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.

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.

16 June 2016

Aberdeen Butteries - Rowies

Aberdeen Butteries - Rowies / www.delightfulrepast.com

Aberdeen butteries, also known as rowies, are Scottish pastry-like bread rolls; flaky, buttery, flattened rolls that are sort of like rustic croissants. For some reason, the tradition when serving is to spread the butter (if you really think it needs more butter!) and jam (yes, please!) on the flat bottom of the buttery.

But I have to tell you, I just peeked through the oven window and my butteries are not very "flattened." They are decidedly puffy! Can't wait to try one! But I might have to flatten them out a bit more next time in the interests of authenticity. Also, butteries are described as dense; and mine are instead light and airy.

Aberdeen butteries are traditionally made with lard. Some people make them with half lard and half butter. And, I'm told, commercial bakers now use vegetable oil. Well, I'm not a fan of either lard or vegetable oil, so I made all-butter butteries because, as you might know, I'm a huge fan of organic unsalted butter.

The shaping of the rolls isn't that crucial. They're supposed to be "rustic" in appearance so don't need to be perfectly round or perfectly anything. I did it this way (my own way!): I took a square of dough, turned it over in my hand, folded the corners in to the center, then sort of went all around the outer edge pinching the dough up as if making a Chinese steamed bun, turned it back over and flattened it a bit.

Unlike croissant dough, buttery dough doesn't need to be chilled between turns. But if you find the butter getting too melt-y at any point, just wrap the dough and pop it into the fridge for 30 minutes, as I did this time before rolling the dough out for the fourth time and for the final time. Rather than greasing the baking sheet, you flour it! This was a first for me, and I was none too sure about it, but went along. I think the idea is that the flour takes up the butter that comes out while baking.

Have you ever made Aberdeen butteries/rowies? Or ever had them? Or even heard of them? 

Aberdeen Butteries - Rowies / www.delightfulrepast.com

Aberdeen Butteries


(Makes 16)

3 dip-and-sweep cups (15 ounces/425 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (12 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons (7 grams) instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons (5 grams) salt
1 1/4 cup (10 fluid ounces/296 ml) water, room temperature
2 1/4 sticks (9 ounces/255 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour the water into it, stirring to form dough. It might look like you need more water, but knead lightly with one hand, right in the bowl, to bring the dough together before adding any water.

2 Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes. Use only as much flour as you need to keep dough from sticking to the counter (I measure out 1/8 cup in advance to work from so that I'm sure to not add too much) . The dough will feel sticky, but it won't actually stick. Place flattened ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure so I can quickly see when it has doubled) and cover loosely with lightly oiled lid or plastic wrap (no need to oil lid or plastic wrap if container is large enough that the doubled dough won't reach it). Let rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

3 Meanwhile, in a 1.5-quart bowl, cream the room temperature butter. Divide it into 4 equal portions.

4 Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface. Press and roll it out to a 16x8-inch/40x20 cm rectangle about 1/2 inch/1 cm thick.

5 With short edge facing you, spread one portion of the butter over two-thirds of the rectangle. Fold the unbuttered third over the middle third, and then fold the remaining third over that.

6 Roll the dough again to the same size rectangle. Repeat the spreading and folding. Repeat two more times.

Aberdeen Butteries - Rowies / www.delightfulrepast.com

7 Roll out dough in the same way a final time. Cut the rectangle of dough into 16 equal pieces. To shape the buns, take a square of dough and turn its corners under into the center, pressing down to seal, and form a round, flat bun. Place buns on a floured (I used 1/4 cup/1.25 ounces/35 grams) 18x13x1-inch half sheet pan. Let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

8 Preheat oven to 400F/200C/Gas6. When buns have risen, bake them for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool buns on wire rack.

Note: They keep well stored tightly covered at room temperature for a few days, and taste good at room temperature. But if you want to regain the "shattery" crispness of the just-baked buns, reheat loosely wrapped in foil for about 8 or 10 minutes in preheated 350F/180C/Gas4 oven.

09 June 2016

How to Make Crepes - Crepes with Peaches and Cream

How to Make Crepes - with Peaches and Cream / www.delightfulrepast.com

Crepes is one of those words that I rarely say correctly. Though I know it is pronounced "krep," rhyming with "step," and the plural "s" is silent, I usually just say "crapes" because that's what most American ears are used to. But however you say it, they are delicious!

Does anyone remember The Magic Pan restaurant chain popular in the 80s? My friends and I simply had to stop in there every time we hit the mall. I was especially fond of their chicken divan crepes. Can't recall my favorite dessert crepes.


Crepes with Peaches and Cream - Paired with Castello di Amorosa Moscato

I recently received a bottle of Castello di Amorosa Moscato Il Raggio del Sole, and I immediately thought something peachy would pair perfectly with a 4-ounce pour of this lightly sweet dessert wine. Then I thought of crepes. It's been too long since I last made crepes, so I dug out my recipe and wondered how many "test" crepes I'd have to make before I got the hang of it again!

Turns out, none! Which only goes to show that making crepes is like riding a bicycle. Once you get the hang of it, you never lose it. The key is mastering "The Swirl," described below in the directions. I think I actually begin the swirl before all the batter is even out of the measuring cup and into the pan. 

Speaking of the pan: Maybe it's one of those anti-everything all-natural organic old hippie chick things, but I'm not crazy about (translation: I hate) nonstick pans. But ... I do have one nonstick pan in my cupboard -- an 8-inch nonstick omelette pan that I use just for omelettes and crepes.

The recipe makes 18 crepes. Even if you don't need that many right now, make the whole amount. Having a stash on hand -- for a few days in the fridge or a couple months in the freezer -- will mean you can turn out a "fancy" dessert in minutes on very short notice.

Do you like to make crepes? Sweet or savory? Tell me what fillings you like.


Crepes with Peaches and Blueberries - Paired with Moscato / www.delightfulrepast.com

Crepes


The Crepes

(Makes 18 6-inch crepes)

2/3 cup (5.33 fluid ounces/158 ml) milk
2/3 cup (5.33 fluid ounces/158 ml) water
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon sugar (omit when making savory crepes)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 dip-and-sweep cup (5 ounces/142 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled


The Fresh Fruit Filling

Thinly sliced perfectly ripe yellow peaches or other soft fruit
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sugar

The Garnish

Powdered sugar
Whipped cream

1 Put crepe ingredients in order listed into the blender. Blend on medium to high speed, depending on how powerful your blender is, for 10 to 20 seconds. Scrape sides, and blend another 3 seconds. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. If batter has thickened, it may be thinned with a bit of milk or water (a teaspoon at a time) just before using. The batter (about 2 1/4 cups) should be about as thick as heavy cream.

Tip: Or use an immersion blender in a 1-quart glass measuring cup, as I prefer; pulse until batter is smooth, scraping down the sides once or twice, about 20 seconds total.

How to Make Crepes / www.delightfulrepast.com

2 Crepes can be made any size, but I use an 8-inch nonstick omelette pan to make 6-inch dessert crepes. Heat pan over medium-low to medium heat until thoroughly heated (droplets of water sprinkled onto the pan will sizzle and disappear immediately), about 2 minutes. Brush lightly with just a little melted or softened butter (I use the OXO Good Grips Silicone Pastry Brush). 

Here it is now, The  Swirl: Holding pan off heat, quickly pour into the center of the pan 1/8 cup of batter, and immediately begin swirling, tilting and rolling, the pan until the batter covers the bottom of the pan evenly. Cook for about 30 to 60 seconds, or until browned on the bottom and looking dry on the top, especially the edge. Using both hands, lift the edge with your fingers and turn it over. The second side will need less time to cook.

Tip: I use a 1/8-cup from my stainless steel measuring cup set. It is exactly the right amount to make crepes that are just a bit over 6 inches in diameter. And I use the GIR silicone mini spatula to start lifting the edge, then take hold of it with the thumb and index finger of both hands and quickly flip it over.

3 Repeat until all the batter is used. This recipe makes precisely enough batter for 18 crepes, but you will need to scrape the bowl to get that last 1/8 cup. Stack on a plate and store, wrapped, in the refrigerator until ready to use, up to 2 or 3 days; may also be frozen for up to 2 months. Let refrigerated crepes stand at room temperature for about an hour before proceeding. Allow frozen crepes to thaw completely before unwrapping and separating.

How to Make Crepes / www.delightfulrepast.com

4 Prepare a dessert filling; in this case, fresh peach filling. You need only about 3 or 4 tablespoons of filling per crepe, and there are 2 crepes per serving. So do the math. If you are making dessert for two (that's 4 crepes), thinly slice enough peaches to make 1 cup or so. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and sugar to taste; let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to macerate.

You can even cook the macerated filling for 4 or 5 minutes if you prefer your peaches cooked. It's definitely the way to go when your peaches are less than stellar.

5 To assemble: Lay down a crepe, pretty side down (that's the first side cooked), spoon 3 to 4 tablespoons of fruit onto one half. Fold over other half to cover. Fold in half again to form a wedge (that's the "Crepes Suzette fold"). Place 2 crepes on each dessert plate. Dust with powdered sugar and add a spoon or two of whipped cream.

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 when you shop at Amazon!

02 June 2016

Hildesheimer Pumpernickel Kekse - A Traditional German Cookie

Hildesheimer Pumpernickel Kekse - A Traditional German Cookie / www.delightfulrepast.com

Hildesheimer Pumpernickel Cookies came to my attention in a most unexpected manner. Our friend Bill, who may well be our most uncookingest friend ever, just sent me the recipe, which he got from Brigitte, a friend of his from Hildesheim, Germany, who sends him a batch every year at the holidays. Of course, he's never actually made the recipe. 

Having met her while she was traveling in the US, he then visited her and her friends and family in Hildesheim. She made these cookies during his stay, and he enjoyed them and appreciated her kindness in making them, but didn't right away think they were anything to write home about. But then he found himself going back again and again for just one more. 

He said, "I'm not really sure what it is about them that's gotten such a hold of me, or whether this is just yet another eccentricity on my part ..." (I am a huge fan of eccentricity!), but he eagerly awaits the annual shipment from Brigitte. And with an introduction like that, I simply had to try them. And now I know what he meant!

If you like a less pale cookie, give them an egg wash before they go into the oven. Also, I think mine are paler than usual (no idea why I'm assuming that, I've not seen so much as a photo of these cookies!) because my natural foods store was out of regular almond meal so I bought the super-fine almond flour made from blanched almonds. 

My directions I typed out for you below use a 1.5-inch/4 cm measure for the cookies, but I actually ended up doing a 1.125-inch/3 cm measure because that happens to be the width of my 18-inch metal kitchen ruler. I think that just makes life simpler, don't you?! The recipe makes a little over 11 dozen of that size, not sure how many of the larger. 

This is only my second German recipe on the blog--the first was Golumpkis. So I didn't know whether to call them cookies, as in the US, or biscuits, as in the UK; so I Googled it and came up with "kekse." 

If that is incorrect, do let me know. (Whenever I do a translation on the internet, I always worry that it's going to turn out to be something obscene!) And let me know if you've ever heard of this crunchy little cookie. I love your comments. Guten Appetit! 

Hildesheimer Pumpernickel Kekse - A Traditional German Cookie / www.delightfulrepast.com



Hildesheimer Pumpernickel Kekse (Cookies or Biscuits) 


(Makes 11 dozen of the smaller size biscuits/cookies) 

2 dip-and-sweep cups (10 ounces/283 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour*
1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) ground anise seed
1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) salt
5 tablespoons (2.5 ounces/71 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces/149 grams) sugar
1 large (2.19 ounces/62 grams in shell) egg
3/4 packed cup + 2 tablespoons (3.5 ounces/100 grams) ground hazelnuts or almonds (nut flour/meal) or half of each (I used Bob's Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour)
A little water, only if needed (See Note below Step 2) 

* For gluten-free: use 3/4 cup sorghum flour, 3/4 cup potato starch, 1/2 cup tapioca flour, 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum in place of flour. 

1 In small bowl, whisk together flour (or gluten-free ingredients above), baking powder, spices and salt. 

2 With electric mixer, cream butter well. Add sugar; continue creaming. Beat in egg until well mixed. Beat in almond and/or hazelnut meal, then beat in flour. If dough is too dry, mix in a little water just a teaspoon at a time. Scrape out onto piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap, shape into a rectangle about 5x7 inches/13x18 cm, wrap and chill for about 30 minutes. 

Note: Even when the dough is "right," it won't be a cohesive dough without using your hand; so don't be too quick to add water. Squeeze it with your hand to see when it will hold together. My dough was quite dry, so I added water a tablespoon at a time, working the dough with my hand, and ultimately added 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup/2 fluid ounces/59 ml). The dough should be quite stiff and leave a clean bowl.

3 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. On very lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll dough into 1/8- to 3/16-inch/3 to 4 mm thick rectangle, about 10x18-inch/19x30 cm (trimmed; you will re-roll trimmings). Cut into 1.5-inch/4 cm wide strips, then cut across strips diagonally (the same 1.5-inch/4 cm spacing) to form diamonds (our eccentric friend called them "parallelograms"). With a small offset spatula, lift the cookies onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them about half an inch apart. Bake for about 15 minutes; edges will be just barely starting to brown. 

Note: If the dough is too warm and you're having difficulty getting the diamonds onto the baking sheet, chill the whole thing for a few minutes. Leaving the cut dough on its parchment, place it on a baking sheet and pop it into the freezer for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet. If desired, brush top of cookies with a "wash" of beaten egg yolk; I didn't. 

26 May 2016

Homemade Cake Mix - Vanilla Butter Cake

Homemade Cake Mix - Vanilla Butter Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

I didn't grow up with a mom who used cake mixes, so I've never used them. But one day when I was making my vanilla butter cake and saw one of my quart jars sitting on the counter, I thought, Why not just measure out the dry ingredients for another cake or two while you're at it? After all, it's the measuring or weighing that takes the most time. 

And I've made this an easy one-bowl cake recipe that takes just a few minutes and starts with creaming the softened butter. I use a stand mixer for it, but you can use a hand mixer or even, as my mother usually did, just a big wooden spoon. I'll post variations soon, including chocolate, but included here are the directions for the vanilla butter cake. 

This makes a nice host(ess) gift when you've been invited to dinner and want to take something that the host(ess) can use later. You can do something fancier with the recipe card than I did here: just ivory card stock and kitchen string to tie it round the neck of the canning jar. 

Homemade Cake Mix - Vanilla Butter Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com


The texture of this cake is perfect, tender and fluffy but sturdy enough for layering and easy slicing.


Homemade Cake Mix 


(Makes two 8-inch layers or 24 cupcakes) 

The Cake Mix 

2 dip-and-sweep cups (10 ounces/283 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (10.5 ounces/298 grams) sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 

The Cake Batter 

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces/170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup milk, room temperature
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

1 Into a quart canning jar for each cake mix, measure flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; whisk it with a fork; put on a lid. 

2 On baking day, bring the butter, milk and eggs to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Grease well and lightly flour two 8-inch layer pans

3 In large mixing bowl (I use a Cuisinart stand mixer), beat the softened butter on medium speed for 1 minute. Add cake mix to butter; mix on low speed for 1 minute. Add milk, eggs and vanilla extract; mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. With mixer on medium-high speed, beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and beat on medium-high for another 30 seconds. 

4 Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. 

5 Cool in pans on wire racks for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on racks for at least an hour, until completely cool, before frosting.

Or just top slices with lemon curd and whipped cream (as pictured below).

Homemade Cake Mix - Vanilla Butter Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

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