25 November 2011

Classic Macaroni Salad - and Tuna Macaroni Salad, If You Must


Macaroni salad is not the same as pasta salad. I'll post my more fashionable, vegetable-heavy, vinaigrette-dressed pasta salad another time. This is old-fashioned (retro) macaroni salad, comfort food from way before anyone ever thought of pasta salad, though I did make this batch with mezze penne instead of my usual salad macaroni. I definitely prefer the salad macaroni, but that would have meant another trip to the store! 

Classic macaroni salad is a hit at any picnic, potluck or barbecue (Notice I said "barbecue," not "BBQ," which is one of those things I just hate!). It's great for Game Days, too, if you're into that sort of thing. I made this batch for friends who were going camping over Thanksgiving week.

After all these years, my husband and I have simply agreed to disagree about macaroni salad. He grew up with tuna macaroni salad, and I'm sorry, but that's just crazy! But I'll let him contaminate half a batch with tuna, and I'll keep half a batch as it should be. So, tell me, whose side are you on?

Macaroni Salad for Her / Tuna Salad For Him

(Makes 12 Servings)

8 large eggs
1 1-pound package salad macaroni
2 tablespoons sweet pickle juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
3/4 cup finely chopped sweet pickles or sweet relish
3/4 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup or more finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped onion, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup or more finely chopped red bell pepper, patted dry
1 3/4 cup real mayonnaise, divided
1 tablespoon coarse Dijon mustard

Options for the half with tuna:
1 5-ounce can tuna, drained and flaked
1 cup frozen peas, thawed but not cooked
12 pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped

1 To hard-cook eggs, place eggs in 3-quart saucepan and cover with cold water to at least one inch above eggs. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to keep water just simmering. Cover; cook eggs 20 minutes. Cool at once in cold water. (Notice that the egg yolks are yellow and velvety, not orange and shiny-gooey!)  

2 Cook macaroni al dente according to package directions in 5-quart Dutch oven. Put in colander. Rinse repeatedly with cold water until macaroni is cool. Drain thoroughly. Put back in pan.

3 Sprinkle pickle juice, salt, pepper and parsley flakes over cooked and cooled macaroni. (Sure, you can use fresh parsley if you have it; but I didn't. Dill can be good, too.) Stir in pickles, carrot, celery, onion, red bell pepper, 1 1/4 cups of the mayonnaise, and the mustard.

4 When ready to add eggs to salad, use egg slicer to slice eggs. Reserve 7 slices for garnish (14, if using 2 bowls); cover and refrigerate. Roughly chop remaining slices and add to salad. Transfer salad to 3-quart serving dish (or two 1.5-quart bowls), cover and refrigerate. Chill for at least 4 hours; but making it a day ahead is best.

5 Before serving, stir in the reserved mayonnaise (perhaps not all of it, or perhaps a bit more), as the macaroni will have absorbed the first portion and will likely be rather dry. (And this would be the case no matter how much you put in the first time!) Garnish with reserved egg slices and perhaps a bit of chopped fresh parsley or dill, if you have it.

The Tuna Option: Divide salad between two 1.5-quart bowls; add tuna, peas and olives to just one of them.

18 November 2011

Pumpkin Tea Cakes - An Alternative to Sugary Petits Fours

Pumpkin Tea Cakes / www.delightfulrepast.com

For afternoon tea (one of my favorite forms of comfort food), the only cake that will do is one that can be served neatly in bite-size pieces and eaten without any utensils. That means a thin cake, sturdy enough to be picked up with one's fingers and moist enough to not require any gooey frosting. Petits fours might meet the requirements, but they are more icing than cake and so toothachingly sweet that I really don't like them. I want to like them because they're so pretty, but I just don't!

Instead, I prefer a plain-jane little square of cake not more than an inch thick with perhaps a dusting of powdered sugar or a tiny piped flower (but not both). To achieve the proper thickness, pan size is crucial; this recipe requires a 13x9x2-inch pan. If you just want a regular cake, you could use an 8x8x2-inch square pan and increase the baking time a bit.

The recipe calls for 3/4 cup pumpkin puree, so I simply had to make it in order to use up that precise amount of canned pumpkin left after making my pumpkin pie ice cream, which calls for 1 cup. I hate waste! Actually, I developed the recipe just so the leftover pumpkin wouldn't go to waste. What do you like to make with pumpkin? 

It's at this time of year that we find articles about the autumn harvest feast shared by the Plymouth colonists (Pilgrims) and the Wampanoags in 1621. And I am reminded of my dear cousin Charlotte, an avid genealogist and member of the Mayflower Society, who learned a few years before she died that we had not one but several ancestors aboard the Mayflower!

Pumpkin Tea Cakes / www.delightfulrepast.com

Pumpkin Tea Cakes


(Makes 60 1.25-inch squares)

1 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (7.5 ounces/213 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7 ounces/198 grams) sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup pumpkin puree

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Spray 13x9x2-inch baking dish or pan with vegetable cooking spray. In small bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In cup, combine milk and vanilla. This will make a thin cake, perfect for cutting into tiny squares or diamonds for the tea table. (For a cake of the usual thickness, use an 8-inch square.)

2 In bowl of standing mixer, beat butter until creamy, about 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar and beat on high speed until light, about 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in egg. Then add pumpkin puree and beat on low speed just until blended.

3 Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the liquid in 2 parts, beating on low speed or stirring until smooth.

4 Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes (a bit longer for the thicker cake).

5 Cool in pan on wire rack. When completely cool, cover until ready to serve. Just before serving, trim away edges and cut into squares or diamonds, or use a cookie cutter to cut out other shapes. Dust with powdered sugar.

Note: The pedestal in the photo is super tiny. If you don't have a collection of various sizes as I do, I would suggest you start with a more versatile 8- or 9-inch one, such as this 9-Inch White Pedestal

Pumpkin Tea Cakes - An Alternative to Sugary Petits Four / www.delightfulrepast.com

16 November 2011

Tea - How to Make a Proper Cup of Tea

Tea. Every self-respecting Anglophile or Britophile needs to know all about tea. So I've written a guest post at that wonderful Britophile blog Smitten by Britain, where I'll be The Resident Tea Snob. Hop on over and read my How to Make a Proper Cup of Tea. Of course, once you have that down, you'll want to whip up a batch of Scones to have with your tea.

11 November 2011

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream - The Perfect Ice Cream for Autumn


Pumpkin pie says "Autumn" like no other dessert. But the weather in many places is still warm (and, after six months, I'm still sooo stoked about my Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream-Sorbet Maker), so I thought, Why not make some pumpkin pie ice cream?

The recipe I developed is a simple, no-egg, uncooked ice cream. I haven't bothered to even try making custard-style ice creams because I'm such a fan of custard that it would never make it into the ice cream maker!

I use all organic ingredients. If you can't get organic milk and cream, at least get a brand that doesn't have hormones. Of course, it's tasty without the pie crust, but then it would just be pumpkin ice cream! The pie crust takes it over the top--it is so good! Tastes just like pumpkin pie, only colder.

If you use canned pumpkin, you'll have 3/4 cup left over (a 15-ounce can equals 1 3/4 cups); my next post will tell you what to do with it! What's your favorite way with pumpkin? 

Simple Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

(Makes about 5 cups)

The Ice Cream

1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 packed cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/4 cups milk (I used 2%)

The Pie Crust

2/3 packed cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
3 tablespoons ice water

1 In medium bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure to make pouring into the machine easier), whisk together pumpkin, sugars, vanilla, spices and salt until the mixture is well blended. Whisk in the cream and milk. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

2 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In small mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in just enough ice water to make dough come together. Place ball of dough on parchment-lined rimless baking sheet and roll out to about 1/8-inch thick--size and shape don't matter. If your rolling pin isn't handy, just press it out with your hand. If you like, cut out a few shapes for a garnish. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool. Then roughly break into pieces. I made six 2.5-inch-wide hearts and had enough crust left to make about 1 cup of crumbled crust.

3 Assemble the Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream-Sorbet Maker; turn it on. While it is running, pour the chilled mixture through the spout. Let mix until thickened, about 15 minutes. Or follow the directions for whichever brand ice cream maker you have. 

4 Transfer the soft ice cream to a freezer-safe airtight container, layering in the crumbled crust as you go, and place in freezer for at least 4 hours. If it is super hard when you're ready to use it, remove it from the freezer 15 minutes before serving. Garnish each serving with a pastry heart (or whatever shape you prefer).

04 November 2011

Homemade Granola - and Granola Parfaits


Homemade granola is the only way to go if, like me, you find all the store-bought granolas far too sweet. And, I must say, making homemade granola makes me feel like I'm "back in the day" ... of bell bottoms, peasant blouses and hair past my waist (I do miss the hair). This granola is even-textured, great for parfaits, doesn't make clusters. Making clusters takes sugar, and quite a bit of it. I like a granola that can be a real meal rather than a sugary dessert.

For "everyday" breakfast, a half cup of granola with some organic rice milk is fine. But for a special occasion breakfast, I like to make granola parfaits with yogurt and fruit--fresh organic berries when they're available. Store-bought vanilla yogurt is much too sweet for my taste, so I buy organic plain nonfat yogurt and lightly sweeten it with 2 teaspoons real maple syrup and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract per cup of yogurt.

An 8-ounce glass not filled to the rim holds about a 3/4-cup serving, which is just about right for most people. Depending on the size and shape of your glasses, allow perhaps 1/4 cup each of granola, yogurt and fruit for each serving. If the glass is taller than it is wide, you can probably make 2 layers of each. Garnish each with several strips of orange zest or a mint leaf. Would love to hear from you, so do leave a comment!

Homemade Granola

(Makes 5 cups / 10 servings)

1/4 cup organic canola oil
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups rolled oats (Bob's Red Mill organic extra thick)
1 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts and seeds
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried currants or other dried fruit

1 Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In small saucepan, heat canola oil and maple syrup just to a simmer. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.

2 Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine oats, nuts, cinnamon and salt. Stir in heated oil and syrup. Spread out on a large rimmed baking sheet you've oiled or sprayed with cooking spray. A 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan is the bare minimum size, but I prefer to use my 18x13x1-inch half-sheet pan.

3 Bake at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes for even browning. Watch closely during the last 10 minutes if you have any doubts about the accuracy of your oven temperature. Remove from oven. Stir in dried fruit. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Transfer to sealed container and store in refrigerator.
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