31 May 2012

Cherry Upside-Down Cake - Made with Fresh Cherries

Cherry upside-down cake made with fresh sweet cherries and homemade batter is nothing like that ooey-gooey cake that was popular when I was a child. I think it was called Dump Cake. We never made it at our house, but it seemed to turn up everywhere for a time. I think you dumped a can of crushed pineapple in heavy syrup in a baking dish, then a can of cherry pie filling, then a box of yellow cake mix, then a couple sticks of margarine, sliced up. Then after it was baked and cooled, you dumped on some of that popular faux whipped cream that comes frozen in a tub. 

Well, that sort of thing didn't fly at our house. My mother would shiver just thinking of all the sugar, hydrogenated fat, artificial coloring, artificial flavoring and who-knows-what-all chemicals lurking in that fine mess. I tried some once at a neighbor's house, but it was waaaaaay too sweet for my taste. And I was rapidly becoming just as freaked out about ingesting chemicals as my mother was, so ... (Note: To learn more about the additives in your food, go to Be Food Smart.)

Couldn't find my cherry pitter, so did without. When you're cutting cherries in half, it's fairly easy to just pull out the pits with your fingers. But I think I'll get a new cherry pitter anyway; I was never thrilled with the one I had, and I'm always happy with OXO. So before my next cherry recipe, I'm getting an OXO Good Grips Cherry Pitter! (PS added 17 July 2012: I just used the OXO for the first time, and it is FABULOUS! I'm kicking myself for not getting it sooner!)

(I posted this recipe in response to @OregonKimm who loves cherries. She also loves reading and blogging at Fall in Love with Books. Here you go, Kimm!)

Cherry Upside-Down Cake

(Makes one 8-inch cake, 8 servings)

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, room temperature
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 pound whole Bing or other sweet cherries, about 2 cups halved and pitted (reserve 8 whole with stems for garnish)

1 packed cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon mace or 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon sugar

1 Halve and pit the cherries. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the sides and bottom of an 8-inch round pan (I use a Pyrex 8-inch round baking dish) with vegetable spray, line bottom with parchment paper (not strictly necessary, but can give you "confidence"), and melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in the pan in the microwave or preheating oven. Add the brown sugar to the butter and blend. Starting at outer edge, arrange cherries, cut side up, in single layer in bottom of pan and press lightly to make them stick; set aside.

2 In large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and mace. Mix on low speed for one minute to blend. Add 5 tablespoons softened butter, milk and vanilla; mix on low speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add the egg, and mix 1 1/2 minutes longer.

3 Spread the batter carefully over the cherries with a rubber spatula. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Loosen edges with knife, and invert onto a platter; wait about half a minute before removing pan. Peel off parchment, if used. Let cool about 45 minutes, or up to several hours, before serving slightly warm or at room temperature.

4 Whip cream and sugar to desired consistency. Garnish each serving with a dollop of whipped cream and a whole cherry.

24 May 2012

Angel Food Cake - In a Loaf Pan

Angel food cake has a certain mystique - many people are under the impression that it's really finicky and difficult to make. But it really isn't. You can make one without any special equipment or special ingredients. 

Gone are the days when I whipped egg whites (or cream) by hand with a whisk. And I don't have a fancy-schmancy heavy-duty stand mixer (looking at Breville 5-Quart Stand Mixer, Cuisinart 5.5-Quart Stand Mixer and KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart Stand Mixer), but a quite ordinary electric mixer works just fine for this. And I never have cake flour and, supposedly, angel food cake is the one cake for which cake flour is an absolute must. Well, it's not.

I develop all my recipes using organic unbleached all-purpose flour. No bread flour. No cake flour. I already have a vast assortment of gluten-free flours and starches (Bob's Red Mill) for my gluten-free baking, so I'm not about to give over any shelf space to bread flour and cake flour when I can get fabulous results with all-purpose.

Separate the eggs while they are cold. Allow the whites to stand at room temperature for an hour before whipping. Cover the yolks tightly and put them in the refrigerator until you're done with the cake. What to make with 7 egg yolks? Both custard sauce and lemon curd go beautifully with angel food cake. This time, as you can see from the photo, I went with the custard sauce (and by custard sauce I do not mean Bird's).
Angel Food Loaf Cake

(Makes one 9x4x4-inch loaf)

1/2 packed cup (2.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
7 large egg whites (about 1 cup), room temperature

1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar

1 Place oven rack in lowest position (I didn't bother--no problem), and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 9x4x4-inch loaf pan (no need for the lid). Cut a 4x18-inch piece of foil to cover bottom and ends of pan. There will be about a half inch overhang on each end for easy removal. Do not grease. (Or cut a piece of parchment slightly smaller than the bottom of the pan.)

2 Using two small bowls, sift together flour and powdered sugar three or four times. I do it three times, but then I only let the egg whites stand at room temperature for half an hour.

3 In large bowl with mixer on low, beat together the egg whites, cream of tartar, salt and vanilla until egg whites have thickened and increased in volume (mixture looks like a bowl of suds!) and are nearly at soft peaks stage.

4 Gradually beat in sugar, in about 4 parts, until egg whites are stiff enough to hold up in soft peaks but are still glossy and moist.

5 Sift about 1/3 of flour mixture over egg whites and fold in lightly, with a rubber spatula, just until incorporated. Repeat two times.

6 Spoon batter into prepared ungreased 9x4x4-inch (or 9x5x3-inch) loaf pan, filling to about an inch or less from the top. Gently tap the pan on the counter a few times and make a few knife cuts through the batter to break up any large air bubbles.

7 Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until well browned. Invert pan on wire rack; let stand upside down as it cools, about an hour. Remove cake from pan.

18 May 2012

Braised Brisket - Rocky Mountain Organic Meats Giveaway

Braised brisket makes the perfect Sunday Roast, that great British tradition. Sunday roast, also called Sunday lunch, is served in the afternoon (2 or 3 o'clock-ish) and traditionally consists of roasted meat (most often beef, chicken, lamb or pork--nut loaf for vegetarians), gravy, roasted or mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and vegetables. The great thing about the brisket for Sunday lunch is that it is made on Friday or Saturday and just reheated on Sunday.

Of course, you can have brisket any day of the week, but the aroma of it wafting out of the kitchen into my office made me nostalgic for those Sunday Roasts of my childhood. The roast was usually beef (my father's favorite) or pork. Occasionally it would be lamb (my mother's favorite) with homemade mint sauce. Poultry was not on. Apparently my father had eaten too much chicken, to the exclusion of any other meat, during his childhood; so we never had chicken, and turkey was allowed on the menu just once a year. 

I had to get my fill of Southern-fried chicken at my grandmother's house. Grandma had never tired of fried chicken, even though she had totally burned my father out on it! So Daddy much preferred to stay home and enjoy my mother's British-style Sunday lunch. Oddly enough, we all loved vegetables, and Sunday lunch always included two or three fresh seasonal vegetables. 

This brisket is not just any old brisket. This is an organic, grass-fed brisket kindly sent to me by Rocky Mountain Organic Meats. It is 100% grass-fed, grass-finished and certified organic. No hormones. No antibiotics. No grain. No GMO feed. No irradiation. No feedlots; the animals are allowed to roam free and are treated humanely. And Rod is going to ship a brisket to one of my readers! See bottom of the post for giveaway details.

Update 02/18/17: I finally posted my Yorkshire Pudding - Yorkies that go so beautifully with this dish!

Braised Brisket

(Serves 4)

1 2-pound (32 ounces/0.9 kg) beef brisket
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon (0.5 fluid ounce/15 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 medium (8 to 12 ounces/227 to 340 grams) onion, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup (8 fluid ounces/237 ml) low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup (8 fluid ounces/237 ml) drinkable dry red wine
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Slurry of 2 tablespoons flour shaken with 1/4 cup water

1 In 12-inch skillet (I use All-Clad 5112 Stainless 12-Inch Fry Pan), heat olive oil. Pat brisket dry and salt and pepper both sides with 1/2 teaspoon each. Brown well (up to 10 minutes on each side). Place fat side up in 2.5-quart oval Corning casserole or other suitably sized baking dish.

2 Preheat oven to 300F/150C/Gas2. Add chopped onion, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper to skillet. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook about 2 minutes. Stir in broth, wine, Worcestershire sauce, marjoram and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits. Pour over brisket in baking dish.

3 Cover dish with foil and lid. Bake for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Remove lid and foil from dish and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Put lid on and refrigerate until next day. You can even do this two days ahead.

4 One hour before serving time, preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Transfer cold brisket to cutting board. Remove fat from sauce. Strain sauce into 2-cup glass measure, adding water, if needed, to bring volume of sauce to 2 cups; discard onions. In 1-quart saucepan, heat sauce and stir in the slurry. Bring to boil, stirring constantly; lower heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning.

5 Slice brisket across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Keeping the slices together, place them in 1.5-quart oval Corning casserole. Pour sauce over brisket. Cover dish with foil and lid. Bake for 30 minutes. 

Rocky Mountain Organic Meats Giveaway 

One winner will receive a 2-pound grass-fed organic beef brisket from Rocky Mountain Organic Meats. All US residents who leave a comment (one entry per person) on this post before 11:59 pm Eastern time Wednesday May 23 will be put into a random drawing. Winner will be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday May 24. (Note: Those posting comments anonymously must include a valid email address in their comment to be eligible for the drawing.) 


The Best Braised Brisket / www.delightfulrepast.com

If you like it, please Pin it and share it!

10 May 2012

Salsa - So Fresh Tasting No One Will Know It's Made with Canned Tomatoes - And a Giveaway

Salsa made with canned tomatoes? Yes! For a taste of summer any time of year, whip up a batch of salsa made with canned tomatoes. I know, I know--I'm all about fresh; but tomato season is not quite here, and I refuse to buy out-of-season imports or any of the pallid objects that pass for tomatoes in most supermarkets. I've found that really good canned tomatoes (I always use Muir Glen organic) make better salsa than the less-than-stellar fresh tomatoes available.

Granted, it's not the salsa fresca we can enjoy during tomato season, but it's much fresher tasting than any of the store-bought salsas I've tried. In fact ... This is how fresh tasting it is. We had guests for dinner--guests who are really into food and into salsa--and they were crazy about it! AND (yes, I'm shouting) they did not know the tomatoes were canned! And I didn't tell them, thought I'd save that little gem for another time. 

There was just a tiny bit left over, and when I tasted it two days later, I was blown away! How can something taste so fresh after nearly 48 hours in the fridge?! Since it was early in the morning when I did my two-day taste test, I just went ahead and made organic tortilla chips and salsa, with a side of leftover Mexican rice, my breakfast. It was that tasty! 

But I wouldn't try this with just any canned tomatoes. At the risk of sounding like a shill for Muir Glen, I would only make this with Muir Glen tomatoes. Truly, I am not on their payroll; they simply make the best canned tomatoes. 


(Makes 2 cups)

1/4 cup finely diced onion, rinsed and drained
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 14.5-ounce can Muir Glen organic fire roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 or 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

In 3-cup bowl, combine all ingredients; stir together. Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours before serving. Garnish with more cilantro.

Muir Glen Organic Giveaway

Two winners will each receive a Muir Glen Organic Reserve Gift Basket. All US residents who leave a comment (one entry per person) on this post before 11:59pm Eastern time Wednesday May 16 will be put into a random drawing. Winners will be announced here before noon Eastern time on Thursday May 17.

Other recipes you might enjoy: Mexican Rice and Homemade Flour Tortillas. 

04 May 2012

Chelsea Buns and Cinnamon Rolls

Chelsea Buns and Cinnamon Rolls / www.delightfulrepast.com

Chelsea buns are what I make (or call what I make) when my traditional English baking genes are stirring. Other times, I might make (or call what I make) ordinary American cinnamon rolls. Of course, cinnamon is optional in a Chelsea bun but not so in a cinnamon roll. And currants, or other dried fruits, are optional in a cinnamon roll but not so in a Chelsea bun. Unlike the thick glaze on a cinnamon roll, the thin glaze on a Chelsea bun is invisible except for the shine.

Though the original London shop that started Chelsea buns in the 18th century is long gone, Chelsea buns are alive and well and being produced in vast quantities by the beloved 91-year-old Cambridge institution, Fitzbillies. Fitzbillies was closed briefly last year before being rescued by UK food writer Tim Hayward. One can actually place an order at fitzbillies.com and get Chelsea buns by post.

Back in the day when I tried to "health" everything up, I used a fraction of the butter and sugar in the filling. Then I decided to just go for it! I know 3/4 cup sounds like an awful lot of brown sugar, but it's really just one tablespoon each--not that bad. I still make most things with far less sugar than is typical, but this is a splurge. 

So which is it going to be for you--Chelsea buns or cinnamon rolls?

Chelsea Buns and Cinnamon Rolls / www.delightfulrepast.com

No-Knead Overnight Make-Ahead Cinnamon Rolls or Chelsea Buns

(Makes 12)


4 dip-and-sweep cups (20 ounces/566 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup (8 fluid ounces/237 ml) milk, microwaved 1 to 2 minutes in 2-cup glass measure
6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and added to heated milk
3 large eggs, room temperature, slightly beaten


3/4 cup (5.25 ounces/149 grams) dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons (0.625 ounce/18 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons cinnamon (optional in Chelsea buns)
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (for Chelsea buns only)
Pinch salt
1/2 to 1 cup currants and/or other finely chopped dried fruit
3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces/43 grams) unsalted butter, softened completely

Glaze for Chelsea Buns

3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons milk

Brown Butter Glaze for Cinnamon Rolls

3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces/43 grams) unsalted butter
1 firmly packed cup (4 ounces/113 grams) unsifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Start rolls the day before. In large bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Add milk, butter and eggs, and stir until thoroughly combine. Stir slowly for 1 minute. Stir in 1 cup flour a half cup at a time. The dough will be elastic and sticky.

2 Leave dough in the bowl. Using reserved 1 cup flour, flour hands and sprinkle some flour over the dough. Lightly squish the dough around in the bowl with one hand (not really kneading!), adding a little of the reserved flour at a time. Save about 1 tablespoon of the flour for shaping the rolls. Gently shape the dough into a smooth ball (it will be sticky). Place in lightly oiled bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure so I can easily see when the dough has doubled); lightly oil surface. Cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours (took a little over an hour in cold oven).

3 Punch down dough by pressing down in center and folding in edges; cover an let relax in bowl for 20 minutes. In small bowl, stir together brown sugar, flour (save 1/2 teaspoon for the currants), cinnamon (and, for Chelsea buns, lemon zest) and salt. Put the currants or other dried fruit in another small bowl and stir in that little bit of flour, separating any currants that are clumped together. Grease with soft butter or cooking spray a 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish.

4 Turn dough out onto lightly floured (from the reserved flour) surface, and pat out to 12x16-inch rectangle. Spread on softened butter, leaving 1/2-inch border, then spread on the filling. If using the currants or other dried fruit, sprinkle evenly over the filling. Starting with the long edge nearest you, roll (not too tightly) away from you; seal edge by pinching together. Measure and see that the roll is 18 inches long, not counting the ragged ends (the roll will lengthen as you roll it). 

5 Using dental floss or serrated knife, trim away the ragged ends and cut roll into twelve 1 1/2-inch slices. Put in prepared baking dish. Cover loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes, and then place in refrigerator overnight.

6 Remove rolls from refrigerator 2 hours before baking. During last 15 minutes of that time, preheat oven to 375F/190C/Gas5. Bake rolls for 20 to 25 minutes.

7 For Chelsea buns, prepare glaze during last 5 minutes of baking time. In small pan, heat sugar and milk to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for a minute. Brush hot glaze on hot rolls the minute they come out of the oven.

8 For cinnamon rolls, prepare glaze during last 10 minutes of baking time. In small saucepan, heat butter over medium heat until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; whisk in powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract. Spread over warm rolls.