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Raw & Vegan: Peach and Candied-Ginger Pie

17 Jul

I challenged myself to make over a recipe for an incredible-looking nectarine and ginger pie, because it included butter, cream cheese, mascarpone *and* sour cream. Yikes! That is a lot of dairy for someone who is allergic, and a lot of decadence that could probably be skipped with good result. I am finding that it is really easy to turn a lot of recipes into healthier versions that taste just as good as the original, and this pie is no exception.

Now, the original is undoubtedly amazing, because my friend Dana only makes things that are amazing. So for those of you who don’t have a problem with dairy, I have included the original recipe in case you want to try it. But, for those of us who can’t partake, this is a pretty great substitute.

First, I made a raw crust from hazelnuts, candied ginger, coconut and dates. Pressed it into the pan and let it sit in the fridge to harden a bit.

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Then, I made the filling from cashews, more candied ginger, maple syrup and vanilla. It is amazing what you can do with those nuts! You can make “cheese” out of them, and just about anything sweet you can imagine. They are probably the most versatile item in a vegan kitchen.

Finally, the sliced peaches on top (I used peaches because I had some from the farmer’s market that needed using, but nectarines are fab too).

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And viola! Raw, vegan, healthy and super delish too.

Peach and Candied-Ginger Pie
From LaFemmeCooks

Crust:
1/2 cup raw hazlenuts
1/2 cup dried finely shredded coconut
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
10-12 soft medjool dates, pitted and chopped
2 tbs candied ginger
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
Filling:
1 cup organic raw cashews soaked for 2 hours
1/4-1/2 cup filtered water depending on desired thickness
1-2 Tbsp maple syrup or more to taste
1/2 tsp natural vanilla extract, or a little more to taste
3 tbs candied ginger
a pinch of Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt
To prepare the crust, process nuts, coconut, buckwheat and sea salt in a food processor until the nuts are fine crumbs, then add the dates and process until the mixture holds together when squeezed between your fingers. Spread into a pie pan and press firmly. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
For the filling, throw everything into your high-speed blender (I use a Vitamix) and puree until thick and creamy.It is a good idea to start with ¼ cup of water, and then gradually thin it out in order to achieve the desired thickness. Pour into crust and freeze until firm.  Top with sliced peaches.
Keep the pie in the fridge or freezer, which is perfect for these hot summer days. Enjoy without guilt!

Pie Crust with Leaf Lard

15 Aug

When I think of summer, I think of pie.  Cherry, peach, blueberry… I could live on fruit pie during this time of year, and I also like to freeze pies now for later in the year.  There is something wonderful about pulling out a blackberry pie for dinner in February, right about the time when I can barely remember what fresh fruit tastes like.  I am especially excited now that I have found the secret ingredient for perfectly flaky crust every time: leaf lard.

Leaf lard

The folks at Wooly Pigs would like you to know you can do much more with their leaf lard than make great pie crusts.  This is true, but it is also the secret to a pretty amazing crust.  Curious what exactly is leaf lard?  It is the highest grade of lard obtained from the pig, has no “piggy” flavor, and therefore is ideal for use in baked goods.

Think using lard is gross?  In my mind, nothing is grosser than using Crisco, which is made from highly-pesticide-laden cottonseed oil,  which is then partially hydrogenated to turn the liquid into a solid.  I am pretty sure my body knows how to process lard, a natural product, better than it does Crisco, which is made in a lab.  I still use mostly real butter in my crusts, but I have found that substituting 1/4 cup of leaf lard for some of the butter makes for the best crust I have ever made.

Finding leaf lard can be the tricky part.  We are lucky here in Seattle to have quite a few local farmers who raise pigs, but the lard is generally only available after the animals are slaughtered, often requires that you render it yourself,  and is quickly sold out.  The folks at Wooly Pigs had it on hand this summer when I stopped by their stand at the University Market, and fully rendered too.  Good news for those of us who don’t want the mess of doing it at home.

Pie Dough with Leaf Lard
Adapted from The Bakers Dozen

*This makes enough for a double crust recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick butter
1/2 cup leaf lard
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup ice cold water

Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl.  Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut in the butter and lard until the mixture is crumbly, with a few coarse, pea-sized pieces of butter.  Sprinkle in the water and mix with a fork, adding just enough until the mixture is moistened and begins to clump together.  Gather up the dough and form into a flat disk.  You can use this dough immediately.

Old-Fashioned Cherry Pie with Lavender

18 Jul

This July I am celebrating eight years of marriage to a pretty fantastic guy.  I won’t go on and on about him here (as he embarrasses easily!), but suffice to say when the marriage fairy was handing out husbands, I got a prince.  Truly.

Paris, April 2009

He also likes to cook.  But, being married to a woman who is fanatical about cooking, he doesn’t get a lot of time in the kitchen.  Or if he does try to cook something, I am usually full of  “helpful” hints that only muck up the process.  And so, over the years, I have become the cook and he has become the dishwasher.  He loves to eat good food, and so doesn’t complain about the demotion, and I love to cook but hate to clean up afterward.  We are a good team.

Lately, he has been taking on more sous chef tasks which he completes with alacrity.  We make our pasta from scratch and he has become the pasta dough master.  Really, his is better than mine and always ends up in nice, silky strands.  It is now his official kitchen job, and I am actually enjoying handing some tasks over to him.

A few years ago, we stopped by Blue Mountain Lavender Farm on our way to a wine weekend in Walla Walla.  They have a lovely property there inspired  by the rolling lavender hills in Provence.  We fell in love, of course, and brought many things back with us, including a great little cookbook and lots of culinary lavender.  I use both of them all the time.

I really love to pair lavender with any fruit.  Right now cherries are bursting forth at the market and I came across a recipe in the Lavender Cookbook that sounded perfect.  I handed the book to husband (with only one or two little “tips”) and sat back and relaxed while he made this pie.  He is just as good with pie dough as he is with pasta dough (I had a feeling that would be the case), and the pie turned out perfectly.

Old-Fashioned Cherry Pie with Lavender
From The Lavender Cookbook

1 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapoica
1 tbs dried lavender, finely ground
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 cups frozen or fresh cherries (you’ll need about 2 pounds of fresh)
2 tbs vanilla
1 tbs lavender sugar (recipe follows)

Prepare the pie dough (recipe follows) and refrigerate for one hour.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, tapioca, lavender, salt and cinnamon.

Place cherries in  large saucepan and stir over med-high heat for 5 minutes, or until slightly softened.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer cherries to a large bowl.  Add the sugar mixture to the cherry juices in the pan and simmer, stirring, for 3-5 minutes or until thickened.  Pour over the cherries.  Add the vanilla and stir to mix.  Let cool.

On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece of dough into an 11-inch round.  Fit the dough into a 9-inch pie plate, leaving a 3/4-inch overhang.  Pour in the filling, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and chill.

Roll the remaining dough into an 11-inch round and use a sharp knife or fluted pastry wheel to cut into 1-inch wide strips.  Working on a sheet of parchment paper set on a baking sheet, weave the pastry strips in a close lattice pattern.  Refrigerate or freeze the lattice for 20 minutes, or until firm.

Brush the edges of the filled shell with cold water and slide the lattice off the parchment and onto the pie.  Let stand for 10 minutes to soften the lattice.  Trim the edges flush with the rim of the pie plate and crimp decoratively.  Gently brush the lattice top with cold water and sprinkle with lavender sugar.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 50-60 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the filling bubbles.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.  Serve warm.

Lavender dough

Lavender Pie Dough
From The Lavender Cookbook

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs dried lavender, finely ground
1 tsp salt
1/4 pound cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup shortening, chilled and cut into pieces
1/4 cup cold water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, lavender, and salt.  Pulse to mix.  Scatter the butter and shortening over the flour and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Do not overprocess.  Add the water and pulse until the dough starts to clump; if the dough is not clumping, add water 1 tsp at a time.  Gather the dough into a ball and divide in half.  Flatten each piece into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for one hour.  (Note: we make our dough by hand with a pastry cutter, and you could do the same with two forks.)

Lavender Sugar
From The Lavender Cookbook

1 tbs dried lavender
2 cups sugar

In a spice grinder or with mortar and pestle, grind the lavender with 1 tbs of sugar until finely ground.  Transfer to a bowl and add remaining sugar.  Transfer to a jar, seal tightly, and let stand for at least three days before using.  (Note: lavender sugar is great in making fresh lemonade or to sweeten iced tea. Try it on the rim of cocktails for something extra special. )

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