Classic Homemade Turkey Vegetable Soup

Homemade Turkey Vegetable Soup
Homemade Turkey Vegetable Soup

If you are a regular follower of my food blog, you will know that I do all I can to maximize the value of food products and reduce food waste.  In my view, one of the best buys to extend meals is a turkey.  Not only does it generate a wonderful roast turkey dinner but there is tremendous goodness left in the carcass and, often, there is more meat than can be used up as cold turkey and it can be transformed into other dishes.  Or, sometimes, one just gets tired of the turkey before it is all used up so a great way to maximize it is to turn it into a delectable Turkey Vegetable Soup.

Turkey Soup
Homemade Turkey Vegetable Soup

The first thing I do after a roast turkey dinner is strip off all the remaining usable meat from the turkey carcass.  I will either immediately make homemade turkey stock with the carcass or freeze it in an airtight freezer bag and make the stock later.  You can find my recipe for making turkey stock by clicking here. If the plan is not to make the Turkey Soup right away, I suggest setting aside 3-4 cups of the turkey meat and freezing it in an airtight freezer bag to have ready to drop in to the soup when it is later made.

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

Homemade Turkey Vegetable Soup is both delicious and nutritious and my version of this wholesome soup freezes well.  The recipe makes a big batch (about 18-20 servings) though it may be halved.  However, if freezer space is available for the soup, it is mighty handy to have on hand for later use.

Now I do, of course, recommend that homemade turkey stock be used as the foundation for this soup because it is wholesome and free of preservatives.  However, commercially-made stock/broth may be used in its place.

Turkey Soup
Homemade Turkey Vegetable Soup

I recommend a careful reading of my recipe for this soup before beginning to make it as there are some steps involved and probably a shopping trip, too.  To begin, I typically use a dry soup mix comprised of beans, lentils, split peas, pearl barley, and white rice.  I buy this bulk at my local bulk food store and this mix does require a bit of pre-soaking, cooking, and standing time before it is incorporated into the soup pot.  Otherwise the contents of the mix will not cook in the amount of time it takes to cook the remaining ingredients of the soup. So, time will need to be allotted for that activity.  While using this mix adds fibre and bulk to the soup, the soup may be made without it and several photos in this posting show soup made without the dry soup mix. If making the soup minus the dry soup mix, simply increase slightly the quantity/amount of fresh and/or frozen vegetables called for in the recipe so that the soup is filled with goodness and is not too runny.

For this Turkey Vegetable Soup, I am not starting out with the traditional pure mirepoix because that requires that the aromatic holy trinity of carrots, celery, and onion  be chopped really fine.  In this soup, I want those ingredients to be left larger, in bite-size chunks.  However, I do sauté them, along with the parsnip and leek for 2-3 minutes to start the release of their flavours along with the garlic.

Turkey Soup
Homemade Turkey Vegetable Soup

Because I use my own homemade stock which already has some seasonings added, I don’t add huge amounts of seasonings to the soup and this is one soup that I do not like overly spiced or seasoned.  One flavour booster I have found that works really well in this Turkey Vegetable Soup is dry onion soup mix so I add a couple of tablespoons along with small amounts of thyme, summer savory, turmeric, paprika, ground coriander, cloves, and nutmeg and, of course, the standard bay leaves. As always, I recommend, when making a recipe for the first time, to make it with the ingredients and amounts called for by the recipe creator.  If, after you have tried it as it has been developed, you find it needs more or less of a seasoning to suit your personal taste, the adjustments can be noted and made in the next batch.

Turkey Soup
Homemade Turkey Vegetable Soup

I like rutabaga so add a fair bit of it to the soup. It adds both substance and some sweetness to the soup. Sometimes, I will make this soup with peeled cubed potatoes (seen in photo above) and, other times, I will make it a little more rustic, using the mini red potatoes with their skins on (as shown in photo below). Either works.

Turkey Soup
Turkey Vegetable Soup

Nearer the end of the cooking process, add 1 1/2 cups of frozen vegetables.  This can be either corn, peas, or mixed vegetables – any on their own or in any combination to make up 1 1/2 cups.  I like the soup well filled! One nice thing about this kind of soup is that if you don’t like, for example, peas, then simply replace them with another vegetable you prefer.

The cooked turkey may either be cubed (as shown in photo above) or coarsely shredded (as seen in photo below) for this soup.  Making turkey soup is a great way to use up light and/or dark meat left on the turkey.  It only needs about 5 minutes in the soup for it to heat.  Don’t re-cook the meat as it will become tough and it will lose its flavour.

Turkey Soup
Homemade Turkey Vegetable Soup

Serve this soup piping hot with homemade bread, rolls, white biscuits, whole wheat biscuits, or favorite crackers.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

The Bistro’s Homemade Turkey Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:

1 cup dry soup mix of beans, lentils, split peas, pearl barley, and white rice
3 cups cold water

3 – 4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, coarsely chopped
2 cups carrots (about 3 large), cut into bite-sized chunks
1½ cups parsnip (about 2 large), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup celery (1 large celery rib), sliced
1 leek (white and green parts only), sliced
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced

12 cups turkey stock

2 tbsp dry onion soup mix
1 tsp dried summer savory
¾ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp paprika
1/8 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 bay leaves

1¾ cups rutabaga, cut into bite-sized chunks

1 lb mini red potatoes (unpeeled), halved or quartered depending on their size or, alternatively, 2 cups peeled potatoes, cubed

1½ cups frozen vegetables (peas, corn, or mixed vegetables)

3 – 4 cups cooked turkey meat, cubed or coarsely shredded

Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

In large saucepan, soak the dry soup mix in 3 cups of cold water for 2 hours.  Bring to a boil, covered, over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to low and boil gently for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand 1 hour.  Drain.

In large stockpot, over medium heat, melt the butter then add the olive oil.  Add the onions, carrots, parsnip, celery, and leek.  Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring briskly.  Add the garlic and, stirring constantly, cook for 1 minute longer.

Add the turkey stock, cover, and bring just to the boiling point but do not boil.  Add the dry onion soup mix and spices along with the bay leaves.  Add the rutabaga and drained soup mix of beans, lentils, peas, etc. Cook gently, partially covered, over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the potatoes and cook, partially covered, for about 10-12 minutes before adding the frozen vegetables.  Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked.  Add the cooked turkey and simmer for 5 minutes or so, just until the turkey is heated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove bay leaves and ladle soup into bowls.  Soup freezes well.

Yield:  Approximately 18-20 servings (1¼ cup serving size)

You may also like this recipe for My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Homemade Turkey Chowder.

 

The Bistro’s Homemade Turkey Vegetable Soup

Homemade turkey stock, leftover turkey, and loads of vegetables combine with light seasoning to make a delicious and nutritious turkey vegetable soup.
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword Turkey Soup
Servings 18
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry soup mix of beans (lentils, split peas, pearl barley, and white rice)
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 3 – 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups carrots (about 3 large), cut into bite-sized chunks
  • cups parsnip (about 2 large), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup celery (1 large celery rib), sliced
  • 1 leek, white and green parts only, sliced
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 12 cups turkey stock
  • 2 tbsp dry onion soup mix
  • 1 tsp dried summer savory
  • ¾ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 bay leaves
  • cups rutabaga, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 lb mini red potatoes unpeeled, halved or quartered depending on their size or, alternatively, 2 cups peeled potatoes, cubed
  • cups frozen vegetables (peas, corn, or mixed vegetables)
  • 3 - 4 cups cooked turkey meat, cubed or coarsely shredded
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In large saucepan, soak the dry soup mix in 3 cups of cold water for 2 hours. Bring to a boil, covered, over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and boil gently for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 1 hour. Drain.
  2. In large stockpot, over medium heat, melt the butter then add the olive oil. Add the onions, carrots, parsnip, celery, and leek. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring briskly. Add the garlic and, stirring constantly, cook for 1 minute longer.
  3. Add the turkey stock, cover, and bring just to the boiling point but do not boil. Add the dry onion soup mix and spices along with the bay leaves. Add the rutabaga and drained soup mix of beans, lentils, peas, etc. Cook gently, partially covered, over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the potatoes and cook, partially covered, for about 10-12 minutes before adding the frozen vegetables. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked. Add the cooked turkey and simmer for 5 minutes or so, just until the turkey is heated.

  5. Remove bay leaves and ladle soup into bowls. Soup freezes well.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Approximately 18-20 servings (1¼ cup serving size)

 

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Turkey Soup
Homemade Turkey Vegetable Soup

 

The Christmas Rose Tablesetting

Christmas tablesettings are an opportunity to use the good china, if you have it, and to create stunning centerpieces. While I don’t always use fresh flowers in my tablescapes, I never underestimate the power and beauty of fresh and softly fragrant flowers. Sometimes, as is the case in this tablesetting, only the fresh flowers will effectively achieve the sophisticated tablesetting I wanted. Just make sure that whatever flowers are chosen, they are not potently fragrant as that can be offputting for some guests.  Creating a beautiful holiday table is part of the equation but the other part is ensuring guests are comfortable for the meal.

To keep the tablesetting neutral and restful, I recommend chosing a color scheme and limiting it to two to three colors that complement each other well.  Otherwise, the table may start to look busy.  In this tablesetting, I used the blush-colored roses and a couple of shades of green with white as the table’s background. This strategy allows the focal point of the table (the centerpiece) to stand out.

The Christmas Rose Tablesetting
The Christmas Rose Tablesetting

This tablesetting has the overall effect of understated elegance with just a touch of whimsy and glitter.  The table is uncluttered and the centerpiece, the anchor of this Christmas tablesetting, is the single tall and elegant triangular flute-shaped vase with eight votives attached. Keeping the tabletop uncluttered creates a stylish and sophisticated holiday tablesetting. It’s classy and creates a serene and restful looking tabletop for dinner guests.

Candles create an inviting atmosphere and give warmth to a tablesetting. Votives are great because they provide an elegant soft low light to the tablesetting and they are also relatively safe to use because they are low and won’t likely tip if the table is jerked accidentally by the knee of a guest.  I find tall tapers to be a bit unnerving because they more easily can tip over because of their height. I rarely use them in tablesettings for this reason.

The principal flowers I have selected for the focal point centerpiece have meanings to Christmas and are steeped in legend. Whether or not any of these legends is true or not, I have no way of knowing but they do make for good conversation pieces.

The Christmas Rose Centerpiece
The Christmas Rose Centerpiece

The Legend of the Christmas Rose

Legend has it that a young shepherdess named Madelon, was tending her flock on the hillside as she watched the wise men and shepherds passing by with their gifts to present to the newborn King.  Madelon, in tears and despairing that she had no gift to offer to the Baby Jesus, was seen by an angel who is believed to have made the snow at Madelon’s feet disappear, revealing a rose with pink-tipped petals.  According to the legend, these petals were formed by the angel from the tears shed by Madelon.  This flower then offered Madelon the opportunity to present a gift at the manger. The flower became known as the Christmas Rose.

The Christmas Rose
The Christmas Rose

So, I have used a dozen soft blush-colored roses with pink-tipped petals as the main flowers in this centerpiece.

The Christmas Rose
The Christmas Rose

Legend of Star of Bethlehem Flower

This is an all-white star-shaped flower. Legend suggests God thought that the beautiful Star of Bethlehem he created to guide the wise men to the Baby Jesus was too beautiful, after it served its purpose, not to do something more with. So, the star was burst into pieces and, when it scattered to the ground, it turned into white flowers that became known as the Star of Bethlehem flower.

I have included a single Star of Bethlehem stem in the center of this arrangement.

Star of Bethlehem Flower
Star of Bethlehem Flower

Other Components of the Floral Arrangement

To complement the pale blush color of the centerpiece, I have added the green bell-shaped Bells of Ireland and small green chrysanthemums. The Bells of Ireland are said to symbolize good luck and the chrysanthemums represent happiness, love, longevity, and joy.

The greenery in the arrangement is comprised of fir and pine.

Bells of Ireland and Green Chrysanthemums
Bells of Ireland and Green Chrysanthemums

The tiny white frothy Baby’s Breath (seen to the right in the photo below) has much symbolism. One of its symbols is said to represent the power of the Holy Spirit in the Christian faith. Baby’s Breath is a great filler flower for arrangements and I think it looks like little snowdrops.

The Christmas Rose with Baby's Breath and Green Chrysanthemum
The Christmas Rose with Baby’s Breath, Star of Bethlehem, and Green Chrysanthemum

Dinnerware

I am using my Royal Albert “Lavender Rose” china in this setting and have framed each place setting with a gold charger plate. I am a big fan of using charger plates for a couple of reasons.  First, I think it gives an air of elegance and formality to the setting and, second, it keeps each placesetting clean.  If food should happen to drop off of a plate, it is caught by the charger plate and means fewer stains on the table linen. Different colored chargers can also change the look of a tablesetting, particularly if the same dinnerware is frequently used for events with the same guests attending.

Royal Albert "Lavender Rose" China
Royal Albert “Lavender Rose” China

The placesettings are set with the components of the dinnerware that will be used in the order of the menu, starting with a cream soup, followed by the salad course and, of course, the main meal. This also gives guests a clue as to how many courses to expect at dinner.

Royal Albert "Lavender Rose" China
Royal Albert “Lavender Rose” China

To tie in the green color from the floral arrangement, and to add a bit of whimsy and interest to the setting, I am using these glittery clip-on birds.  They add a festive air and interest to the table.

Clip-on Bird
Clip-on Bird

Table Linens and Napkin Fold

When I am using patterned dinnerware, as I am in this setting, I like to use a plain tablecloth —  usually white — because it gives me a blank canvas from which to work and display elements of the setting. The tablecloth is a vintage Irish linen cloth.

The napkin fold I am using is a fold that is known by a couple of names: 1) the Bird of Paradise; and 2) the Sailboat fold. I will often set this fold on a plate but, for this setting, I am placing it inside the stemmed wine glasses because it replicates the triangular shape of the vase and its floral arrangement. When the floral arrangement is tall, I like to use some height at each placesetting so there is not such a visual drop in depth from the centerpiece to each placesetting.  Placing this fold in the stemware glass graduates the height of elements of the tablesetting.

The Bird of Paradise/Sailboat Napkin Fold
The Bird of Paradise/Sailboat Napkin Fold

Glassware

I have chosen to use matching glassware in this setting as it gives a more formal look. Using glassware that has lots of cuts will add sparkle to any table.

The Bird of Paradise/Sailboat Napkin Fold
The Bird of Paradise/Sailboat Napkin Fold

A tasty meal is made all the more wonderful when dinner guests are presented with a beautifully set table. No matter what is on the menu, a thoughtfully set table adds a little extra holiday flair to a dinner party.

The Christmas Rose Holiday Tablesetting
The Christmas Rose Holiday Tablesetting

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

Blush Pink Holiday Tablesetting
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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The Christmas Rose Tablesetting
The Christmas Rose Tablesetting

Classic Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

Sticky Toffee Pudding
Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

Sticky Date Pudding (aka Sticky Toffee Pudding) has a British origin and is often served as the Christmas pudding.  This pudding is basically a dense, but tender, sponge cake made with cooked dates.  It’s really nothing more elaborate or complicated than that.

My version of this classic pudding starts with soaking the chopped dates in rum allowing them to absorb the flavour, then slowly simmering the dates in water to soften.  The dates, the primary ingredient in the pudding, add sweetness and texture to the pudding without turning it into a heavy pudding.  This pudding is subtly spiced with a blend of ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

I like to make this pudding in small one-half cup size ramekins for a couple of reasons.  First, I like the look of a small pudding on each plate and, second, this pudding freezes well and the ramekin-sized puddings are perfect for freezing individual servings.

Sticky Date Pudding
Sticky Date Pudding

Sticky Date Pudding is most commonly served warm with a decadently rich toffee sauce made with butter, dark brown sugar, and whipping cream.  I add a dash of rum to the sauce to deepen the flavour.  Add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla or maple ice cream to really dress the pudding to the nines!

Sticky Toffee Pudding
Sticky Date Pudding

 

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

Ingredients for Pudding:

7 oz (about 1 1/3 cups) pitted dates, coarsely chopped
¼ cup dark rum
1 cup water
1 1/8 tsp baking soda

¼ cup butter, softened at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp grated orange rind
1½ tbsp pure maple syrup
1½ tsp vanilla

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp salt

Ingredients for Toffee Sauce:

¾ cup butter (no substitutes)
1 1/3 cups dark brown sugar
¾ cup whipping cream (35% M.F.)
2 tbsp rum
2 tsp vanilla

Method for Pudding:

In saucepan, pour rum over dates.  Let stand 20 minutes, stirring a couple of times.  Add the cup of water and bring the dates, rum, and water to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to simmer and boil, uncovered, gently for approximately 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.  Remove from heat and add the baking soda. Stir well.  Let mixture stand, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to loosely break up the dates.

Position oven rack in bottom third of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.

While date mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugars together in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the orange rind, maple syrup and vanilla.

Sift the dry ingredients together and incorporate into the creamed mixture just until they are completely blended.  Stir in the date mixture.

Grease ten (10) ½-cup ramekins and place on rimmed baking sheet.  Distribute the batter evenly between the ramekins, filling each no more than about 2/3 full. Smooth tops with knife. Bake for 25 minutes, or until pudding springs back to a light touch and a cake tester inserted into center of pudding comes out clean. Run tip of pare knife around each pudding to loosen any parts that may have stuck to ramekin.  Turn puddings out on to individual serving plates. Serve warm with toffee sauce and, if desired, a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla or maple ice cream.

Method for Toffee Sauce:

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat.  Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the cream and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thick, about 6-8 minutes or so.  Remove from heat and stir in the rum and vanilla. Serve warm over sticky date pudding.  (Sauce will thicken as it starts to cool slightly).

Yield:  10 servings

NOTE 1:  Pudding may also be baked in a greased (or parchment-lined) 9” baking pan for approximately 30-35 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of pudding comes out clean and pudding springs back to a light touch. Cut into squares and serve warm with the warm toffee sauce.

NOTE 2:  This pudding freezes well so can be made ahead of when needed. Simply thaw at room temperature and reheat pudding for a few seconds in microwave.

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

A deliciously moist and delicately spiced rich date pudding best served with a rich and luscious toffee sauce.
Course Dessert
Servings 10
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 7 oz about 1 1/3 cups pitted dates, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup dark rum
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp grated orange rind
  • tbsp pure maple syrup
  • tsp vanilla
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Ingredients for Toffee Sauce:

  • ¾ cup butter (no substitutes)
  • 1 1/3 cups dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup whipping cream, 35% M.F.
  • 2 tbsp rum
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

Method for Pudding:

  1. In saucepan, pour rum over dates. Let stand 20 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Add the cup of water and bring the dates, rum, and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and boil, uncovered, gently for approximately 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from heat and add the baking soda. Stir well. Let mixture stand, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to loosely break up the dates.
  2. Position oven rack in bottom third of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. While date mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugars together in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the orange rind, maple syrup and vanilla.
  4. Sift the dry ingredients together and incorporate into the creamed mixture just until they are completely blended. Stir in the date mixture.
  5. Grease ten (10) ½-cup ramekins and place on rimmed baking sheet. Distribute the batter evenly between the ramekins, filling each no more than about 2/3 full. Smooth tops with knife. Bake for 25 minutes, or until pudding springs back to a light touch and a cake tester inserted into center of pudding comes out clean. Run tip of pare knife around each pudding to loosen any parts that may have stuck to ramekin. Turn puddings out on to individual serving plates. Serve warm with toffee sauce and, if desired, a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla or maple ice cream.

Method for Toffee Sauce:

  1. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the cream and reduce heat to simmer. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thick, about 6-8 minutes or so. Remove from heat and stir in the rum and vanilla. Serve warm over sticky date pudding. (Sauce will thicken as it starts to cool slightly).

Recipe Notes

Yield: 10 servings NOTE 1: Pudding may also be baked in a greased (or parchment-lined) 9” baking pan for approximately 30-35 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of pudding comes out clean and pudding springs back to a light touch. Cut into squares and serve warm with the warm toffee sauce. NOTE 2: This pudding freezes well so can be made ahead of when needed. Simply thaw at room temperature and reheat pudding for a few seconds in microwave.

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Sticky Date Pudding
Sticky Date Pudding

The Rumrunners – Rum and Raisin Cookies

Rum and Raisin Cookies
The Rumrunners – Rum and Raisin Cookies

The folklore of rum running during prohibition in Prince Edward Island (PEI) is the stuff of which legends and ballads are made.  In PEI, so the stories go, locals would set sail in fishing boats, under the cover of darkness, and head out to sea to meet ships from St. Pierre and Miquelon carrying rum.  The locals, known as rumrunners, would buy the rum and head back to Island shores with the smuggled contraband liquor.

Now, these Rum and Raisin Cookies would probably not have been made during prohibition but the legend of the rumrunners has inspired me to name them the Rumrunners.

Rum and Raisin Cookies
The Rumrunners – Rum and Raisin Cookies

These cookies are made from a rolled cookie dough to which rum-soaked raisins have been added.  Dark rum should be used for the soaking of the raisins as it will generate the most depth of flavour (as opposed to a light or amber rum).  Simply soak the raisins in the rum for a few minutes, then simmer them on the stove.  Let the raisins stand for about an hour after they have simmered.  This should see most of the rum soaked into the now plump raisins.  However, the raisins should be drained in a wire-mesh sieve to remove any excess rum.  Do not add any of the rum liquid to the dough as it is not intended to have any liquid, apart from the egg yolk, in it. The subtle rum flavour comes from the rum-soaked raisins.

The dough will be too soft to roll out after it has just been mixed.  Chill it in the refrigerator, for 15-20 minutes or just until it is firm enough to roll out.

Rum and Raisin Cookies
The Rumrunners – Rum and Raisin Cookies

Choose a relatively simple cookie cutter, about 1 3/4″ – 2″ in diameter, for these cookies.  These delicately crisp and rich buttery cookies freeze well and are a great addition to any sweet tray.

The Rum Runners - Rum and Raisin Cookies
The Rumrunners – Rum and Raisin Cookies

The Rumrunners’ Rum and Raisin Cookies also make a great gift.

Rum and Raisin Cookies
The Rumrunners – Rum and Raisin Cookies

I think the rumrunners would have approved of these cookies!

Rum and Raisin Cookies
The Rumrunners – Rum and Raisin Cookies

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

The Rumrunners’ Rum and Raisin Cookies

Ingredients:

½ cup sultana raisins
¼ cup dark rum

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp cornstarch
¼ tsp baking power
¼ tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp salt

½ cup butter
¾ cup icing sugar (aka powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar)
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
1 tsp vanilla

Method:

Combine raisins and rum in small saucepan. Let stand for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to low and boil gently for approximately 1 -2 minutes, stirring a couple of times.  Do not boil raisins dry. Remove from heat, cover, and let raisins stand for about 1 hour.  Drain raisins in small wire mesh sieve and discard any remaining rum (there should be very little).

In small bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, cardamom, and salt.  Set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for about 1 minute.  Gradually, add the icing sugar and beat just until the butter and sugar are combined.  Blend in the egg yolk, orange rind, and vanilla, mixing just until the ingredients are incorporated.  Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until blended.  Stir in the drained raisins. Do not add any remaining rum from raisins to the cookie dough.

Gently gather the dough together just enough to form it into two balls.  With hands, flatten each ball into disk shape.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill dough in refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes, or until dough is firm enough to roll.  Line large baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 300°F.  Working with each disk separately, roll the dough ¼“ thick on a lightly floured surface.  Using a 1¾” – 2” cookie cutter, cut cookies into desired shapes, cutting the cookies as close together as possible to minimize the dough scraps that will need to be re-worked and re-rolled.  Note that re-working and re-rolling the dough scraps more than 2-3 times may result in cookies that have a tough texture.  Place cookies, about 1” apart on cookie sheet(s). Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until cookies are set, turning pan half-way through the baking process.  Cool cookies on baking sheet(s) for 3-4 minutes then, using a small lifter, transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Store cookies in airtight container at room temperature for up to a week or freeze between layers of waxed paper in airtight container for longer storage.

Yield:  Approximately 4 – 4½ dozen

The Rumrunners’ Rum and Raisin Cookies

Rum-soaked raisins add “spirit” to these delicately crisp and buttery cookies that have a hint of orange flavor and cardamom spice.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • ½ cup sultana raisins
  • ¼ cup dark rum
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp baking power
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¾ cup icing sugar (aka powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar)
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange rind
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Combine raisins and rum in small saucepan. Let stand for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and boil gently for approximately 1 -2 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Do not boil raisins dry. Remove from heat, cover, and let raisins stand for about 1 hour. Drain raisins in small wire mesh sieve and discard any remaining rum (there should be very little).
  2. In small bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, cardamom, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for about 1 minute. Gradually, add the icing sugar and beat just until the butter and sugar are combined. Blend in the egg yolk, orange rind, and vanilla, mixing just until the ingredients are incorporated. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until blended. Stir in the drained raisins. Do not add any remaining rum from raisins to the cookie dough.
  4. Gently gather the dough together just enough to form it into two balls. With hands, flatten each ball into disk shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill dough in refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes, or until dough is firm enough to roll. Line large baking sheet(s) with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 300°F. Working with each disk separately, roll the dough ¼“ thick on a lightly floured surface. Using a 1¾” - 2” cookie cutter, cut cookies into desired shapes, cutting the cookies as close together as possible to minimize the dough scraps that will need to be re-worked and re-rolled. Note that re-working and re-rolling the dough scraps more than 2-3 times may result in cookies that have a tough texture. Place cookies, about 1” apart on cookie sheet(s). Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until cookies are set, turning pan half-way through the baking process. Cool cookies on baking sheet(s) for 3-4 minutes then, using a small lifter, transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Store cookies in airtight container at room temperature for up to a week or freeze between layers of waxed paper in airtight container for longer storage.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Approximately 4 – 4½ dozen

 

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Rum and Raisin Cookies
The Rumrunners’ Rum and Raisin Cookies

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Pure Vanilla Extract
Homemade Pure Vanilla Extract

As many bakers will know, vanilla has been creeping up in price and, since it’s a key flavoring in many baked goods, it’s hard to do without it.  I recently priced a 120ml bottle of pure vanilla (storebrand) here in Charlottetown and it was $17.49 at time of writing. Yikes! 120ml is not quite one-half cup and there aren’t a lot of teaspoons in a half cup.  I  make my own vanilla which is actually quite easy and only takes two ingredients — vanilla beans and vodka. The vanilla extract is made using whole vanilla beans that steep for several weeks, or months, in at least 35% alcohol or more.

Vanilla Beans
Vanilla Beans

What homemade vanilla does take is time.  It takes at least one to two months for the flavour to steep from the vanilla beans placed in the vodka so you do need to plan ahead for your vanilla needs.  Vanilla beans are not cheap either but, for the amount of vanilla that can be made I find, for me at least, it is the more economical way to go.

There are different varieties and grades of vanilla beans. I use the Madagascar Bourbon variety. Grade B beans, with their low moisture content, are generally considered the more suitable for extraction purposes.   What beans you use, however, will largely depend on what is available in your area.  Vanilla beans are usually found in the baking aisles of most large supermarkets or you can often find them at bulk and health food stores.

I use three split standard-sized vanilla beans per cup of vodka, four if the beans are somewhat smaller.  More beans can be used to speed up the steeping process but, if you can wait, it’s more economical to go with fewer beans and steep them longer.  Vodka is the preferred medium to use for the vanilla because it is considered to be a neutral agent with no defined strong flavour on its own.  Some do use bourbon, rum, or brandy for the vanilla but, in my view, that is altering the true vanilla flavour and introducing another flavour altogether.

There is no need to buy a top-brand pricey vodka for the making of vanilla.  I use a moderately priced vodka with 40% alc./vol.

To prepare the vanilla beans, use the flat back side of a pare knife and smooth out the vanilla beans, lengthwise.

Vanilla Beans
Vanilla Beans

Then, with the tip of a sharp knife, slice the vanilla beans open, lengthwise, to reveal the vanilla seeds.

Vanilla Beans
Vanilla Beans

At this point, you can scrape the vanilla seeds out and transfer them to the decanting bottle along with the vanilla pods or you can just leave the seeds in the pods.

Vanilla Bean Seeds
Vanilla Bean Seeds

The seeds will come out of the pods anyway as the bottle is shaken and the seeds and pods steep. Place the vanilla bean pods and seeds in a sterilized bottle or jar.  Add the vodka, ensuring the vanilla bean pods are submerged. You may cut the vanilla beans if they are taller than the amount of vodka in the bottle.

Making Homemade Vanilla
Making Homemade Vanilla

Cover tightly and shake the bottle well.  Store in cool dark place for at least one month (and preferably two months or even longer).  Shake the bottle once or twice a week during the steeping/ extraction process.

Apart from making vanilla for your own use, homemade vanilla makes a wonderful gift for the foodie on your gift list so the vanilla beans can be divided between the smaller sterilized gift-size bottles for the entire extraction/steeping process or the vanilla can be steeped in one large bottle and then later poured into smaller sterilized bottles, usually either 4oz or 8oz size.  I usually make the vanilla in a large bottle because it does need to be shaken once or twice a week as it steeps and I find it easier to deal with one bottle than several.

Homemade Vanilla

Some don’t care for the specks of vanilla seeds left in the bottle so, if  a clear, speck-free, vanilla is desired, filter it through a small k-cup coffee filter like the one shown in the funnel below.

Filtering Vanilla Extract
Filtering Vanilla Extract

I do recommend keeping the vanilla bean pods in the bottle(s) even after the 1-2 month steeping period has ended because those beans continue to impart flavour and deeper color to the vanilla.  I personally like to leave the seeds in the vanilla for the same reason. I also think the seeds make it more interesting and authentic looking  If, in future, you have any vanilla bean pods left after you have used the seeds for other purposes, add those pods to the vanilla you have on hand.  Additional vodka can be added to the bottle, as well, as the vanilla is used up. Continue to store the vanilla in a dark place at room temperature.

Homemade Vanilla
Homemade Vanilla

Making homemade vanilla extract is simple and easy to do. It also has the added benefit of allowing you to choose the quality of vanilla you want to make based on the kind and grade of vanilla beans you use. There are a lot of vanillas, and simulated vanillas, on the market but making your own allows you to control the quality and, depending on how much you use, it may be the more economical option. Plus, you will have the thrill of making your own vanilla and impressing those you choose to gift it to as well.

Homemade Vanilla
Homemade Vanilla

 

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Vanilla
Homemade Vanilla Extract
Vanilla
Homemade Vanilla Extract

Classic Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Squares
Nanaimo Bars

These delightful no-bake bars are almost like candy!  Bar none, these Nanaimo Bars are my all-time favorite bars.  They consist of three layers:  1) a chocolate base consisting of graham wafer crumbs, nuts, cocoa, and coconut; 2) a soft yellow-colored custard-flavored filling made primarily with icing sugar and custard powder; and 3) a rich chocolate ganache topping.

Nanaimo Squares
Nanaimo Bars

There is a lot of mystery around the history and exact origins of  the decadent Nanaimo Bars.  The history has been traced back to the early 1950s when a square, simply called “Chocolate Square” (with the ingredients we know today as “Nanaimo Bars”), appeared in the 1952 Women’s Auxiliary of the Nanaimo Hospital Cookbook in British Columbia. Shortly after, circa 1953, the same recipe appeared, under the name of “Nanaimo Bars” in the Edith Adams Cookbook (14th edition). Both recipes have the same common ingredients.  As to who the precise creator of the recipe was, however, has not been definitively determined and the square, or bar, has gone by several names over the years, including New York Slice, Smog Squares, and London Fog Bars.  Whomever it was, they created a sure winner that has endured throughout the years and the treat is commonly known as Nanaimo Bars!

Nanaimo Squares
Nanaimo Bars

These bars are not difficult to make but they do take a little time since there are three parts to the bars — a base, filling, and topping. I recommend making the base in the top of a double boiler or, alternatively, in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  The base can be made in a heavy-bottomed saucepan but it can set up rather quickly using this method and there is always the danger of scorching the ingredients.

For the filling, I use Bird’s brand vanilla custard powder,usually found in the baking aisle of Canadian supermarkets.  However, any vanilla custard powder may be used in this recipe.  Many recipes for Nanaimo Bars only use a couple of tablespoons of custard powder.  However, I find that makes the filling too soft and squishy for handling.  I use 3 1/2 tablespoons of custard powder in my recipe and find it gives a lovely velvety textured filling that will hold its own when handled.

Nanaimo Squares
Nanaimo Bars

While they are called “bars”, I cut mine into squares and, from a 9″x9″ pan, I get 25 delectable squares.  These need to be kept refrigerated, or frozen for longer storage.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Nanaimo Bars

Ingredients:
 
Base:

½ cup butter
¼ cup granulated sugar
6 tbsp cocoa
1 extra-large egg, room temperature, lightly beaten
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
½ cup chopped toasted pecans

Filling:

½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
2½ tbsp whipping cream (35%)
3½ tbsp vanilla custard powder
1 tsp pure vanilla
2 cups sifted icing sugar (aka powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar)

Topping:

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature

Method:

Line 9” square pan with parchment paper leaving enough overhang to easily lift finished square from pan for cutting.

Base:  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. In the top of the double boiler, melt the butter and then add the sugar and cocoa powder.  Stir to combine ingredients.  Whisk in the egg.  Stir until mixture thickens.  Remove saucepan from heat and stir in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and nuts.  Press mixture into prepared pan.  Cool in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.

Filling:  In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter and whipping cream together.  Add the vanilla.  Blend in the custard powder followed by the icing sugar, beating until mixture is smooth.  If mixture appears too stiff, add 1-2 teaspoons whipping cream and beat mixture well to combine (note, however, that mixture should not be soupy).  Spread evenly over cooled base.  Refrigerate 1-2 hours.

Topping:  In small saucepan, over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter together, stirring to mix.  Spread evenly over chilled filling.  Refrigerate to set chocolate, approximately 30 minutes.  Use a sharp, flat blade knife to cut into squares.

Refrigerate bars in single layer in airtight container for up to 5 days or, for longer storage, freeze in airtight container.

Nanaimo Squares
Nanaimo Bars

 

Nanaimo Bars

Decadent no-bake Nanaimo Bars consist of three layers of a velvety custard filling sandwiched in between a chocolate-coconut-nut base and rich chocolate ganache topping
Course Dessert
Keyword Nanaimo Bars
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

Base:

  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 extra-large egg room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup chopped toasted pecans

Filling:

  • ½ cup butter softened at room temperature
  • tbsp whipping cream 35%
  • tbsp vanilla custard powder
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 2 cups sifted icing sugar aka powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar

Topping:

  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tbsp butter softened at room temperature

Instructions

  1. Line 9” square pan with parchment paper leaving enough overhang to easily lift finished square from pan for cutting.

Base: 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. In the top of the double boiler, melt the butter and then add the sugar and cocoa powder. Stir to combine ingredients. Whisk in the egg. Stir until mixture thickens. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press mixture into prepared pan. Cool in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.

    Filling: In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter and whipping cream together. Add the vanilla. Blend in the custard powder followed by the icing sugar, beating until mixture is smooth. If mixture appears too stiff, add 1-2 teaspoons whipping cream and beat mixture well to combine (note, however, that mixture should not be soupy). Spread evenly over cooled base. Refrigerate 1-2 hours.

      Topping: In small saucepan, over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter together, stirring to mix. Spread evenly over chilled filling. Refrigerate to set chocolate, approximately 30 minutes. Use a sharp, flat blade knife to cut into squares.

      1. Refrigerate bars in single layer in airtight container for up to 5 days or, for longer storage, freeze in airtight container.

      Recipe Notes

      Yield:  1 - 9"x9" pan, approximately 25 squares

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      Nanaimo Bars
      Classic Nanaimo Bars