25 May 2017

Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice - Oven Method

Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice - Oven Method / www.delightfulrepast.com

My restaurant-style Mexican Rice recipe was a real hit with my friend Lily, with whom I've gotten acquainted through the blog. But she is in the habit of cooking her rice in the oven, so she adapted my recipe to her oven method. And then I adapted her method ...

Turned out beautifully and freed up some stove space for other things. So if you want to get the rice off your stovetop - and off your mind - while you're cooking other things, you should try this Mexican Rice - Oven Method.

If you've read my original Mexican Rice post, you know that I think where a lot of people go wrong is in the seasoning. They think any food called Mexican needs to be spicy. But the rice should add some variety to your plate, something mild - but flavorful - to balance out the heat and spice of everything else.

I perfected my recipe using Lundberg organic long-grain white rice and a 5 1/2-quart Le Creuset Round French Oven. To get consistent results, I use the same rice and the same pan each time. This is a lot of rice, but I make this amount every time. Just refrigerate or freeze the leftovers, and reheat in the microwave. Lily thinks it's even tastier after being frozen.

My "rice teacher" Julia, referred to in that earlier post, will be coming for a visit next month, so I put a dish of this in the freezer and will see if it will reheat well enough to suit her.

Do you know of a great way to reheat cold rice? How about frozen rice?

Update 05/26/17: For two generous servings, I put 3 cups of the thawed rice in a 1-quart glass bowl, added 1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) of water, topped it with a silicone lid (raised a bit at one point along the edge by a folded bit of paper towel to vent) and microwaved on full power for 5 minutes. It was the fluffiest rice ever!

Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice - Oven Method / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice - Oven Method

(Makes 20 servings)

4 cups (32 fluid ounces/946 ml) chicken broth (vegetable broth or water, if you're vegetarian)
3 cups (24 fluid ounces/710 ml) water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 2-pound bag (32 ounces/907 grams) medium- or long-grain white rice (I use Lundberg organic long grain)
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce (I use Muir Glen organic; it is THE best!)

1 In 3-quart saucepan, bring broth, water and salt to a simmer while browning the rice. The amount of liquid called for varies between brands. My preferred brand calls for a ratio of 1 1/2 cups liquid to 1 cup rice, and I think that ratio would be best with any brand.

2 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. 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 lightly browned. This may take 20 to 30 minutes. Throw in a few whole cloves of garlic at some point, if you like. They can be removed before the next step or before serving.

* Leave rice alone for 5 minutes or so between stirrings to give the bottom layer a chance to brown a bit.

3 Gradually stir tomato sauce into rice and cook for a minute or two, then add the hot liquid to the rice. Bring to a full boil and stir just once. Put the lid on tightly, and place in the preheated oven. Cook for 5 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave the covered pot in the oven for 25 minutes.

4 If this is your first time making this, take a really quick peek to see if liquid has evaporated and rice is done. Cover and let stand, off heat, for 10 minutes. Then fluff with a fork (I use a pair of forks for this amount). Garnish, if you like, and serve. Garnishes might include a squeeze of lime juice, chopped cilantro, or frozen peas.

18 May 2017

Chocolate Bundt Cake - Quick and Easy

Chocolate Bundt Cake - this one is light, not dense and heavy / delightfulrepast.com

Everybody needs a good recipe for Chocolate Bundt Cake. Most are quite dense and heavy, which can be good. But mine is one for those times when you're in the mood for light and fluffy, even in a Bundt cake.

And it's quite quick and definitely easy, with no special equipment required. You just need a little saucepan to melt the butter and stuff and a big bowl and spoon to give it a quick mix. Bakes in just 40 minutes.

It has plenty of chocolate kick on its own (enhanced by using coffee as the liquid), so I just gave it a dusting of powdered sugar and a bit of whipped cream. Chocoholics could stir up a little ganache to ladle over the top.

Oh, and if you're vegan and/or interested in foods of the Great Depression, or if you just want an easy single-layer cake, check out my One-Bowl Chocolate Cake

Are you a Cake Person or a Pie Person? Many people think you're one or the other, but I think I'm both!

Chocolate Bundt Cake - this one is light and fluffy, not heavy and dense / www.delightfulrepast.com

Chocolate Bundt Cake

(Makes one 10-inch Bundt cake)

1 cup (8 fluid ounces/237 ml) brewed coffee*
1 3/4 sticks (7 ounces/198 grams) unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon for pan
1/2 packed cup (1.5 ounces/42 grams) unsweetened natural cocoa powder*, plus 1 tablespoon for the pan
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 6-ounce (170 grams) container (or 3/4 cup) plain yogurt, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar

2 dip-and-sweep cups (10 ounces/283 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour 
1 3/4 cups (12.25 ounces/347 grams) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons (7 grams) baking soda 
2 large eggs, room temperature

* I buy organic and Fair Trade Certified coffee, cocoa and chocolate products.

1 In small saucepan, combine brewed coffee, butter, cocoa and salt. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly, then stir in vanilla extract. Stir vinegar into the yogurt.

2 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Grease (1 tablespoon butter) and flour (1 tablespoon cocoa powder) a 10-inch 12-cup Bundt pan. Or just spray the pan with cooking spray, if that works with your Bundt pan.

3 In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and baking soda. Add the melted butter mixture, half at a time, stirring after each addition until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition until well incorporated. Stir in the yogurt mixture.

4 Scrape the batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Run a knife through the batter a few times to break up any large air pockets. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes; then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely before glazing (ganache would be good!) or dusting with powdered sugar.

Chocolate Bundt Cake - this one is light and fluffy, not heavy and dense / www.delightfulrepast.com

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11 May 2017

Raspberry Swiss Roll

Raspberry Swiss Roll - It's easier than you think. Just roll it once, no cracks. / www.delightfulrepast.com

A Swiss Roll with just raspberry jam is a wonderful thing, but the addition of raspberries and whipped cream takes it right over the top. It's one of those desserts that never fails to impress, looking much more difficult than it is.

The problem I had with the first one I made years ago was with the cake itself. Baking a regular cake in a jelly roll pan is not the way to go. It needs to be a proper sponge cake, and I prefer the kind made with separated eggs.

I used to make the sponge cake with four eggs until I had occasion to try one made with five. When I took it out of the oven, I thought it looked far too eggy, even omelette-like. So when I had my first slice of the finished product, I was surprised at the perfect texture.

Though all recipes for a Swiss Roll seem to call for pre-rolling the cake while it is warm and then unrolling it, filling it and rolling it up again, I've found that's not necessary. I don't do it with my recipe. I just roll it once, at a carefully timed moment, and that's that. I'm going to say that again: I just roll it once!

Update 11/09/17: Try my naturally gluten-free Chocolate-Hazelnut Roulade.

How to Keep A Rolled Cake From Cracking

Cracking when rolled is the main problem people have with a Swiss Roll. There are preventive measures:

  • Beating the yolks and whites separately makes a more flexible sponge that is less inclined to crack.
  • Not overbaking, baking just until set but still springy to the touch.
  • Rolling it while it is still warm enough to be pliable, but not warm enough to melt the whipped cream.

Raspberry Swiss Roll - It's easier than you think - Roll it once, no cracking / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Raspberry and Cream Swiss Roll

(Makes about 9 servings)

The Sponge Cake

1/2 dip-and-sweep cup (2.5 ounces/71 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (0.5 ounce/14 grams) cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt, divided
5 large eggs, separated cold, left at room temperature for 30 minutes
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
2/3 cup (4.67 ounces/132 grams) sugar, divided
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces/59 ml) milk
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

The Filling

1 cup (8 fluid ounces/237 ml) heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons (0.5 ounce/14 grams) unsifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup raspberry jam, melted
1 cup halved fresh raspberries

1 Preheat oven to 375F/190C/Gas5. Line a 15x10x1-inch (38x25x2.5 cm) rimmed baking sheet (jelly roll pan or Swiss roll tin) with a piece of parchment with an extra 2 inches on each end for easy removal. Spray parchment and sides of pan with cooking spray. In small bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch and half the salt.

2 In bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and half the salt on low speed until foamy (might have to use a spoon to mash up clump of cream of tartar). Increase speed to medium and continue beating until trails become visible and bubbles are very small, about 2 to 3 minutes.

3 Increase speed to medium-high and gradually add in 1/3 cup of sugar, about a tablespoon at a time, taking about 2 to 3 minutes. Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy and medium* peaks form when the whisk is lifted, about 4 to 5 minutes.

* Must beat past soft peaks, but not all the way to stiff peaks.

4 In 2- to 2.5-quart mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the egg yolks with remaining 1/3 cup sugar until pale yellow and fluffy; this takes a few minutes. Add the cream, melted butter and vanilla extract; mix until combined.

5 Sift the flour-cornstarch over the egg yolk mixture. With silicone spatula, gently fold the flour in. Then gently fold in the stiff egg whites, a third at a time, being careful not to deflate them.

6 Gently scrape the batter into the prepared jelly roll pan and quickly spread it evenly. Place a towel (or pair of potholders) on the countertop and drop the pan onto it from a height of about 6 inches two or three times to get out the large air bubbles that would make holes in the cake.

7 Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, just until done. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean; the cake should spring back when pressed gently in the center.

8 While the cake is baking, whip the cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until it is quite stiff. You need to have your filling ingredients ready so that you're ready to proceed the moment the cake is cooled sufficiently but not completely.

9 Use a knife to loosen the sides of the cake from the pan. Using the two ends of parchment paper, lift the cake out of the pan onto a wire rack to cool for a bit. Melt the jam.

10 When the cake is still warm enough to be pliable but not warm enough to melt the whipped cream, take the cake off the wire rack and place it paper-side down on the counter with a short end in front of you. Spread the jam evenly over the cake, leaving about a 1.5-inch border at the far end uncovered. Spread the whipped cream evenly over the jam. Distribute the berries evenly over the whipped cream. 

11 Start rolling the cake at the end nearest you, peeling away the parchment as you go. Wrap the rolled cake in plastic wrap, place on tray seam-side down and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day. Bringing it out of the refrigerator 15 to 30 minutes before serving makes the texture of the cake superb.

12 When ready to serve, trim the ends of the roll for a tidier look (and a cook's treat!), place it on an attractive platter, dust with powdered sugar, garnish as you like.  

04 May 2017

Raspberry Muffins with Lemon Glaze

Raspberry Muffins with Lemon Glaze / www.delightfulrepast.com

Raspberry muffins are not raspberry cupcakes. One of the things I love about a muffin is that it has a lot less sugar than a cupcake. That is, it should. I've seen recipes with sugar levels nearing that of cupcakes. I've made this recipe with even less sugar than indicated here, but I must admit it does alter the texture a bit.

So I'm writing the recipe here with the maximum amount of sugar, which amounts to under 3 teaspoons per muffin without the glaze. If you've read my Sugar - Toxin or Treat? post, you know I limit myself to 6 teaspoons of sugar per day. So I could have two of these without the glaze. The glaze brings it up to 4.5 teaspoons per muffin.

The texture is wonderful. Of course, the key to proper texture of any muffin is not overmixing, not developing the gluten in the batter. So I've included some tips in the directions.

What's your favorite kind of muffin? 

Raspberry Muffins with Lemon Glaze / www.delightfulrepast.com

Raspberry Muffins with Lemon Glaze 

(Makes 12 muffins) 

The Raspberry Muffins 

6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Milk to make 1 cup (8 fluid ounces/237 ml) milk
1 3/4 dip-and-sweep cups (8.75 ounces/248 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (4.67 ounces/132 grams) sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon mace or nutmeg
2 large eggs, room temperature
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) raspberries, fresh or frozen 

The Lemon Glaze 

3/4 firmly packed cup (3 ounces/85 grams) unsifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

1 Preheat oven to 400F/205C/Gas6. Grease a standard 12-muffin tin or line it with paper bake cups. (I usually bake muffins in a greased tin, but I just happened to have a dozen of these pink bake cups.)

2 In 2- or 4-cup glass measure, melt the butter in the microwave; cool slightly. In 1-cup glass measure, stir together fresh lemon juice and milk; set aside to thicken a bit.

3 In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and mace or nutmeg. Take out 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture to coat the berries before adding them to the batter.

4 Add soured milk to melted butter, and whisk in eggs, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Add thoroughly whisked wet mixture to thoroughly whisked dry mixture. Stir as little as possible, just until dry ingredients are moistened. Using a silicone spatula, gently fold in the berries.

5 Scoop the batter from the edge of the bowl so as not to further mix the batter and evenly fill twelve muffin cups just about to the top. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in a center muffin comes out clean.

Note: I used frozen raspberries and baked the muffins for 25 minutes. With fresh berries, they would take less time.

6 Whisk powdered sugar to get most of the lumps out, then whisk in lemon juice. Drizzle over slightly cooled, but still warm, muffins. If you like the glaze to be visible, cool the muffins more before glazing. Serve warm or room temperature.