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.
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