23 November 2015

ThermoWorks Giveaway - Four Kitchen Essentials

ThermoWorks Giveaway / www.delightfulrepast.com

Unless you're new to Delightful Repast, you probably know I love really good kitchen equipment. But I also detest snobbery of any kind and am not here to tell you that you can't be a fabulous cook with "lesser" or little equipment.

When it comes to fast, accurate temperature readings in the kitchen, ThermoWorks is "The One." That said, my mother and my grandmothers never owned any kind of kitchen thermometer and did very well in the kitchen, thank you veddy much.

But I've gotten rather used to relying on a thermometer for certain things and would really hate to be without it. For instance, the organic grassfed meat that I like is so very expensive that I really can't risk it with guesswork. Using a thermometer is the only way I can get perfect results every single time. 

If you like the idea of simply inserting a probe into the Sunday roast and waiting for the alarm to go off when the desired internal temperature is reached, consider the ChefAlarm (on the left above) with commercial features or the simple and accurate (and less expensive) DOT, both professional grade and built to last.

If you like to take the temperature manually from time to time, go with the Thermapen Mk4 or the simple and accurate (and less expensive) ThermoPop. Like the ChefAlarm and the DOT, the Thermapen Mk4 and the ThermoPop are "splash-proof" (moisture-resistant) and designed for the pros.

Of course, they're not just for meat. Besides coming in handy for roasting, broiling, baking, grilling and frying, they are indispensable when making candy, jam, marmalade, custard, eggnog and all sorts of things. 

ThermoPop and Thermapen

ThermoWorks Giveaway

This giveaway is open to US residents (Sorry, international* friends!) 18 years of age or older. To enter (one entry per person), just leave a comment below. Please include your email address in the body of your comment. Must enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday December 2. 

(* Come back next week for a giveaway open to UK and EU, as well as US, readers!)

Four winners will be chosen by random drawing and be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday December 3. If I don't hear back from the winners of the random drawing by noon Eastern time Sunday December 6, another drawing will be held and new winner(s) selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline). 

Disclosure: ThermoWorks provided product for review purposes and four items for the giveaway. The views expressed here are entirely my own. I always tell my readers what I really think!

19 November 2015

Southern Fried Boneless Chicken

Southern Fried Boneless Chicken / www.delightfulrepast.com

My Southern grandmother made the world's best fried chicken, and I used to make it her way (never turned out as good as hers, of course). But then a few people came into my life who don't like bone-in chicken (or dark meat) and will only eat boneless skinless chicken breasts. 

So I had to develop a recipe that would put the flavor of Grandma's fried chicken into bland boneless skinless chicken breasts. Of course, Grandma would be appalled that anyone would not be using the whole chicken.

Grandma didn't always just quickly and efficiently cut up a whole chicken. When my father was a boy, she would step out the door of her farmhouse kitchen, grab a live chicken and take care of business, baby! Well, you know I'm all about carrying on family food traditions, but you won't be seeing that here at Delightful Repast!

Southern Fried Boneless Chicken / www.delightfulrepast.com

I have a huge skillet that could handle all the chicken in one batch, but then I'd have to use twice as much oil. So I use a 12-inch flare-sided skillet and fry it in two batches. The oil only needs to be about 1/4-inch-deep. No need to deep-fry. Measure the oil into the pan so that next time you'll know how much oil to put in the pan without getting out your ruler.

How about you? Do you prefer bone-in or boneless chicken? Dark or white meat? Either is fine with me, as long as there's plenty of Grandma's Cream Gravy!

Southern Fried Boneless Chicken / www.delightfulrepast.com

Southern Fried Boneless Chicken

(Makes 6 Servings)

The Chicken

1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces/355ml)  buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon hot sauce (I use Tapatio)
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 16 pieces

The Coating

1 1/2 cups (7.5 ounces/213 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon thyme leaves

About 1/2 to 3/4 cup organic canola oil (to a depth* of 1/4 inch in skillet)

* Pans vary. The first time you make this, measure oil into pan 1/4 cup at a time and use a ruler to measure the depth. Next time, use the same pan and just measure the same amount of oil into the pan; no need to get out the ruler. This may sound overly meticulous, but it will keep you from wasting oil.

The Gravy

(Makes about 2 cups)

3 tablespoons pan drippings
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup lower sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 In 1.5-quart bowl, stir together buttermilk, salt and hot sauce. Add chicken to bowl, cover and refrigerate for 6 to 10 hours. Remove from refrigerator 30 to 45 minutes before coating and frying. That's so the chicken won't be super cold and bring down the temperature of the oil too much.

2 In 8x8x2-inch baking dish, whisk together flour, cornstarch, paprika, pepper, salt, marjoram and thyme leaves. Remove chicken, a few pieces at a time, from the buttermilk and place them in the coating mixture, coating them well on all sides. Place coated pieces on a wire rack.

3 Pour oil into 12-inch skillet to a depth of 1/4 inch. When the oil is very hot,* 350F/180C, use tongs to gently lower half the chicken pieces into the hot oil. Cook for 7 minutes, until golden brown; turn and cook another 7 minutes. During cooking, try to keep the oil between 250F/121C and 300F/149C; this keeps moisture in, and oil out of, the chicken. An instant-read thermometer inserted to the center of one of the larger pieces should register 165F/74C. Drain on wire rack (not the same one that had raw chicken on it, unless you wash it) set in a baking sheet. Blot surface with paper towel. Repeat for second batch, first making sure the oil is up to temperature. You can keep the first batch warm on the wire rack in baking sheet in a preheated 200F/93C oven.

* If you don't have a good instant-read thermometer, you need to get one. I use it all the time: oil, caramel, candy, egg mixtures, roasts, steaks, chops, fish, poultry ... You'll wonder how you ever got along without it.

4 Pour off pan drippings, and measure 3 tablespoons back into pan. Stir in flour until smooth, and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in milk and broth. Turn heat to low and continue stirring until gravy is thickening. Stir in salt and pepper. Continue cooking and stirring until it's the consistency you like. If it's too thick, add milk or broth a tablespoon at a time until it's just the way you like it. Taste and adjust seasoning. 


12 November 2015

How to Make Perfect Fluffy Brown Rice

Perfect Fluffy Brown Rice / www.delightfulrepast.com

Fluffy brown rice is not something I've had very often in my life outside my own kitchen. More often than not, it is sticky, gummy and not very tasty. Someone recently told me of a method meant to ensure perfect results, and I had to laugh out loud! It involved ridiculous amounts of water, treating the rice like pasta. Not necessary, I assure you. 

I cook it much the same way I make my Mexican Rice, with a few slight changes. Brown rice always takes longer to cook than white, and my method takes even longer; so I always make a huge batch of it to enjoy throughout the week (it reheats beautifully in the microwave). 

The only way to get consistent results with any rice recipe is to use the same rice and the same pan each time--especially when making a large quantity. So once the recipe comes out to your liking, always use the same rice and the same pan. I perfected my recipe using Lundberg organic long-grain brown rice and a 5 1/2-quart Le Creuset Round French Oven

How to Make Perfect Fluffy Brown Rice / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Perfect Fluffy Brown Rice

(Makes 20 servings)

1 quart lower sodium chicken broth (vegetable broth or water, if you're vegetarian)
1 quart water
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 2-pound bag long-grain brown rice (I use Lundberg organic)
1 8-ounce can tomato* sauce or 3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) fire roasted crushed tomatoes (I use Muir Glen organic; it is THE best!)

* This amount of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes will not result in a tomato-y rice; that is not the point. It is just enough to add "a certain something" to the flavor.

1 In 3-quart saucepan, bring broth, water and salt to a simmer while browning the rice.

2 In 5 1/2-quart pot, heat olive oil and stir in rice (straight from the package--do not rinse). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until rice is golden brown. This may take 20 to 30 minutes; don't rush it.

Note: If you've made pilaf before, the rice is sauteed just until translucent. I want you to go waaaayy beyond translucent. I want you to toast this rice to a nice golden brown like in the photo below, and that takes some time (which is why I make big batches of rice).

Perfect Fluffy Brown Rice / www.delightfulrepast.com

3 Gradually stir tomato sauce into rice and cook for 2 minutes, then add hot broth to rice. Bring to a full boil and stir just once. Put the lid on tightly, turn the heat down low and leave undisturbed for 45 to 50 minutes.

Note: If this is your first time making this, take a really quick peek to see if liquid has evaporated and rice is done. If not, put the lid back on and continue cooking for 5 minutes.

4 Cover and let stand, off heat, for 10 minutes. Fluff gently with a fork, inserting your fork at the edge of the pan and fluffing toward the center, going all around the edge of the pan. Garnish, if you like, and serve.

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05 November 2015

The Ultimate Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate - Chocolat Chaud Sans Laitage

The Ultimate Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate / www.delightfulrepast.com

(Pardon my French! Not entirely sure "Sans Laitage" shouldn't be "Sans Produits Laitiers" or something else.)

Ever since I heard that at LadurĂ©e in Paris they blend hot chocolate with an immersion blender to make it really frothy just before serving, I knew I had to have an immersion blender. But by the time I got the immersion blender my chocolate mood had passed and has only just now returned. You see, generally speaking I am not a chocolate fan. But when the mood does strike, nothing else will do! 

And one of the chocolate things I enjoy is a good not-too-sweet hot chocolate. An "adult" hot chocolate, if you will. Since I'm contemplating experimenting with dairy-free for a couple of months at some point, I thought I'd make my hot chocolate with rice milk. Of course, you can use regular milk and even add more sugar, if you like. And you might want to leave out the Kahlua or coffee.

There is only one thing you can't change about this recipe. You must froth the chocolate with an immersion blender for one minute and serve immediately. I've made hot chocolate with rice milk before, and it seemed rather thin. Not this. The immersion blender gives the hot chocolate a texture I can only call "plush."

Have you tried it? If not, give it a go and let me know what you think. 

The Ultimate Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate / www.delightfulrepast.com

The Ultimate Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate

(Makes 1 serving)

1 cup (8 fluid ounces/237 ml) rice milk
1 ounce (28 grams) bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon (or more) Kahlua or 1 tablespoon brewed coffee
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 In 1-quart saucepan, combine all ingredients, cooking and stirring until hot. Turn off heat.

2 With immersion blender, blend hot chocolate for 1 minute. It will be very frothy. 

Note: If you are multiplying recipe to make 2 or 3 servings, use a 2-quart pan. For 4 servings, step up to a 3-quart pan because the immersion blender will really expand the contents of the pan. 

3 Pour into mug(s). Enjoy.