Cock-A-Leekie Soup

Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Cock-A-Leekie Soup

Cock-A-Leekie soup was on the menu during my first cruise in 1991 and I have loved this simple fare ever since.

While its origins are unclear, this savoury broth soup is most often associated with Scotland.  In particular, it is often standard fare as a starter on menus for “Burns Night” dinners which, of course, celebrate the birth of Scotland’s famed poet and lyricist, Robert Burns (aka Rabbie Burns) on January 25th. Burns, as you may know, wrote many famous poems and lyrics during his short life and one you may most recognize would be “Auld Lang Syne” which is often sung on New Year’s Eve.

And, as a wee bit of soup trivia, “Cockie Leekie” was also one of two soup options on the Titantic’s  First Class Passengers’ lunch menu on the  day the ship sank in April, 1912.

Earliest tracings of this soup date back to the 1500s. Of course, with Scottish ancestry, I am wondering if my ancestors from the Isle of Skye may have dined on Cock-A-Leekie soup. As I write this posting, it is the eve of “Burns Night” so it seems apropos that I would do a posting with a Scottish flavour.    I am, therefore, sharing my recipe for Cock-A-Leekie soup.

Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Cock-A-Leekie Soup

So, what’s in Cock-A-Leekie soup? Well, the answer is, not much, actually.  As its name suggests, the two main ingredients are chicken and leeks – in fact, you may hear the soup called “Chicken Cock-A-Leekie” or “Chicken and Leek Soup”.  Original recipes also called for the addition of prunes in this soup and it’s unclear as to why unless they were added for extra nutrition.  Barley is often added to the soup to act as a filler and to provide some natural thickening to the broth.  Rice is sometimes used instead of barley.  Very little seasoning is added to a traditional Cock-A-Leekie soup, often nothing more than a bit of thyme and parsley.

Over the years that I have been making this soup which, by the way, freezes well, I have “jazzed” it up a tad to add some additional flavour. By adding some parsnip, carrots, celery, and rutabaga, nutritional value is increased and the soup is more filling and can, in fact, be used as a main meal for lunch, as opposed to a starter.  My recipe also has some flavour boost from minced garlic, allspice, and Herbes de Provence.  I don’t add a lot of any of these but just enough to increase the flavour a bit.

Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Cock-A-Leekie Soup

I use chicken breasts with bone in for this recipe.  In my view, any meat or poultry with the bone in has more flavour than boneless versions. Because chicken is one of the main ingredients in this soup, about 2 cups of meat will be required.  Generally, about 1 1/4 lbs of chicken breast, bone in, will yield around 2 cups of cooked chicken, diced. I also add a bay leaf, some liquid chicken bouillon, and a handful of celery leaves to the chicken as it cooks – the leaves from 2-3 stalks of celery will suffice.  I find chicken can be very bland unless it is given a flavour boost.

The chicken for this recipe can either be diced or shredded. My preference is to dice the chicken (as shown in the photo below) as it makes a tidier soup and I find the shredded chicken to be too stringy for my liking.

Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Cock-A-Leekie Soup

The different vegetables in this soup require different cooking times so, parsnips and rutabaga and celery get added first to give them a head start on the cooking process.

Because this soup does not need to cook for hours on the stove, I recommend the use of pearl barley over pot barley because it cooks quicker.  In addition, I have added some split red lentils to the recipe as they, along with the barley, help to naturally thicken the broth without adding any other thickening agent (such as flour or cornstarch). Lentils belong to the legume family and are edible pulses which are crops harvested solely for the dry seed.

Split Red Lentils
Split Red Lentils

Because the split red lentils cook quickly and the idea is that they not turn to mush in this recipe and detract from the soup’s broth texture, add them near the end of the soup cooking process. Lentils are, of course, rich in fibre, have a high protein content, and are a good source of vitamins and minerals all of which naturally lead to numerous health benefits. So, they are a good contributor to healthy soups.

This soup can be served with crusty rolls, baguette, biscuits, crackers, or with traditional Scottish oatcakes as I have done here.

Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Cock-A-Leekie Soup

I hope you will try Cock-A-Leekie soup and that you enjoy it as much as I do.

Cock-A-Leekie Soup

Ingredients:

5 cups water
2½ tbsp liquid chicken bouillon
1¼ lb. skinless chicken breasts, bone in (should yield apx. 2 cups diced chicken, cooked)
1 bay leaf
Handful of celery leaves

1 small parsnip, sliced thinly
1 celery rib, sliced
2/3 cup rutabaga, diced
2 tbsp pearl barley
¾ tsp salt
1 medium carrot, sliced
2 cups sliced leek (white and light green parts) – apx. 1 large leek
1½ tsp minced garlic
1 tsp brown sugar

2 tbsp split red lentils
1/8 tsp allspice
¾ tsp Herbes de Provence
¾ tsp dried parsley

Sour cream, parsley, and truffle oil for garnish (optional)

Method:

In medium-sized soup pot, bring the water and chicken bouillon to a boil. Add chicken breasts, bay leaf, and celery leaves. Cover. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a slow simmer and cook until chicken pieces are cooked, using a meat thermometer to check doneness.

Remove chicken pieces from broth and transfer to heat-resistant plate to cool slightly before removing meat from the bones. Remove and discard celery leaves.

While chicken is cooling, add the parsnip, celery, rutabaga, barley, and salt to the broth.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and cook vegetables for about 10 minutes then add the carrot, leek, garlic and brown sugar.

Sliced leek for Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Sliced leek for Cock-A-Leekie Soup

Return mixture to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 15 minutes. Add the lentils, allspice, Herbes de Provence, and parsley. Cook for approximately 8-10 minutes, just until lentils are tender but not mushy.

Split Red Lentils
Split Red Lentils

Dice, or shred, chicken and add to soup. Heat gently for about 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.

Ladle into bowls. Garnish with a dob of sour cream, fresh parsley, and a drizzle of truffle oil, if desired.

Yield: Apx. 6 servings (1 cup each)

Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Cock-A-Leekie Soup

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Cock-A-Leekie Soup

Yield: 6

Serving Size: 1-cup

A tasty broth-based soup filled with nutritious ingredients and flavour.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups water
  • 2½ tbsp liquid chicken bouillon
  • 1¼ lb. skinless chicken breasts, bone in (should yield apx. 2 cups diced chicken, cooked)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Handful of celery leaves
  • 1 small parsnip, sliced thinly
  • 1 celery rib, sliced
  • 2/3 cup rutabaga, diced
  • 2 tbsp pearl barley
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 2 cups sliced leek (white and light green parts) – apx. 1 large leek
  • 1½ tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp split red lentils
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • ¾ tsp Herbes de Provence
  • ¾ tsp dried parsley
  • Sour cream, parsley, and truffle oil for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. In medium-sized soup pot, bring the water and chicken bouillon to a boil. Add chicken breasts, bay leaf, and celery leaves. Cover. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a slow simmer and cook until chicken pieces are cooked, using a meat thermometer to check doneness.
  2. Remove chicken pieces from broth and transfer to heat-resistant plate to cool slightly before removing meat from the bones. Remove and discard celery leaves.
  3. While chicken is cooling, add the parsnip, celery, rutabaga, barley, and salt to the broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and cook vegetables for about 10 minutes then add the carrot, leek, garlic and brown sugar. Return mixture to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 15 minutes. Add the lentils, allspice, Herbes de Provence, and parsley. Cook for approximately 8-10 minutes, just until lentils are tender but not mushy.
  4. Dice, or shred, chicken and add to soup. Heat gently for about 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.
  5. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with a dob of sour cream, fresh parsley, and a drizzle of truffle oil, if desired.
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Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Cock-A-Leekie Soup

Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes

Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcake
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcake

Today marks my 4th Blogiversary and I’m celebrating with my newly-developed recipe for Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes!  These are perfect for any event, any time of the year but, with their pink swirl centers and mile high frosting, I think they would be very suitable for Valentines Day. So, they’re doing double duty as they celebrate my 4th Blogiversary and act as a catalyst for Valentine’s baking.

Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcake
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcake

These cupcakes deliver a flavor punch with coconut milk, amaretto, shredded coconut, and maraschino cherries. That’s a flavor combo that’s hard to beat!

Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes

In addition to the wonderful flavor, the coconut milk makes these cupcakes lovely and moist. They also have a fine tender crumb which makes them very velvety when you sink your teeth into them.

Here are my tips and recommendations for making cupcakes:

  • Use the best quality ingredients available.  Don’t substitute margarine for the butter or artificial vanilla for pure vanilla in this recipe. Using lesser quality ingredients will affect the quality and taste of the cupcakes.
  • Measure ingredients accurately – that means, for example, spooning the flour into the measuring cup and then leveling it off with the flat side of a knife, without stirring the flour around in the cup or tapping it to shake the flour down into the cup.
  • Use the stated size of eggs – this matters as extra-large eggs (which this recipe calls for) yield more liquid than do large eggs. If you use smaller eggs than the recipe calls for, it will yield a drier cupcake.
  • Resist the urge to add increased amounts of ingredients such as more coconut or cherries than the recipe states as the liquid content in this recipe has been calculated to moisten the dry ingredients accurately. If more dry ingredients, such as extra coconut, are added without increasing the liquid content, the cupcakes will be dry.
  • All the ingredients should be at room temperature as this will help them to blend together better.
  • The eggs should be at room temperature for about 20 minutes or so before using them in this recipe.
  • Soften the butter at room temperature.  Never melt the butter in the microwave to soften it as it will change the properties of the butter.
  • Add the dry and liquid ingredients alternately in three parts, always starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  • Don’t overbeat the batter as this can make a tough crumb and a heavy, dense cupcake as opposed to a light-textured cupcake. Beat the batter on low speed and just until all the ingredients are incorporated.
  • Grease the top of the cupcake pan as, even if paper cupcake liners are used, there will always be at least one rogue cupcake that will rise up and stick to the top of the pan, making it difficult to remove the cupcake without damaging it.
  • Make sure your oven temperature is accurate and that the oven has been preheated. If the oven temperature is too high, it will dry out the cupcakes; if it is too low, they won’t rise and bake properly.
  • It’s also important not to overbake the cupcakes as that will make them dry. I recommend checking them at about the 14 or 15-minute baking point by either a light finger touch to see if the top of the cupcake is set and if it bounces back from the touch. Alternatively, use a cake tester to insert into the center of a cupcake. If it comes out clean, the cupcakes are baked.
  • Let the cupcakes rest in the cupcake pan for 3-4 minutes to allow them to set then gently remove them from the pan and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes

The frosting consists of two flavors to complement the cupcake flavor – coconut and cherry. Combined, these two recipes will give you ample to frost 12 cupcakes with mile high swirled frosting as shown in the photos.  If, however, that’s just a tad too much frosting for your taste, simply make just one of the frosting recipes.

Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcake
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcake

I used Wilton decorating tip 2D for the swirl frosting and the two colors were achieved by filling one side of the decorating bag with white frosting and the other side with the cherry frosting.

Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

½ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp Amaretto
½ cup coconut milk
1/3 cup shredded coconut
¼ cup chopped maraschino cherries, well drained and patted dry

Pink food coloring

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 12 muffin cups or, alternatively, line each cup with paper cupcake liners.

In medium-sized bowl, combine four dry ingredients. Set aside.

Fit mixer with paddle attachment. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and Amaretto.

Add the dry ingredients in three parts alternately with the coconut milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.

Remove ½ cup of the batter and add the food coloring to it, just enough to tint the batter pink.

Add the coconut and chopped cherries to the white batter.

Fill each muffin cup about 1/3 full with the white coconut batter. Divide the ½ cup of pink batter between the 12 cupcakes.

Divide the remaining white batter evenly between the 12 cupcakes.Use the tip of a knife to gently swirl the pink batter into the white in each cupcake.

Bake in center of oven for 15-19 minutes or until cupcakes spring back to a light touch or a cake tester inserted into center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan for 3-4 minutes then carefully transfer them to wire rack to cool completely.

Frost and decorate cupcakes as desired. The two frosting recipes provided with this recipe will, combined, easily frost the 12 cupcakes with the amount of swirled frosting shown in the photographs that accompany the cupcake recipe. If less frosting is desired, make only one of the recipes.

Yield: 12 cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Coconut Frosting

¼ cup butter
¼ cup shortening
1 tbsp coconut milk
¼ tsp almond flavouring
Apx. 2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
Sprinkle of salt (optional)

Beat butter and shortening together. Add coconut milk and almond flavouring. Blend in enough sifted confectioners sugar for desired spreading consistency.

Cherry Frosting

¼ cup butter
¼ cup shortening
1½ tbsp cherry juice
¼ tsp almond flavouring
Apx. 2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
Sprinkle of salt (optional)

Beat butter and shortening together. Add cherry juice and almond flavouring. Blend in enough confectioners sugar for desired spreading consistency.

To achieve dual-colored swirl frosting, fit cake decorating bag with Wilton 2D decorating tip. Fill one side of decorating bag with the white frosting and the other half with the pink frosting. Pipe onto cupcake in swirl motion.

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Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Rich and decadent cupcakes packed full of coconut flavour and covered in mile-high coconut and cherry frosting

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp Amaretto
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup chopped maraschino cherries, well drained and patted dry
  • Pink food coloring
  • Coconut Frosting:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk
  • ¼ tsp almond flavouring
  • Apx. 2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
  • Sprinkle of salt (optional)
  • Cherry Frosting:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • 1½ tbsp cherry juice
  • ¼ tsp almond flavouring
  • Apx. 2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
  • Sprinkle of salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 12 muffin cups or, alternatively, line each cup with paper cupcake liners.
  2. In medium-sized bowl, combine four dry ingredients. Set aside.
  3. Fit mixer with paddle attachment. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and Amaretto.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in three parts alternately with the coconut milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  5. Remove ½ cup of the batter and add the food coloring to it, just enough to tint the batter pink.
  6. Add the coconut and chopped cherries to the white batter.
  7. Fill each muffin cup about 1/3 full with the white coconut batter. Divide the ½ cup of pink batter between the 12 cupcakes. Divide the remaining white batter evenly between the 12 cupcakes. Use the tip of a knife to gently swirl the pink batter into the white in each cupcake.
  8. Bake in center of oven for 15-19 minutes or until cupcakes spring back to a light touch or a cake tester inserted into center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan for 3-4 minutes then carefully transfer them to wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Frost and decorate cupcakes as desired. The two frosting recipes provided with this recipe will, combined, easily frost the 12 cupcakes with lots of swirled frosting. If less frosting is desired, make only one of the recipes.
  10. Coconut Frosting: Beat butter and shortening together. Add coconut milk and almond flavouring. Blend in enough sifted confectioners sugar for desired spreading consistency.
  11. Cherry Frosting: Beat butter and shortening together. Add cherry juice and almond flavouring. Blend in enough confectioners sugar for desired spreading consistency.
  12. To achieve dual-colored swirl frosting, fit cake decorating bag with Wilton 2D decorating tip. Fill one side of decorating bag with the white frosting and the other half with the pink frosting. Pipe onto cupcake in swirl motion.
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Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes

Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

There are so many ways to make rice pudding. Some use the stove-top method, others (like me) use the oven. Some bake the rice pudding directly in the oven but I prefer the hot water bath method for reasons explained below.

For rice pudding, I prefer a short grain rice such as Arborio which is what I have used in this pudding. Arborio rice (often used in risotto) is named after the Italian town where it is grown.  What makes it my preference for rice pudding is that, when cooked, it has lovely round pearl-like grains that hold their shape and don’t turn to “mush”.  This rice also has a high starch level and that helps to self-thicken the pudding as it bakes and also contributes to its creamy texture.

Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

This pudding is true comfort food. The addition of coconut milk gives the pudding a subtle hint of coconut but not so strong that it detracts from the basic flavour we expect to find in an old-fashioned rice pudding.  I think the texture of the coconut milk also helps to keep the custard creamy.

I have used a maple syrup that was infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. This does add a bit of discrete flavor to the pudding but, certainly, plain maple syrup would work just fine. I have added a blend of three spices – cardamon, nutmeg, and cinnamon – but again, not in large quantities because I don’t want the pudding to be overly spiced. I just want it to be delicately flavored.

Raisins, a traditional addition to rice puddings, do need to be “plumped” before adding them to the pudding as, otherwise, they don’t become very soft in the custard.  It’s not very pleasing to the palette to bite into hard, dry raisins amidst a soft creamy custard. For this recipe, I have soaked the 1/3 cup of raisins in about 1 tablespoon of Amaretto by placing these two ingredients in a small covered dish for at least 45 minutes.  Shaking the dish periodically helps to ensure that all raisins are coated with the liqueur.  In fact, you could leave them soaking for a couple of hours (the raisins will just be extra happy if you do so!).

Rice pudding custard is actually quite delicate and, for greatest success, it is best if the egg proteins are protected from direct hot heat and from fast baking.  Because the pudding is made with an egg-milk custard, it is therefore, in my opinion, best if it is baked slowly in a hot water bath.  This is simply a method of baking whereby the pudding dish(es) are placed inside a larger pan into which hot water is poured up to about half way on the pudding dishes or even up to the level of the custard in the ramekins. However, the water should not be so deep that the pudding dishes start to float. They need to sit stable in the water as the pudding bakes.

The benefits of baking this pudding in a hot water bath are several. First, the hot water adds steam and moisture to the oven which will prevent the puddings from drying out and cracking on the top as they bake. Second, any custard mixture of milk and eggs has the potential to curdle – that’s when the milk-egg mixture separates from the solids (in this case, the rice and raisins).  Because it is a slower method of baking and the hot water provides an even heat source, the hot water bath method helps to prevent the risk of curdled custard.  The hot water also helps the custard to bake evenly, both its outside edges as well as its center.  Without the hot water baking method, the custard could bake quicker on the outside edges of the pudding than in the center and part of the pudding would be dried out. Lastly, the slow baking combined with an oven of moist heat will help to keep the pudding creamy in texture as opposed to “rubbery”.

I place the 9″x13″x2″ pan with the ramekins in it on the oven shelf and just ever-so-slightly pull the shelf out, just enough that I can safely pour the hot water into the larger baking pan without getting a burn. I find this is a safer method than filling the pan with the hot water and transporting it to the oven. The water needs to be kept at the same level during the baking process so, since it naturally evaporates, you may need to add more hot water as the pudding bakes.

Bake the puddings for approximately 1 hour or until pudding top edges are set, centers are still a little “jiggly”, and the puddings are golden-colored. A knife inserted in or near the centre of the pudding should come out clean if the pudding is done. Don’t overbake the pudding as it will dry out and be less creamy. Remove ramekins from water bath and let them stand on a wire rack to set for approximately 10 minutes before serving.

Adding toasted coconut to the top of this pudding is optional but the crunchiness and flavour are an added touch.  Toasting coconut is simple. The coconut gets spread thinly on a baking sheet and baked in a 350° F oven for about 8-9 minutes. It is important to watch that the coconut does not burn and it should be turned once or twice during the toasting process to ensure even color.

Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

Ingredients:

1¼ cups cooked Arborio rice
1/3 cup raisins, soaked in 1 tbsp Amaretto
½ cup coconut milk
¾ cup whole milk
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cinnamon

¼ cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened), toasted (optional)

Method:

In small covered dish, soak raisins in Amaretto for at least 45 minutes to plump them, shaking or stirring occasionally to ensure all raisins are coated with the liqueur.

Cook rice according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease 6 – ¾-cup size ramekin dishes.

In large bowl, whisk together the coconut and whole milk, egg, sugar, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, and spices. Add rice and raisins and stir gently. Divide mixture between 6 prepared ramekins and place in 9”x13”x2” pan. Pour hot water into pan up to half-way on the sides of the ramekins or even up to about the level of the custard in the dishes. However, make sure the ramekins are not floating in the water.

Bake for approximately 1 hour or until pudding top edges are set, centers are still a little “jiggly” and puddings are golden-colored. A knife inserted in or near the centre of the pudding should come out clean if the pudding is done. Remove ramekins from water bath and let stand on wire rack to set for approximately 10 minutes before serving. To serve, top each with toasted coconut, if desired.

[To toast coconut: Spread coconut on baking sheet and bake in 350° F oven for 8-9 minutes, stirring once or twice, until coconut is lightly tanned in color.]

Yield: 6 servings.

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Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

Serving Size: Apx. 6 servings

A delicate coconut-flavored creamy baked rice pudding with subtle spice flavoring

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups cooked Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup raisins, soaked in 1 tbsp Amaretto
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened), toasted (optional)

Instructions

  1. In small covered dish, soak raisins in Amaretto for at least 45 minutes to plump them, shaking or stirring occasionally to ensure all raisins are coated with the liqueur.
  2. Cook rice according to package directions.
  3. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease 6 – ¾-cup size ramekin dishes.
  4. In large bowl, whisk together the coconut and whole milk, egg, sugar, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, and spices. Add rice and raisins and stir gently. Divide mixture between 6 prepared ramekins and place in 9”x13”x2” pan. Pour hot water into pan up to half-way on the sides of the ramekins or even up to about the level of the custard in the dishes. However, make sure the ramekins are not floating in the water.
  5. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until pudding top edges are set, centers are still a little “jiggly” and puddings are golden-colored. A knife inserted in or near the centre of the pudding should come out clean if the pudding is done. Remove ramekins from water bath and let stand on wire rack to set for approximately 10 minutes before serving. To serve, top each with toasted coconut, if desired.
  6. [To toast coconut: Spread coconut on baking sheet and bake in 350°F oven for 8-9 minutes, stirring once or twice, until coconut is lightly tanned in color.]
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Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

 

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Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole

 

Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole
Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole

Last week I cooked a boiled ham dinner and, despite that I had my local butcher cut me a small smoked picnic ham, it still had a lot of meat on it. You can get my method for making a boiled ham dinner here. After sandwiches and leftovers for a few nights, I decided it was time to find another use for the rest of the ham. I am not one to throw out food so I always find ways to use up leftovers.

Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole
Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole

So, I made what I call a Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole aptly named because, in addition to the ham, it has pineapple, rice, and bright green broccoli florets.  This casserole is not difficult to make but it does take a bit of time, planning, and coordination since the rice and broccoli have to be pre-cooked and the pineapple fried (yes, fried).

I use about 7.5 ounces of diced cooked ham for this recipe.  Use fresh broccoli if at all possible and only barely cook it.  Broccoli cooks super fast and, if it is overcooked, it may go to “mush” when it is baked in the casserole.  For this recipe, it needs no more cooking than a minute or two.

Fresh pineapple can be used but I use canned pineapple chunks because I use 1/4 cup of the pineapple juice in the sauce to give it a bit of sweet flavour.

Any kind of cream-based soup can be used in this casserole – cream of celery, broccoli, broccoli and cheese, or mushroom. I often use cream of celery soup as it is a mild soup that doesn’t compete with other flavours in the casserole but the other soups work well, too.

Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole
Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole
Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole

Ingredients:

½ cup cooked rice
1 – 10 oz can cream of celery soup (or cream soup of choice)
2 tbsp sour cream
1/3 cup milk
½ tbsp liquid chicken bouillon
½ tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
5 oz fresh broccoli florets
7½ oz cooked ham, diced (apx. 1½ cups)
1 cup pineapple chunks, drained (retain ¼ cup of the juice)

½ cup fine bread crumbs
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese

Method:

Cook rice according to package instructions

In large measuring cup, mix the soup, sour cream, milk, pineapple juice, and liquid chicken bouillon together. Set aside.

Melt butter in small frypan over medium high heat. Stir in brown sugar until it melts. Add pineapple chunks and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cook broccoli in boiling salted water over high heat for 1-2 minutes. Do not overcook.

To assemble casserole:

Grease a 1.5 litre casserole dish or, alternatively, spray with cooking oil. Spread cooked broccoli on bottom of casserole dish.

Sprinkle cooked rice on top of broccoli.

DSCN2108

Add a layer of pineapple chunks.

Lastly, add the layer of ham.

Pour soup mixture over casserole contents.

In small dish, mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese together and sprinkle over casserole.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until top of casserole is lightly tanned and soup starts to bubble around the edges. Remove from oven and let stand for at least 10 minutes to allow casserole to set before serving.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole
Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole

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Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole

Yield: Apx. 4-6 servings

A casserole filled with a wonderful blend of flavors - ham, rice, broccoli, and pineapple all smothered in a rich creamy sauce.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup cooked rice
  • 1 – 10oz can cream of celery soup (or cream soup of choice)
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • ½ tbsp liquid chicken bouillon
  • ½ tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 5 oz. fresh broccoli florets
  • 7½ oz cooked ham, diced (apx. 1½ cups)
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, drained (retain ¼ cup of the juice)
  • ½ cup fine bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Cook rice according to package instructions
  2. In large measuring cup, mix the soup, sour cream, milk, pineapple juice, and liquid chicken bouillon together. Set aside.
  3. Melt butter in small frypan over medium high heat. Stir in brown sugar until it melts. Add pineapple chunks and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Cook broccoli in boiling salted water over high heat for 1-2 minutes. Do not overcook.
  5. To assemble casserole:
  6. Grease a 1.5 litre casserole dish or, alternatively, spray with cooking oil. Spread cooked broccoli on bottom of casserole dish. Sprinkle cooked rice on top of broccoli. Add a layer of pineapple chunks. Lastly, add the layer of ham.
  7. Pour soup mixture over casserole contents.
  8. In small dish, mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese together and sprinkle over casserole.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until top of casserole is lightly tanned and soup starts to bubble around the edges. Remove from oven and let stand for at least 10 minutes to allow casserole to set before serving.
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Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole
Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole

Glitz ‘n Glamour New Year’s Eve Tablesetting

New Year’s Eve is the perfect occasion to bring on all the bling, glitz, and glamour …. and that includes dressing up the dining table.  I thought you might be interested in taking a peek at how I transformed my dining room from Christmas into an elegant venue for a New Year’s Eve dinner. And, yes, each guest had a glittery and elegant silver or black hat to wear for the evening.

As you can see, the color theme was silver, black and white.

Each place setting was framed by a silver charger plate with a rhinestone edge.

A small glass dessert dish contained silver cola balls at each placesetting.

Silver Cola Balls
Silver Cola Balls

I used one of my napkin ring sets that has a lot of bling to contain the black napkin because, well, there’s no such thing as too much bling on NYE, is there!

I think the napkin looks very stylish and elegant placed diagonally over the edge of the plate and charger. For elegant and sophisticated tablesettings, always use a high quality cloth napkin.

Of course, any “blingy” tablesetting needs lots of glassware to reflect the light. Each placesetting had three glasses – a water glass, a white wine glass, and a champagne flute.  When I am setting an elegant table, I try to make sure the glassware all matches.  For more casual tablesettings, mix-and-match glassware may work but, for formal settings, I use matched glassware. The more cuts there are in the glassware, the more dazzling it is in different lighting situations.

I went with a very simple centerpiece. Two glittery silver pillar candles on medium-height glass candlesticks and a white and deep rose floral arrangement in a small black urn.

For the floral centerpiece, I used bright rose-colored Gerber daisies surrounded by a collar of white carnations with green berry highlights.

With all the white, silver, and glass on the table, I thought the centerpiece needed a bit of bright color to stand out.

Simple yet elegant.

And, of course, there were little Hershey kisses for midnight! It’s all about the little details!

Here’s an overhead view of the table. Once I set a table, I always take a photo as that will quickly let me see what’s out of place and needs adjustment. Amazing how a photograph will reveal what an eye does not always see!

To keep the glitz going, I hung some mirror balls, glittery snowfakes, and glass from my dining room lighting fixture.

These are simply inexpensive ornaments I purchased at a dollar store.  They do the trick!

Glittery snowflakes!

My fireplace mantle featured winter white and black. Tick-tock as we made our way to midnight!

The black lanterns tied in with the black on the table and provided the glow of soft candle light as evening darkness settled in.

The champagne bucket was filled with ice.

And the champagne flutes stood at the ready.

Then, the beverage was poured…..

And, before long, it was the midnight hour!

I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into my New Year’s Eve dining room.  Best wishes for health, happiness, and prosperity in the new year. Happy New Year, everyone!

To view other seasonal tablesettings, click on the links below:

Christmas Eve Tablesetting and Dinner
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
Purple Tablesetting for the Holidays
Evergreens and Reindeer Christmas Tablesetting
Cupcake Tablescape

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Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.  If you enjoyed this posting, please share it on your social media websites.

Connect with “the Bistro” through the following social media:

Join My Island Bistro Kitchen on Facebook

Follow “the Bistro’s” tweets on Twitter

Follow “the Bistro” on Pinterest

Follow “the Bistro” on Instagram

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New Year's Eve Tablesetting
New Year’s Eve Tablesetting