Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pumpkin Custard Pie with Ginger Snap Crust

With Thanksgiving around the corner and pumpkin season coming to a close I was itching to make something seasonally appropriate. I am a traditionalist in terms of respecting time-appropriate ideas and expectations, but my taste buds and creative nature draw me in the other direction of being a non-conformist. I will still make that pumpkin pie, and I still will have a Thanksgiving meal with Turkey.. but I can't just pull out the old Betty Crocker cookbook and follow a traditional recipe verbatim, every year... how boring for a creative like me. Ah.

So anyways, I think this pumpkin pie satisfies the need for a dessert that is pumpkin filled, but it is also different enough to satisfy my need to try new things. This particular baking experience was kind of scary. I definitely gambled on cooking times, not knowing if a deep dish pie would actually set, and also not knowing if the crust would burn being in the oven for so long. Alas, it turned out delightful: super moist, custardy goodness, with a spicy not too sweet crust.

What else am I bringing to the table on Thanksgiving? My self-assigned items: this lovely Pumpkin Custard Pie, delicate baking soda biscuits, roasted parmesan and herb red potatoes, mashed potatoes for the traditionalists, homemade gravy, and (I'm cheating here) store-bought stuffing. What about you? Any delicious recipes you'd like to share with me? Comment below! To the rest of you, au revoir! May you have a blessed, thankful Thanksgiving.
Pumpkin Custard Pie with Ginger Snap Crust
(Printable Recipe)
YIELD: 2, 6-INCH CAKES TIME: 2 HRS PLUS 2 HRS COOLING TIME 
GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: Sub out the ginger snaps for gluten-free ginger snaps, double check your pumpkin puree and evaporated milk ingredients.
COOK'S NOTE: While you're baking your pie, check on it after the 45 minute mark, and continue to do so every 15 minutes until the middle is just a wee-bit wiggly. Remember oven temperatures vary oven to oven.

Ingredients:
Crust:
10 ounces ginger snaps (or sub in gluten-free version)
1 3/4 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

Custard:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 large eggs
1, 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1, 12 oz can evaporated milk

How To:
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Prep two 6-inch wide, 4-inch high, spring form pans (or one larger spring-form pan) by rubbing with butter and lining with a circular cut-out of parchment paper. Set aside. (Note: if your pans are known for leaking, wrap the bottom of them with a good amount of foil, making sure they are still level.)

Make the crust: In a food processor, add the ginger snaps, brown sugar, and ground ginger. Pulse until mixture is crumbly and cookies are broken down. Add melted butter and pulse to incorporate. Mixture should be like wet sand. 

Evenly divide mixture between the two pans and gently press to an even thickness using fingers. I also worked the crust up the sides of the pan about halfway. You can do the side crust more or less, keeping in mind the thickness of the bottom crust. Place in oven for five minutes. Remove to cool. 

Make the custard: In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Add eggs and whisk until blended. Add the pumpkin puree and stir to incorporate. Once mixed well, slowly add the evaporated milk until blended well. Pour the mixture into the two prepped pans. Set pans on top of a baking sheet in case of spills or leakage. 

Place the baking sheet with the pies in the oven and bake for 20 minutes at 400ºF. After 20 minutes, turn oven down to 350ºF and continue to bake for another 40 minutes. Check to see if middle is still very wet and wiggly, if so bake for another 15 minutes. The desired look of the custard will be dark, refer to photos above. OR if the middle is not overly wiggly (but it will be a little bit), turn off oven and let pies rest inside cooling oven for one hour. After an hour the custard will have set. Remove from oven and let sit at room temperature for another hour. 

Refrigerate until ready to serve, covering well. Keeps well for 2 - 3 days. The pies also freeze well, first cover in plastic wrap then cover in foil over that. To serve, remove wrap and set out at room temperature for 2 hours prior to serving.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Coconut Ginger Stirfry with Tofu


I had a goal last year to learn how to cook Asian food and to cook it well. I have been cooking Asian food for awhile but never felt my food was as good as the local Thai, Japanese, or Chinese fare. So I was bummed. Once I set the goal of learning this amazing and delightful cuisine, I found a couple unique resources that changed my style of Asian cooking completely. It was just perfect timing. The first resource is Rasa Malaysia written by the lovely Bee: a blog full of mouth-watering recipes that have methods I hadn't seen before in other Asian cookbooks or recipes. Because of her, I was able to confidently serve Kung Pao, with no hint of shame, but instead beaming with satisfaction. Because dang it, I finally nailed it (thanks to Bee of course!). 

My next surprising find came when I was looking through the cookbook section at Peregrine, a local bookstore, for Japanese street food. The cookbook Wagamama was a beautiful book with full color images and hey, it was on sale, so I gave it a shot. I completely immersed myself in this cookbook and read it front to back as if it were a novel. The authors include these fabulous sauces as well as ramen bowls and stirfrys made at home. I had never even thought to try ramen, and since timidly consuming my first real ramen meal, I can't get through two weeks without it. 

My Coconut Ginger Stirfry with Tofu is an adaptation from Wagamama's cookbook, but of course I added some other things I've learned from Rasa Malaysia too. I hope you enjoy, oh and I definitely recommend the resources I've mentioned if you also want to perfect Asian cooking at home. Good luck and good eats!

Coconut Ginger Stirfry with Tofu
(Printable Recipe)
TIME: 1 HR 15 MIN SERVES: 2-3 
VEGETARIAN
RECIPE ADAPTED FROM WAGAMAMA.

Ingredients:
6 oz udon or ramen noodles, prepared as package describes, drained (not rinsed) and set aside
1 package extra firm tofu, preferably GMO free, organic
2 tsp sesame oil (optional)
1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, or another high-heat oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 dried red chiles, deseeded and split in half
1 tbsp Chili Garlic Sauce (We use Huy Fong Food's, the makers of Sriracha)
1 onion, julienned
2 carrots, sliced on the bias or matchsticks
1 red bell pepper, sliced or matchsticks
1 bunch kale, rinsed well, de-ribbed and chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce, preferably organic (wheat free if need be)
Coconut Ginger Sauce, use full amount of recipe below
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

Coconut Ginger Sauce:
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
1 cup boiling water
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp honey
2 tsp lime juice

How To:
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Drain package of tofu, but keep block inside packaging. Using a knife, slice through block of tofu to create smaller sections, gently flip tofu out on side and slice through again laterally making the sections smaller again. Place small pieces on a plate lined with a paper towel and cover the top of tofu with another paper towel. Place another plate on top to increase pressure to allow excess moisture to be drawn out. Let rest for at least 10 minutes up to 30 minutes.

2. Arrange prepped tofu pieces in a glass pyrex and drizzle with sesame oil. Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes, flipping once through cooking. (Note: during this time prep your Coconut Ginger Sauce) Remove from oven and set aside.

3. Over medium high heat, heat a wok (or a large cast iron skillet works too). Once hot, add oil. Let oil heat until smoking (white smoke=good and black smoke=bad). Add tofu to pan well spaced apart. (This step is optional, we just like our tofu a little crispier, but of course you can add it in at the end with the sauce.) Let tofu fry on one side, flip and fry on the other side for another minute or so. Remove gently from wok and set aside.

4. Add garlic, stir quickly. Add red chiles, stir quickly. Add the Chili Garlic Sauce, stir again. Add in onion and carrots. Stir fry for 3 - 5 minutes or until the veg starts to change color. Add bell pepper, and kale. Stir fry for another 4 minutes or until the veg begins to soften. Add tofu back into the pan. 

5. Add soy sauce, coconut ginger sauce, and sprinkle the mixture lightly with cornstarch. Wait about 30 seconds before stirring so that the cornstarch begins to dissolve. Now stir and flip the mixture so everything is coated with the sauce. Turn off heat.

Serve: 
I served this mixture over the cooked noodles, but you could also add the noodles to the wok to coat them in the sauce. Enjoy!

Coconut Ginger Sauce:
Heat oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, stir fry for one minute or until fragrant. Add boiling water, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, careful not to let it boil over, then drop heat to low, allowing to simmer for 15 minutes or until reduced. Add salt, honey, and lime juice. Simmer for another couple minutes, taste for adjustments. Turn off heat and set aside. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Bean and Potato Burritos with Gluten-Free Flour Tortillas

This meal is a satisfying and nurturing meal for me. Something about this simple combo of brown beans, still slightly-floured and thick tortilla, cheese, and tender potatoes, makes me feel complete inside, or at least well-fed. I've been eating bean and cheese burritos since I was a baby due to my parent's adoration of Mexican food. Although toppings are lovely, I can't help but love this simple, basic food combo sans any toppings at all. Billy loves his loaded with toppings, and usually his flavor palette appeals to me too after seeing how good his looks; but this one meal, I'm not even tempted by his better looking plate. Mine is perfect just how it is.

First off, I'm so excited about the major player in this dish. Beans. I got these lovely brown tepary beans in my weekly Chow Locally box. I am fascinated with them because they are a food that the local Arizona Indians have been using for centuries. Heritage food always really impresses me, especially from people groups who have been around for so long. Eating those foods gives me this cool connection with people from the past and I just really find that inspiring.

The other accompaniments to this meal are homemade flour tortillas; and mine and Billy's recipe for fantastic, easy potatoes. To be honest you could just buy Udi's gluten-free flour tortillas, but to save money I made these, so it's your call. Making them wasn't as time consuming as I thought, and they live up to the original author's promise-- they bend and don't crack! The potatoes are a good recipe for breakfast and for whenever you need something to eat quickly. My secrets are to add my onions close to the end of cooking so they don't burn, and to add a dab of butter in at the end as well.

I have split up the different recipes below, and when you are finished creating each dish, don't forget the shredded cheese. Happy Eats!!

Crock-Pot It! Beans
(Printable Recipe)
TIME: 6 HRS SERVES: 6+ 
GLUTEN-FREE
ORIGINAL RECIPE BY RACHEL ROSE. 

THESE ARE FABULOUS. THE SOAM BAVI BEANS ARE SO FLAVORFUL AND LOVELY. IF YOU DON'T USE THE FULL AMOUNT FOR THE FIRST MEAL, FREEZE THE REST IN SMALL PORTIONS FOR EASY RE-HEAT.

Ingredients:
2 slices of bacon, not cooked
1 lb Brown Beans or Pinto, soaked overnight (I used Soam Bavi Brown Tepary Beans, an American Indian Heritage Food)
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used a homemade broth with a ton of flavor and spices)
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp himalayan salt

How To:
In crock pot, add all ingredients except for the salt. Make sure liquid covers the beans, if not add water or more broth to cover. Cook on low for 6 hours.

Add salt. Remove bay leaves and bacon if desired. Strain and serve. Keep any remaining beans in portioned out containers in the fridge / freezer. Fridge keeps for 4-5 days, freezer keeps for up to 4 months.

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Flavorful Sautéed Potatoes 
(Printable Recipe)
TIME: 20-30 MIN SERVES: 3-4 
GLUTEN-FREE | VEGETARIAN
ORIGINAL RECIPE BY RACHEL ROSE. 
THESE ARE OUR GO-TO BREAKFAST POTATOES, USED ANY TIME OF THE DAY WHEN WE NEED AN EASY MEAT SUBSTITUTE. 

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
3 large or 4 small russet potatoes, cubed, preferably organic
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp coarsely ground salt (I used a Hawaiian Pink Salt with Garlic)
1/2 tsp italian seasoning, or just oregano
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric, for health purposes
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 onion, julienned
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 tbsp butter

How To:
In a medium cast iron skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add cubed potatoes. Sauté for about 4 minutes being careful not to burn yourself. Add 3 tbsp water quickly to skillet, using the lid to protect yourself from any jumping oil. Cover skillet immediately and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Remove lid and stir potatoes.

Add spices including cayenne, paprika, salt, italian seasoning, pepper, turmeric, and coriander. Add onions and garlic. Stir to incorporate everything into the potatoes. Sauté for 4 minutes, leaving time for the potatoes to brown. Add butter and cover skillet with lid. Let the butter melt, and allow everything to cook for another 4 minutes or so. Remove the lid and mix well. When the onions are mostly translucent and potatoes are tender, taste for doneness and seasoning. Serve.

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Gluten-Free Flour Tortillas
(Printable Recipe)
TIME: 20-30 MIN YIELD: 5 
GLUTEN-FREE | VEGETARIAN
ADAPTED FROM SPARK PEOPLE, ORIGINAL RECIPE SAYS IT SERVES 8, BUT TO MAKE MINE LARGE ENOUGH I WAS ONLY ABLE TO MAKE 5. THESE ARE TRULY GREAT BECAUSE THEY HAVE SO MUCH BEND.

    Ingredients:
2 cups gluten-free flour mix (or 2 cups white rice flour)
2 tsp xantham gum or guar gum
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
buckwheat flour, for rolling out
2 tsp olive oil

How To:
Combine dry ingredients until well mixed. Add in warm water and gently stir to combine. Use hands to bring together the rest of the dry mixture and press repeatedly until you can form a cylinder. Section off about 5 equal pieces. Place pieces back into the bowl and cover with a damp rag. The mixture dries out quickly so you'll want to work quickly. Sprinkle a little buckwheat flour on a cutting board or clean surface. Pat a piece of dough into an even ball. Gently roll the ball out flat with a rolling pin as thinly as possible. Turn dough around as you roll to help create more of an even circle.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add a small amount of olive oil. Add in formed tortilla. Cook on one side for 2 -3 minutes or until brown spots begin to appear, flip. Cook the other side for one minute. Remove and repeat process until all tortillas are made. Note- I like to cook them as I make them so they don't dry out. (It probably would be beneficial to enlist a helper at this stage.) Once cooked, these are marvelously bendy and moist so just keep them in a bread bag or covered with a towel to keep warm for serving.

To Serve and Notes:
You will have a ton of beans, so if you don't want too many leftovers it's an easy recipe to half. Serve each person a tortilla, top with beans, potatoes, and shredded cheese. If you are a topping junky like Billy, serve with sourcream and salsa. 
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