Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Egg-free Pumpkin Pie

It's not invisible!

As a person with recently discovered food intolerances, I am lately on the look-out for recipes that are relatively easy-to-make, don't require too many ingredients that I wouldn't normally have on hand and/or are challenging to locate, and ... here's the big one ... taste like what they're supposed to taste like!

Thanksgiving is rough. There's butter and cream, eggs and flour everywhere! But it is not difficult to make holiday favorites without that stuff...if you're willing to experiment and trust :)

When I mentioned that I would be making a pumpkin pie without gluten, dairy AND eggs, there was a lot of incredulous joking. Well, guess what? I did it!

The Replacements

Makes one 9-inch pie

Pie Crust
  • one pkg. Gluten Free Pantry perfect pie crust mix...prepared as directed on the box with
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbs. sugar (optional...I exercise this option)
  • 2 tbs. ice cold water
  • 3 tsp. cider vinegar ... but use 
  • 1-1/4 cups Earth Balance natural buttery spread in place of butter and shortening (though technically it is shortening) and 
  • EnerG egg replacer in place of eggs (one tbs. powder and 4 tbs. warm water = 2 eggs)...I made this mixture separately and treated it as if it were eggs in terms of how I added it in.
The box of crust mix makes way more crust than you will need for one pie. I still haven't figured out how to divide it all reliably so I just make some more pies. When making pie crust you want to keep everything as cold as possible and work the dough as little as possible. This will help keep the crust light and flaky. Another tip...when they say to 'cut in shortening until pieces are the size of large peas' I like to use my hands and gently pinch the shortening hunks into the flour mixture. The idea is to get all the pieces of shortening coated with the flour. And it should end up looking something like this...

After you've added the wet ingredients and the directions say 'form into a ball,' it will look something like this...

If the dough starts getting too tacky (it's sticking to your hands and the bowl), put it in the fridge. As it warms up, the shortening melts and that is what makes it tacky and hard to work with.

Definitely chill the dough ball for an hour. The box recommends rolling the dough out between two sheets of plastic wrap. I've never had good success with that. I use baking parchment instead. I use a handful of white rice flour between the parchment and the dough ball, top and bottom. I use my hands to press the ball flat before I commence rolling. I try to roll as little as possible to achieve the proper thickness. A lot of action on the dough will melt the shortening and make it tacky and hard to work with AND will make your dough tougher and less flaky. The rolled out dough will be between 1/4-1/2 of an inch thick. 

My preferred method of getting the crust dough into the pie plate in one piece is to carefully peel off the top layer of parchment, place the pie plate upside down centered on the crust and then flip the whole thing over and peel off the remaining layer of parchment.

Remember:  if the whole thing comes out a mess, you can just roll it all up in a ball again and start over! No problem! There are 'do-overs' :)

Pumpkin filling
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (I use dark because my husband is not a fan of coconut at all)
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or you could use 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/4 tsp nutmeg or allspice)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbs EnerG Egg Replacer
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1-15 oz. can of pumpkin 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup coconut milk (I use unsweetened and full fat)

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Combine sugar, spices and salt in a small bowl.

Beat the egg substitute until frothy in a large bowl.

Combine pumpkin, sugar-and-spice mixture, and vanilla with the egg substitute. I used a handheld mixer set on medium until smooth.

Add in coconut milk and mix until smooth.

Pour into uncooked pie shell.

It will be fairly soupy.

Bake at 425ºF for 15 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 350ºF and bake for another 50-60 minutes...or until knife comes out clean. I have to say...this 'knife comes out clean' part...not so sure. I think the pie could have come out earlier...but I didn't want to risk needing to eat the pie with a spoon!

Cool for at least one hour. Best if refrigerated overnight.

A little on the dark side...but I think it's the dark brown sugar mostly.

The texture was perfect. The flavor was great...perhaps a little more 'molasses-y' due also to the dark brown sugar. But remember...I needed to make sure there was no coconut flavor. If you like coconut or don't mind it, golden brown sugar or even a golden brown and white sugar combo will work, too. The only thing I wish were different is I wish it were a little fluffier. It seemed to flatten out a good deal after baking and cooling.

Best thing about it?

It totally tasted and felt like REAL pumpkin pie :)

Addendum:  my family enjoyed their slices of pie with regular whipped cream. Whipped coconut milk can serve as a good substitute, and I had a scoop of vanilla Coconut Bliss ice cream beside my slice.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gluten-free Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

They don't look like much, but these babies are tasty!

makes approx. 5 dozen 2-inch diameter cookies
Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Stir the flours, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt together and set aside.

Cream together butter and sugars in another large mixing bowl until thoroughly blended. Some people soften the butter...I don't. I cut the sticks into lengthwise quarters and then slice it all into small chunks. Creaming the sugars with cold butter yields a texture of cookie I prefer. I also cream the sugars one at a time. You can use an electric mixer (easier if butter is softened), but I use a wooden spoon.

Add in slightly beaten eggs (you can just beat them in the same bowl) and then the vanilla. Beat until well blended.

Combine dry ingredients with the creamed mixture (most recipes say to do this gradually. I just dump it all in at once and then "cut" it all together with the side of my wooden spoon...sort of like making pie crust) until it is well mixed. If it seems too dry and crumbly, you might add a splash (between a tsp and tbs) of milk or cream to the mix...it doesn't take much.

Finally, add the chips and blend in thoroughly.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets (I recently discovered parchment and swear by it).

Baking time: 9-11 minutes. Allow to cool on cookie sheet, then transfer with a spatula to racks to finish cooling.

These cookies don't spread much...meaning they remain pretty blobby in the form you scraped off the spoon. If you prefer a flatter cookie, squish them down once placed on the cookie sheet. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Vegan Chili

Serves four.

1 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, fresh or canned, finely chopped
2 tbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 cup cooked kidney beans
1 cup cooked pinto beans
28-oz can tomatoes, chopped (w/ their juice)
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tbs fresh parsley, finely chopped

In a large saucepan or soup kettle, heat oil over low heat. Add onion, carrot, garlic and peppers. Cover and cook until vegetables are very soft, at least 10 minutes.

Add chili powder and cumin and cook and additional 2 to 3 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

Add beans, tomatoes and their juice.

Simmer 20 minutes. Add pepper.

Garnish with parsley, if desired.

This is how I like it... with brown rice :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Spicy Black Beans and Tomatoes

Serves eight.

1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
15-oz can chopped stewed tomatoes or 2-3 fresh tomatoes, chopped
4-oz can diced green chiles
15-oz can black beans, drained or 2 cups home-cooked beans
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tbs chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until tender.

Add tomatoes and green chiles. Reduce heat and cook covered for 6 to 8 minutes or until thickened.

Stir in beans and remaining ingredients.

Before stirring it all up.

Cover and heat 5 minutes more.

My family likes this served over steamed brown rice. A non-vegan serving option is to top with cheese.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Simple Black Bean Salad

Serves four.

2 c. cooked black beans
1 c. cherry tomatoes
1/4 c. red onion, chopped
1/2 c. red and/or yellow pepper, chopped
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1-2 tsp cumin

Combine in a bowl and chill before serving.

Monday, January 9, 2012

White Beans

Serves 4 not-extremely-hungry people.

1-2 tbs olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
2 tbs dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
15-oz. can of  white beans (Great Northern, navy, pea...)
15-oz. can of diced or chopped, peeled tomatoes   note: amounts close to 15-oz. will also work
1-2 tsp salt

Heat olive oil on medium heat in a heavy casserole dish or medium-to-large saucepan.

Add onions, carrots, oregano, and basil. Stir and cook covered on med/low heat until onions are translucent...about 10 minutes...stirring occasionally.

Drain bean liquid into the cooking mixture. Do not add the beans yet, just the liquid.

Add the tomatoes.

Add the salt, and add pepper to taste.

Stir and cover. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Stir occasionally.

Add the beans. Cover and simmer another 10 minutes.

I serve this over pasta...

 ...or brown rice.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Roasting a Chicken for Beginners

Yields enough to feed 4 people and have some leftovers (4-1/2 lb. chicken)

1 whole (3-1/2 to 5 lb.) chicken
1 to 2 tbs sea salt
1/4 to 1/3 c. olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano  
1 tsp. dried basil
4 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
4 medium carrots, washed and scrubbed or peeled, cut into ~1/2" chunks
2 large celery stalks, diced (~1/2" cubes)

Note:  the veggie pieces can be as big or small as you wish. Bigger, fatter root veggie pieces may take a good bit longer to cook. Cut-up potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips (probably want to peel these...except maybe the regular potatoes depending on the type) also roast well without adversely affecting the flavor of the meal.

Preheat oven to 450ºF.

Pull excess fat off of chicken, rinse and rub thoroughly in cold water, both inside and out, and then pat dry with paper towels (remember to remove any guts or neck from body cavity).

Rub sea salt all over the chicken skin...ALL OVER. There shouldn't be so much salt that you can necessarily see or feel it on the entire surface but enough that you can see and feel some.

Using about 2 tbs of the olive oil, rub it gently over entire chicken surface.

Chicken is now prepped for roasting –– set aside.

Put remainder of the olive oil into the roasting pan so that pan bottom is well-coated.

Add chopped veggies to the oil and sprinkle on the oregano and basil "to taste." Stir it all up or shake the pan so that all the veggie pieces are somewhat coated with oil and spices.

Clear a space in the middle of the pan (it is also okay to put the chicken on some of the veggies if you wish) and place chicken breast down. Put in oven. (I usually set the rack in my gas oven to the one below the middle level so the skin browns without burning).

After 20 minutes roasting breast down, take out and flip chicken over so that it is now breast up (if you do it really fast, you can do it with your bare hands without burning yourself...otherwise, try using a towel). Stir the veggies a little and then put it all back into the oven.

After another 20 minutes (chicken has now been cooking 40 minutes), stir veggies again. Chicken is probably (though not necessarily) starting to brown at this point. If browning looks uneven, turn pan in an attempt to even things out. Chicken to remain breast up.

After 10 more minutes, reduce heat to 425ºF and stir veggies again.

10 minutes after that, reduce heat again, this time to 375ºF and veggie-stir.

Roast for 15 more minutes. Veggies should be tender and chicken should be done.

When you cut into a thigh, the juices should run clear, not pink or red. If they do not run clear, roast for another 5-10 minutes and check again. You never want to undercook chicken. Ever. If browning looks good and you're worried about burning, loosely place a sheet of foil over the bird (you can do this if, at any time in the roasting process, the chicken looks browned enough but still needs cooking).

When done, remove from oven and let 'rest' for 5 minutes before serving.

To improve presentation, you can transfer it onto a platter. I am lazy and usually skip that step.

As with most of my creations, not a whole lot to look at but, boy, was it yummy!
We had it for dinner tonight, and it was so awesome that I had to share the recipe...
but I didn't realize what a great idea it would be until we had already been served :P