29 June 2012

Chocolate Ice Cream

Chocolate Ice Cream / www.delightfulrepast.com

Not that I haven't been making ice cream year round since I got an ice cream maker, but now that summer is here I'll be making it at least once a week. Developing ice cream recipes is such a lot of fun. Even if I don't get it exactly right the first time, how bad can a "bad" batch of ice cream be?! Homemade chocolate ice cream is my favorite form of chocolate, and this one is fabulous

If you want something with no fat whatsoever, make my chocolate frozen yogurt. But if you don't mind a little fat, try my chocolate ice cream. If you don't want to use Kahlua, dissolve a half teaspoon or so of espresso powder in a little hot water and use that instead. That little dash of coffee really kicks up the chocolate flavor.

Unlike many, or even most, homemade ice creams, this one is scoopable right out of the freezer. And it has the superb flavor and mouthfeel of a super-premium store-bought ice cream. What is your favorite ice cream flavor? 

Chocolate Ice Cream / www.delightfulrepast.com

Chocolate Ice Cream

(Makes about 5 cups)

1 1/2 cups organic milk (I use 2%)
1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided

3 large organic egg yolks
2 tablespoons Kahlua, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 In heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan, heat milk just to a simmer.

2 While milk is heating, in 1.5-quart bowl whisk together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in 3/4 cup of the cream and the yolks until mixture is smooth.

3 Whisk hot milk into egg mixture, then pour mixture into the saucepan. Over medium heat, stir constantly and cook until the mixture thickens and registers 170 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes; do not boil.

4 Strain into 2-quart bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure to make pouring into the machine easier). Do not reuse the bowl that held the raw eggs. Whisk in Kahlua, vanilla extract and remaining 3/4 cup cream. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours or overnight.

5 Assemble the Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream-Sorbert Maker; turn it on. While it is running, pour the chilled mixture through the spout. Let mix until thickened, about 20 minutes. Or follow the directions for whichever brand ice cream maker you have. If you have a KitchenAid, you can use their KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment.

6 Transfer the soft ice cream to a freezer-safe airtight container, and place in freezer for at least 4 hours. Even after days in the freezer, this ice cream was very scoopable and did not need to be left out for 15 minutes before serving.

Disclosure: If pertinent to the post, I will sometimes mention a favorite piece of equipment or other product, with a link to that item on Amazon.com or other affiliate. If you purchase something from an affiliate through one of my product links, I receive a small commission that does not cost you. 


21 June 2012

No-Knead Bread and Equipment Review - Wusthof Classic 10-Inch Bread Knife

Bread, as you know if you've been reading Delightful Repast for any length of time, is my one weakness. I could live on bread and tea. I love everything about it--the look, feel and smell of it at every stage, as well as the taste. Making homemade bread is even more satisfying than making pies. I get just as giddy now over the magic of yeast as I did when I made my first loaf as young girl.

And I love the kneading. It's like a meditation for me. So why make no-knead bread? Because it's an entirely different bread than you get with kneading. This is a rustic bread--crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside with lots of big holes. If you are someone with arthritis or neuropathy in your hands who cannot knead, this is one homemade bread you should try. And if you are someone who does not own a food processor or heavy-duty stand mixer, this bread's for you; all you need is a bowl and a spoon to mix it up.

Though I sometimes use gluten-free and whole-grain flours, the only white flour I ever use is unbleached all-purpose flour. Life is simpler when the gluten-free and whole-grain flours are in the freezer and there is but one white flour in the cupboard. Why keep cake flour and bread flour on hand when any recipe can be adapted to unbleached all-purpose? Also just for the sake of simplicity, I make all my bread with instant yeast, sometimes called rapid rise or bread machine yeast.

This is my version of the famous Jim Lahey baked-in-a-pot no-knead bread that became a phenomenon of the blogosphere in 2006 when Mark Bittman wrote about it in The New York Times. I got around to trying it a few months later and made the first loaf according to the recipe, then immediately starting experimenting and improving it (or making it better suit my needs, I should say).

I've made the loaf larger (9 inches in diameter and 4 inches high in the middle) and eliminated some of the messy steps. Don’t let the “24-Hour” bit scare you off; it’s really just a few minutes of work and 24 hours of waiting. And it doesn't have to be exactly 24 hours either; it can be several hours less. But when you're trying to figure out how to make it come out at a certain time, it's easier to do the math with 24 hours! 

What are you going to use to cut this big, crusty loaf?

Good kitchen equipment, as you know if you've been reading Delightful Repast for any length of time, is also my one weakness (any Lark Rise to Candleford fans out there?). I'd been on the hunt for a really good bread knife, having been dissatisfied with several over the years, when the Wusthof Classic 10-Inch Bread Knife 4151 was sent to me for review.

I've tried all sorts of bread knives: expensive, cheap, long, short, offset handle, regular handle, straight blade, curved blade, scalloped teeth, regular teeth, combination teeth. They all either squash my bread or don't cut at all! Perhaps my being left-handed has something to do with it? 

The Wusthof Classic knives, which were always razor-sharp, are now 20 percent sharper and will maintain their edge twice as long, thanks to new technology. I'll let you read all the technical details at Wusthof's new microsite. It's quite interesting, but the burning question that needs to be answered here is: Can the Wusthof bread knife cut bread, crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, without squashing it?

Yes, it can! If you saw my review of the Wusthof Classic 8-Inch Cook's Knife, you know I love the way the Wusthof Classic handle feels in my hand. And this 10-inch blade is the perfect length for a bread knife, handling loaves of any size and splitting cake layers beautifully.  

24-Hour No-Knead Bread
Adapted from New York baker Jim Lahey's famous recipe 
(Makes one round 34-ounce European-style boule)

4 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (22.5 ounces/638 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 cups water, room temperature

Note: I use my Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French Oven with 9-inch bottom interior diameter and a 9-inch parchment round sprayed with cooking spray. My pot has the stainless steel knob, so no worries about it cracking at high temperatures. If your pot has the phenolic (plastic) knob, you might try covering it with foil or just order a Le Creuset L9403-45 Stainless-Steel 2-Inch Replacement Knob.

1 Start dough 24 hours before you plan to serve the bread. In large bowl (I use a straight-sided 4-quart glass bowl so I can easily tell when the dough has doubled), whisk together flour, salt and yeast. Add water and stir with dough whisk or large spoon until the dough just comes together into a shaggy, sticky dough. Cover with lid, plate or plastic wrap and let stand 18 1/2 hours on countertop. 

2 Sprinkle a tablespoon of flour over the dough (right in the bowl). With floured hands, pat the dough gently to deflate it a bit. Fold it in thirds (very irregular thirds as this is a very slack dough), then in thirds again, sprinkling on a teaspoon of flour with each fold. Cover with lid, plate or plastic wrap and let it rest for 2 1/2 hours. When you’ve got about a half hour left, place pot (without its lid) in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. 

3 When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size. Remove hot pot from oven. Put a round of cooking-sprayed parchment in the bottom (sprayed side up) to prevent sticking. Using floured hand or a untensil, dump the dough into the heated pot. Cover and place in oven. Reduce heat to 425 degrees, and bake 40 minutes. Uncover, bake another 25 minutes or until the crust is beautifully golden and middle of loaf is 210 degrees.

4 Remove and let cool on wire rack for 2 hours. If not eating right away, you can re-crisp crust in oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. It's best the day it is baked but can be kept, wrapped in foil, at room temperature for up to 2 days. Or keep cut side down covered with a towel to preserve the crust's crunch. This bread makes terrific toast!

5 My favorite way of slicing a boule is to cut the loaf in half, turn the cut side down and slice, but you can make long slices if you like.

Note: You might like some of my other bread recipes. Look under Breads on my Recipes/Reviews index page.

Disclosure: If pertinent to the post, I will sometimes mention a favorite piece of equipment or other product, with a link to that item on Amazon.com. If you purchase something from Amazon through one of my product links, I receive a small commission that does not cost you.

14 June 2012

Pork Chops - The Pork Chop Incident

Pork Chops and Gravy/Sauce - The Pork Chop Incident (funny story!) / www.delightfulrepast.com

Pork chops were on the menu a lot when I was growing up. My mother had countless delicious ways of cooking them. And to this day I can't cook a pork chop without remembering The Pork Chop Incident.

You see, my mother was a world-class cook but kind of a hazard. She didn't always plan in advance. I don't know whether she had known that morning that she was going to cook the pork chops and simply forgot to take them out of the freezer or if she was just being spontaneous. At any rate, she was going to cook those pork chops, frozen or not.

At this point, I must digress and tell you her theory about knives. Cooks of her caliber usually have a great deal of respect for their knives. They want the best knives they can afford, and they keep them sharpened. Not her. She worried about safety and followed religiously the misguided notion that a dull knife is a safer knife.

She had just given me, her enthusiastic nine-year-old sous chef, the standard safety speech when the darkened carbon steel blade jabbed into her palm and out the back of her hand as she attempted to pry apart the frozen chops. My mother was a very excitable sort when a situation wasn't all that serious. But when the chips were down, she was a cool one.

I was amazed at her composure as she tugged the knife out, wrapped her hand in a dish towel, grabbed her purse, and headed out to drive herself (stick-shift, no less) to the doctor. She barely beat my father home and was calmly manning the stove when he came in asking what was for dinner (which, incidentally, was right on time). 

Skillet Pork Chops and Gravy - AND The Pork Chop Incident / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Skillet Pork Chops and Gravy

(Serves 2)

2 8-ounce 3/4-inch-thick bone-in loin pork chops (pastured pork)
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon marjoram

Note: To make enough for 4 in the same size pan, use 4 5- or 6-ounce boneless chops and the same amounts of everything else.

1 Pat pork chops dry and dust them lightly with 1 tablespoon of the flour. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet (I use an All-Clad 5112 Stainless 12-Inch Fry Pan). Shake off excess flour and place chops in the hot pan. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Brown well, as much as 10 minutes. (I repeat: Brown well; it makes all the difference!) Turn chops, sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Brown well. Remove from pan to plate.

2 Gradually add water to the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour to make a smooth mixture. 

3 Pour off most of fat in pan. Add Worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar to pan, stirring to scrape up brown bits. Add flour-water mixture to skillet, simmering and stirring until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon each salt, pepper and marjoram. Return chops to pan, along with any liquid that collected on the plate. Simmer over very low heat, covered loosely, for about 30 minutes. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning.


07 June 2012

Custard Sauce - Creme Anglaise

Custard sauce, the traditional accompaniment for English puddings/desserts, is also the perfect partner for lots of other desserts as well. Two weeks ago I posted angel food cake, which called for 7 egg whites, and said I would soon post the custard sauce, which calls for 7 egg yolks. Food is too precious to waste.

Lots of people use Bird's custard powder, which is eggless, cornstarch-based and now made with non-hydrogenated vegetable oil and no artificial color, making it a good choice for those allergic to eggs. In fact, Mr. Bird developed it in 1837 because his wife was allergic to eggs. But we had no egg allergies in our family, so ...

Only if I were allergic to eggs could I be satisfied with an eggless custard. The flavor of real custard is incomparable, and it really doesn't take much longer to make than a packaged mix. Honestly, it's ready in minutes and makes the simplest dessert, like the organic blueberries and Rainier cherries above, something quite special. 

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Custard Sauce

(Makes about 3 1/2 cups)

3 cups (24 fluid ounces/719 ml) organic milk (I use 2%)
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 large organic egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 In heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan, heat milk just to a simmer.

2 While milk is heating, in 1.5-quart bowl whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in yolks until mixture is smooth.

3 Whisk milk into egg mixture, then pour mixture into the saucepan. Over medium heat, keep whisking and cook until the mixture thickens and registers 170F/76C on instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes; do not boil. 

4 Strain into 1-quart bowl. Stir in vanilla extract. Cool quickly by setting bowl in larger bowl of ice and water for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If not cooling quickly, place a round of buttered parchment paper on the surface of the custard to keep a skin from forming, cover bowl, and refrigerate until needed, up to 2 or 3 days.