30 July 2015

Maple-Pecan Sweet Potato Puree

Maple-Pecan Sweet Potato Puree / www.delightfulrepast.com

In fall and winter I like to bake or roast sweet potatoes, but I picked up some sweet potatoes right in the middle of a heat wave and running the oven just wasn't going to be happening in my house! So I gave them a quick boil and, using an immersion blender, made a simple puree.

Some sweet potatoes are super sweet and really don't need the addition of a sweetener, but these were not all that sweet and really benefited from a splash of real maple syrup. Just a little grating of nutmeg enhanced the flavor without overpowering the dish.

A simple side dish for a simple summer meal. What are some of your favorite sides these days? 

Maple-Pecan Sweet Potato Puree

(Makes 4 to 6 servings)

2 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 to 4 tablespoons real maple syrup, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted

1 Peel, rinse and cut into rough cubes of an inch or so. Put them in a 2-quart saucepan and add 1 teaspoon salt and cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer, loosely covered, about 10 minutes (sweet potatoes cook a lot faster than potatoes).

2 Drain* the sweet potatoes and return them to low heat to dry the moisture out of them; toss the butter in at the same time. Remove from the heat. With immersion blender, puree to the consistency you prefer, blending in 2 tablespoons maple syrup and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and nutmeg. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding another tablespoon of maple syrup if you like.

* The cooking water would make a nice addition to a soup.

3 Transfer to serving dish; sprinkle with toasted pecans and drizzle with 1 tablespoon maple syrup.


23 July 2015

Small-Batch Banana Muffins

Small-Batch Banana Muffins / www.delightfulrepast.com

I love banana muffins, but I don't want to have a whole dozen of them hanging around all day saying "Eat me, eat me." So I like to make just six of them. If you have a toaster oven, you don't even have to heat up the house on a hot summer day.

(I over-baked the batch pictured above because I got so engrossed in something I was reading that I ignored the timer!)

This recipe makes six perfect muffins you can stir up quickly by hand, using a minimal number of utensils. And isn't that what it's all about during summertime when the livin' is (supposed to be) easy?

These have a lot less sugar than most banana muffins, so the natural sweetness of the banana really comes through. So many muffins in restaurants and bakeries are so sugary they should be called cupcakes.

Low-sugar enough for breakfast, I love them for dessert as well. Add a tiny drop of frosting and call 'em cupcakes. The kids will never know! Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins are good, too. Oh, and, of course, Blueberry Muffins. What is your favorite kind of muffin? 

Banana Muffins

(Makes 6)

2/3 dip-and-sweep cup (3.33 ounces/94 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup (1 ounce/28 grams) finely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/30 milliliters) organic canola oil
1/4 packed cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
2/3 cup (5.85 ounces/166 grams) mashed very ripe banana (1 large 8.25-ounce/234-gram banana in its skin)

1 Preheat oven (toaster oven is perfect for hot summer days)  to 375F/190C/Gas5. In 2-cup glass measure or small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Stir in finely chopped walnuts.

2 In 1-quart glass measure or bowl, melt butter. Stir in canola oil, then brown sugar and vanilla extract. Beat in egg, beating well. Stir in mashed banana (a fork works just fine on a very ripe banana). Add flour mixture to wet mixture, and mix just until combined; do not overmix. 

3 Spray 6-cup standard muffin tin with cooking spray. Using a 1/4-cup measuring cup, divide batter between cups. Bake for about 18 to 23 minutes (19 minutes in my toaster oven is perfect), or until one tests done with a toothpick.

4 Turn out onto a pristine kitchen towel. Place on wire rack to cool for a few minutes before serving.

16 July 2015

Freezing Peaches Pie-Ready

Freezing Peaches Pie-Ready / www.delightfulrepast.com

Peach pie is something I crave all year round, and the only way to satisfy that craving is by freezing perfectly ripe organic yellow peaches in their season. If you've been reading Delightful Repast for very long, you know I refuse to buy the out-of-season imports no matter how bad the craving. 

Usually I freeze peaches in August, but I've heard the season is going to be short so I thought I better get on it right away. And I don't just freeze sliced peaches in bags or jars, I freeze them pie-ready. I've been doing this since I was a girl. With all kinds of fruits. Here's how it all started.

My parents had an apple tree. And one day when we were drowning in apples, my mother and I got the brilliant idea of freezing them pie-ready. We had four pie plates and we lined each with a square of foil, then stirred up four batches of apple pie filling and poured them into the foil-lined pie plates, folded the corners over the apples and set the pie plates in the freezer. Once the pie filling was frozen, we removed the foil-wrapped filling from the pie plates, wrapped them in another layer of foil and stacked the tidy packages in the freezer. And repeated the procedure many times! 

Then anytime you want a pie, just line a pie plate with pastry, set the frozen pie filling in it, put on the top crust and bake as usual. I love a lattice crust on peach pie. If you've never made one, you can see how here at Peach Pie with Lattice Crust.

Freezing Peaches Pie-Ready / www.delightfulrepast.com

Freezing Peaches Pie-Ready 

For each 9-inch pie, you will need: 

2 1/2 pounds (1134 grams) perfectly ripe yellow peaches
1/2 to 2/3 cup (3.5 to 4.67 ounces/100 to 133 grams) sugar
1/4 cup (1.1 ounces/31 grams) tapioca flour (much better than cornstarch)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon mace or nutmeg 

1 Get out your 9-inch pie plates (I have two 9-inch Pyrex pie plates). Line each with a square of foil. For each pie plate, set aside 2 1/2 pounds of peaches.

Note: Freestone varieties are easiest to work with. 

2 Get out a small bowl for each of your pie plates. In each small bowl, whisk together the sugar, tapioca flour, salt and spices for one pie. 

Freezing Peaches Pie-Ready / www.delightfulrepast.com

3 Working with just one batch of peaches at a time, wash the peaches well, rubbing off as much fuzz as possible. No need to peel. Really, there is no need to peel. Slice into a medium bowl (I use a 2-quart Pyrex 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- to 3/4-inch pieces.) 

4 With a silicone spatula, gently stir the sugar mixture into the peaches. Pour the peaches into the foil-lined pie plate. Turn the corners of the foil over the pie filling; it won't cover completely, but that's okay. Pop it into the freezer. 

Freezing Peaches Pie-Ready / www.delightfulrepast.com

5 Repeat for as many pie plates and peaches you have. When they are completely frozen, remove the frozen rounds of pie filling from the plates, tear off a piece of foil (about 23 inches long) to wrap each completely. Stack in the freezer, and start all over again with your now-empty pie plates. 

6 When ready to bake: Preheat oven to 425F/220C/Gas7. Place a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet in the middle of the oven to catch any drips, and place the pie on the baking sheet. Bake at 425F/220C/Gas7 for 30 minutes. Lower temperature to 350F/180C/Gas4, and bake for an additional 35 minutes (juices should be bubbling). Cool on wire rack for at least 3 hours before serving.

09 July 2015

Madeleines - Classic French Teacakes

Madeleines  - Classic French Teacakes / www.delightfulrepast.com

Hold on! Aren't madeleines scalloped like shells? I should have titled this Madeleines - Classic French Teacakes in a Classic English Pan! Madeleines are shaped like shells, but I don't currently have a madeleine pan. So I use an English mince pies/jam tarts pan instead. But you can use whatever pan you have.

To figure out how much batter to use, measure how much water it takes to fill the cups in your pan to the very brim and then reduce it a bit. You need them to be quite full so that they will form the characteristic madeleine "hump" but not so full that they will overflow and come out malformed. Mine held exactly 2 tablespoons of water, so my #40 scoop (0.8 ounces/1.5 tablespoons) was perfect.

Madeleines - Classic French Teacakes (made in an English mince pies tin!) / www.delightfulrepast.com

I like my little round "English" Madeleines so much, I may make them this way forever. It's the perfect little 4-bite cake to go with a cup of tea. I know people are crazy about macarons, but give me a madeleine any day. Macarons are altogether too sweet and sugary for me. What is your favorite little sweet bite to have with a cup of tea (or coffee, if you must)? 

Update 08/24/17: Just posted about other classic French teacakes: Financiers and Visitandines.

Madeleines - Teacakes / www.delightfulrepast.com


(Makes about 1 1/2 cups batter*)

6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) unsalted butter
2/3 dip-and-sweep cup (3.33 ounces/94 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon tapioca flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces/99 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* The number of madeleines it makes depends on the size. If your pan holds the #40 scoop I used, it will make 15. So in order to not waste my extra three scoops of batter, I just pop it into a custard cup and make a cupcake. 

1 Melt butter; set aside at room temperature. It should be still warm, but not hot, when you add it to the batter at the end.

2 In small bowl, sift together flour, tapioca flour, baking powder and salt.

3 In 1.5-quart mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar with electric mixer for 3 minutes, until pale yellow and fluffy. Whisk in orange zest and vanilla extract. Lightly whisk in flour in three additions. Lightly whisk in melted butter. Cover and refrigerate batter for an hour.

Madeleines in Mince Pies Tin / www.delightfulrepast.com

4 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Lightly spray pan with cooking spray (or do the butter and flour thing). Set pan in a rimmed baking sheet. My pan fits perfectly inside a 13x9x1-inch quarter-sheet pan. Scoop batter into pan. Bake for about 12 to 16 minutes, or until cakes are golden with slightly browned edges (or not) and spring back when touched lightly. Baking time will depend on the size of the madeleines.

Madeleines - Teacakes / www.delightfulrepast.com

5 Turn out the teacakes onto a pristine kitchen towel. You will likely need to give the pan a couple of sharp raps to loosen the stubborn ones. Place them bottom side up on wire rack to cool. Dust lightly with powdered sugar just 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!


02 July 2015

Microwave Mac and Cheese for One

Microwave Mac and Cheese for One / www.delightfulrepast.com

It took me a long time to come around to microwave ovens. I think I was the last person on the planet to get one, after being urged to by my elderly father! Still, I don't cook in it. All I ever use it for is to heat up a plate of leftovers or melt a bit of butter. 

But the other day I saw a stovetop mac and cheese for one recipe over at As the Bunny Hops, where Amy loves to share her easy recipes and kitchen hacks, and thought: Maybe I'll do a version of this in the microwave. I usually have a quick lunch on my own, so thought this would be perfect.

Microwave Mac and Cheese for One / www.delightfulrepast.com

Of course, microwave ovens are all different, so your times might not be the same as those that I figured out for mine. If you work from home as I do, what sort of things do you usually have for lunch?

Microwave Mac and Cheese for One / www.delightfulrepast.com

Microwave Mac and Cheese for One

(Makes 1 cup)

1/2 cup (2 ounces/57 grams) elbow macaroni
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 milliliters) water, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne

Pinch of dry mustard
1/2 tablespoon (0.25 ounce/7 grams) unsalted butter
1/4 packed cup (1 ounce/28 grams) shredded cheddar
1/4 packed cup (1 ounce/28 grams) shredded Monterey jack
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces/59 milliliters) milk
1/2 teaspoon tapioca flour or cornstarch

Note: It is quite good even with just half this amount of cheese if you happen to be limiting your cheese intake. You can use all cheddar, if you like, but I think the addition of Monterey jack makes it creamier. And, at the same time, you can toast a few fresh breadcrumbs on the stovetop for a pretty topping.

1 In 2-cup glass measure (I love my Pyrex glass measuring cups!), combine macaroni, water, salt, pepper, cayenne and butter. Microwave on full power for 6 minutes (your oven might differ), until most of liquid is absorbed and pasta is al dente. 

2 Stir in the cheeses, milk and tapioca flour. Microwave on full power for 2 minutes (your oven might differ), until the cheese has melted and a smooth sauce has formed. Stir and serve on a small plate. Or just eat it out of the measuring cup; I won't tell!