My Island Bistro Kitchen Celebrates 6th Blogiversary!

My Island Bistro Kitchen's 6th Blogiversary Mini Cakes
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s 6th Blogiversary Mini Cakes

Six years ago today, I began my food blog called My Island Bistro Kitchen.  Six years later and I have created and published many recipes and written many stories about local food producers here on PEI.

Every anniversary deserves some kind of celebratory cake or cupcakes. For this 6th blogiversary, I have opted to go with mini cakes.  Positioned on tiny individual pedestal stands, they each have their own prominence.

Mini Cake
Mini Cake

A touch of whimsy, these little cakes are great for desserts, afternoon teas, weddings, showers, or just about any event imaginable.

A trio of Mini Cakes
A trio of Mini Cakes

Displays of clusters of mini cakes always signify a celebration of some kind!

Thanks for following along on my culinary pursuits!

 

 

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MEAL PLANNING – WEEK 2

Here is my suggested meal plan for the upcoming week. This is the Week 2 menu.  You can access the meal plan for Week 1 by clicking here.

I am a big fan of meal planning – it takes some coordination and effort upfront but the payoff is great. Find tested and reliable recipes with ingredients you know your family will like, read through the recipes to see what’s involved in their preparation and how long it will take to prepare them, make the shopping list, shop for the ingredients, and set aside the time to make the recipes. If you have helpers in the household, assign them tasks to help with the preparation.

Rather than spend time aimlessly perusing recipes in books or magazines or searching through the internet for a recipe that might pique your interest, I recommend first thinking about what main ingredient might appeal to you – is it ham, beef, poultry, fish, pasta, vegetables, etc. Are you looking for a casserole, a pot pie, or a main entrée, a one-time meal recipe or one that leftovers could be frozen for another meal or transformed into another dish altogether? Once you narrow down what you are aiming for, your search for the recipe will be more focused and concentrated and you will spend less time on the recipe search and more time productively spent actually making the dish.

To help you with that search, I hope you find some, or all, of the following recipes of interest and ones you will add to your weekly meal plan.

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 personalized list as I have not listed what I consider to be “staple” items like regular milk, butter, eggs, flour, sugar, butter/shortening, oil, spices, etc.

Make sure you read through the menu suggestions for the entire week as some require some leftover meat or gravy, etc., from a previous day’s dinner so you will need to know what amounts of ingredients need to be set aside for a subsequent day’s meal.

Click on the green hotlinks to access the recipes.

MONDAY

GranolaMy recipe for granola is nut free.  So tasty, it’s actually yummy eaten as a trail mix treat, too! 

Granola
The Bistro’s Great Nut-Free Granola

Best Zucchini Granola Muffins – These are great breakfast or coffee break muffins and they freeze very well.  Great treat to start off the week!

Shopping List: Granola (click here for my recipe), zucchini, applesauce

Zucchini Granola Muffins
Zucchini Granola Muffins

Dinner:  Roast Beef, Potato Patties, Turnip Puff Casserole

A roast beef dinner is so tasty (and the house smells so great when the beef is roasting).  Be sure to save some of the beef and make some gravy for the beef pot pies for Tuesday night’s dinner!

The potato patties are a change from traditional mashed or boiled potatoes and these are super tasty.  Turnip goes particularly well with beef and is transformed into a lovely flavorful casserole to serve as a side dish. Jazzes up a roast beef dinner for sure!

Shopping List: Roast of beef, cut of choice. For Potato Patties – Potatoes, sour cream chicken bouillon, breadcrumbs. For Turnip Puff Casserole – Rutabaga, applesauce, onion, parmesan and cheddar cheeses.

PEI Bistro-style Potato Patties
PEI Bistro-style Potato Patties

 Turnip Puff Casserole

Turnip Puff Casserole

Dessert: Rustic Apple Pie

Who can say no to a homemade apple pie!  Add a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream to make this an even more special treat!

Shopping List: Apples, pie pastry for double-crust pie + enough for a single crust pie (needed for tomorrow’s Beef Pot Pie)

Apple Pie
Rustic Apple Pie

TUESDAY

Dinner:  Beef Pot Pie – This is a great way to use up leftover roast beef and gravy from Monday night’s dinner.

Sometimes, depending on the size of roast, after a couple of days of leftover sliced cold roast beef, it can be a little boring, shall we say.  That’s why it’s important to find other uses for the leftover roast beef, like this Beef Pot Pie, so it seems like a brand new idea for dinner!

Shopping List: Rutabaga, carrots, potatoes, onion, mushrooms, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, red wine summer savory, frozen peas and corn, fresh parsley, pastry for single crust pie

Beef Pot Pie
Beef Pot Pie

Dessert:  Leftover Apple Pie

Apple Pie
Apple Pie

WEDNESDAY

Dinner:  Potato Leek Soup with Whole Wheat Biscuits

Sometimes you just need a plain old-fashioned silky smooth cream soup and this Potato Leek Soup fits that bill nicely.  Serve it with some warm homemade whole wheat biscuits, with a slather of butter, of course!

Shopping List: For Soup – Potatoes, leek, celery, onion, garlic, chicken/turkey stock, milk, white cheese blend (e.g., mozzarella, provolone, parmesan) For Biscuits – All purpose and whole wheat flours, buttermilk

Potato Leek Soup
Potato Leek Soup

 

Whole Wheat Biscuits
Whole Wheat Biscuits

Dessert: Chocolate Drop Cookies

These are a great chocolate cookie and sure to find their way into the heart of any chocolate lover.

Shopping List: General baking supplies + cocoa

 Chocolate Drop Cookies

Chocolate Drop Cookies

THURSDAY

Dinner:  Chili Con Carne served with Pan Rolls

This chili is packed full of flavorful ingredients.  While I think it’s perfect any time of the year, it’s especially inviting on cold winter days!  Make a batch of homemade pan rolls to accompany this chili.

Shopping List: For Chili – Ground beef, onion, green pepper, celery, garlic, 1 – 28oz can diced tomatoes, 2 – 14oz cans red kidney beans, 1 – 10oz can tomato soup, 1 – 5.5oz can tomato paste, chili powder, balsamic vinegar, liquid beef bouillon, mushrooms. For Pan Rolls – Yeast + standard baking supplies

Chili
Homemade Chili

 

Pan Rolls
Pan Rolls

Dessert: Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

Baked rice pudding is a comfort food and many will remember their mothers and grandmothers making this treat. I’ve jazzed up my recipe with coconut milk and raisins that have had a little “nip” of amaretto!

Shopping List: Arborio rice, amaretto, raisins, coconut milk, maple syrup, shredded coconut

Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

FRIDAY

 Dinner:  Honey Garlic Spare Ribs, Twice-baked Potatoes, favorite side vegetable

Nothing beats honey and garlic to add some life to spare ribs!  These ribs can be served with rice or choice of potato but my favorite is to add a twice-baked potato to the plate. Super yummy.

Shopping List: For Spare Ribs – Ribs, apple juice, honey, soya sauce, garlic, onion. For Twice-baked Potatoes – Baking potatoes such as Russet variety, sour cream, whole milk or cream, liquid chicken bouillon, garlic, cheddar and parmesan cheeses

Garlic Spareribs
Garlic Spareribs served with Turnip Casserole and Baked Potato

 

Stuffed Baked Potato
Twice-baked Potato

Dessert: Jelly Roll

Lovely sponge cake rolled with red jam or jelly. Yes, this is indeed an old favorite with many.

Shopping List:  Cake and pastry flour, favorite red jam or jelly

Jelly Roll

SATURDAY

 Dinner: Moussaka with green salad

While I have made Moussaka for years, recent visits to Greek islands reignited my love for this dish.  As a nod to my Prince Edward Island heritage, my version uses potatoes instead of the traditional eggplant. A little time-consuming to make but the end result is so worth it!

Shopping List: For Moussaka – Ground beef, onion, celery, garlic, 14-oz can crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, beef broth, russet potatoes, milk, Gouda cheese, breadcrumbs. For green salad – favorite lettuce and salad fixings of choice, dressing.

Moussaka
Moussaka

Dessert: Vintage Tomato Soup Cake

I grew up with this cake being frequently made.  Bet you can’t tell there is a can of tomato soup in it!

Shopping List:  Tomato soup, molasses

Tomato Soup Cake
Tomato Soup Cake

SUNDAY

 Sunday Breakfast: Special Treat – Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

Sunday mornings call for something just a little more special than you might make on busy weekday mornings.  Try these Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes with maple syrup or a rich blueberry sauce for double the blueberry flavor.

Shopping List:  Buttermilk, blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Blueberry Pancakes

DinnerLeftover Moussaka

Moussaka
Moussaka

Dessert: Leftover Vintage Tomato Soup Cake

Tomato Soup Cake
Tomato Soup Cake

So, there you have it – the Week 2 Meal Planning Menu from My Island Bistro Kitchen.

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Gluten-free Apple Pie

I earlier posted my recipe for Rustic Apple Pie.  This apple pie recipe differs from that one in two ways. First, this one is gluten free. Yes, even the lovely tender, flaky crust is gluten free.  Second, the filling is pre-cooked before being added to the pie.

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

For those following a gluten-free diet, they know how difficult it can sometimes be to find a pie pastry that closely resembles a wheat flour version.  I love making pastry and enjoy a lot of quiches and pies.  It pains me that those on a gluten-free diet cannot enjoy the same foods simply because they don’t have a good gluten-free pastry recipe.  So, I have developed this pie pastry recipe that, in my opinion, rivals any gluten version (and, in fact, is better than many I have been served).  When I first started developing gluten-free pastry, I figured it would not roll out, would crumble into bits, be hard as a rock, and/or would not transfer, in one piece, to the pie plate. However, I have adapted the basic pastry recipe I have been using for years and I could not be more pleased with it.  Serve this pastry to someone not on a gluten-free diet and I think they would be hard-pressed to know it’s gluten free!

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

So, let’s start with some hints and tips on making the pastry, many of which apply to any pastry, gluten or gluten free.

The Pastry

First, all ingredients must be cold – super cold.  Yes, even the flour should be chilled for 30-40 minutes in the refrigerator. I use a one-to-one gluten-free flour in this recipe.  I have been having great success with Bob’s Red Mills 1-to-1 gluten-free flour in my baking and find it has better flavor than gluten-free all-purpose flour and has the texture in baked goods more closely resembling a wheat-based flour.

There are various schools of thought on the type of fat to use in pastry — butter, lard, or shortening. Using all butter in pastry will give a wonderful flavor and a lovely tanned crust. It can, however, be a bit finnicky to work with because it softens very easy and can quickly be over-blended with the flour. If overworked, a tough crust is likely. While lard is easy to work with and will give layers of flakiness in the pastry, it lacks the flavour that butter gives.  Using shortening will yield a nice tender crust but, like lard, has little flavor.  As with butter, shortening softens extremely easy as it is being worked with so, if the dough is overworked, it will yield a tough crust.

I find the best combination of fats to provide flakiness, tenderness, flavour, and structure to pastry is to use one part lard and one part butter.  I coarsely chop/cube the butter and lard into the flour then take my pastry cutter and blend the fats to the consistency of large peas.  There is no need to mash it or blend it finely.

For liquid, I combine vinegar, egg, and water to equal 2/3 cup – all ingredients to be super cold.  Not all of this liquid may be required. It’s important to use only enough of the liquid that the dry ingredients are incorporated and will cling together and the dough forms a ball.  Don’t add too much liquid or you will end up with a gummy mess that will yield a tough pastry. I don’t use a food processor to make the pastry as I find it is too easy to overprocess the dough. Mixing the pastry by hand gives more control and, I find, a flakier crust.

Gluten-free pastry has a different texture and consistency than wheat-based pastry. The most noticeable difference is the lack of elasticity that wheat-based pastry has from the gluten in it. To ensure the safe transferal of pastry from counter to pie plate in one piece, I recommend rolling out the pastry between two sheets of parchment paper.  Once the pastry has been rolled to the desired thickness, generally somewhere between 1/16” about 1/8” thickness, simply remove the top sheet of parchment, slide your hand under the bottom sheet and carefully lift the pastry, flip it over into the pie plate, and peel off the parchment paper. A tip is to lightly flour the bottom piece of parchment and the top of the pastry.  This will make the task of peeling off the parchment paper easier. Fit the dough snugly into the plate and trim pastry flush with pie plate edge. I don’t like thick pie crusts so you’ll notice, from the photos, that I roll my pastry quite thin.  That’s a matter of personal preference so, if you like a thicker crust, by all means, go ahead and roll the pastry a little bit thicker.

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

Roll the pastry for the top crust the same as for the bottom crust but make sure there is no wrinkle in the parchment paper as this will form a wrinkle imprint in the pastry as the pastry is being rolled out.  This is less of a concern for the bottom pastry crust but, for presentation purposes, is an issue for the top crust.  For this reason, I recommend starting with a new piece of parchment when rolling out the top crust pastry.

Don’t forget to dampen the outside rim of the bottom pie pastry before placing the top pastry over the filling.  The pastry edge needs to be dampened lightly with water which will seal the two crusts together.

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

The Filling

My traditional apple pie recipe calls for uncooked apples mixed with spices and sugar.  That version will yield a pie where the layers of apples stay intact and totally visible once the pie is baked and sliced.  For this apple pie recipe, however, I am pre-cooking the apples by sautéing them in butter, then mixing in the sugar, spices, and cornstarch while they sauté. The result is a filling that resembles the consistency of a can of apple pie filling (only this homemade version is, in my opinion, much better!).

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

There are advantages to this method of making the filling. First, juices from the apples are released during the sautéing process and are thickened before going in to the pie. I find there is less chance of the pie boiling out significantly because the juices have already been released and thickened before going into the pie. Second, it is easier to arrange the filling in the pie because the apples have softened a bit.  Whereas for raw apples there can be gaps in the filling, there are generally none with a pre-cooked filling.

The trick to this method is to not overcook the apples because, remember, they will continue to cook as the pie bakes.  You still want to be able to see the apples (not applesauce) in the filling.  For this reason, it’s important to use apples that have a crisp, firm texture so they can stand up to the sautéing and baking and still hold shape when the pie is sliced.  My favorites are Spartans, Cortland, Pippins, Honeycrisp, and Lobo. I usually use a combination of at least three (and sometimes more) different varieties. Using a mix of apple varieties will give better flavor, especially if a blend of tart and sweet apples is used.  Slice the apples at least ¼” thick for this filling.

I use mostly brown sugar combined with a small amount of granulated sugar for this recipe.  Brown sugar will give a richer flavor and deeper color to the filling.  Choosing spices for an apple pie filling is always subjective.  Some use just cinnamon while others will add nutmeg.  I like a blend of spices in my apple pies so have chosen cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice for this recipe.  A splash of brandy (optional) will also enhance the flavor of the pie but, note, just a small splash! Either flour or cornstarch can be used to thicken the filling. Cornstarch, however, will tend to yield a more clear filling than will flour.

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

Preparing the Pie for the Oven

After the top pie pastry has been placed over the filling, the edges of the top and bottom pastries need to be pressed together to seal in the filling. There are various ways the pie edges can be joined. I tend to go with the simple pressing of the bottom and top pastry with the tines of a fork. I think this is also the easiest method to ensure the pie cuts out with the edges intact. Other methods, such as crimping, are raised up and can burn more quickly during baking and are also at risk of breaking off as the pie is cut.

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

It’s important that the top pie pastry be vented for baking. Otherwise, the crusts may be soggy from too much steam trapped in the pie.  It may also cause the top crust to leave the filling and puff up, leaving a hollow space between crust and filling.  This will cause the crust to break when the pie is sliced and, for presentation purposes, the pie slice will not be visually pleasing when plated.

Use a sharp-tipped paring knife to cut criss-crosses in the pie pastry starting in the center with a slightly large “X” and then adding smaller ones all around the circumference of the pie.  I also use the tines of a fork to prick the pie pastry in various places in the top crust pastry for added venting.

Brushing a very light coating of an egg-milk wash on the top crust will yield a crust with more “tan”.  A sprinkle of granulated sugar may also be added but note this may cause the top crust to brown fast and before the pie is baked.  If this happens, tent the pie loosely with tin foil.

I recommend placing the pie in the refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes or so before baking.  This will chill the pastry and reduce chance of it shrinking significantly while baking.

Fruit pies have a tendency to boil out during baking, even if they are well vented and the filling pre-cooked, so I recommend placing the pie on a tinfoil-lined rimmed baking sheet.  If the pie does boil out, you won’t be faced with an oven cleaning job.

Baking the Pie

Preheat the oven to 425°F and bake the pie at this temperature for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 375°F and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the crust is lightly tanned and juice from the pie is bubbling slightly through vented holes.

Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and allow it cool completely before cutting.  This allows the filling to settle so it stays intact (instead of running) when the pie is cut.

Serving the Pie

This pie benefits from a few hours of refrigeration after it has cooled completely at room temperature.  The chilled pie is easier to cut and the filling stays in place.

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

The most common ways to serve apple pie are plain, with cheddar cheese, or with vanilla ice cream.

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

This gluten-free apple pie is a tasty treat indeed!

Gluten-free Apple Pie

Gluten-free Apple Pie

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-free Apple Pie

Filling

Ingredients:
2/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbsp cornstarch

2-3 tbsp butter

2½ lbs apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into ¼” thick slices (about 8 medium-large sized apples)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp brandy (optional)

Method:
In small bowl, whisk together the brown and white sugars, spices, salt, and cornstarch.  Set aside.

Prepare apples and sprinkle with lemon juice and brandy (optional).  With large wooden spoon, gently toss apples to coat with the lemon juice and brandy.

In large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium low and add the apples.  Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring gently and frequently.

Stir in the sugar-spice-cornstarch mixture.  Cook for 4 minutes, stirring gently and frequently.  Remove from heat and cool filling completely.

While filling is cooling, prepare the pastry.

Pastry for 1 double-crusted 9” pie

2 cups (276g) gluten-free 1-to-1 flour
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp sugar

¼ cup cold butter (76g)
¼ cup cold lard (76g)

1 large egg (reserve apx 1 tsp of the yolk for the egg wash)
1 tsp white vinegar
Enough water to make 2/3 cup liquid

1-2 tsp milk
Method:

In medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and sugar together.  Cut the butter and lard into chunks and add to the flour.  With a pastry cutter, cut the butter and lard into the flour until the fats resemble the size of large peas.

In a measuring cup, whisk the egg and vinegar together.  Add enough cold water to measure 2/3 cup.  Add the egg-vinegar-water mixture to the flour, small amounts at a time, and mix with a fork.  Add only enough water that the dough clings together and can be formed into a ball.

Divide the dough in half.  Form disk shapes with each piece. Place disks in the refrigerator for about 10-12 minutes to chill. Remove one disk from the refrigerator and place between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll pastry to desired thickness, generally between 1/16”and 1/8” thickness. Peel the top piece of parchment from the rolled out pastry. Slide hand under parchment that has the rolled pastry and carefully flip it into a 9” pie plate that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray or greased.  Cut off excess dough so pastry is flush with the pie plate edge.  Place pie shell in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to chill. Remove second disk of pastry from refrigerator.

Prepare pastry for the top crust in the same manner as for the bottom crust.  Remove pie shell from refrigerator and arrange cooled pie filling in prepared cold shell. Brush edges of bottom crust along pie plate edge with a bit of water to moisten. Transfer pastry to the top of pie filling. Trim excess pastry from the pie plate edge.  Press the edge of the pastry all around the pie plate rim with tines of fork to adhere top crust to bottom crust.  Cut slits in top of pie pastry to allow steam to escape as pie bakes. For additional venting, prick the pie in several places with tines of a fork.

In small bowl, lightly beat the reserved egg yolk with 1-2 tsp milk.  With a pastry brush, lightly brush the pie with the egg-milk mixture.  Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Place pie in refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow filling to settle and to chill pastry to reduce shrinkage while it bakes.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Transfer pie to oven. Bake at 425°F for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 375°F. Bake for another 40 minutes then test with fork inserted into slit in center of pie to determine if apples are cooked. Apples should be fork-tender when pie is done. If not done, return pie to oven and check every 5 minutes until apples are fork tender.  If pie browns too quickly before it is cooked, loosely tent pie with tin foil.  Remove pie from oven and transfer to cooling rack.

Yield:  1 – 9” pie (apx. 6 servings)

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Print

Gluten-free Apple Pie

A lightly spiced cooked apple pie filling sandwiched between a tender, flaky, and flavorful gluten-free pie crust.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • 2 1/2 lbs apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4" thick slices (about 8 medium-large sized apples)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp brandy (optional)

Gluten-Free Pastry for 1 double-crusted 9" pie

  • 2 cups (276g) gluten-free 1-to-1 flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (76g) cold butter
  • 1/4 cup (76g) cold lard
  • 1 large egg (reserve apx 1 tsp of the yolk for the egg wash)
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • Enough cold water to make 2/3 cup liquid
  • 1-2 tsp milk

Instructions

  1. Filling:  In small bowl, whisk together the brown and white sugars, spices, salt, and cornstarch. Set aside.

  2. Prepare apples and sprinkle with lemon juice and brandy (optional). With large wooden spoon, gently toss apples to coat with the lemon juice and brandy.
  3. In large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and add the apples. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring gently and frequently.
  4. Stir in the sugar-spice-cornstarch mixture. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring gently and frequently. Remove from heat and cool filling completely.

  5. While filling is cooling, prepare the pastry.

Gluten-free Pastry for 1 Double-crusted Pie

  1. In medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and sugar together. Cut the butter and lard into chunks and add to the flour. With a pastry cutter, cut the butter and lard into the flour until the fats resemble the size of large peas.
  2. In a measuring cup, whisk the egg and vinegar together. Add enough cold water to measure 2/3 cup. Add the egg-vinegar-water mixture to the flour, small amounts at a time, and mix with a fork. Add only enough water that the dough clings together and can be formed into a ball.
  3. Divide the dough in half. Form disk shapes with each piece. Place disks in the refrigerator for about 10-12 minutes to chill. Remove one disk from the refrigerator and place between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll pastry to desired thickness, generally between 1/16”and 1/8” thickness. Peel the top piece of parchment from the rolled out pastry. Slide hand under parchment that has the rolled pastry and carefully flip it into a 9” pie plate that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray or greased. Cut off excess dough so pastry is flush with the pie plate edge. Place pie shell in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to chill. Remove second disk of pastry from refrigerator.
  4. Prepare pastry for the top crust in the same manner as for the bottom crust. Remove pie shell from refrigerator and arrange cooled pie filling in prepared cold shell. Brush edges of bottom crust along pie plate edge with a bit of water to moisten. Transfer pastry to the top of pie filling. Trim excess pastry from the pie plate edge. Press the edge of the pastry all around the pie plate rim with tines of fork to adhere top crust to bottom crust. Cut slits in top of pie pastry to allow steam to escape as pie bakes. For additional venting, prick the pie in several places with tines of a fork.
  5. In small bowl, lightly beat the reserved egg yolk with 1-2 tsp milk. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the pie with the egg-milk mixture. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  6. Place pie in refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow filling to settle and to chill pastry to reduce shrinkage while it bakes.
  7. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  8. Transfer pie to oven. Bake at 425°F for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 375°F. Bake for another 40 minutes then test with fork inserted into slit in center of pie to determine if apples are cooked. Apples should be fork-tender when pie is done. If not done, return pie to oven and check every 5 minutes until apples are fork tender. If pie browns too quickly before it is cooked, loosely tent pie with tin foil. Remove pie from oven and transfer to cooling rack.

 

For my Rustic Apple Pie recipe, click here.

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

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Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread

Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread
Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread

This recipe is an adaptation of my great grandmother’s lemon sweet bread.  Back in her day, this sweet bread would have been considered quite a luxurious treat, perhaps one reserved for company.  She lived in a small village in rural Prince Edward Island where there was, yes, a small general corner store but I doubt that lemons would  have been altogether common all the time. I don’t know from where or when she got the recipe for Lemon Sweet Bread, but I am guessing it is probably one she clipped from the newspaper.  This great grandmother was known particularly for three foods – apple pie, peach marmalade, and lemon sweet bread. I don’t personally remember her apple pie but, I do have memories that go as far back as the 1960s and I do remember her peach marmalade and lemon sweet bread, both of which were lovingly and carefully made.

Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread
Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread

Some glaze their sweet breads with lemon juice mixed with confectioner’s sugar (aka icing sugar or powdered sugar).  I just use regular granulated sugar as I find the confectioner’s sugar can cause the glaze to be a bit “chippy” and it breaks off the sweet bread whereas the glaze made with granulated sugar is more clear or translucent and is more absorbed into the loaf for added flavor and moistness. Whichever glaze is used, however, is a matter of personal preference.

Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread
Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread

This sweet bread freezes well. In fact, I often make it, slice it, and individually wrap the slices in plastic wrap before freezing them in a freezer bag or airtight container. They are ready for quick lunch bag preparation on weekday mornings.

Buttered Slice of Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread
Buttered Slice of Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread

This loaf also goes particularly well with a lovely cup of tea.  To butter or not to butter slices of sweet breads is a matter of preference.

Buttered Slice of Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread
Buttered Slice of Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread

Ingredients:
½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2½ tsp grated lemon rind
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2/3 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup milk

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup granulated sugar

Method:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease or spray a 9”x5” loaf pan with cooking spray. Line pan with parchment paper, leaving some excess paper overhang that can be used as handles to lift loaf out of pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter then gradually beat in the sugar.  Beat, at medium speed, until the butter-sugar mixture is light coloured and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, if needed.  Add the vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon rind. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and pecans.  With the mixer speed set to low or “stir” mode, add the dry ingredients to creamed mixture, alternately with the milk, starting and ending with dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, if necessary, to ensure all ingredients are incorporated. Beat at medium-high speed an additional 20-30 seconds or so to ensure the dry ingredients have been completely incorporated. Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan, spreading batter evenly with knife.

Bake loaf for approximately 1 hour or until cake tester inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.

Glaze:  About 3-4 minutes before cake is due to come out of the oven, combine lemon juice and sugar in small bowl.  Slowly drizzle pourable glaze over hot loaf as soon as it comes out of the oven. Cool loaf in pan for about 15 minutes then carefully turn loaf out on to wire rack to finish cooling. Cool sweet bread completely before slicing and serving.

Yield:  1 – 9”x5” loaf

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Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread

An easy-to-make sweet bread that is flavored with lemon and studded with pecans and topped with a lemon-sugar glaze

Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 2/3 cup milk

Glaze:

  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease or spray a 9”x5” loaf pan with cooking spray. Line pan with parchment paper, leaving some excess paper overhang that can be used as handles to lift loaf out of pan.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter then gradually beat in the sugar. Beat, at medium speed, until the butter-sugar mixture is light coloured and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, if needed. Add the vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon rind. Mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and pecans. With the mixer speed set to low or “stir” mode, add the dry ingredients to creamed mixture, alternately with the milk, starting and ending with dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, if necessary, to ensure all ingredients are incorporated. Beat at medium-high speed an additional 20-30 seconds or so to ensure the dry ingredients have been completely incorporated. Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan, spreading batter evenly with knife.
  4. Bake loaf for approximately 1 hour or until cake tester inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.

Glaze:

  1. About 3-4 minutes before cake is due to come out of the oven, combine lemon juice and sugar in small bowl. Slowly drizzle pourable glaze over hot loaf as soon as it comes out of the oven. Cool loaf in pan for about 15 minutes then carefully turn loaf out on to wire rack to finish cooling. Cool sweet bread completely before slicing and serving.

    Yield: 1 – 9”x5” loaf

 

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Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread
Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread
Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread
Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread
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Homemade Turkey Stock Recipe

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

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

Roast Turkey
Roast Turkey

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

Homemade Chowder
Turkey Chowder

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

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

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

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

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

Turkey stock can be very bland if it does not have enough seasonings added to it. That’s why I add some aromatic and flavourful vegetables – carrots, leek, parsnips, onion, celery, rutabaga, mushrooms, and a hefty dose of garlic. There is no need to peel the vegetables (except for the rutabaga that often has a wax coating).  Just make sure the vegetables are very well washed.  You want all the flavour and colour you can get from the vegetables, some of which is contained in the skins/peelings which will later be discarded anyway once the stock is cooked and strained.  Celery is a big flavour agent in this stock and that’s why, in addition to the five ribs of celery called for in the recipe, the celery leaves and the celery stalk base are used to intensify the flavour. While an optional ingredient, any kind of mushrooms can be used in the stock – I usually use the white button or cremini variety.

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

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

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

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

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

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

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

This stock will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days or it can be frozen for up to six months, at this point, in freezer-safe containers of desired size.  I usually freeze and label mine in different quantities based on what recipe I intend using it in. I will often freeze some stock in ice cube containers and use them for flavoring dishes, like rice or steamed vegetables, or stir fries where smaller amounts may be needed.

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Turkey Stock

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

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

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

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

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

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

Using a small 8” square of double cheese cloth, gather the dried herbs and spices together in the center and tie up cheesecloth to make a bouquet garni.  Drop the sachet in to the stock pot. Add the cold water, vinegar, bay leaves, sea salt, onion, leek, carrots, celery root and ribs, garlic head, rutabaga, parsnips, and mushrooms (if using).

Bring mixture to just below the boiling point over medium high heat. DO NOT BOIL. Reduce heat to a low simmer (liquid temperature should reach and remain around the 200°F point) and let stock simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 hours. If liquid evaporates too much and too quickly, reduce the heat and add a bit more water (e.g., 1 cup, or so).  Periodically, skim the fat, as it forms, from the surface of the stock as it simmers. Do not stir mixture as it simmers as this may create a cloudy stock.

Prepare a large colander with a double layer of damp cheesecloth.  Place colander over large clean stock pot and pour the stock/broth mixture into the colander to strain it.  Discard the solids – i.e., bones, vegetables, and bouquet garni.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Homemade Turkey Stock
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Homemade Turkey Stock Recipe

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Brush thin coating of cooking oil over raw turkey pieces. Place turkey pieces in greased baking pan. Roast, uncovered (or loosely tented with tin foil to avoid splatters in oven) for about 25-35 minutes, turning with tongs after 15 minutes. Remove turkey pieces from oven and transfer to heatproof dish. Using a large wooden spoon, scrape up any brown bits left in roasting pan. Mix with approximately ½ - ¾ cup of warm water. Heat over medium heat, stirring to prevent burning.
  2. Place turkey carcass and turkey pieces into large stock pot along with the browned liquid from the roasted turkey pieces.
  3. Using a small 8” square of double cheese cloth, gather the dried herbs and spices together in the center and tie up cheesecloth to make a bouquet garni. Drop the sachet in to the stock pot. Add the cold water, vinegar, bay leaves, sea salt, onion, leek, carrots, celery root and ribs, garlic head, rutabaga, parsnips, and mushrooms (if using).
  4. Bring mixture to just below the boiling point over medium high heat. DO NOT BOIL. Reduce heat to a low simmer (liquid temperature should reach and remain around the 200°F point) and let stock simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 hours. If liquid evaporates too much and too quickly, reduce the heat and add a bit more water (e.g., 1 cup, or so). Periodically, skim the fat, as it forms, from the surface of the stock as it simmers. Do not stir mixture as it simmers as this may create a cloudy stock.
  5. Prepare a large colander with a double layer of damp cheesecloth. Place colander over large clean stock pot and pour the stock/broth mixture into the colander to strain it. Discard the solids – i.e., bones, vegetables, and bouquet garni.
  6. Wash original stock pot in which the stock was made. Line a fine mesh sieve with a new piece of double layer of damp cheesecloth and place over the clean stock pot. Pour stock through sieve to remove any remaining solids, stray herbs, etc.
  7. Place stockpot containing the strained stock in large sink filled with ice water to cool the stock quickly. Remove and discard any solidified fat. Place strained stock in refrigerator for several hours, or overnight, to chill completely then remove any remaining solidified fat from the chilled stock.
  8. Use stock immediately or store, covered, in refrigerator for up to 2 days. Alternatively, pour stock into freezer-safe containers of desired size and freeze for future use. Yield: Apx. 16 cups (depending on amount of evaporation and reduction that has occurred).

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Strained stock may be reheated over medium-low heat and reduced to one-half. This will yield a stronger flavored and more concentrated product but, naturally, there will be less quantity.

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

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

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

For my recipe for homemade Beef Stock, click here.

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Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

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Blush Pink Holiday Tablesetting

Edible Centerpiece
Edible Centerpiece

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

Pink Blush Holiday Tablesetting
Blush Pink Holiday Tablesetting

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

Pink Blush Dining Room Mantle
Blush Pink Dining Room Mantle

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

Pink Blush Arrangement
Blush Pink Arrangement

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

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

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

Centerpiece

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

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

Pink Blush Tablesetting
Blush Pink Tablesetting

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

Seeded Eucalyptus
Seeded Eucalyptus

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

Festive Holiday Cake Centerpiece
Festive Holiday Cake Centerpiece

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

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

Edible Cake Centerpiece
Edible Cake Centerpiece

Two tall pillar candles flank the sides of the cake.

Holiday Tablesetting
Holiday Tablesetting

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

Pink jeweled candlestands
Pink jeweled candlestands

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

Decorative pillar candlestands
Decorative pillar candlestands

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

Placesettings

Blush Pink Placesetting
Blush Pink Placesetting

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

Pink Glass Plates
Pink Glass Plates

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

Antique Pink Glasses
Antique Pink Glasses

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

Pink Glasses
Pink Glasses

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

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

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

Concluding Thoughts

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

Pink Blush Placesetting
Blush Pink Placesetting

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

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

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Blush Pink Tablesetting
Blush Pink Tablesetting

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Gluten-Free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-Free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins

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

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

Method:

Preheat oven to 450°F.

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

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

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

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

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

Yield: 8 mini loaves or 10 standard-sized muffins

Gluten-free Pumpkin Mincemeat Muffins
Print

Gluten-free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

    Yield: 8 mini loaves or 10 standard-sized muffins

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

Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins
Deli-Style Gluten-Free Beet Muffins

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