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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!

Slow-roasted Tomatoes

17 Mar

I don’t eat “fresh” tomatoes in winter. I just don’t. I much prefer to hold out for the very first heirlooms from these guys, as a signal that summer is in full swing and all is right with the world. Winter tomatoes are merely holograms of their summer selves, and hardly worth the time or effort. But this week my CSA included them in my delivery, and I had to make the best of it.

I have been playing around with gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches at home, to my husband’s delight. I have used rosemary bread and potato bread and pain au levain; muenster cheese, chevre, roquefort and gruyere. I love to vary the ingredients, and have found that both of us prefer a vegetarian version, with grilled onions, avocado, and any kind of cheese or bread.

 

When the tomatoes arrived, I decided they would best be put to use slow-roasted to increase the flavor that I knew would be lacking this time of year. And it turned out to be a great idea, especially added to a grilled cheese sandwich! I also roasted some balsamic onions for a tart punch, and paired it all with a sheep’s milk cheese from Spain. I am pretty sure that if there is a Heaven, everyone there is eating this sandwich.

Slow-roasted Tomatoes
From Daniel Bouloud’s Tomato Confit recipe

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, peeled, split, germ removed and finely sliced
10 basil leaves, torn
4 sprigs thyme, leaves only
2 bay leaves, broken
20 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and pour about 2 tablespoons olive oil evenly over the pan. Sprinkle the oil with salt and pepper. Strew a little of the garlic, basil, thyme, and bay leaves over the oil.

Cut each tomato lengthwise in half and carefully, with your fingers or a tiny spoon, remove the seeds. Lay the tomato halves cut side down in the pan, wiggling the tomatoes around if necessary so that each tomato has a floss of oil on its cut side. Using a pastry brush, give the tops of the tomatoes a light coat of olive oil.

Season the tops of the tomatoes with salt and pepper and a little sugar, and scatter over the rest of the garlic, basil, thyme, and bay leaves. Slide the pan into the oven and bake the tomatoes for 2 1/2 hours, or until they are very tender but still able to hold their shape; turn the tomatoes over at half-time and open the oven for just a second every 30 minutes or so to get rid of the moisture that will build up in the oven.

Cool the tomatoes to room temperature on their pan. When the tomatoes are cool, transfer them to a jar, stacking them neatly. Pour whatever oil remains in the pan over the tomatoes and then, if you plan to keep the tomatoes longer than 1 or 2 days, pour in enough olive oil to cover and refrigerate.

White Chocolate Raspberry Tart

28 Jul

My very dear friend Rogena visited me for just one evening on her whirlwind tour of Seattle.  She is getting ready to start graduate school in Paris, and we are meeting up there in October for what I can only imagine to be one of the most fun episodes of my life.  There will be three of us and we are planning to eat, drink, and shop our way through the city in the time we have there.  I can hardly wait.

Rogena loves food the way I do, and our visits together (both in Seattle and San Francisco, where she lives) are always predicated upon good food.  We spend hours catching up over incredible meals, many of which I have cooked at home.  For her visit this time, my fridge was bursting with fresh produce from my farm share, and going out to eat seemed wasteful.  I wanted to use the gorgeous tomatoes I had on hand and so made this for her, along with a salad of local greens, tiny fresh strawberries from Nash’s Organics, fresh local chevre from Port Madison, pistachios, and a vinaigrette with blood orange olive oil given to me as a gift and which makes salads really sing.

For dessert, I wanted to make something really special and beautiful that would be worthy of a pastry case in Paris, to celebrate her imminent move there.  I settled on a white chocolate raspberry tart from the book “Pure Chocolate” by Fran Bigelow, the creator of Fran’s chocolates here in Seattle.  The crust is a simple blend of walnuts, almonds and butter and is one of the best crusts I have tasted.  The raspberry filling makes use of the fresh raspberries that are abundant and lovely right now, and the white chocolate ganache gives it a nice rich depth.  This is one is ready for Laduree.

White Chocolate Raspberry Tart
From “Pure Chocolate”

9-inch Walnut Tart Crust (recipe follows)
1/2 recipe Raspberry Filling (recipe follows)
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
2 pints fresh raspberries

Remove the sides of the tart pan and place the crust on a serving plate.  Thinly and evenly spread the raspberry filling over the base of the tart shell.

In a saucepan, heat the cream on medium-high heat until it begins to simmer.  Immediately remove from the heat.  With a rubber spatula stir in the chopped chocolate until smooth.  Let cool until about 80-85 degrees.  Slowly pour over the raspberry filling in the tart shell, up to the rim.  Let set in the fridge for about 4 hours.

When the tart is chilled, arrange fresh raspberries, pointy side up, in a circular pattern over the white chocolate filling. Best served and eaten the day it is made.

Raspberry Filling
From “Pure Chocolate

8 oz fresh or thawed raspberries
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring all the ingredients to a simmer.  Cook, stirring often to prevent scorching, until the mixture thickens, about 10 mins.  Strain through a fine-mesh sieve.  Set aside to cool.

Walnut Tart Crust
From “Pure Chocolate”

2 1/3 cups walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup blanced almonds
3 tbs sugar
6 tbs butter
1 tbs pure vanilla

Lightly butter a 9-inch round fluted tart pan with removeable bottom.

Pulse walnuts in food processor until finely ground.  Remove and set aside.  Add the almonds and sugar.  Pulse, scraping down the bowl several times, until ground into a powder.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-hight speed until fluffy, about 2 mins.  Add the vanilla and blend thoroughly.  Add the nut mixture and mix on low speed until the dough begins to hold together.

Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the tart pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or freeze until firm, about 30 mins.

Tomato and Cheese Galette

29 Jun

Food, for me, is almost always about people.  My friend Emma came for dinner last night, and I love to cook for her.  She is vegetarian and also appreciates good food, and it is always a fun challenge to make something new and interesting for her.

Though it is the beginning of the farmer’s markets season here in Seattle and fresh produce abounds, I was stumped about what to cook for Emma.  I picked up the first tomatoes of the season from the market and knew I would give them a starring role in this production, but what to do with them?  Flipping through my cookbooks, I remembered that my favorite baking cookbook, The Baker’s Dozen, has a few savory recipes in there that I have been wanting to try.

I came across the tomato and cheese galette, with onions and fresh herbs and it sounded like the perfect early summer meal.  A galette is a free-form, rustic tart that is great filled with pretty much anything, and they are very popular in France.  The dough for this recipe is a basic tart dough (Pâte Brisée), which is very simple to make by hand (or in the food processor!).

The filling layers red onions, two cheeses, fresh herbs and tomatoes, all of which bake up into bubbling goodness in the oven.  Because the dough is richer than a pizza dough I recommend serving this alongside green salad with a tangy, acidic vinaigrette.  This dish is so crazy good, in fact, that after our first bite Emma and I were actually giggling with elation.

When food is this good, the whole world slows down.  I am just fortunate that I have such a lovely, dedicated friend to share it with, and I look forward to many more giggle-worthy meals in our future.  Salut mon amie!

Tomato and Cheese Galette
From The Baker’s Dozen

1/2 cup plus 2 tbs freshly grated Parmesan (I used Pecorino Romano)
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, weighing at least 6 oz, or 2 smaller tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbs chopped fresh herbs (tarragon, marjoram, thyme, basil, oregano in any combination. I used thyme, rosemary and marjoram)

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven.  If you have one, place a baking stone on the rack and preheat to 400 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough (recipe below) to a very thin (no more than 1/16 inch) 14-inch circle.  Transfer the dough to a large pizza pan or baking sheet and freeze while preparing the filling.

Mix 1/2 cup of the cheeses together.  Slice the onion and tomato into very thin rounds.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheese mixture over the pastry, leaving 1-1/2 -inch-wide border.  Scatter the onion over the cheese, 1 tbs of fresh herbs over the onions, then top with the tomato slices.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese mixture over the top, and drizzle with a teaspoon or two of the olive oil (I used a little truffle oil here).  Bring the uncovered border up over the filling, pleating it as needed.  Lightly brush the exposed border of pastry with olive oil and sprinkle with remaining 2 tbs of Parmesan.

Remove hot pizza stone from over.  Gently move to pizza stone or baking sheet and bake until pastry is golden on top and bottom (lift up the bottom of the tart with spatula to check), and the onions are tender, about 35-40 minutes.  If the tart begins to brown too much before the vegetables are tender, lay a square of aluminum foil loosely over it until it’s done.  Sprinkle with remaining herbs and serve warm.

Pâte Brisée
From The Baker’s Dozen

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
6 tbs unsalted butter (3/4 stick), chilled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup cold water, or as needed

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl and cut in half the butter with pastry cutter, or simply add to your food processor, until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.  Cut in the rest of the butter until it is in pea-sized bits.

Sprinkle the water in evenly, adding just enough so that the mixture is completely moistened and holds together when pressed between your fingers.  Gather up the dough and press itno a 1-2-inch-thick disk.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before use (I like to refrigerate overnight, if possible).

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