30 March 2012

Lime Sherbet - Better Than You Remember



The lime sherbet of my childhood was of the store-bought variety, delicious but filled with various artificial additives, the most obvious being the green food coloring. Since I bought an ice cream maker last year, I've been enjoying experimenting and developing recipes for all sorts of frozen desserts using all natural, organic ingredients. 

Last week I came into a supply of organic limes and wanted to do something different with them. Lime sherbet sounded like the most refreshing dessert possible for a warm spring day. While my recipe probably has twice the fat of a commercial sherbet, it tastes at least twice as good! And no fake ingredients! 

Here at the Delightful Repast Test Kitchen, I often make multiple batches of things in order to get it exactly right. We loved the first batch, made with 50 percent more lime juice, but thought it would be a bit much for most people. And that batch also had a lot more cream, which I decided to cut. These two changes make the final version even more refreshing, which is just what I was aiming for. We'll be making this a lot throughout spring and summer. 

Lime Sherbet 

(Makes about 5 cups)

1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest 
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
Pinch salt
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups reduced fat (2%) milk 


1 Zest and juice limes. 

2 In 2-quart glass measure, stir together 1/4 cup sugar, gelatin and salt. Stir in boiling water, stirring until dissolved. Stir in lime juice, zest and remaining sugar, stirring until dissolved. Stir in cream, blending well. Stir in milk; cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight. 

3 Assemble the Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream-Sorbert Maker; turn it on. While it is running, pour the chilled mixture through the spout. Let mix until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes. Or follow the directions for whichever brand ice cream maker you have. If you have a KitchenAid, you can use their KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment

4 Transfer the soft sherbet to a freezer-safe airtight container, and place in freezer for at least 4 hours. 

29 March 2012

Muir Glen Organic Giveaway Winner Announced


The winner of the Muir Glen Organic Reserve Gift Basket is Katherine. As soon as you send me your address, Katherine, Muir Glen will FedEx it to you.


This was fun! Think I'll be doing more giveaways! In the meantime, follow me on Google and Twitter. You can even use the Follow Me By Email button in the right column.

Come back tomorrow for a fabulous warm-weather dessert!

23 March 2012

Black Bean Soup - Made with Dried Beans - And Muir Glen Organic Giveaway



Black bean soup can be made brothy, which I don't like, or can be pureed, which my husband-with-texture-issues would not touch; but I come up with a happy medium by long, slow cooking. Warning: If you don't have a 7-quart pot, just make half a batch in a 4- or 5-quart pot. I used a 6-quart pot for the double batch and it nearly overflowed; couldn't add the chicken broth until the soup had cooked down a bit!

Black bean soup made with dried beans takes a while (which is why I wanted to make a huge batch--it freezes well). If you're in a hurry, try my Black Bean Soup - Made with Canned Beans instead. But if you have time, use the dried beans. I prefer them, and they are much cheaper! Do the math: 1 pound of organic dried black beans for $2 to $3 equals 4 15-ounce cans of organic black beans for a total of about $8.

Black Bean Soup

(Makes about 5 quarts)

2 pounds dried black beans, rinsed and picked over
3 quarts water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


2 cups finely chopped onion

2 cups finely chopped celery
2 cups finely chopped carrots
1 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 or 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 quart low sodium chicken broth
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen fire roasted, one 14-ounce regular and one 14-ounce with medium green chilies)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 Rinse and pick over beans to remove any debris. In 7-quart pot, soak beans overnight (8 to 24 hours) in 4 quarts of water salted with 3 tablespoons of salt.

2 In 7-quart stockpot, heat olive oil and cook chopped vegetables about 15 minutes until softened. (I would love to have the All-Clad Stainless 7-Quart Stockpot with Pasta Insert!

3 Drain and rinse soaked beans, and add to vegetables in stockpot. Add 3 quarts fresh water. Bring to a boil. Cover, leaving lid slightly ajar. Reduce heat and simmer slowly, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.

4 Add remaining ingredients. Continue simmering for 3 hours. Actually, I like to cook it down even more.

Muir Glen Organic Giveaway
One winner will receive a Muir Glen Organic Reserve Gift Basket. All US residents who leave a comment (one entry per person) on this post before 11:59pm Eastern time March 28 will be put into a random drawing. Winner will be announced here before noon Eastern time on Thursday March 29.  

16 March 2012

Molasses Ginger Cookies - An Old-Fashioned Favorite


Molasses cookies hadn't turned up in my "rotation" in years when I saw them on one of my favorite blogs. Cranberry Morning is not a food blog, but blogger Judy sneaks recipes in now and then and they're always good ones!


I knew my recipe was similar, so I was motivated to go through my files and find it. My recipe calls for butter rather than shortening and different amounts of spices. Some recipes call for melted butter, but I'm in the habit of creaming the butter. Maybe one day I'll try the melted butter and let you know if it was better or worse.

This cookie pairs perfectly with a cup of strong black tea with a splash of milk. In the UK, they would be called Chewy Treacle Spice Cookies.

Molasses Ginger Cookies

(Makes 4 dozen 3-inch cookies)

4 packed cups (20 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses (in the UK, black treacle)
2 large eggs

1 In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and spices.

2 In large bowl of electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add molasses, then eggs, and beat until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in flour mixture. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

3 Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place #40 scoops* (1.5-tablespoon 1.25-inch balls) 3 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes. For crisp cookies, bake a bit longer, watching carefully so that they don't burn.

4 Cool on baking sheet for 1 minute, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

* If you don't have a Number 40 Squeeze Disher Scoop, you need to get one now! I don't know how people make cookies without it!

09 March 2012

Afternoon Tea - Millennium Biltmore Hotel


Photo courtesy of Millennium Biltmore Hotel
Afternoon tea is not just an occasional pleasure to me, it is a necessity! I enjoy giving teas and attending them and search them out wherever I go. On a recent business trip to Los Angeles, I was a guest at afternoon tea at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles.

Opened in 1923 in what is now downtown Los Angeles' cultural and financial district, the Biltmore is a designated Historical Cultural Landmark. The Old World architecture is nothing short of magnificent. Hand-painted vaulted ceilings, wood-paneled walls, elegant chandeliers, friezes, columns and carving everywhere. Ballroom with balconies, columned archways and rich brocade drapery.

Afternoon tea is served in the Rendezvous Court, which once served as the hotel's main lobby. As if the carved wood ceilings, gold-leaf accents, Italian travertine stone walls and rose marble fountain were not enough, there is a magnificent double staircase overlooking the room. A grand space with soaring ceilings, it somehow manages to feel warm and cozy.


Tea tables were covered in floor-length white tablecloths and set with Royal Albert Old Country Roses china accented by a yellow rose. The traditional three-tiered stand held an assortment of exquisite tiny diamond-shaped sandwiches, scones and homemade Devonshire-style cream, and an array of miniature pastries. Pots of excellent tea and glasses of sherry, kir or sparkling wine helped us leave the stresses of a hectic week behind. 


For reservations, call 213-612-1562. For tea at home, see: How to Make a Proper Cup of Tea, Tea and Scones, and my review of the Zojirushi Water Boiler and Warmer.     

02 March 2012

One-Bowl Chocolate Loaf Cake - And My New Favorite Loaf Pan



I'm one of those cooks/bakers who can somehow manage to use dozens of bowls/pans/utensils to make one thing! I don't know how it happens or why, but I think it's genetic--my mother was the same way. My husband calls me the Black Tornado (as opposed to the White Tornado, from an old ad campaign for a cleaning product). Don't get me wrong. When I need to keep it under control, somehow I do. But the natural inclination is always there. After all, it's genetic.

So a one-bowl cake is always nice. Though, of course, there is also a pan, beaters, sifter, measuring cups and spoons, spatula and cooling rack. When I first came up with this cake many years ago, I frosted it. No more. Just a simple dusting of powdered sugar at serving time and perhaps a dollop of whipped cream and a few berries if they're in season. No frosting means it's easy to freeze and have on hand for those times when even a one-bowl cake is too much trouble to make.


My New Favorite Loaf Pan

Well, let me give you the back story. I first made gluten-free sandwich bread a year and a half ago with a great mix from a small company whose directions included cooling the loaf on its sides for the first 10 minutes. That is an important step because gluten-free bread lacks the structure of regular bread and tends to cave in at the sides a bit.

So when King Arthur Flour sent me their taller, narrower 9x4x4-inch pan that is ideal for gluten-free yeast loaves, which require more support as they rise and bake, I immediately put it to the test. I made another loaf of the same bread I'd first tried a year and a half ago, but used the new pan rather than the standard loaf pan. It worked beautifully! No need to cool the loaf on its sides. I also liked the shape of the loaf and thought it would be perfect for my loaf cakes and quick breads.
 



One-Bowl Chocolate Loaf Cake


(Makes one 9x5x3-inch or 9x4x4-inch loaf)

1 1/3 packed cups (6.67 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 tablespoon very strong coffee
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour a 9x5x3-inch or 9x4x4-inch loaf pan.

2 Onto a sheet of waxed paper, sift together flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda.

3 In large bowl, with electric mixer on medium, cream the butter. Add the sugars and continue creaming for about 3 minutes. Add the egg, and beat well. Add the buttermilk, coffee and vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix on low just until blended; do not overmix.

Note: If you don't have buttermilk on hand, just put a tablespoon of vinegar or fresh lemon juice in measuring cup and fill to the one-cup line with milk, stir, and let stand for 2 or 3 minutes.

4 Scrape into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (or you get a reading of 210 to 215 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).

Note: I cannot tell you how much I love, and how much I use for so many things, my Super-Fast Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer!

5 Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out onto rack and continue cooling for 2 hours.

6 Trim ends and slice into 8 to 16 slices.  

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