Ham Lentil Soup Recipe

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Today, I am sharing my newly-developed recipe for Ham Lentil Soup that is made from a leftover ham bone, broth, and ham.

If you are a regular follower of my food blog, by now you have likely figured out that I am a fan of leftovers and of foods that generate leftovers that can be used in other dishes.  One of my favorite comfort food meals is a boiled ham dinner.  I blogged about this back in 2013. I buy a large smoked pork picnic ham, place it in a big stockpot with lots of water and boil it for a good while then add the vegetables to make a meal-in-one-pot soup.  Easy-peasy and, oh, ever-so-tasty. However, these hams are almost always quite large and there is a lot of meat. After a couple of days of leftover ham with scalloped potatoes, sandwiches, and perhaps my Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole, I find it’s time to do something else with the ham and the flavorful broth in which it was boiled.

I’ve decided that all that good ham broth should not go to waste so I have developed a recipe to use the leftover ham broth and ham to make a tasty soup… a second soup, of sorts, from the same piece of meat.  Ham Lentil Soup is a good economical way to use leftovers.  You will need to refer back to my 2013 post for directions on cooking the ham in order to get the ham broth, so go ahead and click here for those instructions.  Make sure you use enough water to cook the ham so that you end up with 7 cups of ham broth and, remember, the water will reduce as the ham cooks so you will most likely need to top it up during the cooking process.

Ham Lentil Soup
Ham Lentil Soup

Now, this leftover Ham Lentil Soup could be made without the ham broth, instead using all chicken broth or vegetable broth. However, what would be missing would be the wonderful flavor of the natural ham broth. So, after I have removed the cooked ham from the stock pot, what I do is refrigerate the ham broth overnight. A layer of fat will form on the top of the broth. Skim all of that off and discard it.  Strain the broth through a cheesecloth lined strainer to remove any remaining whole bits of fat.  Place 7 cups of the ham broth along with the meaty ham bone striped of most of its meat, and the addition of several wonderful spices into a large stockpot. The bone has great flavor in it and the spices will enhance the ham broth and form a flavorful foundational base for the soup.  It’s the broth that makes this soup so it needs lots of flavor. After this broth has cooked slowly in a large stock pot under cover for about 45 minutes, it will have reduced down to about 4 cups or so. Strain this so you have a clear broth.

Then, get those aromatics cooking in the oil. Add the strained ham broth and top it up with 4 cups of vegetable broth so you have 8 cups of liquid.  The great part about this soup is that if you end up with more than 4 cups of strained ham broth, just add less vegetable broth or, conversely, if you have less than 4 cups of ham broth, top it up with more vegetable broth.  Follow the recipe for when to add the different vegetables and lentils that require different cooking times. If there is a vegetable you don’t like, simply replace it with an equal amount of a vegetable you prefer.

Ham Lentil Soup
Ham Lentil Soup

This is a great way to totally maximize the use of a large ham. When you get tired of it, dice up the leftover ham and use it in this soup. Anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 cups of leftover ham will suffice for this recipe. It’s meant to be a brothy, not thick, soup. I have added some orange lentils to this soup for extra substance but also because lentils are a good source of dietary fiber, protein, and minerals. I have chosen orange lentils because they cook in a relatively short time, usually about 20-25 minutes. Don’t overcook the soup after adding the lentils or they will turn to mush. The lentils will still be flavorful but they will have lost their shape if cooked too long.

This Ham Lentil Soup is a good way to maximize and change up leftover ham and it also freezes well.

Ham Lentil Soup
Ham Lentil Soup

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Ham Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

Step 1:
1 leftover meaty ham bone
7 cups liquid (ham stock, chicken or vegetable broth)
2 whole star anise
10 whole cloves
½ cinnamon stick (about 3”)
3 cardamon pods
5 whole peppercorns
1 large unpeeled garlic clove
2 whole allspice
2 bay leaves

Step 2:
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
2/3 cup onion, chopped
2/3 cup celery, chopped (apx. 1 large stalk)
1/3 cup parsnip, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups strained broth from Step 1 above
2 vegetable stock cubes
4 cups hot water
¾ cup carrots, diced
½ cup turnip, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
¾ tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp marjoram
½ tsp summer savory
¼ tsp cloves
Pepper, to taste
4 oz (apx. ¾ cup) orange lentils, rinsed and drained
1 cup potato, diced
19 oz can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup frozen corn
½ cup frozen peas
1½ – 2 cups cooked leftover ham, diced
Fresh parsley for garnish

Method:

Step 1: Place leftover ham bone in large stock pot. Add 7 cups liquid (either ham stock left over from boiling the picnic ham or, alternatively, use chicken or vegetable stock).  Add star anise, whole cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, peppercorns, garlic clove, allspice, and bay leaves. Cover and boil gently over medium-low heat for about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through fine mesh strainer.  Discard bone and spices. Set broth aside. This should yield approximately 4 cups broth.

Step 2: Heat oil over medium heat in the large stock pot.  Add the onions, celery, and parsnip.  Sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute, stirring briskly.

Return strained broth from Step 1 to stock pot.  Dissolve 2 vegetable stock cubes in 4 cups hot water. Add to the strained broth. Bring to a boil.  Add carrots, turnip, and spices. Cover and cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes. Add the lentils.  Cook for 10 minutes then add the potato and drained kidney beans.  Cook for about 10 minutes then add the corn, peas, and cooked ham. Cook for about 10-15 minutes longer, or until vegetables are fork tender.

Yield:  Apx. 12 – 1-cup servings

Ham Lentil Soup

Yield: Apx. 12 - 1-cup servings

This flavorful ham lentil soup makes good use of leftover ham bone, broth, and ham along with a mixture of vegetables, spices, and lentils.

Ingredients

  • Step 1:
  • 1 leftover meaty ham bone
  • 7 cups liquid (ham stock, chicken or vegetable broth)
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 10 whole cloves
  • ½ cinnamon stick (about 3”)
  • 3 cardamon pods
  • 5 whole peppercorns
  • 1 large unpeeled garlic clove
  • 2 whole allspice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Step 2:
  • 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 2/3 cup celery, chopped (apx. 1 large stalk)
  • 1/3 cup parsnip, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups strained broth from Step 1 above
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 4 cups hot water
  • ¾ cup carrots, diced
  • ½ cup turnip, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ¾ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp marjoram
  • ½ tsp summer savory
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 4 oz (apx. ¾ cup) orange lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup potato, diced
  • 19 oz can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup frozen corn
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 1½ - 2 cups cooked leftover ham, diced
  • Fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions

  1. Step 1: Place leftover ham bone in large stock pot. Add 7 cups liquid (either ham stock left over from boiling the picnic ham or, alternatively, use chicken or vegetable stock). Add star anise, whole cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, peppercorns, garlic clove, allspice, and bay leaves. Cover and boil gently over medium-low heat for about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through fine mesh strainer. Discard bone and spices. Set broth aside. This should yield approximately 4 cups broth.
  2. Step 2: Heat oil over medium heat in the large stock pot. Add the onions, celery, and parsnip. Sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute, stirring briskly.
  3. Return strained broth from Step 1 to stock pot. Dissolve 2 vegetable stock cubes in 4 cups hot water. Add to the strained broth. Bring to a boil. Add carrots, turnip, and spices. Cover and cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes. Add the lentils. Cook for 10 minutes then add the potato and drained kidney beans. Cook for about 10 minutes then add the corn, peas, and cooked ham. Cook for about 10-15 minutes longer, or until vegetables are fork tender.

Notes

Please read entire blog post for additional information on making this soup.

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Ham and Lentil Soup
Ham and Lentil Soup

Whole Wheat Biscuits Recipe

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Whole Wheat Biscuits
Whole Wheat Biscuits

For me, one of the hallmarks of a wonderful homemade meal is a fresh batch of tender and flavorful whole wheat biscuits on the table! These are particularly good with baked beans (especially when the biscuits are slathered with molasses!) or, well, just about anything! Biscuits are a form of a quick bread so they don’t take long to whip up and, best of all, they only call for pantry staples like flour, baking powder, salt, butter, milk and sometimes a small amount of sugar.

Whole Wheat Biscuits
Whole Wheat Biscuits

My recipe calls for a combination of flours – 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour.  I find that using all whole wheat flour does not yield the tender texture that can be achieved by blending all-purpose flour with the whole wheat. Shortening or butter can be used as the fat for biscuits; however, nothing beats butter for flavor!

Whole Wheat Biscuits
Whole Wheat Biscuits

These biscuits have a different flavor and texture than my standard white biscuits and these are made with buttermilk (or sour milk) instead of with whipping cream and whole milk (click here for the recipe for my white tea biscuits). They are two distinctly different types of biscuits. The whole wheat ones are slightly more “rustic” while the white biscuits are very refined. I tend to make the whole wheat biscuits to serve alongside a more rustic meal like beans, chili, and stews, for example. My regular “go-to” standard biscuits are the white tea biscuits and, for sure, they are the ones I use for afternoon teas because of their light, tender crumb.

Whole Wheat Biscuit
Whole Wheat Biscuit

My hints for making biscuits are –

  • Use cold ingredients. In fact, it’s a good idea to put the flour mixture in the refrigerator for about an hour or so so that it is cold to start with.
  • Use cold butter or even frozen butter which is what I use. That cold butter will give  flaky tenderness to the biscuits.  The butter can be cut into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter but my preference is to hold a grater (with large holes) over the flour and grate the butter right into the flour. Stop and give the mixture a stir after grating some butter to integrate and distribute it and then keep on grating the rest of the butter. This helps to ensure that the butter gets incorporated right into the cold flour. If you grate the butter into a separate bowl, it will tend to clump together, especially as you transfer it to the flour mixture.
  • Only mix the liquid and dry ingredients as minimally as possible and do so gently and with a fork. Over-mixing will result in over-developing the flour’s gluten and yield tough biscuits. Just mix enough that the flour is incorporated and the batter starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Let the batter rest in the bowl for 1-2 minutes. This allows the ingredients to settle (they need to get to know each other!).
  • Turn the batter out on to a lightly floured surface. Knead the mixture 8-10 times only. Do NOT over-knead as  over-working the dough will “stir up” the gluten in the flours and will yield dense, tough biscuits. After kneading, little bits of the butter should still be visible in the dough. With biscuits, you are not “blending” ingredients but, rather, are simply barely mixing them just enough so that the dough sticks together.
  • Use a rolling pin, or simply pat the dough to about 1″ thickness.  Use desired size of biscuit cutter. A good, general size cutter for biscuits is a 2″ cutter. Flour the cutter before cutting each biscuit and cut the biscuits as close together as possible to minimize the amount of dough that will have to be gathered up and patted down again for the next cutting – remember, the goal is to minimize the amount of “working the dough” that happens . Make sure the cutter is sharp-edged and do not twist the cutter when cutting out the biscuits.  Cut straight down into the dough. Twisting the cutter while cutting the biscuits can be a cause of biscuits unevenly rising and hence spreading during the baking process – that’s when they lose their shape and go downhill to the point that they may look like a ski slope!
  • Once the first cut of biscuits is made from the dough, gather up the remaining bits and pat it down to 1″ thickness and continue to cut out remaining biscuits. Again, resist the urge to knead the dough any more than absolutely necessary to pull it together.
  • Bake the biscuits in a hot oven (450F) until they start to turn golden brown on top, about 14-16 minutes, generally.

Biscuits are best served slightly warm so make them just before the meal.

Whole Wheat Biscuits
Whole Wheat Biscuits

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Whole Wheat Biscuits

Ingredients:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar
6 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*

1-2 tbsp milk for brushing tops of biscuits

Method:
Preheat oven to 450°F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, and sugar.

Grate cold (or frozen) butter over flour in bowl, or use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Make a well in the center of the ingredients. Pour milk into well in dry ingredients.  Using a fork, mix ingredients together just until flour mixture is incorporated.  Do not overmix. Mixture will be a soft, moist batter.

Let batter rest in bowl for 1-2 minutes then turn out onto a floured surface.  Knead dough 8-10 times.  Do not over-knead.

Roll or pat dough to desired thickness, about 1” thick.  Using a 2” floured round cookie cutter, cut out biscuits, re-flouring cutter before cutting out each biscuit.  Gather up remaining dough, pat down to about 1” thick and cut out biscuits.

Using a small spatula, transfer the biscuits to prepared baking sheet, placing them about 1” to 1½ “ apart. Prick tops of biscuits with fork tines and lightly brush with milk, if desired. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 3-4 minutes then transfer to wire rack.

Biscuits may also be placed close together in a greased baking pan with sides. Baking the biscuits in this manner will yield soft-sided biscuits.

*To sour milk, place 1 tbsp white vinegar in a measuring cup. Add enough milk to make 1 cup.  Stir. Let stand for 5 minutes to sour.

Yield:  Apx. 12-13 – 2” biscuits

Whole Wheat Biscuits
Whole Wheat Biscuits

Whole Wheat Biscuits Recipe

Yield: 12-13 - 2" biscuits

Delicious easy-to-make classic whole wheat biscuits that are tender and flavorful.

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
  • 1-2 tbsp milk for brushing tops of biscuits

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Grate cold (or frozen) butter over flour in bowl, or use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the ingredients.
  3. Pour milk into well in dry ingredients. Using a fork, mix ingredients together just until flour mixture is incorporated. Do not overmix. Mixture will be a soft, moist batter. Let batter rest in bowl for 1-2 minutes then turn out onto a floured surface. Knead dough 8-10 times. Do not over-knead.
  4. Roll or pat dough to desired thickness, about 1” thick. Using a 2” floured round cookie cutter, cut out biscuits, re-flouring cutter before cutting out each biscuit. Gather up remaining dough, pat down to about 1” thick and cut out biscuits.
  5. Using a small spatula, transfer the biscuits to prepared baking sheet, placing them about 1” to 1½ “ apart. Prick tops of biscuits with fork tines and lightly brush with milk, if desired. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 3-4 minutes then transfer to wire rack. Biscuits may also be placed close together in a greased baking pan with sides. Baking the biscuits in this manner will yield soft-sided biscuits.
  6. *To sour milk, place 1 tbsp white vinegar in a measuring cup. Add enough milk to make 1 cup. Stir. Let stand for 5 minutes to sour.
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Whole Wheat Biscuits
Whole Wheat Biscuits

The Bistro’s Beef Pot Pie

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Beef Pot Pie
Beef Pot Pie

I am a huge fan of cooking with the intent of having leftovers for several meals.  It’s great to have cold leftover turkey, ham, or roast beef but, after a couple of days, well, it can get a little monotonous.  I don’t like to throw out food so the alternative is to find other creative ways to use the leftovers and stretch the food budget.  Sometimes, as in the case of a large family, perhaps the leftovers don’t span far enough unless they are used in a way that extends them.

So, whether it’s a case of having leftover meat you’re tired of or not having enough left to plate as straight cold meat slices to make another meal, my recipe for Beef Pot Pie will be the answer for leftover roast beef.  Just make sure you make an extra 1 1/3 cups of gravy when preparing that roast beef dinner so you will have enough gravy to make this recipe.

Beef Pot Pie
Beef Pot Pie

Beef Pot Pie is a tasty meal-in-a-dish — the meat, veggies, and gravy are all encased under a pastry topping.  It takes very little beef (only about 1 cup, cubed) to make a meal for four with this recipe.  It’s a great way to stretch a small amount of meat and extend the food budget.

The potatoes, turnip, and carrots are pre-cooked to fork-tender state in the same pot — bonus, only one pot to wash!  The sauce with the gravy is quite simple to make with only a few additions of common ingredients to add extra flavor.  Add some cooked frozen peas and corn to add extra veggies and color.  Top with your favorite pastry recipe and you’re done! And, your house will smell fabulous as this cooks, beckoning the family to the dinner table!

Beef Pot Pie
Beef Pot Pie

Sometimes, if I’ve had the leftover meat on the dinner table for a couple of days, I’m tired of it and don’t want to see it on the table again right away in any form! That’s when I make up this recipe and freeze it for later use and to have ready for meals on busy week nights.  I have had success freezing this dish, unbaked, in an airtight container.  I bake it from frozen state but add extra baking time (at least 20 minutes more). If the pastry starts to brown too much during the baking, simply loosely tent the casserole dish(es) with tin foil.

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Beef Pot Pie

Ingredients:

1/3 cup turnip, peeled and diced into ¼” cubes
1/3 cup carrots, peeled and diced into ¼” cubes
1¼ cups potatoes, peeled and diced into ½” cubes
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
2/3 cup onion, finely diced
2 oz small button mushrooms, halved
1 cup leftover cooked roast beef, cubed into bite-size pieces
1 1/3 cups leftover beef gravy
2 tbsp tomato paste
¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp red wine
½ tsp garlic salt
¼ tsp summer savory
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup frozen peas, cooked
1/3 cup frozen corn, cooked
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Pastry for single-crust pie

Method:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In medium-sized saucepan, over medium-low heat, boil the turnip and carrots in salted water for about 5-6 minutes, then add the potatoes.  Cook all three vegetables for about 10 minutes or so or until just fork tender.  Drain well.

While the vegetables are cooking, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Sauté the onions until limp and transparent.  Add the mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the cubed beef and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.  Add the gravy, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, red wine, garlic salt, summer savory, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, microwave the peas and corn for about 1½ minutes on high power. Drain any excess liquid.

Add the meat mixture to the cooked vegetables (turnip, carrots, and potatoes) and add the drained peas, corn, and the fresh parsley.  Stir with large mixing spoon to combine all ingredients.

Grease a 5-6 cup casserole or four 1-cup ramekins.  Pour mixture into casserole or evenly divide between the 4 ramekins.

Roll pastry to desired thickness. Cut to size that will completely cover mixture in casserole dish or ramekins.  Cut slits in the pastry to allow steam to escape during baking. Alternatively, prepare lattice top from the pastry to cover meat sauce in each dish.

Place baking dish, or ramekins, on foil-lined rimmed baking sheet to catch any spillovers that might occur. Transfer to pre-heated oven.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until mixture is bubbly and pastry lightly tanned.  Serve with crusty rolls, rustic bread, or biscuits.

Yield:  4 servings.

Beef Pot Pie

Yield: 4 servings

Leftover roast beef forms the basis for this delicious Beef Pot Pie meal-in-a-dish smothered with a rich sauce and encased in a tender pie pastry topping.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup turnip, peeled and diced into ¼” cubes
  • 1/3 cup carrots, peeled and diced into ¼” cubes
  • 1¼ cups potatoes, peeled and diced into ½” cubes
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup onion, finely diced
  • 2 oz small button mushrooms, halved
  • 1 cup leftover cooked roast beef, cubed into bite-size pieces
  • 1 1/3 cups leftover beef gravy
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • ¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp red wine
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • ¼ tsp summer savory
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas, cooked
  • 1/3 cup frozen corn, cooked
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • Pastry for single-crust pie

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In medium-sized saucepan, over medium-low heat, boil the turnip and carrots in salted water for about 5-6 minutes, then add the potatoes. Cook all three vegetables for about 10 minutes or so or until just fork tender. Drain well.
  3. While the vegetables are cooking, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions until limp and transparent. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the cubed beef and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the gravy, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, red wine, garlic salt, summer savory, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, microwave the peas and corn for about 1½ minutes on high power. Drain any excess liquid.
  4. Add the meat mixture to the cooked vegetables (turnip, carrots, and potatoes) and add the drained peas, corn, and fresh parsley. Stir with large mixing spoon to combine all ingredients.
  5. Grease a 5-6 cup casserole or four 1-cup ramekins. Pour mixture into casserole or evenly divide between the 4 ramekins.
  6. Roll pastry to desired thickness. Cut to size that will completely cover mixture in casserole dish or ramekins. Cut slits in the pastry to allow steam to escape during baking. Alternatively, prepare lattice top from the pastry to cover meat sauce in each dish.
  7. Place baking dish, or ramekins, on foil-lined rimmed baking sheet to catch any spillovers that might occur. Transfer to pre-heated oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until mixture is bubbly and pastry lightly tanned. Serve with crusty rolls, rustic bread, or biscuits.
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Beef Pot Pie
Beef Pot Pie

My Island Bistro Kitchen Food Blog Celebrates 5th Blogiversary

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Five years ago today, January 18, 2012, I established my food blog, My Island Bistro Kitchen.  Where did those five years go – they have just flown by!  Time flies when you’re having fun, they say! So, today, I celebrate my 5th blogiversary!

I attempt to keep the recipes I develop and share real — nothing too wild and wacky.  I am mindful of the different levels of culinary skills and food budgets that followers may have.  While I do try to provide some newer, upscale recipes, it has been my experience over the past five years that the most popular recipes tend to be the traditional dishes that call for common ingredients and are not overly complicated or time-consuming to make. Where possible, I try to use locally produced food ingredients from right here in Prince Edward Island. And, for added interest, I continue to include stories about Island food producers and local culinary events.

To celebrate my five-year anniversary, I have made a cake and decorated it in the trendy “naked cake” style.  Naked cake means that very little, if any, frosting is used on the sides of the cake  allowing much of the cake itself to be visible. In fact, even less frosting is used on one of these cakes than I would normally use to crumb coat a cake I would completely cover with frosting! The absence of a lot of frosting allows the texture, color, and filling in the cake to show. This is a style currently favored by many brides, probably for its romantic and casual look and feel. This style also looks very nostalgic and has a vintage air about it.

Naked cakes are very non-pretentious and, in my opinion, do not require a lot of cake decorating skill.  If you can spread butter on bread, you can decorate a naked cake! Perfection is not a goal in the application of minimal frosting that characterizes this style of cake! The rustic look allows a cake topper to stand out and be the focal point because there is no fancy frosting or a cake covered in piped roses or frosting ruffles to compete for the limelight. Garnishes for these types of cakes usually involve real or natural elements such as berries, fruit, or as I have done with this cake, fresh flowers. Sometimes, chocolate or caramel is drizzled over the top and down the sides of the cake.

Cakes decorated in this style have a very natural look to them. In fact, with dark-colored cakes and  a slim swipe of white frosting, I think they almost look a bit like birch bark. When used on lighter toned cakes, the effect can resemble a white wash look.

This is a good type of decorating to use if the cake is for someone who does not like a lot of frosting that is the hallmark of traditionally-decorated celebratory cakes. In fact, some naked cakes sport only frosting on the top of the cake and in between the layers. Now, those are real naked cakes!

The disadvantage of this style of decorating is that the cake can dry out rather quickly. When completely frosted, the frosting acts as a seal, to help keep the cake moist. Without complete coverage of frosting, care must be taken that the cake does not dry out. I recommend frosting the cake just before serving or, if it must be done in advance, store it in an airtight cake storer/caddy.

The “naked cake” is not a new style as it has been around for a few years now but it is a cake decorating style that has gained traction and this trend shows no signs of disappearing any time soon. While it is not a style for everyone’s taste, it is an option to add variety to cake decorating.

Thank you to those faithful followers of My Island Bistro Kitchen food blog who have been with me from the start.  Thanks also to those who have joined along the way. If you are new to “the Bistro”, a hearty warm welcome!  I hope all will continue to follow “the Bistro” into the future as I have more great recipes in the hopper and under construction and some stories in the plans!

To view other cakes and cupcakes that have been part of my earlier blogiversaries, click on the links below.

1st blogiversary
2nd blogiversary
3rd blogiversary
4th blogiversary

Meal Planning – Week 1

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I am a big believer in meal planning and follow it regularly.  I recommend meal planning for several reasons:

  • Eliminates last minute meal planning – that’s when you leave work with no idea what’s for dinner and, suddenly, as you pass a supermarket with a deli or prepared food section or a fast food outlet and, well, you know the story – that becomes dinner.
  • Saves money and reduces food waste – have a plan in mind for using leftover meat such as ham, turkey, or roast beef. For example, use the leftover meat in sandwiches, casseroles, and/or soups. These are great ways to stretch the food dollar and eliminate food waste.
  • Healthier way to eat – You will eat less pre-packaged foods that often have way too many preservatives, additives, and other unhealthy ingredients. Meal planning means you are in control, to the extent possible, of what is in your food.
  • Less stress – Once you have a plan in place for meals for the week, you don’t have to stress each day over what to make for meals.

The keys to good meal planning are:

  • Make meals with ingredients you know your family will like – doesn’t have to be fancy, new, or creative. Sometimes, the old faithful comfort foods are the best.
  • Make the meal plan on the weekend and formulate the shopping list BEFORE you go to the supermarket and then stick to the plan, avoiding distractions of already-prepared or frozen entrées that supermarkets display to tempt shoppers.
  • Make your To-Do list for the meal preparation for the week – for example, if you are making baked beans on Saturday, get those beans soaking overnight on Friday evening.
  • Read each recipe carefully to ensure you will have all the ingredients and that the method is easy to understand and do-able in the time in which you have to do the food preparation.
  • Watch the supermarket sales flyers. Know your favorite dishes and buy ingredients for them when they are on sale. You’ll be more likely to stick to a meal plan if you already have most or all of the ingredients for a recipe on hand.
  • Plan around what’s in season. One of my favorite soups is cream of cauliflower which freezes well (provided whole milk, not fat-reduced, is used). I make several batches of this soup each fall when the locally-grown cauliflower is in season. I would not make it, however, in January with imported cauliflower that has traveled thousands of miles for days and is highly priced. Good meal planning needs to take place, on an ongoing basis, throughout the year.

Here is my suggested meal plan for the upcoming week, focusing primarily on dinners with some suggestions for a couple of lunches making the most of a boiled picnic ham. I’ve provided a list of the main ingredients that, for the most part, would probably involve a shopping trip to the supermarket for most. However, as always, read each recipe thoroughly and carefully to create your own shopping list as I have not listed what I consider to be “staple” items like milk, butter, eggs, spices, etc.  Click on the green hotlinks to access the recipes.

MONDAY

Blueberry Muffins – These are great breakfast or coffee break muffins and they freeze very well.  Nice treat to start off the week!
Shopping List: Blueberries (fresh or frozen), orange juice, orange rind

Blueberry Muffins
Blueberry Muffins

Dinner:  Meatloaf
Serve with mashed or riced potatoes and your favorite side of veggies. Homemade mustard pickles go great with meatloaf!

Shopping List: Ground beef, onion, prepared mustard, tomato soup, dry onion soup mix, graham wafer crumbs, fine bread crumbs, garlic powder, vegetables of choice

Meatloaf with Riced Potatoes and Mixed Vegetables
Meatloaf with Riced Potatoes and Mixed Vegetables

Dessert:  Gingerbread
At least once every winter, I have to have a dose of this yummy comfort food! Drizzle with brown sugar sauce for an extra-special treat!
Shopping List: Applesauce, molasses, coffee

Gingerbread
Gingerbread with Whipped Cream and Brown Sugar Sauce

 

TUESDAY

Homemade White Bread – This is always such a treat!  This bread will be super good with the ham sandwiches this week!
Shopping List: All-purpose flour, dry yeast, milk, butter/shortening

White Bread
Homemade White Bread

Dinner:  Old-fashioned Boiled Ham Dinner – This is truly dinner-in-a-pot and is my definition of “comfort food”!  The meat and vegetables are all cooked in the same broth in the same pot. Make sure you cook enough veggies for Wednesday night as this always tastes even better the second day. Easy to heat the vegetables in the microwave and, poof, you have two nights’ meals prepared in one effort. You’ll want those mustard pickles or mustard beans with this dinner!
Shopping List: Smoked pork picnic shoulder (ham), parsnips, carrots, rutabaga (turnip), potatoes

Boiled Ham Dinner
Boiled Ham DInner

Dessert:  Blueberry Grunt
This is such an incredibly yummy dessert – serve it with your favorite vanilla ice cream!
Shopping List: Blueberries (fresh or frozen) and lemon rind, vanilla ice cream

Blueberry Grunt
Blueberry Grunt

 

WEDNESDAY

Lunch:  Ham Sandwiches made with homemade white bread!  Don’t forget the mustard!

Dinner:  Leftover boiled ham dinner from Tuesday.

Dessert: Cherry Wink Cookies
Shopping List: Dates, cornflake crumbs, maraschino cherries

Cherry Wink Cookie
Cherry Wink Cookie

 

THURSDAY

Homemade Tea Biscuits
Shopping list: Whole milk, whipping cream, unsalted butter

Tea Biscuits
Tea Biscuits

Lunch:  Ham Sandwiches

Dinner:  Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole – this is a great way to use up left-over cooked ham and stretch its use. Serve these with those tasty biscuits and perhaps a green salad!
Shopping List: Rice, cream of celery soup, sour cream, liquid chicken bouillon, broccoli, canned pineapple chunks, Parmesan cheese, fine bread crumbs, leftover cooked ham, and ingredients for a green salad and dressing

Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole
Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole

Dessert: Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares
Shopping List:  Chocolate chips and coconut

Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares
Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares

FRIDAY

Dinner:  Mac ‘n Cheese with a green salad and homemade tea biscuits
Shopping List: Elbow macaroni, liquid chicken bouillon, cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, salad ingredients and dressing

Mac 'n Cheese
My Island Bistro Kitchen Macaroni and Cheese

Dessert: Cinnamon Sweet Bread
Shopping List: Staple baking ingredients

Cinnamon Sweet Bread
Cinnamon Sweet Bread

SATURDAY

Dinner: Maple-Orange Sauced Chicken Breasts with Rice
An extra special weekend treat!
Shopping List: Boneless skinless chicken breasts, onion, fennel, orange juice, orange rind, chicken stock, maple syrup, orange marmalade, rice

Maple-Orange Sauced Chicken
Maple-Orange Sauced Chicken

Dessert: Coconut Cream Pie
One of the best pies going!
Shopping List:  9” pie shell, coconut milk, whole milk or cream, sweetened shredded coconut

Coconut Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie

SUNDAY

Dinner:  Bistro Burgers with Home Fries
Shopping List: Ground chuck, mayonnaise, maple syrup, ketchup, rhubarb relish, Dijon mustard, sour cream, onion salt, Parmesan cheese, Blueberry BBQ sauce, dry onion soup mix, bread crumbs, Cheddar cheese slices, red onion, tomato, prosciutto, fresh pineapple, bread and butter pickles, hamburger rolls, potatoes (for home fries)

"The Bistro Burger"
“The Bistro Burger”

Dessert: Leftover Coconut Cream Pie

Meal planning can be a challenge, especially with high food prices, ingredient availability (particularly in winter for fresh local ingredients) and, of course, for those who are busy and time-challenged.  However, with having a plan in place and establishing a routine for meal preparation, it is a way to eat better, save money, reduce food waste, and eliminate the stress of last-minute meal preparation that can sometimes result in unhealthy food choices. For those with children, it’s a good way to help them make good food choices and engage them in meal preparation by assigning them tasks to help with the work of making meals.

 

 

Twice-baked Potatoes Recipe

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Twice-baked Potato
Twice-baked Potato

When you live in Prince Edward Island, Canada, where potatoes are one of the main agricultural crops, you find lots of ways to serve potatoes. Twice-baked potatoes, or stuffed baked potatoes, are one of my all-time favorites.  I make up big batches of these and freeze them so they are always on hand, ready to be popped in the oven for dinner.

These potatoes are a little bit time-consuming to make because the potatoes have to first be baked then split in half and the pulp from each half scooped out and mashed, or riced, really well and combined with other flavorful ingredients.  That’s why I make them up in quantity as part of my repertoire of batch-cooking for the freezer.  These are a standard staple, year-round, in my freezer.

Now, for these twice-baked potatoes, you’ll want to use oval-shaped, elongated “baking” potatoes such as the high-starch Russet variety.  A good average size of potato to use would be about 8 oz like the ones marked in the photo below. All of the potatoes in the photo are the Russet variety but most of them are too small to use for this purpose.

Russet Potatoes for Twice-Baked Potatoes
Best Size of Russet Potatoes for Twice-Baked Potatoes

Russets have a light and fluffy texture when mashed and, certainly, when put through a potato ricer.  Russets, by nature, are a dry potato which means they are very absorbent when adding other ingredients such as butter, sour cream, or milk.  I have found that some Russets will be drier than others which may, in the case of twice-baked potatoes, require the addition of more sour cream or milk than the recipe calls for to make them creamy enough for the filling.  Russets have a mild, delicate flavor. This makes them a good choice for twice-baked potatoes because their white-fleshed pulp mixes well with other ingredients such as sour cream, cheese, and garlic and onion flavors.

Twice-baked Potatoes
Twice-baked Potatoes

It’s difficult to give a 100% accurate amount of wet ingredients (e.g., sour cream and milk or cream) to use for the filling in these potatoes because, as mentioned above, some Russets are drier than others. I recommend starting with the amount called for in the recipe and then adding any additional liquid by the tablespoon until the desired consistency is reached.  Filling for stuffed baked potatoes should not be “soupy”.  It should hold its shape when piped or spooned into the hollowed out potato shells. If you go by the gauge that the filling could be piped, using moderate pressure, through a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip, that’s the consistency you’re aiming for.

Sometimes, I will spoon some filling in to the shells, then pipe a decorative design on the top but, most times, I just spoon the filling in, mounding it up to look full and bountiful.  In fact, I always bake two extra potatoes just for their pulp and don’t intend to stuff their shells.  Some pulp is lost from each potato because a narrow rim of potato needs to be left intact in each shell in order for it to hold its shape and allow it to be filled. This is why it’s a good idea to bake a couple of extra potatoes to ensure you have enough pulp to adequately (and abundantly) fill the shells.

Twice-baked Potato
Twice-baked Potato

The pulp can be mashed (really well) with a potato masher to ensure the lumps are removed. However, if you have a potato ricer, push the potato pulp through the ricer as this will yield  even fluffier potatoes.

Once the potatoes are mashed or riced, it’s simply a matter of adding all the other ingredients and blending them really well into the potatoes and adding the right amount of wet ingredients to get the mixture to a piping consistency. I do not recommend using an electric beater to mix the filling as it can result in over-beating thus turning the mixture into a soupy glue.

If freezing these potatoes, freeze the stuffed potatoes, unbaked, in airtight freezer containers.  Bake from frozen state in preheated 350F oven for 45-50 minutes, or till heated through.

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Ingredients:
9 medium-sized baking potatoes such as the Russet variety

3 – 4 tbsp butter
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup+ whole milk or cream
1½ tsp liquid chicken bouillon
¾ tsp puréed garlic
½ cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp onion salt
Freshly ground pepper
¼ tsp. fine sea salt

Extra grated cheddar cheese, paprika, chopped chives or parsley, green onions for garnishing tops of each potato (optional)

Method:
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Scrub potatoes well. Do not peel. Prick each potato several times with a fork.  Place potatoes directly on oven rack positioned in center of oven.  Bake until fork easily inserts into center of potato, approximately 1 hour. Reduce oven heat to 350°F.

With a sharp knife, cut each potato in half, lengthwise.  Scoop out pulp of potatoes leaving a thin rim around the edges of the potato to allow them to hold their shape.

Mash potatoes well or press pulp through a potato ricer into a large bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.  Consistency should be such that mixture could be piped through a cake decorating bag  using moderate pressure and hold its shape when spooned or piped.  If necessary, add more milk or sour cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, to achieve desired consistency. Mixture should not be soupy.

Discard four of the shells (they were just baked for extra potato pulp the two potatoes provided). Lightly brush inside of each remaining potato shell with olive oil and place on parchment-line baking sheet. Spoon, or pipe, potato mixture into shells. Sprinkle with finely grated cheese and/or paprika.  Bake for 25-30 minutes. Garnish with green onions or chopped chives or parsley at time of serving, if desired.

To make ahead and freeze: Store unbaked stuffed potatoes in airtight freezer container.  Bake from frozen state, at 350°F for 45-50 minutes, until heated through and lighted browned on top.

Yield:  14 servings, 1 stuffed potato shell per serving

Twice-Baked Potato
Twice-baked Potato

Twice-baked Potatoes Recipe

Yield: 14 servings

Serving Size: 1 stuffed potato shell per serving

Classic twice-baked potato features a creamy and cheesy filling enhanced with onion and garlic flavors. The perfect side dish to any meal.

Ingredients

  • 9 medium-sized baking potatoes such as the Russet variety
  • 3 – 4 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup+ whole milk or cream
  • 1½ tsp liquid chicken bouillon
  • ¾ tsp puréed garlic
  • ½ cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp onion salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp. fine sea salt
  • Extra grated cheddar cheese, paprika, chopped chives or parsley, green onions for garnishing tops of each potato (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Scrub potatoes well. Do not peel. Prick each potato several times with a fork. Place potatoes directly on oven rack positioned in center of oven. Bake until fork easily inserts into center of potato, approximately 1 hour. Reduce oven heat to 350°F.
  3. With a sharp knife, cut each potato in half, lengthwise. Scoop out pulp of potatoes leaving a thin rim around the edges of the potato to allow them to hold their shape.
  4. Mash potatoes well or press pulp through a potato ricer into a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well to ensure all ingredients are incorporated. Consistency should be such that mixture could be piped through a cake decorating bag with moderate pressure and hold its shape when spooned or piped. If necessary, add more milk or sour cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, to achieve desired consistency. Mixture should not be soupy.
  5. Discard four of the shells (they were just baked for extra potato pulp the two potatoes provided). Lightly brush inside of each remaining potato shell with olive oil and place on parchment-line baking sheet. Spoon, or pipe, potato mixture into shells. Sprinkle with finely grated cheese and/or paprika. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Garnish with green onions or chopped chives or parsley at time of serving, if desired.
  6. To make ahead and freeze: Store unbaked stuffed potatoes in airtight freezer container. Bake from frozen state, at 350°F for 45-50 minutes, until heated through and lighted browned on top.
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For more about potato-growing in PEI, follow these links:

Follow the PEI Potato Farmer: From Field to Table
Potato Growing and Harvesting in Prince Edward Island

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Twice-baked Potatoes
Twice-baked Potatoes

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

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Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square
Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

If you like brown sugar fudge, you’ll love this Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square, even if you aren’t gluten-intolerant or on a grain-restrictive diet! With a cake-type base, it’s the fudge icing that makes this square and takes it from plain to yummy. It’s like having cake and candy at the same time!

I use 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour along with a small amount of coconut flour in this square.  The coconut flour blends well with the shredded coconut in the recipe and gives the square extra flavor.  Super easy square to make.

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square
Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

The slightly tricky part is making the icing as it will “set up” very fast.  Make sure you have all the ingredients pre-measured and at hand when you start to make the icing.  It’s essential that the icing sugar be sifted to remove any lumps as there won’t be any time to work out any lumps when beating the icing sugar into the hot butter-sugar mixture. Once the icing starts to thicken, work quickly to spread it over the square.

This square freezes beautifully and is great to have on hand when you just need to have something sweet!

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square
Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

[Printable version of recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

Ingredients:

Square
½ cup minus 1 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 extra-large egg (at room temperature for 20 minutes)
½ tsp pure vanilla
1 cup 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour
2 tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/3 cup milk
½ cup shredded coconut

Icing
3 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
¾ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
3 tbsp cream
1 cup sifted icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Walnut halves for decoration (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or, alternatively, line 9” square baking pan with tin foil and spray with cooking oil.

Square:  Cream butter and sugar together.  Add the egg and beat well to combine with butter-sugar mixture.  Beat in vanilla.

Sift the 1-to-1 gluten-free flour, coconut flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Add the dry ingredients and milk to the creamed mixture in three parts (3 parts dry and 2 parts wet) starting and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat for 1 minute longer on medium speed. Fold in the shredded coconut.  Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake for 30-32 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of square comes out clean.  Remove square from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely.

Icing:  When square has cooled, make the icing by combining the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until both have melted/dissolved.  Add the cream.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and, with an electric hand mixer, beat in the icing sugar until mixture starts to thicken.  Immediately stir in the vanilla and, working quickly (as this icing will “set up” very fast), spread the icing evenly over square.  Score cutting lines on square and, if desired, place one walnut half on each individual square. Let icing set completely before cutting squares.

Yield: One 9” pan of squares

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square
Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

Yield: 1 - 9" pan of squares

An old-fashioned fudge square made with gluten-free flour and topped with brown sugar fudge icing.

Ingredients

  • Square
  • ½ cup minus 1 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 extra-large egg (at room temperature for 20 minutes)
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla
  • 1 cup 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • Icing
  • 3 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 tbsp cream
  • 1 cup sifted icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Walnut halves for decoration (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or, alternatively, line 9” square baking pan with tin foil and spray with cooking oil.
  2. Square: Cream butter and sugar together. Add the egg and beat well to combine with butter-sugar mixture. Beat in vanilla.
  3. Sift the 1-to-1 gluten-free flour, coconut flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add the dry ingredients and milk to the creamed mixture in three parts (3 parts dry and 2 parts wet) starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat for 1 minute longer on medium speed. Fold in the shredded coconut. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 30-32 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of square comes out clean. Remove square from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Icing: When square has cooled, make the icing by combining the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until both have melted/dissolved. Add the cream. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and, with an electric hand mixer, beat in the icing sugar until mixture starts to thicken. Immediately stir in the vanilla and, working quickly (as this icing will “set up” very fast), spread the icing evenly over square. Score cutting lines on square and, if desired, place one walnut half on each individual square. Let icing set completely before cutting squares.
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Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square
Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

(Mostly) PEI and Maritime Food – Good Food for a Good Life!