Category Archives: Recipes

Rustic Apple Pie

Apple Pie
Rustic Apple Pie

There is something warm, inviting, and nostalgic about walking into a kitchen to the tantalizing scent of an apple pie baking.  In my opinion, one of the best desserts is homemade apple pie, especially when topped with a nice round scoop of high-quality vanilla ice cream!  Fall is a great time to make apple pies (and some extras for the freezer) because the apples are so fresh and there is a great selection. The house smells so divine while the apple pie bakes!

Apples
Apples

One of my favorite fall rituals is to go picking apples.  I love being out in the middle of an orchard on a crisp, sunny autumn day surrounded by trees heavy laden with gorgeous big apples.  Typically, we make the annual trek to Arlington Orchards, west of Summerside, to pick a supply of apples.  It’s fun to load up some apple baskets into one of the orchard’s little red flyer wagons and strike off through the orchards.  They have many different varieties of apples from which to choose.

The Apple Wagon
The Apple Wagon

I like making pastry and baking pies and have been doing so since I was about 11 years old.  I watched my mother and grandmother make pies and as soon as I could mix the dough and handle a rolling pin, I was off and running! And, apple pie just happens to be one of my favorites to make.

Not all apples are suitable for making pies.  Some (like MacIntosh variety) are just too soft and, essentially, become apple sauce while the pie cooks. Soft flesh apples that have no crunch when you bite into them are not suitable for pies. It is important to choose apples that have good structure – i.e., those that will cook well but, at the same time, hold their shape.  A slice of a good apple pie will reveal the apple slices still in tact and recognizable.

Apple Pie
Apple Pie

My favorite apples for pies are Cortlands, Spartans, Honeycrisps, Lobos, and Pippins. The one thing each of these apples has in common is crisp texture which makes them ideal choices for pies because they don’t break down in the baking process.  I also like to use more than one kind of apple in my pies because each brings its own flavor and characteristics and, in my opinion, a blend of different apple varieties with various degrees of sweetness, tartness, and juiciness will result in a pie with a great depth of flavor.  Cortlands are a bit tart and quite juicy and, of these five varieties, perhaps has the least crisp texture which means it will soften the most in the pie and that will help to bind the filling .  Honeycrisps have a sweet-tart flavor and are quite aromatic which gives the pie that lovely scent while it is baking.  Spartans are juicy and have an ideally balanced sweet-tart apple flavor. Lobos are a bit tangy and Pippins have juicy flesh, are very aromatic, and reveal a balance of sweetness and acidity.  A combination of any three of these apples will yield a tasty pie. Some apples of each variety can, of course, be used in the pie if you have them.

For this 9” pie, 3½ pounds of apples are needed. It may look like a lot but the apples will settle as the pie bakes and the pie looks more impressive if it has some depth to it.

Apple Pie Under Construction
Apple Pie Under Construction

I peel, core, and quarter the apples when preparing them for pies.  I then slice each quarter, horizontally, into slices about ¼” thick and toss them with a tablespoon of lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.

Apples Sliced for Pie
Apples Sliced for Pie

A perfect blend of spices is necessary to enhance the flavor of the pie.  I use cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. It is important that just the right amounts of spices be used because they are meant to enhance, not dominate or mask, the flavour of the apples.  Because apples are juicy, some thickening agent needs to be added to the pie – either all-purpose flour or cornstarch works for this. I like to use a blend of brown and granulated sugars in my pie.  I find the addition of brown sugar gives a deeper flavour and an enhanced color to the pie filling.

Apples mixed with spices for pie
Apples mixed with spices for pie

Mix the sugars, spices, a bit of salt, and the thickening agent (flour or cornstarch) together in a small bowl then toss the dry ingredients with the prepared apples to coat them.  Immediately transfer the apples to the pie plate fitted with the bottom crust pastry, ensuring that they are arranged so that any gaps are filled in.  Dot with some pieces of cold butter.

Once the top crust pastry has been placed over the apples, be sure to cut slits in the pastry to allow the steam to escape as the pie bakes. I also use the tines of a fork to prick the pie pastry in various places. It’s important that the steam have an escape valve as, otherwise, it may cause a soggy pie crust if it is trapped inside with the filling.

Venting the Apple Pie
Venting the Apple Pie

I don’t always brush an egg wash on the top crust of the pie but, for a more rustic looking pie, it does give a nice finish and appearance as it browns well.  If the pie browns too quickly before the apples are cooked, simply loosely tent a piece of tin foil over it.

I recommend placing the unbaked pie in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the filling to settle and to chill the crust to prevent shrinkage during baking.

Fruit pies are known for bubbling out as they bake, even if they are well vented.  I think, so long as they aren’t too messy, some filling that has escaped to the top pie crust just makes the pie look like a good homemade pie and it really doesn’t bother me too much at all. However, the one thing I do not like is a messy oven to clean after the juices of a pie have boiled out. For this reason, I recommend placing the pie on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with tin foil.  If the pie does boil out, it’s on the disposable tin foil making clean-up easy.

Apple Pie Ready for the Oven
Apple Pie Ready for the Oven

For this pie, I pre-heat the oven to 425°F and bake the pie at this temperature for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400°F for the remainder of the baking time.  Be patient. This pie will take at least 50 minutes (maybe a bit longer) to bake. To check for doneness, carefully insert a fork into the center slit of the pie – the apples should be fork tender, not baked to mush, but not too firm that they will taste somewhat raw in the pie.

Apple Pie
Rustic Apple Pie

What follows is the apple pie recipe I have been making for many, many years. I hope you enjoy it!

Apple Pie
Rustic Apple Pie

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Rustic Apple Pie

Ingredients:

3½ lbs apples, peeled, cored, and sliced ¼“ thick (any combination of Spartans, Cortlands, Pippins, Honeycrisps, Lobos)
1 tbsp lemon juice

Pastry for double crust 9” pie

2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ cup all-purpose flour or cornstarch
1¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter, chopped into small pieces

1 large egg yolk + 1 tbsp milk
Apx. ½ tbsp granulated sugar

Method:

Prepare apples, place in large bowl, and toss gently with the lemon juice. Set aside.

Roll pastry for bottom crust to approximately 1/8” thickness.  Transfer to pie plate and trim pastry flush with edge of pie plate.

In small bowl, combine the flour or cornstarch, sugars, spices, and salt together.  Mix into prepared apples.

Arrange the sliced apples in the pie plate, taking care to ensure that any gaps are filled in.  Top with small pieces of butter.

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

In small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolk and milk together.  With a pastry brush, lightly brush the pie with the egg-milk mixture.  Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

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

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Transfer pie to oven. Bake at 425°F for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 400°F. Bake for another 40 minutes then test with fork inserted into slit in center of pie to determine if apples are cooked. Apples should be fork-tender when pie is done. If not done, return pie to oven and check every 5 minutes until apples are fork tender.  If pie browns too quickly before it is cooked, loosely tent pie with tin foil.  Remove pie from oven and transfer to cooling rack.

Yield:  1 – 9” pie (apx. 6 servings)

Rustic Apple Pie

Yield: 1 - 9" double-crusted pie

A classic apple pie made with a combination of sweet and tart apples and a perfect blend of spices.

Ingredients

  • 3½ lbs apples, peeled, cored, and sliced ¼“ thick (any combination of Spartans, Cortlands, Pippins, Honeycrisps, Lobos)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Pastry for double crust 9” pie
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour or cornstarch
  • 1¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk + 1 tbsp milk
  • Apx. ½ tbsp granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Prepare apples, place in large bowl, and toss gently with the lemon juice. Set aside.
  2. Roll pastry for bottom crust to approximately 1/8” thickness. Transfer to pie plate and trim pastry flush with edge of pie plate.
  3. In small bowl, combine the flour or cornstarch, sugars, spices, and salt together. Mix into prepared apples.
  4. Arrange the sliced apples in the pie plate, taking care to ensure that any gaps are filled in. Top with small pieces of butter.
  5. Prepare pastry for the top crust in the same manner as for the bottom crust. Brush edges of bottom crust along pie plate edge with a bit of water to moisten. Transfer pastry to the top of pie filling. Trim excess pastry from the pie plate edge. Press the edge of the pastry all around the pie plate rim with tines of fork to adhere top crust to bottom crust. Cut slits in top of pie pastry to allow steam to escape as pie bakes. For additional venting, prick the pie in several places with tines of a fork.
  6. In small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolk and milk together. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the pie with the egg-milk mixture. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  7. Place pie in refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow filling to settle and to chill pastry to reduce shrinkage while it bakes.
  8. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  9. Transfer pie to oven. Bake at 425°F for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 400°F. Bake for another 40 minutes then test with fork inserted into slit in center of pie to determine if apples are cooked. Apples should be fork-tender when pie is done. If not done, return pie to oven and check every 5 minutes until apples are fork tender. If pie browns too quickly before it is cooked, loosely tent pie with tin foil. Remove pie from oven and transfer to cooling rack.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/10/26/rustic-apple-pie/

Classic Apple Pie made with a combination of sweet and tart apples and a perfect blend of spices

 

 

Classic apple pie made with a combination of sweet and tart apples and a perfect blend of spices
Classic apple pie made with a combination of sweet and tart apples and a perfect blend of spices

Homemade Cream of Celery Soup

Cream of Celery Soup
Cream of Celery Soup

Every year we try to grow two or three new vegetables in our garden.  Here, on PEI, we have a very short growing season and so, whatever we grow, must be suitable to that climate. One day, in late June, I was at John’s Greenhouses in Summerside and they had trays of very healthy looking celery starter plants.  On a lark, I bought a tray of six plants and transplanted them.  Never, in my wildest imagination, could I have contemplated how well they would grow!  With leaves on stalks intact, they grew to be 30″ tall.  The celery had a nice crisp bite to it but, seriously, how much celery could we eat raw?

Celery
Celery
Celery
Celery
Celery
Celery

I began thinking about what I could do with the celery and how I could process it into something else. Thus was born my recipe for Cream of Celery Soup which has now elevated itself to one of my favorite cream-based soups.

Cream of Celery Soup
Cream of Celery Soup

I have made and tested this recipe several times (well, you know, we did have a lot of celery in the garden!), adjusting the ingredient amounts and perfecting the method.  This process results in me publishing a recipe for a tasty soup I am delighted with.  It also enables me to share my lessons learned and tips for successfully making this soup.

Ingredients

Use the freshest celery you can find for this recipe.  Chop it finely because celery takes a long time to soften during cooking – the smaller the pieces, the faster it will cook.   I use both onions and leeks in this recipe as they each contribute their own unique flavor to the soup.  They may come from the same family but their unique flavour qualities add levels of complexity and depth to the celery soup.  Always use freshly minced garlic in this recipe – it will have more flavour than a bottled version.  Either chicken or vegetable stock may be used as a base in this soup. I typically use chicken stock.

To get that silky smooth texture for which great cream soups are known, use a combination of whole milk and cream (18% MF). Fat-reduced and skim milks do not do well in this soup. This soup can be made entirely with whole milk but using cream for a portion of the dairy content in the soup will yield a richer and smoother soup. Also, this soup will freeze well if whole milk and cream are used. In fact, I make this soup as part of my batch-cooking menu and freeze it in individual portions. It’s great for work lunches.

I add shredded cheddar cheese to this soup.  Celery and cheese have long been great partners so why not pair them in a soup.  I also add a couple of tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese to the soup as well.

I love my herb garden and make good use of it.  It’s important to choose herbs for this soup that will pair well with the other ingredients.  I have chosen dill, parsley, and either rosemary or thyme.  Only add these to the late stage reheating of the soup, after it has been puréed, and the milk and cream added.  Softer stemmed herbs such as dill and parsley tend to wilt and become discolored if they are overcooked.  While the more woody rosemary or thyme can withstand a bit more heat, I tend to add them all at the same time, near the end of the cooking process.  The amount of seasoning is always a personal preference. My strategy in herb usage is that they should enhance, not overpower, the dish.  I recommend using the amounts I have indicated in the recipe the first time you make the soup – the herb quantities indicated are considered modest amounts. Then, the next time you make the soup, adjust the quantities of the herbs according to your personal preference.

Method

Celery takes a long time to soften during cooking.  Melt the butter in the saucepan and give the celery the benefit of a head start of about 5 minutes cooking before adding the onions, leeks, potato, and garlic. Cook the vegetables until they are softened – about 15 minutes.  Then, add the thickener (regular or gluten-free flour) followed by the liquid stock (chicken or vegetable) and continue to cook the mixture for 30-35 minutes. The goal is to ensure the vegetables are thoroughly cooked and softened and that time has been allotted for the flavors to blend.

The mixture needs to be puréed until smooth, either in a blender or food processor or, alternatively, via an immersion blender.  I typically use the blender for this and I let the soup cool for about 30-40 minutes or so before putting the hot mixture into the jar of the blender.  I have learned the importance of blending part of the mixture first and then adding the remainder of the mixture while continuing to purée it as, otherwise, it is very difficult to get a  smooth soup.  Because celery has a “stringy” component to it and because, sometimes, no matter how much blending, there can always be little bits of the vegetables that have not puréed completely smooth,  I recommend straining the puréed mixture through a medium mesh wire sieve into a clean stockpot to get rid of any unpuréed residue.  This will result in a smoother textured soup.

Once the puréed mixture is transferred to a clean stock pot and the milk/cream blended in and heated, the cheeses and fresh herbs can be added.

Never boil a cream soup; instead, gently heat it just until the cheeses have melted.

Serving

This soup should be served hot.  It can be garnished with croutons, slivered almonds, croutons, fresh herbs, or a sprig of celery leaves.  Serve it in small quantities as a starter to a meal or in larger bowls as a tasty lunch or light supper. The soup is great served with homemade biscuits, rolls, or bread.

Making this cream-based soup is a great way to make use of fresh celery.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Cream of Celery Soup
Cream of Celery Soup

Homemade Cream of Celery Soup

Ingredients:

¼ cup + 1 tbsp butter
8 oz celery, chopped fine (apx 2 cups)
2½ oz leek (white and green parts only), sliced thin (apx. 1 cup)
2 oz onion, finely chopped (apx. ½ cup)
4 oz potato, peeled and diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup flour (to make it gluten-free, use 1/3 cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)

2 cups warm chicken stock
2/3 cup whole milk
2/3 cup 18% cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
¾ tsp fresh dill, minced
1 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
¼ tsp thyme or rosemary, finely chopped

Celery leaf, croutons, or slivered almonds for garnish (optional)
Sprinkle of nutmeg for garnish (optional)

Method:

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat.  Add the celery and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to just below medium and add the leek, onion, potato, and garlic.  Cook until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes, stirring often.

Sprinkle flour onto vegetables and stir for approximately 1 minute.  Add chicken stock.  Cover. Bring to a boil.  Add the bay leaf. Cover and reduce heat to simmer and cook for 30-35 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.  Cool for 30-40 minutes.  Remove bay leaf.  Transfer mixture to blender or food processor, starting with a good half of the mixture, puréeing, and then adding in the remainder and continuing to purée until smooth.  Strain puréed mixture through medium mesh wire sieve, into clean stock pot, to remove any bits of ingredients that have not completely puréed.

Add milk, cream, salt, and pepper to the mixture.  Heat over medium heat.  Do not boil.  Add the grated cheddar and parmesan cheeses along with the fresh herbs.  Stir until cheese melts. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with a sprig of celery leaf, croutons, or slivered almonds and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Yield:  5 cups, approximately 4-5 servings (1 to 1¼ cup/serving)

Delicious Cream of Celery Soup with layers of flavor. Perfect as a starter or for a light lunch or supper.

Homemade Cream of Celery Soup

Yield: 5 cups

Serving Size: 1 - 1 1/4 cups

Delicious homemade Cream of Celery Soup with layers of flavor. Perfect as a starter to a meal or for a light lunch or supper.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup + 1 tbsp butter
  • 8 oz celery, chopped fine (apx 2 cups)
  • 2½ oz leek (white and green parts only), sliced thin (apx. 1 cup)
  • 2 oz onion, finely chopped (apx. ½ cup)
  • 4 oz potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup flour (to make it gluten-free, use 1/3 cup of 1-to-1 gluten-free flour)
  • 2 cups warm chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup 18% cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¾ tsp fresh dill, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp thyme or rosemary, finely chopped
  • Celery leaf, croutons, or slivered almonds for garnish (optional)
  • Sprinkle of nutmeg for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to just below medium and add the leek, onion, potato, and garlic. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Sprinkle flour onto vegetables and stir for approximately 1 minute. Add chicken stock. Cover. Bring to a boil. Add the bay leaf. Cover and reduce heat to simmer and cook for 30-35 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Cool for 30-40 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Transfer mixture to blender or food processor, starting with a good half of the mixture, puréeing, and then adding in the remainder and continuing to purée until smooth. Strain puréed mixture through medium mesh wire sieve, into clean stock pot, to remove any bits of ingredients that have not completely puréed.
  3. Add milk, cream, salt, and pepper to the mixture. Heat over medium heat. Do not boil. Add the grated cheddar and parmesan cheeses along with the fresh herbs. Stir until cheese melts. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with a sprig of celery leaf, croutons, or slivered almonds and a sprinkle of nutmeg.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/09/28/homemade-cream-of-celery-soup/

Cream of Celery Soup
Cream of Celery Soup

Mango Salad Dressing Recipe

Mango Dressing
Mango Dressing

Salads are a big part of our diet, especially in the summer and early fall when we eat from our garden and, this year, my go-to recipe has been this delicious Mango Salad Dressing which, I must admit, I eat like candy!  It is lusciously smooth, bright colored, and has a lovely flavor that complements many different kinds of salads.

Mango Salad Dressing
Mango Salad Dressing

Mango Salad Dressing is very easy to make, especially if you have a blender as all the ingredients get puréed. A little sweet with a little citrus tang would be how I would  describe this yummy dressing.

This bright yellow attractive dressing works well on a traditional garden salad.

Mango Salad Dressing
Mango Salad Dressing

The appetizing Mango Salad Dressing is especially good on salads where cold chicken or turkey slices and quinoa or rice are added.

Mango Salad Dressing on Chicken and Quinoa Salad
Mango Salad Dressing on Chicken and Quinoa Salad

It’s also tasty on salads that have a mix of both fruits and vegetables.

Mango Dressing
Mango Dressing

And, because of its showy color (as well as its taste, of course!), it is a lovely complement to a stylized starter salad such as the roasted beet and feta cheese salad shown in the photo below. It has a somewhat thick consistency so stays in place when applied to a salad or plate. It adds spectacular color (and flavor) to many different salad combinations.

Beet and Feta Salad with Mango Salad Dressing
Beet and Feta Salad with Mango Salad Dressing

A little tropical, a little citrusy, a little sweet, and just a little spicy depending on how much garlic and what combination of fresh herbs are used, this colorful Mango Salad Dressing is a versatile addition to have in your repertoire of salad dressings.

Mango Salad Dressing
Mango Salad Dressing
This tasty easy-to-make Mango Salad Dressing is a wonderful balance of citrus and sweetness and complements many different kinds of salads well

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Mango Salad Dressing

Ingredients:

1 cup diced mango (about ¾ of a mango)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
¼ cup orange juice
½ tbsp lime juice
2 tsp honey
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
2 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
½ tsp fresh dill, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

Place mango and vinegar, along with orange and lime juices, in blender.  Purée until smooth. Add honey, garlic, red onion, mustard, and fresh herbs and pulse until mixture is just blended. With blender running, slowly add the olive oil in steady stream. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer salad dressing to serving vessel if using immediately or, for later use, to a bottle with airtight cap. Refrigerate for up to 4 days. Serve chilled.

Yield:  Apx. 1½ cups

Mango Salad Dressing Recipe

Yield: Apx. 1 1/2 cups

A delicious easy-to-make dressing for salads. As tasty as it is showy, this mango dressing is a little sweet and a little citrusy. Perfect complement to many salad variations.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup diced mango (about ¾ of a mango)
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ½ tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Place mango and vinegar, along with orange and lime juices, in blender. Purée until smooth. Add honey, garlic, red onion, mustard, and fresh herbs and pulse until mixture is just blended. With blender running, slowly add the olive oil in steady stream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer salad dressing to serving vessel if using immediately or, for later use, to a bottle with airtight cap. Refrigerate for up to 4 days. Serve chilled.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/09/04/mango-salad-dressing-recipe/

Also, try these other salad dressings from My Island Bistro Kitchen:

Rhubarb Vinaigrette
Peach Balsamic Vinaigrette
Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

Deli-style Gluten-Free Beet Muffins

Beet Muffin
Gluten-Free Beet Muffin

We have all heard of carrot muffins and don’t think twice about including the carrot vegetable into baked goods.  What is less commonly heard of is the use of beets for the same purpose. Today, I am sharing my newly-created and tested recipe for deli-style gluten-free beet muffins which are moist and packed full of wonderful flavor.  This is definitely in the category of “don’t knock it till you’ve tried it“!

Beets
Beets

Our garden did extremely well this year and our beets, in particular, grew very well….to the point that we had way more than what we could eat fresh or pickled.  I am always looking to add new gluten-free muffins to my recipe repertoire so, with an abundance of beets available, I figured this was a good time to experiment with them and I am very pleased with the results.  These deli-style gluten-free beet muffins have undergone several testings, in different ovens, and have produced consistently good results to the point that I am ready to publish my recipe here on my website.

Beet Muffin
Gluten-Free Beet Muffin

For those of you who follow a gluten-free diet, you are likely aware that it is often difficult to get good quality baked goods that reasonably replicate gluten baked goods and that are appetizing and tasty.  I have been doing a lot of experimenting with gluten-free recipe creation over the past while and am having very good results, particularly with muffins.  I love a muffin for coffeebreak at work every day and I absolutely detest any muffin with a flat top!  I expect my muffins to resemble deli-style muffins – those that are beautifully raised, with the dome top, and are a reasonably good sized muffin.

 Beet Muffins
Gluten-free Beet Muffins

In order to get that deli-style muffin, I have learned that gluten-free muffins take more leavening. This is probably due to the properties in the gluten-free flours and they obviously must take more leavening.  I find some gluten-free flours produce baked goods that have a “gritty” texture to them while others will result in a “gummy” textured product, and still others can have an offputting taste that is just not very appetizing.  I have come up with a flour mixture blend that alleviates these issues and I attribute a lot of that to my use of small amounts of almond and coconut flours in my baked products.  These flours cannot be used cup-for-cup substitutions for all-purpose flours because they react to liquid differently and, hence, the use of them in any quantity requires modifications to the liquid content in a recipe.  However, small amounts of them can be used and I find they do enhance both the texture and certainly the flavor of baked goods like cookies and muffins.

Beet Muffin
Gluten-free Beet Muffin

The other thing I have learned about gluten-free baking is that the addition of several flavor enhancers greatly improves the flavor of the baked product. This is where the use of yogurt, vegetables (such as beets), maple syrup, cocoa, and so forth come in. For this beet muffin recipe, I use a thick Mediterranean-style/Greek yogurt.  Many recipes will call for the use of plain yogurt and that certainly works in this muffin recipe.  However, I have also tested it with coconut and lavender (yes, lavender!) flavored yogurts and both are very good in these muffins.  Don’t substitute regular yogurt for the thick Mediterranean-style yogurt in this recipe as the regular yogurt will be too watery and will change the ratio of wet-to-dry ingredients in the muffins.

For this recipe, I incorporate beets in two ways – as a purée and in shredded form.  The purée should be of the consistency of applesauce or baby food and should look like this.

Beet Purée
Beet Purée

A small food processor or blender works well for the purée but I often use my immersion blender. If the beets are soft enough, the immersion blender will work. I use my tall 2-cup measuring cup when using the immersion blender to purée these beets as it contains any splatters – you really do see how red beets can be if you find splatters on the wall!

To shred the remaining beet(s) required for the recipe, I use a simple shredder like the one shown in the photo below. As you can see, the beets are shredded rather coarsely.

Shredded Cooked Beets
Shredded Cooked Beets

Some recipes call for shredded uncooked beets to be used in muffins; however, these muffins only take about 20 minutes to bake and, since beets are firm and take a while to cook I find, to ensure the beets are cooked in the muffins, I have better success using cooked beets in this recipe. Both the beet purée and shredded beets give these muffins flavor and moisture.

Beet Muffins
Gluten-free Beet Muffins

I love chocolate so have incorporated some cocoa and chocolate chips into the muffins as both add lovely flavor to the baked product.

While I cook the beets especially for these muffins, if you happen to have cooked too many beets for another purpose, these muffins would be a good way to use the left-over beets. Three-quarters of a pound of beets (weighed after leaves removed) are required for this recipe. The ones in the photo below are from our garden so, as you can see, they are of varying sizes! Just know that the bigger beet is going to take longer to cook to fork-tender state. Don’t split the beets before they are cooked as they will bleed and their goodness will be poured down the drain.

Beets
Beets

As always, make sure that all the ingredients called for in the recipe are gluten free.

Beet Muffins
Gluten-free Beet Muffins

These are great muffins to make in the summer and fall when you have fresh beets in the garden or can access them at local farmers markets or roadside farm market stands. These muffins freeze well.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-Free Beet Muffins

Ingredients:

¾ lb beets

1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (or gluten-free one-to-one flour)
1/3 cup gluten-free oat flour
¼ cup almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
2 tbsp arrowroot starch
1¼ tsp zanthan gum
¼ cup gluten-free small flake rolled oats
5½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp ground chia seeds
1/3 cup cocoa
Scant 2/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
¾ tsp cinnamon

2 extra-large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
½ cup almond milk or whole milk
¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1/3 cup Mediterranean-style/Greek yogurt (plain, coconut, or lavender flavor)
4 oz beet purée (see method below)
2 tbsp maple syrup
1½ tsp vanilla
½ cup shredded cooked beets

½ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Method:

Remove leaves, leaving about 1½“ stems along with the roots on the beets. Wash beets. Cook beets in boiling salted water until fork tender.  Let beets cool enough to handle, then peel. Loosely chop 4 oz beets into a small food processor or a blender and purée until smooth (an immersion blender may also be used). Consistency of puréed beets should be similar to apple sauce or baby food. Shred remaining beets to fill ½ cup measuring cup.

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Use muffin tins with cups that have ½-cup holding capacity. Prepare muffin tins by greasing or spraying each muffin cup with cooking oil, ensuring the top of the muffin tin is also well greased. Alternatively, line with parchment paper cups.

In large bowl, combine the dry ingredients by whisking very well.  Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and set aside.

In separate bowl, or large measuring cup, whisk together the lightly beaten eggs, almond or whole milk, coconut oil, yogurt, beet purée, maple syrup, vanilla, and shredded beet.

Pour wet ingredients into well in the dry ingredients.  Combine just until dry ingredients are barely incorporated. Do not overmix. Gently stir in the chocolate chips, if using.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling almost to the muffin cup rim.  Let batter sit for 5 minutes before baking.

Transfer muffins to oven and immediately reduce heat to 400°F.  Bake 20-22 minutes or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Let muffins rest in muffin cups for 5-7 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 15 muffins

Gluten Free Beet Muffins

Yield: 15 muffins

A deli-style gluten free muffin that combines beets with chocolate to create a moist, tasty muffin

Ingredients

  • ¾ lb beets
  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (or gluten-free one-to-one flour)
  • 1/3 cup gluten-free oat flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot starch
  • 1¼ tsp zanthan gum
  • ¼ cup gluten-free small flake rolled oats
  • 5½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • Scant 2/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 extra-large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup almond milk or whole milk
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 1/3 cup Mediterranean-style/Greek yogurt (plain, coconut, or lavender flavor)
  • 4 oz beet purée (see method below)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup shredded cooked beets
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions

  1. Remove leaves, leaving about 1½“ stems along with the roots on the beets. Wash beets. Cook beets in boiling salted water until fork tender. Let beets cool enough to handle, then peel. Loosely chop 4 oz beets into a small food processor or a blender and purée until smooth (an immersion blender may also be used). Consistency of puréed beets should be similar to apple sauce or baby food. Shred remaining beets to fill ½ cup measuring cup.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  3. Use muffin tins with cups that have ½-cup holding capacity. Prepare muffin tins by greasing or spraying each muffin cup with cooking oil, ensuring the top of the muffin tin is also well greased. Alternatively, line with parchment paper cups.
  4. In large bowl, combine the dry ingredients by whisking very well. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and set aside.
  5. In separate bowl, or large measuring cup, whisk together the lightly beaten eggs, almond or whole milk, coconut oil, yogurt, beet purée, maple syrup, vanilla, and shredded beet.
  6. Pour wet ingredients into well in the dry ingredients. Combine just until dry ingredients are barely incorporated. Do not overmix. Gently stir in the chocolate chips, if using.
  7. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling almost to the muffin cup rim. Let batter sit for 5 minutes before baking.
  8. Transfer muffins to oven and immediately reduce heat to 400°F. Bake 20-22 minutes or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  9. Let muffins rest in muffin cups for 5-7 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/09/01/deli-style-gluten-free-beet-muffins/

Beet Muffins
Gluten free Beet Muffins

 

For another great gluten-free muffin recipe from My Island Bistro Kitchen, try this Blueberry Muffin recipe.

These delicious Deli-style Gluten-free Beet Muffins are made with cooked beets and chocolate to create moist,tasty muffins.

Gluten-free Beet Muffins

 

Perfect Peach Marmalade Recipe

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

For as long as I can remember, peach marmalade has been part of our family’s pantry of preserves.  As a small child, I remember the yearly ritual of my great grandmother (who we always knew as “Gram”) making peach marmalade.  And a ritual it was.

Ontario Peaches
Peaches

The Ontario baskets of peaches were highly anticipated each August and we would pick up a basket for Gram, carefully inspecting each peach to ensure it was free of blemishes (lest we hear about it) and ensuring we had one of the large baskets with just the right amount of peaches in it. We would hunt down the best orange we could find (it had to be juicy and, at that time, that was hard to find in August when oranges were out of season), and a small bottle of red maraschino cherries.  We would ensure Gram had all the supplies and she would carefully and tediously get the pulp prepared for the revered peach marmalade.  Then, the following day, she and my grandmother would spend the day together making this special marmalade, slowly cooking and gently stirring it over the wood stove. I think my great grandmother savored every minute of its production as much, I suspect, as eating the actual marmalade.

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

You see, in my great grandmother’s day (she was born in 1883), peach marmalade was considered a luxury and was not the type of preserve that just anyone in our area made.  My ancestors of the day would have been familiar with strawberry, raspberry,  blackberry, black currant, and pumpkin jams but that would have been about the extent of the repertoire of preserving. These would have been items that would have been grown locally on their farms or, in the case of raspberries and blackberries, probably along the roadsides near their homes.

Peaches
Peaches

Where my great grandmother got the recipe for peach marmalade, I have no idea but my best guess is probably in the local newspaper.  This marmalade would have been cooked on an old wood stove and I always marvel at how the cooks of the day were able to produce what they did because the heat was not easy to control. Today, when I think of myself in comparison to my great grandmother, I have a completely computerized stove that produces consistent and accurate heat all the time.

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

The recipe I use today is a modified version of my great grandmother’s which was passed down to me with the list of three ingredients (peaches, oranges, and maraschino cherries) and a method that was somewhat vague on the details. The batch that my great grandmother made was more than three times the size of the one I make. Here’s how the instructions read: “Over the peaches and oranges, put white sugar. Let stand overnight. In the morning, add a bottle of maraschino cherries cup up. Also add the juice and boil slowly on back of stove until thick. Then bottle.” If you weren’t someone who had some experience making jams and marmalades, this would not have been much to go on. For example, how much sugar? Those with experience will know that, as a general rules of thumb and in the absence of any information to the contrary, it is typically, cup for cup, sugar-to-fruit pulp but, for an inexperienced cook, I suspect most would not have a clue about the amount of sugar needed for a successful batch of the marmalade.

Over the years, I have adapted this recipe and certainly cut it down in size as I don’t need the amount of jam that 24 peaches would make! I also don’t let the peaches sit overnight in the sugar because I don’t think it is necessary and I think it would discolor the peaches. I also add a bit of lemon to my marmalade, have defined how many cherries are needed, and have omitted the cherry juice because I think it discolors the wonderful peach color of the marmalade. The other ingredient I have added is Peach Schnapps.  My teetotaler great grandmother would be horrified as I can confidently state she would not have had such a liqueur in her house! Anyhoo…….

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

I am not sure how my great grandmother, a widow living alone by this time, would have eaten up this much peach marmalade but a new batch was made annually. Whether she ate it with homemade bread toasted over her wood stove or whether she served it in a small custard dish with biscuits for a light tea/supper, I am not certain. All I know is that, up until the time she died at the age of 99, the peach marmalade was made every year. After she was no longer able to participate in its production, my grandmother made it on her own so my great grandmother would continue to enjoy it. After my great grandmother passed away, however, my grandmother did not continue the annual tradition of making the peach marmalade.

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

I can’t say that making peach marmalade is an annual tradition with me.  I do, however, make it many years and I always think of my two grandmothers and their tradition with this marmalade.

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

Making this marmalade will take a little time as it has to simmer on the stove for about an hour or so. Don’t overcook it (it does not need 2 hours of cooking like my great-grandmother’s instructions said) as it will become too thick and lose its spreading quality and wonderful color (it will become very dark). The marmalade can be made without the Peach Schnapps, of course. The liqueur, however, does deepen the peach flavor a bit. Don’t go overboard on the liqueur as it not only will be too intense but the liquid content will alter the consistency of the marmalade. If you choose not to include the liqueur, you may wish to add a half teaspoon of almond extract, although that is not mandatory either.

Ensure the jars are sterilized before filling with the marmalade. Leave about 1/4″ headroom in each jar. Ensure they are properly sealed with heated lids. I recommend that the jars be processed in a canner with a hot water bath for 10 minutes, following the canner manufacturer’s instructions.

Peach Marmalade
Peach Marmalade

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Peach Marmalade

Ingredients:

7 large peaches, washed
Zest of orange
1 medium-sized orange, seeded and chopped into small pieces
Zest of ½ lemon
½ medium-sized lemon, seeded and chopped into small pieces
1/3 cup maraschino cherries, finely chopped
1½ tbsp Peach Schnapps (optional) or ½ tsp almond flavoring
Granulated sugar equal to amount of fruit pulp

Method:

Plunge peaches in boiling water for about 1 minute to loosen skin.  Peel.  Halve the peaches and remove and discard stones. Dice the peaches into small pieces, about ½“ in size.  Add the chopped orange and lemon along with the orange and lemon zest.  Measure the amount of the peach pulp, orange, and lemon.   Add an equal amount of sugar.  For example, if the total amount of the pulp equals 4 cups, add 4 cups of sugar.

Place 2-3 freezer-safe saucers in freezer.

Place pulp and sugar into a medium-sized stockpot.  Stir. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.  Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens and peaches are translucent, stirring occasionally. This could take about an hour, a little more or less*.  To test for doneness, place a small amount of marmalade on chilled saucer and swirl saucer around. Let marmalade sit, untouched, for about a minute, then gently push your finger through the marmalade.  If the marmalade holds its shape (i.e., does not run back together after the finger has been removed from the marmalade), it is set and ready to bottle.  If not, continue to cook mixture, repeating the “chill” test about every 3 minutes or so (always removing the pot from the heat while conducting the chill test) until the marmalade passes the “chill” test.  Do not overcook as it will result in a very thick marmalade, dark in color.

Remove pot from heat and skim off any foam that may still remain on the marmalade. Stir in cherries and Peach Schnapps (or almond flavoring).  Using a canning funnel, pour marmalade into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar.  Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth. Seal jars with heated lids and fingertip-tightened ring bands. Process in boiling water canner, following canner manufacturer’s directions, for 10 minutes. Remove jars from hot water to cooling rack. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Refrigerate any jars that do not have lids curved downward and use within 1 month.

Yield:  Apx. 5 half-pints

*Note that it is difficult to give a precise cooking time for the marmalade since various factors, including the pectin level of the fruit and heat level of stove, can vary significantly and may affect cooking and marmalade-setting times. This is why the “chill” test is the recommended method for determining marmalade setting. It is recommended that the first “chill” test be conducted somewhere around the 45-50 minute point in the cooking process.  It does not necessarily mean that the marmalade will be done in that timeframe and more than one “chill” test may need to be performed.

 

Delicious Peach Marmalade made with fresh peaches, orange, lemon, cherries, and a splash of Peach Schnapps

Peach Marmalade

Peach Marmalade

Yield: Apx. 5 half pints

Delicious peach marmalade made with fresh peaches, orange, lemon, maraschino cherries, and a splash of Peach Schnapps. Serve on toast, biscuits, or dolloped onto vanilla custard for a tasty dessert.

Ingredients

  • 7 large peaches, washed
  • Zest of orange
  • 1 medium-sized orange, seeded and chopped into small pieces
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • ½ medium-sized lemon, seeded and chopped into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup maraschino cherries, finely chopped
  • 1½ tbsp Peach Schnapps (optional) or ½ tsp almond flavoring
  • Granulated sugar equal to amount of fruit pulp

Instructions

  1. Plunge peaches in boiling water for about 1 minute to loosen skin. Peel. Halve the peaches and remove and discard stones. Dice the peaches into small pieces, about ½“ in size. Add the chopped orange and lemon along with the orange and lemon zest. Measure the amount of the peach pulp, orange, and lemon. Add an equal amount of sugar. For example, if the total amount of the pulp equals 4 cups, add 4 cups of sugar.
  2. Place 2-3 freezer-safe saucers in freezer.
  3. Place pulp and sugar into a medium-sized stockpot. Stir. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens and peaches are translucent, stirring occasionally. This could take about an hour, a little more or less*. To test for doneness, place a small amount of marmalade on chilled saucer and swirl saucer around. Let marmalade sit, untouched, for about a minute, then gently push your finger through the marmalade. If the marmalade holds its shape (i.e., does not run back together after the finger has been removed from the marmalade), it is set and ready to bottle. If not, continue to cook mixture, repeating the “chill” test about every 3 minutes or so (always removing the pot from the heat while conducting the chill test) until the marmalade passes the “chill” test. Do not overcook as it will result in a very thick marmalade, dark in color.
  4. Remove pot from heat and skim off any foam that may still remain on the marmalade. Stir in cherries and Peach Schnapps (or almond flavoring). Using a canning funnel, pour marmalade into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar. Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth. Seal jars with heated lids and fingertip-tightened ring bands. Process in boiling water canner, following canner manufacturer’s directions, for 10 minutes. Remove jars from hot water to cooling rack. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Refrigerate any jars that do not have lids curved downward and use within 1 month.
  5. Yield: Apx. 5 half-pints
  6. *Note that it is difficult to give a precise cooking time for the marmalade since various factors, including the pectin level of the fruit and heat level of stove, can vary significantly and may affect cooking and marmalade-setting times. This is why the “chill” test is the recommended method for determining marmalade setting. It is recommended that the first “chill” test be conducted somewhere around the 45-50 minute point in the cooking process. It does not necessarily mean that the marmalade will be done in that timeframe and more than one “chill” test may need to be performed.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/08/27/perfect-peach-marmalade-recipe/

 

Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Smoothies are such a great and tasty way to eat fruit and yogurt, making them healthy choices.  And, they are very filling. They are great for breakfast, summer barbeques, as a transportable breakfast-on-the-go, or just anytime as a nutritional drink.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

I am not far from Tryon Blueberries U-Pick, a high bush blueberry farm in central PEI and, when they are in season, I have a steady diet of these blueberries.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

I freeze a quantity of them for use in smoothies throughout the year.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

Basically, any fruit you like can be combined into a smoothie.  For this recipe, I have chosen to feature the local blueberries but I also add in some other fruits that pair particularly well with blueberries. These include mango, papaya, and banana.  The great thing about smoothies is that they can be made with fresh or frozen fruits. I often bag up fruits when they are in season locally and freeze them in just the right sized portions for smoothies. This makes it quick and easy to prepare the smoothies which is great because, as we all know, if something is overly laborious, well….it often just does not happen.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Smoothies are so easy to make. A blender is needed for this recipe. Simply combine all the ingredients into the blender and process the mixture until desired smoothness is reached.

For sweetener, I use 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup.  This natural liquid sweetener blends better than sugar. Reduce the amount of maple syrup if you like a less sweet drink.  I also add in about 1 1/2 tablespoons of ground chia seeds. Whole chia seeds may be used but the ground seeds make for a smoother drink and are a better alternative for those who can’t easily digest seeds. Chia is loaded with good health benefits like fibre, omega 3 fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

The yogurt I have used in this smoothie is a Mediterranean-style lavender yogurt.  Lavender pairs very well with blueberries. Don’t be put off by this flavor thinking it will be like perfume.  This yogurt is very gently flavored with lavender and it is not at all strong in either the lavender flavor or scent. It does, however, add a subtle layer of flavor to the smoothie.  Plain vanilla yogurt can, of course, be substituted but, if the lavender yogurt is available, I recommend giving it a try.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Any kind of fruit juice can be used in this smoothie.  I have made it with plain orange juice which is very good but it is super tasty if made with a mango-citrus blend of juice or a tropical fruit juice.  If possible, I try to add juice that has the flavor of at least one or more of the fruits I am blending into the smoothie.  I don’t add any ice cubes to this smoothie because I find they can dilute the flavor.  Make sure the fruit juice is good and cold and the smoothie will be just the right temperature for drinking without adding any ice.

Garnishes are optional but they do dress up the smoothie.  If using garnishes, choose fruits that are in the smoothie as I have done here with the blueberries, mango, and papaya.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

This smoothie recipe will yield approximately 4 cups  which is about two good servings or, for smaller portions, four 1-cup servings are possible.  This really is a meal in a glass – it provides servings of fruit, yogurt, and liquid content.  This smoothie is best served as soon as it is made because it has banana in it and it can produce quite a strong flavor if left to sit and it can take over and become the predominant flavor in the drink.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cups fruit juice (e.g., mango-citrus, orange juice, etc.)
1½ cups high bush blueberries (fresh or frozen)
½ cup mango, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)
½ cup papaya, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)
½ large banana, sliced
½ cup Mediterranean-style lavender yogurt
2 tbsp maple syrup
1½ tbsp ground chia seeds

Method:

Combine all ingredients, in order given, in blender and process until well blended and smooth. Pour into glasses. Garnish with skewer of fresh blueberries, mango, and papaya. Serve immediately.

Yield:  Apx. 4 cups

Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Yield: Apx. 2 servings

Serving Size: 2-cup

Kickstart your day with this super tasty blueberry and tropical fruit smoothie made with lavender yogurt and mango-citrus fruit juice

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups fruit juice (e.g., mango-citrus, orange juice, etc.)
  • 1½ cups high bush blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup mango, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup papaya, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ large banana, sliced
  • ½ cup Mediterranean-style lavender yogurt
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1½ tbsp ground chia seeds

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients, in order given, in blender and process until well blended and smooth. Pour into glasses. Garnish with skewer of fresh blueberries, mango, and papaya. Serve immediately.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/08/13/blueberry-and-tropical-fruit-smoothie/

A delicious smoothie made with a blend of blueberries, tropical fruits, lavender yogurt, and mango-citrus fruit juice

For another refreshing blueberry drink, try this recipe for Blueberry Lemonade

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s PEI Mussel Chowder

My Island Bistro Kitchen's PEI Mussel Chowder
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s PEI Mussel Chowder

Mussels are a favorite shellfish of mine and, while I love them steamed in various different broths, today I am presenting them in the form of Mussel Chowder and I’m sharing my own personal recipe.

Steamed PEI Mussels
PEI mussels steamed in basil pesto with white wine, onion, and garlic

PEI mussels are world famous and PEI is the country’s largest mussel cultivator. According to the Mussel Industry Council of Prince Edward Island, the Island produces some 45 million pounds of mussels annually and grows 80% of Canada’s mussel production.  Fresh PEI mussels are shipped to the USA, Hong Kong, Japan, and Kuwait. We may be Canada’s smallest province but mussel farming on PEI is big “muscle” and big business. I love checking out restaurant menus when I travel around the world and seeing PEI mussels on the menu!

PEI Mussels Steamed in Beer

The blue mussels that come from PEI are farmed mussels meaning they don’t come from the sea bottom but, rather, they are grown in mesh sleeves, known as “socks”.

Mussel Sock
Mussels in the Sock in Which They are Grown

On the day I publish this mussel chowder recipe for the first time, it is Food Day Canada, a day set aside each year to celebrate all the great Canadian foods we enjoy.  Here, in PEI, I have no shortage of local food options to choose from but, this year, it’s all about the mussels.

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

Mussels are more tender than clams and less gritty.  They are readily available on the Island at seafood outlets and supermarkets and are commonly served at gatherings on PEI.

PEI Mussels Served at Many Gatherings
Steamed PEI Mussels Served at Many Gatherings

Mussels are an affordable seafood and are quick, easy, and fast to prepare.  Steam them in liquid (even plain water) for 7-10 minutes, till the shells open. Dip these tasty little morsels in melted butter and oh-là-là! I like them steamed in beer, white wine, or apple juice with some garlic and fresh herbs.

PEI Mussels

Mussels are a great power food. They are low in fat and rich in vitamins and minerals.  They are also gluten-free and are a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

There are many different styles of mussel chowder and just as many ways to make it.  My mussel chowder is luxuriously rich, thick, creamy, and packed with wonderful flavor.

Begin by sweating some onion, celery, carrot, and garlic in butter to release the wonderful aromatics.  Add the flour and blend into the vegetables. This roux will thicken the chowder. Add the reserved mussel broth, chicken broth,  white wine, and some good PEI potatoes. Pour in some milk to make the chowder nice and creamy. Finally, add in the steamed mussels, and fresh herbs.

Serve with crusty rolls, traditional homemade biscuits, whole wheat biscuits, or garlic or artisan bread.

My Island Bistro Kitchen's PEI Mussel Chowder
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s PEI Mussel Chowder

My local beverage pairing for this chowder is the Commons Czech Style Pilsner produced by PEI’s Upstreet Craft Brewing in Charlottetown. This is a clean, crisp lager that pairs well with mussels. You can read the story I previously wrote about this artisan brewery by clicking here.

PEI Mussel Chowder Paired with Upstreet Brewing Company's Commons Czech Style Pilsner
PEI Mussel Chowder Paired with Upstreet Brewing Company’s Commons Czech Style Pilsner

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s PEI Mussel Chowder

Ingredients:
2 lb PEI mussels, washed and beards removed
1½ tbsp butter
¼ cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup white wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

2-3 tbsp butter
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
¼ cup celery, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup peeled and diced potatoes
3 tbsp flour
1 cup reserved strained mussel broth
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1½ cups whole milk or a combination of evaporated milk and whole milk
1 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
½ tsp fresh dillweed, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
Salt and cracked pepper, to taste

Method:
To steam the mussels, melt butter in large stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes.  Add the white wine, parsley, and thyme.  Bring to a boil.  Add the mussels. Cover. Steam for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until the mussel shells have opened.  Set aside 4 mussels in their shells to use as garnishes, then remove the mussel meat from the remaining shells, discarding any shells that have not completely opened.  Store mussels in refrigerator until needed. Strain the broth through a fine sieve and set aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, melt the second amount of butter over medium heat.  Reduce heat slightly and add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic.  Sweat the vegetables, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes, just until the onion is transparent.

Reduce heat to low. Add the flour to make a roux and stir to blend with the vegetables.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking and scorching.  Gradually add the reserved mussel broth, chicken broth, and white wine, whisking constantly to work out any lumps. Add the bay leaf and potatoes. Increase heat to medium high and bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to medium low.  Cook for 8-9 minutes or until potatoes are almost fork tender.

Remove about ¼ cup of the hot liquid from pot and stir into the milk to temper it.  Pour tempered milk into hot mixture and stir to combine well.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the steamed mussels, fresh herbs, and butter. Cook for 4-5 minutes until mussels are heated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove and discard bay leaf. Ladle chowder into bowls and garnish each with a steamed mussel, fresh herbs, or chopped chives. Serve with crusty rolls, biscuits, or artisan or garlic bread.

Yield: Apx. 4 servings

My Island Bistro Kitchen's PEI Mussel Chowder

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s PEI Mussel Chowder

Serving Size: Apx. 4

A hearty and delicious mussel chowder made with world-famous PEI mussels

Ingredients

  • 2 lb PEI mussels, washed and beards removed
  • 1½ tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup white wine
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup peeled and diced potatoes
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup reserved strained mussel broth
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1½ cups whole milk or a combination of evaporated milk and whole milk
  • 1 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp fresh dillweed, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Salt and cracked pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. To steam the mussels, melt butter in large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the white wine, parsley, and thyme. Bring to a boil. Add the mussels. Cover. Steam for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until the mussel shells have opened. Set aside 4 mussels in their shells to use as garnishes, then remove the mussel meat from the remaining shells, discarding any shells that have not completely opened. Store mussels in refrigerator until needed. Strain the broth through a fine sieve and set aside.
  2. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, melt the second amount of butter over medium heat. Reduce heat slightly and add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic. Sweat the vegetables, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes, just until the onion is transparent.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Add the flour to make a roux and stir to blend with the vegetables. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking and scorching. Gradually add the reserved mussel broth, chicken broth, and white wine, whisking constantly to work out any lumps. Add the bay leaf and potatoes. Increase heat to medium high and bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 8-9 minutes or until potatoes are almost fork tender.
  4. Remove about ¼ cup of the hot liquid from pot and stir into the milk to temper it. Pour tempered milk into hot mixture and stir to combine well. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the steamed mussels, fresh herbs, and butter. Cook for 4-5 minutes until mussels are heated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Remove and discard bay leaf. Ladle chowder into bowls and garnish each with a steamed mussel, fresh herbs, or chopped chives. Serve with crusty rolls, biscuits, or artisan or garlic bread.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/08/05/my-island-bistro-kitchens-pei-mussel-chowder/

 

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Orange Star Anise Vinaigrette
Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

We grow a garden and live out of it in the summer. We grow lots of different varieties of lettuce and so salads are an almost daily part of our menu.

Lettuce from our Garden
Lettuce from our Garden

On hot summer days, I love to make what I call a main meal salad. I simply take a meat platter and lay a layer of mixed greens down the center bordered by a row of quinoa along both sides of the lettuce bed. I often marinate and cook chicken breasts then slice them for salads as I have done here.  I use whatever fruit I have on hand or that is in season to make a colorful and healthy salad. It could be strawberries, mango, melons, oranges or mandarins, blueberries, peaches, raspberries, and so forth.  Add some red onion rings, crumbled feta cheese, and top with crunchy pea and radish shoots and you have a very colorful, appetizing, and healthy dinner.

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Orange Star Anise Vinagrette
Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinagrette

What makes the salad super tasty is the vinaigrette.

Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette
Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

For this recipe,  start with 3 tablespoons of orange juice and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and add a small star anise pod and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let the juice cool. This allows the star anise to infuse the juice with a lovely subtle layer of licorice flavor. Discard the star anise and mix the vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar and shake vigorously.  If adding fresh herbs, only add them at the time of serving as, otherwise, they become quite limp and wilted.

Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette
Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

Now, I don’t tend to measure the ingredients for the salad itself. I go to the garden and pick a couple of handfuls of different kinds of lettuce. For a main meal serving for two, I cook 1/2 cup of quinoa and a large chicken breast. For the fruits, just add as many of each kind as you like and the same for the pea and radish shoots.  I don’t grow these shoots – I get them from Just A Little Farm in Bonshaw.  You can click here to read the story I wrote about this farm. Jessica grows the most amazing produce and her pea and radish shoots are so lovely crisp and fresh!

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette
Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

This recipe will yield a generous main meal for two or, if serving as a starter, it could serve 4-6.

[Printable Recipe Follows at end of Posting]

Orange and Star Anise Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
3 tbsp orange juice
1 small star anise pod
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp liquid honey
¼ tsp garlic salt
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh herbs (e.g., parsley, thyme, dill), chopped

Method:

In small saucepan, bring orange juice to boiling point over medium heat.  Reduce heat to simmer and add the star anise pod.  Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely, allowing the star anise to infuse the orange juice. Remove and discard star anise after orange juice has cooled.

Combine all ingredients, except the fresh herbs, in a small jar. Shake vigorously.  Add the chopped herbs at time of serving.

Yield: Apx. scant ½ cup

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

Yield: Scant 1/2 cup

A tasty vinaigrette with subtle undertones of licorice flavor. Perfect accompaniment to any salad but especially good with Chicken and Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 small star anise pod
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp liquid honey
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh herbs (e.g., parsley, thyme, dill), chopped

Instructions

  1. In small saucepan, bring orange juice to boiling point over medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer and add the star anise pod. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely, allowing the star anise to infuse the orange juice. Remove and discard star anise after orange juice has cooled.
  2. Combine all ingredients, except the fresh herbs, in a small jar. Shake vigorously. Add the chopped herbs at time of serving.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/08/01/chicken-and-quinoa-salad-with-star-anise-and-orange-vinaigrette/

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

Old-fashioned Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

Homemade Ice Cream
Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

Summer just would not be summer without ice cream and what better way to enjoy it than to combine two of the season’s best flavors – strawberry and rhubarb – into homemade Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream!

I have been making ice cream for a long time. I have an electric churn that has been in the family for probably close to 50 years.  I keep thinking that, one of these days, I will have the custard made and the motor will give out on the churn.  But, amazingly, it always works!  It’s not fancy but it does the job. There are various types and styles of ice cream makers on the market today but I like my old faithful electric churn. It may look rusty on the outside from all the contact it has had over many years with rock salt that sloshes around with ice in the bucket but the canister is in perfect condition and the churn still makes great smooth ice cream!

Ice Cream Maker
Electric Ice Cream Maker

It usually takes about 20-25 minutes for the ice cream to churn.  The ice cream will come out of the canister quite soft textured but placing it in the deep freeze for about 3 hours will result in it firming up very well.

Homemade Ice Cream
Homemade Churned Ice Cream

I use the traditional custard method for making ice cream. It’s amazing how such basic, simple ingredients can turn out such a delectable treat.  Milk/cream, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla form the standard base for the custard and then other flavorings may be added.

Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream
Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

The trick to making homemade ice cream is to use the good stuff! Yes, the real cream, whipping cream, and whole milk.  This will give the custard the rich base and the ice cream its smooth texture. While granulated sugar can be used, my preference is to use the super-fine caster sugar as there is no grit at all to it. I always make my custard the night before I churn the ice cream and place it in the refrigerator overnight as it gives the flavors time to develop as they “mix and mingle” and the custard needs to be very cold to start the churning. In fact, I put the churn canister and beaters in the freezer for an hour or so before churning so they are cold as well.

Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream
Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

One ingredient I add to this particular ice cream recipe is strawberry balsamic vinegar – yes, vinegar goes in this recipe but not just any vinegar and not a lot of it. One tablespoon of high quality strawberry balsamic will deepen and enhance the strawberry flavor and, no, it will not leave a lingering vinegar taste in the ice cream. If you have rose water, the addition of just 1 1/2 teaspoons will give a hint of floral flavor. Don’t over-do the rose water or it will start to taste like perfume.  All this small addition is doing is adding a subtle layer of flavoring.

Use the freshest ingredients you can – i.e., make this ice cream when the local rhubarb and strawberries are available as they have the best flavor.

Strawberries
Fresh From the Field PEI Strawberries

Choose the reddest stalks of rhubarb you can find. This recipe does not call for any artificial food coloring (and I don’t use any) so the pink color comes naturally from the red rhubarb and strawberries.  Each batch I make has a slightly different tint of pink to it depending on the quality of the strawberries and rhubarb.

Rhubarb
Rhubarb

I recommend reading through the recipe a couple of times before starting to make the ice cream to organize the prep work and to be sure you have all the required ingredients and understand the method and the sequence for preparing the ingredients.

I have made this Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream both rippled (shown in the photo at the beginning of this posting) using some of the strawberry-rhubarb purée to weave through the ice cream and plain (shown in the ice cream cones in the photo below) where I incorporate all of the purée into the custard.  The ice cream is good either way. This homemade ice cream freezes rock solid hard so I recommend removing it from the freezer 7-10 minutes before using as, otherwise, it will be difficult to scoop.

Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Plain (no rippling/marbling)

Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream makes a great sundae, especially if you drizzle it with crushed strawberries or strawberry-rhubarb sauce.

Ice Cream Sundae
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Sundae

And, it makes dandy milkshakes.  Simply combine 3 scoops of the strawberry rhubarb ice cream in a blender with 1/4 cup milk per serving.  Blend until smooth and serve in fancy tall glasses with colorful straws and a strawberry garnish.

Milkshake
Strawberry Rhubarb Milkshake

Oh, this is a special treat on a hot summer day!

Milkshake
Strawberry Rhubarb Milkshake

Homemade ice cream sandwiches are also a wonderful summer treat. I use my gluten-free snickerdoodle cookies for these sandwiches because they are a lovely soft-textured cookie.

Ice Cream Sandwiches
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Sandwiches

For these sandwiches, freeze the ice cream in a 9×13 baking pan lined with tin foil. Fill the pan with the ice cream to a depth of 3/4″ to 1″ thick.  Place in freezer for a couple of hours then remove the ice cream from the pan and cut round circles of the ice cream with a cookie cutter that is slightly smaller than the cookie size.

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Sandwiches

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

Ingredients:

10 oz strawberries, chopped
1 tbsp strawberry balsamic vinegar (optional but recommended)
3 tbsp caster sugar
1½ tsp rose water (optional)

1 lb rhubarb, chopped
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp caster sugar

1 cup whipping cream (36%)
1 cup half-and-half or coffee cream (at least 18%)
1 cup whole milk
Scant ¾ cup caster sugar
4 extra-large egg yolks
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp vanilla

Method:

Place chopped strawberries in small bowl and sprinkle with 3 tbsp caster sugar, balsamic vinegar, and rose water. Set aside.

Place chopped rhubarb in small saucepan and add the 2 tbsp orange juice, 2 tbsp water and 3 tbsp caster sugar.  Cover and cook over medium heat for 7-10 minutes, until rhubarb is softened. Remove from heat and strain through medium mesh wire sieve.  Reserve the rhubarb pulp and transfer to heat-proof bowl.

Return the strained rhubarb juice to saucepan and cook over medium heat until juice is reduced to about 1/3 cup.  Pour the syrup over the reserved rhubarb pulp. Let cool to room temperature.

Transfer the strawberries and cooled rhubarb mixture to a blender and purée until very smooth.  Strain mixture through medium mesh sieve, squeezing as much juice as possible out of the rhubarb by gently pressing it down with the back of a spoon. This should yield approximately 2⅔ – 3 cups purée. Discard any remaining pulp. Cool strained mixture in refrigerator.

In heavy bottomed saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring whipping cream, half-and-half, and whole milk to the scalding point (small bubbles should start to appear around the edges of the mixture) – 180°F, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Do not boil. Transfer mixture to top of double boiler.

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 top of double boiler containing the milk over the simmering water.

In bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt together until pale and creamy.  Gradually add about ¾ cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to blend well.  Pour the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture in top of double boiler, whisking continuously.  Cook over the simmering water, stirring constantly until the mixture coats the back of a wood spoon or reaches a temperature of 175°F on a candy thermometer.  Do not allow mixture to boil.

Set large clean bowl in a sink of cold water filled to about half the depth of the bowl.  Pour the custard mixture through a wire sieve into the bowl to remove any bits of egg that may have coagulated.  Stir in the vanilla.

Set aside about ½ cup of the puréed strawberry-rhubarb mixture and whisk the remaining puréed fruit mixture into the custard until it is well blended.  Chill, covered, in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or more (can be chilled overnight and up to 24 hours).

Churn custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer about a third of the ice cream to an airtight freezer container. Drizzle half of the reserved purée over the ice cream.  Repeat the process with another layer of ice cream and purée and ending with a layer of the ice cream.  With the thin blade of a knife, or using a wooden skewer, swirl the purée through the ice cream to incorporate it in a marble effect. Do not overmix or the ripple/marble effect will be lost. Cover container tightly and allow ice cream to freeze for at least 3 hours, or until very firm, before serving.

Yield: Apx. 1 quart

Note 1: This ice cream will freeze rock solid hard. Recommend removing ice cream from freezer 7-10 minutes before serving.
Note 2: This ice cream may be made without the rippling effect. Simply incorporate all of the strawberry-rhubarb purée into the custard instead of reserving ½ cup for the rippling/marbling.

Old-fashioned Strawberry Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream

Yield: Apx. 1 qt

Delectable old-fashioned homemade ice cream combines two of summer's best flavors - strawberry and rhubarb.

Ingredients

  • 10 oz strawberries, chopped
  • 1 tbsp strawberry balsamic vinegar (optional but recommended)
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1½ tsp rose water (optional)
  • 1 lb rhubarb, chopped
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 cup whipping cream (36%)
  • 1 cup half-and-half or coffee cream (at least 18%)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Scant ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Place chopped strawberries in small bowl and sprinkle with 3 tbsp caster sugar, balsamic vinegar, and rose water. Set aside.
  2. Place chopped rhubarb in small saucepan and add the 2 tbsp orange juice, 2 tbsp water and 3 tbsp caster sugar. Cover and cook over medium heat for 7-10 minutes, until rhubarb is softened. Remove from heat and strain through medium mesh wire sieve. Reserve the rhubarb pulp and transfer to heat-proof bowl.
  3. Return the strained rhubarb juice to saucepan and cook over medium heat until juice is reduced to about 1/3 cup. Pour the syrup over the reserved rhubarb pulp. Let cool to room temperature.
  4. Transfer the strawberries and cooled rhubarb mixture to a blender and purée until very smooth. Strain mixture through medium mesh sieve, squeezing as much juice as possible out of the rhubarb by gently pressing it down with the back of a spoon. This should yield approximately 2 2/3 – 3 cups purée. Discard any remaining pulp. Cool strained mixture in refrigerator.
  5. In heavy bottomed saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring whipping cream, half-and-half, and whole milk to the scalding point (small bubbles should start to appear around the edges of the mixture) - 180°F, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Do not boil. Transfer mixture to top of double boiler.
  6. 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 top of double boiler containing the milk over the simmering water.
  7. In bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt together until pale and creamy. Gradually add about ¾ cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to blend well. Pour the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture in top of double boiler, whisking continuously. Cook over the simmering water, stirring constantly until the mixture coats the back of a wood spoon or reaches a temperature of 175°F on a candy thermometer. Do not allow mixture to boil.
  8. Set large clean bowl in a sink of cold water filled to about half the depth of the bowl. Pour the custard mixture through a wire sieve into the bowl to remove any bits of egg that may have coagulated. Stir in the vanilla.
  9. Set aside about ½ cup of the puréed strawberry-rhubarb mixture and whisk the remaining puréed fruit mixture into the custard until it is well blended. Chill, covered, in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or more (can be chilled overnight and up to 24 hours).
  10. Churn custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer about a third of the ice cream to an airtight freezer container. Drizzle half of the reserved purée over the ice cream. Repeat the process with another layer of ice cream and purée and ending with a layer of the ice cream. With the thin blade of a knife, or using a wooden skewer, swirl the purée through the ice cream to incorporate it in a marble effect. Do not overmix or the ripple/marble effect will be lost. Cover container tightly and allow ice cream to freeze for at least 3 hours, or until very firm, before serving.

Notes

Note 1: This ice cream will freeze rock solid hard. Recommend removing ice cream from freezer 7-10 minutes before serving.

Note 2: This ice cream may be made without the rippling effect. Simply incorporate all of the strawberry-rhubarb purée into the custard instead of reserving ½ cup for the rippling/marbling.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/07/19/old-fashioned-strawberry-rhubarb-ripple-ice-cream/

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Sundae
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Sundae
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream

 

Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookie Recipe

Snickerdoodles
Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies

If you like cookies that are super tasty but not overly sweet then you will like these gluten free snickerdoodle cookies. They sport a lovely soft crumb texture and have superb flavor with the cardamon and nutmeg in the cookies and then the cinnamon-sugar mixture in which they are rolled.

I have been doing a lot of recipe development and testing for gluten free baked goods and have developed several cookie recipes that are suitable for those that have gluten sensitivity or intolerance.  In my view, there is no need for those following a gluten-free diet to be deprived of some fine tasting baked products.

Snickerdoodles
Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies

This snickerdoodle cookie recipe does not take any unusual or difficult-to-find ingredients.  It calls for gluten free all-purpose flour and a small amount of almond flour. The almond flour adds both flavor and a lovely texture to baked products. It is not an inexpensive flour, by any means, but fortunately not a lot of it is needed to achieve great results.

When using gluten free flours and zanthan gum, it is very important that they be combined very well before incorporating them into the batter. I recommend sifting these products along with the leavening and any spices together into a large bowl  and then whisk them really well.

The snickerdoodle cookie dough will be very soft when all ingredients are mixed in.  Cover the dough and place it in the refrigerator for 40-60 minutes to allow it to firm up so it will be easier to form the cookie balls.

Snickerdoodle Cookies
Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies

I’m a big fan of digital scales for my kitchen work. I like the look of uniform cookies so I often use the scales to ensure that the same amount of dough goes into each cookie.  I use approximately 20grams, or about 3/4 ounce, of dough for each cookie.  Roll the cookie balls in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place them on the prepared cookie sheets (parchment lined), spacing them at least 2 1/2 inches apart. Do not flatten the cookie balls – they will automatically flatten as they bake.  These cookies usually bake in about 10 minutes.  Snickerdoodles are great picnic cookies as they travel well.

Cookies
Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies

Because of their soft texture, they are an ideal choice for homemade ice cream sandwiches.

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwiches

And, of course, they are always a popular choice for the cookie jar or lunch box. These cookies freeze really well and are great to have on hand.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-free Snickerdoodle Cookies

 Ingredients:

½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
6 tbsp granulated sugar
6 tbsp brown sugar
1 extra-large egg
½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp almond flavoring
¼ tsp lemon flavoring

1 1/3 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
¼ cup almond flour
¼ tsp zanthan gum
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Method:

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer, cream butter with 6 tbsp granulated sugar and 6 tbsp brown sugar.  Beat in the egg and vanilla along with the almond and lemon flavorings.

In separate bowl, sift together the next 9 dry ingredients then whisk the mixture several times to ensure the ingredients are well incorporated.  Mix into creamed mixture until well blended.  Cover and place dough in refrigerator for 40-60 minutes to firm. Shape into balls using about 20g, or about .75 oz, of dough.  Mix the remaining tablespoon of sugar with the cinnamon in small bowl.  Roll cookie balls in sugar mixture and place on prepared cookie sheets, spacing cookies at least 2½ inches apart.  Do not flatten cookie balls. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. These cookies freeze well.

Yield: Apx. 2 dozen

These cookies are supremely good with a glass of cold milk.

Snickerdoodle Cookies
Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies

Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookie Recipe

Yield: Apx. 2 dozen

A gluten free version of an old-fashioned favorite cookie, lightly spiced with cardamon and nutmeg, and rolled in cinnamon sugar. A cookie jar favorite for sure!

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 6 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp almond flavoring
  • ¼ tsp lemon flavoring
  • 1 1/3 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¼ tsp zanthan gum
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In bowl of stand mixer, cream butter with 6 tbsp granulated sugar and 6 tbsp brown sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla along with the almond and lemon flavorings.
  3. In separate bowl, sift together the next 9 dry ingredients then whisk the mixture several times to ensure the ingredients are well incorporated. Mix into creamed mixture until well blended. Cover and place dough in refrigerator for 40-60 minutes to firm. Shape into balls using about 20g, or about .75 oz, of dough. Mix the remaining tablespoon of sugar with the cinnamon in small bowl. Roll cookie balls in sugar mixture and place on prepared cookie sheets, spacing cookies at least 2½ inches apart. Do not flatten cookie balls. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. These cookies freeze well.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/07/17/gluten-free-snickerdoodle-cookie-recipe/

Snickerdoodle Cookies
Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies
Snickerdoodle Cookies

 

Rhubarb Curd Recipe

Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb Curd

I love rhubarb and use it in a multitude of ways.  Being a lover of lemon curd, I figured I would also like rhubarb curd so I set about developing and testing a recipe for it.  This delightful creamy curd can be used in the same ways as lemon curd  – sandwiching cakes together, spreading on scones, filling cookies, eclairs, macarons, and tarts, stirring into (or topping on) Greek yogurt for quick parfaits, and, well, its uses are only limited by your imagination!

Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb Curd and Coconut Yogurt Parfait

Rhubarb curd is made with only five (5) ingredients – rhubarb, orange (juice and zest), sugar, eggs, and butter. The recipe I am including with this posting is the result of several testings. Here are my tips for successfully making rhubarb curd.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb
Rhubarb Patch

Either fresh or frozen rhubarb can be used for this recipe; however, I always advocate for fresh.  Try to select the reddest stalks you can find and ones that are blemish free.

Rhubarb
Rhubarb

Orange Juice and Zest

Wash the orange really well in hot, soapy water and scrub it with a vegetable brush. Rinse the orange well and dry it before zesting.

Use a citrus fruit zester to zest the orange. This should yield about 2 teaspoons of zest. This zesting process will release the aromatic oils from the orange that will enhance the flavor of the curd. When zesting the orange, take care only to remove the thin outside orange skin of the fruit and not the underlying white pith which is bitter.

Cut the orange in half and squeeze it to extract the juice. Alternatively, bottled orange juice may also be used.

Eggs

I have tested this curd using various amounts and combinations of eggs -i.e., different sized eggs, egg yolks only, and combining egg yolks with some egg white.

Eggs
Eggs

While all combinations I tried were acceptable, I found that my preference is to use 3 extra-large egg yolks combined with one medium-sized whole egg.  I always keep three sizes of eggs in my refrigerator – extra-large, large, and medium – because I use different sizes in different recipes and various combinations of egg sizes in recipes.  I find adding a bit of egg white to the curd gives a bit more fluidity and makes it more silky smooth.  Making the curd with only egg yolks tends to result in slightly thicker textured curd that has a more gelatin-like consistency which is not quite as satiny smooth as can be achieved by adding a bit of egg white.  It’s still tasty but just not as creamy. The photo below is of a curd made with egg yolks only.

Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb Curd

Adding a whole extra-large egg adds too much liquid to the curd but I found that the addition of a medium-sized egg is perfect as there is just enough white in the medium egg to give the curd that little bit of fluidity without making it overly runny. The photo below is of a curd made with 3 extra-large egg yolks and 1 whole medium-sized egg.

Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb Curd

I like the rhubarb 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 or biscuit, for example.

Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb Curd

The problem that often occurs with adding an egg white to a curd is that the white, or parts of it, can coagulate before being fully incorporated into the curd meaning the white goes from liquid form to a solid. Egg whites cook faster than the yolks so, no matter how much stirring, there can still be little bits of the coagulated egg white in the curd because, once the white has turned into solid mass, it can’t be liquified 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, amazingly, it does! Don’t skip this step.

Sugar

This curd is best made 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 extra 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. Regular granulated sugar may be used but, if a pure silky smooth curd is the goal, I recommend using the caster sugar.

Method

Making rhubarb curd takes time. I do not recommend making the rhubarb curd in a pot directly over the heat source because it is very easy to scorch the curd with the amount of sugar in it. 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.

It’s very important that the top pot/bowl in the double boiler not touch the water in the bottom pot. 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 200°F temperature throughout the cooking process.  (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 orange 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. Simply stir the orange zest into the sugar in the top of the double boiler then whisk in the rhubarb 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.  A whisk or a wooden spoon can be used to stir the curd. Be patient. This cooking process can easily take 20-25 minutes for the curd to thicken. Resist the urge to increase the heat to hurry the cooking process along. The curd, when cooked, will coat the back of a wooden spoon. However, 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 orange 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 silky finish to the curd, strain out the zest.

Color and Texture

The color of the cooked curd will not be a vibrant red as was the rhubarb juice to start. The color becomes a paler salmon pink/soft orange color because of the addition of the eggs which dilutes the ruby red color of the rhubarb juice. The texture of the perfectly cooked curd should be silky smooth and very creamy, and the curd should bear a slightly glossy sheen.  The rhubarb curd will thicken slightly more as it cools. 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.

Rhubarb Curd
Rhubarb Curd

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.

Rhubarb Curd Spread on Muffins
Rhubarb Curd Spread on Muffins

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Rhubarb Curd

Ingredients:

10 oz rhubarb, chopped into ½” chunks
2 tbsp orange juice

2/3 cup caster sugar
2 tsp orange zest
3 extra-large egg yolks, room temperature
1 whole medium egg, room temperature
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Method:

Place chopped rhubarb and orange juice in medium-sized saucepan.  Cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is soft and mushy (about 5-8 minutes). Remove from heat and strain through fine wire mesh sieve to extract the rhubarb juice, squeezing as much juice as possible out of the rhubarb by gently pressing it down with the back of a spoon. This should yield approximately ½ cup rhubarb juice. Cool. Discard the strained pulp.

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 orange zest.  Whisk the ½ cup rhubarb juice into sugar.

In small bowl, lightly beat the 3 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 and rhubarb 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 orange zest.  Pour strained curd into a sterilized jar.  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.

Rhubarb Curd Recipe

Yield: Apx. 1 cup

A delightful creamy smooth rhubarb curd that is perfect for spreading on muffins, scones, or biscuit or adding to yogurt parfaits

Ingredients

  • 10 oz rhubarb, chopped into ½” chunks
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2/3 cup caster sugar*
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 3 extra-large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 whole medium egg, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • *caster sugar may also be known as fruit sugar, berry sugar, super fine sugar, or instant dissolving sugar

Instructions

  1. Place chopped rhubarb and orange juice in medium-sized saucepan. Cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is soft and mushy (about 5-8 minutes). Remove from heat and strain through fine wire mesh sieve to extract the rhubarb juice, squeezing as much juice as possible out of the rhubarb by gently pressing it down with the back of a spoon. This should yield approximately ½ cup rhubarb juice. Cool. Discard the strained pulp.
  2. 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 orange zest. Whisk the ½ cup rhubarb juice into sugar.
  3. In small bowl, lightly beat the 3 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 and rhubarb 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.
  4. 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 orange zest. Pour strained curd into a sterilized jar. 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

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.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/07/12/rhubarb-curd-recipe/

Rhubarb Curd

Rhubarb Curd

Gluten-Free Queen Elizabeth Cake

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

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

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

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

London Pagentry
London Pagentry

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gluten-Free Queen Elizabeth Cake

Ingredients:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yield:  1 – 8” single layer cake

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

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

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

Gluten-Free Queen Elizabeth Cake

Yield: 1 - 8" square single-layer cake

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Cake:
  2. Place dates and soda in medium-sized saucepan. Add the boiling water. Simmer for about 4-5 minutes then cool completely at room temperature.
  3. Position oven rack in centre of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 8” baking pan or line with parchment paper (or even greased tin foil).
  4. Sift 1-to-1 gluten free baking flour, almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, salt, and spices together. Set aside.
  5. In bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, orange extract, and vanilla. Transfer mixture to cooled dates. Stir well.
  6. Transfer one-third of the sifted dry ingredients to the mixer bowl. Beat in one-half of the wet ingredients. Add another third of the dry ingredients. Blend well. Mix in the remainder of the wet ingredients. Finish by incorporating the remaining dry ingredients. Mix well to combine. Don’t overmix.
  7. Spread batter evenly in prepared baking pan. Transfer to preheated oven and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven. Increase oven temperature to 400°F to prepare for browning of cake’s topping.
  8. Topping:
  9. About 5 minutes before the cake is due to be removed from the oven, begin to prepare the cake topping. In medium-sized saucepan, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter. Blend in the brown sugar and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 3 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and quickly stir in the vanilla and coconut. Pour and spread this mixture evenly over the warm cake and return it to the oven to brown slightly for 3-4 minutes. Remove cake from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely before cutting and serving.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/06/17/gluten-free-queen-elizabeth-cake/

This gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake features dates, spices, and a delectable toffee-like topping

Gluten-free Queen Elizabeth Cake

Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

Seafood Crepes
Asparagus and Lobster Crepes

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

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

Fresh PEI Lobster
Steamed Lobster in the Shell

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

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

These are so worth the wait!

PEI Lobsters
Fresh Catch of the Day – PEI Lobsters

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

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

Fresh Asparagus

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

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

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

Seafood Crepes
Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

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

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

Ingredients:

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

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

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

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

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

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serving Suggestion: Serve with favorite green salad.

Yield:  4 servings, 2 crepes each

Lobster and Asparagus Crepes

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 2 crepes per serving

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

Serving Suggestion: Serve with favorite green salad

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/06/05/lobster-and-asparagus-crepes/

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/

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/05/23/gluten-free-lemon-filled-thumbprint-cookies/

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.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/04/19/queen-elizabeth-cake-recipe/

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.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/04/14/luscious-lemon-curd/

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.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/03/23/turnip-puff-casserole/

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.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/03/12/bistro-style-potato-patties/

Pin Me To Pinterest!

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.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/03/05/rethink-beef-global-recipe-swap-campaign-moussaka/

Pin Me To Pinterest!

#RethinkBeef Global Recipe Swap Campaign - Moussaka #sponsored
#RethinkBeef Global Recipe Swap Campaign – Moussaka #sponsored

Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins

Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins
Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry muffins are a favorite and, while I have a “go-to” recipe for blueberry muffins that calls for regular gluten flour, I did not have one that was gluten-free. So, I set about developing one of my own and this is the result. My aim was to create a bistro, or deli-style, muffin and I am pleased with the end result.

I have discovered several things about gluten-free muffin making.  First, some gluten-free flours have a “grainy”, or an almost “gritty”, texture to them and this will come through in the baked item. Some flours can result in, what I would describe as, gummy texture products. Hence, not all gluten-free flours yield good textured muffins. And, in my view, some gluten-free flours just don’t have a pleasing taste. Second, I find gluten-free flours seem to react differently than gluten flours to leavening.  And, third, it often takes more ingredients and flavor boosters to end up with a tasty muffin that, as closely as possible, replicates a regular muffin. The remedies?  It often takes a combination of more than one gluten-free flour to arrive at a satisfactory result. I add more leavening to my gluten-free muffins than I would usually add to gluten muffins to get that lovely gentle dome shape on the top that is so desired in muffin making.  I bump up the spices and other flavorings (e.g., orange juice, maple syrup, orange rind, and applesauce) to get deep appetizing flavor.

The Bistro's Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins
The Bistro’s Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins

My favorite gluten-free flours to use in muffins are a combination of coconut flour, almond flour, and gluten-free oat flour. I use these in combination with gluten-free all-purpose flour. I find that, if I use just the gluten-free all-purpose flour for the recipe’s entire flour content, the muffins often lack sufficient structure, flavor, and I sometimes detect a grainy/gritty texture. Adding a combination of other flours with different textures tends to solve this problem for me.  The coconut and almond flours add beautiful flavor to baked foods. The addition of some potato starch and zanthan gum also helps with structure and crumb texture. With the availability of bulk food stores, it is easy and convenient to purchase just the amounts of specialty flours and starches called for in recipes rather than having to buy large, expensive bags of them. It’s also a better way to ensure fresher product.

My gluten-free blueberry muffin recipe calls for either eggnog, almond milk, or whole milk.  I have tested this recipe with all three products and had equally good results but must say that the eggnog makes the richest muffins with the most pleasing and complex flavor. However, to make the muffins dairy-free, by all means, use almond milk – it works very well.  The recipe calls for maple syrup and plain works fine. I had some lavender and chai infused maple syrup on hand and, since the lavender plays well with blueberries, it added a layer of pleasing flavor complexity. Some recipes just do require a layering of flavors and, sometimes, one might think that such a small amount of an ingredient called for  could be left out of the recipe with no notice; however, I believe all called-for ingredients in a recipe contribute to the end result, even if they are just playing small supporting roles and are not the main star of the recipe.

This recipe for blueberry muffins makes one dozen muffins and the muffin cup size should be one-half cup capacity. I like to use my square muffin tins for many muffin recipes. Apart from simply liking the shape, the square muffins are easy to wrap, store, and freeze. Several times a year, I go on a muffin-making frolic, making different kinds of muffins for the freezer. I will bag up different varieties and freeze them so they are quick and easy to pull out for weekday coffeebreaks at work.  If a muffin does not freeze well, it will not get added to my repertoire of batch-making muffins.  These blueberry muffins freeze very well.

To get the desired dome-shaped muffin, the muffins need to start out in a relatively high oven temperature – i.e., 450F.   Using the high temperature to begin the baking process allows the outside of the muffin to quickly set while still allowing the inside to continue to rise.  This also gives that nice soft muffin top.  As soon as I place the muffins in the oven, I drop the temperature back to 400F.

The Bistro's Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins
The Bistro’s Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins

The texture of a good muffin should have a loose, coarse interior crumb, like those shown in the photograph above.  Do not overmix muffin batter as this will cause the muffins to be tough, rubbery, and somewhat heavy.  Stir only until the dry ingredients are just barely incorporated.  In fact, in muffins in which I am adding fruit (which gets added last, using the “folding” technique), I don’t completely incorporate all the dry ingredients to the wet because, when the fruit is folded in, the dry ingredients will get further incorporated then.  The batter should be lumpy, not smooth.

Muffins will quickly dry out if they are overbaked.   I have found, in my oven, that about 20 minutes bakes these muffins perfectly but, as every oven is a bit different,  I suggest checking the muffins at about the 16-17 minute mark and, just as soon as they spring back to a light finger touch, insert a cake tester or toothpick into the center of a muffin – if it comes out clean, the muffins are done. Let the baked muffins rest in the baking tin for 5-7 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

The Bistro's Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins
The Bistro’s Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

The Bistro’s Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients:
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup almond flour
¼ cup gluten-free oat flour
2 tbsp potato starch
1½ tsp zanthan gum
¼ cup gluten-free large flake rolled oats
5½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice
1½ tbsp ground flax seed
2/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tbsp finely grated orange rind

2 large eggs (room temperature), lightly beaten
2/3 cup eggnog, almond milk, or whole milk
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup orange juice
1½ tsp vanilla
2 tbsp maple syrup, plain or flavor-infused (e.g., lavender and chai)
1/3 cup applesauce

1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Method:

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Use muffin tins with cups that have ½-cup holding capacity. Prepare muffin tins by greasing or spraying each muffin cup with cooking oil, ensuring the top of the muffin tin is also well greased.

In large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and grated orange rind by whisking very well.  Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and set aside.

In separate bowl, or large measuring cup, whisk together the lightly beaten eggs, eggnog (or almond or whole milk), oil, orange juice, vanilla, maple syrup, and applesauce.

Pour wet ingredients into well in the dry ingredients.  Combine just until dry ingredients are barely incorporated. Do not overmix. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling almost to the muffin cup rim.  Let batter sit for 5 minutes before baking.

Transfer muffins to oven and immediately reduce heat to 400°F.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Let muffins rest in muffin cups for 5-7 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: Apx. 12 muffins

The Bistro's Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins

Yield: Apx. 12 muffins

These flavor-packed deli-style gluten-free blueberry muffins are light and moist with a tender crumb.Hard to believe they are gluten free!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup gluten-free oat flour
  • 2 tbsp potato starch
  • 1½ tsp zanthan gum
  • ¼ cup gluten-free large flake rolled oats
  • 5½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 1½ tbsp ground flax seed
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tbsp finely grated orange rind
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature), lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup eggnog, almond milk, or whole milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup, plain or flavor-infused (e.g., lavender and chai)
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Use muffin tins with cups that have ½-cup holding capacity. Prepare muffin tins by greasing or spraying each muffin cup with cooking oil, ensuring the top of the muffin tin is also well greased.
  3. In large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and grated orange rind by whisking very well. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and set aside.
  4. In separate bowl, or large measuring cup, whisk together the lightly beaten eggs, eggnog (or almond or whole milk), oil, orange juice, vanilla, maple syrup, and applesauce.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into well in the dry ingredients. Combine just until dry ingredients are barely incorporated. Do not overmix. Gently fold in the blueberries.
  6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling almost to the muffin cup rim. Let batter sit for 5 minutes before baking.
  7. Transfer muffins to oven and immediately reduce heat to 400°F. Bake 18-20 minutes or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  8. Let muffins rest in muffin cups for 5-7 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

Please be sure to read the entire blog posting that accompanies this recipe as it contains several tips and hints on making gluten-free muffins.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2017/03/01/gluten-free-blueberry-muffins/

Pin Me to Pinterest!

The Bistro's Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins
The Bistro’s Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins