Teatime in the Lupins

Cup of Tea and Cupcakes
Lupin Patterned Cup and Saucer by Windsor Bone China

June is one of my favorite months of the year. Prince Edward Island is so incredibly colorful with verdant green fields and the tilled red soil freshly planted with crops at this time of year. Against this backdrop are the many wildflowers that bloom in June and none are more prolific or more beautiful, in my opinion, than the tall, elegant, colorful lupins. These stunning wildflowers are the inspiration for today’s Teatime in the Lupins.

Lupins
Lupins alongside one of PEI’s red clay country roads

Lupins grow wild along many country roadsides on the Island and in abundance on my mother’s property which is where we have chosen to enjoy afternoon tea today. Put the kettle on, make yourself a brew, and come along on a recap of our lupin-inspired teatime adventure.

Below is a photo of what the sloping hill beside my Mom’s house looks like in June and this is the background I have selected for our teatime today.

Wild lupins
Lupins on the Hillside

Purple, in its various shades, is the predominant color of lupins in PEI though there are certainly pinks, whites, fuchsia, and variegated shades to be seen.

Pretty purple and pink lupins
Colorful PEI lupins

Other less common colors may include peach and yellow shades but those, most likely, would have been planted from imported seed. Lupins can often be found around patches of wild phlox. Mother Nature’s way of doing her own floral designs!

Colorful lupins
The Shades of Lupins

My Teatime in the Lupins event was, in part, inspired by the lupins and partly by my Windsor Bone China “Lupins” patterned cup and saucer. The pedestal style cup has embossed panels all around the cup which is trimmed with gold accent on the rim, base of the cup’s pedestal, and on the cup’s handle which is the loop broken style. A smaller floral spray of lupins adorns the back exterior of the cup.

Lupin themed teacup
Lupin Cup and Saucer

The matching saucer also features embossed panels to mirror the cup’s design and the saucer features sprays of lupins matching the cup’s floral motif pattern.

Pretty lupin-themed teacup
Windsor Bone China Lupin-themed Teacup and Saucer

Because I only have the one lupin-themed cup and saucer in my collection, I had to choose another floral teacup to pair with it. My choice for the second teacup is Royal Albert’s pedestal cup and matching saucer that features tri-colored violets set amidst green leaves with a blush of pale yellow in the background. This blends in well with my teatime color theme.

Violet Teacup
Royal Albert Tri-colored Violet Teacup

The stylish-shaped cup is narrow at the bottom of the bowl, widening to the top with gently ribbed panels from base to rim. The cup with its broken loop handle style has a scalloped rim with a narrow band of embossing just below the rim level.

Yellow and white teapot featuring larkspur
Royal Denby Teapot with Larkspur Floral Motif

My choice of teapot is Royal Denby’s Larkspur Pattern (no. 301202/reg no. 768985). This summery teapot has pretty rose and blue colored larkspur set against an ivory background trimmed with a yellow band and thick green line accents. I think this vintage teapot pairs well with my lupin cup and saucer since I don’t have one with the lupin motif on it.

Three-tiered server with cupcakes and cookies
Cupcakes, Cookies, and Chocolates for Teatime

Because the predominant color of PEI lupins is purple, I have chosen purple to be my main color theme for the cupcakes.  Melting Moments (my recipe here) decorated in a contrasting turquoise blue frosting are also included on the plate. Nothing says it’s afternoon teatime (well, apart from the teapot and teacups, of course) better than a tiered server.

The three-tiered server I have chosen is from Royal Tudor Ware by Barker Bros (England). The plates feature a purple and brown floral motif with turquoise accents so fit in well with my color scheme. The artisan chocolates on the top tier were handmade by Jane and Sue Chocolate from Stanley Bridge, PEI. This is a new chocolate shop just recently opened at the time of writing so, if you are in the area, be sure to check them out.

Aynsley’s “Garden Gate” pattern tea plates blend in well with the tablesetting.

Pretty floral teaplates
“Garden Gate” tea plates from Aynsley

Those plates need some teatime treats!

Cupcakes, Cookies, and Chocolates for Teatime
Vanilla Cupcakes, Melting Moments, and Artisan Chocolates

Vanilla cupcakes, Melting Moments Cookies, and locally-made artisan chocolates make for a sweet teatime. What’s not to love!

Artisan hand-made chocolates
Artisan Chocolates Handmade by Jane and Sue Chocolate, Stanley Bridge, PEI

A sugar high for hours after today’s teatime!

Pretty cupcakes, cookies and chocolates on tea table
Pretty Cupcakes, Cookies, and Chocolates for Teatime

Do you enjoy teatime outdoors, weather permitting, or do you prefer to take tea indoors, regardless the weather?

Pretty teatable against a backdrop of lupins
Teatime in a Field of Lupins

Some day in our cold Canadian winter, I will look at these photos and try and recall the warm early summer breeze on the June afternoon when we enjoyed tea and sweet treats amongst the pretty lupins!

Tea table in a field of lupins
Table set for Tea amongst the Lupins

 

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Lupin cup and saucer

Rosy Rhubarb Jelly Recipe

Dish and Jars of Red Jelly
Rosy Rhubarb Jelly

For those of you who are regular followers of my food blog, you know my love of rhubarb! I am always creating new recipes for it and that includes this fabulous beautiful-colored Rosy Rhubarb Jelly made from the strained juice of cooked rhubarb. With the smaller household in mind, I have created this stunning Rhubarb Jelly recipe to be a small batch – it should yield 3 half-pint and 1 quarter-pint jars.

Spoonful of red jelly
Rosy Rhubarb Jelly

A properly made jelly will be transparent, free from impurities like bits of fruits or their seeds. That’s why it is very important to place the cooked rhubarb pulp in a dampened fine mesh jelly bag through which the juice drips and is strained. The jelly should have a shimmer to it and a bit of jiggle but still be firm enough to hold its shape yet  spreadable. While this Rhubarb Jelly is good on toast, it really shines on scones! You can find my regular scone recipe here and my gluten-free version here.

Scone with jelly
Rosy Rhubarb Jelly with Scone

How great does this bright clear jelly look on a scone! It’s look is only matched by the fabulous flavor!

Scone with Jelly
Rosy Rhubarb Jelly on Scone

Jelly making is very process oriented and sequential in nature. For this reason, I recommend taking several reads of the method for making this Rhubarb Jelly before beginning. It is not particularly difficult but it does take time and attention. Good organization helps so I suggest setting out all the supplies and equipment needed before beginning.

Getting the exact amount of rhubarb to generate precisely 1½ cups of strained juice can be tricky. This is because the amount of juice extracted will depend on the age and quality of the rhubarb as well as the growing conditions in which it was grown – for example, if it is a wet or dry climate or season. While up to 1/3 cup of water can be added to the strained juice to bring it to the required 1½ cups, it may be a good idea to cook a wee bit extra rhubarb if you are unsure if the rhubarb you are using is of the quality that you can be assured it will juice out 1½ cups. However, if your rhubarb produces more than 1½ cups strained juice, only use the 1½ cups called for in the recipe as adding more liquid will affect the gelling process. I try to add as little water as possible to the rhubarb as it will dilute or weaken the true rhubarb flavor.

Pretty red jelly in glass bowl with jars of the jelly in the background
Rosy Rhubarb Jelly

Try this jelly on top of your favorite spreadable cheese on crackers.

Jelly and Cheese on Crackers
Rosy Rhubarb Jelly with Cheese and Crackers

And a wee bit of a closer look!

Jelly with Crackers and Cheese
Rosy Rhubarb Jelly with Cheese and Crackers

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Rosy Rhubarb Jelly

Ingredients:

1¾ lb deep red rhubarb stalks, chopped into ½“ chunks (1¾ lbs weighed after leaves and root ends removed)
2/3 cup water
¼ cup orange juice

3¼ cups granulated sugar
1 tsp butter
1 – 85ml pkg liquid pectin

Supplies and Equipment Needed:

3 half-pint and 1 quarter-pint glass canning jars for the jelly (plus 3 – 4 more half-pint jars to take up extra space in the canner basket during the hot water process (exact number needed will depend on size of canner))
4 – two-piece lid and screw band sets (lids must be brand new and not previously used); screw bands to be checked to ensure no rust or dents
Medium-sized pot for cooking rhubarb
Fine mesh jelly bag for straining cooked rhubarb
Small, heavy-bottomed stock pot for cooking jelly
Large-sized pot for sterilizing jars
Small saucepan for heating jar lids
Water bath canner with basket
Fine mesh jelly bag to filter the rhubarb pulp and strain the rhubarb juice of impurities
Jar lifter tongs
Wide-mouthed canning funnel
Ladle or heat-proof glass measuring cup
Chopstick or small non-metallic heat-proof spatula
Magnetic lid lifter
A timer

Method:

Place rhubarb, water, and orange juice in medium-sized stockpot. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until rhubarb is very soft and mushy, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and, using a potato masher, further break down the cooked rhubarb.

Transfer the cooked rhubarb to a dampened fine mesh jelly bag. If you have a jelly bag stand, affix the jelly bag to it suspended over a bowl or pot. However, if you don’t have the formal stand, simply hang jelly bag over a broom handle suspended between two chairs with jelly bag positioned over a bowl or large measuring cup to catch the juice as it extracts.

Let jelly bag containing the rhubarb suspend, undisturbed, to allow the juice to extract and strain on its own. This may take anywhere from an hour or so to a couple of hours or longer, depending on the quality and age of the rhubarb as well as the local climate growing conditions in which the rhubarb was grown. Do not squeeze the jelly bag or try to force the juice through quicker as this will result in a cloudy/murky jelly. The rhubarb pulp should yield 1½ cups of strained juice. However, if it is short the 1½ cups, up to 1/3 cup water may be added to yield 1½ cups liquid. If it yields more than 1½ cups of juice, only use the 1½ cups called for in the recipe as adding more juice will affect the gelling process.

When the rhubarb is nearing the end of its straining, prepare the bottles and canner. Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water, first checking to ensure that the jars have no cracks or chips in them. Rinse. Fill a large pot with hot tap water, about ¾ full. Place the half-pint and quarter pint jars, upright, into the water (the extra bottles will be go into the canner to fill it up so the filled jars do not topple over during the hot water process). While the extra jars do not need to be sterilized, they do need to be hot going into the canner of boiling water as, otherwise, they may crack with the temperature change. Ensure the jars are fully submerged, each jar filled with water, and that the water is at least an inch over the tops of the jars. Cover, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave the jars in the hot water to have ready to fill once the jelly finishes cooking.

Fill the canner about half full of hot tap water. Cover and bring to a boil to have it ready for processing of the filled jars as the filled jelly jars must immediately go into the canner to be processed while the jelly is still hot. Ensure the canner water is boiling before beginning to cook the jelly as there will not be enough time to get it to the boiling point once the jelly is in the bottles and ready for immediate processing. Boil a kettle of extra water to have ready, if needed, to top up the canner water after filled jars are added.

Place 1½ cups rhubarb juice and the sugar in a small stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the butter. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring frequently. Add the liquid pectin and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring continuously. Immediately remove stockpot from heat and skim off any residual foam.

Use jar lifter tongs to carefully remove three half pints and the quarter pint hot sterilized jars from the water, one at a time, emptying the water from the jars back into the pot. Drain jars well.

Remove a small amount of the hot water from the stockpot in which the jars were sterilized and place in small saucepan over simmering heat. Place the lids in the hot water to soften the rubber sealing compound. Do not boil the lids.

Using a ladle, or a heat-proof glass measuring cup, and a wide-mouthed canning funnel, pour jelly into the hot sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar to allow for expansion during the hot water processing. Remove any trapped air bubbles in the jars with a chopstick or small heatproof, non-metallic spatula. Wipe the jar rims with a clean damp cloth to remove any stickiness or jelly particles that could prevent the lids from sealing properly to the jars.

Using a magnetic lid lifter, remove lids from the hot water and center the heated lids on jars so the sealing compound on the lid edges aligns with the jar rims. Fingertip tighten the ring/screw bands until resistance is encountered. Do not over-tighten.

Using jar lifter tongs, carefully place filled jars upright in wire basket positioned in the canner, ensuring jars do not touch each other or fall over. Add some of the hot empty jars, upright, to the basket to fill up space so the filled jars do not topple over. Let the empty jars fill with water from the canner as they are submerged. Ensure the water level is at least 1” above the tops of jars, adding more boiling water as necessary. Cover with canner lid. Return the water to a full rolling boil over high heat then decrease the heat to just keep the water at a moderately rolling boil but not boiling over. Process jars in the hot water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting time as and if necessary for altitude. Start timing the processing from the point at which a full rolling boil is reached after jars have been added to the canner. At the end of the processing time, turn off heat and remove canner lid.

Let jars sit in the hot water for 5 minutes then, using jar lifter tongs, carefully remove the jars filled with jelly, upright and one at a time, and transfer them to a heat-proof cutting board that has been covered with a towel, to cool completely. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few minutes or hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Let jars rest, undisturbed, on counter for 24 hours. Then, test each jar for proper sealing by pressing down gently on the center of each jar lid. If the lid is already pressed downward, and does not pop back up, it is properly sealed. Any jars that do not pass this test should be refrigerated and the jelly used within a week or so. Store properly sealed jelly bottles in cool, dark place. Refrigerate jelly once jar has been opened.

Yield: Apx. 3 half-pint bottles and 1 quarter-pint bottle

NOTE 1: The small ½-cup (quarter-pint) jar does not actually need the full 10 minutes of hot water canning. However, to remove it partway through, at the 5-minute point in the boiling process, would disturb the rolling boil and timing and thus interfere with the proper canning of the larger half-pint jars so, there are a couple of options. The first is to let the small jar remain in the hot water bath with the half-pint jars for the full 10-minute period. The second option is not to process the tiny jar in the hot water and to, instead, use it as the “tasting jar”, refrigerating and consuming the jelly within a couple of days. However, if the desire is to can the entire batch of jelly into the small ½-cup (quarter-pint) jars, then process the basket of them for 5 minutes, instead of 10. These tiny bottles make great gifts, especially if they are accompanied by fresh scones!

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Rosy Rhubarb Jelly

This beautiful Rosy Rhubarb Jelly is the perfect springtime treat. Lovely on toast for a breakfast treat; delightful on scones.
Course Jelly
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword jelly, rhubarb, rhubarb jelly
My Island Bistro Kitchen Barbara99

Ingredients

  • lb deep red rhubarb stalks, chopped into ½“ chunks (1¾ lbs weighed after leaves and root ends removed)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 – 85ml pkg liquid pectin

Instructions

  1. Place rhubarb, water, and orange juice in medium-sized stockpot. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until rhubarb is very soft and mushy, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and, using a potato masher, further break down the cooked rhubarb.
  2. Transfer the cooked rhubarb to a dampened fine mesh jelly bag. If you have a jelly bag stand, affix the jelly bag to it suspended over a bowl or pot. However, if you don’t have the formal stand, simply hang jelly bag over a broom handle suspended between two chairs with jelly bag positioned over a bowl or large measuring cup to catch the juice as it extracts.
  3. Let jelly bag containing the rhubarb suspend, undisturbed, to allow the juice to extract and strain on its own. This may take anywhere from an hour or so to a couple of hours or longer, depending on the quality and age of the rhubarb as well as the local climate growing conditions in which the rhubarb was grown. Do not squeeze the jelly bag or try to force the juice through quicker as this will result in a cloudy/murky jelly. The rhubarb pulp should yield 1½ cups of strained juice. However, if it is short the 1½ cups, up to 1/3 cup water may be added to yield 1½ cups liquid. If it yields more than 1½ cups of juice, only use the 1½ cups called for in the recipe as adding more juice will affect the gelling process.
  4. When the rhubarb is nearing the end of its straining, prepare the bottles and canner. Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water, first checking to ensure that the jars have no cracks or chips in them. Rinse. Fill a large pot with hot tap water, about ¾ full. Place the half-pint and quarter pint jars, upright, into the water (the extra bottles will be go into the canner to fill it up so the filled jars do not topple over during the hot water process). While the extra jars do not need to be sterilized, they do need to be hot going into the canner of boiling water as, otherwise, they may crack with the temperature change. Ensure the jars are fully submerged, each jar filled with water, and that the water is at least an inch over the tops of the jars. Cover, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave the jars in the hot water to have ready to fill once the jelly finishes cooking.
  5. Fill the canner about half full of hot tap water. Cover and bring to a boil to have it ready for processing of the filled jars as the filled jelly jars must immediately go into the canner to be processed while the jelly is still hot. Ensure the canner water is boiling before beginning to cook the jelly as there will not be enough time to get it to the boiling point once the jelly is in the bottles and ready for immediate processing. Boil a kettle of extra water to have ready, if needed, to top up the canner water after filled jars are added.
  6. Place 1½ cups rhubarb juice and the sugar in a small stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the butter. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring frequently. Add the liquid pectin and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring continuously. Immediately remove stockpot from heat and skim off any residual foam.
  7. Use jar lifter tongs to carefully remove three half pints and the quarter pint hot sterilized jars from the water, one at a time, emptying the water from the jars back into the pot. Drain jars well.
  8. Remove a small amount of the hot water from the stockpot in which the jars were sterilized and place in small saucepan over simmering heat. Place the lids in the hot water to soften the rubber sealing compound. Do not boil the lids.
  9. Using a ladle, or a heat-proof glass measuring cup, and a wide-mouthed canning funnel, pour jelly into the hot sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar to allow for expansion during the hot water processing. Remove any trapped air bubbles in the jars with a chopstick or small heatproof, non-metallic spatula. Wipe the jar rims with a clean damp cloth to remove any stickiness or jelly particles that could prevent the lids from sealing properly to the jars.
  10. Using a magnetic lid lifter, remove lids from the hot water and center the heated lids on jars so the sealing compound on the lid edges aligns with the jar rims. Fingertip tighten the ring/screw bands until resistance is encountered. Do not over-tighten.
  11. Using jar lifter tongs, carefully place filled jars upright in wire basket positioned in the canner, ensuring jars do not touch each other or fall over. Add some of the hot empty jars, upright, to the basket to fill up space so the filled jars do not topple over. Let the empty jars fill with water from the canner as they are submerged. Ensure the water level is at least 1” above the tops of jars, adding more boiling water as necessary. Cover with canner lid. Return the water to a full rolling boil over high heat then decrease the heat to just keep the water at a moderately rolling boil but not boiling over. Process jars in the hot water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting time as and if necessary for altitude. Start timing the processing from the point at which a full rolling boil is reached after jars have been added to the canner. At the end of the processing time, turn off heat and remove canner lid.
  12. Let jars sit in the hot water for 5 minutes then, using jar lifter tongs, carefully remove the jars filled with jelly, upright and one at a time, and transfer them to a heat-proof cutting board that has been covered with a towel, to cool completely. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few minutes or hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Let jars rest, undisturbed, on counter for 24 hours. Then, test each jar for proper sealing by pressing down gently on the center of each jar lid. If the lid is already pressed downward, and does not pop back up, it is properly sealed. Any jars that do not pass this test should be refrigerated and the jelly used within a week or so. Store properly sealed jelly bottles in cool, dark place. Refrigerate jelly once jar has been opened.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 3 half-pint bottles and 1 quarter-pint bottle

NOTE 1: The small ½-cup (quarter-pint) jar does not actually need the full 10 minutes of hot water canning. However, to remove it partway through, at the 5-minute point in the boiling process, would disturb the rolling boil and timing and thus interfere with the proper canning of the larger half-pint jars so, there are a couple of options. The first is to let the small jar remain in the hot water bath with the half-pint jars for the full 10-minute period. The second option is not to process the tiny jar in the hot water and to, instead, use it as the “tasting jar”, refrigerating and consuming the jelly within a couple of days. However, if the desire is to can the entire batch of jelly into the small ½-cup (quarter-pint) jars, then process the basket of them for 5 minutes, instead of 10. These tiny bottles make great gifts, especially if they are accompanied by fresh scones!

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Small bowl of bright red jelly

Classic Broccoli Salad Recipe

Bowl of Vegetable Salad
Classic Broccoli Salad

This classic Broccoli Salad is wonderfully tasty and can be served with a number of different meals. It is great for potlucks, cookouts, and picnics (provided, of course, it is kept cold due to the mayo and sour cream content).

Chicken and rice served with side vegetable salad
Broccoli Salad as a side to a main meal

The salad is a great way to add veggie content to the diet. The ingredients are commonplace and the method is simple. Cook the bacon till crispy then crumble. Wash and chop the vegetables. Prepare a simple dressing and pour over salad ingredients. Yes, it really is that simple!

I like to use balsamic vinegar in the salad dressing as it has a lovely deep flavor and is not as sharp as regular white vinegar, for example. However, plain white vinegar or a red wine vinegar also work well. I suggest trying different flavored balsamics to switch up the flavor.

Bowl of vegetable salad
Classic Broccoli Salad

For best flavor, I recommend refrigerating the salad for at least 45 minutes prior to serving. It can be prepped several hours ahead. Just add the sunflower seeds at time of serving as, otherwise, they may get soft and lose their desired crunchiness.

With the smaller household in mind, I have proportioned this salad to be small with 3-4 servings. The lovely thing about this salad — well apart from the wonderful flavor — is that it is completely scalable so, if more servings are needed, it is easily doubled or tripled or even quadrupled.

Chicken, rice, and a side salad
Broccoli Salad

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Broccoli Salad

Ingredients:
2 cups chopped broccoli, small bite-sized pieces
3 slices crispy fried bacon, crumbled
1/3 cup sweet pepper (red, yellow, or orange), chopped
¼ cup red onion, chopped
2 tbsp shredded carrot
1/3 cup dried cranberries

Dressing:
¼ cup salad dressing
2 tbsp sour cream
½ tbsp pure maple syrup
½ tbsp granulated sugar
½ tbsp vinegar (balsamic, red wine, or white)
1½ tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp garlic salt (optional)

2 tbsp sunflower seeds
Sprinkle of freshly chopped chives (optional)

Method:

Prepare vegetables and bacon. Place in bowl along with the dried cranberries.

For Dressing: Combine all ingredients in small bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour half the dressing over the prepared vegetables and mix to coat vegetables then repeat with remaining dressing. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before serving. At time of serving, sprinkle salad with sunflower seeds and, if desired, chopped chives.

Yield: Apx. 3 – 4 side salad servings

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Broccoli Salad

A perfect side to many meals, this easy-to-make classic Broccoli Salad is also a perfect addition to potlucks, picnics, and cookouts.
Course Salad
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword broccoli, broccoli salad, salad
Servings 4
My Island Bistro Kitchen Barbara99

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped broccoli, small bite-sized pieces
  • 3 slices crispy fried bacon, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup sweet pepper (red, yellow, or orange), chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp shredded carrot
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • Dressing:
  • ¼ cup salad dressing
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • ½ tbsp pure maple syrup
  • ½ tbsp granulated sugar
  • ½ tbsp vinegar (balsamic, red wine, or white)
  • tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp garlic salt (optional)
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • Sprinkle of freshly chopped chives (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare vegetables and bacon. Place in bowl along with the dried cranberries.

  2. For Dressing: Combine all ingredients in small bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour half the dressing over the prepared vegetables and mix to coat vegetables then repeat with remaining dressing. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before serving. At time of serving, sprinkle salad with sunflower seeds and, if desired, chopped chives.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 3 - 4 side salad servings

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Bowl of Vegetable Salad

Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe

Bowl of chicken soup
Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup

Sometimes, nothing but a soothing old-fashioned soup will do and it doesn’t get more classic than this comforting Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup.

However, Chicken Noodle Soup can sometimes be, well, blah and rather tasteless unless it has some seasoning. I am a big believer in layering in flavors to create a tasteful dish and that is how I have designed this soup.

Whether you simply crave homemade comfort food or you’re feeling under the weather, this soothing and nourishing broth-based Chicken Noodle Soup will be just what’s needed.

Pre-Preparation

I highly recommend some pre-prep work to make the soup-making process easier and more efficient. Start by removing the chicken pieces from the refrigerator at least 20-30 minutes before searing them as they will sear better if they are not super cold.

Chop the onions and slice or dice the carrots and celery. Mince the garlic. Measure out the poultry stock and seasonings. Weigh the noodles and, if using, squeeze the lemon juice.

Chicken

Use chicken with skin on and bone in for this soup. Starting with raw chicken (as opposed to already cooked chicken) helps to create a good flavor base for the soup. Choosing chicken that has the bone in will add more flavor than will boneless chicken pieces. Leaving the skin on the chicken allows the fat to add flavor to the soup and is useful when searing the chicken as explained below. So long as the weight of chicken called for in the recipe remains the same, any cut of, or combination of, chicken pieces can be used – e.g., chicken breasts, thighs, legs. That said, breasts and thighs will yield more meat. For ease of cooking, I recommend using similarly-sized pieces that will all cook for about the same amount of time. I used equal-sized chicken breasts for the soup in the photos.

Searing the chicken pieces till the skin is golden-brown helps to keep the meat moist and provides an outer “buffer”, to insulate the chicken as it continues to cook in the stock thus helping to prevent the chicken from becoming dried out and rubbery. Of course, searing the chicken till it is golden-brown, helps to add color and flavor to the soup. If you have a grease splatter screen/guard that fits the top of your stockpot, I recommend using it to avoid fat splatters and potential skin burns as the chicken sears. It will spit and splatter so do be careful around it.

Use an instant read thermometer to test chicken for doneness (165°F internal temperature), inserting the thermometer into the thickest meat part of one of the chicken pieces that has temporarily been removed from the stock to have its temperature taken. The cooking time I have suggested in the recipe is to be used as a gauge only as cooktops vary in their heat generation and chicken pieces cook at different lengths of time based on their cut and size. Use a thermometer for accuracy. Do not overcook the chicken.

After searing the chicken pieces, be sure to deglaze the stockpot with a bit of the poultry stock called for in the recipe. Scrape up any brown bits left in the bottom of the pan from searing the chicken. These little tidbits will add great flavor and additional color to the soup.

Poultry Stock

I prefer to use my own homemade poultry stock as the base for soups. You can find my recipe here. I find it is flavorful and I can recognize and pronounce all the ingredients in it so I know what I am eating! I never throw out a chicken or turkey carcass as it makes fabulous stock. I always have a ready stash of poultry stock in my freezer to use as the base for making soups which are a mainstay in my diet.

Homemade Turkey Stock
Homemade Poultry Stock

While I recommend the use of homemade stock, commercial stock from your grocer’s store shelf can be used if you don’t have homemade stock on hand. Just be sure to buy a good quality, flavorful stock and preferably one that is not overly salty. Sometimes, some commercial brands are little more than lightly colored salted water, in my opinion, and they will not give your soup either flavor or color. Because this is a broth-based soup, use a high-quality stock as it is the key ingredient to this soup’s flavor.

Mirepoix – Well Not Quite

A traditional French mirepoix would have an exact ratio of 2:1:1 of onion to carrots and celery and the veggies would be very uniformly and finely chopped. While I will often adhere to this holy grail ratio, sometimes, my tastebuds lead me in another direction, especially when I don’t want to over-do the onion flavor and yet want the bulk of more celery and carrot in the dish. I wanted a cup each of celery and carrot but not 2 cups of onion as per typical mirepoix ratio which would, in my opinion, overpower the soup’s desired flavor (I am using 1 1/3 cups chopped onion in this recipe). So, all this to say….in my view, sometimes it’s the cook’s prerogative to go with taste versus scientific ratio (some chefs may, no doubt, beg to differ!). Sautéing these aromatics before adding them to the soup, allows them to release their flavors that will give deep, well-rounded flavor to the soup.

Vintage bowls filled with homemade chicken soup
Chicken Noodle Soup
Noodles

Almost any noodles can be used in this soup. I typically use broken up pieces of thinner type pastas like spaghetti, linguine, or fettuccine, broken into about 3” pieces. However, wider egg noodles or other pasta shapes, for example, can certainly be used in this recipe. These are added near the end of the cooking and should only be cooked until they are barely al dente.

Vegetables

Any kind of favorite mixture of frozen vegetables can be used in this soup. I often make it with nothing more than peas and/or corn (as was done with the batch of soup shown in this post’s photographs where frozen corn was the sole frozen vegetable used). However, there are so many different frozen vegetable combinations on the market today that there is a mixture for everyone’s taste. Just make sure, whatever vegetables you choose to use, are not overcooked. They should just be al dente.

Season As You Go

I recommend tasting the soup as it is being made and adding additional salt and freshly ground pepper conservatively. The amount needed will largely depend on the kind of poultry stock used. If it already has a hefty amount of salt in it, then the soup will need very little additional salt.

Broth-based Soup

This soup is meant to be a broth-based soup. However, I do add a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with water to form a paste. Be sure to temper this paste with a bit of the soup’s hot liquid so that it will blend well when added to the soup. This amount of cornstarch is minimal compared to the amount of liquid in the soup so it won’t make it a thick “chowder consistency”. It will, however, strengthen and give a bit more body to the broth so it won’t be quite so thin and watery. This addition is optional so, if your preference is to have a very thin broth base, by all means, skip this step.

Add a Spritz or a Splash of Freshly-squeezed Lemon Juice

This step is totally optional but, at the time of serving, a light spritz or splash of freshly-squeezed lemon juice can add a bit of brightness to the soup’s flavor and the lemon’s acid balances out any salty flavor which is especially useful if using a salt-laden commercial stock. A word of caution, though, go easy on the amount of lemon juice used as adding too much will quickly turn this lovely flavorful soup into a not-so-pleasant sour soup.

Add a splash of lemon to brighten the flavor of chicken soup
Chicken Noodle Soup
Freezing the Soup

This soup freezes well so is great to have on hand. Freeze it in freezer-safe containers of desired serving size. Be sure to label and date the soup.

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

2-3 tbsp cooking oil
2 – 2½ lbs chicken pieces (e.g., breasts/thighs, bone-in and skin on)

7 cups poultry stock
1 large bay leaf
1½ tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp dried Basil
½ tsp dried summer savory
½ tsp dried turmeric
¼ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp dried dill
1/8 tsp ground dried fennel
Salt and pepper

1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 1/3 cups chopped onion
1 cup carrots, diced or sliced thin
1 cup celery, diced or sliced thin
Sprinkle of salt
3-5 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with water to form a paste

4 oz uncooked noodles of choice (e.g., egg noodles, broken spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, or other pasta shapes)
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables of choice
Salt and pepper, to taste

2 – 3 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)

Method:

Pre-Prep:

Remove chicken pieces from refrigerator at least 20-30 minutes before searing.

Prepare and measure the onion, carrots, and celery and mince the garlic.

Measure poultry stock and weigh the noodles. Measure out seasonings and cornstarch.

Prepare lemon juice, if using.

Heat cooking oil in large, heavy-bottomed, stockpot over medium heat. Season both sides of chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown the chicken pieces, skin side down, for about 3-4 minutes, just until skin is a golden-brown color. Flip the chicken pieces over and repeat on the bone side. Remove and transfer chicken to a heat-proof cutting board.

Over medium heat, deglaze, with a couple of tablespoons of the poultry stock, the large stockpot in which the chicken pieces were seared. Scrape up any brown bits remaining from the chicken. Add the remaining poultry stock, bay leaf, seasonings, and chicken pieces. Bring mixture just to the boiling point then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered for approximately 15-20 minutes (see Note below re cooking time).

When the chicken has been cooking for about 10 minutes, prepare the aromatic vegetables as follows. Add olive oil to a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When heated, add the butter and, once melted, add the onions, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 6 minutes. Add a sprinkle of salt as the vegetables sauté. Add the minced garlic cloves and stir continuously for about 30-45 seconds until garlic is fragrant, being careful not to scorch the garlic. Remove from heat.

When the chicken has been cooking about 15 minutes, remove one of the chicken pieces from the stock and insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of a chicken piece to test for doneness (see NOTE below regarding cooking time). When chicken tests done (165°F internal temperature), remove the chicken pieces from the stockpot and transfer to a heat-proof cutting board. Allow chicken to cool slightly then, when it is just cooled enough to handle, use forks or fingers to remove and discard skin and bones and shred, or chop, chicken into bite-sized portions.

While chicken is cooling and being shredded or chopped, reduce heat under stockpot containing the poultry stock to medium-low, skim off any visible fat that may have surfaced, and add the sautéed vegetables. Cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes then add the noodles and frozen vegetables. Cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes.

Reduce heat slightly. Whisk cornstarch with a small amount of water to make a paste. Temper with a bit of the hot soup liquid and stir cornstarch mixture into the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer soup for a few minutes longer, just until noodles and vegetables are al dente. Stir chicken back into stock pot to heat (3-4 minutes). Do not boil. Remove and discard bay leaf.

If desired, add a spritz or a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice just at time of serving to brighten up and balance out the soup’s flavor. Don’t over-do it on the addition of lemon juice as it is easy to turn this into a sour soup.

Serve soup with crackers, biscuits, or bread of choice.

Soup freezes well.

Yield: Apx. 10 cups

NOTE: The cooking time for the chicken that I have suggested in the recipe is to be used as a gauge only as cooktops vary in their heat generation and chicken pieces cook at different lengths of time according to their size and cut. The cooking times suggested in this recipe are based on chicken breast cuts. Other cuts and sizes of chicken pieces may require different cooking times. Use an instant read thermometer for accuracy to ensure that the chicken is properly and safely cooked.

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Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup

This hearty made-from-scratch Chicken Noodle Soup is flavorful, nourishing, and the perfect comfort soup made with poultry stock and loads of chicken meat.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword Chicken, chicken noodle soup, chicken soup, soup,
Servings 8
My Island Bistro Kitchen Barbara99

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 - 2½ lbs chicken pieces (e.g., breasts/thighs, bone-in and skin on)
  • 7 cups poultry stock
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • tsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp dried Basil
  • ½ tsp dried summer savory
  • ½ tsp dried turmeric
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp dried dill
  • 1/8 tsp ground dried fennel
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/3 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup carrots, diced or sliced thin
  • 1 cup celery, diced or sliced thin
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with water to form a paste
  • 4 oz uncooked noodles of choice (e.g., egg noodles, broken spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, or other pasta shapes)
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables of choice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 – 3 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)

Instructions

Pre-Prep:

  1. Remove chicken pieces from refrigerator at least 20-30 minutes before searing.
  2. Prepare and measure the onion, carrots, and celery and mince the garlic.
  3. Measure poultry stock and weigh the noodles. Measure out seasonings and cornstarch.
  4. Prepare lemon juice, if using.
  5. Heat cooking oil in large, heavy-bottomed, stockpot over medium heat. Season both sides of chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown the chicken pieces, skin side down, for about 3-4 minutes, just until skin is a golden-brown color. Flip the chicken pieces over and repeat on the bone side. Remove and transfer chicken to a heat-proof cutting board.
  6. Over medium heat, deglaze, with a couple of tablespoons of the poultry stock, the large stockpot in which the chicken pieces were seared. Scrape up any brown bits remaining from the chicken. Add the remaining poultry stock, bay leaf, seasonings, and chicken pieces. Bring mixture just to the boiling point then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered for approximately 15-20 minutes (see Note below re cooking time).
  7. When the chicken has been cooking for about 10 minutes, prepare the aromatic vegetables as follows. Add olive oil to a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When heated, add the butter and, once melted, add the onions, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 6 minutes. Add a sprinkle of salt as the vegetables sauté. Add the minced garlic cloves and stir continuously for about 30-45 seconds until garlic is fragrant, being careful not to scorch the garlic. Remove from heat.
  8. When the chicken has been cooking about 15 minutes, remove one of the chicken pieces from the stock and insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of a chicken piece to test for doneness (see NOTE below regarding cooking time). When chicken tests done (165°F internal temperature), remove the chicken pieces from the stockpot and transfer to a heat-proof cutting board. Allow chicken to cool slightly then, when it is just cooled enough to handle, use forks or fingers to remove and discard skin and bones and shred, or chop, chicken into bite-sized portions.
  9. While chicken is cooling and being shredded or chopped, reduce heat under stockpot containing the poultry stock to medium-low, skim off any visible fat that may have surfaced, and add the sautéed vegetables. Cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes then add the noodles and frozen vegetables. Cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes.
  10. Reduce heat slightly. Whisk cornstarch with a small amount of water to make a paste. Temper with a bit of the hot soup liquid and stir cornstarch mixture into the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer soup for a few minutes longer, just until noodles and vegetables are al dente. Stir chicken back into stock pot to heat (3-4 minutes). Do not boil. Remove and discard bay leaf.

  11. If desired, add a spritz or a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice just at time of serving to brighten up and balance out the soup’s flavor. Don’t over-do it on the addition of lemon juice as it is easy to turn this into a sour soup.
  12. Serve soup with crackers, biscuits, or bread of choice.
  13. Soup freezes well.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 10 cups

NOTE: The cooking time for the chicken that I have suggested in the recipe is to be used as a gauge only as cooktops vary in their heat generation and chicken pieces cook at different lengths of time according to their size and cut. The cooking times suggested in this recipe are based on chicken breast cuts. Other cuts and sizes of chicken pieces may require different cooking times. Use an instant read thermometer for accuracy to ensure that the chicken is properly and safely cooked.

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Bowl of homemade chicken soup

Goat Cheese and Basil Pesto Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Breaded Stuffed Chicken Breast
Goat Cheese and Basil Pesto Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Designed with the smaller household of two in mind, the recipe for these delectable Goat Cheese and Basil Pesto Stuffed Chicken Breasts is easily scalable to the number of servings required. So, for example, if you need four servings, simply double the ingredients called for in the recipe. Continue reading Goat Cheese and Basil Pesto Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Custard Sandwich Cookies Recipe

Cookies Sandwiched with Pink Buttercream Icing surrounded by pink flowers
Pretty Custard Sandwich Cookies

These Custard Sandwich Cookies bear some resemblance to those that many know as Melting Moments, my recipe for which can be found here. The primary difference between these Custard Sandwich Cookies and Melting Moments is that the latter contains cornstarch giving the cookies what is commonly known as a “short”, ever-so-slightly crisp, texture while the Custard Sandwich Cookies contain vanilla custard powder that gives them a wonderful soft, creamy, and slightly crumbly texture as well as additional flavor and a more yellowish color. Continue reading Custard Sandwich Cookies Recipe

Luscious Lime Curd Recipe

Glass jar filled with Lime Curd
Luscious Lime Curd

Sharper and with a tangier taste than lemon curd, lime curd (in its natural state) is a slightly duller color than the traditional lemon curd with which most people are probably more familiar. One would think lime curd would automatically have a lime green color but this is not the case as the juice from limes is actually a very pale bland color. I added just a touch of green gel icing coloring to brighten up the curd and give it a pretty lime green color, more consistent to what might be expected of the appearance of a lime curd. Continue reading Luscious Lime Curd Recipe

Clementine Sponge Pudding for Two

Two ramekin dishes filled with single-serving Sponge Pudding
Clementine Sponge Pudding for Two

This self-saucing Clementine Sponge Pudding, baked in a bain marie, consists of a lovely citrus-flavored sauce topped with a light-as-air sponge cake. The pudding is proportionately sized for two servings making it ideal for the small household. Continue reading Clementine Sponge Pudding for Two

An Islander Day Cream Tea

Gold Tray with Teapot and PEI Teacups
Prince Edward Island Commemorative China Teacups

As I write this post, it is a statutory holiday known as Islander Day here in Prince Edward Island. As such, I thought it would be an appropriate time to showcase my small collection of PEI commemorative cups and saucers. Continue reading An Islander Day Cream Tea

Rustic Oatmeal Bread Recipe (aka Porridge Bread)

Loaf of Porridge Bread nestled inside a tea towel
Rustic Oatmeal Bread

Some may know this old-fashioned bread simply as “Porridge Bread” because of its rolled oat content. Rustic Oatmeal Bread is a hearty bread that has a soft, chewy texture. It’s ideal as a sandwich bread, makes fabulous toast, is great for French toast and, heck, it’s just fine slathered with butter or molasses! Continue reading Rustic Oatmeal Bread Recipe (aka Porridge Bread)

Teatime to Celebrate 9th Blogiversary

Table set for afternoon tea for two
Teatime for Two

Today marks nine years since I began My Island Bistro Kitchen food blog. Regular followers of my food blog and social media channels will know of my love for anything and everything to do with afternoon tea! So, it would only seem fitting that my focus for celebrating this milestone would be a celebratory afternoon tea. Of course, in my case, it’s any reason at all to enjoy afternoon tea! Continue reading Teatime to Celebrate 9th Blogiversary

Baked Haddock au Gratin Recipe

Baked Haddock in a cream sauce topped with breadcrumbs and cheddar cheese served in an au gratin dish
Baked Haddock au Gratin

At least once a week, I have fish. Haddock is a favorite and while I like it simply pan-fried in butter, sometimes I like to dress it up and, on those occasions, I make Baked Haddock au Gratin.

Awhile ago, I canvassed my food blog followers to see if there was interest in smaller sized recipes for one or two servings and there was sufficient interest so I indicated I would, from time to time, develop and post recipes for this particular demographic. This haddock recipe is sized for two servings but is easily doubled if four servings are needed.

I have also tested this recipe by baking it from frozen state (in baking dishes that go from freezer to oven safely) and it turns out fine so it is one that I now have on hand in my freezer for when I want a dressed up haddock dish. Everything but the cheddar cheese goes on to the dish before it is frozen. Note that, if baking the fish from frozen state, additional baking time beyond what is stated in the recipe will be required. If you are planning to freeze this dish for baking later, make sure you use fresh fillets, not fish previously frozen.

This is not an overly complicated recipe. The sauce basically consists of chicken stock, whipping cream, milk, and Dijon mustard with onion, celery, red pepper, and mushrooms sautéed in butter for flavor and all thickened with flour. The dish is then baked in the oven with a breadcrumb and cheddar cheese topping. This recipe can be made gluten-free by using gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour as the thickener and by using gluten-free breadcrumbs for the topping.

Individual au gratin dish filled with baked haddock in a rich cream sauce
Baked Haddock au Gratin

My preference is to use individual au gratin dishes for this recipe for several reasons. First, it keeps the fish intact. Haddock is a fragile fillet and breaks apart very easily. Baking it in an individual serving dish keeps it altogether so the fish serves well and is not all broken apart when plated. It is simply served right in the dish in which it was baked. Second, this sauce is rich and it needs to cover the fish completely so, if using a larger baking dish to bake the two fillets together, make sure the pan is just large enough to accommodate the fillets as there is only adequate sauce for the two fillets. If the sauce runs off the fish (which it will) into the bottom of a pan, it will be spread too thin and may burn and the lovely flavorful sauce will be lost.

The fillets can certainly be baked together in a slightly larger au gratin dish for two. Alternatively, if you don’t have suitably sized au gratin dishes, a baking pan the size of what is used in a toaster oven would likely work for two fillets (e.g., typically an 8”x6” pan) or a 10”x5” baking dish could also work. The other reason I like to use individual baking dishes is that, for presentation purposes, it allows for plating the meal to look like restaurant quality as each individual has their own serving dish (remember, we do eat with our eyes first)!

While I have used haddock in this recipe, any white fleshed fish fillets can be substituted with the sauce.

Au gratin dish filled with baked haddock in cream sauce served with basmati rice and a medley of stir-fried vegetables
Baked Haddock au Gratin

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Baked Haddock au Gratin

Ingredients:

2 haddock fillets, each apx. 5-6 oz (fresh or thawed, if frozen)
Garlic salt (apx. ½ tsp or to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup whipping cream (36% MF)
¼ cup milk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp butter, melted

1½ – 2 tbsp butter
2½ tbsp finely chopped onion
2½ tbsp finely chopped celery
3 tbsp finely chopped red pepper
1/3 cup sliced white button mushrooms (about 1 oz)
2 tbsp all-purpose flour (or gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour, if required)

1/3 cup fine breadcrumbs (gluten-free, if required)
2½ tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ tbsp butter, melted

1/3 cup grated old or medium Cheddar cheese

Paprika (optional)
Green onions and/or slices of orange or lemon for garnish (optional)

Method:

In small bowl, combine the chicken stock, whipping cream, milk, Dijon mustard, and 1 tbsp melted butter. Set aside.

Chop and measure vegetables and grate cheeses.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease two individual-sized au gratin dishes (or a small shallow baking dish just large enough to arrange the fillets in a single layer). Sprinkle fish fillets with garlic salt and pepper. Arrange one fillet in each au gratin dish or single layer if using one baking dish for the two fillets. Note, in order to get the fish fillet to fit in the single au gratin dishes, an end of each fillet may need to be cut off and arranged alongside fillet in au gratin dish. Set aside.

Melt 1½ – 2 tbsp butter in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, red pepper, and mushrooms. Cook the vegetables just until they are barely tender, stirring frequently (apx. 3 minutes).

Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and stir to combine. Cook for a few seconds, stirring to prevent scorching, then reduce heat to medium low and gradually add the whipping cream and chicken stock mixture. Stir constantly to prevent scorching. Continue cooking until sauce starts to thicken, apx. 1 minute. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir until melted, about 1 minute longer or until sauce is thickened to desired consistency.

Spoon sauce equally over each fillet, covering all areas of the fish completely. Combine the breadcrumbs and the ½ tbsp melted butter. Sprinkle mixture equally over fillets. Place au gratin dishes on foil-lined rimmed baking sheet in case sauce should bubble over. Bake for apx 20-24 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are browned, sauce is bubbling, and fish is thoroughly cooked and flakes easily when tested with a fork. Note that baking times may vary due to size and thickness of fillets.

Sprinkle cheddar cheese over each fillet and return to oven for 1½ – 2 minutes, just until cheese is melted.

Let fish stand for 5-10 minutes to allow sauce to set before serving. Sprinkle each fillet with paprika and garnish with sliced green onions and an orange or lemon slice, if desired.

Serve with choice of potato or rice, and a favorite side of vegetable(s), steamed or stir-fried.

Yield: 2 servings

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Au Gratin dish filled with Baked Haddock in Cream Sauce Topped with a Breadcrumb and Cheddar Cheese Topping
Baked Haddock au Gratin

Printable Recipe

Baked Haddock au Gratin

This Baked Haddock au Gratin dresses up mild white fish fillets with a delectable cream sauce topped with breadcrumbs and cheddar cheese. Serve with rice or choice of potato and side vegetable(s).
Course Main Course
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword baked haddock au gratin, fish, haddock, seafood
Servings 2
My Island Bistro Kitchen Barbara99

Ingredients

  • 2 haddock fillets, each apx. 5-6 oz (fresh or thawed, if frozen)
  • Garlic salt (apx. ½ tsp or to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream (36% MF)
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1½ - 2 tbsp butter
  • tbsp finely chopped onion
  • tbsp finely chopped celery
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped red pepper
  • 1/3 cup sliced white button mushrooms (about 1 oz)
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour (or gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour, if required)
  • 1/3 cup fine breadcrumbs (gluten-free, if required)
  • tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup grated old or medium Cheddar cheese
  • Paprika (optional)
  • Green onions and/or slices of orange or lemon for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. In small bowl, combine the chicken stock, whipping cream, milk, Dijon mustard, and 1 tbsp melted butter. Set aside.
  2. Chop and measure vegetables and grate cheeses.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  4. Grease two individual-sized au gratin dishes (or a small shallow baking dish just large enough to arrange the fillets in a single layer). Sprinkle fish fillets with garlic salt and pepper. Arrange one fillet in each au gratin dish or single layer if using one baking dish for the two fillets. Note, in order to get the fish fillet to fit in the single au gratin dishes, an end of each fillet may need to be cut off and arranged alongside fillet in au gratin dish. Set aside.

  5. Melt 1½ - 2 tbsp butter in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, red pepper, and mushrooms. Cook the vegetables just until they are barely tender, stirring frequently (apx. 3 minutes).
  6. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and stir to combine. Cook for a few seconds, stirring to prevent scorching, then reduce heat to medium low and gradually add the whipping cream and chicken stock mixture. Stir constantly to prevent scorching. Continue cooking until sauce starts to thicken, apx. 1 -2 minutes. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir until melted, about 1 minute longer or until sauce is thickened to desired consistency.

  7. Spoon sauce equally over each fillet, covering all areas of the fish completely. Combine the breadcrumbs and the ½ tbsp melted butter. Sprinkle mixture equally over fillets. Place au gratin dishes on foil-lined rimmed baking sheet in case sauce should bubble over. Bake for apx 20-24 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are browned, sauce is bubbling, and fish is thoroughly cooked and flakes easily when tested with a fork. Note that baking times may vary due to size and thickness of fillets.

  8. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over each fillet and return to oven for 1½ - 2 minutes, just until cheese is melted.
  9. Let fish stand for 5-10 minutes to allow sauce to set before serving. Sprinkle each fillet with paprika and garnish with sliced green onions and an orange or lemon slice, if desired.
  10. Serve with choice of potato or rice, and a favorite side of vegetable(s), steamed or stir-fried.

Recipe Notes

Yield: 2 servings

Hydrangea and Holly Tablescape

Christmas tablesetting
Hydrangea and Holly Tablescape

My holiday table is inspired by the hydrangea in my backyard. I was able to cut the hydrangea before it matured and turned brown.

White Hydrangea Bush
White Hydrangea

The hydrangea in the tablescape came from a white hydrangea bush.  It dried this beautiful shade of green that blends well with my dining room wall color and the tabletop tree and so the hydrangea became my theme for the tablescape.

Dried Hydrangea
White Hydrangea Turned Green When Dried

How to Get the Custom Curated Look

The key to achieving a custom-designed tablescape is to strategically plan the look and make it cohesive. This can be done by first choosing a theme and color scheme for the table. I find, once I have selected a theme, it keeps me focused in the tablescape creation.

In this tablesetting, I have chosen a somewhat casual, relaxed theme that focuses on elements from my garden. Because, the hydrangea has turned a pretty shade of green, I have chosen the neutral green as my main color supported by gold, ivory, and white accents.

Holiday Tablesetting with Hydrangea, Holly, Boxwood, and Gold Trees
Hydrangea and Holly Tablescape

Before I buy anything for a tablesetting, and to achieve a tablescape that looks curated and custom made, I start by looking around the house to see what I already own or have available in the garden or backyard that can be incorporated into the tablescape. Nothing new was purchased for this tablesetting. I have had the gold trees and baubles for years and re-purpose them to wherever I need them each Christmas. Integrating items you already own creates a curated look, makes the setting more personal and, of course, it’s more economical.

Gold-colored glittery tree
Gold-colored tree and soft green dried hydrangea form Christmas tablescape

Create the Tablescape Before Arranging Placesettings

When constructing a tablescape, piece by piece, directly on the table, I recommend starting with an unset table. You don’t want to be touching glassware with your arm and potentially knocking glasses over, causing breakage, as you try to reach into the center of the table to place items in the tablescape. Also, if there are pine or fir needles (fresh or faux), glitter, etc., involved, those will inevitably find their way on to plates and napkins and into glasses and, well, that’s just not the kind of garnish guests want to see in or on their food and drink! It’s just awkward to try and create a tablescape amidst placesettings. If you need to have parameters set for the spacing of the tablescape itself, I suggest setting the charger plates at each placesetting as markers. These can then be cleaned before the actual plates to be used for food are added.

Top-down view of Hydrangea and Holly Tablescape
Hydrangea and Holly Tablescape

Sometimes, I leave the table bare and other times I use a tablecloth such as the vintage Irish linen white tablecloth I have used in this setting. I find the white makes a great canvas for the elements of the tablescape to stand out.

One of the most important factors to consider when constructing a tablescape is its height. For the comfort of guests, and to enable them to communicate across the table during the meal, keep the height of the tablescape below the eyeline of seated guests.

For this tablescape, I started with a couple of good quality large faux greenery piks placed end-to-end in the center of the table. This provided the anchor base and shape, added depth and fullness, and also dictated the general size and expanse of the tablescape.

Faux Greenery Piks for Tablescape
Base of Artificial Greenery for Holiday Tablescape

Next, I used an odd number of the focal point items – in this case, the three gold trees – and positioned them into place.

Adding gold-colored trees to a tablescape
Constructing the holiday tablescape piece by piece

From there, I took the hydrangea and placed it in, around, and throughout the tablescape. There is no need to be overly fussy about keeping the hydrangea placement perfectly symmetrical. Instead, work on the flow, movement, and keeping the look natural.

Creating a holiday tablescape with faux greenery, dried hydrangea, and gold-colored trees
Adding the dried hydrangea to the tablescape

Any place where I noticed gaps, I filled in with some greenery. Either fresh or faux greenery can be used. I chose freshly cut boxwood and holly from the bushes along my walkway. I opted to use just branches of holly that had no berries as there was no red connection to the tablescape and the leaves of the holly tree have such a lovely shape. Every time I step out my front door, I marvel at the stunning beauty of the holly bushes, particularly after a fresh snowfall.

Snow on Holly Berries
Holly Berries and Leaves

I find, when creating a tablescape consisting primarily of flowers or foliage, it is best to limit the number of different kinds used. A general rule of thumb is to choose one signature flower (in this case, the hydrangea) and use a significant amount of it. This allows it to make a statement without competing with a number of other varieties of flowers. Using the boxwood and holly leaves, which are darker shades than the hydrangea, gives depth to the tablescape and also contributes to the seasonal look.

Some Christmas balls/baubles in light colors were added to inject some brightness into the tablescape and the metallics, of course, add texture, shape, and interest.

Christmas Baubles
Christmas Baubles Add Texture and Interest to Tablescape

I added some ribbon here and there to connect the tablescape to the ribbon on the tabletop tree in the dining room, thus keeping the look cohesive and coordinated.

Wire-edged gold and ivory ribbon bows
Pretty Ivory and Gold Ribbon Bows
Flocked Tabletop Tree
Tabletop Tree in Dining Room Coordinates with Tablescape

Because the hydrangea is tinder dry, I don’t want any open flame from candles on the table so have opted for battery lit gold glittery votives to give a warm glow and sparkle. A string of battery-operated twinkle lights with fine gold wire is strung throughout the arrangement to give a magical ambience to the table, particularly for evening dining.

Gold trees, dried hydrangea, and holly leaves form a neutral holiday tablesetting
Hydrangea and Holly Christmas Tablescape

Some brightly wrapped parcels in gold and white were placed, kitty-corner, on opposite ends of the table, adding a festive and glitzy look.

Gold and white gift-wrapped packages
Gold and White Wrapped Gifts
Gold-wrapped Parcels
Gifts wrapped in gold foil paper add glitz to a holiday table

Placesettings

Placesetting of white plate on gold charger plate
Placesetting for Hydrangea and Holly Tablesetting

This neutral, nature-inspired tablescape is versatile enough that it will coordinate well with a number of different dinnerware choices. Here, I have set the table with plain white dinnerware (my all-time favorite!) but the tablescape will go equally well with my formal china that has enough green and gold in it to match. It will also work with my red and green plaid casual dinnerware and it would also complement my green and white vintage dishes. It’s always great when this can happen as it extends the use of the tablescape over the holiday period and the table’s look can be changed by simply switching out the dinnerware, napkins, and glassware.

I am a big fan of charger plates not only because I think they dress up a table and frame each placesetting but also because they serve the practical purpose of protecting the table linen from stains should any food find its way off a plate (it happens). The basic white dinnerware atop simple gold chargers is always elegant and sophisticated, goes with anything, and food colors pop against a white plate.

I have chosen to use white napkins with a glittery gold snowflake motif. Apart from contributing a soft textile texture to the table, the napkins connect to the gold in the tablescape and to the charger plates, again maintaining a cohesive and sophisticated look. In order to best show the motif, I have purposely used a simple flat napkin fold.

Gold Snowflake Motif on White Napkin
Snowflake Napkin

The placesettings reflect the order in which the meal will be served. In this case, the two plates and cutlery placement indicate there is a salad course followed by the main entrée. Stacking the plates gives a layered look that adds visual depth and fullness to placesettings. I have chosen glassware with lots of cut glass so that it will reflect the light and add dazzle to the table.

Gold and white placesetting
Stacking Plates Gives Placesetting a Layered and Full Look

Setting a well-styled holiday table need not cost a lot of money. In this case, the use of free foraged natural products collected from my garden and yard provides a connection to nature and creates a neutral, yet festive tablescape.

Christmas Tablesetting in shades of green and gold
Hydrangea and Holly Tablesetting

 

To view other Christmas-themed tablesettings from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting
Snowmen and Snowballs Tablesetting
The Christmas Rose Tablesetting
Blush Pink Holiday Tablesetting
The Christmas Greens Holiday Tablesetting
Just Hear Those Sleigh Bells Jinglin’ Tablesetting
Twas The Night Before Christmas Tablesetting
The Warmth of the Christmas Light Tablesetting
A Tartan Holiday Tablesetting
Pretty Poincettia Tablesetting
Poinsettia Trio Tablesetting
The Holiday Table
The Pink and Green Holiday Table
Purple Tablesetting for the Holidays
Christmas at My Island Bistro Kitchen
Christmas Eve Tablesetting and Dinner
Cupcake Tablescape
Evergreens and Reindeer Christmas Tablescape

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A slice of Dream Square with a cup of tea
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(Mostly) PEI and Maritime Food – Good Food for a Good Life!