20 April 2017

Harney and Sons Fine Teas - Organic Tea Review and Giveaway

Harney and Sons Fine Teas - Organic Tea Review and Giveaway / www.delightfulrepast.com

Several years ago I was introduced to Harney and Sons Fine Teas by master tea blender John Harney himself, the founder of the company. I was saddened to learn of his death five years later, but his family is carrying on the fine tea tradition.

Wait! Not a tea lover? Don't go away just because you aren't one! Someone you know and love is, and this will make a wonderful gift for that person!

Harney and Sons have white, green, matcha, oolong, black and decaffeinated teas as well as herbal infusions. Since I drink mostly organic teas, I was happy to learn that they currently offer ten organic teas and herbal infusions.

The 24-ounce teapot, which happens to have an excellent non-drip spout, makes up to four teacups or two or three mugs of tea. It comes in six colors: ivy (green), red, blue, white, lime and turquoise. Choose your color!

Harney and Sons Fine Teas - ForLife Curve Teapot with Infuser / www.delightfulrepast.com
24-Ounce ForLife Curve Teapot with Infuser

John Harney favored a 5-minute steep for most black teas, as do I, so I went with that for all my tastings. And for each I put 25 fluid ounces of water in the electric kettle (because about an ounce evaporates in the boiling) and 6 grams of loose leaf tea in the fine-mesh stainless steel infuser.

In the case of the Earl Grey, 6 grams was 4 1/2 teaspoons (3 scoops with my 1 1/2-teaspoon measuring spoon or 3 "rounded" teaspoons). If you're an Earl Grey fan, you probably know you can get more or less pronounced bergamot flavor by playing around with the amount of tea and/or the steeping time, but I was quite pleased with the balance the first time.

(Oh and try my Earl Grey Shortbread!)

The measurement was the same for the Assam, though the leaves are not quite as bulky as the Earl Grey and so make measuring a "level" 1 1/2-teaspoon measure more, well, level. The resulting brew was perfect, strong enough to stand up to the teaspoon of milk I like to add, but not too strong on its own. Mr Delightful, who never adds anything to his tea and who is a real Earl Grey fan, liked this Assam a lot. Don't worry ...

I'm going to stop now and move on to the giveaway! I'm sure I've already lost some of you who like to drink tea but not go on and on about it they way I do!

Harney and Sons Fine Teas - Organic Tea Review and Giveaway / www.delightfulrepast.com

Harney & Sons Tea and Teapot Giveaway 

The winner of the giveaway will be sent: a 4-ounce tin Organic Assam, a 4-ounce tin Organic Breakfast, a 4-ounce tin Organic Darjeeling, a 4-ounce tin Organic Earl Grey, a package of Walkers shortbread and a 24-ounce ForLife Curve Teapot with Infuser in your choice of several colors.

This giveaway is open to US residents* 18 years of age or older. Leave a comment below (one entry per person); tell me which color teapot you'd like and perhaps your favorite time of day for a nice cup of tea. Please include your email address in the body of your comment. Must enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday April 26.

* 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! 

Winners will be chosen by random drawing and be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday April 27. If I don't hear back from the winner of the random drawing by noon Eastern time Sunday April 30, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline).

Disclosure: Harney & Sons 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!

Harney and Sons Fine Teas - Organic Tea Review and Giveaway / www.delightfulrepast.com

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13 April 2017

Fresh Blackberry Scones

Fresh Blackberry Scones - that aren't purple! / www.delightfulrepast.com
Yes, you can make fresh blackberry scones that aren't purple!

I don't make blackberry scones as often as I'd like because I don't often just happen to have fresh blackberries on hand, as I do dried fruits. And frozen blackberries just won't do because I like to cut the berries in half since the whole berries are just too large.

But once I've cut the berries in half, I do freeze them for about 30 minutes before mixing them in so that they don't "bleed" all over the dough in an unattractive way. And I cut the scones in a way that leaves no scraps to be rolled out for a messy second cutting.

Usually I make 16 much smaller scones from this amount of dough because I'm making them for afternoon tea, an occasion that calls for dainty little things. But these are larger, what I call breakfast-size. Serve with a bit of blackberry preserve to punch up the berryliciousness!

What kind of scones do you like? You might also try my Classic Scones, Cream Scones and Fresh Peach Scones. And don't forget the Clotted Cream!

PS Be sure to come back next week for a fab giveaway!

Fresh Blackberry Scones - that aren't purple! / www.delightfulrepast.com

Fresh Blackberry Scones

(Makes 8 breakfast-size scones)

1 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) firm fresh blackberries
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Enough milk to make 2/3 cup (5.33 fluid ounces/158 ml)
2 dip-and-sweep cups (10 ounces/283 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Finely grated zest of half a lemon or one orange
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Line a baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle an 8-inch circle lightly with flour. Wash and blot dry the firm, fresh blackberries. Cut them in half horizontally and set on parchment-lined quarter sheet pan; place in freezer for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, preheat oven to 425F/220C/Gas7.

2 In 1-cup glass measure, stir together vinegar and milk; set aside. In medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter (or rub it in with your fingers) into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal with some larger bits. Stir in zest and berries to coat and separate.

3 Whisk egg and vanilla extract into soured milk; pour into dry mixture and gently mix until just combined.

4 Scrape the dough onto the floured parchment and gently pat the dough, dusting with flour as needed, into a 7- to 7.5-inch round about an inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges. Pull the wedges out (I use a pie server) and space them an inch or two apart. If you like, brush the tops with a bit of cream, milk or melted butter. Bake for about 18 minutes or until golden brown.

Now put on the kettle and make a proper cup of tea. Enjoy the delightful repast!

Fresh Blackberry Scones - that aren't purple! / www.delightfulrepast.com

06 April 2017

Lemon Drizzle Cake - The Best Lemon Loaf Cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake - The Classic British Lemon Loaf Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

Lemon Drizzle Cake is the classic British lemon loaf cake that will forever be a teatime staple. With no messy frosting, tidy little slices can be easily managed without a fork and go neatly into packed lunches for school or work. The fine-crumbed, velvety texture makes this my favorite lemon drizzle cake.  

My mother was probably the first home cook in America to get a Cuisinart food processor the minute it came on the market. And she loved making cakes in it, or by hand, not with a mixer. I rarely make cakes in it, but I like to use it for one of her favorites, Lemon Drizzle Cake, as well as our Whole Lemon Cake.

Using a food processor, you don't even need to use a fine grater for the lemon zest. Just take off the peel in strips with a vegetable peeler and throw them into the food processor with the sugar and run it for a few seconds before getting on with the recipe. The food processor makes quick work of lemon drizzle cake.

The lemon drizzle disappears into the cake, so some people like to also add a visible powdered sugar icing, but I don't bother. If I want to get fancy, I slap a few candied lemon slices on top of the loaf. The leftover syrup from them is a tasty simple syrup for sweetening drinks.

Do you prefer making cakes by hand, with a food processor, hand mixer or stand mixer?

Just did the math. It takes all of 38 seconds total mixing time in the food processor!

Lemon Drizzle Cake - The Best Lemon Loaf Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Lemon Drizzle Cake

(Makes 1 loaf cake, 10 to 16 slices) 

The Lemon Loaf 

2 sticks (8 ounces/227 grams) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice 
Milk, room temperature, to make 1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces/59 ml)
1 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (7.5 ounces/213 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons (24 grams) non-GMO cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup (8.75 ounces/248 grams) sugar 

Strips of zest of 2 medium unsprayed unwaxed lemons
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

The Lemon Drizzle 

1/3 cup (2.67 fluid ounces/79 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) sugar  

1 In 2-cup glass measure, melt the butter in microwave (if you melt it in a pan on the stovetop, pour it into something with a spout); set aside to cool. In 1-cup glass measure, stir together lemon juice and milk; it will thicken a bit as it stands. 

2 Grease and flour, or spray with cooking spray, a 9x4x4-inch loaf pan or 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. I use 1/2 tablespoon of softened butter and 1 tablespoon of flour. Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. 

Note: I love the square shape of the 9x4x4-inch loaf pan that I initially got for baking my gluten-free yeast breads but use (without its lid) for nearly everything that calls for a 9x5x3-inch pan. Makes it easy to cut cute little triangles for the tea table. 

3 In 2-quart glass measure, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Whisking the daylights out of the dry ingredients takes the place of sifting. 

4 Cut your strips of lemon zest into 2-inch pieces and put them on top of sugar in food processor; process for about 15 seconds. Add eggs and vanilla extract; process for 3 seconds. 

5 Give the melted and cooled butter a stir and, with the food processor running, pour the butter through the feed tube in a slow and steady stream, taking about 15 seconds. 

6 Take the lid off the food processor, stir in the milk a bit, and scatter the flour mixture over top of the egg mixture. Put the lid back on and pulse 3 times. Scrape the sides and pulse 2 more times. 

7 Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325F/165C/Gas3 and continue baking for about 50 minutes. 

8 Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire rack.

9 In 1-cup glass measure or small bowl, stir together well the sugar and lemon juice (the sugar will not be dissolved). With cake tester, thin skewer or toothpick, poke small holes in top of cake. Using a teaspoon, gradually drizzle tiny amounts of the glaze over the cake, allowing it to soak in before adding the rest. I also use a silicone pastry brush to brush the sides of the cake. Plan on this step taking about 10 minutes. There's no point in just pouring on glaze and having it run all over your countertop! Continue cooling for an hour.

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!

30 March 2017

Easy One-Pan Chicken Burritos

Easy One-Pan Chicken Burritos / www.delightfulrepast.com

It's been one of those weeks. You know the kind. Too much stuff going on. Not feeling great. No time or energy for cooking or going out. Had to think of something I could throw together quickly and not mess up every pan and dish in the house. Only other requirement: flavor. Oh, and organic, of course.

Of all the times to have completely run out of my stock of homemade freezer meals! I like to have at least five dinners in the freezer at all times, but the freezer was bare.

I had flour tortillas and a jar of crushed tomatillos on hand, and that made me think of Chicken Enchiladas. Yeah, right! Chicken Enchilada Verde Casserole? Nope, today even that was too much work. So I just came up with a concoction that would cook in one pan and involved no chopping whatsoever. Just whip it up, wrap it in a tortilla and call it dinner.

Every ingredient is a pantry staple. I didn't care that it has no vegetables. And I certainly wasn't going to be bothering with garnishes and side dishes. Phht! I threw stuff in a pan and sat down and had a nice cup of tea while it did its thing. Well, I did eventually have to grate some cheese. But one could use packaged shredded cheese.

A burrito by itself is not very photogenic. That big expanse of white tortilla* looks pretty blah, but like I said, today was not a day for pretty garnishes. And anything remotely akin to photo styling was not going to happen, so there you have it. Sorry.

* I used store-bought tortillas this time, but I love making my own Homemade Flour Tortillas when I'm having a better week.

So tell me all about your latest sorry week!

Easy One-Pan Chicken Burritos / www.delightfulrepast.com

Easy One-Pan Chicken Burritos

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups lower sodium chicken broth
1 cup crushed tomatillos (Muir Glen organic)
1 teaspoon ground dried chiles*
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 4-ounce can diced green chiles
1 4-ounce can sliced black olives
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup sour cream

* I don't use commercial chili powder because it has salt, garlic and other things in it besides chiles.

1 In 12-inch skillet (or Le Creuset 3.5-quart stainless steel saucier), heat butter and oil over medium heat. Stir in flour, cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in chicken broth. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 3 minutes.

2 Stir in tomatillos, chile powder, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, green chiles and olives. Place chicken breasts in pan. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer over low heat, covered, about 25 to 30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

3 Remove chicken from pan. While sauce continues to simmer, uncovered (so it can reduce a bit), use two forks to shred chicken into bite-size pieces. Return chicken to the pan. Stir in sour cream.

4 Spoon mixture onto warm flour tortillas, top with shredded cheese, and fold. Great with chopped avocado, cilantro, etc.  

23 March 2017

Perfect Pound Cake

Perfect Pound Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

Pound cake is a British invention of the early 18th century, I'm told, and got its name from being made from a pound each of the primary ingredients--eggs, flour, sugar and butter. These proportions have been altered over the years, but I like to make a pound cake that holds as closely to that proportion as possible.

I found that using 3/4 pound, rather than a pound, of each of the primary ingredients made the perfect amount of batter for a standard Bundt pan. This is a classic vanilla pound cake with just a hint of brandy or sherry (strictly optional) as well as mace. Not enough to really notice, just enough to add a certain je ne sais quoi to the classic cake.

Most days I don't sift flour; I don't know what got into me this morning, but I triple-sifted the dry ingredients. Not sure it was necessary, but what the hey, right? I'm sure my usual whisking the daylights out of them in a large-ish bowl would have sufficed. But, hey, you do whatever you think is right.

The main thing is the creaming. Take your time with that step; it pays off big time in the all-important texture of the cake. Don't let your butter sit out for hours and get overly soft. Let it sit out just long enough to be soft but still cool and not at all shiny, oily or melty.

Perfect Pound Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

And bring the milk and eggs to room temperature before starting the cake. This helps you get the characteristic fine-grained texture. Don't use margarine or any other substitute for the butter. Butter is, along with eggs, the primary flavor of pound cake, so it must have real butter. 

Then beat it really well on medium speed and then gradually beat in the sugar, taking at least 8 minutes from the time you start creaming the butter until all the sugar is fully incorporated. Then beat in the eggs one at a time on medium speed, beating until incorporated after each addition.

But once you start adding the flour, use low speed and take care not to overbeat. I usually finish that step by hand so as not to overbeat. These steps ensure the moist, even crumb that is the hallmark of a classic pound cake.

I love a perfectly plain piece of the cake with a cup of tea, but it also is the perfect foil for ice cream and chocolate sauce or berries and whipped cream; and it's my favorite cake to use in Trifle. How do you like to serve pound cake?

Perfect Pound Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com
And, yes, pound cake is supposed to get a crack on top.

Perfect Pound Cake – 3/4-Pound Cake, Actually

(Makes one 10-inch 12-cup Bundt cake)

2 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (12.5 ounces/354 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces/177 ml) milk, room temperature
2 tablespoons brandy or sherry, optional
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large* eggs, room temperature
3 sticks (12 ounces/340 grams) unsalted butter, soft but cool
1 3/4 cups (12.25 ounces/347 grams) sugar

* That's medium for UK eggs. And if you're using homegrown eggs, that's about 12 ounces or so of eggs in their shells.

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Butter and lightly flour, or spray with cooking spray, one 10-inch 12-cup Bundt pan. I use 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour and shake out the excess flour.

2 In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and mace. In 1-cup glass measure, stir together the milk, brandy or sherry, and vanilla extract.

Note: If you're going to sift the dry ingredients, don't sift the mace; you'll likely end up with some stuck in the tiny holes of your sieve.

3 In bowl of electric mixer or other large bowl, beat the butter until very light. Beat in the sugar gradually. This step should take a total of not less than 8 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well on medium-high after each addition. Beat mixture until very light and fluffy.

4 Add the dry and wet ingredients alternately to the creamed mixture, starting and ending with the dry. Do not overbeat; overbeating at this point will ruin the cake. Give it a few stirs by hand to incorporate the remaining dry ingredients.

5 Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with spatula, and bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

6 Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely. The cooled cake can be wrapped tightly and stored at room temperature for up to 5 days. Can be double-wrapped and frozen for a month; thaw, wrapped, at room temperature.

Note: In fact, the cake is better if you store it for a day or two before serving.

Perfect Pound Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com
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