Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Pt. 1: PIE

The last two years I've spent quiet little Thanksgivings gorging on stuffed peppers and chocolate coffee pie with two of my loveliest friends. This year, we're breaking that winning streak and all have different plans. I'm a bit sad, as I've really loved veg-giving as a Chicago tradition! This year I'm going to the home of one of my professors, and I have no idea how vegan-friendly the meal will be...I've already planned to bring a slice of veggie terrine and my favorite (now-veganized!) side-dish just in case!

But, today is about pie. I've also decided to bring a pie...Because once you get past the spicy sweet potatoes, garlicky greens, mashed potatoes, and delicious, delicious rolls, Thanksgiving is a day all about pie. Why aren't there more days that are all about pie? I don't know...Pie, my friends, is a superior dessert and should be eaten more often!

I'm a bit of a pie-junky. Pecan and strawberry-rhubarb are my favorites, though I've never turned my nose up at any pie. And, in my mind there are really only two (well, now three) options for Thanksgiving: Pumpkin or Apple...And, since meeting my friend Joe, vegan chocolate-coffee pie! I wanted to do something a little different from your average pumpkin pie after my friend Corrina (part 3 of veg-giving) made a layered pecan-pumpkin pie last year. So, as I perused my sort of endless blog roll and collection of cookbooks, I cobbled together a coconut-milk based pumpkin pie with a hazelnut base using Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's recipe in The Joy of Vegan Baking and Heidi's recipe for Spice-Kissed Pumpkin pie from 101-Cookbooks. I made the crust from Colleen's book, following the instructions to a T (except I used a fork to cut in the fat because I don't have a full-sized food processor...yet!)...And, it is by far the best crust I've made; it's extremely flaky, and didn't burn at all in the hour it took to bake the pie! Because the recipe I put together made a little extra, I also made some "cup-pies" to deliver to friends who have to work tomorrow!

Vegan-Pumpkin Pie with a Hazelnut Base (Yield: 1 9" pie, 5- 6 cup-pies)
2 small pie pumpkins, roasted with olive oil and salt, flesh scooped out (You need 1.75 cups of roasted pumpkin purée for the pie)
12 oz. Silken Tofu
1 cup full fat coconut milk
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 t vanilla
2 t ground cinnamon
heaping 1/4 t ground gloves
heaping 1/4 t allspice
heaping 1/4 t ground ginger
heaping 1/4 t ground mace
1/2 t salt

Hazelnut base
2 cups raw hazelnuts, roasted on a parchment lined cookie sheet at 350 for 10- 15 minutes, skins rolled off after roasting
2 t brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla

9" pie pan
1 muffin tin

1 "Flaky Pie Crust" from The Joy of Vegan Baking (Halve it as instructed)

You can make the pie filling a couple of days ahead and refrigerate it. Be sure that the pumpkin is COOL when you blend the ingredients together!

In a blender combine the roasted pumpkin purée, tofu and coconut milk. Blend until smooth and then add the sweeteners, spices, salt and vanilla. Purée until well-blended and place in the refrigerator. 

In a small food processor, blend the sugar, hazelnuts, and vanilla until they form a grainy paste. Set aside. 

Roll out one half of the pie crust into a 12" circle. Transfer the crust to the pie tin, press in, and pierce the bottom all over with a fork. Trim the edge of the crust so that you have a 3/4" overhang and roll the extra crust into a ball and return to the refrigerator with the prepared pie-plate.

Roll out the second half of the dough into as large a circle as you can. Cut out 5- 6 4" circles using either a cookie cutter or a sharp knife. Grease 5- 6 of the spaces in your muffin tin and press the crusts into the tin. Pierce the bottoms of the crusts with a fork and then place in the refrigerator. Roll the extra crust into a ball and return to the fridge.

After thirty minutes, remove the extra crust and roll out until about 1/8" thick. Cut whatever decorative shapes you'd like out of the crust and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350. 

To prepare the pies: 

Spread 1/2 of the hazelnut paste in an even layer over the bottom of the pie plate. Pour about 2/3 of the pie filling in over the top and spread evenly. Press the edges of the crust with a fork to create a decorative edge and place however many decorative crust shapes on the top of the pie as you'd like.

For the cup-pies, put about a teaspoon of hazelnut mixture in the bottom of each pie and then fill to the top with pie-filling. Top each cup-pie with a decorative shape. 

Brush all exposed crust lightly with simple syrup.

Both the cup-pies and the 9" pie should bake in the top 1/3 of the oven. The 9" pie bakes for 50 minutes and the cup-pies bake for 20 minutes. Cool the pies on a rack for 2 hours then place in the refrigerator to set. Serve cold or at room temperature. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Winter Slaw: Beets, Carrots, Apples & Raisins

In the Summer I am addicted to beet + carrot slaws dressed simply with tahini, lemon, garlic and a sprinkling of chopped mint. It makes a great stuffing for a pita, base for a chickpea salad, or topper for a mixed green salad. Tonight, after grazing through some maple cookies from Trader Joe's, a pile of arugula, and some lackluster store-bought hummus, I was craving something fresh and crunchy as an antidote. So, I threw together my usual beet and carrot slaw, adding a granny smith apple, a handful of golden raisins, and a dash of cinnamon. It was a great end to a snacking supper, and I anticipate it will make a super sandwich tomorrow.

Winter Slaw
2 medium sized beets, chopped (about 1 cup)
4 large carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 granny smith apple, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 handful golden raisins
3 cloves of roasted garlic
2 T roasted sesame tahini
1/2 T agave
Juice from a large lemon
1/4 t + cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste

I usually chop my root veggies in my 4 cup food processor to save time. When you're working with beets this leads to everything turning pink...But, they're going to turn everything pink anyway, so why not save yourself the time?

Toss the chopped veggies, apple, and raisins in a large bowl. In a small food processor, combine the roasted garlic, tahini, agave, cinnamon and lemon juice. Puree until emulsified and taste. Add more cinnamon depending on your preference. Toss the slaw in all of the dressing and garnish with salt and pepper to taste. If you have fresh mint, it makes a great garnish for this salad, but it doesn't rely on it for flavor.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies/ My first go at recipe testing

So, this Saturday I'll be spending about 7 hours in a windowless room with a group of 10 other students pouring over applications to our student run galleries and deciding on six shows for the Spring semester. As our faculty adviser usually provides lunch from somewhere terrifying (think Jimmy John's, barf) I've planned to put together some vegan treats for the group. Usually I'd make a batch of chocolate chip cookies and a batch of double chocolate cookies and call it a day, but I've been really, really into peanut butter cookies lately. I've been making these pretty much weekly. 

The thing about peanut butter cookies is that they're salty and sweet and in my mind they're on par with an energy bar healthy as far as cookies go. Conveniently, a couple weeks ago, Lindsay from Kiss Me I'm Vegan sent out a request for recipe testers for Ellen Abraham's new book Simple Treats...And, of course, I jumped on that opportunity as quickly as possible. When the recipe for these PB&J thumbprints landed in my mailbox last week, I was super excited to get to baking. Combining oats, freshly roasted peanuts, and maple syrup the base for these babies might be my new go to peanut butter cookie...even if they technically don't contain any peanut butter! 

These thumbprints are light, a little crumbly, and just the right ratio of salty to sweet. Topped with a baby bit of Concord grape jelly they're the cookie version of my childhood lunchbox. (Or rather, other kids' childhood lunch boxes, my mom was never happy with a PB&J. I always had lovingly made veggie sushi rolls or something equally colorful. <3 you mom!) I have a feeling that this will be a great cookbook. The cookies took all of 20 minutes from start to finish, which is pretty ideal when you've just realized that there are only like 6 weeks left in the semester, you can't get your thesis readers to agree on a date for your proposal review and all you want to do is win the lottery, buy a house that actually stays warm and start living on your own time by which I mean, sleeping more, yoga-ing more, and e-mailing less.