04 February 2016

Steamed Persimmon Pudding - with Brandy Butter Hard Sauce

Steamed Persimmon Pudding with Brandy Butter Hard Sauce / www.delightfulrepast.com

Even when persimmon season (October through February) is over, it's persimmon season at my house. I usually manage to puree and freeze enough for a few steamed puddings and batches of cookies. 

The pudding can be steamed on the stovetop, directions included, but I like steaming it in the slow cooker. I especially like this pudding with Custard Sauce (Creme Anglaise), but Brandy Butter (also called Hard Sauce) is classic as well and makes a nice change.

Both pudding and sauce can be made ahead. Just reheat the pudding before serving it topped with the cold sauce. Then stand back and watch the rich sauce melt into the pudding and spill over the edges. Mmm ... 

The sauce recipe makes just enough for six servings so you won't be tempted to overindulge. I'd almost forgotten, the other perk of steaming a spicy pudding is the wonderful aromas wafting around the kitchen, the best way to cozy up the place on a winter's day! 

What's in your slow cooker, stovetop steamer or oven? 


Steamed Persimmon Pudding with Brandy Butter Hard Sauce / www.delightfulrepast.com

Steamed Persimmon Pudding - with Brandy Butter Hard Sauce

(Makes 6 servings) 

The Pudding

1/2 cup raisins
3 tablespoons brandy, rum or hot tea
1 dip-and-sweep cup (5 ounces/142 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
3/4 cup persimmon puree (perfectly ripe persimmons!)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts 

The Sauce

6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) unsalted butter, softened but still firm
3/4 packed cup (3 ounces/85 grams) unsifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon brandy

1 In small bowl, soak raisins (I also threw in some dried cranberries) in brandy or hot tea for 30 minutes to plump them. 

2 Butter well and lightly flour (or spray with cooking spray) a 2-inch deep 7-inch round cake tin. In small bowl, whisk together flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. 

3 In medium bowl with a wooden spoon, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, then persimmon puree, followed by the vanilla and milk. Stir in the flour mixture followed by the nuts and raisins. Turn into buttered tin and cover tightly with foil. 

4 Place rack in bottom of cooker, and add boiling water to just below the rack (that's about 2 1/2 cups in the Cuisinart MSC-600 Multicooker). Set the pudding on the rack. Put the lid on the slow cooker. Set to Slow Cook on High for 2 1/2 hours; do not lift lid. 

Note: Your slow cooker might cook slower or faster, so you might want to check the pudding for doneness after 2 hours the first time you make this. Don't remove the foil, just make a little hole in the center of the foil with toothpick or skewer. 

Stovetop: Place a rack in bottom of pot large enough to hold the pudding tin. Pour enough boiling water into pot to almost touch bottom of rack. Place pudding mold on rack. Bring to boil over high heat, cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Steam pudding, adding more boiling water as needed, until pudding is browned and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 2 hours. 

5 Remove the pudding to wire rack, remove foil and let pudding stand 15 minutes before unmolding onto a small platter. Slice and serve warm with whipped cream, brandy butter hard sauce or, my favorite, Custard Sauce.


Steamed Persimmon Pudding with Brandy Butter Hard Sauce / www.delightfulrepast.com


Note: If making it ahead, even a day or two before, cover and store pudding at room temperature and then reheat before serving. 

6 While pudding is steaming, make Brandy Butter Hard Sauce or Custard Sauce. If you prefer your Custard Sauce cold, make it several hours or up to 2 or 3 days ahead. Hard Sauce can be made way ahead; it needs to be refrigerated at least 2 hours or up to 3 weeks.

7 To make Brandy Butter, also known as Hard Sauce: With an electric hand mixer, beat softened* butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract, and beat until thoroughly creamed. Stir in the brandy a little at a time, incorporating each addition well before adding more. Spoon into a small serving dish, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 weeks. Serve it very cold to contrast with the warm pudding.

* To soften butter, let stand on the counter until it reaches room temperature and is just spreadable. This will take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. It's always important not to overdo it because the butter can become greasy.

28 January 2016

One-Pan Penne Pasta Verde

One-Pan Penne Pasta Verde / www.delightfulrepast.com

Years ago I discovered the joy of cooking pasta right in the sauce. It doesn't work for everything, of course; but any time I can turn something into a one-pan meal, I'm happy!

Then, while I was selecting my favorite organic canned tomato products, I discovered my store had added a new item to the section: organic crushed tomatillos. I was so excited! Right away I thought of two things I just had to make with it: chicken enchiladas and a chicken pasta concoction.

So here's my one-pan chicken pasta concoction. It's nice to get out of my tomato-y pasta rut once in a while! I prefer the mini penne when I can get it. If you use regular penne, you might need to add a few minutes to the cooking time.

Use your own judgement on the jalapeno pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. I like a little heat, but not enough to make my face sweat! Where do you stand on that issue? 

One-Pan Penne Pasta Verde

(Serves 4 to 6)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno pepper
3 cups lower sodium chicken broth
1 cup crushed tomatillos (I use Muir Glen organic)
2 packed tablespoons chopped cilantro plus more for garnish
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 pound mini penne pasta, uncooked
8 ounces jack cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 In large skillet that has a lid (I use the 12-inch straight-sided All-Clad Stainless 6-Quart Saute Pan) over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil until very hot. Add the chicken seasoned with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and cook until lightly browned and done, 7 to 10 minutes; remove from skillet.

2 Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet and cook onion for 4 minutes. Stir in the crushed red pepper flakes, red bell pepper, jalapeno and remaining salt and pepper; cook for 1 minute. 

3 Stir in the broth, tomatillos, cilantro, cream and pasta. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 14 minutes, until pasta is tender.

4 Over low heat, stir in the chicken, cheese and lime juice for about 3 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

21 January 2016

Three-Ingredient Chocolate Tart

3-Ingredient Chocolate Tart / www.delightfulrepast.com

Ever since I saw the three-ingredient chocolate tart filling at Cooking on the Ranch three months ago, I've wanted to make it. Lea Ann got the recipe from Mark Kalix, the chef teaching a cooking class at her local Sur la Table. 

The recipe says it makes an 8-inch tart, but I don't have a tart tin that size. So I increased the amounts of the three ingredients to bring up the volume to fill my 9-inch tart tin. I resisted the urge to add other ingredients (not easy for me!). If Lea Ann says it's wonderful, I believe it!

I made my usual shortcrust tart pastry, but you could use a refrigerated pie crust if you want to give yourself a break. And if you have an 8-inch tart tin, just go with the 2 eggs, 6 ounces of chips and 1 cup of cream the chef used. (I did lower the baking temperature a bit; couldn't help myself!) 

And next time I might make my usual addition to anything chocolate: a little espresso powder, triple-strength brewed coffee or Kahlua. But it is by no means necessary. 

(If you prefer lemon, try my Classic Lemon Tart.)

Easy 3-Ingredient Chocolate Tart / www.delightfulrepast.com

Easy 3-Ingredient Chocolate Tart

(Makes one 9-inch/23cm tart, 8 servings) 

My Pastry - Pâte Sucrée (a sweet shortcrust pastry) 

1 1/4 dip-and-sweep cup (6.25 ounces/177 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 packed cup (1 ounce/28 grams) unsifted powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces/113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon water, milk or cream 

The Filling - adapted from Chef Mark Kalix, Sur la Table 

1 1/4 cups (10 fluid ounces/296 ml or grams) heavy whipping cream
1 1/4 cups (7.5 ounces/213 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg white left after making pastry

1 Add flour, powdered sugar and salt to work bowl of food processor; turn on for about 3 or 4 seconds to combine. Add chunks of butter; pulse to a crumb texture. Add egg yolk and liquid; pulse until the dough starts clumping together. This is to be a crisp, more cookie-like crust, rather than a flaky pastry; so there's not quite the concern about over-processing. Flatten slightly into a 4- to 6-inch round disc, wrap and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. 

2 Lightly butter a 9-inch/23cm tart tin and set it on a baking sheet. On lightly floured 12-inch square of aluminum foil, roll out the pastry to a 12-inch circle. Transfer dough to tart tin, pressing dough (but not stretching it) to fit the tin. Save the foil; you're not done with it. With scissors or knife, trim the overhang to 1/2 inch all around. Fold it in and press it to the sides to form a thicker side crust. Trim the edges by rolling the rolling pin over the top. Press the pastry into the flutes so that it rises a bit above the edge (in case of shrinkage). Pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375F/190C/Gas5. 

3 Cover chilled pastry with reserved piece of foil, clean side up, pressing it to fit well. Spread 2 cups of ceramic pie weights (that's two packages of Mrs. Anderson's ceramic pie weights) over the foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights; continue baking for 10 minutes, until lightly browned to a pale golden. Let stand to cool a bit. 

4 While pastry is cooling, make the filling. In 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the cream until small bubbles begin to form around the edge. Remove from heat; add chocolate chips and stir until thoroughly smooth. In small bowl, beat the eggs and egg white; stir beaten eggs into chocolate mixture until thoroughly blended. 

5 Turn oven temperature down to 325F/165C/Gas3. Pour filling into prebaked pastry shell. Bake (with tart tin on baking sheet) for 25 to 30 minutes, until just set. Do not overbake. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Remove from tin. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

14 January 2016

Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Teacakes - Gluten-Free or Not

Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Teacakes - Gluten-Free or Not / www.delightfulrepast.com

Some people call these Mexican Wedding Cookies; others I know call them Russian Teacakes. I'm sure there are even more names for them. And there are different shapes, including flatter cookies than the spheres I make. 

Last month a friend who has gone gluten-free over the past several months tried a recipe she'd found for gluten-free Mexican Wedding Cookies. She wasn't entirely happy with the recipe, so I thought I'd see what I could come up with here in the Delightful Repast Test Kitchen.

This is a cookie that is supposed to be quite crumbly, but not as crumbly as a gluten-free version would be without a little help from xanthan gum and extra moisture. When I make these with regular flour I never add more than a teaspoon or two of water. With a gluten-free blend, that is not nearly enough. I settled on 3 tablespoons and a rest of at least an hour to give it time to absorb the moisture.

I'm wondering if using 3 tablespoons of beaten egg might not be even better, but I'm out of nuts and so can't make a second batch. What do you think? Egg or water? 

BTW, did you know January is National Hot Tea Month? These cookies go beautifully with tea, so be sure to have a Proper Cup of Tea!

Mexican Wedding Cookies / Russian Teacakes

(Makes 12 large or 24 small cookies)

1/3 dip-and-sweep cup (1.375 ounces/39 grams) sorghum flour 
1/3 dip-and-sweep cup (1.375 ounces/39 grams) tapioca flour 
1/2 dip-and-sweep cup (2.25 ounces/64 grams) coconut flour 
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum 
(OR 1 dip-and-sweep cup (5 ounces/142 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour) 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature 
1/4 cup (1 ounce/28 grams) powdered sugar 
1/2 cup (2 ounces/57 grams) finely chopped toasted pecans 
3 tablespoons water or beaten egg (for gluten-free version) 
3/4 teaspoon vanilla 
Coating: 1/3 cup (1.33 ounces/38 grams) powdered sugar 

1 In small bowl, whisk together gluten-free flours/starches, xanthan gum (or regular flour) and salt. 

2 In medium bowl, beat butter with electric mixer until creamy. Add 1/4 cup powdered sugar; beat for about 1 minute until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture, nuts, water or beaten egg (for gluten-free version) and vanilla; beat to a soft dough. Shape the dough into a log, wrap tightly and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight. 

3 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Cut chilled dough into 12 equal* pieces and roll into balls. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet sprayed with organic canola oil cooking spray or lined with parchment. Bake until cookies are pale golden, about 16 to 18 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Roll cooled, but still slightly warm, cookies in 1/3 cup powdered sugar, coating well. Let cool completely, then roll in the powdered sugar a second time. 

* If you reallyreallyreally want the cookies to be exactly equal, weigh the dough (this batch was 12.875 ounces/366 grams) and divide by 12, about 30 grams or a bit over 1 ounce. OR make 24 cookies half that size and bake them for about 12 to 14 minutes. 

Store at room temperature in airtight container.                      

07 January 2016

Boeuf Bourguignon - Beef Stew in Red Wine

Boeuf Bourguignon - Beef Burgundy / www.delightfulrepast.com

Boeuf Bourguignon is the ultimate comfort food! My recipe is adapted from Julia Child's, in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, with a few changes. I say "changes" rather than "improvements" because, after all, who am I to improve on perfection. Maybe a better word would be "shortcuts." No, "streamlines!" 

Boeuf Bourguignon is not difficult in any way, it just has a lot of steps and takes a lot of time (nearly 2 hours to the point where it goes into the oven). Getting the heavy work out of the way two days before you plan to serve it gives you time to recover and enjoy it. 

Like many, I'm sure, I grew up watching Julia Child on television with my mother. It’s so sad that my mother died before I met Julia; she would have been so excited. I met Julia, and chatted with her on several occasions, during her later years. Such fun!

I always intended to invite her over for afternoon tea, but never got around to it. (Lesson: Don't procrastinate, especially when you're dealing with people in that age group!) Why tea? Because I would have felt really strange cooking in front of her, but with afternoon tea everything is prepared in advance.

Boiled potatoes are the traditional accompaniment to this classic dish, but I always serve it with mashed potatoes, buttered peas and homemade bread, such as these Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls. If you haven't made it yet, I hope you'll give it a try and tell me all about it. And DO buy the books. Though you can find Julia Child's recipes and lots of people's adaptations of them online, you need to read the books!

Boeuf Bourguignon - Beef Burgundy / www.delightfulrepast.com

Boeuf Bourguignon

(Serves 6)

6 ounces (1/2 12-ounce package) cured salt pork
2 cups water
3 to 3 1/2 pounds lean beef chuck, cut into 18 2-inch cubes (start with 4 pounds to allow for trimming)
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup water, divided, for deglazing
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely sliced
1 medium carrot, coarsely sliced
2 cloves garlic, coarsely smashed
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups beef or chicken broth (I was out of beef, so used chicken)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bottle drinkable Burgundy or Pinot Noir
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram (if you don't care for the original thyme)
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 14-ounce bag frozen pearl onions
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound fresh mushrooms, halved or quartered
3 tablespoons brandy
1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley

1 Remove rind from salt pork, and cut salt pork into 1/4-inch-thick slices (rather than Julia's 1 1/2x1/4-inch lardons; makes them easier to retrieve from the pot, as I don't care to have the lardons in the finished dish). In 1-quart saucepan, simmer rind and salt pork in 2 cups water for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Meanwhile, trim and cut up beef. I used two boneless chuck cross-rib roasts, a little over 2 pounds each.

2 Place 2 layers of cheesecloth (about 18 inches square) over a medium bowl. Place the blanched rind in the cheesecloth; set aside. (A friend told me about the cheesecloth idea from Cook's Illustrated; saves some work farther along in the recipe.)

3 In 12-inch skillet, sauté the diced salt pork over medium heat until lightly browned and crisp, about 15 minutes. With slotted spoon, remove to 5 1/2-quart enameled cast-iron Dutch oven. Pour off all but 2 or 3 teaspoons of fat, and reserve.

Note: If your 12-inch skillet is a straight-sided skillet, as mine is, you can brown the beef in two batches. If your skillet has flared sides, and therefore a smaller cooking surface, you will need to brown the beef in three batches.

4 Dry the beef cubes a batch at a time with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper, about 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper for all the meat. Heat the skillet with 2 or 3 teaspoons of fat and, over high heat, brown the first batch of meat in a single layer until very brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer browned beef to 5 1/2-quart Dutch oven. Deglaze pan with 1/4 cup water; pour into Dutch oven. Add 2 or 3 teaspoons reserved fat to skillet and return to high heat. Repeat until all the meat is browned. If you run out of reserved fat, use olive oil. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

5 In same skillet, heat olive oil and sauté onion and carrot about 10 minutes until lightly browned. Add to cheesecloth-lined bowl, along with garlic and bay leaf. Tie with kitchen string and place in Dutch oven.

6 In same skillet, over medium heat, heat butter and whisk in flour, cooking about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Gradually whisk in broth. Simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened. Stir in tomato paste. Pour into Dutch oven.

7 Add wine, marjoram (or thyme) and about 1/4 teaspoon salt to Dutch oven. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Cover with foil and lid and place in oven to cook for 2 1/2 hours at 300 degrees. (The whole process takes about 1 3/4 hours up to this point.)

8 Take pot from oven and, with tongs, retrieve the cheesecloth bag and put it in a mesh strainer held over the Dutch oven. Press out all the liquid into the pot and discard the bag. Let beef cool to room temperature in the sauce, up to 2 hours, then cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 days. (This allows you to remove the fat in one congealed layer, which requires less time and skill than skimming the liquid fat from the surface of the sauce.)

9 On serving day, skim off the layer of fat and discard. With slotted spoon, remove beef to large bowl and set aside; remove salt pork and discard. Set pot over medium high heat and bring sauce to simmer. Shake together flour and water until mixture is smooth. Stir into sauce. Simmer sauce, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Add beef and bring to simmer. Simmer, loosely covered, for 30 minutes.

10 Meanwhile, in 8-inch skillet, cook frozen pearl onions (call me a lazy cook, but I'm not going to blanch and peel a few dozen tiny onions) with 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup water. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Uncover and cook a few more minutes until liquid has evaporated. Add to large bowl.

11 In 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil. Add mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Sauté mushrooms over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Add to large bowl.

12 After beef has been cooking for 30 minutes, add onions, mushrooms and brandy. Cover and simmer until heated through, about 15 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Note: I blogged about this in the second month of my blog, so only about three people saw it! It's such a great dish to be making at this time of year, thought I'd post it again.
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