16 May 2019

Travel Review - Paso Robles Wine Country

Travel Review - Paso Robles Wine Country / www.delightfulrepast.com
I'd been craving a wine country getaway since my first whiff of autumn in the air, but it took us until well into spring to make it happen. Wherever you are in the US, wine country isn't far away since all 50 states have vineyards now. But it had been nearly two years since our last California wine adventure, and we really wanted to head back to the Paso Robles American Viticultural Area (AVA).

Even if you're not into wine, it's a beautiful area to visit. Paso Robles (or Paso, as the locals call it) is midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, about a 3 1/2- to 4-hour drive, depending on your chosen route, from both SFO (San Francisco International Airport) and LAX (Los Angeles International Airport). And you can fly into the nearby (40 minutes) San Luis Obispo airport from Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle and Denver. Don't like to fly? Amtrak stops in Paso Robles. 


Travek Review - Paso Robles Wine Country / www.delightfulrepast.com

There are good accommodations at every price point and of every type. Some vineyards even have a few guest rooms, I learned! We were fortunate enough to stay at the full-service resort we stayed at on our first trip, Allegretto Vineyard Resort, and enjoyed every minute. We needed what I like to call a "personalized self-guided wellness retreat" or "one-stop ultimate relaxation and rejuvenation." Or as Mr Delightful put it: We needed a vacation like nobody's business!


Travel Review - Paso Robles Wine Country (this photo - Cello Ristorante & Bar) / www.delightfulrepast.com


Of course, we went out and about, tasting wine, eating wonderful meals, seeing beautiful scenery, visiting charming downtowns; but if we had never left the property we could have been happy. The restaurant, Cello, is not your usual hotel restaurant. It is a serious--but unstuffy--restaurant where you'll run into as many locals as guests. Headed up by executive chef Justin Picard, it is about fresh, local ingredients and artisan cookery. 



Travel Review - Paso Robles Wine Country (this photo - Cello Ristorante & Bar) / www.delightfulrepast.com

Though I could have tea in my room any time (someone had thoughtfully replaced all the Keurig coffee with assorted teas; and I had brought along, as always, my tea travel kit), I was thrilled to be able to get a proper cup of tea in the restaurant, even at the bar. If you are a tea aficionado in the US, you know what a rarity that is!

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to experience the Spa at Allegretto, but it looked lovely. Here's a peek at their outdoor relaxing area.


Travel Review - Paso Robles Wine Country - Spa at Allegretto / www.delightfulrepast.com





This property is a labor of love for its owner-creator whose personal collection of art and artifacts spanning multiple centuries and cultures is seen throughout the resort, inside and out. One of my favorites is this one, and I bet you can guess why!


There's plenty to see and do, even if you have no interest in wine. We would have enjoyed the Pioneer Museum, but it's only open Thursday through Sunday. And there's horseback riding, zip line tours, a water park, craft breweries and distilleries (we prefer wine), all sorts of things we didn't manage to drag ourselves out for. The charming downtown is walkable and so fun!

There are lots of great places to eat in Paso Robles and the surrounding area, including Fish Gaucho, Thomas Hill Organics and Novo. Novo Restaurant & Lounge, in downtown San Luis Obispo, features locally sourced, globally inspired cuisine in a serene creekside setting.


I wanted to walk over this gorgeous little footbridge, but it didn't happen. Next time.

In inclement weather, it would have been a pleasure to dine in the historic building, but we never miss an opportunity to dine outdoors. The comfortably heated patio perched over the creek was idyllic. Mr Delightful was so dazzled by the setting I was afraid he'd not pay enough attention to the food! But the food stood up to the view. And the service was outstanding.

We enjoyed visiting the tasting room at Allegretto, sampling the excellent wines and watching Stephanie work the room. I have no idea how she kept track of what everyone was tasting. She was knowledgeable about the wines, and we also appreciated her restaurant recommendations.

Our visit to Eberle Winery, which cultivates 64 acres of vines over five vineyards with different soil-climate combinations to suit particular grapes, was the highlight of our stay. The time we spent getting acquainted with the Eberles was priceless. Both raconteurs, they kept us entertained! We even got to meet the winemaker, Chris Eberle (not related).

Following a tour of the 16,000 square feet of underground wine caves (photo below), we sat on the deck overlooking the vineyard and tasted lots of wine. Like any self-respecting blogger, I should have taken a picture of the view from the deck, I should have taken lots of pictures; but I was in the moment.   


Travel Review - Paso Robles Wine Country - Eberle Winery (this photo of the caves) / www.delightfulrepast.com
Photo courtesy of Eberle Winery

As we sipped wine and nibbled cheeses, savories and dried fruits and drank in the view, we learned the history of this pioneer of Central Coast winemaking and a lot about the region and wine in general. 

Tasting each wine, I pictured what foods I would pair it with; for example, a pork roast and fruit sauce with the Syrah, a traditional roast beef dinner with the Cabernet. Can't wait to break open a bottle!  

Disclosure: Though parts of this trip were comped or discounted, I assure you that does not alter my opinions or influence my review. I always tell my readers exactly what I think.

Jean

09 May 2019

Clotted Cream - A Tutorial

How to Make Clotted Cream - A Tutorial / www.delightfulrepast.com

Clotted cream, which doesn't sound that appealing to the uninitiated, is the delectable accompaniment to scones that elevates that simple bake to an Occasion. In the US you'll sometimes see it called Devonshire cream just because it sounds better, but it's only Devonshire cream if it is clotted cream made in Devonshire; Cornish cream is clotted cream made in Cornwall. 

Here in the US, imported clotted cream is quite expensive and few tea rooms make their own. So it's usually only seen at the poshest of afternoon teas. Its unique taste and texture take a simple scone to new heights. In Devon, the tradition is to put cream on the scone first, then jam. In Cornwall, it's jam first, then cream.


How to Make Clotted Cream - A Tutorial / www.delightfulrepast.com

There's nothing difficult about making clotted cream. Though it does take time, it's time you actually spend going about your business while the cream does its thing. So I don't know why there are so many "mock" versions out there. 

One popular American television personality and celebrity chef would have you strain cream through a coffee filter and call it clotted cream. Sorry, that's not even close. Others would have you add various things to whipped cream. Tasty perhaps, but again, not clotted cream. 

You will find sources telling you that it must be made with raw cream (not true), or with cream that has not been ultra-pasteurized (not true). I’ve made it with organic heavy whipping creams of all descriptions: minimally pasteurized, pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized. This method has worked well with all of them.


How to Make Clotted Cream - A Tutorial / www.delightfulrepast.com
The clotted cream on the left was cooked covered with foil, and the cream on the right was cooked uncovered. I much prefer clotted cream cooked covered.

I’ve made it both covered and uncovered. The cream cooked uncovered developed a buttery yellow "crust" and after cooling and stirring had tiny bits of yellow butter throughout the finished cream. The cream that was cooked covered developed a softer top layer and had a smoother texture. So that is how I’ve made it ever since. 

I’ve found that clotted cream freezes beautifully, with no loss of quality, and so always make a double batch and divide it among four 4-ounce jars and pop them into the freezer. Then when I’m going to need it, I move a jar (or two) from freezer to refrigerator a day or two ahead. 

But if you're new to making clotted cream, just do a single batch at a time until you've discovered any quirks your oven might have.

Do let me know if you have any questions or comments about the recipe (or anything). And if you like this post, be sure to Pin it and share it on your social media! 


How to Make Clotted Cream - A Tutorial / www.delightfulrepast.com

Clotted Cream


(Makes about 1 cup) 

1 pint (16 fluid ounces, 473 ml) pasteurized organic heavy whipping cream

Note: I like to put it in the oven at 6 a.m. and take it out at 6 p.m., refrigerate it until 6 a.m. the next morning, then scoop it into a container.

1 Preheat oven to 180F/82C. 

2 Pour cream into an 8-inch (20 cm) diameter baking dish (I use a Pyrex). It can be any shape, as long as the cream is about 1/2 to 1 inch (1.25 to 2.5 cm) deep. Cover with foil. 

3 Place foil-covered dish of cream in preheated oven and set timer for 12 hours.

Note: Some ovens automatically turn off after a certain number of hours. If yours turns off in something less than 12 hours, be prepared to restart it.


How to Make Clotted Cream - A Tutorial / www.delightfulrepast.com
This is what the clotted cream looks like after 12 hours in the oven covered with foil. But it's not ready yet! Let it cool at room temperature, with the foil lifted a bit to vent, then cover tightly with foil and refrigerate for 12 hours undisturbed.


4 Remove from oven, lift foil a bit to vent, and let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes; cover and refrigerate for 12 hours. 

5 Using a flattish spoon, scoop up layer of clotted cream into jar or serving dish. Keeps for several days, covered and refrigerated. Save the leftover liquid in the pan to use in your next batch of scones, pancakes or whatever you happen to be making. I like to make Classic Cream Scones with the leftover cream.

Note: I've found these cute little Ball 4-ounce freezer-safe canning/storage jars with plastic caps perfect for clotted cream. One recipe makes two jars. 

Now put the kettle on and Make a Proper Cup of Tea

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

02 May 2019

Chicken Fried Steak - Southern Comfort Food Classic

Chicken Fried Steak - Southern Comfort Food Classic / www.delightfulrepast.com

Chicken Fried Steak is a Southern comfort food classic, so you’d expect a glossy Southern magazine would give you the best recipe for it, right? Well, I was cleaning out old emails this morning and came across one I’d sent to myself a year ago that said:

“This recipe is so stupid it makes me mad!” And there was a link to said recipe in that glossy magazine that should know better, so I checked it out again; I was right to send myself that email! That’s why I’m reposting my Chicken Fried Steak recipe from 2012.

Though I don't subscribe to the old Southern saying, "If it ain't fried, it ain't food," I do occasionally indulge. But only if it's worth it. And a properly made chicken fried steak is definitely worth it. Also known simply as CFS among those who really love it, it's the ultimate comfort food in certain parts of the country.

I don't think it deserves its reputation as a greasy, high-fat food. At least not the way I make it. I use organic grass-fed beef, all organic ingredients, and shallow-fry it. 

The oil needs to be good and hot (or you will end up with greasy steaks!), but you can't really get a temperature reading on such a shallow depth of oil; just aim for something less than smoking hot. I add back just 3 tablespoons of the pan drippings for 2 cups of gravy. Sounds pretty healthy to me!

Of course, my Southern grandmother used Crisco, bacon grease or lard for all her frying. I do not use Crisco, but I have no objections to organic lard or bacon grease. Though I’m not altogether happy about even organic canola oil, I sometimes use it for frying. I even use extra virgin olive oil for some frying.

Are you a chicken fried steak and cream gravy fan?


Chicken Fried Steak - Southern Comfort Food Classic / www.delightfulrepast.com

Chicken Fried Steak


(Makes 4 servings)

The Steak

1 pound (16 ounces/454 grams) top round steak
1 1/4 cups (6.25 ounces/177 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt plus more
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper plus more
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 large egg
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) milk

1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) organic canola oil

The Gravy


3 tablespoons pan drippings
3 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups (16 fluid ounces/473 ml) milk (or replace 2/3 cup with beef broth)
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt



1 Cut the round steak into 4 pieces. With the textured side of a meat tenderizer (OXO Good Grips Meat Tenderizer), pound each piece (on a meat-only dishwasher-safe cutting board) until almost double in size and about 1/4 inch thick. 

2 In shallow dish combine the flour with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt, coarsely ground black pepper and cayenne. In another shallow dish beat together the egg and milk.

3 Working with one piece at a time, season both sides with salt and pepper, dip into the egg mixture, dip into the flour mixture, dip into the egg mixture again, dip into the flour mixture again. Really press the flour in. This really goops up the hands, so just use one hand and keep one hand clean; you'll need it.

4 When all meat is coated, heat oil to a depth of not more than 1/16 to 1/8 inch. You just need enough oil to cover the pan generously. In my All-Clad Stainless 12-Inch Fry Pan, that's 1/2 cup. When the oil is hot, put in two pieces at a time; don't crowd the pan. Cook for about 3 or 4 minutes, or until well browned and crunchy. With tongs, turn steaks and cook second side for about 3 or 4 minutes. Turn carefully so as not to lose the crust; chicken fried steak is all about the crust.

5 Drain on a paper towel-lined plate (wad up the paper towels; don't just lay them flat on the plate). Repeat. Then proceed to the most important part of chicken fried steak--the cream gravy! Pour off the fat in the skillet, then measure back into the skillet 3 tablespoons of the pan drippings. Use the ingredient list above, but go to my Cream Gravy post for the directions (and a little story about a real pioneer woman, my great grandmother).

6 Plate up the steaks with a generous serving of Mashed Potatoes on the side. Pour the gravy over both. Biscuits and a bowl of collard greens on the side round out this classic Southern meal. 


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

25 April 2019

Peach Kuchen - Peach Coffee Cake

Peach Coffee Cake - Peach Kuchen (Pfirsich Kaffeekuchen, to be precise) - made with a rich yeast dough / www.delightfulrepast.com

Whether you call it coffee cake or kaffee kuchen, you know I’m serving it with tea, not coffee! And in either case, there are many variations. While I won’t turn down a slice of cakey coffee cake, I prefer a bready one.

The soft yeast dough can easily be made with a spoon—no need for a stand mixer—and requires no kneading. The unfinicky dough rests in the refrigerator overnight, so you can have a lovely fresh coffee cake in the morning.

The dough recipe makes enough dough for three coffee cakes, so you can have a fresh one three mornings in a row if you like, or two now and one later, whatever. I’m going to experiment with freezing some of the dough as well.

Really, who would make just enough yeast dough for one? That’s probably why so many versions are made with a batter rather than yeast dough. Some are even made with cake mix. Trust me, yeast dough is better. 

I made this coffee cake with store-bought frozen organic peaches, but when peach season arrives I’ll make it with fresh peaches. Canned peaches would probably also work as long as you pat them dry of their canning liquid or syrup.

It isn’t just for breakfast or brunch. Though 1/8 of the coffee cake has about 3 teaspoons of sugar, it makes a wonderful dessert—one well within my self-imposed daily sugar allowance of never more than 6 teaspoons in a day.

Do you like coffee or tea with your coffee cake? 


Peach Coffee Cake - Peach Kuchen (Pfirsich Kaffeekuchen, to be precise) - made with a rich yeast dough / www.delightfulrepast.com

Peach Coffee Cake - Peach Kuchen


(Makes one 9-inch coffee cake, plus enough dough for two more)


The Dough

3 1/4 dip-and-sweep cups (16.25 ounces/461 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces/99 grams) sugar
1 1/8 teaspoon instant (rapid rise) yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cardamom, optional
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) milk
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) water
1 stick (4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into about 12 slices and added to heated liquid
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, set aside for assembly


The Custard

3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces/177 ml) heavy cream
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


The Topping

2 tablespoons (0.875 ounces/25 grams) sugar
2 tablespoons (0.625 ounces/18 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon (0.5 ounce/14 grams) cold unsalted butter


The Fruit

2 to 2 1/2 cups sliced yellow peaches or 1 10-ounce (283 grams) package frozen

Note: You might not need quite as much of the peaches. You just need enough to make a single layer.


1 Start dough the day before. In large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, salt and cardamom. In 2-cup glass measure, microwave milk and water until hot but not boiling, about 2 minutes in my microwave; stir in pieces of butter to melt. Add warm liquid and egg to flour mixture, and stir until thoroughly combined and smooth. Stir in remaining 3/4 cup flour 1/4 cup at a time (you may not need all of it) to form a soft dough. Do not knead, but with one hand right in the bowl work in the last bits of flour and shape dough into a loose ball. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.

2 Next day, divide dough into 3 portions (I weigh it on digital kitchen scale). Cover and refrigerate 2 portions for another day (I use the Pyrex 4-cup round storage containers). Let 1 portion rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.


Peach Coffee Cake - Peach Kuchen - made with a rich yeast dough / www.delightfulrepast.com


Note: You may also freeze portions of dough for up to 3 months. Just form each portion into a ball, very lightly coat with a little oil on your hands, put in freezer storage container. When ready to use, move the dough from freezer to refrigerator a day ahead; then let thawed dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling out and proceeding with recipe.

3 For custard: In 2-cup glass measure or small bowl, whisk together cream, sugar, egg, vanilla extract and nutmeg; set aside.

4 For topping: In small bowl, stir together sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the butter to make coarse crumbs; set aside.

5 On lightly floured square of baking parchment paper, roll 1 portion of the dough into a thin 10-inch circle. Place a lightly buttered 9-inch glass pie plate upside down on the dough. Flip the “whole package” (pie plate, dough, parchment) over and press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Melt the tablespoon of butter and brush it on the top side of the dough. Cover lightly and let rise for 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4.


Peach Coffee Cake - Peach Kuchen - made with a rich yeast dough / www.delightfulrepast.com


6 Arrange the peach slices over the crust. Pour the custard over the peaches. Sprinkle on the topping. Use a pie crust shield to prevent the edge from overbrowning. Bake for about 45 to 55 minutes, until golden brown. Cool slightly, then cut into 8 slices and serve warm.


Peach Coffee Cake - Peach Kuchen - made with a rich yeast dough / www.delightfulrepast.com



Peach Coffee Cake - Peach Kuchen - made with a rich yeast dough / 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

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, voilĂ , 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
Don't forget to Pin it and share it!

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
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