19 October 2017

Arbor Teas Giveaway - Organic Tea and Stainless Steel Infuser

Arbor Teas Giveaway - Organic Tea and Stainless Steel Infuser / www.delightfulrepast.com

I recently had a chance to try Arbor Teas for the first time, and I was impressed. Arbor Teas offers one of the internet's largest selections of loose leaf organic teas and tisanes. Their entire catalogue is certified organic and two-thirds are Fair Trade Certified.

This is a small, family-owned company in Ann Arbor, Michigan (Go Blue!) with Carbonfree® business practices. Their facility is powered by Michigan sunshine (solar panels). I always compost my tea leaves, and even Arbor Teas packaging and labels are backyard compostable.

They offer all varieties of tea (black, green, white, oolong and pu-erh), as well as lots of herbal tisanes. I, of course, tried black teas only. The first one I tried, Nilgiri, I made as cold-brew iced tea. It was fabulous. I wish I had taken a photo of it for you so you could see the color and clarity.

Call me obsessive, but those two qualities, along with flavor, are especially important to me in iced teas. In case you want to try it, I used a 0.25-ounce/7-gram sample in 3 cups of room temperature water in a small pitcher in the refrigerator for 9 hours.

I tried the other teas my favorite way--hot--and enjoyed them all. As you can see from the photos, the tea leaves expand a lot while brewing, so you need a roomy infuser to allow them to unfurl properly.

Arbor Teas Giveaway - Organic Loose Leaf Tea and Stainless Steel Infuser / www.delightfulrepast.com

Arbor Teas Tea and Infuser Giveaway

The winner of the Arbor Teas giveaway will be sent his/her choice of tea (English Breakfast, Earl Grey or Nilgiri) and the stainless steel tea infuser in his/her choice of trim color (black, blue or green). It works in some teapots as well as in mugs.

Arbor Teas Giveaway - Organic Tea and Stainless Steel Infuser / www.delightfulrepast.com

This giveaway is open to US* residents 18 years of age or older. Leave a comment below (one entry per person); tell me which of the three teas you'd like to try and which infuser trim color you prefer. Please include your email address in the body of your comment. Must enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday October 25.

* If you are outside the US but would like to have this sent to someone in the US (you would have to send them a gift card separately on your own), go ahead and enter! 

Winner will be chosen by random drawing and be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday October 26. If I don't hear back from the winner of the random drawing by noon Eastern time Sunday October 29, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline).

Disclosure: Arbor Teas provided product for review purposes and for the giveaway. The views expressed here are entirely my own. I always tell my readers what I really think! 
Coronation Chicken Tea Sandwiches / www.delightfulrepast.com

12 October 2017

Blackberry Crumble Bars

Blackberry Crumble Bars - Like Pie, Only Quicker and Easier / www.delightfulrepast.com

Blackberry crumble bars came about when I decided my craving for blackberries was greater than my determination to save my stash of summer berries I'd frozen for winter.

If you don't have such a stash, you can buy two 10-ounce bags of frozen blackberries for this recipe. And don't thaw them; use them frozen.

If you're gluten-free, just replace the flour with a combination of 1 cup sorghum flour, 3/4 cup potato starch, 3/4 cup tapioca flour and 1 teaspoon xanthan gum.

Gluten-free flour blends require more liquid than wheat flour, so you'll need to add a bit of iced water after stirring in the eggs. Add the water just a spoonful at a time so that you don't overdo it.

Cut into 2-inch squares, these crispy-crusted bars don't require a fork and are perfect for afternoon tea. Cut into larger portions, they stand in quite nicely for pie.

My Southern grandmother often made Blackberry Cobbler, another way I enjoy blackberries. What's your favorite black(or other)berry dessert? 

Blackberry Crumble Bars - Like Pie, Only Quicker and Easier / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Blackberry Crumble Bars

(Makes 24 2-inch squares)

The Crust and Crumble Layers

2 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (12.5 ounces/354 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces/99 grams) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces/) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 large eggs

The Blackberry Filling

1/3* to 2/3 cup (2.33 ounces/66 grams to 4.67 ounces/132 grams) sugar
2 tablespoons tapioca flour or non-GMO cornstarch
Pinch of salt
20 ounces (567 grams/about 5 cups) fresh or frozen blackberries
1 or 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

* We like tart rather than sweet so use 1/3 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice.

1 Preheat oven to 375F/190C/Gas5. Grease or spray with cooking spray a 13x9x1-inch quarter-sheet pan. If you don't have a quarter-sheet pan (and you really should!), you may use a 13x9x2-inch pan. Also, you might want to line the pan with baking parchment, leaving enough paper overhanging the ends to use later for lifting the bake out of the pan for cutting. Grease or spray the paper as well.

2 In medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the butter until mixture is like coarse cornmeal with some 1/4-inch chunks remaining. Stir in the beaten eggs to form a dough that clumps together.

3 Pour half the crumble into the prepared pan and press it into a crust just on the bottom; you may need to use a bit more of the reserved crumble. Bake the crust for 15 minutes. Keep the reserved crumble in the refrigerator until needed.

4 In small bowl, stir together sugar, tapioca flour and salt. Spread blackberries over baked crust. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over berries, then sprinkle on lemon juice. Sprinkle clumps of crumble topping over the berries. Bake until crumble topping is golden and berries are bubbling, which took about 1 hour with my very large frozen berries and small amount of sugar.

Note: The baking time will be shorter for fresh berries, thawed berries or smaller berries and likely shorter with the larger amount of sugar. So check on it at 30 minutes and see what's going on in there.

5 Cool in pan on wire rack until completely cool before lifting out the bake on parchment. Or just serve from the pan. 

Blackberry Crumble Bars - Like Pie, Only Quicker and Easier / www.delightfulrepast.com

05 October 2017

Apple Pie - Autumn Classic

Apple Pie - Autumn Classic - with All-Butter Pastry - and lots of tips / www.delightfulrepast.com

Apple pie is among those things I posted in the first months of blogging before I had many (any?) readers, so it has had few comments or Pins. So I'm bringing it out again, hoping it will now get the attention it deserves!

Apple pie has always been one of my favorite desserts. My earliest food memory is of being in the kitchen watching my Southern grandmother make one when I was not yet three.

I was fascinated that she could peel the apples in one continuous spiral, something I still cannot do. She served her apple pie with vanilla ice cream and a cup of coffee. 

Tea was the beverage of choice of my English grandmother, and her apple pies were more likely to have a side of custard sauce or whipped cream. But I don't recall ever seeing her follow that other (unappealing to me) English tradition of Cheshire or Cheddar cheese with apple pie.

"Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness." ~ Jane Austen

Peach pie is my number one favorite. But when peach season ends, that's it for me until next summer. Buying only in-season produce grown as close to home as possible gives us the pleasure of anticipation and supports local farmers.

And both apples and peaches are on the Top 12 list of fruits and vegetables most important to buy organic because of having the highest levels of pesticide residue in the conventionally grown.

Apple Pie - An Autumn Classic - with All-Butter Pastry - lots of tips for the perfect pie / www.delightfulrepast.com
And this illustrates why you should let the pie cool for three hours before cutting. When you cut the pie too soon, the juices run out; cooling prevents this problem.

I like to combine two apples with different qualities in a pie. A good combination of two that are readily available (in the US, anyway) is Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. But I made this one with all Braeburn.

If you are fortunate enough to have an apple tree or live in an area where you can buy heritage apples, go for it. Look for varieties that are good "pie apples." I like Bramley and Cox's Orange Pippin, but haven't tried them in a pie yet.

You might also want to check out my Rustic Apple Tart - Sour Cream Pastry.

What are your favorite pie apples? And do you like the pie cooked until the apples are tender but still holding their shape, as I do, or until the apples are cooked down?

Apple Pie - Autumn Classic - with all-butter crust / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Apple Pie

(Makes one 9-inch pie, 8 servings)

Pastry* for double-crust pie
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds (567 to 680 grams) Granny Smith apples (3 cups peeled and thinly sliced)
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds (567 to 680 grams) Golden Delicious apples (3 cups peeled and thinly sliced)
2 or 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup (4.67 ounces/132 grams) sugar
3 tablespoons (0.9375 ounce/27 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

* Check out the following pastry recipes: Pastry Tutorial - Food Processor or Pastry Tutorial - By Hand. If you're gluten-free, just double my Gluten-Free Pastry recipe and thicken the pie filling with tapioca flour rather than wheat flour.

1 Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil (I usually have a used piece of one or the other I'd like to get one more use out of). Spray a 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray and line with pastry; cover with parchment and place in the refrigerator. Roll out pastry for top crust on parchment; place on a baking sheet, cover with parchment and place in the refrigerator.

2 Peel and quarter apples, cut away cores and cut (the short way) 1/4-inch-thick slices into a large bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure). Add lemon juice and toss gently. You can use all Granny Smiths, but I think the combination of the crisp, juicy, tart Granny Smith with the sweeter Golden Delicious adds a certain complexity to the pie and allows you to use less sugar.

Note: Don't get carried away with the apples as some are wont to do. I even got a little carried away and used 7 cups, when 6 cups is exactly right for my standard 9-inch Pyrex pie plate, which is the perfect pie plate.

3 In small bowl, combine sugar, flour, spices and salt; add to apples and mix well. Pour into pastry-lined pie plate, dot with little pieces of butter and put top crust in place; seal and crimp edge; prick top with fork, marking eight wedges, to vent. Place on lined baking sheet to catch any drips from the pie. Pop the pie in the freezer for 15 minutes while preheating the oven.

4 Move your oven racks so that you can place your pie on the lowest. Preheat oven to 425F/220C/Gas7.

Note: I don't always do it, but this time I brushed the top with a little cream and sprinkled on a bit of sugar mixed with cinnamon.

5 Bake for 20 minutes. Lower temperature to 350F/180C/Gas4 and bake for an additional 40 minutes, when the apples will be tender but still holding their shape. Cool on wire rack for 3 hours before serving; the pie needs that time to solidify so that all the juices don't run out when the pie is cut.

Note: To warm individual slices of pie, preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for about 10 minutes.

28 September 2017

Sloppy Joes - Not Just for Kids Anymore

Sloppy Joes - Not Just for Kids Anymore / www.delightfulrepast.com

Sloppy Joes were never on the menu at our house when I was growing up, due to my father's aversion to ground meat. And a bad version of them was on the school lunch menu. So I didn't get off to a good start in life with Sloppy Joes.

Sloppy Joes originated in the US in the 1940s. Packaged Sloppy Joe seasoning mix and canned Sloppy Joe sauce came out in the 1960s. I'm sure the packaged and canned sauces are very tasty, but they are not organic; so I must make my own.

They might more often be thought of as kid-friendly food, but adults enjoy them as well. Though I'm just cooking for two most nights, I make a big batch and divide it into four meals (three for the freezer). In case that bit of math doesn't add up, Mr Delightful has two!

Sloppy Joes - Not Just for Kids Anymore / www.delightfulrepast.com

Sloppy Joes

(Makes 12)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium (about 8 ounces/227 grams) yellow onion, finely diced
1 medium (about 4 ounces/113 grams) green bell pepper, finely diced
1 medium (about 4 ounces/113 grams) red bell pepper, finely diced
2 pounds (907 grams) lean ground beef or turkey
4 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground dried chiles
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon country Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 14.5-ounce can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup water
12 buns, split and toasted
Garnishes: shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, sliced jalapenos, sliced dill pickles

1 In large skillet (I use this All-Clad 4-quart sauté pan), heat oil and cook onion for about 5 minutes. Add bell peppers and continue cooking for about 2 minutes.

2 Add ground meat and continue cooking, breaking up the meat, until done and liquid is evaporated. If you're not using lean meat, you may have to drain off some fat; but wait until the liquid has evaporated.

3 Stir in tomato paste, ground chiles, salt, cumin, pepper, brown sugar, mustard, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce; cook for about 1 or 2 minutes.

4 Stir in crushed tomatoes and water. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Note: Can be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated. Or freeze in meal-size portions for up to a month.

5 I use my own Homemade Hamburger Buns or similar ones from the bakery, split and well toasted on the griddle with half organic unsalted butter and half extra virgin olive oil, and 1/2 cup of meat mixture for each.

21 September 2017

Parkin - A Classic Northern England Cake

Parkin - A Classic Northern England Cake / www.delightulrepast.com

Parkin is, I think, generally considered a Yorkshire thing; but some say it's a Lancashire thing. So let's just call it a Northern (England, that is) thing. It makes me think of my grandfather, who was from right on the border of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

(For another Northern treat, from Yorkshire, try my Fat Rascals. And don't forget Yorkshire Pudding,  though it's not a dessert.)

There are similar cakes from much earlier, but Parkin has been around at least since the 18th century; so I like to think of it as a Georgian thing. It's sort of a gingerbread with the addition of oats. There are all sorts of formulations, but I like to use an equal weight of butter, flour and oats. 

It's definitely a make-ahead thing because it improves with age. You should wait a few days, and some say a few weeks, to eat it. I've never tried to keep it for a few weeks; have you? But I like to give it at least a few days for the spices to mellow and the cake to get stickier.

This has a lot of sugar (three forms of it), less than some recipes, but still a lot. But it's cut into 16 squares so comes in under my self-imposed daily sugar allowance. I'll be experimenting with cutting back more on the sugar and will keep you posted.

I'm also going to be experimenting with "mellowing" times. I've cut this into 4 squares, so I can wrap it up in portions to be tested at 1 day, 3 days, 1 week and 2 weeks. If you don't already have a wonderful family Parkin recipe, I hope you'll give mine a try and let me know what you think.

Update 09/26/17: Though it "kept" for a week, I don't think it improved in any way. And it was great on the very first day. So I won't be waiting to eat it, but am happy it does keep well, making it ideal for packed lunches for work or school.

Parkin - A Classic Northern England Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com
Can be eaten right away but is said to improve when wrapped and stored for anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks. I cut this one into 4 squares in order to test different storage times. Stay tuned for the results!

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(Makes one 8-inch/20cm cake)

1 1/4 sticks (5 ounces/142 grams) unsalted butter
1/2 packed cup (3.5 ounces/99 grams) dark brown sugar
1/3 cup (114 grams) honey or golden syrup
1/4 cup (71 grams) unsulphured molasses or black treacle
1 1/3 cups (5 ounces/142 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats (I use Bob's Red Mill organic extra thick)
1 dip-and-sweep cup (5 ounces/142 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) milk

1 Grease 8x8x2-inch/20x20cm baking dish or tin with butter or spray it with cooking spray; line the bottom* with parchment paper, and grease or spray it as well. Preheat oven to 275F/135C/Gas1.

* I tear off a 7.5-inch piece of baking parchment that is 13 inches wide so that it covers two of the sides with a bit of an overhang to make it easy to just lift out of the pan after running a knife along the two "bare" sides. 

Parkin - A Classic Northern England Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

2 In 3-quart saucepan, melt together the butter, sugar, honey or golden syrup, and molasses or black treacle. Remove from heat as soon as melted together--do not boil--and cool slightly.

3 In 1.5-quart bowl, whisk together oats, flour, baking powder, salt and spices.

4 Add dry mixture to saucepan, along with beaten eggs and milk, and stir until well combined. Pour into prepared tin and bake for about 1 1/4 hours, or until cake is firm in the center and pulling away from the sides of the pan.

Parkin - A Classic Northern England Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

5 Cool in pan on wire rack for about 15 minutes before turning out onto wire rack, removing parchment and turning cake topside up to finish cooling on wire rack. Or, if you've lined the bottom with an overhang, just run a knife along the two unlined edges and lift the parkin out of the pan. Wrap the thoroughly cooled cake in baking parchment and then in foil and store for at least 3 days or up to 1 week* before cutting into 16 squares.

* Some people let their parkin age for about 3 weeks before cutting it, but I've never tried it.

Parkin - A Classic Northern England Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

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