Perfect Peach Marmalade Recipe

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

For as long as I can remember, peach marmalade has been part of our family’s pantry of preserves.  As a small child, I remember the yearly ritual of my great grandmother (who we always knew as “Gram”) making peach marmalade.  And a ritual it was.

Ontario Peaches
Peaches

The Ontario baskets of peaches were highly anticipated each August and we would pick up a basket for Gram, carefully inspecting each peach to ensure it was free of blemishes (lest we hear about it) and ensuring we had one of the large baskets with just the right amount of peaches in it. We would hunt down the best orange we could find (it had to be juicy and, at that time, that was hard to find in August when oranges were out of season), and a small bottle of red maraschino cherries.  We would ensure Gram had all the supplies and she would carefully and tediously get the pulp prepared for the revered peach marmalade.  Then, the following day, she and my grandmother would spend the day together making this special marmalade, slowly cooking and gently stirring it over the wood stove. I think my great grandmother savored every minute of its production as much, I suspect, as eating the actual marmalade.

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

You see, in my great grandmother’s day (she was born in 1883), peach marmalade was considered a luxury and was not the type of preserve that just anyone in our area made.  My ancestors of the day would have been familiar with strawberry, raspberry,  blackberry, black currant, and pumpkin jams but that would have been about the extent of the repertoire of preserving. These would have been items that would have been grown locally on their farms or, in the case of raspberries and blackberries, probably along the roadsides near their homes.

Peaches
Peaches

Where my great grandmother got the recipe for peach marmalade, I have no idea but my best guess is probably in the local newspaper.  This marmalade would have been cooked on an old wood stove and I always marvel at how the cooks of the day were able to produce what they did because the heat was not easy to control. Today, when I think of myself in comparison to my great grandmother, I have a completely computerized stove that produces consistent and accurate heat all the time.

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

The recipe I use today is a modified version of my great grandmother’s which was passed down to me with the list of three ingredients (peaches, oranges, and maraschino cherries) and a method that was somewhat vague on the details. The batch that my great grandmother made was more than three times the size of the one I make. Here’s how the instructions read: “Over the peaches and oranges, put white sugar. Let stand overnight. In the morning, add a bottle of maraschino cherries cup up. Also add the juice and boil slowly on back of stove until thick. Then bottle.” If you weren’t someone who had some experience making jams and marmalades, this would not have been much to go on. For example, how much sugar? Those with experience will know that, as a general rules of thumb and in the absence of any information to the contrary, it is typically, cup for cup, sugar-to-fruit pulp but, for an inexperienced cook, I suspect most would not have a clue about the amount of sugar needed for a successful batch of the marmalade.

Over the years, I have adapted this recipe and certainly cut it down in size as I don’t need the amount of jam that 24 peaches would make! I also don’t let the peaches sit overnight in the sugar because I don’t think it is necessary and I think it would discolor the peaches. I also add a bit of lemon to my marmalade, have defined how many cherries are needed, and have omitted the cherry juice because I think it discolors the wonderful peach color of the marmalade. The other ingredient I have added is Peach Schnapps.  My teetotaler great grandmother would be horrified as I can confidently state she would not have had such a liqueur in her house! Anyhoo…….

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

I am not sure how my great grandmother, a widow living alone by this time, would have eaten up this much peach marmalade but a new batch was made annually. Whether she ate it with homemade bread toasted over her wood stove or whether she served it in a small custard dish with biscuits for a light tea/supper, I am not certain. All I know is that, up until the time she died at the age of 99, the peach marmalade was made every year. After she was no longer able to participate in its production, my grandmother made it on her own so my great grandmother would continue to enjoy it. After my great grandmother passed away, however, my grandmother did not continue the annual tradition of making the peach marmalade.

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

I can’t say that making peach marmalade is an annual tradition with me.  I do, however, make it many years and I always think of my two grandmothers and their tradition with this marmalade.

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

Making this marmalade will take a little time as it has to simmer on the stove for about an hour or so. Don’t overcook it (it does not need 2 hours of cooking like my great-grandmother’s instructions said) as it will become too thick and lose its spreading quality and wonderful color (it will become very dark). The marmalade can be made without the Peach Schnapps, of course. The liqueur, however, does deepen the peach flavor a bit. Don’t go overboard on the liqueur as it not only will be too intense but the liquid content will alter the consistency of the marmalade. If you choose not to include the liqueur, you may wish to add a half teaspoon of almond extract, although that is not mandatory either.

Ensure the jars are sterilized before filling with the marmalade. Leave about 1/4″ headroom in each jar. Ensure they are properly sealed with heated lids. I recommend that the jars be processed in a canner with a hot water bath for 10 minutes, following the canner manufacturer’s instructions.

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Peach Marmalade

Ingredients:

7 large peaches, washed
Zest of orange
1 medium-sized orange, seeded and chopped into small pieces
Zest of ½ lemon
½ medium-sized lemon, seeded and chopped into small pieces
1/3 cup maraschino cherries, finely chopped
1½ tbsp Peach Schnapps (optional) or ½ tsp almond flavoring
Granulated sugar equal to amount of fruit pulp

Method:

Plunge peaches in boiling water for about 1 minute to loosen skin.  Peel.  Halve the peaches and remove and discard stones. Dice the peaches into small pieces, about ½“ in size.  Add the chopped orange and lemon along with the orange and lemon zest.  Measure the amount of the peach pulp, orange, and lemon.   Add an equal amount of sugar.  For example, if the total amount of the pulp equals 4 cups, add 4 cups of sugar.

Place 2-3 freezer-safe saucers in freezer.

Place pulp and sugar into a medium-sized stockpot.  Stir. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.  Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens and peaches are translucent, stirring occasionally. This could take about an hour, a little more or less*.  To test for doneness, place a small amount of marmalade on chilled saucer and swirl saucer around. Let marmalade sit, untouched, for about a minute, then gently push your finger through the marmalade.  If the marmalade holds its shape (i.e., does not run back together after the finger has been removed from the marmalade), it is set and ready to bottle.  If not, continue to cook mixture, repeating the “chill” test about every 3 minutes or so (always removing the pot from the heat while conducting the chill test) until the marmalade passes the “chill” test.  Do not overcook as it will result in a very thick marmalade, dark in color.

Remove pot from heat and skim off any foam that may still remain on the marmalade. Stir in cherries and Peach Schnapps (or almond flavoring).  Using a canning funnel, pour marmalade into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar.  Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth. Seal jars with heated lids and fingertip-tightened ring bands. Process in boiling water canner, following canner manufacturer’s directions, for 10 minutes. Remove jars from hot water to cooling rack. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Refrigerate any jars that do not have lids curved downward and use within 1 month.

Yield:  Apx. 5 half-pints

*Note that it is difficult to give a precise cooking time for the marmalade since various factors, including the pectin level of the fruit and heat level of stove, can vary significantly and may affect cooking and marmalade-setting times. This is why the “chill” test is the recommended method for determining marmalade setting. It is recommended that the first “chill” test be conducted somewhere around the 45-50 minute point in the cooking process.  It does not necessarily mean that the marmalade will be done in that timeframe and more than one “chill” test may need to be performed.

 

Delicious Peach Marmalade made with fresh peaches, orange, lemon, cherries, and a splash of Peach Schnapps

Peach Marmalade

Peach Marmalade

Yield: Apx. 5 half pints

Delicious peach marmalade made with fresh peaches, orange, lemon, maraschino cherries, and a splash of Peach Schnapps. Serve on toast, biscuits, or dolloped onto vanilla custard for a tasty dessert.

Ingredients

  • 7 large peaches, washed
  • Zest of orange
  • 1 medium-sized orange, seeded and chopped into small pieces
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • ½ medium-sized lemon, seeded and chopped into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup maraschino cherries, finely chopped
  • 1½ tbsp Peach Schnapps (optional) or ½ tsp almond flavoring
  • Granulated sugar equal to amount of fruit pulp

Instructions

  1. Plunge peaches in boiling water for about 1 minute to loosen skin. Peel. Halve the peaches and remove and discard stones. Dice the peaches into small pieces, about ½“ in size. Add the chopped orange and lemon along with the orange and lemon zest. Measure the amount of the peach pulp, orange, and lemon. Add an equal amount of sugar. For example, if the total amount of the pulp equals 4 cups, add 4 cups of sugar.
  2. Place 2-3 freezer-safe saucers in freezer.
  3. Place pulp and sugar into a medium-sized stockpot. Stir. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens and peaches are translucent, stirring occasionally. This could take about an hour, a little more or less*. To test for doneness, place a small amount of marmalade on chilled saucer and swirl saucer around. Let marmalade sit, untouched, for about a minute, then gently push your finger through the marmalade. If the marmalade holds its shape (i.e., does not run back together after the finger has been removed from the marmalade), it is set and ready to bottle. If not, continue to cook mixture, repeating the “chill” test about every 3 minutes or so (always removing the pot from the heat while conducting the chill test) until the marmalade passes the “chill” test. Do not overcook as it will result in a very thick marmalade, dark in color.
  4. Remove pot from heat and skim off any foam that may still remain on the marmalade. Stir in cherries and Peach Schnapps (or almond flavoring). Using a canning funnel, pour marmalade into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar. Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth. Seal jars with heated lids and fingertip-tightened ring bands. Process in boiling water canner, following canner manufacturer’s directions, for 10 minutes. Remove jars from hot water to cooling rack. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Refrigerate any jars that do not have lids curved downward and use within 1 month.
  5. Yield: Apx. 5 half-pints
  6. *Note that it is difficult to give a precise cooking time for the marmalade since various factors, including the pectin level of the fruit and heat level of stove, can vary significantly and may affect cooking and marmalade-setting times. This is why the “chill” test is the recommended method for determining marmalade setting. It is recommended that the first “chill” test be conducted somewhere around the 45-50 minute point in the cooking process. It does not necessarily mean that the marmalade will be done in that timeframe and more than one “chill” test may need to be performed.
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Summer Seashells Tablesetting

Summer Seashells Tablesetting
Summer Seashells Tablesetting

Weather permitting, alfresco dining makes for a pleasant dining experience. On Prince Edward Island (PEI), our season for outside dining is quite short but we make the most of it. Summer lends itself to so many tablesetting options. Living on PEI, surrounded by water, it’s easy to draw inspiration from the sea which is what I have done with today’s summer seashells tablesetting.

The color theme I have chosen is very soft and pastel – the pale blue shades to represent the sea and sky complimented by shades of beige and pale salmon pink to represent the color of the sand on the beaches and sand dunes around PEI.

Greenwich National Park
The pink sand dunes of Greenwich National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

We Islanders love our beaches! Many tourists visit our Island each summer to enjoy our miles and miles of pristine beaches – the pale salmon pink sand common to the north shore beaches in contrast to the deep rusty red shade of sand typically found on our south shore beaches. Our shores are bordered by the rich red-colored cliffs like those to the left in the photo below.

Darnley Beach, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Darnley Beach, Prince Edward Island, Canada

So, as you can see, it’s not hard for me to find inspiration for sea-themed tablesettings when I am so fortunate as to live in close proximity to such natural beauty.

Summer Seashell Tablesetting
Summer Seashell Tablesetting

I rarely use patterned table linens. I find they can be a bit tricky to work with because the pattern can be busy and somewhat limiting in terms of other decor items. My preference is to use the blank canvas of a solid-colored tablecloth and add color and design features through other elements like centerpieces, napkins, candles, and so forth. However, for a change (and a challenge), I have chosen a matching tablecloth and napkins that have a seashell theme.  They actually match quite well with my pale blue seashell dinnerware by Nantucket Home.

Summer Seashells Tablesetting
Summer Seashells Tablesetting

I would not use this patterned tablecloth for a formal setting but it is quite charming for a casual meal, particularly when we live near the water and when I am serving a seafood-themed dinner outside.

Nautical-themed Wine Bottle Holder
Nautical-themed Wine Bottle Holder

In terms of a centerpiece for a patterned tablecloth like this one, I recommend going with something very plain and simple, especially when this is a tablesetting for a casual dinner. What I have used here is a rustic wine holder which does double duty as a centerpiece and for actually holding the wine.  This is also a great idea if the table is not large – you still have something as a focal point in the table center but it does not overpower the setting. The nautical look of the wine holder compliments the sea theme and is a great conversation piece.

Summer Seashells Tablesetting
Summer Seashells Tablesetting

Folding patterned napkins when the tablecloth background is also patterned can be a challenge. Rather than using a formal napkin fold, I have simply knotted the napkins in the center and placed them over the soup/salad bowls. This keeps the look casual and also adds a bit of lift and color to the plain dishes.

Summer Seashells Tablesetting
Summer Seashells Tablesetting
Simple knotted napkin for a seashell-themed tablesetting
Simple knotted napkin for a seashell-themed tablesetting

I have kept the glassware quite simple using plain wine glasses complimented by my antique water glasses. The cutwork in these glasses sparkle in the sunlight.

Summer Seashells Tablesetting
Summer Seashells Tablesetting

Regardless whether you live near the sea or not, a seaside ambience can be created using seashell dinnerware and sea-themed table linens.

It’s pretty. It’s pastel. It’s summery and this tablesetting definitely has a distinctive romantic coastal feel.

Summer Seashells Tablesetting
Summer Seashells Tablesetting
This Summer Seashells Tablesetting draws its inspiration from the seashell dinnerware.
Summer Seashell Tablesetting
Summer Seashell Tablesetting

Now, it’s time to prepare the dinner! Curious as to what is on the menu for my PEI seafood dinner? I am serving PEI mussels steamed in Upstreet Craft Brewing’s “Rhuby Social” beer followed by my mussel chowder which I will serve with my homemade rolls. The main will be Island lobster in the shell accompanied by my yummy PEI potato salad. And, for dessert?  Homemade Blueberry Cheese Pie will be tonight’s finale! I think all of these foods will look great on this sea-inspired table!

To view photos of another of my sea-inspired tablescapes, click here.

Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Smoothies are such a great and tasty way to eat fruit and yogurt, making them healthy choices.  And, they are very filling. They are great for breakfast, summer barbeques, as a transportable breakfast-on-the-go, or just anytime as a nutritional drink.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

I am not far from Tryon Blueberries U-Pick, a high bush blueberry farm in central PEI and, when they are in season, I have a steady diet of these blueberries.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

I freeze a quantity of them for use in smoothies throughout the year.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

Basically, any fruit you like can be combined into a smoothie.  For this recipe, I have chosen to feature the local blueberries but I also add in some other fruits that pair particularly well with blueberries. These include mango, papaya, and banana.  The great thing about smoothies is that they can be made with fresh or frozen fruits. I often bag up fruits when they are in season locally and freeze them in just the right sized portions for smoothies. This makes it quick and easy to prepare the smoothies which is great because, as we all know, if something is overly laborious, well….it often just does not happen.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Smoothies are so easy to make. A blender is needed for this recipe. Simply combine all the ingredients into the blender and process the mixture until desired smoothness is reached.

For sweetener, I use 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup.  This natural liquid sweetener blends better than sugar. Reduce the amount of maple syrup if you like a less sweet drink.  I also add in about 1 1/2 tablespoons of ground chia seeds. Whole chia seeds may be used but the ground seeds make for a smoother drink and are a better alternative for those who can’t easily digest seeds. Chia is loaded with good health benefits like fibre, omega 3 fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

The yogurt I have used in this smoothie is a Mediterranean-style lavender yogurt.  Lavender pairs very well with blueberries. Don’t be put off by this flavor thinking it will be like perfume.  This yogurt is very gently flavored with lavender and it is not at all strong in either the lavender flavor or scent. It does, however, add a subtle layer of flavor to the smoothie.  Plain vanilla yogurt can, of course, be substituted but, if the lavender yogurt is available, I recommend giving it a try.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Any kind of fruit juice can be used in this smoothie.  I have made it with plain orange juice which is very good but it is super tasty if made with a mango-citrus blend of juice or a tropical fruit juice.  If possible, I try to add juice that has the flavor of at least one or more of the fruits I am blending into the smoothie.  I don’t add any ice cubes to this smoothie because I find they can dilute the flavor.  Make sure the fruit juice is good and cold and the smoothie will be just the right temperature for drinking without adding any ice.

Garnishes are optional but they do dress up the smoothie.  If using garnishes, choose fruits that are in the smoothie as I have done here with the blueberries, mango, and papaya.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

This smoothie recipe will yield approximately 4 cups  which is about two good servings or, for smaller portions, four 1-cup servings are possible.  This really is a meal in a glass – it provides servings of fruit, yogurt, and liquid content.  This smoothie is best served as soon as it is made because it has banana in it and it can produce quite a strong flavor if left to sit and it can take over and become the predominant flavor in the drink.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cups fruit juice (e.g., mango-citrus, orange juice, etc.)
1½ cups high bush blueberries (fresh or frozen)
½ cup mango, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)
½ cup papaya, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)
½ large banana, sliced
½ cup Mediterranean-style lavender yogurt
2 tbsp maple syrup
1½ tbsp ground chia seeds

Method:

Combine all ingredients, in order given, in blender and process until well blended and smooth. Pour into glasses. Garnish with skewer of fresh blueberries, mango, and papaya. Serve immediately.

Yield:  Apx. 4 cups

Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Yield: Apx. 2 servings

Serving Size: 2-cup

Kickstart your day with this super tasty blueberry and tropical fruit smoothie made with lavender yogurt and mango-citrus fruit juice

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups fruit juice (e.g., mango-citrus, orange juice, etc.)
  • 1½ cups high bush blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup mango, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup papaya, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ large banana, sliced
  • ½ cup Mediterranean-style lavender yogurt
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1½ tbsp ground chia seeds

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients, in order given, in blender and process until well blended and smooth. Pour into glasses. Garnish with skewer of fresh blueberries, mango, and papaya. Serve immediately.
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A delicious smoothie made with a blend of blueberries, tropical fruits, lavender yogurt, and mango-citrus fruit juice

For another refreshing blueberry drink, try this recipe for Blueberry Lemonade

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s PEI Mussel Chowder

My Island Bistro Kitchen's PEI Mussel Chowder
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s PEI Mussel Chowder

Mussels are a favorite shellfish of mine and, while I love them steamed in various different broths, today I am presenting them in the form of Mussel Chowder and I’m sharing my own personal recipe.

Steamed PEI Mussels
PEI mussels steamed in basil pesto with white wine, onion, and garlic

PEI mussels are world famous and PEI is the country’s largest mussel cultivator. According to the Mussel Industry Council of Prince Edward Island, the Island produces some 45 million pounds of mussels annually and grows 80% of Canada’s mussel production.  Fresh PEI mussels are shipped to the USA, Hong Kong, Japan, and Kuwait. We may be Canada’s smallest province but mussel farming on PEI is big “muscle” and big business. I love checking out restaurant menus when I travel around the world and seeing PEI mussels on the menu!

PEI Mussels Steamed in Beer

The blue mussels that come from PEI are farmed mussels meaning they don’t come from the sea bottom but, rather, they are grown in mesh sleeves, known as “socks”.

Mussel Sock
Mussels in the Sock in Which They are Grown

On the day I publish this mussel chowder recipe for the first time, it is Food Day Canada, a day set aside each year to celebrate all the great Canadian foods we enjoy.  Here, in PEI, I have no shortage of local food options to choose from but, this year, it’s all about the mussels.

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

Mussels are more tender than clams and less gritty.  They are readily available on the Island at seafood outlets and supermarkets and are commonly served at gatherings on PEI.

PEI Mussels Served at Many Gatherings
Steamed PEI Mussels Served at Many Gatherings

Mussels are an affordable seafood and are quick, easy, and fast to prepare.  Steam them in liquid (even plain water) for 7-10 minutes, till the shells open. Dip these tasty little morsels in melted butter and oh-là-là! I like them steamed in beer, white wine, or apple juice with some garlic and fresh herbs.

PEI Mussels

Mussels are a great power food. They are low in fat and rich in vitamins and minerals.  They are also gluten-free and are a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

There are many different styles of mussel chowder and just as many ways to make it.  My mussel chowder is luxuriously rich, thick, creamy, and packed with wonderful flavor.

Begin by sweating some onion, celery, carrot, and garlic in butter to release the wonderful aromatics.  Add the flour and blend into the vegetables. This roux will thicken the chowder. Add the reserved mussel broth, chicken broth,  white wine, and some good PEI potatoes. Pour in some milk to make the chowder nice and creamy. Finally, add in the steamed mussels, and fresh herbs.

Serve with crusty rolls, traditional homemade biscuits, whole wheat biscuits, or garlic or artisan bread.

My Island Bistro Kitchen's PEI Mussel Chowder
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s PEI Mussel Chowder

My local beverage pairing for this chowder is the Commons Czech Style Pilsner produced by PEI’s Upstreet Craft Brewing in Charlottetown. This is a clean, crisp lager that pairs well with mussels. You can read the story I previously wrote about this artisan brewery by clicking here.

PEI Mussel Chowder Paired with Upstreet Brewing Company's Commons Czech Style Pilsner
PEI Mussel Chowder Paired with Upstreet Brewing Company’s Commons Czech Style Pilsner

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s PEI Mussel Chowder

Ingredients:
2 lb PEI mussels, washed and beards removed
1½ tbsp butter
¼ cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup white wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

2-3 tbsp butter
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
¼ cup celery, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup peeled and diced potatoes
3 tbsp flour
1 cup reserved strained mussel broth
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1½ cups whole milk or a combination of evaporated milk and whole milk
1 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
½ tsp fresh dillweed, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
Salt and cracked pepper, to taste

Method:
To steam the mussels, melt butter in large stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes.  Add the white wine, parsley, and thyme.  Bring to a boil.  Add the mussels. Cover. Steam for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until the mussel shells have opened.  Set aside 4 mussels in their shells to use as garnishes, then remove the mussel meat from the remaining shells, discarding any shells that have not completely opened.  Store mussels in refrigerator until needed. Strain the broth through a fine sieve and set aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, melt the second amount of butter over medium heat.  Reduce heat slightly and add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic.  Sweat the vegetables, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes, just until the onion is transparent.

Reduce heat to low. Add the flour to make a roux and stir to blend with the vegetables.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking and scorching.  Gradually add the reserved mussel broth, chicken broth, and white wine, whisking constantly to work out any lumps. Add the bay leaf and potatoes. Increase heat to medium high and bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to medium low.  Cook for 8-9 minutes or until potatoes are almost fork tender.

Remove about ¼ cup of the hot liquid from pot and stir into the milk to temper it.  Pour tempered milk into hot mixture and stir to combine well.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the steamed mussels, fresh herbs, and butter. Cook for 4-5 minutes until mussels are heated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove and discard bay leaf. Ladle chowder into bowls and garnish each with a steamed mussel, fresh herbs, or chopped chives. Serve with crusty rolls, biscuits, or artisan or garlic bread.

Yield: Apx. 4 servings

My Island Bistro Kitchen's PEI Mussel Chowder

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s PEI Mussel Chowder

Serving Size: Apx. 4

A hearty and delicious mussel chowder made with world-famous PEI mussels

Ingredients

  • 2 lb PEI mussels, washed and beards removed
  • 1½ tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup white wine
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup peeled and diced potatoes
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup reserved strained mussel broth
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1½ cups whole milk or a combination of evaporated milk and whole milk
  • 1 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp fresh dillweed, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Salt and cracked pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. To steam the mussels, melt butter in large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the white wine, parsley, and thyme. Bring to a boil. Add the mussels. Cover. Steam for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until the mussel shells have opened. Set aside 4 mussels in their shells to use as garnishes, then remove the mussel meat from the remaining shells, discarding any shells that have not completely opened. Store mussels in refrigerator until needed. Strain the broth through a fine sieve and set aside.
  2. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, melt the second amount of butter over medium heat. Reduce heat slightly and add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic. Sweat the vegetables, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes, just until the onion is transparent.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Add the flour to make a roux and stir to blend with the vegetables. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking and scorching. Gradually add the reserved mussel broth, chicken broth, and white wine, whisking constantly to work out any lumps. Add the bay leaf and potatoes. Increase heat to medium high and bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 8-9 minutes or until potatoes are almost fork tender.
  4. Remove about ¼ cup of the hot liquid from pot and stir into the milk to temper it. Pour tempered milk into hot mixture and stir to combine well. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the steamed mussels, fresh herbs, and butter. Cook for 4-5 minutes until mussels are heated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Remove and discard bay leaf. Ladle chowder into bowls and garnish each with a steamed mussel, fresh herbs, or chopped chives. Serve with crusty rolls, biscuits, or artisan or garlic bread.
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Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Orange Star Anise Vinaigrette
Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

We grow a garden and live out of it in the summer. We grow lots of different varieties of lettuce and so salads are an almost daily part of our menu.

Lettuce from our Garden
Lettuce from our Garden

On hot summer days, I love to make what I call a main meal salad. I simply take a meat platter and lay a layer of mixed greens down the center bordered by a row of quinoa along both sides of the lettuce bed. I often marinate and cook chicken breasts then slice them for salads as I have done here.  I use whatever fruit I have on hand or that is in season to make a colorful and healthy salad. It could be strawberries, mango, melons, oranges or mandarins, blueberries, peaches, raspberries, and so forth.  Add some red onion rings, crumbled feta cheese, and top with crunchy pea and radish shoots and you have a very colorful, appetizing, and healthy dinner.

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Orange Star Anise Vinagrette
Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinagrette

What makes the salad super tasty is the vinaigrette.

Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette
Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

For this recipe,  start with 3 tablespoons of orange juice and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and add a small star anise pod and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let the juice cool. This allows the star anise to infuse the juice with a lovely subtle layer of licorice flavor. Discard the star anise and mix the vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar and shake vigorously.  If adding fresh herbs, only add them at the time of serving as, otherwise, they become quite limp and wilted.

Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette
Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

Now, I don’t tend to measure the ingredients for the salad itself. I go to the garden and pick a couple of handfuls of different kinds of lettuce. For a main meal serving for two, I cook 1/2 cup of quinoa and a large chicken breast. For the fruits, just add as many of each kind as you like and the same for the pea and radish shoots.  I don’t grow these shoots – I get them from Just A Little Farm in Bonshaw.  You can click here to read the story I wrote about this farm. Jessica grows the most amazing produce and her pea and radish shoots are so lovely crisp and fresh!

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette
Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

This recipe will yield a generous main meal for two or, if serving as a starter, it could serve 4-6.

[Printable Recipe Follows at end of Posting]

Orange and Star Anise Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
3 tbsp orange juice
1 small star anise pod
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp liquid honey
¼ tsp garlic salt
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh herbs (e.g., parsley, thyme, dill), chopped

Method:

In small saucepan, bring orange juice to boiling point over medium heat.  Reduce heat to simmer and add the star anise pod.  Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely, allowing the star anise to infuse the orange juice. Remove and discard star anise after orange juice has cooled.

Combine all ingredients, except the fresh herbs, in a small jar. Shake vigorously.  Add the chopped herbs at time of serving.

Yield: Apx. scant ½ cup

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

Yield: Scant 1/2 cup

A tasty vinaigrette with subtle undertones of licorice flavor. Perfect accompaniment to any salad but especially good with Chicken and Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 small star anise pod
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp liquid honey
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh herbs (e.g., parsley, thyme, dill), chopped

Instructions

  1. In small saucepan, bring orange juice to boiling point over medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer and add the star anise pod. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely, allowing the star anise to infuse the orange juice. Remove and discard star anise after orange juice has cooled.
  2. Combine all ingredients, except the fresh herbs, in a small jar. Shake vigorously. Add the chopped herbs at time of serving.
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Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette