Lavender Tablesetting

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Harvesting my small lavender crop is one of my most favorite parts of summer.  Working among the colorful and beautifully-scented flowers is a rite of summer for me.

Lavender Harvesting
Lavender Ready for Harvesting

I picked the crop this weekend and, since it was such a lovely evening, I used it for the inspiration for my al fresco dining. And, of course, my menu drew its inspiration from these edible flowers as well.

Lavender
Lavender Harvesting

I wanted to keep the tablesetting simple since the table is a small square.  So, I simply gathered together a lot of the flowers into a single stuke shape and tied it with a complimentary shade of wired burlap ribbon.

Lavender
Lavender Bouquet

A simple trim on the ends of the stems formed an even base for the bouquet to stand upright in the center of the table.

Lavender Bouquet
Centerpiece

I carried the floral and color theme through by tying small bunches of the colorful stems with an airy ribbon. These gave a pop of color and  definition to the white napkins.

Lavender
Seasonal Tablesetting

I like the clean, crisp backdrop of a white tablecloth. I often tend to  use plain white dishes because food really shows well on them. However, an all white table can be a challenge because it can sometimes look flat and lack definition.  I acquired these white dishes with a double dark rim this summer. They work well in these kinds of situations because they lend some depth and definition to a table.

Tablesetting
Placesetting
Tablesettings
Summer Tablesetting

I used my antique stemmed water glasses to add a bit of height and nostalgia to the setting.

Purple Lavender
Al Fresco Tablesetting

This was my summery Saturday evening  dining table.

Four years ago, I wrote a story on the Five Sisters of Lavender Lane in Kelly’s Cross, PEI. These ladies had a small farm and sold edible lavender.  Unfortunately, they are no longer in business but, by following this link, you can get my recipe for Lavender Honey Ice Cream which was the finale for my dinner last evening.

Ice Cream
Lavender Honey Ice Cream on a Chocolate Brownie and Drizzled with Raspberry Coulis

Is al fresco dining part of your summer?

Lavender Tablesetting
Al fresco Tablesetting

Strawberry Slush

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Slush
Strawberry Slush

Strawberry Slush is my newest summer drink creation and it has quickly become a favorite!  Strawberries take center stage in this beverage but there is also a mix of other fruit juices that include rhubarb, pineapple, lemon and orange juices, and some pink lemonade.  The addition of Epicure’s “Summer Berry” sweet dip mix deepens the flavor and adds some interesting speckles throughout the slush. Because I know Epicure products may not be available everywhere, I have included this as an optional addition as the slush will still taste quite fine without it. My recipe calls for gin and any brand may be used.

Slush
Strawberry Slush

Slush takes 2-3 days to reach the desired consistency. Be sure to store it in the coldest part of the deep freeze and stir it once or twice each day while it is freezing.  This helps to ensure that all the ingredients continue to be mixed. For other tips on making slush, visit my posting on making Rhubarb Slush by clicking here.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Slush
Strawberry Slush

Mix this slush with your favorite clear soda. There is no set ratio of how much slush to serve to the amount of soda. I use the slush to fill between 1/3 and 1/2 the glass and top up the remainder with soda. I prefer lemon-lime soda with this slush but seven up or gingerale also work well, too.

This is a lovely, colorful, and refreshing drink on a hot summer afternoon.

Slush
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Strawberry Slush

(Printable recipe follows at end of post)

Strawberry Slush

Ingredients:

1½ cups water
1½ cups granulated sugar

7 oz rhubarb, chopped into ½” pieces
Scant ½ cup water

1/3 cup pineapple juice
¼ cup freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice (1 small lemon)
5 oz (apx. ½ can) frozen pink lemonade, slightly thawed
5 oz (apx. ½ can) frozen orange juice, slightly thawed
10 oz strawberries puréed to equal approximately 1 1/3 cups purée, mixed with 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1½ tbsp Epicure’s “Summer Berry” sweet dip mix (optional)
1½ cups gin

Strawberries, lemon slices, or pineapple chunks for garnish, if desired

Method:

In medium-sized saucepan, combine the water and granulated sugar to make a traditional simple syrup. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to medium-low heat and boil gently for approximately 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar has completely dissolved and liquid is clear.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then chill.

In separate medium-sized saucepan, combine the rhubarb and scant half cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to medium low and cook gently for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until rhubarb has broken down into a soft sauce-like consistency.

Pour rhubarb and its liquid into a fine sieve/strainer placed over a bowl or large measuring cup.  Let juice drip from rhubarb, periodically pressing the rhubarb pulp with the back of a large spoon to extract as much juice as possible.  This should yield approximately ½ cup of rhubarb juice. Chill.  Discard rhubarb pulp.

Into a freezable container that can hold at least 8 cups of liquid, pour in the simple syrup, chilled rhubarb juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, pink lemonade, orange juice, strawberry purée, Epicure Summer Berry mix, and gin.  Stir well.

Place airtight cover on container.  Freeze in the coldest part of the deep freeze, stirring 2-3 times during the freezing process.  Be patient as this will take 2-3 days for it to reach the desired slush consistency.

To serve, fill glass between one-third and one-half full of slush and top up with a clear soda such as lemon-lime.  Garnish with a lemon wheel, strawberry, or pineapple chunk and serve immediately.
Keep remainder of slush stored in the coldest part of the freezer so it will maintain its consistency.

Yield:
  Apx. 7½ cups of slush

Strawberry and Rhubarb Slush
Strawberry Slush

Strawberry Slush

Yield: Apx. 7 1/2 cups

A delightfully refreshing drink made with strawberries, rhubarb, fruit juices, and gin.

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups water
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 7 oz rhubarb, chopped into ½” pieces
  • Scant ½ cup water
  • 1/3 cup pineapple juice
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice (1 small lemon)
  • 5 oz (apx. ½ can) frozen pink lemonade, slightly thawed
  • 5 oz (apx. ½ can) frozen orange juice, slightly thawed
  • 10 oz strawberries puréed to equal approximately 1 1/3 cups purée, mixed with 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ tbsp Epicure’s “Summer Berry” sweet dip mix (optional)
  • 1½ cups gin
  • Strawberries, lemon slices, or pineapple chunks for garnish, if desired

Instructions

  1. In medium-sized saucepan, combine the water and granulated sugar to make a traditional simple syrup. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to medium-low heat and boil gently for approximately 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar has completely dissolved and liquid is clear. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then chill.
  2. In separate medium-sized saucepan, combine the rhubarb and scant half cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to medium low and cook gently for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until rhubarb has broken down into a soft sauce-like consistency.
  3. Pour rhubarb and its liquid into a fine sieve/strainer placed over a bowl or large measuring cup. Let juice drip from rhubarb, periodically pressing the rhubarb pulp with the back of a large spoon to extract as much juice as possible. This should yield approximately ½ cup of rhubarb juice. Chill. Discard rhubarb pulp.
  4. Into a freezable container that can hold at least 8 cups of liquid, pour in the simple syrup, chilled rhubarb juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, pink lemonade, orange juice, strawberry purée, Epicure Summer Berry mix, and gin. Stir well.
  5. Place airtight cover on container. Freeze in the coldest part of the deep freeze, stirring 2-3 times during the freezing process. Be patient as this will take 2-3 days for it to reach the desired slush consistency.
  6. To serve, fill glass between one-third and one-half full of slush and top up with a clear soda such as lemon-lime. Garnish with a lemon wheel, strawberry, or pineapple chunk and serve immediately.
  7. Keep remainder of slush stored in the coldest part of the freezer so it will maintain its consistency.
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Slush
Strawberry Slush

 

Seafood Chowder from the Cavendish Beach Area of PEI

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Seafood chowder is a very popular dish in Prince Edward Island and many Island restaurants include it on their menus.  I just completed reviews of five (5) fabulous seafood chowders from restaurants in the Green Gables Resort Region (Cavendish, Prince Edward Island).  Head on over to the Cavendish Beach website to read my guest post about these mouth-watering chowders from North Rustico, Stanley Bridge, Cavendish, and New Glasgow.

To whet your appetite, here are photos of each chowder:

From the Blue Mussel Café in North Rustico, PEI

Blue Mussel's Seafood Chowder
Seafood Chowder from the Blue Mussel Café in North Rustico, PEI

From Chez Yvonne Restaurant in Cavendish, PEI

Chez Yvonne Restaurant's Seafood Chowder
Seafood Chowder from Chez Yvonne Restaurant, Cavendish, PEI

From Carr’s Oyster Bar in Stanley Bridge, PEI

Carr's Seafood Chowder
Seafood Chowder from Carr’s Oyster Bar in Stanley Bridge, PEI

From the PEI Preserve Company in New Glasgow, PEI

PEI Preserve Company's Seafood Chowder
Seafood Chowder from the PEI Preserve Company in New Glasgow, PEI

From the New Glasgow Lobster Suppers in New Glasgow, PEI

New Glasgow Lobster Suppers' Seafood Chowder
Seafood Chowder from the New Glasgow Lobster Suppers in New Glasgow, PEI

Are you drooling yet?

What’s on Tap at Upstreet Craft Brewing?

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The craft beer brewing industry continues to grow thanks to consumers with a thirst for traditional hand-crafted beer and a demand for unique locally-made artisanal products. While not a huge industry on PEI, craft breweries are starting to emerge….and with remarkable success.  As Upstreet Craft Brewing in Charlottetown, PEI, celebrates its first birthday, I thought it was time I paid a visit so I recently journeyed “upstreet” to meet Joey Seaman, one of the owners, for a tour and chat about the brewery.

Upstreet Craft Brewing
Upstreet Craft Brewing Co-owner Joey Seaman

I began by asking Joey where the name “Upstreet” came from.  He says that upstreet, means “anywhere but where you are” and, colloquially, if you are downtown and someone asks where you’re going, chances are you might say “I’m heading up the street” and, since the location of the brewery is ‘just up the street’ from downtown Charlottetown, it became the name of the brewery.

Upstreet Craft Brewing began operation in June 2015 when three friends, who were long-time hobby home beer brewers, decided to take the leap, leave the security of their careers, and co-found a craft brewery in their hometown.  This trio – Joey Seaman, Mike Hogan, and Mitch Cobb — have turned their hobby and passion into a growing success story.

Owners of Upstreet Craft Brewing
Upstreet Craft Brewing Owners Joey Seaman, Mitch Cobb, and Mike Hogan

The three partners are very hands-on at the brewery.  Mike is the beer engineer who brews all the beer while Mitch looks after general management and operations and Joey takes care of sales.

Upstreet Craft Brewing
Upstreet Craft Brewing’s Brew Engineer, Mike Hogan

The brewery currently has 19 employees and is a beehive of activity.

Craft beer is brewed in the traditional way in small batches using 4 main ingredients – barley, hops, yeast, and water. One of the trademarks of a craft brewery is that it offers the opportunity to experiment with ingredients and flavors because small batches of the beer can be produced. This is in contrast to industry giants that produce huge quantities of the same beers year in and year out.  Craft breweries, on the other hand, are small enough that they can keep experimenting and come up with fresh new flavours that keeps customers returning.  They can also produce small quantities of seasonal beers that are likely only to be purchased during a short period. Upstreet is currently brewing six batches of beer, four times a week. This translates into about 10,000 litres of beer a week.  The brewery has built a strong local customer base that has meant Upstreet is presently at maximum capacity. To double their capacity and meet growing demand, the brewery just recently added two more fermentation tanks and they still can’t fully meet demand. In fact, at the time of writing, they have a wait list of 15 restaurants/bars wanting to sell their beer.

Upstreet Craft Brewing
Filling the Kegs with Beer at Upstreet Craft Brewing

The brewery produces four mainstay flagship beers – Rhuby Social (Strawberry Rhubarb Witbier), Commons Czech Style Pilsner, Do Good-er (an American pale ale), and White Noize (a white IPA).  Joey says their most popular beer is the Commons Pilsner which he describes as a clean crisp beer.

In addition, the brewery has brewed over 10 different beers, including seasonal brews, in the first year of operation.  This includes specialty flavors like Imperial Pumpkin Ale brewed last autumn and Vanilla Cranberry Stout during the Christmas holiday season.

You won’t find canned beer at Upstreet. Instead, they use tall slim brown bottles that give a classic feel to the Upstreet beer experience.

Each bottle is labeled with an eye-catching unique label that contains information to educate the consumer on the beer product and experience.  So, look for a beer profile on each bottle that will tell you the level of hoppiness and a description of the color and flavour.

Check under each bottle cap for a unique PEI colloquial saying –  great conversation pieces! The owners solicited submissions from the public of typical PEI sayings and received over 2000 suggestions in 48 hours – yes, we Islanders have lots of colloquial sayings!

As many readers will know, a growing sector of the alcoholic beverage industry is pairing foods with the different beverages. Many will be aware of food and wine pairings but there is also a burgeoning trend to pair craft beer with good food.  The label on each bottle of Upstreet beer will also give a good food pairing suggestion, the type of event in which it might be enjoyed and even a suggestion for best listening tunes by which to enjoy the beer. For example:

  • White Noize, a strong beer, would pair well with a hearty chili that might be enjoyed after a day of skiing and while listening to some chill beats.
  • Rhuby Social, a tart and refreshing beer, would compliment spicy Asian foods and is a beer that could become a patio favorite while listening to the classics. Last fall, I attended a beer and food pairing event that was part of the PEI Fall Flavours Culinary Festival. Celebrity chefs Anna and Michael Olson recommended Upstreet’s Rhuby Social be paired with seafood such as PEI mussels, clams, and white fish.
  • Commons Pilsner would go well at a beach day event with Island seafood while listening to acoustic campfire jams.
  • The Do Good-er, the brewery’s “go-to” house party beer, would be a good choice for a BBQ while listening to some rock.

In addition to their bottled beers, the Brewery also sells growlers at the brewery. And, of course, they also sell and deliver kegs of beer to restaurants and bars and there are over 30 venues in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia currently carrying the Upstreet products.

Inside the cooler at Upstreet Craft Brewing
Inside the cooler at Upstreet Craft Brewing

Joey says that, while their patrons come from all walks of life, he finds the largest growing market for craft beer is the female population who tend to like the dark beers and those that would be classed as bold, hoppy beers.  New and creative flavours of beer may be contributors to that trend.

Upstreet Craft Brewing
Taproom at Upstreet Craft Brewing

The brewery is not only a production facility. It, like many craft breweries, has a taproom onsite. The taproom, which can accommodate about 90 people, is a mix of industrial and eclectic décor. Be sure to check out the bar counter repurposed from an old elm tree that had to be taken down in the city.

Joey Seaman pours a glass of beer in Upstreet Craft Brewing's Taproom
Joey Seaman pours a glass of beer in Upstreet Craft Brewing’s Taproom

While Upstreet does not have a full-fledged restaurant per se on site, it does have a chef as part of the team and the taproom does offer snack foods and tapas/small plates with a menu that changes according to season. However, don’t look for table service at Upstreet – in keeping with the casual atmosphere, you simply go to the bar to place both your drink and food order.

Upstreet Craft Brewing is very community minded. The brewery offers its taproom as a community space for locals to come and hang out. In fact, several groups meet at the brewery to socialize, including a group of local knitters! The brewery also hosts adult coloring nights and other community events and there is always a good selection of board games for patrons to enjoy over a glass of cold beer. In addition, the brewery offers a venue for local musicians to share their musical talents with patrons. The brewery is also a strong supporter of the local arts, music, and culture scene and, in fact, a percentage from the sale of every bottle of Do-Good-er beer goes to a “do good” fund to support local arts and culture.

The brewery, located at 41 Allen Street in Charlottetown, PEI, is open 7 days a week, noon to midnight.

Upstreet Craft Brewing, Charlottetown, PEI
Upstreet Craft Brewing, Charlottetown, PEI

As is my tradition when I visit a local producer, I develop a recipe or two using their product.

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

Click here for the link to my recipe for steaming PEI mussels in Upstreet Craft Brewing’s Rhuby Social beer and here for the link to my recipe for Rhubarb and Beer Barbeque Sauce, also using Rhuby Social beer.

Beer Barbeque Sauce
Rhubarb and Beer Barbeque Sauce Made with Rhuby Social Beer from Upstreet Craft Brewing

 

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Craft Brewing
Upstreet Craft Brewing, Charlottetown, PEI

Rhubarb and Beer Barbeque Sauce

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Beer Barbeque Sauce
Rhubarb and Beer Barbeque Sauce

We have a good-sized patch of rhubarb and, every year, I develop one or more new recipes using it.  I recently paid a visit to Upstreet Craft Brewing in Charlottetown in preparation for a story on this brewery and, lo and behold, they have a strawberry-rhubarb beer. This got me to thinking that I could combine the rhubarb with this beer to make a tasty barbeque sauce which is just what I did!

Beer Barbeque Sauce
Rhubarb and Beer Barbeque Sauce

Now, this barbeque sauce takes a little time to make but the end result is so worth it.  Just like making a traditional fine tomato sauce, the key is in letting the sauce simmer to allow the flavors to mix and mingle and get to know each other – very social just like Upstreet’s Rhuby Social beer! The sauce is a mix of savory, tart, and sweet, especially with the addition of crushed pineapple that goes well with rhubarb.

Beer Barbeque Sauce
Porkchops with Rhubarb and Beer Barbeque Sauce

This barbeque sauce is particularly good on pork and chicken but also pairs well with burgers. This is my signature barbeque sauce for this summer.  I use my immersion blender in the sauce but, if you like it more thick and chunky, leave it just as it is.  I hope you enjoy it.

Porkchops with Rhubarb and Beer Barbeque Sauce
Porkchops with Rhubarb and Beer Barbeque Sauce

(Printable recipe follows at end of posting)

Rhubarb and Beer Barbeque Sauce

Ingredients:

½ lb rhubarb, sliced ½” thick
2 tbsp water
1½ tsp lemon juice
2-3 tbsp. oil
½ cup onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup ketchup
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp salt
Pinch cayenne
¾ cup crushed pineapple with juice
½ cup Upstreet Craft Brewing’s “Rhuby Social” beer

Method:

In medium-sized saucepan, combine rhubarb, water, and lemon juice.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until rhubarb is soft and mushy.

In separate medium-sized saucepan, heat oil and, over medium heat, sauté onions until soft and translucent.  Add garlic and cook for one additional minute, stirring constantly, being careful not to burn the onions or garlic. Add the cooked rhubarb, ketchup, tomato paste, mustard, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and cayenne.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and cook for approximately 45 minutes or until thickened, stirring regularly.

Add the crushed pineapple and beer.  Cook for apx. 30 minutes longer, stirring regularly to prevent scorching.  Cool.  Purée in blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender.

Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week. Use on chicken, pork, or burgers.

Yield: 
Apx. 2½ cups

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Beer Barbeque Sauce
Rhubarb and Beer Barbeque Sauce

Rhubarb and Beer Barbeque Sauce

Yield: Apx. 2 1/2 cups

Savory and sweet barbeque sauce combines rhubarb, crushed pineapple, and beer to make a tasty sauce for pork, chicken, and burgers.

Ingredients

  • ½ lb rhubarb, sliced ½” thick
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1½ tsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 tbsp. oil
  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Pinch cayenne
  • ¾ cup crushed pineapple with juice
  • ½ cup Upstreet Craft Brewing’s “Rhuby Social” beer

Instructions

  1. In medium-sized saucepan, combine rhubarb, water, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until rhubarb is soft and mushy.
  2. In separate medium-sized saucepan, heat oil and, over medium heat, sauté onions until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook for one additional minute, stirring constantly, being careful not to burn the onions or garlic. Add the cooked rhubarb, ketchup, tomato paste, mustard, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and cayenne. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and cook for approximately 45 minutes or until thickened, stirring regularly. Add the crushed pineapple and beer. Cook for apx. 30 minutes longer, stirring regularly to prevent scorching. Cool. Purée in blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week. Use on chicken, pork, or burgers.
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PEI Mussels Steamed in Beer Recipe

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

My recipe for steamed mussels calls for some aromatics to build a flavor base in which to steam the tasty little morsels.  Aromatic cooking involves some type of fat or oil – I’m using butter in this recipe – combined with some aromatic vegetables and herbs.  In this case, I am using onion, celery, and garlic along with some fresh thyme. The combination of a fat product and heat help to release the wonderful aromas of ingredients and infuse dishes with fabulous flavors.  Ever walk into the tantalizing scent of a kitchen where onions and garlic are cooking in oil or butter? That’s aromatics at work.

Preparing this flavor base at the beginning of the cooking process adds depth and complexity to the dish. Since mussels cook rapidly,  chop the vegetables up somewhat fine as they need to release their flavors quickly in order to add flavor to the dish.

The fresh mussels should be rinsed under cold water before they are cooked.  If any of the shells don’t close up after this rinsing, tap the  shells lightly. If they still don’t close, discard them. Any “beard” on the mussels also needs to be removed.

Once the vegetables have been sautéed and released their flavors, it’s time to add a small amount of lemon juice and some beer to the mixture. The lemon juice adds fresh, crisp notes to the broth. This helps to balance the seafood qualities of the broth once the mussels are added. Beer adds both depth and complexity of flavor to the mussels which should be steamed in a very small amount of liquid.  If too much liquid is used, it will dilute the flavor altogether. It’s the steam, not the amount of liquid, that cooks the mussels. In this recipe, I have chosen to use a craft beer that has been brewed right here on Prince Edward Island at Upstreet Craft Brewing in Charlottetown (click here for my story on this brewery).  The strawberry and rhubarb flavored “Rhuby Social” witbier with its slight tartness pairs particularly well with seafood.

It’s important not to overcook the mussels as they will become tough. I find that 5-7 minutes is usually sufficient; however, the amount of steaming time depends on several factors including how many (and the size of the) mussels in the pot, the weight of the pot, and amount of heat over which they are steamed. The ultimate test of doneness is a peek inside the pot to see if the shells have opened.  It’s very important that, at the end of the steaming process, any shells that have not opened be discarded. If a shell has to be pried open, it is not considered safe for consumption.

These mussels can be eaten with bread dipped in the steaming broth.  Simply strain the broth to remove the vegetables and herbs. Alternatively, they can be eaten dipped in melted butter or even with a simple splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

(Printable recipe follows at end of posting)

PEI Mussels Steamed in Beer

Ingredients:
2 lbs. PEI mussels, rinsed and beards removed

1 tbsp butter
1/3 cup onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4” piece of celery with leaves, chopped
½ tsp salt
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup Upstreet Craft Brewing’s “Rhuby Social” Beer

Method:
In medium-sized stock pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, garlic, celery and salt. Sauté, stirring briskly, just until onion has softened and has started to become transparent.  Add the thyme, lemon juice, and beer.  Increase the heat to high and bring liquid to a boil.  Add the mussels. Cover and steam the mussels for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until the mussel shells have opened.  Remove pot from heat and let mussels stand in broth for 1-2 minutes.

Remove mussels from broth with a slotted spoon and discard any shells that have not opened.  If desired, strain the broth and use for dipping bread to enjoy with the mussels.  Alternatively, melt butter in which to dip the mussels.

Yield: Apx. 2 servings

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Beer-steamed Mussels
PEI Mussels Steamed in Beer

Mussels Steamed in Beer Recipe

Yield: 2 servings

PEI Mussels steamed in an aromatic beer broth. Dip the mussels in melted butter for the ultimate treat.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. PEI mussels, rinsed and beards removed
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4” piece of celery with leaves, chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup Upstreet Craft Brewing’s “Rhuby Social” Beer

Instructions

  1. In medium-sized stock pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery and salt. Sauté, stirring briskly, just until onion has softened and has started to become transparent. Add the thyme, lemon juice, and beer. Increase the heat to high and bring liquid to a boil. Add the mussels. Cover and steam the mussels for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until the mussel shells have opened. Remove pot from heat and let mussels stand in broth for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Remove mussels from broth with a slotted spoon and discard any shells that have not opened. If desired, strain the broth and use for dipping bread to enjoy with the mussels. Alternatively, melt butter in which to dip the mussels.
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Asparagus-stuffed Chicken Breasts Recipe

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Asparagus
Asparagus-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Asparagus is one of the most versatile vegetables, both in the ways in which it can be prepared and the ingredients with which it can be paired. Locally, in Atlantic Canada, asparagus has a very short growing season in late May/early June and it is a harbinger of wonderful produce to come from the land. And, as we all know, fresh, locally-grown produce is always best.  I am very lucky to live not far from an Island farmer, Tim Dixon, who grows asparagus and sells it at the farm gate – this means I’m buying produce that has just been harvested and has not lost its freshness through several days of transit to reach me. It also means I know where my food is coming from and, at the same time, I am supporting the local food movement with no middle men involved.

I like to feature asparagus in springtime on my dinner table and, this year, I have chosen to combine Boursin cheese, prosciutto, and chicken breasts with the asparagus.  This stuffed chicken breast can be served whole or it can be sliced into 3/4″ slices and served on either a bed of rice or on a green salad.  The latter is quite colorful as it shows the green asparagus stuffing.

asparagus
Slices of asparagus-stuffed chicken breast

This is not a difficult recipe to make and I hope you enjoy it, especially when the flavorful local asparagus is available in your region. I chose to pair this entrée with New Harbour Sauvignon Blanc (NZ 2013). This wine with its citrus, passionfruit, and guava notes, has a lovely crisp finish that compliments chicken quite well.

Asparagus Stuffed Chicken Breasts Recipe

(printable version of recipe follows at end of posting)

Ingredients:

2 medium-sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp Boursin cheese (French cream cheese), garlic and herb flavor
1 – 2 tsp olive oil
10 fresh asparagus spears tossed lightly in apx. 1 tsp olive oil
2 thin slices prosciutto
3 tbsp flour
1 extra large egg, beaten
¼ cup fine bread crumbs
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 tbsp cooking oil

Method:

Preheat oven to 375° and grease an 8”x8” baking pan.

Individually, place each chicken breast inside a plastic freezer bag and, using a meat mallet, flatten the chicken breast to approximately ¼” thick.  Season both sides of each breast with salt and pepper.

In small bowl, mix the Boursin cheese with just enough olive oil to make the cheese barely of spreading consistency.  Leaving about a ½” border on the edges of each chicken breast, divide the cheese equally between the two chicken pieces and evenly spread the cheese on each chicken breast.

Snap off the woody ends of each asparagus spear at their natural breaking point and discard. In medium-sized bowl, lightly coat the  spears with a teaspoon of olive oil (focus mainly on coating the tips of the asparagus that will be exposed during the baking). Lay five asparagus spears on each piece of prosciutto and roll the meat tightly around the spears.  Lay each bundle of spears on one long side of each flattened chicken breast and roll the chicken around the bundles tightly, leaving  the tips of the asparagus exposed .  Secure chicken pieces with two lengths of baker’s string.

In separate shallow bowls, large enough to accommodate the chicken pieces, place the flour in one bowl, the beaten egg in another, and mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in the third bowl.

Heat cooking oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Dip each chicken breast in the flour, then in the egg, and then roll in the bread crumbs-parmesan cheese mixture, being careful not to coat the tips of the asparagus spears.  Transfer chicken pieces to hot skillet.  Reduce heat to medium and brown the chicken pieces, turning them so that all sides of the chicken breasts brown evenly, about 1 minute per side.  Transfer chicken breasts to prepared baking pan and bake in pre-heated oven until internal temperature of chicken registers at least 165°F on an instant read meat thermometer.

Remove baker’s string from each breast. To serve, lay chicken breast over steamed rice or, alternatively, let the chicken pieces rest for 5 minutes on a cutting board then, with a sharp knife, cut into slices, approximately ¾” thick and serve over rice or a green salad.

Yield:  2 servings

Asparagus-stuffed Chicken Breasts by My Island Bistro Kitchen
Chicken Breast Stuffed with Asparagus

Asparagus-stuffed Chicken Breasts Recipe

Yield: 2 servings

Tasty chicken breasts stuffed with asparagus, prosciutto, and Boursin cheese - easy enough to make for weeknight dinners but fancy enough for company fare!

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp Boursin cheese (French cream cheese), garlic and herb flavor
  • 1 - 2 tsp olive oil
  • 10 fresh asparagus spears tossed lightly in apx. 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 thin slices prosciutto
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 extra large egg, beaten
  • ¼ cup fine bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 tbsp cooking oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° and grease an 8”x8” baking pan.
  2. Individually, place each chicken breast inside a plastic freezer bag and, using a meat mallet, flatten the chicken breast to approximately ¼” thick. Season both sides of each breast with salt and pepper.
  3. In small bowl, mix the Boursin cheese with just enough olive oil to make the cheese barely of spreading consistency. Leaving about a ½” border on the edges of each chicken breast, divide the cheese equally between the two chicken pieces and evenly spread the cheese on each chicken breast.
  4. Snap off the woody ends of each asparagus spear at their natural breaking point and discard. In medium-sized bowl, lightly coat the asparagus spears with a teaspoon of olive oil (focus mainly on coating the tips of the asparagus that will be exposed during the baking). Lay five asparagus spears on each piece of prosciutto and roll the meat tightly around the asparagus. Lay each bundle of spears on one long side of each flattened chicken breast and roll the chicken around the bundles tightly, leaving the tips of the asparagus exposed. Secure chicken pieces with two lengths of baker’s string.
  5. In separate shallow bowls, large enough to accommodate the chicken pieces, place the flour in one bowl, the beaten egg in another, and mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in the third bowl.
  6. Heat cooking oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Dip each chicken breast in the flour, then in the egg, and then roll in the bread crumbs-parmesan cheese mixture, being careful not to coat the tips of the asparagus spears. Transfer chicken pieces to hot skillet. Reduce heat to medium and brown the chicken pieces, turning them so that all sides of the chicken breasts brown evenly, about 1 minute per side. Transfer chicken breasts to prepared baking pan and bake in pre-heated oven until internal temperature of chicken registers at least 165°F on an instant read meat thermometer.
  7. Remove baker’s string from each breast. To serve, lay chicken breast over steamed rice or, alternatively, let the chicken pieces rest for 5 minutes on a cutting board then, with a sharp knife, cut into slices, approximately ¾” thick and serve over rice or a green salad.
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Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Asparagus by My Island Bistro Kitchen
Asparagus-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

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