Category Archives: Breakfast

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

PEI Lobster Frittata Recipe

Red baking dish filled with baked lobster frittata
PEI Oven-baked Lobster Frittata

Living in PEI, we are accustomed to high quality local seafood.  When lobster is in season, I try to make the most of it, enjoying it steamed and fresh from the shell with the tender meat dipped in melted butter.

Three steamed lobster on white tray with wedges of lemon and a small bowl of melted butter for dipping the lobster meat
Steamed Lobster in the Shell

Once I have had a couple of good “feeds” of lobster with homemade potato salad and rolls, I start using the meat as an ingredient in other recipes like this easy-to-make oven-baked Lobster Frittata.

Baked lobster frittata with a side salad and a glass of white wine
Oven-baked Lobster Frittata

Frittata is an Italian dish that is a cross between a crustless quiche and an open-faced omelette, probably leaning more toward similarity with the quiche.  The main difference between a frittata and an omelette is that, for a frittata, the filling ingredients are cooked with the egg mixture versus being added just before an omelette is folded in half to finish cooking.

Traditionally, frittatas are made on the stovetop, either completely or, sometimes, they are partially cooked on the stove and then finished in the oven.  However, it is quite acceptable to completely bake the frittata in the oven which is the method I am using for the Lobster Frittata.

Close-up of a bite of lobster frittata on a fork
Baked Lobster Frittata

There are two main tips for making this frittata.  First, use cream, blend, or whole milk but never fat-reduced milk as it makes the frittata’s custard too runny and watery. The second tip is to pre-cook the vegetables to get rid of some of their liquid and also to ensure that they are sufficiently cooked. If they were added raw with the egg custard, they would not be sufficiently cooked in the same amount of time it takes to properly bake the frittata and they would release too much liquid into the egg custard.  Even with the pre-cooking, the vegetables will still have a lot of moisture in them. For this reason, I recommend transferring them from the sauté pan to a paper-towel lined bowl to sop up the excess moisture before they are added to the egg custard mixture.

Frittata is a great brunch, lunch, dinner, or picnic fare, making it very versatile. It can be eaten hot from the oven or at room temperature. Serve with a side of toast, salad, homefries, or fresh fruit.

Baked Lobster Frittata with a side green salad
Baked Lobster Frittata

I use individual small 6″x4″ baking, or gratin, dishes for this recipe.  Oblong  baking dishes that have 1½ – 1¾ cups capacity work well for this recipe as the egg mixture will puff up somewhat and room needs to be allotted for that. If you don’t have individual baking dishes that are approximately 6”x4” inches, you could use one baking dish that would be large enough to hold the entire amount of ingredients.

Bake the frittatas on the middle rack in a preheated oven. It is important not to overbake frittata as it will become somewhat tough and leathery.  This Lobster Frittata takes between 18-22 minutes when baked in the dishes called for in the recipe.  When the frittata is perfectly baked, the eggs should be set and no longer runny.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Oven-baked Lobster Frittata

Ingredients:

4 large eggs
2½ tbsp cream
Salt and Pepper
¼ – ½ tsp Herbes de Provence

1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp onion, chopped
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
5-6 slices zucchini, halved or quartered
5-6 button mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp red bell pepper, chopped

4 oz cooked lobster, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Method:

Place oven rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat oil in small skillet.  Sauté, over medium heat, the onions, garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, and red bell pepper for 4-6 minutes, until vegetables start to soften.  Transfer to small bowl double lined with paper towel to absorb the moisture from the sautéed vegetables.

Whisk the eggs just enough to break them up and mix the whites with the yolks.  Whisk in the cream. Season with salt and pepper and the Herbes de Provence.

Spray two 6”x4” baking dishes with cooking spray, each dish having 1½ – 1¾ cup capacity.  Divide the vegetables and lobster equally between the two dishes.  Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and first amount of cheddar cheese.  Pour egg mixture over the vegetables, lobster, and cheese, dividing equally between the two dishes.  Place on baking sheet and transfer to oven.  Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until frittatas are puffed up and just set in the center.  Add the remaining cheese for the last 2-3 minutes of baking.

Serve with a side salad, toast, fresh fruit, or homefries.

Yield: 2 servings

Oven-baked Lobster Frittata

This easy-to-make, oven-baked Lobster Frittata is perfect for brunch, lunch, dinner, or a picnic
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Italian
Keyword frittata, lobster, lobster frittata, oven-baked frittata
Servings 2
My Island Bistro Kitchen My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • tbsp cream
  • Salt and Pepper
  • ¼ - ½ tsp Herbes de Provence
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp onion chopped
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 5-6 slices zucchini halved or quartered
  • 5-6 button mushrooms sliced
  • 3 tbsp red bell pepper chopped
  • 4 oz cooked lobster coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Place oven rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Heat oil in small skillet. Sauté, over medium heat, the onions, garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, and red bell pepper for 4-6 minutes, until vegetables start to soften. Transfer to small bowl double lined with paper towel to absorb the moisture from the sautéed vegetables.
  3. Whisk the eggs just enough to break them up and mix the whites with the yolks. Whisk in the cream. Season with salt and pepper and the Herbes de Provence.
  4. Spray two 6”x4” baking dishes with cooking spray, each dish having 1½ - 1¾ cup capacity. Divide the vegetables and lobster equally between the two dishes. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and first amount of cheddar cheese. Pour egg mixture over the vegetables, lobster, and cheese, dividing equally between the two dishes. Place on baking sheet and transfer to oven. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until frittatas are puffed up and just set in the center. Add the remaining cheese for the last 2-3 minutes of baking.
  5. Serve with a side salad, toast, fresh fruit, or homefries.

Recipe Notes

[Copyright My Island Bistro Kitchen]

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Baked Lobster Frittata in red baking dish
Oven-baked Lobster Frittata
Oven-baked Lobster Frittata

 

If you have made this recipe and enjoyed it and/or wish to share it with your friends and family, please do so on social media but be sure to share the direct link to this posting from my website.

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For other great lobster dish recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Lobster Cakes
Lobster and Asparagus Crepes
Lobster Club Sandwich
Lobster Macaroni and Cheese
PEI Lobster Rolls
PEI Lobster Chowder

The Bistro’s Great Nut-free Granola Recipe

The Bistro's Great Nut-Free Granola
The Bistro’s Great Nut-Free Granola

This granola recipe features a tasty mixture of toasted rolled oats, coconut, and dried fruits and berries.  Notably missing in this recipe are any nuts or whole seeds which are often found in granola.  This is intentional.  For anyone who, for any reason, cannot consume nuts or whole seeds, this Nut-free Granola is especially for you! Continue reading The Bistro’s Great Nut-free Granola Recipe

Cranberry Pancakes

Cranberry Pancakes
Cranberry Pancakes

I can find endless uses for cranberries – they are one of my favorite berries.  The berries in today’s recipe came from Mikita Farms in Farmington, near Souris, PEI.  You can see the photos of them wet harvesting the cranberries last fall by clicking here.  I bought a huge bag of cranberries because they freeze really well and I make a multitude of recipes with them throughout the year.

In this recipe, I use the cranberries in pancakes.  I have combined and blended four key ingredients in this recipe to give the pancakes a rich flavour – eggnog, mashed banana, grated orange rind, and cranberries.  The berries can either be fresh or frozen. I simply chop the berries in half before stirring them into the pancake batter.

Cranberry-Banana Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 extra large egg
2½ tbsp cooking oil
½ cup eggnog
½ cup whole milk
½ tsp vanilla
2 tbsp mashed banana
1 cup flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2½ tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp nutmeg
1½ tsp grated orange rind
¾ cup chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

In medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, eggnog, milk, and vanilla. Add the mashed banana.

In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and grated orange rind.

Whisk the dry ingredients together to mix thoroughly.

Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients. Stir just until combined.

Stir in cranberries.

Let batter sit for apx. 5 minutes before cooking pancakes. Batter will be lumpy.

Heat non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Use paper towel to lightly grease pan with oil.

Pour apx. ⅓ cup of batter into hot frying pan and cook pancakes until surface bubbles appear and the top appears dry and set. Gently lift the edge of a pancake – if it is lightly browned, flip the pancakes over with a wide spatula. Cook 1-2 minutes until pancake is lightly browned underneath.

Transfer pancakes to a heatproof plate or cookie sheet and place in oven set to warming temperature to keep pancakes warm while cooking remaining pancakes.

Serve with a pat of butter, maple syrup, or your favourite topping and fresh fruit.

Yield:  Apx. 8 – 5” pancakes

Cranberry Pancakes

Yield: Apx. 8 – 5” pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 extra large egg
  • 2½ tbsp cooking oil
  • ½ cup eggnog
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp mashed banana
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2½ tbsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1½ tsp grated orange rind
  • ¾ cup chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen

Instructions

  1. Assemble ingredients.
  2. In medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, eggnog, milk, and vanilla. Add the mashed banana.
  3. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and grated orange rind. Mix well.
  4. Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients. Stir just until combined. Stir in cranberries. Let batter sit for apx. 5 minutes before cooking pancakes. Batter will be lumpy.
  5. Heat non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Use paper towel to lightly grease pan with oil.
  6. Pour apx. 1/3 cup of batter into hot frying pan and cook pancakes until surface bubbles appear and the top appears dry and set. Gently lift the edge of a pancake – if it is lightly browned, flip the pancakes over with a wide spatula. Cook 1-2 minutes until pancake is lightly browned underneath.
  7. Transfer pancakes to a heatproof plate or cookie sheet and place in oven set to warming temperature to keep pancakes warm while cooking remaining pancakes.
  8. Serve with a pat of butter, maple syrup, or your favourite topping and fresh fruit.
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Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed: The Bistro’s Lobster Egg Benedict

The Bistro's Lobster Eggs Benedict
The Bistro’s Lobster Eggs Benedict

A very happy Mother’s Day to all Moms out there!  I hope you are having a wonderful day and are getting thoroughly spoiled.

Today, I am sharing my recipe for Lobster Eggs Benedict with a delicious Béarnise sauce.  This makes a wonderful brunch entrée and is also perfect for a Mother’s Day breakfast in bed tray although it does take some time and organization to prepare.

Here, on Canada’s East Coast, we are extremely blessed to have ready access to fresh lobster this time of the year.  In fact, in many Island families today, they will be celebrating with lobster (many having their first “feed” of the season), whether it be lobster at home or at one of the Island’s famous lobster suppers that open early just for the occasion today.  They will then close and re-open for the season in a few weeks time.

I have gone with a yellow theme for the breakfast in bed tray using, as my inspiration, a single yellow tulip and my favorite spring-time china cup and saucer featuring daffodils.

I chose a dainty crystal glass for the freshly-squeezed orange juice.

A refreshing fruit cup with orange sections and raspberries adds both color and flavor.

And, of course, the star of the tray – the Lobster Eggs Benedict served on Ciabatta.

Can you taste that succulent lobster?  The Béarnise Sauce is rich so you don’t need a lot of it on each serving and using less is more in this case because you don’t want to “drown” or mask the wonderful color of the red lobster claws!

The Bistro’s Lobster Eggs Benedict

Ingredients:

1 tbsp water
½ tbsp balsamic vinegar (I used Liquid Gold’s pomegranate-quince)
½ tbsp white wine
½ tbsp minced onion
⅛ tsp puréed garlic

1 extra-large egg yolk
½ tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp prepared mustard (I used J.J. Stewart’s Maple Mustard with Dill and Chardonnay)
2 tbsp butter, melted
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sprinkle of chopped chives, parsley, and tarragon

1-2 lobster claws and meat from the lobster’s knuckles for each serving
English muffins or artisan bread, such as Ciabatta, sliced for each serving

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

In bottom of double boiler, heat about 2” water to boiling point. Reduce heat to keep the water at a very gentle simmer.

In top of double boiler and over direct heat (not on top of the boiling water), combine first five ingredients. Simmer over medium heat until mixture is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.

 

page 1-001

Place top of double boiler over saucepan of gently simmering hot water.

Quickly whisk in the egg yolk and whisk vigorously and continuously till smooth. Whisk in lemon juice and mustard. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Whisk until mixture is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (you want it of pouring consistency). Remove from heat and add a sprinkle of chopped chives, parsley, and tarragon.

Note: If mixture thickens too much, whisk in small amount of boiling water, 1 tbsp at a time, to get to pouring sauce consistency.

In small saucepan or frypan, heat ½ – 1 tbsp butter and heat lobster over low heat.

Using your favourite method, poach 1 egg to desired doneness for each serving.

To assemble:

Slice English muffin, or if using an artisan bread like Ciabatta, cut loaf into desired lengths (e.g., 3”- 4” per serving) and slice in half horizontally, using one-half for each serving. Butter each piece. Lay a layer of lettuce on each piece of bread or muffin. Add the warmed sautéed lobster.

Top with the poached egg.

Drizzle Bérnaise Sauce over each serving. Serve with a side of green salad or fresh fruit.

Serves: 2

 

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Easter Weekend Breakfast in Bed

There is nothing that says pampering more than breakfast in bed!  In fact, there doesn’t have to be a special occasion to serve a special someone a breakfast tray.  And, it doesn’t have to be overly fancy.  Toast or a croissant along with fresh orange juice and coffee will somehow seem much more special when served on a pretty tray in bed.

Today, however, because it is Easter and eggs are synonymous with the season, I prepared baked eggs as the main component for the breakfast tray.  A recipe I often use is the one I shared in the story last summer about the Burns Poultry Farm.  To add some color to the baked eggs, today I added some grated cheddar cheese, sliced cherry tomatoes, onion, and green pepper.

Coffee always tastes more special when served in a fancy cup and saucer.  A single-serving sized coffee butler keeps the replenishment coffee hot.

Colorful spring tulips were specially selected to match the entrée.  Pretty good match, I’d say!

Add some fresh fruit and toast and the breakfast was complete.  A great way to start someone’s day!

Happy Easter!

Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today.

There are lots of ways to connect with “the Bistro” through social media:

Join My Island Bistro Kitchen on Facebook

Follow the Bistro’s tweets on twitter @PEIBistro

Find the Bistro on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”

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A Visit to Burns Poultry Farm in Freetown, PEI

The Burns Family (Photo: Lynda MacSwain. Submitted by Wendy Burns with permission.)
The Burns Family – 7th Generation PEI Egg Farmers
(Photo: Lynda MacSwain. Submitted by Wendy Burns with permission.)

 

I have a keen interest in where the food I eat is produced.  Recently, I visited Burns Poultry Farm in Freetown, PEI, to find out about egg production.  There are five active registered egg-producing poultry farms on PEI, one of which is the Burns farm.

Before seeing the egg grading process in action, I sat down with Wendy Burns to find out about their poultry farm.  Wendy’s husband, Nathan, is a 7th generation egg farmer on PEI so the Burns family knows a thing or two about egg production!  Wendy and Nathan bought the poultry farm from Nathan’s parents in 2001.  Wendy remarks that, from the time he was very young, Nathan had a keen interest in poultry farming and knew what his future vocation was going to be!  Wendy manages the office, the accounting, and payroll while Nathan tends to the feed formulations, egg production, and egg grading.

The couple met while attending Nova Scotia Agricultural College, from which they both graduated – Nathan from the Agricultural Engineering Program and Wendy with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture.  In addition to being parents to four active growing children, this couple has transformed their egg farm into a very efficient family business.  They have expanded existing barns; built a new barn for the laying hens; added a bigger generator with an automatic switch that kicks in if the farm is without power for 5 seconds; expanded their cooler capacity; invested in a new egg packer that packs eggs each day from their laying barns; upgraded their water systems to provide ozonated water for the hens which aids in their digestion; purchased a Pulsefog machine to disinfect the barns faster and more efficiently; and installed a state-of-the-art grading machine into their newly-renovated, federally-inspected egg grading station.

Burns Poultry Farm
Burns Poultry Farm

The Burns family holds quota for about 32,000 laying hens and they have three equally-sized barns that house the flock. With over 90% of the hens laying one egg per day, it is a lot of eggs to gather. Every time an egg is handled or moved, it increases the potential for damage or cracks. Wendy explains that, with their efficient collection system, it is possible for a  hen to lay an egg and the egg not be touched by a human hand until the consumer takes it out of the carton or the restaurant chef cracks the egg on the grill. This is because the Burns’ have an “in-line” system that transfers the eggs from the barns via a conveyer belt to the grading station.

Conveyer belt connects all barns on Burns farm and transports the eggs to the grading station
Conveyer belt connects all barns on Burns farm and transports the eggs to the grading station

The system the Burns have installed is all computerized so it allows the eggs to come from the barns, be counted, washed, candled, graded, packed, and in their cooler in approximately 15 minutes.  Now, that’s what I call farm-fresh eggs!

I wasn’t able to go inside the barns where the hens are housed so I did not see any of the laying hens.  This is because of their on-farm food safety program and biosecurity protocol.  Wendy says “the goal is to maintain a consistent, undisturbed environment for the birds because deviations from their normal habitat could affect their well-being and, consequently, egg production”.  On a daily basis, only Nathan and two workers are permitted inside the barns.  A walk-through of each barn is done twice per day and each row of hens is checked to ensure the birds have enough water and feed and that their environment is comfortable. Nathan also checks the barns each evening after all the feedings are finished to ensure all is well before lights out.  Wendy explains that the only other person permitted to enter the barns is the inspector from the Egg Farmers of Canada.  “The inspector makes several site visits each year where the birds are counted and swabs are taken for testing to ensure there are no diseases present”, explains Wendy. The inspector also audits their Start-Clean/Stay-Clean records to ensure all protocols follow the guidelines of their On Farm Food Safety Program.

Wendy was able to tell me about their flock.  At the time of my visit, the hens were all one breed – Lohmanns. They all lay white eggs but Wendy says that the farm placed some brown egg layers in the grow barn last cycle and those hens will begin to lay brown eggs in September.  The highest expense in the operation is the feed. The Burns monitor feed consumption to ensure the hens are getting adequate nutrition.  The hens need different levels of nutrients, such as calcium and protein, at different ages.  This ensures bird health is maintained and the hens produce the best quality of eggs possible.

It takes 18-19 weeks for a chick to become a laying hen.  The chicks arrive in batches of about 12,000, two or three times a year. Wendy says that it is always an exciting day on the farm, as you can imagine, with four young children seeing 12,000 baby chicks arriving all at once!  The Burns have three production barns that house the hens, each containing a flock of hens of a certain age – i.e., 20 weeks apart in age.  This means their farm can ensure a steady supply of high-quality fresh eggs for customers year round.

I asked Wendy what determines the different sizes of eggs.  She tells me that it is the weight of the egg that will determine if it is a small, medium, large, or extra large egg.  Younger hens typically lay smaller eggs and the average egg size increases as the hens age. Generally, medium, large, and extra large eggs are packed for the fresh shell egg market while the other sizes are sent off for industrial use – for example, dried for cake mixes, frozen, liquid whole egg, or whites only.  No eggs, regardless of size, are wasted.

Weight of an egg determines if it is a small, medium, large, or extra-large egg
Weight of an egg determines if it is a small, medium, large, or extra-large egg

Eggs are a supply-managed commodity. The egg industry is heavily regulated and the Burns must comply with the regulations of the Egg Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in terms of housing the hens, cage density, sanitation programs, welfare of the birds, and pest control.  There is a lot of record-keeping involved in the operation of an egg farm and egg-grading station. All food safety-based programs are in place to ensure the safest possible supply of eggs for consumers.

Wendy tells me that the “Best Before” date of graded eggs is six (6) weeks from the date they are graded.  She also explains that washing the eggs, which is an obvious necessity, reduces the shelf life of eggs as it removes the natural sealant that the hens leave on the eggs when they are laid.

I asked Wendy what their biggest challenge is as egg farmers.  She says she has concerns over the possibility that, at some point, supply management of the egg industry could be disbanded.  This is the Canadian system that regulates quota and, consequently, egg production.  If that was to happen, anybody could build a barn and start large-scale egg production, with no food safety procedures, no testing protocol, or no rules.  As Wendy explains, “currently, registered egg producers pay levies that pay for their food safety protocols, testing, and ensure there is no surplus of eggs on the market which could impact negatively on their chance of a fair return for their investments and hard work.”  As Wendy says, “being a regulated producer is a big investment but it provides stability without relying on government dollars as it is producer-funded”.

As for their greatest source of satisfaction as egg farmers, Wendy says she and Nathan work well together and the couple enjoy being their own boss.  They like the challenge that comes with no two days being the same on the farm.  Wendy tells me she really enjoys the lifestyle of living and working on the farm as it allows her to be home with her children before they catch the school bus and greet them when they return home in the afternoon.

The day I visited the Burns farm, they were busy with their egg grading which takes place once a week.  By the end of the day, they would have graded approximately 55,000 eggs for market!

Some of the activities in the egg grading process
Some of the activities in the egg grading process

The number of eggs graded is determined by what the farm can sell as graded product. On days when no grading is taking place, the eggs are packed on to plastic trays by a farm packer machine, loaded on to pallets, and refrigerated. Eggs that are surplus to fresh markets are sold as industrial product.

Graded Eggs Heading to Refrigeration
Graded Eggs Heading to Refrigeration
Eggs Stored in Refrigerator
Eggs Stored in Refrigerator
Large Cartons of Eggs Ready for Shipping

The farm employs three individuals full-time on a year-round basis and six individuals on a part-time basis.

So, some interesting egg trivia I learned:

–          egg shells are made up mostly of calcium – the better the quality of egg shell, the less likelihood there will be of cracked eggs.

–          the color of the egg shell (white or brown) is determined by the genetics of the hen, not by diet.

–          the color of the egg yolk is determined by what grains the hens are fed (yes, there really is a difference in the color of egg yolks — paler yolks result when paler grains are fed, such as barley or wheat, and a richer yolk color results when corn is in the feed)

The Many Colors of Egg Yolks

–          according to the Egg Farmers of PEI Website, Island egg farmers produced 3,304,300 dozen eggs in 2012 and about 50% of those were consumed by Islanders!  That’s a lot of eggs!

Nathan and Wendy are marketing their eggs through ADL Foods.  The public may purchase the eggs on-site at the ADL Foods Retail Outlet in Reads Corner on Highway 1A in Summerside.  ADL Foods also sells Burns Poultry Farm’s eggs by the box to many Island restaurants so, chances are, if you have eaten an egg at an Island restaurant that gets its eggs from ADL Foods, you may have eaten an egg produced by this 7th generation PEI family farm.

I used Burns’ eggs in the following recipe for Baked Eggs with Basil Pesto and Cheese.

Baked Eggs with Basil Pesto and Cheese
Baked Eggs with Basil Pesto and Cheese

Baked Eggs with Basil Pesto and Cheese

Ingredients:

2 large eggs

3 tsp basil pesto

4 tsp grated Parmesan cheese

2 tbsp milk or cream

1 green onion, sliced

Fresh chives, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

2-3 tsp Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs cheese, or your favorite feta cheese

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

Preheat oven to 325C.

Spray two ramekins dishes with cooking spray.  Place 1 ½ tsp pesto in bottom of each dish and swirl it around so bottom of ramekin are covered with pesto.  Sprinkle 1 – 2 tsp parmesan cheese on top of pesto.  Crack one egg into each ramekin without breaking the yolk.  Add 1 tbsp milk or cream to each dish.  Sprinkle each with sliced green onions and fresh chives.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Top with 1 to 1 ½ tsp soft cheese.

Place ramekins in oven-proof baking pan.  Fill up pan with boiling water until it reaches the half-way point on the sides of the ramekins.

Bake eggs for 10-20 minutes, depending on whether you like eggs runny, medium, or well done.

Serves:  2

 

This egg dish is perfect for a special weekend morning breakfast or brunch or even for a light supper.

My thanks to Nathan and Wendy Burns for taking time out of a busy day to meet with me and explain the egg production process at their farm.

Baked Eggs with Basil Pesto and Cheese

This egg dish is perfect for a special weekend morning breakfast or brunch or even for a light supper.
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword baked eggs, eggs
Servings 2
My Island Bistro Kitchen Barbara99

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tsp basil pesto
  • 4 tsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp milk or cream
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • Fresh chives, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 tsp Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs cheese, or your favorite feta cheese

Instructions

  1. Assemble ingredients.
  2. Preheat oven to 325C.
  3. Spray two ramekins dishes with cooking spray. Place 1½ tsp pesto in bottom of each dish and swirl it around so bottom of ramekin are covered with pesto. Sprinkle 2 tsp parmesan cheese on top of pesto in each ramekin. Crack one egg into each ramekin without breaking the yolk. Add 1 tbsp milk or cream to each dish. Sprinkle each with sliced green onions and fresh chives. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with 1 to 1½ tsp soft cheese.
  4. Place ramekins in oven-proof baking pan. Fill up pan with boiling water until it reaches the half-way point on the sides of the ramekins.
  5. Bake eggs for 10-20 minutes, depending on whether you like eggs runny, medium, or well done.

Recipe Notes

Serves: 2

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Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed

Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms!

What mom doesn’t like to be pampered on Mother’s Day and what says pampering more than breakfast in bed!  Dress up an ordinary bed tray with a lovely napkin or pretty placemat and prepare a scrumptious breakfast for Mom.

The Menu:  Start with a fresh fruit cup presented in the prettiest, daintiest pedestal dessert dish.  Choose a variety of fruits of different colors, shapes, and textures.

Fresh squeezed orange juice adds an element of sophistication to the breakfast tray.

For the main course, I chose to serve scrambled eggs on crostini with a roasted Parmesan tomato half.  The roasted tomato is so simple to make.  Simply cut a tomato in half.   A sprinkle of Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and a shake of Parmesan cheese is all it takes to season the tomatoes. Drizzle each half tomato with a good quality olive oil – I used Liquid Gold’s Organic Tuscan Herb Infused Olive Oil.  Roast the tomato on a lightly greased baking sheet in a 450F oven for about 10 minutes, just until tomato is heated and the Parmesan starts to turn golden in color.

How yummy does this tomato look!

A few herbs and a topping of grated cheddar cheese take scrambled eggs to a whole new level, particularly when served on a tasty crostini.

Look for lots of color to add to the breakfast tray.  Color makes the tray look so much more vibrant, interesting, and appealing.

I like these petite individual-sized teapots.  They are very versatile and don’t take up much room on a bed tray.

Fresh flowers are a must for any special breakfast in bed tray.  Miniature carnations are very suitable for bed trays.  Everything should be to scale in order for it to fit on the tray.

Lastly, you’ll want to add the finishing touch of a lovely and carefully chosen Mother’s Day Card.

A beautiful card for a beautiful Mom!

It’s all about Mom on Mother’s Day.  It’s not always the big, fancy gifts that touch the heart.  Most often, it is something like the care and attention that goes into planning something special, like breakfast in bed and, most importantly spending time together, that means the most.

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Belgian Waffles with Strawberries

Belgian Waffle with Fresh Strawberries, Whipped Cream, and Chocolate Sauce
Belgian Dessert Waffle with Fresh Strawberries, Whipped Cream, and Chocolate Sauce

The first time I had Belgian waffles was in Ogunquit, Maine, a long time ago.  We used to vacation there and we found a wonderful little café that opened only for breakfast and their specialty was the Belgian waffle served with huge, fresh Maine blueberries.  Naturally, a Belgian waffle maker had to be purchased so we could make them at home because waffles are, in fact, quite easy to make and just take standard baking ingredients!

Waffles are very versatile.  They can be a breakfast food, eaten at brunch, lunch, for dessert or even as a main course for dinner, depending on the topping.  There is nothing like creamed chicken atop a puffy Belgian waffle for good old-fashioned comfort food!

I love fresh berries, especially strawberries and blueberries, on waffles. Good drizzled with pure maple syrup,  a rich chocolate sauce is also an option and a real treat for waffles.  So, why not take a lowly basic waffle and dress it up for a tasty meal at any time of day.

Waffle Ingredients
Waffle Ingredients

Belgian Waffles

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 medium-sized eggs, separated
2 tbsp melted butter
Separate the eggs.  Beat the egg whites stiff.  Set aside. 

In separate bowl, mix the egg yolks and all remaining ingredients.

With electric mixer, beat until well-blended.

Gently fold the egg whites into the flour and milk mixture.  Fold just until they are incorporated.  This will yield a light, fluffy waffle.

Heat waffle maker and cook waffles according to manufacturer’s directions.

To serve, add sliced fruit, a dollop of whipped cream, and drizzle with your favorite syrup or topping.  Dust with confectioner’s sugar, if desired.

Yield: Apx. 3-4 waffles

Belgian Waffles

Perfectly puffy Belgian Waffles with Strawberries are a fabulous treat especially with a dollop of whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate syrup
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword Belgian Waffles, waffles
Servings 4
My Island Bistro Kitchen My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 medium-sized eggs, separated
  • 2 tbsp melted butter

Instructions

  1. Separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites stiff. Set aside.
  2. In separate bowl, mix the egg yolks and all remaining ingredients. With electric mixer, beat until well-blended.
  3. Gently fold the egg whites into the flour and milk mixture. Fold just until they are incorporated. This will yield a light, fluffy waffle.
  4. Heat waffle maker and cook waffles according to manufacturer's directions.
  5. To serve, add sliced fruit, a dollop of whipped cream, and drizzle with your favorite syrup or topping. Dust with confectioner's sugar, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 3-4 waffles

 

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Puffy Belgian Waffles topped with fresh strawberries, whipped cream, and a dollop of rich chocolate syrup

Valentine’s Day Breakfast in Bed

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!  Be sure to use the occasion to show special appreciation for those you love.  One of the most ultimate ways to pamper a loved one on any day (and not just on Valentine’s) is by preparing and serving him or her breakfast in bed.

Valentine's Day Breakfast in Bed Tray
Valentine’s Day Breakfast in Bed Tray

This is a very simple breakfast menu I have selected for the bed tray:  Freshly squeezed orange juice, fresh fruit cup sprinkled with coconut, heart-shaped Irish Cream French Toast with pure Canadian maple syrup, and a wee pot of tea. (Recipe for the French Toast follows at end of posting)

There is nothing like fresh-squeezed orange juice to start the day!   The little juice jug was a find at a thrift shop.  Bed trays have limited space so I’m always on the look-out for items that will be suitable for this purpose.  I have opted to make the event special by serving the juice in a stemmed glass.

 

I have selected fruit with different colors and textures and dressed the fruit cup with some coconut and orange zest.  The glass pedestal dessert dish is perfect for serving fresh fruit because it allows the colors of the fruit to show through giving color to the tray.

I sprinkled the French toast with confectioner’s sugar and added a dollop or two of whipped cream.   My heart-shaped cookie cutter didn’t have as deep a cut in the center as I would have liked; consequently, the heart-shape isn’t as prominent or doesn’t show up as well in the photographs.   I added the fan-cut strawberry to give both color and flavour.

What dresses up the food is the presentation.  Yes, it’s all about the presentation!  I covered the tray with a couple of my best quality white napkins and folded the third, using a “blingy” napkin ring as napkin jewelry.  Out came the wee Sadler teapot I found in a second-hand shop last summer.  From my teacup collection, I selected one that is predominantly pink since my color theme for this bed tray is pink and red.

Every bed tray should be adorned with a small bouquet of fresh flowers.  I thoroughly enjoy having access to Island greenhouse-grown tulips over the winter.  I drove out to Vanco Farms in Mount Albion to specifically select these pink and red tulips, knowing they would be perfect on this tray!  I think the pink and red make a stunning color combination!

And, of course, adding a lovely card and a gift will make a special someone’s Valentine’s Day just a tad more special!

 

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Irish Cream French Toast

2 eggs
3 tbsp milk
2 tsp Irish Cream Liqueur (follow link at bottom of posting for my recipe for homemade Irish Cream Liqueur)
1/2 tbsp orange juice
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch cardamom
1/2 tsp freshly grated orange rind

With whisk, beat eggs lightly.  Add remainder of ingredients in order given.  Whisk to combine.  Pour mixture into a flat pan or pie plate.  Dip each bread slice into the mixture, turning to coat both sides.

Melt 1 tsp. butter in skillet.  Transfer dipped bread to hot skillet.  Over medium heat, fry bread till browned.  Flip bread to brown other side.  Transfer to serving plate.  Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and add a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.  Serve warm with maple syrup.


Click on this link for my recipe for homemade Irish Cream Liqueur.

 

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