the strawberries and rhubarb.

Rhubarb
Rhubarb

I recommend reading through the recipe a couple of times before starting to make the ice cream to organize the prep work and to be sure you have all the required ingredients and understand the method and the sequence for preparing the ingredients.

I have made this Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream both rippled (shown in the photo at the beginning of this posting) using some of the strawberry-rhubarb purée to weave through the ice cream and plain (shown in the ice cream cones in the photo below) where I incorporate all of the purée into the custard.  The ice cream is good either way. This homemade ice cream freezes rock solid hard so I recommend removing it from the freezer 7-10 minutes before using as, otherwise, it will be difficult to scoop.

Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Plain (no rippling/marbling)

Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream makes a great sundae, especially if you drizzle it with crushed strawberries or strawberry-rhubarb sauce.

Ice Cream Sundae
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Sundae

And, it makes dandy milkshakes.  Simply combine 3 scoops of the strawberry rhubarb ice cream in a blender with 1/4 cup milk per serving.  Blend until smooth and serve in fancy tall glasses with colorful straws and a strawberry garnish.

Milkshake
Strawberry Rhubarb Milkshake

Oh, this is a special treat on a hot summer day!

Milkshake
Strawberry Rhubarb Milkshake

Homemade ice cream sandwiches are also a wonderful summer treat. I use my gluten-free snickerdoodle cookies for these sandwiches because they are a lovely soft-textured cookie.

Ice Cream Sandwiches
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Sandwiches

For these sandwiches, freeze the ice cream in a 9×13 baking pan lined with tin foil. Fill the pan with the ice cream to a depth of 3/4″ to 1″ thick.  Place in freezer for a couple of hours then remove the ice cream from the pan and cut round circles of the ice cream with a cookie cutter that is slightly smaller than the cookie size.

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Sandwiches

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

Ingredients:

10 oz strawberries, chopped
1 tbsp strawberry balsamic vinegar (optional but recommended)
3 tbsp caster sugar
1½ tsp rose water (optional)

1 lb rhubarb, chopped
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp caster sugar

1 cup whipping cream (36%)
1 cup half-and-half or coffee cream (at least 18%)
1 cup whole milk
Scant ¾ cup caster sugar
4 extra-large egg yolks
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp vanilla

Method:

Place chopped strawberries in small bowl and sprinkle with 3 tbsp caster sugar, balsamic vinegar, and rose water. Set aside.

Place chopped rhubarb in small saucepan and add the 2 tbsp orange juice, 2 tbsp water and 3 tbsp caster sugar.  Cover and cook over medium heat for 7-10 minutes, until rhubarb is softened. Remove from heat and strain through medium mesh wire sieve.  Reserve the rhubarb pulp and transfer to heat-proof bowl.

Return the strained rhubarb juice to saucepan and cook over medium heat until juice is reduced to about 1/3 cup.  Pour the syrup over the reserved rhubarb pulp. Let cool to room temperature.

Transfer the strawberries and cooled rhubarb mixture to a blender and purée until very smooth.  Strain mixture through medium mesh sieve, squeezing as much juice as possible out of the rhubarb by gently pressing it down with the back of a spoon. This should yield approximately 2⅔ – 3 cups purée. Discard any remaining pulp. Cool strained mixture in refrigerator.

In heavy bottomed saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring whipping cream, half-and-half, and whole milk to the scalding point (small bubbles should start to appear around the edges of the mixture) – 180°F, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Do not boil. Transfer mixture to top of double boiler.

In bottom of double boiler, bring about 2” of water to the simmer point (around 200°F). Maintain the water at this simmer point over medium-low heat. Place top of double boiler containing the milk over the simmering water.

In bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt together until pale and creamy.  Gradually add about ¾ cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to blend well.  Pour the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture in top of double boiler, whisking continuously.  Cook over the simmering water, stirring constantly until the mixture coats the back of a wood spoon or reaches a temperature of 175°F on a candy thermometer.  Do not allow mixture to boil.

Set large clean bowl in a sink of cold water filled to about half the depth of the bowl.  Pour the custard mixture through a wire sieve into the bowl to remove any bits of egg that may have coagulated.  Stir in the vanilla.

Set aside about ½ cup of the puréed strawberry-rhubarb mixture and whisk the remaining puréed fruit mixture into the custard until it is well blended.  Chill, covered, in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or more (can be chilled overnight and up to 24 hours).

Churn custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer about a third of the ice cream to an airtight freezer container. Drizzle half of the reserved purée over the ice cream.  Repeat the process with another layer of ice cream and purée and ending with a layer of the ice cream.  With the thin blade of a knife, or using a wooden skewer, swirl the purée through the ice cream to incorporate it in a marble effect. Do not overmix or the ripple/marble effect will be lost. Cover container tightly and allow ice cream to freeze for at least 3 hours, or until very firm, before serving.

Yield: Apx. 1 quart

Note 1: This ice cream will freeze rock solid hard. Recommend removing ice cream from freezer 7-10 minutes before serving.
Note 2: This ice cream may be made without the rippling effect. Simply incorporate all of the strawberry-rhubarb purée into the custard instead of reserving ½ cup for the rippling/marbling.

Old-fashioned Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

Yield: Apx. 1 qt

Delectable old-fashioned homemade ice cream combines two of summer's best flavors - strawberry and rhubarb.

Ingredients

  • 10 oz strawberries, chopped
  • 1 tbsp strawberry balsamic vinegar (optional but recommended)
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1½ tsp rose water (optional)
  • 1 lb rhubarb, chopped
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 cup whipping cream (36%)
  • 1 cup half-and-half or coffee cream (at least 18%)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Scant ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Place chopped strawberries in small bowl and sprinkle with 3 tbsp caster sugar, balsamic vinegar, and rose water. Set aside.
  2. Place chopped rhubarb in small saucepan and add the 2 tbsp orange juice, 2 tbsp water and 3 tbsp caster sugar. Cover and cook over medium heat for 7-10 minutes, until rhubarb is softened. Remove from heat and strain through medium mesh wire sieve. Reserve the rhubarb pulp and transfer to heat-proof bowl.
  3. Return the strained rhubarb juice to saucepan and cook over medium heat until juice is reduced to about 1/3 cup. Pour the syrup over the reserved rhubarb pulp. Let cool to room temperature.
  4. Transfer the strawberries and cooled rhubarb mixture to a blender and purée until very smooth. Strain mixture through medium mesh sieve, squeezing as much juice as possible out of the rhubarb by gently pressing it down with the back of a spoon. This should yield approximately 2 2/3 – 3 cups purée. Discard any remaining pulp. Cool strained mixture in refrigerator.
  5. In heavy bottomed saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring whipping cream, half-and-half, and whole milk to the scalding point (small bubbles should start to appear around the edges of the mixture) - 180°F, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Do not boil. Transfer mixture to top of double boiler.
  6. In bottom of double boiler, bring about 2” of water to the simmer point (around 200°F). Maintain the water at this simmer point over medium-low heat. Place top of double boiler containing the milk over the simmering water.
  7. In bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt together until pale and creamy. Gradually add about ¾ cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to blend well. Pour the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture in top of double boiler, whisking continuously. Cook over the simmering water, stirring constantly until the mixture coats the back of a wood spoon or reaches a temperature of 175°F on a candy thermometer. Do not allow mixture to boil.
  8. Set large clean bowl in a sink of cold water filled to about half the depth of the bowl. Pour the custard mixture through a wire sieve into the bowl to remove any bits of egg that may have coagulated. Stir in the vanilla.
  9. Set aside about ½ cup of the puréed strawberry-rhubarb mixture and whisk the remaining puréed fruit mixture into the custard until it is well blended. Chill, covered, in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or more (can be chilled overnight and up to 24 hours).
  10. Churn custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer about a third of the ice cream to an airtight freezer container. Drizzle half of the reserved purée over the ice cream. Repeat the process with another layer of ice cream and purée and ending with a layer of the ice cream. With the thin blade of a knife, or using a wooden skewer, swirl the purée through the ice cream to incorporate it in a marble effect. Do not overmix or the ripple/marble effect will be lost. Cover container tightly and allow ice cream to freeze for at least 3 hours, or until very firm, before serving.

Notes

Note 1: This ice cream will freeze rock solid hard. Recommend removing ice cream from freezer 7-10 minutes before serving.

Note 2: This ice cream may be made without the rippling effect. Simply incorporate all of the strawberry-rhubarb purée into the custard instead of reserving ½ cup for the rippling/marbling.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Sundae
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Sundae
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream

 

Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookie Recipe

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Snickerdoodles
Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies

If you like cookies that are super tasty but not overly sweet then you will like these gluten free snickerdoodle cookies. They sport a lovely soft crumb texture and have superb flavor with the cardamon and nutmeg in the cookies and then the cinnamon-sugar mixture in which they are rolled.

I have been doing a lot of recipe development and testing for gluten free baked goods and have developed several cookie recipes that are suitable for those that have gluten sensitivity or intolerance.  In my view, there is no need for those following a gluten-free diet to be deprived of some fine tasting baked products.

Snickerdoodles
Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies

This snickerdoodle cookie recipe does not take any unusual or difficult-to-find ingredients.  It calls for gluten free all-purpose flour and a small amount of almond flour. The almond flour adds both flavor and a lovely texture to baked products. It is not an inexpensive flour, by any means, but fortunately not a lot of it is needed to achieve great results.

When using gluten free flours and zanthan gum, it is very important that they be combined very well before incorporating them into the batter. I recommend sifting these products along with the leavening and any spices together into a large bowl  and then whisk them really well.

The snickerdoodle cookie dough will be very soft when all ingredients are mixed in.  Cover the dough and place it in the refrigerator for 40-60 minutes to allow it to firm up so it will be easier to form the cookie balls.

Snickerdoodle Cookies
Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies

I’m a big fan of digital scales for my kitchen work. I like the look of uniform cookies so I often use the scales to ensure that the same amount of dough goes into each cookie.  I use approximately 20grams, or about 3/4 ounce, of dough for each cookie.  Roll the cookie balls in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place them on the prepared cookie sheets (parchment lined), spacing them at least 2 1/2 inches apart. Do not flatten the cookie balls – they will automatically flatten as they bake.  These cookies usually bake in about 10 minutes.  Snickerdoodles are great picnic cookies as they travel well.

Cookies
Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies

Because of their soft texture, they are an ideal choice for homemade ice cream sandwiches.

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwiches

And, of course, they are always a popular choice for the cookie jar or lunch box. These cookies freeze really well and are great to have on hand.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-free Snickerdoodle Cookies

 Ingredients:

½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
6 tbsp granulated sugar
6 tbsp brown sugar
1 extra-large egg
½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp almond flavoring
¼ tsp lemon flavoring

1 1/3 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
¼ cup almond flour
¼ tsp zanthan gum
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Method:

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer, cream butter with 6 tbsp granulated sugar and 6 tbsp brown sugar.  Beat in the egg and vanilla along with the almond and lemon flavorings.

In separate bowl, sift together the next 9 dry ingredients then whisk the mixture several times to ensure the ingredients are well incorporated.  Mix into creamed mixture until well blended.  Cover and place dough in refrigerator for 40-60 minutes to firm. Shape into balls using about 20g, or about .75 oz, of dough.  Mix the remaining tablespoon of sugar with the cinnamon in small bowl.  Roll cookie balls in sugar mixture and place on prepared cookie sheets, spacing cookies at least 2½ inches apart.  Do not flatten cookie balls. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. These cookies freeze well.

Yield: Apx. 2 dozen

These cookies are supremely good with a glass of cold milk.

Snickerdoodle Cookies
Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies

Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookie Recipe

Yield: Apx. 2 dozen

A gluten free version of an old-fashioned favorite cookie, lightly spiced with cardamon and nutmeg, and rolled in cinnamon sugar. A cookie jar favorite for sure!

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 6 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp almond flavoring
  • ¼ tsp lemon flavoring
  • 1 1/3 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¼ tsp zanthan gum
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In bowl of stand mixer, cream butter with 6 tbsp granulated sugar and 6 tbsp brown sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla along with the almond and lemon flavorings.
  3. In separate bowl, sift together the next 9 dry ingredients then whisk the mixture several times to ensure the ingredients are well incorporated. Mix into creamed mixture until well blended. Cover and place dough in refrigerator for 40-60 minutes to firm. Shape into balls using about 20g, or about .75 oz, of dough. Mix the remaining tablespoon of sugar with the cinnamon in small bowl. Roll cookie balls in sugar mixture and place on prepared cookie sheets, spacing cookies at least 2½ inches apart. Do not flatten cookie balls. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. These cookies freeze well.
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Snickerdoodle Cookies
Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies
Snickerdoodle Cookies

 

Rhubarb Curd Recipe

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Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb Curd

I love rhubarb and use it in a multitude of ways.  Being a lover of lemon curd, I figured I would also like rhubarb curd so I set about developing and testing a recipe for it.  This delightful creamy curd can be used in the same ways as lemon curd  – sandwiching cakes together, spreading on scones, filling cookies, eclairs, macarons, and tarts, stirring into (or topping on) Greek yogurt for quick parfaits, and, well, its uses are only limited by your imagination!

Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb Curd and Coconut Yogurt Parfait

Rhubarb curd is made with only five (5) ingredients – rhubarb, orange (juice and zest), sugar, eggs, and butter. The recipe I am including with this posting is the result of several testings. Here are my tips for successfully making rhubarb curd.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb
Rhubarb Patch

Either fresh or frozen rhubarb can be used for this recipe; however, I always advocate for fresh.  Try to select the reddest stalks you can find and ones that are blemish free.

Rhubarb
Rhubarb

Orange Juice and Zest

Wash the orange really well in hot, soapy water and scrub it with a vegetable brush. Rinse the orange well and dry it before zesting.

Use a citrus fruit zester to zest the orange. This should yield about 2 teaspoons of zest. This zesting process will release the aromatic oils from the orange that will enhance the flavor of the curd. When zesting the orange, take care only to remove the thin outside orange skin of the fruit and not the underlying white pith which is bitter.

Cut the orange in half and squeeze it to extract the juice. Alternatively, bottled orange juice may also be used.

Eggs

I have tested this curd using various amounts and combinations of eggs -i.e., different sized eggs, egg yolks only, and combining egg yolks with some egg white.

Eggs
Eggs

While all combinations I tried were acceptable, I found that my preference is to use 3 extra-large egg yolks combined with one medium-sized whole egg.  I always keep three sizes of eggs in my refrigerator – extra-large, large, and medium – because I use different sizes in different recipes and various combinations of egg sizes in recipes.  I find adding a bit of egg white to the curd gives a bit more fluidity and makes it more silky smooth.  Making the curd with only egg yolks tends to result in slightly thicker textured curd that has a more gelatin-like consistency which is not quite as satiny smooth as can be achieved by adding a bit of egg white.  It’s still tasty but just not as creamy. The photo below is of a curd made with egg yolks only.

Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb Curd

Adding a whole extra-large egg adds too much liquid to the curd but I found that the addition of a medium-sized egg is perfect as there is just enough white in the medium egg to give the curd that little bit of fluidity without making it overly runny. The photo below is of a curd made with 3 extra-large egg yolks and 1 whole medium-sized egg.

Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb Curd

I like the rhubarb curd to be soft but not overly runny or too thick – it should more or less stay in place when a dollop of it is added to the top of yogurt or dropped on to a scone or biscuit, for example.

Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb Curd

The problem that often occurs with adding an egg white to a curd is that the white, or parts of it, can coagulate before being fully incorporated into the curd meaning the white goes from liquid form to a solid. Egg whites cook faster than the yolks so, no matter how much stirring, there can still be little bits of the coagulated egg white in the curd because, once the white has turned into solid mass, it can’t be liquified again. This is easily remedied, however, by straining the cooked curd through a fine wire mesh sieve to remove any little bits of egg white remaining. You would think the thickened curd would not drip through the sieve but, amazingly, it does! Don’t skip this step.

Sugar

This curd is best made with caster sugar which you may know by any of the following names: Fruit sugar, instant dissolving sugar, berry sugar, or super fine sugar. This sugar is extra fine. It dissolves much faster than granulated sugar and is commonly used in making simple syrups used in cocktails because it leaves no “gritty” texture. Regular granulated sugar may be used but, if a pure silky smooth curd is the goal, I recommend using the caster sugar.

Method

Making rhubarb curd takes time. I do not recommend making the rhubarb curd in a pot directly over the heat source because it is very easy to scorch the curd with the amount of sugar in it. My preference is to use a double boiler. If you don’t have one of these sets of pots, simply set a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water.

It’s very important that the top pot/bowl in the double boiler not touch the water in the bottom pot. The curd cooks from the steam heating the top saucepan of the boiler, not by contact with water. About 2” of water in the bottom of the pot is all that is required. Heat this water to the simmering point (around 200°F) and do not let it boil as this will cook the eggs in the curd too fast. This is when curdling can occur and the mixture will become lumpy and lose its smooth texture. The water should be kept at this 200°F temperature throughout the cooking process.  (Note that temperatures for the simmering water may need to be adjusted according to altitude.  The important thing is that the water not boil.)

I add the orange zest at the beginning of the cooking process because that’s when I think the zest can do the most to enhance the flavor of the curd. Simply stir the orange zest into the sugar in the top of the double boiler then whisk in the rhubarb juice.  Mix the egg yolks and the whole egg together in a small bowl, using a fork to lightly break them up. Whisk the eggs and softened butter into the sugar-juice mixture. Place this pot/heatproof bowl on top of the pot of simmering water.

The mixture needs to be stirred regularly as it cooks.  A whisk or a wooden spoon can be used to stir the curd. Be patient. This cooking process can easily take 20-25 minutes for the curd to thicken. Resist the urge to increase the heat to hurry the cooking process along. The curd, when cooked, will coat the back of a wooden spoon. However, the most accurate test is to use a candy thermometer – the curd is cooked when the temperature reaches 170°F.

The curd needs to be strained through a very fine wire mesh sieve to remove any bits of the coagulated egg white along with the orange zest. The zest has done its duty by releasing flavor into the curd. There is no harm in leaving the zest in the curd; however, if the goal is to have a perfect silky finish to the curd, strain out the zest.

Color and Texture

The color of the cooked curd will not be a vibrant red as was the rhubarb juice to start. The color becomes a paler salmon pink/soft orange color because of the addition of the eggs which dilutes the ruby red color of the rhubarb juice. The texture of the perfectly cooked curd should be silky smooth and very creamy, and the curd should bear a slightly glossy sheen.  The rhubarb curd will thicken slightly more as it cools. A true curd does not have any thickening agent (e.g., flour or cornstarch) added to it. The egg yolks are what naturally thickens the curd.

Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb Curd

Storage

Transfer the strained curd to a hot sterilized jar.  Immediately place a piece of plastic wrap on the exposed surface of the curd in the jar, pressing it gently to ensure it is in direct contact with the entire surface of the curd. This will prevent a skin from forming on the curd as it cools.  Let the curd cool to room temperature then remove the plastic wrap, cover tightly with jar lid, and store in the refrigerate for up to a week.

Rhubarb Curd Spread on Muffins
Rhubarb Curd Spread on Muffins

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Rhubarb Curd

Ingredients:

10 oz rhubarb, chopped into ½” chunks
2 tbsp orange juice

2/3 cup caster sugar
2 tsp orange zest
3 extra-large egg yolks, room temperature
1 whole medium egg, room temperature
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Method:

Place chopped rhubarb and orange juice in medium-sized saucepan.  Cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is soft and mushy (about 5-8 minutes). Remove from heat and strain through fine wire mesh sieve to extract the rhubarb juice, squeezing as much juice as possible out of the rhubarb by gently pressing it down with the back of a spoon. This should yield approximately ½ cup rhubarb juice. Cool. Discard the strained pulp.

In bottom of double boiler, bring about 2” of water to the simmer point (around 200°F). Maintain the water at this simmer point over medium-low heat.  Place sugar in top of double boiler or heat-proof bowl.  Mix in the orange zest.  Whisk the ½ cup rhubarb juice into sugar.

In small bowl, lightly beat the 3 egg yolks and the whole egg together with a fork, just enough to break up the yolks and blend with the whole egg.  Whisk the eggs into the sugar and rhubarb juice mixture. Add the soft butter.  Place this pot or bowl over the simmering water. Stir the mixture continuously as it cooks until it is thickened and the temperature of the mixture registers 170°F on a candy thermometer.  Be patient as this may take 20-25 minutes. Make sure the water in the bottom of the boiler does not boil and stays only at the simmer point.

Remove curd from heat and strain through a mesh strainer to remove any of the egg white that may have coagulated as well as the orange zest.  Pour strained curd into a sterilized jar.  Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent it from forming a skin on top. Cool at room temperature. Remove plastic wrap. Cover jar tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Yield: Apx. 1 cup

*caster sugar may also be known as fruit sugar, berry sugar, super fine sugar, or instant dissolving sugar.
Note:  Altitude may affect the temperature at which the water reaches the simmering point. The important thing is that the water in the bottom of the double boiler does not boil or touch the top of the double boiler/heatproof bowl during the cooking of the curd.

Rhubarb Curd Recipe

Yield: Apx. 1 cup

A delightful creamy smooth rhubarb curd that is perfect for spreading on muffins, scones, or biscuit or adding to yogurt parfaits

Ingredients

  • 10 oz rhubarb, chopped into ½” chunks
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2/3 cup caster sugar*
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 3 extra-large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 whole medium egg, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • *caster sugar may also be known as fruit sugar, berry sugar, super fine sugar, or instant dissolving sugar

Instructions

  1. Place chopped rhubarb and orange juice in medium-sized saucepan. Cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is soft and mushy (about 5-8 minutes). Remove from heat and strain through fine wire mesh sieve to extract the rhubarb juice, squeezing as much juice as possible out of the rhubarb by gently pressing it down with the back of a spoon. This should yield approximately ½ cup rhubarb juice. Cool. Discard the strained pulp.
  2. In bottom of double boiler, bring about 2” of water to the simmer point (around 200°F). Maintain the water at this simmer point over medium-low heat. Place sugar in top of double boiler or heat-proof bowl. Mix in the orange zest. Whisk the ½ cup rhubarb juice into sugar.
  3. In small bowl, lightly beat the 3 egg yolks and the whole egg together with a fork, just enough to break up the yolks and blend with the whole egg. Whisk the eggs into the sugar and rhubarb juice mixture. Add the soft butter. Place this pot or bowl over the simmering water. Stir the mixture continuously as it cooks until it is thickened and the temperature of the mixture registers 170°F on a candy thermometer. Be patient as this may take 20-25 minutes. Make sure the water in the bottom of the boiler does not boil and stays only at the simmer point.
  4. Remove curd from heat and strain through a mesh strainer to remove any of the egg white that may have coagulated as well as the orange zest. Pour strained curd into a sterilized jar. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent it from forming a skin on top. Cool at room temperature. Remove plastic wrap. Cover jar tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Notes

Note: Altitude may affect the temperature at which the water reaches the simmering point. The important thing is that the water in the bottom of the double boiler does not boil or touch the top of the double boiler/heatproof bowl during the cooking of the curd.

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Rhubarb Curd

Rhubarb Curd

Lady Lupine Tablesetting

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Lupines
Wild lupines along a red dirt country road in Prince Edward Island, Canada

Every year in late June, the countryside in Prince Edward Island is  blooming with the wild lupines that grow in a vast array of colors.

Lupines and Pholx
Wild PEI Lupines and Summer Pholx

Lupines usher in summer on the Island as their blooms are one of the first signs of the season’s arrival. They don’t have a long season in which to bloom and they don’t last long but they range in shades of purples, pinks, white, salmon, yellow, white, and varigated.

Lupines
Varigated Lupines

Somewhere around the 20-25th of June is typically when they are in full bloom and at their best.

Lupines
Lupines

From the time I was a small child, I was in love with these tall elegant flowers. I loved to pick baskets of them and they are so easy to arrange.

Lupines
Lupines

On the south side of the Island, the deep purple tends to be the predominant color although other shades as they have on the north side are starting to take hold.  The field in the photo below is beside my mother’s house.

Lupines
A Field of PEI Lupines

About 25 years ago, I picked huge amounts of seed pods in shades of pink, shelled them (clearly I did not have enough to do at the time!) and threw them out alongside the road to the cottage.  They take a long time to take root but, every year, we have more and more bunches of them growing, albeit they are mostly in the purple shades.  From time to time, I will buy a few packages of seeds in other colors and plant them where there are none currently growing.

Lupines
Lupines

You might even find a lighthouse on PEI that is surrounded by lupines.

Victoria by the Sea Lighthouse
Victoria by the Sea Lighthouse

Today, I am featuring these glorious long-stemmed beauties in a  tablesetting. I simply clipped some of these wildflowers along the roadside by my mother’s home for a pretty casual arrangement.

Lupine Tablesetting
Lupine Tablesetting

Summer tends to mean more casual dining and it’s fun to move the dinner party outside to the front verandah or porch or the back deck.  Lupines are perfect for a casual al fresco dining event. I used small jars decorated with a bit of lace and rafia and, of course, used an odd number of jars for aesthetic purposes.

Lupine Bouquets
Lupine Bouquets

The great thing about having individual bouquets like these is that they can easily be re-positioned or clustered into different formats.  Here, I have used them equally spaced in a single row along the center of the table. No need to fuss much with arranging these flowers – they are stately enough on their own that they seem to just almost automatically fall into pleasing designs and take on a personality of their own.

When I want color to pop on my table and attention to be drawn to the tablesetting’s focal point which, in this case, would be the colorful lupines, I start with a plain white tablecloth as a blank canvas.  Colors always pop on white backgrounds and white provides a non-distracting background. I have several old white linen tablecloths that have been in the family for years and I make good use of them. I am noticing that many second-hand shops will often have some old vintage white linen tablecloths so they are available.

Lupine Bouquet
Lupine Bouquet

I can’t take credit for crafting these glass vases – they came from a local dollar store. I make great use of dollar stores and thrift/second hand shops for a lot of the props for my tablesettings. I interspersed little purple votives throughout the tablescape to coordinate with the color scheme.

Lupine Bouquet
Lupine Bouquet

The lupine napkins shown in the photo below coordinate with the lupine theme.  Knowing that, if I tried to form them into a napkin fold, I would lose the pretty lupine design, I simply laid one over each plate. That’s the beauty of using simple, crisp white plates – they form a great clean canvas for other decorative (and useful) elements of a tablesetting.

Lupine Napkins
Lupine Napkins

When dining outside, contending with the weather elements can always be a challenge and, on PEI and living near the water, summer breeze is a common factor.  Using the cutlery to hold the napkin in place does double duty: It secures the napkin and also lends a casual look and feel to the placesetting. Al fresco dining is meant to be casual so go ahead and break the rules of formal tablesettings!

While lupines grow wild on the Island, many visitors like to take home packages of the lupine seeds to plant in their gardens.  These colorful seed packages make a nice take-home gift for guests at an early summer dinner.

Lupine Placesetting
Lupine Placesetting

The sparkle and shine of glass that has lots of cuts adds to a table on a bright summer’s day. Glass will always add a light and airy look to a tablescape.

Glassware
Glassware

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into my al fresco tablesetting that features the famous lupines of Prince Edward Island.

Colorful wild lupines of Prince Edward Island, Canada, are theme for this early summer al fresco tablesetting

Lily of the Valley Afternoon Tea

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Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley

The sweet little Lily of the Valley, with its dainty bell-shaped flowers, has long been a favorite flower of mine. Close to 40 years ago, a very dear friend of mine had a cottage on the shores of Rosebank (now Stratford), PEI.  Every spring, I’d make the trek to the cottage to pick a couple of bouquets of these fragrant flowers and there would be a posy on the dining room table and another on my desk at work.  I was thrilled when the offer came for me to dig up a clump of the Lily of the Valley roots from the prolific crop by the cottage front step.  I transplanted them at our family home. A cottage and two house builds later and transplants of the lilies have occurred at each property, all derived from the same clump of lilies that came from the Rosebank cottage. When I see the lilies bloom each spring, particularly by the cottage front step, I am reminded of sweet memories of another cottage long ago and its owner who is no longer with us.

The birth flower of May, Lily of the Valley has various meanings and significance. Said to signify traits of humility, trustworthiness, chastity, sweetness, and purity, it is also believed to bring luck in love and mean the return of happiness. This, undoubtedly may be the reason why it is often used in wedding decorations and bridal bouquets. There have been some very famous brides who have incorporated Lily of the Valley into the composition of their bouquets. Kate Middleton, in her 2011 wedding to Prince William, included Lily of the Valley in her bouquet as did her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana, when she wed Prince Charles in 1981.

Lily of the Valley Afternoon Tea
Lily of the Valley Afternoon Tea

I often feature different favorite flowers on my tea tables but I have never featured Lily of the Valley, primarily because it is a short season flower and it is always in bloom during a very busy time of the year for me. This, despite the fact that I have cups and saucers and plates that have Lily of the Valley designs.  So, this year, I decided I would make time for an afternoon tea that features Lily of the Valley and my themed cups and saucers.

Valley China Cup and Saucer
Valley China Cup and Saucer

It’s not necessary to have matching cups and saucers on a tea table. In fact, I think it’s much more interesting to have a variety of China cups and saucers.

Adderley (England) Lily of the Valley Cup and Saucer
Adderley (England) Lily of the Valley Cup and Saucer

Not all afternoon teas have to have three distinct courses – scones, sandwiches, and sweets.  Today, my tea table has only two courses – sandwiches and a single dessert.  In keeping with the freshness of early summer on PEI, I have opted to go with open-faced sandwiches, providing three varieties — Island lobster, egg salad, and ham.

There are two different trays of sandwiches on the table – the ones with a white bread base (shown in the photo below) are gluten-free.

Gluten-free Open-faced Tea Sandwiches
Gluten-free Open-faced Tea Sandwiches

And, of course, for tea sandwiches, the crusts must always be removed.

Open-faced Tea Sandwiches
Open-faced Tea Sandwiches

The little purple pansy adds a burst of color to the ham sandwich and dresses it up for the table.

Open-faced Ham Tea Sandwich
Open-faced Ham Tea Sandwich

Lobster is very common on PEI and lends itself well for presentation on an open-faced tea sandwich. Can’t you just taste that succulent lobster!

Open-faced Lobster Tea Sandwich
Open-faced Lobster Tea Sandwich

Egg salad makes a wonderful topping for open-faced tea sandwiches.  A burst of purple color from the pansy and the green alfalfa sprouts make these sandwiches stand out on the tray.  I picked up the fresh alfalfa sprouts at the Summerside Farmer’s Market. They were grown locally in Pleasant Valley at “Our Old Island Market Farm”. I frequent both the Charlottetown and Summerside Farmers Markets and I love to make new discoveries of products being produced by our Island farmers.

Open-faced Egg Salad Tea Sandwich
Open-faced Egg Salad Tea Sandwich

Curious as to what’s in the little white teapots? One of my favorite teas is Assam Banaspaty which I buy at David’s Tea in Charlottetown. That’s the blend in the individual teapots on today’s tea table.

Individual Tea Pots
Individual Tea Pots

Assam Banaspaty is a lovely rich, smooth tea from India. It has some honey notes with malty undertones. It boasts a lovely amber color. I like a spot of milk in my tea and Assam Banaspaty has enough tannins that it can take a splash of milk without the tea’s flavor being smothered. I’d class this as a robust tea yet it is suitable for all courses of an afternoon tea. I am, therefore, serving just one blend of tea at my afternoon tea today.

Assam Banaspaty Tea
Assam Banaspaty Tea

I like tea cups that carry the design to the inside of the cups. It makes them just a bit more interesting.

Assam Banaspaty Tea
Assam Banaspaty Tea

Rhubarb is in season in PEI around the same time as the Lily of the Valley bloom and, of course, one of my all-time favorite desserts is Rhubarb Custard Torte which graces my table for the dessert course today. Sometimes, it is nice to have a variety of dainty tea squares and cookies and, other times, a signature dessert like this torte make a splashy and ever-so-tasty statement.

Rhubarb Custard Torte
Rhubarb Custard Torte

I hope you have enjoyed a little look into the offerings on my tea table today. Can’t you just smell the intoxicating scent of this bouquet of Lily of the Valley!

Lily of the Valley Bouquet
Lily of the Valley Bouquet
Lily of the Valley Themed Afternoon Tea

Gluten-Free Queen Elizabeth Cake

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Gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake
Gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake

In an earlier posting, I shared my recipe for the regular gluten version of Queen Elizabeth Cake to coincide with Queen Elizabeth II’s actual birthday on April 21st.  Today, I have a special treat for my food blog followers who must follow a gluten-free diet! I have adapted my regular version of this cake to make it gluten-free.  It has passed my testing standards so I am pleased to share the recipe for this wonderfully moist and tasty Queen Elizabeth Cake that is made with very simple, basic ingredients. In fact, I’d even go so far as to suggest that it would be quite difficult to be able to tell that this version is gluten-free and, in my view, it certainly rivals its gluten version cousin in taste, texture, and overall quality.

I am timing the original publication of this gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake recipe with the annual Trooping of the Colour celebrations celebrated in London in June of each year. The Trooping of the Colour, a major military ceremony filled with pomp and pageantry, is often referred to as the Queen’s Birthday Parade. This tradition is said to have started in 1748 when then King George II decided to combine his birthday parade with the annual spring military parade in June because he apparently felt his actual November birthday was too cold to have a birthday parade. This tradition has endured since then, regardless when the reigning monarch’s actual birthday is and this event is considered the official celebration of the sovereign’s birthday. Held annually on a Saturday in June, the Queen attends, arriving by horse and carriage from Buckingham Palace and traveling along the Mall to the Horse Guard’s Parade behind Whitehall.

The colorful display of pageantry involves several hundred officers and men, horses, and bands.  The Queen takes the salute and inspects the troops dressed in ceremonial uniform.  “Colours” refers to the regimental flags of the various troops and the colours correspond to the colours and insignia of the uniforms of the soldiers of the different units. The colours (flags) served a purpose on the battlefields as they provided a rallying or gathering point for troops and hence the title “trooping of the colours”.

London Pagentry
London Pagentry

So, thus ends the brief history lesson!  Now, on to the Gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake, believed to have been named for either the Queen Mother or the reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.  When I earlier shared my recipe for the gluten version of this cake, I conducted some research to try and determine the origins of the cake and its name. Click here to read the information I was able to find about the different stories about the naming of this cake.

The texture of the gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake, like the gluten version, is somewhat dense and owes its lovely moist texture to the cooked dates. The combination of coconut and almond flours with the gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour are the key to this cake’s texture. The almond and coconut flours really do provide a pleasing flavor to the cake.

Gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake
Gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake

The following hints may be of use when making this cake:

  • This is a single layer cake. Use an 8” square baking pan to ensure this cake has a good height. A 9” square pan may be used but the cake will lack depth and more closely resemble a square as opposed to a cake. I find gluten-free flours take more leavening than gluten flours do and, even at that, it can still be difficult to get baked goods to rise to the height of a similar recipe that calls for gluten flour products. Grease the pan or line it with parchment paper or greased tin foil. Leaving an overhang of extra parchment paper or tin foil over the edge of the pan will make it easier to lift the entire baked cake from the pan and facilitate its  cutting.
  • Let the date mixture cool completely at room temperature before incorporating it with the dry ingredients. If it is mixed with the dry ingredients while the mixture is either hot or warm, it may result in a “gummy” texture or soggy cake.
  • Mix the wet and dry ingredients using the rule of 3 parts dry and 2 parts wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  • Mix the ingredients well but don’t beat them as this may create a “tough crumb” cake.
  • Use cream to make the topping. I used 35% cream which gives a luxurious topping but 18% cream may also be used.
  • Start checking the cake for doneness at the point where the cake has been baking for 25 minutes then, if it is not baked, check it every 3-4 minutes after. The cake will be done when the cake tester, inserted into the center of the cake, comes out completely clean and dry.
  • When the cake tests almost baked (about 5 minutes before it is expected to come out of the oven), start making the topping. It needs to go on the warm cake that will go back in the oven for 3-4 minutes after the topping has been added.
  • The topping, like making homemade fudge, can set up really fast. Don’t leave it unattended. Stir the ingredients as they boil gently for the 3 minutes. Watch it carefully and, if you see if starting to “set up” and thicken really fast (even if it is before the 3 minutes of boiling is up), remove it from the stove and quickly stir in the vanilla and coconut. The mixture should be of the consistency that it can be poured from the saucepan and spread over the cake with a knife. If it becomes too thick, it will be too sugary and won’t be of spreading consistency. It will also become brittle and crack.

[Printable version of the recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-Free Queen Elizabeth Cake

Ingredients:

¾ cup dates, chopped (apx. 4¼ oz)
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ cup boiling water

¾ cup of 1-to-1 gluten free baking flour
1/3 cup almond flour
2½ tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
¾ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
Pinch allspice
¼ cup butter, softened at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 extra large egg
¼ tsp orange extract
¾ tsp vanilla

Topping:
2½ tbsp melted butter
½ cup brown sugar
2¼ tbsp cream
¾ tsp vanilla
½ cup shredded coconut

Method:
Cake:
Place dates and soda in medium-sized saucepan.  Add the boiling water. Simmer for about 4-5 minutes then cool completely at room temperature.

Position oven rack in centre of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease 8” baking pan or line with parchment paper (or even greased tin foil).

Sift 1-to-1 gluten free baking flour, almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, salt, and spices together. Set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar.  Beat in the egg, orange extract, and vanilla. Transfer mixture to cooled dates. Stir well.

Transfer one-third of the sifted dry ingredients to the mixer bowl.  Beat in one-half of the wet ingredients. Add another third of the dry ingredients. Blend well. Mix in the remainder of the wet ingredients.  Finish by incorporating the remaining dry ingredients. Mix well to combine. Don’t overmix.

Spread batter evenly in prepared baking pan.  Transfer to preheated oven and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven. Increase oven temperature to 400°F to prepare for browning of cake’s topping.

Topping:
About 5 minutes before the cake is due to be removed from the oven, begin to prepare the cake topping.  In medium-sized saucepan, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter.  Blend in the brown sugar and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 3 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and quickly stir in the vanilla and coconut. Pour and spread this mixture evenly over the warm cake and return it to the oven to brown slightly for 3-4 minutes. Remove cake from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely before cutting and serving.

Yield:  1 – 8” single layer cake

This cake is suitable as a snacking cake, dessert, tea cake, or even a picnic cake. The cake freezes well.

The Queen Elizabeth Cake pairs particularly well with a good cup of tea.  My recommendation for a tea pairing would be an Earl Grey blend.  The citrus notes in this black tea complement the sweetness of the cake. Earl Grey tea has a high concentration of tannins which makes it a suitable tea to cleanse the mouth after each bite of the cake so that each bite of this moist and flavorful cake is as equally tasty as the first!

Gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake
Gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake

Gluten-Free Queen Elizabeth Cake

Yield: 1 - 8" square single-layer cake

A moist and tasty gluten-free cake featuring dates, spices, and a toffee-like topping.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup dates, chopped (apx. 4¼ oz)
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • ¾ cup of 1-to-1 gluten free baking flour
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 2½ tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch allspice
  • ¼ cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 extra large egg
  • ¼ tsp orange extract
  • ¾ tsp vanilla
  • Topping:
  • 2½ tbsp melted butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2¼ tbsp cream
  • ¾ tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Cake:
  2. Place dates and soda in medium-sized saucepan. Add the boiling water. Simmer for about 4-5 minutes then cool completely at room temperature.
  3. Position oven rack in centre of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 8” baking pan or line with parchment paper (or even greased tin foil).
  4. Sift 1-to-1 gluten free baking flour, almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, salt, and spices together. Set aside.
  5. In bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, orange extract, and vanilla. Transfer mixture to cooled dates. Stir well.
  6. Transfer one-third of the sifted dry ingredients to the mixer bowl. Beat in one-half of the wet ingredients. Add another third of the dry ingredients. Blend well. Mix in the remainder of the wet ingredients. Finish by incorporating the remaining dry ingredients. Mix well to combine. Don’t overmix.
  7. Spread batter evenly in prepared baking pan. Transfer to preheated oven and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven. Increase oven temperature to 400°F to prepare for browning of cake’s topping.
  8. Topping:
  9. About 5 minutes before the cake is due to be removed from the oven, begin to prepare the cake topping. In medium-sized saucepan, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter. Blend in the brown sugar and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 3 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and quickly stir in the vanilla and coconut. Pour and spread this mixture evenly over the warm cake and return it to the oven to brown slightly for 3-4 minutes. Remove cake from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely before cutting and serving.
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This gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake features dates, spices, and a delectable toffee-like topping

Gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake

Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

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Seafood Crepes
Asparagus and Lobster Crepes

Springtime in Prince Edward Island on Canada’s east coast means it’s lobster season so it’s a great time to make these delectable lobster and asparagus crepes that combine two of the season’s special treats!

The lobster fishery is a significant industry on the Island and, according to the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website, “lobster is Canada’s most valuable seafood export and an iconic Canadian species exported around the world.” (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/sustainable-durable/fisheries-peches/lobster-homard-eng.htm).

Fresh PEI Lobster
Steamed Lobster in the Shell

The opening of the spring lobster season is a huge deal in PEI. On opening day — the day when fishers head out to sea with boats laden with traps — hundreds of Islanders gather at fishing ports around the province to see the fishers off. Naturally, mouths are watering for the first taste of lobster from the cold Atlantic waters, a taste that is usually satisfied a day or two after traps are set and the “first haul” of lobsters is brought ashore.

Preparing for Setting Day
Eve of Setting Day in the Fishing Village of North Rustico, PEI, Canada
Parade of Lobster Boats
Early Morning Gathering in French River, PEI, to Watch Parade of Lobster Boats on Setting Day

These are so worth the wait!

PEI Lobsters
Fresh Catch of the Day – PEI Lobsters

While I adore lobster straight out of the shell and served with homemade potato salad, I like creating recipes incorporating this tasty seafood as an ingredient.  Asparagus is the first vegetable of springtime on PEI and, for the crepes I am featuring in this posting, I am using asparagus as a complimentary ingredient to the lobster. The earthy undertones of the asparagus pair particularly well with lobster, especially when some mushrooms and a rich cheese sauce are added. Choose small mushrooms, either white button or the cremini variety, for this recipe.

My asparagus comes from the farm of Tim Dixon in North Tryon in central PEI, not far from the Confederation Bridge.  Click here to read the story I previously wrote on Tim’s asparagus-growing operation. For the filled crepe recipe, try to choose the freshest available  asparagus spears that are a uniform size. I tend to choose medium-sized spears. I find that spears that are pencil thin tend to cook up too quickly and become somewhat limp. Thick spears tend to have less flavor because they have gotten too old before they have been harvested. They may also have a somewhat unpleasant woody texture. The key thing to remember about steaming the asparagus is not to overcook it because it will go limp and loose its vibrant green color.

Fresh Asparagus

The crepes for this recipe may be made ahead (by a few hours or even a day or two) and stored between layers of plastic wrap in a tightly sealed bag in the refrigerator. Following the steps I have laid out for this recipe will help organize the process of preparing the filling and steaming the asparagus so that everything is timed to be ready at the same time for the crepe assembly.

I am quite lucky here on the Island as my local fish market, MR Seafoods,  in Charlottetown sells lobster already out of the shell which means they have done the work of removing the meat from the shell and then disposing of the shells. I find this is a quick and convenient way for me to get lobster meat for a recipe.

These crepes can be baked in au gratin dishes, a 7″x11″ baking pan or on a parchment-lined baking sheet which is the way the ones in the photos in this posting were baked. I wanted to ensure that the asparagus would remain intact and clearly visible when the crepes were plated so, by baking them on a rimmed cookie sheet, nothing disturbed the asparagus which could have happened if they were scrunched into a tight baking dish such as an au gratin.

Seafood Crepes
Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

As always, I recommend reading the recipe through a couple of times to ensure a good understanding of the method of preparation and that all the ingredients and cooking utensils and cookware needed to prepare the dish are available.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

Ingredients:

Crepes:
2 large eggs
1 cup flour (to make gluten-free, use 1 cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp melted butter

Sauce:
¼ cup butter
1 shallot, finely minced (about 1 tbsp)
¼ cup flour (to make gluten-free, use ¼ cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
½ tsp granulated garlic
¼ tsp dried dill
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup whole milk or half-and-half
2 extra-large egg yolks, lightly broken up with a fork
2 tbsp dry white wine or cooking sherry
1 cup grated cheese mixture (e.g., mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Filling:
2-3 teaspoons butter
1 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced

8 oz cooked lobster meat, cut into small chunks
40 asparagus spears

Garnish:
3-4 green onions (white and light green parts only) and/or fresh herbs for garnish (optional)

Method:

Step 1 – Make the crepes.  In large measuring cup or bowl and using an immersion blender, beat the eggs lightly.  Combine the flour and salt and beat in to the egg alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the flour (3 additions of flour and 2 additions of milk).  Beat in the melted butter and beat an additional 30 seconds, or until batter is smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate batter for 1 hour.

Over medium heat, melt apx. 1½ tsp butter in a 8” non-stick skillet with sloped sides. Using a ¼-cup measuring cup, scoop up batter. Pour the batter in to the heated skillet while quickly swirling and tilting the pan to ensure batter distributes evenly and completely over the bottom of the pan. Return pan to heat and cook crepe until top loses its gloss, tiny bubbles start to appear, and the edges of the crepe start to slightly curl. Gently lift an edge of the crepe with the tip of a fork and grab the crepe with fingers and flip it over.  Cook the second side of the crepe for 15-20 seconds. Flip the crepe onto a clean tea towel. Repeat for remaining crepes, adding small amounts of butter to the pan, if necessary, to keep the crepes from sticking to the pan.

Step 2 – Make the sauce.  In medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Sauté the shallot until softened and transparent. In small bowl, whisk the flour, granulated garlic, dill, paprika, and nutmeg together. Stir flour mixture into the butter and shallot and cook until frothy.  Whisk in the chicken (or vegetable stock) and milk (or half-and-half).  Cook sauce, until mixture is smooth and heated (but not boiling) and is starting to thicken, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.  Stir 2-3 tablespoons of the hot mixture into the egg yolks then pour egg mixture into the sauce.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened.  Stir in white wine or cooking sherry.  Add the cheese mixture.  Continue to cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is smooth and cheese is melted.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove approximately 3/4 cup of the sauce and set aside.

Step 3 – Make the filling.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  In medium-sized skillet, melt 2-3 teaspoons of butter over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent mushrooms from scorching.  While mushrooms are sautéing, steam the asparagus in a tall pot with a small amount of boiling water for approximately 2 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Swish the asparagus in the cold water for just a few seconds then drain in a colander. This will also help keep the asparagus its vibrant green color. Remove mushrooms from heat and combine with the lobster meat.  Add the reserved ¾ cup of sauce and stir gently to coat mushrooms and lobster meat.

Step 4: Assemble the crepes.  Line 9”x13” rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Lay out 8 crepes on work surface.  Place 5 asparagus spears in the centre of each crepe, extending the asparagus tips by about ½” beyond the edge of the crepe.  Divide the lobster and mushroom filling mixture between the 8 crepes by placing filling down the center line of each crepe on top of the asparagus.  Gently fold crepe over filling, first one side and then overlapping the opposite side over the first. Using large pastry scraper or flat spatula, carefully transfer each crepe to the prepared baking sheet. Pour the remaining sauce over crepes to cover, leaving both ends of the crepes uncovered. Alternatively, the crepes may be baked in either 4 individual greased au gratin dishes or one oblong 7”x11” baking pan.  However, baking the crepes on a baking sheet allows the asparagus tips to stay perfectly intact and attractively visible when plated.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and, if desired, sprinkle with chopped green onions and/or chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or chives.

Serving Suggestion: Serve with favorite green salad.

Yield:  4 servings, 2 crepes each

Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 2 crepes per serving

Delectable crepes filled with fresh asparagus, succulent chunks of lobster, and sautéed mushrooms in a rich cheese sauce.

Ingredients

  • Crepes:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup flour (to make gluten-free, use 1 cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • Sauce:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 shallot, finely minced (about 1 tbsp)
  • ¼ cup flour (to make gluten-free, use ¼ cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
  • ½ tsp granulated garlic
  • ¼ tsp dried dill
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup whole milk or half-and-half
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks, lightly broken up with a fork
  • 2 tbsp dry white wine or cooking sherry
  • 1 cup grated cheese mixture (e.g., mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Filling:
  • 2-3 teaspoons butter
  • 1 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz cooked lobster meat, cut into small chunks
  • 40 asparagus spears
  • Garnish:
  • 3-4 green onions (white and light green parts only) and/or fresh herbs for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Step 1 - Make the crepes. In large measuring cup or bowl and using an immersion blender, beat the eggs lightly. Combine the flour and salt and beat in to the egg alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the flour (3 additions of flour and 2 additions of milk). Beat in the melted butter and beat an additional 30 seconds, or until batter is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate batter for 1 hour.
  2. Over medium heat, melt apx. 1½ tsp butter in a 8” non-stick skillet with sloped sides. Using a ¼-cup measuring cup, scoop up batter. Pour the batter in to the heated skillet while quickly swirling and tilting the pan to ensure batter distributes evenly and completely over the bottom of the pan. Return pan to heat and cook crepe until top loses its gloss, tiny bubbles start to appear, and the edges of the crepe start to slightly curl. Gently lift an edge of the crepe with the tip of a fork and grab the crepe with fingers and flip it over. Cook the second side of the crepe for 15-20 seconds. Flip the crepe onto a clean tea towel. Repeat for remaining crepes, adding small amounts of butter to the pan, if necessary, to keep the crepes from sticking to the pan.
  3. Step 2 - Make the sauce. In medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sauté the shallot until softened and transparent. In small bowl, whisk the flour, granulated garlic, dill, paprika, and nutmeg together. Stir flour mixture into the butter and shallot and cook until frothy. Whisk in the chicken (or vegetable stock) and milk (or half-and-half). Cook sauce, until mixture is smooth and heated (but not boiling), and is starting to thicken, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Stir 2-3 tablespoons of the hot mixture into the egg yolks then pour egg mixture into the sauce. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened. Stir in white wine or cooking sherry. Add the cheese mixture. Continue to cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is smooth and cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove approximately 3/4 cup of the sauce and set aside.
  4. Step 3 - Make the filling. Preheat oven to 350°F. In medium-sized skillet, melt 2-3 teaspoons of butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent mushrooms from scorching. While mushrooms are sautéing, steam the asparagus in a tall pot with a small amount of boiling water for approximately 2 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Swish the asparagus in the cold water for just a few seconds then drain in a colander. This will also help keep the asparagus its vibrant green color. Remove mushrooms from heat and combine with the lobster meat. Add the reserved ¾ cup of sauce and stir gently to coat mushrooms and lobster meat.
  5. Step 4: Assemble the crepes. Line 9”x13” rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay out 8 crepes on work surface. Place 5 asparagus spears in the centre of each crepe, extending the asparagus tips by about ½” beyond the edge of the crepe. Divide the lobster and mushroom filling mixture between the 8 crepes by placing filling down the center line of each crepe on top of the asparagus. Gently fold crepe over filling, first one side and then overlapping the opposite side over the first. Using large pastry scraper or flat spatula, carefully transfer each crepe to the prepared baking sheet. Pour the remaining sauce over crepes to cover, leaving both ends of the crepes uncovered. Alternatively, the crepes may be baked in either 4 individual greased au gratin dishes or one oblong 7”x11” baking pan. However, baking the crepes on a baking sheet allows the asparagus tips to stay perfectly intact and attractively visible when plated.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and, if desired, sprinkle with chopped green onions and/or chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or chives.

Notes

Serving Suggestion: Serve with favorite green salad

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Lobster and Asparagus Crepes
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Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

(Mostly) PEI and Maritime Food – Good Food for a Good Life!