Cookbook Giveaway (Just in time for Christmas!)!!!!!

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.

The winner of the cookbook is Terry Gall of Kamloops, BC.

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Thanks to the publishers at Penguin Random House Canada, I have an extra copy of The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Every Day to give away in conjunction with the review I just published on this cookbook. You can read my review of the book here: Cookbook Review of The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Every Day

Please read the following which explains how to participate in this Cookbook Giveaway, then head over to My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Facebook page to enter!

Cookbook Giveaway Rules

These Official Rules govern the Cookbook giveaway. By participating or attempting to participate in the giveaway event, you will be deemed to have received, understood, and agreed to these Official Rules.

This cookbook giveaway event is exclusively for fans of My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Facebook page and who are Canadian residents (excluding Quebec residents).  So, if you have not already become a fan of this Facebook page, and if you wish to participate in the cookbook giveaway event, head on over to https://www.facebook.com/MyIslandBistroKitchen/ and click the “Like” button on the Facebook page, located just below the cover photograph, and then proceed with the following eligibility steps for the cookbook giveaway:

  1. Click “Like” on the specific Facebook posting that details the cookbook giveaway.
  2. Leave a comment on the posting indicating what your favorite simple food is to make for yourself or your family.
  3. Share the Facebook post about the Cookbook Giveaway (make sure your privacy setting is set to public so I can see that you shared it).

Only individuals who have correctly completed the eligibility criteria above will be eligible for the cookbook draw.

  • No purchase is necessary to participate.
  • This giveaway is open only to Canadian residents (excluding residents of Quebec) having a Canadian mailing address and who are fans of My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Facebook page. Entrants must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Only one entry per person.
  • There is one (1) prize only to be won – one (1) copy of The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Every Day cookbook with an approximate Canadian retail value of $32.00. The book for this giveaway has been provided by the cookbook’s publisher, Penguin Random House Canada. The prize is non-transferable and non-exchangeable. It cannot be exchanged for money value.  The prize offering is valid only during the specified allotted time as described in these Official Rules.
  • Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.
  • The submission entry period opens at 7:00pm (AST) on November 30, 2017, and closes at 7:00pm (AST) on December 3, 2017. Draw of winner will be made by 9:00pm (AST) on December 4, 2017.
  • All eligible entries received during the submission period will be gathered at the end of the submission period. One entrant will be randomly selected as a potential winner and notified through Facebook. In the event any potential winner does not respond to such notification within 48 hours of having been sent notification, declines the prize for any reason, or does not meet the requirements set forth in these Official Rules, the potential winner will be disqualified and an alternate potential winner may be randomly selected from among remaining eligible entries, or the prize may be cancelled.
  • Potential winner must correctly answer a mathematical skill-testing question to win.
  • Each entrant is responsible for monitoring his or her Facebook account for potential prize notification and receipt of other communications related to this cookbook giveaway.
  • Once the definitive winner has been determined to have successfully met all the eligibility criteria afore-mentioned, and claimed the prize, his or her name will be announced on My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Facebook page and on this blog posting and, in order to receive the prize, the winner must agree to this publication announcement as a condition of winning.
  • Cookbook prize may not be awarded if an insufficient number of eligible entries is received. The determination of insufficient number of eligible entries will be at the sole discretion of My Island Bistro Kitchen.
  • In order to receive the cookbook, the winner must agree to provide My Island Bistro Kitchen with their Canadian mailing address to which the cookbook will be mailed. This information will be provided to Penguin Random House Canada by My Island Bistro Kitchen for the purposes of mailing the cookbook to the declared winner and the winner must agree to the sharing of their mailing address with Penguin Random House Canada for this purpose. The prize will not be replaced if lost, destroyed, mutilated, or stolen.
  • This giveaway event is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with, Facebook. All entrants agree to release Facebook from any liability with respect to this giveaway event or its prize.
  • All entrants agree to be bound by the rules of this giveaway event and release My Island Bistro Kitchen and all parties associated with this giveaway event from any liability with respect to this giveaway event or of its prize.
  • All decisions by My Island Bistro Kitchen with regards to all aspects of this giveaway event are final.
  • If, for any reason, and in the opinion of My Island Bistro Kitchen, this giveaway event is not capable of running as planned or if it is adversely affected by computer virus, fraud, technical failures, or other causes beyond its control, My Island Bistro Kitchen reserves the right to cancel, modify, or suspend the giveaway event, at any time, and at the sole discretion of My Island Bistro Kitchen, without notice.

To enter this giveaway event, pop on over to My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Facebook page and see the post pinned at the top of the page and follow the instructions on the post.

Good luck!

Cookbook Review of The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Every Day

Title:  The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Every Day 
Author:  Aimée Wimbush-Bourque
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Price: $32.00 (CDN$)
Pages: >300
Available:  Bookstores across Canada and online

Penguin Random House Canada has offered me the opportunity to conduct a review of Aimée Wimbush-Bourque’s latest cookbook, The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Every Day .  Wimbush-Bourque is a Canadian food blogger and former chef who makes her home with her family in Montreal.  Devoted to healthy family-focused food, this is Wimbush-Bourque’s second published cookbook.

The book features a wide collection of 100 varied recipes categorized into seven chapters:  Nourishing Breakfasts, Wholesome Lunches and Snacks, Homegrown Vegetarian, Fresh-Air Gatherings, Everyday Suppers, Simple Bites, Staples, and Preserves Pantry. The book has a general table of contents at the front and then each chapter has a more detailed table of contents listing each recipe to be found in the chapter.  In addition, an index at the back of the book makes it easy to quickly find a particular recipe.  Each chapter is introduced by a 2-page narrative written by the author which lends a personal touch to the book and allows the reader to get to know a bit about the recipe’s creator.

The book is filled with lots of common sense tips to make food preparation easy.  For example, there are tips and hints on how to host a soup swap with friends, fridge organization, how to cook pulses and, of interest to families and office workers, information on lunch box renewal.  Appealing to a wide audience of home cooks, the book contains a mix of recipes that range from old favorites like strawberry rhubarb pie, harvest corn chowder, and roast beef with Yorkshire pudding to more modern dishes like lentil cottage pie with rutabaga mash, tofu vegetable stir-fry with cashews, Tahini maple tea cookies, Tequila-lime BBQ chicken, and tangy quinoa carrot chicken salad.

The recipes are well laid out with instructions using the ingredients in the order in which they are listed.  I found the instructions complete and easy to follow. Each step is clearly delineated and numbered. For the most part, the ingredients would be ones likely to be available in most supermarkets.  Each recipe is introduced by 1-2 paragraphs about the dish and several of the recipes contain useful tips at the end.

Full page color photos accompany each recipe on the page opposite the recipe.  This is important as it gives a benchmark of what the finished dish should look like.  The photos are clean and simple and are not overdone with unnecessary props and styling. This keeps the focus on the food.

Test-driving recipes
The real test of a cookbook comes when you make some recipes out of the book.  I selected three:  Maple-Roasted Pears in Granola (p. 29), Brown Sugar Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal (p. 48), and Butternut Squash Casserole with Apple and Leek (p. 214).

Maple-Roasted Pears in Granola
These pears are super tasty. I used Bosc pears and my own granola. Brushed with butter and maple syrup, roasted, then topped with granola mixed with maple syrup and roasted for a few minutes more, these are yummy treats served with a dollop of yogurt.  While these are in the Nourishing Breakfast chapter in the book, I’d gladly eat them any day for dessert!

Maple-Roasted Pears with Granola
Maple-Roasted Pears with Granola
Maple-Roasted Pears with Granola
Maple-Roasted Pears with Granola

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal
This is an excellent replacement for the individual packets of quick oatmeal. I made a batch of this mix and now have it in a jar in my desk at work.  Simply add hot water to the mix, stir, and let sit for a few minutes before consuming. I found it took longer than the five minutes that the recipe’s instructions indicated in order for the water to be sufficiently absorbed by the oats. I should point out that I used gluten-free oats for this recipe and perhaps they may take longer than the regular quick cooking rolled oats to absorb the water called for in the recipe. In any event, I didn’t find it a big deal – I just simply let the oats sit a while longer before consuming.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal
Brown Sugar Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal
Brown Sugar Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal Recipe
Brown Sugar Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal Recipe

Butternut Squash Casserole with Apple and Leek
I found this recipe easy to make and an interesting combination of three principle ingredients – butternut squash, apple, and leek.  This is a very tasty side dish that would go perfectly with poultry, pork, or beef and I would definitely make the recipe again.

Butternut Squash Casserole with Apple and Leek
Butternut Squash Casserole with Apple and Leek
Butternut Squash Casserole with Apple and Leek Recipee
Butternut Squash Casserole with Apple and Leek Recipee

 

Concluding Thoughts
This is a beautifully planned and laid out book and it is one that I simply enjoy reading.  The focus is on modern healthy foods for modern, busy families. The book itself is printed on high quality paper giving it a distinctively professional and polished look and feel.  In my opinion, this is a lovely collector’s book for anyone with a cookbook collection and is a book that the cook would return to time and again as a kitchen resource tool.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Every Day  from Penguin Random House Canada for the purposes of conducting a review of the cookbook. I received no compensation for this review and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

The foregoing recipes and photographs were excerpted from The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Every Day by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque. Copyright © 2017 by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque. Photos copyright © Tim and Angela Chin. Published by Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

 

Sultana Cake Recipe

Sultana Cake
Sultana Cake

Sultana Cake, believed to be of British/Scottish origins, is so named because sultana raisins are the main ingredient.  Often served at tea time, this unfrosted cake is a cross between a war cake, a Dundee cake, and a fruitcake. More sweet than a war cake and definitely less rich than a traditional fruitcake, this is a hearty, stick-to-the-ribs, kind of cake. Unlike a fruitcake, liquor is not common in a Sultana Cake.

Traditionally, I believe, Sultana Cake only had the raisins and maybe some nuts in it. My recipe, however, is slightly more luxurious with the addition of currants along with some glazed cherries and mixed fruit though the raisins are still the main ingredient.

Sultana Cake
Sultana Cake

This is a much easier and quicker cake to make than is a fruitcake.  There is no need to soak the fruit in liquor for a day or two before making the cake.  Essentially, the raisins, currants, glazed cherries, and mixed fruit are dredged with 1/2 cup of the flour just before they are added to the batter to prevent them from dropping to the bottom of the cake during baking. I like to add some grated orange and lemon rind for extra flavour.

The butter should be softened at room temperature (not microwaved) for about 45 minutes or so before creaming.  Microwaving the butter changes its consistency and it is more liquified.  Butter that is softened naturally at room temperature is much creamier and fluffs better when beaten with the sugar. Yes, that lovely fluffy texture of the butter and sugar is what results in a soft even crumb in cakes.

The eggs and milk should be at room temperature for about 30 minutes or so before mixing in to the batter.  The eggs need to be at roughly the same room temperature as the butter. If the eggs are cold and hit the soft warm butter, guess what? The eggs harden the butter again and this will un-do all the lovely creaming that has been done and will affect the cake’s texture, creating a dense hard crumb.  The same holds true for the milk which also needs to be at room temperature to allow it to blend smoothly into the butter-sugar-egg mixture.  Ever see cold milk poured into the cake batter that immediately looks lumpy or curdled?  This can result in uneven baked products.

Sultana Cakes are traditionally made in round baking pans.  My recipe calls for a 10″ round tube (funnel) pan that is 4″ deep. It has a 16-cup capacity so there is adequate room for the cake to expand as it bakes. Tube pans are great for dense cakes as they provide more uniform baking.  With dense cakes, like Sultana Cake, it is sometimes difficult to get the outer edges of the cake and the center evenly baked at the same time. Removing the “center” of the cake eliminates this problem. Some pans have a removable bottom and these are very useful when it comes to removing the cake from the pan.  I line the bottom of the pan with a layer of parchment and then spray the sides of the pan with cooking spray.

Placing a small pan of water on the bottom shelf, or floor, of the oven while the cake bakes helps to keep the cake moist. If the cake starts to brown too much, loosely tent it with tin foil.

Sultana Cake
Sultana Cake

Unlike a fruitcake that needs to age three to four weeks before serving so flavours are deepened, a Sultana Cake does not need to age. That said, I usually do wrap and leave my Sultana Cake for 48-72 hours before cutting.

This is a delightful anytime cake although I often make it around Christmas.  It’s a perfect alternative for anyone who finds fruitcake just a little too rich for their palate. It’s especially nice with a lovely cup of tea.

This cake freezes very well.

Sultana Cake
Sultana Cake
[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Sultana Cake

Ingredients:

1 lb sultana raisins
¼ lb currants
8 oz red and green glazed cherries
8 oz. mixed glazed fruit

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1¾ cups brown sugar packed
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon flavoring
1½ tsp grated orange rind
1½ tsp grated lemon rind

3½ cups all-purpose flour (reserve ½ cup for dredging the fruit)
1¼ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt

1 cup milk, room temperature

Method:

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray 4” deep 10” round tube (funnel) pan with cooking spray and line bottom with parchment paper.

In large bowl, mix the raisins, currants, glazed cherries, and mixed fruit.  Dredge with ½ cup of the flour called for in the recipe.  Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat at medium-high speed for one additional minute. Add the vanilla and lemon flavoring and mix well. Add the grated orange and lemon rind. Mix well.

Sift remaining 3 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat at medium-high speed for 1 additional minute. Add the floured fruit mixture and stir just until ingredients are combined.

Spoon batter into prepared pan, using knife to smooth top.  Place small pan of hot water on lower shelf, or floor, of oven to provide moisture to the cake as it bakes.  Bake cake in center of middle rack for approximately 2½ hours or until cake tester inserted in or near centre of cake comes out clean. Let cake cool in pan for about 30 minutes before carefully removing from pan by inverting it on a tea towel and removing the paper.  Carefully turn the cake top side up on to a wire cooling rack.

Yield:  One 10” round cake

Sultana Cake

Less sweet than a fruitcake, this Sultana Cake, enhanced with glazed fruit, is moist and flavorful.


Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 lb sultana raisins
  • ¼ lb currants
  • 8 oz red and green glazed cherries
  • 8 oz. mixed glazed fruit
  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • cups brown sugar packed
  • 5 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp lemon flavoring
  • tsp grated orange rind
  • tsp grated lemon rind
  • cups all-purpose flour reserve ½ cup for dredging the fruit
  • tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk room temperature

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray 4” deep 10” round tube (funnel) pan with cooking spray and line bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In large bowl, mix the raisins, currants, glazed cherries, and mixed fruit. Dredge with ½ cup of the flour called for in the recipe. Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat at medium-high speed for one additional minute. Add the vanilla and lemon flavoring and mix well. Add the grated orange and lemon rind. Mix well.
  4. Sift remaining 3 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat at medium-high speed for 1 additional minute. Add the floured fruit mixture and stir just until ingredients are combined.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared pan, using knife to smooth top. Place small pan of hot water on lower shelf, or floor, of oven to provide moisture to the cake as it bakes. Bake cake in center of middle rack for approximately 2½ hours or until cake tester inserted in or near centre of cake comes out clean. Let cake cool in pan for about 30 minutes before carefully removing from pan by inverting it on a tea towel and removing the paper. Carefully turn the cake top side up on to a wire cooling rack.

 

Sultana Cake
Sultana Cake
Sultana Cake, so named because sultana raisins are a key ingredient, is a lovely moist cake that is a cross between a warcake and a fruitcake.
Sultana Cake

Old-fashioned Jam Squares

Old-fashioned Jam Squares
Old-fashioned Jam Squares

Jam Squares are an old-fashioned favourite that I grew up with.  They are easy to make and only take common ingredients.  While any kind of jam may be used, they are most showy when red jam, such as raspberry, is chosen. They are a treat at any time and look especially good on sweet trays for special events.

Jam Squares
Jam Squares

[Printable Recipe follows at end of posting]

Old-Fashioned Jam Squares

Ingredients:

1/3 cup butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond flavoring
½ cup white sugar
1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp cardamom
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
½ cup raspberry jam

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Assemble ingredients.

Prepare 8”x8” pan by lining with parchment paper.

With electric mixer, beat butter well in medium-sized bowl.  Beat in egg, vanilla, and almond flavouring.

Sift  sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom together.  Stir in grated lemon rind.  Add to butter-egg mixture and blend thoroughly.

Shape dough into a small oblong shape.  Cut off about one-third of the dough and place in freezer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, press remaining  dough into prepared pan.  Place pan in freezer for 15 minutes.

Remove both the reserved dough and the pan from the freezer.  Evenly spread the ½ cup raspberry preserves over dough in pan.

Using a grater, grate the reserved dough evenly over the jam.

Bake for 35 minutes or until topping on square is lightly golden in color.

Let square cool completely in pan before removing and cutting into 16 squares.

Old-fashioned Jam Squares

Yield: 16 squares

These easy-to-make showy squares take only common ingredients. While any kind of jam may be used, they are most showy when red jam is chosen.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp almond flavoring
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ? tsp cardamom
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup raspberry jam

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Assemble ingredients.
  3. Prepare 8”x8” pan by lining with parchment paper.
  4. With electric mixer, beat butter well in medium-sized bowl. Beat in egg, vanilla, and almond flavouring.
  5. Sift sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom together. Stir in grated lemon rind. Add to butter-egg mixture and blend thoroughly.
  6. Shape dough into a small oblong shape. Cut off about one-third of the dough and place in freezer for 15 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, press remaining dough into prepared pan. Place pan in freezer for 15 minutes.
  8. Remove both the reserved dough and the pan from the freezer. Evenly spread the ½ cup raspberry preserves over dough in pan. Using a grater, grate the reserved dough evenly over the jam.
  9. Bake for 35 minutes or until topping on square is lightly golden in color.
  10. Let square cool completely in pan before removing and cutting into squares.
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Jam Squares

An Autumn Savoury Tea

As I write this post, it’s autumn – the days are shorter and cooler and leaves are off the trees, all signs that winter on PEI is not far off. This time of the year always makes me think of warm and cozy teas leisurely enjoyed in front of the fireplace.

Teatime
A Fireside Tea

My late day event today is what I’m calling a “savoury tea” – which, because of my menu choices, most closely resembles (but is not quite) a “high tea”. I’m drawing the menu from previous postings to my food blog so those interested in the food items can access my recipes by clicking on the hotlinks throughout this posting.

Some people refer to the traditional afternoon tea of dainty (and always crustless) sandwiches, scones, and an array of sweets as “high tea” (which it isn’t). I’m not sure why this happens – perhaps it is because the food is often served on a tall (hence “high”) three-tier server (pictured below), or curate stand, along with fancy cups and saucers on the table or it may be because the mere mention of afternoon tea evokes the notion that it is a “high” society event. In any event there is a distinction between a “high tea” and an “afternoon tea” (the latter sometimes referred to as a “low tea”).

Three-tier Server
Three-tier Server

Originally, afternoon teas consisted of light refreshments served on low tables like coffee tables, for example. The idea of an afternoon tea was to have some refreshments, mid-afternoon, to counter the sluggishness often experienced in the afternoon and to stave off the hunger until dinner was served later in the evening. Partakers would often be seated in comfy armchairs as opposed to formal dining chairs and would use the low tables upon which to set their cup and saucer and refreshments. In fact, some high-end hotels in London serve afternoon tea in the surroundings of their lobbies and, indeed, comfortable armchairs and sofas are still used along with low coffee tables. Today, however, the traditional afternoon tea is most often served at regular height tables. What characterizes a traditional afternoon tea are crustless finger sandwiches, scones, sweets and, of course, tea.

High tea, on the other hand, is more like a light supper featuring hot menu items which are most frequently served at a regular height table. Foods denoting a high tea might include egg dishes like quiches, and/or dishes that include meat and fish. Bread or biscuits would most commonly be served but less likely sandwiches if hot savoury dishes are part of the menu. And, of course, there would indeed be tea! High teas, then, tend to be comprised of more substantial fare and are typically served later in the afternoon or early evening as in the case of mine today. For those who watch the British soap opera, Coronation Street, you’ll often hear the characters invite others “round for tea” – it’s “high tea” or supper they are referring to in this context. (Yes, I’m a “Corrie” fan!)

Because of the choice of menu items I am serving, my savoury tea is, therefore, most similar (but not quite identical) to a “high tea” versus an “afternoon tea”.

A Savoury Tea
A Savoury Tea

The Table

I was fortunate enough to find an antique Gibbard tea trolley, in relatively decent condition, a few years ago and it is, indeed, handy. I love to use it for displays in my dining room and, because it has a double drop leaf, it often serves as my tea table when it is just tea for two. It’s the perfect size to hold all the tea elements and is easily wheeled to whatever location in the house I choose for the tea. (I am still on the hunt for a Roxton maple tea trolley in excellent condition to match my dining room set so, if anyone on PEI has one they are interested in parting with, or knows someone who does, please get in touch!)

Tea Trolley
Tea Trolley

The Linens

The tablecloth square on my tea table is one I bought in Burano on my last trip to Italy. Yes, when I’m looking for mementos of trips, my interests usually veer toward tabletop items and foods local to the area!

The Tea Table is Set
The Tea Table is Set

Napkin folds for tea tables tend to lean toward basic, classic designs, much like the simple triangular fold I’ve chosen here. Most often, the folds tend to be flat designs as opposed to stand-up folds and the napkins are usually plain in color.

Simple Teatime Napkin Fold
Simple Teatime Napkin Fold

The Flowers

I like to include fresh flowers on my tea tables. They don’t have to be anything more elaborate than a simple bouquet of mini carnations. The arrangement, however, does need to be proportionately sized. Floral arrangements for tea tables are typically quite small, especially if it is a tea table set for two. Using a single color and variety of flower keeps the look simple and uncluttered.

Bouquet of Mini White Carnations for the Tea Table
Bouquet of Mini White Carnations for the Tea Table

Dishes and Glassware

Sometimes, it’s nice to use a formal tea set or pieces from formal china for tea settings. Matching pieces do lend an air of formality and cohesiveness to the setting. However, it’s totally acceptable to have a mix of dishes on the tea table so long as they coordinate in style and color.

Always use small tea-sized plates, or supper plates, for tea events. Small portions of food characteristic of tea fare just look better on small plates as the food does not appear so minuscule and “lost” as it would on a large dinner plate, for example. These pink design plates were a thrift shop find.

Tea Plate
Tea Plate

From my collection, I have simply chosen two different teacups and saucers that I particularly like. They both have pink designs to compliment the plates.

Teacup and Saucer
Teacup and Saucer

Both cups have wonderful designs inside and outside.

China Teacup and Saucer
China Teacup and Saucer

The teapot, a Sadler, also has a pink theme. The pink shades coordinate with the salmon pink shade highlighted in the tablecloth.

Sadler Teapot
Sadler Teapot

I found these little pedestal glasses with cranberry trim at a second-hand shop and knew they would be perfectly sized for tea tables. They lend an air of elegance and color to the table.

Cranberry Glass
Cranberry Glass

I adore my three-tier servers! They give an air of elegance and sophistication to any tea table. Plus, they are super useful and an efficient way to serve the food. All the food items can be brought to the table at once on one unit, taking up less space as tea tables tend to be small and compact. Sandwiches/savoury items go on the bottom tier, scones/biscuits on the middle tier, followed by the tempting sweet treats on the top tier.

The Menu

So, here is what is on my five-course savoury tea menu.

~ Starter ~

Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Squares

~ Savoury ~

Harvest Quiche

Baked Stuffed Fingerlings

Mini Lobster Cakes

~ Biscuits ~

Biscuits served with lemon curd and preserves

~ Sweet Offerings ~

Dark and Light Fruitcake

Frypan Cookie Balls

Gluten Free Earl Grey Cranberry-Orange Shortbread

Gluten Free Melting Moments

~ Dessert ~

Luscious Lemon Curd Tartlets

~ Tea ~

Fortnum and Mason’s “Afternoon Tea” blend

The traditional order in which to consume tea foods are sandwiches/savouries first, followed by the scones/biscuits, and ending with the sweets. So, let’s take a closer look at the menu items.

Starter Course

For the starter course, I’m serving my homemade cream of roasted tomato soup with tiny squares of grilled cheese.

Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Squares
Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Squares

In keeping with the small portion size conducive to tea serving size, I’m serving the soup in small soup cups and threading the grilled cheese squares on to a skewer.

Cup of Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Squares
Cup of Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Squares

Savoury Course

For the savoury course, I have selected three hot items – mini harvest quiches, baked stuffed fingerlings, and mini lobster cakes. By clicking on the foregoing hotlinks, you can access my recipes. I will often plan ahead for tea events when I am doing my batch cooking for the freezer. In this case, I made some mini quiches and lobster cakes earlier and had them frozen. This allows me to add some variety to my tea events that I probably might not otherwise have if I had to mix up special small batches especially for a tea event.

Mini Harvest Quiche
Mini Harvest Quiche

The fingerlings are stuffed with sausage, cheese, tomato sauce, and seasonings and are tasty little bites.

Baked Stuffed Fingerlings
Baked Stuffed Fingerlings

Living on PEI, lobster fishing is one of our main fisheries so, naturally, I am going to include it in some fashion on my menu. The small lobster cakes are served with a small dob of sour cream.

Mini Lobster Cake
Mini Lobster Cake

Keep the size portions small – they can be the same size as appetizers/hors d’oeuvres or very slightly larger. For example, I use the small individual tart shells for the mini quiches because I like the look of a complete, uncut quiche for each serving. If using pieces cut from a larger quiche, I recommend making the quiche in a small quiche/pie plate 6” – 8” in diameter, no larger.

Biscuits Course

Because this is a savoury tea, I am swapping out the traditional scones associated with afternoon tea and am replacing them with biscuits. I currently have two biscuit recipes on my food blog –  classic tea biscuits and whole wheat biscuits.  Either works well with this type of tea.

Homemade Biscuits
Homemade Biscuits

Biscuits are less sweet and rich than scones and I think they go better with my savoury tea. That doesn’t mean, however, that lemon curd and preserves can’t be enjoyed with biscuits!  It’s a great way to transition the palate from the savoury course to the sweets!

Lemon Curd, Jam, and Marmalade
Lemon Curd, Jam, and Marmalade

I have made a batch of my lemon curd to enjoy with the biscuits. Sometimes, I will use small dishes for the preserves but, if I have the small jars, I will often use them because I like the look of the tiny jars clustered together on a server plate!

Sweets Course

Fruitcake is often (but not always) found on tea tables. I am including both my light fruitcake  and dark fruitcake, cut into small pieces. Fruitcakes are rich and are best served in small pieces (and they go particularly well with a fine cup of tea). Two kinds of cookies – Gluten Free Earl Grey Cranberry-Orange Shortbread and Gluten Free Melting Moments are also included along with Frypan Cookie Balls.

Tea Time Sweets
Sweets on the Tea Table

Desserts Course

This is an optional course because, really, the sweets themselves are generally sufficient.  However, a nice touch is to add one special signature dessert.  With my fresh batch of lemon curd, a luscious lemon curd tartlet was an obvious choice.  I added some bright red raspberries for contrast along with a sprig of greenery.

Luscious Lemon Curd Tartlet
Luscious Lemon Curd Tartlet

Tea Selection

My tea selection is one of my personal all-time favorites – Fortnum & Mason’s “Afternoon Tea” blend which I brought home from my latest trip to London.  When in London, I always try to make time for a stop at Fortnum & Mason’s flagship store on Piccadilly to browse through their food halls and to pick up some of their tea. This tea from Ceylon is crisp and refreshing yet full bodied so it goes equally  well with a savoury tea as it does with a traditional afternoon tea.

Fortnum and Mason's "Afternoon Tea" Blend
Fortnum and Mason’s “Afternoon Tea” Blend

I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to go out for afternoon tea but, unfortunately, where I live, there are no restaurants or hotels that offer this option. I think that’s why, when I’m in London, I allot time for 1-2 afternoon teas which are always a highlight of my visits. I often agonize over which ones to choose because there are so many wonderful options. I have written postings on three I particularly enjoyed and you can access those by clicking on the following links:  Afternoon Tea in London and “Scents of Summer” Afternoon Tea in London.

Tea time can be elaborate or simplified and, with some planning, can be made in to an event for entertaining family and friends at home. You’ll find inspiration for tea events of all sorts here on my blog. Simply go to the “Afternoon Teas” menu or type “Afternoon Tea” in the search box on the home page.

An Autumn Savoury Tea

Gluten Free Light Fruitcake Recipe

Gluten Free Light Fruitcake
Gluten Free Light Fruitcake

This posting contains my newly-developed recipe for gluten free light fruitcake.

This cake is so tasty that it’s hard to tell it is actually gluten free!  The flours I use in this recipe are the one-to-one gluten free flour along with almond flour and coconut flour that add lovely flavour and texture to the cake batter.

Gluten Free Light Fruitcake
Gluten Free Light Fruitcake

As always, ensure that all ingredients (not just the flours) called for in the recipe are indeed gluten free and have not been cross contaminated with products containing gluten.

Gluten Free Light Fruitcake
Gluten Free Light Fruitcake

Rather than rewrite all the tips I have for making fruitcakes, I am directing readers to my previous postings for dark fruitcake and light fruitcake. While these two recipes are for regular fruitcakes that are not gluten free, the tips I have provided in those postings apply equally to this gluten free version of a fruitcake.

Gluten Free Light Fruitcake
Gluten Free Light Fruitcake

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-Free Light Fruitcake

Ingredients:

¼ lb golden sultana raisins
1½ oz green glazed cherries
2½ oz red glazed cherries
1½ oz glazed pineapple rings, chopped
3 oz mixed glazed fruit
2 tbsp citron
3 tbsp brandy
3 tbsp flaked coconut
½ tsp finely grated lemon rind
½ tsp finely grated orange rind

¼ cup butter, softened at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, separated
¼ tsp pure vanilla
¼ tsp almond flavoring
¼ tsp lemon flavoring
3 tbsp applesauce

¾ cup one-to-one gluten-free flour
1½ tbsp almond flour
1 tbsp coconut flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp zanthan gum
Pinch salt

1½ tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp brandy

Few glazed cherries for cake top decoration (optional)
Extra brandy for brushing on cake as it ages and for soaking cheesecloth in which to wrap the cake

Method:

In medium-sized bowl, combine the raisins, cherries, glazed pineapple, mixed glazed fruit, and citron. Mix well.  Stir in the three tablespoons of brandy to coat the fruit.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand for about 24 hours to macerate the fruit, stirring occasionally. When ready to mix up the cake, add the coconut and grated lemon and orange rind.  Stir well.

Prepare 6-inch square fruitcake pan that is at least 2¼” deep and has a removable bottom:  Lightly spray the bottom and sides of the pan with cooking spray.  Line the pan (bottom and sides), with brown paper or double thickness of parchment paper.  Lightly spray the paper.

Preheat oven to 275°F.

In medium-sized bowl, and using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter until creamy.  Gradually add the sugar and beat until mixture is light and creamy. Separate eggs and set aside the whites. Add the egg yolks to the creamed butter and sugar, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure ingredients are all incorporated. Beat 1 additional minute. Beat in the vanilla, almond, and lemon flavorings.  Stir in the applesauce.

Remove 3 tbsp of the one-to-one gluten free flour from the ¾-cup called for in the recipe and set aside to flour the fruit.  Sift the remaining one-to-one gluten free flour, almond flour, and coconut flour together with the baking powder, zanthan gum, and salt.

In measuring cup or small bowl, combine the orange and lemon juices along with the two tablespoons of brandy.

Add the dry and wet ingredients to the beaten butter-sugar-egg mixture in three additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture.  Transfer batter to a larger bowl, big enough to accommodate the amount of fruit to be added.

Sprinkle reserved 3 tablespoons of the one-to-one gluten free flour over the macerated fruit to which the coconut and grated lemon and orange rind have been added. Toss ingredients lightly and quickly.  Gently fold the fruit mixture into the batter.

In clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the batter.

Transfer batter by large spoonfuls into the prepared baking pan.  Use a knife to evenly spread the batter in the pan, smoothing the top.  Add a few glazed cherries as decorations to the top of the cake, if desired.

Place small pan of hot water on the lower rack in the oven.  Place fruitcake in center of middle rack and bake for approximately 1¼ – 1½ hours, or until cake is firm to the touch and cake tester inserted into centre of cake comes out clean. After about 35-40 minutes or so of baking, loosely tent cake with tin foil to prevent it from browning too much. When cake is baked, remove from oven and place on rack.  Let cake cool in pan for about 40 minutes before carefully removing from pan by inverting it on to a tea towel and removing the paper.  Carefully turn the cake, top side up, on to a wire cooling rack.

Let cake cool completely before brushing well with brandy and wrapping in brandy-soaked cheesecloth, followed by plastic wrap and tin foil. Store in a sealed plastic bag in a cool, dry area.  Remove wrapping and brush cake top and sides with brandy once a week for 2-3 weeks, as the cake “ages”, before cutting and serving. After cake has aged 2-3 weeks, it is recommended to refrigerate the cake or, if not using in near future, freeze it.

Yield:  1 – 2 lb cake (apx. weight)

NOTE:  As always, ensure that all ingredients used in the recipe are, in fact, gluten free.

Gluten Free Light Fruitcake Recipe

Yield: 1 - 2 lb cake (apx. weight)

A gluten free light fruitcake that is studded with a mixture of brandy-soaked glazed fruit baked within a batter made with gluten free one-to-one flour, almond flour, and coconut flour.

Ingredients

  • ¼ lb golden sultana raisins
  • 1½ oz green glazed cherries
  • 2½ oz red glazed cherries
  • 1½ oz glazed pineapple rings, chopped
  • 3 oz mixed glazed fruit
  • 2 tbsp citron
  • 3 tbsp brandy
  • 3 tbsp flaked coconut
  • ½ tsp finely grated lemon rind
  • ½ tsp finely grated orange rind
  • ¼ cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • ¼ tsp pure vanilla
  • ¼ tsp almond flavoring
  • ¼ tsp lemon flavoring
  • 3 tbsp applesauce
  • ¾ cup one-to-one gluten-free flour
  • 1½ tbsp almond flour
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp zanthan gum
  • Pinch salt
  • 1½ tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • Few glazed cherries for cake top decoration (optional)
  • Extra brandy for brushing on cake as it ages and for soaking cheesecloth in which to wrap the cake

Instructions

  1. In medium-sized bowl, combine the raisins, cherries, glazed pineapple, mixed glazed fruit, and citron. Mix well. Stir in the three tablespoons of brandy to coat the fruit. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand for about 24 hours to macerate the fruit, stirring occasionally. When ready to mix up the cake, add the coconut and grated lemon and orange rind. Stir well.
  2. Prepare 6-inch square fruitcake pan that is at least 2¼” deep and has a removable bottom: Lightly spray the bottom and sides of the pan with cooking spray. Line the pan (bottom and sides), with brown paper or double thickness of parchment paper. Lightly spray the paper.
  3. Preheat oven to 275°F.
  4. In medium-sized bowl, and using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until mixture is light and creamy. Separate eggs and set aside the whites. Add the egg yolks to the creamed butter and sugar, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure ingredients are all incorporated. Beat 1 additional minute. Beat in the vanilla, almond, and lemon flavorings. Stir in the applesauce.
  5. Remove 3 tbsp of the one-to-one gluten free flour from the ¾-cup called for in the recipe and set aside to flour the fruit. Sift the remaining one-to-one gluten free flour, almond flour, and coconut flour together with the baking powder, zanthan gum, and salt.
  6. In measuring cup or small bowl, combine the orange and lemon juices along with the two tablespoons of brandy.
  7. Add the dry and wet ingredients to the beaten butter-sugar-egg mixture in three additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Transfer batter to a larger bowl, big enough to accommodate the amount of fruit to be added.
  8. Sprinkle reserved 3 tablespoons of the one-to-one gluten free flour over the macerated fruit to which the coconut and grated lemon and orange rind have been added. Toss ingredients lightly and quickly. Gently fold the fruit mixture into the batter.
  9. In clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the batter.
  10. Transfer batter by large spoonfuls into the prepared baking pan. Use a knife to evenly spread the batter in the pan, smoothing the top. Add a few glazed cherries as decorations to the top of the cake, if desired.
  11. Place small pan of hot water on the lower rack in the oven. Place fruitcake in center of middle rack and bake for approximately 1¼ - 1½ hours, or until cake is firm to the touch and cake tester inserted into centre of cake comes out clean. After about 35-40 minutes or so of baking, loosely tent cake with tin foil to prevent it from browning too much. When cake is baked, remove from oven and place on rack. Let cake cool in pan for about 40 minutes before carefully removing from pan by inverting it on to a tea towel and removing the paper. Carefully turn the cake, top side up, on to a wire cooling rack.
  12. Let cake cool completely before brushing well with brandy and wrapping in brandy-soaked cheesecloth, followed by plastic wrap and tin foil. Store in a sealed plastic bag in a cool, dry area. Remove wrapping and brush cake top and sides with brandy once a week for 2-3 weeks, as the cake “ages”, before cutting and serving. After cake has aged 2-3 weeks, it is recommended to refrigerate the cake or, if not using in near future, freeze it.

Notes

NOTE: As always, ensure that all ingredients used in the recipe are, in fact, gluten free.

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Gluten Free Light Fruitcake
Gluten Free Light Fruitcake
Gluten Free Light Fruitcake studded with glazed fruit and flavored with brandy

Rustico Sheep Farm Produces Cheese and Yogurt

On PEI, there are a number of small-scale farmers who are producing artisan-quality food products. Produced on small-scale, it allows the producer to focus on quality and on producing products, or varieties of products, that larger-scale producers might not. I recently paid a visit to the Ferme Isle Saint-Jean in Rustico PEI.

Snack Time at Ferme Isle Saint-Jean, Rustico, PEI
Snack Time at Ferme Isle Saint-Jean, Rustico, PEI

Owned and operated by Deirdre and Gabriel Mercier, the new farmers bravely forged ahead in 2015 with dreams of becoming cheesemakers using sheep’s milk. When Deirdre’s family home and small hobby farm became available for sale, the couple decided the time was right to pursue their entrepreneurship dreams in Deirdre’s home community of Rustico. Gabriel attends to the day-to-day farm operations and the yogurt and cheese making while Deirdre looks after the farm’s bookkeeping.

Isle Saint-Jean Sheep Farm in Rustico, PEI
Ferme Isle Saint-Jean in Rustico, PEI

Currently, the Merciers are milking 104 sheep that produce, on average, between 1 – 1½ litres of milk each a day.  They have two breeds of sheep. The first, East Friesian dairy sheep, originate in northern Germany and are, according to Gabriel, the highest milk-producing sheep. The second breed, the Lacaune, are a dairying sheep breed originating in southern France. The Lacaunes produce less milk than the East Friesians but their milk has a higher fat and protein content.

Sheep Herd
Sheep at Ferme Isle Saint-Jean in Rustico, PEI (Photo courtesy of Isle Saint-Jean Farm)

The farm’s new milking parlour allows for 24 sheep to be milked at once.

Sheep Milk Dairy Milking Parlour
Milking the Sheep at Ferme Isle Saint-Jean Sheep in Rustico, PEI (Photo courtesy Ferm Isle Saint-Jean)

Gabriel is new to a career in farming having spent nearly 10 years in military service. He spent time on a work term on a farm in Quebec followed by a month working in a cheese plant – Nouvelle France Fromagerie – and has taken a course in cheesemaking in Quebec.

Currently, the farm is producing yogurt and cheese by transporting the milk to a cheese factory in Mont Carmel, PEI, where Gabriel goes to make the products. Some cheese is made in a facility in New Brunswick that has an aging room for the cheese, some of which takes time to ripen. In addition, the farm also has lamb sausages available which are made for them by Island Taylored Meats.

Cheese and Yogurt Produced by Ferme Isle Saint-Jean, Rustico, PEI (Photo courtesy of Ferme Isle Saint-Jean)
Cheese and Yogurt Produced by Ferme Isle Saint-Jean, Rustico, PEI (Photo courtesy of Ferme Isle Saint-Jean)

When asked what the biggest challenges are to sheep farming in PEI, Gabriel says operating costs, labour involved, and the long days and 24/7 commitment as the sheep are milked twice a day during lactation for the first 90 days after giving birth then once a day afterwards.

Baby Lambs at Ferme Isle Saint-Jean, Rustico, PEI (Photo courtesy Ferme Isle Saint-Jean)
Baby Lambs at Ferme Isle Saint-Jean, Rustico, PEI (Photo courtesy Ferme Isle Saint-Jean)

Particularly during lambing seasons, the days can be very long as the lambs start arriving in February when it is cold on PEI and so attention is required to ensure they quickly get their first drink and are kept warm.

Young Lambs at Ferme Isle Saint-Jean, Rustico, PEI (Photo courtesy Ferme Isle Saint-Jean)
Young Lambs at Ferme Isle Saint-Jean, Rustico, PEI (Photo courtesy Ferme Isle Saint-Jean)

I love the sentiment captured in the photo below of a mama with her baby lamb!

Mama Poses with her Baby Lamb at Ferme Isle Saint-Jean in Rustico, PEI (Photo courtesy Ferme Isle Saint-Jean)
Mama Poses with her Baby Lamb at Ferme Isle Saint-Jean in Rustico, PEI (Photo courtesy Ferme Isle Saint-Jean)

Despite the work and commitment, the Merciers find great satisfaction in sheep farming.  Gabriel says he has a passion for cheesemaking and enjoys taking a raw product and converting it into something else like yogurt and cheese. The other bonus is he gets to see more of his young family than he would if he worked off the farm.

The three cheeses presently made from the farm’s sheep milk are Alexis Doiron, Blue d’acadie, and Patrick Mercier.  The Alexis Doiron, a firm cheese that is not ripened or aged, is made by Gabriel at the plant in Mont Carmel. Gabriel classes this as a table cheese that he particularly likes grated on eggs.  He says this cheese is grillable and is very good barbequed because it doesn’t actually melt.  He also suggests it can be grated on pizza as well.

Grillable Alexis Doiron Cheese from Ferme Isle Saint-Jean, Rustico, PEI (Photo Courtesy Ferme Isle Saint-Jean)
Grillable Alexis Doiron Cheese from Ferme Isle Saint-Jean, Rustico, PEI (Photo Courtesy Ferme Isle Saint-Jean)

The Blue d’acadie is made in a federally-inspected plant with an aging room in New Brunswick.  It is a semi-firm ripened blue cheese that is suberb on burgers or steak, used in a sauce, or as an addition to a cheese tray.

The newest cheese, Patrick Mercier, is made with unpasteurized sheep’s milk and aged at least four months at the same plant in New Brunswick where the Blue d’acadie is made.

Gabriel produces 200 – 500ml jars of yogurt each week. This yogurt is 100% sheep’s milk plus culture and is available unflavored.  Add some pure maple syrup and toss some granola on top for a special treat or top it on your favorite cereal along with some fresh fruit.

Sheep Yogurt with Blueberries on top of Cereal (Photo courtesy Ferme Isle Saint-Jean)
Sheep Yogurt with Blueberries on top of Cereal (Photo courtesy Ferme Isle Saint-Jean)

What about all the wool on those sheep?  The sheep are sheered once a year, in November, which allows them to grow back a wool coat before the really cold weather strikes PEI.  The wool is transported to MacAusland’s Woolen Mills in Bloomfield, PEI, where it is turned into yarn and woven into blankets.

Sheep Shearing at Ferme Isle Saint-Jean in Rustico, PEI
Sheep Shearing at Ferme Isle Saint-Jean in Rustico, PEI (Photo Courtesy Ferme Isle Saint-Jean)

This past summer, the Merciers opened a retail shop on the farm where the cheeses, yogurt, and lamb sausages can be purchased at source and where customers can enjoy some samples of the yogurt and cheeses.  During the winter months, the shop is open by appointment only.

Gabriel Mercier in his Retail Shop at Ferme Isle Saint-Jean, Rustico, PEI
Gabriel Mercier in his Retail Shop at Ferme Isle Saint-Jean, Rustico, PEI

The farm’s products are currently available in several locations including Riverview Country Market, Kent Street Market, Brighton Clover Farm (all in Charlottetown), as well as at the Charlottetown Farmers Market , the Farmed Market and Craft Butchery and the Summerside Farmers Market, both in Summerside, and Gallant’s Country Market in Rustico. Several Island restaurants, including those in the Rustico area, are serving yogurt and cheeses from the farm as part of their menus.

A visit to Ferme Isle Saint-Jean in Rustico, PEI. Sheep dairy farm produces sheep cheese and yogurt.

Homemade Beef Stock Recipe and Tips (or is it Beef Broth?)

Beef Stock/Broth
Homemade Beef Stock/Broth

Beef stock and beef broth are terms often used interchangeably. However, there is actually a difference between the two.  True beef stock is made principally with bones and water and little to no seasoning.  It typically simmers for hours on the stove. Beef stock is nutrient dense, protein rich, and a good source of minerals and gelatin. Traditional beef broth, on the other hand, is usually made mainly with meat (though some bones may be included) and it often has additional flavorings (from vegetables, herbs, and spices) added to it. Beef broth typically simmers for less time than a true beef stock and is, therefore, a lighter product.

It seems the theory is that stock, made from the bones, is more pure and versatile than broth.  This is because the unseasoned stock can be used in more dishes in which seasoning can then be added, unique to each dish as it is made.  I actually like the soup, sauce, or casserole base (i.e., the stock/broth) to already have some seasoning in it to start with and I don’t experience any issues with my already-seasoned stock/broth in any recipe I am making.  I like the extra flavour boost the seasoned stock/broth gives to dishes. So, regardless what it is technically called, what follows is my recipe for beef stock/broth (or a combination or modification thereof).  Plan to make this on a day when you will be home for the day as this stock/broth will take 6-8 hours to simmer slowly.

Beef Stock/Broth
Beef Stock/Broth

A good stock/broth is a handy staple to have on hand in the cook’s kitchen (or freezer).  Of course, if it is made as a broth with some seasonings, it can be used as a drink and is particularly useful in situations where one must follow a clear liquid diet. But, the stock/broth can be used as the base for soups, sauces, braised dishes, and gravies and it can also be used when called for in a host of recipes and other dishes. With a homemade stock/broth, you know what is in it, there are no preservatives, and the amount of salt can be controlled.  I find that a lot of commercially-made stocks and broths are way too salty for my taste.

So, about 5 pounds of meaty bones with marrow from the local butcher will be needed for my recipe. By “meaty bones”, I am referring to bones that still have some meat on them. In fact, I like to include a couple of bones that have a substantial amount of meat on them as this, in my opinion, deepens the flavour of the stock/broth. Marrow is the fatty gelatin-like matter found in the cavity of large bones.  If you tell your butcher you are making stock/broth, he or she will know what product you are looking for – i.e., beef bones with marrow – ribs, shanks, knuckle bones, and so forth. I call my butcher a couple of days in advance to ensure that the butcher shop will have the right product and amount set aside for me and I always ask that the meaty bones be cut into 2” – 3” thick chunks so they are easier to handle in both the roasting and simmering processes. The photo below shows a sampling of the bones/meat I typically use in my stock/broth.

Beef Bones for Stock/Broth
Beef Bones for Stock/Broth

I like lots of deep flavor and color in my beef stock/broth. One way to get this is to roast the meaty bones.  The roasting process will caramelize the meaty bones and this will yield a rich brown-colored stock/broth.  Roast the bones at a high temperature (450°F) for about 30 minutes then brush some tomato paste over them and return them to the oven to roast for about 30 minutes longer.

Because I like lots of flavour in my stock/broth, I add some aromatic and flavourful vegetables – carrots, leek, parsnips, onion, celery, mushrooms, and a hefty dose of garlic. There is no need to peel the vegetables (except for the rutabaga that often has a wax coating).  Just make sure they are very well washed.  You want all the flavour and colour you can get from the vegetables, some of which is contained in the skins/peelings which will later be discarded anyway once the stock/broth is cooked and strained.

Celery is a big flavour agent in this stock/broth and that’s why, in addition to the three stalks of celery called for in the recipe, the celery leaves and the base of the three stalks are used to intensify the flavour. Any kind of mushrooms can be used in the stock/broth. Portobellos would be my first choice because of their earthy flavour and deep colour which will contribute to the colour of the stock/broth. I have, however, made great stock with the simple white button mushrooms which, of course, are more economical than Portobellos. Toss the vegetables with olive oil and add them to the roaster during the last 30 minutes of the roasting bones. It’s important to ensure these don’t burn or char so keep an eye on them and turn the veggies, if necessary, as they roast.

Once the bones and veggies are roasted, transfer them to a large stock pot. Don’t discard all those lovely brown bits and scrapings left in the roasting pan!  Simply add a small amount of water to the pan (or you can use a bit of red wine, if you wish), place the roaster over medium heat, and scrape those bits up and transfer them to the stockpot, too.  There is a lot of valuable flavour in those scrapings, too good to lose.

Fresh herbs can, of course, be used in this recipe but I have given amounts for dried herbs because we don’t all have access to quality fresh herbs year-round.  Even though this stock will be strained, I still like to gather up all the herbs and spices into a bouquet garni because it corrals them and keeps the stock cleaner.  To make the bouquet garni, cut an 8” square of double layer of cheesecloth, place the herbs and spices in the center, gather up the cheesecloth, and tie it with string.  Add this lovely aromatic sachet to the stock pot.  As the stock/broth simmers, it will be infused by the herbs and spices. Add the cold water, vinegar, bay leaves, and sea salt.  The vinegar will draw the gelatin, nutrients, and minerals from the bones through the slow simmering process.  Because only a small amount of vinegar is used, it will not leave a negative taste to the stock/broth.

Beef Stock/Broth
Beef Stock/Broth

Bring the ingredients almost, but not quite, to the boiling point over medium-high heat.  It’s critical that this stock NEVER boil – that will make it cloudy and the look you’re aiming for is a translucent liquid. Reduce the heat to a low simmer.  The temperature of the liquid should reach and stay around the 200°F point. A candy thermometer is useful to verify the heat from time to time as the stock/broth simmers. If the temperature of the liquid dips below 200°F, simply increase the heat just a bit to bring the temperature back up to the simmering point. If it exceeds 200°F, drop the heat back. It’s okay if you see tiny bubbles forming but they should not break the surface of the liquid. The other tip to a translucent stock/broth is not to stir it as it is simmering. This will stir everything up and can cause clouding to occur, resulting in a murky stock/broth. While a cloudy broth will not affect its flavour, a translucent broth is more eye appealing.

As the mixture is simmering, you will notice some fat from the bones rising to the surface. Periodically take a large spoon and skim this fat away and discard it.  Don’t cover the stockpot while the stock/broth is simmering as it is more difficult to keep the liquid at the simmering point if it is covered. Also, some reduction of the liquid is required in order to achieve desired flavour. If you find that too much of the stock/broth is evaporating too quickly, reduce the heat and add a bit more cold water to ensure all the ingredients are submerged in the liquid. However, be cautious about adding too much water as it will dilute the flavour of the stock/broth.

Beef Stock/Broth
Beef Stock/Broth

Once the stock/broth has simmered for 6-8 hours, remove it from the heat and strain it.  To do this, line a large colander with a double layer of damp cheesecloth. Place the colander over a clean stock pot and pour the stock/broth into the colander.  Discard the bones, vegetables, and bouquet garni.  Place the stockpot containing the strained stock/broth in a large sink filled with ice water to cool it quickly.  Skim off any further solidified fat as the stock/broth cools. If you are super particular about having a totally clear stock/broth, free of all impurities, I recommend straining it twice through a colander lined with damp cheesecloth. The stock/broth in the photos in this posting were strained once. Some tiny impurities are visible. They don’t bother me but a second straining of the stock/broth would remove them. Place the strained stock in the refrigerator to chill completely then remove any remaining solidified fat.  For more intense flavored stock/broth, it can be placed back on the stove at medium-low heat and reduced to one-half, yielding a stronger, more concentrated flavour but there will obviously be less quantity.

So, apart from the necessity to use the right ingredients in the stock/broth, the three big tips I have for making a clear, high quality stock/broth are:  1) Don’t boil it; 2) Don’t stir it; and 3) Don’t cover it while it simmers.  Basically, put the ingredients in a large stockpot, get the liquid to the simmering point and let it do its thing.

Beef Stock/Broth
Beef Stock/Broth

This stock/broth will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days or it can be frozen, at this point, in containers of desired size.  I usually freeze and label mine in different quantities based on what recipe I intend using it in. I will often freeze some stock/broth in ice cube containers and use them for flavoring dishes, like rice or steamed vegetables, where smaller amounts may be needed.  So, regardless whether the ingredients and method used in this recipe are technically a “broth” or a “stock”, I use this tasty product in any recipe calling for either beef stock or beef broth.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Homemade Beef Stock/Broth

 Ingredients:

5 lbs meaty beef bones with marrow (shank, ribs, knuckle bones)
Olive oil
1 – 5 oz/156ml can tomato paste

2 large carrots, unpeeled and halved, cut into 3” chunks
1 large leek, light and white parts only, halved
2 parsnips, unpeeled, cut into 2” chunks
1 large onion, unpeeled, halved
11 oz rutabaga, peeled, cut into ½” slices and halved
1 head garlic (containing apx. 9-10 cloves)
3 large celery ribs (with leaves and base of stalks included), cut into 3” chunks
6 oz mushrooms, halved

1 tbsp dried parsley
1½ tsp mixed peppercorns
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried basil
6 whole allspice
4 whole cloves

12 cups cold water
1½ tbsp cider vinegar
2 bay leaves
1½ tsp fine sea salt

Method:

Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease large roasting pan.  In large bowl, toss meaty bones with olive oil to lightly coat.  Place bones in roaster and roast for 30 minutes.

Place carrots, leek, parsnips, onion, rutabaga, garlic, celery, and mushrooms in a large bowl and add enough olive oil to lightly coat.

Remove bones from oven, turn, and brush them with tomato paste.  Add the olive-oil coated vegetables to the roasting pan and return the roaster to the oven.  Roast for another 30 minutes, turning the vegetables once or twice to ensure they do not burn.  Transfer roasted bones and vegetables to a large stockpot.  Add a small amount of water (or a bit of red wine) to roasting pan, place it over medium heat, and stir scrapings left from the roasting process.  Pour into stock pot with the bones and vegetables.

Using a small 8” square of double cheese cloth, gather the herbs and spices together in the center and tie up cheesecloth to make a bouquet garni.  Drop the sachet in to the stock pot. Add the cold water, vinegar, bay leaves, and sea salt.

Bring mixture to just below the boiling point over medium high heat. DO NOT BOIL. Reduce heat to a low simmer (liquid temperature should reach and remain around the 200°F point) and let stock simmer, uncovered, for 6-8 hours. If liquid evaporates too much and too quickly, reduce the heat and add a bit more water (e.g., 1 cup or so).  Periodically, skim the fat, as it forms, from the surface of the stock as it simmers. Do not stir mixture as it simmers as this may create a cloudy stock/broth.

Prepare a large colander with a double layer of damp cheesecloth.  Place colander over large clean stock pot and pour the stock/broth mixture into the colander to strain it.  Discard bones, vegetables, and bouquet garni.  Place stockpot containing the strained stock/broth in large sink filled with ice water to cool the stock quickly.  Remove and discard any solidified fat. Place strained stock in refrigerator to chill completely then remove any remaining solidified fat from the chilled stock/broth.

Use stock/broth immediately or store, covered, in refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Alternatively, pour stock/broth into containers of desired size and freeze for future use.

Yield:  Apx. 10 cups (depending on amount of evaporation and reduction that has occurred).

NOTE:  Strained stock/broth may be reheated over medium-low heat and reduced to one-half. This will yield a stronger flavored and more concentrated product but, naturally, there will be less quantity.

Straining the stock/broth twice through a cheesecloth-lined colander will yield a clearer broth, free of any impurities.

Homemade Beef Stock (or is it Beef Broth?)

Yield: Apx. 10 cups (depending on amount of evaporation and reduction that has occurred)

Roasted bones combined with long, slow simmering yield a deep, rich flavoured beef stock/broth that has a multitude of uses.

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs meaty beef bones with marrow (shank, ribs, knuckle bones)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 – 5 oz/156ml can tomato paste
  • 2 large carrots, unpeeled and halved, cut into 3” chunks
  • 1 large leek, light and white parts only, halved
  • 2 parsnips, unpeeled, cut into 2” chunks
  • 1 large onion, unpeeled, halved
  • 11 oz rutabaga, peeled, cut into ½” slices and halved
  • 1 head garlic (containing apx. 9-10 cloves)
  • 3 large celery ribs (with leaves and head of stalks included), cut into 3” chunks
  • 6 oz mushrooms, halved
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1½ tsp mixed peppercorns
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 6 whole allspice
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 12 cups cold water
  • 1½ tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1½ tsp fine sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease large roasting pan. In large bowl, toss meaty bones with olive oil to lightly coat. Place bones in roaster and roast for 30 minutes.
  2. Place carrots, leek, parsnips, onion, rutabaga, garlic, celery, and mushrooms in a large bowl and add enough olive oil to lightly coat.
  3. Remove bones from oven, turn, and brush them with tomato paste. Add the olive-oil coated vegetables to the roasting pan and return the roaster to the oven. Roast for another 30 minutes, turning the vegetables once or twice to ensure they do not burn. Transfer roasted bones and vegetables to a large stockpot. Add a small amount of water (or a bit of red wine) to roasting pan, place it over medium heat, and stir scrapings left from the roasting process. Pour into stock pot with the bones and vegetables.
  4. Using a small 8” square of double cheese cloth, gather the herbs and spices together and tie up cheesecloth to make a bouquet garni. Drop the sachet in to the stock pot. Add the cold water, vinegar, bay leaves, and sea salt.
  5. Bring mixture to just below the boiling point over medium high heat. DO NOT BOIL. Reduce heat to a low simmer (liquid temperature should reach and remain around the 200°F point) and let stock simmer, uncovered, for 6-8 hours. If liquid evaporates too much and too quickly, reduce the heat and add a bit more water (e.g., 1 cup or so). Periodically, skim the fat, as it forms, from the surface of the stock as it simmers. Do not stir mixture as it simmers as this may create a cloudy stock/broth.
  6. Prepare a large colander with a double layer of damp cheesecloth. Place colander over large clean stock pot and pour the stock/broth mixture into the colander to strain it. Discard bones, vegetables, and bouquet garni. Place stockpot containing the strained stock/broth in large sink filled with ice water to cool the stock quickly. Remove and discard any solidified fat. Place strained stock in refrigerator to chill completely then remove any remaining solidified fat from the chilled stock/broth.
  7. Use stock/broth immediately or store, covered, in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Alternatively, pour stock/broth into containers of desired size and freeze for future use.

Notes

Strained stock/broth may be reheated over medium-low heat and reduced to one-half. This will yield a stronger flavored and more concentrated product but, naturally, there will be less quantity.

Straining the stock/broth twice through cheesecloth-lined colanders will yield a clearer broth, free of any impurities.

Be sure to read the accompanying blog post to this recipe as it contains additional information and tips on making beef stock/broth.

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http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/11/10/homemade-beef-stock-recipe-and-tips-or-is-it-beef-broth/

Beef Broth