Category Archives: Recipes

Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

Seafood Crepes
Asparagus and Lobster Crepes

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

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

Fresh PEI Lobster
Steamed Lobster in the Shell

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

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

These are so worth the wait!

PEI Lobsters
Fresh Catch of the Day – PEI Lobsters

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

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

Fresh Asparagus

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

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

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

Seafood Crepes
Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

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

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

Ingredients:

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

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

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

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

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

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serving Suggestion: Serve with favorite green salad.

Yield:  4 servings, 2 crepes each

Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 2 crepes per serving

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

Serving Suggestion: Serve with favorite green salad

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Seafood Crepes
Lobster and Asparagus Crepes
Seafood Crepes

Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

Thumprint Cookies
Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

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

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

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

Thumbprint Cookies
Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

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

Thumprint Cookies
Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

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

Thumbprint Cookies
Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

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

Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients:

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

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

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

Apx. ½ cup lemon curd

Method:

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

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

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

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

Yield:  Apx. 22 cookies

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

Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

Yield: Apx. 22 cookies

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

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

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

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Thumbprint Cookies
Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

 

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

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

Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

Gluten-free Lemon-filled Thumbprint Cookies

Queen Elizabeth Cake Recipe

Ever wonder about the history of old vintage recipes?  I so wish that accurate records existed about the origins of some of the old nostalgic recipes like the one for Queen Elizabeth Cake, for example.

Queen Elizabeth Square
Queen Elizabeth Cake

This is one recipe that has some history to it but just how much is fact and how much is fable, myth, or folklore is up for certain debate.

Queen Elizabeth Cake is, next to a plain white vanilla or simple chocolate cake, probably one of the most basic, nondescript cakes you could come by. Made with a simple batter with some dates and mild spices mixed in, its glory comes from the topping made of butter, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and coconut that almost borders on toffee. Yes, this will remind you of a cold version of sticky date pudding.

Now, sometimes, you may see this referred to as Queen Elizabeth “Square” versus “Cake”. However, I think it most closely resembles a cake more so than a square. This is because the texture is light and tender, the crumb an even grain, and the body of the cake has a springiness to the touch. This is in contrast to what defines a typical square (or bars) – i.e., a dense texture and chewy consistency. I would class this cake as a hearty, substantial cake.

Queen Elizabeth Square
Queen Elizabeth Cake

So, just where and when did Queen Elizabeth Cake originate?  This is where fact and fiction intertwine and become somewhat blurry.  I did quite a bit of research on this cake. One intriguing story is that it is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s own recipe from which she made cakes herself and sold them for charitable purposes. This claim suggests the recipe originated in Buckingham Palace after the 1953 Coronation. I could find no information or evidence to substantiate this claim and neither could I find any reference to this history on the Buckingham Palace website.

In the June 1953 issue of the Canadian magazine, Chatelaine, a recipe for Queen Elizabeth II Cake was published. Chatelaine’s April 20, 2016, online posting which shared a photo of the 1953 published recipe claims it “was created specifically for the Queen’s Coronation” but gives no indication of who the actual creator was or any detail about how or why the specific ingredients were chosen.

Other information suggests the cake may have been created much earlier to commemorate Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother’s popularity and her historic visit with her husband, King George VI, to Canada in 1939.

Yet, other information suggests the cake was appearing in local community cookbooks in the 1940s when it was known as “Princess Elizabeth Cake” and there is suggestion that the name may have been changed to “Queen Elizabeth Cake” after the 1953 Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

So, all this to say, I could not definitively, with any degree of accuracy, determine the exact origins of this cake. I do personally recall childhood memories of this cake appearing at community and church events in the 1960s and 1970s in the part of Prince Edward Island in which I grew up.  Plates of sweets inevitably always had this cake on it, although I believe it was referred to as Queen Elizabeth “Square”.  I am reasonably certain of the specific ladies who would, most likely, have been the makers of this cake but they have, unfortunately, all passed on, taking with them whatever memories they may have had associated with the Queen Elizabeth Cake/Square.

Queen Elizabeth Cake
Queen Elizabeth Cake

Granted, I’ll admit the Queen Elizabeth Cake is not the most attractive cake but, boy oh boy, do the flavor, moist texture, and the kicker topping more than make up for it! This is one cake that, as the old saying goes, you ought not judge the book by the cover!  While this is not a cake that my mother made, she does have it in a handwritten recipe “scribbler” that was started in 1963. There is no indication on the handwritten recipe whose it was or where it came from. It cryptically lists the ingredients but contains no method, baking pan size, or baking temperature. This is typical because cooks, in years gone by, simply knew how to pull together a cake and, from whomever the recipe was gotten, it was probably baked in the cook’s wood stove oven (I’ll never know how they regulated the temperature in those). My mother says the cake was probably popular because it needed no frosting/icing since the topping is the “dressing” on the cake.

Queen Elizabeth Cake
Queen Elizabeth Cake

I have taken the basic recipe, adapted some of the ingredients and proportions, added some additional flavoring and spices (the recipe I adapted this one from had no spices listed) and tested the recipe out using different baking pan sizes, writing down the instructions as I worked. What has resulted is this recipe for one of the most tasty tray/slab cakes imaginable given that it is made with such simple, basic kitchen staple ingredients.

Some tips on making Queen Elizabeth Cake:

  • You may think there isn’t enough batter for a 9”x13” cake but there is – there is 1 teaspoon each of baking powder and soda so this cake will rise to a nice height in this size of pan. I tested it first in a 9″x9″ pan but found the cake was too tall in it.
  • The pan may be greased or it may be lined with parchment paper (or even greased tin foil). If using either of the latter, make sure you leave enough paper or tin foil overhang which can be used as “handles” to lift the cake out of the pan. Hint – This method makes both the cutting and removal of the cake from the pan easier than doing so while it is still in the pan.
  • Let the date mixture cool completely at room temperature. Adding it to the dry ingredients while it is either hot or warm can make for a “gummy” texture or soggy cake.
  • Mix the wet and dry ingredients using the rule of 3 parts dry and 2 parts wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  • Mix the ingredients well but don’t beat them as this may create a “tough crumb” cake.
  • Use cream to make the topping. I used 18% cream but 35% cream will create an even more luxurious topping (but also add a few more calories!).
  • Start checking the cake for doneness at the point where the cake has been baking for 30 minutes then, if it is not baked, check it every 4-5 minutes after. The cake will be done when the cake tester, inserted into the center of the cake, comes out completely clean and dry.
  • When the cake tests almost baked (about 5 minutes before it is expected to come out of the oven), start making the topping. It needs to go on the warm cake that will go back in the oven for 3-4 minutes after the topping has been added.
  • The topping is a little bit like making candy. It can set up really fast. Don’t leave it unattended. Stir the ingredients as they boil gently for the 3 minutes. Watch it carefully – if you see if starting to “set up” and thicken really fast (even if it is before the 3 minutes of boiling is up), remove it from the stove and stir in the vanilla and coconut. The mixture should be of the consistency that it can be poured from the saucepan and spread over the cake with a knife. If it becomes too thick, it will be too sugary and won’t be of spreading consistency.

Splendid, no matter its history or how it’s served, this cake pairs particularly well with a spot of tea…. perhaps Earl Grey blend.  This is a smooth black tea that has citrus notes that complement the sweetness of the cake. With its high concentration of tannins, it’s also a great tea to cleanse the mouth after each bite of the cake so that every bite of this moist and flavorful cake tastes as good as the first one!

Queen Elizabeth Square
Queen Elizabeth Cake

[Printable Recipe Follows at end of Posting]

Queen Elizabeth Cake

 Ingredients:
1 cup dates, chopped
1 tsp soda
1 cup boiling water

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
Pinch allspice

¼ cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
¼ tsp orange extract
1 tsp vanilla

Topping:
3 tbsp melted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp cream (18%)
½ tsp vanilla
2/3 cup shredded coconut

Method:

Cake:

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

Position oven rack in centre of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease 9”x13” baking pan or line with parchment paper (or even greased tin foil).

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and spices together. Set aside.

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

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

Spread batter evenly in prepared baking pan.  Transfer to preheated oven and bake for approximately 30-40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven.

Topping:

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

This cake freezes well.

Yield:  1 – 9”x13” single layer cake

Queen Elizabeth Cake

Yield: 1 - 9"x13" cake

This moist and flavorful cake is made with dates and spices and features a delectable toffee-like topping

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dates, chopped
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch allspice
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ tsp orange extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Topping:
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp cream (18%)
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Cake:
  2. Place dates and soda in medium-sized saucepan. Add the boiling water. Simmer for about 4-5 minutes then cool completely at room temperature.
  3. Position oven rack in centre of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9”x13” baking pan or line with parchment paper (or even greased tin foil).
  4. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and spices together. Set aside.
  5. In bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, orange extract, and vanilla. Transfer mixture to cooled dates. Stir well.
  6. Transfer one-third of the sifted dry ingredients to the mixer bowl. Beat in one-half of the wet ingredients. Add another third of the dry ingredients. Blend well. Mix in the remainder of the wet ingredients. Finish by incorporating the remaining dry ingredients. Mix well to combine. Don’t overmix.
  7. Spread batter evenly in prepared baking pan. Transfer to preheated oven and bake for approximately 30-40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven.
  8. Topping:
  9. About 5 minutes before the cake is due to be removed from the oven, begin to prepare the cake topping. In medium-sized saucepan, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter. Blend in the brown sugar and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 3 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and quickly stir in the vanilla and coconut. Pour and spread this mixture evenly over the warm cake and return it to the oven to brown slightly for 3-4 minutes. Remove cake from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely before cutting and serving.

Notes

Please refer to entire blog posting for hints and tips on making this cake.

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Queen Elizabeth Cake

Queen Elizabeth Cake

Luscious Lemon Curd

Homemade Lemon Curd
Homemade Lemon Curd

I adore lemon curd – luscious lemon curd –  that wonderful balance of lemon’s acidity and tartness with the sweetness of sugar. I love it so much that it’s a staple in my refrigerator.

Lemon Curd with Vanilla Greek Yogurt
Lemon Curd with Vanilla Greek Yogurt

Not to be confused with lemon pie filling, which is a different recipe altogether, this versatile heavenly creation known as lemon curd has so many uses – sandwiching cakes together, spreading on scones and biscuits, filling cookies, eclairs, macarons, and tarts, stirring into (or topping on) Greek yogurt for quick parfaits, as a topping on gingerbread or pancakes and, well, you get the picture – uses of lemon curd are limited only by your imagination, creativity, and your love for this divine creation!

Lemon Curd on Scones
Lemon Curd on Scones

Oh, heck, if I’m being honest, I have been known to eat it by the spoonful straight from the jar!

Homemade Lemon Curd
Homemade Lemon Curd

Lemon curd is made with only four (4) ingredients – lemons, sugar, eggs, and butter. While the basic ingredients won’t vary, the amounts of each used and the methods for making curd may differ.  Some cooks favor using only egg yolks, others claim best results using whole eggs, and then there is me who uses both egg yolks and a whole egg. Some wait until after the curd is cooked before adding the butter and lemon zest while others include these at the beginning of the cooking process. Some leave the zest in; others strain it out after the cooking process is complete. Some will cook the curd in a pot directly over the heat while others use a double boiler.

Fresh Homemade Lemon Curd
Fresh Homemade Lemon Curd

I have been making lemon curd for years and have tried different methods of cooking it and different amounts of the core ingredients. The recipe I am including with this posting is the result of many testings which allows me to share my tips for successful lemon curd making.

Lemon Curd Tart
Lemon Curd Tart

Lemons
Always use freshly-squeezed lemon juice – never bottled – for making lemon curd. Choose lemons that have a little spring to them when gently pressed – these will yield more juice than a lemon that is rock solid hard.

Wash the lemons really well in hot, soapy water and scrub them with a vegetable brush to remove any wax that is often applied to lemons before they reach the supermarket shelf. Rinse the lemons really well and dry them.

How many lemons will be required for this curd is difficult to say with certainty because it depends on the size of the lemons and how juicy they are.  The aim is to get ½ cup minus 1 tablespoon of juice (i.e., 7 tablespoons) AFTER it has been strained and the pulp and seeds removed. I can usually extract this amount of juice from 2½ to 3 average size lemons.

Use a lemon zester to zest one of the lemons, ensuring the lemon is blemish-free (now you understand why it’s important that the lemons be thoroughly scrubbed clean – the zest is going into the curd). This should yield about 2½ teaspoons of zest. This zesting process will release the wonderful aromatic oils from the lemon and will enhance the flavor of the curd. When zesting the lemon, take care only to remove the thin outside yellow skin of the lemon and not the underlying white pith which is bitter.

Lemon Zest
Lemon Zest

Cut the lemons in half and squeeze them to extract the juice. Strain the juice through a very fine wire mesh sieve to remove the pulp and seeds. Measure out 7 tablespoons of juice after this process, not before.

Eggs
I have made curd using just egg yolks, just whole eggs, and by using two extra-large egg yolks and one large whole egg.  I find the latter is my preference. I like the lemon curd to be soft but not overly runny or too thick – it should more or less stay in place when a dollop of it is added to the top of yogurt or dropped on to a scone, for example. My experience with making the curd using only egg yolks is that some of the soft texture of the curd is lost and it’s more of a gelatin-type texture and consistency. Using all whole eggs resulted in a curd that was too soft and runny for my liking, most likely because there was too much egg white added.  However, when I use two egg yolks along with one whole egg, the consistency is a lovely satiny creamy texture that is neither too runny or too solid.  The one egg white adds just enough fluidity to produce the desired consistency.

The problem that often occurs with adding egg white(s) to a curd is that the whites, or parts of them, coagulate before being fully incorporated into the curd meaning they go from liquid form to a solid. The whites cook faster than the yolks so, no matter how much stirring, one can still be left with little bits of the coagulated egg white in the curd because, once they have turned into solid mass, they can’t be liquefied again. This is easily remedied, however, by straining the cooked curd through a fine wire mesh sieve to remove any little bits of egg white remaining. You would think the thickened curd would not drip through the sieve but it does! Don’t skip this step.

Lemon Curd with Greek Yogurt
Lemon Curd with Greek Yogurt

Sugar
I have made the curd both with regular granulated sugar and with caster sugar which you may know by any of the following names: Fruit sugar, instant dissolving sugar, berry sugar, or super fine sugar. This sugar is super-duper fine. It dissolves much faster than granulated sugar and is commonly used in making simple syrups used in cocktails because it leaves no “gritty” texture at all. Regular granulated sugar works fine in lemon curd. The caster sugar does, however, provide a smoother textured curd so, if absolute perfection in this regard is your goal, I recommend using the caster sugar.

Lemon Curd on Biscuits
Lemon Curd on Biscuits

Method
Making a quality lemon curd takes time. This isn’t something I’d recommend starting 10 minutes before the curd is needed. I know some cooks do make the lemon curd in a pot directly over the heat source. However, I don’t go that route because it is very easy to scorch the curd with the amount of sugar in it and I think it cooks the curd too quickly causing potential curdling as it’s more difficult to regulate the heat.

My preference is to use a double boiler. If you don’t have one of these sets of pots, simply set a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water and “simmering” is the operative word.

It’s very important that the top pot/bowl in the double boiler not touch the water in the bottom pot. Before beginning to cook the curd, I recommend setting the pot/bowl over the water and lifting it to check to ensure the water is not in direct contact with the top of the double boiler/bowl. The curd cooks from the steam heating the top saucepan of the boiler, not by contact with water. About 2” of water in the bottom of the pot is all that is required. Heat this water to the simmering point (around 200°F) and do not let it boil as this will cook the eggs in the curd too fast. This is when curdling can occur and the mixture will become lumpy and lose its smooth texture. The water should be kept at this temperature throughout the cooking process.  I recommend periodically lifting the top of the boiler to ensure the water is not boiling. (Note that temperatures for the simmering water may need to be adjusted according to altitude.  The important thing is that the water not boil.)

I add the lemon zest at the beginning of the cooking process because that’s when I think the zest can do the most to enhance the flavor of the curd. Some cooks add the zest at the very end after the curd has cooked. However, in my opinion, that’s too late for the zest to release the lemon’s flavorful oils and to have much impact on infusing the curd’s flavor.  Some might argue that having the lemon zest in the curd during the entire cooking process could lead to a bitter taste in the curd. However, I do not find that to be the case as the curd is cooked gently and ever-so-slowly and away from the direct heat source. Simply stir the lemon zest into the sugar then whisk in the lemon juice.  Mix the egg yolks and the whole egg together in a small bowl, using a fork to lightly break them up. Whisk the eggs and softened butter into the sugar-juice mixture. Place this pot/heatproof bowl on top of the pot of simmering water.

The mixture needs to be stirred regularly as it cooks – lemon curd is not something that can be left unattended on the stove to do its own thing.  A whisk or a wooden spoon can be used to stir the curd. Be patient. Very patient. This cooking process can take 20-25 minutes for the curd to thicken. Resist the urge to increase the heat to speed the cooking process along. The curd, when cooked, will coat the back of a wooden spoon. But, the most accurate test is to use a candy thermometer – the curd is cooked when the temperature reaches 170°F.

The curd needs to be strained through a very fine wire mesh sieve to remove any bits of the coagulated egg white along with the lemon zest. The zest has done its duty by releasing flavor into the curd. There is no harm in leaving the zest in the curd; however, if the goal is to have a perfect satin finish to the curd, the bits of zest gotta go! In my view, it just really is not all that pleasant to be enjoying the creamy curd and suddenly bite into a chewy piece of lemon zest!

Luscious Lemon Curd
Luscious Lemon Curd

Color and Texture
The color of the cooked curd should be a natural brilliantly bright sunshiny yellow. The color comes from the egg yolks, lemon juice and, to some degree, from the lemon zest. The texture of the perfectly cooked curd should be silky smooth, very creamy, and the curd should bear a slightly glossy sheen.  Lemon curd will thicken slightly more as it cools.

Sunshiny yellow lemon curd
Sunshiny yellow lemon curd

A true curd does not have any thickening agent (e.g., flour or cornstarch) added to it. The egg yolks are what naturally thickens the curd. This is a key difference between lemon curd and lemon pie filling. Pie filling has a more gelatin-like consistency and is thickened with either flour or cornstarch. In contrast, lemon curd is softer, smoother, and of spreading consistency. Lemon curd also has a more intense lemon flavor than does the filling for a lemon pie.

Lemon Curd with Biscuits
Lemon Curd with Biscuits

Storage
Transfer the strained curd to a hot sterilized jar.  Immediately place a piece of plastic wrap on the exposed surface of the curd in the jar, pressing it gently to ensure it is in direct contact with the entire surface of the curd. This will prevent a skin from forming on the curd as it cools.  Let the curd cool to room temperature then remove the plastic wrap, cover tightly with jar lid, and store in the refrigerate for up to a week….if it lasts that long! Now, where’s the spoon…………

A spoonful of lemon curd
A spoonful of lemon curd

[Printable Recipe Follows at end of Posting]

Luscious Lemon Curd

Ingredients:
¾ cup caster* sugar or granulated sugar
2½ tsp lemon zest
7 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained (apx. 2½  – 3 lemons, depending on size)
2 extra-large egg yolks
1 large 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 lemon zest.  Whisk the lemon 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-lemon 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 may take 20-25 minutes. 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 lemon 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.

Luscious Lemon Curd

Yield: Apx. 1 cup

Sweet and tart, this luscious lemon curd is a wonderful addition to scones, parfaits, and pastries

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup caster* sugar or granulated sugar
  • 2½ tsp lemon zest
  • 7 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained (apx. 2½ - 3 lemons, depending on size)
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1 large 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 lemon zest. Whisk the lemon 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-lemon 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 may take 20-25 minutes. 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 lemon 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.

Notes

Please be sure to read entire blog posting that accompanies this recipe as it contains important information and tips on successfully making lemon curd.

*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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Luscious Lemon Curd

Luscious Lemon Curd

Turnip Puff Casserole

Turnip Puff Casserole
Turnip Puff Casserole

This turnip puff casserole is really a rutabaga puff casserole because, in fact, it is actually made with rutabaga, not turnip. However, all my life, I have known the root vegetable in the photo below as a “turnip”.  Besides, I think turnip puff casserole sounds better than rutabaga puff casserole!

Rutabaga
Rutabaga

Now, even though turnips and rutabagas are kissing cousins in the mustard plant family, there are some key differences between the two.

Turnips (Photo Courtesy Just a Little Farm, Bonshaw, PEI)
Turnips (Photo Courtesy Just a Little Farm, Bonshaw, PEI)

Turnips (shown in the photo above) are much smaller than rutabagas. They are usually anywhere from 2″ – 4″ in diameter compared to the much larger rutabagas that are typically 6″ or even  more in diameter.

Rutabagas are much sweeter and turnips more bitter. Rutabagas have yellow flesh whereas turnips have white flesh. Rutabagas will have thicker outer skins than turnips and their exterior color will have a purple top and yellowy-beige bottom whereas turnips will have a white or white/purple outer skin.  Rutabagas require much longer to grow and are more tolerant to cold than are turnips which is why you will often see turnips advertised as “summer” turnips. Because of their tolerance for the cold, rutabagas are often referred to as a “cold crop” and my grandparents always claimed the rutabagas (that they referred to as turnips) were no good until there had been a good frost before they were harvested. In fact, my grandmother always said the earlier they were harvested in the fall, the more bitter they were which is why, in the fall, she always added a small amount of sugar to the cooked rutabaga as she mashed it.

We often serve the golden-colored mashed rutabaga as a side vegetable to many meals but, sometimes (especially for special occasions), it’s nice to kick this side dish up a notch which is what I do when I make this turnip puff casserole. A rutabaga weighing approximately 1 lb, 7 oz will be required for this recipe.  To the cooked rutabaga that is mashed really well to the texture of purée, I add some applesauce and brown sugar for sweetener, some onion to make it just a little bit savory, along with some cheese to boost the flavor. A hint of nutmeg and garlic provide additional flavor. An egg  is added to bind the ingredients together and baking powder is added for leavening – hence the “puff” part of this side dish.

Turnip Puff Casserole
Turnip Puff Casserole

Now, I call this a “casserole” and, for photo demonstration purposes, have photographed a piece of it as a stand-alone on a plate. However, this is not a casserole I would make as a main meal entrée. Rather, it is a vegetable side dish so, instead of serving a scoop of mashed rutabaga with dinner, I cut out pieces of this casserole and serve it alongside other vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and peas.

Turnip Puff Casserole
Turnip Puff Casserole

A casserole or baking pan with about a 1.5-quart capacity (or slightly less) is required for this casserole. I find the 6″x8″ baking pan that I have for my toaster oven works perfectly. I would not use a deep casserole dish for this recipe as it would not cut out well for serving purposes so use a shallow baking pan. This recipe will provide six standard-sized serving portions, the size shown in the photographs. If you are serving several other side vegetables for a dinner, or serving this buffet-style, smaller pieces may suffice…..but it’s tasty so don’t be surprised if there are requests for second helpings!

Turnip Puff Casserole
Turnip Puff Casserole

For the breadcrumb topping, I use crumbs that are not super fine as are found in commercial boxes or bags of crumbs. These are ones I crumb (in the food processor) from bread crusts and they are the consistency as shown in the photo below – not super-fine but not overly chunky.

Bread Crumbs
Bread Crumbs

Bake this casserole in the oven for 30-35 minutes, just until the breadcrumb topping is lightly browned. Let stand for about 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.

Turnip Puff Casserole
Turnip Puff Casserole

This recipe is easily adapted to be gluten-free — simply replace the breadcrumbs called for in the recipe with those that are gluten-free and use gluten-free all purpose flour.

Turnip Puff Casserole
Turnip Puff Casserole

While this dish may be served at any time of the year, it is especially good at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with roast poultry, beef, or pork. This casserole may be made several hours in advance and refrigerated until needed.

Turnip Puff Casserole
Turnip Puff Casserole

 

[Printable Recipe Follows at end of Posting]

Turnip Puff Casserole

Ingredients:
2 cups warm cooked, mashed rutabaga (pre-cooked rutabaga weight apx. 1 lb 7 oz)
1/3 cup applesauce
1 tbsp grated onion
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp brown sugar
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp garlic salt
¾ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour)
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp finely grated cheddar cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste

½ cup fine bread crumbs
2 tsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch nutmeg
1½ tbsp melted butter

Method:
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 6”x8” baking pan.

In medium-sized saucepan, combine the mashed rutabaga, applesauce, grated onion, butter, and egg. Mix well.

In small bowl, combine the brown sugar, nutmeg, garlic salt, baking powder, flour, Parmesan and cheddar cheese, and salt and pepper, to taste. Stir well into the rutabaga mixture.  Transfer to prepared baking pan.

In small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and nutmeg with the melted butter.  Sprinkle crumbs over rutabaga mixture.  Bake, uncovered, for approximately 30-35 minutes, until lightly browned.

Serve hot as a side dish to any hot meal in which turnip/rutabaga would typically be served.

Yield: Apx. 6 servings

Turnip Puff Casserole

Yield: Apx. 6 servings

A vegetable side dish made with rutabaga purée, applesauce, cheese, and light seasonings. Perfect accompaniment to roast turkey, beef, or pork.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups warm cooked, mashed rutabaga (pre-cooked rutabaga weight apx. 1 lb 7 oz)
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 tbsp grated onion
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp garlic salt
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all purpose flour)
  • 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp finely grated cheddar cheese
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup fine bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1½ tbsp melted butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 6”x8” baking pan.
  2. In medium-sized saucepan, combine the mashed rutabaga, applesauce, grated onion, butter, and egg. Mix well.
  3. In small bowl, combine the brown sugar, nutmeg, garlic salt, baking powder, flour, Parmesan and cheddar cheese, and salt and pepper, to taste. Stir well into the rutabaga mixture. Transfer to prepared baking pan.
  4. In small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and nutmeg with the melted butter. Sprinkle crumbs over rutabaga mixture. Bake, uncovered, for approximately 30-35 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve hot as a side dish to any hot meal in which turnip/rutabaga would typically be served.
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Turnip Puff Casserole - perfect side dish to turkey, beef, or pork

Bistro Style Potato Patties

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

It’s inevitable, when you live in Prince Edward Island, that you’ll eat a lot of potatoes and find creative ways in which to serve them, including these PEI Potato Patties. That’s because we grow lots and lots of spuds on our little Island with the rich red soil on Canada’s east coast.

PEI Potato Harvesting
PEI Potato Harvesting

Potatoes, a staple in many households, are one of the most versatile vegetables. They can be prepared and served in a myriad of ways as a tasty side dish to many different kinds of meals (click on the links at the bottom of this posting for several great recipes featuring potatoes).  When you need to put some variety into serving potatoes, these flavorful potato patties will fit the bill nicely.  They go with just about any meal in which potatoes would typically be served – pork chops, roast beef (hot or cold), steak, chicken, meatloaf, and even as a side to bacon and eggs.

PEI Potato Patties
PEI Potato Patties

So, what are potato patties?  They are made from warm cooked mashed or riced potatoes with seasonings added then formed into round patties and baked in the oven until lightly tanned and crispy on the outside.  If you have a potato ricer, like the one in the photo below, it is the best tool to use for processing the potatoes for the patties.  A standard potato masher can be used so long as the potatoes are mashed really well and are lump free.  The ricer, however, will yield light fluffy potatoes with no lumps and provide a more consistent texture in the potato patties.

Ricing Potatoes
Potato Ricer

These patties are gently seasoned with liquid chicken bouillon, shallot, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, and cheese along with butter and sour cream.  Adding bread crumbs to the mixture helps to give the patties structure and body and the addition of an egg binds the ingredients together. To make them gluten-free, use gluten-free bread crumbs both in the patties and to bread them. Whatever bread is used, the bread crumbs for the potato mixture should not be overly fine – they should have some coarseness to them.  The photo below shows a good medium grind for the bread crumbs for this recipe. The bread crumbs can be slightly finer for breading the patties.

Bread Crumbs
Bread Crumbs

Each patty is carefully tossed in bread crumbs that are seasoned with parsley and paprika and then baked in a hot 400F oven for about 15-20 minutes or so.

PEI Potato Patties
PEI Potato Patties

The 1/4-cup measure is about the right size for the patties which are formed into round shapes about 1/2 inch thick.  I make these patties and freeze them, unbaked, so I have them on hand for an easy and tasty side dish to many different meals. They freeze well stored in an airtight freezer container. To prepare them from frozen state, place patties on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 30-35 minutes, turning the patties once during baking.

If serving as a side dish to a meal, I figure on 2 patties per person. If serving at a buffet, it’s usually 1 patty per person.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

PEI Bistro-Style Potato Patties

Ingredients:

2½ lb potatoes, cooked, drained, and mashed or riced
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tsp liquid chicken bouillon
1 shallot, minced (about 1½ tbsp)
¼ – ½ tsp garlic salt
¼ cup butter
1 medium-sized egg, lightly beaten
¾ cup medium ground bread crumbs, lightly toasted
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
Fresh ground pepper
¼ tsp fine sea salt
2 tbsp finely grated cheddar cheese, or your favorite cheese blend
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Finely ground bread crumbs, lightly toasted
2 tbsp fresh parsley
½ tsp paprika

Method:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Mash warm potatoes well, or press through potato ricer, to remove any lumps.

Place potatoes in large bowl and add next 12 ingredients.  Mix well to combine.

In separate shallow bowl or small pie plate, mix the finely ground bread crumbs, fresh parsley, and paprika.

Using ¼ cup measure, scoop potato mixture and form into round patties about ½” thick.  Toss each patty in the bread crumb mixture, pressing each patty gently to ensure breading mixture adheres.  Place patties on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until browned and slightly crisp, turning each patty once. Serve hot.

Yield: Apx. 15 patties

NOTE:  To toast bread crumbs, spread on baking sheet and bake in 350°F oven for 10-12 minutes, or till lightly tanned.

These patties freeze well.  Place on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and place in freezer for about an hour to freeze patties.  Then, simply transfer the patties to an airtight freezer container with layer of wax paper between each stack of patties.  Bake from frozen state, in preheated 400°F, for 30-35 minutes, turning once.


Other Potato Recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen:

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

Scalloped Potatoes
Twice-baked Potatoes
Potato Salad
Bread Stuffing/Dressing for Roast Turkey/Chicken

And these other great dishes that use PEI Potatoes:

Potato Leek Soup
Moussaka
Lobster Cakes
And, of course, Chocolate Potato Cake

To learn more about potato farming in Prince Edward Island, click on the links below:

Follow the PEI Potato Farmer! From Field to Table

From Field to Table: Potato Growing and Harvesting in Prince Edward Island

Bistro Style Potato Patties

Yield: Apx. 15 patties

Serving Size: 2 patties per serving

Perfect side dish to many meals. Mashed or riced potatoes are lightly seasoned, formed into patties, breaded, and baked in the oven until lightly browned and crisp on the outside.

Ingredients

  • 2½ lb potatoes, cooked, drained, and mashed or riced
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp liquid chicken bouillon
  • 1 shallot, minced (about 1½ tbsp)
  • ¼ - ½ tsp garlic salt
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 medium-sized egg, lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup medium ground bread crumbs, lightly toasted
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tbsp finely grated cheddar cheese, or your favorite cheese blend
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • Finely ground bread crumbs, lightly toasted
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp paprika

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Mash warm potatoes well, or press through potato ricer, to remove any lumps.
  3. Place potatoes in large bowl and add next 12 ingredients. Mix well to combine.
  4. In separate shallow bowl or small pie plate, mix the finely ground bread crumbs, fresh parsley, and paprika.
  5. Using ¼ cup measure, scoop potato mixture and form into round patties about ½” thick. Toss each patty in the bread crumb mixture, pressing each patty gently to ensure breading mixture adheres. Place patties on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until browned and slightly crisp, turning each patty once. Serve hot.
  7. Yield: Apx. 15 patties
  8. NOTE: To toast bread crumbs, spread on baking sheet and bake in 350°F oven for 10-12 minutes, or till lightly tanned.
  9. These patties freeze well. Place on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and place in freezer for about an hour to freeze patties. Then, simply transfer the patties to an airtight freezer container with layer of wax paper between each stack of patties. Bake from frozen state, in preheated 400°F, for 30-35 minutes, turning once.
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Bistro-style Potato Patties
Bistro-style Potato Patties

 

PEI Potato Patties
PEI Potato Patties

 

Rethink Beef Global Recipe Swap Campaign: Moussaka

Moussaka
Moussaka

I have been invited by www.thinkbeef.ca to participate, as one of ten food bloggers from across Canada, in the Rethink Beef Global Recipe Swap Campaign to promote recipes using ground beef. Each blogger was asked to develop a recipe (using ground beef) that is inspired by his or her cultural background or a culinary adventure experienced. Each blogger was paired with another and the two exchanged their own recipe for the other to try. This posting involves showcasing my own recipe as well as a recipe from my swap partner, Jason Lee, who writes the blog, “Shut Up and Eat”.

Moussaka
Moussaka

I frequently use ground beef in recipes and am never at a loss to come up with meal ideas to use this versatile meat. The recipe I have chosen is Moussaka. This is a one-dish meal typically characterized by ground meat, eggplant, and tomato sauce with a white sauce on top. So, I will begin with a discussion on why I chose Moussaka to feature ground beef, followed by some hints and tips on making this Greek-inspired dish, and will end with my experience cooking my recipe swap partner’s Beef and Coriander Dumplings inspired by his Chinese heritage. This posting has two recipes from two different cultures but both use ground beef as the main ingredient.

A Greek Taverna in Kerkira, Corfu, Greece
A Greek Taverna in Kerkira, Corfu, Greece

The recipe for Moussaka is inspired by a recent trip to the Mediterranean area that included a re-visit to parts of Greece. I have always been a fan of typical Mediterranean dishes and, when I would stop and look at menus of Greek tavernas, like the one in the photo above in Kerkira, Corfu, I’d inevitably see Moussaka as one of the offerings. While I was unable to conclusively determine the exact origins of Moussaka, it is a dish that is commonly associated with Greece. It had been a long time since I had Moussaka and my visits to several Greek Islands re-ignited my interest in this tasty dish.

Taverna in Kerkira, Corfu, Greece
Taverna in Kerkira, Corfu, Greece

I was first introduced to Moussaka in the early 1980s when I found myself working not far from the restaurant of the Dundee Arms Inn  in Charlottetown, PEI. Their restaurant was considered one of the best in town with an upscale menu, and my workplace had a standing Friday noon reservation as, otherwise, it would have been impossible to get a table. The popular restaurant had an extensive lunch menu that included Moussaka.  This became my standard Friday noontime order. The traditional Moussaka contains eggplant as a key ingredient; however, I never did acquire a taste for eggplant but I sure did enjoy the rest of this yummy dish that was served, piping hot, in au-gratin dishes. I’d simply move the eggplant to the side and enjoy the meat and tomato sauce with its traditional béchamel topping. After all these years, when I think of Moussaka, I can still recall the wonderful flavor of the dish at The Dundee.

So, when I returned home from Europe in the fall, I decided I would develop a Moussaka recipe minus the eggplant, instead substituting potatoes as the base. This is quite apropos given I am from Prince Edward Island, home of great potato production. There are many variations of Moussaka, depending on the region in which it is being made, and many different combinations of meat that can be used. Mine keeps it simple by using lean ground beef. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I was invited to participate in the Rethink Beef Global Recipe Swap Campaign because I knew that Moussaka would be the recipe I would use in which to feature ground beef! And, it was the catalyst for me to get busy and develop the recipe instead of leaving it on my “To Do At Some Point” list.

Moussaka
Moussaka

Moussaka is not difficult to make so long as it is approached in a methodical and organized manner. That said, this is not a dish I would attempt for dinner on a weeknight after having arrived home from work at 5pm.  This is a great weekend dish. Serve it with rustic bread or rolls or biscuits alongside a green salad. If desired, pair with a red wine such as a Chianti Classico.

Moussaka
Moussaka

My version of Moussaka does not take any out-of-the-ordinary ingredients.  However, it does require planning, organization, and some time.  I don’t find it’s any more complicated or time-consuming than making lasagna.  There are four layers to my Moussaka – the potato base covered by the breadcrumb and Parmesan cheese mixture, followed by the meat sauce, and topped with a cheesy white sauce. As always, I recommend a thorough reading of the recipe before beginning the cooking process to make sure you have all the ingredients and understand the preparation method.

Moussaka
Moussaka

Here are my hints and tips for successfully making Moussaka:

  • Assemble and prepare cooking and food prep equipment (e.g., grater, whisk, measuring spoons, skillet, baking pan, baking sheet, etc.)
  • A deep 9” pan is best for baking this Moussaka. I used an 8” pan and it was full to the brim. I placed the pan on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet in case the Moussaka boiled out.  It didn’t, fortunately, but a deep 9” pan would give a little bit extra leeway.
  • Assemble and prepare all ingredients before beginning – chop the onion and celery and mince the garlic, grate the cheese, process the bread into crumbs, bring the eggs to room temperature, etc.
  • Before beginning, measure out all the ingredients and separate and group them according to the meat sauce, white sauce, etc. This will make the process go more quickly and efficiently.
  • Start the meat sauce first as it will need 25-30 minutes to simmer during which time work can be done on preparing the potatoes and white sauce. While the simmering process will allow the liquid content in the meat sauce to reduce, there is a fine line in how much liquid to evaporate out of the meat sauce. Removing too much will make the meat filling too dry but leaving too much will make it too runny when the Moussaka is cut.  A good gauge is to run a heat-proof rubber spatula through the meat sauce to make a track. If the sauce does not immediately fill the track back in, it’s done!
  • Choose a grind of beef that has reduced fat in it. I find lean ground beef has just the right meat/fat content for this recipe.
  • Make sure the oven is preheated to 425°F as soon as the meat sauce is starting to simmer so the oven is ready to roast the potatoes.
  • Choose a dry variety of potato, such as Russets, for this recipe. Wetter varieties of potatoes will have too much moisture in them and they may go “mushy” and not hold their shape in the Moussaka base.
  • Slice the potatoes about ¼” thick (or use a mandolin) and start them roasting once the meat sauce has been simmering for about 10 minutes. About ¼” thickness is good for the potato slices. Any thinner and they are likely to burn in the roasting process; any thicker and they provide too much of a starch taste in the Moussaka. Only roast the potatoes until they are just barely fork tender – overcooking will turn them to mush and they need to hold together in this dish as they form the base.
  • The grind for the breadcrumbs should not be as fine as you’d find in a box of commercial breadcrumbs. They should be slightly coarser. I use my food processor to grind breadcrumbs from crusts. I keep a ready supply of these on hand in my freezer for casseroles and for making poultry stuffing. This thin layer of breadcrumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese adds another layer of flavor to the Moussaka and also helps to absorb any excess moisture there might be in the potatoes.
  • The amount of garlic and spices to use is always very subjective and can vary greatly according to taste preferences. As with all recipes, I recommend following the recipe-prescribed amounts the first time the recipe is made, then altering the amounts, if necessary, the next time the dish is made. The amount of spices and garlic used in this recipe is moderate, meaning the meat sauce is not overly spicy.
  • About 10 minutes before the meat sauce is due to be done, start the white sauce. The goal is that the meat sauce, roasted potatoes and white sauce should all be ready about the same time so that the Moussaka can be assembled efficiently.
  • After the Moussaka has finished baking, allow it to sit for 20-30 minutes as this will allow it to set and firm up, making it easier to cut. Cutting it as soon as it comes out of the oven may cause the layers to separate, meaning the Moussaka won’t stay intact and stand on its own when plated.  The Moussaka should stay intact with each layer visible when it is cut.
Moussaka
Moussaka

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Moussaka Recipe

Ingredients:

Meat Sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb lean ground beef

1½ tbsp olive oil
¾ cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup celery, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
14 oz canned crushed tomatoes
¼ cup tomato paste
1/3 cup red wine
1/3 cup beef broth
1 bay leaf
1¼ tsp dried oregano
1¼ tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cinnamon
½ tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp brown sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste

Roasted Potato Layer:
2¼ lb russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into about ¼” thick slices
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

White Sauce:
2½ tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 2/3 cups warm milk
2 extra-large egg yolks (room temperature), slightly beaten
Pinch nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
Pinch pepper
2/3 cup grated Gouda cheese

Breadcrumb Layer:
¾ cup fine bread crumbs
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Topping:

2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Method:

Meat Sauce:  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add beef and scramble fry until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Transfer meat to wire sieve positioned over bowl to drain off excess liquid. Set meat aside.

Return skillet to heat and add 1½ tbsp olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and celery.  Cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional 30-60 seconds while stirring mixture.

Add the drained ground beef, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, beef broth, bay leaf, spices, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes, or until most (but not all) of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf.

Roast Potatoes: While meat sauce is simmering, heat the oven to 425°F.  Place potato slices in large bowl and drizzle very lightly with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Toss potatoes to coat in oil. Place the sliced potatoes, single layer, on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast for about 12-15 minutes, or just until potatoes are barely fork tender. Remove potatoes from oven and reduce heat to 375°F for baking Moussaka.

White Sauce:  In medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.  Whisk in the flour.  Cook, whisking constantly for about 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in the warm milk.  Bring mixture just to the boiling point.  Remove approximately ¼ cup of the hot liquid and whisk into the slightly beaten egg yolks to temper them so they don’t curdle.  Whisk the eggs into saucepan mixture.  Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Cook over medium-low heat until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 1 minute.  Stir in the Gouda cheese until melted. Mixture should be of spreading consistency when sufficiently thickened.

Breadcrumb Layer:  In small bowl, mix breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese together.

Assembly:    Grease deep 9” baking pan.  Arrange half the potato slices in the bottom of the baking pan, overlapping the potatoes slightly.  Sprinkle one-half the breadcrumb-Parmesan cheese mixture over the potatoes.  Evenly spread one-half the meat sauce over the potatoes and breadcrumbs.  Place a layer of the remaining potato slices, followed by the rest of the breadcrumbs, and then the remaining meat sauce.  Evenly spread the white sauce over the entire mixture.  Sprinkle with 1½ tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese and 1/8 tsp nutmeg.

Place baking pan on a rimmed baking sheet lined with tin foil to catch any spills should casserole bubble out.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until bubbly and the top lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let stand for 20-30 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve with a green salad and rustic bread, rolls, or biscuits.

Yield:  Apx. 6-8 servings


And, Now, My Swap Partner’s Recipe ….

My recipe swap partner, Jason, chose to create a Beef and Coriander Dumplings recipe to feature ground beef.  Jason says, being Chinese, dumplings have always been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. Making dumplings with his mother and grandmothers is one of his fondest memories. A culinary course instructor specializing in Chinese cuisine, Jason is always looking for different dumpling recipes. He tells me that this particular recipe was inspired by a chili oil he was experimenting with for another recipe.

I was excited to try Jason’s recipe because I had never had filled dumplings and I love Chinese food! I was a little concerned at first that I might have difficulty finding dumpling wrappers and chili oil in PEI; however, the Island has a growing Asian population and, by participating in this initiative, I discovered Charlottetown, in fact, has a number of small global and Asian food specialty stores. I had no problem sourcing the ingredients locally for this recipe. I found the recipe easy to make and tasty. I did some online research into how to fold the dumplings and I experienced no difficulty in accomplishing the task. Jason’s method to cook the dumplings is to boil them and they cooked quite quickly, floating to the top of the water with the dumpling wrappers becoming somewhat translucent to signify they were done, all in the span of about 5 minutes.

It’s fun to try others’ recipes and, through this initiative, I discovered another Asian-inspired dish to add to the menu of my next Chinese-themed dinner.

Here is Jason Lee’s Beef and Coriander Dumplings recipe:

Jason Lee's Beef and Coriander Dumplings, served with spicy chili oil
Jason Lee’s Beef and Coriander Dumplings, served with spicy chili oil

Beef and Coriander Dumplings

(Served with spicy chili oil)

 
1 package dumpling wrappers (approx. 35)

 Filling:
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup finely chopped green onion
3/4 cup chopped coriander
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white  pepper
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and ground
3 tablespoon water

Garnish:
3 tablespoon crushed peanuts
3 tablespoon chopped coriander
3 tablespoon chili oil
1 teaspoon ground Szechuan peppercorn

Procedure:

  1. Add all filling ingredients into a large clean bowl and thoroughly mix until everything is combined.
  2. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling into wrapped and fold/pleat into dumpling.
  3. Boil dumplings in a large pot in batches – about 10 at a time – for 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to serving bowls.
  4. Spoon chili oil over dumplings, sprinkle peanuts, coriander and ground Szechuan peppercorn.

Be sure to visit Jason’s blog, Shut Up and Eat, to read his posting about his recipe.


For more great ground beef-inspired recipes, visit www.thinkbeef.ca

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by thinkbeef.ca and I was compensated monetarily for its content and with groceries to make both recipes.

Rethink Beef Global Recipe Swap Campaign: Moussaka

Yield: Apx. 6-8 servings

A Greek-inspired dish featuring layers of ground beef, potatoes, and a tomato sauce all covered in a delectable white sauce topping

Ingredients

  • Meat Sauce:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ cup onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup celery, chopped fine
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14 oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1/3 cup beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1¼ tsp dried oregano
  • 1¼ tsp dried basil
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Roasted Potato Layer
  • 2¼ lb russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into about ¼” thick slices
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • White Sauce:
  • 2½ tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 2/3 cups warm milk
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks (room temperature), slightly beaten
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch pepper
  • 2/3 cup grated Gouda cheese
  • Breadcrumb Layer:
  • ¾ cup fine bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • Topping:
  • 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Meat Sauce: Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and scramble fry until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Transfer meat to wire sieve positioned over bowl to drain off excess liquid. Set meat aside.
  2. Return skillet to heat and add 1½ tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and celery. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional 30-60 seconds while stirring mixture.
  3. Add the drained ground beef, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, beef broth, bay leaf, spices, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes, or until most (but not all) of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf.
  4. Roast Potatoes: While meat sauce is simmering, heat the oven to 425°F. Place potato slices in large bowl and drizzle very lightly with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss potatoes to coat in oil. Place the sliced potatoes, single layer, on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast for about 12-15 minutes, or just until potatoes are barely fork tender. Remove potatoes from oven and reduce heat to 375°F for baking Moussaka.
  5. White Sauce: In medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in the flour. Cook, whisking constantly for about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the warm milk. Bring mixture just to the boiling point. Remove approximately ¼ cup of the hot liquid and whisk into the slightly beaten egg yolks to temper them so they don’t curdle. Whisk the eggs into saucepan mixture. Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 1 minute. Stir in the Gouda cheese until melted. Mixture should be of spreading consistency when sufficiently thickened.
  6. Breadcrumb Layer:
  7. In small bowl, mix breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese together.
  8. Assembly: Grease deep 9” baking pan. Arrange half the potato slices in the bottom of the baking pan, overlapping the potatoes slightly. Sprinkle one-half the breadcrumb-Parmesan cheese mixture over the potatoes. Evenly spread one-half the meat sauce over the potatoes and breadcrumbs. Place a layer of the remaining potato slices, followed by the rest of the breadcrumbs, and then the remaining meat sauce. Evenly spread the white sauce over the entire mixture. Sprinkle with 1½ tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese and 1/8 tsp nutmeg.
  9. Place baking pan on a rimmed baking sheet lined with tin foil to catch any spills should casserole bubble out. Bake for about 45 minutes or until bubbly and the top lightly browned. Remove from oven and let stand for 20-30 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve with a green salad and rustic bread, rolls, or biscuits.

Notes

NOTE: Please read entire post which is filled with tips and hints on making Moussaka which are not mentioned in the recipe itself.

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#RethinkBeef Global Recipe Swap Campaign - Moussaka #sponsored
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