18 April 2019

Cherry Clafoutis - Clafoutis aux Cerises

Cherry Clafoutis - Clafoutis aux Cerises - the classic rustic yet elegant French dessert / www.delightfulrepast.com

Cherry Clafoutis (pronounced cla-foo-TEE) is the original clafoutis from the Limousin region of France. Limousin is also the home of the famous oak used in barrels for aging wine and brandy. But that is neither here nor there. We’re talking dessert. One so good it spread from there all over the country in the 19th century.

Throughout winter I was making Cranberry-Apple Clafoutis—I like to eat with the seasons—but now that cherry season is nearly upon us, I could no longer put off the classic Cherry Clafoutis. But the season isn’t quite here, so I used frozen cherries for this one. I have no patience.


Cherry Clafoutis - Clafoutis aux Cerises - the classic rustic yet elegant French dessert / www.delightfulrepast.com


The texture of this rustic yet elegant dessert, somewhere between a cake and a custard, needs to be right. Where cooks can go wrong is adding too much flour, making the clafoutis decidedly cakey or at least cakier than it should be. But, to paraphrase Hamlet:

To pit, or not to pit: that is the question. Traditionally the pits are left in, supposedly to allow them to impart a bit of almond-y flavor to the dish; but I think it was because some lazy busy cook decided to skip that step, made up that little story and, voilà, people fell for it! You know I love tradition, perhaps more than most, but I’m also fond of my teeth.

Not to mention, Mr Delightful does not like dealing with pits privately, let alone publicly. Nor would he like sitting at the dinner table watching several people dealing with pits simultaneously. And where would they put them, I ask you.


Cherry Clafoutis - Clafoutis aux Cerises - the classic rustic yet elegant French dessert / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Cherry Clafoutis


(Makes 8 servings)

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 to 2 1/2 cups pitted fresh sweet cherries, (from about 16 ounces/454 grams whole cherries)
OR 1 10-ounce bag frozen organic pitted sweet cherries
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces/99 grams) sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon brandy

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 dip-and-sweep cup (2.5 ounces/71 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (10 fluid ounces/296 ml) milk

Garnish: powdered sugar

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Butter a Pyrex Easy Grab 9.5-Inch Deep Dish Pie Plate, not the standard 9-inch pie plate, with the 1/2 tablespoon softened butter. In a small dish, melt the tablespoon of butter and leave to cool slightly.

2 Spread the pitted cherries (if using frozen cherries, there’s no need to thaw) in prepared dish in a single layer. Stir together 1/8 cup sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over the fruit.

3 In a 1-quart glass measure, whisk together the eggs, all but 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar (save it to sprinkle on top), melted butter, brandy, vanilla extract, almond extract and salt. Whisk in the flour and then the milk, adding it gradually at first, to make a smooth batter. If it’s not as smooth as it should be, you can hit it with an immersion blender. Don’t drag out your blender for this one; a whisk will get the job done.


4 Pour the batter over the fruit. Sprinkle on the reserved tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until puffed and golden and browning around the edges and pulling away from the edges of the pan. Then it falls; that is perfectly normal.

5 Let stand 10 to 20 minutes before serving warm. Add a dusting of powdered sugar, if you like, just before serving. 

Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon .com and affiliated sites. We are a ThermoWorks affiliate, earning a small commission at no cost to you on purchases made through our links. This helps cover some of the costs of running the blog. Thank you for your support.

Jean

11 April 2019

Grated Carrot Salad - Salade de Carottes Rapees

Grated Carrot Salad - Salade de Carottes Rapees - French Bistro Classic My Way / www.delightfulrepast.com

A simple grated carrot salad, Salade de Carottes Râpées, is one of the classics of modern French cuisine, found on every bistro menu, or so I’m told. Of course, I’ve put my own spin on it, so I should probably delete that French name.

Lemon juice is the acid for the classic version, but I think sweet carrots are just calling out for a good red wine vinegar. And I’ve skipped the chopped flat-leaf parsley and added chopped capers (I love capers). Les câpres.


Grated Carrot Salad - Salade de Carottes Rapees - French Bistro Classic My Way / www.delightfulrepast.com


It’s a salad that’s not supposed to be swimming in dressing, and this small amount of dressing is perfect for this amount of carrots. Doing a pound and a half of carrots? Just up the oil and vinegar to 3 tablespoons each.

This is one of those dishes that is so fast and so easy, you can’t quite believe it could possibly be so good. Are you a carrot salad fan?


Grated Carrot Salad - Salade de Carottes Rapees - French Bistro Classic My Way / www.delightfulrepast.com


Grated Carrot Salad - 

Salade de Carottes Râpées


(Makes 4 to 6 servings)

1 pound (16 ounces/454 grams) carrots
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and drained, chopped
2 tablespoons (1 fluid ounce/30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (1 fluid ounce/30 ml) red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 Scrub, peel and grate the carrots. 

Note: For long shreds, I cut the carrots into about 4.5-inch lengths to fit the big feed tube and use the medium shredding disc on my Cuisinart DLC-2011CHBY food processor.

2 Put the carrots in a 1.5-quart bowl and add the capers.

3 In 1-cup glass measure, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Add to the carrots and toss to mix well. This small amount of dressing is exactly the amount needed for this amount of carrots. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon .com and affiliated sites. We are a ThermoWorks affiliate, earning a small commission at no cost to you on purchases made through our links. This helps cover some of the costs of running the blog. Thank you for your support. 

Jean

04 April 2019

Popcorn and Caramel Corn and Clarified Butter

Perfect Popcorn - Crunchy Caramel Corn - Popped with Clarified Butter! (this photo - Caramel Corn) / www.delightfulrepast.com

Five years ago I wrote about conquering my culinary nemesis, Popcorn. After trying all the helpful hints readers had given me a couple years before in their comments on my initial post, Popcorn - My Culinary Nemesis, I put together a method that works perfectly for me every time. 

I’m still using the same pan, a lightweight but heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan, the perfect stovetop popcorn pan, one I can actually lift and shake several times during the popping rather than just scraping it back and forth on the stove. Other lessons learned are in the directions below. 

Step 2 (below) is the single most important tip that turned me into a popcorn master! Those 30 seconds off the heat after adding the popcorn kernels to the pan, hot from popping the 4 test kernels, make all the difference. I have few to no unpopped kernels, ever!

At first I was using organic cold-pressed canola oil as a better alternative to the usual highly refined oils, but I wasn’t really happy about it. So a few years later, when I realized that extra virgin olive oil has quite a decent smoke point (375F/191C), I tried that and it worked beautifully.

But that was a couple years ago, and I got to thinking about how clarified butter has a really high smoke point (485F/252C) and offers the added benefit of killing two birds with one stone, cooking the popcorn and buttering it at the same time.


Perfect Popcorn - Crunchy Caramel Corn - Popped with Clarified Butter! (this photo - Popcorn) / www.delightfulrepast.com
This photo is Popcorn; the other two photos are Caramel Corn.

How to Make Clarified Butter

Clarified butter takes about 15 minutes to make and keeps in the refrigerator for several months. To make 2/3 to 3/4 cup, melt 2 sticks (8 ounces/227 grams) unsalted butter in a 1-quart saucepan, bring to a boil, cook over medium heat for maybe 10 minutes (long enough to cook off the water content), skimming off the foam floating on the top. Let stand for a few minutes, give it a final skim, and pour carefully into a half-pint jar, leaving behind any milk solids on the bottom of the pan. 

The foam and milk solids have a lot of flavor, so you can stir them into something you’re making or put them on your vegetables rather than putting them in the trash.

Do leave a comment and share your likes and dislikes and tips for popcorn and its variations. I should tell you, my caramel corn is much less sweet than most, and I hope you'll try it this less-sweet way. Also, for those who care about such things, it contains no corn syrup.


Perfect Popcorn - Crunchy Caramel Corn - Popped with Clarified Butter! (this photo - Caramel Corn) / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Popcorn 


(Makes about 10 cups) 

1/3 cup (2.5 ounces/71 grams) popcorn kernels 
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) clarified organic unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt 

1 Put 4 popcorn kernels ("test" kernels) in heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan (I use the Farberware Classic Stainless Steel 3-Quart Covered Saucepan) along with the clarified butter and salt. Heat over medium to medium-high heat. 

2 When the 4 kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat, and count 30 seconds. 

3 Return the pan to medium to medium-high heat. When it really starts popping, shake the pan gently back and forth over (or slightly above) the burner, holding the lid askew (at least from time to time) to let the soggy-making steam out. 

4 As soon as the popping slows to several seconds between pops, dump it into a wide 4- or 5-quart bowl. If you like more butter on your popcorn, melt a tablespoon of it in the hot popcorn pan and drizzle it over the popcorn, tossing well to distribute the butter evenly. 


Caramel Corn 


(Makes about 10 cups) 

1/3 cup (2.5 ounces/71 grams) popcorn kernels 
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) clarified organic unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
1/4 packed cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) unsalted butter  
1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon water 
1/8 teaspoon salt 

1 Preheat oven to 250F/120C/Gas1/2. Line an 18x13x1-inch half-sheet pan with parchment paper. Measure popcorn kernels and clarified butter. Before starting to pop the corn, in 1-quart saucepan start melting together the sugar, butter and the tablespoon of water over low heat, stirring a few times.


2 Pop the corn as directed in Popcorn recipe, but don't use salt and don't add butter. Pour into a very large bowl (to give you room for tossing). 

3 Increase heat to medium and cook caramel until it has been bubbling for one minute. Stir in the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of water; it will foam up. 

4 Immediately drizzle the foamy sauce over the popcorn, tossing well to coat. Spread out on prepared half-sheet pan. Bake for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely on the baking sheet.

Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon .com and affiliated sites. We are a ThermoWorks affiliate, earning a small commission at no cost to you on purchases made through our links. This helps cover some of the costs of running the blog. Thank you for your support. 

Jean

28 March 2019

Steamed Jam Sponge Pudding - A British Classic

Steamed Jam Sponge Pudding - A British Classic / www.delightfulrepast.com

For some reason, it’s been a few years since I last made a steamed pudding. But it was one of the first things I thought of when I unboxed my Instant Pot in December. But you don't need one of those to steam a pudding.

Steamed Jam Sponge Pudding - A British Classic / www.delightfulrepast.com

Steam on Stovetop, in Slow Cooker or in Instant Pot

You can steam this in a slow cooker, using the directions given in my Steamed Pumpkin Pudding post, or on the stovetop, using the directions below. For those with an Instant Pot …

… I’ve gone into great detail with the directions, in case you’re new to steaming puddings in the pressure cooker. So it might look a bit complicated, but it really isn’t. And the total cooking time is just an hour! 

It seems the texture is improved by first pre-steaming without pressure, which makes this a two-stage process—which kind of bugs me, but if that’s what it takes for the best result, well …


Steamed Jam Sponge Pudding - A British Classic / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Steamed Jam Sponge Pudding


(Makes one 6-cup/1.4-litre pudding, 10 servings)

1/2 cup raspberry or strawberry jam
1 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (7.5 ounces/213 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons (7 ounces/198 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature and very soft
1 cup (7 ounces/198 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature, beaten

1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) milk, room temperature

1 Butter well the inside of a 3-inch-deep 6-inch round cake tin (or other 6-cup/1.4-litre pudding mould that will fit in the Instant Pot, slow cooker or stovetop pot). Put a round of parchment paper in the tin and butter it as well. Spread the jam evenly in the bottom of the tin; place the tin in the freezer while you proceed. This will make it easier to spread the thick batter in the tin without disturbing the layer of jam. 


2 In 1.5-quart bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisking vigorously for about 60 seconds “sifts” the dry ingredients.



3 In 2.5-quart bowl, with electric mixer (electric hand whisk), cream butter. Add sugar and vanilla, and continue creaming until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. While beating, slowly drizzle in beaten eggs, adding about a tablespoon or two of flour to smooth out the mixture. Continue beating until light and fluffy. With large metal spoon, fold in the flour mixture. Stir in the milk. Batter should be rather thick, of a consistency to drop from the spoon.

4 Scrape the batter into the prepared cake tin/pudding mould and cover tightly with foil. Tie a piece of kitchen string tightly below the rim of the tin. (I don't bother to make a "pleat" in the foil because I've formulated the batter to be precisely the right amount to fill the tin to about 1.5 centimeters from the top and to rise to meet the tight foil lid and go no farther. Besides, I don't really think that pleat business works!

Note: If your Instant Pot rack doesn't have handles, or if you are steaming your pudding on the stovetop, you can make a handle with kitchen string to make it easy to put in and take out of the pot.

Note: If using the Instant Pot, skip right to step 5 and carry on. If steaming your pudding stovetop: In a saucepan or stockpot wide enough and deep enough for your pudding mould, place a wire rack or folded tea towel to lift the mould off the bottom of the pan. Place the pudding on the rack and pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the mould. Over medium heat, bring the water to a boil. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and let steam for about 2 hours, checking the water level every 30 minutes to make sure it doesn't boil dry. Skip to number 9. 

5 Place rack (with its handles up) in bottom of the Instant Pot cooking pot, and add 2 cups of boiling water to the pot. Center the pudding on the rack.

6 Put on the optional Instant Pot glass lid. Plug in the Instant Pot. Press the Saute key to select that program. Press the Saute key as many times as it takes to change the temperature indicator to Less. Press the Plus or Minus key to change the cooking time to 20 minutes to pre-steam the pudding before pressure cooking.

Note: You need to start with hot water because the Instant Pot set on the Saute function starts counting down the minutes right away (and does not display the minutes, just the word “Hot,” so I set a kitchen timer just to be sure!). 

7 When the beep sounds, it turns Off. Remove the optional Instant Pot glass lid and put the pressure cooking lid in place. Turn the steam valve to Sealing. Press the Pressure Cook key. Leave the indicator on High Pressure and change the cooking time to 35 minutes.

Note: Since it is already hot, it only takes about 4 minutes to come up to pressure.

8 When the beep sounds, turn it off by pressing Cancel. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 20 minutes, then do a quick release by turning the steam valve to Venting. Then leave the lid in place for another 10 minutes.

9 Carefully remove the lid. Using potholders or oven gloves and the handles on the rack, carefully lift out the pudding. Remove the foil. The pudding should be slightly pulling away from the edges of the pan.

10 Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pudding. Invert it onto a serving plate. Serve warm with hot or cold Custard Sauce or with whipped cream.

Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon .com and affiliated sites. We are a ThermoWorks affiliate, earning a small commission at no cost to you on purchases made through our links. This helps cover some of the costs of running the blog. Thank you for your support. 

Jean

21 March 2019

Instant Pot Pinto Beans - Frijoles de Olla Instante

Instant Pot Pinto Beans - THE best way to cook dried beans / www.delightfulrepast.com

Don’t worry, my regular readers—I’m not going to be blogging constantly about Instant Pot cooking. I’m not convinced everyone “needs” one, even though I’m having fun with it. But I’ve decided there is one group of people who might need one—people who cook a lot of beans. So far I’ve just made Pinto Beans.

I’ve stuck with the one kind of bean because I wanted to experiment and find the ideal way—well, my ideal way, anyway—of cooking Instant Pot Pinto Beans. The first conclusion I came to on the subject was that presoaking is not necessary. I kept reading that you’ll have more “blown-out” beans if you pressure cook them without presoaking. 

But my experiments have shown that it’s not whether the beans have been presoaked or not, but rather it’s the length of the natural pressure release, that determines whether the beans remain whole, for the most part, or break apart. For stovetop beans, I presoak; for Slow Cooker Pinto Beans, I do not. For the Instant Pot, definitely not.

The second conclusion I came to is that the beans made in the Instant Pot taste better than the beans cooked with the same ingredients by any other method. I was amazed and have no scientific explanation for it. I can only assume that pressure cooking somehow forces more flavor into the beans. Is that true, or just my imagination? 

Cooking times can be tricky for dried beans. Whatever method you use—stovetop, slow cooker or pressure cooker—cooking times for dried beans will vary due to the age of the beans and perhaps other factors about the beans themselves. There are different cooking times for different beans.


Instant Pot Pinto Beans - Frijoles de Olla Instante - How to Cook Beans in the Instant Pot / www.delightfulrepast.com


I decided to cook my presoaked pinto beans for 10 minutes at high pressure followed by natural pressure release for 25 minutes, with the idea that if they were underdone I’d set it for another 2 minutes (it should build pressure quickly the second time) and check again.

The presoaked (for 12 hours) beans were perfectly done in 10 minutes. So 20 to 25 minutes to come up to pressure, 10 minutes to cook, 25 minutes natural pressure release—an hour or less total—instead of 7 hours in the slow cooker or 2 1/2 to 4 hours on the stovetop. And they taste better! 

But then I decided to experiment with beans that had not been presoaked. Yes, they take longer to cook—the same 20 to 25 minutes to come up to pressure, 40 minutes to cook, the same 25 minutes natural pressure release—but it’s still just an hour and a half or less.


Instant Pot Pinto Beans - Frijoles de Olla Instante - How to Cook Beans in the Instant Pot / www.delightfulrepast.com


One pound of dried pinto beans makes the equivalent of four 15-ounce/425 gram cans of cooked pinto beans and costs about the same as one can—a significant savings. You can even put the batch of beans into four pint jars or glass storage containers to freeze. Just pull one out anytime a can of beans is called for. 

Since dried beans are done so quickly in the Instant Pot, you could cook several batches of various kinds of beans all in one day, refrigerate what you need for the week and freeze the rest for future meals. Can’t wait to try pressure cooking dried garbanzo beans for hummus.

Mr Delightful is not a bean fan, but since I’m not a huge carnivore, I rely on legumes for a lot of my protein. Lovelovelove Black Bean Soup and Bean with Bacon Soup


Instant Pot Pinto Beans - THE best way to cook dried beans / www.delightfulrepast.com


Instant Pot Pinto Beans - Frijoles de Olla Instante


(Makes about 6 cups of drained beans)

2 1/2 cups (16 ounces/454 grams) dried pinto beans
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 small (about 3 ounces) onion, peeled, optional

6 1/2 cups (56 fluid ounces/1.66 litres) water 

1 Rinse beans, watching for any debris or bad beans, and add to the inner cooking pot of the 6-quart Instant Pot or other brand pressure cooker. Add remaining ingredients. 

Note: Don't skip the olive oil; it prevents foaming that could clog up the valve. 

2 Put the lid in place and turn the steam valve to Sealing. Plug in the Instant Pot. Press the Pressure Cook key. Leave the indicator lights on High Pressure and Normal temperature, and change the cooking time to 40 minutes.

Note: It takes 20 to 25 minutes to reach working pressure. This varies with the amount and temperature of the ingredients in the pot. 

3 When the beep sounds, turn it off by pressing Cancel. Set a kitchen timer for 25 minutes and allow the pressure to release naturally, then do a quick release by turning the steam valve to Venting.

4 When the float valve drops down, carefully remove the lid. If the beans are not done to your liking, put the lid back on, turn the steam valve to Sealing, and cook on High Pressure for additional minutes.

5 Remove the onion; taste and adjust seasoning.

Note: The cooked beans can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon .com and affiliated sites. We are a ThermoWorks affiliate, earning a small commission at no cost to you on purchases made through our links. This helps cover some of the costs of running the blog. Thank you for your support. 

Jean
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