24 September 2015

Potato Soup - From Leftover Mashed Potatoes

Potato Soup - From Leftover Mashed Potatoes / www.delightfulrepast.com

Potato Soup is something I usually make with raw potatoes, as in my classic Potato-Leek Soup. But I had some leftover Mashed Potatoes the other day and thought I'd turn them into a soup. It's very thick and rich. You add as much liquid as you need at the end to get the consistency you prefer -- easier than getting it too thin and then having to thicken it. 

I recently got a high-performance blender (more about that another day) and have been having fun making hot soups in it. There's no heating element; it's powerful enough to make friction heat. At the same time the ingredients, even raw vegetables, are being transformed into a perfectly smooth and creamy blend, they are being heated.

Of course, you can just cook this on the stove and puree it right in the pan with an immersion blender. But you'll need to chop and cook the celery if you do. This is my new favorite way to use leftover mashed potatoes. Or baked or boiled potatoes, for that matter. Maybe not leftover french fries, though. But, then, who ever has leftover french fries!

What is your favorite soup? Have you ever heated soup in a high-performance blender? I'm looking forward to making more slow cooker soups this autumn and winter.

Potato Soup - From Leftover Mashed Potatoes / www.delightfulrepast.com

Potato Soup - From Leftover Mashed Potatoes

(Makes five 1-cup servings)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 stalk celery*
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 cup milk + more
1 cup lower sodium vegetable, chicken or beef broth + more
1/2 lightly packed cup shredded cheddar
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
Garnish options: dill, chives, scallions, sour cream, shredded cheese, crumbled bacon

* If using a high-performance blender, just break it in half and throw it in. Otherwise, chop it and cook it in butter with the onions. I suppose you could skip cooking the onion as well, but I can't eat raw onion so I cook it quite well.

1 In small skillet, melt butter. Cook chopped onion (and, perhaps, chopped celery) until softened, about 5 minutes.

2 Place in high-performance blender jar all the ingredients except the garnishes. Hit the preprogrammed Soup button. Taste and adjust seasoning. Hit the button again. Check the temperature and consistency. If it's thicker than you like, add more liquid. You'll need to hit the Soup button again to heat the added liquid.

3 Pour into bowls and garnish. I gave this bowl just a sprinkling of extra dill and coarsely ground black pepper and a bit of shredded cheese.

17 September 2015

Chocolate Buttermilk Sheet Cake with Coconut-Pecan Frosting

German Chocolate Sheet Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

I was in the mood for German chocolate cake, but it was too hot to run the oven and get into a big deal. So I baked a little quarter-sheet chocolate cake in the toaster oven and spread the coconut-pecan frosting on it right in the pan.

Didn't bother scaling down the actual cake recipe because it's not the cake that most of us love about German chocolate cake, it's that frosting! Of course, I make the frosting a lot less sweet by using organic unsweetened shredded coconut.  

It was a lot less work making this than the three-layer real deal, and using the toaster oven kept the kitchen nice and cool. Though I still "get into a big deal" quite often in the kitchen, I'm really trying to simplify my life. But that will never include using packaged "convenience" foods instead of cooking "from scratch."

Can't wait for the seasonal produce and the cooler temperatures of autumn. What are you looking forward to cooking? 

Chocolate Buttermilk Sheet Cake with Coconut-Pecan Frosting - German Chocolate Cake Without All the Fuss and Bother! / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Chocolate Buttermilk Sheet Cake with Coconut-Pecan Frosting 

(Makes 13x9x1-inch quarter-sheet, 16 servings)

The Chocolate Buttermilk Sheet Cake 

2/3 cup water
8 tablespoons (4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter
1/4 packed cup (0.75 ounce/21 grams) natural unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 dip-and-sweep cups (6.25 ounces/177 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup (7 ounces/198 grams) sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (2.67 fluid ounces/79 ml) buttermilk
1 large egg and 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

The Coconut-Pecan Frosting

1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup (5.67 ounces/132 grams) sugar
2/3 cup (or 1 5-ounce can) evaporated milk
Pinch salt
5 tablespoons (2.5 ounces/71 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (2.75 ounces/78 grams) organic unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup (3 ounces/85 grams) finely chopped pecans, toasted

1 Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Spray a 13x9x1-inch quarter-sheet pan with cooking spray.

2 In 1-quart saucepan, combine water, butter and cocoa. Heat, whisking occasionally, over medium heat until the butter melts.

3 In medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Whisking for about 30 seconds sort of sifts the dry ingredients. In small bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Add warm liquid mixture to dry ingredients and stir to combine; beat for about 30 seconds. Add the buttermilk mixture and beat for another 30 seconds. (A wooden spoon works perfectly well, but I use an English cake whisk, a kind of stainless steel wire spoon that has been made in Britain for over a hundred years.)

4 Pour into prepared pan. Bake for about 22 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack while making the frosting.

5 In 2-quart saucepan over low heat, whisk together eggs, sugar, evaporated milk and salt; add butter pieces. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low to medium heat until mixture comes to a boil and then for about 8 minutes; remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract, shredded coconut and toasted pecans. 

6 Spread the warm frosting over the partially cooled cake. Serve at room temperature. If serving the next day, store cake, covered, in the refrigerator.


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10 September 2015

Wine Review - Two Shepherds Grenache Rose

Wine Review - Two Shepherds Grenache Rose / www.delightfulrepast.com

With the heat at near record levels, I hadn't been drinking much wine lately. Then I remembered I had a bottle of Two Shepherds Grenache Rosé 2014. It's so pretty, a gorgeous shade of light red, that I almost didn't want to open it. But one taste and I was saying "Where have you been all summer?"

Of course, you can drink this wine all year round, but it is so perfect for summer. I know it's almost a cliche to call a rosé "refreshing," but this one really is. It's bright and vibrant and goes so well with the kinds of foods we eat in summer: grilled foods, vegetables, salads. Chinese takeout.

I was feeling ambitious, in spite of the heat, and whipped up a batch of steamed pork buns for lunch. Thought they might be good with the rosé. I was soooo right! I had a little left over and enjoyed it with an avocado sandwich the next day. Yes! An avocado sandwich. And it was a wonderful pairing!

Here's my review of Two Shepherds Grenache Blanc.

Two Shepherds specializes in "cool climate Rhone wines that express place and vintage." The one-man micro-winery began commercial production in 2010 with just 175 cases and has grown steadily from there.

Now they're expanding their operation so they can bring us more of their wonderful wines. They've launched a crowdfunding campaign, and you can see more about it at Indiegogo Two Shepherds story.

(By the way, I'm not being compensated to tell you about Two Shepherds or their crowdfunding. I just wanted to pass along the information to others who enjoy wine and who like to see people working at something they are passionate about.)

Wine Review - Two Shepherds Grenache Rose / www.delightfulrepast.com

These Steamed Pork Buns (or is it Pork Steamed Buns?) were great, but I did not have time to get the recipe together for you this week. Soon. What is your favorite hot-weather food and wine pairing?

03 September 2015

Fig Almond Upside-Down Cake - Gluten-Free

Fig Upside-Down Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

Is it just that I don't remember, or did fig season come early this year? My friend Jo, who along with her husband maintains a huge organic garden, just gave me a box of figs from their tree. I'm feeling positively autumnal with a fresh fig dessert baking away. 

Since the growers of my figs are gluten-free, I decided to make up a gluten-free cake in their honor. Not a fan of any gluten-free blends on the market, I make up my own. Different blends for different purposes. In this case, I thought ground almonds and coconut flour would go great with figs; and I threw in some tapioca flour, just because. Would have used some sorghum flour, my favorite, but I was out of it. Might have added 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum, but I wanted to see if it would be fine without it. It was.

I worked from my regular upside-down cake recipe that I developed long ago. (If you prefer a traditional yellow cake, here's my regular Fig Upside-Down Cake.) Since this one is gluten-free, I added a bit more bit more liquid. Turned out well, so here it is! For best texture, serve at room temperature. When chilled, the butter in the cake hardens and the cake seems less cake-y and more like a bar.

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Fig Upside-Down Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

Fig Almond Upside-Down Cake 

(Makes one 8-inch round cake, 8 servings)

Note: If you're allergic to almonds, use sorghum flour instead. 

10 (about) small figs, halved
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/3 packed cup (1.75 ounces/51 grams) ground almonds or almond meal
1/3 dip-and-sweep cup (1.75 ounces/51 grams) coconut flour
1/3 dip-and-sweep cup (1.5 ounces/41 grams) tapioca flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon mace or 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Milk to make 2/3 cup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg 

1 Preheat oven* to 350F/180C/Gas4. In the microwave, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in an 8-inch round Pyrex baking dish. (If you're using a metal 8-inch round pan, you can do your butter melting in a separate dish.) Swirl the melted butter to grease the sides of the pan. Add the brown sugar to the butter in the bottom and blend. Spread mixture evenly. Place fig halves, cut side down, in a pleasing pattern. Set aside. 

Note: I baked this in my toaster oven and decided on a whim to bake it at 325F/165C/Gas3 instead. Worked fine. Usually I grind almonds in the blender or food processor, but this time I decided to try the immersion blender with its chopper/grinder attachment (like a mini food processor). Worked beautifully. 

2 In mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix on low speed* for one minute to blend. Add the 5 tablespoons softened butter, milk, and vanilla. Mix on low speed for 1 1/2 minutes, then add the egg and mix 1 1/2 minutes longer.

Note: Or do it by hand, as I usually do. Just whisk together the dry ingredients; use your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients; add the milk, egg and vanilla; beat by hand for a couple minutes. Couldn't be easier! 

3 Spread the batter evenly over the figs with a rubber spatula. Run a knife through just the batter, not disturbing the figs, a couple of times to break up any large air bubbles. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven, loosen edges with knife, and invert immediately onto a platter. Replace any figs that did not release from the pan. Let cool before serving with whipped cream (unsweetened, just a dash of vanilla extract).

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