31 December 2010

Baba Ghanoush - Middle Eastern Dip/Spread







Baba Ghanoush, my second favorite Middle Eastern food (after hummus) is another one of those things my texturally challenged husband won't even try. He's just not a dip/spread kinda guy. But since most people are, you should have some of this on hand over the weekend. Make a big batch, serve some tonight and the rest over the weekend. It keeps nicely for a few days.

As with the hummus, don't get too carried away with the garlic. Remember the garlic is just a minor player, the eggplant is the star. You'll have plenty of time to make the oven-toasted pita wedges (see below) while the baba ghanoush is chilling. Tell me, do you or someone you know have these texture issues, or is my guy the only person on the planet who doesn't like dips of any kind?


Update 08/29/16: I haven't bought any pita bread in some time, not since I started making my own. It's really quite easy, and I hope you'll try it soon!


Baba Ghanoush - Caviar d'Aubergine


(Makes 2 cups)

2 medium (1 1/2 - 2 pounds total) eggplants
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon (1/2 small clove) minced garlic
1/4 cup unsalted tahini
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut eggplants in half, score tops with diamond pattern, rub with just enough oil to coat. Place on foil-lined baking sheet and roast about 30 minutes or until very soft. Cool slightly. Scoop out flesh into colander and let stand a few minutes to drain off any liquid.

2
In bowl of food processor*, place drained eggplant and all remaining ingredients. Pulse 8 to 12 times. Put into serving dish and cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface. Refrigerate for at least four hours before serving. Can be made a day or two ahead.

3
Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and some finely chopped mint, flat-leaf parsley or pistachios. (I didn't have any of those on hand, so I just used some paprika.) Serve with oven-toasted whole wheat pita wedges (see below), sliced baguette or Armenian cracker bread (I love ak-mak!) and raw vegetable strips.

* I have the DLC-10E, which (understandably after all this time--I've had it since I was very young) is no longer available. See Cuisinart DLC-2009CHB Prep 9 9-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless and other currently available models.


Oven-Toasted Pita Wedges



(Makes 48 wedges)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a little extra-virgin olive oil on both sides of 6 whole wheat pitas (one package). Cut each into 8 wedges. Place on two large baking sheets. Sprinkle with a little salt, if you like. Bake for 6 to 10 minutes or until crisp; no need to turn. Can be made day ahead, cooled completely and stored in airtight container.

24 December 2010

Hummus - Middle Eastern Dip/Spread









Hummus, possibly my favorite Middle Eastern food, is one of those things I've been making for decades, and I still love it! It's also one of those things that can be either really good or really bad. The really bad ones are too dry or too runny, too highly seasoned or too bland. When it comes to hummus, I'm a purist and think "real" hummus should have just six ingredients, not counting garnish. And I use all organic ingredients.

I've told you before how I feel about garlic. It's a wonderful thing when used judiciously, but there are other flavors in the world! Many dishes that typically have garlic can be greatly improved by using less or, in some cases, no garlic. However, there are some things that simply must have a little garlic (and when I say garlic, I don't mean garlic salt or garlic powder or chopped garlic from a jar). One of these is hummus. There is no hummus without garlic, but it only needs a tiny bit.


Update 08/29/16: I stopped buying pita bread some time ago when I started making my own. It's quite easy, and I hope you'll try it soon.

Hummus


(Makes 2 cups)

1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup unsalted tahini
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon (1/2 small clove) minced garlic

1 In bowl of food processor, place all ingredients. Process until smooth. If you prefer a thinner consistency, add a little more lemon juice or olive oil. If you're not using a Meyer lemon, though, you could make it too lemony, so a little water might be better.

2 Put into serving dish and cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface. Refrigerate for at least a few hours or overnight before serving.

3 Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a little finely chopped mint, flat-leaf parsley or pistachios.

4 Serve with whole wheat pita wedges, Armenian cracker bread and raw vegetable strips. Enjoy the delightful repast!

And now for something completely different ... has nothing to do with hummus, nothing to do with food ... just a little something to make you feel warm and cozy on a cold, winter day. 


 


Tuppence and Lionel (my fave) belong to Judy at Cranberry Morning.

17 December 2010

Brownies - Chewy, Not Cakey, Not Gooey - The Perfect Texture











I'm a little nervous about posting my brownie recipe. You see, several days ago I was catching up on Amanda's posts over at Fake Ginger and saw her October post about someone's brownies that were supposed to be "all that" and they weren't! 

So, helpful person that I am, I had to go and tell Amanda "Maybe it’s just my opinion (’cause we all love our own cooking, right?), but I think my brownies might be just what you’re looking for. Unfortunately, I’ve not yet blogged about them." And she wrote back "Please, please, please let me know when you blog your recipe! I am always looking for THE brownie recipe!" Sooooooo ...

Here is my brownie recipe. Made with cocoa rather than chopped chocolate because I prefer a cocoa brownie. If you're looking for a cakey brownie, stop reading. I've always been in the chewy brownie camp. Chewy, but not gooey ("gooey" usually being more flatteringly referred to as "fudgy," though what it really is is gummy!). 


Since Amanda's idea of "the" brownie is a chewy one, this might be "the" brownie recipe she's been looking for. Maybe not. But everyone I've made these for raves about them, so here goes ... (Disclaimer: Notice I simply said "might be just what you're looking for"--NOT "these are the. best. brownies. ever," though they just might be!) Where do you stand in the great brownie debate?

Brownies - Chewy Brownies


(Makes 24 or 25 2-inch squares)

1 dip-and-sweep cup (5 ounces/142 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup natural (not "Dutch") unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces/227 grams) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon espresso powder
4 large eggs

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Butter 11x11x2-inch (or 13x9x2-inch) metal baking pan.

2 In 1-quart bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

3 In 2-quart glass measure, microwave butter for 2 minutes, or until melted. Stir in sugar, vanilla and espresso powder. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture to wet mixture; beat until well blended.

4 Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or just until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Do not overbake. I'll say that again: Do not overbake. Cool completely before cutting into squares (24 in rectangular pan or 25 in 11-inch square pan). Brownies will keep for several days at room temperature in airtight container with wax paper between layers.

10 December 2010

Baked Applesauce












Nothing makes me happier than cooking something for someone who really loves that particular food. This weekend I get to make the quintessential autumn dinner for a friend who has been waiting all year for it! We'll have my special braised pork (my own invention) with its rich sauce, mashed potatoes, butternut squash, a crisp and cool autumn salad and this baked applesauce. (My friend's husband has a real craving for eggnog, so I've decided to make a batch of eggnog for dessert.)

Apparently baked applesauce has been around for years--how did I miss that issue of Bon Appètit?--but I didn't give it a thought until I happened onto the wonderful blog
Circle B Kitchen. I really like the level of sugar and spices in my own applesauce recipe, so I stayed with that and used my own variation on the baking method Patrice described.

I don't know that it's any "easier" than cooking it on the stovetop, but you don't have to peel and chop then check on it and stir it; you just stick it in the oven and don't give it another thought for 45 minutes. Have you tried it? How do you make applesauce? What is your favorite apple for sauce? I used organic Galas for this batch and left it a bit chunky.

Baked Applesauce

(Makes about 5 cups, 6 to 10 servings)

12 medium apples (about 6 pounds), halved and cored
1/2 cup water
1 or 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt

1 Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 18x13x1-inch half-sheet pan*
with cooking spray. Place the apple halves cut side down on baking sheet and add water to pan.




2 Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, until the apples are wrinkly and falling-apart soft. Remove from oven, and leave the apples in the pan. I didn't want to wait till the apples were cool enough to handle, so I just used a dinner fork and soup spoon and mashed each apple half in its place in the baking sheet.


3 Leaving apple halves skin-side up, mash them completely down with fork (one at a time). All the soft apple will squeeze out and you'll be left with a clean piece of peel to discard. Sprinkle the mashed apples with lemon juice.

4 In small bowl, whisk together sugar, spices and salt. Sprinkle the warm apples with sugar mixture. Keep stirring until all sugar is dissolved. If too dry, add a little water one tablespoon at a time.

5 Serve warm, room temperature or chilled.

The following are good sauce apples: Golden Delicious, Macintosh, Empire, Rome, Macoun, Pink Lady, Jonathon, Jonagold, Gala.

*If you don't have one of these Sheet Pan Half Size - 12-7/8'' x 17-3/4'' Heavy Duty, 13 Gauge, you need to get one right away!

03 December 2010

Eggnog - A Cup of Classic Comfort



Eggnog, often associated with the winter holidays, was just a winter drink in our family. We usually had it when my English grand- mother came for a visit. My mother always made two batches--one with, and one without, alcohol. So, tell me, are you an eggnog fan or not? It seems to be one of those "love it or hate it" things (and don't tell me you don't like it, if all you've ever had is the store-bought kind). And do you, like me, insist that it have a cooked custard base? Or do you not worry about little things like raw eggs and salmonella? (You should avoid raw eggs if you are pregnant, elderly, very young or have an impaired immune system.)

With the eggnog, my mother always served fruitcake and shortbread. I love a good fruitcake (if not homemade, then DeLuxe Fruitcake from Collin Street Bakery), but prefer it with tea. To me, eggnog (recipe below) calls for shortbread.

When Walkers Shortbread offered to send me a box of products to try, I welcomed the opportunity. As you know, I'm only ever interested in reviewing high quality products or equipment that I would actually have on my table or in my kitchen. Though I hadn't yet tried any of the other sweet or savory biscuits from Walkers, I grew up eating Walkers shortbread. It was the standard for shortbread in my family, the only highly regarded store-bought baked good in a family of excellent bakers.


Every different shortbread I or my mother (and probably her mother as well) made was compared to Walkers. And when you look at the list of ingredients, you can see how it can be compared to homemade. It contains only four ingredients: wheat flour, butter, sugar and salt. No long list of unpronounceable things that have no business in our food!

The shortbread comes in several shapes (I like the fingers). Walkers has other biscuits (cookies), such as White Chocolate & Raspberry, Belgian Chocolate Chunk, Oat & Heather Honey (all delicious) and also savory biscuits for cheese. They even have an organic line now, Duchy Originals, which I would love to try, but it's not available outside the UK at this time.
Eggnog

(Makes about 2 quarts)

6 large egg yolks (Make a batch of meringues with the whites!)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups hot milk
2 cups cold milk
1/2 cup or more brandy or rum, optional (I just use 3 tablespoons of cognac as a flavoring)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg plus more for garnish
1 cup whipping cream

1 At least nine, or up to 24, hours before serving time: In bottom pan of double boiler, heat an inch of water to a gentle simmer. In top pan of double boiler, whisk together egg yolks, sugar and salt until well blended.

2 Gradually whisk in hot milk and cook over hot but not boiling water, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and registers between 160 and 170 degrees (but do not boil). Just pull a tall stool up to the stove like I do 'cause it's gonna take a while, about 15 to 20 minutes.

3 Stir in cold milk. Strain custard into a two-quart bowl; stir in brandy* or rum, vanilla and nutmeg. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours.

*Actually, you could leave out the alcohol and let each person add his own favorite tipple or have it alcohol-free.

4 To serve: Whip cream until soft peaks form. With wire whisk, gently fold whipped cream into custard. Pour eggnog into chilled 2- or 2 1/2-quart punch bowl or pitcher; sprinkle with nutmeg.

Note: You might also like
Hazelnut Shortbread and A Proper Cup of Tea.

26 November 2010

Subtle Coconut Cupcakes




Coconut cupcakes are usually my last choice on a cupcake menu. More often than not, they are cloyingly sweet and overly coconutty. But if that's what you like, you won't like my coconut cupcakes. No sweetened coconut, coconut cream or coconut extract--just a little unsweetened finely shredded macaroon coconut in a buttery vanilla batter. And a little of that same coconut, toasted and sprinkled over vanilla buttercream. Honestly, coconut is an assertive enough flavor; you don't have to beat me over the head with it!

And don't let anyone tell you cake flour, or at least bleached all-purpose flour, is a must. I've been using Bob's Red Mill organic unbleached all-purpose flour in my cakes for ages with excellent results. These cupcakes could not be more soft, light, fluffy, tender ... all those things they're not supposed to be with unbleached all-purpose flour.

If you like chocolate, these would be really good with chocolate frosting. How do you like your coconut cupcakes? Know what--if you like a big coconut flavor, why not try my recipe with a whole cup of coconut? Let me know how they turn out!

Subtle Coconut Cupcakes/Fairy Cakes
(Makes 24 plus several minis)

3 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 packed cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 to 3/4 packed cup unsweetened fine macaroon coconut

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put 2½-inch paper bake cups in two standard muffin tins (and several mini liners in mini tin). In small bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs, 1/4 cup of the milk, and the vanilla.

2 In large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for one minute to "sift." Add the softened butter and 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk. Mix on low speed until combined. With mixer on medium-high speed, beat for a minute and a half. Scrape the bowl.

3 Gradually beat in the egg mixture in three batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape the bowl. Stir in coconut.

4 Using a 1/4-cup measure, fill the bake cups with a scant 1/4 cup of batter (use 1 tablespoon for each mini). Bake at 350 degrees for about 22 minutes or until they test done with a toothpick (8 to 10 minutes for minis).

5 Immediately remove from tins and cool on wire rack for an hour or so. They must be thoroughly cool before frosting.

Buttercream Frosting
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar
1/16 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup unsweetened fine macaroon coconut, toasted and cooled

In bowl of stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Scrape the bowl. Add the salt, vanilla extract and milk and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. You will likely have to add the liquid ingredients before adding all the powdered sugar. With a pastry bag fitted with a 2D tip, pipe closely spaced frosting flowers on cupcakes. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon toasted coconut on each cupcake.

16 November 2010

Wine - Justin Vineyards Visits Ojai Valley Inn & Spa













(Okay, I admit it, this post isn't strictly within my Comfort Food genre. But wine can be comforting, right? And I've always found a posh dinner very comforting.)

A wine tasting seminar, led by Justin Baldwin of Justin Vineyards & Winery, followed by a specially prepared vintner's dinner by executive chef Jamie West of Ojai Valley Inn & Spa got my week off to a great start. Held in the resort's Maravilla Restaurant, attendance was limited to about 70; and locals were joined by guests coming in from Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Orange County.

The AAA 5 Diamond resort, a short drive inland on California's Central Coast, is elegant, yes, but with a laid-back vibe. My husband and I stayed there a few years ago and felt like we were in another world. Maravilla, the resort's fine dining restaurant, has that same elegant but relaxed ambience. The friendly, professional staff provides service that is impeccable without being ostentatious. I was delighted to accept their kind invitation.

Justin Vineyards & Winery, a bit farther up California's Central Coast, is entirely family owned and operated (I like that!) and its "main" wine, called Isosceles (after the triangle), is a Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes.

I don't consider myself a wine connoisseur at all, but I know what I like. I enjoy tasting a wine with care, with and without food, and attempting to notice its characteristics. But I don't dissect it. And you'll never hear me using wine words like flabby or gamy or--heaven help us--naive, amusing or unassuming!

Justin Baldwin's tasting seminar was the best I've ever attended. He's so relaxed and imparts a lot of information for both the novice and the hard-core oenophile. So many people cannot talk about wine without sounding a bit stiff. But Justin, totally at home with his subject after decades in the business, is completely unstuffy. To my dismay, there were a few heavily perfumed people in attendance. I was very amused when Jason walked into the tasting room (the cozy Neff Lounge set up classroom style) and discreetly opened a few windows! (In case you don't know it--and apparently not everyone does!--wearing fragrance is not the done thing at a wine tasting.)

The Paso Robles appellation in the wine country of California's Central Coast is even larger than I thought, with 250 wineries and 30,000 acres of wine grapes. Cabernet sauvignon is the foundation grape variety of JUSTIN. Of the three wines in the tasting--2009 Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 Savant (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah) and the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon--the Cabernet Sauvignon was my favorite.

Acclaimed chef Jamie West's dinner of what I called posh comfort food was fabulous, each of the four courses accompanied by the perfect JUSTIN wine. In the tasting seminar, Justin Baldwin said "We make our wines to open up and enhance dining pleasure." And that's just what they did!

Each food and wine pairing was so perfect, I could not pick a favorite from the four wines. The Obtuse was the big surprise of the evening for me as I had never before enjoyed a dessert wine half so much. The not-too-sweet, not-too-chocolately dessert, which would have been perfectly wonderful with a cup of tea or coffee, was even more so with the Obtuse. And the Obtuse, quite delicious on its own, was positively transformed by the chocolate fig bread pudding.

It was a delightful repast!



Chicken Roulade with Almonds and Goat Cheese
Pineapple Spiced Couscous, Apple Gastrique
2009 Chardonnay


"Pork & Beans"
Crisp Pork Belly, White Bean Ragout
Tart Cherry Reduction
2007 Justification (blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc)



Braised Veal Cheek
Root Vegetable Puree, Creamed Spinach
Blackberry Espresso Demi
2007 Isosceles



Chocolate Fig Bread Pudding
Mascarpone Vanilla Gelato
2008 Obtuse (Port-style fortified Cabernet Sauvignon dessert wine)

12 November 2010

Pumpkin Pie with Gluten-Free Pie Crust


Pumpkin pie is one of my favorite autumn and winter desserts. Sometimes I make sweet potato pie instead, if the Southern is coming out in me that day. But I make pumpkin when the Pilgrim genes are coming out (my paternal grandfather's people came over from England on the Mayflower).

Usually I just make a regular unbleached flour crust, but I had a special request from a friend who is seriously gluten-free. She's tried a few recipes that weren't entirely satisfactory in one way or another, so I set out to develop one I hope will please her. If you want to make regular pastry, rather than gluten-free, go to my Pecan Pie post.

Pumpkin Pie 



(Makes one 9-inch pie, 8 servings)

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell in glass pie plate (see below)
2 large eggs
1 15-ounce can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) or 1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk

1 Make pie crust as directed below. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2 About 10 or 15 minutes into the oven preheating and pie shell resting in the freezer, make pie filling by mixing the above ingredients in the order given in medium bowl; I use a 2-quart glass measure.

3 When oven is ready, remove pie shell from freezer and pour in the pie filling. As soon as you put it into the oven, reduce the temperature to 425 degrees; bake pie for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 40 to 45 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. After you've made pumpkin pie a few times, you can tell just by looking whether or not it's done. It should be fairly firm but still have a little jiggle left.

4 Cool on wire rack for 2 hours, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Serve with softly whipped cream. I sweetened and flavored 1 cup of heavy whipping cream with 4 teaspoons of real maple syrup and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.


Gluten-Free Pastry 


(food processor* method)

1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 10 minutes
1 tablespoon lemon juice or cider vinegar
Ice water to make 1/2 cup

1 With metal blade in place, add sorghum flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, salt and baking powder to work bowl of food processor. Turn on for three seconds to combine. Add half the frozen butter and process for 10 seconds or until mixture has the consistency of coarse meal. Add remaining butter and pulse for six 1-second pulses, or until the frozen butter is the size of small peas.


2
In 1/2-cup measure, combine lemon juice or vinegar and ice water. Pour over all of flour mixture; pulse for six 1-second pulses or just until dough forms large clumps; do not over-process.

3 Do not refrigerate dough at this point as I do with regular all-butter pie crust. Turn dough out onto lightly floured (gluten-free, of course) surface--a piece of plastic wrap makes it easier. Form dough into a round disk, sprinkle lightly with gluten-free flour--topping it with another piece of plastic wrap makes it easier--and roll out to 12- to 13-inch circle. Transfer to Pyrex pie plate that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Crimp the edge in your favorite way, then pop the pie plate into the freezer while you prepare pie filling.

* I have the DLC-10E, which (understandably after all this time--I've had it since I was very young) is no longer available. See
Cuisinart DLC-2009CHB Prep 9 9-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless and other currently available models.

05 November 2010

Hazelnut Shortbread - Variation on a Classic Biscuit/Cookie







Shortbread is one of the British classics I grew up with. Goes perfectly with a cup of tea! Whatever flavorings one might add, the predominant flavor of good shortbread must be butter. And I do mean butter; margarine will not do. My grandmother (from England's Lake District) was particularly fond of hazelnuts, as am I; so I decided to change up my usual shortbread with some Bob's Red Mill finely ground hazelnut meal.

It was delicious, perfectly scrummy, and a subtle enough addition to not overpower the aroma of butter as they were baking. (I say "they" rather than "it" because I prefer to cut the shortbread into individual biscuits before baking.) When developing recipes, I always cut back on the sugar as much as possible. This barely sweet treat has less than 1/2 teaspoon sugar per biscuit (that's British English for "cookie").


Hazelnut Shortbread


(Makes 25 biscuits/cookies)

1/2 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 packed cup finely ground hazelnut meal
1 dip-and-sweep cup (5 ounces/142 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 With electric mixer, cream butter well. Add sugar, vanilla extract and salt; continue creaming. Beat in hazelnut meal, then beat in flour. Scrape out onto piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap, shape into disk, wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.

2 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. On very lightly floured surface, roll or pat dough into 1/4-inch-thick 7 1/2-inch square. Cut into 25 1 1/2-inch squares. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 16 to 18 minutes; edges will be just barely starting to brown.

29 October 2010

Velvety Vanilla Cupcakes - That Just Happen to Be Gluten-Free





If you're like me, you don't just want a gluten-free cupcake that is "good, for gluten-free." You want a cupcake that everyone, GF or not, will enjoy. And, like I told you last month, I don't care if cupcakes (or fairy cakes, as they are sometimes called in the UK) have been declared by some to be cliché, passé and "so over." I'm going to just carry on as if I hadn't heard the news.

I developed this recipe to make for my gluten-free friends, but everybody loves them. It is so easy. No need to separate eggs and fold in the whipped egg whites--not that there's anything difficult about that, but it does mean another bowl and another beater, and who needs that! I like to keep the mess down as much as possible, but some days I have a tendency to make more of a mess than usual (and it's usually a day when I'm wearing black and decide to live dangerously and skip the apron).

The cupcakes are frosted with strawberry buttercream frosting. They would have piped more "sharply" and been prettier if I had added the strawberry jam before I added milk. But I had already made the vanilla buttercream when I spotted the homemade strawberry freezer jam in the fridge and decided to make it strawberry frosting. Oh well. Next time. And there will be a next time. This strawberry frosting was soooo good. It tasted like homemade strawberry ice cream.

Velvety Vanilla Cupcakes (that just happen to be gluten-free)
(Makes 24)

3 large eggs
1 cup milk, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put 2½-inch paper bake cups in two standard muffin tins. In small bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs, 1/4 cup of the milk and the vanilla.

2 In large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for one minute to "sift." Add the softened butter and remaining milk. Mix on low speed until combined. With mixer on medium-high speed, beat for a minute and a half. Scrape the bowl.

3 Gradually beat in the egg mixture in three batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape the bowl.

4 Using a 1/4-cup measure, fill the bake cups with a scant 1/4 cup of batter. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until they test done with a toothpick.

5 Immediately remove from pans and cool on wire rack for an hour. They must be thoroughly cool before frosting.

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar, unsifted
1/16 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons homemade less sugar strawberry freezer jam

In bowl of stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Scrape the bowl. Add the salt, vanilla extract and jam and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. You will likely have to add the liquid ingredients before adding all the powdered sugar. With a pastry bag fitted with a 2D or 1M tip, pipe frosting on cupcakes in a classic swirl.

22 October 2010

Black Bean Soup






Black bean soup, made from dried beans, is my favorite black bean soup. It cooks down to a lovely smooth texture. Unfortunately, what I call a lovely smooth texture my husband calls something I won't even print here. He actually will not even taste that soup.

Honestly, his "texture issues" can be so frustrating! But I didn't want him to miss out on the wonderful flavor, so I decided to see if using canned beans (drained very well, of course) would solve the texture issue. I'm happy to report, it did! He LOVES this soup!

So tell me about your texture issues and other food quirks. And if you enjoyed this post (or the entire blog), be sure to tell everyone you know about it!

Black Bean Soup

(Makes 8 servings)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (Muir Glen organic fire roasted)
4 15-ounce can black beans, drained
4 cups lower sodium chicken broth
Juice of 1 lime

1 In large soup pot (I like the Le Creuset Round French Oven), heat oil and saute chopped vegetables until soft. Add salt, pepper, oregano, cumin and red pepper flakes; cook a few minutes to "toast." Add Worcestershire sauce and tomatoes. Cook, breaking up tomatoes with spoon, until tomatoes have "cooked down" a bit, just a few minutes. Add beans and broth.

2
Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, with lid slightly ajar for 2 hours or until it's the consistency you like. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Just before serving, stir in the juice of 1 lime. Garnishes to choose from: sour cream, cilantro, round slices of lime, lime zest, finely diced red bell pepper, diced avocado, shredded cheese.

15 October 2010

Pecan Pie - Without Corn Syrup

Pecan Pie - Without Corn Syrup / www.delightfulrepast.com


Pecan pie is one of those things people are sooooo opinionated about. I don't mind whether it has more nuts or more filling, whether the texture is just right or a little too stiff or a little too runny. There are only two things I really care about--I don't want shortening (or lard, for that matter) in the crust, and I don't want corn syrup in the filling. I simply cannot ingest those horrible things. So, you see, I'm not opinionated at all!

Making pecan pie, a Southern classic, made me think of the Southern side of the family and some of their funny sayings. If your family has a Southern side, you're sure to have heard some of these: dadgummit, dadburnit, looks like the north end of a southbound donkey, looks like somethin' the cat drug up, higher than a Georgia pine (drunk), just talks to keep her head from rattlin', crookeder than a barrel of snakes, sillier than a pet coon. I'd like to make a whole collection of these Southern sayings, so send me yours! (I have a whole other collection from the English side of the family!)

I developed this pecan pie recipe to suit my husband--you see, he has "texture issues." You might find it too heavy on the nuts and light on the filling, but that's what he likes. And it has significantly less sugar than most. So if you're one of those people who doesn't eat pecan pie because it is too sweet, this one might change your mind.

For those who like to eat with the seasons, pecan pie is the quintessential autumn pie. And it doesn't take a lot of time to make, especially if you make your pastry ahead of time and refrigerate it (for a few days) or freeze it (for a few months). I usually have a few disks of pastry in the freezer. Then I just move one or two to the refrigerator the day before I'll be making a pie.


Update 12/01/16: Try my Gluten-Free Pie Crust and Pecan Tart - Without Corn Syrup.


Pecan Pie - Without Corn Syrup


(Makes one 9-inch pie, 8 to 12 servings)

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell in glass pie plate
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1 packed cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup real maple syrup (Grade B, preferably)
4 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) chopped pecans

1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Get pie shell ready and keep it in refrigerator until filling is ready. In 2-quart Pyrex glass measure, melt butter in microwave. Add brown sugar, sugar and salt to warm melted butter; mix well. Add hot water, stirring until sugar is dissolved (mashing out any lumps), and maple syrup. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well, until mixture is very smooth. Stir in pecans. Pour into pie shell.

2 Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for about 30 minutes, or until center of pie puffs up and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The center should feel set yet soft when pressed lightly.

3 Cool on wire rack at room temperature for at least 4 hours. If you make it a day or two ahead, refrigerate it until 2 hours before serving time; allow it to come to room temperature. Or warm at 275 degrees for 15 minutes before serving. Cut into 8 wedges and serve with a dollop of unsweetened or barely sweetened whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Pastry (food processor* method)

1 1/3 packed cups (6.66 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 10 minutes
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon lemon juice or cider vinegar

1 With metal blade in place, add flour, salt and baking powder to work bowl of food processor. Turn on for three seconds to combine. Add half the frozen butter and process for 10 seconds or until mixture has the consistency of coarse meal. Add remaining butter and pulse for six 1-second pulses, or until the frozen butter is the size of small peas.

2 In cup, combine lemon juice or vinegar and ice water. Pour over all of flour mixture; pulse for six 1-second pulses or just until dough will clump together; do not over-process. (The amount of water you will need depends on your climate and the moisture content of your flour. You may not need to use quite as much water as I do.)

3 Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten slightly into a 4-inch round disk; double wrap; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to three days. (Let thoroughly chilled dough stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling.) Place in 9-inch Pyrex pie plate and keep in refrigerator until filling is ready.

* I have the DLC-10E, which (understandably after all this time) is no longer available. See Cuisinart DLC-2009CHB Prep 9 9-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless and other currently available models.

08 October 2010

Equipment Review - Zojirushi CV-DYC40 Water Boiler and Warmer





When I have a tea party for 12, I start with a 10-cup pot of black tea and a 6-cup pot of an herbal tisane or decaffeinated green tea. Right away, the pots are empty. I have the loose tea for subsequent pots measured out and the kettles back on the hob. It can get quite hectic keeping up with the tea-making whilst replenishing the plates of sandwiches, scones and pastries. So when Zojirushi offered to send me their Zojirushi CV-DYC40 Super VE 4-Liter Vacuum Electric Dispensing Pot, I said "Oh, yes, please!"

With its large 4-liter capacity, the Zojirushi water boiler and warmer comes in handy at tea parties of any size. I make my first pots of tea using my two teakettles, and then make subsequent pots from the Zojirushi. No constantly monitoring the stove and all that bother, which is especially a problem when I'm having a tea party in the garden. This particular model has the added convenience of optional battery-powered dispensing, so I could actually unplug it and take it out to the garden for table-side tea-making.

What the "VE Hybrid" means is that it has an energy-saving vacuum insulation, as well as electric, keep-warm system. An electronic feature I really appreciate--because I can be a bit of a hazard--is the "unlock" button you must press before the "dispense" button will work. And 10 seconds after dispensing, the "unlock" light turns off and the automatic dispense lock is activated. So even if I accidentally press the "dispense" button, hot water won't be dispensed.

There are multiple temperature settings: 175, 195, and 208 degrees F; re-boiling at 212 degrees F. It only takes about 35 minutes for the maximum amount of water to come to the boil, and you can refill at any point so you never run out. (That's what the pitcher in the photo is for, filling and refilling.) The control panel displays the actual water temperature at all times. At 8 3/8 x 11 x 13 13/16-inches high, it doesn't take up much more room on the counter than a two-slice toaster and fits easily beneath upper cabinets.

I won't go into all the features, but will finish by saying the Zojirushi has many other applications besides tea parties. When I worked in offices, people were constantly boiling water for tea, hot chocolate, soups and noodles. This wonderful invention would have been a real time-saver. And, of course, coffee drinkers can use it for their French press coffee.

(This photo shows the teapot sitting on the counter beneath the spout, but I actually held the teapot directly under the spout to fill. Couldn't hold the camera and the teapot and press the "dispense" button all at the same time!)

If you have one of these, or something similar, do leave a comment telling me what you think. If you like tea, leave a comment telling me what kind you like. If you have a question ... You get the idea--I just enjoy reading your comments!

01 October 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes and Book Review - 100 Best Gluten-Free Recipes






Chocolate cupcakes (or fairy cakes, as they are sometimes called in the UK) are sooo good. I was going to make some from my own wheat flour recipe, but then found this great gluten-free recipe. When 100 Best Gluten-Free Recipes by Carol Fenster arrived in the mail for review, the first thing I looked for was chocolate cupcakes. And there they were! Like I said before: Cupcakes - In or Out, Trendy or Passé, Who Cares? I was ready for some more!


Carol Fenster is an internationally recognized expert on gluten-free cooking and is the founder and president of Savory Palate, Inc., a company that provides information for the gluten-free lifestyle.


"The recipes in this book were selected from my award-winning 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes
, the largest gluten-free cookbook ever published. My goal for this smaller, very useful book," says Fenster, "is to give home cooks the 'must-have' recipes, the dishes people ask me for again and again, along with just-what-you-need-to-know information to make the book a go-to guide for people living the gluten-free life."

This book has delicious recipes in every category. I'm going to start with chewy granola bars, sun-dried tomato quiche, banana bread, chicken noodle soup, macaroni and cheese and basic pastry crust. After all, I am all about classic comfort food! 

A lot of the recipes call for a blend of gluten-free flours (I used all Bob's Red Mill products) that you can combine in quantity and then measure out for recipes.

Carol's Sorghum Blend

(Makes 4 cups)

1 1/2 cups sorghum flour
1 1/2 cups potato starch or cornstarch (I used potato starch)
1 cup tapioca flour
Whisk the ingredients together until well blended. Store, tightly covered, in a dark, dry place for up to 3 months. You may refrigerate or freeze the blend, but bring to room temperature before using. You may double or triple the recipe.
(The cupcake recipe below is written out a little differently from the book; for example, not offering the ingredient options that I didn't use or the layer cake directions. And, since I was using the oil rather than the butter option, I mixed the sugar with the oil and eggs rather than with the dry ingredients.)

Devil's Food Layer Cake



(Makes 16 or 17 cupcakes)
1 1/2 cups Carol's Sorghum Blend
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Milk to measure 1 cup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs, room temperature

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put 2½-inch paper bake cups in one 12-cup and one 6-cup standard muffin tin; one or two cups will be empty.

2 In medium bowl, whisk together the flour blend, cocoa, xanthan gum, salt and soda; set aside. In glass measure, combine vinegar and milk; let stand 10 minutes to thicken slightly, and stir in vanilla extract.

3 In large bowl, with mixer on low speed, beat sugar and oil. Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

4 Using a 1/4-cup measure, fill the bake cups with a scant 1/4 cup of batter. Bake at 350 degrees for about 18 to 20 minutes or until they test done with a toothpick.

5 Immediately remove from pans and cool on wire rack for an hour. They must be thoroughly cool before frosting.


(Recipes for Carol's Sorghum Blend and Devil's Food Layer Cake from 100 Best Gluten-Free Recipesby Carol Fenster - Wiley; August 2010; hardover/$16.95)

My Chocolate Buttercream Frosting



10 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar, unsifted
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk (I used rice milk)
In bowl of stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the powdered sugar, cocoa, espresso powder and salt. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and milk; beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. You will likely have to add the liquid ingredients before adding all the powdered sugar.

With a pastry bag fitted with a 2D (sometimes I use a 1M) tip, pipe frosting on cupcakes in a classic swirl.

24 September 2010

Chicken Pot Pie - A Comfort Classic


Chicken pot pie is one of my all-time favorite cool-weather comfort classics. Sometimes I make a 9-inch round pie or even a 13x9x2-inch pie, but individual pot pies are just so cute! Especially these petite ones in 8-ounce ramekins, the perfect size for a "something different" first course or for pairing with soup and/or salad for a light lunch. You could even make them for a chic little "small plates" party! I always make the big pies with both top and bottom crust, but I like the petite pies with just a top crust.

Petite Chicken Pot Pies

Pastry (see below)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup finely diced onion
1/3 cup finely diced celery
1/3 cup finely diced red bell pepper
2/3 cup finely diced carrots
1 1/2 cups halved, finely sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons dry sherry, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups shredded or diced cooked chicken
3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas

1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In medium skillet, melt butter and saute onion for 3 minutes. Add celery, bell pepper and carrots; saute for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt; saute for 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for a minute or two. Gradually add broth, cream and sherry; cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly and thickened. Season with remaining salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Stir in the chicken and peas. (It's easy to forget about the peas because all the other vegetables went in at the beginning. But don't! The peas are wonderful.) Adjust seasoning. Divide mixture among six 8-ounce ramekins.

2 Roll out the pie crust to nearly 1/4-inch thick. Using your ramekin as a template, cut out 8 circles about 1/2 inch greater in diameter than the ramekins. Top each ramekin with a circle of dough, fold excess under, press down the edges or crimp with a fork, and cut a 1-inch slit, or prick with fork, to vent. Place on foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

If you like, prepare ahead of time. Chill filling, assemble, cover pies and keep refrigerated until ready to bake. Preheat oven to 400 degrees 45 minutes before serving time. Put pies in oven 30 minutes before serving time. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Pastry
(food processor* method)


1 1/2 packed cups (7.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 10 minutes
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon
lemon juice or cider vinegar

1 With metal blade in place, add flour, salt and baking powder to work bowl of food processor. Turn on for three seconds to combine. Add half the frozen butter and process for 10 seconds or until mixture has the consistency of coarse meal. Add remaining butter and pulse for six 1-second pulses, or until the frozen butter is the size of small peas.

2 In cup, combine lemon juice and ice water. Pour over all of flour mixture; pulse for six 1-second pulses or just until dough forms large clumps; do not over-process. (The amount of water you will need depends on your climate and the moisture content of your flour. You may not need to use quite as much water as I do.)
3 Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten slightly into a 4-inch round disk; double wrap; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to three days. (Let thoroughly chilled dough stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling.)

* I have the DLC-10E, which (understandably after all this time) is no longer available. See the "
My Little Shop" page for a current model.

17 September 2010

Cupcakes - In or Out, Trendy or Passe, Who Cares?








Cupcakes (or fairy cakes, as they are sometimes called in the UK) are something I like well enough, but I might never have gotten around to blogging about them if I hadn't just read that they are cliché, passé and "so over." Puh-lease!

I find trends, in general, rather tiresome. Whether it's a food, a style, a color, anything at all, this celebrity-mad, trend-mad culture of ours slaps the "trend" label on it and beats it to death, then treats it with disdain when the next trend comes along. It's all sooooooo junior-high!

I'm not saying I don't enjoy new dishes by new chefs. My blog is about comfort food classics, but I've done a fair amount of more "fashionable" cooking and dining in "foodie" circles. What I object to is not the food but all the nonsense that too often surrounds it.

Snobbery is always ridiculous, but never more so than when it comes to food. Think about it. Does getting all uppity about what we eat make sense in a world where something like one-sixth of the population is starving?!

Okay, I'll have myself crying in a minute, so I'll just get on with my poor, pitiful, passé cupcakes! When I was developing the recipe, I experimented with different amounts of the various ingredients. With just two tablespoons more butter, the paper bake cups were positively greasy when the cupcakes were done! Cutting back on the butter by two tablespoons solved that problem without cutting back on the wonderful things butter does for cake batter. No need to separate the eggs and fold in the whipped egg whites--these cupcakes could not be any fluffier!

Tell me what you think about cupcakes, trends, food snobbery ...

Luscious Lemon Cupcakes/Fairy Cakes

(Makes 24)

3 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 packed cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
Grated zest of 2 lemons (about 1 tablespoon)

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put 2½-inch paper bake cups in two standard muffin tins. In small bowl, lightly combine the eggs, a quarter of the milk, and the vanilla.

2 In large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for a minute to "sift." Add the softened butter and remaining milk. Mix on low speed until combined. With mixer on medium-high speed, beat for a minute and a half. Scrape the bowl.

3 Beat in the egg mixture in three batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape the bowl and, with spatula, stir in lemon zest. (I do it by hand because the zest tends to get tangled up in the beaters.)

4 Using a 1/4-cup measure, fill the bake cups with a scant 1/4 cup of batter. (If you use a full 1/4 cup, the baked cupcakes will have a bit of an "overhang" on them, and you might only get 23 of them.) Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 to 24 minutes or until they are golden and test done with a toothpick.

5 Immediately remove from pans and cool on wire rack for an hour. They must be thoroughly cool before frosting.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

10 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar, unsifted
1/16 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons lemon juice

In bowl of stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the salt, vanilla extract and lemon juice and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

You'll need to cut back on the liquid, probably by half, if you're going to get fancy with the frosting. I thought about it but couldn't decide which decorating tip I wanted to use, so I just put my cake decorating gear away and swiped on the frosting with a small offset spatula and threw on some long strips of zest for color.

10 September 2010

Cornbread - Or Is it Corn Bread?




Some people say cornbread; others insist on corn bread (two words). Who knows, but I'm going with cornbread. That's just one of the controversies surrounding cornbread. Then there's sugar or no sugar? Milk or buttermilk? Flour or no flour? Yellow or white cornmeal? I even add to the persnicketiness of it all by specifying the grind of the cornmeal. I use Bob's Red Mill stone ground yellow medium grind. You might prefer the fine grind, but I like the crunch the medium grind gives the cornbread.

We could never agree on cornbread in my family when I was growing up. My mother, having been raised in the English manner, favored what some call "Northern" cornbread--higher, fluffier, sweeter. My father, having been raised in the Southern manner, favored "Southern" cornbread--flatter, no fluff, no sugar. Of course, many Southerners would say that's okay, as far as it goes, but that it's not really Southern unless there's some bacon grease involved.

When I'm missing my father (I always called him "Daddy," in the Southern manner), I'm inclined to cook up something he liked. Today, that's beans and cornbread. Now, mind, he was a real meat and potatoes (and a couple of vegetables) man; but there were days when he liked nothing more than a bowl of beans and a pan of cornbread. I'll tell you about the beans another day, but here's the cornbread. Two ways. Baked in an 8-inch square Pyrex baking dish AND in my new Belgian waffle maker!

Sometimes Daddy would eat leftover cornbread crumbled in a bowl and topped with milk. And milk? He would call milk "sweet milk" when the Southern was coming out in him. Apparently that was to differentiate between milk and buttermilk or even clabbered milk (I don't have a clue about that one).

So, tell me, where do YOU stand on all these different cornbread/corn bread issues?

Cornbread

(Makes eight 2x4-inch servings or eight 4.5-inch waffle squares)

1 cup stone ground yellow cornmeal
1 packed cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon soda
3 large eggs
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup organic canola oil

(That's one or two eggs more than you usually see in a cornbread recipe. Goes back to my vegetarian days when I was trying to squeeze in more protein anywhere I could. You could probably just use 2 eggs and increase the milk and buttermilk to 3/4 cup each.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Oil (or, if you want to get really Southern, bacon grease) an 8x8x2-inch pan (I use a Pyrex baking dish). In medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In small bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. Add wet to dry and beat just until smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 425 for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden. If you like your cornbread flatter, just use a slightly larger pan and bake for a shorter time.

One recipe makes two large square waffles in my Cuisinart WAF-100 4-Slice Belgian Waffle Maker, 2 cups of batter per waffle. Then I cut each 4.5-inch square in half diagonally and have 16 triangles.

Serve hot with plenty of unsalted butter.


03 September 2010

Belgian Waffles - Perfect Comfort Food Breakfast







Belgian waffles might be the perfect comfort food breakfast, but we've been known to make Belgian waffles for dinner! And I don't mean a savory version, I mean the breakfast version with just butter and syrup. Years ago we had a stovetop Belgian waffle maker that we wore completely out. When we recently decided to replace it, we researched all the electric ones and decided on the Cuisinart WAF-100. (Update 2014: That model has been replaced by the Cuisinart WAF-300 4-Slice Belgian Waffle Maker.)

Besides all the other good things about it (see Equipment Review - Cuisinart WAF-100 Belgian Waffle Maker), it takes 2 cups of batter. So the recipe I had developed for regular waffles, and which works just as well for Belgian waffles, will make two of these. Exactly. No leftover batter. That's important to me. I hate waste. And the leftovers are great! I mean it. Great. I put the two leftover squares in the refrigerator and heated them in the toaster the next day, and they were as good as new! So I stirred up another batch specifically for freezing. Just thaw the desired number of squares in the refrigerator overnight (or in the microwave in the morning), pop them in the toaster, and there you go! No need to ever eat a store-bought frozen waffle again. Ever.

This is my basic recipe. Sometimes I use different whole grain flours or throw in some very finely chopped pecans, but I always use this formula. We like to think the three eggs transform it into a seriously nutritious, high-protein breakfast. Tell me: How do you like your waffles? And do you prefer Belgian or regular? People tend to feel very strongly about that!

Buttermilk Belgian Waffles
(Makes two Cuisinart WAF-100 Belgian waffles or six 7-inch round regular waffles)

1 3/4 packed cups (8.75 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup buttermilk powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, room temperature, well beaten
1 1/2 cups milk, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons organic canola oil

1 In 2-quart glass measure, whisk together dry ingredients. In a 1-quart glass measure, whisk together the eggs, milk, butter and oil. Pour into dry mixture and combine. Let batter rest 5 minutes before using. Spray both upper and lower grids with cooking spray, or apply a little canola oil with a paper towel or pastry brush. Preheat waffle iron.

2 Ladle 2 cups batter onto center of waffle iron (or 1/2 cup onto each of the squares); spread batter evenly over the grid. Close the lid and bake until the green light comes on and the audible tone sounds, about 5 to 6 minutes. When the tone sounds (another signal is that the steam stops), open lid and remove the waffle. Close lid and wait a minute or two for iron to reheat. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with cold unsalted butter and warm real maple syrup or whatever you like.


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