2013 “Cookie of the Month” Year-end Round-up

Those who regularly follow my blog will recall that I made the commitment back in January 2013 to post one cookie recipe a month for the entire year.  So, for ease of retrieval, I thought I would do a year-end round-up of all 12 cookies.

In January, just in time for Robbie Burns Day, I shared my recipe for Shortbread.

Shortbread

In February, with sweet Valentine’s Day, old-fashioned Sugar Cookies topped the list.

Sugar Cookies
Sugar Cookies

In March, Double Chocolate Chip Drop Cookies, made with a hint of stout, were ready for St. Patrick’s Day.

Chocolate Drop Cookies Made with Stout
Double Chocolate Chip Drop Cookies

In April, thoughts turned to lighter, more spring-like, fare like these Lemon Spritz Shortbread Cookies.

Lemon Spritz Shortbread Cookies
Lemon Spritz Shortbread Cookies

In May, old-fashioned Cherry Winks proved they are still a perennial favorite.

Cherry Wink Cookie
Cherry Wink Cookie

In June, the no-bake Spider Cookies proved they are just as much a favorite today as they were when I was growing up!

Spider Cookies
Spider Cookies

In July, as we celebrated “Christmas in July”, the Brown Sugar Jam-Filled Cookies brought back memories of the kinds of cookies often found in grandma’s cookie jar.

Brown Sugar Jam-Filled Cookies
Brown Sugar Jam-Filled Cookies

In August, Chocolate Drop Cookies, were a hit with the chocolate lovers!

Chocolate Drop Cookies
Chocolate Drop Cookies

In September, crisp and light-textured Peanut Butter Cookies made it on to the cookie of the month roster.

Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies

In October, the substantial and tasty raisin-filled Plum Puff Cookies heralded the fall season.

Plum Puff Cookies
Plum Puff Cookies

In November, when the days turned cooler and thoughts turned to the sweet smell of cooking with spices, the old-fashioned icebox Gingersnaps made their debut.

Gingersnaps
Gingersnaps

In December, these Coconut Cherry Macaroons made a fine addition to trays of sweets and to gift boxes.

Coconut Cherry Macaroons
Coconut Cherry Macaroons

I hope you have enjoyed some of my favorite cookie recipes.  Do you have a favorite cookie?

Barbara

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.

Be sure to visit my Facebook page at My Island Bistro Kitchen.  You may also wish to follow me on twitter @PEIBistro, on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”, and on Instagram at “PEIBistro”.

Holiday Breakfast in Bed

Oh, the sweet lull after the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holiday!  Sometimes the best treat for someone who has been super busy during the holiday season is a quiet and peaceful Sunday morning made even better with breakfast in bed!

Begin by dressing up a bed tray with a quality placemat and napkin.  Add a small vase with a fresh flower and seasonal greenery.  Bring out the Christmas dishes!  The season is not quite over yet!

I like my little two-cup Sadler teapot and matching teacup and saucer.  The teapot is perfectly sized for use on a bed tray.  Red cranberry juice keeps the red theme going!

For this easy-to-prepare breakfast, I lined muffin tins with thin prosciutto and cooked the meat in the oven at 425F for about 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let the meat stand for about 5 minutes in the muffin cups.  Carefully remove the prosciutto cups from the pans using the tines of a fork (the meat will be very crisp and will easily crumble).  Cook the scrambled eggs with some finely minced red pepper and spoon into the prosciutto cups.

I chose marbled rye bread for the toast and served my own homemade strawberry jam as an accompaniment to the toast.

I hope that sometime over the holiday period, you have found some time for rest and relaxation (even if it didn’t involve being served breakfast in bed!

Happy holidays!

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.

Be sure to visit my Facebook page at My Island Bistro Kitchen.  You may also wish to follow me on twitter @PEIBistro, on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”, and on Instagram at “PEIBistro”.

The Pink and Green Holiday Table

One of the things I like to do over the holiday season is to prepare some “greenery bases” for floral arrangements and have them ready for different holiday dinners and events.  This way, it is not necessary to start from scratch to create a new floral centerpiece for every dinner party.  Once the greenery is in place, floral centerpieces are quick and easy to prepare.  Simply by changing the color of the flowers in a centerpiece can give a whole new look to a table.

About 10 days ago, I posted photos from a purple tablescape.  I recently removed the purple-tinted mini carnations from that centerpiece since they had passed their prime and I replaced them with bright pink and white ones.  Leaving the candles and greenery in tact, this centerpiece probably took me between 5 and 10 minutes to create.

While I like the white linen tablecloth look (I call it my blank canvas), sometimes I like to see the maple wood in my table.  Seeing the wood on the table also lends a less formal look to the tablesetting.  So, for more casual dining, this is often a look I go for.

A number of years ago, my Mom hand-quilted these placemats to match my Royal Albert Lavender Rose china.  Aren’t they beautiful!  The quilt pattern is the lovers’ knot.

Having a collection of charger plates that match my china means they can be used to change the look of the table as well.  Having invested in my fine china, I like to use it as much as possible; however, using the same dinnerware repeatedly can start to make every table setting look the same unless you inject other elements, like different colored charger plates, candles, table linen, flowers, etc.

The napkin fold I have selected for this tablesetting is the Christmas tree fold.  This is not a difficult napkin fold and, of course, it is most suitable for the Christmas season.  Choose good quality cloth napkins for this fold so that the fold will stay in place.

Christmas Tree Napkin Fold
Christmas Tree Napkin Fold

So, here is my third tablesetting of the season, all set for this evening’s dinner.

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.

To view other Christmas and New Year’s Tablesettings, click on the links below:

Glitz ‘n Glamour New Year’s Eve Tablesetting
Twas the Night Before Christmas
The Warmth of the Christmas Light Tablesetting
A Tartan Holiday Tablesetting
Pretty Poinsettia Tablesetting
Poinsettia Trio Tablesetting
The Holiday Table
Christmas Eve Tablesetting and Dinner
Christmas at My Island Bistro Kitchen
Purple Tablesetting for the Holidays
Evergreens and Reindeer Christmas Tablesetting

Cupcake Tablescape

Be sure to visit my Facebook page at My Island Bistro Kitchen.  You may also wish to follow me on twitter @PEIBistro, on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”, and on Instagram at “PEIBistro”.

Pin Me To Pinterest!

Christmas Tablesetting
Pink and Green Christmas Tablesetting

 

Christmas at My Island Bistro Kitchen

Well, Christmas has come and gone again for another year.  I hope you had a joyous and peaceful holiday.  I thought I would share with you the traditional components of my Christmas dinner.  Guests were greeted with a glass of Sparkling Cranberry Apple Juice from Verger Belliveau Orchard in Memramcook, New Brunswick.

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I like to set a pretty table.  This year, I used a gold-colored tablecloth, a couple of gold-colored glass Christmas trees and some gold and ivory Christmas balls and used them to start building the tablescape.  The gold theme seemed to blend in nicely with the tree and mantle in my dining room.

I kept the tablescape fairly simplistic and uncluttered since my dining room table is not large.  It can seat six but four, more comfortably.

I like to add a bit of bling to the tablesetting.  These blingy napkin rings were a find a couple of years ago.  Napkin rings are very useful when you want to keep the napkin fold simplistic or when you are in a hurry and don’t have time to fold napkins into designs.

My choice of centerpiece was seasonally-inspired.  The gold container and piks were in keeping with the gold theme and gold charger plates.

The Star of Bethlehem flower was the focal point of the centerpiece.

The holly berries came from one of my holly trees just outside my front door.

Since I couldn’t bring the snow indoors, bursts of Baby’s Breath gave the illusion of snow drops throughout the centerpiece.

Christmas Dinner was a four-course meal.  The appetizer was a red pear drizzled with a pomegranate molasses dressing.

I love the burst of flavor in each of the pomegranate arils.

Not only do the arils add flavor but they also add texture and color to the plate.

Some Islanders have roasted parsnips as a traditional vegetable on their Christmas dinner plate.  Parsnips were not a traditional vegetable for Christmas dinner in our home.  However, I have included parsnips in the Parsnip and Apple Soup.

Parsnip and Apple Soup
Parsnip and Apple Soup

A dollop of sour cream surrounded by a drizzle of good quality olive oil dresses up this flavourful soup.

The soup’s golden color continues the gold-colored theme.

I love this little soup tureen I came across a couple of years ago.

Of course, the star of the show is the roasted turkey!

There is nothing like an old-fashioned roast turkey dinner!  I dressed the turkey platter with a citrus theme of orange, lemon, and lime wedges along with green grapes and cranberries.

My choice of wine for this year’s Christmas dinner was Chardonnay that came from Matos Winery, St. Catherine’s, PEI.

We are very traditional in the components of the Christmas dinner – turkey, stuffing (dressing), mashed potatoes with homemade gravy (no gravy mix for me!), carrots, turnip casserole, and peas.  Condiments included my homemade cranberry sauce along with mustard pickles and pickled beets that I made earlier in the fall.

Plum pudding is the traditional Christmas dinner dessert in our household.

Traditional Plum Pudding
Traditional Plum Pudding

There are various toppings that are served with the steamed plum pudding; however, in our home, the brown sugar sauce (served hot) reigns supreme!

When presenting the plum pudding on a glass pedestal plate at the table, I kept the citrus theme going and added some fresh raspberries for color.

Plum pudding with a good cup of coffee – a fitting finale to a wonderful Christmas dinner!

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into our 2013 Christmas dinner.  Best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful holiday season.

To view other Christmas and New Year’s Tablesettings, click on the links below:

Glitz ‘n Glamour New Year’s Eve Tablesetting
Twas the Night Before Christmas
The Warmth of the Christmas Light Tablesetting
A Tartan Holiday Tablesetting
Pretty Poinsettia Tablesetting
Poinsettia Trio Tablesetting
The Holiday Table
The Pink and Green Holiday Table
Christmas Eve Tablesetting and Dinner
Purple Tablesetting for the Holidays
Evergreens and Reindeer Christmas Tablesetting

Cupcake Tablescape

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.

Be sure to visit my Facebook page at My Island Bistro Kitchen.  You may also wish to follow me on twitter @PEIBistro, on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”, and on Instagram at “PEIBistro”.

Red Plaid Christmas Afternoon Tea

We have been inundated with snow in December on Prince Edward Island, three major snow storms in the past week alone.  I think, barring some strange weather phenomenon, we are all but guaranteed a white Christmas on the Island.  It also means lots of snow to shovel – that’s the bah humbug part!

This weather inspires me to have afternoon tea beside the fireplace and Christmas tree.  The warmth and glow from the fireplace and tree lights sets a beautiful soft mood for a quiet and peaceful late afternoon tea on a cold winter’s day as the snow falls gently outside the window.  Want to take a peek?

I like this red plaid tablecloth – it looks so Christmasy and matches my Christmas tea china perfectly.

I was fortunate enough to find this Sadler teapot and matching cups and saucers last year.  I like to find occasions to use them over the holidays.

I found the delightful little teabox (seen behind the teacup in the photo above) recently and it is perfectly sized for small tea tables.  I have a larger teabox but there is no room for it on my round tea table.

So, what was on this afternoon’s tea menu presented on a traditional 3-tier server?

Let’s start with the sandwich plate – I served one of my all-time favorite sandwiches – egg salad on white, oatbran, and multigrain breads.

Fruit-filled scones with homemade strawberry jam and crabapple jelly rounded out the next course.

And, of course, what afternoon tea would be complete without the sweet tray!  Mincemeat tarts, checkerboard sugar cookies, peanut butter balls, Scotch cookies, and the quintessential fruit cake all found their way on to the sweet tray.  All seasonal favorites in our house.

And, for the sweet finish-off, these candy cane meringues that dissolve on the tongue.

Beverages included Sparkling Cranberry Apple Juice from Verger Belliveau Orchard in Memramcook, New Brunswick.  I love how it sparkles in the cut glass.

Today’s tea selection was Bentley’s Pomegranate.

My choice of centerpiece was very simple – a rose bowl with a sprig of holly and a floating tea light.  My tea table is not large so space is at a premium so any access centerpiece has to be small.

Time for tea!

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into my Red Plaid Christmas Afternoon Tea.  May the peace and joy that Christmas brings find its way into your homes this Christmas season.

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.

Be sure to visit my Facebook page at My Island Bistro KitchenYou may also wish to follow me on twitter @PEIBistro, on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”, and on Instagram at “PEIBistro”.

Purple Tablesetting for the Holidays

Purple has been my favorite color for a long time so it’s not surprising that, many years ago, I chose a china pattern that had lavender in it.  I came across wonderful purple-tinted small carnations at the local Superstore so purple became the theme of this tablesetting for a pre-Christmas holiday dinner party.

Mini Purple Carnation Centerpiece

I have a number of different colored charger plates that match my china and I use them to change the look of the table.  The purple chargers were an identical match for the carnations.

The Wave Napkin Fold

I really like working with white linen tablecloths as they give me a blank, undistracted canvas upon which to build the tablescape.

The napkin fold I chose was the simple “wave” fold.  It is quick and easy to do.  It’s very classic and unpretentious.  I used gold-themed balls on each napkin to tie in with the gold rim of the plates and also with the container for the floral arrangement and the votives.

Purple Carnation Centerpiece

This was a very simple floral arrangement and easy to design.  I buy huge bundles of different greens and keep them in a big bucket in my garage for use in preparing floral arrangements over the holidays.  In this one, I used cedar and pine for the base then added the carnations and baby’s breath.  In fact, the greenery will outlast the carnations so I will probably add new flowers and change the votives to another color over the holiday period to change up the look of my table.

Mini Purple Carnations Centerpiece

I like these votive holders – they have a three-pronged base that, when inserted into the floral oasis, become a very sturdy alternative to the precarious tapers.  While I like the look of tapers, and do sometimes use them, they are not as carefree as votives as there is always a chance that someone will jerk the table and the candles might tip.

Purple-themed Tablesetting

This is a very simplistic, uncluttered tablesetting, perfect for those dinner parties over the holidays.

Happy Holidays!

To view other Christmas and New Year’s Tablesettings, click on the links below:

Glitz ‘n Glamour New Year’s Eve Tablesetting
Twas the Night Before Christmas
The Warmth of the Christmas Light Tablesetting
A Tartan Holiday Tablesetting
Pretty Poinsettia Tablesetting
Poinsettia Trio Tablesetting
The Holiday Table
The Pink and Green Holiday Table
Christmas at My Island Bistro Kitchen
Christmas Eve Tablesetting and Dinner
Evergreens and Reindeer Christmas Tablesetting

Cupcake Tablescape

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.

Be sure to visit my Facebook page at My Island Bistro Kitchen.  You may also wish to follow me on twitter @PEIBistro, on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”, and on Instagram at “PEIBistro”.

December 2013 Cookie of the Month: Coconut Cherry Macaroons

This is the final cookie of the month for 2013.  I have selected to share Coconut Cherry Macaroons, a favorite recipe that has been in our family for decades.

There are so many recipes for coconut macaroons with ingredients and methods for making them that vary.  This is a variation of the traditional coconut macaroon cookie.  Macaroons are not difficult to make and don’t take a lot of ingredients.  The addition of the candied cherries makes these macaroons tasty.  They are also showy on a plate of sweets.  I hope you enjoy them.

Coconut Cherry Macaroons

4 extra-large eggs (at room temperature), separated (reserve the yolks)

¼ tsp salt

1 cup white sugar

1 tsp almond extract

½ tsp vanilla

3 cups coconut*

1½ cups flour

¾ cup red candied cherries, chopped

¾ cup green candied cherries, chopped

 

Assemble ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350F.

In large bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and salt on high speed just until frothy.  Gradually, and very slowly, add the sugar while continuing to beat on high speed.  Whisk the egg whites and sugar until mixture forms stiff peaks.

Meanwhile, in separate large bowl, with a hand mixer or a whisk, beat the four egg yolks along with the almond and vanilla flavorings.

Stir in coconut.  Add flour and candied cherries.  Mix well.

Fold the stiff egg white mixture into the coconut mixture.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets.

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Bake 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown and cookies are set.   Let cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling.

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* Any kind of coconut — flaked, shredded, or macaroon — and either sweetened or unsweetened (or a mixture of both), can be used.  In the photographs that accompany this recipe, I used macaroon coconut, a shorter variety of coconut.

Happy Holidays!

Attractively package these macaroons and they make a great hostess gift or a remembrance for a teacher, colleague, neighbor, or anyone who has a sweet tooth!

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.  

Be sure to visit my Facebook page at My Island Bistro Kitchen.  You may also wish to follow me on twitter @PEIBistro, on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”, and on Instagram at “PEIBistro”.

Plum Pudding – A Favorite Christmas Dinner Tradition on Prince Edward Island

I thought I knew what the most traditional Christmas food on Prince Edward Island would be.  However, for fun, I decided to use social media to ask Islanders what one food has to be on their tables over the holidays in order for it to be Christmas.  Sure, there were responses that mentioned fruitcake, Scotch cookies, seafood chowder, and meat pies and several other seasonal treats.  However, there was one food item that was repeatedly showing up and that is the traditional plum pudding.  Now, my informal survey is, by no means, scientific at all.  However, it gave a reasonably good indicator that was sufficient for me.  So, this posting is about plum pudding, the traditional Christmas dinner dessert in many Island households.

Plum Pudding
Plum Pudding

Plum Pudding Trivia and SymbolismThis recipe may be halved.

Plum pudding seems to have its origins in England and has been a popular food for centuries.  In preparation for this story, I did some research and discovered some interesting information about the Christmas pudding, or simply “pud”, as it is sometimes called.  How much of this is truth or superstition or folklore, I don’t know, but I found it interesting nonetheless.

The making of the pudding was apparently often made on what was referred to as “Stir-up Sunday” which would occur 4-5 weeks prior to Christmas, timed to coincide with Advent.  This allowed time for the flavors in the pudding to blend and mature in time for Christmas. One theory was to have 13 ingredients in the pudding to represent Christ and the 12 disciples. It was also customary for each member of the family to give a stir to the batter and make a wish while doing so on the premise that the wish would then come true.  Each person was to stir the batter from East to West to commemorate the three Wise Men who traveled in this direction to find the Christ child lying in a manger.  It seems that it was common to mix some tiny charms, coins, tokens, or favors into the pudding batter.  Each of those was said to have some significance to the person who discovered them in his or her piece of pudding.  For example, these might have included a ring (signifying marriage prospect), an anchor (safe harbour), mini horseshoe (luck), a coin (wealth), or a thimble (thriftness).

The pudding was often decorated with a sprig of holly, believed to symbolize the crown of thorns worn by Jesus when he was crucified.  The holly was also believed to have healing powers and would bring good luck. When the pudding was served to the table, it was often soused with liquor and set aflame and this was to signify the passion of Christ.  Who knew that plum pudding had all this symbolism!

Enduring Popularity

While many Islanders make their own plum puddings, there are several opportunities on PEI to buy them.  I checked around with some Island bakeries to see if they produced plum puddings and many do.

However, to find out just how popular the puddings are, year after year, with Islanders, I consulted with Pat Robinson of Charlottetown.  For several years, Pat produced plum puddings in her home kitchen for sale in aid of charity and support to non-profit organizations.  In 2012, Pat made over 500 puddings. From the pudding sale proceeds, Pat donated $4,000 to the Community Legal Information Association, $1,500 to the PEI Humane Society, and $250 to an Island family in need.

Pat believes that plum puddings have remained so popular because they are nostalgic.  They are typically only served at Christmas so that makes them a special once-a-year treat.  The aroma of the steamed pudding triggers warm memories of a traditional way of life and, for many, brings back fond memories of their childhood and of mothers, grandmothers, or aunts making the family plum pudding at Christmas.

Plum pudding has been the traditional Christmas dinner dessert in my family and, in my younger years, it was my grandmother’s role to make the pudding along with the brown sugar sauce to serve over the “pud”.

Ingredients

There are no plums in plum pudding!  Supposedly, several centuries ago, raisins (a primary ingredient in the pudding) were considered as plums.  Combinations of raisins may also be used – I use Lexia (big sticky raisins) and sultanas.  Currents are also a common ingredient and I do add them to my pudding.

Lexia (sticky) Raisins
Lexia (sticky) Raisins

While some cooks use only sultana raisins in their pudding, a variety of dried or candied/glazed fruits may also be added.  I use mixed peel (lemon, orange, and citron) in my pudding.

Mixed Peel
Mixed Peel

The raisins and fruit are bound together by eggs, flour, breadcrumbs, and suet (raw beef fat).  Suet is often available frozen.  However, my preference is fresh product and I am lucky enough to live near a great butcher shop at the Riverview Country Market so I was able to pick up some suet there.

Suet
Suet

A combination of sweet spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cloves are common in the pudding and give it its flavour. I also add mace and cardamom. Sugar and molasses are the typical sweeteners used.  How much molasses is used will also determine the color of the final product.  Some puddings are almost jet-black in color while others, like mine, are more of a medium brown color.  I also add a small amount of strawberry jam for both flavor and moistness.

My Island Bistro Kitchen's Plum Pudding
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Plum Pudding

Not all plum puddings contain alcohol but it is a common ingredient with either spirits or stout being the most typical used.  Citrus juices may be used instead of alcohol, if desired.  The alcohol is believed to increase the shelf life of the pudding.  The featured Island product I use in my plum pudding is Strait Rum produced by Myriad View Artisan Distillery in Rollo Bay, PEI.

Strait Rum from Myriad View Artisan Distillery, Rollo Bay, PEI
Strait Rum from Myriad View Artisan Distillery, Rollo Bay, PEI

The batter for a plum pudding will be almost like a fruit cake consistency.

Mold

Special molds of decorative shapes are available for plum puddings.

Steamed Pudding Mold
Steamed Pudding Mold

You do not need a special mold, though.  A metal bowl or clean tin cans can be used. If you are not presenting the full pudding at the table, the tin cans are an ideal alternative as they make the pudding easy to slice.

Tin Cans Serve as Pudding Molds
Tin Cans Serve as Pudding Molds

However, if you are looking for presentation, a specialized mold will give an attractive shape.

Some still make the pudding in a cloth sack.  I know one cook who simply lays out a large square of a heavy cotton fabric on the counter, sprinkles the cloth with flour, then pours the batter onto the center of the cloth.  Leaving some head room for the pudding to expand, she gathers up the cloth and ties it tightly with string, then places it on a rack in a huge pot of boiling water.  Amazingly, the pudding batter does not leak out nor does water seep into the batter during the boiling process and make the pudding overly wet or soggy.

Steaming/Boiling

Plum pudding can be either steamed or boiled.  Both involve a hot water bath.  This keeps the pudding moist.

If using a mold, cover it with its cover or, if using a metal bowl or tin can, cover with a double layer of tin foil and secure it with string tied around the top of the container.

Place a wire rack on the bottom of a large pot.

Rack in pot
Rack in pot

Place the pudding mold on the wire rack and add boiling water to reach the level of about ½ to ⅔ the way up the side of the pudding mold or tin. Bring the water back to a full boil, then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle boil. It is important that the water boil gently during the cooking/steaming process, not be a rolling boil.  The pudding will generally take 3-4 hours to cook, depending on the size of mold you are using.  The pudding is done when a cake tester or skewer inserted into the center of the pudding comes out clean.  Plum puddings are meant to be very moist, not dry consistency.  Be sure to let the pudding cool to room temperature in the mold before removing it.

To boil the pudding in a bag, the process is similar.  A rack is placed on the bottom of a large pot of boiling water.  The pudding bag is set on the rack.  After the pudding is placed on the rack, the water is brought back to a rolling boil, then the temperature is immediately reduced to allow the water to boil gently.  The pudding is done when it is firm to the touch, usually after 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the pudding.  The bag is removed from the hot water bath, the pudding removed from the cloth sack, and transferred to an ovenproof pan.  The pudding can then be placed in a warm oven, set on a very low temperature, for about 5 minutes to dry off any excess moisture remaining on the pudding.

Storing

Wrap the cooled pudding tightly in plastic wrap and store in a sealed plastic bag.  The pudding will keep for about 3 weeks in the refrigerator or may be frozen for longer storage.

Re-heating

The pudding may be put back into its pudding mold and reheated for 1-2 hours in a hot water bath at the time of serving.  However, the easier way today is to simply microwave the pudding for just a few minutes until it is heated.  While you can heat the entire pudding in the microwave, it is quicker to cut the pudding into slices for reheating.

Serving

There are many different sauces/toppings served with plum pudding – brown sugar sauce, spiced cream, ice cream, or even a dollop of yogurt or whipped cream.  However, in our home, the tradition is to serve the pudding with a basic brown sugar sauce.

Plum Pudding Served with Buttered Rum Brown Sugar Sauce
Plum Pudding Served with Buttered Rum Brown Sugar Sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To give the sauce a little “kick”, I sometimes add a dash of rum to deepen the flavor.  This, of course, is completely optional.  The liquor can be omitted; however, to maintain the same consistency, simply increase the amount of water equal to the amount of liquor called for in the recipe.

For many Islanders, they will finish off their Christmas dinner with plum pudding served with whatever topping is traditional in their household.

I am sharing my recipe for plum pudding with a brown sugar sauce, lightly flavored with rum distilled right here on PEI.

Is plum pudding one of your Christmas traditions?  Does it bring back memories for you?  What do you serve with the plum pudding?

(Printable version of recipe follows at end of posting)

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Plum Pudding

Ingredients:

1 cup sticky raisins (Lexia)
1 cup sultana raisins
1 cup currants
⅔ cup mixed peel (lemon/orange/citron)
½ cup rum

1 cup flour
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp mace
⅛ tsp nutmeg
⅛ tsp allspice
¼ tsp ginger
⅛ tsp cardamom
dash cloves
1 cup fine breadcrumbs

1 cup suet
¾ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
⅓ cup molasses
¼ cup strawberry jam
½ cup milk

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

Plum Pudding Ingredients
Plum Pudding Ingredients

Grease or spray 8-cup (2-quart) pudding mold with cooking oil.

Pudding Mold
Pudding Mold

In bowl, combine raisins and mixed peel.  Add the rum.  Stir.  Set aside while preparing other ingredients.

In separate bowl, combine flour, soda, baking powder, and salt.

Add spices.

Add breadcrumbs.  Stir well to combine.

Stir the raisin and mixed peel mixture into the dry ingredients.

In another bowl, combine the suet, molasses, brown sugar, milk, jam, and eggs.  Mix well.

Pour the wet ingredient mixture into the flour and raisin mixture.  Stir to combine.

Spoon mixture into prepared mold, filling mold about ¾ full.  Cover.

In large stock pot, place a wire rack.  Place filled mold on rack.  Pour boiling water into stock pot, filling to about ½ to ⅔ the way up the side of the mold.  Bring water back to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a low boil over low heat to steam the pudding.  Cook for about 3 hours or until cake tester inserted into the center of the pudding comes out clean.  Make sure the water level stays at the ½ – ⅔ mark throughout the cooking process, adding more water as needed.

Remove pudding mold from the hot water bath and cool on a wire rack for a couple of hours.  Remove cover.

 

Invert pudding mold over a wire rack to remove pudding.

Wrap pudding in plastic wrap or in foil and place in a sealed bag.  The pudding will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or it may be frozen for longer storage.

To reheat, either place the pudding back in its mold and heat in a hot water bath for 1-2 hours or, more simply, slice pudding and place slices on plate then microwave approximately 30-45 seconds per slice.  Serve with desired sauce.

Yield:  Apx. 12 servings

Buttered Rum Brown Sugar Sauce

 ¼ cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 cup water
2 tsp vanilla
¼ cup rum (optional)
¼ cup melted butter

In large microwave-safe bowl, mix flour, sugar, and salt together.  Add remaining ingredients.  Stir to mix well.  Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes until thickened, stirring after each minute.  Serve hot over plum pudding.

Buttered Rum Brown Sugar Sauce
Buttered Rum Brown Sugar Sauce

Yield:  Apx. 10-12 servings

 

 

Happy Holidays!

Steamed Plum Pudding (Christmas Pudding)

A traditional classic Christmas pudding, the perfect finale to Christmas dinner. Serve warm with a rich brown sugar sauce for a decadent holiday dessert.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sticky raisins (Lexia)
  • 1 cup sultana raisins
  • 1 cup currants
  • 2/3 cup mixed peel (lemon/orange/citron)
  • 1/2 cup rum
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp mace
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • dash cloves
  • 1 cup fine breadcrumbs
  • dash cloves
  • 1 cup suet
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup strawberry jam
  • 1/2 cup milk

Buttered Rum Brown Sugar Sauce

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup rum (optional)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Instructions

  1. Assemble ingredients.


    Grease or spray 8-cup (2-quart) pudding mold with cooking oil.


    In bowl, combine raisins and mixed peel. Add the rum. Stir. Set aside while preparing other ingredients.


    In separate bowl, combine flour, soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add breadcrumbs. Stir in the raisin and mixed peel mixture.


    In another bowl, combine the suet, brown sugar, eggs, molasses, jam, and milk. Mix well. Pour into flour and raisin mixture. Stir to combine. Pour mixture into prepared mold, filling mold about ¾ full. Cover.


    In large stock pot, place a wire rack. Place filled mold on rack. Pour boiling water into stock pot, filling to about ½ to ⅔ the way up the side of the mold. Bring water back to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a low boil over low heat to steam the pudding. Cook for about 3 hours or until cake tester inserted into the center of the pudding comes out clean. Make sure the water level stays at the ½ - ⅔ mark throughout the cooking process, adding more water as needed.


    Remove pudding mold from the water and cool on a wire rack for a couple of hours. Remove cover and invert pudding mold over a wire rack to remove pudding. Wrap pudding in plastic wrap or in foil and place in a sealed bag. The pudding will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or it may be frozen for longer storage.


    To reheat, either place the pudding back in its mold and heat in a hot water bath for 1-2 hours or, more simply, slice pudding and place slices on plate then microwave approximately 30-45 seconds per slice. Serve with desired sauce.

Buttered Rum Brown Sugar Sauce

  1. In large microwave-safe bowl, mix flour, sugar, and salt together. Add remaining ingredients. Stir to mix well. Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes until thickened, stirring after each minute. Serve hot over plum pudding.

Recipe Notes

This recipe may be halved.

 

Christmas Plum Pudding
Christmas Plum Pudding

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

Steamed Carrot Pudding Recipe

Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Eggnog Sauce 

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.

Be sure to visit my Facebook page at My Island Bistro KitchenYou may also wish to follow me on twitter @PEIBistro, on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”, and on Instagram at “PEIBistro”.

Stepping Outside the Breadbox: Meet Creative Chef Ilona Daniel

 

Chef Ilona Daniel
Chef Ilona Daniel

The chef profession is changing and evolving, probably faster than ever before in history.  No longer are chefs hidden away in their kitchens.  Today, many are taking the profession and their career to unheard-of heights.  TV cooking shows, culinary events like PEI’s Fall Flavors, the popularity of cookbooks written by accomplished chefs, and chefs who engage and interact with fans via social media have all contributed to giving many chefs celebrity status.  One of those is Chef Ilona Daniel.  If you are a foodie on Prince Edward Island, chances are that you are familiar with Chef Ilona.  This is a chef who has had a multi-faceted career to date and is not afraid to think (and step) outside the box – in fact, I’d go so far as to say Chef Ilona doesn’t even know there is a box!

Following her educational experience at McMaster University, Ilona thought she was heading to law school when suddenly her life took a turn in another direction.  If it hadn’t been for her taking the leap of faith to follow her passion and calling, chances are Ilona might not have become a chef.

Ilona grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, and learned the pleasure of fine cooking by standing at the kitchen counter by the stove as she watched her mom prepare meals.  Cooking was an integral part of her entire being in her formative years and she attributes her mom as having a big influence on her love of cooking.

A chef now for 12 years, Ilona’s first job as a teenager was working in a burger joint at the age of 16.  Even then, whether she knew it or not, her life’s path was already being charted in the food industry.  After making the decision that law school was not her destiny, Ilona studied at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute in Niagara, Ontario.  After completing her studies in Niagara, she was awarded a full scholarship for the Applied Degree in Culinary Operations at the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown, PEI, and was in the first graduating class from the two-year program.  Like many others who have found their way to PEI, Ilona fell in love with the Island and decided to make it her home.

1-photo
Chef Ilona Meticulous at Work

Since graduating from culinary school, Chef Ilona has had an incredibly varied career.  She has been the Head Chef at the Stanhope Beach Resort, Interim Chef at Sims and Off Broadway Restaurants, Founding Chef at the Brickhouse, Executive Chef to the Lieutenant-Governor of PEI at Fanningbank, Executive Chef of Holland College’s Culinary Boot Camps, Resident Food Scene Writer for G Magazine, and Culinary Instructor at the PC Cooking School at the local Superstore.  And, that’s not all.  This fall, she was the Culinary Expert for the PEI2014 Roadshow that travelled across Canada to promote the planned events in PEI in 2014 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference that led to the creation of Canada.  Perhaps you may have seen Chef Ilona on one of several morning TV shows.  Most recently, Chef Ilona has started her own Catering and Consulting Business — Tribe Fresh Cookery.  This is a gal who likes to be busy!

Shucking lobsters live on Global BC Morning Show
Shucking lobsters live on Global BC Morning Show

Out of this impressive resume, I asked Chef Ilona which job was the most interesting.  Her response was starting her own business because she is building it from the ground up.  Her most challenging job was working at the Stanhope Beach Resort because it was a seasonal operation so it meant every year was starting all over again with new staff to be trained quickly.  The job that surprised her the most was being Executive Chef to PEI’s Lieutenant-Governor.  In this role, she prepared food for many events and functions that included a number of award ceremonies to honour Islanders who were making a difference to their communities.  This allowed her to see what a generous and giving community PEI really is.  While in this role, Ilona became the first chef at Fanningbank to use social media to tell the story of what food was being prepared for their Honours and for events. Chef Ilona says her most fulfilling job has been her role as Executive Chef of the Culinary Boot Camps.  Chef Ilona particularly enjoys the Kids Camps where they are shown how to grow vegetables and make their own food.  It’s an opportunity to influence the next generation to eat well.

Teaching at the Kids Culinary Camp at the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown, PEI
Teaching at the Kids Culinary Camp at the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown, PEI

Chef Ilona’s philosophy in cooking is to “cook with love and don’t be afraid to be different”.  She says “there are Chefs whose food can be executed but not necessarily made with passion”.  She does not follow trends but rather follows her heart and takes the road less traveled.  Her belief is that food should be natural and real.  As she says, “good food inspires conversation and doesn’t have to be complicated; use the best local ingredients executed with flawless technique and care about what you are doing”.

I asked Chef Ilona what inspires the recipes and menus she creates.  First, she says she needs to know who her audience is. She makes a point of respecting any dietary concerns they may have and is excited to be creative to cook interesting and tasty foods that meet their dietary requirements.

Gluten-free Boston Cream Pies Prepared for a Function at Fanningbank, home of the Lieutenant-Governor of PEI
Gluten-free Boston Cream Pies Prepared for a Function at Fanningbank, home of the Lieutenant-Governor of PEI

Second, she likes to play on nostalgia, conjuring up memories like the tantalizing scent of apple pie, for example, that will lead to good conversation which goes hand-in-hand with dining.  Third, she respects the cultural roots of the region and is creative when cooking with the foods local to the region.

Telling the Truth About Male and Female Lobsters
Telling the Truth About Male and Female Lobsters

With so many prepared, frozen, and ready-to-go meals on the market today, I asked Chef Ilona why there seems to have been a resurgence in home cooking in the past few years.  She believes it is attributable to a number of health issues, including highly publicized food-born illnesses that were caused by contaminated food.  This has caused consumers to be more concerned about buying modified foods that are full of preservatives and, instead, they are becoming more health-conscious and so are turning to making their own meals.

What’s next for Chef Ilona?  She tells me she is working on a cookbook and exploring the possibility of filming some TV cooking shows.  In the short-term, she is busy getting her Catering and Consulting business up and running.  Ever thinking outside the box, Chef Ilona is offering what she calls “Kitchen Party Cooking Classes”.  This is where she will come to your home and teach you and a small group of friends how to interactively cook a particular dish – e.g., sushi, gourmet pizza, pies, etc.  This is way to engage foodies and get them participating in food preparation, all in the comfort of their own home.  What a great idea for a girls night out, a bachelorette party, or just a get-together for no other reason other than good conversation and food.  If you are interested in having Chef Ilona cater to your event or customize a Kitchen Party Cooking Class, contact her at 902-316-0993 or by email at chef.ilona.daniel@gmail.com

Chef Ilona Teaching
Chef Ilona Teaching

Before we ended our chat, I asked Chef Ilona to answer some short snapper questions:

1.  What is the one kitchen tool/gadget you can’t live without?

Can’t pick just one – have the “fast five” – Chef’s knife, small serrated paring knife, a Swiss peeler, a microplane, and a good quality cutting board.

2.  What is your all time favorite food?

Pizza – any kind!

3.  What is the one non-culinary factoid about Chef Ilona that people might not know about?

I’m a hippie at heart – I like nature and will actually, “stop and smell the roses.”

4.  What do you do when you are not cooking?

I like reading, nature hikes, listening to music, and going to concerts.

5.  What is your favorite recipe featuring an Island product?  Care to share it?

Swedish Potato Casserole. It uses PEI potatoes and PEI-produced Cows Creamery cheese.  (Recipe follows)

 

Swedish Potato Casserole

3 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tsp mace (or nutmeg)
6 eggs, beaten
3 cups Whipping Cream
½ cup flour
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 lb grated Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 cups Cows Aged Cheddar, grated

As you preheat your oven to 375 (use convection baking if you have that option), preheat your 4-6 quart baking dish with 4-6 tbsp butter in the oven.

Whisk thoroughly, the first 6 ingredients together(approximately 3 minutes).  Stir in the potatoes. Pour mixture into the hot casserole dish.  QUICKLY top with cheese, and place back into oven immediately.

Bake for 45 minutes.

 

Waiting for Lobsters to Cook in the Sandpit
Waiting for Lobsters to Cook in the Sandpit

Keep an eye on this rising celebrity chef as she progresses in her career.  Chef Ilona is very creative, brimming with ideas and personality, and she’s going places in her chosen career!

 

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.

Be sure to visit my Facebook page at My Island Bistro Kitchen.  You may also wish to follow me on twitter @PEIBistro, on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”, and on Instagram at PEIBistro.