Homemade Turkey Stock Recipe

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

I am always dismayed (and disheartened) at how many people toss a turkey carcass after the turkey dinner. To me, that is such a waste as there is a lot of goodness in that turkey carcass and it makes great homemade turkey stock that can be used in many recipes.

Roast Turkey
Roast Turkey

A good poultry stock is a handy staple to have on hand in the cook’s kitchen (or freezer).  The stock can be used as the base for soups, sauces, braised dishes, and gravies and it can also be used when called for in any number of different recipes and other dishes. One of the best things about a homemade stock is that you know what is in it, there are no preservatives, and the amount of salt can be controlled.

Homemade Chowder
Turkey Chowder

I usually cook turkeys that are in the 7-9 pound range. Therefore, my recipe below for turkey stock is based on the carcass from this weight range of turkey.  However, this recipe is scalable meaning, if you cook a smaller turkey, reduce the amount of ingredients proportionately and, likewise, if you cook a larger turkey, add additional measures of the ingredients called for in the recipe.

If it is not convenient to make the turkey stock right after the turkey has been roasted and carved (or the next day), simply bag up the carcass in to an airtight zippered freezer bag and toss it in the freezer and make the stock later.  In fact, at the time of writing, I have three turkey carcasses in the freezer waiting to be made in to stock whenever I need it. And that’s in addition to 16 cups of stock already made and frozen!

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

So, to prepare the carcass for stock making, remove all the meat you want from the carcass and use it for other purposes (or cube it up and freeze it for later use in soups or casseroles).  Leave some bits of meat on the carcass. Now, it is entirely possible to make the turkey stock with just the carcass of the roasted turkey (and some aromatics and seasonings, of course) and I have often done so.  However, by adding 2 more pounds of turkey pieces, the result will be a deepened flavor of the stock.  These can be any kind of turkey pieces at all so long as they still have bone-in -– legs, wings, thighs. Generally, I buy whatever is on sale at the time.  Brush a light coating of oil over these turkey pieces and place them in a greased roasting pan.  Place them, uncovered (or loosely tented with tin foil to prevent fat splatters), in a preheated 425°F oven for 25-35 minutes, turning once or twice during the roasting.  Remove the turkey pieces and transfer them to a heatproof dish.  Using a large wooden spoon, scrape up all the brown bits and drippings from the roasting pan. Add about ½ to ¾ cup or so of water to the roasting pan to deglaze it over medium heat, stirring up the brown bits. This will deepen the flavor of the stock when it is added to it.

You will need a very large stock pot to make this stock – one that can accommodate the size of turkey carcass you are using, two additional pounds of turkey pieces, all the veggies, and 16 cups of water. Although possible, I don’t bother breaking down the carcass unless I need to do so to get it to fit in the stock pot.  Add everything to the pot, skin included, from both the carcass and additional turkey pieces along with the liquid from the deglazed pan.

Turkey stock can be very bland if it does not have enough seasonings added to it. That’s why I add some aromatic and flavourful vegetables – carrots, leek, parsnips, onion, celery, rutabaga, 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 the vegetables 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 is cooked and strained.  Celery is a big flavour agent in this stock and that’s why, in addition to the five ribs of celery called for in the recipe, the celery leaves and the celery stalk base are used to intensify the flavour. While an optional ingredient, any kind of mushrooms can be used in the stock – I usually use the white button or cremini variety.

Fresh herbs can, of course, be used in this recipe (and I do use them when it is gardening season and I have them fresh). However, 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 dried 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 simmers, it will be infused by the herbs and spices. Add the cold water, vinegar, bay leaves, and sea salt.  The vinegar will extract the collagen, 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.

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 clear, 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 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 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. While a cloudy stock will not affect its flavour, a translucent stock is more eye appealing.

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

As the mixture is simmering, you will likely 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 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 is evaporating too quickly, 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.

This stock can simmer away for up to 8 hours. However, I find 5-6 hours is generally sufficient. Once the stock has simmered for this length of time, 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 into the colander.  Discard the remaining solids – i.e., the bones, vegetables, meat, and bouquet garni.  Because the meat that came off the carcass and the turkey pieces has been simmered for hours and served its purpose, it is tough and is of no significant nutritional value so I discard it. Sometimes, I find the meat after this process can have an offputting flavor so it’s not the best to use in soups or casseroles.

Wash the original stock pot in which the mixture had been simmering. Place a new piece of double-layer dampened cheesecloth in a fine wire mesh sieve and place the sieve over the clean stock pot.  Pour the stock through the sieve.  This second straining will help ensure a clear stock, free of all impurities. Place this stockpot containing the strained stock into a large sink filled with ice water to cool it quickly.  Skim off any further solidified fat as the stock cools. Place the cooled, strained stock in the refrigerator to chill completely (this will take several hours or overnight, even) then remove any remaining solidified fat from the stock’s surface.  For more intense flavored stock, it can be placed back on the stove at medium-low heat and simmered until reduced to one-half the amount, 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, the three big tips I have for making a clear, high quality stock 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 be to do its thing.

This stock will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days or it can be frozen for up to six months, at this point, in freezer-safe 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 in ice cube containers and use them for flavoring dishes, like rice or steamed vegetables, or stir fries where smaller amounts may be needed.

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Turkey Stock

Ingredients:
Carcass (with some meat left on it) from 7-9 lb roasted turkey
2 lbs fresh cut up turkey pieces

1 tsp mixed peppercorns
1 tsp dried rosemary
½ tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried coriander
1 tsp dried summer savory
3 whole cardamom pods
6 whole cloves
4 whole allspice
1 whole star anise pod

16 cups cold water
1 tbsp cider vinegar
3 bay leaves
1½ – 2 tsp Kosher salt, or to taste

1 large onion, skin on, halved
1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, sliced in half lengthwise and crosswise
2 large carrots, washed, unpeeled, halved lengthwise and chopped into 3” chunks
Celery stalk base + 5 celery ribs and leaves (celery ribs cut into 3” chunks)
1 head garlic, halved crosswise, skins on the cloves
3 slices rutabaga, about ¾” thick, peeled and sliced in half
2 large parsnips, washed, unpeeled, halved lengthwise and chopped into 3” chunks
6-8 mushrooms (button or cremini), halved (optional)

Method:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Brush thin coating of cooking oil over raw turkey pieces. Place turkey pieces in greased baking pan.  Roast, uncovered (or loosely tented with tin foil to avoid splatters in oven) for about 25-35 minutes, turning with tongs after 15 minutes.  Remove turkey pieces from oven and transfer to heatproof dish.  Using a large wooden spoon, scrape up any brown bits left in roasting pan. Mix with approximately ½ – ¾ cup of warm water. Heat over medium heat, stirring to prevent burning.

Place turkey carcass and turkey pieces into large stock pot along with the browned liquid from the roasted turkey pieces.

Using a small 8” square of double cheese cloth, gather the dried 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, sea salt, onion, leek, carrots, celery root and ribs, garlic head, rutabaga, parsnips, and mushrooms (if using).

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 5-6 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.

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 the solids – i.e., bones, vegetables, and bouquet garni.

Wash original stock pot in which the stock was made. Line a fine mesh sieve with a new piece of double layer of damp cheesecloth and place over the clean stock pot. Pour stock through sieve to remove any remaining solids, stray herbs, etc.

Place stockpot containing the strained stock in large sink filled with ice water to cool the stock quickly.  Remove and discard any solidified fat. Place strained stock in refrigerator for several hours, or overnight, to chill completely then remove any remaining solidified fat from the chilled stock.

Use stock immediately or store, covered, in refrigerator for up to 2 days.  Alternatively, pour stock into freezer-safe containers of desired size and freeze for future use.

Yield:  Apx. 16 cups (depending on amount of evaporation and reduction that has occurred).

NOTE:  Strained stock 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 twice through a cheesecloth-lined colander/fine mesh sieve will yield a clearer stock, free of any impurities.

This recipe is scalable – if you have a smaller turkey frame, reduce quantities of ingredients; if it is a larger frame, increase quantities proportionately.

 

Homemade Turkey Stock Recipe

Turkey carcass, combined with a blend of herbs and spices and aromatic and flavorful vegetables, makes healthy and tasty homemade turkey stock
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 Carcass (with some meat left on it) from 7-9 lb roasted turkey
  • 2 lbs fresh cut up turkey pieces
  • 1 tsp mixed peppercorns
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 tsp dried summer savory
  • 3 whole cardamom pods
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 4 whole allspice
  • 1 whole star anise pod
  • 16 cups cold water
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 - 2 tsp Kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 large onion, skin on, halved
  • 1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, sliced in half lengthwise and crosswise
  • 2 large carrots, washed, unpeeled, halved lengthwise and chopped into 3” chunks
  • 5 celery ribs with leaves+ celery stalk base (celery ribs cut into 3" chunks)
  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise, skins on the cloves
  • 3 slices rutabaga, about ¾” thick, peeled and sliced in half
  • 2 large parsnips, washed, unpeeled, halved lengthwise and chopped into 3” chunks
  • 6-8 mushrooms (button or cremini), halved (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Brush thin coating of cooking oil over raw turkey pieces. Place turkey pieces in greased baking pan. Roast, uncovered (or loosely tented with tin foil to avoid splatters in oven) for about 25-35 minutes, turning with tongs after 15 minutes. Remove turkey pieces from oven and transfer to heatproof dish. Using a large wooden spoon, scrape up any brown bits left in roasting pan. Mix with approximately ½ - ¾ cup of warm water. Heat over medium heat, stirring to prevent burning.
  2. Place turkey carcass and turkey pieces into large stock pot along with the browned liquid from the roasted turkey pieces.
  3. Using a small 8” square of double cheese cloth, gather the dried 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, sea salt, onion, leek, carrots, celery root and ribs, garlic head, rutabaga, parsnips, and mushrooms (if using).
  4. 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 5-6 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.
  5. 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 the solids – i.e., bones, vegetables, and bouquet garni.
  6. Wash original stock pot in which the stock was made. Line a fine mesh sieve with a new piece of double layer of damp cheesecloth and place over the clean stock pot. Pour stock through sieve to remove any remaining solids, stray herbs, etc.
  7. Place stockpot containing the strained stock in large sink filled with ice water to cool the stock quickly. Remove and discard any solidified fat. Place strained stock in refrigerator for several hours, or overnight, to chill completely then remove any remaining solidified fat from the chilled stock.
  8. Use stock immediately or store, covered, in refrigerator for up to 2 days. Alternatively, pour stock into freezer-safe containers of desired size and freeze for future use. Yield: Apx. 16 cups (depending on amount of evaporation and reduction that has occurred).

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Strained stock 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.

Note 2: Straining the stock twice through a cheesecloth-lined colander/fine mesh sieve will yield a clearer stock, free of any impurities.

Note 3: This recipe is scalable – if you have a smaller turkey frame, reduce quantities of ingredients; if it is a larger frame, increase quantities proportionately.

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

For my recipe for homemade Beef Stock, click here.

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Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

Blush Pink Holiday Tablesetting

Edible Centerpiece
Edible Centerpiece

My Christmas Eve tablesetting focuses on the blush pink color. It’s a fresh look and a departure from the usual red-green-gold we often associate with the holiday period. There is nothing wrong with those colors but, sometimes, change is good.

Pink Blush Holiday Tablesetting
Blush Pink Holiday Tablesetting

The inspiration for this tablesetting actually came from my dining room mantle design. I had these mint julep cups and thought they would look lovely with individual arrangements in them.

Pink Blush Dining Room Mantle
Blush Pink Dining Room Mantle

This year, I wanted my dining room décor to be in a fashion that didn’t scream Christmas but yet still had an understated Christmas look and feel to it. I found these lovely pale blush pink cabbage roses at Michael’s and, well, you see the result! They have the faintest dusting of glitter to give them a bit of a festive look and, voilà, blush pink became my color theme!

Pink Blush Arrangement
Blush Pink Arrangement

The addition of fairy lights makes the mantle come alive in evening and the lights, with such a fine wire string, give the illusion that they are suspended in mid air. When I am designing my dining room mantle for the holidays, I keep in mind what the design will look like in daylight and in the evening. It’s important that the design be constructed such that it works in different lighting situations.

I have never grown tired of the pale sage green wall color in my dining room – almost any accent colors, like blush and pink gold, look stunning in the room.

Fancy tablesettings do not need to cost a fortune! When I am designing tablesettings, I don’t rush out to buy all the elements. I first go through my “storehouse” to see what I have that will work. The tablesetting I am sharing today is composed mostly of items I already had. This makes a tablesetting interesting and less of a “cookie-cutter matchy-matchy” look.  It’s more curated in that carefully selected items, coming from different designs and textures, are used.

Centerpiece

You’ve heard me say it in postings before – I like to work with a blank white canvas. It’s clean, simple, always elegant, always en vogue.  I am using an antique white Irish linen tablecloth for my setting today.

Let’s start with the base. I was able to find good quality artificial greenery this year – greens that actually look real! I used two of these stems at an angle along the length of my oval dining table.

Pink Blush Tablesetting
Blush Pink Tablesetting

While I wanted to keep the table simple, I did add some fresh seasonal foliage, like seeded eucalyptus, to give some depth and texture. I often combine real and faux greenery to get the look I would not likely otherwise get if I used only real or all faux greens.  Using some fresh natural foliage brings an element of the outdoors to the setting.

Seeded Eucalyptus
Seeded Eucalyptus

There is nothing to say the centerpiece can’t be edible! Why not make your guests salivate for dessert all through dinner! It makes a great conversation piece.

Festive Holiday Cake Centerpiece
Festive Holiday Cake Centerpiece

Here, I have decorated a cake which will be dessert and I have given it center table prominence by displaying it on a glass pedestal cake plate. Using a glass plate (versus a solid color) lends an airy look to the tablescape.

The cake top is constructed from Ferrero Rocher Raffaello Coconut and Almond White Chocolate Truffles to simulate snowballs, soft pink French Macarons to tie in with the blush color theme, and sugared cranberries to add a frosty look and deep color to the cake top. A sprig of seeded eucalyptus adds the natural element.  Any time colored sprinkles are added to a cake, as I have done here at the cake’s base, it means it’s a party cake!

Edible Cake Centerpiece
Edible Cake Centerpiece

Two tall pillar candles flank the sides of the cake.

Holiday Tablesetting
Holiday Tablesetting

I have had the antique-look ivory pillar candle stands for years.

Pink jeweled candlestands
Pink jeweled candlestands

The candle stands have blush pink jewels hanging from their bases so they tie in well with the color scheme.

Decorative pillar candlestands
Decorative pillar candlestands

I scattered a few little white and silver votives around the centerpiece.  I like to use candles of different heights in my tablescapes because their varying heights of light lend depth to the scene and, of course, candlelight always gives softness and warmth to a tablesetting.  The white pillar candles have some glitter on them which adds a bit of sparking and a festive look to the setting.

Placesettings

Blush Pink Placesetting
Blush Pink Placesetting

In keeping with the silver and blush theme, I am using my glitzy silver and rhinestone chargers to frame the white dinnerware.  I am a huge fan of plain white dishes because food colors just pop, with no distractions, on white. To tie the blush scheme in to the placesettings, I am using pale salmon-pink colored glass salad plates.  I have positioned these on slightly larger white supper/salad plates because the white underneath grounds the pale pink color and provides a background for the glass plates. These pink glass plates were bought years ago at a thrift shop.

Pink Glass Plates
Pink Glass Plates

I have had these small pale pink antique pedestal glasses for years. I am not sure what their intended use was – if anyone knows for sure, please do let me know.

Antique Pink Glasses
Antique Pink Glasses

I am using them here for wine glasses in much the same way as I would use stemless wine glasses.  The pink water glasses were a thrift shop find a few years ago.  Mixing and matching styles and color tones make the setting more unique and interesting.

Pink Glasses
Pink Glasses

To add some pizzazz and glamour  to the placesettings, I have opted to thread white dinner napkins through glitzy rhinestone napkin rings.  Using napkin rings is a quick easy way to present napkins and you really can’t do them wrong!

Napkin Threaded Through Rhinestone Napkin Ring
Napkin Threaded Through Rhinestone Napkin Ring

I am using very basic, classic flatware in this setting and, of course, the flatware is placed in the order in which it will be used for the meal.

Concluding Thoughts

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse of my blush pink tablesetting.  It does not scream Christmas like reds, greens, and golds do but it is a more gentle color scheme option that works for any holiday dinner. Other than some greenery and new candles, everything else in the tablesetting (excluding, obviously, the cake – it’s fresh!) was constructed from items I already had.  Proof that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to create a beautiful holiday-themed table.

Pink Blush Placesetting
Blush Pink Placesetting

To view other holiday tablesettings from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Just Hear Those Sleigh Bells Jinglin’ Tablesetting
Glitz ‘n Glamour New Year’s Eve Tablesetting
The Warmth of the Christmas Light Tablesetting
Christmas Eve Tablesetting and Dinner
A Tartan Holiday Tablesetting
Pretty Poinsettia Tablesetting
Poinsettia Trio Tablesetting
The Holiday Table
The Pink and Green Holiday Table
Christmas at My Island Bistro Kitchen
Purple Tablesetting for the Holidays
Evergreens and Reindeer Christmas Tablesetting
Cupcake Tablescape
Twas The Night Before Christmas

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Blush Pink Tablesetting
Blush Pink Tablesetting

Gluten-Free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins

Gluten-free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Mini Loaves
Gluten-free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Mini Loaves

These mini loaves/muffins are super tasty and it’s hard to tell they are gluten-free! I believe this is so because I use a mix of gluten-free flours that include almond and coconut flours which lend exceptional texture and flavour to baked goods. After several testings, I have fixed on a blend of flavorful spices for these loaves/muffins – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves. The spices, combined with pumpkin purée and mincemeat, results in a very flavorful mini loaf/muffin.

Gluten-free Pumpkin Mincemeat Muffins
Gluten-free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins

I find gluten-free baked goods take more leavening than do gluten products so this recipe calls for a substantial amount of baking powder along with some soda. I like muffins that are perfectly domed and this recipe delivers well on that front.

Gluten-free Pumpkin Mincemeat Muffins
Gluten-free Pumpkin Mincemeat Muffins

Because there are several different flours in this recipe, make sure the dry ingredients are mixed really well to ensure the zanthan gum, flours, spices, and leavening agents are well mixed. I use a whisk and do a count of 50 while briskly whisking the ingredients every which way in the bowl. You can, of course, put the ingredients through a flour sifter or fine wire mesh sieve and then give them a good stir. Either method works.

There is a small amount of buttermilk or soured milk called for in this recipe. While it’s only 2 1/2 tablespoons, it is nonetheless an important ingredient.  The acidity of buttermilk combined with the soda called for in the recipe helps to make muffins that have a tender crumb.  If you don’t have buttermilk, don’t go buy it for just 2 1/2 tablespoons. Instead, take regular milk and add about 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar to it.  Let it stand for 5-10 minutes and it will be duly soured.  For those using non-dairy milk substitutes, use soy or almond milk in this recipe.

It’s important to use pure pumpkin purée, not pumpkin pie filling, in this recipe.  The purée has a different texture and no spices added to it. This allows the baker to add his or her own combination of spices appropriate to the recipe. Pumpkin purée freezes well so I open a can for the recipe I am making then freeze the remainder in one-half cup portions in freezer containers for use in other recipes.

If you have an 8-cavity mini loaf pan (each loaf cavity apx 2” x 3” x 1” deep that holds about 2/3-cup batter), this recipe makes cute little mini loaves. Otherwise, use 10 standard muffin cups (each having apx ½-cup capacity).

Gluten-free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Mini Loaves
Gluten-free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Mini Loaves

The loaves/muffins have a lovely texture and a tender crumb.

Gluten-free Pumpkin Mincemeat Muffins
Gluten-free Pumpkin Mincemeat Muffins

These mini loaves/muffins freeze really well so are great to have on hand for school or work lunches.

Make a batch of the mini loaves at Christmas and tie each with a ribbon and they make a perfect little remembrance gift for the foodies on your list.  They’re perfect little hostess gifts, too!

Gluten-free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Mini Loaves
Gluten-free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Mini Loaves

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-Free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins

Ingredients:
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
2 tbsp potato starch
¼ cup gluten-free oat flour
¼ cup almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
1¼ tsp zanthan gum
5½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp soda
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp ground chia seeds
2½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ginger
¼ tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cloves

¾ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1½ tsp vanilla
2½ tbsp buttermilk or sour milk*
½ cup canned pure pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
½ cup mincemeat

Method:

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Prepare 8-cavity mini loaf pan (each loaf cavity apx 2” x 3” x 1” deep – about 2/3-cup capacity) or 10 standard muffin cups (each apx ½-cup capacity) by spraying each cavity or muffin cup with cooking spray or greasing individually.

Combine flours, zanthan gum, baking powder, soda, salt, chia seeds, and spices together in a large bowl.  Whisk ingredients well to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Set aside.

In separate medium-sized bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla, milk*, pumpkin, and mincemeat.  Whisk ingredients well. (To sour milk, add scant ½ tsp vinegar to the 2½ tbsp milk.  Let stand for 5-10 minutes before using.)

Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients.  With large spoon, mix ingredients together just until dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Do not overmix.

Spoon batter into prepared mini loaf cavities or muffin cups, filling almost to the rim.  Let sit for 3 –4 minutes before transferring to pre-heated oven. Immediately reduce oven temperature to 400°F.  Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until loaves/muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into center of muffin or loaf comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let loaves/muffins rest in pans for 5-7 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 8 mini loaves or 10 standard-sized muffins

Gluten-free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins

These gluten-free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins are moist, flavorful, perfectly domed, and totally delicious!
Course Breakfast
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp potato starch
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free oat flour
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp zanthan gum
  • 5 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 tbsp buttermilk or sour milk To sour milk, add apx. 1/2 tsp vinegar to the milk and let it sit 5-10 minutes before using
  • 1/2 cup pure pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup mincemeat

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Prepare 8-cavity mini loaf pan (each loaf cavity apx 2” x 3” x 1” deep – about 2/3-cup capacity) or 10 standard muffin cups (each apx ½-cup capacity) by spraying each cavity or muffin cup with cooking spray or greasing individually.
  3. Combine flours, zanthan gum, baking powder, soda, salt, chia seeds, and spices together in a large bowl. Whisk ingredients well to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Set aside.
  4. In separate medium-sized bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla, milk*, pumpkin, and mincemeat. Whisk ingredients well. (To sour milk, add scant ½ tsp vinegar to the 2½ tbsp milk. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before using.)
  5. Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients. With large spoon, mix ingredients together just until dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Do not overmix.

  6. Spoon batter into prepared mini loaf cavities or muffin cups, filling almost to the rim. Let sit for 3 –4 minutes before transferring to pre-heated oven. Immediately reduce oven temperature to 400°F.

  7. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until loaves/muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into center of muffin or loaf comes out clean. Remove from oven and let loaves/muffins rest in pans for 5-7 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

    Yield: 8 mini loaves or 10 standard-sized muffins

For other great gluten-free muffins from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins
Deli-Style Gluten-Free Beet Muffins
Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins
The Ultimate Gluten-free Zucchini Date Muffins

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Gluten-free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins
Gluten-free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins
Gluten-free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins
Gluten-free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins

Unbaked Chocolate Coconut Square

Chocolate Coconut Squares
Chocolate Coconut Squares

This no-bake chocolate coconut square is one of the easiest to make and it does not take a lot of ingredients.  The recipe calls for graham wafer crumbs –   to make this square gluten-free, use gluten-free graham style crumbs. There may be a number of brands of these crumbs available. I use the Kinnikinnick brand. In fact, the squares in the photos in this post are made with these gluten-free crumbs.

Chocolate Coconut Squares
Chocolate Coconut Squares

This square is almost candy-bar quality.  It is not a thick square but it is rich, moist, and very tasty! A great treat anytime and a sure favorite on any sweet tray.

Chocolate Coconut Squares
Chocolate Coconut Squares

Unbaked Chocolate Coconut Square

Ingredients:
½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

1 extra large egg, room temperature, beaten
1 tsp vanilla

2 cups graham wafer crumbs
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
½ cup chopped pecans

Method:
Line 9”x9” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving enough paper overhang that finished square can be lifted from the pan for easy icing and cutting.

Combine butter, sugars, and cocoa in medium-sized heavy bottomed saucepan.  Cook over medium low heat until butters melt and ingredients are combined and heated.  Stir frequently to prevent scorching.  Do not boil.

Add the beaten egg and vanilla.  Cook over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and add the graham wafer crumbs, coconut, and pecans.  Stir to combine ingredients well.

Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan.  Cool.  Ice with buttercream icing (recipe follows). Cut into squares of desired size.

Icing

Ingredients:

2 cups sifted powdered sugar (aka icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar)
3 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
2½ tbsp water
½ tsp almond flavoring

1 – oz square semi-sweet chocolate
1 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature

Method:
Combine the powdered sugar and butter in bowl of stand mixer.  Mix on low speed to blend in butter.  Add the water and almond flavoring and increase speed to medium-low to blend ingredients. Increase speed to high and beat an additional minute to ensure ingredients are well combined and icing is smooth.  Additional water may be required to make icing of desired spreading consistency. If adding additional water, add by ½ teaspoon at a time.

Spread icing evenly over square.  Melt the chocolate square and butter in small dish in microwave only until the ingredients have melted enough to be blended together.  Drizzle in desired design over icing.  Cut squares into desired size.

Yield:  1 – 9”x9” pan of squares

Unbaked Chocolate Coconut Square

Easy-to-make unbaked chocolate coconut square is sure to appeal to any sweet tooth and make a fine addition to sweet trays

Course Dessert
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 extra large egg, room temperature, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups graham wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Icing

  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar (aka icing sugar/confectioner's sugar)
  • 3 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp almond flavoring
  • 1 oz square semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature

Instructions

  1. Line 9”x9” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving enough paper overhang that finished square can be lifted from the pan for easy icing and cutting.
  2. Combine butter, sugars, and cocoa in medium-sized heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium low heat until butters melt and ingredients are combined and heated. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. Do not boil.

  3. Add the beaten egg and vanilla. Cook over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from heat and add the graham wafer crumbs, coconut, and pecans. Stir to combine ingredients well.
  5. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan. Cool. Ice with buttercream icing (recipe follows). Cut into squares of desired size.

Icing

  1. Combine the powdered sugar and butter in bowl of stand mixer. Mix on low speed to blend in butter. Add the water and almond flavoring and increase speed to medium-low to blend ingredients. Increase speed to high and beat an additional minute to ensure ingredients are well combined and icing is smooth. Additional water may be required to make icing of desired spreading consistency. If adding additional water, add by ½ teaspoon at a time.
  2. Spread icing evenly over square. Melt the chocolate square and butter in small dish in microwave only until the ingredients have melted enough to be blended together. Drizzle in desired design over icing. Cut squares into desired size. 

    Yield: 1 – 9”x9” pan of squares

Recipe Notes

To make this square gluten-free, use gluten-free graham style crumbs.

 

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Chocolate Coconut Squares
Chocolate Coconut Squares

Clementine Curd

Clementine Curd
Clementine Curd

Christmas is an excellent time to make clementine curd when fresh clementines are readily available.  While certainly lesser known than the traditional lemon curd, clementine curd is lovely in its own way.

Less sharp and “puckery” than lemon curd, clementine curd is almost identical in color to lemon curd (perhaps a slight bit paler) and still has a lovely citrus flavour.

Clementine Curd
Clementine Curd

Be prepared to devote some time and patience to making any curd.  It cooks slowly over a pot of simmering (never boiling) water to reach its finished stage (170F on a candy thermometer). You may wish to read my previous postings on making lemon curd and rhubarb curd for hints and tips on make curd as the same techniques apply to the making of clementine curd.

Clementine Curd
Clementine Curd

Use this clementine curd in the same way in which you would use lemon curd — as a spread on biscuits, scones, muffins, or toast; as a filling for cakes; in a parfait with Greek yogurt; or as a filling for tarts and cookies. Bottle the curd in a fancy jar and you have a lovely gift for someone, especially if you include a batch of homemade scones or biscuits with it.

Clementine Curd
Clementine Curd

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Clementine Curd

Ingredients:

¾ cup caster* sugar or granulated sugar
2½ tsp clementine zest
7 tbsp freshly squeezed clementine juice, strained (apx. 5 clementines, depending on size)
2 extra-large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
3 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature

Method:

In bottom of double boiler, bring about 2” of water to the simmer point (around 200°F). Maintain the water at this simmer point over medium-low heat.  Place sugar in top of double boiler or heat-proof bowl.  Mix in the clementine zest.  Whisk the clementine juice into sugar.
In small bowl, lightly beat the 2 egg yolks and the whole egg together with a fork, just enough to break up the yolks and blend with the whole egg.  Whisk the eggs into the sugar-clementine juice mixture. Add the soft butter.  Place this pot or bowl over the simmering water. Stir the mixture continuously as it cooks until it is thickened and the temperature of the mixture registers 170°F on a candy thermometer.  Be patient as this will take awhile. Make sure the water in the bottom of the boiler does not boil and stays only at the simmer point.
Remove curd from heat and strain through a mesh strainer to remove any of the egg white that may have coagulated as well as the clementine rind.  Pour strained curd into a sterilized bottle.  Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent it from forming a skin on top. Cool at room temperature. Remove plastic wrap. Cover jar tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Yield: Apx. 1 cup

*caster sugar may also be known as fruit sugar, berry sugar, super fine sugar, or instant dissolving sugar.

Note:  Altitude may affect the temperature at which the water reaches the simmering point. The important thing is that the water in the bottom of the double boiler does not boil or touch the top of the double boiler/heatproof bowl during the cooking of the curd.

Clementine Curd

Similar to lemon curd but more mellow, this delightful clementine curd is especially love at Christmas when fresh clementines are readily available.
Course Dessert
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup caster sugar or granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp clementine zest
  • 7 tbsp freshly squeezed clementine juice, strained (apx. 5 clementines, depending on size)
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature

Instructions

  1. In bottom of double boiler, bring about 2” of water to the simmer point (around 200°F). Maintain the water at this simmer point over medium-low heat. Place sugar in top of double boiler or heat-proof bowl. Mix in the clementine zest. Whisk the clementine juice into sugar.
  2. In small bowl, lightly beat the 2 egg yolks and the whole egg together with a fork, just enough to break up the yolks and blend with the whole egg. Whisk the eggs into the sugar-clementine juice mixture. Add the soft butter. Place this pot or bowl over the simmering water. Stir the mixture continuously as it cooks until it is thickened and the temperature of the mixture registers 170°F on a candy thermometer. Be patient as this will take awhile. Make sure the water in the bottom of the boiler does not boil and stays only at the simmer point.
  3. Remove curd from heat and strain through a mesh strainer to remove any of the egg white that may have coagulated as well as the clementine rind. Pour strained curd into a sterilized bottle. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent it from forming a skin on top. Cool at room temperature. Remove plastic wrap. Cover jar tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Yield: Apx. 1 cup

Recipe Notes

*caster sugar may also be known as fruit sugar, berry sugar, super fine sugar, or instant dissolving sugar.

Note:  Altitude may affect the temperature at which the water reaches the simmering point. The important thing is that the water in the bottom of the double boiler does not boil or touch the top of the double boiler/heatproof bowl during the cooking of the curd.

 

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Clementine Curd
Clementine Curd

 

Clementine Curd
Clementine Curd

 

Clementine Curd
Clementine Curd

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls are a Christmas treat in my neck of the woods and, for many, it isn’t Christmas unless there is a batch or two of these delectable homemade confections.  They are one food item that just never seems to go out of style. And, they are addicting! Who can stop at just one!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ball
Chocolate Peanut Butter Ball

These balls are not difficult to make and only take very basic ingredients. They are, however, a bit time consuming to make because the peanut butter and butter must be melted then mixed in with the icing sugar (which you may know as confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar) and crisp rice cereal.  Then the balls need to be formed from the mixture, chilled, and then individually dipped in melted chocolate and chilled again. It’s critical that the icing sugar be sifted (and before it is measured). No matter how soft and fluffy the icing sugar may seem, there are always little lumps/clumps that will not mix in as well as if the sugar is sifted. Take the time to do this step.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

It’s important that the balls not be formed too large as they will get larger in size when dipped in chocolate.  The size to aim for would be the size of a chocolate truffle that would fit nicely inside a paper candy cup so form the mixture into ½” inch balls. They may look small at this stage but they’ll get bigger once dipped in chocolate.  These confections are meant to be 1-2 bites and they are rich!

A teaspoon can be used to twirl the balls around in the chocolate and to swirl the tops; however, my preference is to use a spiral swirl candy dipper.

Spiral Swirl Candy Dipper
Spiral Swirl Candy Dipper

I find it is much more efficient, the excess chocolate can be dripped off the balls with a gentle tap or two of the swirl dipper tool on the side of the pot, and the tops of the balls are automatically swirled attractively when the balls drop from the candy dipper tool.

Using a spiral swirl candy dipper to coat chocolate peanut butter balls
Using a spiral swirl candy dipper to coat chocolate peanut butter balls

Various kinds of chocolate can be used in which to dip the balls.  Semi-sweet chocolate chips are the norm; however, white chocolate can be used as can peanut butter chips for the ultimate peanut butter flavor.  Sometimes, I will mix the semi-sweet chocolate chips with the peanut butter chips and this makes a lovely coating as well.  Melted chocolate in contrasting colors can be used, if desired, to decorate the tops of the balls.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Store the balls between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  These balls freeze well.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Ingredients:
1 cup smooth peanut butter
¼ cup + 1 tbsp butter
½ tsp vanilla
2¼ cups sifted icing sugar (apx. ½ pound)
1½ cups crisp rice cereal

10 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips, white chocolate, or peanut butter chips (or a combination of all three)

Method:
Line two large rimmed baking sheets with wax paper.  Set aside.

Combine peanut butter and butter in small saucepan.  Melt the butters over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

In large heat-proof bowl, combine the icing sugar and rice cereal.  Pour the melted peanut butter and butter mixture over the cereal and icing sugar. Mix ingredients with large spoon or hands until all of the icing sugar has been fully incorporated.

Pinch off bits of the mixture and form into ½” balls.  Place balls on one of the prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until firm.

Melt half of the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water.  Using a teaspoon, or a spiral swirl candy dipper, dip the balls into the chocolate and swirl to coat.  If using the spiral swirl dipper, gently tap the dipper tool on the side of the chocolate pot to remove any excess chocolate from the dipped balls.  Transfer dipped balls to the second prepared baking sheet. Melt remaining chocolate as needed to complete the dipping process. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Store balls between layers of wax paper in airtight container. Keep refrigerated or freeze for longer storage.

Yield:  Apx. 50-55 balls

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

A tasty confection that combines peanut butter, butter, icing sugar, and crisp rice cereal formed into balls dipped in decadent chocolate

Course Snack
Cuisine American
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups sifted icing sugar (apx. 1/2 pound)
  • 1 1/2 cups crisp rice cereal
  • 10 oz semi-sweet chocolate, white chocolate, or peanut butter chips (or a combination of all three)

Instructions

  1. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with wax paper. Set aside.
  2. Combine peanut butter and butter in small saucepan. Melt the butters over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  3. In large heat-proof bowl, combine the icing sugar and rice cereal. Pour the melted peanut butter and butter mixture over the cereal and icing sugar. Mix ingredients with large spoon or hands until all of the icing sugar has been fully incorporated.

  4. Pinch off bits of the mixture and form into ½” balls. Place balls on one of the prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until firm.
  5. Melt half of the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water. Using a teaspoon, or a spiral swirl candy dipper, dip the balls into the chocolate and swirl to coat. If using the spiral swirl dipper, gently tap the dipper tool on the side of the chocolate pot to remove any excess chocolate from the dipped balls. Transfer dipped balls to the second prepared baking sheet. Melt remaining chocolate as needed to complete the dipping process. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Store balls between layers of wax paper in airtight container. Keep refrigerated or freeze for longer storage.

    Yield: Apx. 50-55 balls

 

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Cookbook Giveaway Contest!!!

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the publishers at Robert Rose Inc., I have an extra copy of Best of Bridge Sunday Suppers to give away in conjunction with the review I just published on this cookbook.

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 My Island Bistro Kitchen’s 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 Sunday supper is.
  3. Share the Cookbook Giveaway post (make sure your privacy setting is set to “public” so I can verify that you shared the post).

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

Tag a Facebook friend on the posting and you will receive an extra bonus entry!

  • 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 19 years of age or older.
  • Only one (1) entry per person with the exception of those who tag a Facebook friend on their entry – those who tag a Facebook friend will receive one (1) extra bonus entry.
  • There is one (1) prize only to be won – one (1) copy of Best of Bridge Sunday Suppers cookbook with an approximate Canadian retail value of $29.95. The book for this giveaway has been provided by the cookbook’s publisher, Robert Rose Inc. 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 12:00 noon (AST) on December 14, 2017, and closes at 12 noon (AST) on December 17, 2017. Draw of winner will be made by 9:00pm (AST) on December 17, 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, 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 Robert Rose Inc. 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 Robert Rose Inc. 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.

Cookbook Review: The Best of Bridge Sunday Suppers

Title: Best of Bridge Sunday Suppers
Author: Various
Publication Date: 2017
Publisher: Robert Rose Inc.
Cover: Hardcover
Price: $29.95
Pages: 324

Robert Rose Inc. has offered me the opportunity to conduct a review of Best of Bridge Sunday Suppers.

This cookbook is a collection of standard home cooking recipes that would typify classic-style Sunday family suppers. The book has an attractive, sturdy hardcover and the pages are spiral bound making it easy for the book to stay open and the pages to lay flat for the recipe being made.

The book features a collection of 200 recipes spread out through 12 chapters: Salads, Soups, Big Roasts, Small Meats, On the Grill, Stews & Braises, Casseroles & Savory Pies, Pizzas & Pastas, Sides, Homemade Breads, Sauces & Condiments, and Desserts. At the beginning of each chapter, there is also a separate table of contents outlining the recipes (and their page numbers) found in that section of the book. There is also an alphabetical index at the back of the book.

Each recipe is accompanied by a one to two sentence lead-in about the recipe and many recipes offer tips and suggestions on ways to vary the recipe.

This book, like previous Best of Bridge books, uses capital letters in a font that I find too large and folksy. This makes the pages cluttery and difficult to read. Generally, the instructions for making the recipes are all lumped together in one or two very long paragraphs. This style of instruction-writing makes it difficult to follow the method. I find cookbooks that lay out the instructions in separate, step-by-step, paragraphs are more user friendly. Breaking down the steps of a recipe into separate short paragraphs eases anxiety and frustration as it is easier and quicker to find your place and progress in the instructions as you go about making the recipe.

I found the ingredients in the recipes are used in the instructions in the order in which they are listed and, generally speaking, most of the instructions are easily understandable. The recipes in the book call for, what I would consider to be, ordinary ingredients which makes it easy to shop for and to prepare the dishes. Most, if not all, ingredients would be found in standard supermarkets.

While, for the most part, exact quantities of ingredients are given, there are some recipes that are vague.  For example, the recipe for Roasted Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup with Apple and Sage calls for one medium sweet potato.  When I went to the supermarket, the potato bin had dozens of different sized potatoes – I had no idea what the recipe creator means by “medium-sized”. It would have been better to have given a weight measure of the potato required because there is a vast difference in sizes available and the size chosen will affect the texture and yield of the soup.  As well, some recipes call for 1 onion – onions, too, come in different sizes so, for the benefit of more inexperienced cooks, it would be preferable if the ingredients specified if it is ¼ cup, ½ cup, or 1 cup of chopped onions. Providing exact measures helps to ensure successful cooking, particularly for novice cooks.

There are 32 color photos in the book and they are of good quality but there is obviously not a photo for each of the 200 recipes so less than 15% of the recipes are accompanied by a photograph. Including photos is so important in a cookbook as, not only do photos of mouth-watering food inspire people to try the recipes but the color photos also give a frame of reference of what the finished dish should look like. Including a large book of page after page of solid print is not very inviting or inspiring, particularly when the subject matter is food. Adding more photos would have broken up the monotony of page after page of large cluttery print.

Test-driving recipes

I tested one recipe out of the cookbook. Robert Rose Inc has given me permission to share the recipe and their photo for Roasted Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup with Apple and Sage to accompany my review of this cookbook. The recipe follows at the end of this review.

Roasted Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup with Apple and Sage

This soup combines an interesting mix of ingredients – carrots, sweet potato, onion, apple, chicken stock, apple juice or cider, sage, and cream.  The instructions did not indicate what size of chunks the carrots and sweet potato needed to be for roasting.  I cut them into 1” chunks.  The method said to roast them for 20 minutes at 450°F.  The potatoes were done in about that time and I had to remove them from the oven but the carrots took 55 minutes (and I have a true temperature oven).  I have no idea what size or shape the recipe creator intended the carrots to be cut but, if I had cut them any smaller, they simply would have burned before being roasted fork-tender.  I also had no idea what size the sweet potato was intended to be for the soup. I may have chosen a small versus medium potato but the recipe ingredients provided no frame of reference in terms of weight of the potato required.

The method said to bring ingredients “to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until everything is soft”. The recipe creator probably meant “bring to a boil”, not “simmer”; however, the published instructions were what they were so, especially for an inexperienced cook, the instructions in this regard were confusing. The instructions also did not indicate if the mixture was to be covered or not during the cooking process. I covered mine to reduce evaporation.

While the soup was a lovely orange color and tasty enough (though I think the addition of garlic could have enhanced the flavor), the soup was time-consuming and tedious to make – the vegetables had to roasted, the onion sautéed, the mixture simmered then blended, and finally re-heated with the addition of cream.

Concluding Thoughts

While I didn’t find the recipes overly innovative or inspiring, I would class the book as a compendium of traditional Sunday supper meals – a mix of salads, soups, mains, and desserts.  I would suggest this book would be more of use to someone who has some experience cooking versus a novice since “judgment calls” based on experience are often required, especially in terms of amounts of some ingredients (like vegetables, onions, etc).  The biggest issues I found with the book are the cluttery pages of uppercase font with the instructions jumbled into one to three long paragraphs as well as the lack of color photos to break up endless pages of text and to give a benchmark for what a finished dish should look like.

I found some of the instructions and terminology a bit bizarre.  For example, the recipe for Sticky Carrots (p. 216) refers to a sauce as “goo”. I have never seen a recipe in a published cookbook use this type of terminology to refer to a food and, frankly, I find that unappetizing and off-putting.  The first line in the instructions for this recipe say “Choose a saucepan in which the carrots can sit snugly in a single layer along the bottom (but don’t put them in the pan quite yet)”. Then, why mention this as a step if the step is not dealt with at that point?

The recipe for Basic Gravy (p. 266-267) suggests using lemon juice or wine in the gravy.  In the instructions, it refers to using the lemon juice (or a splash of wine) if the gravy tastes “a little flat”. I’m not sure what is meant by “a little flat” and the recipe does not indicate how much wine or lemon juice is to be used and this useful detail would be the difference between a successful gravy or not.  These kinds of ingredients and instructions prompt me to suggest that the book could have benefitted from some closer quality control.

The following recipe and accompanying photo are courtesy of Best of Bridge Sunday Suppers by The Best of Bridge © 2017 www.robertrose.ca  Reprinted with permission. Available where books are sold.

Carrot-and-Sweet-Potato-Soup-Recipe
Roasted Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup with Apple and Sage (Image Credit: Matt Johannsson, Reflector, Inc)
Roasted Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup with Apple and Sage (Image Credit: Matt Johannsson, Reflector, Inc)

 

Five PEI Foodies Talk About Their Christmas Food Traditions

Herb-Basted Roast Turkey
Herb-Basted Roast Turkey

Food plays a vital role in Christmas celebrations here in Prince Edward Island. I recently chatted with five Islanders who, in one way or another, have strong food connections. Read on to find out what foods these foodies most associate with Christmas and what foods, if they didn’t have them, it just would not be Christmas for them.

(With the exception of Premier Wade MacLauchlan’s Seafood Pie,   all photos in this posting are from the food blogger’s own stock collection and are not of contributors’ specific recipes mentioned in this article.)

Wade MacLauchlan, Premier of Prince Edward Island

Food factors heavily into Premier Wade MacLauchlan’s Christmas festivities.  The premier, a great cook himself, launches into seafood pie production in mid-December.  He produces some 20 seafood pies filled with mussels, lobster, bar clams, scallops, and some fin fish like salmon, trout, or haddock.

Premier Wade MacLaughlan's Seafood Pie
Premier Wade MacLauchlan’s Seafood Pie

Premier MacLauchlan uses grated potatoes that have been cooked in seafood stock to make a heavy starchy paste which eliminates the need for flour as a thickener for the pie filling.  The ingredients are combined and placed inside a double-crusted pastry and baked.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan's Seafood Pie
Premier Wade MacLauchlan’s Seafood Pie

When asked what he does with all the pies, he tells me he gives them away as gifts. And, for those who aren’t seafood lovers, he makes tourtière and says he usually makes between 6 and 10 of those each December.

Food also plays a part in a Solstice Sunrise Party that the premier has been hosting at his home for almost two decades.  Held annually on the day of the winter solstice, the premier says he simply couldn’t stop it now even if he wanted to because the regulars would just show up anyway! Rising early to make 3-4 dozen muffins and to brew a couple of urns of coffee, the premier opens his doors at 7:30am and people start arriving to watch the sunrise together around 8:00am. It’s not uncommon for 75-80 people to attend. With a commanding view to the east and to the south out over Stanhope Bay, it’s a time for family, friends, and neighbours to visit and re-connect. Everyone brings food to contribute to the potluck event which is set up buffet style.

Christmas Day is spent with immediate family and, on Boxing Day, the larger extended MacLauchlan family gather at the premier’s home for a potluck brunch.

The premier has kindly shared his recipe for his Seafood Pie which is printed here with Wade MacLauchlan’s permission.  The premier says, although the recipe yield is for 20 pies, the recipe is easily scalable.

Wade MacLauchlan's Seafood Pie Recipe
Premier Wade MacLauchlan's Seafood Pie
Premier Wade MacLauchlan’s Seafood Pie

Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Green Party of Prince Edward Island

Communal family cooking has always played a significant part in Peter Bevan-Baker’s life starting when he was a lad growing up in Fortrose, just north of Inverness, in the Highlands of Scotland. The family would all prepare the Christmas dinner together, chopping vegetables and singing Christmas carols.

Member of the Legislature and Leader of the Green Party of PEI, Peter’s first and foremost memory of a food enjoyed at Christmas time is his late father’s vol-au-vent made with leftover turkey from Christmas dinner and served with Sauce Robert, a brown mustard sauce. Sometimes, the vol-au-vents would be served as nibbles but other times as the main for a meal when they would be served with “tatties and neeps”, the Scottish names for potatoes and turnips, respectively.

Plum Pudding
Plum Pudding

When asked what Christmas dinner dessert consisted of, Peter says it was always Christmas Pudding which he did not like at all!  However, he says the arrival of the pudding at the dinner table was quite an elaborate ceremony. Everyone stood up and literally lifted the table off the floor to meet the pudding – it was a true salute to the Christmas pudding! Of course, some alcohol would be heated, poured over the pudding, and the pudding set aflame. Peter claims watching the pudding burn was the best part since he had no liking for the pudding! His father made a brandy butter to serve with the pudding. Peter says another great memory he has of Christmas as a young boy in the Scottish Highlands was visiting a rich family who lived in the area and who served Coca Cola at Christmas which was very special since it was not something he had at home.

Peter’s father was a great cook and modeled to his children that it was okay for men to be in the kitchen cooking. Today, Peter and his wife have four adult children (two of whom are chefs) and cooking remains very much a family event. Vol-au-vents will make an appearance over the holidays in keeping with his long-standing family tradition. While the family usually has a turkey dinner for Christmas, Peter says it will usually be with a contemporary twist of some sort that may include some dishes from other cultures.

Bill Martin, Mayor of Summerside and Owner of the Water Street Bakery

Mayor of the City of Summerside, Bill Martin has very fond memories of waking up on Christmas morning to the scent of meat pies baking.  His mother, a Scottish war bride, had an absolute Christmas morning tradition and that involved homemade meat pies.  The family enjoyed the meat pies, complete with homemade mustard pickles, after opening presents on Christmas morning.  Mayor Martin continues that tradition today. He and his family enjoy Christmas breakfast of bacon, eggs, homefries, and toast along with the meat pie and mustard pickles.  To this tradition, they have also added the Acadian dish, Rapure, a grated potato casserole.

Acadian Rapure
Acadian Rapure

Mayor Martin and his wife have run the Water Street Bakery for the past 29 years. They make meat pies year-round now and, in December alone, they will make more than 2000 meat pies which are made with pork, chicken, turkey, potato, onion, and spices, all covered in a biscuit dough crust.  These pies are in such demand during the Christmas period that the bakery has rented additional freezer space. In fact, on the first Saturday in December, they made 200 meat pies and sold 100 of them the same day. As a bakery owner, the other two most popular items that Martin says never go out of style are the chocolate-covered peanut butter balls and the cherry balls, both of which are available at the bakery only at Christmas which makes them more special treats.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Irwin MacKinnon, Executive Chef, Papa Joe’s Restaurant and PEI Chef of the Year 2017

Long-time executive chef at Charlottetown’s Papa Joe’s Restaurant and recently-named PEI Chef of the Year 2017, Chef Irwin MacKinnon says it would not be Christmas in his household without the “Jimmy Jams”.  These delightful cookies have been made by ancestors on his mother’s side for years. Today, his mom is the principle baker of these Christmas treats that his children look forward to each Christmas.  As MacKinnon describes them, Jimmy-Jams are two round shortbread cookies, about 1½“ – 2” in diameter, sandwiched together with plain white icing.  Each sandwiched cookie is iced again on top and then decorated with rainbow-colored sprinkles.

Everyone has his or her own version of the stuffing for the turkey and Chef MacKinnon discovered how important that tradition is when he and his wife married 25 years ago.  On his side of the family, they make what he calls “Grammie’s Stuffing” which is bread-based and the ingredients are bound together by mashed potato and lots of butter and seasoned with onion, summer savory, and salt and pepper.  A bit of brown sugar is added just to give a sweet tone.  On his wife’s side of the family, they make the stuffing (dressing) completely opposite and Chef Irwin classes it as a potato stuffing made with mashed potatoes, onion cooked in butter, and seasoned with summer savory.  This is baked in the oven and there is no bread in this version.  If you are an Islander, you’ll get and appreciate the significance of family recipes for the turkey stuffing/dressing!

Roast Turkey
Roast Turkey

So, whose stuffing recipe will be on the Christmas table in the MacKinnon household this year? You guessed it – Irwin will be making his grammie’s stuffing recipe to go along with the fresh turkey from Larkin Brothers in New Glasgow. To this, he’ll include a wide variety of veggies that include potatoes, turnip, carrots, squash, and brussel sprouts.

For dessert, Chef Irwin’s mother-in-law’s plum pudding will grace the table complemented by Irwin’s rich brown sugar sauce made from a rue of butter and flour with caramelized brown sugar added.  Chef Irwin says a slice of pudding topped with ice cream and a good drizzle of a glossy brown sugar sauce is the ultimate Christmas dinner dessert.

Since he cooks everyday for a living, I asked Chef Irwin if he lets someone else cook the Christmas dinner but he says it’s him that spearheads the dinner at home and one of his greatest joys is to cook for his own family.  Other members of the family pitch in and bring contributions to the dinner as the family melds their different traditions from their blended families.

Glenda Burt, Chef, and former owner of The Home Place Restaurant in Kensington, PEI

For Chef Glenda Burt, the highlight of the Christmas dinner is the plum pudding and warm sauce.  She says that, even though you might be “stuffed to the gills” from the main meal, there is always room for plum pudding!  Glenda makes a rich toffee sauce to serve with her plum pudding, a sauce made with brown sugar, whipping cream, butter, and vanilla.

Plum Pudding
Plum Pudding

Glenda grew up in the family that originally owned Mary’s Bakery in Kensington so baking and candy making are certainly second nature to her. She has very fond memories of the chocolate, brown sugar, and divinity fudges that her mother made at Christmas and how they would appear in a plastic Christmas motif tri-sectioned dish on Christmas Eve. Homemade raisin bread toasted on Christmas morning is an annual tradition in the Burt household. Glenda doesn’t prepare a big Christmas Day breakfast because she says the whole day is spent eating; however, the raisin bread must be present to start the day off.

Other foods that will make their appearance over the holidays will be gingersnaps, dark fruitcake, meat pies (that Glenda says are pure comfort food) and, in deference to our Maritime culture, some kind of seafood which could be lobster in the shell or seafood chowder.

Chef Glenda is hosting her family Christmas on Boxing Day this year and she will be doing the cooking of the traditional Christmas dinner that will include roast turkey, stuffing, and veggies. Glenda will be serving her famous turnip casserole as well. This yummy dish is made with mashed turnip, a white sauce with Parmesan cheese, and topped with buttered bread crumbs.  Of course, all the traditional fixins’ like homemade rolls, pickles, and beets will be on the table to complement the turkey dinner.

 

My thanks to Premier Wade MacLauchlan, Leader of the PEI Green Party Peter Bevan-Baker, Mayor Bill Martin, Chef Irwin MacKinnon, and Chef Glenda Burt for sharing their Christmas food traditions with me.

Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini

If you are like me, you are always on the hunt for tasty little appetizers or hors d’oeuvres to serve at functions.

Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini
Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini

These easy-to-prepare savory little toasts are my latest creation and are packed full of flavor. Red onion, garlic, mushrooms, and red pepper are sautéed in butter and seasoned with nutmeg, summer savory, and thyme. The seasoned and sautéed vegetables are combined with cooked quinoa added for texture and visual appeal along with Parmesan cheese for additional flavor. The ingredients are bound together with chicken stock, cream, and maple syrup to add a touch of sweetness.

Spooned on to olive-oiled baguette slices, each crostini is topped with grated cheddar cheese.  For mine, I used a locally produced cheese –  Appletree Smoked Cheddar Cheese produced in PEI by COWS Creamery.

Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini Hors d'oeuvres
Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini Hors d’oeuvres

These hors d’oeuvres are easily made into a gluten-free version. Simply use a gluten-free baguette and ensure that all other ingredients are gluten-free.  One important factor to keep in mind with hors d’oeuvres is to ensure that they can easily be eaten with grace by guests – that means no huge chunks of ingredients that can pull apart when chewed into. Hors d’oeuvres should be able to be eaten with the use of only one hand.  While the mushrooms could be sliced, instead of chopped, for this hors d’oeuvre, they would need to be very small.

Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini
Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini

[Printable Recipe Follows at end of Posting]

 Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini

 Ingredients:

1½ tbsp butter
¼ cup red onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup white button and/or cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp red pepper, finely chopped
1/8 tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp dried summer savory
1/8 tsp dried thyme

4 tsp chicken stock
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp pure maple syrup
¼ cup cooked quinoa
4 tsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

¼ cup grated Cheddar cheese

Fresh herbs for garnish

1 French baguette
Olive Oil for brushing on baguette slices

Method:

Over medium heat, melt butter in saucepan.  Add onions and garlic and sauté for 1 minute.  Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the red pepper, nutmeg, summer savory, and thyme.  Sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.

In small bowl, combine the chicken stock, cream, and maple syrup.  Add the quinoa, Parmesan cheese, and sautéed vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and combine all ingredients well.

Slice baguette into 16 slices between ¼” and  ½” thick.  Brush each slice with small amount of olive oil.  Divide mixture evenly between the 16 slices.  Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese.  Place crostini on baking sheet and broil for 1-2 minutes or just until cheese has melted.  Garnish with fresh herbs. Serve hot.

Yield:  16 appetizers

Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini

These easy-to-prepare savory little toasts are packed full of flavor.  Featuring mushrooms, quinoa, cheese, and select seasonings, these tasty bites are sure to be a favorite hors d'oeuvre at your next gathering.

Course Appetizer
Servings 16
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup white button and/or cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp dried summer savory
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 tsp chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup cooked quinoa
  • 4 tsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • Fresh herbs for garnish
  • 1 French baguette
  • Olive oil for brushing on baguette slices

Instructions

  1. Over medium heat, melt butter in saucepan.  Add onions and garlic and sauté for 1 minute.  Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the red pepper, nutmeg, summer savory, and thyme.  Sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.

  2. In small bowl, combine the chicken stock, cream, and maple syrup. Add the quinoa, Parmesan cheese, and sautéed vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste and combine all ingredients well.
  3. Slice baguette into 16 slices about 1/2" thick. Brush each slice with small amount of olive oil. Divide mixture evenly between the 16 slices. Sprinkle with grated Cheddar cheese. Place slices on baking sheet and broil for 1-2 minutes or just until cheese has melted. Garnish with fresh herbs. Serve hot.
Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini
Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini