Category Archives: Recipes

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

The Ultimate Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

These Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins will rival any traditional wheat-based muffins!  They sport a lovely domed top that is the hallmark of a perfect muffin shape, they are packed full of flavor, and they have a lovely tender, moist crumb.

Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

Like any good quality gluten-free muffins that replicate deli-style muffins, I find that they do take a few more ingredients and thus can be a bit more time-consuming to make than many recipes for traditional wheat-based muffins. But the end result is so worth the effort!  Because mixing up the different flours and opening various spice bottles is the most time-consuming part of the exercise, what I will most often do is mix up the dry ingredients the night before I plan to make the muffins and cover the container. The next day, I simply mix up the wet ingredients and add them to the dry ingredients and that does speed up the process.  In fact, I will often go on a muffin-making frolic and make 5-6 different batches for the freezer on the same day. When I do this, I always mix up the dry ingredients the night before and label each container appropriately.

Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

A mixture of gluten-free flours will yield better flavour and quality than simply using an all-purpose gluten-free flour as the entire flour ingredient. Quite frankly, I find gluten-free all-purpose flour by itself often has an “offputting” flavour in baked goods. That’s why I use a blend of some all-purpose gluten-free flour, gluten-free oat flour, almond flour, coconut flour (my real favorite!) and potato starch. The potato starch, zanthan gum, and quick oats in this recipe help to give these muffins structure and ‘holding power’ so they don’t fall apart. Muffins with good structure should be able to be broken or cut apart and still stay intact without crumbling to pieces.

Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

Adding spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves really give these muffins a flavour boost along with grated orange rind which goes very well with zucchini.

The secret ingredient to these muffins is….wait for it….puréed baby food!  I have been using baby food in regular muffin recipes for years. It gives moisture and flavour to muffins. Instead of using applesauce or pumpkin purée, baby food works just great. I like puréed pears in this recipe but have made them with other flavours, such as peach-mango, with great success.

Use freshly grated zucchini, not frozen, in this recipe. Frozen zucchini has too much water in it for these muffins.  Grate the zucchini quite coarsely using the large hole side of a box grater or a flat grater like the one shown in the left in the photo below. I like chopped dates in these muffins although raisins would also work.

Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

These muffins bake well in muffin cups that have a 1/2-cup capacity. I like making them in my square muffin tins.  I am particularly partial to square muffins for a couple of reasons. First, well okay, I just like the overall look of them! And, I find they look nicer when they are cut open – they look like the little mini loaves they are! Second, they are easier to package in plastic wrap and store in the freezer than are round muffins.

Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

Preheating the oven to 450F is not a typo! Putting the muffins into a high-heat oven helps them get the “loft” that will form the dome shape. I do this with my muffins, whether they are wheat-based or gluten free and it works.  The key thing to remember, however, is to immediately lower the heat to 400F as soon as the muffins go in the oven. Otherwise, baking them the entire time at 450F will result in dried out muffins.

Take care not to overbake these muffins or they will become dry. Test them with a cake tester at the 18-minute baking point to see if the tester comes out clean. If it doesn’t, continue to bake them, checking them every 1 1/2 minutes or so.

These Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins are a standard staple in my freezer. Because they freeze so well, they are great to have on hand to throw in to the lunch bag on weekday mornings. Serve them with, or without, butter and/or a favorite jam.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
2 tbsp potato starch
¼ cup gluten free oat flour
¼ cup almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
1¼ tsp zanthan gum
¼ cup gluten-free quick oats
5½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp ground chia seeds
1½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tsp grated orange rind

2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1½ tsp vanilla
1 – 4.5 oz container of puréed pears baby food
½ cup buttermilk or soured milk*
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 cup grated zucchini (apx. 5 oz zucchini)
¾ cup chopped dates

Method:

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. 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, puréed pears baby food, milk*, and maple syrup. (*To sour milk, pour 1½ tsp vinegar into a ½ cup measuring cup. Fill with milk.  Let stand for 5-10 minutes before stirring and using.) Whisk ingredients well. Stir in grated zucchini and chopped dates.

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.  Let sit for 3 – 4 minutes before transferring to pre-heated oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 400°F.  Bake for 18-20 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.

(NOTE: As with all gluten-free recipes, ensure that all ingredients are gluten-free products)

Yield: 12 muffins

Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

These gluten-free muffins are moist with a tender crumb. Packed full of flavour, it's hard to tell they're gluten free.  Perfect for the lunch bag or coffee break.

Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp potato starch
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free oat flour
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp zanthan gum
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free quick oats
  • 5 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp grated orange rind
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 - 4.5 oz container of puréed pears baby food
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or soured milk*
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup grated zucchini (apx. 5 oz zucchini)
  • 3/4 cup chopped dates

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Prepare 12 muffin cups (each ½-cup capacity) by spraying each muffin cup with cooking spray or greasing individually.
  3. 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. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Set aside.
  4. In separate medium-sized bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, coconut oil, vanilla, puréed pears baby food, milk*, and maple syrup. (*To sour milk, pour 1½ tsp vinegar into a ½ cup measuring cup. Fill with milk. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before stirring and using.) Whisk ingredients well. Stir in grated zucchini and chopped dates.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients. With large spoon, mix ingredients together just until dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Do not overmix.
  6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling almost to the rim of each cup. Let sit for 3 – 4 minutes before transferring to pre-heated oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 400°F. Bake for 18-20 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.

Recipe Notes

NOTE: As with any gluten-free recipe, ensure that all ingredients are gluten-free products

 

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Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins

For other gluten-free muffin recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, follow these links:

Gluten-Free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins
Deli-Style Gluten-Free Beet Muffins
Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins

Beef Pasta Casserole Recipe

Beef Pasta Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole

I am a huge fan of batch cooking and preparing make-ahead meals to freeze for easy weeknight meal preparation.  I began batch cooking over 40 years ago when I moved away from my family home and began life on my own.  I went in search of cookbooks designed for cooking for one or two and didn’t find much on the market. What recipes I did find took ingredients that either weren’t available locally or the recipes called for sizes of ingredients that weren’t available in Canada.  I also soon discovered it really wasn’t much fun having to prepare a meal from scratch each night for one person.  That’s when I realized I didn’t need cookbooks with recipes sized down to one or two servings; I needed a freezer and I needed to batch cook make-ahead meals!

Beef Pasta Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole

I currently have two freezers plus a deep freezer compartment in the bottom of the refrigerator and all are filled with make ahead-meals.  The entrées are a mix of very basic fare, like baked beans, pasta casseroles, and fish cakes, and more elaborate meals like fillings for vol-au-vents and crèpes for nights that call for something a little extra special.  Batch cooking means you still do the prep work but it is all done upfront at once and it eases the pressure of meal preparation on weeknights, especially on nights where one is late getting home from work.  So long as I have the makings for a salad in the fridge and some rolls, biscuits, or bread in the freezer, I can pull out a frozen entrée and have dinner on the table in 30 minutes or so. Clean-up is super easy, too, since there are no prep dishes or pots and pans to be washed, just the plate, glass, and utensils to be loaded into the dishwasher.

Beef Pasta Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole

One of my standby casseroles is this beef pasta casserole.  It’s not hard to prepare and does not take any wild or weird ingredients. This makes a huge casserole so it’s great to take to potlucks or divide into meal-sized servings and frozen.  Use a large roaster or two 2-quart casseroles or, if you have a small household, divide the casserole up into small single serving casseroles or ramekins and freeze them.  I have a ton of ramekins as I find they are the perfect serving size for individual servings of casseroles.  I store these, unbaked, in large plastic freezer containers in the freezer.

Beef Pasta Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole Ready for the Freezer

Easy steps make this casserole.  Brown the ground beef, drain, and set it aside.  Cook the pasta. Next, sauté the onion, garlic cloves, celery, green pepper, and mushrooms.  Then, combine all the liquid ingredients and canned tomatoes. Combine all the ingredients together along with some cheese and, voilà, that’s it!  Top the casserole with some extra cheese and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.   If freezing the casserole, freeze it unbaked and without the cheese topping which is best added at the time of baking.

Serve with your favorite green salad and biscuits, rolls, or bread.

Beef Pasta Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole

Beef Pasta Casserole

Ingredients:

1½ lbs lean ground beef
1½ – 2 tbsp vegetable oil

1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
2/3 cup onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup celery, chopped
¼ cup green pepper, chopped
¾ cup sliced button mushrooms

1 – 284ml can tomato soup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ cup beef broth (homemade or commercial)
¼ cup tomato paste
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp basil pesto (homemade or commercial)
2 tsp Italian seasoning
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 – 398ml can diced tomatoes with juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

400g fusilli (regular or gluten-free), cooked according to package directions and drained (about 5 cups raw pasta)
2/3 cup shredded cheese of choice (e.g., cheddar, or a blend of cheeses)
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup shredded cheese of choice for topping casserole

Method:

In large frypan, heat the vegetable oil and brown the meat over medium-low heat. Drain. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In large saucepan, heat second amount of vegetable oil over medium heat.  Sauté the onion, garlic, celery, and green pepper for approximately 2 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-4 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl or measuring cup, combine the tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, tomato paste, maple syrup, basil pesto, Italian seasoning, and ground ginger. Stir well.  Stir in canned tomatoes with juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

In large bowl or pot, combine the cooked pasta, meat, vegetables, liquid ingredients, 2/3 cup shredded cheese, and Parmesan cheese.  Stir gently to combine ingredients.  Transfer mixture to large greased roaster, two – 2-quart casseroles, or divide into individual serving-sized dishes such as ramekins.

Sprinkle casserole(s) with remaining ½ cup shredded cheese.  Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes to heat through.  Serve hot.  Casserole freezes well.

Yield:  12-14 servings

Beef Pasta Casserole

This tasty Beef Pasta Casserole is an easy-to-make weeknight casserole that combines ground beef, pasta, cheese, and a tomato-based sauce. Freezes well.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 - 284ml can tomato soup
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp basil pesto
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 - 398ml can diced tomatoes with juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 400g fusilli (regular or gluten-free), cooked according to package directions and drained (about 5 cups raw pasta)
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheese of choice (e.g., cheddar, or a blend of cheeses)
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese of choice for topping casserole

Instructions

  1. In large frypan, heat the vegetable oil and brown the meat over medium-low heat. Drain. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. In large saucepan, heat second amount of vegetable oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, celery, and green pepper for approximately 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl or measuring cup, combine the tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, tomato paste, maple syrup, basil pesto, Italian seasoning, and ground ginger. Stir well. Stir in canned tomatoes with juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. In large bowl or pot, combine the cooked pasta, meat, vegetables, liquid ingredients, 2/3 cup shredded cheese, and Parmesan cheese. Stir gently to combine ingredients. Transfer mixture to large greased roaster, two – 2-quart casseroles, or divide into individual serving-sized dishes such as ramekins.
  6. Sprinkle casserole(s) with remaining ½ cup shredded cheese. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes to heat through. Serve hot. Casserole freezes well.

 

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Beef Pasta Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole

Country Farmhouse Crumb Cake

Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

This old-fashioned country farmhouse crumb cake has been a recipe in my family for years. It quite resembles a coffee cake and is a hearty dessert that is tasty and not too sweet. Its crumb topping adds a lovely texture element to the cake.

Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

Crumb cake is quite economical to make because it just takes basic pantry supplies and draws its flavour from the cinnamon and cloves.  It’s always good to have a recipe that, if need be, can be quickly made without a special trip to the supermarket for ingredients.

I think this used to be a very popular cake in the country because it was a hearty dessert, it was not costly or difficult to make, and it did not require frosting.  For many farm wives who often had large families to bring up while working alongside their husbands on the farm, this would have been a relatively easy-to-come-by dessert. This crumb cake is particularly tasty with a cup of tea or coffee.

Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

The cake has a lovely tender crumb with an airy texture. To dress up this cake, sprinkle with a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar (aka icing or powdered sugar)

Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

 

Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Country Farmhouse Crumb Cake

Ingredients:

1 tbsp vinegar
1 cup milk

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
½ cup cold shortening

½ tsp salt
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup raisins

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare 9”x9” square baking pan by greasing or lining with parchment paper.

In 1 cup measuring cup, place 1 tbsp vinegar.  Fill cup with milk. Let stand 5-7 minutes to sour.

Meanwhile, in large bowl of stand mixer, combine the flour and brown sugar.  Using a pastry cutter, cut in the shortening.  Remove 1 cup of crumb mixture and set aside.

Add the salt, cloves, and cinnamon to the remaining mixture in the bowl. Stir well.

Stir the milk-vinegar mixture and transfer to small bowl.  Add the baking soda and beaten egg.  Stir. Pour over dry ingredients in bowl. With mixer on low/stir setting, incorporate the ingredients for 15 seconds. Increase mixer speed to medium low and beat mixture for an additional minute. Stir in the raisins.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread evenly. Spread the reserved crumb mixture evenly over cake. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely before cutting and serving.  Cut cooled cake into 16 pieces. Dust with confectioner’s sugar (powdered icing sugar), if desired.

Yield: 16 servings

Country Farmhouse Crumb Cake

Old-fashioned easy-to-make crumb cake uses standard pantry supplies. Flavored with cinnamon and cloves and dotted with raisins, this cake has a lovely tender crumb.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup cold shortening
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Confectioner's sugar for dusting (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare 9”x9” square baking pan by greasing or lining with parchment paper.
  2. In 1-cup measuring cup, place 1 tbsp vinegar. Fill cup with milk. Let stand 5-7 minutes to sour.
  3. Meanwhile, in large bowl of stand mixer, combine the flour and brown sugar. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the shortening. Remove 1 cup of crumb mixture and set aside.
  4. Add the salt, cloves, and cinnamon to the remaining mixture in the bowl. Stir well.
  5. Stir the milk-vinegar mixture and transfer to small bowl. Add the baking soda and beaten egg. Stir. Pour over dry ingredients in bowl. With mixer on low/stir setting, incorporate the ingredients for 15 seconds. Increase mixer speed to medium low and beat mixture for an additional minute. Stir in the raisins.

  6. Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread evenly. Spread the reserved crumb mixture evenly over cake. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely before cutting and serving. Cut cooled cake into 16 pieces. Dust with confectioner’s sugar (powdered icing sugar), if desired.

 

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Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

 

Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

Chicken Chow Mein Casserole Recipe

Chicken Chow Mein Casserole
Chicken Chow Mein Casserole

Casserole recipes are useful for the home cook’s meal planning. They are a convenient entrée for a dinner meal, can be prepared ahead of time, are often a great way to use leftovers and re-purpose them into a new entrée, and they can stretch the food dollar.  My Chicken Chow Mein Casserole is one that fits that bill nicely.

Chicken Chow Mein Casserole
Chicken Chow Mein Casserole

This casserole will easily feed four people and there might be some left over for someone’s lunch the next day! This recipe calls for cooked chicken but I often substitute turkey if I have some left over from a roasted turkey.  All it takes is one cup cubed chicken which is what one good-sized chicken breast will yield. So, when you think about it – if you were to serve chicken breasts for a family of four, you would need to buy four chicken breasts for a meal. However, you can make this casserole with one good-sized chicken breast and still feed four people (see what I mean about extending the food dollar).

Chicken Chow Mein Casserole
Chicken Chow Mein Casserole

This recipe does not take a lot of costly ingredients which makes it economical to make. Apart from the chicken breast, only celery, onion, mushrooms, a tin of cream of chicken soup, a bit of chicken broth, some garlic, red pepper, a few sliced water chestnuts (which are optional and I buy when they are on sale), some cashew pieces, and chow mein noodles are required as ingredients.

Chicken Chow Mein Casserole
Chicken Chow Mein Casserole

For the chicken, you can use leftover chicken (or turkey) from a roasted foul, poach a chicken breast, or even use some meat from a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket.  The casserole itself is not difficult to prepare. Sauté the vegetables, open a can of soup, combine all the ingredients into a casserole, and bake in the oven.

Chicken Chow Mein Casserole
Chicken Chow Mein Casserole

This Chicken Chow Mein Casserole can be made several hours ahead, or even the night before, so it’s ready to pop into the oven when you get home from work.

Chicken Chow Mein Casserole
Chicken Chow Mein Casserole

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Chicken Chow Mein Casserole

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked chicken, cubed

3 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
¼ cup diced red pepper
2½ oz sliced mushrooms (about ¾ cup)

½ cup chicken broth
1 – 284ml tin Cream of Chicken Soup
1/8 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

½ cup cashew pieces, chopped
2½ oz (72 g) sliced water chestnuts, drained and rinsed

2½ oz chow mein noodles (reserve 1 oz for casserole topping)

Method:

Grease 1½ quart casserole and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat.  Sauté garlic, onion, celery, red pepper, and mushrooms, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes, just until the onions are transparent.

Combine the chicken broth and soup together in bowl or large measuring cup.  Stir in the ground ginger and Parmesan cheese. Transfer the sautéed vegetables to large bowl and add the chicken, soup mixture, cashew pieces, and water chestnuts. Mix together.  Carefully fold in 1½ oz chow mein noodles.  Transfer mixture to prepared casserole and sprinkle with remaining 1 oz chow mein noodles. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until casserole is hot and bubbly.

Yield:  Apx. 4 servings

Chicken Chow Mein Casserole

An easy-to-prepare flavorful casserole that makes great use of leftover chicken.
Course Main Course
Servings 4
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked chicken, cubed
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup diced red pepper
  • 2.5 oz sliced mushrooms (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 284ml tin Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup cashew pieces, chopped
  • 2 1/2 oz sliced water chestnuts, drained and rinsed
  • 2.5 oz chow mein noodles (reserve 1 oz for casserole topping)

Instructions

  1. Grease 1½ quart casserole and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Sauté garlic, onion, celery, red pepper, and mushrooms, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes, just until the onions are transparent.

  3. Combine the chicken broth and soup together in bowl or large measuring cup. Stir in the ground ginger and Parmesan cheese. Transfer the sautéed vegetables to large bowl and add the chicken, soup mixture, cashew pieces, and water chestnuts. Mix together. Carefully fold in 1½ oz chow mein noodles. Transfer mixture to prepared casserole and sprinkle with remaining 1 oz chow mein noodles.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until casserole is hot and bubbly.

 

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Chicken Chow Mein Casserole
Chicken Chow Mein Casserole
Chicken Chow Mein Casserole
Chicken Chow Mein Casserole

Gluten-free Apple Pie

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

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

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

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

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

The Pastry

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

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

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

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

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

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

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

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

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

The Filling

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

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

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

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

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

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

Preparing the Pie for the Oven

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

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

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

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

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

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

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

Baking the Pie

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

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

Serving the Pie

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

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

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

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

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

Gluten-free Apple Pie

Gluten-free Apple Pie

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-free Apple Pie

Filling

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

2-3 tbsp butter

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

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

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

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

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

While filling is cooling, prepare the pastry.

Pastry for 1 double-crusted 9” pie

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

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

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

1-2 tsp milk
Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preheat oven to 425°F.

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

Yield:  1 – 9” pie (apx. 6 servings)

Gluten-free Apple Pie

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

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

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

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

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

Instructions

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

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

  5. While filling is cooling, prepare the pastry.

Gluten-free Pastry for 1 Double-crusted Pie

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

 

For my Rustic Apple Pie recipe, click here.

Gluten-free Apple Pie
Gluten-free Apple Pie

Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread

Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread
Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread

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

Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread
Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread

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

Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread
Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread

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

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

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

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

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread

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

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup granulated sugar

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

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

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

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

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

Yield:  1 – 9”x5” loaf

Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread

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

Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

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

Glaze:

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

Instructions

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

Glaze:

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

    Yield: 1 – 9”x5” loaf

 

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Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread
Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread
Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread
Glazed Lemon Pecan Sweet Bread

Homemade Turkey Stock Recipe

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

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

Roast Turkey
Roast Turkey

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

Homemade Chowder
Turkey Chowder

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

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

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

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

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

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

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

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

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

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

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

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

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

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

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Turkey Stock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Homemade Turkey Stock Recipe

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Recipe Notes

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

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

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

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

For my recipe for homemade Beef Stock, click here.

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Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock

Gluten-Free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-Free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins

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

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

Method:

Preheat oven to 450°F.

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

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

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

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

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

Yield: 8 mini loaves or 10 standard-sized muffins

Gluten-free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

    Yield: 8 mini loaves or 10 standard-sized muffins

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

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

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

Unbaked Chocolate Coconut Square

Chocolate Coconut Squares
Chocolate Coconut Squares

This no-bake chocolate coconut square is one of the easiest to make and it does not take a lot of ingredients.  The recipe calls for graham wafer crumbs –   to make this square gluten-free, use gluten-free graham style crumbs. There may be a number of brands of these crumbs available. I use the Kinnikinnick brand. In fact, the squares in the photos in this post are made with these gluten-free crumbs.

Chocolate Coconut Squares
Chocolate Coconut Squares

This square is almost candy-bar quality.  It is not a thick square but it is rich, moist, and very tasty! A great treat anytime and a sure favorite on any sweet tray.

Chocolate Coconut Squares
Chocolate Coconut Squares

Unbaked Chocolate Coconut Square

Ingredients:
½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

1 extra large egg, room temperature, beaten
1 tsp vanilla

2 cups graham wafer crumbs
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
½ cup chopped pecans

Method:
Line 9”x9” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving enough paper overhang that finished square can be lifted from the pan for easy icing and cutting.

Combine butter, sugars, and cocoa in medium-sized heavy bottomed saucepan.  Cook over medium low heat until butters melt and ingredients are combined and heated.  Stir frequently to prevent scorching.  Do not boil.

Add the beaten egg and vanilla.  Cook over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and add the graham wafer crumbs, coconut, and pecans.  Stir to combine ingredients well.

Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan.  Cool.  Ice with buttercream icing (recipe follows). Cut into squares of desired size.

Icing

Ingredients:

2 cups sifted powdered sugar (aka icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar)
3 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
2½ tbsp water
½ tsp almond flavoring

1 – oz square semi-sweet chocolate
1 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature

Method:
Combine the powdered sugar and butter in bowl of stand mixer.  Mix on low speed to blend in butter.  Add the water and almond flavoring and increase speed to medium-low to blend ingredients. Increase speed to high and beat an additional minute to ensure ingredients are well combined and icing is smooth.  Additional water may be required to make icing of desired spreading consistency. If adding additional water, add by ½ teaspoon at a time.

Spread icing evenly over square.  Melt the chocolate square and butter in small dish in microwave only until the ingredients have melted enough to be blended together.  Drizzle in desired design over icing.  Cut squares into desired size.

Yield:  1 – 9”x9” pan of squares

Unbaked Chocolate Coconut Square

Easy-to-make unbaked chocolate coconut square is sure to appeal to any sweet tooth and make a fine addition to sweet trays

Course Dessert
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 extra large egg, room temperature, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups graham wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Icing

  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar (aka icing sugar/confectioner's sugar)
  • 3 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp almond flavoring
  • 1 oz square semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature

Instructions

  1. Line 9”x9” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving enough paper overhang that finished square can be lifted from the pan for easy icing and cutting.
  2. Combine butter, sugars, and cocoa in medium-sized heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium low heat until butters melt and ingredients are combined and heated. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. Do not boil.

  3. Add the beaten egg and vanilla. Cook over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from heat and add the graham wafer crumbs, coconut, and pecans. Stir to combine ingredients well.
  5. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan. Cool. Ice with buttercream icing (recipe follows). Cut into squares of desired size.

Icing

  1. Combine the powdered sugar and butter in bowl of stand mixer. Mix on low speed to blend in butter. Add the water and almond flavoring and increase speed to medium-low to blend ingredients. Increase speed to high and beat an additional minute to ensure ingredients are well combined and icing is smooth. Additional water may be required to make icing of desired spreading consistency. If adding additional water, add by ½ teaspoon at a time.
  2. Spread icing evenly over square. Melt the chocolate square and butter in small dish in microwave only until the ingredients have melted enough to be blended together. Drizzle in desired design over icing. Cut squares into desired size. 

    Yield: 1 – 9”x9” pan of squares

Recipe Notes

To make this square gluten-free, use gluten-free graham style crumbs.

 

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Chocolate Coconut Squares
Chocolate Coconut Squares

Clementine Curd

Clementine Curd
Clementine Curd

Christmas is an excellent time to make clementine curd when fresh clementines are readily available.  While certainly lesser known than the traditional lemon curd, clementine curd is lovely in its own way.

Less sharp and “puckery” than lemon curd, clementine curd is almost identical in color to lemon curd (perhaps a slight bit paler) and still has a lovely citrus flavour.

Clementine Curd
Clementine Curd

Be prepared to devote some time and patience to making any curd.  It cooks slowly over a pot of simmering (never boiling) water to reach its finished stage (170F on a candy thermometer). You may wish to read my previous postings on making lemon curd and rhubarb curd for hints and tips on make curd as the same techniques apply to the making of clementine curd.

Clementine Curd
Clementine Curd

Use this clementine curd in the same way in which you would use lemon curd — as a spread on biscuits, scones, muffins, or toast; as a filling for cakes; in a parfait with Greek yogurt; or as a filling for tarts and cookies. Bottle the curd in a fancy jar and you have a lovely gift for someone, especially if you include a batch of homemade scones or biscuits with it.

Clementine Curd
Clementine Curd

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Clementine Curd

Ingredients:

¾ cup caster* sugar or granulated sugar
2½ tsp clementine zest
7 tbsp freshly squeezed clementine juice, strained (apx. 5 clementines, depending on size)
2 extra-large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
3 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature

Method:

In bottom of double boiler, bring about 2” of water to the simmer point (around 200°F). Maintain the water at this simmer point over medium-low heat.  Place sugar in top of double boiler or heat-proof bowl.  Mix in the clementine zest.  Whisk the clementine juice into sugar.
In small bowl, lightly beat the 2 egg yolks and the whole egg together with a fork, just enough to break up the yolks and blend with the whole egg.  Whisk the eggs into the sugar-clementine juice mixture. Add the soft butter.  Place this pot or bowl over the simmering water. Stir the mixture continuously as it cooks until it is thickened and the temperature of the mixture registers 170°F on a candy thermometer.  Be patient as this will take awhile. Make sure the water in the bottom of the boiler does not boil and stays only at the simmer point.
Remove curd from heat and strain through a mesh strainer to remove any of the egg white that may have coagulated as well as the clementine rind.  Pour strained curd into a sterilized bottle.  Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent it from forming a skin on top. Cool at room temperature. Remove plastic wrap. Cover jar tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Yield: Apx. 1 cup

*caster sugar may also be known as fruit sugar, berry sugar, super fine sugar, or instant dissolving sugar.

Note:  Altitude may affect the temperature at which the water reaches the simmering point. The important thing is that the water in the bottom of the double boiler does not boil or touch the top of the double boiler/heatproof bowl during the cooking of the curd.

Clementine Curd

Similar to lemon curd but more mellow, this delightful clementine curd is especially love at Christmas when fresh clementines are readily available.
Course Dessert
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup caster sugar or granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp clementine zest
  • 7 tbsp freshly squeezed clementine juice, strained (apx. 5 clementines, depending on size)
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature

Instructions

  1. In bottom of double boiler, bring about 2” of water to the simmer point (around 200°F). Maintain the water at this simmer point over medium-low heat. Place sugar in top of double boiler or heat-proof bowl. Mix in the clementine zest. Whisk the clementine juice into sugar.
  2. In small bowl, lightly beat the 2 egg yolks and the whole egg together with a fork, just enough to break up the yolks and blend with the whole egg. Whisk the eggs into the sugar-clementine juice mixture. Add the soft butter. Place this pot or bowl over the simmering water. Stir the mixture continuously as it cooks until it is thickened and the temperature of the mixture registers 170°F on a candy thermometer. Be patient as this will take awhile. Make sure the water in the bottom of the boiler does not boil and stays only at the simmer point.
  3. Remove curd from heat and strain through a mesh strainer to remove any of the egg white that may have coagulated as well as the clementine rind. Pour strained curd into a sterilized bottle. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent it from forming a skin on top. Cool at room temperature. Remove plastic wrap. Cover jar tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Yield: Apx. 1 cup

Recipe Notes

*caster sugar may also be known as fruit sugar, berry sugar, super fine sugar, or instant dissolving sugar.

Note:  Altitude may affect the temperature at which the water reaches the simmering point. The important thing is that the water in the bottom of the double boiler does not boil or touch the top of the double boiler/heatproof bowl during the cooking of the curd.

 

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Clementine Curd
Clementine Curd

 

Clementine Curd
Clementine Curd

 

Clementine Curd
Clementine Curd

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls are a Christmas treat in my neck of the woods and, for many, it isn’t Christmas unless there is a batch or two of these delectable homemade confections.  They are one food item that just never seems to go out of style. And, they are addicting! Who can stop at just one!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ball
Chocolate Peanut Butter Ball

These balls are not difficult to make and only take very basic ingredients. They are, however, a bit time consuming to make because the peanut butter and butter must be melted then mixed in with the icing sugar (which you may know as confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar) and crisp rice cereal.  Then the balls need to be formed from the mixture, chilled, and then individually dipped in melted chocolate and chilled again. It’s critical that the icing sugar be sifted (and before it is measured). No matter how soft and fluffy the icing sugar may seem, there are always little lumps/clumps that will not mix in as well as if the sugar is sifted. Take the time to do this step.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

It’s important that the balls not be formed too large as they will get larger in size when dipped in chocolate.  The size to aim for would be the size of a chocolate truffle that would fit nicely inside a paper candy cup so form the mixture into ½” inch balls. They may look small at this stage but they’ll get bigger once dipped in chocolate.  These confections are meant to be 1-2 bites and they are rich!

A teaspoon can be used to twirl the balls around in the chocolate and to swirl the tops; however, my preference is to use a spiral swirl candy dipper.

Spiral Swirl Candy Dipper
Spiral Swirl Candy Dipper

I find it is much more efficient, the excess chocolate can be dripped off the balls with a gentle tap or two of the swirl dipper tool on the side of the pot, and the tops of the balls are automatically swirled attractively when the balls drop from the candy dipper tool.

Using a spiral swirl candy dipper to coat chocolate peanut butter balls
Using a spiral swirl candy dipper to coat chocolate peanut butter balls

Various kinds of chocolate can be used in which to dip the balls.  Semi-sweet chocolate chips are the norm; however, white chocolate can be used as can peanut butter chips for the ultimate peanut butter flavor.  Sometimes, I will mix the semi-sweet chocolate chips with the peanut butter chips and this makes a lovely coating as well.  Melted chocolate in contrasting colors can be used, if desired, to decorate the tops of the balls.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Store the balls between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  These balls freeze well.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Ingredients:
1 cup smooth peanut butter
¼ cup + 1 tbsp butter
½ tsp vanilla
2¼ cups sifted icing sugar (apx. ½ pound)
1½ cups crisp rice cereal

10 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips, white chocolate, or peanut butter chips (or a combination of all three)

Method:
Line two large rimmed baking sheets with wax paper.  Set aside.

Combine peanut butter and butter in small saucepan.  Melt the butters over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

In large heat-proof bowl, combine the icing sugar and rice cereal.  Pour the melted peanut butter and butter mixture over the cereal and icing sugar. Mix ingredients with large spoon or hands until all of the icing sugar has been fully incorporated.

Pinch off bits of the mixture and form into ½” balls.  Place balls on one of the prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until firm.

Melt half of the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water.  Using a teaspoon, or a spiral swirl candy dipper, dip the balls into the chocolate and swirl to coat.  If using the spiral swirl dipper, gently tap the dipper tool on the side of the chocolate pot to remove any excess chocolate from the dipped balls.  Transfer dipped balls to the second prepared baking sheet. Melt remaining chocolate as needed to complete the dipping process. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Store balls between layers of wax paper in airtight container. Keep refrigerated or freeze for longer storage.

Yield:  Apx. 50-55 balls

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

A tasty confection that combines peanut butter, butter, icing sugar, and crisp rice cereal formed into balls dipped in decadent chocolate

Course Snack
Cuisine American
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups sifted icing sugar (apx. 1/2 pound)
  • 1 1/2 cups crisp rice cereal
  • 10 oz semi-sweet chocolate, white chocolate, or peanut butter chips (or a combination of all three)

Instructions

  1. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with wax paper. Set aside.
  2. Combine peanut butter and butter in small saucepan. Melt the butters over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  3. In large heat-proof bowl, combine the icing sugar and rice cereal. Pour the melted peanut butter and butter mixture over the cereal and icing sugar. Mix ingredients with large spoon or hands until all of the icing sugar has been fully incorporated.

  4. Pinch off bits of the mixture and form into ½” balls. Place balls on one of the prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until firm.
  5. Melt half of the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water. Using a teaspoon, or a spiral swirl candy dipper, dip the balls into the chocolate and swirl to coat. If using the spiral swirl dipper, gently tap the dipper tool on the side of the chocolate pot to remove any excess chocolate from the dipped balls. Transfer dipped balls to the second prepared baking sheet. Melt remaining chocolate as needed to complete the dipping process. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Store balls between layers of wax paper in airtight container. Keep refrigerated or freeze for longer storage.

    Yield: Apx. 50-55 balls

 

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Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini

If you are like me, you are always on the hunt for tasty little appetizers or hors d’oeuvres to serve at functions.

Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini
Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini

These easy-to-prepare savory little toasts are my latest creation and are packed full of flavor. Red onion, garlic, mushrooms, and red pepper are sautéed in butter and seasoned with nutmeg, summer savory, and thyme. The seasoned and sautéed vegetables are combined with cooked quinoa added for texture and visual appeal along with Parmesan cheese for additional flavor. The ingredients are bound together with chicken stock, cream, and maple syrup to add a touch of sweetness.

Spooned on to olive-oiled baguette slices, each crostini is topped with grated cheddar cheese.  For mine, I used a locally produced cheese –  Appletree Smoked Cheddar Cheese produced in PEI by COWS Creamery.

Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini Hors d'oeuvres
Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini Hors d’oeuvres

These hors d’oeuvres are easily made into a gluten-free version. Simply use a gluten-free baguette and ensure that all other ingredients are gluten-free.  One important factor to keep in mind with hors d’oeuvres is to ensure that they can easily be eaten with grace by guests – that means no huge chunks of ingredients that can pull apart when chewed into. Hors d’oeuvres should be able to be eaten with the use of only one hand.  While the mushrooms could be sliced, instead of chopped, for this hors d’oeuvre, they would need to be very small.

Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini
Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini

[Printable Recipe Follows at end of Posting]

 Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini

 Ingredients:

1½ tbsp butter
¼ cup red onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup white button and/or cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp red pepper, finely chopped
1/8 tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp dried summer savory
1/8 tsp dried thyme

4 tsp chicken stock
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp pure maple syrup
¼ cup cooked quinoa
4 tsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

¼ cup grated Cheddar cheese

Fresh herbs for garnish

1 French baguette
Olive Oil for brushing on baguette slices

Method:

Over medium heat, melt butter in saucepan.  Add onions and garlic and sauté for 1 minute.  Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the red pepper, nutmeg, summer savory, and thyme.  Sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.

In small bowl, combine the chicken stock, cream, and maple syrup.  Add the quinoa, Parmesan cheese, and sautéed vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and combine all ingredients well.

Slice baguette into 16 slices between ¼” and  ½” thick.  Brush each slice with small amount of olive oil.  Divide mixture evenly between the 16 slices.  Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese.  Place crostini on baking sheet and broil for 1-2 minutes or just until cheese has melted.  Garnish with fresh herbs. Serve hot.

Yield:  16 appetizers

Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini

These easy-to-prepare savory little toasts are packed full of flavor.  Featuring mushrooms, quinoa, cheese, and select seasonings, these tasty bites are sure to be a favorite hors d'oeuvre at your next gathering.

Course Appetizer
Servings 16
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup white button and/or cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp dried summer savory
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 tsp chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup cooked quinoa
  • 4 tsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • Fresh herbs for garnish
  • 1 French baguette
  • Olive oil for brushing on baguette slices

Instructions

  1. Over medium heat, melt butter in saucepan.  Add onions and garlic and sauté for 1 minute.  Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the red pepper, nutmeg, summer savory, and thyme.  Sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.

  2. In small bowl, combine the chicken stock, cream, and maple syrup. Add the quinoa, Parmesan cheese, and sautéed vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste and combine all ingredients well.
  3. Slice baguette into 16 slices about 1/2" thick. Brush each slice with small amount of olive oil. Divide mixture evenly between the 16 slices. Sprinkle with grated Cheddar cheese. Place slices on baking sheet and broil for 1-2 minutes or just until cheese has melted. Garnish with fresh herbs. Serve hot.
Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini
Savory Mushroom and Quinoa Crostini

Sultana Cake Recipe

Sultana Cake
Sultana Cake

Sultana Cake, believed to be of British/Scottish origins, is so named because sultana raisins are the main ingredient.  Often served at tea time, this unfrosted cake is a cross between a war cake, a Dundee cake, and a fruitcake. More sweet than a war cake and definitely less rich than a traditional fruitcake, this is a hearty, stick-to-the-ribs, kind of cake. Unlike a fruitcake, liquor is not common in a Sultana Cake.

Traditionally, I believe, Sultana Cake only had the raisins and maybe some nuts in it. My recipe, however, is slightly more luxurious with the addition of currants along with some glazed cherries and mixed fruit though the raisins are still the main ingredient.

Sultana Cake
Sultana Cake

This is a much easier and quicker cake to make than is a fruitcake.  There is no need to soak the fruit in liquor for a day or two before making the cake.  Essentially, the raisins, currants, glazed cherries, and mixed fruit are dredged with 1/2 cup of the flour just before they are added to the batter to prevent them from dropping to the bottom of the cake during baking. I like to add some grated orange and lemon rind for extra flavour.

The butter should be softened at room temperature (not microwaved) for about 45 minutes or so before creaming.  Microwaving the butter changes its consistency and it is more liquified.  Butter that is softened naturally at room temperature is much creamier and fluffs better when beaten with the sugar. Yes, that lovely fluffy texture of the butter and sugar is what results in a soft even crumb in cakes.

The eggs and milk should be at room temperature for about 30 minutes or so before mixing in to the batter.  The eggs need to be at roughly the same room temperature as the butter. If the eggs are cold and hit the soft warm butter, guess what? The eggs harden the butter again and this will un-do all the lovely creaming that has been done and will affect the cake’s texture, creating a dense hard crumb.  The same holds true for the milk which also needs to be at room temperature to allow it to blend smoothly into the butter-sugar-egg mixture.  Ever see cold milk poured into the cake batter that immediately looks lumpy or curdled?  This can result in uneven baked products.

Sultana Cakes are traditionally made in round baking pans.  My recipe calls for a 10″ round tube (funnel) pan that is 4″ deep. It has a 16-cup capacity so there is adequate room for the cake to expand as it bakes. Tube pans are great for dense cakes as they provide more uniform baking.  With dense cakes, like Sultana Cake, it is sometimes difficult to get the outer edges of the cake and the center evenly baked at the same time. Removing the “center” of the cake eliminates this problem. Some pans have a removable bottom and these are very useful when it comes to removing the cake from the pan.  I line the bottom of the pan with a layer of parchment and then spray the sides of the pan with cooking spray.

Placing a small pan of water on the bottom shelf, or floor, of the oven while the cake bakes helps to keep the cake moist. If the cake starts to brown too much, loosely tent it with tin foil.

Sultana Cake
Sultana Cake

Unlike a fruitcake that needs to age three to four weeks before serving so flavours are deepened, a Sultana Cake does not need to age. That said, I usually do wrap and leave my Sultana Cake for 48-72 hours before cutting.

This is a delightful anytime cake although I often make it around Christmas.  It’s a perfect alternative for anyone who finds fruitcake just a little too rich for their palate. It’s especially nice with a lovely cup of tea.

This cake freezes very well.

Sultana Cake
Sultana Cake
[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Sultana Cake

Ingredients:

1 lb sultana raisins
¼ lb currants
8 oz red and green glazed cherries
8 oz. mixed glazed fruit

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1¾ cups brown sugar packed
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon flavoring
1½ tsp grated orange rind
1½ tsp grated lemon rind

3½ cups all-purpose flour (reserve ½ cup for dredging the fruit)
1¼ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt

1 cup milk, room temperature

Method:

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray 4” deep 10” round tube (funnel) pan with cooking spray and line bottom with parchment paper.

In large bowl, mix the raisins, currants, glazed cherries, and mixed fruit.  Dredge with ½ cup of the flour called for in the recipe.  Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat at medium-high speed for one additional minute. Add the vanilla and lemon flavoring and mix well. Add the grated orange and lemon rind. Mix well.

Sift remaining 3 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat at medium-high speed for 1 additional minute. Add the floured fruit mixture and stir just until ingredients are combined.

Spoon batter into prepared pan, using knife to smooth top.  Place small pan of hot water on lower shelf, or floor, of oven to provide moisture to the cake as it bakes.  Bake cake in center of middle rack for approximately 2½ hours or until cake tester inserted in or near centre of cake comes out clean. Let cake cool in pan for about 30 minutes before carefully removing from pan by inverting it on a tea towel and removing the paper.  Carefully turn the cake top side up on to a wire cooling rack.

Yield:  One 10” round cake

Sultana Cake

Less sweet than a fruitcake, this Sultana Cake, enhanced with glazed fruit, is moist and flavorful.


Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 lb sultana raisins
  • ¼ lb currants
  • 8 oz red and green glazed cherries
  • 8 oz. mixed glazed fruit
  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • cups brown sugar packed
  • 5 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp lemon flavoring
  • tsp grated orange rind
  • tsp grated lemon rind
  • cups all-purpose flour reserve ½ cup for dredging the fruit
  • tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk room temperature

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray 4” deep 10” round tube (funnel) pan with cooking spray and line bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In large bowl, mix the raisins, currants, glazed cherries, and mixed fruit. Dredge with ½ cup of the flour called for in the recipe. Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat at medium-high speed for one additional minute. Add the vanilla and lemon flavoring and mix well. Add the grated orange and lemon rind. Mix well.
  4. Sift remaining 3 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat at medium-high speed for 1 additional minute. Add the floured fruit mixture and stir just until ingredients are combined.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared pan, using knife to smooth top. Place small pan of hot water on lower shelf, or floor, of oven to provide moisture to the cake as it bakes. Bake cake in center of middle rack for approximately 2½ hours or until cake tester inserted in or near centre of cake comes out clean. Let cake cool in pan for about 30 minutes before carefully removing from pan by inverting it on a tea towel and removing the paper. Carefully turn the cake top side up on to a wire cooling rack.

 

Sultana Cake
Sultana Cake
Sultana Cake, so named because sultana raisins are a key ingredient, is a lovely moist cake that is a cross between a warcake and a fruitcake.
Sultana Cake