Category Archives: Recipes

Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes

Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcake
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcake

Today marks my 4th Blogiversary and I’m celebrating with my newly-developed recipe for Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes!  These are perfect for any event, any time of the year but, with their pink swirl centers and mile high frosting, I think they would be very suitable for Valentines Day. So, they’re doing double duty as they celebrate my 4th Blogiversary and act as a catalyst for Valentine’s baking.

Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcake
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcake

These cupcakes deliver a flavor punch with coconut milk, amaretto, shredded coconut, and maraschino cherries. That’s a flavor combo that’s hard to beat!

Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes

In addition to the wonderful flavor, the coconut milk makes these cupcakes lovely and moist. They also have a fine tender crumb which makes them very velvety when you sink your teeth into them.

Here are my tips and recommendations for making cupcakes:

  • Use the best quality ingredients available.  Don’t substitute margarine for the butter or artificial vanilla for pure vanilla in this recipe. Using lesser quality ingredients will affect the quality and taste of the cupcakes.
  • Measure ingredients accurately – that means, for example, spooning the flour into the measuring cup and then leveling it off with the flat side of a knife, without stirring the flour around in the cup or tapping it to shake the flour down into the cup.
  • Use the stated size of eggs – this matters as extra-large eggs (which this recipe calls for) yield more liquid than do large eggs. If you use smaller eggs than the recipe calls for, it will yield a drier cupcake.
  • Resist the urge to add increased amounts of ingredients such as more coconut or cherries than the recipe states as the liquid content in this recipe has been calculated to moisten the dry ingredients accurately. If more dry ingredients, such as extra coconut, are added without increasing the liquid content, the cupcakes will be dry.
  • All the ingredients should be at room temperature as this will help them to blend together better.
  • The eggs should be at room temperature for about 20 minutes or so before using them in this recipe.
  • Soften the butter at room temperature.  Never melt the butter in the microwave to soften it as it will change the properties of the butter.
  • Add the dry and liquid ingredients alternately in three parts, always starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  • Don’t overbeat the batter as this can make a tough crumb and a heavy, dense cupcake as opposed to a light-textured cupcake. Beat the batter on low speed and just until all the ingredients are incorporated.
  • Grease the top of the cupcake pan as, even if paper cupcake liners are used, there will always be at least one rogue cupcake that will rise up and stick to the top of the pan, making it difficult to remove the cupcake without damaging it.
  • Make sure your oven temperature is accurate and that the oven has been preheated. If the oven temperature is too high, it will dry out the cupcakes; if it is too low, they won’t rise and bake properly.
  • It’s also important not to overbake the cupcakes as that will make them dry. I recommend checking them at about the 14 or 15-minute baking point by either a light finger touch to see if the top of the cupcake is set and if it bounces back from the touch. Alternatively, use a cake tester to insert into the center of a cupcake. If it comes out clean, the cupcakes are baked.
  • Let the cupcakes rest in the cupcake pan for 3-4 minutes to allow them to set then gently remove them from the pan and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes

The frosting consists of two flavors to complement the cupcake flavor – coconut and cherry. Combined, these two recipes will give you ample to frost 12 cupcakes with mile high swirled frosting as shown in the photos.  If, however, that’s just a tad too much frosting for your taste, simply make just one of the frosting recipes.

Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcake
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcake

I used Wilton decorating tip 2D for the swirl frosting and the two colors were achieved by filling one side of the decorating bag with white frosting and the other side with the cherry frosting.

Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

½ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp Amaretto
½ cup coconut milk
1/3 cup shredded coconut
¼ cup chopped maraschino cherries, well drained and patted dry

Pink food coloring

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 12 muffin cups or, alternatively, line each cup with paper cupcake liners.

In medium-sized bowl, combine four dry ingredients. Set aside.

Fit mixer with paddle attachment. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and Amaretto.

Add the dry ingredients in three parts alternately with the coconut milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.

Remove ½ cup of the batter and add the food coloring to it, just enough to tint the batter pink.

Add the coconut and chopped cherries to the white batter.

Fill each muffin cup about 1/3 full with the white coconut batter. Divide the ½ cup of pink batter between the 12 cupcakes.

Divide the remaining white batter evenly between the 12 cupcakes.Use the tip of a knife to gently swirl the pink batter into the white in each cupcake.

Bake in center of oven for 15-19 minutes or until cupcakes spring back to a light touch or a cake tester inserted into center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan for 3-4 minutes then carefully transfer them to wire rack to cool completely.

Frost and decorate cupcakes as desired. The two frosting recipes provided with this recipe will, combined, easily frost the 12 cupcakes with the amount of swirled frosting shown in the photographs that accompany the cupcake recipe. If less frosting is desired, make only one of the recipes.

Yield: 12 cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Coconut Frosting

¼ cup butter
¼ cup shortening
1 tbsp coconut milk
¼ tsp almond flavouring
Apx. 2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
Sprinkle of salt (optional)

Beat butter and shortening together. Add coconut milk and almond flavouring. Blend in enough sifted confectioners sugar for desired spreading consistency.

Cherry Frosting

¼ cup butter
¼ cup shortening
1½ tbsp cherry juice
¼ tsp almond flavouring
Apx. 2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
Sprinkle of salt (optional)

Beat butter and shortening together. Add cherry juice and almond flavouring. Blend in enough confectioners sugar for desired spreading consistency.

To achieve dual-colored swirl frosting, fit cake decorating bag with Wilton 2D decorating tip. Fill one side of decorating bag with the white frosting and the other half with the pink frosting. Pipe onto cupcake in swirl motion.

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Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Rich and decadent cupcakes packed full of coconut flavour and covered in mile-high coconut and cherry frosting

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp Amaretto
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup chopped maraschino cherries, well drained and patted dry
  • Pink food coloring
  • Coconut Frosting:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk
  • ¼ tsp almond flavouring
  • Apx. 2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
  • Sprinkle of salt (optional)
  • Cherry Frosting:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • 1½ tbsp cherry juice
  • ¼ tsp almond flavouring
  • Apx. 2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
  • Sprinkle of salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 12 muffin cups or, alternatively, line each cup with paper cupcake liners.
  2. In medium-sized bowl, combine four dry ingredients. Set aside.
  3. Fit mixer with paddle attachment. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and Amaretto.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in three parts alternately with the coconut milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  5. Remove ½ cup of the batter and add the food coloring to it, just enough to tint the batter pink.
  6. Add the coconut and chopped cherries to the white batter.
  7. Fill each muffin cup about 1/3 full with the white coconut batter. Divide the ½ cup of pink batter between the 12 cupcakes. Divide the remaining white batter evenly between the 12 cupcakes. Use the tip of a knife to gently swirl the pink batter into the white in each cupcake.
  8. Bake in center of oven for 15-19 minutes or until cupcakes spring back to a light touch or a cake tester inserted into center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan for 3-4 minutes then carefully transfer them to wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Frost and decorate cupcakes as desired. The two frosting recipes provided with this recipe will, combined, easily frost the 12 cupcakes with lots of swirled frosting. If less frosting is desired, make only one of the recipes.
  10. Coconut Frosting: Beat butter and shortening together. Add coconut milk and almond flavouring. Blend in enough sifted confectioners sugar for desired spreading consistency.
  11. Cherry Frosting: Beat butter and shortening together. Add cherry juice and almond flavouring. Blend in enough confectioners sugar for desired spreading consistency.
  12. To achieve dual-colored swirl frosting, fit cake decorating bag with Wilton 2D decorating tip. Fill one side of decorating bag with the white frosting and the other half with the pink frosting. Pipe onto cupcake in swirl motion.
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Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes
Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes

Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

There are so many ways to make rice pudding. Some use the stove-top method, others (like me) use the oven. Some bake the rice pudding directly in the oven but I prefer the hot water bath method for reasons explained below.

For rice pudding, I prefer a short grain rice such as Arborio which is what I have used in this pudding. Arborio rice (often used in risotto) is named after the Italian town where it is grown.  What makes it my preference for rice pudding is that, when cooked, it has lovely round pearl-like grains that hold their shape and don’t turn to “mush”.  This rice also has a high starch level and that helps to self-thicken the pudding as it bakes and also contributes to its creamy texture.

Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

This pudding is true comfort food. The addition of coconut milk gives the pudding a subtle hint of coconut but not so strong that it detracts from the basic flavour we expect to find in an old-fashioned rice pudding.  I think the texture of the coconut milk also helps to keep the custard creamy.

I have used a maple syrup that was infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. This does add a bit of discrete flavor to the pudding but, certainly, plain maple syrup would work just fine. I have added a blend of three spices – cardamon, nutmeg, and cinnamon – but again, not in large quantities because I don’t want the pudding to be overly spiced. I just want it to be delicately flavored.

Raisins, a traditional addition to rice puddings, do need to be “plumped” before adding them to the pudding as, otherwise, they don’t become very soft in the custard.  It’s not very pleasing to the palette to bite into hard, dry raisins amidst a soft creamy custard. For this recipe, I have soaked the 1/3 cup of raisins in about 1 tablespoon of Amaretto by placing these two ingredients in a small covered dish for at least 45 minutes.  Shaking the dish periodically helps to ensure that all raisins are coated with the liqueur.  In fact, you could leave them soaking for a couple of hours (the raisins will just be extra happy if you do so!).

Rice pudding custard is actually quite delicate and, for greatest success, it is best if the egg proteins are protected from direct hot heat and from fast baking.  Because the pudding is made with an egg-milk custard, it is therefore, in my opinion, best if it is baked slowly in a hot water bath.  This is simply a method of baking whereby the pudding dish(es) are placed inside a larger pan into which hot water is poured up to about half way on the pudding dishes or even up to the level of the custard in the ramekins. However, the water should not be so deep that the pudding dishes start to float. They need to sit stable in the water as the pudding bakes.

The benefits of baking this pudding in a hot water bath are several. First, the hot water adds steam and moisture to the oven which will prevent the puddings from drying out and cracking on the top as they bake. Second, any custard mixture of milk and eggs has the potential to curdle – that’s when the milk-egg mixture separates from the solids (in this case, the rice and raisins).  Because it is a slower method of baking and the hot water provides an even heat source, the hot water bath method helps to prevent the risk of curdled custard.  The hot water also helps the custard to bake evenly, both its outside edges as well as its center.  Without the hot water baking method, the custard could bake quicker on the outside edges of the pudding than in the center and part of the pudding would be dried out. Lastly, the slow baking combined with an oven of moist heat will help to keep the pudding creamy in texture as opposed to “rubbery”.

I place the 9″x13″x2″ pan with the ramekins in it on the oven shelf and just ever-so-slightly pull the shelf out, just enough that I can safely pour the hot water into the larger baking pan without getting a burn. I find this is a safer method than filling the pan with the hot water and transporting it to the oven. The water needs to be kept at the same level during the baking process so, since it naturally evaporates, you may need to add more hot water as the pudding bakes.

Bake the puddings for approximately 1 hour or until pudding top edges are set, centers are still a little “jiggly”, and the puddings are golden-colored. A knife inserted in or near the centre of the pudding should come out clean if the pudding is done. Don’t overbake the pudding as it will dry out and be less creamy. Remove ramekins from water bath and let them stand on a wire rack to set for approximately 10 minutes before serving.

Adding toasted coconut to the top of this pudding is optional but the crunchiness and flavour are an added touch.  Toasting coconut is simple. The coconut gets spread thinly on a baking sheet and baked in a 350° F oven for about 8-9 minutes. It is important to watch that the coconut does not burn and it should be turned once or twice during the toasting process to ensure even color.

Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

Ingredients:

1¼ cups cooked Arborio rice
1/3 cup raisins, soaked in 1 tbsp Amaretto
½ cup coconut milk
¾ cup whole milk
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cinnamon

¼ cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened), toasted (optional)

Method:

In small covered dish, soak raisins in Amaretto for at least 45 minutes to plump them, shaking or stirring occasionally to ensure all raisins are coated with the liqueur.

Cook rice according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease 6 – ¾-cup size ramekin dishes.

In large bowl, whisk together the coconut and whole milk, egg, sugar, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, and spices. Add rice and raisins and stir gently. Divide mixture between 6 prepared ramekins and place in 9”x13”x2” pan. Pour hot water into pan up to half-way on the sides of the ramekins or even up to about the level of the custard in the dishes. However, make sure the ramekins are not floating in the water.

Bake for approximately 1 hour or until pudding top edges are set, centers are still a little “jiggly” and puddings are golden-colored. A knife inserted in or near the centre of the pudding should come out clean if the pudding is done. Remove ramekins from water bath and let stand on wire rack to set for approximately 10 minutes before serving. To serve, top each with toasted coconut, if desired.

[To toast coconut: Spread coconut on baking sheet and bake in 350° F oven for 8-9 minutes, stirring once or twice, until coconut is lightly tanned in color.]

Yield: 6 servings.

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Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

Serving Size: Apx. 6 servings

A delicate coconut-flavored creamy baked rice pudding with subtle spice flavoring

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups cooked Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup raisins, soaked in 1 tbsp Amaretto
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened), toasted (optional)

Instructions

  1. In small covered dish, soak raisins in Amaretto for at least 45 minutes to plump them, shaking or stirring occasionally to ensure all raisins are coated with the liqueur.
  2. Cook rice according to package directions.
  3. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease 6 – ¾-cup size ramekin dishes.
  4. In large bowl, whisk together the coconut and whole milk, egg, sugar, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, and spices. Add rice and raisins and stir gently. Divide mixture between 6 prepared ramekins and place in 9”x13”x2” pan. Pour hot water into pan up to half-way on the sides of the ramekins or even up to about the level of the custard in the dishes. However, make sure the ramekins are not floating in the water.
  5. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until pudding top edges are set, centers are still a little “jiggly” and puddings are golden-colored. A knife inserted in or near the centre of the pudding should come out clean if the pudding is done. Remove ramekins from water bath and let stand on wire rack to set for approximately 10 minutes before serving. To serve, top each with toasted coconut, if desired.
  6. [To toast coconut: Spread coconut on baking sheet and bake in 350°F oven for 8-9 minutes, stirring once or twice, until coconut is lightly tanned in color.]
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Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding

 

Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole

 

Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole
Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole

Last week I cooked a boiled ham dinner and, despite that I had my local butcher cut me a small smoked picnic ham, it still had a lot of meat on it. You can get my method for making a boiled ham dinner here. After sandwiches and leftovers for a few nights, I decided it was time to find another use for the rest of the ham. I am not one to throw out food so I always find ways to use up leftovers.

Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole
Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole

So, I made what I call a Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole aptly named because, in addition to the ham, it has pineapple, rice, and bright green broccoli florets.  This casserole is not difficult to make but it does take a bit of time, planning, and coordination since the rice and broccoli have to be pre-cooked and the pineapple fried (yes, fried).

I use about 7.5 ounces of diced cooked ham for this recipe.  Use fresh broccoli if at all possible and only barely cook it.  Broccoli cooks super fast and, if it is overcooked, it may go to “mush” when it is baked in the casserole.  For this recipe, it needs no more cooking than a minute or two.

Fresh pineapple can be used but I use canned pineapple chunks because I use 1/4 cup of the pineapple juice in the sauce to give it a bit of sweet flavour.

Any kind of cream-based soup can be used in this casserole – cream of celery, broccoli, broccoli and cheese, or mushroom. I often use cream of celery soup as it is a mild soup that doesn’t compete with other flavours in the casserole but the other soups work well, too.

Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole
Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole
Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole

Ingredients:

½ cup cooked rice
1 – 10 oz can cream of celery soup (or cream soup of choice)
2 tbsp sour cream
1/3 cup milk
½ tbsp liquid chicken bouillon
½ tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
5 oz fresh broccoli florets
7½ oz cooked ham, diced (apx. 1½ cups)
1 cup pineapple chunks, drained (retain ¼ cup of the juice)

½ cup fine bread crumbs
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese

Method:

Cook rice according to package instructions

In large measuring cup, mix the soup, sour cream, milk, pineapple juice, and liquid chicken bouillon together. Set aside.

Melt butter in small frypan over medium high heat. Stir in brown sugar until it melts. Add pineapple chunks and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cook broccoli in boiling salted water over high heat for 1-2 minutes. Do not overcook.

To assemble casserole:

Grease a 1.5 litre casserole dish or, alternatively, spray with cooking oil. Spread cooked broccoli on bottom of casserole dish.

Sprinkle cooked rice on top of broccoli.

DSCN2108

Add a layer of pineapple chunks.

Lastly, add the layer of ham.

Pour soup mixture over casserole contents.

In small dish, mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese together and sprinkle over casserole.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until top of casserole is lightly tanned and soup starts to bubble around the edges. Remove from oven and let stand for at least 10 minutes to allow casserole to set before serving.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole
Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole

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Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole

Yield: Apx. 4-6 servings

A casserole filled with a wonderful blend of flavors - ham, rice, broccoli, and pineapple all smothered in a rich creamy sauce.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup cooked rice
  • 1 – 10oz can cream of celery soup (or cream soup of choice)
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • ½ tbsp liquid chicken bouillon
  • ½ tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 5 oz. fresh broccoli florets
  • 7½ oz cooked ham, diced (apx. 1½ cups)
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, drained (retain ¼ cup of the juice)
  • ½ cup fine bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Cook rice according to package instructions
  2. In large measuring cup, mix the soup, sour cream, milk, pineapple juice, and liquid chicken bouillon together. Set aside.
  3. Melt butter in small frypan over medium high heat. Stir in brown sugar until it melts. Add pineapple chunks and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Cook broccoli in boiling salted water over high heat for 1-2 minutes. Do not overcook.
  5. To assemble casserole:
  6. Grease a 1.5 litre casserole dish or, alternatively, spray with cooking oil. Spread cooked broccoli on bottom of casserole dish. Sprinkle cooked rice on top of broccoli. Add a layer of pineapple chunks. Lastly, add the layer of ham.
  7. Pour soup mixture over casserole contents.
  8. In small dish, mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese together and sprinkle over casserole.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until top of casserole is lightly tanned and soup starts to bubble around the edges. Remove from oven and let stand for at least 10 minutes to allow casserole to set before serving.
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Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole
Hawaiian Fiesta Casserole

Chunky Cranberry Salsa

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

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

Chunky Cranberry Salsa
Chunky Cranberry Salsa

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

Chunky Cranberry Salsa
Chunky Cranberry Salsa

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

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

Chunky Cranberry Salsa on Nachos
Chunky Cranberry Salsa on Nachos

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chunky Cranberry Salsa

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

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

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

Yield: Apx. 1 2/3 cups

Chunky Cranberry Salsa
Chunky Cranberry Salsa

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Chunky Cranberry Salsa

Yield: Apx 1 2/3 cups

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce

While cranberry sauce is traditionally associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas, I eat it year-round. In fact, I batch cook it and freeze it for use throughout the year.

Each fall, I eagerly await the cranberry harvest on PEI. The photo below was taken on a day that Mikita Farms in Farmington, PEI was wet harvesting their cranberry crop. Produce just does not get any fresher than this!

Freshly-harvested Cranberries from Mikita Farms in Farmington, PEI

In the fall, I buy a huge bag of cranberries for the freezer as I use them in several recipes, including cranberry-orange sauce.

These gems turn into a rich jeweled-toned cranberry sauce.

Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Any time I am cooking a chicken dinner, chicken pieces, or have a craving for cranberry sauce, I head to the freezer for a small container of the sauce as it just seems to make the meal.

Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce

I hope you enjoy my recipe for cranberry-orange sauce.  This is not a sickeningly sweet sauce although you can add a bit more sugar if you have a really sweet tooth!  Adding some apple and orange juice to the sauce gives it an extra flavour boost and both fruits complement the cranberry flavour well.  While the sauce is lovely without the Cointreau, it does add to the flavour of the sauce.

The method I use for the sauce is to make a simple syrup by boiling the sugar and water and then adding the cranberries, apple, and orange juice. I don’t care for runny cranberry sauce so I have learned this tip from my mother: Occasionally stir the sauce as it is cooking but make sure you stir it several times as it cools as this will help to thicken the sauce.

Don’t save this zesty cranberry-orange sauce for the holidays; enjoy it year-round!

Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
½ cup apple, finely chopped
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
1½ tbsp Cointreau (optional)

Method:

In medium-sized saucepan, bring sugar and water to boil. Boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

Add cranberries, apple, and orange juice. Bring to a boil. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring periodically throughout the cooking process for about 15 minutes or until mixture thickens.

Remove saucepan from heat and add orange rind and Cointreau. Stir several times as the sauce cools to help it to thicken.

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

Yield: Apx. 2 cups.

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Zesty Cranberry Orange Sauce

Yield: Apx 2 cups

A mildly tart and flavorful sauce that pairs well with roast turkey and any poultry dishes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup apple, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange rind
  • 1½ tbsp Cointreau (optional)

Instructions

  1. In medium-sized saucepan, bring sugar and water to boil. Boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add cranberries, apple, and orange juice. Bring to a boil. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring periodically throughout the cooking process for about 15 minutes or until mixture thickens.
  3. Remove saucepan from heat and add orange rind and Cointreau. Stir several times as the sauce cools to help it to thicken.
  4. Store, covered, in refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for longer storage.
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Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Molasses Spice Cookies

Sugar and spice and everything nice!  That pretty much sums up the smell in the kitchen when these cookies are baking.  These cookies have a lovely blend of spices that make them a real taste treat, especially with a tall glass of cold milk.

Molasses Spice Cookies
Molasses Spice Cookies

The key to keeping these cookies a bit on the chewy side is not to overbake them.  Otherwise, they get crisp and hard and more resemble a thick gingersnap.  These are almost always a staple in my freezer since they freeze so well. Good treat any time of the year.

Molasses Spice Cookies
Molasses Spice Cookies
Molasses Spice Cookies

Ingredients:

6 tbsp shortening
6 tbsp butter
¾ cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup molasses

2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp soda
1/8 tsp salt
¾ tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp ginger
¾ tsp cloves
Pinch mace

Sugar for dusting cookies

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter together. Beat in sugar. Add egg. Beat well. Blend in molasses.

Sift dry ingredients together and blend into creamed mixture.

Form dough into 1¼ “ balls and place approximately 2” apart on prepared baking sheet. Flatten with fork tines. Dust cookies lightly with granulated sugar. Bake for 8 – 9 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest on cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.

Yield: Apx. 3 dozen

Molasses Spice Cookies
Molasses Spice Cookies

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Molasses Spice Cookies

Yield: Apx. 3 dozen

A soft and chewy molasses cookie that combines a tasty blend of spices

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp shortening
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • ¾ cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp ginger
  • ¾ tsp cloves
  • Pinch mace

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In large bowl, cream shortening and butter together. Beat in sugar. Add egg. Beat well. Blend in molasses.
  3. Sift dry ingredients together and blend into creamed mixture.
  4. Form dough into 1¼ “ balls and place approximately 2” apart on prepared baking sheet. Flatten with fork tines. Dust cookies lightly with granulated sugar. Bake for 8 – 9 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest on cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.
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DSC_0881

Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Eggnog Sauce

As Christmas approaches and temperatures dip (at least for those of us who live in colder climates), my thoughts tend to turn to substantial “comfort” foods — visions of roast turkey, stuffing and gravy, cranberry sauce, fluffy mashed potatoes, and lots of root vegetables (such as carrots and turnip) enter my head.  And then, of course, there are the dessert options.  Traditionally, in my family, the main Christmas meal of roast turkey is followed by a rich steamed plum pudding served with a brown sugar sauce. You can get my recipe for plum pudding here.

However, there are other options for steamed pudding, particularly for those who prefer something a little lighter than the rich plum pudding. So, I am sharing my recipe for steamed cranberry pudding which is divine when served with a decadent eggnog sauce (recipe follows).

Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Eggnog Sauce
Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Eggnog Sauce

This cranberry pudding is super easy to make and, when paired with a smooth and silky eggnog sauce….well….you might want to have a second pudding on hand for those who have room for seconds!

This pudding is not highly spiced.  It has just enough cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to give it subtle flavour.  Either fresh or frozen cranberries may be used.  In order to release their flavour, the cranberries should be coarsely chopped into about 2-3 pieces each for this pudding.  Tossing the cut berries in some sugar while the batter is being prepared further draws out their flavour.

If you don’t have a steamed pudding mould like the one in the photo below, you can use clean tin cans or even a metal bowl.  Simply spoon the batter into the cans or bowl, cover with a double thickness of heavy-duty tin foil, and secure it with string.  The important thing is that, whatever vessel is used, it has a tight cover for the steaming process since the steam is what cooks the pudding and maintains the moisture without leaving the pudding wet and soggy. I used a standard 8-cup mould but I believe a 6-cup mould would suffice for this pudding.

Steamed Pudding Mould
Steamed Pudding Mould

The advantages of using a pudding mould specially designed for steaming puddings is that it comes with its own cover and it also has a funnel in the center which helps the pudding to cook evenly and without falling. This, of course, is in addition to the attractive shape of the pudding when it is unmoulded and plated.

To steam this pudding, a large stock pot will be needed – one that allows enough room for the pudding mould to sit in the center of the pot and has at least 1 1/2 ” – 2 ” space all around the mould.  A small wire rack that fits into the pot will also be required.  This is what the mould needs to sit on as the pudding steams.

It’s important that the mould (or bowl or tin cans) not touch the bottom or sides of the pot as the water needs to circulate all around the pot (including underneath the pudding mould) in order for the pudding to cook evenly. Once the pudding mould is set on the wire rack, carefully pour in enough boiling water to come up to about the half-way point on the pudding mould.  This is the level of water that must be maintained throughout the entire steaming process so additional boiling water may need to be added as the pudding steams. Once the boiling water has been added to the stock pot, cover the large pot with a lid and bring the water back to a full boil then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle boil.

Generally speaking, you’ll need to allot at least 1 1/2 – 2 hours for the pudding to steam over medium-low heat.  This, however, is only an estimate and the true test is when a cake tester inserted into the center of the pudding comes out clean.  I recommend removing the lid from the pudding mould and checking the pudding with a cake tester at the 1 1/2-hour point and then, if not cooked, about every 10 minutes after until the tester comes out clean. When the pudding is cooked, remove it from its water bath and place the mould on a wire rack.  Let the pudding rest in the mould for about 20 minutes then remove the lid from the mould and transfer the pudding to a serving plate.

Steamed Cranberry Pudding
Steamed Cranberry Pudding

While this pudding would be well complimented by a traditional brown sugar sauce, it is particularly tasty served with a rich eggnog sauce.  For ultimate flavour, the eggnog sauce is best served lukewarm, rather than piping hot, and can actually even be served quite cool.  Because of the sauce’s richness, not a lot of the sauce is needed per serving.  If you are an eggnog lover, you will love this sauce which would be equally good served over a bread pudding, too.

Steamed Cranberry Pudding
Steamed Cranberry Pudding

 

Steamed Cranberry Pudding

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups coarsely chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen

½ cup butter
¾ cup granulated sugar (reserve ¼ cup for tossing with cranberries)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp grated orange rind

1½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves

2 tbsp prepared eggnog
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp Cointreau

Method:

Grease 6- or 8-cup pudding mould or spray with cooking spray.

Toss the coarsely chopped cranberries with ¼ cup of the sugar, ensuring the cut sides of the berries are coated. Set aside.

Cream butter and remaining sugar in large bowl. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add grated orange rind.

In separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices.

In small bowl, whisk together eggnog, milk, and Cointreau.

Add dry ingredients to the butter-sugar-egg mixture alternately with the wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.

Lastly, fold in the cranberries. Transfer batter to prepared pudding mould. Cover tightly with lid. Place mould on wire rack in large pot and fill pot with boiling water to about half way up the side of the mould. Cover steamer pot with lid and bring the water to a full boil then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle boil. Steam the pudding over medium-low heat for approximately 1½ hours or until cake tester inserted into centre of pudding comes out clean. (NOTE: Add more water to pot as necessary to maintain the water level at about the half-way point on the pudding mould during the entire steaming process.) Remove mould from water bath and place on wire rack and let rest for 20 minutes then turn pudding out onto serving dish and serve warm with Eggnog Sauce (recipe below).

Yield: Apx. 10-12 servings

Eggnog  Sauce

Ingredients:

2/3 cup sugar
1½ – 2 tbsp cornstarch
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 cups prepared eggnog
2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp Cointreau
2 tbsp butter

Method:

In small bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and nutmeg.

Pour eggnog into large microwaveable-safe bowl. Whisk in dry ingredients until smooth. Cook on HIGH until mixture is thickened to desired consistency, stirring after each 1½ minutes. Remove from microwave and stir in vanilla, Cointreau, and butter. (Note: Sauce will thicken slightly more as it cools.)

Sauce is best served lukewarm, spooned over individual slices of Steamed Cranberry Pudding.

Yield: Apx. 2 cups

Steamed Cranberry Pudding
Steamed Cranberry Pudding

 

Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Eggnog Sauce

Yield: Apx. 10-12 servings

A tasty steamed pudding served with smooth and silky eggnog sauce

Ingredients

  • For Pudding:
  • 1 1/3 cups coarsely chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar (reserve ¼ cup for tossing with cranberries)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp grated orange rind
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 2 tbsp prepared eggnog
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp Cointreau
  • Eggnog Sauce Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1½ - 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups prepared eggnog
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp Cointreau
  • 2 tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Grease 6- or 8-cup pudding mould or spray with cooking spray.
  2. Toss the coarsely chopped cranberries with ¼ cup of the sugar, ensuring the cut sides of the berries are coated. Set aside.
  3. Cream butter and remaining sugar in large bowl. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add grated orange rind.
  4. In separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices.
  5. In small bowl, whisk together eggnog, milk, and Cointreau.
  6. Add dry ingredients to the butter-sugar-egg mixture alternately with the wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  7. Lastly, fold in the cranberries. Transfer batter to prepared pudding mould. Cover tightly with lid. Place mould on wire rack in large pot and fill pot with boiling water to about half way up the side of the mould. Cover steamer pot with lid and bring the water to a full boil then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle boil. Steam the pudding over medium-low heat for approximately 1½ hours or until cake tester inserted into centre of pudding comes out clean. (NOTE: Add more water to pot as necessary to maintain the water level at about the half-way point on the pudding mould during the entire steaming process.) Remove mould from water bath and place on wire rack and let rest for 20 minutes then turn pudding out onto serving dish and serve warm with Eggnog Sauce (recipe below).
  8. Eggnog Sauce:
  9. In small bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and nutmeg.
  10. Pour eggnog into large microwaveable-safe bowl. Whisk in dry ingredients until smooth. Cook on HIGH until mixture is thickened to desired consistency, stirring after each 1½ minutes. Remove from microwave and stir in vanilla, Cointreau, and butter. (Note: Sauce will thicken slightly more as it cools.)
  11. Sauce is best served lukewarm, spooned over individual slices of Steamed Cranberry Pudding.
  12. Yield: Apx. 2 cups sauce
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Steamed Cranberry Pudding
Steamed Cranberry Pudding