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Showing posts with label vegan desserts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegan desserts. Show all posts

Friday, August 7, 2020

Pear Streusel Pie

 


The fruits of summer are bountiful and sweet! There's nothing quite like the summer in the city, except when you are in your 30s and you live in the American Midwest or South. Then, it's just awful, especially if you are an *ahem* ample person of the feminine persuasion, such as myself. (Sweat happens to humans with bosoms and thick thighs in a way that I wish not on others.) Summer sucks. It's hot. It's humid. I'm going to tell you that I hate humidity, so I count the days until fall occurs. I relish the changing leaves, and I mark days off my calendar until I can go apple picking. There is, however, the wonderful fruit that ripens just before the apple does, and I can get my crisp fruit pie fix...the pear. 

Pears are wonderful fruits that don't get nearly enough love. They're crisp and cool, they have delicious varieties that are vastly varied, and they grow on trees so you can pick them while imagining your perfect life in the south of France as you do it! They are not always as sweet as the apple, so therefore you can use them in savory and sweet applications. A grated pear in a marinade for a Korean-style beef marinade will add a note of freshness and sweetness without being overwhelming. How wonderful! 

I'm sure you've seen pears with cheese plates and your parents will remember poached pears with ice cream in fancy restaurants in the late 80s to early 90s. Heck, I myself am guilty of putting the retro-classic poached pear on a modern dessert because I love it so much! There's just something about the pear that heralds in the changing of the seasons for me. It bakes in a wonderful end-of-summer pie.  Here's how to make it!



End-of-Summer Pear Pie

Pie Dough

  • 4 oz vegan butter
  • 7 oz all-purpose flour
  • 1 oz raw sugar
  • 1 oz dark rum, more as needed
Pear Filling
  • Four medium-sized local pears, peeled and sliced thin
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 3.5 oz raw or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp good Mexican vanilla
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  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Chinese long pepper, ground
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
Honey Streusel
  • 5 oz all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz sugar
  • 1 oz local honey
  • 3 oz vegan butter, cold

This is my standard pie dough, and I absolutely love making it because it's suitable for decorating as well as tasty eating. Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl along with a fat pinch of salt. Roughly chop the butter into cubes and rub into the flour-sugar mixture with your fingertips, almost as if you were snapping your fingers. You only want to combine the flour until it looks like cornmeal, and then add in the rum. Turn all of this out onto a cool, marble surface and smear together, folding all the dough back on itself over and over again until everything is smooth and combined. Scrape together, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour, ideally overnight. 

Take your pears in a large bowl and toss it with the lemon juice and zest first before adding the sugar and spices. Cover this beautiful stuff and let it sit for 20 minutes at room temperature. The sugar and spices will draw pear juice out, and this beautiful liquid is going to make your pie taste delicious! Why don't you go ahead and turn on your oven to 350 F while you wait?


Meanwhile, lay more plastic wrap on your counter turn your dough out onto the surface. Rolling out your dough on plastic wrap or greased parchment paper will save you a lot of cleaning time! The idea is that you want to sandwich your pie dough between the parchment or plastic wrap and roll it out this way, so you don't have to add excess flour. Roll this out nice and thin and line a glass or ceramic pie dish and press into the corners so it's well-set. Let it hang out on the counter for about five minutes so the pie dough can relax a little before you trim the edges. This will prevent excessive shrinking! Once the dough has relaxed, trim the edges with a sharp paring knife and pinch around the edges to make a pretty scalloped finish. Take this opportunity to think about what kind of decorations you'd like to have on your pie! I chose feathers. 



I have this wonderful set of teardrop-shaped cutters that I discovered at a garage sale some years ago. All you have to do to make feathers is to take the excess dough that you've cut off, roll and cut out the shapes, and then use the back of the knife to make your cuts and indents. You can get really creative with what you put on your pie, so feel free to let your imagination run wild! Remember, any sort of decorative pie crust touch you make will need some egg wash to stick.

To make the streusel simply mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a spoon. You'll be chopping and stirring the fat until everything sort of comes together in a kind of loose and lumpy sand, which shouldn't take long at all. Streusel is ready once it comes together when you ball it in your fist and it keeps its shape but quickly crumbles apart when tapped with a spoon.  

When you're ready to bake, brush your pie shell, edges included, quite well with egg wash. Add the flour to your pear pie filling and stir well to coat. You can use cornstarch if you like, but flour works just fine. Scrape your pie filling into the dough shell and arrange so that the slices are generally flat. Sprinkle your streusel all over the top to cover it, and decorate your pie as you so desire to. I really love the random look of these feathers strewn here and there! You can do whatever shapes you like; this is your pie, so you choose!

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and everything's golden-brown and delicious-looking. Your house is going to smell amazing! Turn off the oven and crack the oven door, and let it cool in the oven for about half an hour. Remove from the oven and let sit on the counter for at least 3 hours. Why? Pectin!

Pectin is this wonderful stuff that's found in high amounts in apples, citrus fruits, and - you guessed it - pears! It's a natural thickener and is essential for making homemade jams and jellies. The only thing about pectin is that it needs to set on its own, so that means you shouldn't cut this pie until it's cool to room temperature and the pectin is set. This way, you'll get much cleaner slices and you'll be able to enjoy that picturesque view of a non-soggy-bottom when you go back for a second, third, or fourth slice of pie. If you cut this pie before the pectin sets, the liquid will burst out and soak up your crust from the bottom, and it'll never set again. 

But what if I want warm pie??? 

Easy! Once it's all cooled, you can reheat it by the slice in the oven or - if you must - the microwave, and serve with some ice cream or sweetened ricotta cream. My general rule is that fruit pies should be served plain with coffee, but if you absolutely must indulge in some sort of ice cream, then I simply cannot stop you. Let go and let G-d, I say!

I love this pie because it's not too sweet but satisfies my sweet tooth in a much lighter way than an apple pie does. Pears are quite fragrant in a sexy, sophisticated way. I like to think of apple pie as your cute neighbor that just loves to wear bright patterns, whereas pear pie is that sexy stranger at the end of the bar wearing just enough of that expensive cologne or perfume...but when you get to the bar you see it's your neighbor, all along, in a new light. 

Thanks so much for reading along and spending some time of your day with me. It means so much to me to be able to pass on these awesome skills I've acquired over the last decade to you. I hope I inspire you to make this delicious pear pie. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Cranberry Nicecream



Last year, we spent the New Year by playing Pathfinder in my friend's basement. This year(or, I guess, last year) we did it at our home and I ran my first-ever campaign! It was just a one-shot, but I got the chance to do some real writing and explore a world I'd been building for the better part of 10 years. It's a wild world full of fun characters.



Anywho, I couldn't host a party without some party foods. I made a dairy-free 'parmesan' dip with crackers, some lovely cassoulet noir(made with black beans instead of white beans), and a delicious homage to a Baked Alaska using my cranberry nicecream. Wait, what is nicecream? Vegan ice cream, of course! Here's how it's done...

Cranberry Nicecream

  • 1 cup vegan coconut milk-based plain yogurt (SO Delicious is my favorite brand)
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp good vanilla extract/vanilla paste
  • 2 tsp vegan gelatin(I love Druid's Grove, certified Kosher/Vegan, excellent 1:1 substitute for animal-based gelatin)

Put your cranberries and yogurt in the pitcher of your blender. I love using fresh cranberries, especially for my Ilvermorny Cranberry Pie, so it's an ingredient that I tend to have around the house during the winter months. You can, of course, use frozen cranberries - but don't thaw them! Put them frozen into the blender; that way, it'll cool faster!

In a medium saucepot, bloom the gelatin in the water for 3 minutes, then pour the sugar on top. Bring the pot to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. This will, of course, dissolve the gelatin, but also dissolve the sugar, which is important. 

Pour the hot sugar syrup over the berries into the pitcher of the blender, and blend until completely smooth, about 30 seconds on High in my Vitamix, about 1 minute and 30 seconds for a standard blender, just so long as all of the skin is essentially broken up and pureed.


Process in your ice cream maker according to the factory instructions. Freeze to set in a container. Enjoy with whipped cream and meringue biscuits. Or just by itself! Happy cooking and happy eating!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Culinary School: Vegan Power Smoothie(breakfast/lunch/dinner)

my view
Greetings, class! Today, we're going to talk about our health and our dietary restrictions(or, perhaps, the dietary restrictions of others).

I have a few vegan friends, and several friends with other dietary restrictions(celiac, certain allergies, whatever). I must admit that I agree with the practice of vegan diets, though I don't often agree with the militant asshole Tumblrinas that come with the territory. I suppose it's just like being in any other creed; the militant ones ruin it for everyone.

I'm lactose intolerant. This means that I don't have the certain enzyme/bacteria to digest the sugar(lactose) in cow's milk. I can drink it all I like, so long as I don't mind getting really farty and bloated. This keeps me from eating too much ice cream, though(which I definitely would, were I not lactose intolerant), so it does have its ups. I can eat cheeses without too much trouble, and I can eat all of the yogurt I want. This is good news, because yogurt = smoothies, and smoothies = excellent breakfast.

If you've been thinking of going vegetarian or vegan, do so in small increments. Introduce little vegan things into your diet, sprinkled in. Have twice as many vegetables with your steak, or just thin out your ground beef hash with some extra-firm tofu to make it last for your large family. We don't need to eat animal proteins as much as we do, and I just eat animal proteins about 4-5 times a week, versus all seven. Sometimes, I'll just eat a big, cheesey baked potato for dinner, or I'll have a cup of yogurt with some granola for breakfast.

Being healthy doesn't mean a huge change in your lifestyle overnight, unless it's recommended by a licensed physician, of course. As the Official Kitchen Witch for Pagan Health and Wellness, I can say this with confidence: eating healthy does not have to be a torture.

I pooted.
There are a lot of ways to add vegan items to your diet without changing it completely. With my lactose intolerance, I buy coconut milk to use with cereal and coffee. Actually, there'a really great  Vegan coffee house in Kansas City called Mud Pie Vegan Bakery that will make your mocha with coconut milk, in a biodegradable to-go cup! They also have lots of smoothies and baked goods, as well as vegan dog treats for a mere $0.50 a pop! (This is great, because my dog gets really farty when he has dairy...and soy, for that matter.)

But if you don't want to go out and buy a vegan smoothie every day, just make your own at home for a fraction of the cost. How much does eating vegan cost? Not as much as you think:

The bananas were purchased at a local farmer's market for a dollar per basket...with, like, three big bunches in a basket. The pink stuff you see in there is a rhubarb gelato that I made, but you can just substitute frozen yogurt(which comes in many flavors, and you can buy at ice cream shops by the pint, or at grocery stores. To be honest, though, I just buy the small cups of yogurt for $0.69 and add that in. Not only are the flavors endless, but they're usually low-fat. The coconut milk was around $5, for the sake of rounding up, but you only use about a cup per recipe. In 2 quarts, there are eight cups, so that's $0.62, approximately. I add about a tablespoon of flax seed into the smoothie, too, for that extra dose of fiber to really scrape out your insides, and the price on that stuff varies. A tablespoon of flax seed, though, is crazy-cheap.

Rounding up, this smoothie costs about $1.50 to make at home, versus the $5 to $7 you'll pay at a store. Sound cheap enough?

Here's how to make my banana smoothie:


  • 2 bananas, ripe
  • 1/2 a Danon  yogurt(or whatever yogurt you have lying around), about 3 oz
  • 1 Tbsp flax seed
  • 1 cup coconut milk
Blend. The end.

If you want it colder, you can just freeze the yogurts or add a few ice cubes, but honestly this is just as good. You can use whatever fruit you want/have around. Like berries? Fuck it, add berries. Don't have bananas but have pears? Use pears! Just peel them and add them in, though you might want to blend for a little longer, as bananas are crazy soft. Add frozen blueberries or even pineapple to the bananas. Bananas are really good for you, and flax seed keeps you regular as a diesel. Enjoy this as you blog. 

Happy eating!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Healthy Desserts: A Tribute to Avocados

des·sert
diˈzΙ™rt/
noun
noun: dessert; plural noun: desserts
  1. the sweet course eaten at the end of a meal.
    "a dessert of chocolate mousse"
I always liked to think of a meal as a sort of literary device. Perhaps a paragraph, or a short story, or even a sentence. Just a single sentence. The more the courses, the longer your written piece.
 
Say you were hosting a dinner party with friends. Your party would have canapes or passed hors d'oeuvres, maybe cocktails to start. Then a salad or a soup. Then the entree. Then the dessert. The 1st course would be your thesis statement, be that your first bite of a pickled quail's egg on a canape, or a salad of tomatoes and frisee. It would be the start, the indicator of where your diners(readers) would be taken on their journey. Your entree would be your body, the main paragraph or paragraphs of your short story. Your curry or pan-seared duck or roast beef would be your whole story. The dessert, no matter what it is, is your closing statement. Your question mark. Your exclamation point. I don't always think it's proper to end a sentence with an exclamation point--I honestly think it's a bit like laughing at your own joke--but it can be appropriate to do so.  
 
This cake from Succotash was NOT an afterthought.
So often, dessert is an afterthought. There are far too many restaurants, in my humble opinion, that take dessert seriously. Don't get me wrong, it is of the utmost importance that your entrees and salads are tip-top, but dessert is so often shoved to the side. You'll see restaurants shove desserts over to the pantry cook or the sous chef, or (worse) over to Sysco or US Foods to send them cheesecakes or overly sugary and fatty chocolate layer cakes. I don't see too much wrong with it. Just like I don't see too much wrong with teaching a donkey to wear a top hat; there's just not much of a point to it.
 
I actively participate in a Twitter livechat called #Foodiechats, where food lovers can unite and talk about food, what they do with it, and what they like or dislike about it. It happens every Monday night at 8pm EST. I sometimes am not so active with my tweeting, but that's usually because I have work. If Monday nights are slow, however, I get to go home and tweet to my heart's content. The topic of Healthy Desserts came up, somehow, and thus it became the subject of my blog, today.
 
Healthy desserts? Oxymoron, don't you think?
 
I see nothing wrong with making adjustments to your dessert lifestyle by substituting coconut oil for butter(when appropriate), but I don't think that a cake is where you should get your daily fiber intake. So let me just tell you right now that this is not a blog for someone wanting to lose weight. Don't cut desserts. Cut cheetoes or crappy TV dinners or fast food out of your diet before you cut out a well-made chocolate cake. Eat anything you want, just make it yourself.
 
Let me repeat that: Eat anything you want. Just make it yourself. People cook differently from the way that companies do.
 
This flourless chocolate cake, for example: ENTIRELY GLUTEN-FREE
Also, you're probably not gluten-intolerant. There's most-likely no such thing. You either have Celiac's disease, or you don't. The whole Gluten-free thing is more of a fad than anything. You have Celiac's, Gluten ataxia...but you're not gluten-intolerant. It's been debunked by the scientists that discovered it, pretty darn recently. And you shouldn't go gluten-free without talking to your doctor. Actually, you shouldn't try any real diet without talking to your doctor. But you don't have to be on a diet to enjoy gluten-free desserts that were gluten-free before it was cool, or be vegan to enjoy vegan desserts. You'd be shocked as to how many desserts were gluten-free already. And let's not forget that gluten-free doesn't even have to mean healthy. Chocolate is gluten-free. Butter is gluten-free. Pesticides are gluten-free. So is cyanide, arsenic, and anti-freeze. All gluten-free! I realize that cyanide isn't necessarily meant for human ingestion, but you get my point, don't you? Fad diets are dangerous. Unless you're the one profiting off of all of the latest labels. In which case, good on ya, you slimeball.
 
Anyway, healthy desserts, in the mind of this humble Pastry Chef, are simply things that are still that fabulous indulgence, still that wonderful "ahh" at the end of the meal, but not loaded with bacon or chocolate or topped with obscene amounts of whipped cream and caramel sauce. Honestly, the Pastry Chefs get shafted a lot because of how good the meals are when the Head Chefs do their jobs: because if you're so satisfied with your excellently prepared meal, why would you want something else afterwards? You're stuffed! You're "Oh my God so full" right now. Why would you want to eat more?
 
Trust me. You do. Especially if the restaurant you're dining at has an in-House Pastry Chef, you do. So give the poor guy/gal a break and order that cake. Or not. Since cakes aren't often gluten-free.
 
This Fabulously French blog has a vegan chocolate mousse made with avocado instead of eggs. And here's another great recipe, which I snagged from Tumblr:
Head to Tumblr.com for more great recipes and food porn!
 
Chocolate Avocado Mousse with Blackberries and Pistachios
This recipe can easily be doubled to serve more people. The mousse thickens as it refrigerates.
serves 2 to 4
Ingredients
  • 2 very ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 1/3 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate, melted (60% cacao)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup or other sweetener
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • fresh blackberries, for garnish
  • chopped pistachios, for garnish
Directions
In a food processor, add the avocados, melted chocolate, cocoa powder, honey, almond milk, vanilla, and salt. Process until smooth and creamy. Taste for sweetness and add more honey if necessary. Spoon the mousse into ramekins. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The mousse will become thicker as it refrigerates. Garnish with blackberries and pistachios and serve.
 
Want something more than chocolate mousse? Oh, fine, you greedy pig. Try this recipe for Avocado Ice Cream, instead, courtsey of Alton Brown.
 
Avocado Ice Cream
  • 12 oz avocado meat(2 or 3, once pitted)
  • 1 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice(1 large lemon should do)
  • **Zest of said lemon(this is my own personal touch to it)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk(not skim, not 2%, whole milk, if you please)
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar(but I have tried this with raw sugar, and it turns out pretty great)
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Pop the first five ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. If you desire, you can add a few cilantro leaves and get funky with it at this point(it adds fiber, a green color, and it just reminds me of my Southwestern roots), as well as a few grinds of black pepper. Transfer this to another vessel(a glass bowl, large-ish tupperware container, whatever) and whisk in the heavy cream until fully incorporated.

Like all ice cream mixtures, this must chill for a decent amount of time. Hot mixtures into an ice cream maker? Not a good idea. Let it chill for at least a couple of hours, or all day if you can, before processing in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. The avocado as an egg substitute sets up fairly quickly, though, so be prepared to let it process for a mere 5 to 10 minutes before ingesting. For a softer texture, go ahead and eat immediately, or scoop into a freezer-friendly container and let it harden for another couple of hours.

The texture is silky-smooth and tastes just like avocados, which is(freakishly) a good thing. But if you don't want a straight-up avocado dessert, use it as a component instead. Things like this were discovered in Culinary School for me when I studied Chef David Chang.

Wait, you say. Avocado as a component in dessert? Yes! Chef David Chang did it, with his Cereal Milk Custard dish,
which is a fabulous panna cotta made from the strained milk used for cereal. This is an idea which is fucking genius, by the way. I mean, seriously--the best part about cereal is the yummy milk you get afterwards! And this motherfucker made it into a dessert? Someone give him a Nobel Prize. Or just tweet at him to tell him how great of an idea it was. And tell him I sent ya.


This was a life-changing dessert, even if it was just done by me in culinary school.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Panna Cotta is gluten-free too. So start googling, guys. Maybe if my boss lets me, I'll give you my panna cotta recipe to try at home! But not for awhile. That Pistachio Panna Cotta of mine is what got me my job and this baby is staying secret for a good long while.

In the meantime, however, please enjoy the recipes. Happy cooking, and happy avocado-eating!

Oh, and follow me on Twitter @WannaBGourmande for more updates, and to ask me questions about desserts. Happy eating!