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.
After a whirlwind, but rejuvenating trip up north for the holidays, I am home and diving back into the swing of things. We are one week out from our first promo event, and two weeks away from the show, which means every spare moment is beginning to fill up with costume-making and set-painting and the countless other tasks, big and small, that must be done by the performance deadline. I feel like I’m constantly adding to one of the half dozen To-Do lists I carry with me: start programs, make microphones, fix splashes (radio plays…live sound effects are fun to watch, but a gargantuan effort to create…). I intended to be pleasantly productive (more blog posts!) while we were in Massachusetts, but it didn’t quite happen. I caught up with cousins, some of whom I haven’t seen in 3+ years, and the rest of my family. I haven’t been to either of my family’s homes in almost two years, and I seem to have forgotten how restorative it can be to visit those old, unchanging homes that carry the ease of familiarity. There is a certain abandon, I think, in the company of cousins and those people you have known for all of your life. Laughter is a little bit less restrained, old jokes and memories are rehashed, arguments are entered into with knowledge that all the same points have been debated before. I got a head start on some Christmas gifts, which with definitely make an appearance on here (as vaguely as possible, in case their recipients wander over onto this blog) since I am trying to have a–mostly–handmade Christmas. What do you think: Kaity Crafts On: Christmas Edition?
And, between the family, the crafts, the parade, and the food, I read. As a child, I powered through a book or more a day, discovering new worlds and stories, and returning to the welcome comfort of reread tales. I read the first three Harry Potter books more than thirty times before the Goblet of Fire was released, until my well-worn copy of the Prisoner of Azkaban fell apart in my hands. Books were my security and my love through high school. With college, homework and rehearsals were soon elbowing out the time for pleasure reading, but I would find myself binging on my breaks. When I graduated, one of my intents was to bring back pleasure reading as a more constant part of my life. I have done well-enough in that aspect–slowly and steadily making my way through a list of talked-about books as well as more random, free nook books that have crossed my path. For a long time, Veronica Roth and her Divergent series have been acclaimed and praised, and the series sat on my “To Read” list for some time. The books sat in my nook library for several months, always pushed off for one reason or another. But on Black Friday, I began Divergent…and plummeted into a book binge that I have not experienced for years. E had finally gotten around to reading the Hunger Games (after I purchased them for her two Christmases ago), so I count myself lucky that my family is quite used to our reading habits and was not offended that the both of us spent the rest of the vacation with our noses in books. Divergent is captivating and incredible (I’m still working my way through Allegiant whenever I have a free moment–no spoilers!), a series that I could praise for a long, long time. But I won’t say any more, beyond advising you to read the series immediately. I’m rather proud that one of my friends immediately picked up the books due to my slightly-rabid social media postings on the topic.
But I didn’t come here to write about books today. I wanted to share brownies with you. The most unassuming of desserts, a good fudgy brownie is one of the best reminders that simple can still be incredible. I know that with the pumpkin explosion in October, we have added pumpkin to everything under the sun, but (a) I like pumpkin and (b) I really like these brownies (and (c) I might have bought the triple pack of pureed pumpkin from Costco). Needless to say, I am not done with pumpkin–and you don’t have to be either! The chocolate flavor still comes through the most in these brownies. The pumpkin-cream-cheese swirl gives a pleasant tang and a wonderful boost in fudge goodness. They are also exceptionally easy to pull together, and can be mixed and in the oven in 10 to 15 minutes. I store them in the fridge due the the dairy content, and they are equally delicious cold or warmed slightly.
Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
Adapted from Gluten Free Girl
Serves: 24 | Prep: 15 minutes | Cook: 40 minutes
For the brownie base
- 2/3 c. + 3 Tbsp. teff flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
- 1/3 c. bittersweet chocolate chips + 1/2 c. bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
- 1 c. sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
For the Pumpkin Swirl
- 1/2 c. pumpkin puree
- 1/3 c. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 3 Tbsp. teff flour
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Dash each, cinnamon and nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Line a 9×13″ pan with parchment paper, leaving edges to run up the sides. Grease pan and paper well.
Mix dry ingredients for the brownie base. Thoroughly combine teff flour, salt, and cocoa powder in small bowl. Melt 1/3 cup of chocolate chips with butter for 30-second intervals in large bowl in the microwave. Stir well in between microwaving, until the chips are melted. Allow to chocolate-butter mixture to cool. Stir in sugar, vanilla extract, and eggs, mixing thoroughly after each ingredient. Add dry ingredients and stir well.
In small bowl, combine pumpkin puree, softened cream cheese, egg, and lemon juice. Mix well. Add in teff flour, spices, and sugar and mix until combined.
Pour about 1/2-3/4 of the brownie base mixture into prepared pan. Spread evenly. Drop spoonfuls of pumpkin mixture in equal intervals over top. Spoon remaining brownie base mix into intervals between pumpkin mixture. Run a clean butter knife in diagonal swirls from one corner of the pan to the opposite corner. Repeat with other corners to create a diagonal, cross-hatched pattern. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out mostly clean.
After making Snickers Pie for M’s birthday for the last two years, I vowed to switch things up from that delicious sugar coma. Shortly after last year’s pie, I was considering adding something to the pie itself, to cut the pure caramel+peanut mix that fills the shell. But when his birthday rolled around this year, I thought I might try my hand at a Snickers cake–mostly because I had an excuse to use salted caramel frosting, but also because I thought it would be simpler than making Snickers Pie. Please, feel free to laugh at my hopeless wish. If there is a way to over-complicate dishes, I will find it. Ahem. Anyways, I went searching for a cake recipe–one of the few baking “staples” for which I have not yet developed a favorite recipe. A little research brought me to David Lebovitz’ German Chocolate Cake, along with recommendations for making it gluten-free. I had some experience with frosting and with caramel, so I didn’t think it would be too difficult to combine the two. My idea was two layers of chocolate cake, sandwiching a layer of caramel-peanut mix, and wrapped up in salted caramel frosting. Nothing revolutionary. But, let’s step back and take a moment to look at some facts because, while I tried not to think about it, I was pretty unprepared to make this cake.
- I haven’t successfully baked a gluten-free cake purely from scratch.
- I haven’t ever frosted a layer cake.
- I had just grabbed Raw Sugar from Costco–super exciting!–but I had never baked with it.
To be fair, I could manage with the cake part and the frosting part. I had done some research. I knew about crumb coats. However, the raw sugar truly threw me for a loop. When I started the cake, it wouldn’t cream and blend into the butter (on a side note, I know there are two pretty big camps regarding creaming butter+sugar in GF baking. Some say to definitely mix the ingredients until smooth and uniform to ensure a nice smooth batter. Other say that creaming the butter and sugar causes spreading in cookies and other weird imbalances. I am in Camp Cream The Butter+Sugar. But please, use whatever works for you.) Anyways, after 15 minutes at high speed in my KitchenAid, there was a little bit of difference. A tiny taste was less…crunchy. But still far from smooth. Since the next step in the recipe is to add the melted chocolate+water mixture, I went ahead, thinking the last vestiges of warmth from the melted mixture would help to further encourage my sugar crystals to dissolve. Well, long story short, my crystals did not really dissolve, but I plowed ahead anyways, knowing that I had to bak the cake that night, in order to frost it the next day to be ready for M’s birthday. I think I over mixed the batter. Thankfully, the lack of gluten kept it from getting ‘tough’ which is the traditional concern with over mixing. The batter was, however, super aerated and fluffy. Since beaten egg whites are added to the batter, I knew we were going for a light and fluffy batter. But the overeaten batter + egg whites = too much light and fluffy. The cake baked up extremely crumbly and a tad dry.
I pressed onward once again hoping that the addition of caramel and frosting would add some moisture to the cake. Thankfully they did, and even managed to hold together the crumbling cake. I made the caramel, mixed some with the peanuts and some into frosting and hoped things would work out in my favor. A crumb coat was definitely essential–I even put the cake in the freezer for 10 minutes to really set the crumb coat. I decided (one of the better decisions in this process) to do a thin layer of frosting between the layers of cake and the peanut-caramel mixture, which really helped to stick everything together. However, while spreading the outer layer of frosting onto the cake, I started to worry that I would not have enough frosting. So I concentrated on the sides and decided to spread another layer of caramel and peanuts over the top to hide the frosting-less surface. And once the layer of peanut-caramel frosting had been applied, and the frosted portion of the cake given what little decorative touches that I could manage for my first real frosting attempt, I really lost control. A drizzle of chocolate would look really nice. Why not some caramel too? So much for simple.
What’s done is done, and this cake finally was finished. I shut it in the fridge for the next day after giving M a sneak peek. On his birthday, we finally managed to make room for a little slice right before bed. We went to Texas de Brazil for dinner, a Brazilian steak house where you pay a flat price, like a buffet. They have an incredible, mostly gluten-free-friendly fresh “salad bar” that is actually rounded out by cheese, charcuterie, roasted vegetables, and other delights that far surpass the typical salad bar fare. Then, waiters will come around to your table with freshly seared, hot and smoky skewers of meat of every variety: slicing off as much flank steak, top round, filet mignon, roast beef, chicken, pork, and ribs you can eat. I repeat, AS MUCH MEAT (and delicious salad bar offerings) as you can eat! It is a magical place. Except for the sausage, all the meats are gluten-free, and most of the salad bar offerings are as well. The staff is very knowledgeable, just mention your need for gluten-free dining when you make the reservation. I had never been to Texas de Brazil before, and while M and I put up a good fight, when we finally managed to roll our stuffed selves home, the last thing we wanted was cake.
Several hours later, we managed a few bites. The frosting and the caramel helped with the slightly dry cake, and a couple of seconds in the microwave helped even more. I’ve handed out slices to co-workers and to M’s mum, and would deem this cake to be a reasonable success. I want to try this cake again, but I do not think the recipe will make it’s way into my files. However, this salted caramel buttercream frosting and the built-up layered cake will stay. I will just have to continue my quest to make delicious GF cake.
Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
For the Salted Caramel Sauce:
- 1 c. white granulated sugar
- 6 Tbsp. butter, cold and cubed
- 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
- 2 tsp. sea salt
For the Buttercream Frosting:
- 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 c. salted caramel sauce
- 2 c. powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract, optional
Make the caramel sauce:
Measure out all ingredients–when the process for caramel begin, it goes very quickly. Add the sugar to a heavy-bottomed, high-sided pan. Whisk constantly over medium to medium-high heat. Within a few minutes, the sugar will begin to liquify. The sugar will clump, but that is okay. Just keep whisking. When the last lump begins to melt, stop whisking. Place a candy thermometer in the sugar, making sure the tip is not ouching the bottom of the pan. Swirl the pan to keep the liquid moving. When entirely liquid, cook for a few more minutes, until the color darkens to an amber color–only one or two shades darker. The candy thermometer should read between 350-355 degrees F. Immediately remove from heat and add cubed butter. Begin whisking to mix in butter. Be careful, the sugar will bubble with the addition of butter. When butter is completely melted and thoroughly mixed in with the sugar, add the cream. Again, the mixture may bubble. Continue whisking until thoroughly combined. Stir in salt. Pour the sauce into a heat-proof container and allow to cool completely.
Melting sugar is EXTREMELY hot. Use the utmost caution to keep it from coming in contact with your skin.
Making the frosting:
Beat the butter and vanilla extract (if using) in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed. Slowly add powdered sugar, allowing each increment to mix well before adding more. Finally, add caramel sauce. Mix until combined. Turn speed to high and beat until frosting has doubled in volume, about 1-3 minutes. Use immediately, or store in fridge. Allow to come to room temperature before attempting to frost the cake.
- 2 8-in round or square chocolate cakes baked from your favorite recipe (baked in a pan lined with parchment paper for easy removal)
- 1 batch salted caramel buttercream frosting
- 1/4-1/2 c. additional salted caramel sauce
- 1 1/2 c. roasted peanuts
- 2 Tbsp. chopped dark chocolate, optional
- 1/2 tsp. coconut oil, optional
- Tools: parchment paper, knife, spatula
Start with cake, caramel sauce, and frosting that are all at room temperature (completely cool). Mix peanuts with the additional caramel sauce until just coated. Line the serving plate with four thin (about 4 in. wide) strips of parchment paper. These will sit under each edge of the cake–you will eventually pull them out from under the cake, so make sure you are able to grasp the edge. They prevent the frosting from getting all over your plate and make for a prettier presentation. Slide a knife around the edge of the cakes in the cake pans. Carefully, but quickly, tip the first layer onto the serving plate. Adjust the parchment paper lining if necessary. Spoon about 1/2 c. of frosting into a small bowl to prevent crumbs from transferring to the large bowl of frosting. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the top surface of the cake, leaving the layer slightly thicker at the edges. Spread about half of the peanut mixture over the frosting, leaving 1/2-1 in. of frosting around edges. Spread another thin layer of frosting to coat the peanuts, filling in the space on the sides to make it all level. Carefully tip the second cake on top. Adjust to line up edges if necessary.
Spoon another 1/2 cup of frosting into the small bowl. Spread the cake with a crumb coat, the thinnest layer possible. Coat all exposed surfaces of the cakes. Place cake in freezer for 5-10 minutes to set crumb coat. Using a new, and therefore un-crumby, spatula, spread remaining frosting on cake. Add extra to the sides, pulling upwards to create a slight edge. Spread remaining peanut-caramel mixture onto top of cake, spreading frosting around the edges to hold peanuts in place.
Melt chopped chocolate and coconut oil in 30-second increments in the microwave. Drizzle cake with chocolate and remaining caramel sauce. Wrap (use toothpicks to prevent saran wrap from touching frosting) and refrigerate until ready to eat. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
One of my mother’s favorite tales to tell is the phase when E and I were quite young and we wanted waffles and (canned) green beans for breakfast every day. Usually, this story was told during my later childhood and teenage years when I abandoned the green beans for a pickier palate. While E, S, and I were not anywhere close to the picky eaters in parent’s horror stories, by the time the three of us were in elementary school, food choices were limited. Carrots, corn, and fried potatoes (definitely not mashed) made regular appearances at dinner, plus the occasional salad with the tomatoes left on the plate and a few celery slices if I was feeling generous. Cucumber if I was forced. Gravy was definitely not on my plate for many years, and that also knocked off any sort of stew as well. Tuna out of a can was accepted, but only in a tuna salad sandwich, tuna mac & cheese, or tuna fish on toast. Macaroni and cheese, while we’re on the subject, was something I could only eat fresh off the stove, refusing to wait until my family came to the table–any sort of thickening of the sauce as the dish cooled made it unpalatable. Most meats were okay, depending on their preparation, and all three of us devoured fruit. At restaurants, the pickiness returned full force. When my sister and I were young, we often felt ill after eating away from home. For a while, we thought it was lactose intolerance, but it was never truly consistent. To this day, we are not entirely sure, but I suspect that it was mostly a nervous stomach, but perhaps even a reaction to gluten early on. I don’t remember feeling unwell after eating gluten-filled food at home (be it homemade, or take-out). E has always reacted worse than I did, and even now, doesn’t seem to respond as I have to a gluten-free diet. But whatever the reason, this meant that E and I almost exclusively ate chicken tenders with honey mustard at every restaurant we frequented.
In high school, for whatever reason, I made myself try and begin to enjoy shrimp (only in the form of cold shrimp cocktail or alfredo pasta) and tomato basil soup (the first soup I ever remember eating). When I finally ate the chili mac that my mother made for dinner, I realized that chili was actually tasty. One night I decide to add a single sliver of pepper and onion from my fajitas to the chicken, cheese, and sour cream in my tortilla. Trying new foods in my teenaged years was the start a long slow process of exploring food that I still continue today. College, in particular, worked its wonders. I distinctly remember that day in my freshman year, when, unenthused with the dining halls choices, I picked a baked sweet potato. It was the first sweet potato I have ever tried…and it was delicious! In my junior year, I finally returned to green beans–fresh, instead of from a can–and managed to enjoy the green vegetable with a squeeze of lime juice and cracked black pepper. I discovered pomegranates, figs, persimmons, asparagus, beets, goat cheese, broccoli, spinach, fennel, and lamb, just to name a few.
Many other foods fell into my range of “delicious and acceptable” over the years of college, and even now, I’m continuing to try new things. It helps that M will try anything and everything. His willingness instills a much needed dose of bravery in me. With M, I’ve tried oxtail, curries, oysters, paté, crab, chestnuts, banana peppers, several types of fish, and many others. As I found cooking and baking to be such a joy, reading and researching through cookbooks and blogs has inspired me to try even more foods, and use the ones I am familiar with in whole new ways. Now, I am excited to purchase my first tomatillos, even if I am not quite sure, at that moment, what I will be doing with them. I am eagerly continuing my quest to find a preparation and flavoring for cooked greens that will make me like them as much as M (he is happily eating his and my portion of the ‘failures’ along the way). I am saving the seeds I spoon out of squash to roast the next day, craving freshly steamed artichokes, and cooking beans and lentils from scratch. I’m making the list of foods I’ve yet to try (jicama, eggplant, swiss chard…) and figuring out just how to try them. I’m making zucchini lasagna. I am mixing butternut squash into flour and eggs to make my own gnocchi on a Thursday night, while planning when I can attempt making bone broth from scratch. I even let my macaroni and cheese cool and thicken as I stir in tuna and peas on the nights when I am especially lazy with dinner.
Last night, M and I went out to dinner with his mum, as a late celebration of my birthday. She was tied loosely to a community event, so we chose the indian restaurant in the plaza where her group was performing. I didn’t have anything as daring as you might expect to have inspired this post–the lamb kebab and the seafood sampler–but I reminisced about the first time I had ever eaten indian food (M all but forced food court butter chicken into my hands one rehearsal when he found out I hadn’t eaten dinner–it was delicious, though it might have been the hunger talking). When M admitted that he ate just about anything, even as a child, he made me think about how little I actually ate, and, subsequently, how far I’ve come. I still have a ways to go, especially with some strange palate and texture preferences, but I’d like to think I’m making progress. I can, on occasion, drink soup out of a cup or thermos, nowadays (is it weird for anyone else to drink something savory, instead of using a spoon? This is the same reason that I can’t stomach bloody marys–if somewhere served them in a little bowl, I think I’d do just fine). As much as I am learning new techniques and recipes in the kitchen; I am learning even more about the actual foods that make up those recipes.
Today I am sharing a recipe that is far from revolutionary and, ironically, is made with ingredients that I would have readily eaten as a child. But, it is slightly updated to be entirely grain-free and significantly less sweet than my high-school self would have expected. Peaches are everywhere this summer, like every other summer, and I am sure that, by now, every food blog has some recipe for peaches with pastry. This recipe was thrown together one morning a week after seeing Shauna post an instagram photo of the birthday tart her friend made for her. Peaches, blueberries, and marscarpone, resting lightly on a crumbly tart shell. It looked delicious. So I thought about the tart as I bought peaches and marscapone, and I thought about it more over the next few days, until I had the morning off. M and I were preparing to visit my mother’s house, then go to Ikea (for my first visit ever!) to look for a new mattress and bedframe. And the peaches were ripe, and the little note on the marscarpone was needling at me (“marscarpone is a delicate sweet cheese, blah blah, enjoyed as soon as possible after purchase, blah blah blah”). Since I hadn’t yet worked out how to bake the tart with the peaches without turning the marscarpone into a puddle that doomed my tart crust…I decided to make a breakfast tart and leave the fruit uncooked. I didn’t want anything too sweet, but I did want the added benefit of a little more protein than the marscarpone could provide. And I had coconut flour in the back of my fridge and almond flour in my pantry. With a few more ingredients, I pressed a crumbly crust into my tart pans and baked it off while I sliced my peaches. After a layer of marscarpone and a spread of fruit, this tart became a perfect light breakfast. I even took a little into a mini-tart pan to bring Mom breakfast! Also, the lovely printed tea towels in these photos are a birthday present from E and A. Isn’t the heart print the perfect background for this tart? They got me a stack of linen-type thin towels in all sorts of fun, vintage-type prints. I love these thin towels for covering rising bread, rolling summer rolls, and–obviously–photographing dishes, and have been at a total loss with the thick kitchen towels that I have at the new house. Now I have plenty (though I couldn’t resist grabbing one more at Ikea).
Peach & Marscarpone Coconut Tart
Serves: 6-8 | Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes
For the Tart Crust:
Adapted from Elana’s Pantry
- 1 3/4 c. almond flour
- 1/4 c. coconut flour
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 c. shredded coconut
- 1 Tbsp. coconut butter
- 2Tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 egg
- up to 3 Tbsp. sugar (optional)
For the Filling
- 8 oz. marscarpone cheese
- 2-3 medium peaches
- 1 tsp cinnamon + 1 tsp sugar (optional)
Set the marscarpone on the counter to come to room temperature/slightly soften. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt together coconut butter and coconut oil in ramekin. Cool. Combine almond flour, coconut flour, salt, cinnamon, and shredded coconut in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Add beaten egg and coconut oil/butter mixture and mix well with spoon or hands until the dough is crumbly, but sticks together when pressed between fingers. Press dough into a tart pan. Prick bottom with fork in a few place. Bake tart crust for 10 minutes, until lightly browned.
While crust is baking, thinly slice peaches. Remove crust from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes. Spread marscarpone gently over crust (it’ll be a little crumbly) before completely cool. If using cinnamon-sugar, sprinkle over marscarpone before spreading peaches over top. Serve cold or room temperature for a barely-sweet breakfast or dessert.