Archive for July, 2011
Poached Pear Tart with Cornmeal Crust
Copyright © Natural Gourmet Institute
1 cornmeal pie shell (see recipe below)
1 qt white grape juice
pinch sea salt
4 pears, peeled, halved, and cored
1 tbsp agar flakes
1 tbsp kuzu dissolved in 1/4 cup water
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
1 pint raspberries
1. Poach pears in grape juice until fork tender. Remove pears with slotted spoon, cover, and chill.
2. In small pot simmer 1 1/2 cups poaching liquid with agar flakes until agar is dissolved. Stir in kuzu mixture and cook, stirring gently, until mixture turns clear. remove from heat, cover with lid, and set aside.
3. Spread a layer of raspberry jam evenly in bottom of prepared crust. Slice the pears and fan them out on top of the jam. Arrange raspberries over the top. Pour or brush the glaze over everything. Chill until set, about 20 minutes.
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup pecans
1 cup oats
1/4 cup canola or melted coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
pinch sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In bowl of food processor, combine cornmeal, pecans, and oats. grind to a fine meal. place mixture in medium bowl.
3. In small bowl, whisk together oil, maple syrup, and sea slat.
4. Stir wet ingredients into dry and mix until cookie-like dough is formed.
5. Press into lightly oiled tart pan. bake tart 12 – 15 minutes or until firm and lightly browned. Cool.
Who doesn’t love a party? And who doesn’t love peanuts? (Okay, I actually know someone who hates peanuts, but who cares?) Put them together and you get the South Carolina Peanut Party. This festival, celebrating the protein-packed legume, has been going on for 30 years.
Peanuts have been produced in the town of Pelion for more than a hundred years and after the peanuts were harvested in the fall, peanut-boils were held throughout the town. Today, they continue this tradition with a festival.
The Peanut Party takes place August 12 & 13, 2011
Friday; 5a.m.-11p.m.; Sat. 8a.m.-11p.m.
at 951 Pine St. Pelion Sc 29123; Pelion Community Center. Across from the fire station and next door to Shumpert’s IGA.
No gate fees. Palmetto Amusement Ride costs: armbands ($15).
Events and Attractions:
Blessing of the Peanut Pots
Arts and Crafts
“Peanutty” Cooking Contest
Library Book Sale
Peanut Party Parade
PB&J Eating Contest
Dance Techniques Troupe
Peanuts Your Way Tent
I’m interested in that last one. The possibilities are endless.
I won’t be there but if you are, let me know how it goes.
On Saturday, July 23, 2011, New York City experienced a heatwave that knocked everyone on their asses. Temperatures were record breaking—it was 104 degrees F in Central Park! And so, on this day, the air conditioning unit in the kitchen at school was broken. Oh, yes. Broken. It was hot enough to bake a quiche in that room when it was still dark and empty.
Imagine, then, how 14 students felt when they had to show up to class in full uniform, turn on the ovens (that’s plural), and bake pastry crusts. Sweet fancy Moses, it felt like my brain was melting. Everyone was withering and was barely able to stay alert. Finally, at about 3:15, we got word that we were allowed to take off our jackets and hats. And thank god, because I really don’t know if I would have made it. We all practically stripped down to our skivvies, except for our pants and aprons. That is, with the exception of one resilient soul who felt that it was her duty to stay in uniform. Bless her heart, she made it, and we didn’t have to call the paramedics.
Our instructor said that that kind of heat is typical of restaurant kitchens and being able to deal with the heat was a badge of honor. Understood. But I don’t plan on working in a restaurant kitchen so to hell with that. Badges? We don’t need your stinkin’ badges.
Anyway, we made apple galettes with vegan pastry crusts and they all turned out pretty nice. The instructor was impressed with the height I achieved with only two apples. LOL Don’t know what to say about that. I took the galette to my parents’ house the next day. It was my brother’s birthday, so I thought I’d share it. Not bad. Not bad at all. The apple filling was light and not cloyingly sweet. The crust was not flaky because we used solid coconut oil rather than butter and it was so hot in the room that the oil was melting as we were working with it. So, it came out denser than I would have liked, but it was still tender and tasty with the nutty flavor of whole wheat pastry flour.
Here is the recipe, and you don’t have to be a vegan to enjoy it.
Apple Galette with Vegan Crust
© Susan Baldassano/The Natural Gourmet Institute
Yield: 1 6-inch diameter galette
Make dough first
*Addition to the original recipe
2 large apples, peeled, thinly sliced
1 tbsp lemon juice in 1 cup water
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp maple crystals
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp maple crystals
2 tbsp bread crumbs
*2 tbsp maple syrup
- Place sliced apples in bowl with lemon juice and water.
- In medium sauté pan, heat oil. Add apples and cook until apples are slightly tender but not mushy,
- Place cooked apples in bowl. Add 2 tbsp maple crystals, cinnamon, and vanilla. Mix to combine. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 F. roll out dough to 9-inch circle, 1/8 inch thick.
- In small bowl, combine bread crumbs with remaining 2 tbsp of maple crystals and pinch cinnamon.
- Scatter bread crumbs/maple crystal mixture into center of circle leaving 1 ½ inch border.
- Fan apples in concentric circles over area covered with bread crumb/crystal mixture
- Rotate halfway through and brush completely with maple syrup.* Fold dough over apples. Place in refrigerator 30 minutes.
- Bake 30-35 minutes until crust is brown and firm to touch. Cook, slice, and serve.
Vegan Pastry Crust
¾ cup whole wheat pastry crust
¾ cup unbleached white flour
2 tbsp maple crystals
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch sea salt
1/3 cup coconut oil (room temp, partially sold)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp maple syrup
3-5 tbsp ice cold water
- In medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Use whisk to fully combine.
- Add oil to bowl. Using pastry cutter; blend oil into flour. Dough should have coarse, sand-like consistency.
- Add vanilla, 1 tbsp water and maple syrup to dough with wooden spoon. Mix to combine.
- Slowly add water to dough one tbsp at at a time. Dough should just hold together and be wet (but not dripping).
- Place dough in plastic wrap. Flatten to disc shape and refrigerate 10-15 minutes only.
- Take out dough; allow to rest until workable.
- Roll out dough between 2 layers of parchment paper. Dough should be about 9 inches around and no more than 1/8 inch thick.
Okay, I don’t know who came up with this one, but it’s National Junk Food Day. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy some junk food every now and then–especially during a certain time of the month. I probably single-handedly put someone’s kid over at the Dorito factory through college. But a day to glorify the artery-clogging, diabetes-inducing, blood pressure-elevating, fake, synthetic, chemical-laden, dye-colored, fried, carbo-loaded crap? I don’t know how I feel about that.
Although, I must say, when you have that craving for something crunchy, salty, sweet, gooey,
chocolatey, flavor-packed snack that reminds you of your childhood or your fun college days, or that’s always made you feel better when you’re depressed, there doesn’t seem to be an adequate substitute.
Okay, okay. Just for today. Go get a Twinkie. Or Dipsy Doodles. Or some Jolly Ranchers.
Now, where’s that bag of Doritos?
Do you really need a reason to eat ice cream? Neither do I. But in case you’re looking for one, here it is: July 19 is National Ice Cream Day. This is aside from National Ice Cream Month, which I wrote about HERE. (Remember Tom Carvel and those commercials?) Did you know that both National Ice Cream Month and Day were proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan? Yep. So, whether you approved or disapproved of him as a President, this, if nothing else, was a good thing he did.
There are so many different kinds of ice cream and so many different flavors that you could have something different every single night for a year and never have the same thing twice. And making your own is not difficult. In my book, What, No Meat? Traditional Italian Cooking the Vegetarian Way, I have recipes for Tortoni and the classic Spumoni. Here is my recipe for Spumoni. Enjoy!
© Roberta Roberti
From What, No Meat? Traditional Italian Cooking the Vegetarian Way
2 cups milk
5 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (½ pint) heavy cream
1/3 cup maraschino cherries, finely chopped
1/3 cup blanched almonds, finely chopped
2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
Turn the refrigerator control to the coldest setting. Bring about an inch of water to a boil in the bottom part of a double boiler, then reduce it to a simmer.
In the top part of the double boiler, mix the milk, egg yolks, salt, and 3/4 cup of the sugar. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until a thin layer coats a metal spoon, about 8 to 12 minutes. Allow it to cool at room temperature, or to cool it quickly, place the top part of the double boiler in a bowl filled with ice water and stir it. Add the vanilla and blend well.
Pour the mixture into a clean casserole dish, a mold, or a loaf pan and freeze it until it is almost firm, about 2 hours.
Whip the cream with an electric beater on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold in the remaining sugar, the cherries, almonds, and brandy and blend well.
Remove the first mixture from the freezer. Scoop up the middle and push it up the sides of the dish to create a well in the center. Fill the well with the cream mixture. Cover the mold with plastic wrap and freeze it until firm, about 3 to 4 hours.
Scoop out the spumone and place it into individual dessert dishes. Or to plate the entire mold, invert it over a serving dish. Rub the bottom and sides of the tray or dish with a hot cloth until it slides off the spumoni. Serve immediately, alone or with pizzelles or chocolate rolls on the side.
Store it in a container with a tight-fitting lid in the freezer up to 4 weeks.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
My class at Natural Gourmet Institute rocked the cookies last week! I have to say, everyone made some great cookies. We actually made them in two separate classes: one in which we started with regular cookie recipes (and muffins and brownies) and made batch after batch, substituting an ingredient with each subsequent batch until a gluten-free, vegan product was produced. The proper way to do this is in stages: you start by substituting one ingredient at a time, bake each batch with that one substitution, and proceed in that manner until you reach your final product.
We worked in teams of two, each team converting one recipe. My partner and I made peanut butter cookies. Our final product was made up of spelt and oat flour, natural peanut butter, coconut (palm) sugar, coconut oil (in place of butter), and—are you ready for this?—in place of eggs: mashed sweet potatoes. And they were awesome. Everyone (I think) in the class loved them, as did the instructor. Numerous people asked us for the recipe, which I am sharing with you below.
That was Wednesday. On Saturday, we each made our own cookies and the goal was to make “beautiful” cookies that would be good enough to serve to guests (or something like that). I think we all did a spectacular job, as the photos here attest. We had a gorgeous table of linzer tart cookies, checkerboard cookies, tuiles, thumbprint cookies, chocolate-cherry bars, and numerous others. And, of course, we had a couple of vegan cookies. My recipe was walnut tea crescents, but rather than shaping them into crescents, the instructor suggested that I roll it out and stamp out shapes with a cookie cutter. It was a really cute tray of cookies, what with the little bunnies, butterflies, flowers, and maple leaves. One of the other students had fig filling left over from her fig pinwheels and I used that to make little fig sandwiches with my tea cookies.
I think we could have opened up a bakery with the beauties we baked. If you Facebook friend me, you can see the photo gallery HERE. What do you think? Give the vegan peanut butter recipe a try and let us know how they turn out.
Gluten-Free, Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies (with sugar alternatives)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup natural, organic peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup coconut (palm) sugar (or maple crystals)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 1/4 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup oat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper; set aside.
3.In a stand mixer, mix the peanut butter until smooth. Add the 1/4 cup sweet potato and vanilla.
4. In another bowl, whisk together sugar and coconut oil until well blended, and add to the mixer. Mix until light and fluffy.
5. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt and add to the batter. Mix until well blended.
6. Using a medium-size ice cream scoop, place balls of the batter about 1 inch apart on the sheet pans. Press each one down with a fork in a cross-hatch pattern. Bake about 15 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
Note: I lost track of exactly how many this recipe made, but count on at least a couple of dozen.
It’s National Pecan Pie Day and this dessert is a classic American one. I imagine, though, that many people who once enjoyed reveling in pecan pie’s thick, sugary center and crunchy pecan topping have stopped doing so because of one particular ingredient: the demon corn syrup.
Corn syrup has traditionally been an integral ingredient in pecan pie, providing not only sweetness but viscosity and binding action. Well, pecan pie-lovers can once again indulge because there are now recipes that do not require corn syrup. Below is one such recipe, from Epicurious.com. And it sounds gooooooood. Of course, it still calls for brown sugar, but if you’re afraid of sugar, too, maybe it’s time to put pecan pie back into your oven by experimenting and making a version that is not only corn syrup-free but sweetened in a healthier way as well. Maybe even gluten-free? Give it a shot. And please share your recipe with the rest of us.
While I’m on the subject of pecans, I’d like to mention Priester’s Pecans in Fort Deposit, Alabama. I was there last year and got a 5-pound bag of pecan pieces for $30, which is a great price if you know anything about pecans. I wrote up a little something about it in a blog about food in Alabama in Uncovering Food Secrets in Alabama. Enjoy!
- 1 refrigerated pie crust (half of 15-ounce package), room temperature
- 2 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon Scotch whisky
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups pecan halves
- Whipped cream
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9-inch glass pie dish with dough. Crimp edge decoratively. Whisk sugar, eggs, butter, Scotch, vanilla, and cinnamon in large bowl to blend. Mix in nuts. Pour filling into dough-lined dish.
Bake pie until filling is slightly puffed and set in center, covering edges with foil if browning too quickly, about 40 minutes. Cool pie completely at room temperature. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream.
Chicagoans, sadly, have had to say good bye to Trader Vic’s, the original tiki bar palace. The Chicago Tribune reported it on July 6. Victor Bergeron opened his Polynesian-themed restaurant in Oakland, CA, in 1936 and in 1944 created what would become the quintessential, iconic island drink: the Mai Tai.
The tiki concept, wildly popular in the 1940s through the 1960s, began a shame-filled descent into cheese-land and many of the Trader Vic’s locations have closed over the last several decades.However, it seems that tiki-themed restaurants and bars are returning to reclaim their cheesy glory! There are 14 in New York City alone. And for you nostalgia-lovers out there, there are still Trader Vic’s restaurants to be found, from Sarasota, FL, to the United Arab Emirates, and even in Kiev, Ukraine, where it’s called the Mai Tai Lounge. For a list of locations, go to the Trader Vic’s website HERE. And I am not ashamed to admit that I own a copy of Trader Vic’s Tiki Party.
Trader Vic’s Original Mai Tai
- 2 ounces 17-year-old Jamaican rum
1/2 ounce orgeat (almond syrup)
1/2 ounce orange curacao
Juice of one fresh lime
1/4 ounce simple syrup*
- Lime slice for garnish
- Sprig of mint for garnish
Makes 1 serving.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil; simmer until the sugar is dissolved, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
Hey, all. I just wanted to wish you all a safe and happy Fourth of July. Let’s all try to remember how lucky we are to live in a country where we can stand up for what we believe in and demand our rights as human beings. Sometimes it takes a while to get those rights, but nothing can stop us from fighting for them. People in some other countries are not so lucky. In many countries, groups of people are abused and oppressed–women, children, “minorities,” and even entire populations by their own governments.
We have a long way to go in this country but I’m grateful every day that I, as a woman, am allowed to vote, hold office, pursue the job of my choice, can wear whatever I please, and have legal recourse if any of my rights to the above choices are violated. The extent of those rights and the success of any legal action can be argued, but at least I’m not forced to walk around in a burqa.
On that note, have a great holiday. Here are some Fourth of July recipes from
FoodNetwork.com. The one below is for a Watermelon Cooler by Paula Deen. Enjoy!
Yield: 2 servings
- 1 1/2 pounds (4 cups) sliced seedless watermelon, rind removed
- 1 cup lemon sorbet
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1 1/2 cups cold water
- Watermelon wedges and mint, for garnish
In a food processor, blend watermelon, sorbet, and lemon zest until very smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 cups cold water; cover and refrigerate until very cold. Serve over ice and garnish with watermelon wedges and mint.
We all scream for ice cream! And it just so happens that July is National Ice Cream Month! Wooooo!!! Who doesn’t love ice cream? Ice cream is one of the most popular desserts in the world and just about every culture has a version, from the classic American soft serve to the Italian gelato to the Japanese red bean ice cream. There are so many ways to enjoy ice cream, too. Consider the flying saucer and ice cream cake.
Anyone who grew up in New York in the past 75 years remembers Carvel ice cream. I remember Carvel being particularly popular in the 1970s and 80s. (Sadly, by the 90s, many Carvel stores began shutting down. Nevertheless, they still have 500 locations.)
Tom Carvel, the founder, invented the first soft-serve ice cream machine in 1939, was the first in the industry to develop a complete line of all-Kosher products, was the first in the industry to use the gift certificate concept, and brought us the likes of Cookie Puss and Fudgie the Whale, and, of course, the flying saucer. Throughout my entire life, whenever someone wanted an ice cream cake for their birthday, it was always a Carvel cake, which is famous for its crunchy chocolate crumbs, slowly melding with the melting layers of vanilla on top and chocolate on the botton. Personally, I would eat some of the chocolate, push away the vanilla, and devour the chocolate crunchies.
Tom Carvel used to do his own commercials. He had this gravelly, slightly slurry way of speaking and when you heard it, even if you weren’t in view of the TV, you knew it was a Carvel commercial. (Although, he hurt a few feelings when he introduced Thinny Thin low-fat ice cream and proudly announced on his commercials, “Thinny Thin ice cream for your fatty fat friends.” For more Carvel history, go HERE.
Making homemade ice cream is quite easy. There are different methods–some require ice cream makers and some do not. Here is a recipe (which does require a machine) for Caramel Macchiato Ice Cream. How incredible does that sound? Whip up a batch for that next BBQ and enjoy the summer!
(Courtesy of Allrecipes.com, contributor: Dana)
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cup caramel dessert sauce
- Whisk together milk, instant coffee granules, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream, then cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.
- Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions until it reaches “soft-serve” consistency. Transfer half of the ice cream to a one- or two-quart lidded plastic container. Pour half of the caramel sauce over the top, then repeat the layers with the remaining ice cream and caramel. Swirl the caramel into the ice cream using a chopstick or knife. Cover surface with plastic wrap and seal. For best results, ice cream should ripen in the freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight.