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!

15 October 2015

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup / www.delightfulrepast.com

Butternut Squash Soup is the quintessential soup of autumn, and despite a spell of hot weather, I've been feeling positively autumnal. When I see this soup on a seasonal menu, I'm always tempted. But then I hesitate because too often it's made in one of two ways that I don't like.

One extreme is a version overloaded with garlic and strong herbs, trying too hard to not be the other extreme I don't like. And that is one that borders on dessert, very sweet and pumpkin-pie spicy. I add just a tiny amount of nutmeg, allspice and real maple syrup to enhance the natural sweetness of the squash and the tartness of the green apple.

A bit of potato amps up the creamy texture even without any actual cream. And using an immersion blender to puree the soup is the only way to go. Ladling part of it into a countertop blender and then pouring it into yet another bowl or pot, and then repeating two or three times ... well, all I have to say is I can't believe I waited so long to get an immersion blender. 

Of course, you can use chicken stock rather than vegetable stock and even put in some bacon, but I like the pure vegetable flavors of this version. What could be better than a steaming bowl of soup and homemade bread with lots of butter on a crisp autumn day! What are your favorite soups? 

Butternut Squash Soup

(Makes 2.25 quarts/2.13 liters)

1 medium (2.5 pounds) butternut squash
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium (8 ounces) Granny Smith apple, roughly chopped
1 small (4 ounces) yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 medium (2 ounces) carrot, roughly chopped
1 medium (8 ounces) russet potato, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 quart lower sodium vegetable broth

2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Pinch (1/16 teaspoon) cayenne
1 tablespoon real maple syrup
Garnish: apple, nutmeg, creme fraiche

1 Preheat oven to 400F/200C/Gas6. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut off stem of squash, and cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Place cut side up on prepared baking sheet, and brush tops with melted butter. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour. Let stand at room temperature until cool enough to handle.

2 In a 4-quart pot, heat olive oil and add chopped* apple, onion and carrot. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper; cook for about 8 minutes. Scoop cooled squash into the pot. Add potato, broth, water and seasonings, including another 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, loosely covered, for 40 minutes.

* Roughly chopped is fine because you'll be pureeing the soup.

3 Using an immersion blender, puree the soup in the pot. Stir in the maple syrup. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Note: I'm not saying life without an immersion blender was meaningless or that I'm consumed with bitterness and regret for not getting one sooner. But seriously, folks, if you don't have an immersion blender, get one now. You'll wonder how you got along without it!

4 Ladle soup into bowls, garnish and serve.


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!

08 October 2015

Chile Relleno Casserole

Chile Relleno Casserole / www.delightfulrepast.com

This easy chile relleno casserole is one I used to make years ago when we had vegetarian friends over for dinner and then when I was vegetarian myself. Now I'm what I call a part-time vegetarian, and this is perfect for my meat-free days. It's good for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

It's also what I call a pantry meal because you can make it from ingredients you likely have on hand any time of year. Sure, you can sometimes buy fresh chiles and roast them yourself--by all means, go right ahead! But you'll get great results with canned chiles. And, if you make this at a time of year when fresh, local tomatoes aren't available, you can even use good canned tomatoes.

I hadn't even thought of this dish in decades until I came across the little notebook I had written it in back when I was really young, possibly even a teenager. It was a real blast from the past for Mr. Delightful! 

If you, too, have been married since before the earth cooled, tell me about a dish you made in the early years of your marriage. If not, then tell me about whatever kind of food constitutes a "blast from the past" for you.


Chile Relleno Casserole / www.delightfulrepast.com


Chile Relleno Casserole

(Makes 4 to 6 servings)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 (or 3) 4-ounce cans mild (or hot!) diced green chiles
4 corn tortillas, cut in strips
6 ounces Monterey jack cheese, shredded 
6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups fresh diced tomato or 1 14.5-ounce can fire roasted petite diced tomatoes, drained
8 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Paprika
Garnish ideas: avocado, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, cilantro, sliced ripe olives, thinly sliced radish

1 Grease 8x8x2-inch baking dish. Heat oil in small skillet and saute chopped onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Place half the onions in the dish. Layer on half the chiles, half the tortilla strips, half of each cheese and half the diced tomatoes. Then layer on the remaining tortilla strips, onions, chiles, tomatoes and cheeses.

Note: Whether using fresh or drained canned tomatoes, give them a bit of a squeeze to get out some of the liquid just before adding them to the dish.

2 In medium bowl (I use a 1-quart glass measure), whisk together eggs, milk and seasonings. Pour over the layered ingredients. Sprinkle with paprika. Let stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Preheat oven* to 350F/180C/Gas4.

* During hot weather, I bake this in my Cuisinart convection toaster oven.

3 Bake, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Garnish each serving.

Note: May be made ahead and refrigerated. If so, add 20 minutes to cooking time.

01 October 2015

Classic Lemon Tart - Tarte au Citron - ThermoWorks Giveaway

Lemon Tart - Tarte au Citron / www.delightfulrepast.com

Classic Lemon Tart is an elegant dessert with "Wow" factor that's really quite easy. The pastry is crisp and cookie-like, so it's much easier to get right than a flaky pastry. Some versions call for cooking a lemon curd and pouring it into a fully baked tart shell; others for cooking the filling, pouring it into the tart shell and baking it. This one is the kind with the uncooked filling baked in a prebaked tart shell. 

Sometimes I make both the pastry and filling by hand, but today I decided to make the pastry in the food processor. Then it was time to make the filling and I decided I might as well use the food processor to really pulverize the sugar and lemon zest for the filling. But if you don't have a food processor, don't let that stop you from making this tart; it'll be fine. 

I use all organic ingredients and have done for decades. Even if you aren't into organic, do try to get lemons that haven't been sprayed and waxed because you'll be zesting that outer layer of peel.

We like our lemon desserts quite tart. If you don't, you might want to add a couple tablespoons more sugar to the filling; but I hope you'll try it this way first. It's important not to overbake it, so I'm giving away not one, but three, ThermoWorks TimeSticks! You can either hang it around your neck or stick it in your pocket. It is my all-time favorite timer, and I've tried many! Details after the recipe. 

Update: This giveaway is closed.

Lemon Tart and TimeStick Giveaway / www.delightfulrepast.com

Classic Lemon Tart - Tarte au Citron 

(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 

5 large eggs
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces/149 grams) sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces/118 ml) heavy cream
1/2 cup (4 ounces/118 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest from unsprayed lemons
1/8 teaspoon salt 

Note: Four medium lemons (4 to 4.5 ounces each) should yield enough juice and zest, but have a fifth on hand, just in case. 

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 (1-inch deep) 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.

* Don't throw away the scraps; they make wonderful cookies (maybe 2 or 3 of them). Just press them out and throw them on the baking sheet next to the tart tin.

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), also called ceramic baking beans in the UK, over the foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights; continue baking for 10 minutes, until lightly browned to a pale golden. Let stand to cool a bit.

4 While pastry is cooling, make the filling. In 2-quart bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure), whisk together eggs, sugar, cream, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt until well combined. 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. (Mr. Delightful has "texture issues," so I baked this one for 30 minutes. It didn't have a wobble, but it was fabulous!) Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Remove from tin. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Dust with sifted powdered sugar just before serving.



 
Update: This giveaway is closed.


ThermoWorks TimeStick Giveaway


This giveaway is open to US residents (Sorry, international friends!) 18 years of age or older. To enter (one entry per person), just leave a comment below. Please include your email address in the body of your comment. Must enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday October 7. 

Three winners will be chosen by random drawing and be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday October 8. If I don't hear back from the winners of the random drawing by noon Eastern time Sunday October 11, another drawing will be held and new winner(s) selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline). 

Disclosure: ThermoWorks, makers of the new and improved Thermapen, provided a TimeStick for review purposes and three for the giveaway. The views expressed here are entirely my own. I always tell my readers what I really think!

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