30 November 2017

Chicken and Mushroom Penne Pasta

Chicken and Mushroom Penne Pasta / www.delightfulrepast.com

Chicken and Mushroom Penne Pasta is one of those dishes that’s special enough for company and easy enough for a weeknight family dinner. You can put all sorts of things into one of these dishes, but I like to really savor a few simple ingredients instead of throwing the kitchen sink at it.

I made the batch pictured here with the smaller measure of sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms, but I like it even better with the double amounts. If you use the larger amounts, do throw in an extra splash of brandy.

So many creamy pasta recipes call for huge amounts of butter, cream and cheese – but you can get delicious results with far less. In fact, my recipe is made without any butter and cream at all and just a small amount of cheese.

Sometimes I prefer just enough sauce to coat each bite of chicken and mushroom and each piece of pasta, as shown here. Other times I like to have more sauce, so I splash in the cream. It's very flexible.

I think the dish is best with a ridged (rigate) tube pasta. Penne was my favorite until I met mini penne a few years ago. But either will do. Of course, it’s delightful with a red meat sauce, but I do love a creamy chicken pasta.

Chicken and Mushroom Penne Pasta / www.delightfulrepast.com

Chicken and Mushroom Penne Pasta

(Makes 4 to 6 servings)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 small (4 ounces/113 grams) yellow onion, finely sliced
1/4 to 1/2 firmly packed cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely sliced and microwaved for 15 seconds with 1 or 2 tablespoons water
1/2 to 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces/680 grams) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons brandy
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) milk
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour shaken with 1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, more to sprinkle over plated pasta
3/4 pound (12 ounces/340 grams) mini penne pasta
Reserved pasta water

1 In 5-quart pan, bring 3 quarts of water with 1/2 tablespoon of salt to a full boil. While it’s heating up, make sauce. You will add the pasta to the boiling water about the same time you start cooking the chicken. But if the water is not up to a rapid boil by then, the sauce can sit quite happily.

2 In 12-inch straight-sided* skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and saute the onion while you slice and hydrate the sun-dried tomatoes and slice the mushrooms.

* If your 12-inch skillet is not straight-sided, you’ll need to cook the chicken in two batches. So if you have a straight-sided one, use it.

3 Add the tomatoes to the skillet and cook for about a minute until the liquid evaporates, then add another tablespoon of oil, mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook over high enough heat to make the mushrooms sizzle, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are done, about 6 to 10 minutes. Remove vegetables to a bowl.

4 Add 2 tablespoons oil to skillet and cook the chicken, seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and cooked through. Deglaze the pan by stirring in the brandy and scraping up any browned bits. Add the milk and the slurry of flour and water, cooking and stirring until thickened. Stir in the basil, thyme, red pepper and Parmesan.

5 Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the pasta water in case your sauce needs thinning. Stir the drained pasta into the sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning. 

23 November 2017

Madeira Cake - A British Classic

Madeira Cake - A British Classic / www.delightfulrepast.com

Madeira Cake is a classic British cake that’s been around for a couple hundred years. With few and simple ingredients, it’s so “plain Jane” that many people overlook it. But it’s a classic for a reason—it’s really good!

My mother and I always liked the buttery, faintly lemony aromas wafting through the kitchen as it baked. Since it’s baked in a deep tin, it takes longer to bake than a layer cake. The firm but tender texture makes beautiful slices for teatime, lunchbox or in trifle and other desserts.

If made correctly, it will be domed and have a crack on the top. And, contrary to its name, will not contain Madeira. It got its name simply because it was served with a glass of Madeira. But I’ve only ever served it with tea, and that’s a pretty delightful combination as well.

When baking layer cakes (in UK, sandwich cakes), especially ones that will be decorated, bakers take measures to prevent doming and cracking. There are lots of recipes out there for Madeira cake that incorporate some of those tactics, and that is wrong. Might make a nice cake, but it won’t be a Madeira cake.

You will need this particular size cake tin, a 3-inch/8cm deep 6-inch/15cm round cake tin for this amount of batter. What I love about this size tin is that it makes the perfect size cake for small pieces (3x3x1-inch wedges) for afternoon tea. Of course, you can also cut larger pieces for dessert.

This is not a Lemon Drizzle Cake, so I did not put a glaze on it; those little runs you see on the side are just from the candied lemon slices I placed on top for decoration. Have you ever made a Madeira cake?

Madeira Cake - A British Classic / www.delightfulrepast.com

Madeira Cake

(Makes one 3-inch/8cm deep 6-inch/15cm round cake)

1 1/4 dip-and-sweep cups (6.25 ounces/177 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour*
2/3 cup (4.67 ounces/132 grams) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons non-GMO baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons (4.5 ounces/128 grams) unsalted butter, softened**
2 large eggs, room temperature, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons (1 fluid ounce/30 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 or 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

* Many British recipes call for self-raising flour, but mine will always call for plain flour. I prefer to be in control of the amount of baking powder and salt I use.

** Let butter stand at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes. Butter needs to be a little softer for a hand mixer than for a stand mixer. It should be squishable, but not melting or greasy/oily. 

1 Preheat oven to 300F/150C/Gas2. Butter a 3-inch deep 6-inch round cake tin. Line the bottom with a round of baking parchment. Turn the parchment over so that both sides are buttered. Lightly flour the tin.

Note: I've also baked it at 325F/165C/Gas3 for about 50 minutes with good results, but I think I prefer the lower temperature for the longer time.

2 In 2-quart bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. With electric hand mixer, mix the softened butter into the flour mixture until it resembles crumbs. On low setting, mix in the eggs, lemon juice and zest just until combined; beat on medium to high speed for 1 minute. The batter is quite stiff and should just drop slowly off a spoon when nudged. If it is too stiff, add a tablespoon of milk or another tablespoon of lemon juice, if you like.

3 Scrape batter into prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake until golden brown and cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center or when a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.

4 Leave in tin on wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from tin. Peel away the parchment on the bottom and set right side up on rack to cool completely.

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16 November 2017

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy and Broth - The Perfect Make-and-Take Side

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy and Broth - The Perfect Make-and-Take Side / www.delightfulrepast.com

Turkey Gravy is the highlight of any turkey dinner. Whether you're hosting a turkey dinner or doing a make-and-take side for dinner at someone else's house, you can be in charge of the gravy!

I know turkey gravy is not thought of as a bring-a-dish item, but check with your hosts. A lot of people don't like making gravy (or make terrible gravy!) and might welcome the idea. You could be a hero!

If you've never made the gravy ahead of time, you're going to thank me for this. It's the only way to go when you've got a dozen things on the menu, some of which need doing at the last minute. 

You know what I'm talking about. The classic mashed potatoes are mashed at the last minute, the dinner rolls are heated at the last minute, so many things to see to. By the time you sit down at the table, you're just done! 

But you can get the turkey broth and gravy done well in advance. You'll have enough broth for stuffing/dressing as well as gravy. Just freeze both until a day or two before you need them. If you make it two or three days ahead, just refrigerate it.

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy and Broth - The Perfect Make-and-Take Side / www.delightfulrepast.com
 Don't forget to Pin it!

(You can make the Cranberry Sauce two days ahead. Try it! You'll never go back to canned!)

Though it's made with just 2 pounds of turkey, the gravy tastes wonderful. But, if you want added flavor or want to increase the amount of gravy, when you take your turkey out of the pan on the big day, combine the pan drippings (minus the fat) and make-ahead gravy for added oomph.

About the
broth: I'm a huge fan of store-bought organic free-range low-sodium chicken broth, but NOT for anything to do with a turkey dinner. You MUST make turkey broth, whether this way or with the neck, etc, on the day you roast the turkey, or both.

Do you like to make things ahead or do it all on the day? My mother always did pretty much everything on the day, but she was made of sterner stuff. I have to stretch it out!

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy and Broth - The Perfect Make-and-Take Side / www.delightfulrepast.com

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

(Makes about 4 cups)

The Turkey

2 turkey drumsticks* (about 2 pounds/0.91 kg total)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dry sherry plus enough water to make 1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml)

* Other parts might work, too, but I've only ever used drumsticks as they are more readily available where I shop.

The Broth

The Turkey, cooked
1 medium onion, peeled and halved
2 medium carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
4 medium celery stalks, cut into 3-inch pieces
Handful of fresh parsley
1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 1/2 quarts (80 fluid ounces/2.36 litres) water

The Gravy

1/3 dip-and-sweep cup (1.67 ounces/47 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
4 cups (32 fluid ounces/946 ml) of The Broth

1 Preheat oven to 400F/205C/Gas6. Lightly oil (about 1/2 teaspoon) a heavy-duty quarter sheet pan. Pat the drumsticks dry and place them in the prepared pan. Sprinkle all sides with salt and pepper. Roast for 60 to 70 minutes. Sixty minutes would probably be enough, but I like to get maximum brown bits in the roasting pan.

Note: If you don't see lots of brown in your pan after 70 minutes, let it go longer. This is a crucial step. Just be sure you don't let it burn.

2 Transfer the drumsticks to a 5-quart pot (I use a Le Creuset 5.5-quart round French oven); set aside for the moment.

3 Place the roasting pan on the stove and pour in the liquid a little at a time, stirring and scraping up the browned bits. When pan is completely deglazed, pour the liquid into a jar, bowl or 1-cup glass measure; refrigerate. You'll see from the photo that I ended up with about 1/4 cup of fat, which is perfect!

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy and Broth - The Perfect Make-and-Take Side / www.delightfulrepast.com

4 Add vegetables and seasonings to the pot, along with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer with lid slightly ajar for 4 hours, checking liquid level after second and third hours and adding more water only if needed.

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy and Broth - The Perfect Make-and-Take Side / www.delightfulrepast.com

5 Strain the broth into a 2-quart glass measure. You will have 6 to 8 cups of broth.

6 Transfer your refrigerated pan drippings to a 2-quart saucepan and begin heating. Add flour to pan drippings and cook, whisking or stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

7 Add about 1/2 cup of the stock and whisk briskly until very smooth, then add remaining broth. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently, until the gravy thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

8 Leave the gravy as is or strain into a 4-cup glass measure. Pour it into a 6-cup glass freezer container. Let cool a bit at room temperature, refrigerate until cold, then freeze until the day before you want to serve it.

9 The day before you want to use it, transfer the gravy from freezer to refrigerator. Reheat the thawed gravy, combining it with the defatted pan drippings for even more flavor.

Disclosure: Some posts contain links to my affiliate account at Amazon. 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 whenever you start your Amazon shopping from one of my links!

09 November 2017

Chocolate-Hazelnut Roulade - Naturally Gluten-Free

Chocolate- Hazelnut Roulade or Swiss Roll - Naturally Gluten-Free (and Nutella-Free!) / www.delightfulrepast.com

Many autumn tables will be featuring a pumpkin roll, that American classic. But in case you are “pumpkined out” or would just like to offer guests an alternate dessert, I thought I’d post this naturally gluten-free and pumpkin-free hazelnut roulade or Swiss roll.

You will definitely need a half-sheet pan for this cake. Don't attempt it in a smaller rimmed baking sheet or it will overflow. It makes quite a long roll, so I cut it to fit the serving plate I wanted to use, then cut the first servings from the "spare" roll.

As you know, my freezer is my best friend, so I cut two slices and froze them in my favorite glass storage containers so I could tell you how well it works. Just thawed them out at room temperature and had a slice. Perfection! Now I need to bake another one and see how well the whole roll freezes.

If you like, fancy it up even more with frosting. But I like to keep things as low-sugar as possible, so no frosting for me. For more cake-roll tips, check out my Raspberry Swiss Roll post. Do you like rolled cakes? 

Chocolate-Hazelnut Roulade or Swiss Roll - Naturally Gluten-Free (and Nutella-Free!) / www.delightfulrepast.com

Chocolate-Hazelnut Roulade

(Makes 12 to 16 servings)

Adapted from an Almond Roll recipe at King Arthur Flour

The Cake

1 3/4 lightly packed cups (7 ounces/198 grams) hazelnut flour or finely ground hazelnuts
1 tablespoon non-GMO cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons non-GMO baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
9 large eggs, separated cold, left at room temperature for 30 minutes
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup (7 ounces/198 grams) sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

The Filling

1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces/355 ml) heavy whipping cream
1/4 firmly packed cup (1 ounce/28 grams) unsifted powdered sugar
1/4 packed cup (0.75 ounce/21 grams) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
3 tablespoons (1.5 fluid ounces/44 ml) Frangelico or other hazelnut liqueur

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Line an 18x13x1-inch half-sheet pan 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, whisk together hazelnut flour, baking powder 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 1/2 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 a 2.5- to 3-quart mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the egg yolks with remaining 1/2 cup sugar until pale yellow and fluffy; this takes a few minutes, perhaps 4 or 5. Add the vanilla extract.

5 Give the hazelnut flour mixture another whisking and sprinkle it over the egg yolk mixture. With silicone spatula, gently fold the flour in. Then gently fold in the medium-stiff egg whites, a third at a time, being careful not to deflate them.

6 Gently scrape the batter into the prepared half-sheet 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 18 to 20 minutes, just until done. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean; the cake should spring back a bit when pressed gently in the center.

8 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.

9 When the cake is nearly cool, make the filling. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and cocoa. In medium bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks, sift the powdered sugar and cocoa over the cream and stir until incorporated. Continue whipping the cream until it is quite stiff. Fold in the liqueur.

10 Transfer the cake, still paper-side down, from the wire rack onto the counter with a long side in front of you. Spread the filling evenly over the cake, leaving about a 1.5-inch border at the far side uncovered.

11 Start rolling the cake at the long side nearest you, peeling away the parchment as you go. Place on tray seam-side down and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 1 day.

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. Cut into 1- to 1.5-inch slices.

Disclosure: Some posts contain links to my affiliate account at Amazon. 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 whenever you start your Amazon shopping from one of my links!

02 November 2017

Chili Verde - Chile Verde - Green Chili - Cerdo en Salsa Verde

Chili Verde - Chile Verde - Green Chili - Cerdo en Salsa Verde / www.delightfulrepast.com

With a title like that, can you tell I'm a little undecided on the proper name? Chili Verde? Chile Verde? They both have their proponents.

It had been decades since I'd made chili verde, then a couple months ago I helped with a big Mexican lunch for a group of volunteers. I made a big steam table pan of Mexican rice and a new friend brought chili verde, which I ended up serving, and the smell of it right there in front of me was making me drool!

It took a while for Gloria to get the recipe to me, so in the meantime I consulted my friend Julia (of the rice) who told me how her family makes it. And eventually I dug up my own recipe from decades ago. And what I've come up with here is a hodgepodge of all three.

Gloria's recipe didn't include green chiles, Julia's recipe did not include tomatillos, and my old recipe called for roasting fresh tomatillos and chiles and putting them in the blender.

Well, that was all well and good back in the day. But then Muir Glen began making organic crushed tomatillos in jars and I got addicted to the stuff. And would have used it in this recipe if they hadn't discontinued the product! Please join me in begging them to resume production!

Muir Glen, please please please bring back the organic crushed tomatillos in 23-ounce jars.

There's nothing on the market like it, so I decided to use a combination of fresh tomatillos and a tomatillo salsa. Of course, the tomatillo salsa, unlike the Muir Glen, contains lots of other stuff, too; so that changed everything.

Chili Verde - Chile Verde - Green Chili - Cerdo en Salsa Verde / www.delightfulrepast.com

Anyway ...

If you want to make this on the stove instead of in the slow cooker, I added a little note about that in the directions below. My friends' recipes were for stovetop versions, but I wanted to come up with a slow-cooker version for those days when I just don't want to have to keep an eye on it.

No, it isn't a typo; there is no added liquid in this recipe. I even drain the chiles. Plenty of liquid forms as it cooks, and the consistency ends up being perfect, with no need to add thickeners at the end.

Are you a chili verde fan? Do you make it with just chiles, just tomatillos, or both? Buen provecho! 

Chili Verde - Chile Verde - Green Chili - Cerdo en Salsa Verde / www.delightfulrepast.com

Slow-Cooker Chili Verde

(Makes 8 servings)

1/3 cup (1.67 ounces/47 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
4 pounds* pork shoulder, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch cubes
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or pork fat that you've trimmed off)
1 medium (about 12 ounces/340 grams) yellow onion, chopped
1 pound (16 ounces/454 grams - about 16) tomatillos, chopped**

1 16-ounce jar 505 Southwestern Hatch Valley tomatillo, garlic & lime green chile salsa (I wish it didn't have garlic)
1 7-ounce can diced mild green chiles, drained
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Garnish: chopped cilantro

* Pork shoulder (also called pork butt) is very fatty, so 4 pounds trims down to anywhere from 3 pounds to 3 3/4 pounds. There's no need to trim off every bit of fat, but you will want to cut away the huge hunks.

** To get really specific, in case anyone wants to know, I cut the tomatillo in half vertically, then cut each half in half horizontally and thinly sliced it vertically.

1 In small bowl, whisk together flour, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Spread cubed pork in a single layer on rimmed baking sheet (a 15x10-inch will do nicely) and sprinkle with the seasoned flour. Dredge the meat until lightly coated on all sides.

2 In 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and brown a third of the pork. Add to slow cooker. Repeat twice with remaining pork. Brown it well, taking at least 10 minutes per batch.

3 Add remaining tablespoon of oil to skillet and cook the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. I cook the onion after the pork to deglaze the pan and not waste those delicious brown bits. Add about 2 tablespoons of water, if needed, to help along the deglazing. Add to slow cooker.

4 Add tomatillos. Sprinkle on the oregano and cumin. Add the green chile and tomatillo salsa and the chopped green chiles. Give it a bit of a stir.

Note: At this point, if I were cooking this on the stove instead of in the slow cooker, I'd add enough water (perhaps a little chicken broth as well) to cover the meat; bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, loosely covered, until tender, about 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

5 Put the lid on the slow cooker and set it for 8 hours on Low. Pull the lid off for just a moment at the 7-hour mark to taste and adjust seasoning.

6 Serve with (over or next to) Mexican rice, garnished with cilantro and maybe some sour cream and shredded cheese. And don't forget the warm flour tortillas. Or the refried beans.