23 July 2015

Small-Batch Banana Muffins

Small-Batch Banana Muffins / www.delightfulrepast.com

I love banana muffins, but I don't want to have a whole dozen of them hanging around all day saying "Eat me, eat me." So I like to make just six of them. If you have a toaster oven, you don't even have to heat up the house on a hot summer day.

(I over-baked the batch pictured above because I got so engrossed in something I was reading that I ignored the timer!)

This recipe makes six perfect muffins you can stir up quickly by hand, using a minimal number of utensils. And isn't that what it's all about during summertime when the livin' is (supposed to be) easy?

These have a lot less sugar than most banana muffins, so the natural sweetness of the banana really comes through. So many muffins in restaurants and bakeries are so sugary they should be called cupcakes.

Low-sugar enough for breakfast, I love them for dessert as well. Add a tiny drop of frosting and call 'em cupcakes. The kids will never know! Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins are good, too. Oh, and, of course, Blueberry Muffins. What is your favorite kind of muffin? 

Banana Muffins

(Makes 6)

2/3 dip-and-sweep cup (3.33 ounces/94 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup (1 ounce/28 grams) finely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/30 milliliters) organic canola oil
1/4 packed cup (1.9 ounces/54 grams) dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
2/3 cup (5.85 ounces/166 grams) mashed very ripe banana (1 large 8.25-ounce/234-gram banana in its skin)

1 Preheat oven (toaster oven is perfect for hot summer days)  to 375F/190C/Gas5. In 2-cup glass measure or small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Stir in finely chopped walnuts.

2 In 1-quart glass measure or bowl, melt butter. Stir in canola oil, then brown sugar and vanilla extract. Beat in egg, beating well. Stir in mashed banana (a fork works just fine on a very ripe banana). Add flour mixture to wet mixture, and mix just until combined; do not overmix. 

3 Spray 6-cup standard muffin tin with cooking spray. Using a 1/4-cup measuring cup, divide batter between cups. Bake for about 18 to 23 minutes (19 minutes in my toaster oven is perfect), or until one tests done with a toothpick.

4 Turn out onto a pristine kitchen towel. Place on wire rack to cool for a few minutes before serving.

16 July 2015

Freezing Peaches Pie-Ready

Freezing Peaches Pie-Ready / www.delightfulrepast.com

Peach pie is something I crave all year round, and the only way to satisfy that craving is by freezing perfectly ripe organic yellow peaches in their season. If you've been reading Delightful Repast for very long, you know I refuse to buy the out-of-season imports no matter how bad the craving. 

Usually I freeze peaches in August, but I've heard the season is going to be short so I thought I better get on it right away. And I don't just freeze sliced peaches in bags or jars, I freeze them pie-ready. I've been doing this since I was a girl. With all kinds of fruits. Here's how it all started.

My parents had an apple tree. And one day when we were drowning in apples, my mother and I got the brilliant idea of freezing them pie-ready. We had four pie plates and we lined each with a square of foil, then stirred up four batches of apple pie filling and poured them into the foil-lined pie plates, folded the corners over the apples and set the pie plates in the freezer. Once the pie filling was frozen, we removed the foil-wrapped filling from the pie plates, wrapped them in another layer of foil and stacked the tidy packages in the freezer. And repeated the procedure many times! 

Then anytime you want a pie, just line a pie plate with pastry, set the frozen pie filling in it, put on the top crust and bake as usual. I love a lattice crust on peach pie. If you've never made one, you can see how here at Peach Pie with Lattice Crust.

Freezing Peaches Pie-Ready / www.delightfulrepast.com

Freezing Peaches Pie-Ready 

For each 9-inch pie, you will need: 

2 1/2 pounds (1134 grams) perfectly ripe yellow peaches
1/2 to 2/3 cup (3.5 to 4.67 ounces/100 to 133 grams) sugar
1/4 cup (1.1 ounces/31 grams) tapioca flour (much better than cornstarch)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon mace or nutmeg 

1 Get out your 9-inch pie plates (I have two 9-inch Pyrex pie plates). Line each with a square of foil. For each pie plate, set aside 2 1/2 pounds of peaches.

Note: Freestone varieties are easiest to work with. 

2 Get out a small bowl for each of your pie plates. In each small bowl, whisk together the sugar, tapioca flour, salt and spices for one pie. 

Freezing Peaches Pie-Ready / www.delightfulrepast.com

3 Working with just one batch of peaches at a time, wash the peaches well, rubbing off as much fuzz as possible. No need to peel. Really, there is no need to peel. Slice into a medium bowl (I use a 2-quart Pyrex glass measure). You'll have about 6 cups of sliced peaches. (I slice them like this: Quarter peach, cut each quarter into 1/2-inch wedges, cut wedges in 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces.) 

4 With a silicone spatula, gently stir the sugar mixture into the peaches. Pour the peaches into the foil-lined pie plate. Turn the corners of the foil over the pie filling; it won't cover completely, but that's okay. Pop it into the freezer. 

Freezing Peaches Pie-Ready / www.delightfulrepast.com

5 Repeat for as many pie plates and peaches you have. When they are completely frozen, remove the frozen rounds of pie filling from the plates, tear off a piece of foil (about 23 inches long) to wrap each completely. Stack in the freezer, and start all over again with your now-empty pie plates. 

6 When ready to bake: Preheat oven to 425F/220C/Gas7. Place a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet in the middle of the oven to catch any drips, and place the pie on the baking sheet. Bake at 425F/220C/Gas7 for 30 minutes. Lower temperature to 350F/180C/Gas4, and bake for an additional 35 minutes (juices should be bubbling). Cool on wire rack for at least 3 hours before serving.

09 July 2015

Madeleines - Classic French Teacakes

Madeleines  - Classic French Teacakes / www.delightfulrepast.com

Hold on! Aren't madeleines scalloped like shells? I should have titled this Madeleines - Classic French Teacakes in a Classic English Pan! Madeleines are shaped like shells, but I don't currently have a madeleine pan. So I use an English mince pies/jam tarts pan instead. But you can use whatever pan you have.

To figure out how much batter to use, measure how much water it takes to fill the cups in your pan to the very brim and then reduce it a bit. You need them to be quite full so that they will form the characteristic madeleine "hump" but not so full that they will overflow and come out malformed. Mine held exactly 2 tablespoons of water, so my #40 scoop (0.8 ounces/1.5 tablespoons) was perfect.

I like my little round "English" Madeleines so much, I may make them this way forever. It's the perfect little 4-bite cake to go with a cup of tea. I know people are crazy about macarons, but give me a madeleine any day. Macarons are altogether too sweet and sugary for me. What is your favorite little sweet bite to have with a cup of tea (or coffee, if you must)? 

Madeleines - Teacakes / www.delightfulrepast.com


(Makes about 1 1/2 cups batter*)

6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) unsalted butter
2/3 dip-and-sweep cup (3.33 ounces/94 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon tapioca flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* The number of madeleines it makes depends on the size. If your pan holds the #40 scoop I used, it will make 15. So in order to not waste my extra three scoops of batter, I just pop it into a custard cup and make a cupcake. 

1 Melt butter; set aside at room temperature. It should be still warm, but not hot, when you add it to the batter at the end.

2 In small bowl, sift together flour, tapioca flour, baking powder and salt.

3 In 1.5-quart mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar with electric mixer for 3 minutes, until pale yellow and fluffy. Whisk in orange zest and vanilla extract. Lightly whisk in flour in three additions. Lightly whisk in melted butter. Cover and refrigerate batter for an hour.

Madeleines in Mince Pies Tin / www.delightfulrepast.com

4 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Lightly spray pan with cooking spray (or do the butter and flour thing). Set pan in a rimmed baking sheet. My pan fits perfectly inside a 13x9x1-inch quarter-sheet pan. Scoop batter into pan. Bake for about 12 to 16 minutes, or until cakes are golden with slightly browned edges (or not) and spring back when touched lightly. Baking time will depend on the size of the madeleines.

Madeleines - Teacakes / www.delightfulrepast.com

5 Turn out the teacakes onto a pristine kitchen towel. You will likely need to give the pan a couple of sharp raps to loosen the stubborn ones. Place them bottom side up on wire rack to cool. Dust lightly with powdered sugar just before serving.

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!

02 July 2015

Microwave Mac and Cheese for One

Microwave Mac and Cheese for One / delightfulrepast.com

It took me a long time to come around to microwave ovens. I think I was the last person on the planet to get one, after being urged to by my elderly father! Still, I don't cook in it. All I ever use it for is to heat up a plate of leftovers or melt a bit of butter. 

But the other day I saw a stovetop mac and cheese for one recipe over at As the Bunny Hops, where Amy loves to share her easy recipes and kitchen hacks, and thought: Maybe I'll do a version of this in the microwave. I usually have a quick lunch on my own, so thought this would be perfect.

Of course, microwave ovens are all different, so your times might not be the same as those that I figured out for mine. If you work from home as I do, what sort of things do you usually have for lunch?

Microwave Mac and Cheese for One / www.delightfulrepast.com

Microwave Mac and Cheese for One

(Makes 1 cup)

1/2 cup (2 ounces/57 grams) elbow macaroni
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 milliliters) water, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne

Pinch of dry mustard
1/2 tablespoon (0.25 ounce/7 grams) unsalted butter
1/4 packed cup (1 ounce/28 grams) shredded cheddar
1/4 packed cup (1 ounce/28 grams) shredded Monterey jack
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces/59 milliliters) milk
1/2 teaspoon tapioca flour or cornstarch

Note: It is quite good even with just half this amount of cheese if you happen to be limiting your cheese intake. You can use all cheddar, if you like, but I think the addition of Monterey jack makes it creamier. And, at the same time, you can toast a few fresh breadcrumbs on the stovetop for a pretty topping.

1 In 2-cup glass measure (I love my Pyrex glass measuring cups!), combine macaroni, water, salt, pepper, cayenne and butter. Microwave on full power for 6 minutes (your oven might differ), until most of liquid is absorbed and pasta is al dente. 

2 Stir in the cheeses, milk and tapioca flour. Microwave on full power for 2 minutes (your oven might differ), until the cheese has melted and a smooth sauce has formed. Stir and serve on a small plate. Or just eat it out of the measuring cup; I won't tell!

25 June 2015

Tabbouleh - Made with Quinoa Instead of Bulgur

Tabbouleh / www.delightfulrepast.com

Tabbouleh is, of course, neither English nor Southern, so how did it become part of my repertoire? My sister-in-law (Mr. Delightful's sister) married into a Middle Eastern family and learned to make all sorts of wonderful dishes, including tabbouleh. One time, many years ago, when we were spending a week or so with her, we attended a big family gathering (a bridal shower, I think) where her nieces showed me how to make it.

Only when I went home and made a small batch of it did I fully appreciate all the work that had gone into the huge batch they had made for the shower. All by hand. So that's how I've always done it. The food processor might make quick work of all that parsley and mint, but I've yet to try it. Now, after all this time, I'm afraid to. Afraid I'll find out it works great, and then I'll be kicking myself!

It's perfect for summer, especially cookouts. It’s easy to keep serving up the same favorite barbecue menu all summer. Instead, try a different theme once in a while. A Middle Eastern theme might include grilled butterflied leg of lamb, grilled eggplant and other vegetables, along with dishes such as hummus, baba ghanoush and tabbouleh.

This recipe calls for a great deal more tomato, parsley and mint than many tabbouleh recipes. I am told by Middle Easterners that the recipes that are more bulgur than salad or that call for garlic or green peppers are not authentic. But who’s to say what is authentic? Every family of cooks has its own variations on traditional dishes. And here I am really flouting authenticity, using organic quinoa instead of bulgur.

If your family has a tabbouleh tradition, I'd love to hear about your recipe and whether you chop by hand or use a food processor. 


(Makes about 2.5 quarts)

1 1/3 cup water
1 cup organic whole grain quinoa
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 medium (1 1/2 pounds) tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 green onions, very thinly sliced
2 bunches (about 10 ounces total) flat-leaf parsley, very finely chopped
1 bunch (about 2 ounces) mint, leaves only, very finely chopped
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 to 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
(Optional: 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon allspice, authentic, I'm told, but not to my taste)

1 In small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in quinoa and salt. Return to the boil, cover, reduce heat to lowest possible, and simmer for 12 minutes. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Transfer to 2.5-quart bowl.

2 Meanwhile, prepare by hand the tomatoes, green onions, parsley and mint. Spread the diced tomatoes and their juice over the quinoa, then add the sliced onions and chopped parsley and mint.

3 Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil (start with 1/3 cup), salt and pepper. Pour over tabbouleh and toss to mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning; add more olive oil and/or lemon juice, if needed. Cover and chill for 1 hour (or up to 1 day). Serve with grape leaves or leaves of lettuce or cabbage for scooping.

Note: You can change it up a bit with the addition of either cucumber or red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice.
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