Pies!

Pro Pastry, Gluten Free: Frangipane and Chef Brooks Headley’s Quick Jam

It was August, and I hadn’t made a single pie.

I hadn’t made a single batch of ice cream or sorbet, either; but the cardinal sin was with the pie.

Pie is my favorite dessert. I make one for my birthday, or when I want to impress a man, or when a man I’ve impressed breaks my heart. And this summer I hadn’t made one. 

But then I saw huge stalks of rhubarb in my hometown grocers. Rhubarb that was far too girthy for its own good, and so late in the season that I couldn’t nearly call it “peak”. But rhubarb none the same. I also had some really beautiful black plums from a farmers market in NYC. And I had Brooks Headley’s Fancy Desserts on my brain.

It came out October 1st, but I had it mistakenly launching on my schedule on the 20th, so this little post is a touch late. Brooks had kindly sent it to me after we’d barely missed each other at a mutual friend’s restaurant anniversary party; a black-and-white copy with notes someone had scribbled on random pages.

Now, I’ve never worked with Brooks. I met him when he was celebrated as a 2013 Dessert Professionals Top Ten Pastry chef, where we’d been introduced by Niko of Dessertbuzz (that link is for the 2014 celebration, because I love the photo Niko took of me with my favorite sweet pea of a pastry chef, Ron Ben-Israel). I had planned to work with Brooks in my interview column, but first he was busy writing the book and then my column ended. I still have yet to work with him, as I’m saving up my “wanna work on…?” request for something meaty. But the book had landed magically in my mailbox after the post Brooks-is-walking-away-from-this-party email exchange.

And it’s f***ing awesome.

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{gluten and dairy-free) Brownie Pie – Milk Bar Monday!

Gluten-dairy-free Milk Bar Mondays Brownie Pie Love...

Gluten-dairy-free Milk Bar Mondays Brownie Pie Love…

We’re baaaaaaaack!

Sometimes inspiration for making something sweet comes from a new pan or a road trip to someplace spooky with friends. And sometimes it comes from a group of ladies you’ve met via the interweb, and have agreed to bake your way through a cookbook with!

I’m tickled pink that the Milk Bar Mondays ladies are back after a hiatus so that we could take care of a few small things; members moving and graduating college and having babies, the little beautiful details of life like that! Every time I get wiped from the mess of internet madness that makes me want to head for the hills — where wifi and mobile service are replaced by oak trees and crickets — I stumble upon the picture of one of my beautiful lady friends with their growing belly, or growing child, or growing dreams, and my heart fills up and I am so thankful to this crazy bit of technology that’s helped me find such talented, lovely people.

And together it’s brought us on a trippy journey, baking our way through Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, me adapting as I can to fit my dietary needs. We’ve had some incredibly yummy ones — the Compost Cookies I can’t stop making, the decadent Chocolate Mallow Layer Cake that sent me swooning, the Blueberry and “Cream” and Chocolate-Chocolate cookies and Birthday Layer Cake and Chevre Frozen Yogurt with Beet-Lime Ganache… love.

And here we are again, with a dangerously rich chocolate Brownie Pie nestled in a graham crust. And, for you and moi, this version is gluten and dairy free.

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{gluten-free} Maple Pear Galette for Two

Yesterday was one of the best days ever!

Being a freelancer and having a complicated chronic illness mean I’m often stressed about money, or restrictions because of the limits of my health, or both, as in a recent $634 bill for natural medication. But it also means I’m often forced to lay low, by my own discipline,my family forcing me or my body just shutting itself down. I had worked three full days in my family office and then gone out with some food media/publicity friends late into Wednesday night, meaning that Thursday had to be market a NOTHING! day in my calendar. Being Halloween, that NOTHING would include watching American Horror Story (!), buying cider from the corner store, avoiding going downtown, and catching up on some writing / blogging. Yes, writing and blogging aren’t doing nothing. But when I have space for them sandwiched by American Horror Story and rainy walks with Mitra, they’re relaxing, too.

So there I was, infuriated by my ancient computer’s incapability to work with me by loading pages and saving documents and such, when I threw up my hands, powered down and walked into the kitchen. Because freelancing and NOTHING also mean I can put my hands into (gluten-free) flour and slice fruit when I feel like it, dammit! Continue reading

Nutty Gluten-Free Peach Buckle for Four

Nutty Gluten-Free Peach Buckle for Four

Oh, summer, how bittersweet ’tis to lose thee!

I’ve been spending a good amount of time observing the shifting in the seasons, lately. I take Mitra out every morning and take in the weight of the clothes I’m adding on, the chill of the frost on the grass when I’m in my dad’s backyard, or the whip of the wind off of the Hudson River when I’m home in New York. I stare at how the sun blasts up the luminosity of green leaves while dozing in my hammock, and the first touches of gold as I drive the Merritt Parkway back to the city again. The shadows on the brick outside my building seem a tad muted, now, and I know soon there will be only trunks sketched on them, their branches bare and trembling.

But I love this time of year, the duality of it. At the local market the apples have taken their first sign of crispness and cold, while the peaches soften and bruise next to them. Last week I made a gingerbread cake with pears for a sunny social event, and I’ve already clipped my crop of herbs and stuck jars of gremolata in my freezer to get me through the winter.

But then… there are still peaches.

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Video! Basic Gluten-Free Pie Crust (3-methods)

Basic Gluten-Free Pie Crust from Jacqueline Raposo on Vimeo.

Last year, the day before Thanksgiving, an odd turn of events had me running all over Manhattan and Brooklyn collecting gluten-free sweet treats for my first Easy Eats shoot (Treat Yourself, from Jan/Feb). First thing that morning, I found myself with some time to kill after picking up a product by Union Square. I climbed the steps to the Barnes and Noble cafe and sat by a window overlooking the farmer’s market. It’s a gorgeous city scene that early the day before Thanksgiving; cold, still somewhat quiet, and full of excitement for the next few days spent cooking, eating and sharing. I looked down with my hot tea through the frosty window, watching shoppers buying local squash, apples, pumpkin, cider… and thought…

Next year, that will be me. And now it is!

Somehow I convinced my family to come to my little city apartment, grandparents and all. I’m definitely the most domestic of my siblings with the best cookware and kitchen skills, but I have a feeling I won my grandparents over with “I have an elevator” (my siblings places both have lots of stairs). Wednesday morning I’ll head to Union Square for my produce, then spend the day with my sisters brining my bird, making gluten-free cornbread for stuffing, shaving Brussels sprouts, toasting pepitas and pecans, blending soup, and mulling wine. We’ll wake up early on Thursday, and my brother will join us for the parade and a batch of pumpkin doughnuts and cranberry-walnut scones. My mother and grandparents and a cousin and friend or two will then come with tablecloths and extra silverware, and we’ll spread out some folding tables in my living room.

One thing I make every year, despite locale, is the apple pie. I like my pie to be a mound of local apples (often coated in bourbon and molasses) and freshly-ground spices.

I’m a dork for pie. No matter the season, this is my go-to basic gluten-free pie crust recipe, with 3 ways to make it depending on your tools. The video is silly. Silly AWESOME (I hope)!

Wishing you good things this holiday season and all year ’round,

– Jacqueline

Easy Gluten-Free Pie Crust

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • Gluten-free flour blend: 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup tapioca starch OR arrowroot starch, 1/4 cup millet flour, 1 tsp xanthan gum, 2 Tbsp sticky rice flour.
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp palm, sucanat or white sugar
  •  1 stick unsalted butter (higher fat the better)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Method:

If you have a standing mixer, place the flours, salt and sugar in the bowl and fix with a paddle attachment.  Mix flours to combine thoroughly.  Cube or thinly slice the butter, add to the bowl, toss to mix.  Then mix on low until the butter is just incorporated into the flour, making it look like cornmeal or buttery flakes.  Make a well in the center, add the egg and lemon juice, and mix on low until just combined, to the point where it doesn’t pull into a ball but is about to.  Gather with your hands, wrap in plastic, flatten to a disk and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

If you have a food processor, use the directions above but pulse the butter into the flour, and then the wet ingredients into that mixture.

If you have neither, don’t despair!! You have ten awesome little kitchen gadgets at the ready!  Use the tips of your fingers to blend the butter into the flour, being sure not to use your whole palm or the fleshy part of your fingers (you want as little of the heat from your hands transferring to the dough).  Then use a fork to pull the egg and lemon into the mixture.

Once the dough has been chilled to where it’s not sticky but not too hard to roll, flour a pastry board, parchment paper or Silpat with rice flour, and roll to desired thickness.  Fit into a pie plate, tart plate or slide onto a baking sheet for the perfect galette crust!

Grapefruit Sponge Pie: Burwell Recipe Swap!

Dunt-duh-nuh-naaaaaaah!

(That’s me typing out the sound of a trumpet announcing the arrival of something new!)

This morning I published this post with some whinging about being tired and un-creative. When I typed this post for the first time last night, my brain was beyond where wit and articulation are birthed. 24 hours later I’m still over-tired, but I don’t care.

Because I’ve just gone through the recipes submitted by this Burwell General Store recipe swap group, and I’m rejuvenated. I love this group of swappers. I’ve participated in thist monthly swap, organized by Christianna at the Burwell General Store, for well over a year now. But then our group got too large, so we split in two, then got overwhelmed with our own lives, then took a break, then joined up again, and now here we are!

We all write blogs for different reasons. We all read blogs for different reasons.

But if you’re looking for creativity and all-things-yummy, you’ve come to the right place this morning. Just click on that little froggy below to see variations of one simple, very old recipe from a vintage cookbook.

As I scrolled through the posts, pinning and commenting away, I met new blogging friends and reconnected with old ones.

It was a truly delicious night.

Oh, and this was my second swap today! Coincidentally my Milk Bar Mondays recipe was scheduled for today as well, and when that Grapefruit Pie didn’t turn out perfectly (one layer was perfection, the rest so not-right I couldn’t serve it to my boss family and tossed it in the trash) I wanted to give grapefruit another go. Hence this take on this recipe:

I was shocked that this worked! I just replaced grapefruit for the lemon and used the milk my boss can digest, and let some basic pastry knowledge lead to a more specific recipe than the one above. A light, spongy, fluffy layer of grapefruit-flavored custard-ness was on the table for breakfast today. It would do well for a dessert also, but on this steamy Monday with a house full of guests I’m cooking for in Amagansett, it did just fine.

Happy Double Monday, and welcome back to the Burwell Swappers,

– Jacqueline

And click on the little froggy below to check out the other Burwell swappers in their, likely, more creative variations!



Grapefruit Sponge Pie

(Lemon or lime would work perfectly too!)

  • 1 pie crust, unbaked
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups lactose-free, 2% milk
  • 3 Tbsp grapefruit juice
  • rind of one entire grapefruit

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cream the butter, sugar and egg yolks until smooth and bright yellow.

Add the flour, grapefruit juice and zest, and beat to combine.

Slowly pour in milk and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Fold into mixture.

Pour into shell and bake for 45 minutes, until set at the sides but still jiggly in the center. Cool completely before serving.

Crack Pie – Gluten Free Milk Bar Mondays

Gluten-free Crack Pie from Empress Tosi

I admit, my faith was challenged.

While this pie (and its custardy cousins) were in the oven, I doubted Tosi’s recipe writing and my history with gluten and dairy free adaptations.

Problem: the original recipe called for heavy cream.  I substituted with coconut milk, which was much more watery in the can than others I’ve opened, and realized I should have tossed in yet another yolk.

Problem: it’s a holiday weekend and I had been home for mere hours, with a laundry list of to-do’s.  Do-overs were not possible.

Problem: the original recipes includes milk powder and… um… I’m allergic to milk (save for butter, which has so little protein in it I can get away now and then with using it).

So I adapted and altered and doubted and gave up… then wanted to smack myself.

I have no idea how Crack Pie is supposed to taste… but I could see how my variation could take that title.

If you’re diabetic or hypoglycemic… stop reading right now.

If you’re neither, get ready for a super-sweet, gooey, rich pie that will have you shivering in your shoes.  The chewy, gooeyness is so good you might want to smack something, too.  It’s got a smoky brown sugar center with an undercurrent of oat cookie.  This version definitely isn’t as custardy as my Milk Bar Monday cohorts’, but I’m still addicted, so much so that I’ll have to attempt again sometime and adapt a bit more with what I know about dairy-free custarding.  But for something almost caramely in texture, make this.  And make sure to have someone to give a lot of it to, lest you end up in a sugar-coma.

Happy Milk Bar Mondays, folks.

And, Ms. Tosi… sorry for ever doubting you.

– Jacqueline

Meet the Ladies of Milk Bar Mondays!

Meagan of Scarletta Bakes (go to her site for the original recipe)

Erin of Big Fat Baker

Cassie of Bake Your Day

Audra of The Baker Chick

Nicole of Sweet Peony

Krissy of Krissy’s Creations

Averie of Averie Cooks

Follow the group on Twitter!

Crack Pie and Pie-lettes

Gluten-Free Crack Pie (Dairy Optional)

  • 1 recipe Oat Cookie (recipe follows)
  • 15g / 1 Tbsp tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1g / 1/4 tsp salt

———-

  • 55g / 4Tbsp butter, melted, plus more if needed

———-

  • 1 recipe Crack Pie Filling (recipe follows)

———-

Assembling the Pie

  1. Heat oven to 350°
  2. Put the cookie, brown sugar and salt into a food processor and grind to a grainy powder.
  3. Put crumbs into a bowl and add butter.  With your hands, knead into a ball.  If it’s falling apart, add a bit more melted butter.  Because of the gluten-free aspect, my version wasn’t totally tacky – it’s okay.  Just make sure the majority of the recipe pulls together.
  4. Divide the crust into the two pie plates, pressing with your hands to spread the mixture evenly.  I actually used one pie plate and then divided the rest amongst a few ramekins, as my recipe didn’t look like it was going to make two compete pies.  Result?  I had awesome little single-portions at the ready!
  5. Put pie shells / ramekins on a cookie sheet.  Fill with pie filling to about 3/4 way full.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes, then turn down the heat to 325° and bake until the center is jiggly but the sides are set.  This took me much longer than the original recipe called for, I think because of the lower level of fat since I used thin coconut milk instead of heavy cream… use your judgment.
  7. Cool completely, then freeze for 6 hours or overnight to get the filling to be perfectly chewy, creamy and crack-pie-y.

Ooey, gooey Crack Pielette

Oat Cookie

  • 115g / 8Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used butter-flavored Earth Balance)
  • 75g / 1/3 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 40g / 3Tbsp granulated sugar

———-

  • 1 egg yolk

———-

  • 80g flour / 1/2 cup (I used my hodge-podge gluten-free bin for this… with cookies I find it doesn’t matter all too much in such a circumstance)
  • 120g / 1.5 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • .5g / 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • .25g / pinch of baking soda
  • 2g / .5 tsp kosher salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°
  2. Combine the sugars and butter / Earth Balance in the bowl of standing mixer with the paddle attachment and cream on medium/high for 2-3 minutes, until smooth and yellow.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn the speed to low and add the egg yolk.  Increase to medium and beat for 1-2 minutes, until the egg is fully incorporated and the mixture is pale.
  3. On low speed, add all the dry ingredients and mix until the dough just comes together.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Spray a quarter sheet pan with cooking spray and fit with parchment.  With your hands, spread the mixture evenly.  Bake for 25 minutes or until the center is soft but the edges are set and crispy.
  5. Cool completely before making into crust.

———-

Crack Pie Filling

  • 300g / 1.5 cups white sugar
  • 180g / 3/4 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 30g / 1/3 cup corn powder (get freeze-dried corn and crush it into a fine powder in a food processor)
  • 6g kosher salt / 1.5 tsp

———–

  • 225g / 2 sticks melted butter

———-

  • 160g / 3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 2g / 1.2 tsp vanilla extract

———-

  • 8 egg yolks (separate these with your fingers instead of with egg shells – you don’t want any egg white to get into this mixture!)

———-

  1. Combine the sugar, brown sugar, corn powder and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment and paddle on low until evenly dispersed.
  2. Add the melted butter and mix on low until the dry ingredients are nice and evenly wet.
  3. Add the coconut milk and vanilla and paddle on low for about 2 minutes until no signs of coconut milk remain.
  4. Add the egg yolks and mix on low until the mixture is smooth and shiny.  Keep the mixer on low so that now air gets into the batter, but make sure the mixture gets silky smooth.

Basic Gluten-Free Pie Crust (and 3 ways to make it!)

Oh my goodness! I have been here, there and everywhere this past week, with blogging and reading other blogs a very missed activity.

Not that I haven’t been baking.   The kitchen has been plenty dusty with vegan cheesecake, gluten-free vegan mesquite graham crackers (for the cheesecake, but then I had to sandwich them with homemade marshmallows and Kallari dark chocolate…had to, really), the first draft of gluten-free maple cakes for a recipe swap, gluten-free cranberry walnut scones, and more hot chocolate recipes than is good for anyone’s blood sugar.

Then there’s been interviewing (on both sides of the table), invoicing, prepping for a photo shoot, doing some research for Easy Eats magazine (a gorgeous digital gluten-free magazine, check it out!) writing scripts for some final episodes of something really fun, seeing friends’ shows, putting my dog into a costume for Halloween (yes, I’ve become one of those people who exploits their defenseless animal for their own amusement), and catching up with a pal on his way to India (not jealous, nope, not at all).

I also had to say goodbye to a dear friend – my macro camera lens.  It was a loaner, one that I fully intended to accidentally keep.  But it had to go home Friday.

While I was sad to say goodbye to the lens, this is what it created, so it was a worthy sacrifice:

It’s a trailer for a friend’s newest novel.  Yes, evidently books get trailers now too.  She’s an incredible writer and a lovely person, so if you have a young-ish lady in your life, grab the book when it comes out in January.

And while I’m at it, here’s another friend’s amazing creation:

This puppet marched alongside a 40-foot Brooklyn Bridge and NY Stock Exchange Bull in the NYC Halloween parade on Monday with the Occupy Wall Street protesters.  My buddy Joe is quite a beautiful artist and just one of those people that makes this planet so fascinating and full of love.

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by inspirational friends, those involved with and aside from food!

Speaking of which, now that Halloween is over can we officially start baking for the holidays?  Please, please, pretty please?!  I’ve already rough-drafted my Thanksgiving menu and pondered the new cookie recipes I’ll be gluten-freeing for Christmas.

After I spent a few hours in a senior center kitchen on Saturday morning (felt a bit guilty that other Meals on Wheels volunteers were out delivering in the snow and I got to stay in nice and cozy and make whipped crean), I hunkered down with my recipes in my home kitchen and forced myself not to put on Christmas music.  That’s what a snow storm in October will inspire in you.  Well, in me, at least.

But now it’s officially November, so here it is: the perfect gluten-free pie crust, ready for your apples or pumpkins or sweet potatoes or whatever it is that means holiday to you.  Shortly I’ll have a gluten-free, vegan pumpkin pie up here for a lovely reader who requested the recipe.  Until then, I’m going to make this crust over and over and toss whatever I have around in it.

Incredibly easy, insanely buttery, delightfully flaky… they’ll never know it’s gluten-free.

Ingredients:

  • gluten-free flour blend: 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup tapioca starch OR arrowroot starch, 1/4 cup millet flour, 1 tsp xanthan gum, 2 Tbsp sticky rice flour.
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp palm, sucanat or white sugar
  •  1 stick unsalted butter (higher fat the better)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Method:

If you have a standing mixer, place the flours, salt and sugar in the bowl and fix with a paddle attachment.  Mix flours to combine thoroughly.  Cube or thinly slice the butter, add to the bowl, toss to mix.  Then mix on low until the butter is just incorporated into the flour, making it look like cornmeal or buttery flakes.  Make a well in the center, add the egg and lemon juice, and mix on low until just combined, to the point where it doesn’t pull into a ball but is about to.  Gather with your hands, wrap in plastic, flatten to a disk and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

If you have a food processor, use the directions above but pulse the butter into the flour, and then the wet ingredients into that mixture.

If you have neither, don’t despair!! You have ten awesome little kitchen gadgets at the ready!  Use the tips of your fingers to blend the butter into the flour, being sure not to use your whole palm or the fleshy part of your fingers (you want as little of the heat from your hands transferring to the dough).  Then use a fork to pull the egg and lemon into the mixture.

Once the dough has been chilled to where it’s not sticky but not too hard to roll, flour a pastry board, parchment paper or Silpat with rice flour, and roll to desired thickness.  Fit into a pie plate, tart plate or slide onto a baking sheet for the perfect galette crust!

I filled this galette with:

  • 4 Asian pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • zest of one lime
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 2″ piece of ginger root, grated with microplane
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds

Then brushed the top with egg white and baked it for 35 minutes until the edges were lightly browned.  And then I ate it.  The whole thing.  Ok, I shared a little and it took a few days, but someone may have seen me walking to the subway, eating it with my fingers.  May.

Rosemary Lavender Apple Galette

Rosemary Lavender Apple Galette

I was a very lucky little Dusty Baker in that I spent the majority of this past weekend surrounded by fancy food and scrumptious cocktails.  The Food Network New York City Wine and Food Festival definitely didn’t disappoint in either of those categories.

But, hey, I’m not a pastry chef.  Yes, I spend most of my time dreaming about alternative flours and wishing I were in a kitchen and not on a computer.  And maaaaaybe I find the things actual chefs do with pastry incredibly sexy.  But fancy-pants, personally, I am not.

So I was particularly at home when attending the Beekman Boys’ demo at the Grand Tasting on Sunday.  Farms?  Goats?  8-minute pastry?  Put the kettle on, boys, I’m stopping in.

The Fabulous Beekman Boys – otherwise known as Brent and Josh – own a farm upstate.  They bought it as weekend retreat before they both lost their jobs and needed to turn it into a mortgage-paying enterprise.  NYC foodies by nature, they turned their inherited goats (80 of them) into a soap-making machine.  Then cheese.  Then the rest is history.

Now they’ve got a new book out, following their documentary-like show on Planet Green, and are cornering the heirloom recipe market in all that’s old-school and tasty.

Which is exaclty what their demo was – old-school and extremely tasty.  With casual banter and a genteel charm, they made a galette with nothing more than a heaping cup of flour, a stick of butter, a fistful of sugar, a splash of milk, a rough chop of rosemary, some drizzled honey and some apples.  A recipe so easy you don’t need to write it down.  Which I didn’t.  Until this post.

What I shared with them (as I sat with a happy smile in the front row) was a love of lack-of-recipes-recipes.  Many that I’ve inherited from my family contain “a soup-spoon of butter” and “enough water to dissolve the yeast”.  I’ve made pastries alongside my Tia that may be two eggs and a cup of flour away from the original… and seem to work as amounts are remedied during the eye-ball process.  I love the feeling of just throwing things in a mixer, and the intuition that comes from just knowing how a basic pastry works.

It was also fitting that they described this as the perfect thing to whip together when a friend calls to say they’ll be stopping by on their way home from church… in about ten minutes.  Because as I wrapped up an article this morning I was just about to strap on my apron when an out-of-town friend asked if she could stop in… and that she had just parked her car down the street.  We had inherited some apples from my neighbor.  I always have flour, butter and the like on hand.  And I still have rosemary growing in my window-boxes.  I could throw this together in eight minutes.  So I did.

So this recipe is yours for the adaptation.  I used my standard gluten-free cake blend as my flour, palm sugar as my crust sweetener, and the rest of the leftover lavender-honey that I had on my shelf (from my current prosciutto-cheese-basil-melon-honey obsession that’s sadly going out the window along with the summer rain).  Use whatever fruit or savory ingredient you have on hand.  Add or omit sweetener as you see fit.  Grab whatever herbs from your garden or window box that sound exciting.  And enjoy the simple, homemade creation that is truly yours for the baking.

My piece... consumed with relish...

Ingredients:

  • 1  heaping cup flour (a basic gluten-free / gluten-free cake blend works perfectly)
  • A handful of sugar (I used palm sugar)
  • A dash of kosher salt
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • Milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • About 4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (or comparable amount of fruit or savory veg)
  • Lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp honey or however you want to sweeten the fruit
  • Dried lavender florets, optional
  • Egg white, yolk or milk to wash

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400°.  Line a baking sheet with Silpat if desired.
  • In a large bowl, mix flour, salt and sweetener.
  • Cut butter into thin slices and toss in.
  • With a fork, blend flour mixture and butter until flaky.  They pointed out that most recipes say “pea-sized”, but with the fork method it’s more flake than pea.
  • Add enough milk, slowly, pulling together with fork until the dough just comes together.
  • Roll on a floured surface until thin, either into a round or somewhat rectangular shape.
  • Transfer to baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle the center (leaving about an inch on all sides) with rosemary.
  • Optional: toss apples with about 2 Tbsp lemon.
  • Fill crust with apples, leaving a lip around the edge.
  • Drizzle with honey or sugar.
  • Fold the ends in to make a rounded crust, making sure there are no holes in the dough, and press to meet.
  • Wash with egg or milk.
  • Bake about 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned.
  • Serve warm, preferably to drop-in guests.

Picture perfect.

Holiday In a Hand Pie!

Holiday in a Hand Pie

Runner Up: Best Pie (Judges Choice)

Winner: Most Creative Pie (Audience Choice)

at the

Great American Pie-Off!

Pie and dogs make me happy.  The connection?  The other night I told a friend I don’t think I could date anyone who doesn’t like dogs.  Especially since my dog is particularly awesome.  And as I sit here eating leftover turkey and stuffing from this recipe, I’ve decided the same goes with pie.  You don’t like pie, no date with this little dusty baker.  Also, if you’re a vegetarian I just don’t see how it could work out between us.

Moving on.

This weekend was pretty incredible, and I’ve got the tired eyes, slight headache and absence of writing wit to show for it.

Saturday I participated in the Great American Pie-Off, a fundraising event for the New York Theatre Experiment‘s Lift Every Voice program, which brings artists together with NYC Teens to build nurturing creative environments and foster self-expression.  In one of those glorious friend-of-a-friend things I heard about the event a few weeks ago and was asked to participate.  Baking for a good cause?!?! Um, sign me up, lady!

Now pie is pretty much my favorite dessert.  I make it yearly for my gluten-free birthday indulgence (this year was Blueberry Fig), when I’m particularly blue (My Broken Heart in a Pie was quite messy) and when I just need to throw a bunch of good things in a pastry (Bourbon Molasses Apple Pie with Candied Bacon pretty much rocked my world).

For this event I wanted to do something savory, and keep it in line with the way I prefer to bake: gluten-free, minimal (if any) dairy and naturally sweetened.  And as the weather began to change and I started daydreaming about holiday baking, Thanksgiving dinner came to mind.  Particularly the awesome sandwich made the day after, where turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and baked pumpkin gets layered between bread.  Could I get them all into a pie?  I’d give it the old college try and see what happened.

Oh, and I decided to make hand pies instead of one big one.  Why?  I have no clue.  But once I got the idea into my head I couldn’t shake it, so creating a flavorful and durable crust was a must.

After a few Goldilocksian crust creations (one was too buttery and flakey, perfect for a sweet pie but neither savory nor strong; the other had too high a content of cornmeal and so fell apart) and some different wrapping techniques (true empanada hand pie style or shaped in oversized muffin tins?!), I had my pie. And, yes, Goldilocksian is a word.  Now.

Setting up my little "tastes"

It wasn’t until setting up my little gluten-free pasties that I questioned my choice: all around me were incredibly sweet, luscious looking pies of varying deliciousness.  To one side was a pumpkin pie with bacon and candied pecans.  To the other was a chipotle pecan pie with homemade ice cream.

I don’t have a competitive bone in my body.  Friends often send me casting notices for food reality shows and my manager is looking into food hosting for me.  And while I obviously geek out about food with anyone who will listen, I would generally WANT someone else to win if I felt their creations beat the frosting outta mine.  And, well, I’m a dusty baker.  Messy.  Often swapping ingredients or proportions if I’ve just happened to run out of something.  Alton Brown I am not.  Food reality competition show thingy – not gonna happen.  My skills aren’t that badass.

Hawking my hand pies like a London lass circa Sweeney Todd

But as the tiny space filled I relaxed into what I love and the reason I was there: delicious things baked for a cause.  While I took in the pies around me (that obviously I couldn’t taste), I appreciated more and more the only one I could.  And as I started to describe it to tasters, I fell back in love with my little pies.  The gluten-free crust was made with a combination of quinoa, millet and brown rice flours and arrowroot starch with a little palm sugar, Vietnamese cinnamon and nutmeg.  I had decided to use Earth Balance instead of butter because I found during my empanada days that it helps bind the savory crust together best while still giving a butter flavor that a good shortening lacks.  I used no white sugar to sweeten any aspect, choosing maple syrup and honey for their delicious darker flavors.

Now, these are meant to eat hot, with your hands.  I had to serve the room temperature in little bites.  So a lot of my worry was making sure that everyone got every aspect of the pie and not too much crust (handpies were created so that you had the thick part of the crust literally as a handle, which you threw away once you ate all the filling).   A few of the pies had been baked the day before and suffered some stiffening from being in the fridge.  Perfect, they were not.

Breaking down the pie to the judges

Being a novice to the whole competition thing I was unaware that we actually had to present our pies to the judges.  Johnny Iuzzini (Top Chef: Just Desserts judge and Executive Pastry Chef at Jean-Georges), Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff (owners of NYC favorite Big Gay Ice Cream Truck) and Jordana Rothman (editor of Time Out NY’s Food and Drinks and overall awesome food writer) obviously know their way around a recipe.

I didn’t expect to enjoy discussing it so much.  As I talked I realized I actually knew what I was talking about.  In deciding to start this blog almost a year ago and take a few months off from auditioning to start transitioning into food more directly, I’ve had to look more specifically at my ingredients and figure out how best to share them.  When baking for charitable organizations I’ve had to keep costs in mind and how long it takes me to make certain things (400 pipes cookies for the Susan G. Komen / Frosting for the Cause became a series of various cookies, with less hand cramping).  The other day the guys at the office I was squatting in  said they’d actually pay for my Morning Jolt Cookies: the same guys that raised their eyebrows when hearing that they were gluten and dairy free.  18 years of eating alternatively and now, here I was, talking about flours.  With food people of whom my knowledge is comparatively at about .5%. 

I did feel an affection for my bin of refrigerated alternative flours in that moment.

And I think it’s time I start branching out myself.  It’s been a long time since I used red wine and mesquite flours, specifically.  Just ordered them again.  Expect recipes soon.

Until then, here’s a Holiday in a Hand Pie.

Special thanks to Allyson and Steve for getting me involved, NY Theatre Experiment for doing what they do so well, Kym at FreeSpiritEater for the awesome event photos (she took all the live ones and has an incredibly sweet, supportive, enthusiastic energy) and to the judges for being such rockstars. 

Stuffing, baked pumpkin, baked turkey and cranberry sauce

Pumpkin

Pumpkin:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Quarter and remove pulp from a small pumpkin (mine was about a pound).
  • Place in deep baking dish and pour on about 1/4 cup of maple syrup.  Use a pastry brush to make sure it coats completely.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes uncovered or until the edges of the pumpkin start to brown.
  • Allow to cool, then cut into 1/2 inch cubes.

Pre-baked.

Stuffing: Ingredients

  • 5 cups of cubed gluten-free bread
  • 1/4 cup ground walnuts, pecans or almonds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (either unsweetened or sweetened with fruit juice)
  • 1 Tbsp freshly chopped rosemary
  • 2 tsp dried Herbes de Provence
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp groundcinnamon (preferably Vietnamese or Indonesian)
  • Baked.

    1 1/2 cup leeks, whites and greens chopped thinly

  • Swirl of olive oil
  • 2 cups turkey or chicken broth / stock

Stuffing: Directions

When I normally make stuffing for Thanksgiving I’ll toast up the bread all crusty-like, use my own stock, pile in butter and roasted vegetables and chestnuts and all.  But this had to be rather simple and just serve its purpose. I left it a little drier than I would normally as well, so that it wouldn’t literally mush the pie when filled.

  • In a dutch oven, bring a healthy swirl of olive oil up to a low heat.  Add the leeks and let sweat until soft (keep it on low and wait it out – don’t brown them).
  • Toss the dry ingredients together in a baking dish and stir in leeks.
  • Add enough broth / stock to moisten the bread but not enough that it sits in the dish.
  • Throw in the oven (uncovered) and bake alongside pumpkin until the bread is soft but slightly toasted at the edges.

Cranberry Sauce

OK, I didn’t make cranberry sauce from scratch, as I couldn’t find cranberries in the shops I went to and wasn’t going to kill myself to find them.  So I just doctored up some whole-berry cranberry sauce with the zest of one lemon, about 1 Tbsp of red wine vinegar and 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice.  Done.

Not just for Thanksgiving...

Turkey:

Instead of baking a whole darned turkey I used 2 large wings and 4 breast cutlets.  I spread them out in my largest Creuset, melted about 2 Tbsp of unsalted butter, whipped in about 1 Tbsp of my awesome Greek olive oil (thanks to a friend who sends it over in 25 gallon jugs), and poured that on top.  Then I stole about 1/4 cup of my roommates chilled Sancere white wine and threw that in too, along with kosher salt and cracked tricolore peppercorns.  Baked at 300° for 35 minutes they were perfect.  Juicy and slightly underdone to finish in the pie.  I then used my fingers to shred them.  Made me miss my grandmother, for some reason.  Maybe because one of my first, favorite, food memories of her is finding her in her garage, plucking chickens that she then baked to perfection.  Love you Avo.

Ingredients: Dough

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • 1 cup millet flour
  • 1 cup tapioca starch
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Vietnamese cinnamon*
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg**
  • 4 Tbsp palm sugar
  • 20 Tbsp Earth Balance Butter or unsalted butter, cubed
  • Up to 1 cup ice-cold water
  • About 2 Tbsp ground cornmeal

*I love Vietnamese cinnamon because it’s sharper and more fragrant than others, with a darker tone.  If you have a more generic grocery store cinnamon (which I have and use too), just add another half teaspoon or more to taste.  In general, having several kinds of cinnamon on hand is fun.

**Oh, and a jar of whole nutmegs will last forever and give you so much more pop if you grate it directly with a microplane than using pre-ground.  Obviously all spices are better pre-ground.  Little thing that makes a great difference.

Directions: Dough

  • In a food processor, whip all flours, xanthan gum, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar together to combine.
  • Add the cubed Earth Balance and pulse to combine until the butter is wrapped in flour in little pea-sized clumps.
  • Slowly add the water, bit by bit, until the dough just comes together into a ball but is not wet.
  • Roll out directly on a floured pastry board (I used millet to roll as it’s not as bitter as quinoa and less grainy than rice).

This amount of dough made me 6 large hand-pies and one VERY large empanada.  Because there’s no gluten you don’t have to worry about over-working, but you may want to pop it in the fridge between rolling / filling so that the earth balances doesn’t soften too completely.  This dough doesn’t require rolling between wax paper yay).

Warm, crusty deliciousness

Assemblage:

  • Roll dough out to about 1/8 thick.
  • If using muffin tins to shape, find a good cereal bowl to press into the dough to create large round circles.
  • Press into pans, making sure dough is pulled slightly away from the tins on top.
  • Sprinkle with ground cornmeal.
  • Layer the four ingredients so that all quarters of the crust contain a little of everything, using the cranberry sauce throughout as a bit of a moist binder.  Leave a bit of room- about 1/2 inch –  at the top so that you can press the top layer in to seal.
  • Use a 3″ cookie cutter to create a round for the top.  Or just cut with a pastry knife.  Whatever ya got.  Press onto bottom filling and seal completely with fingers.  Do not cut vents in the top crust – this pie needs the moisture to stay inside and help keep it steamy.
  • Wash with egg, milk or water (I used egg whites) and sprinkle with cornmeal.  If desired, use a cookie cutter or press to make a little decorative shape on top.  I was going to press some leaves but time ran away with me and a tiny heart was all I had nearby.
  • Bake at 400° for about 25 minutes or until the crust is brown slightly.
  • If planning on eating hot, let cool in pans for about 7 minutes (yes 7) before popping out of the pan.  I found a miniature frosting spatula very helpful.

Serve with a little apple sauce if desired.  Eat outside, preferably.  With your hands.

 

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