All posts by Barbara99

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

Connect with My Island Bistro Kitchen by:

Joining the Facebook page for My Island Bistro Kitchen:  https://www.facebook.com/MyIslandBistroKitchen/

Following “the Bistro” on Twitterhttps://twitter.com/PEIBistro/

Seeing the drool-worthy gallery of mouth-watering food photos from My Island Bistro Kitchen on Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/peibistro/

Following “the Bistro” on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.ca/peibistro/

 

Decadent Dream Square Recipe

A slice of Dream Square with a cup of tea
Decadent Dream Square

Always a favorite, this three-part square (shortbread base, topping, and icing), known simply as “Dream Square”, is a treat! Sometimes referred to as a vintage or retro square, I’m not sure it has ever been “shelved” long enough in history to put it in that category! This is a square that is, in my view, perennially in vogue. Continue reading Decadent Dream Square Recipe

Cranberry Orange Eggnog Loaf Recipe

Quick Bread studded with cranberries, mixed peel, pecans, and orange zest
Cranberry Orange Eggnog Loaf

I call this quick bread the loaf with Christmas wrapped inside it! That’s because this Cranberry Orange Eggnog Loaf encompasses many of the flavors we typically associate with Christmas – the bright red cranberries, eggnog, warm spices of nutmeg, mace, and cardamom, citrus notes that come from orange marmalade, juice, and orange rind, mixed peel/citron, and pecans. It’s the perfect loaf for weekend brunch, coffee or tea break, or gift giving. Continue reading Cranberry Orange Eggnog Loaf Recipe

Elegant Autumn-themed Tablesetting

This elegant autumn-themed tablesetting all started with ……
………. a rustic box of faux greenery and small white pumpkins.

A rustic box of faux autumn greenery, pinecones, and white pumpkins
Rustic Autumn Arrangement

Sometimes, inspiration can from from seemingly simple sources as is the case with this tablesetting. I have had the rustic box arrangement for awhile. It usually spends the autumn on the island in my kitchen. But, this year, it became the inspiration for my Thanksgiving tablesetting and so has been elevated to the dining room. Other than the tiny pumpkins scattered throughout the tablescape, I bought nothing special for this tablesetting. You’ll be amazed what you can find when you shop around your own home!

Tablesetting featuring white dinnerware and earthy toned fall centerpiece of greenery, pine cones, and tiny white pumpkins
An Autumnal Tablesetting

In fall tablesettings, I typically choose the warm autumnal colors of yellows, reds, rusts, and golds but, this year, I’ve opted to go with muted earthy tones – greens, whites, and browns, principally. One thing I recommend in tablesettings is to keep the number of colors introduced to no more than three. Any more and the table can start to appear chaotic.

The Canvas

I have intentionally left the table bare with no tablecloth in order to allow the maple wood of my dining room table to form the canvas for the tablesetting. Letting the wood of the table be part of the tablesetting is in keeping with the earthy look. To frame the centerpiece, I have opted to use a short white runner. It gives a base, is unobtrusive, and it defines and contains the size of the tablescape.

Tiny white pumpkins, faux greenery, and pinecones form the centerpiece for this tablesetting prepared for a fall dinner
Autumn Centerpiece

The Centerpiece

While the box of greenery and pumpkins is an autumn arrangement in itself, had it been the sole item in the center of the table, it would have looked isolated and that it had just landed there with no supporting or grounding items.

To take a pre-made arrangement and give it a custom look, it needs some supporting actors that will draw the eye down the length of the table’s center. These connectors include small white pumpkins, pinecones, green leaves, and white votives. No need to be fussy or overly precise about the placement of these items. As the tablescape builds, places needing a “filler” will reveal themselves. Care, however, needs to be taken to ensure the table is not overloaded.

Lighting

I am a fan of layers of lighting. In this case, two layers are used – tall, neutral-colored, tapers flanking the core centerpiece and then lower lights, in the form of votives for soft glow, interspersed here and there throughout the tablescape. Adding layers of light ensures a glow from all angles of the tablescape and candles always contribute to the ambiance.

Votives add lovely glow from a low angle of a tablescape
Layers of Lighting Add Glow to Tablescape

 

Placesettings

Adding a place card to each placesetting adds a touch of sophistication and personality to a table. Additionally, it allows the host/hostess to identify where they want guests to be seated and there can be several reasons why the strategic placement of dinner guests could be important at a dining event, even a casual or informal one.

Green leaf serves as placecard at placesetting
Placecard

Formal placecards are not always necessary, especially for more informal occasions. Here, the place card is a simple leaf upon which the guest’s name is printed. The addition of a small cone provides a stand for the leaf and, along with a sprig of greenery, maintains the tablesetting color scheme and earthy theme.

Silver charger plates frame each placesetting. Silver is on the cool spectrum so is in keeping with the overall cool-toned tablescape. Charger plates, of course, ground and define a placesetting as well as lend an air of sophistication and style to the table.

Top-down view of placesetting formed with white dinnerware and silver charger
Elegant and Sophisticated White Dinnerware

White dinnerware is most often my “go-to” for tablesettings because it matches everything and food looks great on white.

White Dinnerware Placesetting
Placesetting

The miniature soup tureens are a favorite and they add height, interest, and style to each placesetting. They also double as a holder for the napkin, folded into the Bird of Paradise fold.

Miniature white soup tureens make ideal soup bowls and holders for the napkin
Miniature Single-serving Soup Tureen

Using glassware that has lots of cuts in it is a great way to add sparkle to the table whether the light that causes the sparkle comes from natural sunlight or, in the evening, through the glow of candlelight.

White pumpkins, shades of green, and brown pine cones are the theme for this fall tablesetting
An Autumn-themed Tablesetting

This tablescape makes use of typical seasonal foliage and pumpkins but in more toned-down hues. No matter what is on the menu, this table has all the ingredients for a festive autumnal meal.

Roast Chicken surrounded by roasted garlic and fresh Rosemary on oval platter
Roasted Chicken

Connect with My Island Bistro Kitchen on Social Media

Join the Facebook page for My Island Bistro Kitchen:  https://www.facebook.com/MyIslandBistroKitchen/

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Miniature white pumpkins, muted shades of greenery, and pinecones are the focus of this stylish autumn tablesetting

For other Thanksgiving tablesetting inspiration from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Thanksgiving Tablesetting
Thanksgiving Tablescape
Autumn-themed Thanksgiving Tablesetting

A Victorian Teatime Tablesetting

Table set with Victorian teaset ready for teatime
Victorian Afternoon Tea Tablesetting

My dining room table is set with a beautiful Victorian teatime tablesetting with a teaset from Moritz Zdekauer. It bears the mark “MZ Austria” with the eagle symbol.  I am unsure of the name of the pattern. It bears resemblance to the Bridal Wreath pattern, also produced by MZ Austria, but this set does not have the floral swags consistent with photos I have seen of the Bridal Wreath pattern. If anyone can conclusively identify the pattern, please do let me know.

In the meantime, this is a lovely delicate and romantic teaset from which to enjoy an afternoon tea or a light supper.  I have used this set in the past for afternoon teas including this Valentine Tea.

There are no dinner plates in the set. Rather, the smaller plates which we know as “supper plates” or “tea plates” or, more commonly today, salad or dessert plates, are the largest plates in the set. These would be used for scones or small sandwiches or, in the case of supper, perhaps some cold cuts, biscuits, and condiments.

Top-down view of MZ Austria supper plate with pink roses around edge
MZ Austria Supper Plate

The plates are scallop edged with gold filigree trim on the edges. A border of tiny pink flowers amidst pale green leaves adorns each plate that also has a small rose spray in the plate center.

The small fruit nappies would typically be used for serving fresh seasonal berries with cream, a fruit compote, or, perhaps, preserves or canned fruit such as pears, peaches, or plums.

Top-down view of fruit nappy from MZ Austria teaset
MZ Austria Fruit Nappy

The set has a large serving bowl which seems almost disproportionately large to the other pieces in the set. It could be used for a salad, such as potato salad, or it could be used for a fruit compote.

Large white serving bowl with a border of pink roses and pale greenery from a MZ Austria set of dishes
MZ Austria Serving Bowl

Two serving plates accompany the set. One would most likely have been used for serving sandwiches for an afternoon tea and the other for teatime squares, cake, and/or cookies. Alternatively, the plates could have been used for serving cold meats for a supper.

Top-down view of white serving plate with a border of tiny pink roses
MZ Austria Serving Plate

The cream and sugar set is also quite large and is in keeping with the Victorian style.

MZ Austria White and Pink Suga Bowl
Victorian-style Sugar Bowl and Creamer

The set has a lot of detailing and design elements and a significant amount of delicate gold trim.

White creamer with tiny pink roses amidst pale green leaves
MZ Austria Creamer

The set also includes a salt and pepper duo and, because this is an antique set, some of the gold trim on the shaker tops has worn off.

Antique salt and pepper set with tiny pink flowers on a white background
MZ Austria Salt and Pepper Set

This set has no matching teapot so I have opted to use a Sadler teapot with pink roses.

Pretty ivory Sadler teapot with pink roses
Sadler Pink Roses Teapot

The teacup shape is very plain and simple. The short, stout, shape of the footed cup resembles Royal Albert’s Hampton shaped cups.

White cup and saucer with pink flowers and gold trim
MZ Austria Cup and Saucer

Each cup has an intricate floral pattern of tiny soft pink roses and green leaves around the cup and each has a tiny pink rose motif on the rear interior. The cups have ornate gilt filigree banding around the exterior rim and the simple loop handles on the cups also bear gold gilt trim that is carried to the saucer edges.

I have chosen to pair my Victorian style glasswear with this set. Again, larger pieces in keeping with the period of the teaset.

Victorian glassware
Victorian Glassware

The table linen I have chosen is a white antique Irish linen cloth. White keeps the overall look simplistic and soft and really makes the tiny pink roses on the dishes pop.

The napkin fold is a simplistic triangular fold and is placed between the supper plate and fruit nappy. This is an easy fold to do and is ideal when the napkin has a motif or monogram to be featured. Placing the napkin between the two plates is also beneficial if the table is either quite small or crowded with placesettings and serving pieces as the napkin is one less thing to find a space for on the table.

Placesetting with antique dishes with a pink and white design
Victorian Teaset

I have chosen a low profile floral centerpiece for the tea table in colors complementary to the dishes. The soft, subdued colors do not detract from, or compete with, the teaset. Keeping the centerpiece low makes it easy for guests to see and converse with each other.

Pink, white, and green, floral centerpiece for the tea table
Floral Centerpiece for Tea Table

Now, what would you serve on these dishes and what tea would you pair with the meal?

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A table set with pink and white Victorian teaset

 

 

Creamy Homestyle Corn Chowder Recipe

Small casserole filled with golden corn chowder accompanied by homemade rolls
Corn Chowder

Late summer brings some wonderful flavors and that includes corn. After a few “feeds” of corn-on-the-cob, I am ready to have the veggie served in other ways, like in this Creamy Homestyle Corn Chowder. Pure comfort food at its finest and nothing compares to the homemade version!

Corn Chowder is not difficult to make though there are steps involved and it does take a bit of time but, oh, the flavor is incomparable!

While corn chowder can be made with frozen corn kernels, the chowder really is at its ultimate when made with kernels stripped from freshly picked corn and the cobs then used to add wonderful flavor to the poultry stock base. Use your favorite variety of corn – peaches and cream or sweet yellow corn work well, for example. The chowder in the photos that accompany this posting was made with peaches and cream corn and the beautiful golden yellow color is all natural.

Casserole filled with golden corn chowder
Creamy Homestyle Corn Chowder

Once the kernels are stripped from the cobs with a sharp knife, the cobs are added to the poultry stock in a stockpot. There is a lot of flavor to be had from those cobs! I like to use my own homemade turkey or chicken stock as the base though bought stock may also be used. Letting the stripped cobs simmer away in the stock will really add more corn flavor to the chowder.

Chowders are all about layering in flavor. My recipe does not call for a large quantity of any one spice. Rather, the chowder is gently flavored with select spices, none of which detract from the pure corn flavor.

I save the rinds from parmesan cheese and keep them in the freezer. When I am making certain chowders, like this Corn Chowder, for example, in which I am going to be adding parmesan cheese as an ingredient, I will add a 2½” – 3” piece of rind to the stock as it cooks because it does impart wonderful flavor. The chowder stock can be made without the cheese rind but, if you have one, toss it in the pot.

Bowl of corn chowder with two homemade rolls
Creamy Homestyle Corn Chowder

The usual cast of characters are used for the aromatics — onion, celery, carrot, sweet pepper, and garlic – and, when sautéed in some bacon fat and butter, they certainly add to the flavor base. The crisply fried bacon from which the fat has been rendered is a great garnish for the chowder. Some recipes call for the bacon to be incorporated into the chowder and that can certainly be done. I, however, prefer to simply add it as a garnish.

Adding diced potato to corn chowder is a perfect way to add bulk and chunkiness to the texture but be sure to use potatoes that will hold their shape when cooked and not become mushy. I tend to lean toward Yukon Gold or Red Norlands for chowders though other varieties may work well, too. Just cook the potatoes, along with the corn kernels, in the stock mixture until the potatoes are barely fork tender.

I use cornstarch (versus flour) as the thickening agent for the Corn Chowder because cornstarch is gluten free for those who, for various reasons, cannot tolerate gluten, and also because I find it makes a lovely smooth textured chowder and there is no starchy or pasty taste that can sometimes happen when flour is used as the thickener.

A good portion of the cooked mixture is puréed in a blender until it is silky smooth and then is poured back into the stockpot with the remaining vegetable and stock mixture. This gives the chowder the velvety smooth textured base but, by leaving some of the mixture in its chunky state, it provides that homestyle, hearty texture.

Bowl filled with Corn Chowder
Creamy Homestyle Corn Chowder

A wee bit of sweetness to complement the corn is obtained by adding just a small amount of maple syrup.

I do not recommend fat-reduced dairy products for chowders. No…..just don’t do it as they tend to make a thinner, more watery base. A good chowder should be rich and creamy and that can really only be obtained by using the good stuff — yes, cream!

Now, there are various degrees of cream – I find I get a great corn chowder from using 10% blend cream mixed with some sour cream which has a bit of tang to it. Higher percentage creams, up to and including whipping cream, also work in the chowder so, go crazy with the cream if you wish! Add some shredded cheddar cheese and grated parmesan cheese for an even richer flavored chowder – oh-là-là! All that’s needed for a satisfying meal would be homemade rolls. Either my pan rolls or dinner rolls are ideal with this chowder.

The wonderful thing about corn (apart from its lovely flavor) is that it is a vegetable that enjoys a relatively long season from August well into the fall. So, don’t miss out on the opportunity to make a delicious Corn Chowder from the fresh corn when it is available locally.

Spoonful of creamy corn chowder
Corn Chowder

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Creamy Homestyle Corn Chowder

Ingredients:

3 cups corn kernels (apx. 3 – 4 large corn cobs)

5 cups poultry stock (chicken or turkey)
1 large bay leaf
¼ tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp dried dill
1/8 tsp dried summer savory
Pinch cayenne
Pinch curry powder
2½” – 3” piece parmesan cheese rind (optional)

4 slices bacon, fried crisp
2-3 tbsp butter
2/3 cup onion, diced small
½ cup celery, finely chopped
1/3 cup carrot, diced small
¼ cup red pepper, finely chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, minced

½ lb Yukon Gold or red potato, diced into ¼“ pieces

2½ tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp maple syrup
1 cup 10% blend cream, room temperature
2 tbsp sour cream, room temperature
2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Fresh chives or parsley for garnish (optional)

Method:

With sharp knife, cut the kernels from the corn cobs. Refrigerate kernels.

Place the stripped corn cobs in small stockpot and add the poultry stock, bayleaf, spices, and parmesan rind. Cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat then reduce heat to low and slowly cook mixture for about an hour. Strain mixture in fine wire mesh sieve. Discard cobs and solids.

While the stock is cooking, fry the bacon until crisp. Blot bacon on dry paper towel. When cool break into bite-sized pieces. Set aside for chowder garnish. Remove all but 1½ tablespoons of bacon fat from frypan.

Cut up onion, celery, carrot, and red pepper. Mince the garlic cloves. When stock is almost done cooking, melt butter in the frypan with the bacon fat over medium heat. When butter is melted, add the onions, celery, and carrot. Cook, stirring briskly, for 3-4 minutes then add the red pepper. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, until onion starts to become translucent and the vegetables are slightly softened. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring continuously, for about 30 seconds, just until the garlic becomes fragrant.

Transfer the sautéed vegetables to a medium-sized stockpot. Add the corn kernels and diced potato. Stir in all of the strained stock except for ½ cup which will be used to mix with the cornstarch to thicken the chowder. Cover stockpot and bring mixture to a boil over high heat then reduce heat to medium low and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are just barely fork tender.

Whisk 2½ tbsp cornstarch into the reserved ½ cup of poultry stock until smooth. Add 2-3 tablespoons hot mixture from the stockpot to temper the cornstarch mixture then add the thickener into the stockpot, stirring until mixture starts to thicken.

Transfer approximately 3 cups of the mixture to a blender and purée until very smooth. Pour puréed mixture back into the stock pot. Stir to combine with remainder of unpuréed chowder mixture.

Stir in the maple syrup. Whisk sour cream into the 10% blend cream until blended. Slowly whisk the dairy into the stockpot mixture. Heat thoroughly. Add the cheeses and stir until melted and blended into the chowder. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle chowder into bowls. Garnish with crisp bacon pieces and, if desired, fresh chopped chives or parsley. Serve with rolls or bread.

Yield: Apx. 6-8 servings

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Creamy Homestyle Corn Chowder

Thick, creamy, and hearty made-from-scratch Corn Chowder packed full of flavor. This rich chowder is comfort food at its finest! Serve with favorite rolls or bread.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword Corn, Corn Chowder, soup,
Servings 8
My Island Bistro Kitchen Barbara99

Ingredients

  • 3 cups corn kernels (apx. 3 – 4 large corn cobs)
  • 5 cups poultry stock (chicken or turkey)
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp dried dill
  • 1/8 tsp dried summer savory
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Pinch curry powder
  • 2½ - 3" piece parmesan cheese rind (optional)
  • 4 slices bacon, fried crisp
  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • 2/3 cup onion, diced small
  • ½ cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup carrot, diced small
  • ¼ cup red pepper, finely chopped
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ lb Yukon Gold or red potato, diced into ¼“ pieces
  • tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 cup 10% blend cream, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp sour cream, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh chives or parsley for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. With sharp knife, cut the kernels from the corn cobs. Refrigerate kernels.
  2. Place the stripped corn cobs in small stockpot and add the poultry stock, bayleaf, spices, and parmesan rind. Cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat then reduce heat to low and slowly cook mixture for about an hour. Strain mixture in fine wire mesh sieve. Discard cobs and solids.
  3. While the stock is cooking, fry the bacon until crisp. Blot bacon on dry paper towel. When cool break into bite-sized pieces. Set aside for chowder garnish. Remove all but 1½ tablespoons of bacon fat from frypan.
  4. Cut up onion, celery, carrot, and red pepper. Mince the garlic cloves. When stock is almost done cooking, melt butter in the frypan with the bacon fat over medium heat. When butter is melted, add the onions, celery, and carrot. Cook, stirring briskly, for 3-4 minutes then add the red pepper. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, until onion starts to become translucent and the vegetables are slightly softened. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring continuously, for about 30 seconds, just until the garlic becomes fragrant.
  5. Transfer the sautéed vegetables to a medium-sized stockpot. Add the corn kernels and diced potato. Stir in all of the strained stock except for ½ cup which will be used to mix with the cornstarch to thicken the chowder. Cover stockpot and bring mixture to a boil over high heat then reduce heat to medium low and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are just barely fork tender.
  6. Whisk 2½ tbsp cornstarch into the reserved ½ cup of poultry stock until smooth. Add 2-3 tablespoons hot mixture from the stockpot to temper the cornstarch mixture then add the thickener into the stockpot, stirring until mixture starts to thicken.
  7. Transfer approximately 3 cups of the mixture to a blender and purée until very smooth. Pour puréed mixture back into the stock pot. Stir to combine with remainder of unpuréed chowder mixture.
  8. Stir in the maple syrup. Whisk sour cream into the 10% blend cream until blended. Slowly whisk the dairy into the stockpot mixture. Heat thoroughly. Add the cheeses and stir until melted and blended into the chowder. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  9. Ladle chowder into bowls. Garnish with crisp bacon pieces and, if desired, fresh chopped chives or parsley. Serve with rolls or bread.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 6-8 servings

 

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Small gray casserole filled with homemade Corn Chowder garnished with bacon pieces

Vintage Rainbow Square Recipe

Slice of rose-colored Rainbow Square with a cup of tea
Rainbow Square

Today, I have dug deep into my vintage recipe file for this super tasty Rainbow Square. This is more of a dessert square than one that would be found on a tray of squares where each individual square could be picked up and eaten from the hand. This one is best served on a plate and eaten with a fork. It would fall into the “ooey-gooey” square category, in my opinion! Continue reading Vintage Rainbow Square Recipe

Lighthouse Watch Summer Al fresco Tablesetting

Lobster Rolls and Potato Salad on table covered with red and white checked tablecloth
Lighthouse Watch Tablesetting

When you live on an Island and are never far from water and fine beaches, it’s not hard to find tablesetting inspiration. Red and white is the color scheme for this Lighthouse Watch al fresco tablesetting which features lobster rolls and potato salad on the menu. Continue reading Lighthouse Watch Summer Al fresco Tablesetting