The Bunnies Are Ready For Easter Breakfast Tablesetting

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The Easter Bunny's Breakfast Table
The Easter Bunny’s Breakfast Table

It’s all about whimsy, springtime, and bunnies in this earthy-themed tablesetting for Easter morning breakfast.

Pussywillows
Pussywillows

Simple stalks of pussywillows are casually contained in a glass vase and secured by colorful Easter eggs at their base. Easter eggs are  strewn about the table in and among whimsical little green moss bunnies. I really think the trio of green bunnies is on an Easter egg hunt!

Easter Bunny
Easter Bunny

These little fellas are so cute!

Scamper
Scamper

The green faux-moss bunnies are kind of a refreshing change from the traditional pastel colored bunnies.

Green Faux Moss Bunny
Green Faux Moss Bunny

In a departure from traditional placemats, I have used squares of imitation moss. The white dinnerware pops atop the green moss mats. White dinnerware works for any occasion and really is a good investment. I’ve used very plain flatware in keeping with the informal tablesetting.

Faux-Moss Placemats
Faux-Moss Placemats

Simple napkin rolls are held in place with pewter napkin rings that feature springtime daffodils. These were made by Seagull Pewter in Pugwash, Nova Scotia.

Seagull Pewter Napkin Ring
Seagull Pewter Napkin Ring

This setting is meant to be fun and informal.

Easter Breakfast Placesetting
Easter Breakfast Placesetting

The bunny eggcups keep the bunny theme going.

Easter Bunny Eggcup
Easter Bunny Eggcup

Little Easter chocolate bars adorn each cup but are easily set aside and replaced with a boiled egg, if desired, at breakfast. Who says you can’t have chocolate for a breakfast treat!

Easter Chocolate
Easter Chocolate

I have added a couple of larger faux moss-covered whimsical bunnies to my dining room mantle to coordinate the theme throughout the room.

Easter Bunnies
Easter Bunnies
Easter Breakfast Table
Easter Breakfast Table

Joyeous Easter!

For more Easter-themed tablesetting inspiration, click on the links below:

Tulip Time Tablescape
Tulip Clusters Springtime Tablescape
Tip Toe Through the Tulips Easter Tablesetting
Springtime Yellow Tablescape
Peter Cottontail Tablesetting for Easter
Easter Tablesetting
A Casual Tablescape for Easter Brunch

src=”http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Easter-Breakfast-Tablesetting.jpg” alt=”Easter Breakfast Tablesetting” width=”1000″ height=”3000″ />

Easter Breakfast Tablesetting

 

Luscious Lemon Curd

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Homemade Lemon Curd
Homemade Lemon Curd

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

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

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

Lemon Curd on Scones
Lemon Curd on Scones

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

Homemade Lemon Curd
Homemade Lemon Curd

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

Fresh Homemade Lemon Curd
Fresh Homemade Lemon Curd

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

Lemon Curd Tart
Lemon Curd Tart

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

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

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

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

Lemon Zest
Lemon Zest

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

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

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

Lemon Curd with Greek Yogurt
Lemon Curd with Greek Yogurt

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

Lemon Curd on Biscuits
Lemon Curd on Biscuits

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luscious Lemon Curd
Luscious Lemon Curd

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

Sunshiny yellow lemon curd
Sunshiny yellow lemon curd

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

Lemon Curd with Biscuits
Lemon Curd with Biscuits

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

A spoonful of lemon curd
A spoonful of lemon curd

[Printable Recipe Follows at end of Posting]

Luscious Lemon Curd

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

Method:
In bottom of double boiler, bring about 2” of water to the simmer point (around 200°F). Maintain the water at this simmer point over medium-low heat.  Place sugar in top of double boiler or heat-proof bowl.  Mix in the lemon zest.  Whisk the lemon juice into sugar.

In small bowl, lightly beat the 2 egg yolks and the whole egg together with a fork, just enough to break up the yolks and blend with the whole egg.  Whisk the eggs into the sugar-lemon juice mixture. Add the soft butter.  Place this pot or bowl over the simmering water. Stir the mixture continuously as it cooks until it is thickened and the temperature of the mixture registers 170°F on a candy thermometer.  Be patient as this may take 20-25 minutes. Make sure the water in the bottom of the boiler does not boil and stays only at the simmer point.

Remove curd from heat and strain through a mesh strainer to remove any of the egg white that may have coagulated as well as the lemon rind.  Pour strained curd into a sterilized bottle.  Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent it from forming a skin on top. Cool at room temperature. Remove plastic wrap. Cover jar tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Yield: Apx. 1 cup

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

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

Luscious Lemon Curd

Yield: Apx. 1 cup

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. In bottom of double boiler, bring about 2” of water to the simmer point (around 200°F). Maintain the water at this simmer point over medium-low heat. Place sugar in top of double boiler or heat-proof bowl. Mix in the lemon zest. Whisk the lemon juice into sugar.
  2. In small bowl, lightly beat the 2 egg yolks and the whole egg together with a fork, just enough to break up the yolks and blend with the whole egg. Whisk the eggs into the sugar-lemon juice mixture. Add the soft butter. Place this pot or bowl over the simmering water. Stir the mixture continuously as it cooks until it is thickened and the temperature of the mixture registers 170°F on a candy thermometer. Be patient as this may take 20-25 minutes. Make sure the water in the bottom of the boiler does not boil and stays only at the simmer point.
  3. Remove curd from heat and strain through a mesh strainer to remove any of the egg white that may have coagulated as well as the lemon rind. Pour strained curd into a sterilized bottle. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent it from forming a skin on top. Cool at room temperature. Remove plastic wrap. Cover jar tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Notes

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

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

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

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Luscious Lemon Curd

Luscious Lemon Curd

Tulip Time Tablescape

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Living in Atlantic Canada, it’s not unheard of to still have snow in April. That’s one reason why I like to use springtime elements in my tablesettings beginning as early as possible – if I can’t see spring outside, I can at least create a spring zone in my dining room which is what I’ve done with this tablesetting.

Easter Tablesetting
Easter Tablesetting

I love paying a visit to the retail outlet at Vanco Farm greenhouses in Mount Albion, PEI, a short drive from Charlottetown. They grow fabulous tulips all winter long in their big greenhouses. If you haven’t already read the story I wrote about Vanco’s tulip-growing operation, click here.

Double Flowered Tulips
Double Flowered Tulips

Sometimes, I have a particular color scheme in mind when I make the drive to Vanco’s. Other times, however, I go with an open mind in search of a color or type of tulip that will inspire my creativity in developing a tablescape. This is what occurred with this tablesetting.

When I arrived at the greenhouses, they had these spectacular double flowered tulips in a coral pink shade with a soft ivory/pale yellow edge.  They resemble peonies because they are packed with layers of petals. They were too delightful to pass up so they became the focal point of this Easter tablesetting and inspired the color theme.

Double Flowered Tulips
Double Flowered Tulips

If you are a regular reader of my food blog, you will recall that I sometimes like to corral the elements of my tablescape into a container such as a basket or tray. This keeps the table clean and nondistracting. This is also a good choice if you plan on removing the centerpiece from the table during the meal and replacing it with a ham or turkey on a platter. It’s much easier to pick up one container off the table than several individual items.

Corralled Tablescape
Corralled Tablescape

What I have used today for the base of the centerpiece is actually a silver mirrored bathroom vanity tray — I’m a big fan of repurposing items I have around the house.

To keep the focus on the flowers, I have used a white milk glass vase. This conceals all the tulip stems so they are not competing for the eye’s attention and the colorful tulip blooms just pop above the white vase. The plain white vase also coordinates well with the dinnerware.

To add some interest to the centerpiece, I’ve also placed a bird’s nest on a small companion piece of white milk glass and added a small Easter figurine. Adding elements that connect and enhance each other is a trademark of effective tablescape creations.

The little bunnies, like the one in the photo below, are actually egg cups but I use them to hold decorative eggs, small chocolate bars, or even flowers in tablesettings other than those prepared for breakfast.

Easter Bunny Eggcups
Easter Bunny Eggcups

If desired, add some colorful Easter eggs casually strewn about the table to complete the seasonal tablescape.

Easter Tablesetting
Easter Tablesetting

If you can only afford one set of dinnerware, I recommend buying plain white in the best quality you can afford. White is so completely versatile. I maintain you can’t set a poor looking table if you go with white dishes! There are so many styles, shapes, textures, and colors of white dinnerware. There are blue whites, grey whites, beige whites, and brilliant whites. I have three sets of white dishes and none of them are the same shade or made of the same material. The ones in this tablesetting are made of porcelain and are a contemporary design.

White Dinnerware
White Dinnerware

With white dinnerware, it can be paired with solid or patterned colors for table linens and the look is easily changed completely, sometimes by simply switching up the charger plates. And, the best part of white dishes is that food looks really appetizing against the white background. In today’s setting, I have used basic pale pink/mauve charger plates to frame each placesetting and to give the air of a well set table.

For glassware, I have chosen some pieces of cut glass to add some sparkle to the table.

I rarely use paper napkins in a tablesetting. However, these matched perfectly so I used them for that reason and also because they are stiff enough to be able to stand in the design I have chosen for them. Cloth napkins, particularly my large dinner napkins, would have been unlikely to have had the same effect.

Because this is a casual tablesetting, I have opted to place the mugs atop the plates, allowing them to form a leaning post for the napkins. This gives a great pop of color to the white placesettings and also keeps each placesetting clean and simple. This is a casual tablesetting so it works. I would not, however, choose this arrangement if I was setting a very formal table.

The only table linen I have chosen to use in this setting is a short runner made of handmade Belgian lace that I brought home from a visit to Bruges. Using minimal linen on the table keeps the look airy and casual.

For other Easter and springtime tablescape inspiration, click on the links below:

Tulip Clusters Springtime Tablescape
Tip Toe Through the Tulips Easter Tablesetting
Springtime Yellow Tablescape
Peter Cottontail Tablesetting for Easter
Easter Tablesetting
A Casual Tablescape for Easter Brunch

 

Tulip Clusters Springtime Tablescape

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If you are looking for a tablesetting that is casual and contemporary, consider using single flowers in individual vases as opposed to the traditional floral centerpiece. This is an easy-to-do tablescape for anyone, even those who are not knacky with floral design. If you can fill a vase with water and place a flower in it, you can do this tablescape!

Springtime Tablescape
Springtime Tablescape
Vases

White milk glass has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years and remains, at time of writing, quite trendy.  It’s clean, unobtrusive, and nondistracting on the table. One of the things I like best about milk glass is that it’s opaque meaning the flower stems are not visible. The other great thing about milk glass is that it’s inexpensive and often available at thrift shops for very little money. In addition, it’s easy to mix and match milk glass shapes, sizes, and textures and still have the tablescape work and look aesthetically pleasing.

In this setting, I have used a mixture of heights and designs of milk glass bud vases because this makes for a more interesting tablescape design. Always opt for an odd number of vases versus even numbers as this is more pleasing to the eye.

Milk Glass Vases
Milk Glass Vases
Positioning of Vases

The vases can be interspersed along the center of the table as shown in the photo above.

Or, as demonstrated in the following photo, they can be grouped into clusters of two and three and strategically placed in the center of the table.

Clustered Bud Vases
Clustered Bud Vases

The vases can also all be clustered close together in the center for a real concentrated burst of color making this a very versatile style of tablescape.

With this type of tablescape, it’s easy to adjust the number of vases according to the size of the table. For example, if the table seats 12 or 16, add more clusters of vases here and there down the length of the table.

Springtime Tablesetting
Springtime Tablesetting
Flowers and Greenery

I have chosen tulips for this design because it’s springtime and I love tulips! However, any single bloom flowers will work – roses, Gerbers, daisies, carnations, etc.  Two blooms can be added in one or two of the vases but try to keep the whole setting informal, simplistic, and not too contrived or equally balanced. It’s also attractive if the heights of the tulips are varied, too.

Setting the Springtime Table
Setting the Springtime Table

To add more interest and some visual weight to the look, I have added a small sprig of salal to a couple of the vases, but not them all. Adding salal to every vase is starting to cross over into the zone of trying to have every vase identical. Also, adding some wispy bear grass adds texture and interest so long as not too much is added.

The tulips were greenhouse-grown here on Prince Edward Island at Vanco Farms in Mount Albion. Click here to read the story I wrote a few years ago on their tulip production.

For unity, I recommend going with all one color of flower for all the vases as it’s less distracting to the eye and looks more coordinated.

Tulips
Tulips
Table Linens

In modern, contemporary and casual tablesettings, it’s very common to forego tablecloths and, as shown in this setting, to let the wood of the table be visible. It gives a lighter, more airy, and less fussy look to the table than if a full tablecloth was used. I have opted to use basic white placemats simply to “ground” each individual placesetting.

Placesetting
Placesetting

I’m a big fan of high-quality plain white napkins because they go with almost anything. In this setting, I have chosen the pure elegance napkin fold and placed it in the center of each plate. Because the top plate in the setting is patterned, the plain white napkin keeps the setting more simplistic and less distracting than if a patterned napkin was used. This napkin fold dresses up the setting, giving it a wee bit of height. Placing the napkin on the plate keeps each place setting neat and tidy.

"Pure Elegance" Napkin Fold
“Pure Elegance” Napkin Fold
Dinnerware

I advocate for the use of white dinnerware because it shows food to its best. However, I also like to set a pretty table with my formal Royal Albert “Lavender Rose” china.  But, sometimes, the china can be a bit formal for the occasion. In these situations, I pair pieces of my china with my white porcelain everyday dinnerware as I have done here.

Royal Albert "Lavender Rose" Pattern
Royal Albert “Lavender Rose” Pattern

Pale pink charger plates have been used to frame each setting topped with the white dinner plate and then the Lavender Rose salad plate on top. This salad plate gives color to the setting and the colors match the tulips. By mixing the plain white with the patterned china, it makes for a more interesting setting without becoming overly formal.

Glassware

The wine glasses I have selected for this setting are quite tall. They have a simple sleek shape, almost reminiscent of the tulip shape. These work well with a contemporary/modern tablesetting.

Tulips
Tulips
Flatware

Because I have gone with a more casual contemporary look for this setting, I have used a simple design of flatware. I have not included the dessert fork and spoon because those can be placed on the table along with the dessert course. Foregoing them in the initial setting helps to keep the look of the table clean and simple, particularly when there are five vases as opposed to one single floral centerpiece.

I hope you have enjoyed viewing this springtime tablesetting! It’s great to see bright cheery colors after a long winter!

For other springtime and Easter tablesettings, click on the following links:

Tip Toe Through the Tulips Easter Tablesetting
Springtime Yellow Tablescape
Peter Cottontail Tablesetting for Easter
Easter Tablesetting
A Casual Tablescape for Easter Brunch

Springtime Tablescape
Springtime Tablescape
src=”http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/PicMonkey-Image-1.jpg” alt=”Springtime Tablescape” width=”1000″ height=”3000″

 

Turnip Puff Casserole

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Turnip Puff Casserole
Turnip Puff Casserole

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

Rutabaga
Rutabaga

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

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

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

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

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

Turnip Puff Casserole
Turnip Puff Casserole

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

Turnip Puff Casserole
Turnip Puff Casserole

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

Turnip Puff Casserole
Turnip Puff Casserole

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

Bread Crumbs
Bread Crumbs

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

Turnip Puff Casserole
Turnip Puff Casserole

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

Turnip Puff Casserole
Turnip Puff Casserole

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

Turnip Puff Casserole
Turnip Puff Casserole

 

[Printable Recipe Follows at end of Posting]

Turnip Puff Casserole

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yield: Apx. 6 servings

Turnip Puff Casserole

Yield: Apx. 6 servings

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Bistro Style Potato Patties

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

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

PEI Potato Harvesting
PEI Potato Harvesting

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

PEI Potato Patties
PEI Potato Patties

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

Ricing Potatoes
Potato Ricer

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

Bread Crumbs
Bread Crumbs

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

PEI Potato Patties
PEI Potato Patties

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

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

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

PEI Bistro-Style Potato Patties

Ingredients:

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

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

Method:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

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

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

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

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

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

Yield: Apx. 15 patties

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

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


Other Potato Recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen:

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

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

And these other great dishes that use PEI Potatoes:

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

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

Follow the PEI Potato Farmer! From Field to Table

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

Bistro Style Potato Patties

Yield: Apx. 15 patties

Serving Size: 2 patties per serving

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

 

PEI Potato Patties
PEI Potato Patties

 

Rethink Beef Global Recipe Swap Campaign: Moussaka

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Moussaka
Moussaka

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

Moussaka
Moussaka

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moussaka
Moussaka

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

Moussaka
Moussaka

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

Moussaka
Moussaka

Here are my hints and tips for successfully making Moussaka:

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

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Moussaka Recipe

Ingredients:

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

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

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

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

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

Topping:

2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Method:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yield:  Apx. 6-8 servings


And, Now, My Swap Partner’s Recipe ….

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

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

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

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

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

Beef and Coriander Dumplings

(Served with spicy chili oil)

 
1 package dumpling wrappers (approx. 35)

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

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

Procedure:

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

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


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

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

Rethink Beef Global Recipe Swap Campaign: Moussaka

Yield: Apx. 6-8 servings

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

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

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