27 April 2017

Classic Deviled Eggs

Classic Deviled Eggs - a must for every barbecue, picnic and potluck - organic, of course / www.delightfulrepast.com

Deviled eggs, or devilled if you're in the UK, are a classic party food. Have you ever been to a barbecue, picnic or potluck that didn't have at least a few batches of deviled eggs? There's a reason for that: everybody loves them! Some people say, it's not a party until you break out the deviled eggs!

There are several ways to boil (hard-cook) the eggs, some of which are supposed to be vastly superior to the others; but I'm not even going there, except to say that the best way is whatever works for you. I'm just including one method, in the directions, and leaving it up to you to sort out.

I'm only going to comment on the degree of doneness because, well, they need to be actually done. As you may know, I adore Jacques Pepin, but he and I don't see eye to eye on this subject. I say a hard-cooked egg yolk should be yellow and matte, and he says it should be orange and shiny. That's just wrong!

I'm blogging this recipe at the request of a reader. I do that, you know. So if there's anything you'd like to see here at Delightful Repast, or if you have a cooking question, just let me know. What's your favorite thing to take to a gathering? (Mr Delightful would say, "My cavernous appetite!") 

Classic Deviled Eggs - a must for every barbecue, picnic or potluck - organic, of course / www.delightfulrepast.com
Vintage dish is Indiana Glass Company clear Hobnail Egg Plate first made in the 1940s, other colors being added later.

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Classic Deviled Eggs

(Makes 24)

12 large eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise 
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons country Dijon mustard 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper 
1/8 teaspoon dried dill 
1/8 teaspoon curry powder 
Garnishes (fresh dill, pimiento slivers, stuffed olive slices, minced parsley or paprika) 

1 Place eggs in a single layer in large pan. Add enough room temperature water to cover eggs completely and an inch or two over. Bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as water is bubbling enough to make even one egg rattle, remove pan from the heat and cover tightly with the lid. Let stand for 14 minutes. Drain and add cold water to pan; repeat twice. Leave eggs to cool for 15 minutes in cold water. Drain, and proceed with recipe or refrigerate until ready to use. 

2 Peel the eggs, cut them in half lengthwise and remove the yolks. Place egg whites on a plate and yolks in a 1-quart bowl.

3 With a fork, mash yolks well. Add mayonnaise, mustard and seasonings; mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning. 

4 Using a spoon or a pastry bag (Pfft!), fill the egg halves. Garnish. Chill until serving time.

20 April 2017

Harney and Sons Fine Teas - Organic Tea Review and Giveaway

Harney and Sons Fine Teas - Organic Tea Review and Giveaway / www.delightfulrepast.com

Several years ago I was introduced to Harney and Sons Fine Teas by master tea blender John Harney himself, the founder of the company. I was saddened to learn of his death five years later, but his family is carrying on the fine tea tradition.

Wait! Not a tea lover? Don't go away just because you aren't one! Someone you know and love is, and this will make a wonderful gift for that person!

Harney and Sons have white, green, matcha, oolong, black and decaffeinated teas as well as herbal infusions. Since I drink mostly organic teas, I was happy to learn that they currently offer ten organic teas and herbal infusions.

The 24-ounce teapot, which happens to have an excellent non-drip spout, makes up to four teacups or two or three mugs of tea. It comes in six colors: ivy (green), red, blue, white, lime and turquoise. Choose your color!

Harney and Sons Fine Teas - ForLife Curve Teapot with Infuser / www.delightfulrepast.com
24-Ounce ForLife Curve Teapot with Infuser

John Harney favored a 5-minute steep for most black teas, as do I, so I went with that for all my tastings. And for each I put 25 fluid ounces of water in the electric kettle (because about an ounce evaporates in the boiling) and 6 grams of loose leaf tea in the fine-mesh stainless steel infuser.

In the case of the Earl Grey, 6 grams was 4 1/2 teaspoons (3 scoops with my 1 1/2-teaspoon measuring spoon or 3 "rounded" teaspoons). If you're an Earl Grey fan, you probably know you can get more or less pronounced bergamot flavor by playing around with the amount of tea and/or the steeping time, but I was quite pleased with the balance the first time.

(Oh and try my Earl Grey Shortbread!)

The measurement was the same for the Assam, though the leaves are not quite as bulky as the Earl Grey and so make measuring a "level" 1 1/2-teaspoon measure more, well, level. The resulting brew was perfect, strong enough to stand up to the teaspoon of milk I like to add, but not too strong on its own. Mr Delightful, who never adds anything to his tea and who is a real Earl Grey fan, liked this Assam a lot. Don't worry ...

I'm going to stop now and move on to the giveaway! I'm sure I've already lost some of you who like to drink tea but not go on and on about it they way I do!

Harney and Sons Fine Teas - Organic Tea Review and Giveaway / www.delightfulrepast.com

Update 04/27/17: Giveaway is now closed.

Harney & Sons Tea and Teapot Giveaway 

The winner of the giveaway will be sent: a 4-ounce tin Organic Assam, a 4-ounce tin Organic Breakfast, a 4-ounce tin Organic Darjeeling, a 4-ounce tin Organic Earl Grey, a package of Walkers shortbread and a 24-ounce ForLife Curve Teapot with Infuser in your choice of several colors.

This giveaway is open to US residents* 18 years of age or older. Leave a comment below (one entry per person); tell me which color teapot you'd like and perhaps your favorite time of day for a nice cup of tea. Please include your email address in the body of your comment. Must enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday April 26.

* 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! 

Winners will be chosen by random drawing and be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday April 27. If I don't hear back from the winner of the random drawing by noon Eastern time Sunday April 30, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline).

Disclosure: Harney & Sons 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!

Harney and Sons Fine Teas - Organic Tea Review and Giveaway / www.delightfulrepast.com

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13 April 2017

Fresh Blackberry Scones

Fresh Blackberry Scones - that aren't purple! / www.delightfulrepast.com
Yes, you can make fresh blackberry scones that aren't purple!

I don't make blackberry scones as often as I'd like because I don't often just happen to have fresh blackberries on hand, as I do dried fruits. And frozen blackberries just won't do because I like to cut the berries in half since the whole berries are just too large.

But once I've cut the berries in half, I do freeze them for about 30 minutes before mixing them in so that they don't "bleed" all over the dough in an unattractive way. And I cut the scones in a way that leaves no scraps to be rolled out for a messy second cutting.

Usually I make 16 much smaller scones from this amount of dough because I'm making them for afternoon tea, an occasion that calls for dainty little things. But these are larger, what I call breakfast-size. Serve with a bit of blackberry preserve to punch up the berryliciousness!

What kind of scones do you like? You might also try my Classic Scones, Cream Scones and Fresh Peach Scones. And don't forget the Clotted Cream!

PS Be sure to come back next week for a fab giveaway!

Fresh Blackberry Scones - that aren't purple! / www.delightfulrepast.com

Fresh Blackberry Scones

(Makes 8 breakfast-size scones)

1 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) firm fresh blackberries
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Enough milk to make 2/3 cup (5.33 fluid ounces/158 ml)
2 dip-and-sweep cups (10 ounces/283 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Finely grated zest of half a lemon or one orange
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Line a baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle an 8-inch circle lightly with flour. Wash and blot dry the firm, fresh blackberries. Cut them in half horizontally and set on parchment-lined quarter sheet pan; place in freezer for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, preheat oven to 425F/220C/Gas7.

2 In 1-cup glass measure, stir together vinegar and milk; set aside. In medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter (or rub it in with your fingers) into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal with some larger bits. Stir in zest and berries to coat and separate.

3 Whisk egg and vanilla extract into soured milk; pour into dry mixture and gently mix until just combined.

4 Scrape the dough onto the floured parchment and gently pat the dough, dusting with flour as needed, into a 7- to 7.5-inch round about an inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges. Pull the wedges out (I use a pie server) and space them an inch or two apart. If you like, brush the tops with a bit of cream, milk or melted butter. Bake for about 18 minutes or until golden brown.

Now put on the kettle and make a proper cup of tea. Enjoy the delightful repast!

Fresh Blackberry Scones - that aren't purple! / www.delightfulrepast.com

06 April 2017

Lemon Drizzle Cake - The Best Lemon Loaf Cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake - The Classic British Lemon Loaf Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

Lemon Drizzle Cake is the classic British lemon loaf cake that will forever be a teatime staple. With no messy frosting, tidy little slices can be easily managed without a fork and go neatly into packed lunches for school or work. The fine-crumbed, velvety texture makes this my favorite lemon drizzle cake.  

My mother was probably the first home cook in America to get a Cuisinart food processor the minute it came on the market. And she loved making cakes in it, or by hand, not with a mixer. I rarely make cakes in it, but I like to use it for one of her favorites, Lemon Drizzle Cake, as well as our Whole Lemon Cake.

Using a food processor, you don't even need to use a fine grater for the lemon zest. Just take off the peel in strips with a vegetable peeler and throw them into the food processor with the sugar and run it for a few seconds before getting on with the recipe. The food processor makes quick work of lemon drizzle cake.

The lemon drizzle disappears into the cake, so some people like to also add a visible powdered sugar icing, but I don't bother. If I want to get fancy, I slap a few candied lemon slices on top of the loaf. The leftover syrup from them is a tasty simple syrup for sweetening drinks.

Do you prefer making cakes by hand, with a food processor, hand mixer or stand mixer?

Just did the math. It takes all of 38 seconds total mixing time in the food processor!

Lemon Drizzle Cake - The Best Lemon Loaf Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Lemon Drizzle Cake

(Makes 1 loaf cake, 10 to 16 slices) 

The Lemon Loaf 

2 sticks (8 ounces/227 grams) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice 
Milk, room temperature, to make 1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces/59 ml)
1 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (7.5 ounces/213 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons (24 grams) non-GMO cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup (8.75 ounces/248 grams) sugar 

Strips of zest of 2 medium unsprayed unwaxed lemons
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

The Lemon Drizzle 

1/3 cup (2.67 fluid ounces/79 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) sugar  

1 In 2-cup glass measure, melt the butter in microwave (if you melt it in a pan on the stovetop, pour it into something with a spout); set aside to cool. In 1-cup glass measure, stir together lemon juice and milk; it will thicken a bit as it stands. 

2 Grease and flour, or spray with cooking spray, a 9x4x4-inch loaf pan or 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. I use 1/2 tablespoon of softened butter and 1 tablespoon of flour. Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. 

Note: I love the square shape of the 9x4x4-inch loaf pan that I initially got for baking my gluten-free yeast breads but use (without its lid) for nearly everything that calls for a 9x5x3-inch pan. Makes it easy to cut cute little triangles for the tea table. 

3 In 2-quart glass measure, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Whisking the daylights out of the dry ingredients takes the place of sifting. 

4 Cut your strips of lemon zest into 2-inch pieces and put them on top of sugar in food processor; process for about 15 seconds. Add eggs and vanilla extract; process for 3 seconds. 

5 Give the melted and cooled butter a stir and, with the food processor running, pour the butter through the feed tube in a slow and steady stream, taking about 15 seconds. 

6 Take the lid off the food processor, stir in the milk a bit, and scatter the flour mixture over top of the egg mixture. Put the lid back on and pulse 3 times. Scrape the sides and pulse 2 more times. 

7 Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325F/165C/Gas3 and continue baking for about 50 minutes. 

8 Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire rack.

9 In 1-cup glass measure or small bowl, stir together well the sugar and lemon juice (the sugar will not be dissolved). With cake tester, thin skewer or toothpick, poke small holes in top of cake. Using a teaspoon, gradually drizzle tiny amounts of the glaze over the cake, allowing it to soak in before adding the rest. I also use a silicone pastry brush to brush the sides of the cake. Plan on this step taking about 10 minutes. There's no point in just pouring on glaze and having it run all over your countertop! Continue cooling for an hour.

Disclosure: Some posts contain links to my affiliate account at Amazon. 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!

30 March 2017

Easy One-Pan Chicken Burritos

Easy One-Pan Chicken Burritos / www.delightfulrepast.com

It's been one of those weeks. You know the kind. Too much stuff going on. Not feeling great. No time or energy for cooking or going out. Had to think of something I could throw together quickly and not mess up every pan and dish in the house. Only other requirement: flavor. Oh, and organic, of course.

Of all the times to have completely run out of my stock of homemade freezer meals! I like to have at least five dinners in the freezer at all times, but the freezer was bare.

I had flour tortillas and a jar of crushed tomatillos on hand, and that made me think of Chicken Enchiladas. Yeah, right! Chicken Enchilada Verde Casserole? Nope, today even that was too much work. So I just came up with a concoction that would cook in one pan and involved no chopping whatsoever. Just whip it up, wrap it in a tortilla and call it dinner.

Every ingredient is a pantry staple. I didn't care that it has no vegetables. And I certainly wasn't going to be bothering with garnishes and side dishes. Phht! I threw stuff in a pan and sat down and had a nice cup of tea while it did its thing. Well, I did eventually have to grate some cheese. But one could use packaged shredded cheese.

A burrito by itself is not very photogenic. That big expanse of white tortilla* looks pretty blah, but like I said, today was not a day for pretty garnishes. And anything remotely akin to photo styling was not going to happen, so there you have it. Sorry.

* I used store-bought tortillas this time, but I love making my own Homemade Flour Tortillas when I'm having a better week.

So tell me all about your latest sorry week!

Easy One-Pan Chicken Burritos / www.delightfulrepast.com

Easy One-Pan Chicken Burritos

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups lower sodium chicken broth
1 cup crushed tomatillos (Muir Glen organic)
1 teaspoon ground dried chiles*
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 4-ounce can diced green chiles
1 4-ounce can sliced black olives
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup sour cream

* I don't use commercial chili powder because it has salt, garlic and other things in it besides chiles.

1 In 12-inch skillet (or Le Creuset 3.5-quart stainless steel saucier), heat butter and oil over medium heat. Stir in flour, cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in chicken broth. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 3 minutes.

2 Stir in tomatillos, chile powder, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, green chiles and olives. Place chicken breasts in pan. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer over low heat, covered, about 25 to 30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

3 Remove chicken from pan. While sauce continues to simmer, uncovered (so it can reduce a bit), use two forks to shred chicken into bite-size pieces. Return chicken to the pan. Stir in sour cream.

4 Spoon mixture onto warm flour tortillas, top with shredded cheese, and fold. Great with chopped avocado, cilantro, etc.  

23 March 2017

Perfect Pound Cake

Perfect Pound Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

Pound cake is a British invention of the early 18th century, I'm told, and got its name from being made from a pound each of the primary ingredients--eggs, flour, sugar and butter. These proportions have been altered over the years, but I like to make a pound cake that holds as closely to that proportion as possible.

I found that using 3/4 pound, rather than a pound, of each of the primary ingredients made the perfect amount of batter for a standard Bundt pan. This is a classic vanilla pound cake with just a hint of brandy or sherry (strictly optional) as well as mace. Not enough to really notice, just enough to add a certain je ne sais quoi to the classic cake.

Most days I don't sift flour; I don't know what got into me this morning, but I triple-sifted the dry ingredients. Not sure it was necessary, but what the hey, right? I'm sure my usual whisking the daylights out of them in a large-ish bowl would have sufficed. But, hey, you do whatever you think is right.

The main thing is the creaming. Take your time with that step; it pays off big time in the all-important texture of the cake. Don't let your butter sit out for hours and get overly soft. Let it sit out just long enough to be soft but still cool and not at all shiny, oily or melty.

Perfect Pound Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

And bring the milk and eggs to room temperature before starting the cake. This helps you get the characteristic fine-grained texture. Don't use margarine or any other substitute for the butter. Butter is, along with eggs, the primary flavor of pound cake, so it must have real butter. 

Then beat it really well on medium speed and then gradually beat in the sugar, taking at least 8 minutes from the time you start creaming the butter until all the sugar is fully incorporated. Then beat in the eggs one at a time on medium speed, beating until incorporated after each addition.

But once you start adding the flour, use low speed and take care not to overbeat. I usually finish that step by hand so as not to overbeat. These steps ensure the moist, even crumb that is the hallmark of a classic pound cake.

I love a perfectly plain piece of the cake with a cup of tea, but it also is the perfect foil for ice cream and chocolate sauce or berries and whipped cream; and it's my favorite cake to use in Trifle. How do you like to serve pound cake?

Perfect Pound Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com
And, yes, pound cake is supposed to get a crack on top.

Perfect Pound Cake – 3/4-Pound Cake, Actually

(Makes one 10-inch 12-cup Bundt cake)

2 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (12.5 ounces/354 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces/177 ml) milk, room temperature
2 tablespoons brandy or sherry, optional
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large* eggs, room temperature
3 sticks (12 ounces/340 grams) unsalted butter, soft but cool
1 3/4 cups (12.25 ounces/347 grams) sugar

* That's medium for UK eggs. And if you're using homegrown eggs, that's about 12 ounces or so of eggs in their shells.

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Butter and lightly flour, or spray with cooking spray, one 10-inch 12-cup Bundt pan. I use 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour and shake out the excess flour.

2 In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and mace. In 1-cup glass measure, stir together the milk, brandy or sherry, and vanilla extract.

Note: If you're going to sift the dry ingredients, don't sift the mace; you'll likely end up with some stuck in the tiny holes of your sieve.

3 In bowl of electric mixer or other large bowl, beat the butter until very light. Beat in the sugar gradually. This step should take a total of not less than 8 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well on medium-high after each addition. Beat mixture until very light and fluffy.

4 Add the dry and wet ingredients alternately to the creamed mixture, starting and ending with the dry. Do not overbeat; overbeating at this point will ruin the cake. Give it a few stirs by hand to incorporate the remaining dry ingredients.

5 Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with spatula, and bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

6 Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely. The cooled cake can be wrapped tightly and stored at room temperature for up to 5 days. Can be double-wrapped and frozen for a month; thaw, wrapped, at room temperature.

Note: In fact, the cake is better if you store it for a day or two before serving.

Perfect Pound Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com
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16 March 2017

Mini Cranberry-Apple Tarts - In My Hurry-Up Puff Pastry

Mini Cranberry-Apple Tarts in Ruff Puff Pastry / www.delightfulrepast.com

I know it's easier to make one big tart, but I just have a "thing" about minis or individual tarts. These Mini Cranberry Apple Tarts can be made with any pastry, even store-bought frozen puff pastry, but I would encourage you to give my Hurry-Up Ruff Puff Pastry recipe a try.

These are meant to look a bit rustic, so you can free-form the tarts or, as I did with these, use crumpet rings. One always feels so clever to think of another way to use something that sees so little action as crumpet rings (Crumpets and English Muffins).

Just look at those flaky layers. And you can get them with less work and less fat than you think. It's so good, Mr Delightful has requested it for the next pie I make. With summer on its way, it will be Fruit Pie Season before we know it.

Summer fruit is the only thing I like about summer! Can't wait for the peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, cherries, watermelon ... In the meantime, I'm having fun with apples and everything else that is in season now. 

What are your favorite fruits and fruit desserts?

Mini Cranberry-Apple Tarts in Ruff Puff Pastry / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Mini Cranberry-Apple Tarts

(Makes 4)

The Filling

1 1/4 pounds (20 ounces/567 grams) Granny Smith apples
1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup (2.33 ounces/66 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon (9 grams) flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces/59 ml) water
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) unsalted butter

The Pastry

1/2 recipe Ruff Puff pastry (freeze half for another day)
1 tablespoon milk
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 Peel, quarter and core apples. Cut each quarter into quarters lengthwise and into 1/4-inch-thick slices. You should have 3 cups. Put in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir in lemon juice to keep apples from turning brown.

2 In small bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Stir in dried cranberries, separating any that are clumped together.

3 Pour dry mixture over apples in saucepan; stir to coat. Stir in water and butter. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer until apples are starting to get tender and liquid is thickened and reduced, about 10 minutes (5 minutes covered, 5 minutes uncovered), stirring frequently. You should have about 2 1/2 cups. Set aside to cool; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

4 Spray 4 crumpet rings with cooking spray and set them on a parchment-lined quarter sheet pan. If you don't have crumpet rings, you can just make free-form tarts.

5 Roll the puff pastry into a 14-inch (trimmed measurement) square. Cut the dough into four 7-inch circles, and fit the circles into the crumpet rings, leaving an overhang of dough. Put about a 1/2-cup portion of filling in the center of each.

Note: The pastry should be about 1/8-inch thick. You can cut out three and re-roll the scraps for the fourth; it will be every bit as good as the others.

6 Fold the overhanging pastry in toward the middle, leaving the center open. Brush with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Or do an egg wash, if you prefer, with an egg beaten with a tablespoon of water. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes while oven preheats to 425F/220C/Gas7. Or refrigerate for several hours and bake just before serving. 

7 Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Mini Cranberry-Apple Tarts in Ruff Puff Pastry / www.delightfulrepast.com
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09 March 2017

Bean with Bacon Soup

Bean with Bacon Soup / www.delightfulrepast.com

When I first met Mr Delightful, back before the earth had cooled, he liked canned condensed bean with bacon soup. If I recall, it tasted okay; but I just have this "thing" about canned soups and convenience foods and stuff that isn't organic. So, naturally, I had to come up with a better bean with bacon soup.

Needless to say, even though I don't put the word "organic" in front of every ingredient in my recipes, nearly every ingredient is. But if that's not your thing, you can make it with conventional ingredients. If using conventional bacon, which has far more fat than the organic uncured bacon I use, be sure to drain off the fat. 

I know it sounds crazy to put ketchup in soup, but all I can say is it's really good. At least with the brand I use. Besides adding a touch of tomato and sweetness to the soup, it adds a little organic vinegar and spices as well. Mr Delightful, the lifelong "mmm mmm good" man, pronounced it "even better, much better."

What is your favorite soup? Do you eat it regularly, just when you're sick, only during Soup Weather, or when?

Bean with Bacon Soup / www.delightfulrepast.com

Bean with Bacon Soup

(Makes 12 servings)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces organic hickory smoked uncured bacon, cut into 1/4-inch-wide slices
1 medium (8 ounces) yellow onion, chopped
3 quarts water
2 pounds navy or other small white beans
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped carrots
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 teaspoon marjoram leaves
2 cups lower sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup ketchup

1 In 6-quart Dutch oven, heat olive oil and saute bacon until cooked. (You can skip the oil if you're using conventional bacon; remove all but a tablespoon or two of the fat before adding onions.) Stir in chopped onion and cook until bacon and onions are caramelizing a bit, about 20 minutes. Stir in water and beans. Bring to a boil; you can use that time to chop celery and carrots. Stir in celery and carrots, salt, pepper, thyme and marjoram. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours.

Note: Organic uncured bacon is so lean, there is no need to drain off the fat as there would be if using conventional bacon.

2 After 2 hours, stir in chicken broth and ketchup. Continue simmering for 1 hour or until done, adding more liquid (water or broth) if needed. With immersion blender, puree the soup a bit to thicken it, leaving most of the beans whole.

Note: Dried beans can vary a great deal in how much cooking they require. I find three hours usually works for this, but if your beans are not fully cooked at three hours just keep cooking until they are. If your beans cook faster, then at the 3-hour mark the soup may have thickened to your liking without any pureeing needed.

02 March 2017

Hummingbird Cake - Banana-Pineapple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Hummingbird Cake - Banana Pineapple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting / www.delightfulrepast.com

Hummingbird Cake is a real blast-from-the-past cake. Popular in the South in the 1970s, it came to national attention years later when Oprah Winfrey's personal chef brought it to her television audience. Like Carrot Cake, also popular in the 1970s, Hummingbird Cake has cream cheese frosting.

Most Hummingbird Cakes are far too sweet for my taste and have waaaaay too much frosting. I've cut back on both, so one slice (1/16th of the cake) is well within my daily sugar allowance. (See Sugar - Toxin or Treat? for more about that.)

I was too lazy to get out my piping bag and tips, so this cake is just stone plain. But that just goes along with the whole simplifying-my-life thing that I'm enjoying so much. And taking that even further, I froze half the cake, 2 slices in each of 4 glass freezer containers, for future treats. 

Tell me, do you like to freeze cake and other desserts instead of having great quantities of the stuff sitting around screaming "Eat Me" every time you walk by?! 

Hummingbird Cake - Banana Pineapple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting / www.delightfulrepast.com

Hummingbird Cake

(Makes one 8-inch 2-layer cake, 16 servings)

The Cake

2 dip-and-sweep cups (10 ounces/283 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups (9.33 ounces/265 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces/177 ml) organic canola oil
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) milk
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 8-ounce can unsweetened crushed pineapple, not drained
1 cup finely chopped ripe bananas (2 6.5-ounce bananas)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

The Frosting

6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound (16 ounces/454 grams) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 2 tablespoons milk

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Grease well and lightly flour two 8-inch/20 cm layer pans. 

2 In large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon and salt. Add oil, milk and eggs, stirring with a spoon just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in pineapple (including juice), bananas, vanilla extract and pecans.

3 Pour into prepared pans. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

4 Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on racks until completely cool, another 1 1/2 hours.

5 Make Cream Cheese Frosting. In bowl of stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the powdered sugar. 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.

6 Freeze however many slices you don't need right away. Each of these Pyrex Simply Store 3 Cup Rectangle glass dishes with lids holds 2 slices of cake.

Hummingbird Cake - Frozen 2 Slices at a Time in Glass / www.delightfulrepast.com

Disclosure: Some posts contain links to my affiliate account at Amazon. 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!

23 February 2017

Roast Beef - How to Cook a Small Roast

Roast Beef - How to Cook a Small Roast - It's a bit trickier than cooking a large one / www.delightfulrepast.com

Roast beef hadn't been on the menu in quite a while when I spied a beautiful grass-fed, antibiotic-free sirloin roast at the meat counter of my local natural foods store. It weighed just 2.375 pounds (a little over a kilo) and was somewhere between 2 and 3 inches thick.

I couldn't recall ever cooking a roast that small and thought it would be awfully easy to overcook it. At $25, this was a splurge I did not want to ruin! Cooking a large roast is "easier" in that it is a lot more forgiving than a small one. A small roast can go from perfect to ruined very quickly. 

Since there are so many variables when cooking a roast, merely going by time, so many minutes per pound, doesn't really cut it. Though, of course, figuring an approximate time is important if you want to make sure the whole meal is ready at the same time!

This time I chose to check the temperature manually from time to time, using my Thermapen, because that's what I'm used to. But I do own the other kind with a probe you insert into the roast and wait for the alarm to go off when the desired internal temperature is reached. Next time I'm going to remember to try it!

Beef Roast Doneness

I let even a small roast rest for 30 minutes while I make gravy and bake the Yorkshire Pudding. Even if you don't do those things, let the roast rest 20 to 30 minutes anyway. I've often read that a roast will rise in temperature by 10 degrees Fahrenheit while resting, but I've not found that to be the case. 

It will rise about 5F/3C, so to avoid overcooking, take it out of the oven when it reaches 5F/3C under your desired final temperature. See the chart below.

Roast Beef - Beef Roast Doneness Chart - How to Cook a Small Roast Beef - It's a bit trickier than a small one / www.delightfulrepast.com

Even though I no longer prefer well-done beef, I do like a nice crusty exterior. So I start the roast in oven preheated to 450F/230C/Gas8. After 10 minutes, I reduce the heat to 325F/165C/Gas3. 

I took this roast's temperature after 55 minutes at the lower heat, looking for 145F/63C for medium-well. Checked it every 5 minutes after that, and after a couple of times it had hit my target temp.

Do you ever cook a small roast? I was surprised that this actually made 8 good servings as there was zero waste. Also, I'm always curious about the degree of doneness that people prefer.

Roast Beef "Recipe"

1 Rub the roast with a little extra virgin olive oil (I used 1/2 tablespoon for small roast) and season all sides with salt and coarsely ground black pepper (I used 3/4 teaspoon of each for the 2.375-pound roast).

2 Place the seasoned roast fat side up on a rack set inside a shallow roasting pan. A quarter sheet pan works well for a small roast. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting.

3 Fifteen minutes before end of that hour, preheat oven to 450F/230C/Gas8. If you are using a probe-alarm thermometer, such as my ThermoWorks ChefAlarm or DOT, insert it into roast; the alarm will go off when it reaches the temperature you've selected.

4 Roast at the high temperature for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325F/165C/Gas 3. Continue roasting until beef registers 5F/3C below your desired final temperature on instant-read thermometer, such as Thermapen or ThermoPop.

5 Let stand at room temperature, tented with foil, for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with Yorkshire Pudding, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy and vegetables. And take a peek at Braised Brisket while you're at it!

Disclosure: Some posts contain links to my affiliate account at Amazon or ThermoWorks. If you purchase something 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. Thank you!

16 February 2017

Yorkshire Pudding - Yorkies

Yorkshire Pudding - Roast Beef / www.delightfulrepast.com

Yorkshire Pudding is one of those things that seems to have a bit of a mystique surrounding it. There are cooks who say the batter must be made the night before, refrigerated and used cold; while just as many say it must be made right before baking.

Some say you must take care to not overmix; others insist you must whisk as much air as possible into the batter. There's a lot of controversy over proportions, especially the number of eggs. And over whether part of the liquid should be water, and how much.

I've seen experts of equal stature calling for starting temperatures anywhere from 375F/190C/Gas5 to 450F/230C/Gas8. I've made puddings at both 425F/220C/Gas7 and 450F/230C/Gas8. Both were fine. The point is that the preheated fat in the tins be blistering hot.

Yorkshire Pudding - Yorkies / www.delightfulrepast.com

I've made them all sorts of ways, and they're always good. I don't think you can mess them up really. One thing few people ever mention is the puddings sticking to the tins, a problem I've had on more than one occasion with my plain aluminum muffin tins.

The solution seems to be to grease (I used butter) the cold muffin tins thoroughly before ever getting down to business. Having that extra layer of fat in place before adding the melted fat for preheating seems to take care of the problem pretty well. Any tips?

I don't know that anyone else puts dry mustard in their Yorkies, but that's something I learned from my mother. She had a million uses for dry mustard. I put in just enough to make you notice there's "something," but not enough that you know what it is!

Do you have any surefire tips for making Yorkshire Pudding? Any methods you (or your mother or grandmother) always insist(ed) upon?

Yorkshire Pudding - Yorkies - The Best Part of Sunday Lunch / www.delightfulrepast.com
Don't forget to Pin it!

PS I'll write all about making a small roast beef another day. In the meantime, here's my Braised Brisket, perfect for Sunday Roast (also called Sunday Lunch).

Yorkshire Pudding

(Makes 12 individual puddings)

1 1/4 dip-and-sweep cups (6.25 ounces/177 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground mustard (also called dry mustard)
1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces/59 ml) water
3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces/177 ml) milk
5 tablespoons pan drippings from beef roast OR 2 1/2 tablespoons each melted unsalted butter and extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 An hour and a half before serving time, make batter. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, dry mustard and salt (to "sift"). Whisk in eggs and water; when smooth, whisk in the milk. Cover and let stand for an hour. Grease a 12-cup standard muffin pan and place it on a rimmed baking sheet.

2 Thirty minutes before serving time, take roast out to rest and turn oven up to 425F/220C/Gas7. Place muffin tin on baking sheet. Spoon 1 teaspoon of hot drippings into each muffin cup. Put baking sheet with muffin pan in oven until sizzling hot, about 5 minutes.

Note: You really must place the muffin tin on a rimmed baking sheet to prevent the fat from messing up your oven when it bubbles over during the baking of the puddings.

3 Whisk the remaining tablespoon of the melted butter/oil mixture, or drippings, into the batter. Remove pan from oven. Working quickly, using a partially filled 1/4 cup measure, pour 3 tablespoons batter into hot drippings in each cup. It should sizzle. Return pans (on baking sheet) to oven and bake 30 minutes or until puddings are puffed and golden. If they aren't crisp enough to suit you, then turn the temperature down to 325F/165C/Gas3 and bake for another 10 minutes to get them extra crispy. Serve immediately.

Note: When making a large roast, there are plenty of drippings for both gravy and Yorkies. But this day I made a small roast, 2.375 pounds, which did not supply enough fat, so I used the butter and olive oil combination. Very tasty! For both health and flavor reasons, I would never use the frequently recommended vegetable oil or shortening.

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