Category Archives: Recipes

On The Sandwich Board: Turkey, Pear, Brie, and Cranberry Sandwich

Turkey Sandwich
Turkey, Pear, Brie, and Cranberry Sandwich

On my sandwich board today, I have a lovely gourmet turkey sandwich and this one comes fully dressed!  Note this sandwich can also be made with chicken as a substitute for turkey.

This is often a sandwich I make when I have roasted a turkey or chicken and have leftover meat.  However, sometimes, I will roast some boneless, skinless chicken breasts specifically to use for sandwiches and that works equally well.

The dressing for this sandwich is made with mayonnaise combined with some cranberry sauce or cranberry blueberry sauce (pictured in these photos) and a bit of Dijon mustard.  I typically just apply this dressing to one of the slices of bread although it can certainly be used on both. This dressing adds both flavor and color to the sandwich.  The cranberry sauce can color the turkey and Brie; however, if some lettuce is added between the sandwich contents and the dressing, the lettuce will act as a barrier and prevent any discoloring of the meat or cheese.

The trick to coming up with a tasty sandwich is to consider what flavors blend well together in harmony.  For this sandwich, I have paired the turkey with some thin slices of Bosc pear and some Brie cheese.  This sandwich is lovely cold or it can be heated in a panini maker. It’s best served immediately.

Serve the sandwich with bread and butter pickles, fresh vegetables, potato chips, or a cup of your favorite soup.  This sandwich pairs particularly well with Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.

Turkey Sandwich
Turkey, Pear, Brie, and Cranberry Sandwich

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Turkey, Pear, Brie, and Cranberry Sandwich

Ingredients:

2 slices bread of choice
Butter, softened

1 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp cranberry sauce (or cranberry-blueberry sauce)
¾ tsp Dijon mustard

2-3 tsp mayonnaise

Leafy lettuce of choice

2½ oz – 3 oz cooked turkey (or chicken) breast slices
2 thin slices Bosc pear, sprinkled with lemon juice to retard browning
1 oz Brie cheese (rind removed), sliced about 1/8 – ¼” thick
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

Butter bread slices. In small bowl, mix mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, and Dijon mustard.  Spread mayonnaise-cranberry sauce mixture on one slice of bread.  Spread 2-3 tsp mayonnaise on the other bread slice.

Lay lettuce on slice of bread spread with mayonnaise.  Top with the turkey (or chicken) slices.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Layer with 2 slices of pear.  Arrange Brie over pear.  Arrange lettuce over pear. Top with second slice of bread spread with cranberry-mayonnaise mixture.

Slice sandwich in half, diagonally, and serve.

Serving Suggestions:  Serve with Bread and Butter Pickles, Fresh Vegetables, Potato Chips, or a cup of your favorite soup.  Pairs particularly well with Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.

Serves:  1

NOTE:  Sandwich may be heated in panini maker

 

Turkey, Pear, Brie, and Cranberry Sandwich

A tasty sandwich that combines sliced cooked turkey with Bosc pear, Brie, and a delectable sandwich dressing made with cranberry sauce, Dijon mustard, and mayonnaise.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 1
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 slices bread of choice
  • Butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp cranberry sauce or cranberry blueberry sauce
  • ¾ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 tsp mayonnaise
  • Leafy lettuce of choice
  • oz – 3 oz cooked turkey or chicken breast slices
  • 2 thin slices Bosc pear, sprinkled with lemon juice to retard browning
  • 1 oz Brie cheese, rind removed, sliced about 1/8 – ¼” thick
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Butter bread slices. In small bowl, mix mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, and Dijon mustard. Spread mayonnaise-cranberry sauce mixture on one slice of bread. Spread 2-3 tsp mayonnaise on the other bread slice.
  2. Lay lettuce on slice of bread spread with mayonnaise. Top with the turkey (or chicken) slices. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Layer with 2 slices of pear. Arrange Brie over pear. Arrange lettuce over pear. Top with second slice of bread spread with cranberry-mayonnaise mixture.
  3. Slice sandwich in half, diagonally, and serve.
  4. Serving Suggestions: Serve with Bread and Butter Pickles, Fresh Vegetables, Potato Chips, or a cup of your favorite soup. Pairs particularly well with Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.

Recipe Notes

Serves: 1 NOTE: Sandwich may be heated in panini maker

 

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Turkey Sandwich
Turkey, Pear, Brie, and Cranberry Sandwich

Roasted Potato Stacks

Potato Stacks
Roasted Potato Stacks

Living in a province known for its potato production, it’s almost inevitable that potatoes are served at many meals on PEI dinner tables.  There are any number of ways this versatile veggie can be served and, later in this posting, you’ll find links to some of my favorite potato recipes.

Roasted Potato Stacks are my latest creation involving potatoes. They are very tasty and do plate quite attractively. They are also suitable for serving at buffets.

Potato Stacks
Roasted Potato Stacks

Because these potato stacks are free-standing when cooked and removed from the muffin cups, they need to be able to stand on their own when plated. The goal is also to see the individual slices of the potato. I recommend choosing potatoes that have a medium starch content, are semi-waxy, and have somewhat firm flesh such as Yukon Gold, or an all-purpose round white potato variety. These are the types of potatoes that will hold their shape after cooking and when plated and they can take the higher heat at which the stacks are roasted without falling apart or becoming mushy.  Choosing potatoes that have good moisture content also helps to keep the roasted potato stacks moist.  Potatoes high in starch and low in moisture don’t hold their shape as well and tend to break down easier than less starchy or waxy potatoes. For this reason, they are not as suitable for these Roasted Potato Stacks as are their semi-waxy cousins.  Select potatoes, about 2” around, so that, when sliced very thinly, they will easily fit flatly in muffin tin cups.

Potato Stacks
Roasted Potato Stacks

The key to making these Roasted Potato Stacks is to have the potato slices very thin and uniformly sized.  I have tested my recipe with three different thicknesses of potatoes – 1/16”, 3/16”, and 1/8” and my preference is 3/16” as the layers of individual potato slices in each stack are still intact and identifiable when fully roasted but they are not so thick as to cause issues getting them cooked.

Potato Stack
Roasted Potato Stack

I recommend using a mandolin for quick and uniform slicing.  I have a dandy hand-held mandolin that is slick and easy for this kind of work and it saves the set up of my larger mandolin or the trials, tribulations, and time to thinly slice the potatoes by hand.

Made with seasoned butter and a blend of cheeses, these delectable easy-to-make roasted potato stacks are a great side dish or appetizer. 

Potato Stack
Roasted Potato Stack

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Roasted Potato Stacks

Ingredients:

2¼ lb potatoes, peeled, washed, and dried (e.g., Yukon Gold or all-purpose round white variety)
3 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp liquid chicken bouillon
1 tsp garlic salt
¾ tsp onion powder
2 tsp fresh lemon thyme, chopped
2 tsp fresh parsley, minced
Pinch nutmeg (optional)
½ – ¾ tsp fine sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
½ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
3 tbsp Cheddar Cheese, finely grated
1 tbsp whole milk or cream

3 – 4 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
Paprika (for sprinkling tops of stacks)

Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish

Method:

Position oven rack in center of oven.  Preheat oven to 375°F.

Butter eight (8) regular-sized non-stick muffin cups with butter.  Set aside.

In small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter.  Add the olive oil, liquid chicken bouillon, garlic salt, onion powder, thyme, parsley, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Stir well to mix.  Stir in the Parmesan and Cheddar cheeses along with the milk or cream.

Choose potatoes that are not overly starchy and that will hold their shape after cooking – e.g., Yukon Gold or an all-purpose round white variety.  Select potatoes the size that, when sliced horizontally, the slices will easily fit flat into the muffin cups. Using a mandolin, slice potatoes horizontally into slices 3/16” thick.  Place half the potato slices in large bowl.  Add half the mixed butter, seasonings, and cheese ingredients.  Using hands, toss the potatoes in the mixture until the slices are well coated. Add the remaining potato slices and butter mixture and continue mixing until the potato slices are coated with the mixture. Either create the stacks of potatoes in hands and place in buttered muffin cups or individually stack the potato slices directly in the muffin tin cups, stacking the slices as evenly as possible until they are about ¾ – 1” above the muffin cup rims. The stacks will shrink a bit during the roasting but building them a little higher than the muffin cup rim will ensure a good sized potato stack when cooked.

Roast the potato stacks for about 25 minutes, then sprinkle each stack with additional grated Parmesan cheese and a light sprinkle of paprika.  Roast for 20 minutes longer, or until the tops of the potato stacks are golden and crispy, and a skewer or thin knife inserted in center of a stack indicates potatoes are tender and cooked through.  Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes then carefully run the tip of a knife around the perimeter of each muffin cup to ensure the potato stacks are loose for easy removal.  With the aid of a fork, or soup spoon, and the tip of the knife, carefully remove each potato stack and serve immediately sprinkled with additional finely-grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

Yield:  8 potato stacks (Suggested serving size – 2 stacks per person)

Potato Stacks
Plated Roasted Potato Stacks

For other potato recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Twice Baked Potatoes
Best Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
Bistro Style Potato Patties
Potato Salad

Roasted Potato Stacks

Made with seasoned butter and a blend of cheeses, these easy-to-make roasted potato stacks are a great side dish or appetizer.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Cook Time 50 minutes
Resting Time 5 minutes
Servings 4
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • lb potatoes peeled, washed, and dried (e.g., Yukon Gold or all-purpose round white variety)
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp liquid chicken bouillon
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • ¾ tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon thyme, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh parsley, minced
  • Pinch nutmeg (optional)
  • ½ - ¾ tsp fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 3 tbsp Cheddar cheese finely grated
  • 1 tbsp whole milk or cream
  • 3 - 4 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Paprika for sprinkling tops of stacks
  • Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish

Instructions

  1. Position oven rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Butter eight (8) regular-sized non-stick muffin cups with butter. Set aside.
  3. In small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Add the olive oil, liquid chicken bouillon, garlic salt, onion powder, thyme, parsley, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir well to mix. Stir in the Parmesan and Cheddar cheeses along with the milk or cream.
  4. Choose potatoes that are not overly starchy and that will hold their shape after cooking – e.g., Yukon Gold or an all-purpose round white variety. Select potatoes the size that, when sliced horizontally, the slices will easily fit flat into the muffin cups. Using a mandolin, slice potatoes horizontally into slices 3/16” thick. Place half the potato slices in large bowl. Add half the mixed butter, seasonings, and cheese ingredients. Using hands, toss the potatoes in the mixture until the slices are well coated. Add the remaining potato slices and butter mixture and continue mixing until the potato slices are coated with the mixture. Either create the stacks of potatoes in hands and place in buttered muffin cups or individually stack the potato slices directly in the muffin tin cups, stacking the slices as evenly as possible until they are about ¾ - 1” above the muffin cup rims. The stacks will shrink a bit during the roasting but building them a little higher than the muffin cup rim will ensure a good sized potato stack when cooked.
  5. Bake the potato stacks for about 25 minutes, then sprinkle each stack with additional grated Parmesan cheese and a light sprinkle of paprika. Bake for 20 minutes longer, or until the tops of the potato stacks are golden and crispy, and a skewer or thin knife inserted in center of a stack indicates potatoes are tender and cooked through. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes then carefully run the tip of a knife around the perimeter of each muffin cup to ensure the potato stacks are loose for easy removal. With the aid of a fork, or soup spoon, and the tip of the knife, carefully remove each potato stack and serve immediately sprinkled with additional finely-grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

Recipe Notes

Yield: 8 potato stacks (Suggested serving size – 2 stacks per person)

 

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Potato Stacks
Roasted Potato Stacks

Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

When days are cooler, or downright cold, there is nothing better to warm the tummy than a bowl of comfort soup.  One of the soups I place in that category is homemade Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.  Full of flavour with a lovely velvety texture, Roasted Butternut Squash Soup has a rich natural golden-yellow color that can’t be beat!  This is a showstopper soup on both the taste and appetizing color fronts, the latter of which is drawn from the orange, fleshy pulp of the squash.

Squash Soup
Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This soup offers a delicate balance of sweet and savory notes and, while it can certainly be made year-round, this soup is most often served in the fall because its ingredients speak to autumn flavours like the squash, apple, and root vegetables that are fresh and local in most places in autumn.

Butternut squash is inexpensive, readily available year-round and, because of its bulk and substance, goes a long way as an ingredient in various dishes, including soup. That’s in addition to it being both healthy and delicious with its slightly sweet nutty flavour.

Squash
Butternut Squash

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup freezes well, so long as it is made with whole milk (not fat-reduced) or, alternatively, with a blend of whole milk and cream. In fact, this soup has now joined the ranks of being one of my staples that I freeze in single-serving portions ready for weekday lunch bags. It’s lovely on its own or paired with a favorite sandwich. A real treat in the middle of a work day!

Butternut Squash Soup
Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasting vegetables brings out deep, rich flavours that, in my opinion, are sometimes lost in other cooking methods like boiling, for example, where some of the flavour and nutrients get washed down the sink when the cooked vegetables are drained.  With roasting, all nutrients and flavours are retained.  Butternut squash is very easy to roast.  Simply slice the squash in half, vertically, and clean out the seeds and fibrous membrane.

Squash
Butternut Squash

Lightly brush the cut sides and cleaned out hollow of the squash halves with a light coating of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place squash halves, cut side down, on greased tinfoil-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Bake at 425°F for about 35 minutes then flip the squash halves over, brush again very lightly with olive oil and roast for another 15-20 minutes, or until the flesh is soft when pierced with a fork. Make sure the squash does not start to burn or char.  If you see this happening, loosely place a piece of tin foil over the squash. Remove the squash from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes then, with a large spoon, scoop the pulp away from the skin and transfer to a bowl.  This can be done the day before the soup is made. Make sure to cover the squash and refrigerate it until needed.  Don’t let the squash cool completely before removing it from its skin as, otherwise, it will be difficult to remove it away from the skin (experience speaking here).  I like to roast the squash, cut-side down, because it keeps the moisture in and caramelizes the flesh of the squash.  I do, however, flip the squash halves over part way through the roasting process because I find it gives the squash a nice roasted flavour.

Butternut Squash
Roasted Butternut Squash

I also find that roasting the squash whole versus cutting it into chunks is preferable.  First, it’s hard to cut uncooked squash but it is very easy to scoop out soft roasted pulp from the squash skin.  And, second, the roasting needs to occur at a reasonably high temperature and small chunks will burn easily and won’t have the caramelized flavour that can be achieved through the roasting process, particularly in the early stage where the squash is roasted, cut side down.  A lovely deep roasted flavour is the objective, not a burnt/charred taste.  This, to say, I think I have more control over the flavour if the squash is roasted whole.

Squash Soup
Classic Butternut Squash Soup

The base for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup starts out like many other cream soups with the aromatics being sautéed till fragrant and starting to soften.  The chicken broth and seasonings are then added to the pot and the vegetables, along with the apple, continue to cook in the broth until tender.  I don’t add the squash into the soup at this point because I think that cooking it too long in the broth causes it to lose some of its rich caramelized/roasted flavour and, since it is already cooked, it is not necessary to cook it further.  The vegetable/broth mixture is removed from the heat and cooled for about 30 minutes – I don’t like to put hot mixtures into my blender jar. To speed up the cooling process of the broth, I often place the stockpot containing the vegetables and broth into a sink filled with ice cold water. The mixture does not have to be completely cooled, just not boiling hot.  Once cooled enough to work with and ready for puréeing, remove the bay leaves, stir in the roasted squash, then purée the whole mixture until velvety smooth.

The puréed mixture goes back on to the stove with some maple syrup for a touch of sweetness and the whole milk (or a combination of whole milk and cream) along with a blend of Parmesan and cheddar cheeses. Continue to taste the soup throughout the cooking processes and add additional salt and pepper, to taste, if and as necessary. Heat only until the mixture is heated and the cheeses melted.  Never boil a cream soup.

Squash Soup
Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Serve this soup plain or garnish it with seasoned croutons, a dollop of sour cream with a sprinkle of fresh herbs or toasted butternut seeds, or a toasted baguette slice topped with cheese, herbs, and bacon.

Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup is a rich, velvety-smooth and comforting soup that is filled with the wonderful flavours of autumn.  This luxurious, yet economical, cream soup is sure to be one you will make again and again, anytime of the year.

Squash Soup
Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash (apx. 3 lbs)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

3 – 4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2/3 cup onion, finely chopped
¼ cup celery, thinly sliced
¼ cup carrot, thinly sliced
¼ cup parsnip, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups chicken or turkey stock, homemade or store-bought
1 small apple (any variety), peeled and diced
3 bay leaves
¾ tsp dried summer savory
¼ tsp dried sage
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Pinch ginger
Pinch cayenne (optional)
Salt and freshly Ground Pepper, to taste

2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1¼ cups whole milk (or combination of whole milk and cream)

2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese

Method:

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Wash butternut squash.  With large chef’s knife, slice the squash in half, vertically.  With large spoon, scoop out the seeds and fibrous matter from the interior of each squash half (save the seeds for roasting!)

Prepare large rimmed baking sheet by lining with tin foil sprayed lightly with cooking oil.  Lightly brush the cut sides and scooped out hollow of the squash halves with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place the squash halves, cut side down, on the baking sheet.  Roast the squash in preheated oven for about 35 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and, with a large flat lifter, carefully flip the squash pieces over, applying another light brushing of olive oil to the flesh side. Return the squash to the oven for about another 15-20 minutes, or until the flesh of the squash is very soft when pierced with a fork.  Remove from oven and let squash cool for 10 minutes or so.  Scoop out the flesh and place in medium-sized bowl.  (Do not let squash cool completely as it will be difficult to remove from its skin.)

In large stockpot, heat the butter over medium heat till melted.  Add the olive oil.  Add the onion, celery, carrot, and parsnip.  Stir briskly for 4-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute, continuing to stir the mixture.

Add the chicken stock, apple, and spices.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat then reduce heat to medium-low and cook until vegetables are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for about 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves.  Stir in cooked squash.

Purée soup mixture in blender until very smooth.  Work in batches, starting with one cup of the mixture, puréeing it until smooth, then adding another 1 to 1½ cups, never filling the blender jug more than a scant half full at a time.  Transfer puréed mixture to clean stockpot. Add the maple syrup and milk.  Stir well.  Heat slowly over medium-low heat but do not boil.  Add the Parmesan and cheddar cheese.  Stir until cheeses are melted.  Serve plain or garnish with croutons and some toasted squash seeds, a dollop of sour cream with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, or a toasted baguette slice topped with cheese, herbs, and bacon.

Yield:  Apx. 8-10 servings (apx. 1 cup per serving)

Note:
To make this soup lactose-free, use lactose-free butter, milk, and cheese.

Classic Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This classic roasted butternut squash soup is luxuriously thick, velvety smooth, and is packed full of flavourful aromatics, light seasonings, and a blend of cheeses. Pure comfort food at its finest!
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash apx. 3 lbs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3 - 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 cup onion finely chopped
  • ¼ cup celery thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup carrot thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup parsnip thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 cups chicken or turkey stock homemade or store-bought
  • 1 small apple any variety, peeled and diced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ¾ tsp dried summer savory
  • ¼ tsp dried sage
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch ginger
  • Pinch cayenne optional
  • Salt and freshly Ground Pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • cups whole milk or combination of whole milk and cream
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Wash butternut squash. With large chef’s knife, slice the squash in half, vertically. With large spoon, scoop out the seeds and fibrous matter from the interior of each squash half (save the seeds for roasting!)
  3. Prepare large rimmed baking sheet by lining with tin foil sprayed lightly with cooking oil. Lightly brush the cut sides and scooped out hollow of the squash halves with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the squash halves, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Roast the squash in preheated oven for about 35 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and, with a large flat lifter, carefully flip the squash pieces over, applying another light brushing of olive oil to the flesh side. Return the squash to the oven for about another 15-20 minutes, or until the flesh of the squash is very soft when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and let squash cool for 10 minutes or so. Scoop out the flesh and place in medium-sized bowl. (Do not let squash cool completely as it will be difficult to remove from its skin.)
  4. In large stockpot, heat the butter over medium heat till melted. Add the olive oil. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and parsnip. Stir briskly for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, continuing to stir the mixture.
  5. Add the chicken stock, apple, and spices. Bring to a boil over medium high heat then reduce heat to medium-low and cook until vegetables are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for about 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves. Stir in cooked squash.
  6. Purée soup mixture in blender until very smooth. Work in batches, starting with one cup of the mixture, puréeing it until smooth, then adding another 1 to 1½ cups, never filling the blender jug more than a scant half full at a time. Transfer puréed mixture to clean stockpot. Add the maple syrup and milk. Stir well. Heat slowly over medium-low heat but do not boil. Add the Parmesan and cheddar cheese. Stir until cheeses are melted. Serve plain or garnish with croutons and some toasted squash seeds, a dollop of sour cream with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, or a toasted baguette slice topped with cheese, herbs, and bacon.

Recipe Notes

To make this soup lactose-free, use lactose-free butter, milk, and cheese.

For other great soup, chowder, chili, and stock/broth recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

SOUPS

Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup
Cream of Celery Soup
Ham Lentil Soup
Roasted Cream of Cauliflower Soup
Rich and Hearty Goulash Soup
PEI Potato Leek Soup
Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup
Cock-A-Leekie Soup
Roasted Cream of Asparagus Soup
Hamburger Soup
The Bistro’s Beefy Minestrone

CHOWDERS

PEI Mussel Chowder
Turkey Chowder

STOCKS/BROTH

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Beef Stock

CHILI

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Chili

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Cranberry Blueberry Sauce

Combining the sweet and tart flavors of blueberries and cranberries makes for a delectable cranberry blueberry sauce.  Their flavors play well off of each other. Most will be familiar with the traditional cranberry sauce that, for many, has to be part of a roasted turkey or chicken dinner.  Click here for my recipe for classic cranberry sauce.

Cranberries
Cranberries

As a variation to that sauce, I have created a recipe using a blend of cranberries and high bush blueberries.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

This sauce, in a gorgeous deep burgundy-purple color, pairs well with poultry and even with beef and pork dishes.  The blueberries add a layer of natural sweetness to the sauce and pair well with the more tart cranberries, toning them down just a bit but still letting the cranberry flavor come through.

Cranberry Blueberry Sauce
Cranberry Blueberry Sauce

The key to making a nice consistency sauce with blueberries and cranberries is to, first, make a simple syrup of water and sugar then add the cranberries that take longer to cook than the blueberries which are added to the late stage cooking.  The secret to getting a thickened sauce is to stir it both while it is cooking and cooling.  Stir it lots during the cooling process – it will appear quite watery when it comes off the stove but, by stirring it as it cools, you’ll be amazed how it thickens well.

If I am plating a meal, I like to put the sauce in a small condiment dish on each plate.  This contains the sauce which, regardless how thick it is, tends to run into other foods on the plate.

Cranberry Blueberry Sauce
Cranberry Blueberry Sauce

This sauce, like my traditional cranberry sauce, freezes well.  I make up a batch or two at a time and freeze it in airtight serving-size dishes – some are single serving, some are double, and some are larger size.  To thaw, simply remove the sauce from the freezer and thaw at room temperature for an hour or so (depending on the size of container, of course).

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Cranberry Blueberry Sauce

Ingredients:
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 cup water

1½ cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
½ cup apple, finely chopped
1/4 cup orange juice

2/3 cup high-bush blueberries, fresh or frozen
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Pinch allspice
1 star anise pod (optional)

1 tsp finely grated orange rind
Method:
In medium-sized saucepan, bring sugars and water to boil. Boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

Add cranberries, apple, and orange juice. Bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat, stirring periodically throughout the cooking process for about 8 minutes then add the blueberries and spices. Increase heat to return mixture to boiling point then reduce heat to medium-low and continue to stir the sauce periodically while cooking it for another 10 minutes or until mixture thickens and blueberries have softened.

Remove saucepan from heat and remove the star anise pod.  Add orange rind. Stir frequently as the sauce cools to help it to thicken.

Store, covered, in refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for longer storage.

Yield: Apx. 2 cups

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Cranberry Blueberry Sauce
Cranberry Blueberry Sauce

Green Tomato Marmalade Recipe

Marmalade
Green Tomato Marmalade

Green Tomato Marmalade is not an altogether common variety of marmalade. It’s not the “garden” variety of typical marmalades likely to be found on many supermarket shelves, or at least not in my neck of the woods anyway.  That, in my view, makes Green Tomato Marmalade all the more special because it’s more unique and exclusive!

Marmalade
Green Tomato Marmalade

But, wait, in another sense, Green Tomato Marmalade is very much a “garden” variety of marmalade in that it is a great way to make use of the usual abundance of green tomatoes many gardeners end up with in their gardens in late summer or early fall and are wondering what they can do with them so they aren’t wasted.

Variations of green tomato jam and marmalade have been around for years.  I expect many homemakers of years ago made one or the other (either the jam or marmalade) because they would have likely had lots of tomatoes in the garden so it was an economical ingredient to use and to have as a spread for bread or biscuits over the winter.  Those homemakers were frugal and resourceful as there were no big supermarkets with a large selection of jams and marmalades we see today and, in some cases, families were large and did not have a lot of money. So, consequently, they figured out ways to feed their families economically, making good use of food they grew themselves.

Green Tomato Marmalade
Green Tomato Marmalade on Toast

Green Tomato Marmalade is one of those food items I would class as “don’t knock it till you’ve tried it”.  This marmalade is both sweet and savory, making it a versatile product to have on the pantry shelf.  Combining the green tomatoes with citrus flavours (orange and lemon) and some crushed pineapple for sweetness balance and texture, this marmalade is versatile and can be used just as one would use orange marmalade, for example – spread on toast, biscuits, and scones.  Green Tomato Marmalade can also be eaten as a savory condiment with cheese, charcuterie, and cracker boards.

Green Tomato Marmalade
Green Tomato Marmalade with Brie and Crackers

Almost any variety of medium/large tomatoes can be used for this marmalade. Tiny Tims variety or grape tomatoes, however, do not work well in this recipe because they are way too small to work with and are full of seeds.

Tomatoes
Green Tomatoes

My advice would be to try to find a variety that does not have a lot of seeds as the tomatoes will yield more tomato meat per pound for the marmalade and the tomatoes will be a lot easier to prepare.  This is because the seeds and the watery/gelatinous sack that are inside the tomatoes need to be removed for this marmalade.  Leaving them in will result in two things: 1) Too much water in the marmalade causing issues getting it to jell; and 2) tomatoes are tremendously seedy and all those seeds just simply do not look appetizing in the finished product and are a nightmare for anyone who cannot digest seeds well. The odd few seeds may make their way in to the marmalade and are not, generally, a problem for most but the intent is to remove as many seeds as possible from the tomatoes.

Green Tomatoes
Green Tomato Wedges

Cut each tomato in half, then each half into several wedges.  Scoop, or cut, out and discard the watery gelatinous sack and its seeds.

Green Tomatoes
Preparing Tomatoes for Green Tomato Marmalade

Cut up the remaining tomato pieces into small, bite-sized chunks.  These don’t need to be minced, by any means, but they need to be small enough to get cooked properly and to look appealing when spread on toast or biscuits.

Chopped Green Tomatoes
Chopped Green Tomatoes for Marmalade

The addition of lemon and orange (and their zests) is what, in my opinion, makes this a marmalade as marmalades traditionally contain citrus fruit.  This recipe calls for a small amount of crushed pineapple.  This adds an element of sweetness, flavour, and texture.  There is no need to drain the pineapple in a sieve or colander but, instead, use a slotted spoon to scoop the pineapple out of the can and let some of the juice drip off for a few seconds before measuring the pineapple.  There will still be juice in the pineapple and up to a couple of tablespoons of juice will be fine.  Any more and, like the watery part of tomatoes, it would add too much liquid to the marmalade content, potentially causing issues getting it to jell. Adding a small piece of cinnamon stick injects a subtle hint of cinnamon to the marmalade. However, it is not recommended to leave the cinnamon stick in the marmalade for the entire cooking process because it can result in too intense and excessive cinnamon flavour which is not the intent with this marmalade.

Marmalade
Green Tomato Marmalade

Care must be taken to ensure the marmalade does not scorch as it slowly cooks.  With the sugar content, scorching is always a risk.  Once a jam or marmalade has scorched, there is no fixing it and it’s a batch destined for the green compost cart.  Stirring the marmalade fairly regularly as it cooks will help it to thicken and prevent scorching (as will keeping it at a low boil and using a heavy bottomed stock pot).  It’s all about heat control. If desired, a few cut up red maraschino cherries can be added for color at the end of the cooking process.

Patience is required to make marmalade – it takes time for it to set, which can be upwards of two hours.  Getting the marmalade at the right jelling stage is the key part of marmalade making.  Temperatures for finished marmalade can range from 217°F to 222°F  and the temperature at which the marmalade is taken off the stove will determine how runny or thick it is. Undercooking the marmalade will result in a very runny product while overcooking it will make it too thick and sticky to spread on anything and it will become very dark in color.  I boil my marmalade slowly until it reaches a sustained temperature of 220°F on the candy thermometer. I find, at that stage, it has a lovely thick, yet still spreadable consistency. Marmalade is meant to be thicker than jam but still needs to be spreadable.

Marmalade
Green Tomato Marmalade

I could not get along without my candy/food thermometer for accurately checking food temperature.  If, however, you do not have a candy thermometer, a “wrinkle” test of the marmalade on a cold saucer can also be used to test the marmalade for doneness (see notes at the end of the recipe below for how to conduct this test).

Half-pint bottles, like those shown in the photo at the beginning of this posting, are perfectly sized for marmalade. The bottles must be washed in hot, soapy water and rinsed thoroughly before being sterilized in boiling water for 10 minutes.  Fill the sterilized jars with the marmalade to within ¼“ of the jar rim.  Seal with the heated lids secured with the bands that came with the jars.  Process the half-pint bottles in a hot water bath for 10 minutes to give them shelf stability for several months – if the Green Tomato Marmalade lasts that long! (Note the marmalade in the tiny jelly jars in the photos below have been transferred, for cracker board presentation purposes, from the half-pint bottles in which they were bottled and processed in the hot water bath – they were not processed in these jelly jars which I have not tested in a hot water bath process.)

Marmalade
Green Tomato Marmalade

The lemons, orange, and crushed pineapple turn the bright green tomatoes into a superb marmalade of glorious golden amber color. Don’t expect this marmalade to taste like tomatoes as might be expected.  Rather, it has a surprisingly sweet and savory blend of flavours that make it a tasty and luxurious marmalade for which a multitude of creative uses can be found.

Give it a try!

Green Tomato Marmalade

Ingredients:

4 lbs green tomatoes, cored, seeded, and diced or cut into small chunks (should equal apx. 9½ – 10 cups cut up)
2½ lbs granulated sugar
1½ lemons, chopped + zest
1 orange, chopped + zest
10 oz crushed pineapple with some of its juice
2” piece of cinnamon stick
4 oz maraschino cherries, chopped (optional)

Method:

Wash tomatoes.  Cut into sections and remove the stem end, core, seeds, and the watery/gelatinous sack around the seeds.  Dice, or cut the tomato pieces into small chunks. Place in large bowl and add the sugar.  Let stand for three hours to draw the juice from the tomatoes and allow the sugar to dissolve.  Stir two to three times.

Wash the lemons and orange well.  Zest the lemons and oranges.  Remove any seeds and cut lemons and orange into small pieces.

Transfer tomato–sugar mixture and the liquid to a medium-sized stock pot. Add the chopped lemons and orange and the zest, along with the crushed pineapple.  Add the piece of cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil over medium high temperature, stirring to prevent scorching.  Immediately lower the temperature and cook, uncovered, at a slow gentle boil until mixture reads 220°F, sustained, on a candy thermometer*.  Stir mixture regularly to prevent scorching. Be patient, this can take upwards of 2 hours. Remove the cinnamon stick after about an hour.  When marmalade has reached its temperature, remove from heat and stir in the maraschino cherries, if using.

While the marmalade is cooking, fill a large pot of water, about ¾ full.  Place 6 half-pint jars, upright, into the water.  Ensure the jars are fully submerged, are each filled with water, and that the water is at least an inch over the tops of the jars.  Cover, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave the jars in the hot water while the marmalade finishes cooking.

Meanwhile, fill the canner about one-third to one-half full of water. Cover and bring to a boil to have it ready for the filled jars.

When the marmalade is cooked, use a jar lifter to remove the hot jars from the water.  Using a canning funnel, pour marmalade into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar.  Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth. Seal jars with heated lids and fingertip-tightened ring bands.

Place jars in hot water bath wire basket, ensuring jars do not touch each other or fall over. Carefully lower basket into canner of hot water. Ensure the water level is at least 1” above the tops of jars, adding more boiling water as necessary. Cover with canner lid. Increase the heat to return the water to a rolling boil then decrease the heat to just keep the water at a rolling boil but not boiling over. Process half-pint jars in the hot water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting time for altitude. Start timing the processing from the point where a full rolling boil is reached after basket of jars has been added to the canner. At the end of the processing time, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Using a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars, one at a time, and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few minutes or hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward.  Let jars rest, undisturbed, on wire rack for 12 hours. Store in cool, dark place. Refrigerate marmalade once opened.

Yield:  Apx. 6 half-pint bottles

*If you don’t have a candy thermometer, place 2-3 freezer-safe saucers in freezer. To test for doneness, place a small amount of marmalade on chilled saucer and swirl saucer around. Let marmalade sit, untouched, for about a minute, then gently push your finger through the marmalade.  If the marmalade holds its shape (i.e., does not immediately run back together after the finger has been removed from the marmalade), it is set and ready to bottle.  If not, continue to cook mixture, repeating the “chill” test about every 3 minutes or so (always removing the pot from the heat while conducting the chill test) until the marmalade passes the “chill” test.  Do not overcook as it will result in a very thick marmalade, dark in color.

Green Tomato Marmalade

Lemons, orange, and crushed pineapple turn green tomatoes into a glorious golden amber-colored sweet and savory spread for toast, biscuits, scones, or crackers.
Cuisine American
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs green tomatoes cored, seeded, and diced or cut into small chunks (should equal apx. 9½ - 10 cups cut up)
  • lbs granulated sugar
  • lemons chopped + zest
  • 1 orange chopped + zest
  • 10 oz crushed pineapple with some of its juice
  • 2 ” piece of cinnamon stick
  • 4 oz maraschino cherries chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Wash tomatoes. Cut into sections and remove the stem end, core, seeds, and the watery/gelatinous sack around the seeds. Dice, or cut the tomato pieces into small chunks. Place in large bowl and add the sugar. Let stand for three hours to draw the juice from the tomatoes and allow the sugar to dissolve. Stir two to three times.
  2. Wash the lemons and orange well. Zest the lemons and oranges. Remove any seeds and cut lemons and orange into small pieces.
  3. Transfer tomato–sugar mixture and the liquid to a medium-sized stock pot. Add the chopped lemons and orange and the zest, along with the crushed pineapple. Add the piece of cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil over medium high temperature, stirring to prevent scorching. Immediately lower the temperature and cook, uncovered, at a slow gentle boil until mixture reads 220°F, sustained, on a candy thermometer*. Stir mixture regularly to prevent scorching. Be patient, this can take upwards of 2 hours. Remove the cinnamon stick after about an hour. When marmalade has reached its temperature, remove from heat and stir in the maraschino cherries, if using.
  4. While the marmalade is cooking, fill a large pot of water, about ¾ full. Place 6 half-pint jars, upright, into the water. Ensure the jars are fully submerged, are each filled with water, and that the water is at least an inch over the tops of the jars. Cover, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave the jars in the hot water while the marmalade finishes cooking.

  5. Meanwhile, fill the canner about one-third to one-half full of water. Cover and bring to a boil to have it ready for the filled jars.
  6. When the marmalade is cooked, use a jar lifter to remove the hot jars from the water. Using a canning funnel, pour marmalade into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar. Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth. Seal jars with heated lids and fingertip-tightened ring bands.
  7. Place jars in hot water bath wire basket, ensuring jars do not touch each other or fall over. Carefully lower basket into canner of hot water. Ensure the water level is at least 1” above the tops of jars, adding more boiling water as necessary. Cover with canner lid. Increase the heat to return the water to a rolling boil then decrease the heat to just keep the water at a rolling boil but not boiling over. Process half-pint jars in the hot water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting time for altitude. Start timing the processing from the point where a full rolling boil is reached after basket of jars has been added to the canner. At the end of the processing time, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Using a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars, one at a time, and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few minutes or hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward.  Let jars rest, undisturbed, on wire rack for 12 hours. Store in cool, dark place. Refrigerate marmalade once opened.
  8. Yield: Apx. 6 half-pint bottles
  9. *If you don’t have a candy thermometer, place 2-3 freezer-safe saucers in freezer. To test for doneness, place a small amount of marmalade on chilled saucer and swirl saucer around. Let marmalade sit, untouched, for about a minute, then gently push your finger through the marmalade. If the marmalade holds its shape (i.e., does not immediately run back together after the finger has been removed from the marmalade), it is set and ready to bottle. If not, continue to cook mixture, repeating the “chill” test about every 3 minutes or so (always removing the pot from the heat while conducting the chill test) until the marmalade passes the “chill” test. Do not overcook as it will result in a very thick marmalade, dark in color.

Recipe Notes

After marmalade has completely cooled, if there are any jars on which the lids have not curved downward, refrigerate those jars and use the marmalade within a month.

For more great jam, jelly, and maramalade recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Peach Marmalade
Rhubarb Marmalade
Crabapple Jelly
Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam
Gooseberry Jam
Zucchini Jam
Pumpkin Jam 

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Marmalade
Green Tomato Marmalade

Perfect Peach Blueberry Crisp Recipe

Summer Dessert
Peach Blueberry Crisp

There are so many options for summertime desserts.  I try to use fresh fruits in desserts throughout the summer season and often look for combinations that will work well together.  Some fruits just naturally complement each other, like blueberries and peaches, for example.

Summer Berries
PEI Blueberries

We eagerly await the arrival of the peaches from the Niagara region as this is not a fruit commonly grown on PEI (though I know of one farmer who has been testing them with our growing season and did have some crop in 2017).

Peaches
Peaches

I live not far from a high bush blueberry u-pick and, in August, we have a steady diet of these lovely berries.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

After I have had lots of the peaches and berries on their own, I tend to start looking for other ways in which to use them.

Summer Crisp Dessert
Perfect Peach and Blueberry Crisp

For this dessert, I have combined the blueberries with the peaches to create this lovely summer crisp dessert.  Much as I love the traditional apple crisp (click here for my recipe), I have to say that I think this one might just edge out the apple crisp for my favorite.  The peach and blueberry flavours work very well together.  In order to keep the color of the filling from being too dark, I use peaches as the predominant fruit and a much lesser amount of the blueberries as the secondary fruit to tease the tastebuds.

Summer dessert
Peach Blueberry Crisp

Use peaches that are fully ripe. They will be easier to peel and slice if they are dipped into hot water then immediately into ice cold water.  Slice the peaches into wedges about ½” – ¾” thick. You want to see lovely identifiable slices of peaches in the filling for presentation.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

I like the use of the high bush blueberries in this dessert because they are large enough that they give a real flavour burst when they meet the palate.

I use cornstarch for the filling thickener instead of flour.  I find, especially for light-colored fruits, the cornstarch will allow for a more clear/transparent filling than will flour which will sometimes create a more murky or cloudy filling. In my view, the cornstarch renders a more silky textured filling. The addition of some cinnamon and nutmeg makes this a very aromatic dessert. It smells simply divine when it is baking!

Summer Desserts
Peach Blueberry Crisp

The streusel topping is easy to make and just takes standard pantry ingredients.  Chopped pecans can be added to the topping but they are optional.

Peach Blueberry Crisp
Peach Blueberry Crisp

This dessert can be made in either a baking pan or a casserole that has an 8-cup capacity as this will allow the crisp to cook evenly and, hopefully, not bubble out during baking.  I do, however, place a foil-lined baking sheet either directly under the baking pan(s) or on the rack below to catch any drips that may occur during baking.

Peach Blueberry Crisp
Peach Blueberry Crisp

This dessert can be made in individual oven-safe baking dishes as well.

Peach Blueberry Crisp
Peach Blueberry Crisp

I often serve this dessert plain but it can be dressed up with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Summer Dessert
Peach Blueberry Crisp

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Peach and Blueberry Crisp

Ingredients:

Streusel Topping:
¾ cup all-purpose flour (to make it gluten-free, use an equal amount of gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour)
¾ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup quick rolled oats (to make it gluten-free, use the small-flake gluten-free rolled oats)
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ cup cold butter (no substitutes)
1/3 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Filling:
2 lbs fresh peaches
1 cup high bush blueberries
1½ tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla
2 tbsp light brown sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
¾ tsp cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch salt

Method:

Streusal Topping:
In medium-sized bowl, combine, the flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Mix well.  Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.  Add the chopped pecans if using.  Cover and refrigerate until peach and blueberry filling is prepared.

Filling:  
Place oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 375°F.

Score an “X” about an inch long into the bottom of each peach. Dip peaches in hot water for apx. 1 – 1½  minutes then immediately dip them into a bowl of ice water for 20-30 seconds to shock them and stop them from cooking. Peel peaches and slice each peach into wedges ½” – ¾ thick”. This should equal approximately 5 cups cut peaches. Sprinkle peaches with lemon juice and toss gently to coat the peaches. Sprinkle with vanilla. Add the blueberries. Stir gently.

In small bowl, mix the brown and white sugars with the cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt. Mix into the peaches and blueberries, being careful not to break down the peach wedges.

Grease 8-cup capacity casserole dish or baking pan (or 6 – 8 small individual oven-safe serving-sized baking dishes).  Transfer filling to baking dish.  Sprinkle evenly with the streusel topping.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until topping is browned and juices from filling are bubbling.  Remove from oven and let crisp stand for 30-35 minutes before serving.  Add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Yield:  6 – 8 servings

Peach and Blueberry Crisp

This summer crisp features plump blueberries and sweet peaches covered with a delicious buttery streusel topping. Serve plain or with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Blueberry and Peach Crisp, Peach Blueberry Crisp, Summer Dessert
Servings 8
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

Streusel Topping:

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour to make it gluten-free, use an equal amount of gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup quick rolled oats to make it gluten-free, use the small-flake gluten-free rolled oats
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup cold butter no substitutes
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans optional

Filling:

  • 2 lbs fresh peaches
  • 1 cup high bush blueberries
  • tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

Streusal Topping:

  1. In medium-sized bowl, combine, the flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Add the chopped pecans if using. Cover and refrigerate until peach and blueberry filling is prepared.

Filling:

  1. Place oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Score an “X” about an inch long into the bottom of each peach. Dip peaches in hot water for apx. 1 - 1½ minutes then immediately dip them into a bowl of ice water for 20-30 seconds to shock them and stop them from cooking. Peel peaches and slice each peach into wedges ½” - ¾ thick”. This should equal approximately 5 cups cut peaches. Sprinkle peaches with lemon juice and toss gently to coat the peaches. Sprinkle with vanilla. Add the blueberries. Stir gently.
  3. In small bowl, mix the brown and white sugars with the cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt. Mix into the peaches and blueberries, being careful not to break down the peach wedges.
  4. Grease 8-cup capacity casserole dish or baking pan (or 6 - 8 small individual oven-safe serving-sized baking dishes). Transfer filling to baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the streusel topping.
  5. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until topping is browned and juices from filling are bubbling. Remove from oven and let crisp stand for 30-35 minutes before serving. Add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Yield: 6 - 8 servings

 

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Summer Dessert
Peach and Blueberry Crisp

 

Peach and Blueberry Crisp
Peach and Blueberry Crisp

Classic Peach Pie Recipe

Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

One of the things I most look forward to in summer is all the fresh produce. I especially love all the seasonal fruits and berries because they make grand pies and pastry making is one of my favorite baking activities.  In August, we eagerly await the wonderful peaches that come from the Niagara region – the baskets of large yellow/orange plump, juicy peaches.

Ontario Peaches
Peaches

Today, my feature recipe is the classic fresh peach pie, simply sublime when served with a scoop of fine vanilla ice cream.  This is a perfect end to a lovely summer dinner. It’s like summer sunshine in a pie!

Classic Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

This recipe calls for about 2 pounds of peaches so, depending on their size, this translates into about 6-7 good-sized peaches. Choose peaches that are ripe, have a slight “give” to them when their flesh is gently pressed, and are free from blemishes, cuts, and bruises.  The peaches will be easier to peel if they are placed in hot water for about a minute then immediately dipped into ice cold water to stop them from cooking and to cool them enough to handle as they are peeled.

Peaches
Peaches

Peaches are very juicy but all that juice can make for a very “soupy” pie.  A soupy pie presents problems cutting and plating it. It’s not very appetizing to see a pie that has broken apart and gone “splat” on a plate! But, there is a remedy to prevent the pie becoming too soupy.  I recommend draining the cut peaches in a colander for 10-12 minutes.  The ones I drained for this pie released 2/3 cup of peach juice, far too much for a slice of pie to stay intact when cut.  The peaches will still release more juice as the pie bakes. What I do is reserve 2½ – 3 tablespoons of the peach juice and put it in to the filling to keep the pie from becoming too dense and dry.  I find this is just the right amount to give the consistency and texture of pie I am seeking, still lovely and juicy but not too solid.

Classic Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

The pie is not difficult to make and does not take any uncommon ingredients.  I do add a bit of lemon juice (which helps to slow down the peaches from turning brown) and a small amount of almond flavouring along with some cinnamon and nutmeg.  The addition of some finely grated orange peel goes well with the peach flavour but does not mask or overtake it – after all, we want the natural peach flavour to be the star in this pie.  The peaches are plenty sweet on their own so don’t require much additional sweetener.  I do add a small amount of granulated and brown sugar but not a whole lot because the pie would be sickeningly sweet. The addition of a small amount of brown sugar lends some richness to the filling. I do not use all brown sugar in this recipe because it will result in the lovely peach color being diminished.  Hence, the reason why I use a combination of both white and brown sugars.

Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

I use cornstarch as the thickener in this pie as I find it results in a more translucent filling than does flour which can become pasty and cause certain pie fillings (especially light-colored ones like peach pie) to have a cloudy appearance. The drained peaches are mixed with the dry ingredients and the reserved peach juice.  I recommend letting the mixed filling sit for about 5 minutes to give the sugars time to break down and blend well into the filling. After the filling has set for 5 minutes, gently stir it being careful not to break apart the peach wedges. This will ensure the dry ingredients are well blended and distributed throughout the filling.

Use your favorite pastry for a two-crust pie.  This pie lends itself well to either a full top crust or a lattice top, whichever you prefer.  To make this pie gluten-free, click here for my gluten-free pastry recipe.  The photos of the pie in this posting are made with this tender, flaky, and flavorful gluten-free crust.

Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

Make sure the oven rack is placed in the lower third of the oven.  This helps the bottom crust to bake better and prevents the top crust from browning too quickly.  If, however, the crust starts to brown too fast, simply loosely tent the tin foil over the pie as it continues to bake.

Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

 

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Peach Pie

Ingredients:

Pastry for a two-crust pie to fit 9” pie plate

Approximately 2 pounds fresh peaches (about 6 – 7 large peaches), peeled and sliced into wedges about ½” to ¾” thick [This should equal 4½ – 5 cups sliced ripe peaches]
1½ tbsp lemon juice

1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ cup cornstarch
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
¾ tsp finely grated orange peel
1/8 tsp almond flavouring
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp butter

1½ – 2 tsp cane sugar (optional for decoration)

Method:

Score an “X” about an inch long into the bottom of each peach. Dip peaches in hot water for 1 minute then immediately dip them into a bowl of ice water for 20-30 seconds to shock them and stop them from cooking. Peel peaches.

Place colander over deep bowl.  Cut the peaches into halves or quarters.  Gently pull the sections apart and remove and discard the stones.  Cut the peaches into wedges, lengthwise, between ½” and ¾“ thick and place in colander.  Sprinkle peaches with lemon juice and toss very gently to coat with the juice to prevent the peaches from rapidly browning.  Let the peaches drip for about 10-12 minutes to remove excess juice that would make the pie “soupy”.  Reserve 2½ – 3 tbsp of the peach juice and discard any remaining juice. Transfer the peaches to a large bowl.

In separate bowl, combine the sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and grated orange rind. Mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the peaches and toss very gently to coat the peaches.  Add the almond flavoring to the 2½ – 3 tablespoons of reserved peach juice and sprinkle over the peaches.  Stir gently to mix ingredients. Let stand for 5 minutes then stir carefully again to ensure all ingredients are incorporated and equally distributed. Be careful not to break apart the peach wedges.

Roll out pastry into a circle approximately 12” – 13” round and about 1/8“ thick. Transfer pastry to a lightly greased 9” pie plate, fitting the dough over the bottom and sides of the plate, ensuring there are no air pockets.  Trim pastry flush with edge of pie plate.  Roll out top crust to same thickness.

Brush the bottom crust in the pie plate with a light coating of the beaten egg to keep the crust from getting soggy.  Reserve the remainder of the egg.

Transfer the peach filling to the prepared pie plate fitted with the pastry dough. Cut the butter into chunks and distribute on top of the filling.

Add ¾ tsp water to remaining beaten egg.  Brush the bottom crust edge all around the pie plate lightly with the egg-water mixture. Place top pie crust over peach filling. Trim excess pastry from the pie plate around the pie plate edge.  Press the edge of the pastry all around the pie plate rim with tines of a fork to adhere the top crust to bottom crust. Cut a “X” (or 2-3 slits) about 2” long in center of top crust to allow steam to escape as the pie bakes.  For additional venting, prick the pie in several places with the tines of the fork.  Lightly brush egg wash over top crust of pie.  If desired, sprinkle with 1½ – 2 tsp cane sugar.

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

Place oven rack in bottom third of oven.  Preheat oven to 425°F.  Place chilled pie on tinfoil-lined baking sheet to catch any drips should filling bubble out as pie bakes.  Transfer chilled pie to oven.  Bake for 15 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 375°F.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until crust is baked and golden brown and pie shows signs that filling is bubbling.  Check pie after it has been in the oven for about 30-35 minutes – if top crust is browning too quickly, loosely tent pie with tin foil.

Remove pie from the oven and transfer to wire rack to cool completely (minimum of 4 hours for the filling to set) before cutting and serving with a scoop of fine vanilla ice cream.

Yield:  1 – 9” double-crusted pie

Peach Pie

This classic homemade peach pie is like summer in a pie with its fresh ripe peaches encased in tender flaky pastry. Serve the pie with your favorite vanilla ice cream.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • Pastry for a two-crust pie to fit 9” pie plate
  • Approximately 2 pounds fresh peaches about 6 - 7 large peaches, peeled and sliced into wedges about ½” to ¾” thick [This should equal 4½ - 5 cups sliced ripe peaches]
  • tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp finely grated orange peel
  • 1/8 tsp almond flavouring
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1½ - 2 tsp cane sugar optional for decoration

Instructions

  1. Score an “X” about an inch long into the bottom of each peach. Dip peaches in hot water for 1 minute then immediately dip them into a bowl of ice water for 20-30 seconds to shock them and stop them from cooking. Peel peaches.
  2. Place colander over deep bowl. Cut the peaches into halves or quarters. Gently pull the sections apart and remove and discard the stones. Cut the peaches into wedges, lengthwise, between ½” and ¾“ thick and place in colander. Sprinkle peaches with lemon juice and toss very gently to coat with the juice to prevent the peaches from rapidly browning. Let the peaches drip for about 10-12 minutes to remove excess juice that would make the pie “soupy”. Reserve 2½ - 3 tbsp of the peach juice and discard any remaining juice. Transfer the peaches to a large bowl.
  3. In separate bowl, combine the sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and grated orange rind. Mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the peaches and toss very gently to coat the peaches. Add the almond flavoring to the 2½ - 3 tablespoons of reserved peach juice and sprinkle over the peaches. Stir gently to mix ingredients. Let stand for 5 minutes then stir carefully again to ensure all ingredients are incorporated and equally distributed. Be careful not to break apart the peach wedges.
  4. Roll out pastry into a circle approximately 12” - 13” round and about 1/8“ thick. Transfer pastry to a lightly greased 9” pie plate, fitting the dough over the bottom and sides of the plate, ensuring there are no air pockets. Trim pastry flush with edge of pie plate. Roll out top crust to same thickness.
  5. Brush the bottom crust in the pie plate with a light coating of the beaten egg to keep the crust from getting soggy. Reserve the remainder of the egg.
  6. Transfer the peach filling to the prepared pie plate fitted with the pastry dough. Cut the butter into chunks and distribute on top of the filling.
  7. Add ¾ tsp water to remaining beaten egg. Brush the bottom crust edge all around the pie plate lightly with the egg-water mixture. Place top pie crust over peach filling. Trim excess pastry from the pie plate around the pie plate edge. Press the edge of the pastry all around the pie plate rim with tines of a fork to adhere the top crust to bottom crust. Cut a “X” (or 2-3 slits) about 2” long in center of top crust to allow steam to escape as the pie bakes. For additional venting, prick the pie in several places with the tines of the fork. Lightly brush egg wash over top crust of pie. If desired, sprinkle with 1½ - 2 tsp cane sugar.
  8. Place pie in refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow filling to settle and to chill pastry to reduce shrinkage while it bakes.
  9. Place oven rack in bottom third of oven. Preheat oven to 425°F. Place chilled pie on tinfoil-lined baking sheet to catch any drips should filling bubble out as pie bakes. Transfer chilled pie to oven. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake for about 45 minutes or until crust is baked and golden brown and pie shows signs that filling is bubbling. Check pie after it has been in the oven for about 30-35 minutes - if top crust is browning too quickly, loosely tent pie with tin foil.
  10. Remove pie from the oven and transfer to wire rack to cool completely (minimum of 4 hours for the filling to set) before cutting and serving with a scoop of fine vanilla ice cream.

Recipe Notes

Yield: 1 - 9” double-crusted pie

 

For other great pie recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Rustic Apple Pie
Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie
Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
Squash Pie
Glazed Strawberry Pie
Rustic Rhubarb Pie
Coconut Cream Pie
Mock Cherry Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

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Classic Peach Pie
Classic Peach Pie

How to Make Dill Pickles

Pickles
Dill Pickles

Dill pickles are one of the easiest pickles to make. Cold-packed into hot sterilized jars, this recipe transforms tiny 3” – 4” cucumbers into tangy pickles that, for any dill lover, are the quintessential pickles to accompany many sandwiches and burgers.

This recipe is sized with the smaller household in mind. Many don’t have large storage capacity for big batches of pickles such as our ancestors made and stored in their cold rooms or cellars. Yet other households are comprised of only one or two people so they don’t need large batches of pickles but still want to have a taste of homemade goodness that comes from home preserving.

Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles

Freshness Counts with Pickling Cucumbers!

As with any pickle recipe, freshness of ingredients is key. That means the cucumbers should, ideally, be processed the same day they are picked from the vine or, certainly, within 24 hours. Otherwise, the cucumbers start to lose their flavour and get soft and punky and, as we all know, dill pickles are meant to have crunch.

Use Pickling Vinegar

It is very important to use vinegar which is made especially for the pickling process. It will usually have 7% acidity, making it stronger than table vinegar. This helps to preserve the pickles longer. Most large grocery stores will stock this vinegar, especially around “pickling time” in late summer or fall. The container should state that it is “pickling vinegar”.

Pickling Vinegar

Use Pickling Salt, Not Table Salt, in Pickles

One of the biggest tips I have for pickling is to never use table salt in the pickling process. Always use proper pickling salt. This is a coarse salt specifically for pickling and it will be marked as such on the package label. Apart from it being way too salty for pickling, iodized table salt can cause some discoloration of the cucumbers and will likely form a cloudy brine. The brine should be bright and clear. Table salt, because of its fine texture is too easily absorbed into the cucumbers, resulting in overly salty pickles. I can always tell if someone has used table salt in making pickles just by simply looking at the bottles of pickles – the contents of those bottles just do not have an appetizing look to them.

Coarse/Pickling Salt

Preparing the Jars 

The jars should be examined to ensure they are free of cracks, chips, and nicks. They should then be washed, rinsed, and sterilized. I sterilize mine in a pot of boiling hot water on the stove. Use a jar lifter to place the jars, upright in the water, holding each one steady until it fills with water. Bring the water back to a boil, reduce the heat slightly to prevent boil-overs, and boil the jars gently for 10 minutes from this point. Turn the heat to simmer and leave the jars in the water until they are ready to be filled with the cucumbers. The jars must be kept hot because, once filled, they will be going into a hot water bath and cold jars meeting up with boiling water will crack.

Making the Brine

The process I use to make my dill pickles is quite simple. This involves making a simple brine of equal parts of pickling vinegar and water along with some pickling salt, a bit of sugar, and some pickling spices. To keep the brine clear, bundle the pickling spice into a double (or triple) layer of cheesecloth. Gather up this little sachet and tie with string. Once this brine has simmered for about 15 minutes, discard the spice sachet and bayleaf. The brine is then ready to be poured over the cucumbers.

Spice Sachet
Preparing the Spice Sachet
Pickling Spice Sachet
Pickling Spice Sachet

Preparing the Cucumbers and Filling the Jars

The small 3” – 4” dill-sized cucumbers can be left whole or they can be sliced in two (or even quartered) lengthwise or they can be sliced into “coins”. Just note that the pickles are likely to have more crunch if the cucumbers are left whole. Make sure to trim the blossom end of each cucumber by 1/8” – these blossom tips have enzymes that can lead to limp, punky pickles. Pricking each cucumber 3-4 times with the tines of a fork will help the vinegar brine penetrate the cucumbers better resulting in more flavorful pickles.

Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles

The point where you start to place ingredients into the jars is the point where it is necessary to work along quickly because the jars cannot be allowed to get cold before they go into the hot water bath. Ensuring all ingredients and pickling equipment are laid out before starting the process and following a set order will help this process move along quickly.  Further along in this posting, you will find an outline of the step-by-step sequence I follow to quickly get the jars filled while they are still hot and then into the hot water bath.

A slightly smashed garlic clove along with some mustard seed and a whole clove are first placed in the bottom of each jar. Where, in the jars, the small bunch of feathery dill fronds and the umbrella-shaped seed head of the dill plant are placed is a matter of personal preference. I like to place the dill fronds on one side of the jar and the seed head on the opposite side. These can, of course, be placed on the bottom of the jar or the feathery dill fronds on the bottom and the dill head on top of the cucumbers. The taste will be the same. However, if you like your jars to have a nice appearance that immediately signifies they are dill pickles, placing the fronds and dill head so they are visible will do the trick!

Ensure the cucumbers are tightly packed, compactly, into the jars but not so tight that they are squished. Once all the ingredients are placed in the jar, pour the hot brine into each jar, leaving ½” head space at the top of each jar.  A chopstick, or small non-metal spatula, is useful to remove any air bubbles that may appear and more of the brine may need to be added, as necessary, to bring it to about ½“ from the jar rim.

Add a Grape Leaf to Keep the Dills Crunchy

I add a grape leaf on top of the cucumbers in each jar. This is an old trick to keep the cucumbers crisp – the tannin-rich grape leaves have enzymes that help to keep the cucumbers crunchy. Some say, with the removal of the blossom ends of the cucumbers, it is not necessary to add the grape leaves to the jars but I have access to them so I add them and my dill pickles always turn out super crunchy.

Heat the Jar Lids and Metal Ring Bands

Always use brand new metal jar lids; never re-use them for pickling purposes as their seal is only meant for single use. Check the metal ring bands (which can be re-used multiple times) to ensure they have no dents or nicks in them and there is no rust. The jar lids are heated in hot simmering water, just until they are hot and the gaskets softened —  3 – 4 minutes should do it. Heating the lids too long or in rapidly boiling water will weaken the rubber on them causing them not to seal properly. Wipe each jar rim with a clean, damp cloth before applying the lids, rubber side down, to the jar tops. Tighten the metal ring bands, fingertip tight. At this point, the dills are ready, without delay, for their hot water bath.

Heating Jar Lids
Heating Jar Lids

The Hot Water Bath

Processing the jars of dills stabilizes the contents for longer shelf life. Make sure the hot water canner is ready to go with the boiling water in it by the time you fill the jars. Load the filled jars into the metal basket that comes with the canner. The jars should remain upright during the hot water bath process and they should not touch each other. Once the basket is lowered into the boiling water, ensure the water level is at least 1” above the jar tops. Add more boiling water, if necessary, to bring the water to this level.

I recommend following your canner manufacturer’s instructions for the canning process as the length of time the jars need to be processed will depend on the altitude of your locale. Here on PEI, I process my half-pint jars of dills for 10 minutes and I start the timing from the time the hot water returns to a full rolling boil after the basket of jars has been placed in the canner of hot water. Once the 10 minutes is up, remove the jars, one by one, with a jar lifter and place them on a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal. Sometimes, this will take place almost immediately and sometimes it can take a few hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Let the jars rest, undisturbed, on the wire cooling rack for 12 hours. Then, let the sealed jars stand in a cool, dark place for 6 weeks before opening. This gives time for the dill flavour to develop fully.

Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles

The Sequence

To help organize your work to make these pickles, I offer the following suggested order for the sequence so that the steps happen when they should and the hot jars do not have a chance to cool before they are filled and placed in the hot water bath.

  1. Fill the hot water canner with hot tap water, place it on the stove, and start the heating process to get it to the boiling point. Starting with hot tap water will reduce the amount of time it takes to get the large canner of water to a boil. Make sure the water is at the boiling point before the wire basket of filled bottles is placed in the canner.
  2. Heat a pot of boiling water to sterilize the jars. Wash jars. Boil them gently for at least 10 minutes. Keep them, at simmer level, in the hot water until they are needed for filling.
  3. Wash and cut blossom ends from cucumbers and prick each with tines of a fork, 3-4 times.
  4. Gather spices for the jars and prepare garlic cloves.
  5. Start making the brine.
  6. Make a quick trip to the garden to pick the fresh dill heads and fronds.
  7. As the brine is nearing completion, remove the sterilized jars from the hot water and place the garlic, spices, dill fronds and dill head in each jar. Pack in the cucumbers.
  8. Heat lids in small pan of hot water. Boil extra water in case it is needed to top up hot water canner to 1” above jar tops.
  9. Pour brine over cucumbers, remove air bubbles with a chopstick (or small non-metal spatula), and top up with more brine, as necessary. Add the grape leaf to top of each jar. Wipe the jar rims with clean damp cloth.
  10. Place lids and metal ring bands on jars. Place jars in canner basket and lower into canner of hot water. Add any additional water necessary to bring water level to 1” above jar lids. Cover. Bring canner water back to full rolling boil. Start timing the canning time from this point.
  11. Have wire rack set out for bottles as they come out of the canner.

Note: The garlic clove is likely to turn a blue-green-gray color. Don’t be alarmed by this – it’s just the effect of the acid from the vinegar coming into contact with the garlic.

Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles
[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Dill Pickles

Ingredients:

2 lbs – 3” – 4” pickling cucumbers, freshly picked and washed

1 tbsp pickling salt
1¼ cups + 1 tbsp pickling vinegar
1¼ cups + 1 tbsp water
2 tbsp granulated sugar
½ tbsp pickling spice, gathered into double (or triple) layer of cheesecloth and tied into spice sachet
1 bay leaf

3 – 4 whole cloves
1 tsp mustard seed, divided equally among the jars
3 – 4 small garlic cloves, slightly smashed
Fresh dill heads, one per jar along with small bunches of feathery dill fronds
Grape leaves, medium-sized, 1 per jar

3 – 4 half-pint jars, lids, and metal ring bands (the number of jars needed will depend on the size of the cucumbers, whether they are sliced or left whole, and how compactly they are fit into the jars)
1 chopstick

Method:

Wash and trim 1/8“ from blossom end of each cucumber. Prick cucumbers 3-4 times with tines of a fork. Leave cucumbers whole or cut into two or four spears, lengthwise (or slice into “coins”). Fill the canner with hot tap water and heat to boiling point while making the brine. Begin sterilizing the jars in large pot of hot water to have them ready when brine is heated.

To make the brine, combine the pickling salt, vinegar, water, sugar, pickling spice sachet, and bay leaf in small stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce heat to low and cook brine, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring periodically. Remove from heat and discard pickling sachet and bay leaf.

Place 1 whole clove, ¼ to 1/3 teaspoon mustard seed (divide the teaspoon of seeds equally between number of jars used), and 1 small slightly smashed garlic clove in each hot, sterilized jar. Place a small bunch of feathery dill fronds along one side of the jar and one umbrella-shaped dill head on the opposite side of the jar. Fill the jars with the cucumbers, packing tightly (but not squashing them), and keeping the dill fronds and dill head in place against the sides of the jars.

Pour the hot brine into each jar, filling to within ½ inch from jar rim (head space). Use a chopstick (or small non-metal spatula) to remove any air bubbles that may have formed in the brine. Add more brine, if necessary, to bring it to ½“ from the jar rim. Add 1 grape leaf to top of each jar, pressing it below the surface of the brine, to keep cucumbers crisp. Wipe each jar rim with a clean, damp cloth. Seal the jars with heated lids. Screw on metal ring bands, fingertip tight.

Place jars in hot water bath basket, ensuring jars do not touch each other or fall over. Lower basket into canner of hot water. Ensure the water level is at least 1″ above the jar tops, adding more water as necessary. Cover with canner lid. Increase the heat to return the water to a rolling boil then decrease the heat to just keep the water at a rolling boil but not boiling over. Process half-pint jars in the hot water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting time for altitude. Start timing the processing from the point where a full rolling boil is reached after basket of jars has been added to the canner. Turn off heat and remove canner lid. Using a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars, one at a time, and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few minutes or hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Let jars rest, undisturbed, on wire rack for 12 hours. For maximum dill flavour, let sealed jars stand in cool, dark place for 6 weeks before opening.

Yield:  Approximately 3- 4 half-pint jars

Dill Pickles

These easy-to-make dill pickles combine dill, garlic, and pickling spices to transform tiny cucumbers into crunchy pickles that, with their tangy flavour, are a great accompaniment to many sandwiches and burgers.
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs – 3” - 4” pickling cucumbers, freshly picked and washed
  • 1 tbsp pickling salt
  • cups + 1 tbsp pickling vinegar
  • cups + 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ½ tbsp pickling spice, gathered into double (or triple) layer of cheesecloth and tied into spice sachet
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 - 4 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp mustard seed, divided equally among the jars
  • 3 – 4 small garlic cloves, slightly smashed
  • Fresh dill heads, one per jar along with small feathery dill fronds
  • Grape leaves, medium-sized, 1 per jar
  • 3 – 4 half-pint jars lids, and metal ring bands (the number of jars needed will depend on the size of the cucumbers, whether they are sliced or left whole, and how compactly they are fit into the jars)
  • 1 chopstick (or small non-metal spatula)

Instructions

  1. Wash and trim 1/8“ from blossom end of each cucumber. Prick cucumbers 3-4 times with tines of a fork. Leave cucumbers whole or cut into two or four spears, lengthwise (or slice into “coins”). Fill the canner with hot tap water and heat to boiling point while making the brine. Begin sterilizing the jars in large pot of hot water to have them ready when brine is heated.
  2. To make the brine, combine the pickling salt, vinegar, water, sugar, pickling spice sachet, and bay leaf in small stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce heat to low and cook brine, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring periodically. Remove from heat and discard pickling sachet and bay leaf.
  3. Place 1 whole clove, ¼ to 1/3 teaspoon mustard seed (divide teaspoon of mustard seed equally between number of jars used), and 1 small slightly smashed garlic clove in each hot, sterilized jar. Place a small bunch of feathery dill fronds along one side of the jar and one umbrella-shaped dill head on the opposite side of the jar. Fill the jars with the cucumbers, packing tightly (but not squashing them), and keeping the dill fronds and dill head in place against the sides of the jars.

  4. Pour the hot brine into each jar, filling to within ½ inch from jar rim (head space). Use a chopstick (or small non-metal spatula) to remove any air bubbles that may have formed in the brine. Add more brine, if necessary, to bring it to ½“ from the jar rim. Add 1 grape leaf to top of each jar, pressing it below the surface of the brine, to keep cucumbers crisp. Wipe each jar rim with a clean, damp cloth. Seal the jars with heated lids. Screw on metal ring bands, fingertip tight.

  5. Place jars in hot water bath basket, ensuring jars do not touch each other or fall over. Lower basket into canner of hot water. Ensure the water level is at least 1" above the jar tops, adding more water as necessary. Cover with canner lid. Increase the heat to return the water to a rolling boil then decrease the heat to just keep the water at a rolling boil but not boiling over. Process half-pint jars in the hot water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting time for altitude. Start timing the processing from the point where a full rolling boil is reached after basket of jars has been added to the canner. At the end of the processing time, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Using a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars, one at a time, and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few minutes or hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Let jars rest, undisturbed, on wire rack for 12 hours. For maximum dill flavour, let sealed jars stand in cool, dark place for 6 weeks before opening.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Approximately 3- 4 half-pint jars

Be sure to read blog posting that accompanies this recipe for more information on the procedure to make dill pickles.

For other great pickle, relish, and chow recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Mustard Pickles
Bread and Butter Pickles
Pickled Beets
Mustard Beans
Green Tomato Chow
Rhubarb Relish

Pin Me To Pinterest!

Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles

Sensational Strawberry Lemonade Recipe

Lemonade
Strawberry Lemonade

One of the wonderful things about lemonade is that it can be served simply as is or it can be flavoured with fruits in season such as I am doing today by making strawberry lemonade. How fabulous is that natural red color in the lemonade!

Lemonade
Strawberry Lemonade

This strawberry lemonade is great on a scorching hot day when you need to stay hydrated and crave a thirst-quenching drink.  The lemonade starts with the making of a simple syrup of water and sugar.  This gives the drink that lovely silky smooth texture which could not be gotten by simply combining sugar with cold water – no matter how much you stir it, sugar and cold water will never fully mix and you will be left with a grainy texture drink.  By boiling the sugar and water to make the syrup, you are sure the sugar is fully dissolved.  I find using super-fine sugar (which you may know as caster sugar, instant dissolving sugar, or berry sugar) is the best to use to make simple syrup although regular granulated sugar may also be used. Typically, a simple syrup for drinks is made with a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water.  However, I find that that is too much sugar for my taste in this lemonade so I use 1 cup of the superfine sugar to 1 1/2 cups water.

For this recipe, purée the strawberries, add some water to them along with freshly squeezed lemon juice and the simple syrup.  In order to get rid of the hundreds of little tiny strawberry seeds and to have a clear drink, the mixture will need to be strained through a very fine wire mesh sieve.  You’ll be amazed at how many seeds strawberries have!

Lemonade
Strawberry Lemonade over Ice

This is a delightful summertime drink served over ice and it has an absolutely fabulously rich colour that is all natural thanks to the ruby red strawberries.  To add a bit of fizz to the drink, mix half a glass with the lemonade and half with your favorite clear soda (lemon-lime is especially good). Add ice and garnish with a fresh strawberry and/or lemon wedge or wheel.

Lemonade
Strawberry Lemonade

This is often a drink I make to take along on picnic outings. It’s handy to have frozen because, as it thaws on the way to the picnic location, it also helps to keep the food cold.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Strawberry Lemonade

Ingredients:

1½ cup water
1 cup super-fine sugar (aka caster sugar or instant dissolving sugar)

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp coarsely grated lemon rind

3 cups strawberries, sliced
2 cups water
Pinch salt

Method:

For the simple syrup:  In small saucepan, combine the 1 1/2 water and 1 cup sugar together.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Reduce heat to medium-low and boil gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature (apx. 30-40 minutes). Add the lemon juice and lemon rind. Let mixture stand for at least an hour (or up to three hours) to allow the flavors to blend.  Strain mixture twice through a fine mesh sieve to remove the lemon pulp and rind.  Discard the pulp and rind.

For the strawberry purée:  Place strawberries in large blender.  Purée until smooth.  Slowly add in the 2 cups of water, continuing to pulse/purée until mixture is smooth.  Slowly add the strained simple syrup with lemon juice and a pinch of salt.  Purée until all ingredients are well combined.  Strain mixture through very fine wire mesh sieve to remove the strawberry seeds.

To assemble:  Transfer lemonade to a large jug or bottle.  Chill.

To serve:  Stir the chilled lemonade. Fill a tall glass approximately one-half full of ice cubes and add the lemonade.  Garnish with a fresh strawberry or lemon wheel, if desired.  Another serving suggestion includes filling a glass half full of strawberry lemonade and topping with clear soda such as lemon-lime.

Lemonade will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Freezes well.

Yield:  Approximately 6½ – 7 cups

Strawberry Lemonade

This “summer in a bottle” lemonade makes the most of fresh in-season strawberries and is a colorful, refreshing, and thirst-quenching summertime sipper when served over ice.
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Keyword Lemonade
Servings 8
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • cup water
  • 1 cup super-fine sugar (aka caster sugar or instant dissolving sugar)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp coarsely grated lemon rind
  • 3 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 2 cups water
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

  1. For the simple syrup: In small saucepan, combine the 1½ water and 1 cup sugar together. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce heat to medium-low and boil gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature (apx. 30-40 minutes). Add the lemon juice and lemon rind. Let mixture stand for at least an hour (or up to three hours) to allow the flavors to blend. Strain mixture twice through a fine mesh sieve to remove the lemon pulp and rind. Discard the pulp and rind.
  2. For the strawberry purée: Place strawberries in large blender. Purée until smooth. Slowly add in the 2 cups of water, continuing to pulse/purée until mixture is smooth. Slowly add the strained simple syrup with lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Purée until all ingredients are well combined. Strain mixture through very fine wire mesh sieve to remove the strawberry seeds.
  3. To assemble: Transfer lemonade to a large jug or bottle. Chill.
  4. To serve: Stir the chilled lemonade. Fill a tall glass approximately one-half full of ice cubes and add the lemonade. Garnish with a fresh strawberry or lemon wheel, if desired. Another serving suggestion includes filling a glass half full of strawberry lemonade and topping with clear soda such as lemon-lime.
  5. Lemonade will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Freezes well. Yields approximately 6 1/2 - 7 cups lemonade.

 

For other great Lemonade recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the following links:

Lemonade
Blueberry Lemonade
Rhubarb Lemonade

Pin Me To Pinterest!

Lemonade
Strawberry Lemonade

Rhubarb Lemonade

 

Rhubarb Lemonade
Rhubarb Lemonade

Lemonade is one of the most common of summer drinks.  Served cold, it’s very refreshing on a hot summer’s day.  Sometimes, I like to flavour my lemonades as I am doing today with rhubarb in the form of rhubarb lemonade.

Rhubarb
Rhubarb Patch

We have a good-sized patch of rhubarb so I make good use of it in many ways.  I will often cook up some excess rhubarb near the end of rhubarb season, strain it, and freeze the juice for later use or, sometimes, I will make up an entire batch or two of rhubarb lemonade and freeze that to have at the ready for sipping on those sweltering hot summer days.

Lemonade
Rhubarb Lemonade

To make the rhubarb lemonade, I start with making a simple syrup of super-fine sugar (which you may know as caster sugar or instant-dissolving sugar) and water.  The typical ratio for simple syrup is traditionally 1:1 sugar to water.  However, with the super-fine sugar, I find that ratio is a bit too sweet so I back up the sugar content to 3/4 cup.  Using the super-fine sugar (as opposed to granulated sugar) results in a lovely, silky smooth syrup.  If I was to simply try and mix sugar with cold water, it would not dissolve properly and would leave a gritty, unpleasant texture to the drink.  In a previous post for Blueberry Lemonade, I give more details on this process and you can access that post by clicking here.

Once the simple syrup has cooled to room temperature, simply add the freshly-squeezed lemon juice and some lemon rind to the syrup and let it sit a bit for the flavour to develop, then strain it through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lemon pulp, seeds, and the rind.

To make the rhubarb juice, cook rhubarb with water until the rhubarb is super soft and mushy.  This will take about 8-10 minutes of cooking.  It’s always hard to judge exactly how much rhubarb will be needed to generate the 4 cups of juice needed for this rhubarb lemonade but, generally speaking, 3 pounds of rhubarb and 3 cups of water should yield the 4 cups of juice.  If it falls short by  one-half cup or less, simply add up to one-half cup of water.  If it is more than a half cup short, you will need to cook some more rhubarb in order to keep the rhubarb flavour sufficiently strong enough.  Rhubarb juiciness varies depending on the variety and growing conditions, as well as its age, so that’s why it’s not an exact science as to exactly how much rhubarb to cook. Also, if the rhubarb is cooked too fast, too much water will evaporate and it will result in less juice.

To extract the juice from the cooked rhubarb, fit a fine mesh sieve with 3-4 layers of cheesecloth and place over a deep heat-proof bowl.  Transfer the rhubarb to the sieve and let the juice drip through on its own.  Near the end of the dripping, if the amount does not quite equal 4 cups, you may gently – very gently- press the back of a large spoon against the rhubarb mash to squeeze a bit more juice.  Don’t press the mash too hard because some impurities from the mash will slip through the loose weave cheesecloth and the lemonade will not be clear.

The color in the rhubarb lemonade photos is natural.  There is no food coloring used.

Rhubarb Juice
Rhubarb Juice

The glorious deep coral-red color comes from using the extracted juice from bright red rhubarb stalks so use the deepest red stalks you can find.

Rhubarb Stalks
Rhubarb Stalks

To make the lemonade, simply combine the strained lemon syrup with the rhubarb juice. Mix and chill then serve over ice in pretty glasses.

Rhubarb Lemonade
Rhubarb Lemonade

This lemonade freezes well but it can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. If you wish, you can also add some clear soda, such as grapefruit and lemon, to this lemonade for a fizzy drink. This rhubarb lemonade is a great crowd pleaser and is a lovely addition to summer picnics and gatherings.

Rhubarb Lemonade
Rhubarb Lemonade

 

 [Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Rhubarb Lemonade

Ingredients:

1 cup water
¾ cup super-fine sugar (aka caster sugar or instant dissolving sugar)

¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 – 2 tbsp coarsely grated lemon rind

3 lbs rhubarb, chopped into 1” chunks
3 cups water

Method:

For the simple syrup:  In small saucepan, combine the water and sugar together.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved.  Reduce heat to medium-low and boil gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature (apx. 30-40 minutes). Add the lemon juice and lemon rind. Let mixture stand for at least an hour (or up to three hours) to allow the flavors to blend.  Strain mixture twice through a fine mesh sieve to remove the lemon pulp and rind.  Discard the pulp and rind.

For the rhubarb juice:  Combine the rhubarb and water in a large pot.  Cover and bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes, or until rhubarb is completely  softened.  Place a large sieve over a big heatproof bowl.  Line the sieve with 3-4 layers of cheesecloth.  Remove the rhubarb from the heat and pour into the sieve, letting the juice drip through.  It may be necessary to use the back of a large spoon to very gently press the rhubarb pulp in order to extract all the juice out of the rhubarb.  This should yield about 4 cups, depending on the age and juiciness of the rhubarb.  If it is slightly less than 4 cups, up to ½ cup water may be added to bring the amount to 4 cups.

To assemble:  In large jug or bottle, combine 4 cups rhubarb juice with the simple syrup and lemon juice mixture. Stir well.  Chill.

To serve:  Stir the chilled lemonade. Fill a glass approximately one-half full of ice cubes and add the lemonade.  Garnish with a lemon wheel, if desired.

Will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Freezes well.

Yield:  Approximately 6 cups

Rhubarb Lemonade

With a perfect blend of sweet and tart notes, rhubarb and lemon combine to form Rhubarb Lemonade, a refreshing and thirst-quenching summertime sipper.
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup super-fine sugar aka caster sugar or instant dissolving sugar
  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 – 2 tbsp coarsely grated lemon rind
  • 3 lbs rhubarb chopped into 1” chunks
  • 3 cups water

Instructions

For the simple syrup: In small saucepan, combine the water and sugar together. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce heat to medium-low and boil gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature (apx. 30-40 minutes). Add the lemon juice and lemon rind. Let mixture stand for at least an hour (or up to three hours) to allow the flavors to blend. Strain mixture twice through a fine mesh sieve to remove the lemon pulp and rind. Discard the pulp and rind.

For the rhubarb juice: Combine the rhubarb and water in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes, or until rhubarb is completely softened. Place a large sieve over a big heatproof bowl. Line the sieve with 3-4 layers of cheesecloth. Remove the rhubarb from the heat and pour into the sieve, letting the juice drip through. It may be necessary to use the back of a large spoon to very gently press the rhubarb pulp in order to extract all the juice out of the rhubarb. This should yield about 4 cups, depending on the age and juiciness of the rhubarb. If it is slightly less than 4 cups, up to ½ cup water may be added to bring the amount to 4 cups.

To assemble: In large jug or bottle, combine 4 cups rhubarb juice with the simple syrup and lemon juice mixture. Stir well. Chill.

To serve: Stir the chilled lemonade. Fill a glass approximately one-half full of ice cubes and add the lemonade. Garnish with a lemon wheel, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Freezes well.

 

For other great lemonade recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Lemonade
Blueberry Lemonade

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Rhubarb Lemonade

Rhubarb Lemonade

Old-fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake

Rhubarb Pudding Cake
Old-fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake

Today, I am sharing my recipe for a real old-fashioned type of dessert – Rhubarb Pudding Cake. The cake is “self-saucing” which means that the delectable sauce forms underneath the simple cake batter as the cake bakes. It’s an “all-in-one” pudding and cake! It may not be the most extravagant looking dessert but it sure is mighty tasty! If you are a rhubarb lover, you will love this dessert.

Pudding Cake
Old-fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake

This pudding is easy to make and can be made with either fresh or frozen rhubarb.  In fact, I often freeze the amount of rhubarb needed for the pudding in ziploc freezer bags labeled “For Rhubarb Pudding Cake” and it’s a real treat in the middle of winter! This is an old, old family favorite of ours! For those on a gluten-free diet, this pudding is easy to make gluten free – simply replace the quantity of flour called for in the recipe with an equivalent amount of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour.  In fact, the photos in this post are of the gluten-free version of this pudding cake.

Rhubarb Pudding Cake
Rhubarb Pudding Cake

Rhubarb chunks are spread in the bottom of the baking dish then covered with a simple cake batter that is lightly spiced and then topped with a sauce made with either orange or pineapple juice. The juice trickles down through the batter and meets up with the rhubarb and the two form a heck of a tasty sauce. As the pudding bakes, a soft golden crust forms on top of the cake.  Lots of texture happening in this pudding cake!

Pudding Cake
Rhubarb Pudding Cake

This pudding cake is best served after it has been allowed to stand for 15-20 minutes after it has baked and been removed from the oven.  I sometimes serve it plain and, other times, I’ll add either a dollop of whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Old-fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake
Rhubarb Pudding Cake
[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

Ingredients:

2¾ cups rhubarb, cut into ¾“ chunks
3 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar

¾ cup all-purpose flour (or, to make it gluten free, use equivalent amount of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
1 1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
smidgeon cloves

½ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

½ cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1¼ tsp finely grated orange rind
½ cup hot orange or pineapple juice
¼ tsp almond flavouring

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 8” square baking dish.  Arrange rhubarb evenly in dish.  Set aside.

In medium-sized bowl, cream the butter using either a hand mixer or stand mixer.  Slowly add the first amount of sugar and beat at medium speed until butter and sugar are well blended.

In separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

In measuring cup, mix the milk and vanilla together. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture alternately with the wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry ingredients (three additions of dry and two additions of wet ingredients). Spread this mixture evenly over the rhubarb in the baking dish.

In measuring cup, whisk the remaining ½ cup of sugar and cornstarch together.  Mix in the grated orange rind.  Whisk in the hot orange or pineapple juice and the almond flavouring.  Pour this mixture over the batter in the baking dish.

Bake pudding for 45-50 minutes or until topping is tanned, a crust forms, and rhubarb is bubbling at the edges of the baking dish.  Let pudding stand for 15-20 minutes then spoon into dessert dishes or cut into squares.  Serve plain, top with a dollop of whipped cream, or a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

Yield:  6-8 servings

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

This easy-to-make dessert features rhubarb with an orange or pineapple-flavoured sauce that forms underneath a gently spiced cake layer as it bakes. True comfort food!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • cups rhubarb cut into ¾“ chunks
  • 3 tbsp butter softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour or, to make it gluten free, use equivalent amount of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour
  • 1 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • smidgeon cloves
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • tsp finely grated orange rind
  • ½ cup hot orange or pineapple juice
  • ¼ tsp almond flavouring

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 8” square baking dish. Arrange rhubarb evenly in dish. Set aside.
  2. In medium-sized bowl, cream the butter using either a hand mixer or stand mixer. Slowly add the first amount of sugar and beat at medium speed until butter and sugar are well blended.
  3. In separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
  4. In measuring cup, mix the milk and vanilla together. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture alternately with the wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry ingredients (three additions of dry and two additions of wet ingredients). Spread this mixture evenly over the rhubarb in the baking dish.
  5. In measuring cup, whisk the remaining ½ cup of sugar and cornstarch together. Mix in the grated orange rind. Whisk in the hot orange or pineapple juice and the almond flavouring. Pour this mixture over the batter in the baking dish.
  6. Bake pudding for 45-50 minutes or until topping is tanned, a crust forms, and rhubarb is bubbling at the edges of the baking dish. Let pudding stand for 15-20 minutes then spoon into dessert dishes or cut into squares. Serve plain, top with a dollop of whipped cream, or a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

 

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Pudding Cake
Rhubarb Pudding Cake
Pudding Cake
Rhubarb Pudding Cake

Deli-style Gluten-Free Rhubarb Granola Muffins

I love the produce our garden generates and its earliest treat is rhubarb.  It is so versatile and I make lots of recipes using rhubarb.  Today, a treat for my gluten-free diet followers — a new recipe for deli-style gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins.

Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins
Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins

There are many recipes for rhubarb muffins but many of them call for chopped rhubarb.  Rhubarb has a lot of water content and cooks fast when used in chopped form in baking goods. This extra water content can cause some baked goods to turn out soggy, particularly in the areas where the rhubarb chunks land.  To combat this problem, for this recipe, I cook the rhubarb then mash, or purée, it with a hand-held immersion blender. I then use the mashed/puréed rhubarb as part of the liquid content in the muffin batter.  So, I still get rhubarb muffins but without the wet soggy spots.

When I make muffins, I like them to be deli- or café-style which is to say I’m looking for muffins that are a reasonable size, are hearty,  have a lovely texture with a coarse crumb (not cake-like), and are filled with flavour.

Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins
Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins

Muffins are, for lack of a better way of putting it, little individual quick breads. We all know that, appearance-wise, the perfect muffin should bear a slightly domed top that has a bit of firmness to it.  There are a combination of factors that will contribute to that desired result — the right amount of leavening, the consistency of the batter, and the oven temperature.

Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins
Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins

Rhubarb is, by nature, tart.  However, it is important not to over-do the sugar content in the muffins because too much sugar will create a cake-like texture and the moist, open tender crumb, which is a hallmark feature of muffins, will be lost and you will end up with a product that more closely resembles a cupcake. A batter that is too runny will pose the risk of muffins that will rise to form stiff mountain peaks.  Adding some Greek yogurt to the batter is one way to thicken it up and reduce this risk.  Of course, the addition of the right proportions of leavening (baking powder and baking soda) are key.  Having the muffins go into a really hot oven to start them baking is also key to getting a lovely gentle dome on the muffin tops. Using the high temperature allows the outside of the muffin to quickly set while still allowing the inside to continue to rise.

Since I have been developing gluten-free muffins, one thing I have discovered is that I end up with better quality, deli-style muffins when I use a blend of gluten-free flours versus, say, one all-purpose flour or only the one-to-one gluten free flour.  Each gluten-free flour has its own unique qualities and properties and the right blend will provide structure, texture, and flavour to the muffins. The addition of granola to these muffins adds texture, flavour, and bulk to the muffins, making them more hearty and filling.

Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins
Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten Free Rhubarb Granola Muffins

Ingredients:

3½ oz rhubarb, chopped into ½ inch pieces
1½ tbsp orange juice

1 cup one-to-one gluten-free flour
2 tbsp potato starch
¼ cup gluten-free oat flour
¼ cup almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
¾ tsp zanthan gum
¼ cup gluten-free quick oats
5½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1½ tbsp ground chia seeds
1¾ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger
¼ tsp allspice
2 tsp finely grated orange rind
2/3 cup granola

2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1½ tsp vanilla
1½ tbsp orange juice
½ cup whole milk
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/3 cup cooled rhubarb purée
2 tbsp Greek style coconut yogurt or sour cream
1½ tsp rose water (optional)

Method:

In small sauce pan, combine the rhubarb and orange juice.  Cook over medium-low heat until rhubarb is softened.  Cool slightly then, using the back of a large spoon, mash up the rhubarb or, alternatively, use a handheld immersion blender to purée the rhubarb.  Set aside to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Prepare 12 muffin cups (each ½-cup capacity) by spraying each muffin cup with cooking spray or greasing individually.

Combine flours, zanthan gum, quick oats, baking powder, soda, salt, ground chia seeds, spices, and grated orange rind together in a large bowl.  Whisk ingredients well to combine. Stir in granola. 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, coconut oil, vanilla, orange juice, milk, maple syrup, Greek yogurt or sour cream, and rose water (if using). Whisk ingredients well. Stir in cooled rhubarb purée.

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 muffin cups, filling almost to the rim of each cup.  Transfer to pre-heated oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 400°F.  Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.  Do not overbake or muffins will be dry. Remove from oven and let muffins rest in pans for 5-7 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Muffins freeze well.

Yield: 12 muffins

Deli-style Gluten-Free Rhubarb Granola Muffins

Tangy rhubarb purée joins granola, spices, orange juice, and Greek yogurt to make these deli-style gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins

Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • oz rhubarb, chopped into ½ inch pieces
  • tbsp orange juice
  • 1 cup one-to-one gluten-free flour
  • 2 tbsp potato starch
  • ¼ cup gluten-free oat flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¾ tsp zanthan gum
  • ¼ cup gluten-free quick oats
  • tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • tbsp ground chia seeds
  • tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp finely grated orange rind
  • 2/3 cup granola (recipe link below)
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 extra-large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • tsp vanilla
  • tbsp orange juice
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup cooled rhubarb purée
  • 2 tbsp Greek style coconut yogurt or sour cream
  • tsp rose water optional

Instructions

  1. In small sauce pan, combine the rhubarb and orange juice. Cook over medium-low heat until rhubarb is softened. Cool slightly then, using the back of a large spoon, mash up the rhubarb or, alternatively, use a handheld immersion blender to purée the rhubarb. Set aside to cool completely.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  3. Prepare 12 muffin cups (each ½-cup capacity) by spraying each muffin cup with cooking spray or greasing individually.
  4. Combine flours, zanthan gum, quick oats, baking powder, soda, salt, ground chia seeds, spices, and grated orange rind together in a large bowl. Whisk ingredients well to combine. Stir in granola. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Set aside.
  5. In separate medium-sized bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, coconut oil, vanilla, orange juice, milk, maple syrup, Greek yogurt or sour cream, and rose water (if using). Whisk ingredients well. Stir in cooled rhubarb purée.
  6. Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients. With large spoon, mix ingredients together just until dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Do not overmix.
  7. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling almost to the rim of each cup. Transfer to pre-heated oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 400°F. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Do not overbake or muffins will be dry. Remove from oven and let muffins rest in pans for 5-7 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Muffins freeze well.

Recipe Notes

Link to granola recipe: http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2016/03/08/the-bistros-great-nut-free-granola/

 

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

The Ultimate Gluten-free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins
Deli-Style Gluten-Free Beet Muffins
Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins

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Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins
Deli-style Gluten-free Rhubarb Granola Muffins

On The Sandwich Board: Lobster Club Sandwich with a Twist

Club Sandwich
Lobster Club Sandwich

There is nothing better than lobster fresh from the sea and, living on Prince Edward Island, we are so fortunate to have ready access to this treat! The lobster fishery is one of PEI’s main fisheries.

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

It goes without saying that it’s a huge deal when the spring lobster fishing season opens.

Lobster Fishing
Lobster Fishing in all weather on PEI

Many islanders make it an annual ritual to head to a nearby wharf or beach before 6am on setting day to see the boats head out to sea to drop their traps.

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

The following day the fishers head back out to haul in the first catch of the season and we Islanders can’t wait for that first “feed” of lobster!

Arriving back in North Lake, PEI, with the day's catch
Arriving back in North Lake, PEI, with the day’s catch
Lobster
Fresh Catch of Lobster

When lobster is in season on the Island, I make good use of it as an ingredient and I find no shortage of ways in which to use the succulent meat.

So, today, on my sandwich board, is a lobster club sandwich with a twist.  It contains some of the elements of a traditional club sandwich but I jazz this version up a bit by adding lobster meat, avocado, pancetta, Havarti cheese,  lemon mayonnaise , and an avocado spread.  This fusion of complementary flavours results in a tasty (and hearty) colorful sandwich. A feast for the eyes as well as the stomach!

Lobster Club Sandwich
Lobster Club Sandwich

Lobster Club with a Twist

Sandwich ingredients:

3 slices bread of choice
2 – 3 oz cooked lobster, broken into bite-size pieces
1 oz pancetta, fried and drained
1 slice Havarti
½ small avocado, sliced and sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning (save the other half for the avocado spread)
Lettuce of choice
Tomato
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Avocado Spread (recipe follows)
Lemon Mayonnaise (recipe follows)
Butter

Avocado Spread:

½ small avocado (save the other half for slicing for sandwich)
1 – 1½ tsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
1/8 – ¼ tsp garlic salt
1 small green onion, finely sliced or diced

Lemon Mayonnaise:

1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1 small green onion, finely sliced or diced

Avocado Spread:  Chop ½ avocado into small bowl. Using a hand-held immersion blender, blend lemon juice, olive oil, garlic salt, and green onion with the avocado, just until mixed.

Lemon Mayonnaise:  Mix mayonnaise, lemon juice, and green onion together well.

To Assemble Sandwich:  Heat 1-2 tsp butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the lobster and toss gently for 2-3 minutes, just long enough to warm the lobster.  Toast and butter the three bread slices.  Layer 1:  Spread two pieces of bread with the avocado spread.  Cover one slice of bread with lettuce and top with sliced tomato, pancetta, and Havarti slice. Top with the other slice of bread that is spread with avocado spread.  Layer 2: Spread the top slice of bread with half the lemon mayonnaise.  Lay the sliced avocado on top of the bread followed by a layer of lettuce.  Top with the lobster. Spread the third slice of bread with the remaining lemon mayonnaise and place over the lobster.  Secure sandwich with toothpicks and cut in half diagonally.  Enjoy!

Yield:  One sandwich

Lobster Club with a Twist

This ultimate club sandwich combines succulent lobster meat, pancetta, Havarti, and avocado with tomato, lettuce, avocado spread, and lemon mayonnaise to make a hearty meal.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword lobster
Servings 1
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

Sandwich ingredients:

  • 3 slices bread of choice
  • 2 - 3 oz cooked lobster, broken into bite-size pieces
  • 1 oz pancetta, fried and drained
  • 1 slice Havarti
  • ½ small avocado sliced and sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning (save the other half for the avocado spread)
  • Lettuce of choice
  • Tomato
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Avocado Spread (recipe follows)
  • Lemon Mayonnaise (recipe follows)
  • Butter

Avocado Spread:

  • ½ small avocado (save the other half for slicing for sandwich)
  • 1 – 1½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/8 – ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • 1 small green onion, finely sliced or diced

Lemon Mayonnaise:

  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 small green onion, finely sliced or diced

Instructions

Avocado Spread: Chop ½ avocado into small bowl. Using a hand-held immersion blender, blend lemon juice, olive oil, garlic salt, and green onion with the avocado, just until mixed.

Lemon Mayonnaise: Mix mayonnaise, lemon juice, and green onion together well.

To Assemble Sandwich: Heat 1-2 tsp butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the lobster and toss gently for 2-3 minutes, just long enough to warm the lobster. Toast and butter the three bread slices. Layer 1: Spread two pieces of bread with the avocado spread. Cover one slice of bread with lettuce and top with sliced tomato, pancetta, and Havarti slice. Top with the other slice of bread that is spread with avocado spread. Layer 2: Spread the top slice of bread with half the lemon mayonnaise. Lay the sliced avocado on top of the bread followed by a layer of lettuce. Top with the lobster. Spread the third slice of bread with the remaining lemon mayonnaise and place over the lobster. Secure sandwich with toothpicks and cut in half diagonally. Enjoy!

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Lobster Club Sandwich
Lobster Club Sandwich

Island Summer Blush Cocktail

Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

My newly-created Island Summer Blush Cocktail is packed full of flavours that speak of springtime and early summer — rhubarb, lime, clementine, elderflower liqueur, and fizzy Prosecco.

Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

One of the key ingredients in this drink is my homemade rhubarb cordial.  I have been making this cordial for many years and I continually find new ways to use it.  We have a good-sized patch of rhubarb and, each spring, I make batches of this cordial and, what I don’t use at the time, I freeze for use at other times of the year.  Click here for my rhubarb cordial recipe.

Rhubarb Cordial
Rhubarb Cordial

My choice of elderflower liqueur was inspired by the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018. Prior to the wedding, it was announced that the flavours of the wedding cake would be lemon and elderflower.  I combined those two flavours and developed my own recipe for a lemon and elderflower cake, the recipe for which you can find by clicking here. I then thought I would create a cocktail, using elderflower liqueur, to commemorate the royal event and thus was born the Island Summer Blush Cocktail.

Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

Elderflower liqueur is made with the delicate starry white elderflower blossoms. It has complex notes and a somewhat seductive fragrance.  I would describe this liqueur as a layered fusion of floral, tropical, and citrus notes. It certainly has exotic character and  reminds me of a floral summer bouquet with fruity notes.  Its light, floral profile makes it a great match for sharper flavours like rhubarb and citrus fruits. It marries well with sparkling wines and lends itself to a multitude of cocktail concoctions.

Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

This cocktail is easy to make. Simply combine the rhubarb cordial (no substitutes), clementine and lime juices, and elderflower liqueur in a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice cubes then shake the mixture for 15-20 seconds or until condensation forms on the outside of the shaker indicating the mixture is super cold.  Strain the mixture into your fancy glass of choice then add the Prosecco.  Carefully tilt the glass slightly and slowly pour in the grenadine along the side of the glass. The grenadine should sink to the bottom of the glass giving the cocktail that lovely layered look.  Garnish with a wedge of clementine.

Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

The beautiful natural color of this cocktail reminds me of a blushing bride so, made with my Island rhubarb, flavoured with the elderflower flavour made trendy by the 2018 royal wedding, this is my Island Summer Blush Cocktail.  A perfect spring and summer cocktail to leisurely enjoy.

Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Island Summer Blush Cocktail

Ingredients:

1.5 oz Rhubarb Cordial
1 oz freshly squeezed clementine juice (about 2 clementines)
½ oz Elderflower Liqueur
1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 oz Prosecco
2 tsp Grenadine

Method:

Pour Rhubarb Cordial, clementine juice, Elderflower Liqueur, and lime juice into shaker and fill with ice cubes.  Shake for about 15-20 seconds then strain into glass.  Top with Prosecco.  Tip glass slightly and slowly pour Grenadine in down the side of the glass.  Garnish with a clementine wedge. Serve immediately.

Serves:  1

Island Summer Blush Cocktail

This Island Summer Blush Cocktail is a beautiful balance of sharp and sweet flavours. With a blend of rhubarb cordial, elderflower liqueur, citrus fruit juices, grenadine, and Prosecco, this is a lovely cocktail to especially enjoy in summer.

Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz Rhubarb Cordial
  • 1 oz freshly squeezed clementine juice (about 2 clementines)
  • ½ oz Elderflower Liqueur
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 oz Prosecco
  • 2 tsp Grenadine

Instructions

  1. Pour Rhubarb Cordial, clementine juice, Elderflower Liqueur, and lime juice into shaker and fill with ice cubes. Shake for about 15-20 seconds then strain into glass. Top with Prosecco. Tip glass slightly and slowly pour Grenadine in down the side of the glass. Garnish with a clementine wedge. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

 

For my recipe for Rhubarb Cordial, follow this link: http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2013/06/24/rhubarb-cordial/

 

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Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

Lemon Elderflower Cake Recipe

Lemon Elderflower Cake
Lemon Elderflower Cake

The inspiration for this springtime Lemon Elderflower Cake was drawn from the announcement of the lemon and elderflower flavours for the May 2018 wedding cake of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. I suspect, after this wedding, that elderflower will be the trendy new flavour for many recipes – either of the eating or drinking kind.

When I had the idea to make this cake, I questioned whether I could find elderflower liqueur (which is what I wanted to use) anywhere on PEI.  However, a visit to a local liquor store revealed that they had had numerous requests to bring in elderflower liqueur in the past couple of months to the point that they decided to carry it to see if it was a product that would sell.  I am told the bottles of St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur from France are selling well. I suspect people are curious about the flavour of elderflower, especially after it was announced as one of the flavours for the royal wedding cake.

Elderflower liqueur, made with the starry white elderflower blossoms, is rather difficult to describe. It has a somewhat seductive fragrance that I would describe as a layered fusion of floral and citrus notes perhaps from the lemon and grapefruit family. I think I can also detect hints of summer fruits like pears and peaches. It certainly has exotic character and would remind me of a floral summer bouquet with notes of fruit.

Lemon Elderberry Cake
Lemon Elderberry Cake

Nothing says springtime more than a lemon cake. I have blended freshly squeezed lemon juice with the flavour of elderflower liqueur to layer some flavour into a basic white cake and transform it into a tasty homemade Lemon Elderflower Cake. This is a true old-fashioned homemade cake that has a dense texture and moist crumb.

Lemon Elderflower Cake
Lemon Elderflower Cake

I have chosen to fill the cake layers with decadent lemon curd. I make this curd regularly and it makes a dandy cake filling.  For the icing, I have taken my standard buttercream recipe and flavoured it with the elderflower liqueur to tie the flavour of the icing and cake together.

Lemon Elderberry Cake
Lemon Elderberry Cake filled with lemon curd and smothered in elderberry-flavoured buttercream icing

This batter is sufficient for either two standard layer cake pans, either 8” or 9” in diameter.  However, for the cake in the photos, I used 6” round pans and layered three of them together.  The recipe will yield four 6” cakes but four is too high for the cake to cut easily and stay together well enough to plate attractively.  Save the fourth cake for a future use – it is divinely lovely served with crushed strawberries, ice cream, and a dollop of whipped cream. Just sayin’!   What follows is the method for a three-tier 6” cake.  If you choose to make the cake in either 8” or 9” round pans, just be aware that the baking times may need to be adjusted slightly from what the recipe indicates for the 6” cakes. With variances in ovens, I always recommend checking the cakes for doneness five minutes before the recipe indicates the cakes should be baked then checking them every five minutes thereafter until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean – the true indicator that the cakes are baked.

I chose not to color the batter yellow with gel food coloring.  I purposely left the cake white because I wanted the bright yellow lemon curd to stand out between the layers of the cake.  If, however, it takes a yellow color to make the cake look like a lemon cake for you, by all means, add small amounts of yellow gel food coloring until you get the desired intensity of color.

Lemon Elderberry Cake
Lemon Elderberry Cake

I am a huge proponent of the insulated baking strips placed around the cake pans to keep the cakes from baking unevenly and forming a dome as they bake. These strips come under various brand names. Mine are from Wilton and I swear by them.  Simply soak them in water for a few minutes then squeeze out the water and wrap a strip around each cake pan just before it goes in the oven.  I find the cakes bake much more evenly and there is less waste when it comes to leveling the cakes to prepare them for stacking together to form a tiered cake.  Some small amount of leveling is likely still going to be necessary but not nearly as much as baking the cakes without the insulated strips.

It was not so long ago that all the rage in cake decorating was the use of fondant.  Every one was anxious for the satiny smooth perfect finish.  Then, the naked cake appeared on the scene and it had very little icing, giving a more rustic and casual look to a cake.  While the naked cakes are still popular, particularly for folks who don’t want a lot of sugar icing, the current trend (at time of writing) is that tasty old-fashioned buttercream icing is back in style and piled on the cake in no particular fashion. This is great for people who are not particularly skilled with cake decorating because it is perfectly acceptable to have imperfections and uneven spreading of the icing. It’s meant to look homemade and casual.

When filling a cake with lemon curd or jam, it is advisable to pipe a ring of icing all around each layer of cake before adding the filling.  This will create a dam to prevent the filling from seeping through the icing on the side of the cake.  Pipe the icing ring about ½ inch in from the cake edge then spread the filling inside the dam.

Lemon Elderflower Cake
Lemon Elderflower Cake

I also strongly recommend crumb coating the cake with a thin layer of the icing and then placing it in the refrigerator for 25-30 minutes to set.  This will seal the cake and make the final layer of icing crumb- free.

Fresh Freesia, Wax Flowers, and Italian Ruscus Adorn the top of Lemon Elderberry Cake
Fresh Freesia, Wax Flowers, and Italian Ruscus Adorn the top of Lemon Elderberry Cake

In keeping with a spring theme, I chose to decorate this cake with fresh bright yellow-colored freesia, some small wax flowers, and some Italian ruscus.

Yellow Freesia, Pink Wax Flowers, and Italian Ruscus Cake Topper for Lemon Elderberry Cake
Yellow Freesia, Pink Wax Flowers, and Italian Ruscus Cake Topper for Lemon Elderberry Cake

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Lemon Elderflower Cake

Ingredients:

¾ cup butter, room temperature
1¾ cups + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 large egg whites, room temperature
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
1 tsp vanilla

3 cups cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

¾ cup + 2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp Elderflower liqueur

Icing:
¾ cup butter, room temperature
¾ cup shortening, room temperature
¾ tsp almond flavouring
¾ tsp vanilla
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp Elderflower Liqueur
1½ lbs icing sugar, sifted
Dash of salt (optional)

½ – 2/3 cup Lemon Curd

Method:

Cake:  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line four 6”x2” pans with parchment circles on the bottoms and line the sides of each pan with a long continuous strip of parchment paper. Spray pans lightly with cooking spray to hold the parchment in place. Spray parchment-lined pans lightly with cooking spray.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter then slowly add the sugar.  Beat until mixture is light and fluffy.  Add the whole eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Repeat with the egg whites, adding one at a time.  Add the lemon juice, grated lemon rind, and vanilla. Beat well.

Sift the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.  In a one-cup measuring cup, combine the milk and Elderflower Liqueur.  Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter-sugar mixture alternately with the liquid ingredients in three additions, starting and ending with the dry ingredients, and beating well after each addition.  Beat one additional minute on medium speed.

Transfer batter equally among the pans and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until cake tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean. It is recommended to check cakes the first time around the 25-minute baking point, then check them every five minutes until they test done. Cool cakes on wire cake racks for 10 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely before frosting cakes.

Icing:  In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter and shortening together until blended and creamy.  Beat in the almond flavouring, vanilla, water, and liqueur.  Gradually add the icing sugar, a cup at a time, beating well after each addition.

Assembly:  Use three of the four cakes.  Reserve fourth for another use. Level each cake to the same height.  Brush off loose crumbs from each cake. Place one cake on cake plate or cake stand.  Spoon about ¾ cup icing into icing bag fitted with round tip.  Pipe a circle of icing around cake edge, about ½“ in from the outside edge, to form a dam.  Spoon lemon curd inside the dam.  Place second layer of cake over filling and repeat with icing circle and lemon curd filling.  Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of the icing (this will look messy and that’s okay).  Place cake in refrigerator to set for 25-30 minutes then remove and ice the cake with a thicker layer of icing.  Decorate as desired.  Refrigerate until use. (Freeze any leftover icing for a future use.)

Yield:  One 3-layer 6” cake (or one  8” or 9”  2-layer cake)

Note:  The baking times given are for the 6” cakes.  This cake may be made in two 8” or 9” round pans; however, baking times may need to be adjusted.

Lemon Elderflower Cake

Made with real lemon and a hint of elderberry liqueur, this Lemon Elderberry Cake is deliciously moist with its lemon curd filling and elderberry-flavoured buttercream icing.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 10
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

Cake:

  • ¾ cup butter room temperature
  • cups + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites room temperature
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice strained
  • 1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup + 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp Elderflower Liqueur

Icing:

  • ¾ cup butter room temperature
  • ¾ cup shortening room temperature
  • ¾ tsp almond flavouring
  • ¾ tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp Elderflower Liqueur
  • lbs icing sugar sifted
  • Dash of salt optional
  • ½ - 2/3 cup Lemon Curd

Instructions

Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 6”x2” pans with parchment circles on the bottoms and line the sides of each pan with a long continuous strip of parchment paper. Spray pans lightly with cooking spray to hold the parchment in place. Spray parchment-lined pans lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter then slowly add the sugar. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the whole eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Repeat with the egg whites, adding one at a time. Add the lemon juice, grated lemon rind, and vanilla. Beat well.
  3. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. In a one-cup measuring cup, combine the milk and Elderflower Liqueur. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter-sugar mixture alternately with the liquid ingredients in three additions, starting and ending with the dry ingredients, and beating well after each addition. Beat one additional minute on medium speed.

  4. Transfer batter equally among the pans and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until cake tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean. It is recommended to check cakes the first time around the 25-minute baking point, then check them every five minutes until they test done. Cool cakes on wire cake racks for 10 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely before frosting cakes.

Icing:

  1. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter and shortening together until blended and creamy. Beat in the almond flavouring, vanilla, water, and liqueur. Gradually add the icing sugar, a cup at a time, beating well after each addition.

Assembly:

  1. Use three of the four cakes. Reserve fourth for another use. Level each cake to the same height. Brush off loose crumbs from each cake. Place one cake on cake plate or cake stand. Spoon about ¾ cup icing into icing bag fitted with round tip. Pipe a circle of icing around cake edge, about ½“ in from the outside edge, to form a dam. Spoon lemon curd inside the dam. Place second layer of cake over filling and repeat with icing circle and lemon curd filling. Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of the icing (this will look messy and that’s okay). Place cake in refrigerator to set for 25-30 minutes then remove and ice the cake with a thicker layer of icing. Decorate as desired. Refrigerate until use. (Freeze any leftover icing for a future use.)

Recipe Notes

Note: The baking times given are for the 6” cakes. This cake may be made in two 8” or 9” round pans; however, baking times may need to be adjusted.

 

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Lemon Elderflower Cake
Lemon Elderflower Cake

Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-vent Recipe

Creamed Chicken
Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-vent

One of my favorite recipes is Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-vent. Some may know this as “creamed chicken”.  I actually make up a large batch of this delectable dish and freeze it in serving-sized portions.  It makes a quick and easy meal when all that has to be done is bake the frozen patty shells, heat up the creamed mixture, and toss a green salad.

Creamed Chicken
Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-Vent

This recipe makes four generous servings. The great thing about this recipe is that it is a good way to use up cooked chicken if you have any or, if time is limited, it can even be made with a rotisserie chicken from the deli.  Even though it is called “chicken” vol-au-vent, turkey can certainly be used as well.

While my preference is to use the puff pasty shells, commonly called “patty shells”, because they are light, airy, and ever-so-flaky, this creamed chicken mixture can also be served over toast points or biscuits fresh from the oven. I have even used appetizer-sized patty shells to serve this dish as part of a savory course for an afternoon tea. Fancy enough for company fare but easy enough for a weeknight meal.

Creamed Chicken
Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-vent

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-vent Recipe

Ingredients

Sauce:
2-3 tbsp butter
3½ tbsp all-purpose flour
¾ cup chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
1 tbsp cooking sherry (optional)
¼ tsp garlic salt
Sprinkle pepper
Dash of paprika
2-3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Filling:
2-3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp red pepper, finely chopped
3 tbsp celery, finely chopped
6-8 small white button mushrooms, sliced

1 cup cooked chicken, cubed

4 frozen puff pastry patty shells (or, alternatively, biscuits or toast cups)

Method:

Sauce: In medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour. Combine the chicken broth, milk, and sherry and whisk into the flour-butter mixture, whisking until smooth. Season with garlic salt, pepper, and paprika.  Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened.  Add the Parmesan cheese and stir until cheese is melted.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Filling: In medium-sized frypan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion, red pepper, celery, and mushrooms.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Add the chicken and toss just until heated.

Assembly:  Bake patty shells according to package directions.  Add sautéed vegetables and chicken to the sauce. Stir gently to combine. Heat over medium-low heat to ensure all ingredients are heated.  Spoon hot mixture into baked patty shells.  Serve with a side salad.

Yield: 4 generous servings

Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-vent Recipe

An easy-to-make delectable creamed chicken filling encased in light and flaky puff pastry shells. Perfect for company fare but easy enough for weeknight meals.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Chicken, Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-Vent, Vol-au-Vent
Servings 4
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

Sauce:

  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • tbsp all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tbsp cooking sherry optional
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • Sprinkle pepper
  • Dash of paprika
  • 2-3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Filling:

  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp onion finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp red pepper finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp celery finely chopped
  • 6-8 small white button mushrooms sliced
  • 1 cup cooked chicken cubed

Instructions

Sauce: In medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Combine the chicken broth, milk, and sherry and whisk into the flour-butter mixture, whisking until smooth. Season with garlic salt, pepper, and paprika. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

Filling: In medium-sized frypan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, red pepper, celery, and mushrooms. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken and toss just until heated.

Assembly: Bake patty shells according to package directions. Add sautéed vegetables and chicken to the sauce. Stir gently to combine. Heat over medium-low heat to ensure all ingredients are heated. Spoon hot mixture into baked patty shells. Serve with a side salad.

 

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Creamed Chicken
Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-Vent

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

If you are a chocolate lover, this Chocolate Biscuit Cake is for you!  What’s not to love about cookies and chocolate bar chunks encased in a rich ganache then smothered with a decadent chocolate ganache glaze!

Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

 

I am giving alternate instructions for making a gluten-free version of the cake and want to point out, at the offset, if you are making the gluten-free version, ensure that all ingredients called for in the recipe (not just the cookies and chocolate bars) are, in fact, gluten free.

The Chocolate Biscuit Cake is said to be a favorite teatime treat of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It’s also said to be a favorite of Prince William who chose it as his groom’s cake at his April 2011 wedding to Katherine Middleton.  There are many versions and recipes for this cake which is sometimes referred to as “refrigerator cake” because it is a no-bake cake that is set by refrigeration.

 

Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Traditionally, the cake is made with biscuits (the British term for what is known as “cookies” in North America). The sturdy, crisp Digestive cookies are the traditional ingredients. These would be found in the cookie aisles of the larger supermarkets, under brand names such as McVities, Christie, and others. The label on the package will say “Digestives”. The Digestives are very plain-flavored and thin.

Digestive Biscuits
McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits

Sometimes, rich tea biscuits may also be added to the cake and they will be labeled as “Rich Tea Biscuits”. They are similar to the Digestives, just a little bit sweeter.

Rich Tea Biscuits
McVitie’s Rich Tea Biscuits

I wanted to make my version of the Chocolate Biscuit Cake gluten free and could not find any gluten-free commercially-made Digestive cookies locally.  So, I improvised, knowing I’d need a “sturdy” cookie that would not become soggy or break apart in the cake as the warm ganache was added. I took my gluten-free Snickerdoodle recipe (click here for that recipe), halved it, using a medium egg instead of the extra-large egg the recipe calls for, omitted the nutmeg and cardamom, and did not roll the cookies in the spice-sugar mixture.  I made the cookies the night before making the cake, baked them an extra 2 minutes to crisp them up, and left them on the counter overnight. This resulted in a hard, crisp, sturdy cookie that could hold its own in the cake. I weighed out the cookies to get 8 oz and it took 13 of the Snickerdoodles which were made the size indicated in my recipe.

Cookies
Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies

It’s really important to use crisp, not soft and chewy, cookies in this recipe as the cookies have to be able to stand up to being tossed with the chocolate ganache and packed into the pan without being broken into unrecognizable crumbs or becoming soggy.  They are meant to give a crunchy texture to the cake. Break up the cookies by hand, not by food processor, into bite-sized chunks. Using a food processor will chop them up too fine and result in crumbs.  You want to see actual chunks of cookies (er, biscuits!) in the cake. The photo below shows the size of the cookie chunks I used in the cake.

 

Chopped Cookies for Biscuit Cake
Chopped Cookies for Biscuit Cake

The photo below demonstrates how the cookies and chocolate bar chunks are visible in the finished cake.

Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

I used crisp and crunchy Butterfinger chocolate bars in the recipe instead of using all cookies for the ingredients.  I chose the Butterfinger bars because their label said they were gluten-free and also because I really like this bar and it is crunchy enough to remain intact in the cake. This added extra flavour and crunch and made the cake just a bit more interesting. If, however, you wish not to add chocolate bars to the cake, simply replace the 6 oz called for with that weight of additional cookies, either more Digestives or some Rich Tea Biscuits (or, for the gluten-free version, more gluten-free Snickerdoodles).

A good quality dark chocolate is needed for this recipe because it is a huge ingredient in the cake and ganache glaze and you really taste the properties of the chocolate in the ganache – don’t compromise on this ingredient.  If you are making a gluten-free version of the cake, be sure to check the package label on the chocolate to ensure that it contains no trace of wheat because, as I discovered, some packages do say the chocolate contains, may contain, or may have been in contact with wheat.

Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Biscuit Cake is traditionally made with golden syrup which I could not source locally so I substituted amber corn syrup with success.  I also added one medium-sized egg as a binder for the ingredients. Not all Biscuit Cakes call for an egg as an ingredient but I think it adds to, and helps stabilize, the texture of the ganache in the cake.

Adding the chocolate liqueur is optional but it really does add a dimension of deeper flavour.  If you’re going to have an extravagant “death by chocolate” cake experience, you might as well go all the way!

Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Some Biscuit Cake recipes call for additional ingredients like raisins, nuts, and dried fruit. I don’t add those to my cake because, to me, that’s taking away from a Biscuit Cake and moving it more to a non-baked fruit cake. And, I don’t think the cake needs these ingredients – this, of course, is a personal preference.

The easiest pan to use for this recipe is the 6” round springform pan (3” deep) because it makes it so easy to unmold the cake. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper to facilitate the removal of the cake from the pan.  I recommend using a separate circle of parchment for the pan bottom and one long continuous strip of parchment to go around the sides of the pan. This is recommended over simply cutting a large piece of parchment paper and squashing it into the pan which will result in uneven nooks, crannies, and wrinkles into which the batter can escape. This will cause the cake to have an uneven appearance when unmolded.

If you don’t have a small springform pan, other pans (e.g., a non-springform 6” round pan (3” deep) or a 6”x9”x3″ loaf pan) can be used.  However, the pan will need to be lined such that the liner gives “handles” with which to lift the cake from the pan since the sides of the pan will not spring open for easy removal. For example, you might line the pan with plastic wrap, leaving enough excess that it could be used to lift the cake from the pan.  The cake mixture is likely to have cooled enough by this point that it is safe to pack it into a plastic wrap lined pan. However, if in doubt, I’d suggest lining the plastic wrapped pan with parchment paper so the cake is not in direct contact with the plastic wrap.

 

Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

My preference, when preparing the chocolate ganache for the cake itself, is to use a double boiler or, if you don’t have one, a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. I find this gives greater control and less risk of scorching the ingredients which could occur if heated over direct heat. It’s important to let this ganache cool for about 10 minutes before mixing it into the cookie and chocolate bar mixture because a really hot mixture will melt the chocolate on the Butterfinger bars thus losing that texture and it may cause even the most sturdy of cookies to become soggy. Cover the pan with plastic wrap secured with an elastic band. Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours to let it set, then unmold it to a serving plate.

The chocolate for the ganache glaze is chopped a bit finer than that needed for the ganache in the cake. The reason it needs to be a bit smaller is because the hot whipping cream mixture is used to melt the chocolate, off heat, and smaller pieces will melt easier and faster.  The chocolate does not, however, need to be chopped super fine for this. After the hot whipping cream has been poured over the chocolate and let stand for 3-5 minutes, give the mixture a good stir.  To make the ganache silky smooth, I recommend using a hand-held immersion blender. After letting the ganache sit for 12-15 minutes to cool slightly so it does not melt the cake, simply pour it over the top of the cake, letting the glaze run down the sides. Don’t worry about getting the ganache glaze perfectly smooth on the sides – it’s not fondant and imperfections are perfectly fine on this cake! Using an offset spatula or a dinner knife, spread the ganache so it covers the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate for at least an hour before cutting and serving the cake.

Serve this delectable cake with just the plain ganache glaze or decorate as desired.

Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

While it may sound like a stretch to be able to get 12 servings from a 6” cake, this Chocolate Biscuit Cake is very rich so small pieces per serving will suffice!

Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

What a delightful decadent treat!

Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Cake:
8 oz high quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
8 oz Digestive cookies (such as McVities) or, to make the cake gluten-free, 8 oz of My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Gluten-free Snickerdoodle cookies, broken into chunks by hand
6 oz Butterfinger Bars, broken or chopped into chunks

½ cup butter (no substitutes)
3 tbsp whipping cream (35%M.F.)
½ cup amber corn syrup
1 medium-sized egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp chocolate liqueur (optional)

Chocolate Ganache Glaze:
6 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup whipping cream (35%M.F.)
2 tbsp butter (no substitutes)
1½ tbsp chocolate liqueur (optional)

Method:
Cake:  Prepare 6” springform pan (3” deep) by lining bottom with a circle of parchment paper and lining the sides of the pan with a long continuous strip of parchment paper.

Coarsely chop the chocolate. Set aside.

In large, heatproof bowl, break up the cookies, by hand, into bite-sized chunks.  Do the same for the Butterfinger bars, using a knife, if necessary to break up the crisp bars. Gently toss the cookies and chocolate bars together.

On cooktop, in top of double boiler over simmering water, melt the butter.  When the butter is about half melted, whisk in the whipping cream, corn syrup, and slightly beaten egg.  Stir in the 8 oz of coarsely chopped chocolate until it is melted.  Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate liqueur.  Cool for approximately 10 minutes.

Pour the slightly cooled chocolate mixture over the broken cookies and chocolate bar chunks.  Stir gently until the mixture is coated with chocolate, trying not to further break up the cookies and bars.

Transfer mixture to the prepared pan and gently pack mixture into the pan.  Using an offset spatula, or a dinner knife, smooth the top of the cake as best possible.  Cover pan with plastic wrap secured with an elastic band. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Prepare Chocolate Ganache Glaze as follows.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze: Chop the 6 oz dark chocolate into small chunks and place in a heatproof bowl.

In small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, over medium heat, bring the whipping cream and butter just to the boiling point, stirring to prevent scorching.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate pieces, tilting and swirling the bowl to ensure all the chocolate is covered with the cream.  Add the chocolate liqueur.  Let stand 3-5 minutes to allow the hot cream to melt the chocolate. Stir. Using a hand-held immersion blender, blend the mixture just until all the chocolate is smooth and no chocolate chunks remain.

Let ganache stand for 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile, unmold cake and transfer to serving plate. Pour the slightly cooled ganache over the cake, letting the ganache drip down the sides.  Use an offset spatula, or knife, spread the ganache over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate for about an hour to set.

Serve cake plain or decorate as desired.

Yield:  Apx. 12 servings

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

A decadent no-bake cake that features crumbled biscuits (cookies) and chocolate bar chunks in a rich chocolate ganache
Course Dessert
Servings 12
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 8 oz high quality dark chocolate coarsely chopped
  • 8 oz Digestive cookies such as McVities or, to make the cake gluten-free, 8 oz of My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Gluten-free Snickerdoodle cookies, broken into chunks by hand
  • 6 oz Butterfinger Bars broken or chopped into chunks
  • ½ cup butter no substitutes
  • 3 tbsp whipping cream 35%M.F.
  • ½ cup amber corn syrup
  • 1 medium-sized egg lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp chocolate liqueur optional

Chocolate Ganache Glaze:

  • 6 oz dark chocolate coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream 35%M.F.
  • 2 tbsp butter no substitutes
  • tbsp chocolate liqueur optional

Instructions

Cake:

  1. Prepare 6” springform pan (3” deep) by lining bottom with a circle of parchment paper and lining the sides of the pan with a long continuous strip of parchment paper.
  2. Coarsely chop the chocolate. Set aside.
  3. In large, heatproof bowl, break up the cookies, by hand, into bite-sized chunks. Do the same for the Butterfinger bars, using a knife, if necessary to break up the crisp bars. Gently toss the cookies and chocolate bars together.
  4. On cooktop, in top of double boiler over simmering water, melt the butter. When the butter is about half melted, whisk in the whipping cream, corn syrup, and slightly beaten egg. Stir in the 8 oz of coarsely chopped chocolate until it is melted. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate liqueur. Cool for approximately 10 minutes.
  5. Pour the slightly cooled chocolate mixture over the broken cookies and chocolate bar chunks. Stir gently until the mixture is coated with chocolate, trying not to further break up the cookies and bars.
  6. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan and gently pack mixture into the pan. Using an offset spatula, or a dinner knife, smooth the top of the cake as best possible. Cover pan with plastic wrap secured with an elastic band. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  7. Prepare Chocolate Ganache Glaze as follows.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze:

  1. Chop the 6 oz dark chocolate into small chunks and place in a heatproof bowl.
  2. In small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, over medium heat, bring the whipping cream and butter just to the boiling point, stirring to prevent scorching. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate pieces, tilting and swirling the bowl to ensure all the chocolate is covered with the cream. Add the chocolate liqueur. Let stand 3-5 minutes to allow the hot cream to melt the chocolate. Stir. Using a hand-held immersion blender, blend the mixture just until all the chocolate is smooth and no chocolate chunks remain.
  3. Let ganache stand for 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile, unmold cake and transfer to serving plate. Pour the slightly cooled ganache over the cake, letting the ganache drip down the sides. Use an offset spatula, or knife, spread the ganache over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate for about an hour to set.
  4. Serve cake plain or decorate as desired.

Recipe Notes

Be sure to read the accompanying blog post to this recipe as it gives hints and tips on making this Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Click this link for My Island Bistro Kitchen's GF Snickerdoodle Cookie recipe: Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookie Recipe

 

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Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

 

Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

 

 

Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Clumpy Almond Butter Granola Recipe

Almond Butter Granola
Almond Butter Granola

Homemade granola is so easy to make and customize to individual tastes.  So long as you keep the proportions of ingredients, substitutions are perfectly acceptable.  For example, my recipe calls for 3/4 cup of dried cranberries, cherries, or blueberries; however, if those don’t strike your fancy, substitute the same quantity of raisins and/or chopped dates, for example. I don’t include nuts in my granola but, if they are your taste, but all means substitute them, in the same quantity, for one of the dried fruits called for in the recipe.

I wanted this granola recipe to be crisp and clumpy, not silky fine with each ingredient separated individually.  In order to get a clumpy texture, there needs to be some binders added to the mix to get the ingredients to stick together.  In this case, I am using a combination of almond butter, maple syrup, honey, coconut oil, and an egg white which has been beaten till frothy. The other trick to getting clumpy granola is to refrain from stirring it while it bakes or cools. If the granola starts to brown too quickly in the oven, instead of stirring it, rotate the baking sheet and/or reduce the oven heat.

Almond Butter Granola
Almond Butter Granola

The basic structure of any granola recipe is simply cereal, oil of some kind, and sweetener.  The typical cereal is large flake rolled oats.  Various kinds of oil can be used – I like to use coconut oil.  For sweeteners, I typically choose maple syrup but have also included honey in this recipe along with almond butter, all three of which also provide flavour in addition to the spices. The addition of mix-ins (i.e., dried fruits, berries, nuts, chocolate, etc.) are purely personal taste.

Almond Butter Granola
Almond Butter Granola

I like granola as a cereal, topped on yogurt, as a snack and, heck, I even toss some on my salads to add a crunchy texture and flavour boost!

Almond Butter Granola
Almond Butter Granola

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Almond Butter Granola

Ingredients:

2 cups large flake rolled oats
1½ cups puffed brown rice cereal
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1½ tbsp ground chia seeds

¾ cup dried coconut shavings

¾ cup dried cranberries, cherries, or blueberries (or a combination of two or three)
2/3 cup golden raisins
½ cup hemp hearts
1/3 cup dried apricots
¼ cup dried pineapple
1/3 cup dried papaya

½ cup coconut oil
6 tbsp smooth almond butter
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cardamom
¼ tsp nutmeg
Pinch ginger
Pinch salt

1 extra-large egg white

Method:
 
Preheat oven to 300°F.  Line large rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil.  Spray lightly with cooking oil.

Combine rolled oats, puffed brown rice cereal, ground flaxseed, and ground chia seeds in large bowl.

In separate large bowl, combine cranberries, cherries, and/or blueberries along with the raisins, hemp hearts, apricots, pineapple, and papaya. Set aside.

In small saucepan, combine coconut oil, almond butter, maple syrup, honey, vanilla, spices, and salt.  Stir over medium-low heat until mixture is well blended and heated. Do not boil. Pour over rolled oats mixture and stir.

Beat egg white until frothy. Pour over rolled oats and syrup mixture.  Stir to coat mixture with the egg white.

Spread oats evenly in a single layer on baking sheet.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until oats are a deep caramel color and start to get crispy and fragrant.  Do not stir during the baking. If granola starts to brown quickly, rotate the baking sheet in the oven and/or reduce the heat. Add coconut shavings to oats during the last 5 minutes of baking.  Remove from oven and cool for 20-30 minutes then transfer toasted oat mixture to the large bowl containing the dried fruit.  Stir well to combine all ingredients.  Store granola in airtight container at room temperature for 5-7 days or store in refrigerator for longer use.

Yield: Apx. 8 cups

Clumpy Almond Butter Granola

A crunchy and clump lightly spiced granola made with almond butter, maple syrup, and honey
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 cups large flake rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups puffed brown rice cereal
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup dried coconut shavings
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries, cherries, or blueberries (or a combination of two or three)
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup hemp hearts
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup dried pineapple
  • 1/3 cup dried papaya
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 6 tbsp smooth almond butter
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch ginger
  • pinch salt
  • 1 extra-large egg white

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil. Spray lightly with cooking oil.
  2. Combine rolled oats, puffed brown rice cereal, ground flaxseed, and ground chia seeds in large bowl.
  3. In separate large bowl, combine cranberries, cherries, and/or blueberries along with the raisins, hemp hearts, apricots, pineapple, and papaya. Set aside.
  4. In small saucepan, combine coconut oil, almond butter, maple syrup, honey, vanilla, spices, and salt. Stir over medium-low heat until mixture is well blended and heated. Do not boil. Pour over rolled oats mixture and stir.
  5. Beat egg white until frothy. Pour over rolled oats and syrup mixture. Stir to coat mixture with the egg white.
  6. Spread oats evenly in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until oats are a deep caramel color and start to get crispy and fragrant. Do not stir during the baking. If granola starts to brown quickly, rotate the baking sheet in the oven and/or reduce the heat. Add coconut shavings to oats during the last 5 minutes of baking. Remove from oven and cool for 20-30 minutes then transfer toasted oat mixture to the large bowl containing the dried fruit. Stir well to combine all ingredients. Store granola in airtight container at room temperature for 5-7 days or store in refrigerator for longer use.

    Yield: Apx. 8 cups

For another great granola recipe from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the link below:

The Bistro’s Great Nut-free Granola

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Granola
Almond Butter Granola

Cherry Loaf Recipe

Cherry Loaf
Cherry Loaf

This Cherry Loaf recipe is as pretty as it is tasty, speckled with maraschino cherries that, themselves, lend great flavour to the loaf.

Quick breads, leavened with baking powder, and sometimes soda, are an easy alternative to muffins – but, they’re born of the same family!  They are quick to make (because there is no yeast involved) and are great additions to breakfast, brunch, and coffeebreaks.

There are two methods for making quick breads.

Creaming Method – This method calls for the solid fat product (shortening, butter, or margarine) to be softened at room temperature for 25-30 minutes (not microwaved which can change its properties and can cause it to quickly become liquefied). The fat is then beaten/creamed, either by hand if you are prepared to devote some elbow grease to the process, or by electric mixer on low speed. The sugar is then added and creamed with the fat product until the mixture is a pale or light colour and the texture is airy or fluffy. This “creaming’ process whips air into the batter which allows air pockets (or bubbles) to form (and expand during baking) that, in addition to leavening agents such as baking powder and soda, help the cake or loaf to rise.

The room temperature eggs are then added, one at a time.  Adding the eggs, with this technique, allows them time to, individually and slowly, mix in well with the creamed fat and sugar mixture and limit the possibility of them curdling.  The watery eggs and the fat product don’t naturally mix well, or bind, together (same principle as trying to mix water and oil together).  If all the eggs called for in the recipe are added all at once, they become more than what the fat-sugar mixture can handle at the same time and the ingredients separate and look curdled or scrambled. Adding the eggs slowly allows them to be better incorporated with the fat-sugar mixture.

With the creamed method, the liquid ingredients are combined together in one bowl or measuring cup and the dry ingredients are whisked together in a separate bowl.  The dry ingredients are added to the creamed mixture alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients (three additions of dry to two additions of wet ingredients). While the stand mixer should be fitted with the paddle attachment for the creaming method, it’s important not to over-beat the batter once the flour and liquid ingredients have been added because that will cause gluten to form and a loaf with a tough crumb is likely to result. Beat only until all the ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth.

This method will yield a moist texture loaf with a fine crumb (lots of tiny holes of fairly uniform size), reminiscent of a  dense cake texture.

Cherry Loaf
Slice of Cherry Loaf

Muffin Method – This method calls for the dry ingredients to be whisked together well in one bowl.  All the liquid ingredients are mixed in a separate bowl with oil or a fat that has been liquefied (and, often, the sugar is mixed in with the liquid ingredients).  The liquid ingredients are then simply added to the dry ingredients and stirred together just until the ingredients are barely combined.

Because no creaming of butter and sugar is involved in this method, the loaf will not have the added advantage of the air pockets being formed by this process to help the loaf to rise. In this method, the loaf will rely solely on leavening agents (baking powder, soda) to rise. The batter will often be lumpy  which is okay (it will even out on its own during baking) and it’s important not to overmix the batter trying to get it smooth as this will activate the development of gluten that will result in a tough crumb.

For this method, stir the mixture by hand because an electric mixer will overmix the batter. This method will often yield a slightly drier texture (than the creaming method does) with a larger, coarser crumb in the loaf, closely resembling the texture of muffins, hence the name “muffin method”.

The muffin method is commonly used to mix up waffles and pancakes as well.

Cherry Loaf
Cherry Loaf

My recipe for Cherry Loaf uses the creamed method because I want a delicate, refined texture in this particular loaf.

Cherry Loaf
Cherry Loaf

All ingredients should be at room temperature for about 25-30 minutes before mixing the batter.  The ingredients blend better if they are at room temperature. If you think of nice soft butter or shortening being hit with cold eggs or milk, it’s obvious that the ingredients will simply clump together rather than blend in well. The result will be a loaf that does not have the best texture possible.

There is a choice of fat product in this loaf – either shortening, butter, or margarine will yield a good loaf.  Butter, however, will obviously give the most flavor 😉

This loaf calls for maraschino cherries.  These are the best option for this loaf because they are soft and beautifully bright colored.  Dried cherries are too chewy and coarse and will not create the lovely red-dotted speckles throughout the loaf.  Maraschino cherries, however, are wet and if they are not blotted dry, they will add too much excess moisture to the loaf.  I recommend blotting the cherries with a paper towel, cutting them, and blotting them again.  The idea is not to dry them out but, rather, to remove the excess moisture.

Cherry Loaf
Cherry Loaf

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Cherry Loaf

Ingredients:

1/3 cup shortening, butter, or margarine
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs, room temperature

2/3 cup milk, room temperature
1½ tbsp orange juice, room temperature
2½ tbsp maraschino cherry juice, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp almond flavouring

2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup maraschino cherries, well-drained, blotted dry, and coarsely chopped

Method:

Bring shortening, butter, or margarine, eggs, milk, and orange and maraschino cherry juices to room temperature approximately 25-30 minutes before preparing batter.

Remove cherries from their juice and, using paper towel, blot them dry.  Cut up cherries and blot again on paper towel to remove the excess moisture. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease 9”x5”x3” loaf pan.

In 1-cup measuring cup, or small bowl, combine the milk, orange juice, cherry juice, vanilla, and almond flavouring. Stir to mix.

In medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together well.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and on low speed, cream the shortening, butter, or margarine well.  Gradually add the granulated sugar, then the brown sugar.  Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until ingredients are pale-colored and mixture has an airy/fluffy texture. Stop mixer, as necessary, to scrape bowl with rubber spatula to ensure the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and using the spatula, as necessary, to scrape sides of bowl.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients (three additions of dry ingredients with two additions of wet ingredients).  Periodically scrape sides of bowl with spatula to ensure all ingredients are combined. Do not overmix.

Remove bowl from mixer stand and stir in the cherries by hand, just until they are blended in.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and, using a knife, smooth the top of the loaf.  Bake for approximately 1 hour or until cake tester inserted into center of loaf comes out clean. If loaf starts to brown, it may be loosely tented with tin foil after about 45 minutes of baking; ensure loaf top is completely set before allowing the tin foil to touch it as it will peel off the top of the loaf. Let loaf rest in pan for 10 minutes then turn out on to wire rack to cool completely before cutting.

Yield:  One loaf, 14 slices (sliced approximately ½” thick)

Notes:  Loaf is best made the day before it is needed.  Let cool completely on wire rack then place in airtight plastic bag and store in refrigerator overnight to allow the flavours time to blend and the loaf to soften.  Loaf freezes well.

Cherry Loaf

This flavourful cherry loaf is an easy-to-make moist quick bread that is speckled with colorful maraschino cherries

Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 14
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup shortening, butter, or margarine
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tbsp orange juice, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 tbsp maraschino cherry juice, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp almond flavouring
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup maraschino cherries, well-drained, blotted dry, and coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. Bring shortening, butter, or margarine, eggs, milk, and orange and maraschino cherry juices to room temperature approximately 25-30 minutes before preparing batter.
  2. Remove cherries from their juice and, using paper towel, blot them dry. Cut up cherries and blot again on paper towel to remove the excess moisture. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9”x5”x3” loaf pan.
  4. In 1-cup measuring cup, or small bowl, combine the milk, orange juice, cherry juice, vanilla, and almond flavouring. Stir to mix.
  5. In medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together well.
  6. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and on low speed, cream the shortening, butter, or margarine well. Gradually add the granulated sugar, then the brown sugar. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until ingredients are pale-colored and mixture has an airy/fluffy texture. Stop mixer, as necessary, to scrape bowl with rubber spatula to ensure the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
  7. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and using the spatula, as necessary, to scrape sides of bowl.
  8. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients (three additions of dry ingredients with two additions of wet ingredients). Periodically scrape sides of bowl with spatula to ensure all ingredients are combined. Do not overmix.
  9. Remove bowl from mixer stand and stir in the cherries by hand, just until they are blended in.
  10. Transfer batter to prepared pan and, using a knife, smooth the top of the loaf. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until cake tester inserted into center of loaf comes out clean. If loaf starts to brown, it may be loosely tented with tin foil after about 45 minutes of baking; ensure loaf top is completely set before allowing the tin foil to touch it as it will peel off the top of the loaf. Let loaf rest in pan for 10 minutes then turn out on to wire rack to cool completely before cutting.

Recipe Notes

Notes: Loaf is best made the day before it is needed. Let cool completely on wire rack then place in airtight plastic bag and store in refrigerator overnight to allow the flavours time to blend and the loaf to soften. Loaf freezes well.

 

For other quick bread recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

 Cinnamon Sweet Bread
Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread

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Cherry Loaf
Cherry Loaf

 

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Irish Stew

I love a bowl of rich Irish Stew any time of the year but, for certain, I will make it around St. Patrick’s Day! It’s a filling and tummy-warming stew that is always a welcome sight on the dinner table.

Irish Stew
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Irish Stew

According to my research, traditional Irish Stew was made with cheap cuts of mutton or lamb and basic root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, onions, and turnips. Years ago, these would have been ingredients that were, no doubt, simply what would have been available at the time in the Irish countryside where sheep were raised for their wool and for food and when, before the potato famine, potatoes were a primary Irish crop.

Over the years, Irish Stew recipes have changed according to the locale and what ingredients are available in the cook’s local area.  For example, beef is often used in North America today instead of lamb in Irish Stew and other ingredients are added to make a more flavourful, hearty stew as opposed to a broth-like dish.  Purists might argue that these changes result in a brand new stew recipe altogether and is something entirely different than the original Irish Stew.

Regardless what it is called, I like my version of Irish Stew!  It has a nice rich, robust flavour and a splendid reddish-brown color that comes primarily from the addition of tomato paste with the aid of some red wine and the Guinness.  Using Guinness and red wine also helps to tenderize the meat and also adds to the flavour of the stew.  I don’t add huge amounts of either as the intent is not to “drown” the natural flavours of the beef and veggies but rather to blend and enhance flavours.

Any kind of potato can be diced and used in this recipe.  However, with the ready availability of mini potatoes in recent years, I like to use the tiny potatoes left whole with peelings on. I think they add an interesting element to the stew. If you can’t find the really small, mini potatoes, use slightly larger small potatoes sliced in half, lengthwise.

Irish Stew
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Irish Stew

The nice thing about Irish Stew (once you have all the veggies cut up) is that it is an all-encompassing meal with all the vegetables in one dish (no worries about getting different pots of vegetables all cooked at the same time for the meal and a real bonus of only having one pot to wash).  This meal-in-one stew really needs nothing more for a hearty meal than a slice of bread, rolls, or garlic bread and perhaps some homemade mustard pickles on the side.

I like to slow-cook this stew in the oven at 325°F for a couple of hours as opposed to cooking it on the cooktop.  I find oven-cooking allows the flavours to slowly blend and the stew to gradually thicken as it cooks. The longer the stew cooks, the thicker the sauce will be but the stew should be cooked only until the vegetables are fork-tender, not mushy. If the sauce has not all cooked up with the vegetables (some varieties of potatoes, for example, will soak up more sauce than others), it makes a great dipping sauce for the bread or rolls!

Irish Stew
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Irish Stew

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Irish Stew

Ingredients
3/4 pound stew beef chopped
1 – 1½ tbsp olive oil

1 cup carrots sliced
2/3 cup parsnips, sliced or diced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup turnip, diced
1 leek sliced  (white and light green part only)
3 cups potatoes, diced OR 1 lb mini potatoes (left whole)

1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp Herbs de Provence
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 – 5.5 oz can tomato paste
1 – 10 oz can beef consommé
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup Guinness
1 cup water
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 bayleaf

Instructions
Assemble ingredients and preheat oven to 325°F.

Chop stew meat into bite-size pieces.

In large skillet, over medium heat, brown meat in 1 – 1½ tbsp olive oil.

Place vegetables and meat in greased 2½-quart roaster or casserole.

In large bowl, combine sugar, herbs, garlic, tomato paste, beef consommé, Worcestershire Sauce, red wine, Guinness, and water. Whisk in flour until smooth. Pour over vegetables in roaster. Stir mixture to combine. Add bayleaf.

Cover roaster and place in pre-heated oven. Cook for approximately 2 hours or until vegetables are fork-tender when tested.

Serve with Irish Soda Bread, rolls, French Bread, or Garlic Bread.

Yield: Apx. 6 servings

My Island Bistro Kitchen's Irish Stew

A rich hearty stew made with beef and a variety of vegetables and flavoured with Guinness and red wine

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 3/4 lb stew beef, chopped
  • 1 -1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 2/3 cup parsnips, sliced or diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup turnip, diced
  • 1 leek, sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • 3 cups potatoes, diced OR 1 lb mini potatoes (left whole, peelings on)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Herbs de Provence
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 5.5 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 10 oz can beef consommé
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup Guinness
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 bayleaf

Instructions

  1. Assemble ingredients and preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Chop stew meat into bite-size pieces.
  3. In large skillet, over medium heat, brown meat in 1 - 1½ tbsp olive oil.
  4. Place vegetables and meat in greased 2½-quart roaster or casserole.
  5. In large bowl, combine sugar, herbs, garlic, tomato paste, beef consommé, Worcestershire Sauce, red wine, Guinness, and water. Whisk in flour until smooth. Pour over vegetables in roaster. Stir mixture to combine. Add bayleaf.
  6. Cover roaster and place in pre-heated oven. Cook for approximately 2 hours or until vegetables are fork-tender when tested.

Recipe Notes

Serve with Irish Soda Bread, rolls, French Bread, or Garlic Bread.

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Irish Stew
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Irish Stew