14 December 2017

Earl Grey Eggnog - A Delightful Twist on the Classic

Earl Grey Eggnog - A Delightful Twist on the Classic / www.delightfulrepast.com

Earl Grey Eggnog? Usually I'm a purist when it comes to eggnog (refuse to even try additions like pumpkin or chocolate), but this week I thought I'd shake things up a bit and combine two of my favorite beverages, tea and eggnog.

I’m a firm believer that people who say they don’t like eggnog have just never had good eggnog. Eggnog without eggs doesn’t count (unless you’re vegan or allergic to eggs, of course).

And eggnog with raw eggs just isn’t happening around here. Besides the concerns about salmonella, there is the fact that the taste and texture aren’t quite as good (IMHO) as in an eggnog made with a cooked base.


Earl Grey Eggnog - A Delightful Twist on the Classic / www.delightfulrepast.com


If you’re not interested in messing with the classics, try my usual Classic Eggnog. But I was feeling wild and crazy this week and thought I’d throw one of my favorite teas into the pot and see what happened.

With just 1 teaspoon of sugar per 1/2-cup serving, it has far less sugar than is typical; but you won't miss it, I promise. And I use just enough brandy for great flavor, about 1/2 teaspoon per 1/2-cup serving; but you can leave it out altogether if you like.

Are you an eggnog fan? If not, maybe this is the year to try it my way! Or at least try Eggnog Ice Cream!


Earl Grey Eggnog - A Delightful Twist on the Classic / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Earl Grey Eggnog


(Makes about 2 quarts, sixteen 1/2-cup servings)

2 3/8 cups (19 fluid ounces/562 ml) hot milk
2 tablespoons loose leaf Earl Grey tea or 6 Earl Grey tea bags
6 large egg yolks (Make a batch of meringues with the whites!)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (16 fluid ounces/473 ml) cold milk
3 tablespoons (1.5 fluid ounces/45 ml) to 1/2 cup or more brandy or rum, optional
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg plus more for garnish
1 cup (8 fluid ounces/237 ml) heavy whipping cream

1 At least 9, or up to 24, hours before serving time: In 1-quart saucepan, stir the tea into the hot milk, cover and steep for 10 minutes. In bottom pan of double boiler, heat an inch of water to a gentle simmer. In top pan of double boiler, whisk together egg yolks, sugar and salt until well blended.

2 Gradually whisk in the tea-infused warm milk and cook over hot but not boiling water, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to thicken slightly and registers between 160F/71C and 170F/76C (but do not boil) on an instant-read thermometer.* Just pull a tall stool up to the stove like I do 'cause it's gonna take a while, perhaps 10 minutes.

* I have the Thermapen Mk4 now, but I used to have the Classic Super-Fast Thermapen and it’s fabulous as well. You don’t want the eggs to curdle on you while you’re messing about with a slow thermometer!


Earl Grey Eggnog - A Delightful Twist on the Classic / www.delightfulrepast.com

3 Stir in the cold milk. Strain custard into a 2-quart bowl; stir in brandy* or rum, vanilla and nutmeg. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours.

* Actually, you could leave out the alcohol and let each person add his own favorite tipple or have it alcohol-free. I just use 3 tablespoons of brandy as a flavoring.

4 To serve: Whip cream just until soft peaks form. With wire whisk, gently fold whipped cream into custard. Pour eggnog into chilled 2- or 2.5-quart punch bowl or pitcher; sprinkle with nutmeg.

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

07 December 2017

Cretons - French Canadian Meat Spread

Cretons - French Canadian Meat Spread - A Centuries-Old Classic / www.delightfulrepast.com

Delightful Repast is all about comfort food. And Cretons (pronounced kreh-tohn) – French Canadian Meat Spread – is one of the classic Quebecois comfort foods my husband grew up with.

As with Tourtiere – French Canadian Meat Pie, Mr Delightful hadn't had this dish since his Mémé died many years ago. I decided to give it a try.

Knowing Mr Delightful’s “texture issues” (he won’t touch pâté, hummus, guacamole, dips of any kind), I couldn’t quite believe that he ate and enjoyed cretons in his youth!

With that in mind, I decided to make just a small batch. But I needn’t have worried. It was a hit! Especially on my toasted Homemade Sourdough Sandwich Bread


Cretons - French Canadian Meat Spread - A Centuries-Old Classic / www.delightfulrepast.com


Though it is traditionally spread on toast and served for breakfast, we had it for lunch, since we nearly always have oatmeal and fruit for breakfast. Mustard and gherkins (cornichons would be good) are the traditional go-withs.

I wanted to take an “in progress” cooking photo, but cretons really isn’t that photogenic while it’s cooking. But you can see in the photos of the finished product that I left it just a bit chunky.

I thought of giving it a few licks with the immersion blender, which you can do if you want a smoother spread, but what with Mr Delightful’s aforementioned issues I thought I better leave it alone.

Have you ever made, or had, cretons? For breakfast, or as an hors d’oeuvre?


Cretons - French Canadian Meat Spread - A Centuries-Old Classic / www.delightfulrepast.com


Cretons - French Canadian Meat Spread


(Makes three 3/4-cup pots)

1 pound (16 ounces/454 grams) pastured ground pork
1 small (4 ounces/113 grams) yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup (8 fluid ounces/237 ml) milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon mace or nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/4 packed cup soft breadcrumbs

1 In 2-quart saucepan, combine all ingredients except the breadcrumbs. Cook over medium heat, stirring with a large fork until the meat is broken up into crumbles and not clumping together.

2 Simmer, covered, for 2 hours.* Check it every half hour or so to make sure there is enough liquid, adding a little water if necessary. There was no need for me to add liquid as there was plenty of fat in the ground pork.

* I just have to show you my new ThermoWorks Christopher Kimball Signature Timer. I've had it since October, and I think it's the best purchase I've made all year! Sleek and unbulky but with bigger buttons, and it's two timers in one. Great gift idea, too. I want to buy one for everyone!


ThermoWorks Christopher Kimball Signature Timer - sleek and unbulky but with good-sized keys, times two things at once / www.delightfulrepast.com


3 Taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in the breadcrumbs. Cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes or so. Pack into three 3/4-cup ramekins or in glass jars. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving; keeps in refrigerator for several days. May be frozen for up to 3 months.

Disclosure: Some posts contain links to my affiliate accounts at ThermoWorks and Amazon. If you purchase something 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!

30 November 2017

Chicken and Mushroom Penne Pasta

Chicken and Mushroom Penne Pasta / www.delightfulrepast.com

Chicken and Mushroom Penne Pasta is one of those dishes that’s special enough for company and easy enough for a weeknight family dinner. You can put all sorts of things into one of these dishes, but I like to really savor a few simple ingredients instead of throwing the kitchen sink at it.

I made the batch pictured here with the smaller measure of sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms, but I like it even better with the double amounts. If you use the larger amounts, do throw in an extra splash of brandy.

So many creamy pasta recipes call for huge amounts of butter, cream and cheese – but you can get delicious results with far less. In fact, my recipe is made without any butter and cream at all and just a small amount of cheese.

Sometimes I prefer just enough sauce to coat each bite of chicken and mushroom and each piece of pasta, as shown here. Other times I like to have more sauce, so I splash in the cream. It's very flexible.

I think the dish is best with a ridged (rigate) tube pasta. Penne was my favorite until I met mini penne a few years ago. But either will do. Of course, it’s delightful with a red meat sauce, but I do love a creamy chicken pasta.


Chicken and Mushroom Penne Pasta / www.delightfulrepast.com


Chicken and Mushroom Penne Pasta


(Makes 4 to 6 servings)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 small (4 ounces/113 grams) yellow onion, finely sliced
1/4 to 1/2 firmly packed cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely sliced and microwaved for 15 seconds with 1 or 2 tablespoons water
1/2 to 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces/680 grams) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons brandy
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) milk
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour shaken with 1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, more to sprinkle over plated pasta
3/4 pound (12 ounces/340 grams) mini penne pasta
Reserved pasta water

1 In 5-quart pan, bring 3 quarts of water with 1/2 tablespoon of salt to a full boil. While it’s heating up, make sauce. You will add the pasta to the boiling water about the same time you start cooking the chicken. But if the water is not up to a rapid boil by then, the sauce can sit quite happily.

2 In 12-inch straight-sided* skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and saute the onion while you slice and hydrate the sun-dried tomatoes and slice the mushrooms.

* If your 12-inch skillet is not straight-sided, you’ll need to cook the chicken in two batches. So if you have a straight-sided one, use it.

3 Add the tomatoes to the skillet and cook for about a minute until the liquid evaporates, then add another tablespoon of oil, mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook over high enough heat to make the mushrooms sizzle, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are done, about 6 to 10 minutes. Remove vegetables to a bowl.

4 Add 2 tablespoons oil to skillet and cook the chicken, seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and cooked through. Deglaze the pan by stirring in the brandy and scraping up any browned bits. Add the milk and the slurry of flour and water, cooking and stirring until thickened. Stir in the basil, thyme, red pepper and Parmesan.

5 Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the pasta water in case your sauce needs thinning. Stir the drained pasta into the sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning. 

23 November 2017

Madeira Cake - A British Classic

Madeira Cake - A British Classic / www.delightfulrepast.com

Madeira Cake is a classic British cake that’s been around for a couple hundred years. With few and simple ingredients, it’s so “plain Jane” that many people overlook it. But it’s a classic for a reason—it’s really good!

My mother and I always liked the buttery, faintly lemony aromas wafting through the kitchen as it baked. Since it’s baked in a deep tin, it takes longer to bake than a layer cake. The firm but tender texture makes beautiful slices for teatime, lunchbox or in trifle and other desserts.

If made correctly, it will be domed and have a crack on the top. And, contrary to its name, will not contain Madeira. It got its name simply because it was served with a glass of Madeira. But I’ve only ever served it with tea, and that’s a pretty delightful combination as well.

When baking layer cakes (in UK, sandwich cakes), especially ones that will be decorated, bakers take measures to prevent doming and cracking. There are lots of recipes out there for Madeira cake that incorporate some of those tactics, and that is wrong. Might make a nice cake, but it won’t be a Madeira cake.

You will need this particular size cake tin, a 3-inch/8cm deep 6-inch/15cm round cake tin for this amount of batter. What I love about this size tin is that it makes the perfect size cake for small pieces (3x3x1-inch wedges) for afternoon tea. Of course, you can also cut larger pieces for dessert.

This is not a Lemon Drizzle Cake, so I did not put a glaze on it; those little runs you see on the side are just from the candied lemon slices I placed on top for decoration. Have you ever made a Madeira cake?


Madeira Cake - A British Classic / www.delightfulrepast.com


Madeira Cake


(Makes one 3-inch/8cm deep 6-inch/15cm round cake)

1 1/4 dip-and-sweep cups (6.25 ounces/177 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour*
2/3 cup (4.67 ounces/132 grams) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons non-GMO baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons (4.5 ounces/128 grams) unsalted butter, softened**
2 large eggs, room temperature, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons (1 fluid ounce/30 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 or 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

* Many British recipes call for self-raising flour, but mine will always call for plain flour. I prefer to be in control of the amount of baking powder and salt I use.

** Let butter stand at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes. Butter needs to be a little softer for a hand mixer than for a stand mixer. It should be squishable, but not melting or greasy/oily. 

1 Preheat oven to 300F/150C/Gas2. Butter a 3-inch deep 6-inch round cake tin. Line the bottom with a round of baking parchment. Turn the parchment over so that both sides are buttered. Lightly flour the tin.

Note: I've also baked it at 325F/165C/Gas3 for about 50 minutes with good results, but I think I prefer the lower temperature for the longer time.

2 In 2-quart bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. With electric hand mixer, mix the softened butter into the flour mixture until it resembles crumbs. On low setting, mix in the eggs, lemon juice and zest just until combined; beat on medium to high speed for 1 minute. The batter is quite stiff and should just drop slowly off a spoon when nudged. If it is too stiff, add a tablespoon of milk or another tablespoon of lemon juice, if you like.

3 Scrape batter into prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake until golden brown and cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center or when a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.

4 Leave in tin on wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from tin. Peel away the parchment on the bottom and set right side up on rack to cool completely.

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16 November 2017

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy and Broth - The Perfect Make-and-Take Side

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy and Broth - The Perfect Make-and-Take Side / www.delightfulrepast.com

Turkey Gravy is the highlight of any turkey dinner. Whether you're hosting a turkey dinner or doing a make-and-take side for dinner at someone else's house, you can be in charge of the gravy!

I know turkey gravy is not thought of as a bring-a-dish item, but check with your hosts. A lot of people don't like making gravy (or make terrible gravy!) and might welcome the idea. You could be a hero!

If you've never made the gravy ahead of time, you're going to thank me for this. It's the only way to go when you've got a dozen things on the menu, some of which need doing at the last minute. 

You know what I'm talking about. The classic mashed potatoes are mashed at the last minute, the dinner rolls are heated at the last minute, so many things to see to. By the time you sit down at the table, you're just done! 

But you can get the turkey broth and gravy done well in advance. You'll have enough broth for stuffing/dressing as well as gravy. Just freeze both until a day or two before you need them. If you make it two or three days ahead, just refrigerate it.

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy and Broth - The Perfect Make-and-Take Side / www.delightfulrepast.com
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(You can make the Cranberry Sauce two days ahead. Try it! You'll never go back to canned!)

Though it's made with just 2 pounds of turkey, the gravy tastes wonderful. But, if you want added flavor or want to increase the amount of gravy, when you take your turkey out of the pan on the big day, combine the pan drippings (minus the fat) and make-ahead gravy for added oomph.

About the
broth: I'm a huge fan of store-bought organic free-range low-sodium chicken broth, but NOT for anything to do with a turkey dinner. You MUST make turkey broth, whether this way or with the neck, etc, on the day you roast the turkey, or both.

Do you like to make things ahead or do it all on the day? My mother always did pretty much everything on the day, but she was made of sterner stuff. I have to stretch it out!


Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy and Broth - The Perfect Make-and-Take Side / www.delightfulrepast.com


Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy


(Makes about 4 cups)

The Turkey


2 turkey drumsticks* (about 2 pounds/0.91 kg total)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dry sherry plus enough water to make 1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml)


* Other parts might work, too, but I've only ever used drumsticks as they are more readily available where I shop.

The Broth


The Turkey, cooked
1 medium onion, peeled and halved
2 medium carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
4 medium celery stalks, cut into 3-inch pieces
Handful of fresh parsley
1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 1/2 quarts (80 fluid ounces/2.36 litres) water

The Gravy


1/3 dip-and-sweep cup (1.67 ounces/47 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
4 cups (32 fluid ounces/946 ml) of The Broth

1 Preheat oven to 400F/205C/Gas6. Lightly oil (about 1/2 teaspoon) a heavy-duty quarter sheet pan. Pat the drumsticks dry and place them in the prepared pan. Sprinkle all sides with salt and pepper. Roast for 60 to 70 minutes. Sixty minutes would probably be enough, but I like to get maximum brown bits in the roasting pan.

Note: If you don't see lots of brown in your pan after 70 minutes, let it go longer. This is a crucial step. Just be sure you don't let it burn.

2 Transfer the drumsticks to a 5-quart pot (I use a Le Creuset 5.5-quart round French oven); set aside for the moment.

3 Place the roasting pan on the stove and pour in the liquid a little at a time, stirring and scraping up the browned bits. When pan is completely deglazed, pour the liquid into a jar, bowl or 1-cup glass measure; refrigerate. You'll see from the photo that I ended up with about 1/4 cup of fat, which is perfect!



Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy and Broth - The Perfect Make-and-Take Side / www.delightfulrepast.com


4 Add vegetables and seasonings to the pot, along with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer with lid slightly ajar for 4 hours, checking liquid level after second and third hours and adding more water only if needed.



Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy and Broth - The Perfect Make-and-Take Side / www.delightfulrepast.com


5 Strain the broth into a 2-quart glass measure. You will have 6 to 8 cups of broth.

6 Transfer your refrigerated pan drippings to a 2-quart saucepan and begin heating. Add flour to pan drippings and cook, whisking or stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

7 Add about 1/2 cup of the stock and whisk briskly until very smooth, then add remaining broth. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently, until the gravy thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

8 Leave the gravy as is or strain into a 4-cup glass measure. Pour it into a 6-cup glass freezer container. Let cool a bit at room temperature, refrigerate until cold, then freeze until the day before you want to serve it.


9 The day before you want to use it, transfer the gravy from freezer to refrigerator. Reheat the thawed gravy, combining it with the defatted pan drippings for even more flavor.


Disclosure: Some posts contain links to my affiliate account at Amazon. 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 whenever you start your Amazon shopping from one of my links!

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