Roasted Cream of Asparagus Soup

Do you have certain foods you like to have in the different seasons?  One of the springtime treats in my house is asparagus.  Last spring I paid a visit to local asparagus grower, Tim Dixon, of North Tryon.  You can read the story here.  There is something about buying locally-grown foods at the farm gate – the freshness can’t be beat.  I recently dropped by Tim’s farm to pick up my taste of Island-grown asparagus.

Asparagus is a very versatile vegetable and one of the first available in spring in our Maritime climate.  Asparagus is lovely served with a Hollandaise sauce, in a quiche, wrapped with goat cheese in proscuitto and roasted, or in a myriad of other ways.  One of my favorite ways to serve asparagus is as a cream soup.  I like to roast the asparagus first as I find the roasting brings out the nutty, earthy flavors in the asparagus.  Today, I am sharing my recipe for this soup.  While it does take a bit of time to make, the end result is so worth the effort.

Roasted Cream of Asparagus Soup

Ingredients:
1 lb asparagus
1 leek, white and light green parts only
1 stalk celery
1 garlic clove
1 potato
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1 bayleaf
¼ tsp dried dillweed
¼ tsp dried basil
¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup evaporated milk
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
½ cup grated cheddar cheese

For garnish:
Croutons
Asparagus tips
Olive oil

Method:

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Assemble ingredients.

Trim asparagus ends. Cut leek in half. Cut celery stalk and potato into 2-4 chunks.

In large bowl, combine asparagus, leek, celery, potato, and garlic clove. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and toss vegetables to ensure they are well coated with the oil.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place oiled vegetables, single layer, on foil-lined cookie sheet. Roast in oven for about 20- 30 minutes or until vegetables are fork-tender. Remove vegetables from oven and cool slightly.

Loosely chop vegetables into chunks and place in bowl of food processor.

Pulse until vegetables are puréed.

Transfer puréed vegetables to large pot.

Add chicken stock, bayleaf, dillweed, and basil.

Whisk flour into milk until smooth. Pour into soup mixture.

Season with salt and pepper.

Mix ingredients well over medium-low heat, stirring regularly to ensure mixture does not scorch.

When hot and thickened to desired consistency, add Parmesan and grated cheddar cheese. Heat just until cheeses are melted.

Serve hot garnished with croutons and 2-3 steamed asparagus tips. Lightly drizzle a good quality olive oil around the garnish.

Yield: 4-6 servings

This soup is lovely served with a good quality rye bread.

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today. If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my feed by entering your email address in the subscribe box in the upper left-hand sidebar. That way, you will receive an email notification whenever I add a new posting to this blog.

There are lots of ways to connect with “the Bistro” through social media:

Join My Island Bistro Kitchen on Facebook
Follow the Bistro’s tweets on twitter @PEIBistro
Find the Bistro on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”
Follow along on Instagram at “peibistro”

Cranberry and Ginger Sauced Pork Chops

Cranberry and Ginger Sauced Pork Chops
Cranberry and Ginger Sauced Pork Chops

Today, I am sharing a new recipe for pork chops.  In addition to PEI pork, I am also featuring two other PEI products, both from J.J. Stewart Foods and Soda Company, in Stratford.  The first is a new preserve flavor — Cranberry Champagne with Crystallized Ginger — and the second is from their maple mustard line.

This is a very easy recipe to make and does not take a lot of time to prepare. It is essentially pan-fried pork chops with a pan reduction sauce made with chicken stock, orange juice, mustard, and the preserves.  This recipe is easily doubled.

Cranberry and Ginger Sauced Pork Chops

Ingredients:
2 pork chops, fat removed
2 tsp olive oil

½ cup chicken broth
2 tbsp orange juice
1½ tsp balsamic vinegar (I used Liquid Gold’s Grapefruit Balsamic Vinegar)
3 tbsp J. J. Stewart’s Cranberry Champagne with Crystallized Ginger Preserve
1 tbsp J.J.  Stewart’s Dill and Chardonnay Maple Mustard
¼ tsp onion
⅛ tsp garlic powder

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

Over medium heat, add 2 tsp olive oil to small frypan. Add pork chops and cook, turning once until cooked to desired doneness. Remove chops from pan and transfer to oven-proof covered dish. Place pork chops in oven set at very low temperature, just enough to keep them warm while preparing sauce.

Add the chicken broth, orange juice, and balsamic vinegar to frypan. Over medium heat, cook liquid (uncovered) until it reduces to about half.

Whisk in the mustard along with the garlic and onion powders until mixture is smooth.

Whisk in the preserves. Cook until mixture becomes the consistency of syrup.

Return the pork chops to the frypan and heat for about 1 minute, turning the chops at half-time to glaze both sides.

Serve hot with the cranberry-ginger sauce mixture drizzled over top of each pork chop. Serve with potato or rice and your favorite vegetable(s).

Serves: 2

Note:  Other brands of preserves, mustard, and balsamic vinegar may be used in this recipe; however, flavor will differ.

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today. If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my feed by entering your email address in the subscribe box in the upper left-hand sidebar. That way, you will receive an email notification whenever I add a new posting to this blog.

There are lots of ways to connect with “the Bistro” through social media:

Join My Island Bistro Kitchen on Facebook
Follow the Bistro’s tweets on twitter @PEIBistro
Find the Bistro on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”
Follow along on Instagram at “peibistro”

Ruffle Cake for Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea

Happy Mother's Day

 

While Mother’s Day is over, I thought I would share some photos from my Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea.  We celebrated pretty much the whole weekend.  On Saturday, I made and decorated this ruffle cake.  Doesn’t it remind you of the old-fashioned ribbon candy that used to be so popular around Christmas time.

I don’t tend to use this method of decorating often because it takes a powerful amount of icing…surely enough to set anyone on a sugar high for days!  However, it is a real feminine cake style so it is perfect for Mother’s Day.  The photos are showing the color of the icing quite a bit deeper than it was in reality.

My tea this afternoon is really simple.  Just the cake and a good cup of “brew”.  I don’t worry too much about having everything perfectly matched.  Part of the eclectic charm of afternoon tea is having a mixture of china cups and saucers, plates, and teapot.  This teapot is a new acquisition to my collection.  So long as the colors blend together, they work.

This is a Sadler teapot.  I like its “perky” shape and simplistic floral design.

DSC_0739

A cut slice of cake reveals just how much icing is on that cake!

A nice sweet treat in the middle of a Saturday afternoon!

Good thing there is a huge pot of tea to go with all that icing!

 

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today. If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my feed by entering your email address in the subscribe box in the upper left-hand sidebar. That way, you will receive an email notification whenever I add a new posting to this blog.

There are lots of ways to connect with “the Bistro” through social media:

Join My Island Bistro Kitchen on Facebook
Follow the Bistro’s tweets on twitter @PEIBistro
Find the Bistro on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”
Follow along on Instagram at “peibistro”

Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed: The Bistro’s Lobster Egg Benedict

The Bistro's Lobster Eggs Benedict
The Bistro’s Lobster Eggs Benedict

A very happy Mother’s Day to all Moms out there!  I hope you are having a wonderful day and are getting thoroughly spoiled.

Today, I am sharing my recipe for Lobster Eggs Benedict with a delicious Béarnise sauce.  This makes a wonderful brunch entrée and is also perfect for a Mother’s Day breakfast in bed tray although it does take some time and organization to prepare.

Here, on Canada’s East Coast, we are extremely blessed to have ready access to fresh lobster this time of the year.  In fact, in many Island families today, they will be celebrating with lobster (many having their first “feed” of the season), whether it be lobster at home or at one of the Island’s famous lobster suppers that open early just for the occasion today.  They will then close and re-open for the season in a few weeks time.

I have gone with a yellow theme for the breakfast in bed tray using, as my inspiration, a single yellow tulip and my favorite spring-time china cup and saucer featuring daffodils.

I chose a dainty crystal glass for the freshly-squeezed orange juice.

A refreshing fruit cup with orange sections and raspberries adds both color and flavor.

And, of course, the star of the tray – the Lobster Eggs Benedict served on Ciabatta.

Can you taste that succulent lobster?  The Béarnise Sauce is rich so you don’t need a lot of it on each serving and using less is more in this case because you don’t want to “drown” or mask the wonderful color of the red lobster claws!

The Bistro’s Lobster Eggs Benedict

Ingredients:

1 tbsp water
½ tbsp balsamic vinegar (I used Liquid Gold’s pomegranate-quince)
½ tbsp white wine
½ tbsp minced onion
⅛ tsp puréed garlic

1 extra-large egg yolk
½ tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp prepared mustard (I used J.J. Stewart’s Maple Mustard with Dill and Chardonnay)
2 tbsp butter, melted
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sprinkle of chopped chives, parsley, and tarragon

1-2 lobster claws and meat from the lobster’s knuckles for each serving
English muffins or artisan bread, such as Ciabatta, sliced for each serving

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

In bottom of double boiler, heat about 2” water to boiling point. Reduce heat to keep the water at a very gentle simmer.

In top of double boiler and over direct heat (not on top of the boiling water), combine first five ingredients. Simmer over medium heat until mixture is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.

 

page 1-001

Place top of double boiler over saucepan of gently simmering hot water.

Quickly whisk in the egg yolk and whisk vigorously and continuously till smooth. Whisk in lemon juice and mustard. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Whisk until mixture is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (you want it of pouring consistency). Remove from heat and add a sprinkle of chopped chives, parsley, and tarragon.

Note: If mixture thickens too much, whisk in small amount of boiling water, 1 tbsp at a time, to get to pouring sauce consistency.

In small saucepan or frypan, heat ½ – 1 tbsp butter and heat lobster over low heat.

Using your favourite method, poach 1 egg to desired doneness for each serving.

To assemble:

Slice English muffin, or if using an artisan bread like Ciabatta, cut loaf into desired lengths (e.g., 3”- 4” per serving) and slice in half horizontally, using one-half for each serving. Butter each piece. Lay a layer of lettuce on each piece of bread or muffin. Add the warmed sautéed lobster.

Top with the poached egg.

Drizzle Bérnaise Sauce over each serving. Serve with a side of green salad or fresh fruit.

Serves: 2

 

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today. If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my feed by entering your email address in the subscribe box in the upper left-hand sidebar. That way, you will receive an email notification whenever I add a new posting to this blog.

There are lots of ways to connect with “the Bistro” through social media:

Join My Island Bistro Kitchen on Facebook
Follow the Bistro’s tweets on twitter @PEIBistro
Find the Bistro on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”
Follow along on Instagram at “peibistro”

 

Dave’s Lobster – Charlottetown’s Newest Lobster Roll and Taco Eatery

Tonight, I have some mouth-watering photos for you featuring one of PEI’s most famous foods (and certainly one of my favorites) — lobster!

It’s always exciting when a new eatery opens in town.  I was fortunate enough to have been invited to this evening’s pre-opening event for Charlottetown’s newest restaurant featuring lobster rolls and tacos.

I thought you might be interested in seeing the photos of lobster rolls and tacos from Dave’s Lobster in Charlottetown, PEI (now stop drooling on the keyboard and read on!).

Let’s take a look at the menu boards.  Main features are lobster rolls (both hot and cold) and lobster tacos.

However, if you are not a lobster lover, they offer grilled cheese sandwiches using local COWS Creamery cheeses.

One thing I always look for in a lobster roll is lots of big chunks of identifiable lobster (I loathe “mashed” or shredded lobster).  As you can see from the “Fancy Lobster Roll” below, there is no problem with identifying the lobster.  The roll was amply filled, too.  The other thing I look for is how much non-lobster filler has been added to the lobster roll.  This one was filled with 100% pure, fresh lobster and nothing else.  The chopped fresh chives really add a contrast color and make the orange color of the lobster pop.  I had the warm lobster in a roll that was lightly grilled and quite enjoyed it.  This is a bit of a switch for me since I always choose to eat my lobster cold.

Staff were kept busy making the lobster rolls and tacos, all under the watchful eye of Chef Ilona Daniel who owner, Dave Hyndman, engaged as a culinary consultant on his new restaurant.

If lobster rolls aren’t your thing, perhaps a lobster taco would fit the bill!

Lobster Taco
Lobster Taco

So, if your tastebuds lead you to craving lobster, why not head on down to Dave’s Lobster located in Founder’s Hall, 6 Prince Street, just off of Water Street, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.  This is in the same building that houses the PEI Visitor’s Centre and is just steps away from Peake’s Quay and the cruise ship port.

While there is a small eat-in section at Dave’s, eating a lobster roll outside under the bright red umbrellas on a warm summer day would be ideal.

DSC04116

Do you have a new restaurant opening or a culinary event happening in Prince Edward Island?  If so, and provided it fits with the philosophy and theme of my blog, I invite you to get in touch with me as I may be able to feature it here on my Island food blog.

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.  If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my feed by entering your email address in the subscribe box in the upper left-hand sidebar.  That way, you will receive an email notification whenever I add a new posting to this blog.

There are lots of ways to connect with “the Bistro” through social media:

Join My Island Bistro Kitchen on Facebook

Follow the Bistro’s tweets on twitter @PEIBistro

Find the Bistro on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”

Follow along on Instagram at “peibistro”

Date Squares

Date Squares (aka Matrimonial Squares)
Date Squares (aka Matrimonial Squares)

You may know these as Matrimonial Squares.  I have always known them as Date Squares.  Regardless what they are called, they are tasty.  Growing up, Date Squares were pretty much a staple in our household.  They are a good, wholesome square made with a tasty date mixture sandwiched between two layers of a rolled oats, flour, and butter mixture.  While these squares can be made with margarine, they are ever so much better when made with butter!  I add a touch of orange rind to my recipe as it gives them a nice tangy taste.

Date Squares
Date Squares

Date Squares

Ingredients:

8 oz dates, chopped

⅔ cup boiling water

1½ tbsp boiling orange juice

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

½ tsp almond flavouring

 

1⅔ cups rolled oats (not instant)

1 cup + 2 tbsp flour

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

Scant 1 tbsp grated orange rind

1 cup cold butter

 

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

  DSC03556

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line 9” square pan with parchment paper.

In saucepan, combine dates, boiling water and orange juice, and brown sugar.  Let stand 15 minutes.

Over medium-low heat, bring date mixture to a boil and boil gently, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens, about 3-5 minutes.  If mixture thickens too fast, add a couple of tablespoons of water, one tablespoon at a time.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and almond flavouring.  Let cool for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, soda, salt, and grated orange rind.

Cut, or grate, in the cold butter until mixture becomes coarse crumbs.

Press between a scant ⅔ of the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Spread the slightly cooled date mixture over crumb base.  Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over date filling.

Bake until crumbs are golden, about 30 – 35 minutes.

Let cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Remove from pan and cut into squares.

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.  If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my feed by entering your email address in the subscribe box in the upper left-hand sidebar.  That way, you will receive an email notification whenever I add a new posting to this blog.

There are lots of ways to connect with “the Bistro” through social media:

Join My Island Bistro Kitchen on Facebook

Follow the Bistro’s tweets on twitter @PEIBistro

Find the Bistro on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”

Follow along on Instagram at “peibistro”