Thursday, July 18, 2013

Gluten Free Fruit Tart

Secrets are not really my thing. I have never been good at keeping them. I have never felt the need to be illusive. I don't really even understand how to be discreet. As soon as I am attempting to keep a secret, I will start to get all twitchy & awkward and everyone who knows me will figure out what is going on. I haven't ever been able to keep a crush hidden or consider some new venture in my life without busting at the seams and talking about it to my close friends extensively.
For the most part, I live my life fairly openly. Every recipe I enjoy, I end up blogging about. Every cookbook or restaurant ends up getting mentioned. I talk about the bakery, and what products I am working on developing. There is one thing that has remained a secret. I won't tell anyone my pastry cream recipe. I have worked on it for years now. Tweaking away slowly to get it perfect. I will give people hints and point them in the right direction, but I just don't want to divulge all the little details. It's something I have worked so hard on perfecting that I want it to remain truly mine. I'm sorry if that means you have lumpy or too sweet pastry cream, but I am happy to make you a fruit tart to share over a cup of tea. We can talk about some of my other "secrets".

leaves and flours vegan Gluten Free Fruit Tart

After I made a few friends some gluten free pies, I realized I had never made a gluten free tart before. I know in making pear frangipane tarts I have used an almond crust before, but generally all purpose flour is added to the almond meal as well. I also didn't want the crust to taste intensely almondy, but more subtle. I decided to use my regular shortbread crust recipe with half almond meal and half brown rice flour. It tasted delicious, but was a bit too crumbly. I think on the next go I might try to add a little starch and see how that helps the consistency. Do you have a favorite gluten free pie or tart shell recipe to help me find my way?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Key Lime Pie

leaves and flours vegan key lime pie

I am a chronic list-maker, an over-calculator, a worrier. I obsess over details. I am often a perfectionist. These are some of the things that make me successful at running a bakery. These are some of the things that keep me awake at night. I push myself a little too hard and often don't know when to take a step back. Sometimes I dream just a little too big. I have been working on this for years. I am a teeny bit less high strung, but I am still overwhelmed most of the time. I will look at something I make and see all of the flaws. I will think about how jagged the crust looks or that the texture doesn't look quite right or maybe my piping is a little sloppy. I will consider starting over. I will remember I don't have enough time to start over. I will settle and give whatever I have made to whoever it was intended for. And then they will be so happy that I will realize it doesn't look quite as terrible as I thought.

leaves and flours vegan key lime pie leaves and flours vegan key lime pie leaves and flours vegan key lime pie

Sometimes you aren't really thinking and you pour a boiling hot pan of pie filling into a graham cracker crust a little too soon. It starts to melt the crust and pieces of graham cracker float to the top. You panic. But then you realize that you can just sprinkle more graham cracker crumbs and make it look intentional. In fact, it looks great. And you'll probably do it again in the future. Not pouring the boiling filling in too soon (at least not intentionally but sometimes I am just a tiny bit impatient), rather the crumb sprinkling for decoration's sake.
This pie is made using the key lime recipe from Vegan Pie in the Sky, with some very slight modifications. I use a little more lime juice, zest, & agar and a little less coconut milk. Nothing major. I have just made it a few times now, and know what works best for me. But the recipe is terrific. If you can't find agar powder, agar flakes will work just as well. Just use one tablespoon per teaspoon of the powder. But enough of the science, back to the cookbook. Vegan Pie in the Sky is my most used cookbook to date. Jenna asked me to look through it while she was visiting and in flipping through it with her, I realized that I have made over half the recipes at least once. You should consider taking it for a spin. Fall is coming faster than I would like to admit, but it's the perfect time for pie.

leaves and flours vegan key lime pie

I have been on sort of a pie spree lately. I don't know what's gotten into me. I don't really enjoy making pie crust, but if there is something that I can use a cookie crust for it will be on the table lightning fast. I made both key lime and coconut cream pie (recipe coming soon!for a barbecue at my house last week, because I couldn't decide which would be better (have I also mentioned that I am indecisive?). I have been thinking a lot about chocolate pudding pie again, but I want to make something new. Maybe the banoffee pie Ashlae of Oh, Ladycakes made earlier this week? Do you have pie on your mind too?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Raspberry Basil Popsicles

I have a confession to make. I get sucked into TV shows really easily. I am a binge watcher, and Netflix is an enabler. The way it will just play the next episode consistently, only making you hit a button saying you are still watching every few hours is a really dangerous thing for me. Aside from that, I legitimately love television shows. I remember being a neigh-sayer in my earlier years, but I have since really developed an appreciation for TV. I would never say that it's better than reading a book, but I appreciate TV for the same reason. Being transported to a world where I can see interesting things and laugh and cry, without having to stand up on my achey feet after a long day at work is exactly what I want.
I'm also not a TV snob. There are only a few shows that I can legitimately say I dislike (Twin Peaks, I'm lookin' at you). I love Criminal Minds, Parks & Recreation, Downton Abbey, Buffy, & Game of Thrones. I am currently on a Battlestar Galactica binge. I watched the first season in a little over one day, and am currently working my way through season two while I am at home sick. It's a little bit like this Portlandia skit.

leaves and flours vegan Raspberry Basil Popsicles
Raspberry Basil Popsicles

1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
8-10 leaves of basil
3 1/2 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen

In a sauce pot bring the water & sugar to a rolling boil. Turn off heat, add basil leaves, and cover. Allow to steep for 30-45 minutes. Strain to remove basil leaves. Puree raspberries (I prefer the seeds in my popsicles, but if you don't you can also strain the berry puree before freezing. Add basil syrup to puree and pulse until combined (I prefer the seeds in my popsicles, but if you don't you can also strain the berry puree). Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for 3-4 hours until solid. These popsicles melt really quickly, but you won't be able to eat them slowly enough to worry about that.

leaves and flours vegan Raspberry Basil Popsicles

Dexter is back on for it's final season, which is really what started this train of thought for me. Those melty popsicles just remind me of the Dexter intro with their bloody redness. Sometimes it's just nice to have things come to an end. TV shows can take things a little too far, pushing beyond good writing to crank out more shows while ratings are still high (cough, The Office, cough). I am fine with a series coming to an end, and I don't think they always need to be revisited. I loved Arrested Development, but the newest season just didn't cut it for me. Sometimes the magic is in that time and place that it was originally created. Of course if they come out with another season or movie, I will watch it. Just like I will watch the Veronica Mars movie (ya know, for completion's sake). But all good things must come to an end. Until then, I will be on this couch cranking my way through the remaining 59 episodes of Battlestar.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Coffee & Cinnamon Ice Cream

leaves and flours vegan steve's cold brewed coffee and cinnamon ice cream

I have the luxury of working at a little organic market, where I have access to all sorts of wonderful food. Last month we got in the amazing Earth Balance cheese puffs & popcorn and then Phoney Baloney's coconut bacon. Today we finally got in Cocomels Coconut Caramels! Most of the time I am anxiously awaiting the new products, like the Daiya cream cheeses, but sometimes new products sneak up on me. And it can be so wonderful to be caught off guard by them! This is exactly what happened with Steve's Ice Cream. The Brooklyn company's sweets are mostly dairy based, but they offer a few non-dairy flavors. Steve's makes a mint cacao chip, but our little store currently only carries the cinnamon coffee & blackberry honey. Since I avoid honey I haven't tried the latter, but the coffee cinnamon knocked me out of this world. It's like the best latte that I have ever tasted, spun into this smooth & rich dessert. Not surprisingly it's made from coconut cream and cold brewed Blue Bottle coffee (no wonder the coffee flavor is so fantastic). My favorite ice creams are all coconut based, but you won't detect even a hint of coconut flavor if you have an aversion to it. It also doesn't hurt that their packaging has a really pleasing aesthetic, because I do judge my ice creams by their cover. If you can try this ice cream in Brooklyn or find it in a shop near you, I urge you to try it! I ate the whole pint by myself, which I don't think I have ever done before, but it was really that good. Normally I have to share my sweets with Greg or hide them before he devours them, but luckily he hates coffee. If I can figure out how to leave a pint in my freezer without eating it all, then this will be a great thing.

leaves and flours vegan steve's cold brewed coffee and cinnamon ice cream

It's hard to believe that it's July already, but that means that Google Reader is closing shop. You should join me on Bloglovin' here if you haven't switched over already! They even created a handy little guide to import your reading list from Google Reader to Bloglovin', but you're gonna need to do it quick!