28 March 2013

Cranberry-Apple Turnovers

Cranberry-Apple Turnovers / www.delightfulrepast.com

Last week I posted my Ruff Puff pastry, and now here is one of my favorite ways to use it. The filling is not too sweet, and you don't use much of it, so this is a pastry I can feel good about eating for breakfast as well as dessert. Perfect with a cup of tea (or coffee).

Rough Puff Pastry Tutorial / www.delightfulrepast.com


You can make the filling, as well as the puff pastry, two days ahead; so they can be made very quickly whenever you like. I like to make four now and four later. Just cut the finished pastry in two and roll out one half now and refrigerate or freeze the other half until you're ready for it. Same with the filling.

Get ready to hear "You made these yourself?!" Yes, your friends will think you're some kind of genius. Let them! Tell me, what do you like to make that always wows people?

Cranberry-Apple Turnovers / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Cranberry-Apple Turnovers

(Makes 8)

The Filling

3/4 pound Granny Smith apples
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

The Pastry

1 recipe Ruff Puff pastry
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 Peel, quarter and core apples. Cut each quarter in half lengthwise and into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Put in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir in lemon juice to keep apples from turning brown.

2 In small bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Stir in dried cranberries, separating any that are clumped together.

3 Pour dry mixture over apples in saucepan; stir to coat. Stir in water and butter. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer until apples are starting to get tender and liquid is thickened and reduced, about 10 minutes (5 minutes covered, 5 minutes uncovered), stirring frequently. Set aside to cool; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

4 Roll the puff pastry into a 20-by-10-inch (trimmed measurement) rectangle. Cut the dough into eight 5-inch squares, and place the squares on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Put a 1/8-cup portion* (that's 2 tablespoons) of filling in the center of each square. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring out one sheet at a time to keep pastry cold. If your kitchen is very warm, bring out one pastry square at a time.

Note: Portioning out the filling all at once before any folding and crimping is done prevents you from running out of filling before you run out of pastry squares!

5 Using a finger or a pastry brush, wet the edges of a pastry square. Fold pastry in half diagonally and press edges with a fork to seal the edges together. Place turnovers on large parchment-lined baking sheet. If you don't have a really large baking sheet, use two or bake in two batches. Once all are assembled, check to make sure the sealed edges are holding. 

6 Brush with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Or do an egg wash, if you prefer, with an egg beaten with a tablespoon of water. With sharp knife, make three small slits on each turnover. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes while oven preheats to 425F/220C/Gas7. Or refrigerate for several hours. 

7 Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.


21 March 2013

Ruff Puff - Quick Puff Pastry

Puff pastry, the queen of pastry, is something even skilled bakers often skip over because it is so labor-intensive and time-consuming. As with me, it might be something you make a few times before deciding "Okay, I've mastered it, don't need to do that again." 

Frozen works. There's even an all-butter alternative now to the widely known brand of frozen puff pastry, though I've yet to find an organic version.

Cranberry-Apple Turnovers / www.delightfulrepast.com

Recipes abound for quick (also known as "rough") puff pastry. Like the slow version, they call for an enormous quantity of butter. I love butter, but I like to cut back the fats in my diet as much as possible (though never to the point of sacrificing flavor and texture, of course!).

One day when I was making my usual all-butter flaky pastry, it occurred to me to do a little experiment. What if I used my usual pastry recipe but did a few rounds of folding and chilling? The first batch I used to top Chicken Pot Pies, and the results were amazing. Then beef pot pies (above--I'll post the recipe another day). So I thought, Let's see how it works for turnovers. Beyond amazing! Come back for that recipe soon. 

Rough Puff Pastry Tutorial - Quick Puff Pastry / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Ruff Puff

(Makes 26 ounces of pastry - enough for 8 turnovers)

2 1/2 packed cups (12.5 ounces/354 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 sticks (8 ounces/226 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 30 minutes
2 tablespoons lemon juice or cider vinegar
Ice water to make 3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) liquid

1 With metal blade in place, add flour, salt and baking powder to work bowl of food processor. Turn on for three seconds to combine. Add the frozen butter and pulse for three 1-second pulses.

2 In cup, combine lemon juice or cider vinegar and ice water. Pour liquid over all of flour mixture and pulse for three 1-second pulses. It will be very crumbly. Don't worry about it.

Note: No food processor? No problem. On large cutting board, mix together flour, salt and baking powder. With pastry scraper, cut frozen butter cubes into flour mixture. Mix the ice water and vinegar and sprinkle over the mixture, tossing lightly with a fork. You'll think it's just a big pile of nothing, but don't worry about it. 

3 Turn the crumbly dough out onto lightly floured 12-inch square of parchment paper, and roughly shape into a 12-by-8-inch rectangle. Using a bench scraper or just the paper, carefully fold one third of the rectangle toward the center, then fold the other end to the center, like a letter. (It will still be a crumbly mess at this point.) Rotate the dough 90 degrees, then press (no need for rolling pin until after dough has been chilled) the dough again into a 12-by-8-inch rectangle. Repeat. After that third turn, cover and place in the freezer for 20 minutes (or in the refrigerator for 45 minutes).

Note: Work rather quickly. If at any point in the process the butter starts warming up or the dough seems to be getting soft or sticky, immediately cover and refrigerate it until it firms up.

4 On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll the chilled dough into a 12-by-8-inch rectangle. Fold into thirds. Rotate the dough 90 degrees, then roll out and fold again. Roll the dough out once more and fold again into thirds. Roll out and fold once more, for a total of 4 turns.

5 Chill for two hours before using, or wrap well and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. Roll out to about 1/4-inch thickness, about 10-by-20-inch rectangle, and proceed with your recipe. If baking the pastry on its own, as for Napoleons, cut the pastry to size and place in freezer for 10 minutes while oven preheats to 400 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking another 20 minutes. (All ovens are different, so watch carefully.)

Note: I have every kind of rolling pin there is, but the tapered French rolling pin is the one I use most often. The J K Adams FRP-1 is made in the USA of maple.


14 March 2013

Pan-Seared New York Strip Steaks with Red Wine Pan Sauce - and RMOM Steak Giveaway

Grilled steaks are all well and good, but you can't make a pan sauce if you don't cook the steaks in a pan. And I do love a good pan sauce! This time I had a little leftover Merlot, just enough to make a sauce for two steaks. If you're one of those people who think cooking a steak in a frying pan would just ruin a good piece of meat, stay tuned. I'm going to give you detailed instructions for making a great-tasting skillet steak, something I learned from my mother. 

The steaks came from Rocky Mountain Organic Meats, a company I've come to rely on for meat that is 100% grass-fed, grass-finished and certified organic. No hormones. No antibiotics. No grain. No GMO feed. No irradiation. No feedlots where deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria thrive. The people at RMOM are passionate about sustainable and organic agriculture and livestock production and dedicated to environmentally friendly agriculture practices, healthy land stewardship and--most important to me--the ethical treatment of animals.

And RMOM is going to ship four of these beautiful steaks to one of my readers! See bottom of the post for giveaway details. This one (in the photo) is cooked medium. How do you like your steaks?

Note: If you haven't read Pure Beef by Lynne Curry, read my review of it.

Pan-Seared New York Strip Steaks with Red Wine Pan Sauce / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Pan-Seared New York Strip Steaks 

with Red Wine Pan Sauce

(Serves 2) 

The Sauce

1/2 cup drinkable dry red wine
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (Lea and Perrins) 
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces

The Steaks

2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 New York strip steaks, 1 inch thick, about 8 ounces each, room temperature
Coarsely ground black pepper

1 Start sauce before starting steaks. In fact, I made the base of the sauce a few hours ahead. In small saucepan, bring wine up to a very gentle boil for several minutes, or until reduced by half. In small skillet, heat oil and cook shallot for two minutes. Add shallots to the reduced wine, along with the Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Set aside.

2 Heat heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, about 3 minutes. Add the oil, not much, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan.

3 Thoroughly dry steaks with paper towels and season both sides with salt and lots of pepper. The oil should be shimmering in the hot pan.

4 Place steaks in the pan, with space between them. Cook over medium-high heat, not moving steaks, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, turn steaks; cook 5 minutes. Turn steaks again and reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for 4 minutes for medium (or 2 for medium rare). Turn once more and cook for another 2 minutes. With tongs, turn each steak on its edge and take a minute to cook all around the edge. Transfer steaks to plate, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes or so while making the sauce.

5 As soon as steaks are removed, add wine mixture to pan and cook over low heat about 1 minute, scraping up browned bits. Stir in lemon juice and any accumulated juices from platter. Add butter, whisking constantly until melted. Spoon over steaks and serve immediately. 

Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain Organic Meats

Rocky Mountain Organic Meats Giveaway
One winner will receive four 8-ounce New York strip steaks 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 March 20 will be put into a random drawing. Winner will be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday March 21. If I don't hear back from the winner of the random drawing by 11:59 am Eastern time Sunday March 24, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline).
Note: Please include a valid email address in the body of your comment. 
Disclosure: The product for this review and giveaway is being provided by RMOM. All opinions shared are my own. 


07 March 2013

Irish Brown Bread - Irish Soda Bread

I love it when my readers send in requests. Lana of Life at Wildberry Cottage left the following comment on my Buttermilk Biscuits post: "Recipe looks easy, and I agree with you about the organic ingredients. With St. Patrick's Day coming up next month, would you have a recipe for Irish soda bread that does not come out dry? I have tried many recipes that fall short."

It had been a long time since I'd made it, so I had to dig through a few boxes to find the recipe I'd developed years ago. Like Lana, I don't like soda bread that's overly dry and crumbly. I hope she--and you--will find my recipe to your liking. Do let me know! Keep in mind that this is a bread best eaten on the day it's made or toasted the next day.

Since I'm not Irish (though Danny Boy always makes me cry!), I make no claims about "authenticity." But this does taste very much like the bread served at a nearby Irish pub. Some purists would object, I'm sure, to the brown sugar, the butter or the egg--or all three. But I think one or all of those might be the very things that give this loaf the texture I like. It's the perfect accompaniment to soups and stews.

Irish Brown Soda Bread / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Irish Brown Soda Bread

2 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (12.5 ounces/354 grams) stone ground whole wheat flour
1 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (7.5 ounces/213 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces/43 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups (14 fluid ounces/414 ml) buttermilk

1 Preheat oven to 400F/205C/Gas6. Put a 12-inch square of parchment paper on baking sheet.

2 In large bowl, whisk together flours, brown sugar, salt and baking soda. With fingers, rub butter into flour mixture. In 2-cup glass measure, beat egg and add buttermilk (about 1 3/4 cups) to the 2-cup line.

3 Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Slowly bring the flour mixture into the liquid. Stir gently to combine into a slightly sticky dough that can be formed into a ball. Knead lightly, right in the bowl, not more than 5 or 6 times, forming into a ball.

4 Place ball of dough on parchment-lined baking sheet. Dough should (but may not) be of a consistency to flatten itself just slightly. Press it down a bit to a diameter of roughly 6 1/2 to 7 inches and a height of about 2 to 2 1/2 inches. With sharp knife, cut a 1/4-inch deep "+" on top of dough (helps the bread to cook through and not have a doughy middle).

5 Bake for about 50 minutes, or until it tests done. I do two tests: 1. stick a toothpick in the center and see if it comes out clean and 2. tap it on the bottom and see if it sounds hollow. To cool, place the loaf on a wire rack and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Cool completely, 2 to 3 hours, before slicing, or it may be too crumbly and not hold together well.

Note: For breakfast, serve with butter and marmalade. For dinner, serve with butter. For appetizers, spread with butter and top with smoked salmon or prosciutto (I use Applegate).


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