28 February 2014

English Muffin Toasting Bread

English Muffin Toasting Bread / www.delightfulrepast.com

English Muffin Toasting Bread is something I hadn't made in decades when it recently entered my thoughts again. Most recipes for it call for a huge amount of yeast and very short rising time. I prefer the added flavor that comes from using less yeast and more time.

This bread makes the crunchiest, most English muffin-like toast ever! Perfect with a generous slathering of organic unsalted butter and raspberry jam. And it is so incredibly easy that it's the first thing that came to mind when I asked myself "What can I possibly make for the blog today even though I'm sick?" Yes, its that easy! 

All the flavor, none of the faff! But if you want to make the muffins, here you go: How to Make Homemade English Muffins.

English Muffin Toasting Bread / www.delightfulrepast.com

English Muffin Toasting Bread

(Makes two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by 2 1/2-inch loaves) 

5 dip-and-sweep cups (25 ounces/709 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups (24 fluid ounces/710 ml) milk (I use organic 2 percent)
Cornmeal for pans

1 In large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, yeast, salt and baking soda. In 1-quart glass measure, heat milk until very warm (120 to 130F/49 to 54C) in the microwave.

2 With dough whisk or large wooden spoon, stir milk into flour until well combined. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with cooking spray and cover bowl. Let dough rise for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours.

3 Spray two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pans, also known as 1-pound loaf pans (another 1-pound loaf pan) with cooking spray and coat with about a tablespoon of cornmeal. Stir down dough and divide evenly between the two prepared pans. Smooth out the batter and sprinkle with a little cornmeal. Cover pans with the same piece of sprayed plastic wrap you used to cover the bowl. Let dough rise for about an hour, just to the tops of the pans.

4 During last 10 minutes of rise, preheat oven to 400F/205C/Gas6 (375F/190C/Gas5, if using glass pans). Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire rack for about an hour. Do not slice until completely cool.

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20 February 2014

Sliced Egg and Dill Tea Sandwiches

My usual Egg and Dill Tea Sandwiches call for chopped hard-cooked eggs, but I have one friend who has an aversion to chopped egg salad of any kind but likes sliced hard-cooked eggs. We all have our little quirks and, after all, she is pregnant; so I will indulge her. Her mother-in-law and I are having a small afternoon tea where she will make the boy-or-girl announcement after her next ultrasound.

It's always a good idea to give a new tea sandwich a trial run before its official debut, so I experimented a bit yesterday and came up with these Sliced Egg and Dill Tea Sandwiches. They'll be perfect for the tea party next month. We'll also be making my famous Cucumber Sandwiches

Of course, the most important part of an afternoon tea party is a proper cup of tea. And here is How to Make a Proper Cup of Tea! If the guest list expands at all, I'll use my Zojirushi Water Boiler instead of a kettle.

Update 12/07/16: For how to throw an afternoon tea party and a roundup of afternoon tea recipes, see Afternoon Tea Party Tips.

Sliced Egg and Dill Tea Sandwiches

(Makes 28)

7 large eggs, cold
2/3 cup real mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Country Dijon mustard
1 3/4 teaspoon dried dill
Coarsely ground black pepper
14 wide* slices good white or dill rye bread

*Such as Arnold/Brownberry/Oroweat country buttermilk bread that comes in the wider 1 1/2-pound loaves. Or the dill rye! If you use smaller bread slices (as I do when I have my homemade Classic White Sandwich Bread on hand), make more full-sized sandwiches to come up with about the same quantity of tea sandwiches.

1 Place eggs in a single layer in pan. Add enough room temperature water to cover eggs completely and an inch over. Bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as water is bubbling lightly, remove pan from the heat and cover tightly with the lid. Let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and add cold water to pan; repeat twice. Leave eggs to cool for 15 minutes in cold water. Drain, and proceed with recipe or refrigerate until ready to use.

2 In small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and mustard. Measure dill into a tiny bowl. Lay out bread slices and divide mayonnaise mixture among them; spread evenly, skipping the edges and round part at the top because they are going to be cut away.

3 Using an egg slicer, slice each egg into rounds. Place about 6 rounds from the middle of each egg close together on the bottom slices of bread. Use pieces of remaining slices to fill in the spaces between the round egg slices.

4 Pinching the dill between thumb and first two fingers, sprinkle the measured amount evenly over the 7 sandwiches, then sprinkle with just a little salt and as much black pepper as you like. Put top bread slices in place. Trim off crusts and cut each sandwich into 4, arranging on a plate in about 3 layers.

5 Lay a high-quality white paper towel on top of the sandwiches. Wet and wring out well another paper towel; lay the damp paper towel on top of the dry paper towel. (Placing the damp paper towel directly on top of the sandwiches would result in soggy sandwiches.) Wrap snugly with plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least an hour or up to several hours. This makes the sandwiches “hold together” and keeps them from drying out. Uncover sandwiches just before serving.

13 February 2014

Brown Butter Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

Brown Butter Cake with Brown Butter Frosting / www.delightfulrepast.com

My Brown Butter Cake seemed like the most delightful cake to mark my fourth blogiversary at Delightful Repast. It's one of my favorite cakes, one that can be filled and frosted all sorts of ways. Today I used Brown Butter Frosting for both frosting and filling, making for a cake that is subtle but intense!

Have we talked about brown butter yet? I mean, I know I've posted my Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls with Browned Butter Icing and maybe a couple other browned butter things, but I don't think I really went on and on and on about the wonders of brown butter. And it really is the best flavor on earth!

I developed this recipe years ago, first as a regular vanilla butter cake, and it always gets raves. With plain butter, it's a wonderful cake; but browning the butter gives both cake and frosting a complexity that takes it over the top.

Though I've listed the cake and frosting recipes separately, in case you want to make one without the other, if you're making both you can brown the butter for both at the same time. I find it easiest to do it in two separate small pans.

Can't believe I've been blogging for four years! Of course, I don't post several times a week as some bloggers do. Just once a week. I figure most people don't have time to visit more often than that anyway. I so appreciate all of you who follow the blog here and on Twitter and Pinterest. If you enjoy Delightful Repast, I hope you'll share it with all your friends, relatives, coworkers, social media peeps and mere acquaintances! 

Brown Butter Cake

(Makes two 8-inch layers)

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 cup milk (I use Organic Valley 2%, eggs and butter)
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 dip-and-sweep cups (10 ounces/283 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour (I use Bob's Red Mill organic)
1 1/2 cups (10.5 ounces/298 grams) sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring or swirling frequently, until butter gets foamy and bubbly and just starts to turn light tan and smell nutty. You cannot take your eyes off it; it can go from brown to black in a flash! Set the pan in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes to firm up the butter.

2 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Grease well and lightly flour two 8-inch layer pans. In small bowl, lightly combine the eggs, a quarter of the milk, and the vanilla. (One of my 8-inch pans was missing so I used 9-inch pans this time, so my cake isn't as tall as it should be. Always use the right size pans!)

3 In bowl of stand mixer fitted with flat beater (or in a large mixing bowl, if using a hand mixer), combine all the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for one minute to blend. Add the soft-but-solidified brown butter and remaining milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. With mixer on medium-high speed (speed 5 on my Cuisinart stand mixer), beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides.

4 Gradually beat in the egg mixture in three batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides.

5 Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on racks for an hour.

Brown Butter (Beurre Noisette) Frosting

1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 pound powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 to 5 tablespoons milk or cream

1 In small saucepan, melt butter and salt over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring or swirling frequently, until butter gets foamy and bubbly and just starts to turn light tan and smell nutty. You cannot take your eyes off it; it can go from brown to black in a flash! Set the pan in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes to firm up the butter.

2 In bowl of stand mixer fitted with flat beater (or in a large mixing bowl, if using a hand mixer), beat the brown butter and the softened butter until smooth; add vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar in about 4 batches, alternating with a little milk, as needed to make frosting smooth and spreadable.

06 February 2014

Ground Beef Tacos - Tacos de Carne Molida

Ground Beef Tacos - Tacos de Carne Molida / www.delightfulrepast.com

Ground beef tacos are something I hadn't made in a very long time. Usually I make steak, shredded beef or chicken tacos. Call me a snob, but when someone says "ground beef tacos," I get a mental picture of fast food chains and packets of seasoning mix. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I just don't "do" either. 

Frugal by nature, I try to plan my menus according to what's in season and what's on sale. I got a great buy on some organic grass-fed ground beef and some organic spices, so I thought it was the perfect time for ground beef tacos. 

The thing about making your own seasoning mixture instead of buying a packet of taco seasoning mix is that you can put whatever you want into it or, in my case, leave out what you don't want. Most packets have onion powder and garlic powder, both of which I seem to be allergic to; but you could certainly add them if you like.

I just remembered! The very first* tacos I ever had were ground beef tacos. I was in the sixth grade, and we were studying Mexico. The class got divided into several groups that were to come up with a different project. Of course, my little group decided to do food. The mother of one of the girls showed us how to make tacos, and we made them for the whole class. 

*My dad, if you recall from earlier posts, was a steaks and chops and roasts kind of guy who did not like ground beef; so we did not have things like tacos or casseroles, though he would tolerate the occasional shepherd's pie 

I have a certain way of cooking my tortillas so that they make a rather crisp, though not completely crisp, taco shell without the deep-frying. What kind of taco shells do you like?

Ground Beef Tacos - Tacos de Carne Molida / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Ground Beef Tacos 

(Makes 8) 

1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon powdered ancho chiles
1/2 teaspoon powdered anaheim chiles
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon crushed red peppers
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound very lean ground beef
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water

4 teaspoons organic ketchup
Oil for the griddle
8 6-inch or little larger white corn tortillas
6 ounces Cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
Tomato, avocado, lettuce, sour cream, salsa

1 In small bowl, stir together sugar, salt and spices. Heat skillet (I use this All-Clad stainless steel 12-inch fry pan), and add oil. If you like, cook a little chopped onion before adding beef to the skillet. Add the beef, breaking it up quite finely and browning it well. (Really well. I mean, I think ground beef that is merely "grayed" rather than browned is seriously unappetizing!)

Update: Forgot to mention that you need to drain off the fat once the meat is thoroughly browned. Unless there is no fat to drain, as was the case with my very lean organic grassfed beef.

2 Stir in the seasoning mixture, cooking for a minute to bloom the spices. Stir in the flour, mixing it in well with the meat, cooking for a minute. Stir in the water and ketchup, and cook until water is nearly gone. (This little touch of ketchup is not enough to make the meat taste "ketchup-y;" it's just enough to add a certain something.)

3 Meanwhile, heat the griddle. If you have an 11-inch square griddle, you can cook two tortillas at a time (with just a little overlap). Pour two little blobs of oil (about the size of a quarter or a little larger) on the griddle. Place a tortilla on each blob of oil and push it around till tortilla is coated, then turn it over and coat the other side in the same way. When the tortillas are starting to brown and bubble on the bottom, turn them over to cook other side. Before they get too crisp, fold them in half. Continue cooking until crisp; turn and crisp the other side. Drain on paper towels and set aside until ready to fill. Repeat three times.

4 Have your bowls of cheese, tomato, avocado, lettuce, whatever you want, ready. Divide the taco meat among the 8 taco shells, using about 1/4 cup per taco. Add cheese and other garnishes.