21 July 2016

Pita Bread - Pitta Bread

Homemade Pita (Pitta) Bread / www.delightfulrepast.com

Homemade Pita Bread (in British English, pitta bread) is so much better than store-bought and really doesn't take much active time once you get your moves down. I especially like it with just a little whole wheat flour (as in my recipe below), but I was out so just used all unbleached all-purpose flour this time. Still delicious!

Having made it both in the oven and on the stovetop, I get the best results with the oven. But if you've never made pita bread, try it both ways; you might get your best results with the stovetop. One way I've not tried, and plan to next time, is to bake them six at a time on a preheated heavy-duty sheet pan.

Mr. Delightful likes pita bread sandwiches, but not the sandwiches I made today! He refuses to eat "mushy" foods like baba ghanoush or hummus. I put a schmear of hummus on both sides of the pockets and filled them with thinly sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and shredded carrot. Love it!

And I made a wonderful discovery today! Besides being out of whole wheat flour, I was out of tahini; so I decided to try my hummus with peanut butter (organic natural - the kind you have to stir - peanut butter), and it worked! Do you like to try substitutions or would you drag your lazy carcass out to the shops to get the proper ingredients?!

Homemade Pita (Pitta) Bread / www.delightfulrepast.com

Pita Bread - Pitta Bread

(Makes 12)

2 3/4 cups (13.75 ounces/390 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup (3.75 ounces/106 grams) whole wheat flour 
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
2 teaspoons (0.25 ounce/7 grams) instant yeast 
1 to 1 1/4 cups (8 to 10 fluid ounces/237 to 296 ml) water, room temperature 
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 

1 In large bowl, stir together the two* flours, removing 1/4 cup of the unbleached flour to use for kneading. Stir in sugar, salt and instant yeast. With dough whisk or spoon, stir in the oil and 1 cup of the water until thoroughly combined, gradually adding more water only if needed. Stir for a minute. The dough should be "shaggy," soft but not too wet. 

* The batch photographed was made with all unbleached flour because I was out of whole wheat. 

2 Turn dough out onto lightly floured (from the reserved 1/4 cup) surface, and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, adding only enough flour to keep dough from being "too" sticky. It should be sticky, but not sticky enough to come off on your hands or the counter. 

3 Put into a lightly oiled bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure so that I can measure the rise), cover and refrigerate overnight. 

Note: The long, slow rise not only makes the bread more flavorful, this timing allows you to make the dough on a busy weeknight. Example: Make the dough Friday evening, refrigerate it overnight, bake the pitas the next day or evening (taking the dough out of the refrigerator about 3 hours before you plan to bake the pitas). 

4 Bring dough to room temperature (about 1 1/2 to 2 hours), knead lightly just a few strokes, divide into 12 equal pieces. I actually weigh the dough and divide the weight by 12 (which came to about 70 grams, or about 2.5 ounces). If you're not as obsessive as I am, you might just eyeball it.

5 Roll each piece into a smooth ball, place fairly close together on your countertop and cover with a damp tea towel or an overturned bowl; allow to rest for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, move oven rack to lowest position. Place a pizza stone, cast iron pizza pan or griddle or a heavy-duty baking sheet in the oven, and preheat to 475F/245C/Gas9 for 30 minutes. 

Roll dough balls out on a lightly floured surface to rounds about 3/16 inch (or 1/2 cm) thick (about 6 to 7 inches/15 to 18 cm in diameter), making sure they are evenly thick all over. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave for 20 minutes. 

Quickly place as many pitas as will fit on the hot stone, keeping the oven open as short a time as possible. Cook until they puff up, about a minute; flip with tongs or spatula and cook about another minute. Loosely wrap in a tea towel while you continue to cook pitas. 

Note: The pitas should be soft, not crisp, and pale, with only a few brown speckles. Keeping them covered will keep them soft as well as warm. 

9 Serve, covered, in napkin-lined basket. Or let cool completely, wrapped in tea towel, before wrapping and freezing. 

Homemade Pita (Pitta) Bread / www.delightfulrepast.com

14 July 2016

Earl Grey Ice Cream

Earl Grey Ice Cream / www.delightfulrepast.com

My love of tea, especially Earl Grey, is no secret. And with National Ice Cream Day coming up on July 17, I thought I should make a batch of Earl Grey Ice Cream. I make it with organic ingredients; even the vanilla extract and Earl Grey tea are organic.

If you follow a dairy-free diet, you can use this infusion method with your dairy-free ingredients for an Earl Grey non-dairy frozen dessert. And what better way to serve it than in a teacup with a piece of shortbread!

I chose to use the egg custard base method, so this ice cream has a luscious texture and is more easily scooped than it would otherwise be. I plan to make it for my next afternoon tea in the garden. It's so refreshing.

Have you ever had tea or coffee ice cream? I love both, though I'd much rather drink tea than coffee.

Earl Grey Ice Cream / www.delightfulrepast.com

Earl Grey Ice Cream

(Makes about 5 cups)

1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces/355 ml) milk
3 tablespoons loose leaf Earl Grey tea
2/3 cup (4.66 ounces/132 grams) sugar
2 tablespoons (18 grams) non-GMO cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces/355 ml) heavy whipping cream

1 In heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan, heat milk and tea leaves just to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain into 2-cup glass measure, pressing the tea leaves to extract all the flavor; add a little more milk, if needed, to bring it back up to 1 1/2 cups. Discard tea leaves, return milk to saucepan and bring it back to a simmer. 

Tip: The Le Creuset stainless steel 2-quart saucier is perfect for making this or any custard. 

2 In 1.5-quart bowl whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in the egg yolks and just a little of the cream until mixture is smooth.

3 Whisk hot milk into egg mixture, then pour mixture into the saucepan. Over medium-low heat, stir constantly until mixture begins to thicken and registers 160 to 170F/71 to 76C on instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes; do not boil.

4 Stir in cream. Strain custard into medium bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure to make pouring into the machine easier); whisk in vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours or overnight.

5 Assemble the Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream-Sorbert Maker; turn it on. While it is running, pour the chilled mixture through the spout. Let mix until thickened, about 20 minutes.

6 Transfer the soft ice cream to a freezer-safe airtight container, and place in freezer for at least 4 hours. Even after days in the freezer, this ice cream was very scoopable and did not need to be left out for 15 minutes before serving.

Tip: Place the storage container in the freezer for a while to chill it thoroughly before transferring the ice cream to it.

Earl Grey Ice Cream - Favorite Scoop / www.delightfulrepast.com

Note: The scoop in the photo above is the OXO Good Grips Solid Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop, the best I've ever seen; even works on hard ice cream.

Disclosure: Some posts contain links to my affiliate account at Amazon.com. If you purchase something from Amazon through one of my links, I receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, which I use toward the expenses of running this blog. Thanks for supporting Delightful Repast when you shop at Amazon!

Earl Grey Ice Cream / www.delightfulrepast.com

07 July 2016

Fresh Peach Ice Cream - Fresh Blueberry Sauce

Fresh Peach Ice Cream with Fresh Blueberry Sauce / www.delightfulrepast.com

July is National Ice Cream Month, and the third Sunday of July is National Ice Cream Day. Perfect time to make fresh peach ice cream, if the peaches are at the height of their season in your area. Sometimes I cook a custard base for my ice cream, but this is a simple egg-free no-cook ice cream. 

Fresh peach ice cream is only as good as your peaches (yellow peaches, please). If your peaches are less than perfectly ripe, sweet and flavorful, pick another flavor of ice cream to make while you wait for better peaches.

Bringing home great peaches is an art. First of all, they must be organic yellow peaches. Next, I like to make sure they were picked at the best time. You can tell a peach that has been picked too soon by its "green shoulders" around the stem end. Give it the sniff test. Does it smell like a peach or just a fuzzy styrofoam ball?

Now that you have your perfect peaches, don't skimp on step one of the directions. Chop the peaches into about 1/4-inch dice, and let them macerate for at least an hour. This will result in peach flavor throughout the ice cream, not just in the little chunks of frozen peach in it. 

What is your favorite ice cream? Will you be making some this month? 

Fresh Peach Ice Cream with Fresh Blueberry Sauce / www.delightfulrepast.com

Simple Fresh Peach Ice Cream 

(Makes about 5 cups)

1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped perfectly ripe yellow peaches (from 1 pound whole)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup (4.66 ounces/132 grams) sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cups (10 fluid ounces/296 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 cup (8 fluid ounces/237 ml) milk (I used 2%)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch salt

Fresh Blueberry Sauce

3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup fresh blueberries (6-ounce/170 gram clamshell package)
1 1/2 teaspoons non-GMO cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

1 Place peeled and chopped peaches in 2-cup glass measure; stir in lemon juice and half of the sugar. Let macerate for at least an hour.

2 In medium bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure to make pouring easier), whisk together remaining sugar and cinnamon, then cream, milk, extracts, and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the peaches with their juice. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Tip: The cinnamon disperses better when mixed with the sugar before other ingredients are added. 

3 Assemble the Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream-Sorbet Maker; turn it on. While it is running, pour the chilled mixture through the spout. Let mix until thickened, about 15 minutes.

4 Transfer the soft ice cream to a freezer-safe airtight container and place in freezer for at least 3 hours. If frozen very solid, remove from freezer 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

5 Make the sauce. In 1-quart saucepan, whisk together sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir in water and lemon juice, then blueberries. Cook over medium heat until berries start releasing their juices, about 2 minutes. Mix together cornstarch and water. Gently stir it into hot berries and simmer, stirring gently, for 2 minutes. Let stand at room temperature to cool. Refrigerate if not using within 2 hours. 

30 June 2016

Earl Grey Shortbread

Earl Grey Shortbread / www.delightfulrepast.com

Earl Grey Shortbread combines one of my favorite teas with one of my favorite cookies/biscuits. It follows the traditional formula for the Scottish classic shortbread: 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter, 3 parts flour (by weight). The measures given, for those who prefer to measure, are just tidier approximations of the weights.

My immersion blender comes with a mini processor/chopper that comes in handy for this. Just give the loose leaf tea (or the tea you've taken out of tea bags) a few whirls to make it a bit finer. If you don't have one of these or a spice grinder, you can use a mortar and pestle or your fingers; just rub the tea between thumb and forefinger. 

Of course, you can make these any size you like; but I like this little two-bite size for afternoon tea parties. When everything on the tea table is small, one can have at least one of everything without going completely overboard. 

My shortbread is all organic, right down to the tea. Though I still at times drink black teas that are not organic, if I had my druthers, they would all be. Since I drink a great deal more tea than most people do, I think it's pretty important that most of it be organic.

What is your favorite tea (camellia sinensis) or tisane (herbal infusion/tea)?  

Earl Grey Shortbread / www.delightfulrepast.com

Earl Grey Shortbread

(Makes about 48 1.5-inch cookies)

1 1/8 dip-and-sweep cup (5.625 ounces/159 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Earl Grey tea, ground in spice grinder or mini processor

1 stick (4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) vanilla extract, optional 

1 In smallish bowl, whisk together flour and ground tea.

2 In medium mixing bowl, with hand mixer or wooden spoon, cream softened butter. Add sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Cream together thoroughly.

3 Add flour mixture to creamed mixture. When thoroughly combined (it will be a bit crumbly, so knead it in the bowl with one hand), scrape out onto piece of wax paper or baking parchment and form a 10-inch log (it will lengthen to the 12-inch width of the wax paper as you roll it). Roll into a 1.25-inch diameter log 12 inches long. Place in freezer for 30 to 60 minutes.

Note: Or roll it out 1/4-inch thick and cut out shapes, such as the diamonds I did with the Hildesheimer Pumpernickel Cookies.

4 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Slice thoroughly chilled log of dough into 1/4-inch-thick* slices and place on parchment-lined baking sheet about 1 inch apart; they only spread about 1/4 inch. (My half sheet pan handled it all in one batch.) Bake for 13 to 17 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown the slightest bit.

* I don't actually measure the slices, just eyeball it, and come out with fortysomething cookies from the 12-inch log of dough. No worries -- it's not rocket surgery! :D

PS Still trying to figure out Pinterest. I'm told it likes long/tall images, so ...

Earl Grey Shortbread / www.delightfulrepast.com

23 June 2016

Shepherd's Pie Freezer Meals

Shepherd's Pie Freezer Meals / www.delightfulrepast.com

It's a wonderful feeling having a stash of homemade shepherd's pie freezer meals, and other homemade freezer meals, tucked away for those times when the cook's just not feelin' it! Oh, I do plenty of cooking (or baking) nearly every day, but not necessarily cooking that results in dinner. Know what I mean? 

Is it just me, or are there a lot of you out there who love to cook, just not necessarily every day? Problem is, I don't like going out for dinner every time I don't feel like cooking. And Mr. Delightful doesn't like going out to pick up takeout every time I don't feel like cooking. What does that leave? Commercial frozen food? Now, there's a grisly thought!

So on a day when I am feelin' it, I like to make a huge batch of something that will feed us that evening and a few more. I'm usually cooking dinner for two and so use containers that hold the perfect amount for two. Today I made and froze two dinners for two and one dinner for four because friends who like shepherd's pie are coming in a few days.

Of course, you can make this recipe in just one big 13x9x2-inch baking dish that serves 8 or in two 8x8x2-inch baking dishes that serve 4 each, but I've done the math for you in case you want to use four smaller baking dishes that serve 2 each. Other things I freeze in these meal-for-two dishes are Stuffed Cabbage Rolls and Black Bean Soup. And Spaghetti Sauce. I'll also do this with my Vegetarian Shepherdless Pie.

The freezer is my friend!

Shepherd's Pie Freezer Meals / www.delightfulrepast.com

Shepherd’s Pie Freezer Meals

(Makes 4 frozen meals for two)

I avoid the whole Shepherd's Pie or Cottage Pie / Lamb or Beef Controversy by making it with ground turkey. But in my family it's always been Shepherd's Pie, no matter what it's made of. And this is my big-batch version for multiple freezer meals.

The Meat Filling

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
2 pounds lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups frozen peas

The Mashed Potatoes

3 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
8 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 packed cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar

1 Lightly oil or spray with cooking spray 4 3-cup (750 ml) rectangular Pyrex storage/baking dishes with lids

2 Start the filling before the potatoes to allow plenty of time for proper browning. In 12-inch straight-sided skillet (I use the All-Clad 6-Quart Saute Pan), heat oil and cook onion and carrots about 5 minutes or until soft. Add ground turkey and brown well. Proper browning, rather than just "graying," gives the finished dish a richer flavor, making it well worth the extra time it takes. If using very lean ground meat, as I do, there is no need to drain the fat from the pan. A lot of moisture comes out of the turkey and must evaporate before any browning can occur.

Note: This proper browning takes a long time, but it's worth it. Especially if you're making this for someone who thinks he doesn't like ground turkey. By the time I get through with it, people just assume it's ground beef. 

3 When the ground turkey is no longer pink, start the potatoes and let the turkey continue cooking until browned. Peel the potatoes and rinse and quarter them. Put them in a 3-quart saucepan and add 1 teaspoon salt and enough cold water to cover them. Bring to a boil and simmer, loosely covered, about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. 

4 When potatoes are halfway done, finish the meat filling. Add the Worcestershire sauce toward end of browning. When meat is browned (which can take a long time, at least 20 minutes, with lean turkey), sprinkle flour over all and mix thoroughly. Stir in diced tomatoes and seasonings and cook about 3 minutes. Add frozen peas and remove from heat. 

5 When potatoes are done, drain completely, cover and set over low heat for half a minute to dry thoroughly. Remove from heat, mash, add butter and continue mashing. Stir in milk, salt, pepper and grated Cheddar. Potatoes will be a bit looser than you would make to serve as mashed potatoes; this makes spreading easier.

6 Spread 2/3 cup of the mashed potatoes evenly in each of the 4 storage/baking dishes. Spread 2 cups of the meat filling evenly in each of the 4 dishes, pressing it down firmly. Spread 1 cup of the mashed potatoes evenly over the meat filling. Cover with lids and refrigerate until chilled, and then move containers to freezer. 

7 When you wish to have one of the meals for dinner, just move one from freezer to refrigerator in the morning to thaw. Preheat oven (unfortunately, these dishes are not to be used in a toaster oven) to 350F/180C/Gas4. Remove storage lid, and bake for 20 minutes (longer for larger baking dishes). Or microwave. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...