Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Prickly Pear "Cheese"Cake (gluten and dairy free)


I really had no idea what to do for an August pie. There's still lots to be had at the farmers market in August, but not much fruit (that I've seen). You can get a butternut squash and I think even early sweet potatoes, but who wants a winter squash pie in August? Then, during a lunch with my friend Abbie and other food-loving friends, one of my very favorite local food bloggers, Elizabeth of Local Savour, recommended prickly pears. And my awesome friend Abbie said that she knew exactly where to find some ripe ones!

Henry loves picking tomatoes from the garden, and harvesting anything really, so he was very excited about our prickly pear picking outting. He turned out to really hate it though. And honestly I didn't love the process either, though maybe it was because Henry whined so much :/ Abbie brought gloves for all of us (I forgot ours), and it seems like you'd be able to just carefully put your fingers around the prickly pear and avoid the glochids (the clusters of spines on the pears) altogether. But we all failed at that- those spines are insidious! We all ended up with fingers full of them and had to use duct tape and tweezers to try to get them out. But hell, we did it! I recommend trying it for yourself with leather gloves and without a toddler in tow.

Anyway, I decided to use the pears to make a gluten and dairy free cheesecake. Which sounds terrible, I know. Who wants a cheesecake without cream cheese? But I had read a blog about a vegan cheesecake months earlier and I couldn't get the idea out of my head (go check it out- these are mini no bake chocolate peanut butter cup vegan cheesecakes).  I loved that they didn't use tofutti or a cream cheese substitute- the filling is made primarily with soaked and blended cashews (which get so smooth and creamy), coconut milk, and coconut oil. So I adapted that recipe from Minimalist Baker a bit to make it gluten free, and prickly pear instead of peanut butter, and big instead of mini. Here's how it went down:


In the past when I've used prickly pears (always just one at a time to make Henry's favorite hot pink lemonade), I've either burned the spines off the prickly pears over flames (like from a gas stove or a grill), or just peeled them carefully. This time Abbie taught me an awesome trick where all you have to do is put the pears in a colander and shake them vigorously under running water. It worked beautifully! But I still wanted to be careful about removing the flesh, so I followed a technique from Rick Bayless where you cut of about a 1/2 inch from the top and bottom, cut the rest in half, and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. 


I ran the flesh through a food mill (it's super seedy), but you could also just push in through a strainer with a spoon, or mash it up with a potato masher and then strain the juices out.


13 prickly pears gave me almost exactly 1/2 a cup of juice.


I mixed the cold prickly pear juice with 1/2 a tablespoon of cornstarch and brought it to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring constantly until it thickened up. I didn't add any sugar because the prickly pears were incredibly sweet.



With that done, all I had left to do was make the cookie crust (I used these GF cookies, which I found at Wheatsville- they're delicious).


And blend up the super simple cheesecake filling (I had already soaked the cashews for the filling).


All that remained was swirling my prickly pear puree into the top of the cheesecake and chilling it thoroughly. As it happened, it was in my freezer for 3 weeks before I was able to give it to my sister Joanna, but she said that it was totally delicious, even though she was initially weirded out by the concept of a cheeseless cheesecake. She did note that the original recipe calls for the cheesecake to be served frozen, and that they stored and ate it from the fridge, and that the texture was perfect that way. If you are, for one reason or another, drawn to the idea of a cheeseless cheesecake, give it a spin!

Prickly Pear "Cheese"Cake
adapted from Minimalist Baker

For the Crust:

  • 5-6 oz gluten and dairy free sugar cookies, crushed (about 1 1/4 cup crumbs)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted if solid
For the Filling:

  • 1.5 cups raw cashews, soaked in water 4-6 hours then drained
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted if solid
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp full fat coconut milk (refrigerate the can over night and then scoop out the rich, thick white cream, leaving most of the watery part)
  • 1/2 cup honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar
For the Prickly Pear Swirl:
  • about a dozen ripe dark red prickly pears
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
Make the Crust:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the cookie crumbs with coconut oil and press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Set aside to cool completely. 

Make the Filling:

Blend the drained cashews, lemon juice, coconut oil, coconut milk, and honey in a blender. Process until completely smooth, about 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed and adding a splash of coconut oil or milk if the mixture seems too thick. 

Make the Prickly Pear Puree:

Put your prickly pears in a colander and, under running water, shake vigorously to knock off the spines and rinse them off the pears. When the pears look smooth, cut a 1/2 inch off the top and bottom, cut in half, and scoop out the flesh. Put the flesh in a food mill and push through to separate the juice and pulp from the seeds. Combine 1/2 cup of juice with 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, transfer to a small pan, and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. 

Assemble and Chill the Cheesecake:

Pour the filling into cooled cookie crust. Drop spoonfuls of the thickened prickly pear puree onto the top of the cheesecake and swirl into the filling with a butter knife. Transfer the finished cheesecake to the freezer and freeze until firm- at least three hours. At this point you can leave it in the freezer, covered, until you're ready to eat it, but I would move it to the refrigerator and let it thaw out for a few hours (or more) before you dig in. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Streusel-Topped Peach Pie (gluten and dairy free)


Welp. I baked this pie in July, and here we are in mid-September and I am only now sharing it with you. It feels a little silly to post a pie-of-the-month two months late, but I'm gonna go ahead and do it. Because this pie was delicious! And maybe I'll want to look this recipe up again next year.

A lot has happened since I baked this pie. Foremost among them is that my beautiful sister gave birth to the most amazing little girl. Meet Phinnie!


She's only a month old but has already added so much to our lives- she's the most peaceful, patient baby I've ever met. And so pretty!  She does this amazing thing when you talk to her- she opens her mouth in this big round smile, and it makes you feel like you're the most hilarious person in the world. We are going to be very good friends indeed.


My baby George turned 1! I simultaneously can't believe he's already a year old and feel that life before him seems like ages ago. George is a true scientist. I know all kids are, really, but I didn't notice it as much with Henry. George observes everything with this wonderful scrutiny. Strangers notice it too, and are forever commenting on how pensive and contemplative he looks. He will put absolutely anything in his mouth, but favors very small rocks. He also bites the tip off of a crayola marker on the daily. Even so, he eats next to nothing (besides milk). I've set down a meal for him three times a day, plus snacks, for the past 6 months, and the kid will only reliably eat a slice of monterrey jack cheese (in marked contrast to Henry, who now swears he hates cheese, and will only eat a quesadilla if it's a sad cheese-less shell of itself). George climbs on everything, chases Henry everywhere, and says a few words. His favorites are Papa, Wow, Mii?? (which he says while tugging at my shirt neck) and Uh-oh, which he says anytime he drops something. He's an undeniable delight.


My dear Henry has been a lot of fun too. He was really into maps and geopuzzles this winter, and then completely gave them up for about 6 months. Then something happened, no idea what, that reignited that spark and he's been obsessed with all things geography for the past month or two. Our table is always covered with at least 4 of his geopuzzles. He can get upset when we have to take them apart to serve dinner, so sometimes we'll just throw a tablecloth over his collection of assembled puzzles, or other nights we'll convince him to take apart all but two of them, which are pushed to the far edges of the table and bookend our meal. He's been sleeping absolutely terribly- he stays up till 11 or 12, just working in his room (his words). As I write this at 11 and he's awake in his room surrounded by a pile of books he's pulled off the shelf. When we ask what he's doing he says that he's learning to read.

Anyway, back to pie! I made this during the height of Texas peach season, and it really was a treat. It's adapted from The New Best Recipe's peach pie, my favorite gluten free crust recipe, and a gluten free version of the streusel topping on my favorite apple pie. All together it might have been my favorite GFDF Pie of the Month yet.

I've got a pie for August too, and I just made my September pie today. My goal is to rapid fire share them all with you this week, but who knows man!

Streusel-Topped Peach Pie
adapted from The New Best Recipe

For the Crust:
  • 3 cups Gluten-Free all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance (or butter), cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup cold well-shaken coconut milk mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice (or 1/2 cup buttermilk)
For the Filling:
  • 6-7 medium, ripe peaches (about 7 cups sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch salt
  • 3-5 tablespoons potato starch
For the Streusel Topping:
  • 1 cup Gluten-Free all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick cold unsalted earthbalance (or butter), diced small
To make the Crust:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold, cubed Earth Balance (or butter) and, using your fingers or a pastry knife, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas. In a small bowl, stir together the egg and coconut milk/lemon juice mixture. Create a well in the butter and flour mixture and pour in the liquid mixture. Use a fork to bring the dough together. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. Sprinkle generously with flour. Shape dough into two disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Allow dough to rest in the fridge for 1 hour. Dough is easiest to roll out when it’s cold and rested.

On a well-floured work surface, gently roll out the pie crust into about an 11-inch circle. Press together any spots that might tear. Carefully lift down and place into the 9-inch pie plate. Use a pairing knife to trim the edges of pie dough, leaving about 1/2 inch extra dough overhang. Fold the excess dough under and crimp with fingers to make a finished edge. Refrigerate while you make the filling.

To make the Filling:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set it on the counter near the boiling pot of water. Wash the peaches and cut a small X in the bottom of each, just through the skin if you can, not into the flesh. Drop half the peaches gently into the boiling water and let boil for a minute or two, until you see the skin around the X starting to flap around in the water. Use a metal spider or large slotted spoon to transfer the boiled peaches to the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Repeat the blanching process with the other half of your peaches. Peel the skin from the peaches, halve them, remove the pit, and cut each half into 4 slices.

Toss the peach slices, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and potato starch in a medium bowl.  Dump into the dough-lined pie plate and let sit while you make the streusel topping. 

To make the Streusel Topping:

Mix together the flour, sugars, and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Use a pastry knife to cut in the butter until the mixture forms coarse crumbs.

Assemble and Bake the Pie:

Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the pie, covering every bit of the peach filling if possible. Put the pie on a foil-lined baking sheet (to catch any drips) and put in the 425 degree oven. Bake for 25-30, or until the crust is set and begins to brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and continue baking until the filling is bubbling, about 30 minutes longer.  Keep an eye on this pie though, and if the streusel topping starts to burn, loosely drape a sheet of aluminum foil over the top. Keep cooking until the juices bubble through in places. Cool the pie on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before serving.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Blackberry Crostata with Cornmeal Crust (Gluten and Dairy Free)


Have you made a crostata before? It's the Italian version of the French galette. Crostatas and galettes are actually the exact same thing: a free-form fruit pie cooked on a baking sheet instead of in a pie or tart pan. I called this one a crostata though, because in my head galettes are fancy, where you layer the fruit in concentric circles and use apricot glazes and all that fussy-business, and crostatas are rustic (read: uglier) and easier. Anyway, crostatas are awesome.  All the benefits of a pie, without all the fussiness of crimping and topping. Plus they cook faster (this one is done in 35 minutes!) and the outside is crisper too! The short cooking time is great for summer berries, which don't need to be cooked all that much anyway, so I wanted to try it out for this months blackberry pie. This crust was inspired by the amazing tart crust from Melissa Clark's gorgeous tomato crostata combined with my favorite gluten free crust dough from Joy the Baker. They worked beautifully together and the dough was supple and easy to roll out (it pays to add an egg to gluten free pie doughs!). The cornmeal isn't really discernible but does give the crust a bit of a pleasant crackly-ness. The blackberries though! I used 4 cups of blackberries from the farmers market, and they were super tart.  I sprinkled a quarter cup of sugar on top of them and thought, man, that looks like a lot of sugar! I didn't want the filling to be overly sweet, so I stopped there.  It was a mistake! The berries were still crazy crazy sour. Next time I'll add a full half cup of sugar (that's what I'm writing in the recipe below) and then taste and add even more if needed. Sour or no, it was still warm and rich and fruity, and that's good enough for me!

Blackberry Crostata with Cornmeal Crust

  • 1 cup (125 grams) gluten free all purpose flour blend
  • 1/2 cup (75 grams) fine cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 10 tablespoons earth balance or butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk, shaken and chilled
  • squeeze of lemon (about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or more as needed)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • egg wash (one beaten egg mixed with one tablespoon water)
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top
1. For the crust: Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.  Using a pastry knife, cut the butter into the flour mixture until only a few pea-sized pieces of butter remain. Combine the coconut milk and a squeeze of lemon juice, then beat in 1 whole egg and stir until well combined. Fold  the coconut milk mixture into the flour and butter mixture with a rubber spatula. Use your hands to bring the dough together into a ball using a few folding squeezes, and then flatten it into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least an hour, or up to overnight. 
2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the chilled dough on a well-floured counter until it is approximately 12 inches in diameter, then carefully transfer to your lined baking sheet. Put the sheet pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
3. For the filling: Put the blackberries in a medium bowl and gently toss with the 1/2 cup of sugar. Taste your sugared berries and decide if they need more sugar, then add the cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and mix gently.
4. Assemble the crostata: Take the baking sheet out of the fridge and tumble the berries and their juices into the center of the dough circle, leaving a 3 inch or so margin around the edge of the dough. Fold the dough up around the filling, pleating it here and there, and pinching closed any cracks that form. Brush the crust with egg wash and sprinkle the whole top (crust and filling) liberally with turbinado sugar. Put the sheet pan in the preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the crust is deep golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Enjoy warm or at room temperature, with a scoop of something resembling vanilla ice cream!



Thursday, June 12, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (Gluten and Dairy Free)


Time has once again snuck up on me. I'm posting my May pie in mid-June and that really is just the best I could manage! Side note: blogger says that snuck isn't a word. But it is, right? Blogger sucks. As soon as I can get my act together I'm gonna move to WordPress. Anyhow, I've had a great summer so far with these very fine fellows:

Henry and George, tiny birds in a big nest

George generally loves everyone and everything. He has just begun to take his first steps and is an intrepid explorer. Henry has been quite the little innovator lately! Yesterday, he was playing with some straws and toothpicks that were left out after a party this weekend (a baby shower for my sister!!! cannot believe she's having a baby in less than 2 months!). He started by dropping toothpicks through the straw and very quickly worked out a way to rest the toothpick in the straw and then shoot it out by blowing into the straw like a dart gun! It made for an exciting afternoon. As I type this he's stabbing the toothpicks into the upholstered coffee table to make a sort of fence. It's just so cool to watch him figure things out.

Anyway, on to pie! I am in love with this pie crust recipe. It's from Joy the Baker and it's the same one I used for April's pie and I'm going to have a hard time using any other pie dough recipe from here on out.  It's made with cup4cup flour, but with an egg yolk added, which makes the crust a dream to roll out and not at all crumbly like other gluten free recipes, and with buttermilk instead of ice water (i use an equal amount of full-fat coconut milk mixed with about a teaspoon of lemon juice to make it dairy free) which makes the crust a bit softer and cake like instead of my regular crunchy crust. So good. The filling is deliciously bubbly and I just love the musky tartness of rhubarb. Don't we think it's a little musky? Something kind of weird about rhubarb. Anyway, I think it's a fun weird and I love this pie.

Strawberry Rhubarb Lattice Pie
adapted slightly from Joy the Baker

For the Crust:
  • 3 cups Gluten-Free all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance (or butter), cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup cold well-shaken coconut milk mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice (or 1/2 cup buttermilk)

For the Filling:
  • 3 cups 1/2-inch thick sliced rhubarb (about 1 pound)
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • large pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
To make the Crust:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.  Add cold, cubed Earth Balance (or butter) and, using your fingers or a pastry knife, work the butter into the flour mixture.  Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas. In a small bowl, stir together the egg and coconut milk/lemon juice mixture.   Create a well in the butter and flour mixture and pour in the liquid mixture.  Use a fork to bring to dough together.  Try to moisten all of the flour bits.  On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture.  It will be moist and shaggy.  Sprinkle generously with flour. Shape dough into two disks and wrap in plastic wrap.  Allow dough to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.  Dough is easiest to roll out when it’s cold and rested.

To make the Filling:

Toss together the rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, corn starch, salt, and lemon juice.  Toss until all ingredients are well coated.  Allow mixture to rest in the fridge while you roll out the pie crust.

To assemble to Pie:

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

When you’re ready to roll out the crust, on a well-floured work surface, gently roll out the pie crust into about an 11-inch circle.  Press together any spots that might tear.  Carefully lift down and place into the 9-inch pie plate.  Use a pairing knife to trim the edges of pie dough, leaving about 1/2 inch extra dough overhang.  Fill pie plate with strawberry rhubarb filling.  Brush edges of the pie dough with a bit of water.  Repeat the dough rolling process and slice the rolled dough into one inch strips. Carefully place every other strip in parallel lines across the pie, leaving one inch spaces in between. Fold back alternating strips and place the remaining strips perpendicularly across the others, one at a time, folding the strips down between strips. If that made no sense at all, check out this tutorial (it's got tons of pictures).  Trim edges to 1/2-inch overhang.  Fold the excess dough under and crimp with fingers, pressing together.

Brush top of pie with beaten egg.  Sprinkle generously with granulated sugar.  Place pie on prepared baking pan and place in the oven.  Bake on 425 degrees F for 10 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 30-55 minutes (mine took a lot longer than the original recipe called for) or until crust is a gorgeous golden brown, and the juices are bubbling from the pie. Remove from the oven and allow pie to cool to room temperature before slicing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Beach Eats


We spent last weekend at the beach near Sargent, Texas (which is near Bay City, which is kind of near Houston). It was lovely and quiet and just so good. The first night there, we ate a crawfish boil courtesy of my brother-in-law's dad, Vince, who is an absolutely amazing cook. This photo is of the kid-friendly batch of crawfish, and it was still delicious, but the real batch came out after the sun had set (so no pictures) and oh my god was it good.  Spicy, salty, rich, and buttery. We ate pounds of the stuff.


My sister makes a phenomenal pasta salad.  She's got a couple tricks- she uses tortellini instead of regular pasta (amazing) and makes a pesto heavy on the walnuts and parmesan. The whole thing is rich and creamy and delightful, and is enlivened by bursts of lemon-y asparagus, briny olives, and sweet roasted tomatoes.


Cheddar and Black Pepper Cornbread! So good! It's got a lot of sugar, and Jeff said it tasted like a big corn cookie- he's so right!


A strawberry rhubarb pie with coconut and oat crisp topping. Delicious! My May pie of the month is a gluten and dairy free version with a lattice top- I'll post it soon.


 Dinner the next night was fish tacos featuring giant snapper caught by Jordan on an earlier trip and grilled up beautifully by Jeff. This is my sister's delicious mango salsa.


All the cheese!


My gluttonous plate!


More tacos!

It was such a lovely and relaxing weekend with great food and friends. We were completely offline that weekend, and it was the first time in ages for me to be so- it felt so nice. We played all day and my little family all went to bed at the same time at night and I just felt so happy and connected.  Will strive to live that way a bit more often in our regular lives!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Strawberry Ginger Pie (Gluten and Dairy Free)


This was my very first strawberry pie. I mean, I've had the sort of semi-homemade cafeteria icebox strawberry pie where you mix halved strawberries with jello and top it with some sort of non-dairy whipped topping affair, and yeah, that's ok. But a pie with cooked strawberries? You just never see them do you? I always assumed it was because cooked strawberries in a pie just weren't that great- that they should really be kept bright and fresh. Boy, was that wrong! I'm here to tell you that strawberry pie is amazing. I'm going to spend the rest of my life making strawberry pies! The strawberry flavor intensifies, but they keep their beautiful bright red luster. And this fluffy crust, brushed with egg yolk and sprinkled with sugar is very much like a great strawberry shortcake biscuit. It's a juicy pie, but it'll still slice pretty cleanly, and the juice will be more like a lovely little pool to drag your fork through after you've finished your slice than a messy nuisance. This recipe is adapted only slightly from Joy the Baker's recipe, which calls for freshly grated ginger in the filling. Don't skip this! I thought about omitting it because it seemed a little fussy, but the ginger flavor just goes perfectly with the strawberries and keeps it from being too sweet and simple.  

Oh yeah, and this is my April pie :/ Please pretend it's not already May.

Strawberry Ginger Pie
adapted very slightly from Joy the Baker

For the Crust:

  • 3 cups Gluten-Free all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance (or butter), cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup cold well-shaken coconut milk mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice (or 1/2 cup buttermilk)

For the Filling:

  • 5 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (do a bit less if your strawberries are sweet)
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca starch or cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger 
  • 1 large egg, beaten and granulated sugar for topping the unbaked pie


To make the Crust:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.  Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers or a pastry knife, work the butter into the flour mixture.  Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas. In a small bowl, stir together the egg and coconut milk/lemon juice mixture.   Create a well in the butter and flour mixture and pour in the liquid mixture.  Use a fork to bring to dough together.  Try to moisten all of the flour bits.  On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture.  It will be moist and shaggy.  Sprinkle generously with flour. Shape dough into two disks and wrap in plastic wrap.  Allow dough to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.  Dough is easiest to roll out when it’s cold and rested.

To make the Filling:

Toss together strawberries, sugar, tapioca starch, lemon juice, salt, nutmeg, and ginger.  Toss until all ingredients are well coated.  Allow mixture to rest in the fridge while you roll out the pie crust.

To assemble to Pie:

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

When you’re ready to roll out the crust, on a well-floured work surface, gently roll out the pie crust into about an 11-inch circle.  Press together any spots that might tear.  Carefully lift down and place into the 9-inch pie plate.  Use a pairing knife to trim the edges of pie dough, leaving about 1/2 inch extra dough overhang.  Fill pie plate with strawberry filling.  Brush edges of the pie dough with a bit of water.  Repeat the dough rolling process and carefully place second crust on top of filled pie dough.  Trim edges to 1/2-inch overhang.  Fold the excess dough under and crimp with fingers, pressing together.

Brush top of pie with beaten egg.  Sprinkle generously with granulated sugar.  Cut 4 small vent holes in the top of the pie.   Place pie on prepared baking pan and place in the oven.  Bake on 425 degrees F for 10 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 30-55 minutes (mine took a lot longer than the original recipe called for) or until crust is a gorgeous golden brown, and the juices are bubbling from the pie. Remove from the oven and allow pie to cool to room temperature before slicing.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Torchy's-Inspired Fried Egg Breakfast Tacos (with bonus recipes from Ginger's Kitchen!)


Learning about Torchy's secret menu is like being handed the key to a city made of candy. It feels like dancing through streets made of spicy breakfast meats with rivers of poblano cream sauce. In other words, it is exciting. These tacos are outrageously over-the-top. In my pre-secret-menu innocence, my favorite taco was the green chile pork. Essentially shredded pork in a corn tortilla. The secret menu version, Missionary-style green chile pork, adds pickled red onions, guacamole, jack cheese, and chipotle sauce, and then the whole thing is deep fried so the corn tortilla gets beautifully crisp, and then that's wrapped in a flour tortilla so your hands don't get greasy. It's deliciously clever. Another taco, the Jack of Clubs, is easier to recreate at home and just as delicious. It's black beans, potatoes, a fried egg, tortilla strips, jack cheese, sour cream, and cilantro. I am so enamored with the missionary-style technique of combining a fried corn tortilla with a soft flour one that I added that technique to this taco, in lieu of the crunchy tortilla strips on the Torchy's version. I omitted the potatoes (which almost seemed mashed in the Torchy's taco and were quite tasty) because the taco was a lot easier to make without them, but you should add them if you've got the time.

I made this the taco in my friend Abbie's kitchen, with a group of fellow food52ers. We call ourselves Ginger's Kitchen (after Abbie's sweet pup) and bounce ideas off of each other and come up with collaborative recipes.  Here are the two we developed that morning for that week's food52 contest, Your Best Weekday Breakfast. None of our recipes were selected as possible finalists, but I can assure you they were all quite tasty!


Johnny McGriddle Sandwich
Our homemade spin on a McDonald's McGriddle, replacing the pancakes with johnny cakes (cornmeal pancakes) and the sausage with a Mexican chorizo patty.  There's maple sugar in the pancake batter, but you could go the extra step of making your own maple sugar crystals, which will then melt into delicious pockets of syrup in your finished pancake a la this recipe- it's easier than it sounds and so good!


S'More Grilled Cheese, Please
A grilled "cheese" sandwich featuring cream cheese, almond butter, dark chocolate, and strawberries. I can assure you that you won't be disappointed if you put chocolate on bread and grill it in butter. The rest of the ingredients are definitely gilding the lily, but we devoured it all the same!

The Ultimate Fried-Egg Breakfast Taco
inspired by Torchy's Jack of Clubs taco

makes 2 hearty tacos
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 corn tortillas
  • 2 flour tortillas
  • 1 cup cooked black beans (canned or homemade, recipe follows)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar or jack cheese
  • 1 handful of cilantro
  • 1/2 lime
  • pickled jalapenos
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  1. Get out two skillets. Heat both over medium heat. Put a flour tortilla in one and toast it a bit on both sides until it has puffed up. Repeat with the second flour tortilla. Meanwhile, put the 2 tablespoons of oil in the other skillet and, when the oil is hot and shimmery, put a corn tortilla in and shallow-fry it on both sides, until it has crisped up a bit but is still malleable, about 30 seconds per side. Repeat with the second corn tortilla. Put one flour tortilla on each of two plates and top each with the fried corn tortilla. (Yes, each taco will have two tortillas!) 
  2. When the tortillas are done, put the black beans and a splash of their cooking liquid into the dry pan where you toasted the flour tortillas and heat them gently and season to taste. Melt the tablespoon of butter in the pan where you fried the corn tortillas (leaving the remaining oil in the pan) and crack in two eggs. Cover this pan with a lid and cook until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny, about 2-4 minutes (check them often!). You might need to spoon some of the fat in the pan over the top of the whites to finish them off. 
  3. Assemble the tacos by spooning some of the black beans onto the tortillas and top with a sprinkling of cheddar. Put the fried egg on next and season with salt and pepper. Put a good handful of cilantro on next and squeeze some lime juice over it, and then add 3-4 pickled jalapeno slices. Enjoy!
Great Homemade Black Beans

This is the same basic formula I use for any kind of bean (pinto, cannelini, garbanzo) and it works beautifully with all of them. I don't always include the bacon strip but it adds a wonderful hint of smokiness.
  • about 1 pound dried black beans, soaked in plenty of water overnight
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 slice of bacon
  • Kosher salt
Put the soaked beans in a large dutch oven and cover with two inches of cold water. Add the bay leaves, garlic, and bacon slice, and then season the water with plenty of kosher salt (as much salt as you would use for pasta water- several tablespoons). Bring the pot to a boil over high heat and then lower the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the beans are done, 1-2 hours. (I prefer to transfer the covered pot of beans to a 300 degree oven after they've come to a boil because that keeps it at a very even and gentle simmer without having to constantly monitor and regulate your stove's burner.) Test your beans at the one hour mark by eating a few- they should be soft and creamy. If not using all the beans right away, transfer them to mason jars and cover with their cooking liquid.  You can freeze them like that too.