16 September 2021

Oven-Dried Figs

Oven-Dried Figs - How to Dry Fruit in Your Conventional Oven / www.delightfulrepast.com

Fresh figs are a favorite of mine, but not all of my friends share that opinion. Yesterday a friend brought me a huge bowl of fresh figs and hinted broadly about what I might do with them, saying another friend of ours only likes figs in fig newtons (fig rolls in UK).

I have several projects going this week and have no time for extra baking, and I always make my Fig Rolls - Fig Newtons with dried figs. So I thought I'd just dry these figs for a future baking day.


Oven-Dried Figs - How to Dry Fruit in Your Conventional Oven (this photo, Fig Rolls - Fig Newtons) / www.delightfulrepast.com


I've never had a dehydrator, and have turned down one or two that have been offered to me, since I wouldn't use it often enough. It would just be taking up space 364 days a year. My toaster oven does convection, which would be great for this, and I could probably do two quarter sheet pans in it, but I don't have wire racks for that size pan.

So here's how I did it in the regular oven. At a "cool oven" temperature of 200F/95C/Gas1/8. No special equipment. Just a half sheet pan and a wire cooling rack.


Oven-Dried Figs - How to Dry Fruit in Your Conventional Oven / www.delightfulrepast.com


You can find all sorts of methods for doing this, everything from quickly at higher temperatures to 36 hours at extremely low temperatures. The former made no sense to me, and the latter seemed unnecessarily slow and would tie up my oven for far too long. Some recommend propping the oven door open a bit to let out moisture. No, I wasn't going to be doing that.

The reason I chose to store the dried figs in half-pint jars (tightly packed) is because that is the amount needed for a batch of Fig Rolls - Fig Newtons, which I'll be making in a couple weeks for a small autumn tea party in the gazebo. Might use the other jar for a batch of Homemade Granola


Oven-Dried Figs - How to Dry Fruit in Your Conventional Oven / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Oven-Dried Figs


(Makes 2 half-pint jars with a bit leftover)

Up to about 2 3/4 pounds fresh figs (however many will fit, halved, on the rack)

1 Preheat oven to 200F/95C/Gas1/8.

2 Line an 18x13x1-inch half sheet pan with baking parchment paper, then set a wire cooling rack on top of the paper.

3 Wash and dry the figs. Cut off the top stem and trim away any bad spots. Cut in half lengthwise.

4 Place the halves cut side up on the wire rack.

5 Bake in the center of the oven for about 6 hours. This will vary, depending on the size and juiciness of the figs and the peculiarities of your oven. Check at 5 hours, then maybe every 20 minutes after that until they are done. The figs are done when they are quite dry, but not hard, and still a bit sticky to the touch in the center.

6 Cool completely and put in canning jar(s). Refrigerate for short-term storage or freeze for up to several months. I chose half-pint jars because they held, tightly packed, the amount (5 ounces) needed for a batch of fig rolls.


Oven-Dried Figs - How to Dry Fruit in Your Conventional Oven (this image, my original watercolor of a fig) / www.delightfulrepast.com


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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02 September 2021

Belgian Waffles - or Regular Waffles - Freezing and Reheating

Belgian Waffles - or Regular Waffles - with directions for freezing and reheating / www.delightfulrepast.com

Belgian waffles might be the perfect comfort food breakfast, but we make them for dinner! And I don't mean a savory version, I mean the breakfast version with just butter and maple syrup. 

Years ago we had a stovetop Belgian waffle maker that we wore completely out. We couldn't find another like it, so I researched all the electric ones and decided on the Cuisinart 4-Slice Belgian Waffle Maker.

Besides all the other good things about it, it takes 2 cups of batter. So the recipe I had developed for regular waffles, and which works just as well for Belgian waffles, will make two of these. Exactly. No leftover batter. That's important to me. I hate waste. And the leftovers are great! I mean it. Great.


Belgian Waffles - or Regular Waffles - with directions for freezing and reheating / www.delightfulrepast.com


Just put the leftover squares in the refrigerator and heat them in the toaster the next day (or up to 3 days), good as new! I've even stirred up a batch specifically for freezing. Just thaw the desired number of squares in the refrigerator overnight (or in the microwave in the morning), pop them in the toaster, and there you go! No need to ever eat a store-bought frozen waffle again. Ever.

If more than one or two people are having waffles, it makes more sense to heat the waffles in the oven. Preheat oven to 300F/150C/Gas2. Lay the waffle squares on a baking sheet, or directly on the oven rack, and heat for about 10 minutes, if thawed, or about 15 minutes, if frozen.

My recipe makes two Cuisinart WAF-150 square Belgian waffles, each making four 1-inch deep 4.5-inch squares. If you prefer regular waffles, it makes six 7-inch round regular waffles.


Belgian Waffles - or Regular Waffles - with directions for freezing and reheating / www.delightfulrepast.com


Yesterday I stirred up a batch for a solo lunch. Since I eat two squares, that means I can refrigerate or freeze six squares. So I cooled them to room temperature on a wire rack, then laid them out on a 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan, covered them (you can use a lid or another jelly roll pan or a piece of foil), and popped them into the freezer for a couple hours. Then transferred them to one-gallon freezer bags, which holds four perfectly, so next time I make a batch I'll add two more squares to the one bag.

This is my basic recipe. Sometimes I use different whole grain flours or throw in some very finely chopped pecans, but I always use this formula. We like to think the three eggs transform it into a seriously nutritious, high-protein meal. Tell me: How do you like your waffles? And do you prefer Belgian or regular? People tend to feel very strongly about that!


Belgian Waffles - or Regular Waffles - with directions for freezing and reheating / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Belgian Waffles - or Regular Waffles


(Makes two Cuisinart WAF-150 Belgian waffles or six 7-inch round regular waffles)

1 2/3 cups (13.33 fluid ounces/394 ml) milk
1 1/2 tablespoons 0.75 fluid ounce/22 ml) apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces/43 grams) unsalted butter
1 2/3 dip-and-sweep cups (8.33 ounces/236 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar (optional but improves browning)
2 teaspoons non-GMO baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs (medium, in the UK), room temperature

1 In a 2-cup glass measure, stir together milk and vinegar; let stand for several minutes while proceeding with recipe. Melt the butter and allow it to cool.

2 In a 2-quart glass measure, whisk together dry ingredients. In a 1-quart glass measure, whisk together the eggs, soured milk, and melted and cooled butter. Pour into dry mixture and combine. Let batter rest 15 minutes before using.

3 Your waffle iron becomes "seasoned" after a few uses and requires no greasing. But if your waffle iron is new, spray both upper and lower grids with cooking spray, or apply a little canola oil with a paper towel or pastry brush. During last 5 or 6 minutes of the batter's rest, preheat waffle iron. I use the medium setting.

4 Pour 2 level cups of batter (this might differ for your model) onto center of waffle iron; quickly spread batter evenly over the grid (doesn't need to be perfect). Close the lid and bake until the green light comes on and the audible tone sounds, about 5 to 6 minutes. When the tone sounds (another signal is that the steam stops or slows way down), open lid and remove the waffle. Close lid and wait just a minute for iron to reheat. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with cold unsalted butter and warm real maple syrup or my Homemade Blueberry Syrup or Sauce.

Tip: Since my freezer is my best friend, I recently treated myself to two ThermoWorks digital refrigerator/freezer thermometers to replace the nearly impossible to read analog thermometer I switched back and forth between fridge and freezer for years.

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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19 August 2021

Microwave Cauliflower Cheese for One

Microwave Cauliflower Cheese for One - A Quick and Easy Homemade Solo Lunch / www.delightfulrepast.com

Microwave Cauliflower Cheese for One is one of my favorite lunches. If you work from home and usually have a quick lunch on your own as I do, it's great. And it gives my microwave something to do besides heat up our microwavable moist-heat hot pads we're always laying on one injury or another!

It took me a long time to come around to microwave ovens. I think I was the last person on the planet to get one, after being urged to by my elderly father! Still, I don't cook in it. All I ever use it for is to heat up those hot pads or a plate of leftovers, or to melt a bit of butter. Glad to find another use for it.

Microwave Cauliflower Cheese for One - A Quick and Easy Homemade Solo Lunch / www.delightfulrepast.com


This is so quick and easy and doesn't make a big cooking mess in the middle of the day. Just cut up the cauliflower, stir up the seasonings and water, pour it on, cover, and pop it into the microwave for 6 minutes. 

While it's cooking, shred the cheese, stir the cornstarch into the milk. When the microwave dings, take out the cauliflower, drain off the liquid, stir in the cheese and milk, zap it for another 2 minutes, and Bob's your uncle!

Of course, microwave ovens are all different, so your times might not be the same as those that I figured out for mine. What do you use a microwave for? What sort of things do you usually have for lunch?

Microwave Cauliflower Cheese for One - A Quick and Easy Homemade Solo Lunch / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Microwave Cauliflower Cheese for One


(Makes a bit over 1 cup)

1 1/2 cups (6 ounces/170 grams—about quarter of a 2-pound/1 kg cauliflower) cauliflower florets
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of dry mustard
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/30 ml) water
1/2 tablespoon (0.25 ounce/7 grams) unsalted butter
1/2 packed cup (2 ounces/57 grams) shredded cheddar or other cheese
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces/59 ml) milk
1 teaspoon cornstarch or tapioca flour

Note: You can use all cheddar, if you like, or a combination of cheeses. I think using half Monterey jack makes it creamier. And, at the same time, you can toast a few fresh breadcrumbs on the stovetop for a pretty topping. 😉

1 Put the bite-size cauliflower florets in a 2-cup glass measure (I love my Pyrex glass measuring cups!). In a tiny bowl, stir together salt, pepper, cayenne, and dry mustard; stir in the water. Pour over the cauliflower and add the butter. Cover (I use a 6-inch silicone lid) and microwave on full power for 6 minutes (your oven might differ), until tender or nearly so (whatever you prefer). Drain off the liquid.

2 Add the cheese to the cooking cup. In a little bowl, stir the milk and cornstarch together. Stir it and the cheese into the cauliflower. With the lid ajar, microwave on full power for 2 minutes (your oven might differ), until the cheese has melted and a smooth sauce has formed. 

3 Stir and serve on a small plate and, if you're feeling fancy, garnish with toasted breadcrumbs. Or just eat it out of the measuring cup; I won't tell! 😁 

BTW, that's one of my pretty ThermoWorks hot pad/trivets (my favorite pot holders) in the photos.

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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05 August 2021

Summer Peach Cake

Summer Peach Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

It's the height of summer, it's hot, but bake I must! After being out of commission following hand surgery, I simply had to bake at the first opportunity. And what better to bake than something with peaches (or nectarines), my favorite summer fruit.

But I needed to break-in the hand with something easy-breezy, no-muss-no-fuss, which means no machines, no peeling, no laborious whisking, just stir up the simple ingredients and throw it in the oven!

The only thing I really like about summer is the summer fruit! And, while I might occasionally enjoy the mild flavor of a white peach or nectarine on its own, the yellow varieties are much better in cakes and pies. And please don't peel them. The peel adds color and makes it even prettier.


Summer Peach Cake (this image, my original watercolor of a yellow peach) / www.delightfulrepast.com
Loved painting this perfectly ripe yellow peach; it smelled soooo good!


I developed this recipe for a 7-inch springform or push-bottom pan (also called a cheesecake pan). And I use an Ateco Stainless Steel 2x3-inches-high Round Form that turns any pan into a tube pan to prevent those center-of-the-cake baking challenges of deep pans and/or heavy batters, but I've also made the cake without it.

Thank you for all your good wishes on my hand surgery. I hope you're enjoying a beautiful summer and will make this, or something peachy, before they're gone. I love peach anything, but I am particularly fond of Peach Pie with Lattice Crust. How about you?


Summer Peach Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Summer Peach Cake


(Makes one 7-inch cake)

1 stick (4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 dip-and-sweep cups (6.25 ounces/177 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (4.67 ounces/132 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon non-GMO baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon mace or nutmeg
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 pound (16 ounces/454 grams/2 large) yellow peaches or nectarines, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 Grease well and flour a 7-inch springform or push-bottom pan. I use my Ateco Stainless Steel 2x3-inches-high Round Form to turn my 3-inch deep 7-inch pan into a tube pan to prevent those center-of-the-cake baking challenges of deep pans and/or heavy batters like this. Just grease and flour it and center it in the pan and hold it steady while you fill in the batter around it. Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Melt the butter and set aside to cool. 

Tip: A circle of baking parchment in the bottom of the pan is always good, though I forgot to do it today.

2 In 2- to 3-quart bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and mace or nutmeg. Whisk together well to "sift."

3 Scrub well—don't peel—and dice the ripe but firm peaches or nectarines into a small mixing bowl; set aside. You'll have about 3 cups. Take out 1 cup of the fruit to put on the top.

Note: I almost never peel organic peaches. I just wash them very well and rub off the fuzz. The colorful skin adds nutrition and a beautiful color to whatever you're making.

4 Add the eggs and cooled melted butter to the flour mixture. With a large spoon, beat well until thoroughly combined. Stir the fruit (except the 1 cup) into the batter.

5 Scrape the thick batter into prepared pan, press down and smooth the top, and press the reserved cup of diced fruit into the top of the batter. Sprinkle with the brown sugar. Bake for about 65 to 75 minutes, until it passes "the toothpick test" or is pulling away from the sides of the pan a bit. Do not underbake!

Note: I love this TimeStack quad timer sooooo much!

6 Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn cake out of pan right side up and continue cooling on wire rack for 2 hours. If you remembered to use a circle of parchment, it will be much easier to lift the cake off the springform pan bottom! Before serving, you might give it a dusting of powdered sugar. And a little whipped cream is never a bad idea.

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

22 July 2021

Classic Vegetable Quiche

Classic Vegetable Quiche / www.delightfulrepast.com

Every time I make this classic vegetable quiche, I say, "I love this! Why has it been so long since I made it?!" It was a mainstay in my vegetarian days. In those days, I was seriously into nutrition as well so always made the crust with part whole wheat flour. Years later I had the opportunity to have a little chat with Julia Child about that!

My mother and I enjoyed reading cookbooks and watching PBS cooking shows together, especially Julia Child's, when I was just a child. I had all these "warm fuzzies" associated with Julia, since I spent so many hours in the kitchen with her (courtesy of PBS) and my mother. When I finally met Julia, it felt as if I were reuniting with a beloved aunt who had been a part of my childhood.

It was sometime around 2000 that I first met her. As a great admirer of hers since childhood, you’d think I’d have recorded the exact date of that first, and a few subsequent, meetings. These occasions were small gatherings of food people (I'm not keen on the word "foodies") enjoying a cooking demonstration followed by dinner. In each case, I marveled that the person cooking could do so with such an august personage in the audience.

I’ve always been pretty hard to impress — I waste no more than a glance (and not a single thought) on movie stars and other celebrities — but I was more than a little dazzled by Julia! She was quite easy to talk to as she seemed completely unaware of her special standing in these groups. My mother, who died years before I met Julia, would have been so impressed!

Anyway ... back to the subject of the little chat referred to in the first paragraph ... When I mentioned putting whole wheat flour in my quiche crust, she got that look and asked why I would ruin a perfectly good pie crust with whole wheat flour. Then she uttered those famous words she's said so many times, even to Jacques Pepin: We're not interested in nutrition, we're interested in taste!


Classic Vegetable Quiche (this image - my watercolor sketch of a hen) / www.delightfulrepast.com
My little watercolor sketch of a hen, in a card sent to a friend
who keeps chickens in her suburban backyard
and shares their delicious eggs


So here's the quiche recipe I made up "back in the day;" but in honor of Julia, let's leave out the whole wheat flour just this once! 

As always, I love your comments, though I might be a bit slower to respond to them this time as I'm having hand surgery on Friday and may find typing a bit difficult.

Classic Vegetable Quiche / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Classic Vegetable Quiche


(Makes one 9-inch quiche)

The Pastry (not whole wheat!)

1 1/4 dip-and-sweep cups (6.25 ounces/177 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter, well chilled
4 tablespoons ice water
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon additional ice water, if needed

The Filling

2 tablespoons (1 fluid ounce/30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1/2 large red bell pepper, diced or julienned
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 large eggs (medium, in UK)
3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces/177 ml) milk
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces/59 ml) heavy cream
2 teaspoons minced cilantro or flat-leaf parsley (or dried parsley flakes)
1 packed cup (4 ounces/113 grams) grated Cheddar and/or Jack cheese
Sprinkle of paprika

1 In medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. With coarse grater, grate butter into flour bowl. With fingers, quickly work the butter into the flour, leaving some pieces the size of small peas.

2 In small bowl, combine water and vinegar. Sprinkle over flour mixture while stirring with large fork. Add a little more water, if needed.

3 Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten slightly into a 4-inch disk; double wrap; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to four days. May be frozen for up to a month; defrost, wrapped, in the refrigerator.

4 Preheat oven to 450F/230C/Gas8. If dough is thoroughly chilled, let it stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling. On lightly floured surface, roll out disk to a 13-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Place pastry in pie plate.* Bake, lined with buttered foil and weighted, for 10 minutes. Remove foil and ceramic pie weights, and continue baking for 10 minutes. Remove crust from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350F/180C/Gas4.

5 While crust is baking, prepare filling. In large skillet, heat the oil and sauté onions for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, zucchini, red bell pepper, half the salt and pepper, marjoram and crushed red pepper to skillet. Sauté vegetables over medium-high heat until all the liquid released by the mushrooms and zucchini evaporates and there is some caramelization. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

6 In medium bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure), combine eggs, milk, cream, cilantro or parsley, remaining salt and pepper, and cheese. Stir in cooled vegetables. Pour filling into prebaked pie shell. Sprinkle with paprika. Use a pie crust shield to prevent overbrowning of crust edges. Bake for about 45 to 55 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is set but with a bit of jiggle. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes or all the way to room temperature. Delicious at any temperature. I use the silicone hotpads pictured as both pot holders and trivets for hot dishes.

* I think a glass pie plate gives the best results, and I always use the Pyrex Clear Oven Ware 9" Glass Pie Plate. There are lots of quiche recipes in Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking (2 Volume Set).

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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