25 December 2014

Baby Kale Grapefruit Pomegranate Salad

Baby Kale Grapefruit Pomegranate Salad / www.delightfulrepast.com

Are you in a salad rut? I tend to get in a salad rut, putting together the same (for the most part) ingredients over and over. Then one day I realized two of my favorite fruits, grapefruit and pomegranate, were in season and decided to team them up with a new-to-me salad green, baby kale. 

The regular "adult" kale is perfectly wonderful, and what I always buy, but I thought Baby kale, okay, I'll bite. 

This is so simple, a very short recipe. The three simple ingredients mingle their contrasting colors, tastes and textures in the bowl with a splash of good olive oil cut with the juice captured when dicing the grapefruit.

Like my Chard and Kale Winter Salad, it can be made--and dressed--ahead, so it's the perfect salad to take to potlucks. 
The baby kale might be closer to lettuce than "adult" kale is, but it won't wilt like lettuce when dressed ahead of time.

Baby Kale-Grapefruit-Pomegranate Salad / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Baby Kale Grapefruit Pomegranate Salad

(Makes 4 to 6 servings)

The Salad

1 5-ounce container baby kale
1 large grapefruit
1 medium pomegranate

The Dressing

Juice captured when dicing the grapefruit
About 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 Wash the baby kale and spin it dry. Even though the container it comes in will tell you it's been washed three times and is ready to use, wash it. Put it in a bowl.

2 Wash the grapefruit. Even though you're not going to eat the peel, wash it. Cut off the top and bottom. Following the curve of the fruit, cut off the peel and pith. Cut the peeled grapefruit into rings and then into bite-size pieces. Do this on a plate rather than a cutting board so you can capture all the juice. Add the grapefruit pieces to the kale in the bowl. Pour the juice into a glass measuring cup.

3 Wash the pomegranate (even though you are most definitely not going to eat the peel). Open the pomegranate and remove all the arils. Do this carefully so the red juice doesn't fly everywhere and stain everything in sight. Add to the salad bowl.

4 Whisk some extra virgin olive oil into the grapefruit juice. Taste it. I like it just the way it is, but you might want to add about 1/8 teaspoon each salt and coarsely ground black pepper or whatever you like. Pour it over the salad and toss it around a little. Put a lid on it and refrigerate until dinner time. 


18 December 2014

How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter

How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter / www.delightfulrepast.com

I know I said this in my 72-Hour (Semi) Sourdough Bread post: Making a sourdough starter is straightforward enough, but unless you're making a loaf or two every week, keeping a sourdough starter going is more trouble than keeping a cat!

Since then, I've decided to give it another go. It's been many years since I had a sourdough starter living in my kitchen for any length of time, and I guess the cat wasn't keeping me busy enough, so ... 

But you know what? It really isn't that much trouble! 

You can make your own sourdough starter using nothing but equal weights of organic unbleached all-purpose flour and filtered water. You can do this with measuring cups, but a digital scale is a must if you're a stickler for accuracy.

With a digital scale it is a simple matter to just set the bowl on the scale, press the Zero button to temporarily set the scale to zero, spoon in flour until it registers so many grams or ounces, press the Zero button again and then pour in water until it registers the same number of grams or ounces on the scale.

But if you don't have a digital scale and don't plan to get one, you can make a sourdough starter just fine with your measuring cups and spoons. Just pick a measuring method, cups and spoons, ounces or grams, and stay with it throughout.

I'm no expert on sourdough, but one thing I've learned is that sourdough is more art than science. So I'm more inclined to go with those experts who wing it a bit than with those who insist on precise measurements. 

Start with maybe 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 1/2 tablespoons of water (roughly equal in weight). If using a scale and going by ounces, start with maybe 1/2 or 3/4 ounce of each. If going by grams, maybe 15 grams of each.

Tip: For the same reason I recommend making the starter in a 2-cup glass measure (so you can easily tell how much it has risen), I like to use a 2-quart glass measure for the dough when making Sourdough Sandwich Bread or other not-too-large recipes.

Sourdough Bread Dough / www/delightfulrepast.com
Sourdough Bread Dough

You should start with a very small amount of flour and water because at a certain point you'll be discarding* some of the starter. If you're using large amounts, you'll be wasting a lot of flour. Of course, rather than throwing it in the trash you could compost it or even use it in a recipe such as sourdough pancakes.

* But with my method you'll be discarding far less of the starter initially and none at all throughout the years you're using it!
Your starter might be "ready" in one week, or it might take 2 weeks or more. So plan on babysitting your starter for at least 2 weeks. It will continue to develop flavor and strength, some say for another 30 to 90 days. 

Since this will be on the counter for a week or two, pick a spot where it won't be in the way and where the temperature will be fairly consistent (70 to 75 degrees would be ideal). Pick a time of day that will suit your schedule; you'll need to feed your starter about the same time every day.

If you use a straight-sided clear container, it's very easy to watch your starter's progress. A wide-mouth pint glass jar is fine, but I found I prefer a 2-cup glass measure. Then I store the starter in the jar with a square of plastic wrap held in place by a loose canning ring.

You'll find people who tell you to use grapes, cabbage leaves, pineapple juice, certain grains of one sort or another, or even milk to make your starter. Some people say you cannot make it in a metal container or even use a metal spoon. Some people insist you must use a scale and be very precise.

I'm not saying those things don't work. If that's how you make and maintain a sourdough starter, stay with it. But if you're new to the game, I'd say try it this way first. Sourdough starter really isn't all that fussy. I use organic unbleached all-purpose flour and filtered tap water.

Sourdough Bread Dough / www.delightfulrepast.com
Sourdough Bread Dough

Sourdough Starter

Organic unbleached all-purpose flour
Filtered water

Day 1 In glass or ceramic 1-pint container, stir 2 tablespoons flour and 1 1/2 tablespoons water until smooth. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a slightly ajar lid. Or 1/2 ounce or 15 grams of each.

Day 2 You may or may not see a few bubbles in your starter. Feed the starter same amounts; stir vigorously until smooth. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or slightly ajar lid.

Day 3 You will probably be seeing some bubbles now, and the starter will be smelling a little sour. Feed the starter again, just as on Day 2.

Day 4 The starter should be very bubbly and may have doubled in volume at some point, and it should be smelling quite sour. Also, it should be looser in consistency. Feed the starter again, just as on Days 2 and 3.

Tip: The speed at which sourdough starter develops depends on many things. My latest batch of starter did not double until Day 12.

Day 5 The starter should be frothy and may have doubled again since yesterday. It should smell even more sour and be even looser in consistency. This time, discard all but 1/4 cup starter and feed it with 1/4 cup flour and 3 tablespoons water. Or 2 ounces or 60 grams and feed it with 2 ounces or 60 grams each flour and water.

Tip: At some point in the process, your starter may start smelling like acetone (nail polish remover); don't be alarmed, just carry on. Or it may develop a layer of liquid ("hooch") on top; just stir it in and carry on.

Day 6 Discard all but 1/4 cup of the starter and feed it with 1/4 cup flour and 3 tablespoons water. Or 2 ounces or 60 grams and feed it with 2 ounces or 60 grams each flour and water. 

Day 7 Repeat as on Day 6.

Day 8 Sourdough starter is ready to use when it is both one week old and doubling in size between feedings. On Day 8 it will be one week old, but if it is not doubling, just be patient and keep going! It may take 2 weeks. Keep discarding and feeding. 

Tip: At this rate of feeding, after one week you will have at least a cup of starter--enough for a recipe and to hold back 1 ounce of starter to store and build up again for a recipe. If it's not ready, though, you'll want to proceed with a reduced amount of starter to be fed with equal weights of flour and water until it can double itself between feedings.

Update 10/28/17: I've kept my little batch of starter in a little half-pint jar (no discarding ever) since 2014. 

How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter / www.delightfulrepast.com
Sourdough Boule Rising

Using and Maintaining Your Sourdough Starter

Cover it and refrigerate. Get into the habit of taking the starter out and feeding it once a week, letting it sit out overnight before returning it to the refrigerator. It will continue to develop flavor and strength, some say for another 30 to 90 days.

Make Sourdough Artisan Bread or Sourdough Sandwich Bread.

Check out my Sourdough Bread Tips.

11 December 2014

Sourdough Sandwich Bread - Wild Yeast Bread

Sourdough Sandwich Bread / www.delightfulrepast.com

This sourdough sandwich bread is a classic sourdough bread, meaning it is made without the addition of commercial yeast. Baked in a loaf pan, it has the chewy texture of an artisan loaf but in a shape handy to slice for sandwiches or toast. Ohhh, the toast!

You don't need a heavy-duty stand mixer or strong arms for kneading. You don't need a pizza stone or a cast-iron Dutch oven, just a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan; I use this equivalent 9x4x4-inch pullman loaf pan (without its lid). 

Sourdough Sandwich Bread in Pan / www.delightfulrepast.com

Here's How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter soon. It's really simple. All it takes is unbleached all-purpose flour (preferably organic), filtered or bottled water (not distilled or chlorinated tap) and lots of patience. 

Sourdough without added yeast is definitely as much art as science, so prepare to adjust to its timetable; it's not going to adjust to yours! It can take as long as 34 to 42 hours, but that's mostly time it's sitting around doing its thing while you're going about your business. 

Sourdough Toast / www.delightfulrepast.com

Sourdough Sandwich Bread 

(Makes one 26-ounce loaf)

1 1/2 cups fed 100% hydration sourdough starter (Follow Steps 1 and 2)
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 dip-and-sweep cups (15 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, divided 

1 Feed up your starter to 1 1/2 cups: Take 2 tablespoons starter out of refrigerated storage container. Put it in a 2-cup glass measure (It actually holds 3 cups, so shouldn't overflow when it doubles). Stir in 1/3 cup flour and 1/4 cup water. Stir vigorously, cover loosely and let stand at room temperature for 8 or 12 hours. 

Tip: See schedule below to plan your bake. 

2 Stir down starter and add 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup water. Proceed as in previous step. 

Sourdough Starter / www.delightfulrepast.com

3 Stir down fed starter and measure 1 1/2 cups of of it into 2-quart glass measure. With a dough whisk or large spoon, stir in water, salt and 1 cup flour. When all the flour is incorporated, stir in 1 1/2 cups of flour a half cup at a time. Stir until dough just comes together into a shaggy dough (fairly stiff, but still sticky). With one hand, knead dough right in the bowl, just enough to incorporate all the flour, about 20 times in all. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap or lid and let stand at room temperature overnight. 

Tip: Any leftover fed starter can be added to your stored starter in the refrigerator (Stir it vigorously and let stand at room temperature for a few hours; this feeds the starter for the week) or just kept on the counter if you're making more bread in a day or two.

4 Grease bread pan. I use a 9x4x4-inch (1.5-pound) pullman pan (without its lid). It's about the same capacity as a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. 

5 Using no more than 1/8 cup altogether, sprinkle countertop with some flour. Gently scrape the dough onto the floured countertop. Sprinkle with flour. Press gently into a roughly 12-by-8-inch rectangle. Using a bench scraper, fold one third of the rectangle toward the center, then fold the other end to the center, like a letter. With the bench scraper, place folded dough in the pan, pressing it into the corners. Brush on a little water. Cover it loosely with an oiled or cooking-sprayed piece of plastic wrap. 

6 Let rise until doubled. If using 9x5x3-inch loaf pan, it should rise an inch or two above the rim of the pan. If using 9x4x4 pullman pan without its lid, the dough should rise to below or just even with the top of pan. This can take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours. The dough needs to rise until the dough doesn't quickly spring back when poked with a floured finger or knuckle. 

Tip: Check on the dough's progress regularly. After making it a few times, you'll have a better idea of how long it will take. And that will change as the weather changes. I keep my house rather cool in winter, so sourdough bread takes much longer to rise now than it does in summer.

7 Toward the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Just before baking, brush the loaf with a little water.

8 Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees and continue baking for about 30 minutes or until crust is beautifully golden and middle of loaf registers 210 degrees on instant-read thermometer

Tip: For reasons I won't go into (something about lactobacilli and yeast and ...), sourdough bread sometimes doesn't brown as well as other breads. If you're into the well-browned crust, take the loaf from the oven about 5 minutes early and brush the top with a little olive oil and put it back in.

9 Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack for 1 1/2 hours before slicing.

Sample Baking Plans

Schedule with two 8-hour feedings
Day 1
6:00 am First feeding
2:00 pm Second feeding
10:00 pm Make dough
Day 2
10:00 am Shape loaf

Schedule with two 12-hour feedings
Day 1
9:00 pm First feeding
Day 2
9:00 am Second feeding
9:00 pm Make dough
Day 3
9:00 am Shape loaf

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04 December 2014

Magical Coconut Pie

I've been cooking way too much lately. I needed a break, but I also needed a dessert. Something quick and easy, but "from scratch." So I'm going retro, baby! With Magical Coconut Pie. 

Anyone who grew up, or cooked, in the 1970s might remember Impossible Pies, so called because they formed their own crust (not really) while baking. They were made with Bisquick, which we never had in our house because my mother never used mixes of any kind. I still don't. 

So when I had some extra organic coconut on my hands and decided to whip one of these up, I needed to come up with a formula that did not contain the popular baking mix. No offense to the Bisquick people, but until they come up with an organic "whole" version, I'll just do my own thing.  

We were out of regular milk, so I used rice milk with a little heavy cream mixed in for a better approximation of milk. I seem to recall people used to mix up their Impossible Pies in a blender, but I go low-tech whenever possible so just used a whisk. 

This "pie" puffs way up while it's cooking and then shrinks down as it cools. If I wanted to end up with larger pieces, I would increase the quantities; but I like having it end up about 8 inches in diameter for daintier serving sizes.

What is your favorite quick and easy from-scratch dessert to make when you just don't have the time or energy to get too carried away?

Magical Coconut Pie 

(Makes one 9-inch pie, 8 servings) 

1/3 cup (2.33 ounces/66 grams) sugar
1/3 dip-and-sweep cup (1.67 ounces/47 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/57 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces/355 ml) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Spray a 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. 

2 In medium bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, salt, baking powder and coconut. Add eggs, butter, milk and vanilla; whisk until thoroughly combined (I whisked vigorously for about 30 seconds). 

3 Pour into prepared pie plate. Bake about 45 to 50 minutes, until golden brown and set. A little wobble is fine; it will firm up as it cools.

4 Let cool to room temperature before cutting and serving or refrigerating. Serve with some barely sweetened whipped cream.


27 November 2014

10 Favorite Kitchen Essentials

If you're reading this now, your cooking is probably done for the next few days. If it hasn't happened yet, within the next several days your thoughts will likely turn to shopping and yet more cooking. 

So this is the perfect time for us to talk about kitchen must-haves. It's been three years since I posted my 10 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets, something I thought I would do annually. Oh well ... so much for my briskly efficient editorial calendar! 

Of course, those 10 favorites are still favorites; and here are 10 more. The items on my list range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars each and are all, with one exception, things I use nearly every day in my own kitchen.

What kitchen tools and gadgets do you find indispensable? What's on your wish list? 

10 Favorite Kitchen Essentials

1 Cuisinart 5.5-quart stand mixer There is also a 7-quart model, but I haven't made anything yet that made me regret choosing the 5.5-quart (pictured above). It has proven more than adequate for my purposes. Like my decades-old Cuisinart food processor, this heavy-duty workhorse will live forever! 

2 Thermapen I wish I could buy all of you a Thermapen super-fast instant-read thermometer. I use it all the time to take the temperature of meats, doughs, breads, custards. It's the secret to my perfect eggnog!

3 French rolling pin I have all kinds of rolling pins, but this is my personal favorite. I reach for it more frequently than my straight rolling pin or the big one with handles or the one with ball bearings. 

4 Cuisinart food processor I have the Prep Plus now. Before that I had the no-longer-made DLC 10-E, the predecessor of the Cuisinart DLC 10-S 7-cup. It still works beautifully, so I passed it along to a friend when I got the bigger one. 

5 OXO Good Grips bench scraper This is great for scooping up chopped vegetables, trimming puff pastry, dividing dough, scraping dough residue from cutting board or counter. 

6 Lodge Pro-Logic 14-inch cast iron pizza pan I use it like a pizza stone. Great for artisan breads as well as pizza. When baking a pie, I put a square of foil on the pan and set the pie plate on it. Keeps the oven clean and aids with browning the bottom crust. 

7 GIR spatulas Love these unibody silicone tools! One piece of molded food-grade silicone with reinforced interiors, heat-proof to 464 degrees, eco-friendly material, BPA-free, easy to clean and dishwasher safe. Four sizes: mini, skinny, ultimate and pro.

8 OXO Good Grips 11-pound digital scale I still use measuring cups for some things, but weighing flours of all kinds is the only way to go! You can go from weighing pounds and ounces to metric units with the push of a button. Helps in making my rolls the same size and getting equal amounts of batter in layer cake pans. 

9 Wusthof Classic 6-inch extra wide cook's knife A really good chef's knife is the most important knife to have, and it needs to have the right blade size for the task and the right handle for your hand. This 6-inch extra wide is shorter than, but just as wide as, the regular 8-inch; and it feels "right" in my hand.

Number 10 is something I don't actually have yet, so it's really Number 1 on my wish list! 

10 All-Clad stainless steel 2-quart saucier Anyone who makes custards and sauces as often as I do needs this pan. Its sloped bottom allows a whisk or spoon to do a thorough job. 

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from Amazon through one of my links, I receive a small commission, at no cost to you, which I use toward the expenses of running this blog. Thank you!

20 November 2014

Chocolate Cream Pie for Two

Chocolate Cream Pie is something I rarely have because a whole pie is too much for two or three people. Fruit pie I'll eat for breakfast, so no problem there. But chocolate, well, I can't justify having that for breakfast. Then I thought, Why not just make a small one?

I had some leftover buttermilk recently, and you know how I hate to waste food. Happened to be making a pie one day and decided to use buttermilk instead of water. Loved it. And here I am again with buttermilk on hand, so I made buttermilk pastry for this pie.

Thing is, I'm not sure I even like regular pie crust for chocolate cream pie any more. I'm thinking I might like some sort of crumb crust or maybe the nut crust I use on my Chocolate Creamy Dreamy.

The Whipped Cream Fiasco
Subtitle: Some days it just doesn't pay to even go into the kitchen!

Then there's the whipped cream. I'm thinking I might actually prefer meringue. But that might just be because I had such an ordeal with the whipped cream. Yes, an ordeal! The store was out of my favorite organic heavy whipping cream, so I got a different brand. It would not whip!

I've never had that happen before. The heavy whipping cream was cold. The bowl was cold. The wire whip beater was cold. I made it just the way I always do. It would not whip! I always use number 5 on my mixer for whipped cream. After 10 minutes on number 5, the cream was barely thicker than when it came out of the carton.

So I cranked it up to 8 for a few minutes. No change. I turned it all the way up to 12 for a few minutes. No change. I gave it 20 minutes total before deciding there was something wrong with the cream. My husband made an emergency run to the nearest grocery store and bought another pint of heavy whipping cream, and I started over.

No problem, as you can see from the photo. Question: Ever happen to you? Or: What is your latest kitchen fiasco? 

Chocolate Cream Pie

(Makes one 6- to 7-inch pie, 4 servings)

The Buttermilk Pastry for one 6- or 7-inch pie shell

3/4 dip-and-sweep cup (3.75 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, well chilled, cut into thin pats
3 to 4 tablespoons buttermilk

The Chocolate Filling

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups milk
1 tablespoon triple-strength coffee,* optional
2 large egg yolks (save whites for the meringue)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

The Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Update 08/30/16: If you're making the pie ahead and want to make sure the whipped cream holds up, follow the directions here for Stabilized Whipped Cream.

Update 02/01/19: My new favorite crust for any cream pie is the one you will find here at Banana Cream Pie - Best Crust Ever for Cream Pies.

* For triple-strength coffee, I put a tablespoon of ground coffee in a one-cup paper filter and pour over 1/4 cup boiled water, then keep it in the refrigerator for a few days to use in various things. (I don't really know if that's precisely "triple-strength," but that's what I decided to call it!)

1 In 1.5-quart bowl, whisk together flour and salt. With pastry cutter or fingertips, cut butter into flour, leaving some larger pieces. With a dinner fork, stir in buttermilk a little at a time, using only as much as necessary to form a shaggy dough. Wrap the dough in a square of plastic wrap, forming the dough into a 1-inch-thick disk. Refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. Save the piece of plastic, you'll be using it again.

2 Roll out pastry to an 11-inch circle and transfer dough to 6- to 7-inch pie plate, pressing dough (but not stretching it) to fit pie plate with about a one-inch overhang (trim with knife or scissors), crimp edge, cover with reserved piece of plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for 20 minutes, dock (poke holes all over bottom and sides with a fork). Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until well browned. Cool on wire rack. 

3 When pie shell is just about cooled, start making filling. In heavy-bottomed 1.5-quart saucepan, whisk together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in egg yolks, coffee and, gradually, milk until smooth. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until you see bubbles forming at the edge and the mixture thickening, about 5 minutes or so. 

4 Strain through fine-mesh sieve, and stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into cooled crust and smooth top. Cover with reserved piece of plastic wrap and let cool at room temperature for one hour; place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.  

5 In bowl of heavy-duty stand mixer with wire whisk attached, beat cold cream, sugar and vanilla on medium speed. After about 4 or 5 minutes of thinking nothing is happening, you'll start to see the cream thickening. Continue to beat at medium speed, watching for the soft peaks stage, then the firm peaks stage. If you're just spreading the whipped cream on the pie, stop there. If you want to pipe the whipped cream, beat until whites hold stiff peaks. Pay close attention at every stage; it can turn to butter before you know it!

6 With a pastry bag fitted with a 2D tip or 1M tip, pipe rosettes of whipped cream onto pie.


13 November 2014

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies / www.delightfulrepast.com

Pumpkin pecan cookies are an autumn favorite. I just love the spicy scents wafting around the kitchen as they bake. Funny, but I rarely make anything with pumpkin during spring or summer. Funny because I prefer to use canned pumpkin, which is available year round.

I buy organic pumpkin in 15-ounce cans, which hold 1 3/4 cups. I absolutely hate waste (My Grandma would be so proud!), so if a recipe calls for anything less than the whole can I have to have two recipes lined up to use it all. So when I make my Steamed Pumpkin Pudding that calls for 3/4 cup, I also make this cookie recipe that calls for the remaining cup.

Granted, these may not be the most photogenic cookies, but they are "healthy" cookies, having less sugar and fat than typical cookies. The raisins are naturally sweet and the spices add an illusion of sweetness, so you won't feel deprived that each large cookie has just a teaspoon of sugar.

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies / www.delightfulrepast.com

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

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies

(Makes 3 dozen cookies)

2 dip-and-sweep cups (10 ounces/283 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves

10 tablespoons (5 ounces/142 grams) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces/149 grams) sugar
1 cup (8.5 ounces/241 grams) pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) chopped pecans
1 packed cup (5 ounces/142 grams) raisins

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4 (375F/190C/Gas5, if using insulated cookie sheet). In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. 

2 In medium bowl, cream butter and sugar; add egg, then pumpkin puree, then dry ingredients. Stir in nuts and raisins. 

3 Drop by #40 scoopfuls (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) onto cookie sheet that has been greased or lined with parchment paper. Flatten scoops of dough a bit unless you like a spherical cookie. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack.


06 November 2014

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake - Slow Cooker

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake / www.delightfulrepast.com

Cheesecake is the dessert we order most often when dining out. Since I started making cheesecakes in the slow cooker, I make them much more frequently; so we can Just Say No to expensive desserts at the restaurant and go home to homemade cheesecake!

It is pumpkin 
season, so pumpkin cheesecake was in order. But I like vanilla so much I thought I'd compromise with a pumpkin swirl cheesecake. Of course, as usual, I just made it up as I went along. 

I thought 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree mixed into 3/4 cup of the cheesecake batter would be about right for the swirl. Took a stab at the spice amounts; couldn't go by taste because I do not eat anything with raw eggs in it. Turned out well!

Do you think this might make a change from pumpkin pie on your autumn celebration menus? Or an addition? Think I'll have just a tiny sliver of each!

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

(Makes one 7-inch cheesecake, 8 servings)

The Crust

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature (for pan)
1 cup crushed crisp ginger cookies
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

The Filling

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, each cut into 8 squares, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
Pinch of ground cloves

1 Butter bottom and sides of a 7-inch springform pan with the softened butter. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the pan, press it in the buttered pan, then turn it over and press it into place. 

2 Combine crumbs, and melted butter until the mixture comes together. If you used a food processor to make the crumbs, you can mix the crust in it as well. If you used your fingers or the rolling pin/plastic bag method to make the crumbs, you can mix the crust with a fork in a small bowl. Press the crumb mixture evenly and firmly over the bottom of the pan.

Note: The ginger cookies I used would have been impossible to crush without a food processor!

3 With electric mixer on medium speed, mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until perfectly smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl and beaters/paddle. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. On low speed, mix in sour cream just until well combined. Remove 3/4 cup of the cheesecake batter; set aside. Pour half the remaining batter into the prepared pan.

Note: Don't get in a hurry like I did and not allow enough time for your cream cheese to come to room temperature and soften, or you end up with little chunks of cream cheese throughout the batter. Even if it all smooths out as it bakes, I don't like it! Do as I say, not as I do!

4 Stir together the reserved 3/4 cup of cheesecake batter and the pumpkin puree and spices until thoroughly combined. Place spoonfuls of the pumpkin batter on top of the filling in the pan; pour the remaining half of the batter into the pan. Place spoonfuls of the remaining pumpkin batter on top of the filling in the pan; cut through batter several times with a knife to make swirls (being careful not to disturb the crust).

5 Place rack in bottom of cooker, and add water to just below the rack (that's about 2 1/2 cups in the Cuisinart MSC-600 Multicooker). Set the cheesecake on the rack. Cover the slow cooker with a triple layer of paper towels and the lid. (The paper towels will prevent condensation falling from the lid onto your cheesecake.) Set to Slow Cook on High for 2 hours; do not lift lid. Turn off the heat and let stand for 1 hour; do not lift lid until the hour is up.

6 Remove the lid and paper towels, and remove cheesecake to wire rack. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake; cool for 1 hour. Run the knife around the edge again and remove the sides of the pan. Cover and chill for at least 6 hours (or up to 3 days) before serving.

Disclosure: Some posts contain links to my affiliate account at Amazon.com. If you purchase something from Amazon through one of my links, I receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, which I use toward the expenses of running this blog. Thanks for supporting Delightful Repast when you shop at Amazon!

30 October 2014

GIR Ultimate Spatula and Kitchen Tools - Review and Giveaway

GIR Spatula Pinwheel / www.delightfulrepast.com
Photo courtesy of GIR

You might ask, What's the big deal about spatulas? A spatula is a spatula, right? Up until recently, I might have said so. I've tried dozens of spatulas over the years (as you may know, I have a serious gadget habit), and this is the first one I've been completely happy with.

The biggest problem with most spatulas is that they are a silly two-piece design. If you've ever had the business end pop off the handle and get stuck in whatever you're making, you know what I'm talking about. Or you might not have realized it was a two-piece gadget until you were washing it one day and it came apart and you spotted moldy gunk inside!

A few one-piece spatulas have found their way into my kitchen and have quickly been shown the way out! They were so rigid as to be completely useless. I always thought, Why can't someone make a good spatula? Well, someone finally did. GIR, ProductofGIR.com. Love these unibody silicone tools! One piece of molded food-grade silicone with reinforced interiors, heat-proof to 464 degrees, eco-friendly material, BPA-free, easy to clean and dishwasher safe.

This giveaway is open to readers everywhere in the world!

The Ultimate Spatula is the one to start with, the one most home cooks would use most frequently. There's also the Skinny, perfect for blender jars or scraping the last of the mayonnaise out of the tall jar; the Mini, just what's needed for getting all the tomato paste out of those tiny cans or scraping small measuring cups; and the Pro, really hefty for big jobs.

And there's the Scraper (bowl scraper and bench scraper), which also serves as a ruler; the Ultimate Spoon, which I'm expecting to become a firm favorite; the Ultimate Flip and Pro Flip, both of which look great for right-handers (I'm a leftie, but my husband can use them for outdoor grilling); and the Silicone Lids, which can be used for cooking or storage. 

The entire line comes in an array of beautiful colors, but what color did I choose? Black. For every single item, black. If you win the giveaway, you might want to be a little more adventurous than I! The spatulas may be more expensive than other brands, but they are guaranteed for life. 

GIR Ultimate Spatula Red / www.delightfulrepast.com
Photo courtesy of GIR
GIR Giveaway
This giveaway is open to readers everywhere in the world! One winner will receive a 5-piece set of kitchen tools from GIR, all four different spatulas plus the new Ultimate spoon in your choice of color(s); you may choose a different color for each! All readers who leave a comment about spatulas (one entry per person - and please include your email address in the body of your comment) on this post before 11:59 pm Eastern time Wednesday November 5 will be put into a random drawing. 

Winner will be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday November 6. If I don't hear back from the winner of the random drawing by 11:59 am Eastern time Sunday November 9, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline).

Buy It Now GIR kitchen tools, including the Ultimate spatula, are available on Amazon.

Disclosure: Though GIR provided silicone kitchen tools for review purposes and for the giveaway, the views expressed here are entirely my own. I always tell my readers what I really think!