What’s on Tap at Upstreet Craft Brewing?

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

Upstreet Craft Brewing
Upstreet Craft Brewing Co-owner Joey Seaman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upstreet Craft Brewing
Taproom at Upstreet Craft Brewing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Craft Brewing
Upstreet Craft Brewing, Charlottetown, PEI

Rhubarb and Beer Barbeque Sauce

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Beer Barbeque Sauce
Rhubarb and Beer Barbeque Sauce

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

Beer Barbeque Sauce
Rhubarb and Beer Barbeque Sauce

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

Beer Barbeque Sauce
Porkchops with Rhubarb and Beer Barbeque Sauce

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

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

(Printable recipe follows at end of posting)

Rhubarb and Beer Barbeque Sauce

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

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

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

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

Yield: 
Apx. 2½ cups

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Beer Barbeque Sauce
Rhubarb and Beer Barbeque Sauce

Rhubarb and Beer Barbeque Sauce

Yield: Apx. 2 1/2 cups

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Printable recipe follows at end of posting)

PEI Mussels Steamed in Beer

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

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

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

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

Yield: Apx. 2 servings

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Beer-steamed Mussels
PEI Mussels Steamed in Beer

Mussels Steamed in Beer Recipe

Yield: 2 servings

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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Asparagus
Asparagus-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

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

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

asparagus
Slices of asparagus-stuffed chicken breast

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

Asparagus Stuffed Chicken Breasts Recipe

(printable version of recipe follows at end of posting)

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yield:  2 servings

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

Asparagus-stuffed Chicken Breasts Recipe

Yield: 2 servings

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

The Bistro Burger Recipe

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Remember the days when a hamburger was simply ground beef flattened to about the depth of a pancake, a slice of processed cheese, and condiments were simply store-bought ketchup, mustard, and sweet pickle relish all sandwiched between a soggy bakery bun?

Today, burgers are becoming more gourmet and creative. Indeed, some border on works of art and can be towering structures!  Specially created burger sauces, unique relishes, specialty meats, and gourmet cheeses are now common ingredients on burgers.  And, of course, there are several different ways a burger can be cooked. Sometimes, as in the case of my recipe, more than one cooking method is used to cook the burgers.  All this to say that the benchmark on burger creativity has now been raised to a new level.

Hamburger
“The Bistro Burger” on a Gluten-Free (GF) Hamburger Roll

When I am developing any recipe, the first thing I think about is what flavors will play well together and be pleasing to the palate.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s not about how many ingredients are included in the burger or how big or tall the burger is but rather it’s about the quality of ingredients and their ability to blend well and compliment each other.

I don’t personally like a whole lot of ingredients on my burger or ones that are, well, just plain wonky and don’t blend well with the beef.  If there are too many ingredients, I find it hard to detect any discernible flavour and, for my taste, they detract from the burger experience.  I still need to taste the beef! Any additions should only enhance, not smother or mask, the beefy flavor.

"The Bistro Burger"
“The Bistro Burger”

My burger creation aims to strike the middle ground through the chosen selection of ingredients and a carefully-tested cooking method. In my view, there are two challenges with burger creation. The first challenge is to cook the burger perfectly so it is moist and juicy. The second challenge is to maintain, not mask, the flavor of the meat itself and to choose toppings with flavors that play well with, and bring out the savoriness of, good quality beef.

Now, that is not to say that new flavours cannot be introduced into burgers or that the types of ingredients typically associated with burgers cannot be prepared in different ways to “up” the calibre of the burger – onions can be carmelized or be in the form of jam, sauces can blend complimentary flavors, and veggies can be marinated. Other ingredients, such as the traditional bacon, can be replaced with alternatives such as prosciutto which can be eaten raw or candied. Fresh fruit can be added to infuse some sweetness to the burger and counter the savory flavour of the meat.

When I was creating this burger recipe, I had five (5) objectives in mind:

  • Recipe would be adaptable for those with a gluten intolerance/sensitivity;
  • Hamburger would include sauces and the relish made from my own recipes;
  • To the extent possible, locally-produced products, including the beef, would be used; (ingredient sources listed at end of posting)
  • Ingredients would be chosen for their ability to play well together and be pleasing to the palate; and
  • The resulting hamburger would be both eye appealing and appetizing.

The following is my recipe for a tasty beef burger that uses my own recipe creations for sauces and relish most of which were previously posted on this food blog.  Also, to the extent possible, I have used locally-produced products. Following the recipe below, you will find some of my hints for burger making along with some explanations of my choices of ingredients in this burger.  At the bottom of this posting, you will also find a printable version of the recipe.

The Bistro Burger

The Bistro’s Burger Sauce

Ingredients:
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2½ tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp rhubarb relish
1½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
1½ tbsp. sour cream
½ tsp onion salt
Salt and pepper, to taste

Yield: Apx. 1 cup

Frozen Flavor Burst Logs

Ingredients:
2 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
2½ tsp mustard (Dijon or sweet)
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan Cheese
1½ tsp dried parsley
Yield: Apx. 6 Logs

 Burger Patties:

Ingredients:
1 lb ground chuck (apx 80:20 ratio meat-to-fat content)
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp Blueberry Barbeque Sauce
1½ tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp onion salt
¼ tsp garlic salt
2 tsp dry onion soup mix
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup+ medium-ground bread crumbs

Yield:  Apx. 6 patties

Cooking oil
Blueberry Barbeque Sauce
6 hamburger rolls of choice
The Bistro’s Burger Sauce
Rhubarb Relish
Cheddar Cheese Slices
Red Onion
Tomato
Bread and Butter Pickles
6 thin slices Proscuitto
Maple Syrup and Brown Sugar (for candying the Proscuitto and pineapple)
Fresh pineapple, sliced between 1/8” and ¼” thick

Method:

For the Bistro Burger Sauce, mix all ingredients together well. Store in tightly sealed jar.  Refrigerate for up to one week.

For the Frozen Flavour Burst Logs, combine the butter, mustard, Parmesan Cheese, and parsley together. In teaspoon measures, portion out the mixture and shape into small logs or disk shapes. Place on plastic-lined tray and freeze for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F and panini grill to medium-high setting.

For the Burger Patties: In large bowl, mix all burger ingredients just until combined, adding more bread crumbs if necessary to achieve desired consistency.

Measure the meat mixture into six (6) equal portions (apx. 4 oz each). With hands, gently and loosely clump together the meat and enclose one frozen flavour burst log into centre of each burger and surround it with meat mixture.  Shape into patties that are apx. 1” thick (or to desired thickness to match size of hamburger roll). Refrigerate for one hour before cooking to allow patties to firm up and give flavours time to blend.

Heat 1½ – 2 tbsp cooking oil in frypan over medium high heat.  Sear burgers, two minutes each side. Do not press down on the burgers.  Remove from frypan and brush Blueberry Barbeque Sauce over both sides of burgers and transfer to greased wire rack suspended over baking pan (to catch any drips).  Bake in pre-heated oven until desired doneness is reached, adding the cheese slices to the burgers for the last minute of baking.

To candy the prosciutto – mix together 2 tbsp maple syrup with 2 tbsp. brown sugar.  Lightly brush each thin slice of prosciutto with the mixture, being careful not to tear the delicate meat. Place over greased wire rack suspended over baking pan. Bake in 375° oven for apx 7-10 minutes or until prosciutto is browned and starts to become crispy.

Fresh pineapple slices can be added to the burgers without glazing them. However, to glaze the pineapple slices, mix together 2 tbsp maple syrup with 2 tbsp brown sugar. Lightly brush mixture on both sides of each pineapple slice and place slices on panini grill (set at medium-high) and press grill top down on to pineapple slices and grill on medium-high for about 1-2 minutes, or until pineapple is heated and has grill marks.

To assemble burgers:

Select hamburger rolls of choice and split in half, horizontally.  Butter each half and, if desired, toast on grill or in oven.  Slather a generous helping of burger sauce on the bottom half of each roll. Add lettuce and then the burger.  Add pickles, sliced tomato, onion, candied prosciutto, rhubarb relish, and maple glazed pineapple. Place the top halves of the rolls on each burger and garnish each with a chunk of fresh pineapple and a cherry tomato.  Serve with your favorite side salad or home fries.

Yield:  Apx. 6 – 4oz burgers.

Burger-Making Hints and Additional Information on The Bistro Burger Ingredients

 

Meat

To get the juicy burger, there needs to be some fat mixed in with the meat. While I normally choose extra lean ground beef for recipes, the one exception I make to that is for burgers. The general standard is a ratio of 80:20 meat-to-fat content. My preference is to use ground chuck that is freshly ground by my local butcher while I wait. Burgers are no different than any other food – fresh is always best!

To get a really tasty burger, I like to enhance the meat with additional flavour, moisture, and some sort of binding agent(s).  For mine, I enhanced the flavour with some grated Parmesan cheese, onion and garlic salts, dry onion soup mix, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.  To give additional moisture (and flavor) to the burger, I used some of my blueberry barbeque sauce  along with maple syrup (I used a chipotle and lemon grass infused syrup but plain maple syrup works well, too). Medium-grind bread crumbs add structure to the burger and help hold it together along with the addition of an egg. Don’t use fine bread crumbs that would typically be used to bread chicken, for example, as these are too fine and won’t add the needed structure and stability to the burger that coarser bread crumbs will provide. As well, if the bread crumbs are too fine, it will take too many which changes the texture of the burger. To make the recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free breadcrumbs.

To give an extra burst of flavor in each burger, I mix butter, mustard, finely grated parmesan cheese, and parsley together and, using a teaspoon measure, portion out and form the mixture into small logs or disks which I freeze for about 30 minutes. As I am forming each patty, I enclose one of the flavor burst logs in the centre, surrounded by the meat. As the burger cooks, it melts the flavour log and releases and distributes the flavour burst inside each burger.

When forming the burger patties, it is very important not to over knead the meat or the result will be a tough burger.  It’s the same principle as applies to pastry or biscuit dough – too much kneading and you won’t have a tender product. Basically, just loosely clump together the burger mixture with your hands and form it into a disk shape.  Resist the urge to pack the meat tightly or press down/flatten the patties as this, too, will create a tough burger.

The standard pre-cooked weight of each of my hamburger patties is approximately 4 oz and each one is about 1” thick.

Onions

My preference, if using raw onion on the burger, is to use red onions for both their flavour and color.  Other options include fried or carmelized onions or even onion jam. While carmelized onions and onion jam are tasty, they don’t necessarily go with all burgers. The other ingredients and, particularly, the relishes or sauces used (and how many) will dictate the best way to present onions in the burger.

Sauce

A good sauce enhances the flavour of the burger. I use my own recipe made with mayonnaise, maple syrup, ketchup, rhubarb relish, mustard, sour cream, and some garlic and onion seasoning. This sauce contains the traditional condiments of mustard and ketchup but blends them with other complimentary flavours. The result is a colorful and tasty orange sauce. Truffle ketchup adds an “earthy” flavor to this sauce but it is an acquired taste. Any variety of tomato ketchup will work just fine.

Relish

Traditionally, a sweet pickle relish has been used on burgers. However, to bring out the savory meat flavour, I am using my own recipe for rhubarb relish. You can access my recipe here. This relish works well with the other ingredients in this burger and ties in with the flavor of the sauce so I’m not introducing another flavor to confuse the taste buds.  The sweetness of the rhubarb relish effectively counters, but blends in a positive way with, the savory flavour of the beef.

Rhubarb Relish
Rhubarb Relish

Cheese

Choose a cheese that melts well like a good quality cheddar, for example.  I’m using COWS Creamery Extra-Old Cheddar produced here on PEI where it has been aged for at least two (2) years.  This is a high quality cheese with rich, deep flavour that really compliments the beef well. The cheese has a firm texture and is a slower melting cheese. In fact, as it melts, it forms almost a second sauce on the burger and has a lovely tangy bite to it.

Prosciutto

While traditionally eaten raw, I have chosen to candy the prosciutto with a mixture of brown sugar and maple syrup. All I did for this process was very lightly brush both sides of the prosciutto with the mixture, lay it over a greased wire rack suspended over a baking pan, and bake it in a 375°F oven for apx 7-10 minutes, just until it is browned and crispy.  This gives both flavor and a crunchy texture to the burger.

Barbeque Sauce

I used my own Blueberry Barbeque Sauce (recipe here) for my burgers.  This dark barbeque sauce adds both flavor and a rich, deep color to the burger.

Blueberry Barbeque Sauce
Blueberry Barbeque Sauce

Lettuce

Bright green lettuce adds great color to burgers.  Choose a “sturdy” lettuce for burgers, such as that found on head lettuce (e.g. Boston lettuce).  These are strong leaves that don’t tend to wilt so quickly as, for example, delicate lettuce leaves like the mesclun mix, when they come into contact with hot burgers.

Pickles

My preference for pickles in the burger are sweet homemade bread and butter pickles (get my recipe here).

Bread and Butter Pickles
Bread and Butter Pickles

These are a lovely, crisp pickle and their acidity plays off sweetness of any fruit added to the burger as well as the sauce.  Pickles contribute a bit of sweet tang to the burger experience.

Pineapple

I like to add some sweetness to my burgers by adding a slice of fruit such as pineapple.  The choice of fruit, however, has to be one that, structurally, is strong enough to hold together in the burger.  I have chosen pineapple for this burger as it “holds its own” and pairs very well with the rhubarb relish and blueberry barbeque sauce.  I cut the pineapple slice between 1/8” and ¼” thick, brush some of the brown sugar and maple syrup glaze on it, and grill it on my panini grill for a few minutes – just long enough for the pineapple to warm up and release its natural sweetness and get those wonderful grill marks that are very attractive.

"The Bistro Burger"
“The Bistro Burger”

Hamburger Rolls

There are so many options for hamburger rolls – too many to list.  I prefer ones that are not too soft as they quickly become soggy when the burger ingredients are added to the point that they sometimes break down before the burger even reaches the table.  The hamburger rolls used in the photos in this posting are gluten-free homemade rolls. Whatever variety of rolls are chosen, they should be size-appropriate in relation to the burger – i.e., the patty should not extend beyond the sides of the roll but neither should it look like a little meatball in the center of the roll.

Cooking the Burger

There are a multitude of ways in which burgers can be cooked – grilled, broiled, sautéed, barbequed, fried, baked or, sometimes, a combination thereof. I recommend cooking them to your personal preferred method.  For the ones in the photos in this post, I seared the burgers over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed frypan for 2 minutes on each side, without touching them and never flattening them.  Any time a burger is pressed down when it is being cooked, it squeezes out the juices in the burger, resulting in a dry, tough burger.

After the searing process is complete, I remove the burgers from the pan and brush both sides with the blueberry barbeque sauce. I then transfer the burgers to a greased wire rack suspended over a baking pan (to catch any drips) and finish cooking the burgers in a 375°F oven. Placing the burgers on a cooking rack allows the heat and air to circulate around the burgers resulting in more even cooking. I am a big fan of using meat thermometers and I do use one when cooking the burgers so they are cooked to my personal preference.

Side Dishes

The most common side dishes served with burgers are fries.

"The Bistro Burger" with Homemade Fries
“The Bistro Burger” with Homemade Fries

However, salads with vinaigrettes also work well as side dishes to burgers.

"The Bistro Burger" with a Side Salad
“The Bistro Burger” with a Side Salad

Wine Pairing

While a robust red wine or a beer are often paired with a burger, I have chosen to pair this one with Villa Bianchi’s Verdicchio Dei Castelli Di Jesi (Italy 2014). Pairing a white wine with a beef burger works so long as the wine chosen has a high degree of acidity to counter the protein and fat of the burger (not that my burger is a “fatty” one!). With floral and citrus notes along with a hint of almond, this Verdicchio is fresh and crisp and I found it compliments this burger nicely.

"The Bistro Burger"
“The Bistro Burger”

Bon Appetit!

The Bistro Burger

Yield: Apx. 6 servings

Serving Size: 4 oz

A delectable burger that combines flavours complimentary to savory beef

Ingredients

  • The Bistro’s Burger Sauce
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2½ tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp rhubarb relish (for recipe, visit My Island Bistro Kitchen's "Recipe" page)
  • 1½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1½ tbsp. sour cream
  • ½ tsp onion salt
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Yield: Apx. 1 cup
  • Frozen Flavor Burst Logs:
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2½ tsp mustard (Dijon or sweet)
  • 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1½ tsp dried parsley
  • Yield: Apx. 6 Logs
  • Burger Patties:
  • 1 lb ground chuck (apx 80:20 ratio meat-to-fat content)
  • ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp Blueberry Barbeque Sauce (for recipe, visit My Island Bistro Kitchen's "Recipe" page)
  • 1½ tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp onion salt
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • 2 tsp dry onion soup mix
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup+ medium-ground bread crumbs
  • Yield: Apx. 6 patties
  • Cooking oil
  • Blueberry Barbeque Sauce
  • 6 hamburger rolls of choice
  • The Bistro’s Burger Sauce
  • Rhubarb Relish
  • Cheddar Cheese Slices
  • Red Onion
  • Tomato
  • Bread and Butter Pickles (for recipe, visit My Island Bistro Kitchen's "Recipe" page)
  • 6 thin slices Proscuitto
  • Maple Syrup and Brown Sugar (for candying the Proscuitto and pineapple)
  • Fresh pineapple, sliced between 1/8” and ¼” thick

Instructions

  1. For the Burger Sauce, combine all ingredients in a jar and mix well. Store in refrigerator, for up to 7 days.
  2. For the Frozen Flavour Burst logs, combine the butter, mustard, Parmesan Cheese, and parsley together. In teaspoon measures, portion out the mixture and shape into small logs or disk shapes. Place on plastic-lined tray and freeze for about 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F and panini grill to medium-high setting.
  4. For burger patties: In large bowl, mix all burger ingredients just until combined, adding more bread crumbs if necessary to achieve desired consistency.
  5. Measure the meat mixture into six (6) equal portions (apx. 4 oz each). With hands, gently and loosely clump together the meat and enclose one frozen flavour burst log into centre of each burger and surround it with meat mixture. Shape into patties that are apx. 1” thick (or to desired thickness to match size of hamburger roll). Refrigerate for one hour before cooking to allow patties to firm up and give flavours time to blend.
  6. Heat 1½ - 2 tbsp cooking oil in frypan over medium high heat. Sear burgers, two minutes each side. Do not press down on the burgers. Remove from frypan and brush Blueberry Barbeque Sauce over both sides of burgers and transfer to greased wire rack suspended over baking pan (to catch any drips). Bake in pre-heated oven until desired doneness is reached, adding the cheese slices to the burgers for the last minute of baking.
  7. To candy the prosciutto – mix together 2 tbsp maple syrup with 2 tbsp. brown sugar. Lightly brush each thin slice of prosciutto with the mixture, being careful not to tear the delicate meat. Place over greased wire rack suspended over baking pan. Bake in 375° oven for apx 7-10 minutes or until prosciutto is browned and starts to become crispy.
  8. Fresh pineapple slices can be added to the burgers without glazing them. However, to glaze the pineapple slices, mix together 2 tbsp maple syrup with 2 tbsp brown sugar. Lightly brush mixture on both sides of each pineapple slice and place slices on panini grill (set at medium-high) and press grill top down on to pineapple slices and grill on medium-high for about 1-2 minutes, or until pineapple is heated and has grill marks.
  9. To assemble burgers:
  10. Select hamburger rolls of choice and split in half, horizontally. Butter each half and, if desired, toast on grill or in oven. Slather a generous helping of burger sauce on the bottom half of each roll. Add lettuce and then the burger. Add pickles, sliced tomato, onion, candied prosciutto, rhubarb relish, and maple glazed pineapple. Place the top halves of the rolls on each burger and garnish each with a chunk of fresh pineapple and a cherry tomato. Serve with your favorite side salad or home fries.
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"The Bistro Burger"
“The Bistro Burger”

Ingredient Sourcing:

Burger Sauce – my own homemade recipe
Blueberry Barbeque Sauce – my own sauce recipe made with blueberries from Murray’s U-pick in North Tryon, PEI
Ground Beef Patty – ground chuck, sourced from KJL Meats in Charlottetown, PEI. I had the butcher grind the beef especially to my personal specification using a ratio of approximately 20% fat to 80% meat to give that juicy burger result.
Cheese – COWS Extra-old Cheddar from COWS Creamery, North River, PEI
Bread and Butter Pickles – my own homemade recipe made with cucumbers from Balderston’s Farm Stand, Stratford, PEI
Tomatoes – organic, from the greenhouses of the Schurman Family Farm in Spring Valley, PEI
Rhubarb Relish – my own homemade recipe made with rhubarb from my garden

 

Vintage Tomato Soup Layer Cake Recipe

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By now, if you are a regular follower of my food blog, you have probably detected that I like vintage foods and those that could be called comfort foods.

I grew up with tomato soup cake as standard fare in the household. It’s such a simple cake and, while it may seem bizarre to add a can of tomato soup to cake batter, it’s really tasty when some spices are added. The tomato soup cake my mother used to make was always a single layer (and always made in the pyrex glass 8″ square baking pan). It was never frosted and was generally considered to be an “every day cake” as opposed to a cake for a special occasion.  My mother’s cake was rather dense in texture and contained no eggs. Spices consisted of cinnamon and cloves.

Tomato Soup Cake
Tomato Soup Cake

I have used my mother’s recipe as inspiration but have completely revamped the recipe to turn this cake into a more decadent dessert.  I’ve added eggs for lightness, moisture, and a tender crumb and added some molasses and a small amount of nutmeg for added flavour.  A hefty dose of cream cheese frosting takes a plain old basic cake to new heights. On top of great flavour, the cake has a beautiful rusty-orange color.

Tomato Soup Cake
Tomato Soup Cake

I bake this cake in two 8″ round pans and the batter will rise to the very top of each pan.  Nine-inch (9″) round pans can also be used but the cakes will obviously not be quite as thick and the baking time will need to be adjusted as they will take slightly less time to bake than the 8″ cakes.  I highly recommend using bake even strips, dampened and wrapped snugly around each pan – these help to keep cakes even as they bake as opposed to tops that have peaks and valleys.  These strips really do make a difference.  That said, though, there is usually some leveling that still has to take place on the cakes and, for this, I recommend a cake leveler or, alternatively, you can use a serrated knife.  Make sure both cakes are the same height and that any loose crumbs are brushed from the cakes before frosting.

Tomato Soup Cake
Tomato Soup Cake

(Printable recipe follows at end of post)

Tomato Soup Layer Cake

Ingredients:

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

2¾ tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp cloves

¼ tsp nutmeg

⅔ cup shortening, softened to room temperature

1⅓ cups sugar

2 large eggs (at room temperature for 15-20 minutes)

1 – 10 oz can tomato soup

2 tbsp milk

2 tbsp molasses

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F and position rack in center of oven.

Prepare two 8” round cake pans by greasing the pans and lining the bottom of each pan with parchment paper .

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

In large bowl with mixer set at medium speed, cream the shortening and sugar together until well blended.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, combine the tomato soup, milk, and molasses.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the liquid ingredients, starting and ending with the flour mixture.  Beat well after each addition, scraping bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula as necessary to ensure all dry ingredients are incorporated.  Finally, beat batter one additional minute at medium-high speed.

Divide batter equally between the two prepared pans, spreading evenly.  Bake for apx.  38-40 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of a cake comes out clean and cake springs back to a light finger touch.  Transfer cakes to wire rack and let cool in pans for 10 minutes. With the edge of a small flat-edged paring knife, gently loosen edges of each cake from the pans.  Invert cakes onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before frosting with cream cheese frosting.

Yield: 1 – 8” layer cake, apx. 10-12 servings

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

8 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature

½ cup butter or margarine, softened

2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp milk

1 lb sifted icing (confectioner’s/powdered) sugar (weighed after sifted)

Method:

With mixer set at medium speed, beat cream cheese and butter or margarine until creamy and well-blended.  Beat in vanilla and milk.  Add about one-third of the icing sugar.  Beat well to blend.  Add remaining icing sugar in two separate additions, beating well after each addition and scraping bowl often with rubber spatula to ensure sugar is well blended into creamed mixture.  Beat for 1-2 minutes longer until frosting is smooth, light, and fluffy.

Yield:  Enough to fill and completely frost 1 – 8” or 1 – 9” layer cake.

To assemble cake:

Even each cake top by using a cake leveler or serrated knife, ensuring both cakes are the same height. Lightly brush away any loose crumbs remaining on the sides of the cakes.  Sandwich together the two cake layers with a generous amount of cream cheese frosting.  With the remaining frosting, cover the top of cake and, if desired, the sides or, alternatively, leave the sides without frosting for a more rustic looking cake.

Tomato Soup Cake
Tomato Soup Cake

Vintage Tomato Soup Layer Cake

Yield: 1 - 8" layer cake, apx. 10-12 servings

A moist and flavorful spice cake with a tender crumb

Ingredients

  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2¾ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup shortening, softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature for 15-20 minutes)
  • 1 – 10oz can tomato soup
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • Frosting:
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 1 lb sifted icing (confectioner’s/powdered) sugar (weighed after sifted)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and position rack in center of oven.
  2. Prepare two 8” round cake pans by greasing the pans and lining the bottom of each pan with parchment paper.
  3. In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
  4. In large bowl with mixer set at medium speed, cream the shortening and sugar together until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, combine the tomato soup, milk, and molasses.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the liquid ingredients, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Beat well after each addition, scraping bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula as necessary to ensure all dry ingredients are incorporated. Finally, beat batter one additional minute at medium-high speed.
  7. Divide batter equally between the two prepared pans, spreading evenly. Bake for apx. 38-40 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of a cake comes out clean and cake springs back to a light finger touch. Transfer cakes to wire rack and let cool in pans for 10 minutes. With the edge of a small flat-edged paring knife, gently loosen edges of each cake from the pans. Invert cakes onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before frosting with cream cheese frosting.
  8. Frosting:
  9. With mixer set at medium speed, beat cream cheese and butter or margarine until creamy and well-blended. Beat in vanilla and milk. Add about one-third of the icing sugar. Beat well to blend. Add remaining icing sugar in two separate additions, beating well after each addition and scraping bowl often with rubber spatula to ensure sugar is well blended into creamed mixture. Beat for 1-2 minutes longer until frosting is smooth, light, and fluffy.
  10. To assemble cake:
  11. Even each cake top by using a cake leveler or serrated knife, ensuring both cakes are the same height. Lightly brush away any loose crumbs remaining on the sides of the cakes. Sandwich together the two cake layers with a generous amount of cream cheese frosting. With the remaining frosting, cover the top of cake and, if desired, the sides or, alternatively, leave the sides without frosting for a more rustic looking cake.
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Tomato Soup Cake
Tomato Soup Cake

Rich and Hearty Goulash Soup Recipe

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Rich and Hearty Goulash Soup
Rich and Hearty Goulash Soup

For many years, I have been making this hearty soup known as Goulash.  It’s a well-filled soup and is a very filling one! Good any time of the year, this soup is especially tummy-warming on cold days.

This soup is not difficult to prepare but there are vegetables to chop which does take a bit of time.  I have weighed the main ingredients in this recipe because I find that recipes that call for ingredients in bulk form such as 1 onion or 2 carrots or 2 stalks of celery are not very helpful, particularly for less experienced cooks.  For example, is the onion big or small? Does the recipe developer mean to use 1/4 cup, 1/2 cup, 3/4 cup, or 1 cup of onion? Then, of course, there is always the issue of how finely chopped the onion is meant to be – it takes a lot more onion that is finely chopped to fill a cup measure than it does if the onion is coarsely chopped. So, to simplify things and to help ensure success when making this soup, I am using weight as the main measurement for many of the ingredients. I use my digital kitchen scales all the time and could not get along without them.

My recipe calls for extra lean ground beef; however, if you prefer to use cubed stew beef, that also works in this dish.  I recommend, the first time making this soup, to make it exactly according to the amount of spices the recipe calls for then, next time, if you want it a bit more or less spicy, adjust the quantities accordingly.  The recipe also calls for tomato truffle ketchup.  If you can’t find this in your area, you can certainly substitute regular tomato ketchup; however, the truffle ketchup has earthy undertones that do contribute to the flavour of this rustic soup.

Rich and Hearty Goulash Soup
Rich and Hearty Goulash Soup

The beef broth/tomato base for this soup is incredibly tasty so it makes it a great soup to serve in a hollowed out bread bowl.  Break apart the bowl as you eat the soup and use the bits of bread to soak up the tasty juice of the soup.

Rich and Hearty Goulash Soup
Rich and Hearty Goulash Soup

This is a main meal, full deal kind of soup!

Rich and Hearty Goulash Soup
Rich and Hearty Goulash Soup

 

(Printable version of recipe follows at end of posting)

Rich and Hearty Goulash Soup

Ingredients:

2-3 tbsp. olive oil

5 oz. celery, chopped (apx. 2 stalks or 1 cup)

7 oz carrots, peeled and diced (apx. 2 carrots or 1½ cups)

5 oz. onion (1 cup – 1 large onion)

7 oz rutabaga, peeled and diced (apx. 1½ cups)

2 oz parsnip, peeled and thinly sliced (apx. 2/3 cup)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

1 tbsp paprika

½ tsp caraway seed

Pinch cayenne

1 bay leaf

1¼ lb extra lean ground beef

1 cup tomato paste

1 cup canned diced tomatoes with juice

2 tbsp tomato truffle ketchup

6 cups beef stock, heated

1½ tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 tsp brown sugar

5 oz chopped zucchini (apx. 1 cups)

1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced (apx. 3 cups)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

In large soup pot, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Add the celery, carrots, onion, rutabaga, parsnip, garlic, spices and bay leaf.  Cook over medium-low heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the ground beef and scramble fry till no longer pink – about 8-10 minutes.

Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, ketchup, beef stock, vinegar, brown sugar, zucchini, and potatoes.  Cover and bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are fork tender, adding salt and pepper to taste.  Remove and discard bay leaf.

To serve, ladle into bread bowls or soup bowls.

Yield: Apx. 12 – 1-cup servings

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Rich and Hearty Goulash Soup

Yield: 12 - 1-cup servings

A wholesome and filling beef and vegetable soup in a tomato-based sauce

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 oz. celery, chopped (apx. 2 stalks or 1 cup)
  • 7 oz carrots, peeled and diced (apx. 2 carrots or 1½ cups)
  • 5 oz. onion (1 cup – 1 large onion)
  • 7 oz rutabaga, peeled and diced (apx. 1½ cups)
  • 2 oz parsnip, peeled and thinly sliced (apx. 2/3 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • ½ tsp caraway seed
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1¼ lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 tbsp tomato truffle ketchup
  • 6 cups beef stock, heated
  • 1½ tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 5 oz chopped zucchini (apx. 1 cups)
  • 1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced (apx. 3 cups)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In large soup pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the celery, carrots, onion, rutabaga, parsnip, garlic, spices and bay leaf. Cook over medium-low heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ground beef and scramble fry till no longer pink – about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, ketchup, beef stock, vinegar, brown sugar, zucchini, and potatoes. Cover and bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are fork tender, adding salt and pepper to taste. Remove and discard bay leaf.
  3. To serve, ladle into bread bowls or soup bowls.
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Rich and Hearty Goulash Soup
Rich and Hearty Goulash Soup

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