Friday, October 30, 2009

cuteness for sale

what does this have to do with food?

silly question. she's eating a gingerbread man. gingerbread men are cookies... men that don't cause you emotional stress. unless you are the type that stresses over eating cookies. then yes, they still give you stress. so avoid them. or just stop stressing about cookies.

my sister/roomie is selling some christmas cards on etsy. they are cute! buy them!

i feel like i need to post a gingerbread cookie recipe right here. but i haven't actually tried any yet, will do that this christmas. i did decorate some last year for work. they were fun. if you follow my blog, feel free to send me nagging emails about baking gingerbread men. maybe i should be politically correct here... gingerbread people? yes. i will make some gingerbread people this year.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

what i want in my kitchen

(photo taken by someone at not by me)

a french press that doesn't look like a french press? yes. i want this. it is awesome.

looks like you can get it at it is a 'cafatiere pura orange ceramic french press 8 cup.'

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

... and pumpkin pie again

thanksgiving: the time of year we roast birds that are way too big for our ovens and turn vegetables into sweet desserts. weird.

i like yams, but i've never really liked that sweet yam stuff that people make for thanksgiving dinners. i've never roasted a turkey, and honestly have no plans or desires to. i much prefer chicken anyhow. and i do have plans AND desires to roast a chicken this year yet. maybe for christmas? or my birthday... ooh... potential dinner party plans are developing in my head now.

i decided to forgo the turkey tradition (that i've never really followed anyway so its really not that unusual for me) and made waffles instead. i had some friends over for brunch and made a batch of traditional waffles, and a batch of vegan waffles (one of my best friends is vegan, so it makes me be creative and try more new things). the regular waffles fluffed up and cooked perfectly - although would have tasted better right off the wafflemaker instead of being let to sit in a pan in the oven to slowly get wimpy. the vegan waffles, however, had issues. they browned nicely and tasted great, but it completely split apart and baffled me.

i got the vegan waffle recipe at veganyumyum (a fantastic blog with beautiful photos), minus the blueberries.

(my kitchen after a day of waffles, pie, and lounging about. not pictured are the sink + another counter of dishes)

but my post doesn't have 'waffles' in the title, it has 'pumpkin pie,' so i shall now get back on topic. ahem.

so i made pumpkin pie. this tradition i upheld with much glee. i made 2 of them. one of them vegan. i wasn't exceptionally fond of pumpkin pie as a child, but i have been loving the crap out if it now that i have been making it myself.

lately, my go-to-pie-crust-recipe has been taken from simply recipes. for the filling i followed the recipe from joy of baking, but i have also used the crust recipe from joy of baking last year when i made pumpkin pie and i remember it turning out as well.

i'm not an expert pie dough baker, but i'll do my best to explain the basics of making pie dough, as i know it.

this one in particular is called a Pâte Brisée

  • 2 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4 to 8 Tbsp ice water
  1. first thing i do is cut the butter (if you want to make your pie vegan, this is where you substitute earth balance or another vegan buttery spread, in place of butter) into cubes and toss them in the freezer for a few minutes (wrapped in wax paper or something)

  2. whisk dry ingredients together (flour, salt, sugar) in a medium/large bowl

  3. throw cold butter cubes in and cut with a pastry cutter. (or if you're a rich, fancy baker, use a food processor). some recipes say you can just use 2 knives for this, but i've never tried it. if you don't have a pastry cutter or a food processor, just use your hands. it's quite fun to use your hands. cut until it looks like 'coarse bread crumbs'

  4. add ice water a little bit at a time, and 'toss' the mixture until it starts to stick together. if you squeeze some of the mixture together and it stays together, its pretty much ready. i generally use all 8 Tablespoons of ice water, though...

  5. form into 2 round disc shapes, plop onto parchment paper and refridgerate for a while. about an hour-ish. you can use it right away, but putting it in the fridge does something like relax the gluten or something technical like that. but you can use this time to make your filling. after 45 minutes to an hour, take the dough out of fridge and let it sit for at least 15 minutes before rolling. holding the dough with your hands helps warm it up quicker too. mm... body heat.

  6. filling!
    • 3 large eggs

    • 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree or 1 - 15 ounce can (425 grams) pure pumpkin

    • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whipping cream

    • 1/2 cup (110 grams) light brown sugar

    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

    • 1/2 teaspoon salt

    • whisk eggs in a large bowl. add everything else and stir/whisk. i added some nutmeg too.

  7. use the same parchment paper you used to wrap the dough in the fridge. put a bit of flour on it, plop the round disc of dough on it, and start rolling. make sure your rolling pin is well floured.

  8. (see pictures below)

8. (roll from center out, and try to keep in a circular shape.
roll until about 1/4 or 1/8th of an inch thick)

9. (roll into circle that is bigger than your pie pan.
place pan on top of dough, and gently flip,
then peel the parchment paper off and press the dough into pan)

10. (now you can pour the filling in.
and cut the edges of the pie dough off with a knife or scissors)

11. bake! in a preheated 375 F oven.
for 45 to 55 minutes
(until crust is browned and filling is set.
test by inserting knife one inch from the edge and it should come out clean)

12. serve with freshly whipped cream and indulge your senses.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

gluten free pie crust

my friend came over today to bake with me. since she has celiac disease, we did some gluten-free baking experiments. we tried 2 pie crust recipes.

the first recipe we got from the back of a bag of gluten-free flour mix. i don't remember the ingredients in the flour, but it included rice flour, guar gum, cornstarch, potato flour... and other things. i won't write about that recipe since i don't have it here.

the second recipe (the following one) i got from

  • 1 cup superfine brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch OR cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup amaranth flour
  • 1/4 cup white rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon cane sugar (OMIT sugar if making a savory filling)
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum OR guar gum
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ice water
  • 1 large, lightly beaten egg
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 cups) cold, cubed butter

  • cube the butter into small cubes beforehand, and stick them in the freezer (wrapped in wax paper) for a bit to make sure they are really cold
  • whisk/sift dry ingredients together in a medium or large bowl
  • cut in the cubes of butter with a pastry cutter (or use your hands or 2 knives. or a food processor if you have one and don't like to get your hands dirty and bake old-school) until it looks fairly evenly lumpy and crumbly (like coarse bread crumbs)
  • lightly beat eggs separately and add to flour/butter mixture, using hands or spoon to thoroughly blend.
  • add ice water and use your hands to combine. dough will come together (roll it around bowl to collect excess crumbs)
  • dough should stick together in a ball-shape when you squeeze it together.
  • divide into 2 discs and wrap each in wax paper separately. refrigerate for an hour before rolling (or freeze for later use) but take it out of fridge 20 minutes before using.
  • when dough is 'pliable' enough, roll between 2 sheets of wax paper, but be sure to still use flour! dough will stick to wax paper if you don't use more flour. if rolling pin gets sticky, rub with flour.
  • roll until desired thickness (1/8 inch or 1/16 inch thick), peel one layer of wax paper off and transfer to greased pie plate. peel the second layer of paper off and press into pie plate. now it is ready to fill with filling and bake, or to pre-bake it.

this pie tasted pretty fantastic (we used a pumpkin filling, suitably appropriate for next weekend's thanksgiving feasting), but i feel like there was a bit too much butter, seeing as the drip tray underneath the pie was pooling with grease.

i have baked a gluten-free pie before using just rice flour, salt, sugar, butter, and ice water, but it completely shattered on me when i was transfering it to the pie pan. it didn't just tear... it shattered. like glass. sticky, moldable, glass. luckily i don't care much for pies looking perfect, so i just patched it up, smushed it in the pan, and continued to bake it. i think using a thickener or starch with the flour is definitely helpful though. (such as guar gum, xanthan gum, arrowroot powder, cornstarch...) also the eggs definitely helped keep the dough together. but we will have to experiment a bit more to come up with a perfect gluten-free pie crust recipe. i am determined.

oh yes. we also made turnovers with some of the leftover dough. they tasted fantastic. we rolled the dough, cut out squares (approximately 3x5 inches), plopped jam in the center (and sugar because my jam was sugarless), brushed beat egg along the edges, and folded and sealed the edges together, to make a pocket. we baked those at 450 F for 15 minutes.