28 May 2015

Peach Slab Pie - Buttermilk Pastry

Peach Slab Pie / www.delightfulrepast.com

Peach pie is my all-time favorite pie, but I usually make a round Peach Pie with Lattice Crust. Today I was in the mood to make a slab pie, and the farmers market peaches were at the perfect stage for pie, perfectly ripe but still firm, their fragrance filling the kitchen. 

A quarter-sheet slab pie takes the same amount of filling and just slightly more pastry than my regular 9-inch pie, but gives more servings. If you're having an occasion where multiple desserts are served, you can cut even smaller servings -- not something you can do, neatly anyway, with a round pie. Perfect for picnics and potlucks!

If you don't have tapioca flour, you can use cornstarch; but I don't recommend it. Unless you cook the peaches to death, the cornstarch can remain a little "starchy," in both flavor and mouthfeel. If you haven't tried tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch), I think you'll be pleased at the difference it will make in your pies. 

This pastry is a little different than my usual ones with water. Made with milk that's been soured with a little cider vinegar (or with buttermilk), it ensures a tender crust. It all started a few years ago when I had a little buttermilk left over from something and didn't want it to go to waste so used it instead of water in a pie crust I was making. Later I found that this substitute for buttermilk works just as well. 

What is your favorite pie? I like Peach Galette for Two when I'm trying to behave myself and not eat pie three times a day! 

Slab Pie / www.delightfulrepast.com

Peach Slab Pie (Makes one 13x9x1-inch pie, 8 to 12 servings)

The Pastry

3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
3 dip-and-sweep cups (15 ounces/425 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces/227 grams) unsalted butter, cold

The Peach Filling

2 1/2 pounds ripe yellow peaches
1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon mace or nutmeg (I want you to taste the peaches!)

1 In 1-cup glass measure, stir together milk and vinegar; let stand while proceeding with pastry. In large 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 the soured milk a little at a time, using only as much as necessary to form a shaggy dough. If you need additional liquid, just add cold water a teaspoon at a time. Divide the dough in two, and wrap each half in a square of plastic wrap, forming the dough into a 1-inch-thick disk. Refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. Save the pieces of plastic, you'll be using them again.

2 On a lightly floured piece of parchment, roll out one piece of dough to a 16x12-inch rectangle and transfer it to a cooking-sprayed 13x9x1-inch quarter-sheet pan, pressing dough (but not stretching it) to fit pie pan with about a one-inch overhang (trim with knife or scissors), cover with reserved pieces of plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator.

3 Using the same piece of parchment, roll out the top crust just as for the bottom crust. Place it, parchment side down, on a 15x10x1-inch or half-sheet pan and place in refrigerator. Preheat oven to 375F/190C/Gas5. 

4 Wash the peaches well and rub off the fuzz, no need to peel; slice into a large bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure). You'll have about 6 cups of sliced peaches. (I slice them like this: Quarter peach, cut each quarter into 1/2-inch wedges, cut wedges in 1/2-inch pieces.) In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, tapioca flour (vastly superior to cornstarch or any other thickener for fruit pies), salt and spices; add to peaches and mix gently but well. Pour into pastry-lined pan.

5 Put top crust in place, trim and crimp. To vent the pie, I use a fork to make a pattern of holes and a very sharp paring knife to make some slashes. Place the pie in a 15x10x1-inch or half-sheet pan. Bake for about 55 minutes, until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling. Cool on wire rack for at least 3 hours before serving.

Peach Slab Pie / www.delightfulrepast.com

I cut this one much sooner. You can see the juices weren't quite cool enough. But bloggers have to get their photos!

21 May 2015

Wonderful White Cupcakes

Wonderful White Cupcakes / www.delightfulrepast.com

A wonderful white cupcake is an essential item in any baker's repertoire. It's so versatile and can be dressed up in so many ways. This recipe is pretty much the same as when I came up with it about 15 years ago, but this time I added a touch of almond extract. Sometimes I use other flavorings, but always along with vanilla. The texture? Perfectly light and fluffy.

If you're gluten-free, try my Velvety Vanilla Cupcakes - That Just Happen to Be Gluten-Free. They always get raves, even from the non-GF people in the crowd. That recipe makes 24 cupcakes (this one makes exactly 12, but you can easily double it). And here's my Gluten-Free Vanilla Mini Cupcakes, which makes 24, because who would ever make fewer minis than that!

The yellow decorating sugar I sprinkled on the cupcakes is colored with curcumin, a substance in the spice turmeric, rather than some carcinogenic chemical. So my husband calls it "free range" -- yeah, he thinks he's a comedian!

The winner of the giveaway in last week's Banana Pudding - Le Creuset Giveaway post was Leslie. Congratulations to Leslie and a big Thank You to Le Creuset! I do giveaways here from time to time, always something wonderful for the kitchen, so stay tuned!

Wonderful White Cupcakes / www.delightfulrepast.com

Wonderful White Cupcakes

(Makes 12)

The Cupcakes

3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup milk, room temperature, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional
1 dip-and-sweep cup (5 ounces/142 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (0.625 ounces/18 grams) cornstarch or tapioca flour
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces/149 grams) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

The Frosting

6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups (12 ounces/340 grams) unsifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract, optional

Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons heavy cream
About a tablespoon of milk to thin to piping consistency

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Put 2½-inch paper bake cups in a standard muffin tin. In small bowl (I use a 2-cup glass measure), lightly whisk together the egg whites, 1/4 cup milk and extracts.

2 In large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for one minute to "sift." Add the softened butter (cut into small pieces) and mix on low speed (medium, if using hand mixer) until combined. Add the remaining 1/4 cup milk; continue mixing for 1 1/2 minutes. 

3 Gradually beat in the egg mixture in three batches, beating for 20 seconds and scraping the bowl after each addition. 

4 Using a 1/4-cup measure, fill the bake cups with a scant 1/4 cup of batter. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.

5 Immediately remove from pans and cool on wire rack for an hour. They must be thoroughly cool before frosting.

6 In 1.5-quart bowl, with a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the powdered sugar and salt. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the extracts and cream and the milk, if needed; beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. You will likely have to add some of the liquid ingredients before adding all the powdered sugar. 

7 With a pastry bag fitted with a 2D tip or a 1M tip, pipe frosting on cupcakes.

14 May 2015

Banana Pudding - Le Creuset Giveaway - Stainless Steel Saucier


My Banana Pudding, like all my desserts, is made from scratch for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I like desserts with less sugar than is usual. Puddings made with boxed pudding or instant pudding mix, and even most from-scratch recipes, are way sweeter than they need to be.

My banana pudding recipe calls for at least 1/3 less sugar than most; and my meringue, a tiny fraction of what most recipes call for. For half my life I thought I didn't like meringue. Then I decided to make it myself with less sugar and discovered I love it! 

The naturally sweet ripe bananas and the vanilla wafers and my less sweet custard and meringue all add up to a luscious dessert that is plenty sweet. If you don't believe me, try it! And my new Le Creuset 3.5-quart stainless steel saucier makes cooking custard a breeze. 

Le Creuset Stainless Steel Saucier Giveaway / www.delightfulrepast.com
I can't tell you how much I lovelovelove this pan! I really, really do!

Le Creuset stainless steel cookware is triple-ply from base to rim, so no hot spots. Each pan has a rim designed for drip-free pouring with either hand. And oh the saucier! Unlike a regular saucepan with its straight sides, the saucier has a rounded bottom and flared sides for easy whisking and stirring. No "corners" where food can stick. 

I may have mastered custard in a regular heavy-bottomed straight-sided saucepan when I was a teenager, but I've long thought it would be more foolproof in just such a pan as the saucier. No worries about "getting into the corners" to prevent the eggs from scrambling with this well-designed, quality pan. 

Perfect for custards and sauces, it's also just what's needed for risotto, polenta, grits, all sorts of things. I can't wait to make macaroni and cheese in it, throw some fresh bread crumbs on top and slide it into the oven (it's oven proof to 425F/220C/Gas7). 

Banana Pudding / www.delightfulrepast.com

Banana Pudding 

(Makes one 13x9x2-inch pudding, 16 servings)

The Pudding 

4 cups milk (I used Organic Valley 2%)
8 large egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
70 vanilla wafers
6 medium ripe bananas
Juice of half a lemon 

The Meringue 

8 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream or tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sugar 

1 In heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan (I used Le Creuset 3.5-quart stainless steel saucier), heat milk just to a simmer. Meanwhile, separate eggs.

2 In 2-quart glass measure or bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in egg yolks (and a tablespoon or so of milk to loosen mixture a bit) until thoroughly combined. Gradually add hot milk to yolks, whisking constantly. 

3 Pour mixture through a large fine-mesh strainer (to get out any odd bits of egg) back into saucier and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until thickened -- just takes a couple minutes, so don't get distracted -- and another minute. (Food safety note: Any mixture with eggs should be cooked until it registers 160F/72C on instant-read thermometer.) 

4 Remove from heat. Whisk in cold butter and vanilla extract until butter is completely melted. (You can pour custard through a clean strainer if there are any lumps in it.)

5 When I make this in a deeper casserole, I layer wafers - bananas - wafers - bananas - wafers, then pour on the custard. In the 13x9x2-inch baking dish, I just layer wafers - loads of bananas - wafers, then custard.

Cover bottom of 13x9x2-inch baking dish with 35 vanilla wafers. Peel bananas and cut them into 1/4-inch-thick slices, squeeze on a bit of lemon juice to prevent browning and layer over the wafers, overlapping the banana slices so you have a really solid layer of bananas. Add another layer of 35 wafers. Pour on the custard, and smooth the top. Drop the dish on a towel-cushioned counter two or three times to settle the layers. 

Banana Pudding / www.delightfulrepast.com

6 If not adding the meringue (but why wouldn't you?), cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or up to 24 hours. If adding meringue, let stand at room temperature and preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. 

7 In bowl of stand mixer fitted with wire whisk attachment, beat egg whites, cream of tartar and vanilla extract until soft peaks (curl over when beater is lifted) form. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, while beating on high speed to stiff, glossy peaks (stay straight when beater is lifted). 

8 With silicone spatula, spread meringue over pudding, sealing to edges of baking dish, and make some swirls and peaks that will brown beautifully in the oven. Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until browned to your liking. Cool on wire rack for 45 minutes to an hour. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or up to 24 hours.

Le Creuset Giveaway / www.delightfulrepast.com

Le Creuset® Stainless Steel Saucier Giveaway 

This giveaway is open to US residents (Sorry, international friends!) 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 be about the first thing you'll make in your saucier. Please include your email address in the body of your comment. Must enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday May 20. 

Winner will be chosen by random drawing and be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday May 21. If I don't hear back from the winner of the random drawing by noon Eastern time Sunday May 24, 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):

  1. follow Le Creuset on Twitter and leave comment below with your Twitter name. (Must include Twitter name!) 
  2. follow Delightful Repast on Twitter and leave comment below with your Twitter name. (Must include Twitter name!) 

Disclosure: Le Creuset provided a saucier for review purposes and one for the giveaway. The views expressed here are entirely my own. I always tell my readers what I really think!

07 May 2015

Swedish Meatballs - Svenska Kottbullar

Swedish Meatballs / www.delightfulrepast.com

Of course, no smorgasbord would be complete without meatballs. And perfect for Mad Men-era cocktail party menus, Swedish meatballs also make a main dish the whole family will enjoy. 

I first had them when I was 12. I only remember because that was when my self-employed father took on some work about 200 miles from home, testing the waters in another area with an eye to possibly moving there. For the next 18 months, we saw him only on weekends. My mother and I hit the road every Friday afternoon to visit him in his temporary home. 

And every Friday evening we had dinner out. One of the places my father had discovered was a family-owned Swedish smorgasbord restaurant that was popular with the locals. I liked my first dinner there so much that I continued to get the exact same thing every time we went there over the next 18 months. You know how kids are! 

I got different side dishes from time to time, but Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes (Kottbullar med Potatismos) every single time. Not being Swedish, I make no claims to authenticity; but these tender meatballs do taste very much like I remember those first Swedish meatballs of long ago. (If you prefer, here are my Italian meatballs.)

Swedish Meatballs - Svenska Kottbullar / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Swedish Meatballs - Svenska Kottbullar 

(Makes about 34, 4 main-dish servings) 

The Meatballs 

About 2 slices good white bread for 3/4 packed cup breadcrumbs 
1/4 cup finely minced onion
1 1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/3 cup milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork 

The Sauce 

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups lower sodium beef broth
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
Garnish: sour cream and chopped dill 

1 Use food processor to make perfect fresh breadcrumbs. Cut two slices (you might need a third slice, depending on your bread) of good white bread into four to six pieces. You only need to remove the crust if it's coated with seeds. Process until it becomes breadcrumbs. Don't worry about overdoing it; it's pretty foolproof. You should have 3/4 cup, fairly firmly packed. Add crumbs to a 2-quart mixing bowl. 

Update 07/02/16: I've since acquired (and become addicted to!) an immersion blender, and it has a handy dandy little mini processor/chopper bowl that works beautifully for the small amounts in this recipe. If you don't have one, don't wait as long as I did to get one!

2 Cut a small piece of onion into a couple of chunks and use the food processor (no need to clean the bowl) to finely mince the onion. Saute in oil until soft. Add to bowl. 

3 Add salt, pepper, allspice, milk, egg and Worcestershire sauce to bowl. Mix well. Add ground beef and ground pork, and mix well. Just use your impeccably clean hand to mix, if you like. Put mixture in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before shaping.

Swedish Meatballs - Svenska Kottbullar / www.delightfulrepast.com

4 Preheat oven to 400F/200C/Gas6. Using a #60/0.5-ounce/1 tablespoon scoop, scoop out all the meatballs; you should get almost 3 dozen. Place them on an oiled rimmed baking sheet (13x9x1-inch quarter sheet pan is perfect for this), then go back and roll each one into a smooth round ball and place back on the sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. 

5 In 12-inch skillet (10-inch okay if it has straight sides), melt butter. Stir in flour, cooking and stirring to make a smooth, browned roux. Don't rush it; get the roux browned. Add beef broth and cook, stirring, until smooth and thickened. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and cream. Transfer meatballs to sauce. Heat on low for 10 minutes.

6 Garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream and a generous sprinkling of dill. 

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