Category Archives: Recipes

Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe

Ham Sandwich
Ham Salad Sandwich

I am a huge fan of cooking a big turkey, roast of beef, or ham for the leftovers they generate. It’s great to be able to get multiple meals from one cooking exercise. Today, on the sandwich board, I am featuring a tasty Ham Salad Sandwich made with ham that was leftover from a recent boiled ham dinner (leftovers from a baked ham work equally well in this sandwich). Continue reading Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe

Gluten-free Scones Recipe

Scones
Gluten-free Scones

It can be a challenge to develop quality gluten-free baked products, especially if one compares them to their wheat-based counterparts.  However, the good news is quality gluten-free baked goods are possible!  I hope you find these gluten-free scones proof of that. Continue reading Gluten-free Scones Recipe

Lemon Sponge Pudding Recipe

Lemon Pudding
Lemon Sponge Pudding

This self-saucing Lemon Sponge Pudding, baked in a bain marie, consists of a lovely lemon sauce topped with a light-as-air sponge cake.  How this all transpires is actually quite magical.  This is because the pudding mixture (both the sponge cake topping and the lemon sauce) are all mixed together when they go in the baking dish.  During baking, the two components, like magic, separate out with a delectable creamy lemon sauce forming on the bottom beneath the light sponge cake. Continue reading Lemon Sponge Pudding Recipe

Classic Banana Bread Recipe

Banana Quick Bread
Classic Banana Bread

This Classic Banana Bread is super moist and tasty.  Best of all, it’s really easy to make and, apart from the bananas, takes only standard pantry ingredients.  It’s the perfect way to use up extra ripe bananas since Banana Bread is best made with overripe bananas. They have so much flavor and add the extra moisture for which banana bread is known. Continue reading Classic Banana Bread Recipe

How To Make Perfect Scones

Scones
Scones

There is just something absolutely delightful about fresh scones still warm from the oven.  Ever so much better they are when slathered with a dollop of either clotted cream or English double cream and a favorite jam or lemon curd. This posting today is all about how to make perfect scones. Continue reading How To Make Perfect Scones

Gluten-free Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

I am not a fan of muffins that have a cake-type texture.  I like the muffins, whether wheat-based or gluten-free, to be deli-or café-style, hearty, and generously sized.  That’s exactly how I have created these tasty Gluten-free Blueberry Zucchini Muffins to be! Continue reading Gluten-free Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites

These Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites prove there is more than one way to enjoy coffee!

Energy Balls
Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites

Energy bites are known by several different names including energy balls, power balls, or bliss balls. A tasty, portable, and convenient on-the-go snack, these bites are great for the lunch bags. They are also  the perfect pre- or post-workout snack. I often take one with me if I am out running errands and they are a frequent snack packed when I travel as they can be consumed on the go.

Energy Balls
Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites

One of the best places I find for ingredients for these energy bites is my local bulk food store. Here, I can purchase just the precise amount of each ingredient needed for the recipe and I am not left with a big bag or container of some ingredient I might not use for anything else.

This recipe for Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites calls for Medjool dates.  These are large dates that have a softer, more chewy texture than the smaller firmer dates.  The latter do not have the rich flavor that the Medjool dates have. Because of their soft texture, Medjools are great to infuse with the coffee for these energy bites.

Energy Balls
Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites

Energy bites freeze very well and I have a stash of about four kinds stowed away in my freezer at the moment as I like a variety to choose from.  Later in this posting, you will find links to other energy bite recipes on my website.

These treats are not difficult to make but, in terms of special equipment, a food processor is required to prepare them and to get the ingredients well mixed.

Energy Balls
Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites

 [Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites

Ingredients:

5 oz Medjool Dates, pitted and coarsely chopped (apx. 6-7 large dates)
½ cup strong hot coffee (e.g., Espresso)

4 oz hazelnuts, finely ground (apx. 1 cup)
¼ cup smooth hazelnut butter
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled
2 tbsp cocoa
2 tsp hemp protein powder
1 tbsp ground chia seeds
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/16 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup quick rolled oats (gluten-free, if required), pulsed 4 – 5 times in food processor
2/3 cup shredded coconut

Method:

Pour hot coffee over dates in small saucepan. Cover and let sit 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Drain, reserving the coffee.

Place drained dates in bowl of food processor. Pulse 8 – 10 times. Add 1 tbsp reserved coffee, pulsing until dates form a thick, pliable, moist, paste-like consistency. Add 1 tbsp additional coffee, if required.

Add remaining ingredients and pulse mixture until well combined. If mixture seems too dry, add 1 – 2 tsp of reserved coffee. Place mixture in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to chill.

Roll mixture by hand into balls, using approximately 25g of mixture per ball.  Place balls on parchment-lined baking sheet and place in freezer for 20-25 minutes to firmly set. Store, in single layers separated by waxed paper, in airtight covered container in refrigerator for up to five days or, for longer storage, store in freezer.

Yield: Apx. 22 balls

For other energy bite recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

No-bake Chocolate Almond Bliss Balls
Peanut Butter Coconut Energy Balls
Prune and Pistachio Power Balls

Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites

These no-bake Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites prove there is more than one way to enjoy coffee! Super great treat for when the energy wanes.
Course Snack
Keyword energy balls, energy bites
My Island Bistro Kitchen My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 5 oz Medjool Dates, pitted and coarsely chopped (apx. 6-7 large dates)
  • ½ cup strong hot coffee (e.g., Espresso)
  • 4 oz hazelnuts, finely ground (apx. 1 cup)
  • ¼ cup smooth hazelnut butter
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 2 tsp hemp protein powder
  • 1 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/16 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup quick rolled oats (gluten-free, if required), pulsed 4 – 5 times in food processor
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Pour hot coffee over dates in small saucepan. Cover and let sit 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Drain, reserving the coffee.
  2. Place drained dates in bowl of food processor. Pulse 8 – 10 times. Add 1 tbsp reserved coffee, pulsing until dates form a thick, pliable, moist, paste-like consistency. Add 1 tbsp additional coffee, if required.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and pulse mixture until well combined. If mixture seems too dry, add 1 – 2 tsp of reserved coffee. Place mixture in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to chill.
  4. Roll mixture by hand into balls, using approximately 25g of mixture per ball. Place balls on parchment-lined baking sheet and place in freezer for 20-25 minutes to firmly set. Store, in single layers separated by waxed paper, in airtight covered container in refrigerator for up to five days or, for longer storage, store in freezer.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 22 balls

 

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Energy Balls
Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites

 

Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce

Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce
Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce

Homemade cranberry sauce is so easy to make and tastes fabulous.  This Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce has a wonderful blend of flavors that complement each other nicely.

Pears and cranberries pair well together with the sweetness of the pears balancing the tartness of the cranberries.  The addition of red wine adds a layer to the flavor profile of the sauce and, let’s just say, amps it up a bit!  However, even though red wine is a key ingredient in this sauce, more wine is not necessarily more in this case.  One-third cup of wine is adequate as adding too much wine can quickly overtake the cranberry flavor and become too strong and overpowering.

Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce
Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce

Essentially, this sauce begins with boiling water and sugar together, much in the same way as making a simple syrup.  Some red wine (any kind you would drink will do) is then added along with the cranberries, pear, citrus marmalade, and some pure maple syrup for an extra dash of sweetness.  Stirring the sauce as it cooks helps it to thicken so it is not watery.

During the last half of the cooking process, a pinch of cardamom, a piece of cinnamon stick, and a star anise pod are added for a boost of flavor.  The cinnamon stick and star anise are then discarded once the sauce comes off the stove as their function of infusing flavor into the sauce is complete.  Continue to stir the sauce as it cools because this will really help it thicken.

This sauce keeps in the refrigerator for up to five days.  It freezes very well so is great to have on hand in the freezer.

Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce
Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce

Cranberry Sauce complements any poultry dish.

Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce
Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce

With its stunning rich ruby-red color, this delectable sauce is a fine condiment to any holiday dinner.

Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce
Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce

Complete your next roast chicken or roast turkey dinner with this sauce as a condiment.

Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce
Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce with Roast Chicken

Make some extra and share this sauce as gifts with others.  A jar of this tasty sauce makes a fine host/hostess gift, too.

Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce
Cranberry Pear Sauce Is Great for Gift-giving

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce

Ingredients:

¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup red wine
2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 Bosc pear, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 tbsp citrus marmalade
2 tbsp maple syrup
Pinch cardamom
1½” chunk cinnamon stick
1 star anise

Method:

In medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring sugars and water to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add red wine, cranberries, chopped pear, marmalade, and maple syrup. Increase heat to medium-high to return mixture to boil then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir mixture frequently throughout the cooking process, for about 8 minutes. Then, add the cardamom, cinnamon stick, and star anise. Continue to cook mixture, uncovered, stirring frequently while cooking it for another 7-10 minutes, or until sauce thickens (it will thicken somewhat more as it is stirred during the cooling process).

Remove saucepan from heat and discard the chunk of cinnamon stick and the star anise. Stir sauce several times as it cools as this will help it to thicken.

Store sauce, tightly covered, in refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for longer storage. Serve sauce cold or at room temperature alongside roasted poultry.

Yield:  Apx. 2 cups

For other cranberry sauce recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Cranberry Rhubarb Sauce
Cranberry Blueberry Sauce

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Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies

These hearty Cranberry and Eggnog Cookies are good any time but they are especially good at Christmas. This is because they combine traditional flavors of the season – eggnog, dried cranberries, orange rind, pecans, and the warm spices we associate with Christmas – cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.

Drop Cookies
Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies

Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies are easy to make.  Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature before making these cookies. I do NOT recommend softening the butter in the microwave for baked products as it changes the properties of the butter and liquifies it too much.  For butter at room temperature, I remove it from the refrigerator about an hour before I need it and dice the amount I need into about 1” cubes. This hastens the softening.

For other ingredients (e.g., eggs, milk, yogurt) for which a recipe calls for them to be at room temperature, I usually take them from the refrigerator about 30 minutes or so before using them in a recipe. Simply put, room temperature ingredients incorporate into most batters much better than do cold ingredients.

Christmas Drop Cookies
Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies

Two baking sheets of these cookies can be baked at once with the oven racks positioned in the upper and lower third of the oven.  Rotate the cookie sheets and switch them between racks halfway through the baking to ensure even baking of all the cookies.  These cookies will have a tender texture and be somewhat soft and chewy if they are not overbaked.

I have given a baking time guide of 13-16 minutes.  However, some judgment on the part of the cook is required to determine the baking time for his or her oven because ovens are known for baking somewhat differently. The cookies are done when they are just barely set and the edges and the underneath sides just start to turn a light golden tan color.  Overbaking will result in a harder, crisper cookie.

These festive Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies are hearty, wholesome cookies that freeze well and are perfect for holiday cookie exchanges.

Christmas Drop Cookies
Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cloves

1½ cups quick cooking rolled oats
¾ cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped pecans

½ cup salted butter, room temperature
¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg, room temperature, lightly beaten with fork
¼ cup eggnog, room temperature
1½ tsp finely grated orange rind
1 tsp pure vanilla

Method:

Position oven racks in upper and lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and spices together into a bowl. Set aside.

In separate bowl, combine the rolled oats, cranberries, and pecans. Set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed. Gradually blend in the brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape sides of bowl with rubber spatula, as required. Add the egg, eggnog, grated orange rind, and vanilla. Beat until combined with butter and brown sugar.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add the sifted dry ingredients, Increase speed slightly and mix well until ingredients are incorporated.

Stir in the rolled oats, cranberries, and nut mixture until combined.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonful onto prepared cookie sheets, leaving approximately 1½ – 2” between cookies. Bake 13-16 minutes (rotating and switching baking sheets between racks halfway through the baking), or until edges and bottoms of cookies are light golden tanned. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheets for 2-3 minutes before using a cookie lifter to transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Store cookies in airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or freeze for longer storage.

Yield: Approximately 2½ dozen

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(and you can pin the Pinterest-ready photo(s) below to your favorite Pinterest boards)

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Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies

These festive Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies are hearty, wholesome cookies that are perfect for holiday cookie exchanges.
Course Snack
My Island Bistro Kitchen My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • cups quick cooking rolled oats
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup salted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 large egg, room temperature, lightly beaten with fork
  • ¼ cup eggnog, room temperature
  • tsp finely grated orange rind
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla

Instructions

  1. Position oven racks in upper and lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, and spices together into a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In separate bowl, combine the rolled oats, cranberries, and pecans. Set aside.
  4. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed. Gradually blend in the brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape sides of bowl with rubber spatula, as required. Add the egg, eggnog, grated orange rind, and vanilla. Beat until combined with butter and brown sugar.
  5. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the sifted dry ingredients, Increase speed slightly and mix well until ingredients are incorporated.
  6. Stir in the rolled oats, cranberries, and nut mixture until combined.
  7. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonful onto prepared cookie sheets, leaving approximately 1½ - 2” between cookies. Bake 13-16 minutes (rotating and switching baking sheets between racks halfway through the baking), or until edges and bottoms of cookies are light golden tanned. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheets for 2-3 minutes before using a cookie lifter to transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

  8. Store cookies in airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or freeze for longer storage.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Approximately 2½ dozen

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Christmas Drop Cookies
Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies

The Bistro’s Scotch Cookies

Shortbread
Scotch Cookies

Scotch Cookies (sometimes called “Scotch Cakes”), close cousins of Shortbread, are a must-have Christmas tradition in many PEI households. They are a very common addition to holiday sweet plates. I am often asked if I have a recipe for Scotch Cookies and this is it.

The proportions of the main ingredients in these Scotch Cookies follow the holy grail ratio for traditional Scottish Shortbread – 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter, and 3 parts flour.  What differentiates Scotch Cookies from traditional Scottish Shortbread are the liberties taken with ingredients for Scotch Cookies and their decorations. In that way, I suppose one could refer to Scotch Cookies as a modernized version of traditional Shortbread.

Shortbread
Scotch Cookies

Texture of Scotch Cookies

If you have ever heard someone refer to a cookie as “short”, they mean it has a crumbly texture that melts in the mouth. This texture is achieved by producing a somewhat dry dough which comes from the high flour content in relation to the proportion of fat in the recipe. The use of icing sugar and addition of cornstarch, and only moisture that comes from the butter are also contributing factors. There will be a shortness and crispness to a well-made Scotch Cookie.

INGREDIENTS

Butter

Butter is considered an essential ingredient for which I do not recommend any substitutes in Scotch Cookies. Yes, use the good stuff in Scotch Cookies because you can taste the difference and pure butter is a main contributor to both flavor and the crumbly texture in these cookies.  The cookies may be made with either salted or unsalted butter.  If using unsalted butter, add ¼ teaspoon or a little more of salt to the dry ingredients.

Icing Sugar vs Granulated or Brown Sugar

While traditional Shortbread will typically be made using granulated sugar, I use icing sugar in my Scotch Cookies. Some of you may know icing sugar as powdered or confectioner’s sugar.  I find this sugar gives a much more light and tender crumb in the cookies than does traditional granulated or even brown sugar (called for in some recipes).  Make sure the icing sugar is sifted before measuring out the ½ cup called for in the recipe.

Additional Flavorings

Traditional Shortbread would not typically have any additional flavorings added – it’s basically just the sugar, butter, and flour in Shortbread.  However, I sometimes like to add just a small amount each of pure vanilla and almond flavoring in my Scotch Cookies.  These flavorings are entirely optional in this recipe.  If added, they should be in very small amounts – i.e., ¼ tsp and 1/8 tsp, respectively.  These cookies are meant to taste like butter and adding too much flavoring will interfere with that pure flavor so do exercise caution in how much is added.

Cornstarch

My recipe calls for 1/3 cup cornstarch to which I attribute the melt-in-your-mouth tender texture in the cookies. Mix it in with the flour before incorporating it into the butter/sugar mixture. Cornstarch works magic in combination with the other ingredients to create the “shortness” texture in the cookies.

Flour

Basic, all-purpose flour is fine to use in Scotch Cookies. No special flour is required.

No Leavening in Scotch Cookies

There is no leavening in Scotch Cookies which makes the dough great from which to cut shapes since the stiff, dry dough retains its shape during baking.

Shortbread
Scotch Cookies

MEASURING INGREDIENTS

When measuring the icing sugar and cornstarch, as well as the flour, make sure you use an accurate measure.  To measure, simply spoon the dry ingredients into the measuring cups without stirring, and then, with the flat side of a table knife, level off the excess.  Do not pack the dry ingredients into the cup, tap the measuring cup with the spoon to settle the dry ingredients into the cup, or tamp the cup on the counter to make room for more.  This will result in an inaccurate measure of the ingredients and may cause the dough to be overly dry if too much of these ingredients is used.

TEXTURE OF DOUGH AND CHILLING DOUGH

Shortbread/Scotch Cookie dough is considered a dry dough as no liquid is added, save for the moisture that comes from the butter.  The dough texture will be soft when mixed.  Placing it in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes or so to chill will help it to firm up enough to roll out and cut out shapes.  The dough for Scotch Cookies should not be over-kneaded or worked as it will get the gluten in the flour all excited and stirred up resulting in tough cookies.  Just work it enough that the dough comes together and can be rolled out to about ¼“ thickness. The scraps of dough should be handled in the same manner until all the dough has been cut out in shapes. Minimal handling of the dough is one of the keys to tender Scotch Cookies.

I recommend dividing the dough in half and forming discs with each half.  It is a smaller amount of dough to work with at a time, especially for gathering up and re-working the dough for the remainder of the cookie cutting.

CUTTING OUT SCOTCH COOKIES

Scotch Cookies are intended to be small, dainty cookies, about two-bite size.

Because the dough is a dry dough, it does not spread during baking. It, therefore, lends itself well to being cut with any shape of cutter desired.  I recommend a cookie cutter of about 1¾ – 2” in diameter as a suitable size.

Shortbread
Scotch Cookies

BAKING THE SCOTCH COOKIES

I use insulated cookie sheets lined with parchment paper for baking my Scotch Cookies.  I find the insulated sheets give a bit more protection for the cookies from the heat. That is not to say that other cookie sheets do not work well.

The oven rack should be positioned in the center of the oven to allow good air circulation for the cookies to bake evenly. The cookies (of the size indicated in this recipe) are baked in a slow oven (300°F) for about 22-24 minutes. They will be almost the same color when baked as was the dough. They should not be brown on the edges or the underside side as they are meant to be very pale and delicate. Once removed from the oven, let the cookies rest 3-4 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

DECORATING SCOTCH COOKIES

A significant difference between Scotch Cookies and Shortbread is that Shortbread is left plain, unfrosted.  With Scotch Cookies, however, liberties can be taken to decorate them with a small dob of icing piped in the center of each cookie which may, if desired, be decorated with a small bit of very well drained maraschino cherry, a dragée, or quinns of choice as I have done in the photos here with the holly leaves and berries. The cookies can, of course, be left unfrosted, if desired.

Decorated Scotch Cookies
Scotch Cookies Decorated with Christmas Quinns

STORING SCOTCH COOKIES

Undecorated, the cookies can be stored in layers separated by wax paper in an airtight container in a cool location for about 4-5 days.  Alternatively, they can be frozen for longer storage.  If applying icing and decorations to the cookies, I recommend doing so just before serving.  This will ensure no damage occurs to the icing or decorations during storage plus the cookies are easier stored in layers, undecorated.

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

The Bistro’s Scotch Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup salted butter, room temperature
½ cup sifted icing sugar (aka confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar)
¼ tsp vanilla (optional)
1/8 tsp almond flavoring (optional)
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch

Method:

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed until it is light in color and very soft and smooth, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce the speed and gradually add the icing sugar, continuing to beat the mixture until blended and smooth, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if required. Beat in the vanilla and almond flavoring, if using.

Sift the flour and cornstarch together. With mixer set on low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix until all are incorporated, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as required. Mixture will be soft. Divide dough in half and form each half into a disc shape. Wrap discs separately in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes, or just until dough becomes firm enough to roll out.

Position oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 300°F. Line cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper.

Remove dough from refrigerator and, on very lightly floured surface, roll each disc of dough evenly to approximately ¼“ thick. With lightly floured cookie cutter of choice about 1¾“ – 2” in diameter, cut out shapes and transfer cookies to prepared baking sheet. Gather and re-roll scraps of dough until all dough has been used up and cut out into shapes, being careful not to overwork dough. Place cookies about 1½” apart on the prepared baking sheet(s). Bake 22-24 minutes, or until cookies are just set. Cookies will be very light colored. Note that baking times will need to be adjusted if other sized cookie cutters are used.

Remove cookies from oven and leave on baking sheet for about 3-4 minutes before, using a flat cookie lifter, transferring them to wire rack to cool completely.

Cookies may be left plain or a small dab of icing may be piped on to center of each cookie and then, if desired, topped with a small bit of well-drained maraschino cherry, dragée or quinns of choice.

Yield:  Apx. 3 – 3½ dozen cookies. [Note that exact yield will depend on thickness to which dough is rolled and the size of cutter used.]

Connect with My Island Bistro Kitchen by:

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

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

(and you can pin the Pinterest-ready photo(s) below to your favorite Pinterest boards)

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Shortbread
Scotch Cookies

PRINTABLE RECIPE:

The Bistro’s Scotch Cookies

These melt-in-the-mouth Scotch Cookies have a delectable buttery flavor and a tender light crumb.
Course Sweet Treats
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword Scotch Cakes, Scotch Cookies, shortbread
My Island Bistro Kitchen My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup sifted icing sugar (aka confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp almond flavoring (optional)
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch

Instructions

  1. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed until it is light in color and very soft and smooth, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce the speed and gradually add the icing sugar, continuing to beat the mixture until blended and smooth, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if required. Beat in the vanilla and almond flavoring, if using.
  2. Sift the flour and cornstarch together. With mixer set on low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix until all are incorporated, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as required. Mixture will be soft. Divide dough in half and form each half into a disc shape. Wrap discs separately in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes, or just until dough becomes firm enough to roll out.
  3. Position oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 300°F. Line cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper.
  4. Remove dough from refrigerator and, on very lightly floured surface, roll each disc of dough evenly to approximately ¼“ thick. With lightly floured cookie cutter of choice about 1¾“ – 2” in diameter, cut out shapes and transfer cookies to prepared baking sheet. Gather and re-roll scraps of dough until all dough has been used up and cut out into shapes, being careful not to overwork dough. Place cookies about 1½” apart on the prepared baking sheet(s). Bake 22-24 minutes, or until cookies are just set. Cookies will be very light colored. Note that baking times will need to be adjusted if other sized cookie cutters are used.
  5. Remove cookies from oven and leave on baking sheet for about 3-4 minutes before, using a flat cookie lifter, transferring them to wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Cookies may be left plain or a small dab of icing may be piped on to center of each cookie and then, if desired, topped with a small bit of well-drained maraschino cherry, dragée or quinns of choice.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 3 – 3½ dozen cookies. [Note that exact yield will depend on thickness to which dough is rolled and the size of cutter used.]

 

Coconut Date and Cherry Square

Coconut Date and Cherry Square
Coconut Date and Cherry Squares

These Coconut Date and Cherry Squares are one of the easiest squares to make as there is only the one layer.  Simply place the coconut, dates, cherries, and pecans in a large bowl. Stir in sweetened condensed milk and transfer mixture to a baking pan.  How easy is that!

The trick is not to overbake the square as it will dry out.  Just bake it until it barely starts to turn golden on the edges and it will stay lovely and moist. It’s a supremely lovely treat with a cup of tea (or coffee)!

Coconut Date and Cherry Square
Coconut Date and Cherry Square

A simple way to deal with icing and cutting squares is to leave a bit of parchment overhang when lining the baking pan with parchment paper.  This “overhang” can then be used to easily lift the square, once completely cooled, from the pan.  This makes it very easy to ice and cut the square and the knife does not damage the finish on the baking pan when squares are cut.

One thing I like to do with my squares is cut off the outside edges by about 1/4″ all around the square.  This gives every cut square a nice tidy, even edge.

While this square is fabulous any time of the year, the wonderful delicious flavors of coconut, dates, cherries, and pecans also make this square a great addition to holiday sweet trays.  Of course, the delectable icing with a drizzle of chocolate on top is the crowning glory. While the chocolate drizzle is optional, it does add interest to the white icing. No need to fuss with how the drizzle goes on – just use either a fork or a spoon and quickly drizzle the chocolate any which way!

Coconut Date and Cherry Squares
Coconut Date and Cherry Squares

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Coconut Date and Cherry Squares

Ingredients:

2½ cups medium shredded non-sweetened coconut
2 cups dates, chopped
½ cup maraschino cherries, very well drained, cut into pieces
½ cup pecans, chopped
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (no substitutes)
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

Icing:

½ cup + 1 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
2½ cups sifted icing sugar (aka powdered or confectioner’s sugar)
2 – 2¼ tbsp milk or water
½ tsp almond flavoring (or vanilla)

1 – oz square semi-sweet chocolate (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line 9”x9” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving just enough overhang that there are “handles” to easily grip and lift the square from the pan when cooled.

In large bowl, combine the coconut, dates, maraschino cherries, and pecans. Mix the vanilla and salt into the sweetened condensed milk and pour over the coconut, dates, cherries, and pecans. Stir well to combine ingredients. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 22- 25 minutes, or just until edges of square start to turn light golden brown. Do not overbake. Remove square from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool in pan completely before icing. When completely cooled, lift square from pan.

To prepare icing, place butter in bowl of stand mixer and beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the icing sugar. Add the milk (or water), a couple of teaspoons at a time, along with the almond flavoring. Increase speed to medium-low to blend ingredients. Increase speed to high and beat an additional minute to ensure ingredients are well combined and icing is smooth. Additional milk or water may be required to make icing of desired spreading consistency. If adding additional milk or water, add by ½ teaspoon at a time. Icing should be of spreading consistency but not “soupy”.

Spread icing evenly over cooled square. Melt the chocolate square in small dish in microwave. Using a fork or spoon, drizzle chocolate in desired design over icing. Cut squares into desired size. Squares freeze well.

Yield: One 9”x9” pan of squares

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Coconut Date and Cherry Squares

Full of delicious flavors, this easy-to-make Coconut Date and Cherry Square is perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.
Course Dessert
Keyword iced squares, squares
My Island Bistro Kitchen My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • cups medium shredded non-sweetened coconut
  • 2 cups dates, chopped
  • ½ cup maraschino cherries, very well drained, cut into pieces
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (no substitutes)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Icing:
  • ½ cup + 1 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
  • cups sifted icing sugar (aka powdered or confectioner’s sugar)
  • 2 – 2¼ tbsp milk or water
  • ½ tsp almond flavoring (or vanilla)
  • 1 oz square semi-sweet chocolate (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line 9”x9” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving just enough overhang that there are “handles” to easily grip and lift the square from the pan when cooled.

  3. In large bowl, combine the coconut, dates, maraschino cherries, and pecans. Mix the vanilla and salt into the sweetened condensed milk and pour over the coconut, dates, cherries, and pecans. Stir well to combine ingredients. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 22- 25 minutes, or just until edges of square start to turn light golden brown. Do not overbake. Remove square from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool in pan completely before icing. When completely cooled, lift square from the pan.

  4. To prepare icing, place butter in bowl of stand mixer and beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the icing sugar. Add the milk (or water), a couple of teaspoons at a time, along with the almond flavoring. Increase speed to medium-low to blend ingredients. Increase speed to high and beat an additional minute to ensure ingredients are well combined and icing is smooth. Additional milk or water may be required to make icing of desired spreading consistency. If adding additional milk or water, add by ½ teaspoon at a time. Icing should be of spreading consistency but not “soupy”.
  5. Spread icing evenly over cooled square. Melt the chocolate square in small dish in microwave. Using a fork or spoon, drizzle chocolate in desired design over icing. Cut squares into desired size. Squares freeze well.

Recipe Notes

Yield: One 9”x9” pan of squares

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Granola
Pumpkin Spice Granola

Oh, the divine tantalizing scent in the house when this homemade Pumpkin Spice Granola is baking in the oven!  The combination of pumpkin purée and warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and ginger make this a winner!  If you want a clean, healthy breakfast cereal, or snack food, free of preservatives and additives, this granola is for you.

This is chunky style granola which means binding agents are needed to clump and hold the ingredients together.  In this granola, that includes pumpkin purée, applesauce, maple syrup, and the mother of all food glue, an egg white beaten till frothy.  I do add a couple of tablespoons of oat flour to this recipe and I have labeled it as an optional ingredient.  This means the granola is fine without it but the oat flour does, along with the ground flax and chia seeds, give something extra for the syrup to cling to and it does help bind the ingredients together.  If you don’t have oat flour and wish to add it, you can simply toss some rolled oats into a small food processor, or even a coffee grinder, and grind them into fine flour.

In addition to the binding ingredients, the other thing that is necessary to keep the granola clumpy and chunky is not to stir it while it bakes and to leave it in the pan, undisturbed, for approximately 30 minutes after it comes out of the oven.  This helps the granola crisp up and then it can be broken into desired size chunks.

granola
Pumpkin Spice Granola served with Greek yogurt and fresh pear

Typically, I don’t add nuts or whole seeds to my granola but a pumpkin-flavored granola just seemed to call for them.  Any favorite nuts or seeds can be used.  Slivered almonds and pistachios pair well with the pumpkin so those are my choices for this granola.  I do include these nuts in with the rolled oat mixture that gets baked in the oven.  The pumpkin and sunflower seeds, on the other hand, are very small and delicate.  As such, they are very susceptible to easily burning.  My preference is to buy these seeds already roasted and add them along with the raisins and dried fruit after the rolled oats mixture has been baked.  I recommend the same thing with coconut, preferring to buy it already toasted as it can burn very quickly, ruining the flavor of the granola.

Bulk food stores are great places to buy ingredients for granola as one can buy just the amounts needed instead of buying a big bag of one ingredient and only using 1/3 cup of it with no plans for the rest of the bag’s contents.  The great thing about granola is, once you have a good recipe for the syrup and spices, you can swap out any of the dried fruits, seeds, and nuts so long as you replace them and keep the new substitute(s) in the same quantity/weight.  So, if you don’t like raisins, for example, simply swap them out for the same quantity of another dried fruit like cherries, cranberries, apricots, etc.

Granola
Pumpkin Spice Granola

Add the dried fruits and raisins after the rolled oat mixture has baked and cooled.  Adding these before the baking process will turn the fruits into hard, tough little nuggets which are not pleasant to eat.

This granola is a staple in my freezer.  There are  so many different ways in which it can be used.  I use it on its own as a cereal and, sometimes, I’ll top oatmeal or a cold cereal with it.

Granola
Pumpkin Spice Granola

It’s also great to serve alongside (or on top of) Greek yogurt and some fresh fruit.

Granola
Pumpkin Spice Granola

Toss some of the Pumpkin Spice Granola on top of a salad to add some extra crunch and texture.  Or, simply eat it, as is, as a snack.

granola
Pumpkin Spice Granola

Of course, homemade Pumpkin Spice Granola makes a great gift, too.  Package it attractively in a small cellophane bag or in a glass jar.

granola
Pumpkin Spice Granola

Add a ribbon and it makes a nifty host/hostess gift or small remembrance for someone. I love to give consumable gifts as they don’t clutter up anyone’s life and who doesn’t love a treat from someone else’s kitchen!

Granola
Pumpkin Spice Granola Makes a Great Gift

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Ingredients:

½ cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil, liquid state
2 tbsp applesauce
2 tbsp light brown sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla
1¼ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cloves
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp mace (optional)
½ tsp fine sea salt

3 cups old-fashioned large flake rolled oats
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup shelled pistachios
2 tbsp oat flour (optional)
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
2 tbsp ground chia seeds

1 extra-large egg white

2/3 cup golden raisins
½ cup sultana raisins
½ cup dried mixed fruit (e.g., cranberries, cherries, blueberries)
1/3 cup diced dried apricots
¼ cup hemp hearts
½ cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup roasted sunflower seeds
½ cup toasted coconut flakes

Method:

In small saucepan, combine the pumpkin purée, maple syrup, coconut oil, applesauce, brown sugar, and vanilla. Stir over medium-low heat until mixture is well blended and heated. Do not boil. Stir in spices and sea salt. Cool for about 20 minutes.

While the syrup is cooling, combine rolled oats, almonds, pistachios, oat flour, ground flax and chia seeds in large bowl.
In separate large bowl, combine raisins, dried mixed fruit, apricots, hemp hearts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and toasted coconut flakes. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray lightly with cooking oil.

Beat egg white until frothy.

Pour cooled syrup over rolled oats mixture. Stir in the frothy egg white to coat the rolled oats mixture.

Spread oat mixture evenly in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Pat down with the back of a spatula. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until oats are a deep caramel color and start to get crispy and fragrant. Do not stir mixture during the baking. If granola starts to brown quickly, rotate the baking sheet in the oven and/or reduce the heat. Remove pan from oven and cool granola in pan for about 30 minutes. Break granola into desired sized pieces and add to the large bowl containing the dried fruit and seeds. Stir to combine all ingredients.

Store granola in airtight container at room temperature for 5-7 days or store in freezer for longer use.

Yield: Apx. 2½ pounds

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Pumpkin Spice Granola

Perfectly flavored with warm autumnal spices, this chunky style Pumpkin Spice Granola has great flavor and texture. Perfect for breakfast, snacking, and gift giving.
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword granola, pumpkin spice granola
My Island Bistro Kitchen My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • ½ cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, liquid state
  • 2 tbsp applesauce
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla
  • tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp mace (optional)
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 3 cups old-fashioned large flake rolled oats [gluten-free if required]
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • ½ cup shelled pistachios
  • 2 tbsp oat flour (optional) [gluten-free, if required]
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 2 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 1 extra-large egg white
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup sultana raisins
  • ½ cup dried mixed fruit (e.g., cranberries, cherries, blueberries)
  • 1/3 cup diced dried apricots
  • ¼ cup hemp hearts
  • ½ cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup toasted coconut flakes

Instructions

  1. In small saucepan, combine the pumpkin purée, maple syrup, coconut oil, applesauce, brown sugar, and vanilla. Stir over medium-low heat until mixture is well blended and heated. Do not boil. Stir in spices and sea salt. Cool for about 20 minutes.
  2. While the syrup is cooling, combine rolled oats, almonds, pistachios, oat flour, ground flax and chia seeds in large bowl.
  3. In separate large bowl, combine raisins, dried mixed fruit, apricots, hemp hearts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and toasted coconut flakes. Set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray lightly with cooking oil.
  5. Beat egg white until frothy.
  6. Pour cooled syrup over rolled oats mixture. Stir in the frothy egg white to coat the rolled oats mixture.
  7. Spread oat mixture evenly in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Pat down with the back of a spatula. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until oats are a deep caramel color and start to get crispy and fragrant. Do not stir mixture during the baking. If granola starts to brown quickly, rotate the baking sheet in the oven and/or reduce the heat. Remove pan from oven and cool granola in pan for about 30 minutes. Break granola into desired sized pieces and add to the large bowl containing the dried fruit and seeds. Stir to combine all ingredients.
  8. Store granola in airtight container at room temperature for 5-7 days or store in freezer for longer use.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 2½ pounds

For Other Great Granola Recipes From My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Nut-free Granola
Clumpy Almond Butter Granola

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Granola

Gluten free Carrot Zucchini Muffins

gluten free muffins
Gluten-free Carrot Zucchini Muffins

These Carrot Zucchini Muffins are so packed full of flavor!  Even though they are gluten free, that should not be construed that any one who is not celiac or gluten-sensitive cannot eat them. In fact, I would be very surprised if anyone could guess they are gluten free!

The muffins rise and dome beautifully into just the right contoured shape for a perfect muffin.  Adding the streusel topping is such a treat on these muffins.  It not only dresses them up and adds texture but it makes the muffins ever so tasty by adding additional flavor.

Gluten-free Muffins
Gluten-free Carrot Zucchini Muffins with Streusel Topping

When I started developing gluten-free muffins, I soon discovered that, in order for them to closely replicate wheat-based muffins and have that deli quality I so desire in muffins, the gluten-free version takes a mixture of flours and starches.  Simply using a gluten-free all-purpose flour or the cup-for-cup/1-to-1 flour will not substitute well for these muffins.  The thing about gluten-free flours is that they each have their own unique properties and, for the most part, they cannot be substituted, cup-for-cup, for other flours. Nor, can an ingredient be left out without affecting the success of the baked good. Some flours, for example, absorb more liquid than others and that affects the amount of liquid ingredients required in a recipe.

Gluten-free Muffins
Gluten-free Carrot Zucchini Muffins

From experience, I can say it takes several attempts at perfecting gluten-free baking with speciality flours.  However, I have done that work for you, testing, and re-testing several times, each recipe I develop and publish to ensure it can be made with success in the kitchens of others, provided the baker follows my directions exactly, makes no ingredient substitutions, or leaves no ingredient out. Every ingredient (except maybe the spices) contributes to the batter consistency and texture of the finished product.

Gluten-free Muffins
Gluten-free Carrot Zucchini Muffins

The  Carrot Zucchini Muffins are a great way to add (hide!) vegetables into a muffin. Apart from their wonderful flavor, these two vegetables also add moisture to the batter.

Gluten-free Muffins
Gluten-free Carrot Zucchini Muffins

The texture of these Carrot Zucchini Muffins is moist and tender and the interior of the muffins show a somewhat coarse yet uniform interior crumb with small irregular air holes, characteristic of a well-constructed muffin.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten Free Carrot Zucchini Muffins

Ingredients:

2/3 cup sorghum flour
½ cup gluten-free quick cooking rolled oats
¼ cup brown rice flour
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup + 2 tbsp oat flour
2½ tbsp potato starch
2 tbsp ground chia seeds
1 tbsp + ¾ tsp tapioca starch
1½ tsp zanthan gum
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
Pinch cloves

½ cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1½ tsp vanilla
½ cup Greek style vanilla yogurt
2 tbsp whole milk
¾ cup shredded zucchini
¾ cup grated carrot

¾ cup raisins

Streusel Topping:

¼ cup sorghum flour
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
3 tbsp quick-cooking rolled oats
1/8 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp cold butter

Method:

Set out the eggs, yogurt, and milk to bring them to room temperature. If using solid coconut oil, melt and let it cool to room temperature before proceeding with recipe. Shred the zucchini and grate the carrot.

Preheat oven to 475°F.

Prepare 12 muffin cups (each at least ½-cup capacity) by spraying each muffin cup with cooking spray or greasing individually.

Prepare streusel topping by combining the flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, and cinnamon together. Cut in the cold butter until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

Combine flours, rolled oats, starches, ground chia seeds, zanthan gum, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices together in a large bowl. Whisk ingredients well to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Set aside.

In separate medium-sized bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir in the yogurt, milk, zucchini, and carrots.

Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients. With large spoon, mix ingredients together just until dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Do not overmix. Fold in raisins.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling almost to the rim of each cup. Sprinkle streusel mixture over tops of muffins. Transfer muffins to pre-heated oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 400°F. Bake for apx. 20 minutes, or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Do not overbake or muffins will be dry. Remove from oven and let muffins rest in pans for 5 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 12 muffins

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Printable Recipe:

Gluten Free Carrot Zucchini Muffins

Perfectly domed, packed full of flavor, and topped with a tasty streusel topping, these Gluten-free Carrot Zucchini Muffins are a special treat!

Course Breakfast
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword gluten free carrot zucchini muffins, glutenfree, muffins
Servings 12
My Island Bistro Kitchen My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup sorghum flour
  • ½ cup gluten-free quick cooking rolled oats
  • ¼ cup brown rice flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp oat flour
  • tbsp potato starch
  • 2 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp + ¾ tsp tapioca starch
  • tsp zanthan gum
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • Pinch cloves
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup Greek style vanilla yogurt
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • ¾ cup shredded zucchini
  • ¾ cup grated carrot
  • ¾ cup raisins

Streusel Topping:

  • ¼ cup sorghum flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tbsp quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp cold butter

Instructions

  1. Set out the eggs, yogurt, and milk to bring them to room temperature. If using solid coconut oil, melt and let it cool to room temperature before proceeding with recipe. Shred the zucchini and grate the carrot.

  2. Preheat oven to 475°F.
  3. Prepare 12 muffin cups (each at least ½-cup capacity) by spraying each muffin cup with cooking spray or greasing individually.
  4. Prepare streusel topping by combining the flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, and cinnamon together. Cut in the cold butter until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
  5. Combine flours, rolled oats, starches, ground chia seeds, zanthan gum, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices together in a large bowl. Whisk ingredients well to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Set aside.
  6. In separate medium-sized bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir in the yogurt, milk, zucchini, and carrots.
  7. Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients. With large spoon, mix ingredients together just until dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Do not overmix. Fold in raisins.
  8. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling almost to the rim of each cup. Sprinkle streusel mixture over tops of muffins. Transfer muffins to pre-heated oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 400°F. Bake for apx. 20 minutes, or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Do not overbake or muffins will be dry. Remove from oven and let muffins rest in pans for 5 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Notes

Yield: 12 muffins

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Gluten-free Muffins

Decadent Duchess Potatoes

Duchess Potatoes
Duchess Potatoes

Duchess Potatoes are one of the most elegant ways to serve mashed potatoes.  To make this recipe, the cooked potatoes are traditionally pushed through a potato ricer (like the one in the photo below) which removes all lumps and makes the potatoes very light and fluffy.  Alternatively, if you don’t have a potato ricer, the potatoes can be mashed really well with a potato masher but they won’t be quite as smooth as when riced.

Potato Ricer
Potato Ricer

The potatoes are mixed with egg yolks, milk or cream, melted butter, some cheese, and seasonings like onion and garlic salt and, traditionally, a pinch of nutmeg.  The creamy mixture is then squeezed through a pastry bag, fitted with a large open star tip, and piped into decorative shapes, like cones or rosettes, on to a baking sheet. Brushed with melted butter and browned in the oven, these little potato mounds take any meal up a notch! Slightly crispy on the outside, the inside is a soft, puffy cloud of tasty goodness.

Duchess Potatoes
Duchess Potatoes

Choose a good starchy potato, like Yukon Gold or Russets, suitable for mashing,  for these little gems. You will want to select a variety of potato that has a higher starch content as these will generate a fluffy and smooth texture when riced or mashed which is what is required for Duchess Potatoes.  The Yukon Gold variety will give a somewhat natural buttery taste and will have a creamier texture than will Russets though either variety will work for Duchess Potatoes. Avoid varieties of waxy potatoes as they have a tendency to become pasty and gummy when mashed or riced and mixed with other ingredients.  That is not the texture for good Duchess Potatoes.

Some potatoes (like Russets, for example) absorb more liquid than others so the quantity of milk/cream called for in the recipe should be used as a guide.  Add the cream/milk gradually, using only enough to make the potato mixture pliable and capable of being piped through the pastry bag.  Adding too much milk/cream will cause the mixture to become too loose and soupy and the potato mounds to spread instead of holding their shape. When they are piped on to the baking sheet, they should immediately hold their shape perfectly and not spread or flop over.

Avoid using a mixer or blender to combine the ingredients for Duchess Potatoes because too much mixing may result in any variety of potato used becoming glue-like and gummy. Just a good old large mixing spoon or rubber spatula and some muscle power will mix the ingredients sufficiently.

It is recommended that the potato mounds be placed in the refrigerator for a minimum of 20 minutes before baking as this will help them to firm up and reduce the risk of them spreading when they are placed in the oven.

Duchess Potatoes
Duchess Potatoes

Known in French as pommes duchess, this method of presenting potatoes is considered to be a classic in French cuisine.

Duchess Potatoes
Duchess Potatoes

Duchess Potatoes are a wonderful side dish to many meals as they plate really well and look very stylish on the plate.

Duchess Potatoes
Duchess Potatoes

Duchess Potatoes may be made up to a day in advance of serving and refrigerated, loosely covered with plastic wrap.  To bake, remove them from the refrigerator, brush with melted butter, sprinkle with paprika, and bake as directed in recipe.

The potatoes are typically piped into shapes about 2″ – 2 1/2″ in diameter.  Depending on the meal to which they are a side, and the size of the mounds, one or two of the potato mounds would generally be allotted per serving. If they are made very petite, up to three could be plated with a meal.

Duchess Potatoes
Roast Turkey Dinner Served with Duchess Potatoes

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Decadent Duchess Potatoes

Ingredients:

5 or 6 medium potatoes (Russets or Yukon Gold), peeled, sliced, cooked, and drained (apx 2 lbs)
¼ tsp salt

¼ cup melted butter
3 egg yolks (room temperature), slightly beaten
¼ – 1/3 cup cream, half and half, or whole milk (warmed) [See Note below]
3 tbsp grated white cheddar cheese
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
¼ – ½ tsp garlic salt
dash freshly cracked pepper
¼ tsp onion salt (optional)
Pinch nutmeg (optional)

2-3 tbsp melted butter for brushing potato mounds
Paprika (optional)
Fresh herbs of choice (e.g., thyme, rosemary, parsley) for garnish (optional)

Method:

Peel and slice potatoes. Place in large pot and add apx. 3 cups of water (1/4 tsp. salt). Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook potatoes until fork-tender. Drain.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray lightly with cooking oil.

Process potatoes through a potato ricer or mash really well with a potato masher to remove any lumps. Add butter, egg yolks, cream or milk, cheeses, garlic salt, pepper, onion salt, and nutmeg. Stir well to incorporate ingredients thoroughly and to make the mixture smooth. Transfer potato mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a large open star decorating tip (at least ¾” wide opening at tip).

Pipe mixture into decorative mounds, about 2 – 2½” round, directly onto prepared baking sheet leaving 1½” – 2” inches in between each mound (apx ½ cup potato mixture for each mound). Place in refrigerator for about 20 minutes to firm up the mounds before baking. Remove from refrigerator and brush mounds lightly with melted butter.

Sprinkle each mound lightly with paprika, if desired. Bake for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are slightly browned. Remove from oven and let potato mounds rest on baking sheet 3-4 minutes before serving.

Garnish with chopped fresh herbs and serve immediately.

Yield: Apx. 20 – 2” potato mounds

NOTE 1: Some potatoes absorb more liquid than others so the quantity of milk/cream given in the recipe should be used as a guide. Add the cream/milk gradually using only enough to make the potato mixture pliable and capable of being piped through the pastry bag. Adding too much milk will cause potato mounds to spread instead of holding their shape.

NOTE 2: Duchess Potatoes may be made up to a day in advance of serving and refrigerated, loosely covered with plastic wrap. To bake, remove from refrigerator and brush with melted butter and sprinkle with paprika. Bake as directed in recipe.

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Decadent Duchess Potatoes

One of the most elegant ways to serve potatoes, these Duchess Potatoes take mashed potatoes to a whole new level!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine French
Keyword duchess potatoes, potatoes
Servings 10
My Island Bistro Kitchen My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 5 or 6 medium potatoes (Russets or Yukon Gold), peeled, sliced, cooked, and drained (apx 2 lbs)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 3 egg yolks, room temperature, slightly beaten
  • ¼ - 1/3 cup cream, half and half, or whole milk (warme[See Note below]
  • 3 tbsp grated white cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ - ½ tsp garlic salt
  • dash freshly cracked pepper
  • ¼ tsp onion salt (optional)
  • Pinch nutmeg (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp melted butter for brushing potato mounds
  • Paprika (optional)
  • Fresh herbs of choice (e.g., thyme, rosemary, parslefor garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Peel and slice potatoes. Place in large pot and add apx. 3 cups of water (1/4 tsp. salt). Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook potatoes until fork-tender. Drain.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  3. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray lightly with cooking oil.
  4. Process potatoes through a potato ricer or mash really well with a potato masher to remove any lumps. Add butter, egg yolks, cream or milk, cheeses, garlic salt, pepper, onion salt, and nutmeg. Stir well to incorporate ingredients thoroughly and to make the mixture smooth. Transfer potato mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a large open star decorating tip (at least ¾” wide opening at tip).
  5. Pipe mixture into decorative mounds, about 2 - 2½” round, directly onto prepared baking sheet leaving 1½” – 2” inches in between each mound (apx ½ cup potato mixture for each mound). Place in refrigerator for about 20 minutes to firm up the mounds before baking. Remove from refrigerator and brush mounds lightly with melted butter.
  6. Sprinkle each mound lightly with paprika, if desired. Bake for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are slightly browned. Remove from oven and let potato mounds rest on baking sheet 3-4 minutes before serving.
  7. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 20 – 2” potato mounds

NOTE 1: Some potatoes absorb more liquid than others so the quantity of milk/cream given in the recipe should be used as a guide. Add the cream/milk gradually using only enough to make the potato mixture pliable and capable of being piped through the pastry bag. Adding too much milk will cause potato mounds to spread instead of holding their shape.

NOTE 2: Duchess Potatoes may be made up to a day in advance of serving and refrigerated, loosely covered with plastic wrap. To bake, remove from refrigerator and brush with melted butter and sprinkle with paprika. Bake as directed in recipe.

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Duchess Potatoes

Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Tomatoes
Cherry Tomatoes (Bumblebee variety)

Every year, we grow cherry tomatoes in the garden. They are prolific producers and there is no way we can use up the pounds and pounds of tomatoes they produce.   This time of the year, they can’t even be given away because it seems everybody has an over-abundance of them in their gardens.  So, what to do with them?  Turn them into a rich, thick, and flavorful sauce!

Tomato Sauce
Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Typically, when making tomato sauce, I choose to use plum (aka Roma) tomatoes because they have more pulp than seeds.  However, I do not like wasting food and, since I had pounds of excess cherry tomatoes, I figured they were worth a bit of time to turn them into tomato sauce. Any variety of cherry tomato will work in this recipe.  The sauce in the photos in this posting was made with the Bumblebee variety.

Tomato Sauce
Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

I find that roasting vegetables brings out their wonderful flavors. This is true of tomatoes as well. For this recipe, I simply washed and dried the tiny tomatoes and cut off the stem ends then put them into a couple of large baking pans, drizzled them with olive oil, turning the tomatoes to ensure they were coated on all sides. Some nutmeg, along with a hefty sprinkling of fine sea salt and some freshly ground pepper, were applied to the tomatoes.  A light drizzle of balsamic vinegar was used to add some additional flavor.

Roasted Tomatoes
Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

These tomatoes were roasted around 40 minutes in a 400°F oven, just until they started shriveling and bursting open.  While the tomatoes are cooling before being puréed, start cooking the aromatics – the shallots, celery, carrot, green pepper, and garlic cloves.  Once these are softened, they will be put through the food processor or blender along with the tomatoes.

Either a food processor or blender can be used to purée the roasted tomatoes and vegetables. My preference is to use a blender for this purpose.  Neither appliance will completely grind up all the hundreds of tiny tomato seeds. I like my tomato sauce to be free of the seeds so, after puréeing the tomatoes, I pass the puréed mixture through a wire mesh sieve, using the back of a spoon to gently press the tomatoes to release the sauce and hold back the seeds and any remaining bits of skin that may not have puréed.  If you don’t mind the seeds and like a more rustic style of tomato sauce, it’s perfectly fine to leave the seeds in the sauce and you can skip this step.  However, for a sauce with a more smooth and refined textured, and for anyone who experiences difficulty digesting seeds, I do recommend straining out the seeds. Amazingly, the puréeing process will grind up the tomato skins very well and there will only be slight traces (if any at all) of any skins visible after puréeing the mixture.

Tomato Sauce
Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

This sauce may be made with either dried or fresh herbs and I have given approximate amounts for each.  The amount of herbs to use (and the same for garlic) is a matter of personal taste so feel free to vary the amounts slightly according to your own taste preferences.  Just remember that more seasoning can be added as the sauce simmers but, if too much is added, there is no way to remove it.

Tomato Sauce
Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

I do add a small can of tomato purée to this sauce to give it more body, color, and deeper flavor.  Sweeten up the sauce with a small amount of pure maple syrup and let the sauce simmer for about an hour or so to allow the flavors to develop. If desired, a half cup of a full-bodied red wine can also be added to the sauce.

Tomato Sauce over Pasta
Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce Over Pasta

This sauce works particularly well on pasta though it can be used in any recipe calling for tomato sauce.

This Cherry Tomato Sauce may be used immediately or refrigerated up to three days.  For longer storage, freeze the sauce in airtight freezer containers or zippered freezer bags of desired serving size. This sauce is a great way to use up the excess cherry tomatoes in the garden.

Tomato Sauce over Pasta
Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce over Pasta

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

5 lbs cherry tomatoes, any variety, washed and dried, stem ends removed
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
¾ tsp ground nutmeg
1 – 1¼ tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional)

2-3 tbsp olive oil
Scant 2/3 cup shallots, finely chopped
½ cup celery, finely chopped (apx. 1 stalk)
½ cup carrot, finely chopped
1/3 cup green pepper, finely chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, minced

1 – 5.5oz can tomato paste
1½ tbsp pure maple syrup
½ cup red wine (optional)
2 – 2½ tsp dried parsley, chopped (or apx. 2 tbsp chopped fresh)
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1¼ tsp dried basil (or apx. 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh)
1 tsp dried oregano (or apx 1 tbsp chopped fresh)
¼ tsp dried thyme (or apx 1 tsp chopped fresh)
½ tsp dried rosemary, crushed (or apx ½ tbsp chopped fresh)
1/16 tsp ground cloves

Sea salt and cracked pepper, to taste

Method:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place tomatoes, single layer on rimmed baking sheets or 9”x13” baking pans. Drizzle with olive oil, tossing tomatoes to coat all sides. Sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar. Place in oven, uncovered, and roast for 35-45 minutes, until tomatoes shrivel, and start to burst and break down somewhat. Remove from oven and cool for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in skillet. Add the shallots, celery, carrot, green pepper, and garlic cloves. Cook over medium heat for 6-7 minutes, until vegetables are softened.

Working in batches, process the roasted tomatoes and their juices along with the sautéed vegetables in blender or food processor until smooth. If removal of all seeds is desired, pass the puréed mixture through a wire mesh sieve positioned over small clean stock pot. Using the back of a large spoon or a rubber spatula, gently press down on the tomato mixture to push it through the sieve. Discard the seeds and any remaining bits of tomato skin.

Place stockpot on low heat and add the tomato paste, maple syrup, red wine, and spices. Stir well and increase heat to medium low. Stir frequently to avoid mixture sticking to pot. When mixture starts to show signs of bubbling, reduce heat to low simmer and let mixture cook slowly for 40-60 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Stir frequently.

Serve immediately over hot cooked pasta or refrigerate up to three days. For longer storage, freeze in airtight containers or zippered freezer bags of desired serving size.

Yield: Apx 1 litre

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

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Tomato Sauce

 

Printable Recipe:

Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Roasted cherry tomatoes are the basis for this rich, thick, and flavorful Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce that is perfect over pasta. Freezes well. Great use for excess cherry tomatoes.
Course Condiment, Side Dish
Keyword cherry tomato sauce, roasted cherry tomato sauce, tomato sauce
My Island Bistro Kitchen My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs cherry tomatoes, any variety, washed and dried, stem ends removed
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • ¾ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 – 1¼ tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • Scant 2/3 cup shallots, finely chopped
  • ½ cup celery, finely chopped (apx. 1 stalk)
  • ½ cup carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup green pepper, finely chopped
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 – 5.5oz can tomato paste
  • tbsp pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup red wine (optional)
  • 2 – 2½ tsp dried parsley, chopped (or apx. 2 tbsp chopped fresh)
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • tsp dried basil (or apx. 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or apx 1 tbsp chopped fresh)
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme (or apx 1 tsp chopped fresh)
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary, crushed (or apx ½ tbsp chopped fresh)
  • 1/16 tsp ground cloves
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place tomatoes, single layer on rimmed baking sheets or 9”x13” baking pans. Drizzle with olive oil, tossing tomatoes to coat all sides. Sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar. Place in oven, uncovered, and roast for 35-45 minutes, until tomatoes shrivel, and start to burst and break down somewhat. Remove from oven and cool for about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in skillet. Add the shallots, celery, carrot, green pepper, and garlic cloves. Cook over medium heat for 6-7 minutes, until vegetables are softened.
  4. Working in batches, process the roasted tomatoes and their juices along with the sautéed vegetables in blender or food processor until smooth. If removal of all seeds is desired, pass the puréed mixture through a wire mesh sieve positioned over small clean stock pot. Using the back of a large spoon or a rubber spatula, gently press down on the tomato mixture to push it through the sieve. Discard the seeds and any remaining bits of tomato skin.
  5. Place stockpot on low heat and add the tomato paste, maple syrup, red wine, and spices. Stir well and increase heat to medium low. Stir frequently to avoid mixture sticking to pot. When mixture starts to show signs of bubbling, reduce heat to low simmer and let mixture cook slowly for 40-60 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Stir frequently.
  6. Serve immediately over hot cooked pasta or refrigerate up to three days. For longer storage, freeze in airtight containers or zippered freezer bags of desired serving size.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx 1 litre