Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie

You read that right - DAIRY FREE PUMPKIN PIE.

First, though, happy almost Thanksgiving and happy Hanukkah to all my friends for whom tomorrow will be Thanksgivikkah.

Everyone in my family loves pumpkin pie. Of course, we can no longer eat it here, what with Em's dairy allergy. A couple of years ago I made one with soy milk. One word: yuck. Soy milk just doesn't bake well - it gets sweet, plus it has a weird, slightly plastic after-taste no amount of ginger and cinnamon was able to cover. We did not love it. I don't know what happened last year - I think I was just too busy to bake, but this morning, as I was sitting around thinking about how much I missed pumpkin pie, I had a thought: rice milk.

Good idea, yeah? Except the rice milk you can buy at whole foods and other such places is produced in a factory that also produces almond and hazelnut milk. Guess what else my daughter is allergic to? Yep, you got it.

But, as I was thinking about it, it occurred to me that it would be pretty easy to make my own rice milk.

Which is what I did:

It's not that hard, actually. Never occurred to me before. Here's how you do it (this makes quite a bit):

2 Cups of long grain white rice
8 cups of water
1 tsp table salt

Get out you Dutch Oven or a stock pot and heat it up on the stove. When it's hot, toast your rice in the pot until it becomes fragrant, but before it browns - about 1-2 minutes. Then, add your 8 cups of water and bring it all to a boil. Put a lid on it, turn it down and let it simmer for 15 minutes, then turn the whole thing off and let it sit another 10 minutes. 

This is what it looked like when it was
finished blending
Remove the lid and give it a stir. It should be pretty watery. Put two cups of this rice into a blender, I have a Vitamix knock-off which does a pretty good job of whirring things up - add another 1/2 cup to a full cup of water if your rice is too thick to blend - but it will make your rice milk taste a little watery. Add 1/4 cup of honey to this and blend again. A lot of websites suggest you strain this mixture, however, I felt like it was all nice and thick the way a can of condensed milk would be. Put this batch aside, and then repeat the process with the remaining rice. Put all in a container in a fridge except  about 1 of cup which you'll use for the pie. The rice milk should last a week or so. Not sure if you can freeze, but I don't actually see why not. I'll experiment and let you know.
OK, now for the PIE.

 Here's what you need:

For the crust:
2 Cups finely ground ginger snaps*
4 TBLSP grape seed oil
1 TBLSP honey
*(do this in your food processor - the number of snaps you'll need will vary by the size of the snap - I used vegan snaps from Whole Foods - but most ginger snaps are vegan - and you can get packages of them from the grocery)

For the filling:
1 15oz can of pumpkin puree
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp of ground ginger
1 tsp of cinnamon (you can use 1/2 a tsp if you don't like your pies too cinnamon)
1/2 tsp table salt
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup of rice milk
1/2 cup of maple syrup

Here's what you do:

This first part is for the crust - 

Place your gingersnaps, oil and honey in a food processor and whir it up. Turn the mixture out into a pie plate and press into place.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Then, in a large bowl, stir the pumpkin, spices, salt and sugar together. Whisk in your eggs, then whisk in the rice milk followed by the maple syrup. Pour all into your prepared pie crust. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then turn your oven down to 350 and bake for 40 - 45 minutes. 
While it's baking clean your kitchen: 

Dear Lord, what a mess.
After 40 or so minutes, check the pie, if it's really jiggly, give it another 5 - if it's not, take it out and let it cool. Once my pie is cooled off, I'm putting my pie in the fridge because we will be eating it tomorrow, on Thanksgiving. 

Enjoy - Happy Turkey Day!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I'll Take Manhattan

Last week when I posted about my husband's perfect Manhattan - what I didn't post was the recipe for it.

I'm still apologizing to so many people for that -

So, to redeem myself, here goes:

This is for one drink - double everything for two.

First, you need 2 oz of Rye.  We are fans of Bulleit.  If you don't have, or can't find Rye, Bourbon will do.  (Personally, I'm a fan of a Rye Bourbon combo - but I'm not a purist like my husband...)

Then you need sweet Vermouth - 1 oz:

I just realized that in these pictures my husband is making 2 drinks.  I'm going to stick with my recipe for one though - mK?

Next - the all important Maraschino Cherry.  Drop one in the bottom of your glass along with a smidge of cherry marinating liquid.

Get yourself some ice in your shaker

And shake that puppy up.

That's all there is to it.  

Now, excuse me, I need to drink it while it's still ice cold.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It's Good to Go Retro

You wanna know what that is?

THAT, my friend, is a perfect manhattan.  She's a beauty, isn't she?  This is what my husband had waiting for me when I got home after a long weekend of talking about writing at the Philadelphia Stories Conference.  Yes, I had a glass of wine at the final cocktail party, which was cold and good - but coming home to a super icy one of these babies is exactly what the doctor ordered.  (Mixed cocktails = mixed metaphors - everyone knows that)

It's so perfectly shaken you can't even see the lovely little maraschino cherry nestled at the bottom. 

Do you want to know what goes great with a perfectly shaken manhattan with a lovely little maraschino cherry nestled at the bottom?

That's right - Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt.  You know what I love about this stuff?  They got the apostrophe right, yet still went with the "K" instead of the "C" in "KRAZY" If that doesn't scream 1970s I don't know what does. 

That's because it's retro man!  Just like my perfect little manhattan served in my wee cocktail glass I bought last year at the flea market.

Right now we are having a Jane's renaissance in our household.  I didn't realized how much I missed this seasoning until I started using it again.  Mixed-up salt was our go-to seasoning in the 1970s when I was a (extremely little, seriously, very young) kid.  We called it Krazy-Janes and it had pride of place on the avocado green lazy-Susan in the middle of the dinner table.  I have no idea why we stopped using it.  There's nothing at all in it that offends: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and "herbs".  Recently I found it on the spice shelf at Acme - and now we put it on everything.  Forget that $14 jar of fleur- de - sel!  Krazy-Jane's is about $1.99 and lasts forever!

And can I tell you something else about Krazy-Jane's?  It hales from Overbrook PA - Is that the same Overbrook that is less than a mile from my home?  I don't know, but I hope so.  Click on "Overbrook" to see the most charming picture of Krazy-Jane's creator Jane Semans.  

Jane's is good on everything - scrambled eggs, lasagne, roasted chicken, bacon.  (Of course, bacon!) - but this is what I consumed when I got home, a little parched, a little peckish from a weekend talking about writing:

Perfect manhattan, heirloom tomato, goat cheese, water cracker and a sprinkling of Krazy Jane's.  Comfort, man, that's what it's all about.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Vegan! (except for the bacon)

I feel like I've written posts like this before.  I so want to be vegan - I do! Really! It seems so virtuous - so healthy - like all my past sins will be atoned for if I could just eat kale and tumeric not much else...

Then I open the freezer and I find the Wegman's bacon I stashed there in July just before our European Vacation and I loose all control.  Before I know it, I'm defrosting it in the microwave and heating the cast iron skillet in a 400 degree oven...

It was a beautiful evening at the farmer's market.  The organic veggie farmer and I discussed the stunning Swiss chard, with it's emerald city leaves and citron stem.  He had garlic too - and an heirloom style tomato, and oh-my-god: Swiss chard pesto spaghetti with a fresh tomato sliced on top.  I couldn't get home fast enough.

Roughly chopped chard, dropped into the Cuisinart, along with a small handful of cilantro I happened to have.  3 cloves of rough chopped fresh garlic.  Half a lemon squeezed in, half a lime, 1/4 cup of olive oil, pinch of sea salt, two or three grinds of pepper and a pinch of sugar to cut the bitterness.  Whirred it all up.

I thought it was great.

Smith took a taste - and he was - polite- but not enthusiastic.

That's when I heard the call of the bacon.

The thing to do is to cook the bacon in your big cast iron skillet then take the bacon out, let it drain on a paper towel, and when your pasta's ready, drain it and drop it into the skillet to soak up all that beautiful bacon fat.  Then stir in the pesto, slice the tomato and throw it on top.  Almost vegan!  Seriously! Almost!

Finish it with another pinch of fleur de sel and a dash of really good balsamic vinegar.  You won't regret the bacon.  Chard and bacon kind of cancel each other out - don't they?  I think they do.