It’s December and the Island has received its first blanket of snow, the markets are in full swing, and friends and family are making the final arrangements for their holiday gatherings. Whether you’re hosting your very first Island Christmas dinner, looking for something to spice things up, or you’re feeling nostalgic abroad, we’ve got six local recipes sure to satisfy you and yours.
Thanks to the help of some East End chefs (and my Aunt Marie) we’ve got six recipes from appetizers to dessert to fold in with your favourites as you tuck in with your friends and family. These dishes are sure to brighten your potluck, add to the big dinner itself, or make for a perfect sleepy Boxing Day snack.
It’s the little things that make the holiday season bright, and this Holiday Cider from Jordan and Amber Dennis at Strait Goods is just the ticket. It’s so easy to whip up, you can have the ingredients on deck to serve friends, kids, or those surprise guests!
- 4 cups Apple Juice
- 2 tsp each whole cloves & allspice
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 slices of fresh orange
- 2 sprigs Fresh Thyme
Simmer all ingredients in a saucepot for 30-45 minutes, strain and serve hot!
PEI Oysters with Beer & Bacon Marmalade
Whether it’s a Boxing Day treat or to ring in the New Year, East End Oysters are an unmissable party appetizer. There are many ways to season your shellfish, but Jesse MacDonald from Rodd Crowbush suggests a Beer and Bacon Marmalade:
- 12 choice oysters
- Bacon, small dice 1 lbs
- Shallot, minced 1 ea
- Garlic, minced 2 cloves
- Brown Sugar 0.5 C
- White Wine vinegar 0.25 C
- Local Craft Beer 0.5 C
- Maple Syrup 1 oz
- Dill, chopped 2 oz
- Glasgow Glen Beer Gouda, grated 4 oz
- Pepper To Taste
- In a pot, sweat off shallot, garlic and bacon together, in a pot until the edges of the bacon begin to caramelize.
- Add beer, vinegar and sugar into the pot.
- Cook on medium-high heat until the sugar has dissolved and 90 percent of the liquid has evaporated.
- Off the heat finish with dill, maple and pepper to taste. Set Marmalade aside.
- Shuck your 12 oysters, discarding off the top shell.
- Place 1-1.5 oz of Bacon Marmalade on top of each oyster with 0.5 oz of beer gouda on top of Marmalade.
- Top with cheese and broil oysters for 2-4 minutes on high.
- Plate & serve hot!
Hasselback Potatoes & Green Cream
You knew we couldn’t miss out on potatoes! Chef Michael Smith has kindly lent us this recipe from his new cookbook Farm, Fire & Feast: Recipes from The Inn at Bay Fortune for the ultimate roasted potatoes. Here are Michael’s Hasselback Potatoes with Green Cream:
On Prince Edward Island we take our potatoes very seriously. Our kitchen is surrounded by farms and farmers working hard to grow the best spuds on the planet. The rhythm of their fields is part of the landscape of our lives. A simple baked potato honours their hard work, but sometimes you need to get dressed up for a special occasion. This Hasselback method is how our cooks show off a bit for their fellow cooks. We don’t grow large baking potatoes on our farm—we bring them in from a local farm for our chowder—so this method is reserved for our staff meal. It’s a bit more effort than just tossing some bakers in the oven, but it does honour the occasion. It also means someone is so efficient in their service prep that they have extra time for their mates. Very hospitable. (Serves 4.)
- 4 large russet (baking) potatoes (about 2 pounds/900 g), scrubbed and dried
- ¼ cup (60 mL) melted butter, olive oil, bacon drippings, or reserved duck, pork, beef, chicken, or turkey fat
- 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup (250 mL) packed baby spinach leaves
- 1 cup (250 mL) fresh dill sprigs
- ¼ cup (60 mL) prepared horseradish
- ¼ cup (60 mL) water
- ¼ teaspoon (1 mL) sea salt
- 1 cup (250 mL) Perpetual Sour Cream (page 000) or store-bought
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Turn on the convection fan if you have one.
- Roast the Hasselback Potatoes
- Prep the potatoes one at a time. Cut a thin slice from one side of the potato so it rests firmly on the cutting board. Nestle a chopstick or thick skewer along each of the potato’s long sides. Thinly slice the potato crosswise from end to end. The stick will prevent the cuts from going all the way through. Tuck the slices from 1 garlic clove into each potato. Drizzle with melted butter or fat of your choice. Sprinkle evenly with minced thyme, salt, and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake until tender and lightly browned, about 1 hour. Test for doneness by poking with a skewer.
Make the Green Cream
In a high-speed blender, combine the spinach, dill, horseradish, water, and salt. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the perpetual sour cream until smooth. Serve a dollop or two with each potato.
Auntie Marie’s Mustard Chow
I’m throwing this family recipe into the mix because if you’ve never had Mustard Chow you have to dig into the powerhouse condiment. Eat your heart out, cranberries, because this is the true East End Sauce for the holiday season. You’ll have to plan ahead, but it’s worth it!
Makes about 14 (500 ml) jars.
- 8 lbs green tomatoes, sliced
- 3 lbs onions, sliced
- 2 red peppers, chopped fairly small
- Add 1.5 cups coarse salt and cover with cold water. Let sit overnight. Or 8 hours!
In the morning, drain well (Don’t rinse!) Add to a heavy-bottomed pot.
- 3 cups white vinegar
- 3 cups water
- 8 cups white sugar
Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Cook on a simmer for 45 minutes.
Now, you’re ready to thicken and finish!
In a bowl, whisk these 5 ingredients together:
- 1.5 tablespoons dry mustard
- 1.5 tablespoons mustard seed
- 1.5 tablespoons celery seed
- 1.5 tablespoons turmeric
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup cold water
Mix until smooth. Take a bit of hot liquid from the pickles and whisk it in. (This stops you from getting lumps!) Add this mixture to the pot, stirring all the while, to thicken your batch. Cook on simmer for 15 minutes more, stirring often. Now you’re ready to bottle!
Hot pickles + hot jars + hot lids
This is my method- there are many! Use your canning instructions if you have something that you like.
While your pickles are cooking sterilize your jars by washing rinsing and putting them in a 250-degree oven for 10 minutes.
Pop the inner rims of your jars in a small pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Leave them in the hot water.
Add hot pickles to hot jars and top with hot lids. They should all pop within an hour or so smile And have fun!
Irish Soda Bread
This quick and simple recipe from Caroline at The Home Plate is great for the timidest of home chefs and is also a perfect recipe for “getting the kids involved.” Throw this bread in as an alternative to biscuits and scones this season!
No hard work and no wait times for proofing – but wonderful aromas throughout the household whilst cooking. This recipe is also great to get the kids involved as you cannot over knead it or spoil it in any way – The cooking time for this bread is approximately 30 – 40 mins depending on your oven – When you tap underneath and it sounds hollow – it is cooked.
Preheat oven to 400 F / 200 C
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups Wholemeal flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 Teaspoons of brown sugar – (can substitute for white sugar)
- 1 teaspoon Baking soda
- 2 cups Buttermilk
- 1 Small Egg for brushing
- An optional ingredient is sultanas or dried berries
Thoroughly mix all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Once mixed slowly add in the buttermilk. Squeeze the mixture through your hands, ensuring the dough is well moistened. If it feels a little dry or is not coming together into a ball – do not worry add a little bit more buttermilk and continue until you have it into a ball. If it is a little too wet and sticky add a little white flour.
On an oven tray, lined with parchment paper place the smoothed ball of dough onto the tray. With a sharp knife cut a large cross into the top of the loaf – do not cut all the way through but about 2 inches down. This will assist in releasing gases and speeding up the cooking time.
Beat an egg in a cup and brush the top of the bread. Now place in the middle of the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes. If, as directed above, it does not have a hollow sound just put it back in again and check it in about seven minutes.
Once cooked get a clean cotton damp cloth and lay it over it. This will help keep the moisture in whilst cooling. Once cooled and to store, wrap in parchment paper and then tin foil. The bread will keep for a couple of days
Serve with soups – cheese – delis – or just jam – and put your feet up for some comfort eating!
Stella’s Christmas Carrot Cake with Butter Cream Cheese Icing
Carrot Cake might seem unconventional when it comes to a Christmas feast: but what’s more winter-themed than nutmeg, cloves, and a root vegetable? This Carrot Cake with Butter Cream Cheese Icing from Stella Daly at Stella’s Dining is sure to have kids from one to 92 coming back for another slice.
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup cooking oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ cup shredded carrots
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 ½ cups icing sugar
- 1 cup of cream cheese
Take Two Bowls:
- Mix all dry ingredients into a bowl then beat 2 eggs into the dry mix
- Add ½ cup cooking oil
- Then add shredded carrots to the bowl and bake at 350 for 40 minutes
Butter Cream Icing:
- 5 tbsp cooking oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 ½ cups icing sugar
- 1 cup of cream cheese
Beat together and spread over carrot cake when cooled!
There they are! Six East End Recipes to enjoy with your loved ones this season. May it be cheery and bright – and wishing you all the best of 2022.
By Heather Jordan Ross
Heather Jordan Ross is a Scottish-Canadian writer and comedian whose personal, acerbic storytelling has been featured on OutTV, CBC’s The Doc Project, and BBC Radio 4’s It’s Funny and It’s True with Julia Sutherland. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Journalism and Theatre from the University of King’s College and a Masters in Screenwriting with Distinction from Screen Academy Scotland. The Stand has called her comedy “very refreshing” and “extremely relatable.” She now works as a freelance script editor and writer.