29 May 2014

Weeknight Steak with Shallot Sauce

Steak with Shallot Sauce

Weeknight steak dinner just got easier! Just cooked two 8-ounce organic grassfed ribeye steaks, complete with sauce, in record time. With the Cuisinart Griddler and a tiny bit of advance planning, you can get a steak dinner on the table in a fraction of the time and effort it usually takes.

Sure, my pan-seared steak with shallot pan sauce is quite easy, but it does require one to carefully monitor the steak, timing and turning. This is just so much more effortless.

My only concern was that the sauce would lack flavor because of its not being a true pan sauce, made in the pan the steak was cooked in, a pan with fond to be deglazed. Fortunately, a small but adequate amount of meat drippings collected in the Griddler's drip tray; so, problem solved! 

Weeknight Steak with Shallot Sauce / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Weeknight Steak with Shallot Sauce

Makes 2 servings (can easily be halved or doubled)

1 11- to 16-ounce 1-inch-thick (or 2 5- to 8-ounce) New York steak (a boneless cut AKA strip steak, club steak, shell steak) or boneless ribeye
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 medium shallot, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (Lea and Perrins) 
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley 
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper 
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces

1 In the morning, or at least 45 minutes before you'll be cooking the steak, dry it thoroughly with a paper towel, rub 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the oil (depending on total weight of the steaks) on both sides and coat with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until cooking time. (Yes, cooking them cold works just fine!)

2 Get sauce ingredients ready. You just need to make a tiny bit of sauce, enough to accent the flavor of the beef without overpowering it. With grill plates in place, turn the Selector knob to Grill/Panini and the Grill/Panini knob to High. Preheat the Cuisinart Griddler in the closed position.

3 In small skillet or saucepan (I use the All-Clad 4211 stainless steel 1-quart saucier), heat remaining 1 teaspoon of oil; add shallot to pan and cook over low heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, mustard, parsley and pepper. Remove from heat. 

4 When the green indicator light shows, place the seasoned steak on the lower grill plate. Close the Griddler, using light pressure for about 30 seconds, and set a timer for 5 minutes for medium rare, 7 minutes for medium, 9 minutes for medium well. If your steak is thicker, it might require a bit more time. But check the internal temperature at 5 to 9 minutes, depending on your preferred level of doneness. I like medium well, so I look for a temperature of 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

5 When steak is done, transfer it to a warm plate and tent loosely with foil; let it rest for 5 minutes while you finish the sauce. Add any accumulated juices from the drip tray to the sauce. I've even used the Griddler's scraping tool to scrape up some browned bits to add to the sauce.

6 Just before serving, heat the sauce, add butter, whisking constantly until incorporated (called in French monter au beurre, mount with butter). Done properly, you will have a rather thick sauce. Spoon over steaks and serve immediately. Once you've added the butter, you can't keep it on the heat or it will break and become greasy. 

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22 May 2014

Reine de Saba - Chocolate Almond Cake

Reine de Saba - Chocolate Almond Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

Why Reine de Saba? Because I was just thinking about Julia Child, how it has been nearly ten years now since she died. I don't deliberately mark the occasion, but I just thought of it. I remember so well being on the telephone with her assistant the morning after. The part of the conversation that I recall most vividly is being asked if I'd be interested in taking Julia's cat should one of the relatives not want it. (One did.)

Julia's version of Reine de Saba, a chocolate almond cake, is something I haven't made in ages. It's not that it's difficult, it's just that it does take a bit of time, beating the egg whites separately and such, and makes for more cleanup than I'm interested in doing these days! I've come up with a completely different method and call my version Reine de Saba a la Femme Paresseuse, Lazy Woman's Chocolate Almond Cake.

Reine de Saba really is a wonderful cake, but so many people simply don't want to go to quite that much trouble. So, for those people, I give you my version. One that is greatly simplified and yet, I believe, retains fairly well the unique texture, that "special creamy quality" that made it a favorite of Julia's. You will be amazed at the texture of this cake!

No stand mixer, no hand mixer, no food processor. No multiple bowls. It is simply mixed by hand in the saucepan in which the chocolate is melted. Resist the temptation to use more almond extract, thinking 1/8 teaspoon couldn't possibly be enough. Almond extract is not like vanilla; it is really powerful and can definitely be overdone.

This is a small cake, 7 inches in diameter, perfect for afternoon tea. I do so hate big cakes at afternoon tea! The cake may be mine, but the delicious and perfectly simple icing is straight out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (though I toasted the almonds for extra flavor and used Kahlua instead of rum). Sometimes I skip the icing and just give the cake a dusting of powdered sugar or a dollop of whipped cream.

Reine de Saba a la Femme Paresseuse - Lazy Woman's Chocolate Almond Cake

(Makes one 7-inch layer, 6 servings)

The Cake

3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons Kahlua or coffee
1/4 dip-and-sweep cup (1.25 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour*
1/4 cup (1.125 ounces) almond meal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons milk
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

The Icing

1/2 cup (2.25 ounces) sliced almonds
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons Kahlua or coffee
5 tablespoons (2.5 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature

* If you are gluten-free, use 1 1/2 tablespoons sorghum flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons potato starch and 1 tablespoon tapioca flour in place of all-purpose flour.

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 7-inch round pan.

2 In 2-quart saucepan, melt chocolate with Kahlua or coffee over medium-low heat.

3 Onto a square of waxed paper, sift together flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt.

4 Stir butter into melted chocolate until butter is melted and chocolate has cooled a bit. Beat in sugar until well combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well combined. Beat mixture vigorously for a minute. Gently stir in half of flour mixture, then the milk and almond extract, then the remaining flour mixture.

5 Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overbake. Center (1- to 2-inch circle) should be a bit underdone; only the outer ring should test done with a toothpick.

6 While the cake is baking, toast the almonds in a small skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. It seems like nothing is happening for the longest time, but stay focused. They can go suddenly from raw to burned if you aren't paying attention.

7 Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out on rack to cool completely before icing.

8 In 1-quart saucepan, melt chocolate with Kahlua or coffee. Remove from heat. Beat in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Set the pan inside a larger pan or bowl of ice and water. Beat chocolate mixture until it has cooled to spreading consistency. If you over-chill, just let it stand at room temperature for a few minutes; it will smooth right out.

9 With offset spatula (OXO Good Grips calls theirs a bent icing knife), spread icing over top and sides of cake. Decorate by pressing sliced almonds to sides or top of cake however it suits you.

15 May 2014

Individual Cherry Cobblers - Le Creuset Giveaway - Enameled Cast Iron Mini Cocottes

Did you know May 17 is National Cherry Cobbler Day? And that includes individual cherry cobblers as well.

There is a time for big pies and time for cute little individual pies. I must lean toward the latter, though, because I have so many vessels for cute little pies: Corning cornflower petite pans, white ceramic round ramekins, larger white ceramic ramekins, custard cups, tartelette tins, etc, etc. 

But now I have a new favorite: the  Le Creuset® Cast Iron Mini Cocotte. They arrived at the same time cherries arrived at the farmers market! Hence, this recipe for individual cherry cobblers. Of course, I also will be using these adorable little cast iron mini cocottes for my French Onion Soup.  

They come in five colors; I chose Black, which is a flat black. Here are the colors: Flame, Cherry, Marseilles and Palm.

And, of course, Black. They're all beautiful, so it was a tough decision. Perhaps I should have chosen four different colors?

This recipe makes exactly the right amount of filling for 4 of these cocottes. They will settle as they cool, leaving room for a big scoop of ice cream on top! If you're using larger or smaller baking dishes, it will make a different number of cobblers.

For those who are thinking it can't be cobbler if it doesn't have a biscuit topping or a cakey topping, read my (inherited) view on cobblers in my Blackberry Cobbler with No-Roll Pie Crust post. You can also make a quarter of that pastry recipe and use my fabulous no-roll method for these mini cobblers.

For this batch, I used a quarter recipe of my easy Ruff Puff Pastry that I happened to have on hand.

But if you really feel you must insist that pie crust makes these pies instead of cobblers, you may call them Individual Cherry Pies. I'm not going to be dogmatic about it! 

Individual Cherry Cobblers

(Makes 4 in 10-ounce cocottes or ramekins)

1/2 recipe of pastry for single-crust pie
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups pitted sweet* cherries (about 2 1/4 pounds, unpitted)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

* If you use sour cherries (also called tart cherries), you'll likely want to use more sugar. I always use the more readily available sweet cherries.

You can also use 20 ounces of frozen cherries (unthawed), but I wouldn't use canned.

1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In medium bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure), whisk together sugar, tapioca flour and salt. Stir in the cherries, lemon juice and almond extract. Let stand for 15 minutes.

2 Roll out pastry to 7- to 8-inch square about 1/4 inch thick. With a 3 1/2- to 4-inch round cutter, cut out 4 rounds of dough. Put them in the refrigerator until you're ready to use them.

3 Divide the cherry filling among the 4 cocottes. Put some small pieces of butter on top of the filling in each cocotte. Top with the chilled pastry rounds. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the cherries are bubbling. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving (unless you need to peel the inside of your mouth for some reason!).

Le Creuset® Cast Iron Mini Cocotte Giveaway 

This giveaway is open to US residents 18 years of age or older. Leave a comment below (one entry per person, plus see below for ways to get up to two bonus entries). First comment should include your color choice (Flame, Cherry, Marseilles, Palm or Black) and the first thing you'll make in your cocottes. Please include your email address in the body of your comment. Must enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday May 21. 

Winner will be chosen by random drawing and be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday May 22. If I don't hear back from the winner of the random drawing by noon Eastern time Sunday May 25, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline).

For up to two bonus entries (each in a separate comment):

Disclosure: Le Creuset provided a set of four cocottes for review purposes and a set of four cocottes for the giveaway. I received no compensation. The views expressed here are entirely my own. I always tell my readers what I really think!

08 May 2014

Kumquat Marmalade - And Marmalade Tips

Kumquat Marmalade

Here I am with Kumquat Marmalade. I know, I know, when I posted my Tangerine Marmalade in March, I said that was going to be my final post about marmalade until next winter. But then I came into some kumquats ...

Homemade marmalade is so much better than store-bought that if you've only ever had store-bought and think you don't like marmalade, you need to try homemade. It will be a revelation! That said, I'm not going to lie to you -- cutting the peel into fairly fine shreds can be fiddly work. 

The Truth About Marmalade 

A friend brought me two pounds of organic kumquats. That's a lot of kumquats. And I usually use two pounds of fruit in a batch of marmalade. But, like I said, that's a lot of kumquats. So I decided to make just a small batch. Did I mention, one pound of kumquats is a lot of kumquats? 

Mind you, I'm not so speedy with a knife that I'm going to be posting videos of my slicing and dicing on YouTube or anything; but I do have fairly decent knife skills and good, sharp knives. And it took me nearly an hour. But don't let that scare you off. If you've never made kumquat marmalade before, you need to make this! 

Marmalade Tips 

Always use organic citrus when making marmalade. There's no peeling away the pesticides, dyes and waxes because you're using the peel. Marmalade is all about the peel! And wash the fruit well, even if it's organic or homegrown.

So many marmalade recipes give inadequate or unclear directions. If you're new to marmalade-making, I think you will find the directions I give here very thorough. If something is unclear, do let me know so that I can fix it. 

As with any marmalade, use a sharp knife. I used my Wusthof Classic 3.5-Inch Paring Knife 4066/9cm and found it to be the perfect knife for finely slicing kumquats. Someday I'm going to experiment with chopping the kumquats in the food processor, but then that will be jam, not marmalade. I do so love the lovely shreds suspended in marmalade.

Kumquat Marmalade

Small-Batch Kumquat Marmalade (water-bath canned)

(Makes 3 half-pint jars)

1 pound (450 grams) organic kumquats
1 3- to 4-ounce (85 to 113 grams) organic Meyer lemon
1 quart (1 liter) water
1 pound (2 1/4 cups / 450 grams) sugar 

1 Scrub the fruit well. Line a 1-quart bowl with a couple layers of cheesecloth (muslin, for those in the UK). Cut a piece of kitchen string about a foot long. Cut a thin slice off each end of the kumquats, then cut them in half lengthwise; remove seeds and any bits of dry pith and save them in the cheesecloth-lined bowl. Slice kumquats crosswise as thinly as possible and put them into your jam kettle (the Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 2-Quart or 3.5-Quart Round French Oven is perfect for this). Cut the lemon in 1/4-inch-thick round slices and put them in the bowl. Tie up the cheesecloth with kitchen string; put it in the jam kettle and tie one end of string to pan handle. 

2 Add water to the fruit in your jam pan. Bring to a full boil. Boil, uncovered, for 7 minutes; no need to stir. Remove from heat, cover and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Refrigerate for 8 hours or for a day or two. 

3 When ready to make the marmalade, get your jars ready. Get out canner (or large pot deep enough that water will be 1 to 2 inches above the tops of the jars), two kitchen towels, 2-cup glass measure, thermometer, jar lifter, tongs, half-pint jars, new lids (never reuse lids), bands. 

4 Put a folded kitchen towel in the bottom of the large pot (unless, of course, you have a canner with a rack). Fill 2/3 full of water and begin heating the water. Heat extra water in a teakettle or saucepan. Submerge clean jars and new lids in the hot, but not boiling, water. They'll be hot in about 10 minutes, but just keep them below simmering until ready to use.

Marmalade Tips

5 Start heating fruit mixture over medium-high heat. Before it gets too hot to handle, remove the cheesecloth bag to a clean bowl; squeeze the juice into the bowl and remove any seeds that might have escaped from the bag. Pour the juice into the jam kettle; discard the bag. Continue heating and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and boil very gently, loosely covered, for 25 minutes, or until peel is very tender; no need to stir. Add the sugar to the jam kettle and stir until it is dissolved.

6 Bring mixture to a full rolling boil (big bubbles all over the pan that cannot be stirred down). Keep it boiling hard, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until it registers 220 degrees, stirring occasionally. When done*, remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes (keeps the peel evenly distributed in the jars).

Note: *Doneness can be difficult to determine. There are several tests recommended by various experts. I've tried them all, and they don't work for me. In my experience, they all result in overcooked marmalade. I cook it until it's 220 degrees and "looks right." If the marmalade has thickened and darkened a bit and it's 220 degrees, hold it at 220 degrees for one minute, then have the courage of your convictions and take it off the heat. After you've made it a few times, you'll get a feel for it.

Marmalade will continue to thicken in the jars, taking as long as two weeks to set completely.

7 Do one jar at a time. With tongs, remove a jar and lid from the water. Ladle the marmalade into a spouted 1-quart glass measure; then pour the hot marmalade into the hot jar, leaving 1/4-inch headroom. Stick a knife or something (I use a chopstick) into the filled jar right next to the glass in about 4 places to release any air bubbles. Check the headspace measurement again and add more marmalade if needed. Wipe off the top of the jar with a damp towel, carefully place the lid and screw the band on "finger tight" (firmly, yes, but don't crank it down). Repeat for all the jars. Put the water back on the heat.

8 Return filled jars to the water bath, adding enough hot water to have water 1 to 2 inches above the tops of the jars. Jars must be upright and not touching. Heat to a gentle boil, covered, and set timer for 10 minutes. Adjust the heat to keep the water at a simmer. After 10 minutes, move the pot off the heat and take off the lid. Let the jars sit in the water for 15 minutes. If you're not using a rack with handles in your "canner" and don't have a jar lifter, just ladle out some of the water so you can lift the jars out with an oven mitt. Remove the jars and set them on a kitchen towel on the counter.

The lids will make a popping sound when they seal, so just count the pops as the jars start cooling. Leave them undisturbed for 24 hours (don't tighten the bands or press the lid to check the seal). Then, if you lost count of the pops, check the seals by pressing on the center of the lids; they should be a bit concave and not move. Properly sealed jars are ready to be stored in the cupboard. Any jars that did not seal should be stored in the refrigerator.

Note: Of course, it's nearly time to start thinking about Strawberry Freezer Jam and, in a few short months after that, Peach Freezer Jam.

Disclosure: Posts may include links to my affiliate account at Amazon.com, and Delightful Repast earns a few cents on the dollar if readers make a purchase, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

01 May 2014

Weeknight Pork Chops - Cuisinart Griddler

Weeknight Pork Chops

My usual Pork Chops recipe is scrumptious (especially if you're a gravy lover), but it's not one I care to make after a full day at work. It's easy enough, but takes a bit of time. This is my new go-to recipe for when I want pork chops in a hurry. 

I had never used a contact grill before, so I was pretty excited when I used the Cuisinart Griddler in that mode for the first time. Since it cooks both sides at once, it cooks and browns the chops in a fraction of the time it would take on the stovetop or in the oven. 

Whether you're cooking for two or a small family or just yourself, the Griddler is one handy appliance to have. I wouldn't call this post a "review" as I still haven't tried its other functions: panini press, flat grill or griddle. I want to play with the contact grill first! 

(Just a thought: This would make a wonderful wedding present, wouldn't it?!)

Tell me, what's your favorite way of cooking pork chops?

Cuisinart Griddler

Makes 2 servings (can easily be halved or doubled) 

1/8 teaspoon each salt, coarsely ground black pepper, marjoram, thyme leaves, paprika, dry mustard 
2 5-ounce 1/2-inch-thick boneless pork loin chops 
1 teaspoon soy sauce 
1/4 teaspoon sugar 

1 In a tiny bowl, combine the salt and herbs. Rub the mixture on both sides of the pork chops. In the same tiny bowl, combine the soy sauce and sugar. Brush just the tops of the chops with the sauce. Let stand for 20 minutes. 

2 With grill plates in place (they reverse to griddle plates), turn the Selector knob to Grill/Panini and the Grill/Panini knob to High. Preheat in the closed position. 

3 When the green indicator light shows, place the seasoned pork chops on the grill. Close the Griddler and set a timer for 4 1/2 minutes. If your chops are thicker or very cold, they might require a bit more time. Check their temperature at 4 1/2 minutes; if it registers 150 to 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, they are done. 

Disclosure: Cuisinart provided the product mentioned above. I only work with brands I love, and all opinions are always my own. I will never recommend a product that I haven’t used myself and liked! This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you) on items purchased via these links.