Category Archives: Appetizers

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
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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

PEI Mussels Steamed in Beer Recipe

Beer-steamed Mussels
PEI Mussels Steamed in Rhuby Social Beer from Upstreet Craft Brewing

My recipe for steamed mussels calls for some aromatics to build a flavor base in which to steam the tasty little morsels.  Aromatic cooking involves some type of fat or oil – I’m using butter in this recipe – combined with some aromatic vegetables and herbs.  In this case, I am using onion, celery, and garlic along with some fresh thyme. The combination of a fat product and heat help to release the wonderful aromas of ingredients and infuse dishes with fabulous flavors.  Ever walk into the tantalizing scent of a kitchen where onions and garlic are cooking in oil or butter? That’s aromatics at work.

Preparing this flavor base at the beginning of the cooking process adds depth and complexity to the dish. Since mussels cook rapidly,  chop the vegetables up somewhat fine as they need to release their flavors quickly in order to add flavor to the dish.

The fresh mussels should be rinsed under cold water before they are cooked.  If any of the shells don’t close up after this rinsing, tap the  shells lightly. If they still don’t close, discard them. Any “beard” on the mussels also needs to be removed.

Once the vegetables have been sautéed and released their flavors, it’s time to add a small amount of lemon juice and some beer to the mixture. The lemon juice adds fresh, crisp notes to the broth. This helps to balance the seafood qualities of the broth once the mussels are added. Beer adds both depth and complexity of flavor to the mussels which should be steamed in a very small amount of liquid.  If too much liquid is used, it will dilute the flavor altogether. It’s the steam, not the amount of liquid, that cooks the mussels. In this recipe, I have chosen to use a craft beer that has been brewed right here on Prince Edward Island at Upstreet Craft Brewing in Charlottetown (click here for my story on this brewery).  The strawberry and rhubarb flavored “Rhuby Social” witbier with its slight tartness pairs particularly well with seafood.

It’s important not to overcook the mussels as they will become tough. I find that 5-7 minutes is usually sufficient; however, the amount of steaming time depends on several factors including how many (and the size of the) mussels in the pot, the weight of the pot, and amount of heat over which they are steamed. The ultimate test of doneness is a peek inside the pot to see if the shells have opened.  It’s very important that, at the end of the steaming process, any shells that have not opened be discarded. If a shell has to be pried open, it is not considered safe for consumption.

These mussels can be eaten with bread dipped in the steaming broth.  Simply strain the broth to remove the vegetables and herbs. Alternatively, they can be eaten dipped in melted butter or even with a simple splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

(Printable recipe follows at end of posting)

PEI Mussels Steamed in Beer

Ingredients:
2 lbs. PEI mussels, rinsed and beards removed

1 tbsp butter
1/3 cup onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4” piece of celery with leaves, chopped
½ tsp salt
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup Upstreet Craft Brewing’s “Rhuby Social” Beer

Method:
In medium-sized stock pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, garlic, celery and salt. Sauté, stirring briskly, just until onion has softened and has started to become transparent.  Add the thyme, lemon juice, and beer.  Increase the heat to high and bring liquid to a boil.  Add the mussels. Cover and steam the mussels for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until the mussel shells have opened.  Remove pot from heat and let mussels stand in broth for 1-2 minutes.

Remove mussels from broth with a slotted spoon and discard any shells that have not opened.  If desired, strain the broth and use for dipping bread to enjoy with the mussels.  Alternatively, melt butter in which to dip the mussels.

Yield: Apx. 2 servings

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Beer-steamed Mussels
PEI Mussels Steamed in Beer

Mussels Steamed in Beer Recipe

Yield: 2 servings

PEI Mussels steamed in an aromatic beer broth. Dip the mussels in melted butter for the ultimate treat.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. PEI mussels, rinsed and beards removed
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4” piece of celery with leaves, chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup Upstreet Craft Brewing’s “Rhuby Social” Beer

Instructions

  1. In medium-sized stock pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery and salt. Sauté, stirring briskly, just until onion has softened and has started to become transparent. Add the thyme, lemon juice, and beer. Increase the heat to high and bring liquid to a boil. Add the mussels. Cover and steam the mussels for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until the mussel shells have opened. Remove pot from heat and let mussels stand in broth for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Remove mussels from broth with a slotted spoon and discard any shells that have not opened. If desired, strain the broth and use for dipping bread to enjoy with the mussels. Alternatively, melt butter in which to dip the mussels.
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The Bistro’s Best Deviled Eggs Recipe

The Bistro's Best Devilled Eggs
The Bistro’s Best Devilled Eggs

Devilled Eggs are so tasty and easy to make.  They are perfect for potlucks, picnics, snacks, and even appetizers or hors d’oeuvres.  And, of course, they are often found at many Easter gatherings.  To top it off, they are showy, too.  I have never taken a plate of these to any function and had any left over!

The Bistro's Best Devilled Eggs
The Bistro’s Best Devilled Eggs

There are many versions of this timeless food but I like them plain and simple and not too seasoned or spicy.  I do use a pastry bag and decorating tip to pipe the filling into the egg cavities.  However, you don’t have to have these tools. Simply spoon the filling into the egg cavity and swirl it around with the tip of a knife. With a sprinkle of paprika, some green herbs or green onions, you will have an attractive looking plate of devilled eggs.

The Bistro's Best Devilled Eggs
The Bistro’s Best Devilled Eggs

I recommend not sprinkling the eggs with paprika until serving time as, sometimes, the paprika can “bleed” and the eggs can have a smudgy red cast to them.

The Bistro's Best Devilled Eggs
The Bistro’s Best Devilled Eggs

(Printable version of recipe follows at end of posting)

The Bistro’s Devilled Eggs

Ingredients:

5 hard-boiled eggs, cooled, peeled, and sliced in half lengthwise
2 – 2½ tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp sour cream
½ tsp prepared mustard
1½ tsp onion, minced
¾ tbsp sweet pickle relish
2 tsp Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Pinch garlic powder
½ tsp fresh dill, chopped fine
¾ tsp fresh parsley, chopped
Pinch cayenne
Salt and pepper, to taste

Paprika
Fresh parsley, chopped
Sprigs of fresh herbs (optional)
Method:

Gently scoop out egg yolks and place in small bowl. Set egg whites aside.

Mash egg yolks with fork. Add all remaining ingredients. Mix well.

Fill egg white cavities with the devilled egg mixture using either a pastry bag fitted with a large decorative tip (I use a Wilton 6B tip) or, alternatively, use a spoon.

Refrigerate devilled eggs at least 1 hour before serving. At time of serving, sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and/or paprika. Garnish each with a small sprig of a fresh herb, if desired.

Yield: 10 servings (1 devilled egg each)

The Bistro’s Best Devilled Eggs

Yield: 10 servings

Serving Size: (1 devilled egg each)

Always a crowd pleaser, these devilled eggs are both tasty and easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 5 hard-boiled eggs, cooled, peeled, and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 – 2½ tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp sour cream
  • ½ tsp prepared mustard
  • 1½ tsp onion, minced
  • ¾ tbsp sweet pickle relish
  • 2 tsp Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Pinch garlic powder
  • ½ tsp fresh dill, chopped fine
  • ¾ tsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Paprika
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Sprigs of fresh herbs (optional)

Instructions

  1. Gently scoop out egg yolks and place in small bowl. Set egg whites aside.
  2. Mash egg yolks with fork. Add all remaining ingredients. Mix well.
  3. Fill egg white cavities with the devilled egg mixture using either a pastry bag fitted with a large decorative tip (I use a Wilton 6B tip) or, alternatively, use a spoon.
  4. Refrigerate devilled eggs at least 1 hour before serving. At time of serving, sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and/or paprika. Garnish each with a small sprig of a fresh herb, if desired.
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The Bistro's Best Devilled Eggs
The Bistro’s Best Devilled Eggs

Chunky Cranberry Salsa

Chunky Cranberry Salsa Hors d'oeuvre
Chunky Cranberry Salsa Hors d’oeuvre

By now, if you are a regular follower of this food blog, you have probably detected that I am a big fan of cranberries!  I am always developing recipes using these tasty morsels.

Chunky Cranberry Salsa
Chunky Cranberry Salsa

Today, I am sharing my newly-developed recipe for Chunky Cranberry Salsa. As its base, it uses my homemade cranberry sauce for which you can find the recipe here.  You need a good thick cranberry sauce for this, not a runny, watery version as many of the canned, commercial versions are. If a watery cranberry sauce is used, it will make the salsa too runny and messy. The photo below shows what the consistency of this salsa should be – it should “hold its own” and stay in place when used on nachos or crackers.

Chunky Cranberry Salsa
Chunky Cranberry Salsa

Any flavour of dry salsa seasoning available can be used in this recipe. I use the Epicure Brand, “Pico”, Salsa Mix which is a mild flavoring. If you are using another brand, or one that is quite spicy, just be aware that the amount this recipe calls for may not apply and you may need to adjust the amount you use.  Also, I use 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons of the Epicure “Pico” seasoning but that can be altered according to taste.  However, I suggest making the salsa first with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the seasoning and then adding more according to your personal taste.  As the old saying goes, you can add more seasoning but you can’t remove it if you put in too much!

Almost any flavour of balsamic vinegar can be used, even a traditional white balsamic. I have used a honey ginger balsamic vinegar from our local Liquid Gold and All Things Olive store here in Charlottetown as this vinegar flavour pairs particularly well with the other ingredients in this salsa.

Chunky Cranberry Salsa on Nachos
Chunky Cranberry Salsa on Nachos

I use this salsa on nachos but it is also exceptionally good served on gourmet crackers. Simply top each cracker with a small slice of Brie or Gouda cheese and some shaved turkey.  Add a small spoonful of the cranberry salsa and, voilà, an instant hors d’oeuvre. Once you have the salsa made, it makes a quick, easy, and tasty hors d’oeuvre.

Chunky Cranberry Salsa Hors d'oeuvre
Chunky Cranberry Salsa Hors d’oeuvre

With the jewel-toned color of this salsa, this hors d’oeuvre also looks very attractive on a serving tray.

Chunky Cranberry Salsa Hors d'oeuvres
Chunky Cranberry Salsa Hors d’oeuvres

This salsa often finds its way on to my charcuterie boards, too.

It can also be used to top baked chicken breasts or grilled pork chops. It’s very versatile, especially if you already have cranberry sauce made and in the freezer.  Simply let the cranberry sauce thaw at room temperature and then mix up the salsa. It’s best if the salsa can be made and refrigerated for a couple of hours before serving to allow the flavours to blend and mellow.

Chunky Cranberry Salsa

Ingredients:

1 cup cranberry sauce
¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
½ cup Granny Smith apple, finely chopped
1½  tsp sugar
1¾ tsp lime juice
1½ – 2 tbsp Epicure “Pico” Salsa Mix, or to taste
2 tsp Honey Ginger White Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
½ orange, finely chopped

Method:

In medium-sized bowl, mix all ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving to allow flavour to develop.

Serve with nacho chips. May also be served as an hors d’oeuvre: Place slice of Gouda or Brie on favorite cracker. Add shaved turkey topped with a small dollop of chunky cranberry salsa. Can also be used as a topping on chicken or pork.

Store in sealed container for up to two to three days in refrigerator.

Yield: Apx. 1 2/3 cups

Chunky Cranberry Salsa
Chunky Cranberry Salsa

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Chunky Cranberry Salsa

Yield: Apx 1 2/3 cups

Jewel-toned cranberries transform into a versatile and tasty chunky cranberry salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cranberry sauce
  • ¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup Granny Smith apple, finely chopped
  • 1½ tsp sugar
  • 1¾ tsp lime juice
  • 1½ - 2 tbsp Epicure “Pico” Salsa Mix, or to taste
  • 2 tsp Honey Ginger White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
  • ½ orange, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. In medium-sized bowl, mix all ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving to allow flavour to develop.
  2. Serve with nacho chips. May also be served as an hors d’oeuvre: Place slice of Gouda or Brie on favorite cracker. Add shaved turkey topped with a small dollop of chunky cranberry salsa. Can also be used as a topping on chicken or pork.
  3. Store in sealed container for up to two to three days in refrigerator.
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Chunky Cranberry Salsa
Chunky Cranberry Salsa

 

Chunky Cranberry Salsa
Chunky Cranberry Salsa

A Visit to the Barnyard Organics Farm in Freetown, PEI

I recently paid a visit to the Bernard family at Barnyard Organics in Freetown, PEI. Sally and Mark Bernard operate one of the largest (if not the biggest) organic farms on the Island and Sally and her daughter, Lucy, were my tour guides.

Sally and Lucy Bernard from Barnyard Organics
Sally and Lucy Bernard from Barnyard Organics

Sally (who grew up on a farm in New Brunswick) and Mark (from an Island farming family) met at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College (NSAC) in Truro, Nova Scotia. Sally has an English degree from Mount Alison as well as a Plant Science Diploma from NSAC while Mark holds an Agricultural Business Diploma with a minor in Plant Science. In 2003, while still in college, Mark knew he wanted to pursue organic farming. His father had recently retired from farming so Mark began the groundwork for preparing the first 50 acres on his family’s farm to be taken out of conventional farming practices. The Bernards officially became certified organic farmers in 2006 and, since 2010, they have 550 organic acres on their farm and also rent additional acreage near Kensington.

Barnyard Organics, the name of the farm, is certified under Atlantic Certified Organics (ACO), a certification body which is accredited with the Canadian federal government. This body enforces the national organic standards such as buffer zone requirements from surrounding farms using conventional farming methods and it provides a list of approved substances that can be used in organic farming. As such, the farm is required to keep records of any products or substances used. In order to remain certified organic, the Bernards are subject to yearly inspections from ACO.

The main focus of the farm is on growing grains that include soybean, barley, wheat, oats, field peas, buckwheat, and clover. More than half of the grains are sold to small-scale organic producers in the Maritimes as a complete mixed animal feed. The remaining half goes to Speerville Flour Mill in New Brunswick and to brokers in Quebec and Ontario. Of note, 35-40 acres of the farm are dedicated to growing wheat specifically for bread. In fact, a nearby neighbour, Coral Wood, uses wheat from Barnyard Organics in her Whole Grain Bakery.

The Whole Grain Bakery Bread made with Grain Grown on Barnyard Organics Farm
The Whole Grain Bakery Bread made with Wheat Grown on Barnyard Organics Farm in Freetown, PEI

In addition, the Bernards also have both meat birds and about 150 laying hens.

The meat birds are raised on a portable pasture system which means the shelters they live in are moved each day so the birds always have fresh grass to nibble on.

The laying hens are completely free range so they have unfettered roaming privileges in a field nearest the farm buildings. They then take up winter residence inside a barn.

These are their summer condos!

This is where the flock hangs out when they are not out roaming about the field.

 

And, this is what is found on the other side of the “condos”.

Baby chicks on the farm!

Both meat and laying birds are raised on organic grains grown on the farm so the Bernards know exactly what their fowl are fed and customers can be assured the chickens and eggs are organic and of the highest quality.

About 90% of their meat birds and eggs are direct marketed to customers through CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares. This is a program whereby consumers (sometimes referred to as shareholders) invest in their food system by paying, the producer, upfront, for a season of fresh farm products. In exchange, the producer agrees to employ good farming practices to ensure a food supply and commits to sharing the resulting farm produce with those shareholders. This method of farming gives the farmer operating capital to buy supplies and run the farm and, in turn, CSA customers get quality fresh produce – in this case, fresh organic chickens and eggs from the Bernards.

Barnyard Organics currently has 100 CSA members and delivers to customers every two weeks in both Charlottetown and Summerside, alternating week about. Sally packages her fresh chickens and eggs, loads up her trolley fitted with refrigeration, and heads off with her deliveries.

Through the CSA market method, Sally gets to know her customers directly and they get to meet with the producer of their food and have the opportunity to put money directly into the producer’s hands with no middle parties. In addition, this customer-producer interaction provides the opportunity for customers to know where their food comes from and learn how it is produced. For the producer, this method allows for face-to-face feedback on products.

The remaining 10% of the farm’s products are sold to customers who regularly drop by the farm to pick up their farm-fresh eggs and chickens from the large cooler the family installed on the farm.

Barnyard Organics also has a small provincially-inspected processing plant where they process approximately 60 chickens a week, ready for distribution to their customers.

Farming organically is not without its challenges. For example, the Bernards don’t use chemical treatments that conventional farmers do so they can’t buy just any kind of fertilizer for their fields. Instead, they use mussel shell waste as well as manure from a nearby dairy farm; however, the manure needs to first be composted before being spread on the fields because it is not organic.

The farm also has its own grain dryer and soybean roaster which are needed because the Bernards can’t take their product to any local commercial dryers or roasters because of potential cross-contamination with non-organic grains.

Sally says their greatest satisfaction comes from knowing they have healthy soil on their farm to produce healthy food. The Bernards practice healthy crop rotation and focus on feeding the soil, not taking from it and depleting its goodness.

Lucy Bernard
Lucy Bernard

In particular, Sally derives great satisfaction from seeing their children interact with farm life. Because she home schools the children, they are exposed each and every day to experiential learning on the farm. Even 7-year old Lucy is already involved with organic farming. She takes the livers and hearts of the processed chickens, dehydrates them, and sells them for organic dog food. Lucy is also helping with the chicken business on the farm, too, and happily moves about the field of hens.

Sally jokes that Lucy could give the tour of the farm as well as she can and says their children are so acclimatized to farm life that they don’t even know that not everyone knows what life on a farm is like.

This summer Sally started a “Rent-A-Chicken” project that was so popular, she ended up with a waiting list. Essentially, the initiative allowed people to have a couple of chickens in their own backyards from June until October, enjoy the eggs, and then return the chickens to the Bernards in the fall without having to worry about what to do with the birds in the winter. The Bernards delivered, to renters, a small, portable chicken coop, two laying hens, feed and grit, food and water dishes, and a guide for raising hens.

Sally Showing one of the Portable Chicken Coops that are part of her "Rent-A-Chicken" Package
Sally showing one of the portable chicken coops that are part of her “Rent-A-Chicken” Package

Ideally, each hen could be expected to lay six eggs a week so renters have a dozen fresh organic eggs every week.

In the fall, the Bernards will pick up the birds and take them back to the farm. Cost for the package for the 2015 season was around $300. Feedback has been very positive and, in fact, some folks have already asked that the birds be banded so they can have the same ones back next year!

To find out, from a renter’s perspective, what the chicken rental experience was like, I met with Shirley Gallant who had two birds rented from the Bernards this summer.

As soon as she heard of the opportunity, Shirley knew it was for her as she had had a few hens in her backyard some years ago but wintering them was a problem for her. Because the Bernards will collect the two hens in the fall, Shirley has been able to have the hens for the summer and enjoy their eggs with no worries about what to do with the hens over the winter. The two hens happily roam around Shirley’s yard during the day and then retire to their coop for the night.  For Shirley, the experience has been very positive and she says she would do it again because “the hens are fun to have around” and she has fresh eggs for her organic diet.

Shirley Gallant with one of her rented chickens from Barnyard Organics
Shirley Gallant with one of her rented chickens from Barnyard Organics

Barnyard Organics farm does offer tours but the Bernards appreciate advance reservations as this is a busy working farm and family. For more information on Barnyard Organics, visit their website.

As is my standard practice when I visit a local food producer, I like to create a recipe using and featuring one of their products. I have chosen to use the brown eggs to make devilled eggs.  These eggs have gorgeous vibrant yellow yolks so they make colorful devilled eggs.

Devilled Egg
Devilled Egg
The Bistro’s Devilled Eggs

Ingredients:

5 hard-boiled eggs, cooled, peeled, and sliced in half lengthwise
2 – 2½ tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp sour cream
½ tsp prepared mustard
1½ tsp onion, minced
¾ tbsp sweet pickle relish
2 tsp Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Pinch garlic powder
½ tsp fresh dill, chopped fine
¾ tsp fresh parsley, chopped
Pinch cayenne
Salt and pepper, to taste

Paprika
Fresh parsley, chopped
Sprigs of fresh herbs (optional)
Method:

Gently scoop out egg yolks and place in small bowl. Set egg whites aside.

Mash egg yolks with fork. Add all remaining ingredients. Mix well.

Fill egg white cavities with the devilled egg mixture using either a pastry bag fitted with a large decorative tip (I use a Wilton 6B tip) or, alternatively, use a spoon.

Refrigerate devilled eggs at least 1 hour before serving. At time of serving, sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and/or paprika. Garnish each with a small sprig of a fresh herb, if desired.

Yield: 10 servings (1 devilled egg each)

Devilled Eggs
Devilled Eggs
Devilled Eggs
Devilled Eggs

 

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Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.  If you enjoyed this posting and recipe, please share it on your social media websites.

Connect with “the Bistro” through the following social media:

Join My Island Bistro Kitchen on Facebook

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Devilled Eggs
Devilled Eggs

 

Devilled Eggs

Yield: 10 servings (1 devilled egg per serving)

Ingredients

  • 5 hard-boiled eggs, cooled, peeled, and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 – 2½ tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp sour cream
  • ½ tsp prepared mustard
  • 1½ tsp onion, minced
  • ¾ tbsp sweet pickle relish
  • 2 tsp Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Pinch garlic powder
  • ½ tsp fresh dill, chopped fine
  • ¾ tsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Paprika
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Sprigs of fresh herbs (optional)

Instructions

  1. Gently scoop out egg yolks and place in small bowl. Set egg whites aside.
  2. Mash egg yolks with fork. Add all remaining ingredients. Mix well.
  3. Fill egg white cavities with the devilled egg mixture using either a pastry bag fitted with a large decorative tip (I use a Wilton 6B tip) or, alternatively, use a spoon.
  4. Refrigerate devilled eggs at least 1 hour before serving. At time of serving, sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and/or paprika. Garnish each with a small sprig of a fresh herb, if desired.
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A Visit to Barnyard Organics, Freetown, PEI
A Visit to Barnyard Organics, Freetown, PEI

Sausage-Stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps

Sausage-stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps
Sausage-stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps

I was recently contacted by Laure Solange Tchamdja, President and CEO of Aldanel Authentic Foods, of Charlottetown, PEI, to let me know about her new line of tomato sauces being produced right here on PEI. I sat down for a chat with Tchamdja to find out more about the sauces.

In October, 2013, Tchamdja began producing tomato sauce. The company manufactures five varieties of their tomato-based sauces, all sold in 240ml bottles: Tomato Celebration, Spinach Carnival, Chili Tango, Carrot Symphony, and Rouge Poivron. Over the period of some nine months in the lab, the BioFood Technology plant on the UPEI campus in Charlottetown helped Tchamdja convert her family recipe into a commercial product suitable for the retail market. As the company does not presently have its own manufacturing plant, the sauces are produced at the BioFood Technology plant on the UPEI campus in Charlottetown.

Tchamdja wanted to create a tomato sauce product that is safe and healthy, not too spicy, and that would help working women, young professionals, and students prepare healthy meals at home. She says her products are versatile and multipurpose and one does not have to be a chef to use them. They can be used directly from the bottle as pasta sauces, added to soups and vegetables, used as a condiment for meat and fish, as a sauce for pizza, on nachos, and even as marinades for meat and fish. So, the product can be used as is without having to cook it again or it can be used as an ingredient in a recipe. Tchamdja says her products are all natural with no preservatives and are low in sugar.

Initially, Tchamdja sold her tomato sauces at local PEI shops such as Riverview Country Market. She has since expanded her markets to include Sobey’s and Co-op Supermarkets, Pete’s Frootique in Halifax, and Winners and Home Sense stores in Eastern Canada.

The products are sold under the Aldanel™ label, the letters for which are formed from those found in the names of her children. Depending on the retailer, prices per 240 ml bottle range from $4.49 to $5.99 (as of the time of writing).

Tchamdja offered me some complimentary samples of her Tomato Celebration sauce to try. Tchamdja is correct – I found the sauce to be a versatile ingredient in several dishes. I have used it as a pizza sauce and found it very tasty. I have also used it in a recipe I created for  baked stuffed fingerling hors d’oeuvres. And, I have used it as an ingredient in the following recipes for sausage-stuffed cremini mushroom caps.

My recipe for stuffed mushrooms is suitable for hors d’oeuvres or, add a tomato sauce, and they turn into an appetizer.

I have chosen to use cremini mushrooms but white button mushrooms would also work.  As well, any kind of sausage can be used – I have chosen to use sun-dried tomato sausage from KJL Meats here in Charlottetown.  The herb and garlic Gouda cheese I used is from Glasgow Glen Farm in New Glasgow, PEI. The tomato sauce that I am featuring in both recipes is Aldanel’s “Tomato Celebration” variety but any of their other sauces would work well, too.

Sausage-stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps
Sausage-stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps

Stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps (Hors d’oeuvres)

1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp butter

12 medium-sized cremini mushrooms, washed, dried, and de-stemmed (reserve the stems)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1½ tbsp onion, finely chopped
2 oz. sun-dried tomato sausage, removed from casing and loosely broken up
2 tbsp Ardanel™ tomato sauce
2 tsp truffle aioli
½ tsp basil
½ cup fine breadcrumbs
2 tbsp shredded Gouda cheese
1 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

Trim and discard ends from mushroom stems.

Remove the stems from the mushroom caps and place mushroom stems into bowl of small food processor. Pulse until mixture is finely chopped.

Add garlic, onion, and sausage and pulse just until mixture is combined.

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Heat oil in small frypan. Add butter.

Add mushroom-sausage mixture and cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, or until sausage meat is no longer pink.

Transfer mixture to small bowl.

Add the tomato sauce.

Add truffle aioli, basil, breadcrumbs, and cheeses along with salt and pepper to taste.

Place mushroom caps on parchment-lined baking sheet. Stuff each mushroom cap with mixture, slightly mounding the top. Sprinkle with finely grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake for about 12 minutes. Garnish with fresh chives, sliced green onion, or parsley, if desired.  Serve immediately.

Yield: 12 hors d’oeuvres

Sausage-stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps
Sausage-stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps

Stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps with Tomato Sauce (Appetizer)

12 sausage-stuffed cremini mushroom caps (recipe above)

Tomato Sauce:

½ tbsp butter
1½ tbsp flour
½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup light cream or milk
¼ cup Ardanel™ tomato sauce
½ tsp Italian seasoning
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup shredded Mozarella cheese

Method:

Over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour.

Whisk in the broth and milk until mixture is smooth.

Stir briskly until mixture starts to thicken then add the tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and cheeses.

 

Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is thickened to desired consistency.

Grease four oven-safe appetizer-sized baking dishes. Place three stuffed mushrooms into each dish.

Pour the sauce over the mushrooms, dividing it equally between the four dishes.

Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Broil on high for about 5-6 minutes, until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 appetizer servings

Sausage-stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps in Tomato Sauce
Sausage-stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps in Tomato Sauce

To learn more about the Aldanel tomato sauce products, visit their website.

This recipe is also being submitted for the Foodie Pages CHEF’S BOX Challenge.

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Baked Stuffed Fingerlings

Baked Stuffed Fingerling
Baked Stuffed Fingerling

I love miniature potatoes. They’re fun to work with. They make wonderful hors d’oeuvres, are the perfect size for roasting, and are the ideal size to drop into soups just the way they are without cutting them up.

Through the Food Bloggers of Canada association of which I am a member, an opportunity arose this fall to take little creamer potatoes produced by the Little Potato™ Company of Alberta and create an original recipe using the potatoes. Coming into the Christmas party season, I immediately saw them as potential hors d’oeuvres.

Stuffed Baked Fingerlings
Stuffed Baked Fingerlings

The Little Potato™ Company grew their first acre of tiny potatoes in 1996. A father and daughter team, Jacob Van der Schaaf and Angela Santiago, planted, weeded, and harvested the first crop by hand. It was a success and soon Angela began marketing the potatoes at Farmers Markets and to restaurants.

The tiny potatoes grew in such popularity that production expanded and, today, the Little Potato™ Company grows six varieties of the little gems which are available at grocery stores across North America, including at the local Co-op store in my hometown of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. The produce manager at the Co-op Food Market on Walker Drive tells me that these potatoes have quite a loyal following of consumers on the Island.  To learn more about The Little Potato™ Company and their various varieties of miniature potatoes, visit their website.  You can also find them on Facebook.

The Little Potato Company varieties of potatoes available at the Co-op Food Market on Walker Avenue in Charlottetown, PEI
The Little Potato Company varieties of potatoes available at the Co-op Food Market on Walker Avenue in Charlottetown, PEI

Two bags each of Little Potato™ Company yellow fingerlings and Something Blue® mini potatoes arrived via UPS at my door one evening. I was thrilled that the oblong fingerlings were sent since they are the perfect shape and size to use when making miniature stuffed baked potato hors d’oeuvres. The recipe I have created especially for these little creamer potatoes can also be used to stuff mini round potatoes as well but the shape of the fingerlings really lends them to being stuffed attractively.

I have used some fine PEI products in the tasty filling I created for the potatoes. The sausage came from KJL Meats in Charlottetown, the herb and garlic mild gouda cheese from Cheeselady’s Gouda now being produced in New Glasgow, and a brand new product on the market – Aldanel™ “Tomato Celebration” tomato sauce made in Charlottetown.

Any flavour of sausage can be used in this recipe. My choice is sweet Italian but, if you like hot flavours, then chipotle would be a good option. The sausage needs to be removed from its casing and it is important to break up the sausage meat really well as it is being scramble-fried because it is going to be piped through a pastry bag. Also, its purpose is to add flavour to the filling and a large chunk of sausage is not desirable in a tiny hors d’oeuvre.

It’s also necessary to extract as much fat as possible from the cooked sausage as the fat can drip through the potato skin and make a messy hors d’oeuvre. To remove the fat, let the cooked sausage drain in a colander for about 15 minutes then wrap the meat in paper towel, repeating the process a couple of times, if necessary, to remove the excess fat.

The little fingerlings take about 15 minutes to cook. Once they are removed from the boiling water, just barely let them cool enough that they can be handled. Slice each fingerling in half, horizontally. Then, using a melon baller, remove the potato pulp, leaving about a 1/16th inch thick wall of potato in each half to give the potato shape. Transfer the potato pulp to a potato ricer.

Press the potato through the ricer into a small bowl. The potatoes can be mashed instead of ricing but the potato ricer gives a smoother, finer texture that is completely lump-free.

Add the remainder of the ingredients to the riced potato and mix well.

The filling can be transferred to the potatoes with a spoon but a piping bag and Wilton tip 8B makes the job quicker, easier, and will give a neater presentation.

Add a sprinkle of paprika, and pop these little hors d’oeuvres into a 375ºF oven for about 12 minutes. Use either a parchment-lined baking sheet to bake the stuffed potatoes or, if you have a baguette pan, it works really well, too.

Garnish, if desired, with a sliver of green onion or chopped chives, then serve to the delight of guests at your next party.

Stuffed Baked Fingerling Hors d'oeuvre made with potatoes from The Little Potato Company
Baked Stuffed Fingerling Hors d’oeuvres made with potatoes from The Little Potato Company

Baked Stuffed Fingerlings

Ingredients:

1 – 4 oz sausage (e.g., Sweet Italian, Sun-dried Tomato, Chipotle, etc.)
1 tsp olive oil

12 Little Potato Company fingerling creamer potatoes
½ tsp liquid chicken bouillon
½ tsp minced garlic
1 green onion, finely chopped
1½ tsp truffle aioli
2 tbsp sour cream
3 tbsp Cheeselady’s Herb & Garlic Mild Gouda cheese, finely grated
1½ tsp Aldanel™ “Tomato Celebration” tomato sauce
⅛ tsp basil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Paprika
Slivers of green onion tops or chopped chives for garnish

Method:

Heat olive oil in small frypan. Remove sausage from casing and crumble. Add to hot oil. With the end of a flat, heat-resistant lifter or spatula, continue to break up the sausage as it cooks. Scramble fry until sausage is brown, approximately 7-10 minutes. Transfer sausage to a colander and let fat drip out for about 10-15 minutes. Then, roll the cooked sausage in paper towel to remove any remaining fat. Set aside.

Cook fingerling potatoes in boiling water for about 15 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

As soon as the potatoes are just cool enough to handle, cut each in half, horizontally. Using a melon baller, remove the potato pulp from the skin, leaving about a 1/16th inch thick wall of potato in each half to give the potato shape. Transfer potato pulp to a potato ricer. Press pulp through ricer into small bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix until incorporated.

Transfer mixture to a pastry bag fitted with Wilton tip 8B. Pipe filling into each fingerling half. Sprinkle with paprika. Place mini stuffed potatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet or in the cradle of a baguette pan. Bake in preheated oven for about 12 minutes. Remove and garnish with a sliver of green onion or chopped chives. Serve hot.

Yield: 24 hors d’oeuvres

Disclosure:  The potatoes used in this recipe were provided to me, free of charge, from The Little Potato™ Company for the purposes of sampling them and creating a recipe with them.  The recipe for Baked Stuffed Fingerlings in this posting is an original recipe developed by me in my home kitchen.

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Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today. There are lots of ways to connect with “the Bistro” through social media:

Join My Island Bistro Kitchen on Facebook
Follow the Bistro’s tweets on twitter @PEIBistro
Find the Bistro on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen
Follow along on Instagram at “peibistro