19 October 2017

Arbor Teas Giveaway - Organic Tea and Stainless Steel Infuser

Arbor Teas Giveaway - Organic Tea and Stainless Steel Infuser / www.delightfulrepast.com

I recently had a chance to try Arbor Teas for the first time, and I was impressed. Arbor Teas offers one of the internet's largest selections of loose leaf organic teas and tisanes. Their entire catalogue is certified organic and two-thirds are Fair Trade Certified.

This is a small, family-owned company in Ann Arbor, Michigan (Go Blue!) with Carbonfree® business practices. Their facility is powered by Michigan sunshine (solar panels). I always compost my tea leaves, and even Arbor Teas packaging and labels are backyard compostable.

They offer all varieties of tea (black, green, white, oolong and pu-erh), as well as lots of herbal tisanes. I, of course, tried black teas only. The first one I tried, Nilgiri, I made as cold-brew iced tea. It was fabulous. I wish I had taken a photo of it for you so you could see the color and clarity.

Call me obsessive, but those two qualities, along with flavor, are especially important to me in iced teas. In case you want to try it, I used a 0.25-ounce/7-gram sample in 3 cups of room temperature water in a small pitcher in the refrigerator for 9 hours.

I tried the other teas my favorite way--hot--and enjoyed them all. As you can see from the photos, the tea leaves expand a lot while brewing, so you need a roomy infuser to allow them to unfurl properly.

Arbor Teas Giveaway - Organic Loose Leaf Tea and Stainless Steel Infuser / www.delightfulrepast.com

Arbor Teas Tea and Infuser Giveaway

The winner of the Arbor Teas giveaway will be sent his/her choice of tea (English Breakfast, Earl Grey or Nilgiri) and the stainless steel tea infuser in his/her choice of trim color (black, blue or green). It works in some teapots as well as in mugs.

Arbor Teas Giveaway - Organic Tea and Stainless Steel Infuser / www.delightfulrepast.com

This giveaway is open to US* residents 18 years of age or older. Leave a comment below (one entry per person); tell me which of the three teas you'd like to try and which infuser trim color you prefer. Please include your email address in the body of your comment. Must enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday October 25.

* If you are outside the US but would like to have this sent to someone in the US (you would have to send them a gift card separately on your own), go ahead and enter! 

Winner will be chosen by random drawing and be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday October 26. If I don't hear back from the winner of the random drawing by noon Eastern time Sunday October 29, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline).

Disclosure: Arbor Teas provided product for review purposes and for the giveaway. The views expressed here are entirely my own. I always tell my readers what I really think! 
Coronation Chicken Tea Sandwiches / www.delightfulrepast.com

12 October 2017

Blackberry Crumble Bars

Blackberry Crumble Bars - Like Pie, Only Quicker and Easier / www.delightfulrepast.com

Blackberry crumble bars came about when I decided my craving for blackberries was greater than my determination to save my stash of summer berries I'd frozen for winter.

If you don't have such a stash, you can buy two 10-ounce bags of frozen blackberries for this recipe. And don't thaw them; use them frozen.

If you're gluten-free, just replace the flour with a combination of 1 cup sorghum flour, 3/4 cup potato starch, 3/4 cup tapioca flour and 1 teaspoon xanthan gum.

Gluten-free flour blends require more liquid than wheat flour, so you'll need to add a bit of iced water after stirring in the eggs. Add the water just a spoonful at a time so that you don't overdo it.

Cut into 2-inch squares, these crispy-crusted bars don't require a fork and are perfect for afternoon tea. Cut into larger portions, they stand in quite nicely for pie.

My Southern grandmother often made Blackberry Cobbler, another way I enjoy blackberries. What's your favorite black(or other)berry dessert? 

Blackberry Crumble Bars - Like Pie, Only Quicker and Easier / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Blackberry Crumble Bars

(Makes 24 2-inch squares)

The Crust and Crumble Layers

2 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (12.5 ounces/354 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces/99 grams) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces/) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 large eggs

The Blackberry Filling

1/3* to 2/3 cup (2.33 ounces/66 grams to 4.67 ounces/132 grams) sugar
2 tablespoons tapioca flour or non-GMO cornstarch
Pinch of salt
20 ounces (567 grams/about 5 cups) fresh or frozen blackberries
1 or 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

* We like tart rather than sweet so use 1/3 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice.

1 Preheat oven to 375F/190C/Gas5. Grease or spray with cooking spray a 13x9x1-inch quarter-sheet pan. If you don't have a quarter-sheet pan (and you really should!), you may use a 13x9x2-inch pan. Also, you might want to line the pan with baking parchment, leaving enough paper overhanging the ends to use later for lifting the bake out of the pan for cutting. Grease or spray the paper as well.

2 In medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the butter until mixture is like coarse cornmeal with some 1/4-inch chunks remaining. Stir in the beaten eggs to form a dough that clumps together.

3 Pour half the crumble into the prepared pan and press it into a crust just on the bottom; you may need to use a bit more of the reserved crumble. Bake the crust for 15 minutes. Keep the reserved crumble in the refrigerator until needed.

4 In small bowl, stir together sugar, tapioca flour and salt. Spread blackberries over baked crust. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over berries, then sprinkle on lemon juice. Sprinkle clumps of crumble topping over the berries. Bake until crumble topping is golden and berries are bubbling, which took about 1 hour with my very large frozen berries and small amount of sugar.

Note: The baking time will be shorter for fresh berries, thawed berries or smaller berries and likely shorter with the larger amount of sugar. So check on it at 30 minutes and see what's going on in there.

5 Cool in pan on wire rack until completely cool before lifting out the bake on parchment. Or just serve from the pan. 

Blackberry Crumble Bars - Like Pie, Only Quicker and Easier / www.delightfulrepast.com

05 October 2017

Apple Pie - Autumn Classic

Apple Pie - Autumn Classic - with All-Butter Pastry - and lots of tips / www.delightfulrepast.com

Apple pie is among those things I posted in the first months of blogging before I had many (any?) readers, so it has had few comments or Pins. So I'm bringing it out again, hoping it will now get the attention it deserves!

Apple pie has always been one of my favorite desserts. My earliest food memory is of being in the kitchen watching my Southern grandmother make one when I was not yet three.

I was fascinated that she could peel the apples in one continuous spiral, something I still cannot do. She served her apple pie with vanilla ice cream and a cup of coffee. 

Tea was the beverage of choice of my English grandmother, and her apple pies were more likely to have a side of custard sauce or whipped cream. But I don't recall ever seeing her follow that other (unappealing to me) English tradition of Cheshire or Cheddar cheese with apple pie.

"Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness." ~ Jane Austen

Peach pie is my number one favorite. But when peach season ends, that's it for me until next summer. Buying only in-season produce grown as close to home as possible gives us the pleasure of anticipation and supports local farmers.

And both apples and peaches are on the Top 12 list of fruits and vegetables most important to buy organic because of having the highest levels of pesticide residue in the conventionally grown.

Apple Pie - An Autumn Classic - with All-Butter Pastry - lots of tips for the perfect pie / www.delightfulrepast.com
And this illustrates why you should let the pie cool for three hours before cutting. When you cut the pie too soon, the juices run out; cooling prevents this problem.

I like to combine two apples with different qualities in a pie. A good combination of two that are readily available (in the US, anyway) is Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. But I made this one with all Braeburn.

If you are fortunate enough to have an apple tree or live in an area where you can buy heritage apples, go for it. Look for varieties that are good "pie apples." I like Bramley and Cox's Orange Pippin, but haven't tried them in a pie yet.

You might also want to check out my Rustic Apple Tart - Sour Cream Pastry.

What are your favorite pie apples? And do you like the pie cooked until the apples are tender but still holding their shape, as I do, or until the apples are cooked down?

Apple Pie - Autumn Classic - with all-butter crust / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Apple Pie

(Makes one 9-inch pie, 8 servings)

Pastry* for double-crust pie
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds (567 to 680 grams) Granny Smith apples (3 cups peeled and thinly sliced)
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds (567 to 680 grams) Golden Delicious apples (3 cups peeled and thinly sliced)
2 or 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup (4.67 ounces/132 grams) sugar
3 tablespoons (0.9375 ounce/27 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

* Check out the following pastry recipes: Pastry Tutorial - Food Processor or Pastry Tutorial - By Hand. If you're gluten-free, just double my Gluten-Free Pastry recipe and thicken the pie filling with tapioca flour rather than wheat flour.

1 Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil (I usually have a used piece of one or the other I'd like to get one more use out of). Spray a 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray and line with pastry; cover with parchment and place in the refrigerator. Roll out pastry for top crust on parchment; place on a baking sheet, cover with parchment and place in the refrigerator.

2 Peel and quarter apples, cut away cores and cut (the short way) 1/4-inch-thick slices into a large bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure). Add lemon juice and toss gently. You can use all Granny Smiths, but I think the combination of the crisp, juicy, tart Granny Smith with the sweeter Golden Delicious adds a certain complexity to the pie and allows you to use less sugar.

Note: Don't get carried away with the apples as some are wont to do. I even got a little carried away and used 7 cups, when 6 cups is exactly right for my standard 9-inch Pyrex pie plate, which is the perfect pie plate.

3 In small bowl, combine sugar, flour, spices and salt; add to apples and mix well. Pour into pastry-lined pie plate, dot with little pieces of butter and put top crust in place; seal and crimp edge; prick top with fork, marking eight wedges, to vent. Place on lined baking sheet to catch any drips from the pie. Pop the pie in the freezer for 15 minutes while preheating the oven.

4 Move your oven racks so that you can place your pie on the lowest. Preheat oven to 425F/220C/Gas7.

Note: I don't always do it, but this time I brushed the top with a little cream and sprinkled on a bit of sugar mixed with cinnamon.

5 Bake for 20 minutes. Lower temperature to 350F/180C/Gas4 and bake for an additional 40 minutes, when the apples will be tender but still holding their shape. Cool on wire rack for 3 hours before serving; the pie needs that time to solidify so that all the juices don't run out when the pie is cut.

Note: To warm individual slices of pie, preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for about 10 minutes.

28 September 2017

Sloppy Joes - Not Just for Kids Anymore

Sloppy Joes - Not Just for Kids Anymore / www.delightfulrepast.com

Sloppy Joes were never on the menu at our house when I was growing up, due to my father's aversion to ground meat. And a bad version of them was on the school lunch menu. So I didn't get off to a good start in life with Sloppy Joes.

Sloppy Joes originated in the US in the 1940s. Packaged Sloppy Joe seasoning mix and canned Sloppy Joe sauce came out in the 1960s. I'm sure the packaged and canned sauces are very tasty, but they are not organic; so I must make my own.

They might more often be thought of as kid-friendly food, but adults enjoy them as well. Though I'm just cooking for two most nights, I make a big batch and divide it into four meals (three for the freezer). In case that bit of math doesn't add up, Mr Delightful has two!

Sloppy Joes - Not Just for Kids Anymore / www.delightfulrepast.com

Sloppy Joes

(Makes 12)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium (about 8 ounces/227 grams) yellow onion, finely diced
1 medium (about 4 ounces/113 grams) green bell pepper, finely diced
1 medium (about 4 ounces/113 grams) red bell pepper, finely diced
2 pounds (907 grams) lean ground beef or turkey
4 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground dried chiles
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon country Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 14.5-ounce can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup water
12 buns, split and toasted
Garnishes: shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, sliced jalapenos, sliced dill pickles

1 In large skillet (I use this All-Clad 4-quart sauté pan), heat oil and cook onion for about 5 minutes. Add bell peppers and continue cooking for about 2 minutes.

2 Add ground meat and continue cooking, breaking up the meat, until done and liquid is evaporated. If you're not using lean meat, you may have to drain off some fat; but wait until the liquid has evaporated.

3 Stir in tomato paste, ground chiles, salt, cumin, pepper, brown sugar, mustard, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce; cook for about 1 or 2 minutes.

4 Stir in crushed tomatoes and water. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Note: Can be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated. Or freeze in meal-size portions for up to a month.

5 I use my own Homemade Hamburger Buns or similar ones from the bakery, split and well toasted on the griddle with half organic unsalted butter and half extra virgin olive oil, and 1/2 cup of meat mixture for each.

21 September 2017

Parkin - A Classic Northern England Cake

Parkin - A Classic Northern England Cake / www.delightulrepast.com

Parkin is, I think, generally considered a Yorkshire thing; but some say it's a Lancashire thing. So let's just call it a Northern (England, that is) thing. It makes me think of my grandfather, who was from right on the border of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

(For another Northern treat, from Yorkshire, try my Fat Rascals. And don't forget Yorkshire Pudding,  though it's not a dessert.)

There are similar cakes from much earlier, but Parkin has been around at least since the 18th century; so I like to think of it as a Georgian thing. It's sort of a gingerbread with the addition of oats. There are all sorts of formulations, but I like to use an equal weight of butter, flour and oats. 

It's definitely a make-ahead thing because it improves with age. You should wait a few days, and some say a few weeks, to eat it. I've never tried to keep it for a few weeks; have you? But I like to give it at least a few days for the spices to mellow and the cake to get stickier.

This has a lot of sugar (three forms of it), less than some recipes, but still a lot. But it's cut into 16 squares so comes in under my self-imposed daily sugar allowance. I'll be experimenting with cutting back more on the sugar and will keep you posted.

I'm also going to be experimenting with "mellowing" times. I've cut this into 4 squares, so I can wrap it up in portions to be tested at 1 day, 3 days, 1 week and 2 weeks. If you don't already have a wonderful family Parkin recipe, I hope you'll give mine a try and let me know what you think.

Update 09/26/17: Though it "kept" for a week, I don't think it improved in any way. And it was great on the very first day. So I won't be waiting to eat it, but am happy it does keep well, making it ideal for packed lunches for work or school.

Parkin - A Classic Northern England Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com
Can be eaten right away but is said to improve when wrapped and stored for anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks. I cut this one into 4 squares in order to test different storage times. Stay tuned for the results!

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(Makes one 8-inch/20cm cake)

1 1/4 sticks (5 ounces/142 grams) unsalted butter
1/2 packed cup (3.5 ounces/99 grams) dark brown sugar
1/3 cup (114 grams) honey or golden syrup
1/4 cup (71 grams) unsulphured molasses or black treacle
1 1/3 cups (5 ounces/142 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats (I use Bob's Red Mill organic extra thick)
1 dip-and-sweep cup (5 ounces/142 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) milk

1 Grease 8x8x2-inch/20x20cm baking dish or tin with butter or spray it with cooking spray; line the bottom* with parchment paper, and grease or spray it as well. Preheat oven to 275F/135C/Gas1.

* I tear off a 7.5-inch piece of baking parchment that is 13 inches wide so that it covers two of the sides with a bit of an overhang to make it easy to just lift out of the pan after running a knife along the two "bare" sides. 

Parkin - A Classic Northern England Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

2 In 3-quart saucepan, melt together the butter, sugar, honey or golden syrup, and molasses or black treacle. Remove from heat as soon as melted together--do not boil--and cool slightly.

3 In 1.5-quart bowl, whisk together oats, flour, baking powder, salt and spices.

4 Add dry mixture to saucepan, along with beaten eggs and milk, and stir until well combined. Pour into prepared tin and bake for about 1 1/4 hours, or until cake is firm in the center and pulling away from the sides of the pan.

Parkin - A Classic Northern England Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

5 Cool in pan on wire rack for about 15 minutes before turning out onto wire rack, removing parchment and turning cake topside up to finish cooling on wire rack. Or, if you've lined the bottom with an overhang, just run a knife along the two unlined edges and lift the parkin out of the pan. Wrap the thoroughly cooled cake in baking parchment and then in foil and store for at least 3 days or up to 1 week* before cutting into 16 squares.

* Some people let their parkin age for about 3 weeks before cutting it, but I've never tried it.

Parkin - A Classic Northern England Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

14 September 2017

Fresh Fig Galette

Fresh Fig Galette - Rustic Tart with Figs and Frangipane - In an Easy Shortcrust Pastry / www.delightfulrepast.com

A fresh fig tart was what I came up with when I decided I couldn't waste fresh figs on the fig rolls ("newtons") I've been craving but that can be made any time of year with dried figs. When a friend brought me a basket of organic figs the other day, I knew the little beauties would have to go into something where they would show a bit.

I like any kind of tarts, rustic or refined, but decided to go with rustic because of the earthy quality of figs. They have a certain nuttiness as well, and so I thought they would go well with a small batch of my frangipane and a sprinkling of sliced almonds. I quartered them so that both their pink insides and blackish outsides would show.

For me, an unsweetened shortcrust pastry balances out the sweetness of the figs and frangipane. But you may also use this lightly sweet shortcrust pastry. Yes, a bit of softly whipped cream would not go amiss, but I just wanted to focus on the figs.

If you're more of a cake person than a pie person, you might want to try my Fig Upside-Down Cake. Or are you both, like me?!

Fresh Fig Galette - Rustic Tart with Figs and Frangipane - In an Easy Shortcrust Pastry / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Fresh Fig Galette - Rustic Tart

(Makes one 9-inch tart/6 to 8 servings)

The Pastry - Shortcrust

1 1/3 dip-and-sweep cup (6.67 ounces/189 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces/113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk plus white reserved for filling
1 tablespoon cream, milk or water

The Filling - Frangipane and Figs

4 tablespoons (2 ounces/57 grams) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) sugar
1/2 firmly packed cup (2 ounces/57 grams) super-fine almond flour (ground almonds)
1 egg plus the reserved egg white
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch of salt
About 11 ounces figs
A bit of cream or milk
2 tablespoons sliced almonds

1 Add flour 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 Preheat oven to 400F/205C/Gas6. In 1-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Take off heat, and stir in the sugar, then the ground almonds, egg, almond extract and salt until well combined. Set it in the refrigerator for a few minutes while proceeding with the recipe.

3 Wash, dry and trim the stems off the figs. Cut them into quarters lengthwise.

4 Roll out the pastry to a 13-inch circle on a lightly floured 13-inch square of parchment paper. No need to trim the edges; this is supposed to be rustic. Lay it on a baking sheet; it will hang over the edges. Spread the frangipane over a 9-inch circle in the center and scatter the figs over it. Fold the edges in, sort of pleating as you go. Brush the pastry with a bit of cream or milk and sprinkle on the sliced almonds, pressing them in a bit to make them stick.

5 Bake for about 35 minutes. Leave on baking sheet to cool for 25 minutes before moving to serving plate. 

07 September 2017

Thin and Crispy Coconut Cookies - Gluten-Free (or Not)

Thin and Crispy Coconut Cookies - Gluten-Free (or Not) / www.delightfulrepast.com

I'm going to need your help on this one! Thin and crispy coconut cookies are no problem if you don't mind a cloyingly sweet cookie. Where the problem comes in is reducing the sugar to the bare minimum. So let me tell you the whole story, then I will welcome any suggestions you might have.

When I'm in the mood for a coconut macaroon or other chewy coconut cookie, I make these Swedish Coconut Cookies. But what I had in mind this week was a super thin and crispy coconut cookie. The first version I came up with resulted in the third sheet of cookies being close to what I was aiming for, though a bit dry.

So I added the step of moistening the coconut with a bit of water before proceeding with the recipe the second time. Organic unsweetened finely shredded coconut is quite dry; in fact, I think it's dehydrated. Supermarket coconut has added sugar and water as well as propylene glycol and sodium metabisulfite, and that just ain't happenin' in my kitchen!

I also increased the butter for the second batch. And now I'm thinking I might increase the sugar next time if it will help the cookies spread. (Sugar - Toxin or Treat? tells you about me and sugar.) If you've ever looked at any of those "Cookie Troubleshooting" articles, you know that most people are complaining about their cookies spreading too much.

Thin and Crispy Coconut Cookies - Gluten-Free (or Not) / www.delightfulrepast.com

The problem with these is that they won't spread. At all. If you roll the dough into a ball or use a cookie scoop, it just bakes in that shape. If you mash it down slightly, it bakes in that shape. So if I wanted these thin and crispy, I had to roll the dough into balls and then press the dough ball into a very thin round about 2.5 inches or so in diameter.

You know I never mind doing fiddly stuff in the kitchen, but this was a bit much even for me on most days. I use the bottom of a metal measuring cup to press down lots of cookies, but it didn't work on these. I tried everything on the bottom of that cup -- water, flour, baking spray. No go. The only thing that worked was my plain fingers. Pretty fiddly work.

Anyway ... I'm willing to increase the sugar to 3/4 cup if it will help them spread without my manual assistance. I figure that would come out to about 2/3 teaspoon of sugar per cookie. A cup of sugar would still be under a teaspoon per cookie, but they would be far too sweet for my taste.

Any suggestions? Higher temperature? Lower temperature? Loosen up about the sugar for once in my life?!

Thin and Crispy Coconut Cookies - Gluten-Free (or Not) / www.delightfulrepast.com

Thin and Crispy Coconut Cookies

(Makes 4 1/2 dozen cookies)

1 cup (2.75 ounces/78 grams) organic unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces/59 ml) water
1/2 cup (2.5 ounces/71 grams) coconut flour
1/2 cup (2.5 ounces/71 grams) gluten-free blend (or use unbleached all-purpose flour and omit the xanthan gum)
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 sticks (5 ounces/142 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces/99 grams) sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 In 2-cup glass measure, stir together coconut and water; cover and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

3 In 1.5-quart bowl, whisk together flours, xanthan gum, salt and baking soda.

4 In 2.5-quart bowl, cream butter and sugar together until sugar is dissolved. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture; combine well. Stir in moistened coconut.

5 Drop by level 2-teaspoon* scoops onto parchment paper. Roll each scoop into a ball and flatten it with your fingertips to about a 2.5-inch diameter. Bake until edges are browning, about 12 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

* This set of stainless steel measuring spoons is one of the few that include a 2-teaspoon spoon, something I've wanted for a long time, and the round shape makes it easy to push out a scoop of cookie dough with a finger.

31 August 2017

Bacon and Egg Pie - Crustless, So Naturally Gluten-Free (Dairy-Free, Too)

Bacon and Egg Pie - Crustless, So Naturally Gluten-Free (can be made dairy-free) / www.delightfulrepast.com

Breakfast bakes made with good bread are something I really enjoy, but I had a gluten-free guest coming and had to come up with one that didn't contain bread.

And she's gone dairy-free as well, so I made it with rice milk rather than my usual organic 2% milk. Like other dairy-free people I know, she tolerates butter well, so I went ahead and followed my inclination to brush the layer of potatoes with a little butter (but resisted my inclination to throw in some cheese!).

I'm inclined to throw some cheese into just about everything! This could be jazzed up any number of ways; but we were going to be having a spicy main dish, vegetables and big salad for lunch, so I made this stone plain and offered salsa and shredded cheese on the side.

Since this was breakfast, we had fruit and gluten-free scones along with the pie, as well as copious amounts of English breakfast tea. For lunch or dinner, I'd have salad on the side and a glass of wine, such as Castello di Amorosa Gioia, a perfect summer sipper.

Bacon and Egg Pie - Crustless, So Naturally Gluten-Free (can be made dairy-free) / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Bacon and Egg Pie

(Makes one 9-inch pie)

2 to 3 (about 14 ounces/397 grams total) Yukon Gold potatoes, microwaved/baked and cooled, then peeled or not
8 ounces (227 grams) bacon, sliced crosswise 1/4 to 1/2 inch, cooked crisp
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) unsalted butter, melted, or bacon grease
7 large eggs
1/2 cup milk or dairy-free milk
1/8 and 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Options: cheese; diced green chiles; sautéed onions, red bell peppers and/or mushrooms; leftover cooked vegetables. But not too much or you'll need a deep-dish pie plate, which I don't have.

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Cut the potatoes in quarters lengthwise; slice about 1/4 inch thick. Line bottom of pie plate with the potatoes, squeezing in little bits to make a solid potato layer. Brush the potatoes with melted butter* and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Top with the bacon and any optional ingredients.

* If using leftover bacon grease instead of butter, you might want to skip the salt on the potato layer.

2 In 2-quart bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure because the spout makes pouring easier), whisk together eggs, milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt and seasonings. Put the pie plate with potatoes and bacon on a rimmed baking sheet and put it in the oven. Pour the egg mixture over potatoes and bacon.

3 Bake about 25 minutes, or until eggs are set in the center. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

24 August 2017

Financiers and Visitandines - Classic French Almond Teacakes

Financiers or Visitandines - Classic French Almond Teacakes / www.delightfulrepast.com

Financiers (fee-nahn-see-AY) are probably familiar to afternoon tea aficionados since they are frequently seen on the three-tiered stand at posh hotel teas. Visitandines (vee-zeet-ahn-DEEN) are a bit more obscure; I only learned about them recently when I was perusing the new-to-me blog As Strong As Soup.

It seems visitandines are named after the order of nuns in France who came up with the cakes in the seventeenth century. It is said egg yolks were used in their painting and the teacakes were a way to use up the leftover egg whites. Various shaped molds have been used for them, including barquettes.

Then in the nineteenth century a baker near the financial district of Paris began making the cakes in the shape of gold bars and calling them financiers in honor of his wealthy financier customers. Since I have no rectangular (gold bar-shaped) or barquette (boat-shaped) molds, I used my mince pies/jam tarts tin.

Of all the many sources of recipes and information I've read on the subject, most are in agreement that almond flour (or ground almonds) and beurre noisette, brown butter, are the signature ingredients of both of these classic French teacakes. Dorie Greenspan was the only source whose visitandines recipe did not include almonds and was baked as one cake and sliced.

As my regular readers might guess, I'm going to go with the individual teacakes that look so cute on a three-tiered stand for afternoon tea! I formulated the recipe to make just enough batter for 12 teacakes using 2 tablespoons of batter each.

You might also want to check out my Madeleines, another classic French teacake.

Financiers or Visitandines - Classic French Almond Teacakes / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Financiers or Visitandines - Classic French Almond Teacakes

(Makes about 1 1/2 cups batter*)

6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) unsalted butter
3/4 firmly packed cup (3 ounces/85 grams) unsifted powdered sugar
1/2 firmly packed cup (2 ounces/57 grams) almond flour
1/3 dip-and-sweep cup (1.67 ounces/47 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large egg whites (about 90 grams)
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest, optional
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon almond extract, optional

* The number of teacakes it makes depends on the size. If your pan holds the #40 scoop I used (or a 1/8 cup measure), it will make precisely 12.

1 In small saucepan,* melt butter over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring or swirling frequently, until butter gets foamy and bubbly and just starts to turn tan. It just takes a few minutes, so you cannot take your eyes off it; it goes from browned to burned in a flash! Remove from heat; set aside at room temperature. No need to strain it. It should be still warm, but not hot, when you add it to the batter at the end.

* Use a saucepan with a light colored interior, like my little All-Clad stainless steel 1-quart saucepan, so you can judge the color of the butter as it browns.

Financiers and Visitandines - Classic French Almond Teacakes - made with beurre noisette, brown butter / www.delightfulrepast.com

2 In 1.5-quart mixing bowl, vigorously whisk together powdered sugar, almond flour, flour, baking powder and salt. There is no need to sift any of the ingredients; the vigorous whisking will do the "sifting" for you.

3 In small bowl, whisk egg whites with a fork just until frothy, about 30 to 60 seconds. (Don't panic if you got a drop of yolk in your whites; you are not beating them.) Whisk the egg whites into the flour mixture, just to combine; do not over-mix. The batter will be very thick at this point. Add zest, if using, extract(s) and brown butter. Whisk lightly, just until combined. Cover and refrigerate batter for 2 to 3 hours.

Financiers or Visitandines - Classic French Almond Teacakes / www.delightfulrepast.com

4 Preheat oven to 375F/190C/Gas5. Lightly spray pan with cooking spray (or brush with melted butter and chill to firm before filling). Set pan in a rimmed baking sheet. My mince pies pan fits perfectly inside a 13x9x1-inch quarter-sheet pan. Scoop batter into pan. Bake for about 15 to 17 minutes, or until cakes are golden with nicely browned edges and spring back when touched lightly. Baking time will depend on the size of the teacakes.

5 Turn out the teacakes onto a pristine kitchen towel. You will likely need to give the pan a couple of sharp raps to loosen the stubborn ones. Place them on wire rack to cool. I love them best when they are still warm and crusty on the outside, but they are also good later when the crispy edges have softened.

17 August 2017

Homemade Handmade Pasta - A Tutorial

Homemade Handmade Pasta - No machines, just 3 simple ingredients / www.delightfulrepast.com

Homemade Pasta is something I hadn't made in years - it just sort of slipped off my radar. But over the weekend I got in the mood to make something fun. There are all sorts of "formulas" for making it, but I remembered the one I'd settled on years ago: 1 large egg, 1/2 cup (2.5 ounces/71 grams) flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt for about 4 ounces of pasta.

Even if you're just cooking for one or two, you might want to stir up more than that while you're at it. You can refrigerate the kneaded dough for a few days or freeze it for a few months. Of course, you can mix and knead the dough in a food processor or stand mixer, but my arms can really use the exercise these days!

I never made homemade pasta frequently enough or in such huge quantities that I felt the need for a pasta machine. And I'm not crazy about cleaning a pasta machine! So, handmade it is. All you really need is a bowl, fork, rolling pin, bench scraper, knife or pizza wheel and a cutting board.

The same dough is perfect for any shape. The photo below shows it in the form of wide egg noodles in chicken soup. Mr Delightful doesn't like long pasta, so I made just a little batch of fettuccine for myself (shown in the final photo).

I should also mention that you don't need to track down any special flour. Some cooks swear by semolina or Italian 00 flour, but I used my usual organic unbleached all-purpose flour and did not find it lacking in any way. Eventually I'd like to get out all my gluten-free flours and starches and come up with a version for my GF friends.

How to Make Homemade Handmade Pasta - No machines and just 3 simple ingredients / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Homemade Handmade Pasta

(Makes about 8 ounces)

2 large eggs
1 cup (5 ounces/142 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour*
1/4 teaspoon salt

* Plus more, perhaps about 1/4 to 1/3 cup, for kneading and rolling

Homemade Handmade Pasta - No machines and just 3 simple ingredients / www.delightfulrepast.com

1 In 2- to 2.5-quart mixing bowl, with a dinner fork, stir together flour and salt. Add eggs, break the yolks and slowly incorporate the eggs into the flour to form a sticky, not too stiff dough.

Homemade Handmade Pasta - No machines, just 3 simple ingredients / www.delightfulrepast.com

2 Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (keep the bowl handy, you'll need it again) and knead the dough until it is satiny and very stretchy, about 10 minutes. Use enough flour to keep the dough from sticking horribly to your hands and surface. And this step is where the bench scraper comes in handy. The finished product should be tacky but not sticky.

Homemade Handmade Pasta - No machines, just 3 simple ingredients / www.delightfulrepast.com

3 Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Cover the dough with the inverted mixing bowl, and let it rest for an hour before rolling it out. (I love my big Weck jars for flour.)

4 Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll it (I prefer a maple French rolling pin) into about a 12x6-inch rectangle and stretch and fold it in half. Repeat 3 times. Then roll it out to roughly a 15-inch square about 1/32 inch thick, so thin you can sort of see through it. I could see the pattern of my quartz countertop through it.

Homemade Handmade Pasta - No machines, just 3 simple ingredients / www.delightfulrepast.com

5 You will be lifting and turning the dough throughout the rolling process so that it does not get stuck to the counter. By the time you have your thin square rolled out, the dough will be extremely thin but quite sturdy. Let it rest, uncovered, about 20 minutes, just to dry a bit without getting crusty.

6 To cut shorter shapes, use a plastic pizza wheel and a straight edge (my straight edge is half of an aluminum yardstick, cut years ago for cake decorating purposes). I cut this batch, for chicken noodle soup, into 1/3-inch wide strips, then into 1 1/2-inch lengths.

Homemade Handmade Pasta - No machines, just 3 simple ingredients / www.delightfulrepast.com

To cut long noodles, fold or roll the sheet of dough into a loose spiral, place it on a cutting board and cut crosswise into strips with a sharp knife.

Homemade Handmade Pasta - No machines, just 3 simple ingredients / www.delightfulrepast.com

7 Let the cut pasta rest, uncovered, for 20 to 60 minutes before cooking.

8 Cooking times vary but are very short, so watch closely and test frequently. I cooked the short noodles in hot, not boiling, soup and they were done in 2 minutes. Cooking time could be even shorter in boiling water. The long noodles took a minute or so longer, having dried out for a longer period of time. 

By the way: Some posts contain links to my affiliate account at Amazon. If you start your shopping through one of my links and purchase something from Amazon, I receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, which I use toward the expenses of running this blog. Thanks for supporting Delightful Repast when you shop at Amazon!
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