All posts by Barbara99

Lady Lupine Tablesetting

Lupines
Wild lupines along a red dirt country road in Prince Edward Island, Canada

Every year in late June, the countryside in Prince Edward Island is  blooming with the wild lupines that grow in a vast array of colors.

Lupines and Pholx
Wild PEI Lupines and Summer Pholx

Lupines usher in summer on the Island as their blooms are one of the first signs of the season’s arrival. They don’t have a long season in which to bloom and they don’t last long but they range in shades of purples, pinks, white, salmon, yellow, white, and varigated.

Lupines
Varigated Lupines

Somewhere around the 20-25th of June is typically when they are in full bloom and at their best.

Lupines
Lupines

From the time I was a small child, I was in love with these tall elegant flowers. I loved to pick baskets of them and they are so easy to arrange.

Lupines
Lupines

On the south side of the Island, the deep purple tends to be the predominant color although other shades as they have on the north side are starting to take hold.  The field in the photo below is beside my mother’s house.

Lupines
A Field of PEI Lupines

About 25 years ago, I picked huge amounts of seed pods in shades of pink, shelled them (clearly I did not have enough to do at the time!) and threw them out alongside the road to the cottage.  They take a long time to take root but, every year, we have more and more bunches of them growing, albeit they are mostly in the purple shades.  From time to time, I will buy a few packages of seeds in other colors and plant them where there are none currently growing.

Lupines
Lupines

You might even find a lighthouse on PEI that is surrounded by lupines.

Victoria by the Sea Lighthouse
Victoria by the Sea Lighthouse

Today, I am featuring these glorious long-stemmed beauties in a  tablesetting. I simply clipped some of these wildflowers along the roadside by my mother’s home for a pretty casual arrangement.

Lupine Tablesetting
Lupine Tablesetting

Summer tends to mean more casual dining and it’s fun to move the dinner party outside to the front verandah or porch or the back deck.  Lupines are perfect for a casual al fresco dining event. I used small jars decorated with a bit of lace and rafia and, of course, used an odd number of jars for aesthetic purposes.

Lupine Bouquets
Lupine Bouquets

The great thing about having individual bouquets like these is that they can easily be re-positioned or clustered into different formats.  Here, I have used them equally spaced in a single row along the center of the table. No need to fuss much with arranging these flowers – they are stately enough on their own that they seem to just almost automatically fall into pleasing designs and take on a personality of their own.

When I want color to pop on my table and attention to be drawn to the tablesetting’s focal point which, in this case, would be the colorful lupines, I start with a plain white tablecloth as a blank canvas.  Colors always pop on white backgrounds and white provides a non-distracting background. I have several old white linen tablecloths that have been in the family for years and I make good use of them. I am noticing that many second-hand shops will often have some old vintage white linen tablecloths so they are available.

Lupine Bouquet
Lupine Bouquet

I can’t take credit for crafting these glass vases – they came from a local dollar store. I make great use of dollar stores and thrift/second hand shops for a lot of the props for my tablesettings. I interspersed little purple votives throughout the tablescape to coordinate with the color scheme.

Lupine Bouquet
Lupine Bouquet

The lupine napkins shown in the photo below coordinate with the lupine theme.  Knowing that, if I tried to form them into a napkin fold, I would lose the pretty lupine design, I simply laid one over each plate. That’s the beauty of using simple, crisp white plates – they form a great clean canvas for other decorative (and useful) elements of a tablesetting.

Lupine Napkins
Lupine Napkins

When dining outside, contending with the weather elements can always be a challenge and, on PEI and living near the water, summer breeze is a common factor.  Using the cutlery to hold the napkin in place does double duty: It secures the napkin and also lends a casual look and feel to the placesetting. Al fresco dining is meant to be casual so go ahead and break the rules of formal tablesettings!

While lupines grow wild on the Island, many visitors like to take home packages of the lupine seeds to plant in their gardens.  These colorful seed packages make a nice take-home gift for guests at an early summer dinner.

Lupine Placesetting
Lupine Placesetting

The sparkle and shine of glass that has lots of cuts adds to a table on a bright summer’s day. Glass will always add a light and airy look to a tablescape.

Glassware
Glassware

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into my al fresco tablesetting that features the famous lupines of Prince Edward Island.

Colorful wild lupines of Prince Edward Island, Canada, are theme for this early summer al fresco tablesetting

Lily of the Valley Afternoon Tea

 

Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley

The sweet little Lily of the Valley, with its dainty bell-shaped flowers, has long been a favorite flower of mine. Close to 40 years ago, a very dear friend of mine had a cottage on the shores of Rosebank (now Stratford), PEI.  Every spring, I’d make the trek to the cottage to pick a couple of bouquets of these fragrant flowers and there would be a posy on the dining room table and another on my desk at work.  I was thrilled when the offer came for me to dig up a clump of the Lily of the Valley roots from the prolific crop by the cottage front step.  I transplanted them at our family home. A cottage and two house builds later and transplants of the lilies have occurred at each property, all derived from the same clump of lilies that came from the Rosebank cottage. When I see the lilies bloom each spring, particularly by the cottage front step, I am reminded of sweet memories of another cottage long ago and its owner who is no longer with us.

The birth flower of May, Lily of the Valley has various meanings and significance. Said to signify traits of humility, trustworthiness, chastity, sweetness, and purity, it is also believed to bring luck in love and mean the return of happiness. This, undoubtedly may be the reason why it is often used in wedding decorations and bridal bouquets. There have been some very famous brides who have incorporated Lily of the Valley into the composition of their bouquets. Kate Middleton, in her 2011 wedding to Prince William, included Lily of the Valley in her bouquet as did her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana, when she wed Prince Charles in 1981.

Lily of the Valley Afternoon Tea
Lily of the Valley Afternoon Tea

I often feature different favorite flowers on my tea tables but I have never featured Lily of the Valley, primarily because it is a short season flower and it is always in bloom during a very busy time of the year for me. This, despite the fact that I have cups and saucers and plates that have Lily of the Valley designs.  So, this year, I decided I would make time for an afternoon tea that features Lily of the Valley and my themed cups and saucers.

Valley China Cup and Saucer
Valley China Cup and Saucer

It’s not necessary to have matching cups and saucers on a tea table. In fact, I think it’s much more interesting to have a variety of China cups and saucers.

Adderley (England) Lily of the Valley Cup and Saucer
Adderley (England) Lily of the Valley Cup and Saucer

Not all afternoon teas have to have three distinct courses – scones, sandwiches, and sweets.  Today, my tea table has only two courses – sandwiches and a single dessert.  In keeping with the freshness of early summer on PEI, I have opted to go with open-faced sandwiches, providing three varieties — Island lobster, egg salad, and ham.

There are two different trays of sandwiches on the table – the ones with a white bread base (shown in the photo below) are gluten-free.

Gluten-free Open-faced Tea Sandwiches
Gluten-free Open-faced Tea Sandwiches

And, of course, for tea sandwiches, the crusts must always be removed.

Open-faced Tea Sandwiches
Open-faced Tea Sandwiches

The little purple pansy adds a burst of color to the ham sandwich and dresses it up for the table.

Open-faced Ham Tea Sandwich
Open-faced Ham Tea Sandwich

Lobster is very common on PEI and lends itself well for presentation on an open-faced tea sandwich. Can’t you just taste that succulent lobster!

Open-faced Lobster Tea Sandwich
Open-faced Lobster Tea Sandwich

Egg salad makes a wonderful topping for open-faced tea sandwiches.  A burst of purple color from the pansy and the green alfalfa sprouts make these sandwiches stand out on the tray.  I picked up the fresh alfalfa sprouts at the Summerside Farmer’s Market. They were grown locally in Pleasant Valley at “Our Old Island Market Farm”. I frequent both the Charlottetown and Summerside Farmers Markets and I love to make new discoveries of products being produced by our Island farmers.

Open-faced Egg Salad Tea Sandwich
Open-faced Egg Salad Tea Sandwich

Curious as to what’s in the little white teapots? One of my favorite teas is Assam Banaspaty which I buy at David’s Tea in Charlottetown. That’s the blend in the individual teapots on today’s tea table.

Individual Tea Pots
Individual Tea Pots

Assam Banaspaty is a lovely rich, smooth tea from India. It has some honey notes with malty undertones. It boasts a lovely amber color. I like a spot of milk in my tea and Assam Banaspaty has enough tannins that it can take a splash of milk without the tea’s flavor being smothered. I’d class this as a robust tea yet it is suitable for all courses of an afternoon tea. I am, therefore, serving just one blend of tea at my afternoon tea today.

Assam Banaspaty Tea
Assam Banaspaty Tea

I like tea cups that carry the design to the inside of the cups. It makes them just a bit more interesting.

Assam Banaspaty Tea
Assam Banaspaty Tea

Rhubarb is in season in PEI around the same time as the Lily of the Valley bloom and, of course, one of my all-time favorite desserts is Rhubarb Custard Torte which graces my table for the dessert course today. Sometimes, it is nice to have a variety of dainty tea squares and cookies and, other times, a signature dessert like this torte make a splashy and ever-so-tasty statement.

Rhubarb Custard Torte
Rhubarb Custard Torte

I hope you have enjoyed a little look into the offerings on my tea table today. Can’t you just smell the intoxicating scent of this bouquet of Lily of the Valley!

Lily of the Valley Bouquet
Lily of the Valley Bouquet
Lily of the Valley Themed Afternoon Tea

Gluten-Free Queen Elizabeth Cake

Gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake
Gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake

In an earlier posting, I shared my recipe for the regular gluten version of Queen Elizabeth Cake to coincide with Queen Elizabeth II’s actual birthday on April 21st.  Today, I have a special treat for my food blog followers who must follow a gluten-free diet! I have adapted my regular version of this cake to make it gluten-free.  It has passed my testing standards so I am pleased to share the recipe for this wonderfully moist and tasty Queen Elizabeth Cake that is made with very simple, basic ingredients. In fact, I’d even go so far as to suggest that it would be quite difficult to be able to tell that this version is gluten-free and, in my view, it certainly rivals its gluten version cousin in taste, texture, and overall quality.

I am timing the original publication of this gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake recipe with the annual Trooping of the Colour celebrations celebrated in London in June of each year. The Trooping of the Colour, a major military ceremony filled with pomp and pageantry, is often referred to as the Queen’s Birthday Parade. This tradition is said to have started in 1748 when then King George II decided to combine his birthday parade with the annual spring military parade in June because he apparently felt his actual November birthday was too cold to have a birthday parade. This tradition has endured since then, regardless when the reigning monarch’s actual birthday is and this event is considered the official celebration of the sovereign’s birthday. Held annually on a Saturday in June, the Queen attends, arriving by horse and carriage from Buckingham Palace and traveling along the Mall to the Horse Guard’s Parade behind Whitehall.

The colorful display of pageantry involves several hundred officers and men, horses, and bands.  The Queen takes the salute and inspects the troops dressed in ceremonial uniform.  “Colours” refers to the regimental flags of the various troops and the colours correspond to the colours and insignia of the uniforms of the soldiers of the different units. The colours (flags) served a purpose on the battlefields as they provided a rallying or gathering point for troops and hence the title “trooping of the colours”.

London Pagentry
London Pagentry

So, thus ends the brief history lesson!  Now, on to the Gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake, believed to have been named for either the Queen Mother or the reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.  When I earlier shared my recipe for the gluten version of this cake, I conducted some research to try and determine the origins of the cake and its name. Click here to read the information I was able to find about the different stories about the naming of this cake.

The texture of the gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake, like the gluten version, is somewhat dense and owes its lovely moist texture to the cooked dates. The combination of coconut and almond flours with the gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour are the key to this cake’s texture. The almond and coconut flours really do provide a pleasing flavor to the cake.

Gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake
Gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake

The following hints may be of use when making this cake:

  • This is a single layer cake. Use an 8” square baking pan to ensure this cake has a good height. A 9” square pan may be used but the cake will lack depth and more closely resemble a square as opposed to a cake. I find gluten-free flours take more leavening than gluten flours do and, even at that, it can still be difficult to get baked goods to rise to the height of a similar recipe that calls for gluten flour products. Grease the pan or line it with parchment paper or greased tin foil. Leaving an overhang of extra parchment paper or tin foil over the edge of the pan will make it easier to lift the entire baked cake from the pan and facilitate its  cutting.
  • Let the date mixture cool completely at room temperature before incorporating it with the dry ingredients. If it is mixed with the dry ingredients while the mixture is either hot or warm, it may result in a “gummy” texture or soggy cake.
  • Mix the wet and dry ingredients using the rule of 3 parts dry and 2 parts wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  • Mix the ingredients well but don’t beat them as this may create a “tough crumb” cake.
  • Use cream to make the topping. I used 35% cream which gives a luxurious topping but 18% cream may also be used.
  • Start checking the cake for doneness at the point where the cake has been baking for 25 minutes then, if it is not baked, check it every 3-4 minutes after. The cake will be done when the cake tester, inserted into the center of the cake, comes out completely clean and dry.
  • When the cake tests almost baked (about 5 minutes before it is expected to come out of the oven), start making the topping. It needs to go on the warm cake that will go back in the oven for 3-4 minutes after the topping has been added.
  • The topping, like making homemade fudge, can set up really fast. Don’t leave it unattended. Stir the ingredients as they boil gently for the 3 minutes. Watch it carefully and, if you see if starting to “set up” and thicken really fast (even if it is before the 3 minutes of boiling is up), remove it from the stove and quickly stir in the vanilla and coconut. The mixture should be of the consistency that it can be poured from the saucepan and spread over the cake with a knife. If it becomes too thick, it will be too sugary and won’t be of spreading consistency. It will also become brittle and crack.

[Printable version of the recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-Free Queen Elizabeth Cake

Ingredients:

¾ cup dates, chopped (apx. 4¼ oz)
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ cup boiling water

¾ cup of 1-to-1 gluten free baking flour
1/3 cup almond flour
2½ tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
¾ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
Pinch allspice
¼ cup butter, softened at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 extra large egg
¼ tsp orange extract
¾ tsp vanilla

Topping:
2½ tbsp melted butter
½ cup brown sugar
2¼ tbsp cream
¾ tsp vanilla
½ cup shredded coconut

Method:
Cake:
Place dates and soda in medium-sized saucepan.  Add the boiling water. Simmer for about 4-5 minutes then cool completely at room temperature.

Position oven rack in centre of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease 8” baking pan or line with parchment paper (or even greased tin foil).

Sift 1-to-1 gluten free baking flour, almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, salt, and spices together. Set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar.  Beat in the egg, orange extract, and vanilla. Transfer mixture to cooled dates. Stir well.

Transfer one-third of the sifted dry ingredients to the mixer bowl.  Beat in one-half of the wet ingredients. Add another third of the dry ingredients. Blend well. Mix in the remainder of the wet ingredients.  Finish by incorporating the remaining dry ingredients. Mix well to combine. Don’t overmix.

Spread batter evenly in prepared baking pan.  Transfer to preheated oven and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven. Increase oven temperature to 400°F to prepare for browning of cake’s topping.

Topping:
About 5 minutes before the cake is due to be removed from the oven, begin to prepare the cake topping.  In medium-sized saucepan, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter.  Blend in the brown sugar and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 3 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and quickly stir in the vanilla and coconut. Pour and spread this mixture evenly over the warm cake and return it to the oven to brown slightly for 3-4 minutes. Remove cake from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely before cutting and serving.

Yield:  1 – 8” single layer cake

This cake is suitable as a snacking cake, dessert, tea cake, or even a picnic cake. The cake freezes well.

The Queen Elizabeth Cake pairs particularly well with a good cup of tea.  My recommendation for a tea pairing would be an Earl Grey blend.  The citrus notes in this black tea complement the sweetness of the cake. Earl Grey tea has a high concentration of tannins which makes it a suitable tea to cleanse the mouth after each bite of the cake so that each bite of this moist and flavorful cake is as equally tasty as the first!

Gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake
Gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake

Gluten-Free Queen Elizabeth Cake

Yield: 1 - 8" square single-layer cake

A moist and tasty gluten-free cake featuring dates, spices, and a toffee-like topping.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup dates, chopped (apx. 4¼ oz)
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • ¾ cup of 1-to-1 gluten free baking flour
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 2½ tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch allspice
  • ¼ cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 extra large egg
  • ¼ tsp orange extract
  • ¾ tsp vanilla
  • Topping:
  • 2½ tbsp melted butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2¼ tbsp cream
  • ¾ tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Cake:
  2. Place dates and soda in medium-sized saucepan. Add the boiling water. Simmer for about 4-5 minutes then cool completely at room temperature.
  3. Position oven rack in centre of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 8” baking pan or line with parchment paper (or even greased tin foil).
  4. Sift 1-to-1 gluten free baking flour, almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, salt, and spices together. Set aside.
  5. In bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, orange extract, and vanilla. Transfer mixture to cooled dates. Stir well.
  6. Transfer one-third of the sifted dry ingredients to the mixer bowl. Beat in one-half of the wet ingredients. Add another third of the dry ingredients. Blend well. Mix in the remainder of the wet ingredients. Finish by incorporating the remaining dry ingredients. Mix well to combine. Don’t overmix.
  7. Spread batter evenly in prepared baking pan. Transfer to preheated oven and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven. Increase oven temperature to 400°F to prepare for browning of cake’s topping.
  8. Topping:
  9. About 5 minutes before the cake is due to be removed from the oven, begin to prepare the cake topping. In medium-sized saucepan, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter. Blend in the brown sugar and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 3 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and quickly stir in the vanilla and coconut. Pour and spread this mixture evenly over the warm cake and return it to the oven to brown slightly for 3-4 minutes. Remove cake from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely before cutting and serving.
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This gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake features dates, spices, and a delectable toffee-like topping

Gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake

Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

Seafood Crepes
Asparagus and Lobster Crepes

Springtime in Prince Edward Island on Canada’s east coast means it’s lobster season so it’s a great time to make these delectable lobster and asparagus crepes that combine two of the season’s special treats!

The lobster fishery is a significant industry on the Island and, according to the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website, “lobster is Canada’s most valuable seafood export and an iconic Canadian species exported around the world.” (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/sustainable-durable/fisheries-peches/lobster-homard-eng.htm).

Fresh PEI Lobster
Steamed Lobster in the Shell

The opening of the spring lobster season is a huge deal in PEI. On opening day — the day when fishers head out to sea with boats laden with traps — hundreds of Islanders gather at fishing ports around the province to see the fishers off. Naturally, mouths are watering for the first taste of lobster from the cold Atlantic waters, a taste that is usually satisfied a day or two after traps are set and the “first haul” of lobsters is brought ashore.

Preparing for Setting Day
Eve of Setting Day in the Fishing Village of North Rustico, PEI, Canada
Parade of Lobster Boats
Early Morning Gathering in French River, PEI, to Watch Parade of Lobster Boats on Setting Day

These are so worth the wait!

PEI Lobsters
Fresh Catch of the Day – PEI Lobsters

While I adore lobster straight out of the shell and served with homemade potato salad, I like creating recipes incorporating this tasty seafood as an ingredient.  Asparagus is the first vegetable of springtime on PEI and, for the crepes I am featuring in this posting, I am using asparagus as a complimentary ingredient to the lobster. The earthy undertones of the asparagus pair particularly well with lobster, especially when some mushrooms and a rich cheese sauce are added. Choose small mushrooms, either white button or the cremini variety, for this recipe.

My asparagus comes from the farm of Tim Dixon in North Tryon in central PEI, not far from the Confederation Bridge.  Click here to read the story I previously wrote on Tim’s asparagus-growing operation. For the filled crepe recipe, try to choose the freshest available  asparagus spears that are a uniform size. I tend to choose medium-sized spears. I find that spears that are pencil thin tend to cook up too quickly and become somewhat limp. Thick spears tend to have less flavor because they have gotten too old before they have been harvested. They may also have a somewhat unpleasant woody texture. The key thing to remember about steaming the asparagus is not to overcook it because it will go limp and loose its vibrant green color.

Fresh Asparagus

The crepes for this recipe may be made ahead (by a few hours or even a day or two) and stored between layers of plastic wrap in a tightly sealed bag in the refrigerator. Following the steps I have laid out for this recipe will help organize the process of preparing the filling and steaming the asparagus so that everything is timed to be ready at the same time for the crepe assembly.

I am quite lucky here on the Island as my local fish market, MR Seafoods,  in Charlottetown sells lobster already out of the shell which means they have done the work of removing the meat from the shell and then disposing of the shells. I find this is a quick and convenient way for me to get lobster meat for a recipe.

These crepes can be baked in au gratin dishes, a 7″x11″ baking pan or on a parchment-lined baking sheet which is the way the ones in the photos in this posting were baked. I wanted to ensure that the asparagus would remain intact and clearly visible when the crepes were plated so, by baking them on a rimmed cookie sheet, nothing disturbed the asparagus which could have happened if they were scrunched into a tight baking dish such as an au gratin.

Seafood Crepes
Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

As always, I recommend reading the recipe through a couple of times to ensure a good understanding of the method of preparation and that all the ingredients and cooking utensils and cookware needed to prepare the dish are available.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

Ingredients:

Crepes:
2 large eggs
1 cup flour (to make gluten-free, use 1 cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp melted butter

Sauce:
¼ cup butter
1 shallot, finely minced (about 1 tbsp)
¼ cup flour (to make gluten-free, use ¼ cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
½ tsp granulated garlic
¼ tsp dried dill
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup whole milk or half-and-half
2 extra-large egg yolks, lightly broken up with a fork
2 tbsp dry white wine or cooking sherry
1 cup grated cheese mixture (e.g., mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Filling:
2-3 teaspoons butter
1 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced

8 oz cooked lobster meat, cut into small chunks
40 asparagus spears

Garnish:
3-4 green onions (white and light green parts only) and/or fresh herbs for garnish (optional)

Method:

Step 1 – Make the crepes.  In large measuring cup or bowl and using an immersion blender, beat the eggs lightly.  Combine the flour and salt and beat in to the egg alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the flour (3 additions of flour and 2 additions of milk).  Beat in the melted butter and beat an additional 30 seconds, or until batter is smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate batter for 1 hour.

Over medium heat, melt apx. 1½ tsp butter in a 8” non-stick skillet with sloped sides. Using a ¼-cup measuring cup, scoop up batter. Pour the batter in to the heated skillet while quickly swirling and tilting the pan to ensure batter distributes evenly and completely over the bottom of the pan. Return pan to heat and cook crepe until top loses its gloss, tiny bubbles start to appear, and the edges of the crepe start to slightly curl. Gently lift an edge of the crepe with the tip of a fork and grab the crepe with fingers and flip it over.  Cook the second side of the crepe for 15-20 seconds. Flip the crepe onto a clean tea towel. Repeat for remaining crepes, adding small amounts of butter to the pan, if necessary, to keep the crepes from sticking to the pan.

Step 2 – Make the sauce.  In medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Sauté the shallot until softened and transparent. In small bowl, whisk the flour, granulated garlic, dill, paprika, and nutmeg together. Stir flour mixture into the butter and shallot and cook until frothy.  Whisk in the chicken (or vegetable stock) and milk (or half-and-half).  Cook sauce, until mixture is smooth and heated (but not boiling) and is starting to thicken, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.  Stir 2-3 tablespoons of the hot mixture into the egg yolks then pour egg mixture into the sauce.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened.  Stir in white wine or cooking sherry.  Add the cheese mixture.  Continue to cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is smooth and cheese is melted.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove approximately 3/4 cup of the sauce and set aside.

Step 3 – Make the filling.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  In medium-sized skillet, melt 2-3 teaspoons of butter over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent mushrooms from scorching.  While mushrooms are sautéing, steam the asparagus in a tall pot with a small amount of boiling water for approximately 2 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Swish the asparagus in the cold water for just a few seconds then drain in a colander. This will also help keep the asparagus its vibrant green color. Remove mushrooms from heat and combine with the lobster meat.  Add the reserved ¾ cup of sauce and stir gently to coat mushrooms and lobster meat.

Step 4: Assemble the crepes.  Line 9”x13” rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Lay out 8 crepes on work surface.  Place 5 asparagus spears in the centre of each crepe, extending the asparagus tips by about ½” beyond the edge of the crepe.  Divide the lobster and mushroom filling mixture between the 8 crepes by placing filling down the center line of each crepe on top of the asparagus.  Gently fold crepe over filling, first one side and then overlapping the opposite side over the first. Using large pastry scraper or flat spatula, carefully transfer each crepe to the prepared baking sheet. Pour the remaining sauce over crepes to cover, leaving both ends of the crepes uncovered. Alternatively, the crepes may be baked in either 4 individual greased au gratin dishes or one oblong 7”x11” baking pan.  However, baking the crepes on a baking sheet allows the asparagus tips to stay perfectly intact and attractively visible when plated.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and, if desired, sprinkle with chopped green onions and/or chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or chives.

Serving Suggestion: Serve with favorite green salad.

Yield:  4 servings, 2 crepes each

Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 2 crepes per serving

Delectable crepes filled with fresh asparagus, succulent chunks of lobster, and sautéed mushrooms in a rich cheese sauce.

Ingredients

  • Crepes:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup flour (to make gluten-free, use 1 cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • Sauce:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 shallot, finely minced (about 1 tbsp)
  • ¼ cup flour (to make gluten-free, use ¼ cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
  • ½ tsp granulated garlic
  • ¼ tsp dried dill
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup whole milk or half-and-half
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks, lightly broken up with a fork
  • 2 tbsp dry white wine or cooking sherry
  • 1 cup grated cheese mixture (e.g., mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Filling:
  • 2-3 teaspoons butter
  • 1 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz cooked lobster meat, cut into small chunks
  • 40 asparagus spears
  • Garnish:
  • 3-4 green onions (white and light green parts only) and/or fresh herbs for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Step 1 - Make the crepes. In large measuring cup or bowl and using an immersion blender, beat the eggs lightly. Combine the flour and salt and beat in to the egg alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the flour (3 additions of flour and 2 additions of milk). Beat in the melted butter and beat an additional 30 seconds, or until batter is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate batter for 1 hour.
  2. Over medium heat, melt apx. 1½ tsp butter in a 8” non-stick skillet with sloped sides. Using a ¼-cup measuring cup, scoop up batter. Pour the batter in to the heated skillet while quickly swirling and tilting the pan to ensure batter distributes evenly and completely over the bottom of the pan. Return pan to heat and cook crepe until top loses its gloss, tiny bubbles start to appear, and the edges of the crepe start to slightly curl. Gently lift an edge of the crepe with the tip of a fork and grab the crepe with fingers and flip it over. Cook the second side of the crepe for 15-20 seconds. Flip the crepe onto a clean tea towel. Repeat for remaining crepes, adding small amounts of butter to the pan, if necessary, to keep the crepes from sticking to the pan.
  3. Step 2 - Make the sauce. In medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sauté the shallot until softened and transparent. In small bowl, whisk the flour, granulated garlic, dill, paprika, and nutmeg together. Stir flour mixture into the butter and shallot and cook until frothy. Whisk in the chicken (or vegetable stock) and milk (or half-and-half). Cook sauce, until mixture is smooth and heated (but not boiling), and is starting to thicken, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Stir 2-3 tablespoons of the hot mixture into the egg yolks then pour egg mixture into the sauce. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened. Stir in white wine or cooking sherry. Add the cheese mixture. Continue to cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is smooth and cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove approximately 3/4 cup of the sauce and set aside.
  4. Step 3 - Make the filling. Preheat oven to 350°F. In medium-sized skillet, melt 2-3 teaspoons of butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent mushrooms from scorching. While mushrooms are sautéing, steam the asparagus in a tall pot with a small amount of boiling water for approximately 2 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Swish the asparagus in the cold water for just a few seconds then drain in a colander. This will also help keep the asparagus its vibrant green color. Remove mushrooms from heat and combine with the lobster meat. Add the reserved ¾ cup of sauce and stir gently to coat mushrooms and lobster meat.
  5. Step 4: Assemble the crepes. Line 9”x13” rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay out 8 crepes on work surface. Place 5 asparagus spears in the centre of each crepe, extending the asparagus tips by about ½” beyond the edge of the crepe. Divide the lobster and mushroom filling mixture between the 8 crepes by placing filling down the center line of each crepe on top of the asparagus. Gently fold crepe over filling, first one side and then overlapping the opposite side over the first. Using large pastry scraper or flat spatula, carefully transfer each crepe to the prepared baking sheet. Pour the remaining sauce over crepes to cover, leaving both ends of the crepes uncovered. Alternatively, the crepes may be baked in either 4 individual greased au gratin dishes or one oblong 7”x11” baking pan. However, baking the crepes on a baking sheet allows the asparagus tips to stay perfectly intact and attractively visible when plated.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and, if desired, sprinkle with chopped green onions and/or chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or chives.

Notes

Serving Suggestion: Serve with favorite green salad

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Seafood Crepes
Lobster and Asparagus Crepes
Seafood Crepes

Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

Thumprint Cookies
Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

There are different versions of thumbprint cookies. Some are rolled in crushed nuts, others in granulated sugar, and still others in coconut. Some are filled with jam and others with lemon curd.  I use lemon curd as the filling and roll my thumbprint cookies in coconut to complement the coconut flour used in these gluten-free cookies.  The coconut toasts lovely as the cookies bake.

I find that using only a gluten-free all-purpose flour in baking results in a somewhat underwhelming flavor for my taste. That’s why I often add some almond and/or coconut flour to my baked products. Either or both contribute flavor and I think produce better textured products.

As I tested this newly-developed recipe, I found that a hint of cardamon gives a subtle and pleasing flavor to the cookies. Somewhere between a one-quarter teaspoon and a half teaspoon is about the right amount so….either a heaping 1/4 teaspoon or a scant 1/2 teaspoon of cardamon will work.  The cardamon pairs well with the lemon curd used as a filling/topping on the thumbprints.

Thumbprint Cookies
Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

Because some gluten-free flours, like coconut flour for example, absorb a lot of liquid, I use one whole extra-large egg as well as the yolk from one large egg to ensure there is enough moisture in the cookie dough.  I generally have three different sizes of eggs in my refrigerator (extra large, large, and medium), especially when I am doing gluten-free baking. This is because sometimes two extra-large eggs would be too much but more than one is needed. That’s when I use either large or medium-sized eggs to supplement the egg content in gluten-free baking or, sometimes as in the case with these cookies, I just use a certain size of egg yolk because that is all that is needed. Save the white from the large egg in this recipe as it will be needed to make the egg wash in which to dip each ball before rolling in coconut. This egg wash adheres the coconut to the cookies.

Thumprint Cookies
Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

The cookie dough benefits from being chilled for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator before being formed into balls that are about 1″ in diameter.  This allows the dough to firm up and makes the shaping of the cookie balls easier. For these cookies, I use 3/4 oz of dough. I recommend the use of a digital kitchen scale to weigh out portions of the dough to ensure uniformity of size in cookies. You can, of course, “eyeball” the amount of dough for each ball but, if you want perfectly uniform cookies, I recommend weighing the dough, at least for the first 2-3 cookie balls to get a sense of how much dough is needed for each cookie.

Thumbprint Cookies
Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

These cookies have a soft tender crumb and are not too sweet. The lemon curd adds tremendous flavor and texture to the cookies. Click here for my recipe for the lemon curd. To make the indent in each cookie for the curd, use either the tip of your thumb, the round end of a wooden spoon, or the round bowl of a ¼ tsp measuring spoon. Gently press an indent into the center of each cookie, pressing about half-way down through the cookie.  Bake the cookies and, as soon as they come out of the oven, immediately fill each cookie with about 1 teaspoonful of lemon curd. If lemon curd is not to your taste, simply use your favorite jam as the filling.

Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients:

½ cup butter
½ cup granulated sugar
1 extra large egg
1 large egg yolk (save the egg white for the egg wash)
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp almond flavoring

1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
½ cup almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
1¾ tsp zanthan gum
1/8 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
Scant ½ tsp cardamom

3 oz flaked coconut
1 large egg white beaten with 1 tbsp water

Apx. ½ cup lemon curd

Method:

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using the paddle attachment in the bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter.  Gradually add the sugar.  Beat well.  Add the egg and extra egg yolk.  Beat. Mix in the vanilla and almond flavoring.

In separate bowl, combine the flours, zanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cardamom.  Whisk together very well.  Blend into the butter-sugar-egg mixture. Mix well.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill dough for 30 minutes in refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place coconut in one small bowl and the beaten egg white and water mixture into a second bowl.  Pinch off pieces of the dough and roll into balls, approximately 1” in diameter (if you weigh the dough, each piece should weigh ¾ oz.) Dip each cookie ball in the egg white wash then roll in the coconut.  Place cookies on prepared baking sheet, arranging them about 2” apart.  Using thumb tip, end of wooden spoon, or the round bowl of a ¼ tsp measuring spoon, gently press an indent into the center of each cookie.  Bake for 20-22 minutes.  Immediately fill each cookie with about 1 teaspoonful of lemon curd as soon as the cookies come out of the oven.  If indents are not clearly defined in each cookie, gently reform them using one of the afore-mentioned methods.  Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.  Store in airtight container. If desired, add a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar to the cookies just at the time of serving.

Yield:  Apx. 22 cookies

Note: Jam of choice may be substituted for the lemon curd, if desired.

Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

Yield: Apx. 22 cookies

A delightful gluten-free cookie with a soft tender crumb and a decadent topping of lemon curd.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk (save the egg white for the egg wash)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp almond flavoring
  • 1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1¾ tsp zanthan gum
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Scant ½ tsp cardamom
  • 3 oz flaked coconut
  • 1 large egg white beaten with 1 tbsp water
  • Apx. ½ cup lemon curd

Instructions

  1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Using the paddle attachment in the bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar. Beat well. Add the egg and extra egg yolk. Beat. Mix in the vanilla and almond flavoring.
  3. In separate bowl, combine the flours, zanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cardamom. Whisk together very well. Blend into the butter-sugar-egg mixture. Mix well. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill dough for 30 minutes in refrigerator.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place coconut in one small bowl and the beaten egg white and water mixture into a second bowl. Pinch off pieces of the dough and roll into balls, approximately 1” in diameter (if you weigh the dough, each piece should weigh ¾ oz.) Dip each cookie ball in the egg white wash then roll in the coconut. Place cookies on prepared baking sheet, arranging them about 2” apart. Using thumb tip, end of wooden spoon, or the round bowl of a ¼ tsp measuring spoon, gently press an indent into the center of each cookie. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Immediately fill each cookie with about 1 teaspoonful of lemon curd as soon as the cookies come out of the oven. If indents are not clearly defined in each cookie, gently reform them using one of the afore-mentioned methods. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

Notes

Note: Jam of choice may be substituted for the lemon curd, if desired.

Recipe for Lemon Curd here: http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/04/14/luscious-lemon-curd/

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Thumbprint Cookies
Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

 

Check out these other gluten-free cookie recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen:

Gluten-free Melting Moments Cookies
Gluten-free Earl Grey Cranberry-Orange Shortbread

Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

PEI Foods Featured in President’s Choice “#EatTogether” Campaign for Canada 150

There are basically two common, non-controversial, safe topics that can form the basis of a conversation start with just about anyone – the weather and food! And, food is the one that will bring people together!

On Saturday, May 6, 2017, the Atlantic Superstore in Summerside, PEI, was the venue for a luncheon where 32 people sat down to lunch together. Most did not know each other and had not met before Saturday. They happened to show up at the supermarket on a Saturday morning and found themselves invited to dine at a pop-up luncheon in the midst of the produce section.

"Eat Together"
“Eat Together” Event at Atlantic Superstore in Summerside, PEI

You see, Loblaws has this cool Canada 150 project underway to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.  Six of their supermarkets across Canada have been selected to host one of these special events that features the local foods of the region in which the event is held. The locations for the cross-country tour celebrating Canada’s regional cuisines are Ottawa, Calgary, Richmond, Summerside, Wolfville, and Montreal. Summerside was the fourth stop on the tour. Known as the #EatTogether campaign, the overarching theme is to get Canadians to come together, sit down over a meal, engage in conversation, and share stories about their favorite dishes and local cuisine. Talking about PEI foods is never a problem for Islanders because we love our foods and love to talk about them! Fishing and agriculture are two of our primary industries on the Island and both generate drool-worthy foods!

Tracy Moore and Chef Tom Filippou
Cityline Show Host Tracy Moore and PC Executive Chef Tom Filippou at “Eat Together” Event at Atlantic Superstore, Summerside, PEI

President’s Choice (PC) Executive Chef, Tom Filippou, and Cityline show host, Tracy Moore, presented a PEI-themed meal. For readers who are Islanders and those who have visited PEI, you’ll know that PEI food culture revolves around the land and sea.  The Island is known for great food – think potatoes, mussels, and lobsters. I asked Chef Filippou what inspired the dishes they chose to feature for the PEI-themed meal. He said that President’s Choice surveyed Canadians about what foods resonated with them and, when it came to PEI, our potatoes, lobsters, and mussels topped the list. He says those foods are amazing as they are but he put his own stamp on them by, for example, using lobster in a traditional Mac ‘n Cheese dish and cooking the pasta for it in the stock in which the lobster was steamed, thus deepening the lobster flavor in the dish. He says Summerside was a good choice as one of the six venues because the Island has such a rich history of seafood and agriculture and has so much to offer (for a menu that is regionally inspired).

Lobster Mac 'n Cheese
Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese, “Eat Together” Event at Atlantic Superstore in Summerside, PEI

The meal started with big bowls of mussels steamed in local PEI beer, followed by breaded chicken cutlets, potato salad, garlic bread, and the lobster Mac ‘n Cheese.

Chicken
Breaded Chicken Cutlets

This rustic potato salad made with mini potatoes was amazing!

Potatoes
Potato Salad

For dessert, diners enjoyed yummy sticky date pudding with toffee sauce along with butter tarts.

Pudding
Sticky Date Pudding
Chef Tom Filippou
PC Executive Chef Tom Filippou at Eat Together Event at Atlantic Superstore in Summerside, PEI

Asked what inspired the idea for the #EatTogether campaign, Chef Filippou says that food brings people together so the idea of a pop-up dinner party in the middle of a supermarket seemed like a great idea. People lead busy lives and many seem to spend a lot of time on their electronic devices and less time connecting with, and getting to know, each other so the aim is to get people to slow down a bit, take a deep breath, sit down at a table together, and enjoy good food and each other’s company.  What better way to set the example than on a busy Saturday morning with shoppers hurrying about to pick up groceries. Imagine whirling in with a grocery cart and the first thing you come across is a beautifully set long table alongside the produce section! I have to say it was a very impressive sight, especially from the vantage point of the store’s upper level.

Loblaws
Atlantic Superstore, Summerside, PEI

The photo below shows the area of the store where the celebrity meet and greet was held.  Have to love that backdrop of bags of PEI potatoes!

Summer Display at Summerside's Atlantic Superstore
Atlantic Superstore, Summerside, PEI

People live busy fast-paced lives with family members hurrying off to activities in different directions and many live and breathe being connected to their phones and computers/electronic devices. It seems, in many homes, the routine of regular family meal times  where family members all sit down together over a prepared meal, decompress, and discuss the happenings of their day and, well, just get to know one another, may be going by the wayside.  President’s Choice did some research on this topic and learned that only 38% of Canadians eat dinner together 4-6 times a week. 45% watch TV while eating, 15% listen to the radio, and 14% are on the Internet.

So, for the 32 people who dined at the communal table in the produce section of the Summerside Atlantic Superstore on a Saturday morning, it didn’t take long for them to connect with their fellow diners and for the storytelling to begin.  Food arrived on the table and conversations soon turned to food-related subjects and stories about the foods in their kitchens and what food means to special events like birthdays and holidays throughout the year.

Cityline Host Tracy Moore
Cityline Host Tracy Moore (right) shares a laugh with a diner at the Eat Together Event at the Atlantic Superstore in Summerside, PEI

Once the initial photos of the two celebrity hosts were taken, the electronic devices actually disappeared and, dare I say it – wait for it….. were actually forgotten about and strangers simply talked with each other over a tasty meal. Tracy Moore and Chef Tom Filippou proved to be entertaining and  engaging hosts and people easily opened up to them talking about their own culinary influences.

Tom Filippou and Tracy Moore
PC Executive Chef Tom Filippou and Cityline Show Host, Tracy Moore

This was a well executed event and a tip of the hat is due to the PC culinary team that pulled this event together to showcase PEI foods. Well done! To check out the PC #EatTogether video, click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDuA9OPyp6I

Disclosure:  I was invited to attend this event so that I could share my experience with my blog readers. My opinions and impressions of it are my own.

#EatTogether

Setting Day on Prince Edward Island Can Only Mean One Thing

Setting Day
Setting Day, French River, PEI

Setting Day on Prince Edward Island can only mean one thing…..it heralds the opening of the spring lobster fishery and a fresh feed of PEI lobster from the cold Atlantic waters will follow soon after!

Lobster
Lobster in the Shell

 

lobster traps
Lobster Traps at French River, South Landing Wharf, PEI, Canada

Lobster fishers spend many weeks in advance of Setting Day preparing their lobster traps and fishing boats for the upcoming season.

Malpeque Harbour, PEI
Lobster Boats at Malpeque Harbour, PEI, Canada

As the time grows closer to Setting Day, visits to Island wharves are an interesting activity.  Boats, looking all spiffy, are in the water, and wharves are stacked high with traps just waiting to become the deep sea inns for lobster. This year, I visited six Island wharves in the two days leading up to Setting Day.

Lobster Fishing Boats at Malpeque Harbour, PEI, Canada
Lobster Fishing Boats at Malpeque Harbour, PEI, Canada

I like to visit wharves the eve of Setting Day. The boats are heavy laden with traps, fishers are checking and double-checking their gear, and the conversations are animated with excitement and anticipation of the upcoming lobster season.  There will be claims as to who owns the fastest boat, who will sail out first, and so on. The mood is jovial and a lot of good-natured banter can be heard.

Lobster Fishing
Lobster Boats Loaded with Traps for Setting Day, North Rustico, PEI, Canada

 

Lobster Traps
Fishermen at Malpeque Harbour Check Their Lobster Traps in Preparation for Setting Day
Lobster Traps
Double-checking the Lobster Traps, Malpeque Harbour, PEI

I’m not sure I could figure out the ropes of this business but they sure are colorful!

Ropes
Colorful Ropes

So, too, are the many different colors of buoys.

Buoys
Colorful Buoys
Lobster Traps
Traditional Lobster Traps

PEI has two lobster seasons. The first runs from May until the end of June and the second from August until October.  Some claim (and I agree) that the lobster that is caught in the early season is the most tasty and tender as it comes from the colder waters.

Lobster Boats
Lobster Boats, New London Harbour, PEI, Canada

On PEI, the spring fishery tends to get the most attention because these are the boats that are first out of the gate to open the fishery season. There is a lot of hype associated with Setting Day.

Lobster Fishing
Boats Loaded with Lobster Traps for Setting Day, North Rustico, PEI, Canada

North Rustico is one of the more colorful fishing ports and draws a lot of summer tourists who enjoy watching the activity of the fishing boats.

Preparing for Setting Day
Eve of Setting Day in the Fishing Village of North Rustico, PEI, Canada

Regardless whether one is directly involved in the fishery or not, Setting Day is a big deal for many Islanders. This is the day that fishers head out with their boats for the first time in the season to lay the traps to catch the lobsters.

Lobster Boat Loaded with Traps
Trap Setting Day

There are many wharves around the Island and the same common scene plays out – friends, neighbours, and family members get up long before daybreak and head to nearby wharves or beaches to watch the parade of boats as they head out with their loads of traps. It’s a sign of support to the fishers for the work they do.

Waiting for the Lobster Boats
Waiting for the Parade of Lobster Boats on Setting Day in French River, PEI, Canada

The last couple of years, I have headed to French River which is about 45 minutes from Charlottetown.  Boats are not permitted to leave the harbour until 6:00am but spectators need to be in place by about 5:40am as boats pull away from the wharves and get in to position for take-off and they lose no time when the clock strikes 6:00am. As one fisherman told me, come 6:00am, it’s “game on” and it’s very competitive as the boats charge out to sea to the cheers and delight of the bystanders! If you have never stood on a beach on PEI at sunrise and watched dozens of lobster boats heading out to work, you have missed a magical and moving experience.

Parade of Lobster Boats
Early Morning Gathering in French River, PEI, to Watch Parade of Lobster Boats on Setting Day

In 2017, when this article is being written, Setting Day was on Saturday, April 29th. Island lobster fishers don’t fish on Sundays so the first haul from the traps will be on Monday. With the exception of Sundays, fishers check their traps daily during lobster season.  Close to 1000 boats were expected to leave the wharves on Setting Day this year.

Parade of Lobster Boats Heading out to Sea
Heading out to Drop off the Lobster Traps on Setting Day
Lobster Fishing Boats
Heading Out With a Load of Lobster Traps, French River, PEI

A few years ago, I happened to be in North Lake, in the Islander’s eastern part of the province, mid-morning, as the lobster boats were coming back in with their daily catch. It’s a beehive of activity when they all arrive back in port with crates full of lobster!

Lobster Boat
Lobster Boat Loaded with the Day’s Catch, North Lake, PEI, Canada

North Lake is a large harbour and it’s really cool to watch the boats enter the port through this narrow entrance. Sometimes, it’s almost a traffic jam on the “North Lake Freeway” as the boats converge to come into the wharf with their catch.

Lobster Boat
Lobster Boat Arriving Back in Port with the Day’s Catch, North Lake, PEI, Canada

Heading for a “parking spot” to unload the catch.

Fishing Harbour
North Lake Harbour, PEI, Canada

Unloading the day’s catch.

Daily Catch
Unloading the Day’s Catch, North Lake, PEI, Canada

Here’s a look at what’s in those crates!

PEI Lobsters
Fresh Catch of the Day – PEI Lobsters

While there are many recipes that call for lobster as an ingredient, Islanders typically eat the steamed lobster straight from the shell for their first feed of the season.

Fresh PEI Lobster
Steamed Lobster in the Shell
Steamed Lobster
Lobster in the Shell
How to Eat Lobster, PEI Style
Cracking Open the Lobster

Served hot or cold, according to one’s preference, lobster is a divine treat when dipped in melted butter.  On PEI, lobster is most commonly served with potato salad, coleslaw, sometimes other kinds of salads and, of course, homemade rolls.

Potato Salad
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s PEI Potato Salad

You can find my recipe for potato salad here and for my pan rolls here.

Lobster Dinner
Traditional PEI Lobster Dinner

Once I have had that first feed of lobster, I am ready to use it as an ingredient in other dishes. One of my more popular recipes is the one for Lobster Cakes. You can access my recipe for these tasty savory cakes here.

Lobster Cakes
PEI Lobster Cakes

Another favorite recipe for using lobster is Lobster Newburg. It is lovely served in puff pastry shells.  And, of course, there is always the perennial favorite – Lobster Rolls! A couple of great places to get lobster rolls on PEI are Richard’s Seafood Eatery on the wharf in Covehead and at Dave’s Lobster in Charlottetown.

And the great lobster that we enjoy comes thanks to the fishers who head out, sometimes in rolling seas, to fish the lobster.

Lobster Fishing
Lobster Fishing in all weather on PEI

And, other times, the fishers get to see the most amazing sunrises!

Setting Day
Heading Out With a Load of Lobster Traps

Lobster fishing is a big part of the Island culture and way of life. The seafood sector is one of PEI’s main industries. PEI has some very picturesque harbours and wharves like French River seen in the photograph below. It is so popular with photographers that a lookout has been created so that people can safely pull off the road to photograph its beauty.

PEI Fishing Harbour
French River, PEI

As I finish this posting, the first catches of the season are in…..now, where is that lobster bib…….

Lobster Supper
A PEI Lobster Feed

Setting Day marks the beginning of the PEI lobster fishing season as fishers set their lobster traps in the water

Lobster Trap Setting Day on Prince Edward Island