19 November 2015

Southern Fried Boneless Chicken

Southern Fried Boneless Chicken / www.delightfulrepast.com

My Southern grandmother made the world's best fried chicken, and I used to make it her way (never turned out as good as hers, of course). But then a few people came into my life who don't like bone-in chicken (or dark meat) and will only eat boneless skinless chicken breasts. 

So I had to develop a recipe that would put the flavor of Grandma's fried chicken into bland boneless skinless chicken breasts. Of course, Grandma would be appalled that anyone would not be using the whole chicken.

Grandma didn't always just quickly and efficiently cut up a whole chicken. When my father was a boy, she would step out the door of her farmhouse kitchen, grab a live chicken and take care of business, baby! Well, you know I'm all about carrying on family food traditions, but you won't be seeing that here at Delightful Repast! 

I have a huge skillet that could handle all the chicken in one batch, but then I'd have to use twice as much oil. So I use a 12-inch flare-sided skillet and fry it in two batches. The oil only needs to be about 1/4-inch-deep. No need to deep-fry. Measure the oil into the pan so that next time you'll know how much oil to put in the pan without getting out your ruler.

How about you? Do you prefer bone-in or boneless chicken? Dark or white meat? Either is fine with me, as long as there's plenty of Grandma's cream gravy!

Southern Fried Boneless Chicken / www.delightfulrepast.com

The Chicken

1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces/355ml)  buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon hot sauce (I use Tapatio)
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 16 pieces

The Coating

1 1/2 cups (7.5 ounces/213 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon thyme leaves

About 1/2 to 3/4 cup organic canola oil (to a depth* of 1/4 inch in skillet)

* Pans vary. The first time you make this, measure oil into pan 1/4 cup at a time and use a ruler to measure the depth. Next time, use the same pan and just measure the same amount of oil into the pan; no need to get out the ruler. This may sound overly meticulous, but it will keep you from wasting oil.

The Gravy

(Makes about 2 cups)

3 tablespoons pan drippings
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup lower sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 In 1.5-quart bowl, stir together buttermilk, salt and hot sauce. Add chicken to bowl, cover and refrigerate for 6 to 10 hours. Remove from refrigerator 30 to 45 minutes before coating and frying. That's so the chicken won't be super cold and bring down the temperature of the oil too much.

2 In 8x8x2-inch baking dish, whisk together flour, cornstarch, paprika, pepper, salt and poultry seasoning. Remove chicken, a few pieces at a time, from the buttermilk and place them in the coating mixture, coating them well on all sides. Place coated pieces on a wire rack.

3 Pour oil into 12-inch skillet to a depth of 1/4 inch. When the oil is very hot,* 350F/180C, use tongs to gently lower half the chicken pieces into the hot oil. Cook for 7 minutes, until golden brown; turn and cook another 7 minutes. During cooking, try to keep the oil between 250F/121C and 300F/149C; this keeps moisture in, and oil out of, the chicken. An instant-read thermometer inserted to the center of one of the larger pieces should register 165F/74C. Drain on wire rack (not the same one that had raw chicken on it, unless you wash it) set in a baking sheet. Blot surface with paper towel. Repeat for second batch, first making sure the oil is up to temperature. You can keep the first batch warm on the wire rack in baking sheet in a preheated 200F/93C oven.

* If you don't have a good instant-read thermometer, you need to get one. I use it all the time: oil, caramel, candy, egg mixtures, roasts, steaks, chops, fish, poultry ... You'll wonder how you ever got along without it.

4 Pour off pan drippings, and measure 3 tablespoons back into pan. Stir in flour until smooth, and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in milk and broth. Turn heat to low and continue stirring until gravy is thickening. Stir in salt and pepper. Continue cooking and stirring until it's the consistency you like. If it's too thick, add milk or broth a tablespoon at a time until it's just the way you like it. Taste and adjust seasoning.

12 November 2015

How to Make Perfect Fluffy Brown Rice

Perfect Fluffy Brown Rice / www.delightfulrepast.com

Fluffy brown rice is not something I've had very often in my life outside my own kitchen. More often than not, it is sticky, gummy and not very tasty. Someone recently told me of a method meant to ensure perfect results, and I had to laugh out loud! It involved ridiculous amounts of water, treating the rice like pasta. Not necessary, I assure you. 

I cook it much the same way I make my Mexican Rice, with a few slight changes. Brown rice always takes longer to cook than white, and my method takes even longer; so I always make a huge batch of it to enjoy throughout the week (it reheats beautifully in the microwave). 

The only way to get consistent results with any rice recipe is to use the same rice and the same pan each time--especially when making a large quantity. So once the recipe comes out to your liking, always use the same rice and the same pan. I perfected my recipe using Lundberg organic long-grain brown rice and a 5 1/2-quart Le Creuset Round French Oven

Perfect Fluffy Brown Rice / www.delightfulrepast.com

Perfect Fluffy Brown Rice

(Makes 20 servings)

1 quart lower sodium chicken broth (vegetable broth or water, if you're vegetarian)
1 quart water
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 2-pound bag long-grain brown rice (I use Lundberg organic)
1 8-ounce can tomato* sauce or 3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) fire roasted crushed tomatoes (I use Muir Glen organic; it is THE best!)

* This amount of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes will not result in a tomato-y rice; that is not the point. It is just enough to add "a certain something" to the flavor.

1 In 3-quart saucepan, bring broth, water and salt to a simmer while browning the rice.

2 In 5 1/2-quart pot, heat olive oil and stir in rice (straight from the package--do not rinse). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until rice is golden brown. This may take 20 to 30 minutes; don't rush it.

Note: If you've made pilaf before, the rice is sauteed just until translucent. I want you to go waaaayy beyond translucent. I want you to toast this rice to a nice golden brown like in the photo below, and that takes some time (which is why I make big batches of rice).

Perfect Fluffy Brown Rice / www.delightfulrepast.com
3 Gradually stir tomato sauce into rice and cook for 2 minutes, then add hot broth to rice. Bring to a full boil and stir just once. Put the lid on tightly, turn the heat down low and leave undisturbed for 45 to 50 minutes.

Note: If this is your first time making this, take a really quick peek to see if liquid has evaporated and rice is done. If not, put the lid back on and continue cooking for 5 minutes.

4 Cover and let stand, off heat, for 10 minutes. Fluff gently with a fork, inserting your fork at the edge of the pan and fluffing toward the center, going all around the edge of the pan. Garnish, if you like, and serve.

05 November 2015

The Ultimate Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate - Chocolat Chaud Sans Laitage

The Ultimate Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate / www.delightfulrepast.com

(Pardon my French! Not entirely sure "Sans Laitage" shouldn't be "Sans Produits Laitiers" or something else.)

Ever since I heard that at Ladurée in Paris they blend hot chocolate with an immersion blender to make it really frothy just before serving, I knew I had to have an immersion blender. But by the time I got the immersion blender my chocolate mood had passed and has only just now returned. You see, generally speaking I am not a chocolate fan. But when the mood does strike, nothing else will do! 

And one of the chocolate things I enjoy is a good not-too-sweet hot chocolate. An "adult" hot chocolate, if you will. Since I'm contemplating experimenting with dairy-free for a couple of months at some point, I thought I'd make my hot chocolate with rice milk. Of course, you can use regular milk and even add more sugar, if you like. And you might want to leave out the Kahlua or coffee.

There is only one thing you can't change about this recipe. You must froth the chocolate with an immersion blender for one minute and serve immediately. I've made hot chocolate with rice milk before, and it seemed rather thin. Not this. The immersion blender gives the hot chocolate a texture I can only call "plush."

Have you tried it? If not, give it a go and let me know what you think. 

The Ultimate Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate / www.delightfulrepast.com

The Ultimate Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate

(Makes 1 serving)

1 cup (8 fluid ounces/237 ml) rice milk
1 ounce (28 grams) bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon (or more) Kahlua or 1 tablespoon brewed coffee
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 In 1-quart saucepan, combine all ingredients, cooking and stirring until hot. Turn off heat.

2 With immersion blender, blend hot chocolate for 1 minute. It will be very frothy. 

Note: If you are multiplying recipe to make 2 or 3 servings, use a 2-quart pan. For 4 servings, step up to a 3-quart pan because the immersion blender will really expand the contents of the pan. 

3 Pour into mug(s). Enjoy.

29 October 2015

Eggnog Tart - Classic Custard Tart with an Optional Splash of Brandy

Eggnog Tart - Classic Custard Tart / www.delightfulrepast.com

A classic custard tart is pure comfort food. A not-too-sweet, nutmeg-dusted custard baked in a slightly sweet shortcrust pastry shell, this was a family favorite when I was growing up. It pairs perfectly with a cup of tea. Though, of course, it's a dessert, I've always thought it makes a splendid breakfast.

When I add a bit of brandy, I call it Eggnog Tart. Come winter, I do love a good Eggnog! But you can leave out the brandy and have a perfectly lovely Classic Custard Tart. 

Sometimes I think how nice it would be to be one of those people who aren't really into food but just see it as fuel for the most part. That would make it easier to eat for health and to maintain ideal weight. But I can't imagine my life without my love of food and my treasured memories of cooking with my mother and grandmothers. 

When I was a child, unless my grandmothers were around, custard tarts and pies would be replaced on the menu with simple, crustless individual baked custards. I remember being home from school with a cold or flu and living on those custards for days at a time when nothing else suited. 

If you prefer to skip the crust, be sure to bake it in a water bath and in a different pan -- a loose-bottomed tart tin will not hold liquid! Which reminds me of a good question: What is your worst kitchen disaster? Tell me yours, and maybe I'll tell you mine!

Eggnog Tart - Classic Custard Tart / www.delightfulrepast.com

Eggnog Tart - Classic Custard Tart

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

The 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

1 1/4 cup (10 fluid ounces/296 ml) milk (I use 2%)
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) heavy cream
3 large eggs
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) sugar
2 tablespoons brandy, optional*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

* Note: When using the 2 tablespoons of brandy, I use 2 tablespoons less of the milk. That way I have the exact amount of filling needed.

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 cream; 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 pie weights (called baking beans in the UK); continue baking for 10 minutes, until lightly browned to a pale golden. Let stand to cool. 

4 While pastry is cooling, make the filling. In 1-quart saucepan, heat milk and cream to a simmer. In 1-quart glass measure, whisk together eggs, sugar, brandy, vanilla extract, nutmeg and salt until well combined. Gradually whisk in hot milk and cream. Strain back into pan and then, because it has a pouring spout, back into the glass measure. Let stand until pastry is ready. 

5 Turn oven temperature down to 325F/165C/Gas3. Pour filling into prebaked pastry shell. Bake (with tart tin on baking sheet) for about 25 minutes, until just set and still with a bit of a wobble in the center. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Remove from tin. Serve at room temperature or chilled. With (below) or without (above) a dollop of brandy and vanilla whipped cream.

Eggnog Tart - Classic Custard Tart / www.delightfulrepast.com

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!

22 October 2015

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Jam Thumbprint Cookies / www.delightfulrepast.com

Doesn't everyone have fond memories of jam thumbprint cookies? And those of us who grew up with British baking also remember jam tarts. These cookies are much like jam tarts, only less fiddly to make, even with the optional added step of rolling the dough balls in egg whites and nuts. I like to make half with nuts and half without.

Filled with red jam, they look quite festive and make a colorful addition to the tea table. I made these with blackberry jam, which lacks the jewel-like appearance of the red jams, but it tastes really good. The jam firms up as they bake, so the cookies actually stack quite well if, for example, you wanted to fill a tin with them for gifting. And they can be frozen for up to a month.

They're really good with apricot preserves, too, but the preserves need to be heated (to thin), strained and cooled first. They go splendidly with a cup of tea which, as you probably know, is a must for anything I bake. What cookies will you be baking?

Jam Thumbprint Cookies / www.delightfulrepast.com

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

(Makes 3 dozen)

2 cups (10 ounces/283 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons jam (redcurrant, raspberry or strawberry, etc)
Optional: 3/4 cup very finely chopped walnuts or pecans (for half) 

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Line a large baking sheet (I do half at a time on a heavy-duty half-sheet pan) with baking parchment. In small bowl, whisk together flour and salt to "sift." (And, no, there is no baking powder or baking soda in this recipe.)

2 In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, cream butter and sugars* on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until very light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and vanilla extract; beat on medium speed for 1 minute. On low speed, mix in the flour, beating until just combined. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

* Tip: Be sure there are no hard lumps of brown sugar that go unmixed because they will be visible in the finished cookie and spoil its appearance.

3 Using a #60 scoop, scoop dough onto baking sheet. Then go back and roll each scoop into a smooth ball. For the nut-coated* option, roll each ball first in slightly beaten (until frothy) egg whites, then in chopped nuts. Place 3 inches apart on baking sheet.

Note: You will get precisely 36 cookies if you use a #60 scoop, packed and leveled.

* Of course, you could probably achieve the same crunchification by simply mixing the nuts into the dough. But then what you do with those egg whites?!

4 With thumb (I use the end of the handle of a wooden honey dipper dipped in flour each time), make an indentation in the top of each cookie about 1/2 inch wide and 1/2 inch deep. Carefully spoon 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation.

5 Bake for about 15 to 17 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. May be frozen for up to 1 month.

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!

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