Hi again, everyone. I won’t bother asking how your week was, because I don’t really know that I want to talk about it. At least not yet. But, like always, the days keep going forward, which means we are getting closer and closer to Thanksgiving. And what is Thanksgiving without dessert, right? And what is a more Thanksgiving-worthy dessert than pie? Maybe cheesecake…but I’m here to talk about my very favorite pie crust, so let’s keep the focus on pie! Pie crust was one of the very first gluten-free recipes that I mastered. The keys are: lots of starch to keep things light and to make the perfect mix with the fat (butter) to create a crispy crust. A dash of vinegar helps too. And best of all, while I suggest gentle handling while kneading and rolling out the dough, that isn’t quite as crucial. See, the reason that we are so careful with pie crust is to (1) not melt the fat in the dough and (2) not activate the gluten in the flour. We’ve removed one of those factors by using gluten-free flours. No risk of tough, gluten-activated dough here! Now we can focus on keeping everything chilled and make ourselves some super tasty pie!
Last Thanksgiving I made three pies: Pecan, Apple, and Maple-Nutmeg Custard. (Don’t worry, my mother made a pumpkin cheesecake, so we fulfilled the pumpkin requirement!) All three were delicious, but this year we have a ton of guests. I plan to scale back to give them some room at the dessert table, so I am planning to make a traditional pumpkin pie using this crust. And maybe a cheesecake, if I can’t help myself.
So here’s the deal with pies. In general, fruit pies can be made with the dough raw, and the pie dough will bake along with the fruit. Filled pies (that do not have a top crust), typically, want a par-baked (also known as blind-baked or prebaked) crust first. Par-baking is nothing to be scared of, just form the bottom shell in your pie pan, place a sheet of parchment over the crust and fill the pie shell with a layer of dry, uncooked beans. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 425 degrees, then remove the parchment and the beans (careful, they are hot!) and bake for another 5 minutes. Then your crust is partially baked and much sturdier. It will hold up better to the liquid, custard type fillings.
So pick your favorite fillings and get planning! I usually try to cook my desserts one or two days before Thanksgiving, as they will keep. Then I can warm them up gently, if needed, while we eat dinner!
Check out my recipe for Gluten-Free Pie Crust!
Hello, hello! Long time, no see. I know, that’s all my fault of course. I have been distracted by a couple of projects this month, not the least of which is preparing for yet another showcase weekend swiftly approaching in mid-December. I am 99% certain that all of the set is sketched out. Since we are using foam board to create replaceable-facing style of set, it is possible that I missed one of the 48 piece of foam board that I am using to create the set. I will find out soon enough–I’ve started piecing it all together and hope to get to painting next week. I’m also on sound duty, though two of the shows are a little too intensive for me to go at creating them alone. I’ll have to take advantage of M’s expertise there. I’m thinking every small-company, multiple-hat-wearing theater administrator should have an audio engineer for a boyfriend. They are exceedingly useful!
This week has been a little bit of an extra battle. Every showcase for, at least, the last year-and-a-half of my two-ish years of stage managing our showcases, inevitably, I break on in hives on my face. Typically, I get them in the last week or two and I am left with an itchy face all weekend. This season, they’ve come early, at four weeks out from performance. Worse, the temperature dropped at the same time, hovering in the thirties. I’ve worn no make-up all week. I picked up some hydrocortisone cream, but that actually made it worse. I woke up red and stinging. So, I’ve been reduced to dabbing tea tree oil and aloe vera, as that seems to be all that my skin can withstand while it is so cold and dry outside. I’d nearly gotten rid of the hive, just to have them flair up again. I am hoping some rest during the holiday break will be enough stress-relief to clear them all up.
Punc is also really disliking the cold, so at least I have company in my misery. As a notorious seat-stealer, but anti-cuddler, Punc has thrown all of her rules out the window for the winter. She sneaks up onto our bed in the early morning and wriggles up into the warm spot in between the two of us. Whenever either of us sits down, she is quick to climb up beside us, making enough contact to start stealing body heat. I’ve been thinking about getting her another coat, since she is looking pitiful so much more often these days. The only one we have right now is a big, bulky coat that makes her look like a cosmonaut. It works wonderfully for walks, but is a little inhibiting to wear around the house. All in all, I don’t think I will have a puppy who is fully happy again until Spring.
M and I have finally figured out Thanksgiving. We knew we would be sticking close to home, due to his work schedule, but we will be having dinner with his mum and whomever else we can get to join us. I’ll be bringing my Knock-off Pepperidge Farms Gluten-Free Cornbread Stuffing. I will be following that recipe, plus adding 3/4 c. each of whole cranberries and roughly-chopped, peeled chestnuts. I tried this combo last Thanksgiving and it was fantastic! Tart cranberries and soft, cozy chestnuts contrast perfectly against the herby cornbread backdrop. I’ll also be using my Favorite Gluten-Free Pie Crust to make an apple pie and a pumpkin pie (unless I decide to make pumpkin cheesecake, or even this custard!). M requested I make Popovers, which I think are the perfect roll for Thanksgiving: light and airy. Who wants to fill up on rolls with the decadence of an entire Thanskgiving feast on the table? Popovers are a nice compliment, without feeling so heavy. It’ll be nice to have a low-key Thanksgiving Day. I don’t even know if I will be going out for Black Friday shopping. I may find something that I just have to purchase, but at the moment, I can’t think of anything. This is also my very first paid holiday, which is pretty exciting! I even managed to pay off one of my student loans in this first month on full-time salary! Hurray! I’m still working on creating my first true budget, now that I can plan with a steady income, but I’m getting there. Baby steps, right?
Anyways, amidst all these projects, I decided to try eating semi-paleo (no grains, no dairy, no legumes) for a week. This is a pretty huge challenge, though I tried not to think about it. I pretty much subsist on yogurt and cheese. So, as you might expect…I lasted 3 days. I know that it wasn’t long enough to truly reset, but I didn’t notice any difference either way. Eating a big bowl of cheesy pasta when I finally broke had no adverse effects. Sure, it wasn’t a true test, but I was mostly seeing if I could actually manage to eat grain-free and dairy-free. Obviously not. I also found myself consuming a lot more sweeteners, which probably is not acceptable on paleo. I am also sure that the only way that I survived was making this Coconut-Pumpkin Custard on day #1. It soon became dessert and breakfast, and is a dish I will certainly make again.
This dish is pretty plain to look at, but the smooth coconut paired with the sweet flavor of lightly-spiced pumpkin is a match made in heaven!
- 2 c. pureed pumpkin*
- 1 14 oz can full-fat coconut milk
- 2 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ginger
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
*Canned is fine, but I used scratch-made pumpkin puree (1 sugar/pie pumpkin split in half and roasted at 425 degrees F for 40 minutes. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Cool pumpkin, then scoop the flesh out of the pumpkin skin and puree until smooth in a food processor) because I had a sugar pumpkin on hand.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch (for a thinner custard) or a 9 x 9 inch (for a thicker custard) casserole dish.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, maple syrup, and sugar. Stir in coconut milk until thoroughly combine. Then add pumpkin puree, all spices, and vanilla extract. Mix well. Pour in greased dish and bake for 35-45 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and the custard jiggles slightly, but is not liquid at the center of the dish.
Serve warm or cold, by itself or with whipped coconut cream, or with ice cream.
Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.