Classic Peach Pie Recipe

Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

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

Ontario Peaches
Peaches

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

Classic Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

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

Peaches
Peaches

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

Classic Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

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

Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

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

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

Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

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

Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

 

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Peach Pie

Ingredients:

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

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

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

1½ – 2 tsp cane sugar (optional for decoration)

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yield:  1 – 9” double-crusted pie

Peach Pie

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Recipe Notes

Yield: 1 - 9” double-crusted pie

 

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

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

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Classic Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

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How to Make Dill Pickles

Pickles
Dill Pickles

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

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

Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles

Freshness Counts with Pickling Cucumbers!

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

Use Pickling Vinegar

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

Pickling Vinegar

Use Pickling Salt, Not Table Salt, in Pickles

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

Coarse/Pickling Salt

Preparing the Jars 

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

Making the Brine

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

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

Preparing the Cucumbers and Filling the Jars

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

Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles

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

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

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

Add a Grape Leaf to Keep the Dills Crunchy

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

Heat the Jar Lids and Metal Ring Bands

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

Heating Jar Lids
Heating Jar Lids

The Hot Water Bath

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

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

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

Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles

The Sequence

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

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

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

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

Dill Pickles

Ingredients:

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

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

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

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

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

Yield:  Approximately 3- 4 half-pint jars

Dill Pickles

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

Recipe Notes

Yield: Approximately 3- 4 half-pint jars

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

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

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

Pin Me To Pinterest!

Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles

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Sensational Strawberry Lemonade Recipe

Lemonade
Strawberry Lemonade

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

Lemonade
Strawberry Lemonade

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

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

Lemonade
Strawberry Lemonade over Ice

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

Lemonade
Strawberry Lemonade

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

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Strawberry Lemonade

Ingredients:

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

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

3 cups strawberries, sliced
2 cups water
Pinch salt

Method:

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

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

To assemble:  Transfer lemonade to a large jug or bottle.  Chill.

To serve:  Stir the chilled lemonade. Fill a tall glass approximately one-half full of ice cubes and add the lemonade.  Garnish with a fresh strawberry or lemon wheel, if desired.  Another serving suggestion includes filling a glass half full of strawberry lemonade and topping with clear soda such as lemon-lime.

Lemonade will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Freezes well.

Yield:  Approximately 6½ – 7 cups

Strawberry Lemonade

This “summer in a bottle” lemonade makes the most of fresh in-season strawberries and is a colorful, refreshing, and thirst-quenching summertime sipper when served over ice.
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Keyword Lemonade
Servings 8
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • cup water
  • 1 cup super-fine sugar (aka caster sugar or instant dissolving sugar)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp coarsely grated lemon rind
  • 3 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 2 cups water
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

  1. For the simple syrup: In small saucepan, combine the 1½ water and 1 cup sugar together. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce heat to medium-low and boil gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature (apx. 30-40 minutes). Add the lemon juice and lemon rind. Let mixture stand for at least an hour (or up to three hours) to allow the flavors to blend. Strain mixture twice through a fine mesh sieve to remove the lemon pulp and rind. Discard the pulp and rind.
  2. For the strawberry purée: Place strawberries in large blender. Purée until smooth. Slowly add in the 2 cups of water, continuing to pulse/purée until mixture is smooth. Slowly add the strained simple syrup with lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Purée until all ingredients are well combined. Strain mixture through very fine wire mesh sieve to remove the strawberry seeds.
  3. To assemble: Transfer lemonade to a large jug or bottle. Chill.
  4. To serve: Stir the chilled lemonade. Fill a tall glass approximately one-half full of ice cubes and add the lemonade. Garnish with a fresh strawberry or lemon wheel, if desired. Another serving suggestion includes filling a glass half full of strawberry lemonade and topping with clear soda such as lemon-lime.
  5. Lemonade will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Freezes well. Yields approximately 6 1/2 - 7 cups lemonade.

 

For other great Lemonade recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the following links:

Lemonade
Blueberry Lemonade
Rhubarb Lemonade

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Lemonade
Strawberry Lemonade
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Feasting at The Table in New London, PEI

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

One of the things most of us enjoy about travel is the opportunity to sample foods local to a region.  It’s part of the charm of a place and makes for great vacation memories.  At one time, vacationers went to a destination, did some sightseeing, took in some typical tourist attractions (amusement parks, museums, beaches, etc.), and ate at whatever restaurant they happened upon at meal time. Today’s travelers, generally speaking, are more interested in diversified travel experiences than they are simply going to a place so they can check it off their bucket list of places they have been.  Many seek out adventures that allow them to participate in activities, experience the uniqueness and authenticity of a place, mingle with the locals, and learn more about local foods and ways to prepare them.

Grilled PEI Oysters Topped With A Black Garlic Cream Sauce and Bacon Jam (at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI)
Grilled PEI Oysters Topped With A Black Garlic Cream Sauce and Bacon Jam (at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI)

One of the best ways to learn about a place and its culture is through its local food.  In fact, many travelers choose destinations based on the local food scene, food festivals and events, unique dining experiences, and opportunities to participate in culinary classes. Many, therefore, seek out experiences that allow them to connect more fully with a region and what better way to do that than through food, especially if it is experiential cuisine where you learn something about the foods you are eating.

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

I was recently a guest at the North Shore Surf and Turf Dinner at The Table Culinary Studio which hosts themed communal-style dinners featuring Prince Edward Island foods throughout the summer months.  Today, I am going to share my dining experience at The Table with you.

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

The Table Culinary Studio is the successor of Annie’s Table Culinary Studio which was started by Annie Leroux in 2012.  You can click here for my story on Annie’s Table Culinary Studio.  Current owner, Derrick Hoare (himself a trained chef), had been a long-time summer resident on PEI for many years, was retiring from his career in the health care profession, and was looking for his next adventure.  He contemplated buying a traditional restaurant in PEI but decided that was not his style.  When Annie’s Table became available for sale, Derrick liked the concept Annie had begun so he bought the business which he began operating in 2016. In addition to keeping the tradition of offering short culinary courses, he added themed evening dining to the menu and renamed the business to The Table Culinary Studio.

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

Set in the small rural community of New London, not far from the resort municipality of Cavendish (the hometown of the fictional Anne of Green Gables – you may have heard of her!), you will find The Table on Route 8 or, as the locals would simply say, the Grahams Road.

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

With a backdrop of green fertile rolling countryside, The Table is located in a repurposed former United Church that is tastefully furnished with quality antiques.  Several of the elements of the decommissioned church have been incorporated into the décor, including the pulpit that now occupies a prominent position overlooking the dining hall.

Interior of the re-purposed country church that is now The Table Culinary Studio
Interior of the Re-purposed Country Church that is now The Table Culinary Studio

The entire venue is open concept so diners can watch the culinary team prepare the meal.  This unique dining experience will make you feel like you are more at an intimate dinner party with a private chef catering than at a restaurant.

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

Open seasonally, seven nights a week, for themed dinners that feature local Island foods that come from the land and the sea, The Table can accommodate up to 18 guests an evening, one seating only.  Tickets for the dinner must be reserved in advance  (by phone or email) and the menu for each evening is a set menu – you eat whatever is being prepared that night which takes the pressure off of studying a menu and trying to decide what to have. Drinks are at extra cost and are payable at the end of the evening along with the dinner.

The themed dinners range from the Traditional Island Feast to the Island Dinner Party to Isle and Fire to the North Shore Surf and Turf and all focus on fresh local foods harvested or fished nearby. Seating is at one long harvest table in the middle of the old church and food is served family style which is to say that the main meal, on large platters, arrives at the table and guests pass the platters around, serving themselves.  There are no individual tables.

At the Surf and Turf Dinner at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
At the Surf and Turf Dinner at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

It seems only fitting that communal dining would be the style of dining at The Table given that it is in a decommissioned church.  Communal dining dates back to biblical times – you know, the breaking of bread together.  The concept of individual tables for dining did not start until a long time after these origins.  Some may find it requires some stepping out of the comfort zone to attend a dinner with strangers all seated at the same table but, when you think about it, church and community potluck dinners have been around for ages and they are traditionally served at long communal tables where you don’t necessarily know the people seated around you.  We do a lot of cruising and have never requested a table for two in the ship’s dining room simply because we like to meet new people and inject some new conversation into meal times when traveling. So, sitting down to a meal alongside people I have not met before is quite comfortable and familiar for me. After all, the chances are that they are all food enthusiasts, too!

One of the lovely parts of this type of experiential dining is that you get to interact with those preparing the meal.  In contrast, if you go into a traditional style restaurant, you are seated, have limited contact with the wait staff, and most likely never see the chefs let alone have any direct contact with them.  At The Table, there are lots of opportunities to communicate directly with the owner/chef Derrick, executive chef Michael Bradley, oyster shucker George Dowdle, and The Table’s event planner, Christine Morgan. Together, this is the culinary team at The Table.

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

The Table benefits from having a talented and enthusiastic young chef. With over ten years of experience in professional kitchens, Chef Michael Bradley is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown.  Chef Michael has been at The Table from the beginning, starting as an intern and working his way up to become the executive chef.

Outdoor Reception at the Surf and Turf Dinner at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Outdoor Reception at the Surf and Turf Dinner at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

I truly felt like I was at someone’s private dinner party.  It was a perfect sunny summer evening as guests arrived for the event which started on the side lawn of the church.  When I arrived, local aquaculturalist, George Dowdle, was busy shucking oysters that he had fished from the nearby Southwest River only hours before the dinner.

Aquaculturalist, George Dowdle, Shucking Oysters at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Aquaculturalist, George Dowdle, Shucking Oysters at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

Guests soon became preoccupied with consuming the fresh raw oysters which were served with a choice of three sauces:  Asian Thai, Lemon Herb, and Pomegranate Herb.  It wasn’t long before everyone felt comfortable and at home with each other as the conversations quickly turned to discussions about the food.

Freshly shucked oysters at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Freshly Shucked Oysters at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
PEI Oysters on the Grill at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
PEI Oysters on the Grill at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

Not quite into slurping raw oysters? Chef Michael also has a unique way of serving grilled oysters. He first puts the oysters on the open fire grill to warm them up, then shucks them and tops them with a black garlic cream sauce and bacon jam, then puts them back on the grill to re-heat them.  Simply sublime!

PEI Oysters hot off the grill and served with black garlic cream sauce and bacon jam
PEI Oysters Hot off the Grill and Served with Black Garlic Cream Sauce and Bacon Jam

While clams sometimes take a back seat in popularity to mussels and oysters, The Table includes them as part of the meal.

PEI Clams (at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI)
PEI Clams (at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI)

When we had our fill of oysters, out came the cheese and charcuterie trays.

Cheese Tray at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Cheese Tray at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

On this evening, The Table served their own homemade black garlic crackers alongside an assortment of cheeses from Ferme Isle St Jean in Rustico and Glasgow Glen Farm in New Glasgow. This was rounded out by pickled beets, pickled carrots, pickled spruce tips, and rhubarb chutney (all made in-house at The Table).

Condiments on the Charcuterie Tray at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Condiments on the Charcuterie Tray at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

While guests were busy noshing on the appetizers, Chef Michael was preparing the sirloin tip roast with a black garlic espresso rub. Cooked over an open fire, you can only imagine how tantalizing the scent was!

Executive Chef, Michael Bradley preps the grill for the sirloin tip beef
Executive Chef, Michael Bradley Preps the Grill for the Sirloin Tip Roast
Grilling the Sirloin Tip Beef Over an Open Fire at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Grilling the Sirloin Tip Beef Over an Open Fire at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

Then, Chef Michael demonstrated how they cook the mussels in a fire pit with seaweed and smoke.

Executive Chef at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI, Prepares the Cooking Pit to Cook the Mussels
Executive Chef at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI, Prepares the Cooking Pit to Cook the Mussels

The mussels are placed in wet pillowcases which give the moisture the mussels need to open.

Placing bags of Mussels in the Fire Pit at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Placing Bags of Mussels in the Fire Pit at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Covering bags of PEI Mussels with Seaweed for Cooking in the Fire Pit at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Covering Bags of PEI Mussels with Seaweed for Cooking in the Fire Pit at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Fire Pit for Cooking Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Fire Pit for Cooking Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Fire Pit for Cooking Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Fire Pit for Cooking Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

Guests leisurely made their way inside the church where the meal was served.  The big 12-foot long handmade harvest table occupies much of the space that once would have been filled with church pews.

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

By this time, guests were very comfortable in the company of each other and, since there were three Islanders present, the conversation soon turned to various aspects of how local foods are produced and farming and fishing, in general.  Food is such a commonality and ice breaker!

Communal Dining at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Communal Dining at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

The meal began with a plated salad highlighted by the skirt steak from Atlantic Beef Products in Albany. The steak had been marinated in an onion garlic marinade.

Salad with skirt steak at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Salad with Skirt Steak at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

The boards of housemade sourdough bread were served with a black garlic spread as well as honey butter.

Bread Board at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Bread Board at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

Before each course was presented, Chef Michael came tableside to explain what the course consisted of and how it was prepared.

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

Next came huge platters of bountiful mixed seasonal vegetables with the fire-grilled sirloin tip roast.

Platters of Vegetables and Sirloin Tip Roast at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Platters of Vegetables and Sirloin Tip Roast at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

The veggies (along with the salad greens) came from nearby Alexander Fresh Vegetables in Hope River. These were very attractively presented platters.

Platter of Vegetables and Sirloin Tip Roast at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Platter of Vegetables and Sirloin Tip Roast at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

Then, the seafood platters arrived.  All those mussels that had been cooking in the fire pit emerged from the pillowcases and formed the base for lobster claws and tails.

Lobsters and Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Lobsters and Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

The lobster, fished from boats out of nearby French River Harbour, had been par-cooked with a garlic butter and then was finished on the grill outside.

French River Harbour, PEI
French River Harbour, PEI

The green sauce accompanying the mussels was a garden pesto cream sauce.

Lobster and Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI
Lobster and Mussels at The Table Culinary Studio, New London, PEI

By this time, I was stuffed and thought I would just roll home but, wait, dessert was to come!  Dessert was a blood orange infused carrot cake with orange cream cheese icing. I didn’t get a photo of it because I was too busy enjoying the gluten-free option that was a deconstructed strawberry pie made with a strawberry balsamic reduction and gluten-free pastry lattice, all topped with lactose-free ice cream.

Gluten-Free Dessert at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI.
Gluten-Free Dessert at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI.

The Table prides itself on using the best of what is fresh and local.  Most foods for their themed dinners come from under 10 km away and are farmed and fished by friends and neighbours. So, you know that when you dine at The Table, food will not have traveled thousands of miles before it has reached your plate. In fact, you can seek out the same food suppliers to purchase high quality local PEI products.

I asked Christine if they ever get families for their dinners.  She tells me, although 90% of their clientele are adults, parents are welcome to bring their children and they do often have families in attendance.  Patrons should note, however, that there is no children’s menu offered so the wee folk eat the same food as the adults.

What I have described above is the meal for the Surf and Turf dinner.  I inquired if the meal ingredients are identical for this particular dinner every night.  Christine informs me that the appetizers, vegetables, and dessert do vary by what is seasonally available.  So, if you are having the Surf and Turf dinner at The Table after having read this post, you’ll be aware that the meal ingredients may not be 100% identical to what I enjoyed in early July.

So, if you want to really immerse yourself in local PEI foods and have a totally relaxing evening in the beautiful countryside of Prince Edward Island while feasting on carefully prepared dishes in a unique setting, you should check out The Table Culinary Studio. If you have dietary restrictions, be sure to advise of that when making your reservation and, to the extent possible, the culinary team at The Table will do all they can to accommodate special dietary needs.

For more information on dining options at The Table, and to make reservations, check out their website at http://www.thetablepei.ca/dining .

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Dinner at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Dinner at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Dinner at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI
Dinner at The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI

My thanks to The Table Culinary Studio for the opportunity to experience their North Shore Surf and Turf Dinner and for the fine hospitality. My dinner at the The Table Culinary Studio was complimentary for the purpose of conducting a review of the North Shore Surf and Turf dinner. However, this in no way influenced my opinions of the dinner experience. All opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.

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Rhubarb Lemonade

 

Rhubarb Lemonade
Rhubarb Lemonade

Lemonade is one of the most common of summer drinks.  Served cold, it’s very refreshing on a hot summer’s day.  Sometimes, I like to flavour my lemonades as I am doing today with rhubarb in the form of rhubarb lemonade.

Rhubarb
Rhubarb Patch

We have a good-sized patch of rhubarb so I make good use of it in many ways.  I will often cook up some excess rhubarb near the end of rhubarb season, strain it, and freeze the juice for later use or, sometimes, I will make up an entire batch or two of rhubarb lemonade and freeze that to have at the ready for sipping on those sweltering hot summer days.

Lemonade
Rhubarb Lemonade

To make the rhubarb lemonade, I start with making a simple syrup of super-fine sugar (which you may know as caster sugar or instant-dissolving sugar) and water.  The typical ratio for simple syrup is traditionally 1:1 sugar to water.  However, with the super-fine sugar, I find that ratio is a bit too sweet so I back up the sugar content to 3/4 cup.  Using the super-fine sugar (as opposed to granulated sugar) results in a lovely, silky smooth syrup.  If I was to simply try and mix sugar with cold water, it would not dissolve properly and would leave a gritty, unpleasant texture to the drink.  In a previous post for Blueberry Lemonade, I give more details on this process and you can access that post by clicking here.

Once the simple syrup has cooled to room temperature, simply add the freshly-squeezed lemon juice and some lemon rind to the syrup and let it sit a bit for the flavour to develop, then strain it through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lemon pulp, seeds, and the rind.

To make the rhubarb juice, cook rhubarb with water until the rhubarb is super soft and mushy.  This will take about 8-10 minutes of cooking.  It’s always hard to judge exactly how much rhubarb will be needed to generate the 4 cups of juice needed for this rhubarb lemonade but, generally speaking, 3 pounds of rhubarb and 3 cups of water should yield the 4 cups of juice.  If it falls short by  one-half cup or less, simply add up to one-half cup of water.  If it is more than a half cup short, you will need to cook some more rhubarb in order to keep the rhubarb flavour sufficiently strong enough.  Rhubarb juiciness varies depending on the variety and growing conditions, as well as its age, so that’s why it’s not an exact science as to exactly how much rhubarb to cook. Also, if the rhubarb is cooked too fast, too much water will evaporate and it will result in less juice.

To extract the juice from the cooked rhubarb, fit a fine mesh sieve with 3-4 layers of cheesecloth and place over a deep heat-proof bowl.  Transfer the rhubarb to the sieve and let the juice drip through on its own.  Near the end of the dripping, if the amount does not quite equal 4 cups, you may gently – very gently- press the back of a large spoon against the rhubarb mash to squeeze a bit more juice.  Don’t press the mash too hard because some impurities from the mash will slip through the loose weave cheesecloth and the lemonade will not be clear.

The color in the rhubarb lemonade photos is natural.  There is no food coloring used.

Rhubarb Juice
Rhubarb Juice

The glorious deep coral-red color comes from using the extracted juice from bright red rhubarb stalks so use the deepest red stalks you can find.

Rhubarb Stalks
Rhubarb Stalks

To make the lemonade, simply combine the strained lemon syrup with the rhubarb juice. Mix and chill then serve over ice in pretty glasses.

Rhubarb Lemonade
Rhubarb Lemonade

This lemonade freezes well but it can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. If you wish, you can also add some clear soda, such as grapefruit and lemon, to this lemonade for a fizzy drink. This rhubarb lemonade is a great crowd pleaser and is a lovely addition to summer picnics and gatherings.

Rhubarb Lemonade
Rhubarb Lemonade

 

 [Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Rhubarb Lemonade

Ingredients:

1 cup water
¾ cup super-fine sugar (aka caster sugar or instant dissolving sugar)

¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 – 2 tbsp coarsely grated lemon rind

3 lbs rhubarb, chopped into 1” chunks
3 cups water

Method:

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

For the rhubarb juice:  Combine the rhubarb and water in a large pot.  Cover and bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes, or until rhubarb is completely  softened.  Place a large sieve over a big heatproof bowl.  Line the sieve with 3-4 layers of cheesecloth.  Remove the rhubarb from the heat and pour into the sieve, letting the juice drip through.  It may be necessary to use the back of a large spoon to very gently press the rhubarb pulp in order to extract all the juice out of the rhubarb.  This should yield about 4 cups, depending on the age and juiciness of the rhubarb.  If it is slightly less than 4 cups, up to ½ cup water may be added to bring the amount to 4 cups.

To assemble:  In large jug or bottle, combine 4 cups rhubarb juice with the simple syrup and lemon juice mixture. Stir well.  Chill.

To serve:  Stir the chilled lemonade. Fill a glass approximately one-half full of ice cubes and add the lemonade.  Garnish with a lemon wheel, if desired.

Will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Freezes well.

Yield:  Approximately 6 cups

Rhubarb Lemonade

With a perfect blend of sweet and tart notes, rhubarb and lemon combine to form Rhubarb Lemonade, a refreshing and thirst-quenching summertime sipper.
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup super-fine sugar aka caster sugar or instant dissolving sugar
  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 – 2 tbsp coarsely grated lemon rind
  • 3 lbs rhubarb chopped into 1” chunks
  • 3 cups water

Instructions

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

For the rhubarb juice: Combine the rhubarb and water in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes, or until rhubarb is completely softened. Place a large sieve over a big heatproof bowl. Line the sieve with 3-4 layers of cheesecloth. Remove the rhubarb from the heat and pour into the sieve, letting the juice drip through. It may be necessary to use the back of a large spoon to very gently press the rhubarb pulp in order to extract all the juice out of the rhubarb. This should yield about 4 cups, depending on the age and juiciness of the rhubarb. If it is slightly less than 4 cups, up to ½ cup water may be added to bring the amount to 4 cups.

To assemble: In large jug or bottle, combine 4 cups rhubarb juice with the simple syrup and lemon juice mixture. Stir well. Chill.

To serve: Stir the chilled lemonade. Fill a glass approximately one-half full of ice cubes and add the lemonade. Garnish with a lemon wheel, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Freezes well.

 

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

Lemonade
Blueberry Lemonade

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Rhubarb Lemonade

Rhubarb Lemonade

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Old-fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake

Rhubarb Pudding Cake
Old-fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake

Today, I am sharing my recipe for a real old-fashioned type of dessert – Rhubarb Pudding Cake. The cake is “self-saucing” which means that the delectable sauce forms underneath the simple cake batter as the cake bakes. It’s an “all-in-one” pudding and cake! It may not be the most extravagant looking dessert but it sure is mighty tasty! If you are a rhubarb lover, you will love this dessert.

Pudding Cake
Old-fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake

This pudding is easy to make and can be made with either fresh or frozen rhubarb.  In fact, I often freeze the amount of rhubarb needed for the pudding in ziploc freezer bags labeled “For Rhubarb Pudding Cake” and it’s a real treat in the middle of winter! This is an old, old family favorite of ours! For those on a gluten-free diet, this pudding is easy to make gluten free – simply replace the quantity of flour called for in the recipe with an equivalent amount of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour.  In fact, the photos in this post are of the gluten-free version of this pudding cake.

Rhubarb Pudding Cake
Rhubarb Pudding Cake

Rhubarb chunks are spread in the bottom of the baking dish then covered with a simple cake batter that is lightly spiced and then topped with a sauce made with either orange or pineapple juice. The juice trickles down through the batter and meets up with the rhubarb and the two form a heck of a tasty sauce. As the pudding bakes, a soft golden crust forms on top of the cake.  Lots of texture happening in this pudding cake!

Pudding Cake
Rhubarb Pudding Cake

This pudding cake is best served after it has been allowed to stand for 15-20 minutes after it has baked and been removed from the oven.  I sometimes serve it plain and, other times, I’ll add either a dollop of whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Old-fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake
Rhubarb Pudding Cake
[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

Ingredients:

2¾ cups rhubarb, cut into ¾“ chunks
3 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar

¾ cup all-purpose flour (or, to make it gluten free, use equivalent amount of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
1 1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
smidgeon cloves

½ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

½ cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1¼ tsp finely grated orange rind
½ cup hot orange or pineapple juice
¼ tsp almond flavouring

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 8” square baking dish.  Arrange rhubarb evenly in dish.  Set aside.

In medium-sized bowl, cream the butter using either a hand mixer or stand mixer.  Slowly add the first amount of sugar and beat at medium speed until butter and sugar are well blended.

In separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

In measuring cup, mix the milk and vanilla together. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture alternately with the wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry ingredients (three additions of dry and two additions of wet ingredients). Spread this mixture evenly over the rhubarb in the baking dish.

In measuring cup, whisk the remaining ½ cup of sugar and cornstarch together.  Mix in the grated orange rind.  Whisk in the hot orange or pineapple juice and the almond flavouring.  Pour this mixture over the batter in the baking dish.

Bake pudding for 45-50 minutes or until topping is tanned, a crust forms, and rhubarb is bubbling at the edges of the baking dish.  Let pudding stand for 15-20 minutes then spoon into dessert dishes or cut into squares.  Serve plain, top with a dollop of whipped cream, or a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

Yield:  6-8 servings

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

This easy-to-make dessert features rhubarb with an orange or pineapple-flavoured sauce that forms underneath a gently spiced cake layer as it bakes. True comfort food!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • cups rhubarb cut into ¾“ chunks
  • 3 tbsp butter softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour or, to make it gluten free, use equivalent amount of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour
  • 1 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • smidgeon cloves
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • tsp finely grated orange rind
  • ½ cup hot orange or pineapple juice
  • ¼ tsp almond flavouring

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 8” square baking dish. Arrange rhubarb evenly in dish. Set aside.
  2. In medium-sized bowl, cream the butter using either a hand mixer or stand mixer. Slowly add the first amount of sugar and beat at medium speed until butter and sugar are well blended.
  3. In separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
  4. In measuring cup, mix the milk and vanilla together. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture alternately with the wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry ingredients (three additions of dry and two additions of wet ingredients). Spread this mixture evenly over the rhubarb in the baking dish.
  5. In measuring cup, whisk the remaining ½ cup of sugar and cornstarch together. Mix in the grated orange rind. Whisk in the hot orange or pineapple juice and the almond flavouring. Pour this mixture over the batter in the baking dish.
  6. Bake pudding for 45-50 minutes or until topping is tanned, a crust forms, and rhubarb is bubbling at the edges of the baking dish. Let pudding stand for 15-20 minutes then spoon into dessert dishes or cut into squares. Serve plain, top with a dollop of whipped cream, or a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

 

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Pudding Cake
Rhubarb Pudding Cake
Pudding Cake
Rhubarb Pudding Cake
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Deli-style Gluten-Free Rhubarb Granola Muffins

I love the produce our garden generates and its earliest treat is rhubarb.  It is so versatile and I make lots of recipes using rhubarb.  Today, a treat for my gluten-free diet followers — a new recipe for deli-style gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins.

Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins
Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins

There are many recipes for rhubarb muffins but many of them call for chopped rhubarb.  Rhubarb has a lot of water content and cooks fast when used in chopped form in baking goods. This extra water content can cause some baked goods to turn out soggy, particularly in the areas where the rhubarb chunks land.  To combat this problem, for this recipe, I cook the rhubarb then mash, or purée, it with a hand-held immersion blender. I then use the mashed/puréed rhubarb as part of the liquid content in the muffin batter.  So, I still get rhubarb muffins but without the wet soggy spots.

When I make muffins, I like them to be deli- or café-style which is to say I’m looking for muffins that are a reasonable size, are hearty,  have a lovely texture with a coarse crumb (not cake-like), and are filled with flavour.

Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins
Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins

Muffins are, for lack of a better way of putting it, little individual quick breads. We all know that, appearance-wise, the perfect muffin should bear a slightly domed top that has a bit of firmness to it.  There are a combination of factors that will contribute to that desired result — the right amount of leavening, the consistency of the batter, and the oven temperature.

Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins
Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins

Rhubarb is, by nature, tart.  However, it is important not to over-do the sugar content in the muffins because too much sugar will create a cake-like texture and the moist, open tender crumb, which is a hallmark feature of muffins, will be lost and you will end up with a product that more closely resembles a cupcake. A batter that is too runny will pose the risk of muffins that will rise to form stiff mountain peaks.  Adding some Greek yogurt to the batter is one way to thicken it up and reduce this risk.  Of course, the addition of the right proportions of leavening (baking powder and baking soda) are key.  Having the muffins go into a really hot oven to start them baking is also key to getting a lovely gentle dome on the muffin tops. Using the high temperature allows the outside of the muffin to quickly set while still allowing the inside to continue to rise.

Since I have been developing gluten-free muffins, one thing I have discovered is that I end up with better quality, deli-style muffins when I use a blend of gluten-free flours versus, say, one all-purpose flour or only the one-to-one gluten free flour.  Each gluten-free flour has its own unique qualities and properties and the right blend will provide structure, texture, and flavour to the muffins. The addition of granola to these muffins adds texture, flavour, and bulk to the muffins, making them more hearty and filling.

Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins
Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten Free Rhubarb Granola Muffins

Ingredients:

3½ oz rhubarb, chopped into ½ inch pieces
1½ tbsp orange juice

1 cup one-to-one gluten-free flour
2 tbsp potato starch
¼ cup gluten-free oat flour
¼ cup almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
¾ tsp zanthan gum
¼ cup gluten-free quick oats
5½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1½ tbsp ground chia seeds
1¾ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger
¼ tsp allspice
2 tsp finely grated orange rind
2/3 cup granola

2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1½ tsp vanilla
1½ tbsp orange juice
½ cup whole milk
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/3 cup cooled rhubarb purée
2 tbsp Greek style coconut yogurt or sour cream
1½ tsp rose water (optional)

Method:

In small sauce pan, combine the rhubarb and orange juice.  Cook over medium-low heat until rhubarb is softened.  Cool slightly then, using the back of a large spoon, mash up the rhubarb or, alternatively, use a handheld immersion blender to purée the rhubarb.  Set aside to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Prepare 12 muffin cups (each ½-cup capacity) by spraying each muffin cup with cooking spray or greasing individually.

Combine flours, zanthan gum, quick oats, baking powder, soda, salt, ground chia seeds, spices, and grated orange rind together in a large bowl.  Whisk ingredients well to combine. Stir in granola. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Set aside.

In separate medium-sized bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, coconut oil, vanilla, orange juice, milk, maple syrup, Greek yogurt or sour cream, and rose water (if using). Whisk ingredients well. Stir in cooled rhubarb purée.

Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients.  With large spoon, mix ingredients together just until dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Do not overmix.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling almost to the rim of each cup.  Transfer to pre-heated oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 400°F.  Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.  Do not overbake or muffins will be dry. Remove from oven and let muffins rest in pans for 5-7 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Muffins freeze well.

Yield: 12 muffins

Deli-style Gluten-Free Rhubarb Granola Muffins

Tangy rhubarb purée joins granola, spices, orange juice, and Greek yogurt to make these deli-style gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins

Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • oz rhubarb, chopped into ½ inch pieces
  • tbsp orange juice
  • 1 cup one-to-one gluten-free flour
  • 2 tbsp potato starch
  • ¼ cup gluten-free oat flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¾ tsp zanthan gum
  • ¼ cup gluten-free quick oats
  • tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • tbsp ground chia seeds
  • tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp finely grated orange rind
  • 2/3 cup granola (recipe link below)
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 extra-large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • tsp vanilla
  • tbsp orange juice
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup cooled rhubarb purée
  • 2 tbsp Greek style coconut yogurt or sour cream
  • tsp rose water optional

Instructions

  1. In small sauce pan, combine the rhubarb and orange juice. Cook over medium-low heat until rhubarb is softened. Cool slightly then, using the back of a large spoon, mash up the rhubarb or, alternatively, use a handheld immersion blender to purée the rhubarb. Set aside to cool completely.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  3. Prepare 12 muffin cups (each ½-cup capacity) by spraying each muffin cup with cooking spray or greasing individually.
  4. Combine flours, zanthan gum, quick oats, baking powder, soda, salt, ground chia seeds, spices, and grated orange rind together in a large bowl. Whisk ingredients well to combine. Stir in granola. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Set aside.
  5. In separate medium-sized bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, coconut oil, vanilla, orange juice, milk, maple syrup, Greek yogurt or sour cream, and rose water (if using). Whisk ingredients well. Stir in cooled rhubarb purée.
  6. Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients. With large spoon, mix ingredients together just until dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Do not overmix.
  7. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling almost to the rim of each cup. Transfer to pre-heated oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 400°F. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Do not overbake or muffins will be dry. Remove from oven and let muffins rest in pans for 5-7 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Muffins freeze well.

Recipe Notes

Link to granola recipe: http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2016/03/08/the-bistros-great-nut-free-granola/

 

For other gluten-free muffin recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

The Ultimate Gluten-free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins
Deli-Style Gluten-Free Beet Muffins
Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins

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Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins
Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins
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On The Sandwich Board: Lobster Club Sandwich with a Twist

Club Sandwich
Lobster Club Sandwich

There is nothing better than lobster fresh from the sea and, living on Prince Edward Island, we are so fortunate to have ready access to this treat! The lobster fishery is one of PEI’s main fisheries.

Preparing for Setting Day
Eve of Setting Day in the Fishing Village of North Rustico, PEI, Canada

It goes without saying that it’s a huge deal when the spring lobster fishing season opens.

Lobster Fishing
Lobster Fishing in all weather on PEI

Many islanders make it an annual ritual to head to a nearby wharf or beach before 6am on setting day to see the boats head out to sea to drop their traps.

Parade of Lobster Boats
Early Morning Gathering in French River, PEI, to Watch Parade of Lobster Boats on Setting Day

The following day the fishers head back out to haul in the first catch of the season and we Islanders can’t wait for that first “feed” of lobster!

Arriving back in North Lake, PEI, with the day's catch
Arriving back in North Lake, PEI, with the day’s catch
Lobster
Fresh Catch of Lobster

When lobster is in season on the Island, I make good use of it as an ingredient and I find no shortage of ways in which to use the succulent meat.

So, today, on my sandwich board, is a lobster club sandwich with a twist.  It contains some of the elements of a traditional club sandwich but I jazz this version up a bit by adding lobster meat, avocado, pancetta, Havarti cheese,  lemon mayonnaise , and an avocado spread.  This fusion of complementary flavours results in a tasty (and hearty) colorful sandwich. A feast for the eyes as well as the stomach!

Lobster Club Sandwich
Lobster Club Sandwich

Lobster Club with a Twist

Sandwich ingredients:

3 slices bread of choice
2 – 3 oz cooked lobster, broken into bite-size pieces
1 oz pancetta, fried and drained
1 slice Havarti
½ small avocado, sliced and sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning (save the other half for the avocado spread)
Lettuce of choice
Tomato
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Avocado Spread (recipe follows)
Lemon Mayonnaise (recipe follows)
Butter

Avocado Spread:

½ small avocado (save the other half for slicing for sandwich)
1 – 1½ tsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
1/8 – ¼ tsp garlic salt
1 small green onion, finely sliced or diced

Lemon Mayonnaise:

1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1 small green onion, finely sliced or diced

Avocado Spread:  Chop ½ avocado into small bowl. Using a hand-held immersion blender, blend lemon juice, olive oil, garlic salt, and green onion with the avocado, just until mixed.

Lemon Mayonnaise:  Mix mayonnaise, lemon juice, and green onion together well.

To Assemble Sandwich:  Heat 1-2 tsp butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the lobster and toss gently for 2-3 minutes, just long enough to warm the lobster.  Toast and butter the three bread slices.  Layer 1:  Spread two pieces of bread with the avocado spread.  Cover one slice of bread with lettuce and top with sliced tomato, pancetta, and Havarti slice. Top with the other slice of bread that is spread with avocado spread.  Layer 2: Spread the top slice of bread with half the lemon mayonnaise.  Lay the sliced avocado on top of the bread followed by a layer of lettuce.  Top with the lobster. Spread the third slice of bread with the remaining lemon mayonnaise and place over the lobster.  Secure sandwich with toothpicks and cut in half diagonally.  Enjoy!

Yield:  One sandwich

Lobster Club with a Twist

This ultimate club sandwich combines succulent lobster meat, pancetta, Havarti, and avocado with tomato, lettuce, avocado spread, and lemon mayonnaise to make a hearty meal.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword lobster
Servings 1
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

Sandwich ingredients:

  • 3 slices bread of choice
  • 2 - 3 oz cooked lobster, broken into bite-size pieces
  • 1 oz pancetta, fried and drained
  • 1 slice Havarti
  • ½ small avocado sliced and sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning (save the other half for the avocado spread)
  • Lettuce of choice
  • Tomato
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Avocado Spread (recipe follows)
  • Lemon Mayonnaise (recipe follows)
  • Butter

Avocado Spread:

  • ½ small avocado (save the other half for slicing for sandwich)
  • 1 – 1½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/8 – ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • 1 small green onion, finely sliced or diced

Lemon Mayonnaise:

  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 small green onion, finely sliced or diced

Instructions

Avocado Spread: Chop ½ avocado into small bowl. Using a hand-held immersion blender, blend lemon juice, olive oil, garlic salt, and green onion with the avocado, just until mixed.

Lemon Mayonnaise: Mix mayonnaise, lemon juice, and green onion together well.

To Assemble Sandwich: Heat 1-2 tsp butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the lobster and toss gently for 2-3 minutes, just long enough to warm the lobster. Toast and butter the three bread slices. Layer 1: Spread two pieces of bread with the avocado spread. Cover one slice of bread with lettuce and top with sliced tomato, pancetta, and Havarti slice. Top with the other slice of bread that is spread with avocado spread. Layer 2: Spread the top slice of bread with half the lemon mayonnaise. Lay the sliced avocado on top of the bread followed by a layer of lettuce. Top with the lobster. Spread the third slice of bread with the remaining lemon mayonnaise and place over the lobster. Secure sandwich with toothpicks and cut in half diagonally. Enjoy!

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Lobster Club Sandwich
Lobster Club Sandwich
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Island Summer Blush Cocktail

Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

My newly-created Island Summer Blush Cocktail is packed full of flavours that speak of springtime and early summer — rhubarb, lime, clementine, elderflower liqueur, and fizzy Prosecco.

Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

One of the key ingredients in this drink is my homemade rhubarb cordial.  I have been making this cordial for many years and I continually find new ways to use it.  We have a good-sized patch of rhubarb and, each spring, I make batches of this cordial and, what I don’t use at the time, I freeze for use at other times of the year.  Click here for my rhubarb cordial recipe.

Rhubarb Cordial
Rhubarb Cordial

My choice of elderflower liqueur was inspired by the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018. Prior to the wedding, it was announced that the flavours of the wedding cake would be lemon and elderflower.  I combined those two flavours and developed my own recipe for a lemon and elderflower cake, the recipe for which you can find by clicking here. I then thought I would create a cocktail, using elderflower liqueur, to commemorate the royal event and thus was born the Island Summer Blush Cocktail.

Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

Elderflower liqueur is made with the delicate starry white elderflower blossoms. It has complex notes and a somewhat seductive fragrance.  I would describe this liqueur as a layered fusion of floral, tropical, and citrus notes. It certainly has exotic character and  reminds me of a floral summer bouquet with fruity notes.  Its light, floral profile makes it a great match for sharper flavours like rhubarb and citrus fruits. It marries well with sparkling wines and lends itself to a multitude of cocktail concoctions.

Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

This cocktail is easy to make. Simply combine the rhubarb cordial (no substitutes), clementine and lime juices, and elderflower liqueur in a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice cubes then shake the mixture for 15-20 seconds or until condensation forms on the outside of the shaker indicating the mixture is super cold.  Strain the mixture into your fancy glass of choice then add the Prosecco.  Carefully tilt the glass slightly and slowly pour in the grenadine along the side of the glass. The grenadine should sink to the bottom of the glass giving the cocktail that lovely layered look.  Garnish with a wedge of clementine.

Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

The beautiful natural color of this cocktail reminds me of a blushing bride so, made with my Island rhubarb, flavoured with the elderflower flavour made trendy by the 2018 royal wedding, this is my Island Summer Blush Cocktail.  A perfect spring and summer cocktail to leisurely enjoy.

Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Island Summer Blush Cocktail

Ingredients:

1.5 oz Rhubarb Cordial
1 oz freshly squeezed clementine juice (about 2 clementines)
½ oz Elderflower Liqueur
1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 oz Prosecco
2 tsp Grenadine

Method:

Pour Rhubarb Cordial, clementine juice, Elderflower Liqueur, and lime juice into shaker and fill with ice cubes.  Shake for about 15-20 seconds then strain into glass.  Top with Prosecco.  Tip glass slightly and slowly pour Grenadine in down the side of the glass.  Garnish with a clementine wedge. Serve immediately.

Serves:  1

Island Summer Blush Cocktail

This Island Summer Blush Cocktail is a beautiful balance of sharp and sweet flavours. With a blend of rhubarb cordial, elderflower liqueur, citrus fruit juices, grenadine, and Prosecco, this is a lovely cocktail to especially enjoy in summer.

Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz Rhubarb Cordial
  • 1 oz freshly squeezed clementine juice (about 2 clementines)
  • ½ oz Elderflower Liqueur
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 oz Prosecco
  • 2 tsp Grenadine

Instructions

  1. Pour Rhubarb Cordial, clementine juice, Elderflower Liqueur, and lime juice into shaker and fill with ice cubes. Shake for about 15-20 seconds then strain into glass. Top with Prosecco. Tip glass slightly and slowly pour Grenadine in down the side of the glass. Garnish with a clementine wedge. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

 

For my recipe for Rhubarb Cordial, follow this link: http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2013/06/24/rhubarb-cordial/

 

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Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail
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Lemon Elderflower Cake Recipe

Lemon Elderflower Cake
Lemon Elderflower Cake

The inspiration for this springtime Lemon Elderflower Cake was drawn from the announcement of the lemon and elderflower flavours for the May 2018 wedding cake of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. I suspect, after this wedding, that elderflower will be the trendy new flavour for many recipes – either of the eating or drinking kind.

When I had the idea to make this cake, I questioned whether I could find elderflower liqueur (which is what I wanted to use) anywhere on PEI.  However, a visit to a local liquor store revealed that they had had numerous requests to bring in elderflower liqueur in the past couple of months to the point that they decided to carry it to see if it was a product that would sell.  I am told the bottles of St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur from France are selling well. I suspect people are curious about the flavour of elderflower, especially after it was announced as one of the flavours for the royal wedding cake.

Elderflower liqueur, made with the starry white elderflower blossoms, is rather difficult to describe. It has a somewhat seductive fragrance that I would describe as a layered fusion of floral and citrus notes perhaps from the lemon and grapefruit family. I think I can also detect hints of summer fruits like pears and peaches. It certainly has exotic character and would remind me of a floral summer bouquet with notes of fruit.

Lemon Elderberry Cake
Lemon Elderberry Cake

Nothing says springtime more than a lemon cake. I have blended freshly squeezed lemon juice with the flavour of elderflower liqueur to layer some flavour into a basic white cake and transform it into a tasty homemade Lemon Elderflower Cake. This is a true old-fashioned homemade cake that has a dense texture and moist crumb.

Lemon Elderflower Cake
Lemon Elderflower Cake

I have chosen to fill the cake layers with decadent lemon curd. I make this curd regularly and it makes a dandy cake filling.  For the icing, I have taken my standard buttercream recipe and flavoured it with the elderflower liqueur to tie the flavour of the icing and cake together.

Lemon Elderberry Cake
Lemon Elderberry Cake filled with lemon curd and smothered in elderberry-flavoured buttercream icing

This batter is sufficient for either two standard layer cake pans, either 8” or 9” in diameter.  However, for the cake in the photos, I used 6” round pans and layered three of them together.  The recipe will yield four 6” cakes but four is too high for the cake to cut easily and stay together well enough to plate attractively.  Save the fourth cake for a future use – it is divinely lovely served with crushed strawberries, ice cream, and a dollop of whipped cream. Just sayin’!   What follows is the method for a three-tier 6” cake.  If you choose to make the cake in either 8” or 9” round pans, just be aware that the baking times may need to be adjusted slightly from what the recipe indicates for the 6” cakes. With variances in ovens, I always recommend checking the cakes for doneness five minutes before the recipe indicates the cakes should be baked then checking them every five minutes thereafter until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean – the true indicator that the cakes are baked.

I chose not to color the batter yellow with gel food coloring.  I purposely left the cake white because I wanted the bright yellow lemon curd to stand out between the layers of the cake.  If, however, it takes a yellow color to make the cake look like a lemon cake for you, by all means, add small amounts of yellow gel food coloring until you get the desired intensity of color.

Lemon Elderberry Cake
Lemon Elderberry Cake

I am a huge proponent of the insulated baking strips placed around the cake pans to keep the cakes from baking unevenly and forming a dome as they bake. These strips come under various brand names. Mine are from Wilton and I swear by them.  Simply soak them in water for a few minutes then squeeze out the water and wrap a strip around each cake pan just before it goes in the oven.  I find the cakes bake much more evenly and there is less waste when it comes to leveling the cakes to prepare them for stacking together to form a tiered cake.  Some small amount of leveling is likely still going to be necessary but not nearly as much as baking the cakes without the insulated strips.

It was not so long ago that all the rage in cake decorating was the use of fondant.  Every one was anxious for the satiny smooth perfect finish.  Then, the naked cake appeared on the scene and it had very little icing, giving a more rustic and casual look to a cake.  While the naked cakes are still popular, particularly for folks who don’t want a lot of sugar icing, the current trend (at time of writing) is that tasty old-fashioned buttercream icing is back in style and piled on the cake in no particular fashion. This is great for people who are not particularly skilled with cake decorating because it is perfectly acceptable to have imperfections and uneven spreading of the icing. It’s meant to look homemade and casual.

When filling a cake with lemon curd or jam, it is advisable to pipe a ring of icing all around each layer of cake before adding the filling.  This will create a dam to prevent the filling from seeping through the icing on the side of the cake.  Pipe the icing ring about ½ inch in from the cake edge then spread the filling inside the dam.

Lemon Elderflower Cake
Lemon Elderflower Cake

I also strongly recommend crumb coating the cake with a thin layer of the icing and then placing it in the refrigerator for 25-30 minutes to set.  This will seal the cake and make the final layer of icing crumb- free.

Fresh Freesia, Wax Flowers, and Italian Ruscus Adorn the top of Lemon Elderberry Cake
Fresh Freesia, Wax Flowers, and Italian Ruscus Adorn the top of Lemon Elderberry Cake

In keeping with a spring theme, I chose to decorate this cake with fresh bright yellow-colored freesia, some small wax flowers, and some Italian ruscus.

Yellow Freesia, Pink Wax Flowers, and Italian Ruscus Cake Topper for Lemon Elderberry Cake
Yellow Freesia, Pink Wax Flowers, and Italian Ruscus Cake Topper for Lemon Elderberry Cake

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Lemon Elderflower Cake

Ingredients:

¾ cup butter, room temperature
1¾ cups + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 large egg whites, room temperature
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
1 tsp vanilla

3 cups cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

¾ cup + 2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp Elderflower liqueur

Icing:
¾ cup butter, room temperature
¾ cup shortening, room temperature
¾ tsp almond flavouring
¾ tsp vanilla
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp Elderflower Liqueur
1½ lbs icing sugar, sifted
Dash of salt (optional)

½ – 2/3 cup Lemon Curd

Method:

Cake:  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line four 6”x2” pans with parchment circles on the bottoms and line the sides of each pan with a long continuous strip of parchment paper. Spray pans lightly with cooking spray to hold the parchment in place. Spray parchment-lined pans lightly with cooking spray.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter then slowly add the sugar.  Beat until mixture is light and fluffy.  Add the whole eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Repeat with the egg whites, adding one at a time.  Add the lemon juice, grated lemon rind, and vanilla. Beat well.

Sift the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.  In a one-cup measuring cup, combine the milk and Elderflower Liqueur.  Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter-sugar mixture alternately with the liquid ingredients in three additions, starting and ending with the dry ingredients, and beating well after each addition.  Beat one additional minute on medium speed.

Transfer batter equally among the pans and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until cake tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean. It is recommended to check cakes the first time around the 25-minute baking point, then check them every five minutes until they test done. Cool cakes on wire cake racks for 10 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely before frosting cakes.

Icing:  In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter and shortening together until blended and creamy.  Beat in the almond flavouring, vanilla, water, and liqueur.  Gradually add the icing sugar, a cup at a time, beating well after each addition.

Assembly:  Use three of the four cakes.  Reserve fourth for another use. Level each cake to the same height.  Brush off loose crumbs from each cake. Place one cake on cake plate or cake stand.  Spoon about ¾ cup icing into icing bag fitted with round tip.  Pipe a circle of icing around cake edge, about ½“ in from the outside edge, to form a dam.  Spoon lemon curd inside the dam.  Place second layer of cake over filling and repeat with icing circle and lemon curd filling.  Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of the icing (this will look messy and that’s okay).  Place cake in refrigerator to set for 25-30 minutes then remove and ice the cake with a thicker layer of icing.  Decorate as desired.  Refrigerate until use. (Freeze any leftover icing for a future use.)

Yield:  One 3-layer 6” cake (or one  8” or 9”  2-layer cake)

Note:  The baking times given are for the 6” cakes.  This cake may be made in two 8” or 9” round pans; however, baking times may need to be adjusted.

Lemon Elderflower Cake

Made with real lemon and a hint of elderberry liqueur, this Lemon Elderberry Cake is deliciously moist with its lemon curd filling and elderberry-flavoured buttercream icing.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 10
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

Cake:

  • ¾ cup butter room temperature
  • cups + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites room temperature
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice strained
  • 1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup + 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp Elderflower Liqueur

Icing:

  • ¾ cup butter room temperature
  • ¾ cup shortening room temperature
  • ¾ tsp almond flavouring
  • ¾ tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp Elderflower Liqueur
  • lbs icing sugar sifted
  • Dash of salt optional
  • ½ - 2/3 cup Lemon Curd

Instructions

Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 6”x2” pans with parchment circles on the bottoms and line the sides of each pan with a long continuous strip of parchment paper. Spray pans lightly with cooking spray to hold the parchment in place. Spray parchment-lined pans lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter then slowly add the sugar. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the whole eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Repeat with the egg whites, adding one at a time. Add the lemon juice, grated lemon rind, and vanilla. Beat well.
  3. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. In a one-cup measuring cup, combine the milk and Elderflower Liqueur. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter-sugar mixture alternately with the liquid ingredients in three additions, starting and ending with the dry ingredients, and beating well after each addition. Beat one additional minute on medium speed.

  4. Transfer batter equally among the pans and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until cake tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean. It is recommended to check cakes the first time around the 25-minute baking point, then check them every five minutes until they test done. Cool cakes on wire cake racks for 10 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely before frosting cakes.

Icing:

  1. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter and shortening together until blended and creamy. Beat in the almond flavouring, vanilla, water, and liqueur. Gradually add the icing sugar, a cup at a time, beating well after each addition.

Assembly:

  1. Use three of the four cakes. Reserve fourth for another use. Level each cake to the same height. Brush off loose crumbs from each cake. Place one cake on cake plate or cake stand. Spoon about ¾ cup icing into icing bag fitted with round tip. Pipe a circle of icing around cake edge, about ½“ in from the outside edge, to form a dam. Spoon lemon curd inside the dam. Place second layer of cake over filling and repeat with icing circle and lemon curd filling. Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of the icing (this will look messy and that’s okay). Place cake in refrigerator to set for 25-30 minutes then remove and ice the cake with a thicker layer of icing. Decorate as desired. Refrigerate until use. (Freeze any leftover icing for a future use.)

Recipe Notes

Note: The baking times given are for the 6” cakes. This cake may be made in two 8” or 9” round pans; however, baking times may need to be adjusted.

 

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Lemon Elderflower Cake
Lemon Elderflower Cake

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Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-vent Recipe

Creamed Chicken
Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-vent

One of my favorite recipes is Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-vent. Some may know this as “creamed chicken”.  I actually make up a large batch of this delectable dish and freeze it in serving-sized portions.  It makes a quick and easy meal when all that has to be done is bake the frozen patty shells, heat up the creamed mixture, and toss a green salad.

Creamed Chicken
Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-Vent

This recipe makes four generous servings. The great thing about this recipe is that it is a good way to use up cooked chicken if you have any or, if time is limited, it can even be made with a rotisserie chicken from the deli.  Even though it is called “chicken” vol-au-vent, turkey can certainly be used as well.

While my preference is to use the puff pasty shells, commonly called “patty shells”, because they are light, airy, and ever-so-flaky, this creamed chicken mixture can also be served over toast points or biscuits fresh from the oven. I have even used appetizer-sized patty shells to serve this dish as part of a savory course for an afternoon tea. Fancy enough for company fare but easy enough for a weeknight meal.

Creamed Chicken
Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-vent

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-vent Recipe

Ingredients

Sauce:
2-3 tbsp butter
3½ tbsp all-purpose flour
¾ cup chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
1 tbsp cooking sherry (optional)
¼ tsp garlic salt
Sprinkle pepper
Dash of paprika
2-3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Filling:
2-3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp red pepper, finely chopped
3 tbsp celery, finely chopped
6-8 small white button mushrooms, sliced

1 cup cooked chicken, cubed

4 frozen puff pastry patty shells (or, alternatively, biscuits or toast cups)

Method:

Sauce: In medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour. Combine the chicken broth, milk, and sherry and whisk into the flour-butter mixture, whisking until smooth. Season with garlic salt, pepper, and paprika.  Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened.  Add the Parmesan cheese and stir until cheese is melted.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Filling: In medium-sized frypan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion, red pepper, celery, and mushrooms.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Add the chicken and toss just until heated.

Assembly:  Bake patty shells according to package directions.  Add sautéed vegetables and chicken to the sauce. Stir gently to combine. Heat over medium-low heat to ensure all ingredients are heated.  Spoon hot mixture into baked patty shells.  Serve with a side salad.

Yield: 4 generous servings

Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-vent Recipe

An easy-to-make delectable creamed chicken filling encased in light and flaky puff pastry shells. Perfect for company fare but easy enough for weeknight meals.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Chicken, Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-Vent, Vol-au-Vent
Servings 4
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

Sauce:

  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • tbsp all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tbsp cooking sherry optional
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • Sprinkle pepper
  • Dash of paprika
  • 2-3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Filling:

  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp onion finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp red pepper finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp celery finely chopped
  • 6-8 small white button mushrooms sliced
  • 1 cup cooked chicken cubed

Instructions

Sauce: In medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Combine the chicken broth, milk, and sherry and whisk into the flour-butter mixture, whisking until smooth. Season with garlic salt, pepper, and paprika. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

Filling: In medium-sized frypan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, red pepper, celery, and mushrooms. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken and toss just until heated.

Assembly: Bake patty shells according to package directions. Add sautéed vegetables and chicken to the sauce. Stir gently to combine. Heat over medium-low heat to ensure all ingredients are heated. Spoon hot mixture into baked patty shells. Serve with a side salad.

 

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Creamed Chicken
Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-Vent
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Chocolate Biscuit Cake

If you are a chocolate lover, this Chocolate Biscuit Cake is for you!  What’s not to love about cookies and chocolate bar chunks encased in a rich ganache then smothered with a decadent chocolate ganache glaze!

Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

 

I am giving alternate instructions for making a gluten-free version of the cake and want to point out, at the offset, if you are making the gluten-free version, ensure that all ingredients called for in the recipe (not just the cookies and chocolate bars) are, in fact, gluten free.

The Chocolate Biscuit Cake is said to be a favorite teatime treat of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It’s also said to be a favorite of Prince William who chose it as his groom’s cake at his April 2011 wedding to Katherine Middleton.  There are many versions and recipes for this cake which is sometimes referred to as “refrigerator cake” because it is a no-bake cake that is set by refrigeration.

 

Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Traditionally, the cake is made with biscuits (the British term for what is known as “cookies” in North America). The sturdy, crisp Digestive cookies are the traditional ingredients. These would be found in the cookie aisles of the larger supermarkets, under brand names such as McVities, Christie, and others. The label on the package will say “Digestives”. The Digestives are very plain-flavored and thin.

Digestive Biscuits
McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits

Sometimes, rich tea biscuits may also be added to the cake and they will be labeled as “Rich Tea Biscuits”. They are similar to the Digestives, just a little bit sweeter.

Rich Tea Biscuits
McVitie’s Rich Tea Biscuits

I wanted to make my version of the Chocolate Biscuit Cake gluten free and could not find any gluten-free commercially-made Digestive cookies locally.  So, I improvised, knowing I’d need a “sturdy” cookie that would not become soggy or break apart in the cake as the warm ganache was added. I took my gluten-free Snickerdoodle recipe (click here for that recipe), halved it, using a medium egg instead of the extra-large egg the recipe calls for, omitted the nutmeg and cardamom, and did not roll the cookies in the spice-sugar mixture.  I made the cookies the night before making the cake, baked them an extra 2 minutes to crisp them up, and left them on the counter overnight. This resulted in a hard, crisp, sturdy cookie that could hold its own in the cake. I weighed out the cookies to get 8 oz and it took 13 of the Snickerdoodles which were made the size indicated in my recipe.

Cookies
Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies

It’s really important to use crisp, not soft and chewy, cookies in this recipe as the cookies have to be able to stand up to being tossed with the chocolate ganache and packed into the pan without being broken into unrecognizable crumbs or becoming soggy.  They are meant to give a crunchy texture to the cake. Break up the cookies by hand, not by food processor, into bite-sized chunks. Using a food processor will chop them up too fine and result in crumbs.  You want to see actual chunks of cookies (er, biscuits!) in the cake. The photo below shows the size of the cookie chunks I used in the cake.

 

Chopped Cookies for Biscuit Cake
Chopped Cookies for Biscuit Cake

The photo below demonstrates how the cookies and chocolate bar chunks are visible in the finished cake.

Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

I used crisp and crunchy Butterfinger chocolate bars in the recipe instead of using all cookies for the ingredients.  I chose the Butterfinger bars because their label said they were gluten-free and also because I really like this bar and it is crunchy enough to remain intact in the cake. This added extra flavour and crunch and made the cake just a bit more interesting. If, however, you wish not to add chocolate bars to the cake, simply replace the 6 oz called for with that weight of additional cookies, either more Digestives or some Rich Tea Biscuits (or, for the gluten-free version, more gluten-free Snickerdoodles).

A good quality dark chocolate is needed for this recipe because it is a huge ingredient in the cake and ganache glaze and you really taste the properties of the chocolate in the ganache – don’t compromise on this ingredient.  If you are making a gluten-free version of the cake, be sure to check the package label on the chocolate to ensure that it contains no trace of wheat because, as I discovered, some packages do say the chocolate contains, may contain, or may have been in contact with wheat.

Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Biscuit Cake is traditionally made with golden syrup which I could not source locally so I substituted amber corn syrup with success.  I also added one medium-sized egg as a binder for the ingredients. Not all Biscuit Cakes call for an egg as an ingredient but I think it adds to, and helps stabilize, the texture of the ganache in the cake.

Adding the chocolate liqueur is optional but it really does add a dimension of deeper flavour.  If you’re going to have an extravagant “death by chocolate” cake experience, you might as well go all the way!

Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Some Biscuit Cake recipes call for additional ingredients like raisins, nuts, and dried fruit. I don’t add those to my cake because, to me, that’s taking away from a Biscuit Cake and moving it more to a non-baked fruit cake. And, I don’t think the cake needs these ingredients – this, of course, is a personal preference.

The easiest pan to use for this recipe is the 6” round springform pan (3” deep) because it makes it so easy to unmold the cake. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper to facilitate the removal of the cake from the pan.  I recommend using a separate circle of parchment for the pan bottom and one long continuous strip of parchment to go around the sides of the pan. This is recommended over simply cutting a large piece of parchment paper and squashing it into the pan which will result in uneven nooks, crannies, and wrinkles into which the batter can escape. This will cause the cake to have an uneven appearance when unmolded.

If you don’t have a small springform pan, other pans (e.g., a non-springform 6” round pan (3” deep) or a 6”x9”x3″ loaf pan) can be used.  However, the pan will need to be lined such that the liner gives “handles” with which to lift the cake from the pan since the sides of the pan will not spring open for easy removal. For example, you might line the pan with plastic wrap, leaving enough excess that it could be used to lift the cake from the pan.  The cake mixture is likely to have cooled enough by this point that it is safe to pack it into a plastic wrap lined pan. However, if in doubt, I’d suggest lining the plastic wrapped pan with parchment paper so the cake is not in direct contact with the plastic wrap.

 

Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

My preference, when preparing the chocolate ganache for the cake itself, is to use a double boiler or, if you don’t have one, a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. I find this gives greater control and less risk of scorching the ingredients which could occur if heated over direct heat. It’s important to let this ganache cool for about 10 minutes before mixing it into the cookie and chocolate bar mixture because a really hot mixture will melt the chocolate on the Butterfinger bars thus losing that texture and it may cause even the most sturdy of cookies to become soggy. Cover the pan with plastic wrap secured with an elastic band. Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours to let it set, then unmold it to a serving plate.

The chocolate for the ganache glaze is chopped a bit finer than that needed for the ganache in the cake. The reason it needs to be a bit smaller is because the hot whipping cream mixture is used to melt the chocolate, off heat, and smaller pieces will melt easier and faster.  The chocolate does not, however, need to be chopped super fine for this. After the hot whipping cream has been poured over the chocolate and let stand for 3-5 minutes, give the mixture a good stir.  To make the ganache silky smooth, I recommend using a hand-held immersion blender. After letting the ganache sit for 12-15 minutes to cool slightly so it does not melt the cake, simply pour it over the top of the cake, letting the glaze run down the sides. Don’t worry about getting the ganache glaze perfectly smooth on the sides – it’s not fondant and imperfections are perfectly fine on this cake! Using an offset spatula or a dinner knife, spread the ganache so it covers the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate for at least an hour before cutting and serving the cake.

Serve this delectable cake with just the plain ganache glaze or decorate as desired.

Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

While it may sound like a stretch to be able to get 12 servings from a 6” cake, this Chocolate Biscuit Cake is very rich so small pieces per serving will suffice!

Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

What a delightful decadent treat!

Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Cake:
8 oz high quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
8 oz Digestive cookies (such as McVities) or, to make the cake gluten-free, 8 oz of My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Gluten-free Snickerdoodle cookies, broken into chunks by hand
6 oz Butterfinger Bars, broken or chopped into chunks

½ cup butter (no substitutes)
3 tbsp whipping cream (35%M.F.)
½ cup amber corn syrup
1 medium-sized egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp chocolate liqueur (optional)

Chocolate Ganache Glaze:
6 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup whipping cream (35%M.F.)
2 tbsp butter (no substitutes)
1½ tbsp chocolate liqueur (optional)

Method:
Cake:  Prepare 6” springform pan (3” deep) by lining bottom with a circle of parchment paper and lining the sides of the pan with a long continuous strip of parchment paper.

Coarsely chop the chocolate. Set aside.

In large, heatproof bowl, break up the cookies, by hand, into bite-sized chunks.  Do the same for the Butterfinger bars, using a knife, if necessary to break up the crisp bars. Gently toss the cookies and chocolate bars together.

On cooktop, in top of double boiler over simmering water, melt the butter.  When the butter is about half melted, whisk in the whipping cream, corn syrup, and slightly beaten egg.  Stir in the 8 oz of coarsely chopped chocolate until it is melted.  Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate liqueur.  Cool for approximately 10 minutes.

Pour the slightly cooled chocolate mixture over the broken cookies and chocolate bar chunks.  Stir gently until the mixture is coated with chocolate, trying not to further break up the cookies and bars.

Transfer mixture to the prepared pan and gently pack mixture into the pan.  Using an offset spatula, or a dinner knife, smooth the top of the cake as best possible.  Cover pan with plastic wrap secured with an elastic band. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Prepare Chocolate Ganache Glaze as follows.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze: Chop the 6 oz dark chocolate into small chunks and place in a heatproof bowl.

In small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, over medium heat, bring the whipping cream and butter just to the boiling point, stirring to prevent scorching.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate pieces, tilting and swirling the bowl to ensure all the chocolate is covered with the cream.  Add the chocolate liqueur.  Let stand 3-5 minutes to allow the hot cream to melt the chocolate. Stir. Using a hand-held immersion blender, blend the mixture just until all the chocolate is smooth and no chocolate chunks remain.

Let ganache stand for 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile, unmold cake and transfer to serving plate. Pour the slightly cooled ganache over the cake, letting the ganache drip down the sides.  Use an offset spatula, or knife, spread the ganache over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate for about an hour to set.

Serve cake plain or decorate as desired.

Yield:  Apx. 12 servings

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

A decadent no-bake cake that features crumbled biscuits (cookies) and chocolate bar chunks in a rich chocolate ganache
Course Dessert
Servings 12
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 8 oz high quality dark chocolate coarsely chopped
  • 8 oz Digestive cookies such as McVities or, to make the cake gluten-free, 8 oz of My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Gluten-free Snickerdoodle cookies, broken into chunks by hand
  • 6 oz Butterfinger Bars broken or chopped into chunks
  • ½ cup butter no substitutes
  • 3 tbsp whipping cream 35%M.F.
  • ½ cup amber corn syrup
  • 1 medium-sized egg lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp chocolate liqueur optional

Chocolate Ganache Glaze:

  • 6 oz dark chocolate coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream 35%M.F.
  • 2 tbsp butter no substitutes
  • tbsp chocolate liqueur optional

Instructions

Cake:

  1. Prepare 6” springform pan (3” deep) by lining bottom with a circle of parchment paper and lining the sides of the pan with a long continuous strip of parchment paper.
  2. Coarsely chop the chocolate. Set aside.
  3. In large, heatproof bowl, break up the cookies, by hand, into bite-sized chunks. Do the same for the Butterfinger bars, using a knife, if necessary to break up the crisp bars. Gently toss the cookies and chocolate bars together.
  4. On cooktop, in top of double boiler over simmering water, melt the butter. When the butter is about half melted, whisk in the whipping cream, corn syrup, and slightly beaten egg. Stir in the 8 oz of coarsely chopped chocolate until it is melted. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate liqueur. Cool for approximately 10 minutes.
  5. Pour the slightly cooled chocolate mixture over the broken cookies and chocolate bar chunks. Stir gently until the mixture is coated with chocolate, trying not to further break up the cookies and bars.
  6. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan and gently pack mixture into the pan. Using an offset spatula, or a dinner knife, smooth the top of the cake as best possible. Cover pan with plastic wrap secured with an elastic band. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  7. Prepare Chocolate Ganache Glaze as follows.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze:

  1. Chop the 6 oz dark chocolate into small chunks and place in a heatproof bowl.
  2. In small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, over medium heat, bring the whipping cream and butter just to the boiling point, stirring to prevent scorching. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate pieces, tilting and swirling the bowl to ensure all the chocolate is covered with the cream. Add the chocolate liqueur. Let stand 3-5 minutes to allow the hot cream to melt the chocolate. Stir. Using a hand-held immersion blender, blend the mixture just until all the chocolate is smooth and no chocolate chunks remain.
  3. Let ganache stand for 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile, unmold cake and transfer to serving plate. Pour the slightly cooled ganache over the cake, letting the ganache drip down the sides. Use an offset spatula, or knife, spread the ganache over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate for about an hour to set.
  4. Serve cake plain or decorate as desired.

Recipe Notes

Be sure to read the accompanying blog post to this recipe as it gives hints and tips on making this Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Click this link for My Island Bistro Kitchen's GF Snickerdoodle Cookie recipe: Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookie Recipe

 

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Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

 

Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

 

 

Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake
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Clumpy Almond Butter Granola Recipe

Almond Butter Granola
Almond Butter Granola

Homemade granola is so easy to make and customize to individual tastes.  So long as you keep the proportions of ingredients, substitutions are perfectly acceptable.  For example, my recipe calls for 3/4 cup of dried cranberries, cherries, or blueberries; however, if those don’t strike your fancy, substitute the same quantity of raisins and/or chopped dates, for example. I don’t include nuts in my granola but, if they are your taste, but all means substitute them, in the same quantity, for one of the dried fruits called for in the recipe.

I wanted this granola recipe to be crisp and clumpy, not silky fine with each ingredient separated individually.  In order to get a clumpy texture, there needs to be some binders added to the mix to get the ingredients to stick together.  In this case, I am using a combination of almond butter, maple syrup, honey, coconut oil, and an egg white which has been beaten till frothy. The other trick to getting clumpy granola is to refrain from stirring it while it bakes or cools. If the granola starts to brown too quickly in the oven, instead of stirring it, rotate the baking sheet and/or reduce the oven heat.

Almond Butter Granola
Almond Butter Granola

The basic structure of any granola recipe is simply cereal, oil of some kind, and sweetener.  The typical cereal is large flake rolled oats.  Various kinds of oil can be used – I like to use coconut oil.  For sweeteners, I typically choose maple syrup but have also included honey in this recipe along with almond butter, all three of which also provide flavour in addition to the spices. The addition of mix-ins (i.e., dried fruits, berries, nuts, chocolate, etc.) are purely personal taste.

Almond Butter Granola
Almond Butter Granola

I like granola as a cereal, topped on yogurt, as a snack and, heck, I even toss some on my salads to add a crunchy texture and flavour boost!

Almond Butter Granola
Almond Butter Granola

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Almond Butter Granola

Ingredients:

2 cups large flake rolled oats
1½ cups puffed brown rice cereal
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1½ tbsp ground chia seeds

¾ cup dried coconut shavings

¾ cup dried cranberries, cherries, or blueberries (or a combination of two or three)
2/3 cup golden raisins
½ cup hemp hearts
1/3 cup dried apricots
¼ cup dried pineapple
1/3 cup dried papaya

½ cup coconut oil
6 tbsp smooth almond butter
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cardamom
¼ tsp nutmeg
Pinch ginger
Pinch salt

1 extra-large egg white

Method:
 
Preheat oven to 300°F.  Line large rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil.  Spray lightly with cooking oil.

Combine rolled oats, puffed brown rice cereal, ground flaxseed, and ground chia seeds in large bowl.

In separate large bowl, combine cranberries, cherries, and/or blueberries along with the raisins, hemp hearts, apricots, pineapple, and papaya. Set aside.

In small saucepan, combine coconut oil, almond butter, maple syrup, honey, vanilla, spices, and salt.  Stir over medium-low heat until mixture is well blended and heated. Do not boil. Pour over rolled oats mixture and stir.

Beat egg white until frothy. Pour over rolled oats and syrup mixture.  Stir to coat mixture with the egg white.

Spread oats evenly in a single layer on baking sheet.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until oats are a deep caramel color and start to get crispy and fragrant.  Do not stir during the baking. If granola starts to brown quickly, rotate the baking sheet in the oven and/or reduce the heat. Add coconut shavings to oats during the last 5 minutes of baking.  Remove from oven and cool for 20-30 minutes then transfer toasted oat mixture to the large bowl containing the dried fruit.  Stir well to combine all ingredients.  Store granola in airtight container at room temperature for 5-7 days or store in refrigerator for longer use.

Yield: Apx. 8 cups

Clumpy Almond Butter Granola

A crunchy and clump lightly spiced granola made with almond butter, maple syrup, and honey
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 cups large flake rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups puffed brown rice cereal
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup dried coconut shavings
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries, cherries, or blueberries (or a combination of two or three)
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup hemp hearts
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup dried pineapple
  • 1/3 cup dried papaya
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 6 tbsp smooth almond butter
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch ginger
  • pinch salt
  • 1 extra-large egg white

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil. Spray lightly with cooking oil.
  2. Combine rolled oats, puffed brown rice cereal, ground flaxseed, and ground chia seeds in large bowl.
  3. In separate large bowl, combine cranberries, cherries, and/or blueberries along with the raisins, hemp hearts, apricots, pineapple, and papaya. Set aside.
  4. In small saucepan, combine coconut oil, almond butter, maple syrup, honey, vanilla, spices, and salt. Stir over medium-low heat until mixture is well blended and heated. Do not boil. Pour over rolled oats mixture and stir.
  5. Beat egg white until frothy. Pour over rolled oats and syrup mixture. Stir to coat mixture with the egg white.
  6. Spread oats evenly in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until oats are a deep caramel color and start to get crispy and fragrant. Do not stir during the baking. If granola starts to brown quickly, rotate the baking sheet in the oven and/or reduce the heat. Add coconut shavings to oats during the last 5 minutes of baking. Remove from oven and cool for 20-30 minutes then transfer toasted oat mixture to the large bowl containing the dried fruit. Stir well to combine all ingredients. Store granola in airtight container at room temperature for 5-7 days or store in refrigerator for longer use.

    Yield: Apx. 8 cups

For another great granola recipe from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the link below:

The Bistro’s Great Nut-free Granola

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Granola
Almond Butter Granola
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Cherry Loaf Recipe

Cherry Loaf
Cherry Loaf

This Cherry Loaf recipe is as pretty as it is tasty, speckled with maraschino cherries that, themselves, lend great flavour to the loaf.

Quick breads, leavened with baking powder, and sometimes soda, are an easy alternative to muffins – but, they’re born of the same family!  They are quick to make (because there is no yeast involved) and are great additions to breakfast, brunch, and coffeebreaks.

There are two methods for making quick breads.

Creaming Method – This method calls for the solid fat product (shortening, butter, or margarine) to be softened at room temperature for 25-30 minutes (not microwaved which can change its properties and can cause it to quickly become liquefied). The fat is then beaten/creamed, either by hand if you are prepared to devote some elbow grease to the process, or by electric mixer on low speed. The sugar is then added and creamed with the fat product until the mixture is a pale or light colour and the texture is airy or fluffy. This “creaming’ process whips air into the batter which allows air pockets (or bubbles) to form (and expand during baking) that, in addition to leavening agents such as baking powder and soda, help the cake or loaf to rise.

The room temperature eggs are then added, one at a time.  Adding the eggs, with this technique, allows them time to, individually and slowly, mix in well with the creamed fat and sugar mixture and limit the possibility of them curdling.  The watery eggs and the fat product don’t naturally mix well, or bind, together (same principle as trying to mix water and oil together).  If all the eggs called for in the recipe are added all at once, they become more than what the fat-sugar mixture can handle at the same time and the ingredients separate and look curdled or scrambled. Adding the eggs slowly allows them to be better incorporated with the fat-sugar mixture.

With the creamed method, the liquid ingredients are combined together in one bowl or measuring cup and the dry ingredients are whisked together in a separate bowl.  The dry ingredients are added to the creamed mixture alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients (three additions of dry to two additions of wet ingredients). While the stand mixer should be fitted with the paddle attachment for the creaming method, it’s important not to over-beat the batter once the flour and liquid ingredients have been added because that will cause gluten to form and a loaf with a tough crumb is likely to result. Beat only until all the ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth.

This method will yield a moist texture loaf with a fine crumb (lots of tiny holes of fairly uniform size), reminiscent of a  dense cake texture.

Cherry Loaf
Slice of Cherry Loaf

Muffin Method – This method calls for the dry ingredients to be whisked together well in one bowl.  All the liquid ingredients are mixed in a separate bowl with oil or a fat that has been liquefied (and, often, the sugar is mixed in with the liquid ingredients).  The liquid ingredients are then simply added to the dry ingredients and stirred together just until the ingredients are barely combined.

Because no creaming of butter and sugar is involved in this method, the loaf will not have the added advantage of the air pockets being formed by this process to help the loaf to rise. In this method, the loaf will rely solely on leavening agents (baking powder, soda) to rise. The batter will often be lumpy  which is okay (it will even out on its own during baking) and it’s important not to overmix the batter trying to get it smooth as this will activate the development of gluten that will result in a tough crumb.

For this method, stir the mixture by hand because an electric mixer will overmix the batter. This method will often yield a slightly drier texture (than the creaming method does) with a larger, coarser crumb in the loaf, closely resembling the texture of muffins, hence the name “muffin method”.

The muffin method is commonly used to mix up waffles and pancakes as well.

Cherry Loaf
Cherry Loaf

My recipe for Cherry Loaf uses the creamed method because I want a delicate, refined texture in this particular loaf.

Cherry Loaf
Cherry Loaf

All ingredients should be at room temperature for about 25-30 minutes before mixing the batter.  The ingredients blend better if they are at room temperature. If you think of nice soft butter or shortening being hit with cold eggs or milk, it’s obvious that the ingredients will simply clump together rather than blend in well. The result will be a loaf that does not have the best texture possible.

There is a choice of fat product in this loaf – either shortening, butter, or margarine will yield a good loaf.  Butter, however, will obviously give the most flavor 😉

This loaf calls for maraschino cherries.  These are the best option for this loaf because they are soft and beautifully bright colored.  Dried cherries are too chewy and coarse and will not create the lovely red-dotted speckles throughout the loaf.  Maraschino cherries, however, are wet and if they are not blotted dry, they will add too much excess moisture to the loaf.  I recommend blotting the cherries with a paper towel, cutting them, and blotting them again.  The idea is not to dry them out but, rather, to remove the excess moisture.

Cherry Loaf
Cherry Loaf

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Cherry Loaf

Ingredients:

1/3 cup shortening, butter, or margarine
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs, room temperature

2/3 cup milk, room temperature
1½ tbsp orange juice, room temperature
2½ tbsp maraschino cherry juice, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp almond flavouring

2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup maraschino cherries, well-drained, blotted dry, and coarsely chopped

Method:

Bring shortening, butter, or margarine, eggs, milk, and orange and maraschino cherry juices to room temperature approximately 25-30 minutes before preparing batter.

Remove cherries from their juice and, using paper towel, blot them dry.  Cut up cherries and blot again on paper towel to remove the excess moisture. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease 9”x5”x3” loaf pan.

In 1-cup measuring cup, or small bowl, combine the milk, orange juice, cherry juice, vanilla, and almond flavouring. Stir to mix.

In medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together well.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and on low speed, cream the shortening, butter, or margarine well.  Gradually add the granulated sugar, then the brown sugar.  Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until ingredients are pale-colored and mixture has an airy/fluffy texture. Stop mixer, as necessary, to scrape bowl with rubber spatula to ensure the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and using the spatula, as necessary, to scrape sides of bowl.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients (three additions of dry ingredients with two additions of wet ingredients).  Periodically scrape sides of bowl with spatula to ensure all ingredients are combined. Do not overmix.

Remove bowl from mixer stand and stir in the cherries by hand, just until they are blended in.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and, using a knife, smooth the top of the loaf.  Bake for approximately 1 hour or until cake tester inserted into center of loaf comes out clean. If loaf starts to brown, it may be loosely tented with tin foil after about 45 minutes of baking; ensure loaf top is completely set before allowing the tin foil to touch it as it will peel off the top of the loaf. Let loaf rest in pan for 10 minutes then turn out on to wire rack to cool completely before cutting.

Yield:  One loaf, 14 slices (sliced approximately ½” thick)

Notes:  Loaf is best made the day before it is needed.  Let cool completely on wire rack then place in airtight plastic bag and store in refrigerator overnight to allow the flavours time to blend and the loaf to soften.  Loaf freezes well.

Cherry Loaf

This flavourful cherry loaf is an easy-to-make moist quick bread that is speckled with colorful maraschino cherries

Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 14
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup shortening, butter, or margarine
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tbsp orange juice, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 tbsp maraschino cherry juice, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp almond flavouring
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup maraschino cherries, well-drained, blotted dry, and coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. Bring shortening, butter, or margarine, eggs, milk, and orange and maraschino cherry juices to room temperature approximately 25-30 minutes before preparing batter.
  2. Remove cherries from their juice and, using paper towel, blot them dry. Cut up cherries and blot again on paper towel to remove the excess moisture. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9”x5”x3” loaf pan.
  4. In 1-cup measuring cup, or small bowl, combine the milk, orange juice, cherry juice, vanilla, and almond flavouring. Stir to mix.
  5. In medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together well.
  6. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and on low speed, cream the shortening, butter, or margarine well. Gradually add the granulated sugar, then the brown sugar. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until ingredients are pale-colored and mixture has an airy/fluffy texture. Stop mixer, as necessary, to scrape bowl with rubber spatula to ensure the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
  7. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and using the spatula, as necessary, to scrape sides of bowl.
  8. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients (three additions of dry ingredients with two additions of wet ingredients). Periodically scrape sides of bowl with spatula to ensure all ingredients are combined. Do not overmix.
  9. Remove bowl from mixer stand and stir in the cherries by hand, just until they are blended in.
  10. Transfer batter to prepared pan and, using a knife, smooth the top of the loaf. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until cake tester inserted into center of loaf comes out clean. If loaf starts to brown, it may be loosely tented with tin foil after about 45 minutes of baking; ensure loaf top is completely set before allowing the tin foil to touch it as it will peel off the top of the loaf. Let loaf rest in pan for 10 minutes then turn out on to wire rack to cool completely before cutting.

Recipe Notes

Notes: Loaf is best made the day before it is needed. Let cool completely on wire rack then place in airtight plastic bag and store in refrigerator overnight to allow the flavours time to blend and the loaf to soften. Loaf freezes well.

 

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

 Cinnamon Sweet Bread
Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread

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Cherry Loaf
Cherry Loaf

 

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Aw, Shucks! The Merroir of PEI Malpeque Oysters

PEI Malpeque Oysters
PEI Malpeque Oysters

Prince Edward Island is well-known for its variety of high quality shellfish – think lobster, mussels, and oysters, in particular.  Today, however, my blog posting is all about the world-famous PEI Malpeque oysters. According to the PEI Government website (https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/agriculture-and-fisheries/oysters ), the Island is Canada’s second largest oyster producing province and is the largest oyster producing province in the Atlantic region. It’s not uncommon in my travels to find PEI Malpeque Oysters on a restaurant menu.  No matter the variety or brand of oysters from PEI, or what part of the Island they are fished or farmed, they are generally all referred to as “Malpeques”.  How that came to be is, itself, an interesting story.

PEI oysters have a long history with the government issuing leases for oyster fishing back as far as the mid-1800s to those wishing to fish oysters from the ocean seabed.  The oysters were made famous at the 1900 Paris World Fair where, in an oyster-tasting contest, they were crowned the world’s best oysters. The oysters were simply named for Malpeque Bay on the Island’s north shore from where the winning oysters were fished.

However, the oyster industry on PEI was stricken in 1915 when disease wiped out about 90% of the Island’s oyster population. Miraculously, however, the oysters in Malpeque Bay survived.  Seed (which is basically a tiny version of an adult oyster) from these oysters was gathered and spread throughout other bodies of water around the Island and the oyster industry rebounded. To this day, over 100 years later, all oysters produced on PEI are considered to be direct descendants of oysters from Malpeque Bay. So, that’s why all PEI oysters, regardless from what part of the Island they come, or what variety or brand they are, are called “Malpeques”.  Who knew PEI oysters had lineage and a family tree! So, while there is one species – the Malpeques – there can be any number of varieties and brands. A little more about the varieties of “Malpeques” a bit later.

To find out more about the oyster industry on PEI, I paid a visit to the Raspberry Point Oyster Co., one of the Island’s largest oyster growing operators, processors, and exporters.  At the company’s hub operations center in Bayview near Cavendish on PEI’s north shore, I caught up with James Power, oyster connoisseur and manager of the Raspberry Point Oyster Co.

James Power, Manager, Raspberry Point Oyster Co., PEI
James Power, Manager, Raspberry Point Oyster Co., PEI

James lives and breathes oysters and you would be hard pressed to find anyone any more passionate about the oyster industry than James.  And, with good reason.  Oyster sales are brisk for the Raspberry Point Oyster Co., growing year over year.  James tells me that more than 10M oysters are cultured annually from the company’s farming operations in New London Bay, Rustico, and Oyster Bed Bridge/Rustico Bay. While the majority (about 90%) of their sales are in North America (with Montreal, Toronto, and Boston accounting for about 75% of sales), they regularly ship internationally all over the world that includes weekly shipments to the Netherlands as well as regular shipments to places like Belgium, France, Hong Kong, China, and Singapore. Small wonder, then, why it’s generally not too surprising to find PEI oysters on restaurant menus in all corners of the world!

Both oyster fishing and oyster farming exist on PEI.  The traditional method of oyster fishing is done through the use of manually-operated large wooden tongs.

Oyster Fishing on PEI
Oyster Fishing on PEI

If you travel around the shores, bays, rivers, and estuaries of PEI, a common sight from spring to fall will be dozens of little dories each manned by a lone fisher using long wooden tongs with rakes at the ends to scoop up the oysters. These are independent local oyster fishers who buy licenses from the federal government allowing them to fish wild oysters on any public fishing grounds.

Oyster Fishing
Oyster Fishing

These oysters are known as bottom culture oysters that are slow to mature taking, on average, 5-7 years to grow to the desired market size of 3” – 3½“.  Bottom culture oysters grow slowly because there is less natural food available to them. Oysters harvested by these small independent fishers are sold to oyster processing plants.

Oyster Fishing in Summerside, PEI
Oyster Fishing in Summerside, PEI

The other method of producing oysters is to raise, culture, or grow the oysters, a practice commonly known as “oyster farming” and that’s the method used by large commercial growers for mass production needed to meet demands from around the world. Growers lease ground, that is not public fishing ground, in which to grow their oysters.

There are two methods of oyster aquaculture – bottom culture and off-bottom (sometimes known as top, floating, or surface culture) and Raspberry Point Oyster Co. uses both methods. With bottom culture oysters, grown in water depth between 3’ and 8’, the grower spreads the oyster seed on the seabed. James says their top culture oysters are grown in water that is between 8’ and 15’ deep.  The oyster seed is purchased from hatcheries and from oyster farmers who catch wild spat, or larvae in collectors like the ones in the photo below. Once the oysters are big enough, they will be transferred to netted bags to grow, safe from predators like starfish and crabs.

Oyster Spat Collectors
Oyster Spat Collectors

All oysters at Raspberry Point Oyster Co. are started as top culture in floating mesh bags and then some are moved to bottom culture areas. The type of culture (bottom or top) used is often chosen on the basis of local growing conditions. Some parts of leased areas are too shallow for top culture and others might have too soft a seabed for bottom culture oysters. Using the two methods of farming, therefore, allows the Raspberry Point Oyster Co. to maximize the growing areas in their leases and also allows oysters to develop with different flavours, colors (they range from brown/white, gray to green), and appearance. Generally, the larger oyster seed is spread on the seabed because the oysters’ advanced size makes it more difficult for crabs and starfish to get at them.

Colors and Textures of PEI Oysters
Colors, Shapes, and Textures of PEI Oysters

When the bottom culture oysters have grown to market size, specialized oyster harvesters that use water pressure, scoop up the oysters.  The oysters come up from the seabed on to an escalator and those that are of the desired size are harvested while ones not quite of sufficient size are returned to the seabed bottom to allow them to continue to grow.  Bottom culture oysters usually take 5-7 years to grow to market size and this is because there is usually less water flow and food on the sea bed than is available for surface culture oysters. Oyster farmers do not need to provide special food for their oysters as the bivalves draw all the necessary nutrients from their seawater habitat along with naturally occurring plankton and plant life.  So long as the mollusks have clean water and care is taken to limit their predators access, oysters will grow naturally on their own.

The other method of growing oysters is top culture, often referred to as surface or floating culture. With advances in oyster growing technology and methods, today’s floating aquaculture speeds up the rate of maturation allowing for top culture oysters to be grown in about 3-5 years.  There is usually more constant water flow as the result of wave action during tidal changes and more natural food supplies nearer the water’s surface so oysters grown as top culture in floating bags just at or under the water surface are able to grow to market size sooner.  Top culture oyster farming involves growing the oysters in mesh bags that float in basket-like cages around the water surface level.

Floating Cage for Top Culture Oysters
Floating Cage for Top Culture Oysters
Floating Cage for Top Culture Oysters
Floating Cage for Top Culture Oysters

The baskets are constructed so that the water is able to flush through, bringing food to the mollusks and keeping them cleaner than those grown in the mud on the seabed bottom. The baskets are regularly flipped and the water flow and waves rock the baskets and chip away, or manicure, the rough edges of the oysters, giving them a more desirable looking shell. This also allows for seaweed, barnacles, and other organisms that find their way into the baskets to be exposed to sunlight and dry out and not become an infestation to the growing oysters. The bags inside the floating baskets also help to protect the oysters against predators. So, if you see rows of these floating cages in a body of water around the Island, you’ll know they’re filled with growing oysters.

Floating Cages of Oysters in New London Bay, PEI
Floating Cages of Oysters in New London Bay, PEI
Floating Cages of Oysters in New London Bay, PEI
Floating Cages of Oysters in New London Bay, PEI

Once oysters, either bottom or top cultures, have reached their market size, they are brought into the processing plant where they are culled, graded for size and shape, washed, counted, boxed, and are shipped to customers around the world.

Oysters Arriving at the Processing Plant
Oysters Arriving at the Processing Plant
Grading and Sorting Oysters
Grading and Sorting Oysters
Washing the Oysters
Washing the Oysters
Quality Controlling the Oysters Just Before They Are Boxed for Shipping
Quality Controlling the Oysters Just Before They Are Boxed for Shipping
A Box of "Lucky Limes" Oysters from Raspberry Point Oyster Company in PEI
A Box of “Lucky Limes” Oysters from Raspberry Point Oyster Co. in PEI
Inside the Processing Plant at Raspberry Point Oyster Company, Bayview, PEI
Inside the Processing Plant at Raspberry Point Oyster Company, Bayview, PEI
Bags of Oysters at the Raspberry Point Oyster Co.
Bags of Oysters at the Raspberry Point Oyster Co.
Inside the Cold Storage Room at Raspberry Point Oyster Co. in Bayview, PEI
Inside the Cold Storage Room at Raspberry Point Oyster Co. in Bayview, PEI

Because this industry is now year-round, oysters not needed for immediate shipment are put into trays like the ones shown to the left in the photo below and placed back out into shallow water until needed.

Oyster Trays
Oyster Trays

Since they are already graded, counted, and sorted by variety, they can quickly be retrieved and shipped when orders come in year-round.

The barge in the photo below is returning to shore with a load of trays filled with graded and sorted oysters which will soon be on their way somewhere in the world to fill orders!

Barge Returning to Shore with a Load of Oysters Ready for Market
Barge Returning to Shore with a Load of Oysters Ready for Market
Offloading Oysters Ready for Market
Offloading Oysters Ready for Market

Oysters like cold water but, in PEI’s cold winters, they can’t stay up near the water’s surface where they would freeze. So, for top culture/surface grown oysters, the Raspberry Point Oyster Co. sinks aluminum cages filled with oysters into 15’ – 20’ of water each winter. At the time of writing, the company prepared upwards of 1000 aluminum cages that they filled and sunk with 7000 graded and sorted oysters per cage at the end of November. Locations of cages are marked by a metal pole and the oyster harvesters head out over the ice to retrieve the oysters to fill winter shipments, making the Island’s oyster farming a year-round industry.

Preparing to Saw Through Ice to Retrieve Oyster Cages (Photo submitted by James Power, Raspberry Point Oyster Co.)
Preparing to Saw Through Ice to Retrieve Oyster Cages (Photo submitted by James Power, Raspberry Point Oyster Co.)

Sometimes, the ice is so thick that workers have to use a high-powered saw (shown in photo above) to cut through the thick ice so that tethered divers can dive in and locate the cages and hook them up to a hydraulic lift that will pull them out of the water.

Diving Under the Ice to Retrieve Oyster Cages Sunk for the Winter (Photo Submitted by James Power, Raspberry Point Oyster Co.)
Diving Under the Ice to Retrieve Oyster Cages Sunk for the Winter (Photo Submitted by James Power, Raspberry Point Oyster Co.)
Retrieved Oyster Cage Filled with Oysters Ready for Market (Photo Submitted by James Power, Raspberry Point Oyster Co.)
Retrieved Oyster Cage Filled with Oysters Ready for Market (Photo Submitted by James Power, Raspberry Point Oyster Co.)

The oysters are then hauled on a sled towed behind a four-wheeler or, if the ice is sufficiently thick, by a truck, back to the processing and shipping plant.

The varieties of oysters on PEI are often (though not always) named for the body of water in which they are grown. The Raspberry Point Oyster Co. draws its name from a little point of land on the Homestead Trail in nearby Cavendish.  Readers from outside PEI will likely associate the Cavendish name as the setting for famed authoress Lucy Maud Montgomery’s famous Anne of Green Gables series of books. A number of years ago, Scott and Charles Linkletter, the owners of Raspberry Point’s forerunner company, The PEI Oyster Company, had a lease to fish oysters in this area so they renamed the company to the Raspberry Point Oyster Co. Today, still owned and operated by the Linkletter family, Raspberry Point Oyster Co. has six varieties of Malpeque oysters on the market:

  • Raspberry Point – Bearing the company name, this variety of 3” oysters is grown as bottom culture in leases in New London Bay. The Raspberry Point variety is the company’s most popular oyster.
  • Lucky Limes – These are 3” oysters, also bottom grown in a lease along the Homestead Trail in New London Bay. The water in this area is filled with algae and that’s what turns the oyster shells green, thus the “lime” in the name.

    Box of Lucky Lime Variety of Oysters from Raspberry Point Oyster Co.
    Box of Lucky Lime Variety of Oysters from Raspberry Point Oyster Co.
  • Shiny Sea – At 2½“ in size, these are considered to be the “baby brother” of the larger 3” Raspberry Point variety. These bottom cultures are also grown in New London Bay.
  • Pickle Point – These are top-culture oysters as they are grown nearer the water’s surface in floating bags in New London Bay.
  • Daisy Bay – These 3” oysters are top-culture, or surface culture, grown in North Rustico.
  • Irish Point – Considered to be cocktail size oysters, these 2½“ oysters are also surface cultures and are grown in North Rustico.

Controls are in place to ensure sustainability of the Island’s oyster industry. Only so many leases are granted by the government to avoid overfishing.  The mollusks, themselves, help to ensure their species continue to survive as they act as great filters to clean the water of toxins by filtering algae and phytoplankton from the water.

According to James, the nature of the water flow and the shape of the seed oyster will basically determine the final shape of the oyster. While James will say that the perfect oyster is very much an individual’s own taste, he says the perfect shaped oyster, in his opinion, is a rounded tear-drop shape that is 3” long by 2” wide. The perfect flavour should consist of a clean, salty taste and a sweet finish.  The meat should be a little bit, but not too, fatty because nothing should interfere with the natural salty taste.

Power says oysters are like terroir is to wine – the flavour of each variety is built on the content of the bay or stream in which the oysters are grown and each oyster will look and taste a little different from the next one.  Since the oysters are coming from the sea and the French word for sea is “mer”, perhaps the term “merroir”, as some have coined it, might be the best description! Power says true oyster connoisseurs can identify the different flavour profiles in raw oysters.  Oysters grown in waters that have more of a rock base may have a mineral-rich flavour (though none of Raspberry Point oysters have this terroir/merroir) while others grown elsewhere may have a slight vegetable taste picked up from whatever vegetation or algae may be in their water habitat.

Power also says the oyster meat and flavour change with the seasons.  In summer, the oysters are thin and salty – the bivalves are more interested in reproduction than getting fat so keeping their svelte figure is obviously their concern!  In the fall (September – October), the waters are getting colder and the oysters will start building up fat for the cold winter months.  When the water temperature gets down to 5°C, the oysters shut down and hibernate inside their hard shells, living off the fat they built up in the fall. So, if you are eating oysters that come from icy waters, they’re likely to be quite plump and perhaps just a little sweeter.  In the spring, the oysters still stay fat but, as the snow melts, it dilutes the natural salt in the water so the oysters will taste less salty.

Oysters are low in fat, high in protein, and are a good source of iron and zinc.  They are also a source of, amongst others, Vitamins B12 and C along with Thiamin, Magnesium, and Phosphorus.

PEI Oysters
PEI Oysters

Oysters are most often served raw on the half shell on a bed of ice with freshly squeezed lemon or, sometimes, with a peppery shallot mignonette.  Chef Michael Smith often serves oysters with a Bloody Mary Ice seen in the photo below.

Shucked PEI Oysters Served with Bloody Mary Ice
Shucked PEI Oysters Served with Bloody Mary Ice

Oysters are shucked using a special short, blunt knife made for this purpose. Power says he believes oysters are popular, especially eaten raw, because they are an all-natural food, not processed or transformed.  Oyster bars are very popular and an emerging trend is to pair oysters with wines, beers, and whiskey. Fresh oysters are available at most fish markets on PEI as well as the larger supermarkets. On PEI, many restaurants serve raw oysters and, at many Fall Flavours Festival events each September, oysters are a staple, like they were at the 2017 “A Taste of Rustico” event where Chef Michael Smith (in photo below) was busy shucking Raspberry Point oysters.

Chef Michael Smith Shucking Raspberry Point Oysters at "Taste of Rustico" Fall Flavours event 2017
Chef Michael Smith Shucking Raspberry Point Oysters at “Taste of Rustico” Fall Flavours event 2017
Raspberry Point Oysters at Taste of Rustico Event 2017
Raspberry Point Oysters at Taste of Rustico Event 2017

So, the next time you are slurping back one of the plump briny Prince Edward Island oysters, you’ll now know a little bit more about how the Island oysters are produced, the flavour profile of an Island oyster, and you’ll be enjoying a unique terroir (or perhaps it’s “merroir”) taste from waters in and around Prince Edward Island on Canada’s East Coast.

Plump PEI Oysters
Plump PEI Oysters

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Oyster Farming
Oyster Farming
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My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Irish Stew

I love a bowl of rich Irish Stew any time of the year but, for certain, I will make it around St. Patrick’s Day! It’s a filling and tummy-warming stew that is always a welcome sight on the dinner table.

Irish Stew
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Irish Stew

According to my research, traditional Irish Stew was made with cheap cuts of mutton or lamb and basic root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, onions, and turnips. Years ago, these would have been ingredients that were, no doubt, simply what would have been available at the time in the Irish countryside where sheep were raised for their wool and for food and when, before the potato famine, potatoes were a primary Irish crop.

Over the years, Irish Stew recipes have changed according to the locale and what ingredients are available in the cook’s local area.  For example, beef is often used in North America today instead of lamb in Irish Stew and other ingredients are added to make a more flavourful, hearty stew as opposed to a broth-like dish.  Purists might argue that these changes result in a brand new stew recipe altogether and is something entirely different than the original Irish Stew.

Regardless what it is called, I like my version of Irish Stew!  It has a nice rich, robust flavour and a splendid reddish-brown color that comes primarily from the addition of tomato paste with the aid of some red wine and the Guinness.  Using Guinness and red wine also helps to tenderize the meat and also adds to the flavour of the stew.  I don’t add huge amounts of either as the intent is not to “drown” the natural flavours of the beef and veggies but rather to blend and enhance flavours.

Any kind of potato can be diced and used in this recipe.  However, with the ready availability of mini potatoes in recent years, I like to use the tiny potatoes left whole with peelings on. I think they add an interesting element to the stew. If you can’t find the really small, mini potatoes, use slightly larger small potatoes sliced in half, lengthwise.

Irish Stew
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Irish Stew

The nice thing about Irish Stew (once you have all the veggies cut up) is that it is an all-encompassing meal with all the vegetables in one dish (no worries about getting different pots of vegetables all cooked at the same time for the meal and a real bonus of only having one pot to wash).  This meal-in-one stew really needs nothing more for a hearty meal than a slice of bread, rolls, or garlic bread and perhaps some homemade mustard pickles on the side.

I like to slow-cook this stew in the oven at 325°F for a couple of hours as opposed to cooking it on the cooktop.  I find oven-cooking allows the flavours to slowly blend and the stew to gradually thicken as it cooks. The longer the stew cooks, the thicker the sauce will be but the stew should be cooked only until the vegetables are fork-tender, not mushy. If the sauce has not all cooked up with the vegetables (some varieties of potatoes, for example, will soak up more sauce than others), it makes a great dipping sauce for the bread or rolls!

Irish Stew
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Irish Stew

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Irish Stew

Ingredients
3/4 pound stew beef chopped
1 – 1½ tbsp olive oil

1 cup carrots sliced
2/3 cup parsnips, sliced or diced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup turnip, diced
1 leek sliced  (white and light green part only)
3 cups potatoes, diced OR 1 lb mini potatoes (left whole)

1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp Herbs de Provence
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 – 5.5 oz can tomato paste
1 – 10 oz can beef consommé
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup Guinness
1 cup water
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 bayleaf

Instructions
Assemble ingredients and preheat oven to 325°F.

Chop stew meat into bite-size pieces.

In large skillet, over medium heat, brown meat in 1 – 1½ tbsp olive oil.

Place vegetables and meat in greased 2½-quart roaster or casserole.

In large bowl, combine sugar, herbs, garlic, tomato paste, beef consommé, Worcestershire Sauce, red wine, Guinness, and water. Whisk in flour until smooth. Pour over vegetables in roaster. Stir mixture to combine. Add bayleaf.

Cover roaster and place in pre-heated oven. Cook for approximately 2 hours or until vegetables are fork-tender when tested.

Serve with Irish Soda Bread, rolls, French Bread, or Garlic Bread.

Yield: Apx. 6 servings

My Island Bistro Kitchen's Irish Stew

A rich hearty stew made with beef and a variety of vegetables and flavoured with Guinness and red wine

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 3/4 lb stew beef, chopped
  • 1 -1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 2/3 cup parsnips, sliced or diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup turnip, diced
  • 1 leek, sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • 3 cups potatoes, diced OR 1 lb mini potatoes (left whole, peelings on)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Herbs de Provence
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 5.5 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 10 oz can beef consommé
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup Guinness
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 bayleaf

Instructions

  1. Assemble ingredients and preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Chop stew meat into bite-size pieces.
  3. In large skillet, over medium heat, brown meat in 1 - 1½ tbsp olive oil.
  4. Place vegetables and meat in greased 2½-quart roaster or casserole.
  5. In large bowl, combine sugar, herbs, garlic, tomato paste, beef consommé, Worcestershire Sauce, red wine, Guinness, and water. Whisk in flour until smooth. Pour over vegetables in roaster. Stir mixture to combine. Add bayleaf.
  6. Cover roaster and place in pre-heated oven. Cook for approximately 2 hours or until vegetables are fork-tender when tested.

Recipe Notes

Serve with Irish Soda Bread, rolls, French Bread, or Garlic Bread.

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Irish Stew
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Irish Stew
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The Ultimate Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

These Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins will rival any traditional wheat-based muffins!  They sport a lovely domed top that is the hallmark of a perfect muffin shape, they are packed full of flavor, and they have a lovely tender, moist crumb.

Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

Like any good quality gluten-free muffins that replicate deli-style muffins, I find that they do take a few more ingredients and thus can be a bit more time-consuming to make than many recipes for traditional wheat-based muffins. But the end result is so worth the effort!  Because mixing up the different flours and opening various spice bottles is the most time-consuming part of the exercise, what I will most often do is mix up the dry ingredients the night before I plan to make the muffins and cover the container. The next day, I simply mix up the wet ingredients and add them to the dry ingredients and that does speed up the process.  In fact, I will often go on a muffin-making frolic and make 5-6 different batches for the freezer on the same day. When I do this, I always mix up the dry ingredients the night before and label each container appropriately.

Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

A mixture of gluten-free flours will yield better flavour and quality than simply using an all-purpose gluten-free flour as the entire flour ingredient. Quite frankly, I find gluten-free all-purpose flour by itself often has an “offputting” flavour in baked goods. That’s why I use a blend of some all-purpose gluten-free flour, gluten-free oat flour, almond flour, coconut flour (my real favorite!) and potato starch. The potato starch, zanthan gum, and quick oats in this recipe help to give these muffins structure and ‘holding power’ so they don’t fall apart. Muffins with good structure should be able to be broken or cut apart and still stay intact without crumbling to pieces.

Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

Adding spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves really give these muffins a flavour boost along with grated orange rind which goes very well with zucchini.

The secret ingredient to these muffins is….wait for it….puréed baby food!  I have been using baby food in regular muffin recipes for years. It gives moisture and flavour to muffins. Instead of using applesauce or pumpkin purée, baby food works just great. I like puréed pears in this recipe but have made them with other flavours, such as peach-mango, with great success.

Use freshly grated zucchini, not frozen, in this recipe. Frozen zucchini has too much water in it for these muffins.  Grate the zucchini quite coarsely using the large hole side of a box grater or a flat grater like the one shown in the left in the photo below. I like chopped dates in these muffins although raisins would also work.

Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

These muffins bake well in muffin cups that have a 1/2-cup capacity. I like making them in my square muffin tins.  I am particularly partial to square muffins for a couple of reasons. First, well okay, I just like the overall look of them! And, I find they look nicer when they are cut open – they look like the little mini loaves they are! Second, they are easier to package in plastic wrap and store in the freezer than are round muffins.

Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

Preheating the oven to 450F is not a typo! Putting the muffins into a high-heat oven helps them get the “loft” that will form the dome shape. I do this with my muffins, whether they are wheat-based or gluten free and it works.  The key thing to remember, however, is to immediately lower the heat to 400F as soon as the muffins go in the oven. Otherwise, baking them the entire time at 450F will result in dried out muffins.

Take care not to overbake these muffins or they will become dry. Test them with a cake tester at the 18-minute baking point to see if the tester comes out clean. If it doesn’t, continue to bake them, checking them every 1 1/2 minutes or so.

These Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins are a standard staple in my freezer. Because they freeze so well, they are great to have on hand to throw in to the lunch bag on weekday mornings. Serve them with, or without, butter and/or a favorite jam.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
2 tbsp potato starch
¼ cup gluten free oat flour
¼ cup almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
1¼ tsp zanthan gum
¼ cup gluten-free quick oats
5½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp ground chia seeds
1½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tsp grated orange rind

2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1½ tsp vanilla
1 – 4.5 oz container of puréed pears baby food
½ cup buttermilk or soured milk*
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 cup grated zucchini (apx. 5 oz zucchini)
¾ cup chopped dates

Method:

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Prepare 12 muffin cups (each ½-cup capacity) by spraying each muffin cup with cooking spray or greasing individually.

Combine flours, zanthan gum, quick oats, baking powder, soda, salt, ground chia seeds, spices, and grated orange rind together in a large bowl.  Whisk ingredients well to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Set aside.

In separate medium-sized bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, coconut oil, vanilla, puréed pears baby food, milk*, and maple syrup. (*To sour milk, pour 1½ tsp vinegar into a ½ cup measuring cup. Fill with milk.  Let stand for 5-10 minutes before stirring and using.) Whisk ingredients well. Stir in grated zucchini and chopped dates.

Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients.  With large spoon, mix ingredients together just until dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Do not overmix.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling almost to the rim of each cup.  Let sit for 3 – 4 minutes before transferring to pre-heated oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 400°F.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.  Do not overbake or muffins will be dry. Remove from oven and let muffins rest in pans for 5-7 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

(NOTE: As with all gluten-free recipes, ensure that all ingredients are gluten-free products)

Yield: 12 muffins

Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

These gluten-free muffins are moist with a tender crumb. Packed full of flavour, it's hard to tell they're gluten free.  Perfect for the lunch bag or coffee break.

Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp potato starch
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free oat flour
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp zanthan gum
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free quick oats
  • 5 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp grated orange rind
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 - 4.5 oz container of puréed pears baby food
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or soured milk*
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup grated zucchini (apx. 5 oz zucchini)
  • 3/4 cup chopped dates

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Prepare 12 muffin cups (each ½-cup capacity) by spraying each muffin cup with cooking spray or greasing individually.
  3. Combine flours, zanthan gum, quick oats, baking powder, soda, salt, ground chia seeds, spices, and grated orange rind together in a large bowl. Whisk ingredients well to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Set aside.
  4. In separate medium-sized bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, coconut oil, vanilla, puréed pears baby food, milk*, and maple syrup. (*To sour milk, pour 1½ tsp vinegar into a ½ cup measuring cup. Fill with milk. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before stirring and using.) Whisk ingredients well. Stir in grated zucchini and chopped dates.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients. With large spoon, mix ingredients together just until dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Do not overmix.
  6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling almost to the rim of each cup. Let sit for 3 – 4 minutes before transferring to pre-heated oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 400°F. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Do not overbake or muffins will be dry. Remove from oven and let muffins rest in pans for 5-7 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Notes

NOTE: As with any gluten-free recipe, ensure that all ingredients are gluten-free products

 

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Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins

For other gluten-free muffin recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, follow these links:

Gluten-Free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins
Deli-Style Gluten-Free Beet Muffins
Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins
Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins

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Beef Pasta Casserole Recipe

Beef Pasta Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole

I am a huge fan of batch cooking and preparing make-ahead meals to freeze for easy weeknight meal preparation.  I began batch cooking over 40 years ago when I moved away from my family home and began life on my own.  I went in search of cookbooks designed for cooking for one or two and didn’t find much on the market. What recipes I did find took ingredients that either weren’t available locally or the recipes called for sizes of ingredients that weren’t available in Canada.  I also soon discovered it really wasn’t much fun having to prepare a meal from scratch each night for one person.  That’s when I realized I didn’t need cookbooks with recipes sized down to one or two servings; I needed a freezer and I needed to batch cook make-ahead meals!

Beef Pasta Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole

I currently have two freezers plus a deep freezer compartment in the bottom of the refrigerator and all are filled with make ahead-meals.  The entrées are a mix of very basic fare, like baked beans, pasta casseroles, and fish cakes, and more elaborate meals like fillings for vol-au-vents and crèpes for nights that call for something a little extra special.  Batch cooking means you still do the prep work but it is all done upfront at once and it eases the pressure of meal preparation on weeknights, especially on nights where one is late getting home from work.  So long as I have the makings for a salad in the fridge and some rolls, biscuits, or bread in the freezer, I can pull out a frozen entrée and have dinner on the table in 30 minutes or so. Clean-up is super easy, too, since there are no prep dishes or pots and pans to be washed, just the plate, glass, and utensils to be loaded into the dishwasher.

Beef Pasta Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole

One of my standby casseroles is this beef pasta casserole.  It’s not hard to prepare and does not take any wild or weird ingredients. This makes a huge casserole so it’s great to take to potlucks or divide into meal-sized servings and frozen.  Use a large roaster or two 2-quart casseroles or, if you have a small household, divide the casserole up into small single serving casseroles or ramekins and freeze them.  I have a ton of ramekins as I find they are the perfect serving size for individual servings of casseroles.  I store these, unbaked, in large plastic freezer containers in the freezer.

Beef Pasta Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole Ready for the Freezer

Easy steps make this casserole.  Brown the ground beef, drain, and set it aside.  Cook the pasta. Next, sauté the onion, garlic cloves, celery, green pepper, and mushrooms.  Then, combine all the liquid ingredients and canned tomatoes. Combine all the ingredients together along with some cheese and, voilà, that’s it!  Top the casserole with some extra cheese and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.   If freezing the casserole, freeze it unbaked and without the cheese topping which is best added at the time of baking.

Serve with your favorite green salad and biscuits, rolls, or bread.

Beef Pasta Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole

Beef Pasta Casserole

Ingredients:

1½ lbs lean ground beef
1½ – 2 tbsp vegetable oil

1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
2/3 cup onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup celery, chopped
¼ cup green pepper, chopped
¾ cup sliced button mushrooms

1 – 284ml can tomato soup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ cup beef broth (homemade or commercial)
¼ cup tomato paste
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp basil pesto (homemade or commercial)
2 tsp Italian seasoning
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 – 398ml can diced tomatoes with juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

400g fusilli (regular or gluten-free), cooked according to package directions and drained (about 5 cups raw pasta)
2/3 cup shredded cheese of choice (e.g., cheddar, or a blend of cheeses)
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup shredded cheese of choice for topping casserole

Method:

In large frypan, heat the vegetable oil and brown the meat over medium-low heat. Drain. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In large saucepan, heat second amount of vegetable oil over medium heat.  Sauté the onion, garlic, celery, and green pepper for approximately 2 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-4 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl or measuring cup, combine the tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, tomato paste, maple syrup, basil pesto, Italian seasoning, and ground ginger. Stir well.  Stir in canned tomatoes with juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

In large bowl or pot, combine the cooked pasta, meat, vegetables, liquid ingredients, 2/3 cup shredded cheese, and Parmesan cheese.  Stir gently to combine ingredients.  Transfer mixture to large greased roaster, two – 2-quart casseroles, or divide into individual serving-sized dishes such as ramekins.

Sprinkle casserole(s) with remaining ½ cup shredded cheese.  Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes to heat through.  Serve hot.  Casserole freezes well.

Yield:  12-14 servings

Beef Pasta Casserole

This tasty Beef Pasta Casserole is an easy-to-make weeknight casserole that combines ground beef, pasta, cheese, and a tomato-based sauce. Freezes well.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 - 284ml can tomato soup
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp basil pesto
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 - 398ml can diced tomatoes with juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 400g fusilli (regular or gluten-free), cooked according to package directions and drained (about 5 cups raw pasta)
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheese of choice (e.g., cheddar, or a blend of cheeses)
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese of choice for topping casserole

Instructions

  1. In large frypan, heat the vegetable oil and brown the meat over medium-low heat. Drain. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. In large saucepan, heat second amount of vegetable oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, celery, and green pepper for approximately 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl or measuring cup, combine the tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, tomato paste, maple syrup, basil pesto, Italian seasoning, and ground ginger. Stir well. Stir in canned tomatoes with juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. In large bowl or pot, combine the cooked pasta, meat, vegetables, liquid ingredients, 2/3 cup shredded cheese, and Parmesan cheese. Stir gently to combine ingredients. Transfer mixture to large greased roaster, two – 2-quart casseroles, or divide into individual serving-sized dishes such as ramekins.
  6. Sprinkle casserole(s) with remaining ½ cup shredded cheese. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes to heat through. Serve hot. Casserole freezes well.

 

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Beef Pasta Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole

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Country Farmhouse Crumb Cake

Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

This old-fashioned country farmhouse crumb cake has been a recipe in my family for years. It quite resembles a coffee cake and is a hearty dessert that is tasty and not too sweet. Its crumb topping adds a lovely texture element to the cake.

Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

Crumb cake is quite economical to make because it just takes basic pantry supplies and draws its flavour from the cinnamon and cloves.  It’s always good to have a recipe that, if need be, can be quickly made without a special trip to the supermarket for ingredients.

I think this used to be a very popular cake in the country because it was a hearty dessert, it was not costly or difficult to make, and it did not require frosting.  For many farm wives who often had large families to bring up while working alongside their husbands on the farm, this would have been a relatively easy-to-come-by dessert. This crumb cake is particularly tasty with a cup of tea or coffee.

Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

The cake has a lovely tender crumb with an airy texture. To dress up this cake, sprinkle with a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar (aka icing or powdered sugar)

Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

 

Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Country Farmhouse Crumb Cake

Ingredients:

1 tbsp vinegar
1 cup milk

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
½ cup cold shortening

½ tsp salt
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup raisins

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare 9”x9” square baking pan by greasing or lining with parchment paper.

In 1 cup measuring cup, place 1 tbsp vinegar.  Fill cup with milk. Let stand 5-7 minutes to sour.

Meanwhile, in large bowl of stand mixer, combine the flour and brown sugar.  Using a pastry cutter, cut in the shortening.  Remove 1 cup of crumb mixture and set aside.

Add the salt, cloves, and cinnamon to the remaining mixture in the bowl. Stir well.

Stir the milk-vinegar mixture and transfer to small bowl.  Add the baking soda and beaten egg.  Stir. Pour over dry ingredients in bowl. With mixer on low/stir setting, incorporate the ingredients for 15 seconds. Increase mixer speed to medium low and beat mixture for an additional minute. Stir in the raisins.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread evenly. Spread the reserved crumb mixture evenly over cake. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely before cutting and serving.  Cut cooled cake into 16 pieces. Dust with confectioner’s sugar (powdered icing sugar), if desired.

Yield: 16 servings

Country Farmhouse Crumb Cake

Old-fashioned easy-to-make crumb cake uses standard pantry supplies. Flavored with cinnamon and cloves and dotted with raisins, this cake has a lovely tender crumb.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup cold shortening
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Confectioner's sugar for dusting (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare 9”x9” square baking pan by greasing or lining with parchment paper.
  2. In 1-cup measuring cup, place 1 tbsp vinegar. Fill cup with milk. Let stand 5-7 minutes to sour.
  3. Meanwhile, in large bowl of stand mixer, combine the flour and brown sugar. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the shortening. Remove 1 cup of crumb mixture and set aside.
  4. Add the salt, cloves, and cinnamon to the remaining mixture in the bowl. Stir well.
  5. Stir the milk-vinegar mixture and transfer to small bowl. Add the baking soda and beaten egg. Stir. Pour over dry ingredients in bowl. With mixer on low/stir setting, incorporate the ingredients for 15 seconds. Increase mixer speed to medium low and beat mixture for an additional minute. Stir in the raisins.

  6. Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread evenly. Spread the reserved crumb mixture evenly over cake. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely before cutting and serving. Cut cooled cake into 16 pieces. Dust with confectioner’s sugar (powdered icing sugar), if desired.

 

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Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

 

Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake
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Meal Planning – Week 4

Here is my suggested meal plan for the upcoming week. If you want to check out previous weeks’ meal plans, click here for the meal plan for week 1, here for week 2’s plan, and here for the meal plan for week 3.  I’ve provided a list of the main ingredients that, for the most part, would probably involve a shopping trip to the supermarket for most. However, as always, read each recipe thoroughly and carefully to create your own list as I have not listed what I consider to be “staple” items like regular milk, butter, eggs, flour, sugar, butter/shortening, oil, spices, etc.

This week, we’ll start off with a roast chicken or turkey.  I watch and get chickens or turkeys when they are on sale and I usually have a stock of 2-3 in the freezer.  They are great week starters because, yay, there are leftovers!!!! This means the leftovers can be transformed into other dishes such as turkey chowder and chicken (turkey) chow mein casserole.  And, if you are cooking a turkey (or a large chicken), don’t throw out the carcass as it makes great poultry stock!

Click on the green links below to access the recipes for this week’s meal plan.

MONDAY

Bran Muffins – A healthy batch of muffins to start off the week.

Shopping List:  Applesauce, molasses, natural bran, all-purpose and whole wheat flours, and raisins

Bran Muffins
Bran Muffins

Dinner:  Roast Chicken or Turkey with Mashed Potatoes, Favorite Side Vegetables, Turnip Puff Casserole, Stuffing/Dressing, Cranberry Sauce

Who can pass up a roast chicken or turkey dinner with all the fixins’!

Shopping List: Roasting Chicken or Turkey, Vegetables of Choice. For Turnip Puff Casserole – Rutabaga, applesauce, onion, parmesan and cheddar cheeses. For Stuffing – Potatoes, bread crumbs, onion, summer savory, celery, apple, and liquid chicken bouillon. For Cranberry Sauce – cranberries (fresh or frozen), apple, and orange juice.

Roast Turkey
Roast Turkey
Turnip Puff Casserole
Turnip Puff Casserole
Turkey and Dressing
Turkey and Dressing

Cranberry Sauce
Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce

 
Dessert:  Blueberry Buckle

A cake type dessert made even more tasty with blueberry sauce and vanilla ice cream.

Shopping List:  Blueberries (fresh or frozen), orange juice + general baking supplies

Blueberry Buckle
Blueberry Buckle with Vanilla Ice Cream Drizzled with Blueberry Sauce

TUESDAY

Make stock from the carcass of the turkey/chicken.

Homemade stock is so flavorful and versatile. You’ll find a multitude of uses for this stock.

Shopping List:  2 lbs fresh turkey pieces, onion, leek, carrots, celery, garlic, rutabaga, parsnips, mushrooms, cider vinegar, herbs and spices (rosemary, parsley, thyme, dill, sage, basil, coriander, summer savory, cardamom pods, cloves, allspice, star anise pod, peppercorns)

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

NOTE: Be sure to save 2 cups of cubed turkey/chicken for the turkey chowder for Wednesday’s dinner and 1 cup for the casserole for Thursday’s dinner.

Dinner:  Leftover Roast Chicken or Turkey with Potato Salad (add a green salad, if desired)

Don’t reserve potato salad just for summer picnics and barbeques.  It’s great any time of the year and is a fine accompaniment to cold chicken or turkey.

Shopping List: For the Potato Salad – potatoes (such as Yukon Gold or Reds), eggs, celery, onion, salad dressing (click here for my recipe), sour cream, sweet relish, and mustard).

Potato Salad
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s PEI Potato Salad

Dessert:  Leftover Blueberry Buckle

Blueberry Buckle

WEDNESDAY

Dinner:  Turkey Chowder

Leftover turkey gets transformed into this hearty and flavorful chowder.

Shopping List: Onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, red pepper, summer savory, poultry stock, potatoes, milk, 1 – 10oz can creamed corn, and Parmesan cheese (Note: This recipe requires 2 cups of the cooked, cubed leftover turkey/chicken)

Homemade Chowder
Turkey Chowder

Dessert: Molasses Spice Cookies

A spicy and chewy cookie.  Great for the cookie jar!

Shopping List: Molasses and general baking supplies 

Spice Cookies
Molasses Spice Cookies

THURSDAY

 DinnerChicken Chow Mein Casserole served with a green salad and fresh biscuits

Leftover chicken (or turkey) gets re-purposed into this flavorful easy-to-prepare casserole.

Shopping list:  For the casserole: 1 – 10oz can Cream of Chicken Soup, Parmesan cheese, fresh mushrooms, red pepper, celery, onion, garlic, chicken broth, cashew pieces, sliced water chestnuts, and chow mein noodles. (Note: This recipe requires 1 cup of the cooked, cubed leftover turkey/chicken) For the salad: Lettuce and fresh vegetables of choice and dressing. For the biscuits: Whipping cream, milk, and standard baking supplies.

Chicken Chow Mein Casserole
Tea Biscuits
Tea Biscuits

Dessert: Old-fashioned Jam Squares

A real old favorite, these jam squares demand red jam like raspberry!

Shopping List: Raspberry Jam, Lemon, and general baking supplies

Jam Squares
Jam Squares

FRIDAY

 Dinner:  Seven Layer Dinner (aka Shipwreck Dinner)

By far, one of my most popular recipes and one of the most frequently searched for on my website. Dinner in one casserole! A simple meal but a mighty tasty one!

Shopping List: Ground beef, potatoes, onion, celery, parsnips, carrots, frozen peas, Minute Rice, and 1 – 10oz can tomato soup

Shipwreck Dinner
Seven Layer DInner

Dessert: Peanut Butter Cookies

This is an all-time favorite cookie.

Shopping List: Peanut butter + general baking supplies

Peanut Butter Cookies

NOTE:  Soak the yellow-eyed beans overnight tonight in preparation for making the Maple Syrup Baked Beans for tomorrow night’s dinner.

Soaking the Dried Beans

SATURDAY

 Dinner: Maple Syrup Baked Beans with Homemade White Bread

A Saturday night tradition in many Maritime homes.  These beans freeze great if there are any leftovers.

Shopping List: For the Baked Beans – 1 – 1lb bag yellow eye beans, garlic, dry mustard, liquid chicken bouillon, tomato paste, cider vinegar, pure maple syrup, molasses, BBQ sauce, and onion.  For White Bread: Yeast, milk, flour and general baking supplies.

Baked Beans

 
 
White Bread
Homemade White Bread

Dessert: Apple-Maple Bread Pudding with Maple Sauce

This bread pudding is such a treat, especially when flavored with maple liqueur that is made right here in PEI by Deep Roots Distillery in Warren Grove, just outside Charlottetown.

Shopping List:  For Pudding: 1 – 1lb loaf of soft French bread, whole milk, blend/cream, baking apples, maple liqueur, and raisins. For Sauce: Maple syrup and maple liqueur.

Apple-Maple Bread Pudding

SUNDAY

 Sunday Breakfast: Special Treat – Irish Cream French Toast, a great way to use some of the homemade bread from yesterday

Irish Cream jazzes up traditional French toast. A lovely weekend treat.

Shopping List: Irish Cream Liqueur (click here for my recipe), orange juice, eggs

Irish Cream French Toast
Irish Cream French Toast

DinnerPork Chops with Bread Stuffing and Creamy Mushroom Sauce; serve with baked potato and medley of favorite steamed vegetables

This is such a flavorful way to present pork chops. Yummy.

Shopping List: Pork Chops (bone-in), bread crumbs, onion, summer savory, celery, apple, liquid chicken bouillon, 1 – 10oz can mushroom soup

Pork Chops with Bread Stuffing and Creamy Mushroom Sauce
Pork Chops with Bread Stuffing and Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Dessert: Leftover Apple-Maple Bread Pudding with Maple Sauce

Maple Sauce on Apple-Maple Bread Pudding

Week 1 Menu Plan
Week 2 Menu Plan
Week 3 Menu Plan

So, there you have it! A weekly menu that makes full use of a roasted turkey or large roasted chicken.

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