Tag Archives: Nova 7

PEI Fall Flavors Event: Le Festin acadien avec homard

September heralds the beginning of the annual PEI Fall Flavours Culinary Festival and what better way to start it off than with a feast featuring lobster and Acadian fare!  Le Festin acadien avec homard  event was held on September 2, 2016, in conjunction with the annual Evangeline Area Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival in Abram-Village in the western part of Prince Edward Island.

The PEI Fall Flavours Culinary Festival features signature events hosted by celebrity chefs and the main events feature one or more of the Island’s locally-produced foods.  If you follow the links at the bottom of this posting, you will find stories and photos from past events that featured Island beef, lamb, lobster, potatoes, etc. I especially like the events that feature both regional fare and entertainment and “Le Festin acadien avec homard” scored high on both counts.  For visitors to PEI (and many do come in September especially for the Fall Flavours Culinary Festival), it’s an opportunity to learn about local culture and sample locally-produced foods.

PEI’s Acadian population in Abram-Village sure knows how to throw a good party with great food and lively entertainment.  A quartet of talented local musicians comprised of Louise Arsenault (fiddle), Hélène Bergeron (keyboard/guitar/stepdancer), Caroline Bernard (singer/keyboard/guitar), and Rémi Arsenault (bass) provided toe-tapping Acadian music throughout the evening.

PEI Musicians Performing at Le Festin acadien avec homard event, Abram-Village, PEI, 2016
Musicians Performing at “Le Festin acadien avec homard” Fall Flavours event, Abram-Village, PEI, 2016

The event was hosted by celebrity chef, Anna Olson, who is no stranger to the PEI Fall Flavours Culinary Festival as she and her husband, Michael, return to the Island annually to participate in the culinary events.

Chef Anna Olson
Chef Anna Olson at “Le Festin acadien avec homard” Fall Flavours Event, Abram-Village, PEI, 2016

Anna hosts three cooking programs on Food Network Canada:  “Bake with Anna Olson“, “Fresh with Anna Olson“, and “Sugar“. Ever the good sport, Anna was put through her paces before MC Georges Arsenault declared she had passed the test to be made an honorary Acadian.  She learned some French and she was taught some stepdancing moves!

Chef Anna Olson
Chef Anna Olson

Here was the menu for the dinner:

Menu for 2016 Le Festin acadien avec homard
Menu for 2016 Le Festin acadien avec homard

Upon arrival in the dining hall, guests were greeted with a complimentary glass of Benjamin Bridge’s Nova 7 wine.

Benjamin-Bridge Wine
Benjamin Bridge Wine

Benjamin Bridge Winery from Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, was this year’s Festival Wine Sponsor as it was in 2015 when I discovered their delightful Nova 7 wine. The Nova 7 is a beautiful light-bodied  effervescent wine with a gorgeous pinkish color, and appealing aromatics with lovely floral and fruit notes. It’s a great wine for sipping or for pairing with a wide range of foods from seafood to spicy foods to desserts. It made a fine accompaniment to the foods served at this dinner.

Benjamin Bridge Wine
Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 Wine

Fresh steamed mussels were served as hors d’oeuvres. According to the Mussel Industry Council of PEI, the Island produces about 45 million pounds of mussels each year. This translates into approximately 80% of the entire mussel production in  Canada. In fact, fresh PEI mussels are shipped to the USA and as far away as Hong Kong, Japan, and Kuwait. It’s very common at PEI gatherings to serve steamed mussels.

PEI Mussels
Steamed PEI Mussels

The dinner was held in a large community hall and served, family style, at long tables.

PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Festival event
“Le Festin acadien avec homard” PEI Fall Flavours Culinary Festival event 2016 in Abram-Vilage, PEI

Servers, in traditional Acadian attire, brought the prepared dishes to each table.

PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Festival
“Le Festin acadien avec homard” PEI Fall Flavours Culinary Festival Event, Abram-Village, PEI, 2016

Guests then passed the dishes, from one to another, around the table, serving themselves.

Lobster Dinner
Serving lobster at “Le Festin acadien avec homard” in Abram-Village, PEI

The four-course dinner began with a bowl of Chicken Fricot, also known as chicken soup. This is a very popular Acadian dish.

Chicken Soup
Chicken Fricot, a popular Acadian soup

The Fricot contains very few ingredients and I believe it is the summer savory that gives this brothy soup its wonderful tasty flavor.  Made only with chicken, onion, potatoes, water, summer savory, salt, and pepper, it’s hard to believe just how tasty this soup really is! It was especially good with the French biscuits that were in baskets on the tables! French biscuits (Galettes blanches) are a cross between a yeast roll and a traditional tea biscuit.

Biscuits
French Biscuits

The second course consisted of two long-time Acadian favorites: Râpure and Acadian Meat Pie.

Acadian Meat Pie and Râpure
Acadian Meat Pie (left) and Râpure (right)

Both are made with simple easy-to-come-by ingredients.  The Râpure is made with pork and/or chicken, onions, potatoes (both mashed and raw grated), eggs, summer savory, coriander, salt and pepper.  The ingredients are mixed together, placed in a greased baking dish and baked in the oven.

Traditionally,  Acadian meat pie was made with pork. Today, however, it is common to have a mixture of meats in the pie – pork, beef, chicken, and/or hare, for example. Again, the ingredients for the pie filling are very basic – the meat, onion, summer savory, cloves, salt and pepper, and some flour for thickening.  The filling is encased in pie pastry and baked in the oven. Molasses is often served with the meat pie. Meat pies are common fare for Acadians on Christmas Eve although, on PEI, the pies are commonly now eaten throughout the year as well.

The third course was Island lobster in the shell served with homemade potato salad.

Shellfish
PEI Lobster

It’s very traditional on PEI to serve potato salad with lobster and this salad was a true old-fashioned homemade PEI potato salad full of flavor.

Salad
Potato Salad

And, for dessert, fresh blueberry pie made with in-season local berries.

Pie
Blueberry Pie

This was a fantastic evening of fabulous food and lively music. I thoroughly enjoyed this event and it was an opportunity for me to try some Acadian foods I had not had before.

Follow these links for other stories I have written on previous Fall Flavours Culinary Festival events:

PEI Shellfish Festival (2012)
Farm Day in the City (2012)
Savour Victoria (2012)
Toes, Taps, and Taters (2013)
Lobster Party on the Beach (2013)
Applelicious (2013)
The Great Island Grilled Cheese Challenge (2013)
Feast of the Fathers (2014)
Lamb Luau at Crowbush Cove (2014)
Feast and Frolic Dinner (PEI Int’l Shellfish Festival) (2014)
Beef and Blues (2014)
A Taste of New Glasgow (2015)
Beef ‘n Blues (2015)
Chef on Board (2015)
Cooking with Chefs Anna & Michael Olson in Brudenell, PEI (2015)

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Lobster
PEI Lobster served at “Le Festin acadien avec homard” PEI Fall Flavors Culinary Festival

Mock Cherry Pie

Mock Cherry Pie
Mock Cherry Pie

I’m not sure of the origins of Mock Cherry Pie but my grandmother made a version of this delight when I was a small child.  Sometimes called cranberry pie, it’s not an altogether common pie (at least in my circles) these days but it is very tasty and colorful with its deep ruby red color. It lends itself well to a lattice top crust but is often made with a standard full top crust.

Mock Cherry Pie
Mock Cherry Pie

Either fresh or frozen cranberries can be used for this filling.  I like to coarsely chop up most of the cranberries for the filling but leave some whole to give texture to the filling. The idea behind chopping the cranberries in half is that it quickly releases the juice from the berries in the cooking process.  But, don’t get crazy and chop them too finely as the pie won’t have texture if the berries are ground up too fine. Adding the raisins to the filling enhances flavour complexity and also makes the filling more substantial.  The sweetness of the raisins counters the tartness of the cranberries.

The cranberries I am using in this filling came from Mikita Farms in Farmington, near Souris in the eastern part of Prince Edward Island. To my knowledge, this is the only cranberry producer that wet harvests the berries on the Island.  To see photos I took in 2014 of the wet harvesting of cranberries, click here.

Corralling the Cranberries
Corralling the Cranberries

Cranberries freeze really well so I keep a large bag of cranberries in my freezer for use year-round. This time of the year, many farm markets will have bags of these tasty berries available so don’t hesitate to pick up a bag and store them in the freezer for later use.

Fresh PEI Cranberries Charlottetown, PEI
Fresh PEI Cranberries

The key to making the filling for this pie is to get it thickened so that it does not run when the pie is cut.  It takes a little patience but is worth the effort.  It’s important to cool down the filling before putting it in the unbaked pie shell as, otherwise, it will break down the fat in the pastry causing it to be a soggy crust.  About 30-40 minutes of cooling time will be just right. Remember to stir the filling as it cools as this will help it to cool faster and also aid in its thickening.

Mock Cherry Pie
Mock Cherry Pie

This is a lovely rich dessert, perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas. A scoop of high quality vanilla ice cream goes particularly well with Mock Cherry Pie.  The wine I have selected to pair with this dessert for my Thanksgiving dinner this year comes from Benjamin Bridge Vineyards in Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia.  I discovered this wine through the 2015 PEI Fall Flavours Culinary Festival for which Benjamin Bridge was this year’s wine sponsor.  Benjamin Bridge wines were served at the signature culinary events during the month-long festival in September.  My wine selection is Nova 7. This is the perfect wine to pair with this dessert because it has a hint of sweetness to compliment the tartness of cranberries and a beautiful pale blush color. I think I will seriously have to go on a field trip and pay this winery a visit!

Mock Cherry Pie Paired with Benjamin Bridge's Nova 7 Wine
Mock Cherry Pie Paired with Benjamin Bridge’s Nova 7 Wine

Mock Cherry Pie

Ingredients:

Pastry for 9” double pie crust

2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup sultana raisins
½ cup boiling water

1 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
Pinch salt
1/3 cup cold water

1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond flavouring
1 tbsp Cointreau
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
1 tbsp butter

Method:

Chop 1 1/3 cups cranberries in half. Leave remaining 2/3 cup whole.

In medium-sized saucepan, combine the cranberries, raisins, and boiling water. Cook over high heat to the boiling point. Reduce heat to medium and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In small bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch with 1/3 cup cold water. Whisk until smooth. Add 1-2 tbsp of the hot mixture to temper the sugar-cornstarch mixture (don’t worry if a few cranberries get scooped up, too) and pour it into the hot cranberry-raisin mixture. Stir well.

Cook over medium heat, stirring often to prevent scorching, until thickened – about 11-13 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, almond flavouring, Cointreau, grated orange rind, and butter. Stir well. Let cool for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 400°. Prepare pastry for bottom crust and roll to desired thickness. Transfer pastry to a greased 9” pie plate. Trim pastry.

Pour cooled filling into crust.

Roll out pastry for top crust. If desired, cut into strips for lattice top.

Dampen edges of bottom pie crust.

Place top crust (or, alternatively, lattice strips) over filling, gently pressing the outside edges to seal to bottom crust.

Using kitchen shears, trim excess pastry.

Crimp pastry edges or press together with the tines of a fork. If using complete top crust, cut vents in pastry to allow steam to escape as the pie cooks (omit this step if using a lattice top since there are obviously already lots of spaces for the steam to escape).

Place pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the lower third of the oven for 10 minutes at 400° then reduce heat to 375° and bake for 45-50 minutes longer or until the crust is lightly browned and juices start to bubble from the filling.

Transfer pie to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting and serving.

Yield: 8 servings

Mock Cherry Pie

Yield: 1 - 9" pie, apx. 8 servings

A rich and flavourful pie that combines cranberries and raisins with a hint of orange flavour.

Ingredients

  • Pastry for 9” double pie crust
  • 2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup sultana raisins
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp almond flavouring
  • 1 tbsp Cointreau
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange rind
  • 1 tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Chop 1 1/3 cups cranberries in half. Leave remaining 2/3 cup whole.
  2. In medium-sized saucepan, combine the cranberries, raisins, and boiling water. Cook over high heat to the boiling point. Reduce heat to medium and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. In small bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch with 1/3 cup cold water. Whisk until smooth. Add 1-2 tbsp of the hot mixture to temper the sugar-cornstarch mixture and pour it into the hot cranberry-raisin mixture. Stir well. Cook over medium heat, stirring often to prevent scorching, until thickened – about 11-13 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, almond flavouring, Cointreau, grated orange rind, and butter. Stir well. Let cool for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Preheat oven to 400°. Prepare pastry for bottom crust and roll to desired thickness. Transfer pastry to a greased 9” pie plate. Trim pastry. Pour cooled filling into crust.
  5. Roll out pastry for top crust. If desired, cut into strips for lattice top. Dampen edges of bottom pie crust and place top crust (or, alternatively, lattice strips) over filling, gently pressing the outside edges to seal to bottom crust. Trim excess pastry. Crimp pastry edges or press together with the tines of a fork. If using complete top crust, cut vents in pastry to allow steam to escape as the pie cooks (omit this step if using a lattice top since there are obviously already lots of spaces for the steam to escape).
  6. Place pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the lower third of the oven for 10 minutes at 400° then reduce heat to 375° and bake for 45-50 minutes longer or until the crust is lightly browned and juices start to bubble from the filling.
  7. Transfer pie to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting and serving.
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