Those who regularly follow my blog will recall that I made the commitment back in January 2013 to post one cookie recipe a month for the entire year. So, for ease of retrieval, I thought I would do a year-end round-up of all 12 cookies.
In January, just in time for Robbie Burns Day, I shared my recipe for Shortbread.
In February, with sweet Valentine’s Day, old-fashioned Sugar Cookies topped the list.
Oh, the sweet lull after the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holiday! Sometimes the best treat for someone who has been super busy during the holiday season is a quiet and peaceful Sunday morning made even better with breakfast in bed!
Begin by dressing up a bed tray with a quality placemat and napkin. Add a small vase with a fresh flower and seasonal greenery. Bring out the Christmas dishes! The season is not quite over yet!
I like my little two-cup Sadler teapot and matching teacup and saucer. The teapot is perfectly sized for use on a bed tray. Red cranberry juice keeps the red theme going!
For this easy-to-prepare breakfast, I lined muffin tins with thin prosciutto and cooked the meat in the oven at 425F for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let the meat stand for about 5 minutes in the muffin cups. Carefully remove the prosciutto cups from the pans using the tines of a fork (the meat will be very crisp and will easily crumble). Cook the scrambled eggs with some finely minced red pepper and spoon into the prosciutto cups.
I chose marbled rye bread for the toast and served my own homemade strawberry jam as an accompaniment to the toast.
I hope that sometime over the holiday period, you have found some time for rest and relaxation (even if it didn’t involve being served breakfast in bed!
Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.
Be sure to visit my Facebook page at My Island Bistro Kitchen. You may also wish to follow me on twitter @PEIBistro, on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”, and on Instagram at “PEIBistro”.
Well, Christmas has come and gone again for another year. I hope you had a joyous and peaceful holiday. I thought I would share with you the traditional components of my Christmas dinner. Guests were greeted with a glass of Sparkling Cranberry Apple Juice from Verger Belliveau Orchard in Memramcook, New Brunswick.
I like to set a pretty table. This year, I used a gold-colored tablecloth, a couple of gold-colored glass Christmas trees and some gold and ivory Christmas balls and used them to start building the tablescape. The gold theme seemed to blend in nicely with the tree and mantle in my dining room.
I kept the tablescape fairly simplistic and uncluttered since my dining room table is not large. It can seat six but four, more comfortably.
I like to add a bit of bling to the tablesetting. These blingy napkin rings were a find a couple of years ago. Napkin rings are very useful when you want to keep the napkin fold simplistic or when you are in a hurry and don’t have time to fold napkins into designs.
My choice of centerpiece was seasonally-inspired. The gold container and piks were in keeping with the gold theme and gold charger plates.
The Star of Bethlehem flower was the focal point of the centerpiece.
The holly berries came from one of my holly trees just outside my front door.
Since I couldn’t bring the snow indoors, bursts of Baby’s Breath gave the illusion of snow drops throughout the centerpiece.
Christmas Dinner was a four-course meal. The appetizer was a red pear drizzled with a pomegranate molasses dressing.
I love the burst of flavor in each of the pomegranate arils.
Not only do the arils add flavor but they also add texture and color to the plate.
Some Islanders have roasted parsnips as a traditional vegetable on their Christmas dinner plate. Parsnips were not a traditional vegetable for Christmas dinner in our home. However, I have included parsnips in the Parsnip and Apple Soup.
A dollop of sour cream surrounded by a drizzle of good quality olive oil dresses up this flavourful soup.
The soup’s golden color continues the gold-colored theme.
I love this little soup tureen I came across a couple of years ago.
Of course, the star of the show is the roasted turkey!
There is nothing like an old-fashioned roast turkey dinner! I dressed the turkey platter with a citrus theme of orange, lemon, and lime wedges along with green grapes and cranberries.
My choice of wine for this year’s Christmas dinner was Chardonnay that came from Matos Winery, St. Catherine’s, PEI.
We are very traditional in the components of the Christmas dinner – turkey, stuffing (dressing), mashed potatoes with homemade gravy (no gravy mix for me!), carrots, turnip casserole, and peas. Condiments included my homemade cranberry sauce along with mustard pickles and pickled beets that I made earlier in the fall.
Plum pudding is the traditional Christmas dinner dessert in our household.
There are various toppings that are served with the steamed plum pudding; however, in our home, the brown sugar sauce (served hot) reigns supreme!
When presenting the plum pudding on a glass pedestal plate at the table, I kept the citrus theme going and added some fresh raspberries for color.
Plum pudding with a good cup of coffee – a fitting finale to a wonderful Christmas dinner!
I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into our 2013 Christmas dinner. Best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful holiday season.
To view other Christmas and New Year’s Tablesettings, click on the links below:
The warmth and glow from the fireplace and tree lights sets a beautiful soft mood for a quiet and peaceful late afternoon tea on a cold winter’s day as the snow falls gently outside the window. Want to take a peek?
I like this red plaid tablecloth – it looks so Christmasy and matches my Christmas tea china perfectly.
I was fortunate enough to find this Sadler teapot and matching cups and saucers a few years ago. I like to find occasions to use them over the holidays.
This delightful little teabox (seen behind the teacup in the photo above) is perfectly sized for small tea tables. I have a larger teabox but there is no room for it on my round tea table.
So, what was on this afternoon’s tea menu presented on a traditional 3-tier server?
Let’s start with the sandwich plate – I served one of my all-time favorite sandwiches – egg salad on white, oatbran, and multigrain breads.
Fruit-filled scones with homemade strawberry jam and crabapple jelly rounded out the next course.
And, of course, what afternoon tea would be complete without the sweet tray! Mincemeat tarts, checkerboard sugar cookies, peanut butter balls, Scotch cookies, and the quintessential fruit cake all found their way on to the sweet tray. All seasonal favorites in our house.
And, for the sweet finish-off, these candy cane meringues that dissolve on the tongue.
Beverages included Sparkling Cranberry Apple Juice from Verger Belliveau Orchard in Memramcook, New Brunswick. I love how it sparkles in the cut glass.
Today’s tea selection was Bentley’s Pomegranate.
My choice of centerpiece was very simple – a rose bowl with a sprig of holly from just outside my front door and a floating tea light. My tea table is not large so space is at a premium so any accent centerpiece has to be small.
(and you can pin the Pinterest-ready photo(s) below to your favorite Pinterest boards)
Of course, bysubscribing to receive an email notificationof new posts and recipes, you can be among the first to know when I publish a new post or recipe. Simply enter your name and email address in the Subscription block over on the right-hand side of my home page.
I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into my Red Plaid Christmas Afternoon Tea. May the peace and joy that Christmas brings find its way into your homes this Christmas season.
Purple has been my favorite color for a long time so it’s not surprising that, many years ago, I chose a china pattern that had lavender in it. I came across wonderful purple-tinted small carnations at the local Superstore so purple became the theme of this tablesetting for a pre-Christmas holiday dinner party.
I have a number of different colored charger plates that match my china and I use them to change the look of the table. The purple chargers were an identical match for the carnations.
I really like working with white linen tablecloths as they give me a blank, undistracted canvas upon which to build the tablescape.
The napkin fold I chose was the simple “wave” fold. It is quick and easy to do. It’s very classic and unpretentious. I used gold-themed balls on each napkin to tie in with the gold rim of the plates and also with the container for the floral arrangement and the votives.
This was a very simple floral arrangement and easy to design. I buy huge bundles of different greens and keep them in a big bucket in my garage for use in preparing floral arrangements over the holidays. In this one, I used cedar and pine for the base then added the carnations and baby’s breath. In fact, the greenery will outlast the carnations so I will probably add new flowers and change the votives to another color over the holiday period to change up the look of my table.
I like these votive holders – they have a three-pronged base that, when inserted into the floral oasis, become a very sturdy alternative to the precarious tapers. While I like the look of tapers, and do sometimes use them, they are not as carefree as votives as there is always a chance that someone will jerk the table and the candles might tip.
This is a very simplistic, uncluttered tablesetting, perfect for those dinner parties over the holidays.
To view other Christmas and New Year’s Tablesettings, click on the links below:
The chef profession is changing and evolving, probably faster than ever before in history. No longer are chefs hidden away in their kitchens. Today, many are taking the profession and their career to unheard-of heights. TV cooking shows, culinary events like PEI’s Fall Flavors, the popularity of cookbooks written by accomplished chefs, and chefs who engage and interact with fans via social media have all contributed to giving many chefs celebrity status. One of those is Chef Ilona Daniel. If you are a foodie on Prince Edward Island, chances are that you are familiar with Chef Ilona. This is a chef who has had a multi-faceted career to date and is not afraid to think (and step) outside the box – in fact, I’d go so far as to say Chef Ilona doesn’t even know there is a box!
Following her educational experience at McMaster University, Ilona thought she was heading to law school when suddenly her life took a turn in another direction. If it hadn’t been for her taking the leap of faith to follow her passion and calling, chances are Ilona might not have become a chef.
Ilona grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, and learned the pleasure of fine cooking by standing at the kitchen counter by the stove as she watched her mom prepare meals. Cooking was an integral part of her entire being in her formative years and she attributes her mom as having a big influence on her love of cooking.
A chef now for 12 years, Ilona’s first job as a teenager was working in a burger joint at the age of 16. Even then, whether she knew it or not, her life’s path was already being charted in the food industry. After making the decision that law school was not her destiny, Ilona studied at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute in Niagara, Ontario. After completing her studies in Niagara, she was awarded a full scholarship for the Applied Degree in Culinary Operations at the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown, PEI, and was in the first graduating class from the two-year program. Like many others who have found their way to PEI, Ilona fell in love with the Island and decided to make it her home.
Since graduating from culinary school, Chef Ilona has had an incredibly varied career. She has been the Head Chef at the Stanhope Beach Resort, Interim Chef at Sims and Off Broadway Restaurants, Founding Chef at the Brickhouse, Executive Chef to the Lieutenant-Governor of PEI at Fanningbank, Executive Chef of Holland College’s Culinary Boot Camps, Resident Food Scene Writer for G Magazine, and Culinary Instructor at the PC Cooking School at the local Superstore. And, that’s not all. This fall, she was the Culinary Expert for the PEI2014 Roadshow that travelled across Canada to promote the planned events in PEI in 2014 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference that led to the creation of Canada. Perhaps you may have seen Chef Ilona on one of several morning TV shows. Most recently, Chef Ilona has started her own Catering and Consulting Business — Tribe Fresh Cookery. This is a gal who likes to be busy!
Out of this impressive resume, I asked Chef Ilona which job was the most interesting. Her response was starting her own business because she is building it from the ground up. Her most challenging job was working at the Stanhope Beach Resort because it was a seasonal operation so it meant every year was starting all over again with new staff to be trained quickly. The job that surprised her the most was being Executive Chef to PEI’s Lieutenant-Governor. In this role, she prepared food for many events and functions that included a number of award ceremonies to honour Islanders who were making a difference to their communities. This allowed her to see what a generous and giving community PEI really is. While in this role, Ilona became the first chef at Fanningbank to use social media to tell the story of what food was being prepared for their Honours and for events. Chef Ilona says her most fulfilling job has been her role as Executive Chef of the Culinary Boot Camps. Chef Ilona particularly enjoys the Kids Camps where they are shown how to grow vegetables and make their own food. It’s an opportunity to influence the next generation to eat well.
Chef Ilona’s philosophy in cooking is to “cook with love and don’t be afraid to be different”. She says “there are Chefs whose food can be executed but not necessarily made with passion”. She does not follow trends but rather follows her heart and takes the road less traveled. Her belief is that food should be natural and real. As she says, “good food inspires conversation and doesn’t have to be complicated; use the best local ingredients executed with flawless technique and care about what you are doing”.
I asked Chef Ilona what inspires the recipes and menus she creates. First, she says she needs to know who her audience is. She makes a point of respecting any dietary concerns they may have and is excited to be creative to cook interesting and tasty foods that meet their dietary requirements.
Second, she likes to play on nostalgia, conjuring up memories like the tantalizing scent of apple pie, for example, that will lead to good conversation which goes hand-in-hand with dining. Third, she respects the cultural roots of the region and is creative when cooking with the foods local to the region.
With so many prepared, frozen, and ready-to-go meals on the market today, I asked Chef Ilona why there seems to have been a resurgence in home cooking in the past few years. She believes it is attributable to a number of health issues, including highly publicized food-born illnesses that were caused by contaminated food. This has caused consumers to be more concerned about buying modified foods that are full of preservatives and, instead, they are becoming more health-conscious and so are turning to making their own meals.
What’s next for Chef Ilona? She tells me she is working on a cookbook and exploring the possibility of filming some TV cooking shows. In the short-term, she is busy getting her Catering and Consulting business up and running. Ever thinking outside the box, Chef Ilona is offering what she calls “Kitchen Party Cooking Classes”. This is where she will come to your home and teach you and a small group of friends how to interactively cook a particular dish – e.g., sushi, gourmet pizza, pies, etc. This is way to engage foodies and get them participating in food preparation, all in the comfort of their own home. What a great idea for a girls night out, a bachelorette party, or just a get-together for no other reason other than good conversation and food. If you are interested in having Chef Ilona cater to your event or customize a Kitchen Party Cooking Class, contact her at 902-316-0993 or by email at email@example.com
Before we ended our chat, I asked Chef Ilona to answer some short snapper questions:
1. What is the one kitchen tool/gadget you can’t live without?
Can’t pick just one – have the “fast five” – Chef’s knife, small serrated paring knife, a Swiss peeler, a microplane, and a good quality cutting board.
2. What is your all time favorite food?
Pizza – any kind!
3. What is the one non-culinary factoid about Chef Ilona that people might not know about?
I’m a hippie at heart – I like nature and will actually, “stop and smell the roses.”
4. What do you do when you are not cooking?
I like reading, nature hikes, listening to music, and going to concerts.
5. What is your favorite recipe featuring an Island product? Care to share it?
Swedish Potato Casserole. It uses PEI potatoes and PEI-produced Cows Creamery cheese. (Recipe follows)
As you preheat your oven to 375 (use convection baking if you have that option), preheat your 4-6 quart baking dish with 4-6 tbsp butter in the oven.
Whisk thoroughly, the first 6 ingredients together(approximately 3 minutes). Stir in the potatoes. Pour mixture into the hot casserole dish. QUICKLY top with cheese, and place back into oven immediately.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Keep an eye on this rising celebrity chef as she progresses in her career. Chef Ilona is very creative, brimming with ideas and personality, and she’s going places in her chosen career!
Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.
Be sure to visit my Facebook page at My Island Bistro Kitchen. You may also wish to follow me on twitter @PEIBistro, on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”, and on Instagram at PEIBistro.
(Mostly) PEI and Maritime Food – Good Food for a Good Life!