Category Archives: General

Celebratory Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea

Table with 3-tier server set for teatime
Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea

Today, we enjoyed a Celebratory Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea.  It’s not many people who can say they worked in the same job for 70 years and probably even fewer can boast of still being on the job every day with plans to continue! As I write this post, it is June 2, 2022, the actual 70th anniversary of the formal coronation of  Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (now aged 96) which took place on June 2, 1953.

There are many celebrations scheduled to mark this historic event,  including Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea events in the United Kingdom – London in particular, and indeed throughout parts of the Commonwealth.  While I would like to have been in London for this weekend and would have enjoyed one or more festive Platinum Jubilee afternoon teas at some of my favorite places as well as new ones to be discovered, the next best thing was to host a Celebratory Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea at home!

I thought blog followers might be interested in having a look at my version of a Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea. So, make yourself a cuppa and I’ll tell you what was on my menu.

First, I must say I do not have recipes published for every food item seen on the tea table but, for those for which I do have published recipes, I will put the hotlinks into the text for easy access to the recipes available on my website.

A bountiful three-tier serve filled with teatime sandwiches, scones, and pastries
Three-tier Server Ready for a Regal Afternoon Tea

As many of you who are regular followers of my food blog know, I simply adore afternoon teas! Today, my Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea was actually a Royal Afternoon Tea  to celebrate Her Majesty’s long career so it was more formal than my usual afternoon tea events. There are two elements that made this a more formal event. For starters, I used my good china, all matching pieces. Often times, I will use mismatched, but still curated and coordinated, cups, saucers, and other china pieces for afternoon tea events but, when it is a formal event, everything should match, including glassware and cutlery.

The second element that elevated this event from a standard afternoon tea to what would be classified as a Royal Tea was the inclusion of a sparkly drink. Champagne is the usual choice though Prosecco may also be served. Sometimes, this version of an afternoon tea is simply called a Champagne Tea.

With a Royal Afternoon Tea, all the elements of a typical Afternoon Tea (i.e., sandwiches, scones, and desserts) are still included. For my Royal Afternoon Tea today, I served Italian Mionetto Prosecco with a splash of my Rhubarb Strawberry Cordial. How colorful and summery was this pretty drink to start off our afternoon tea and raise a glass to Her Majesty!

Glasses of Prosecco and Rhubarb Strawberry Cordial
Prosecco and Rhubarb Strawberry Cordial

The Table

My china pattern is Royal Albert’s Lavender Rose. I love it as much today as when my mother started me on my first four-place settings many years ago so it was actually quite a joy to use pieces of the collection for a special commemorative afternoon tea. Because pink is the primary color of the china pattern, pink also became a significant color theme to my afternoon tea.

The table was set with an antique linen tablecloth and the napkin fold I chose was the simple “wave” fold. Often, with formal tablesettings, I will opt for a classic, understated napkin fold and simple white linens so as not to detract from the food and china used.

Teatable Placesetting
Formal Afternoon Tea Placesetting

The Menu

My menu for this three-course afternoon tea was inspired by: 1) Fare typical of a British afternoon tea;  2) Seasonal ingredients local to my region; 3) Flavor compatibility; and 4) Color coordination.

Food items were served on a classic three-tier server and the food was consumed in the traditional sequential order. That is to say, sandwiches were eaten first, followed by the scones course, and ending with  dessert and sweets. So, with the standard order of food consumption at an afternoon tea, guests work their way from the bottom plate to the top. Afternoon tea events are intended to be leisurely and unhurried, often taking 2-3 hours, giving guests time to fully enjoy the fare and linger over conversation.

Three-tier Server Filled with Afternoon Tea Foods
Three-tier Server Displaying Afternoon Tea Fare
Sandwich Course

We started off with a selection of four kinds of delicate sandwiches. I usually figure on three to five different kinds of sandwiches. It goes without saying that, for any kind of afternoon tea event, the sandwiches must be completely crustless and sized into shapes about two to three bites each.

A proper afternoon tea is a refined event and sandwiches are intended to be dainty, elegant, and very neat and tidy. To achieve this objective, the removal of the dark, bulky bread crusts is a must. The filling should not look messy or sloppy and there should be no evidence of the filling oozing out of the sandwich. For this reason, use care when adding mayonnaise to a sandwich filling as the filling can quickly become soupy and runny and leave a messy sandwich for a guest to deal with. It is best to leave the crusts on the bread while making the sandwiches then slice them off after assembling the sandwiches. That way, the sandwiches will have perfectly straight edges and a lovely clean, neat appearance.

I find teatime sandwiches do best on bread that is somewhat dense and can hold its shape well when picked up and not squish flat or have the filling ooze out when picked up in the fingers.

Sandwiches for an afternoon tea event can be made a few hours ahead, covered with a lightweight damp tea towel to keep them moist, and refrigerated until serving time.

I like to include open-faced sandwiches in the sandwich course in addition to the typical finger sandwiches. Including a variety of sandwich types and shapes lends variety and interest to a sandwich plate.

Today, I served four kinds of sandwiches. The first is the traditional egg salad sandwich on my homemade white bread. You can find the egg salad filling recipe here. These sandwiches are in the typical finger style and are dressed with fresh chives and a sprig of thyme.

Selection of Afternoon Tea Sandwiches on plate
Selection of Delicate Teatime Sandwiches

The second finger sandwich is my version of the famous teatime sandwich known as the Coronation Chicken Sandwich and is presented on homemade whole wheat bread. Did you know that the Coronation Chicken Sandwich (originally called “Coronation Elizabeth”) was created by two women at the Cordon Bleu Cookery School especially for the Queen’s 1953 Coronation? Seventy years later and the Coronation Chicken Sandwich still regularly appears on teatime menus.

Array of tiny teatime sandwiches on tea table
Selection of Teatime Sandwiches

No afternoon tea would be complete without the quintessential cucumber sandwich which, today, is in open-faced style on white bread. The spread on this sandwich is cream cheese mixed with some fresh dill.

Open-faced tea sandwiches
Open-faced Cucumber and Ham Teatime Sandwiches

Finally, the open-faced Ham and Guyère sandwich is presented on whole wheat bread atop a spread of mayonnaise, fig jam, and honey mustard. A sprig of thyme garnishes the sandwich.

Scones Course
Teatime Scones
Orange and Currant Scones

Scones and afternoon tea are synonymous! Today, I had two kinds of scones on the tea table – Currant and Orange Scones and Plain Scones, all still warm from the oven. Depending on their size, I usually figure one to two scones per person. You can find my scone recipe here and my tutorial for How To Make Scones here. Can you see the layers of buttery flakiness in these puffy, toothsome scones!  A knife should never be needed to break apart a scone. Rather, like these scones, they should be light and flaky enough that they break apart easily with the hands.

Scones for Teatime
Teatime Scones

In addition to the Devonshire Double Cream, I offered two scone toppings – my Strawberry Rhubarb Freezer Jam and my homemade Lemon Curd. I like to place the small bowls of scone toppings on a plate or tray for ease of passing between teatime guests. I consider that these should be passed together as a group (just as would be done with a set of salt and pepper shakers), rather than individually and risking spillage or having them become orphaned.

Tray of Toppings for Scones
Scone Toppings
Dessert Course

The top tier of an afternoon tea server is reserved for the sweets and pastries.

Afternoon Tea Dessert Plate
Sweets and Fancies for Afternoon Tea

However, that top plate is very small and I had more items than would fit on the small dessert plate so I used my large cake plate to hold and display two signature desserts in addition to some other dainty and delicate sweets.

Fancy Desserts for Teatime
Signature Desserts for Teatime

I couldn’t have a Royal Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea without including the classic Victoria Sponge Cake (aka Victoria Sandwich), a long-time traditional teatime cake. You can find my recipe for the Victoria Sponge Cake here. For today’s tea table, I made small, individual versions of the cake filled with jam and chantilly cream.

Mini Victoria Sandwich
Miniature Victoria Sponge Cake

When everything on a tea table is small and dainty, I think it justifies increasing the number of desserts (or, at least, that’s the story I am sticking to!)

Plate of Teatime Desserts
Teatime Desserts

My second signature dessert was Panna Cotta with a strawberry rhubarb gélee. My recipe for basic Panna Cotta is accessible here. This dessert was presented in very small dainty glass pedestal dessert dishes which allowed the layers of the Panna Cotta to be visible.

Dessert in a Glass
Panna Cotta with Strawberry-Rhubarb Gelée

French Macarons are always a lovely addition to a tea table and, today, mine were regally decorated in 24-kt edible gold for the occasion.

Macaron
French Macaron Decorated in Edible Gold

Tiny Cherry Madeleines in their iconic shell shape were dipped in pink chocolate and decorated in pearl dragées as a nod to the Queen’s signature pearl necklace we often see her wearing.

Madeleine
Dainty shell-shaped Madeleine

Fruitcake is a British tradition and I would be remiss not to include it in my afternoon tea fare. My light fruitcake was on today’s tea table. You can find my recipe for light fruitcake here and for my gluten-free light fruitcake here.

Fruitcake
Light Fruitcake

I have also included my Strawberry Rhubarb Bars on today’s dessert plate. These showy and scrumptious Bars feature a rich buttery shortbread crust with a luscious strawberry rhubarb topping. You can find my recipe for these Bars by clicking here.

Afternoon Tea Dessert Plate
Strawberry Rhubarb Bars

The lovely chocolates seen on my dessert plate today were artisan chocolates made by Jane and Sue Chocolates in Stanley Bridge, PEI. Their attention to detail and confectionery work are exquisite and their shop is well worth a visit. I just knew they would have decadent chocolates that would coordinate with my color scheme and they did not disappoint! Aren’t these confections just stunning!

Elegant Chocolates
Artisan Chocolates from Jane & Sue Chocolates, Stanley Bridge, PEI

 

Handmade Chocolates
Artisan Chocolates Created by Jane & Sue Chocolates, PEI

Tea Pairings

Royal Albert Teapot
Royal Albert’s “Lavender Rose” Teapot

Today, I prepared three separate pairings of tea, a different one for each course of the afternoon tea. The teapot in the photo above is the one from my Royal Albert china. The teacups from my china set are in the  Montrose shape. This shape is very characteristic of fine bone china cups and saucers, particularly from Royal Albert which first introduced the shape in 1962 with their now-famous Old Country Roses pattern.

Royal Albert Teacup
Teacup in Royal Albert’s “Lavender Rose” pattern

We are black tea drinkers and don’t personally like flavored teas so we started off with Happy Elephant’s Himalayan Darjeeling, an aromatic light-bodied tea, for the sandwich course. Tea pairing for the scones course was Twinings’ Earl Grey Tea. With its citrus notes, it was an excellent pairing, particularly with the scones that contain a hint of orange flavor. And, for the dessert course, the selection was Happy Elephant’s  English Afternoon Tea.

Cream and Sugar Set from Royal Albert
Royal Albert’s “Lavender Rose” Cream and Sugar Set

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into my Celebratory Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea.

Teatable Set for Royal Afternoon Tea
Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea
Be sure to check out my previous Afternoon Tea events by going to the Afternoon Tea section from the menu bar on my home page.

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Three-tier Server Filled with Afternoon Tea Fare
Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea

 

My Island Bistro Kitchen Celebrates 10th Blogiversary!

Celebration Cake
10th Blogiversary Celebration Cake

Today marks a milestone for me as it was 10 years ago on this date that I created My Island Bistro Kitchen’s website.

Over the past 10 years, I have developed and published countless recipes, conducted interviews and written numerous stories about PEI food and beverage producers, attended and written about many Island food events, contributed to media articles, participated as a panelist on radio call-in shows, wrote reviews of select cookbooks, provided several recipe tutorials, created a series of weekly meal plans, set many tables with all kinds of pretty tablesettings, shared my gardening adventures, taken followers around the scenic Island on my many summer picnics and, yes, you’ve been invited to several teatimes, too! Whew! What a whirlwind it has been!

Decorated Cake
Sugared Cranberry and Rosemary Cake Decorations

The food blog and website were created when I was looking for a focus that would allow me to pursue three of my passions – culinary, photography, and writing. Blogging had just really come into its own around the time that I created the website and so off I went on the recipe development, food photography, and food writing journey.

I aim to keep the recipes I develop and share real and do-able for the home cook and not too far “off the beaten track”. I am aware of the different levels of culinary skills and food budgets that followers may have. As such, I try to provide thorough instructions with my recipes and, with some exceptions but to the extent possible, to use equipment that is most likely to be common in the vast majority of kitchens so followers who choose to make the recipes can do so in their own kitchens. Where possible, I continue to try to feature and use locally produced food ingredients from here in Prince Edward Island.

So, on this, my 10th Blogiversary, I am grateful for those faithful followers of My Island Bistro Kitchen who have been with me from the start. I am also thankful for, and welcome, those who have joined (and continue to join) along the way. If you are new to “the Bistro”, a hearty warm welcome to you! I hope all will continue to follow “the Bistro” and invite their family and friends to follow along, too, as I have plans for more great recipes in the works.

Anniversary Cake
Blogiversary Celebration Cake

Every anniversary merits some kind of celebratory cake so, it’s a simple white cake filled with cranberry curd today and decorated with sugared cranberries and rosemary just picked from my garden.

Anniversary Cake
10th Blogiversary Celebration Cake

I have opted to pair some of my fuchsia, or cranberry-colored, teacups with this cake for today’s celebratory teatime. Tea was poured from the stunning bell-shaped carousel or marquee Sadler teapot in shades of ivory, gold, and burgundy. Isn’t it a stunner!

Sadler Teapot and Paragon Teacup
Sadler Bell-shaped Carousel or Marquee Teapot and a Paragon Teacup

 

Barbara

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To view previous Blogiversary celebrations of My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

1st Blogiversary
2nd Blogiversary
3rd Blogiversary
4th Blogiversary
5th Blogiversary
6th Blogiversary
7th Blogiversary
8th Blogiversary
9th Blogiversary

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

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

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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