DDD #126 – Holiday Vegan Torta Rustica with Creamed Spinach and Chicken, Scalloped Potatoes & Sweet Potato-Butternut Squash Puree

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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OK – this one takes a few steps but all are easy & you end up with a GIGANTIC mound of all things savory & Thanksgivingy!  It is a bread course, sweet potato/squash dish, creamed spinach, scalloped potatoes & chicken courses – all rolled into one.  You can sub out the ingredients to suit your tastes.  This is basically an enclosed shepherd’s pie & is as versatile at shepherd’s pie is.

**PLEASE NOTE** – transferring this tart from the cooking sheet onto a serving platter might prove VERY tricky.  It will be very heavy – and the warmer it is when you try to transfer it – the more delicate that procedure will be.  It would SUCK to put all the work in – only to break it when you are ready to serve it.  If you don’t have two very large spatulas – and maybe an assistant – perhaps consider cooking this on something you can also serve it on.  Surrounding it with leafy kale (or other greens) at the base & a few cranberries & it will look festive & spare you the trauma of transferring it to a platter.  SERIOUSLY consider baking & serving from the same piece.  I am devastated just imagining what a failed transfer would do to my life – and I don’t want that for you.

Thanksgiving Vegan Torta Rustica with Creamed Spinach, Chicken, Scalloped Potatoes & Sweet Potato-Butternut Squash Puree

Feeds 8 easily

INGREDIENTS

for the soft tart dough

4 cups flour

1 tsp salt

8 ounces vegan butter

3/4 cup silken tofu – pureed (I just smashed it all up with a fork)

1/3 cup vegan milk

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for the creamed spinach 

1 small onion or large shallot – diced

1 lb fresh spinach

2 (9 oz) packages vegan chicken (I highly recommend Beyond Meat brand.  Best on the market!) – cubed

4 oz vegan cream cheese

1/2 cup vegan milk

4 slices vegan cheese (I used the Chao below)

S&P

Olive oil

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for the scalloped potatoes

2-3 medium potatoes – peeled & cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds

2 TBS vegan butter

2 TBS flour

2 cups vegan milk

7 oz vegan cheese (I used that Daiya)

S&P

for the sweet potato-butternut squash puree

1 butternut squash – peeled & cubed

1 large sweet potato – peeled & cubed

4-6 TBS vegan butter

Pinch of nutmeg

S&P

PARCHMENT PAPER for cooking

Vegan egg wash – small but equal parts agave nectar – soy milk – olive oil

GARNISH – kale (or other leafy greens) and fresh cranberries – to arrange around the tart.

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DIRECTIONS

for the soft tart dough

By food processor: Combine flour, salt & butter in a food processor using a metal blade.  Process with short pulses until the mixture is crumbly.  Add tofu with short pulses.  Add milk, gradually, with short pulses until it begins to clump and – eventually – orbit as a ball inside the food processor.  You might need a little more flour.  When the dough is formed – it will be very soft.   Gather it into a ball & wrap it tightly with plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least an hour but up to 3 days.  When ready to roll it out bring it back to room temperature and flour a work surface to facilitate handling.

By hand: combine flour & salt in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center & add the butter and the smashed silken tofu.  Lightly blend the butter & tofu with fingertips.  With a knife or pastry blade, cut the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until you have a crumbly mixture.  Gradually, add the milk – tossing with a fork until the dough comes together.  The dough will be very soft.  Add more flour if it is too wet.  Gather it into a ball & wrap it tightly with plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least an hour but up to 3 days.  When ready to roll it out bring it back to room temperature and flour a work surface to facilitate handling.

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for the scalloped potatoes

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a stock pot & whisk in the flour & a little S&P.  Heat until it just begins to turn golden then slowly add the milk – letting it thicken before you add more.  When all the milk is incorporated & it is still sorta thick – melt in the cheese.  Season with salt & pepper.  Toss with the sliced potatoes & place in a greased casserole dish.  Cook for 45-60 minutes or until it is bubbling & the potatoes are soft.  Set aside to cool completely.

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for the creamed spinach & chicken

Heat a TBS of olive oil in a saute pan & cook the onions until soft.  Add the spinach & let it wilt – then add the cream cheese & milk.  Heat until the cheese melts & you have a thick & creamy spinach.  Season with S&P & toss the chicken in & stir.  Set aside to cool.

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for the sweet potato-butternut puree

Boil the sweet potato & butternut chunks until soft.  I then drained them & mashed them with the butter, nutmeg and S&P.  Set aside to cool.

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to assemble the tart

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Line a medium bowl with plastic wrap.  A moderately deep & wide one is best.  If the bowl is too deep – your tart will be too tall & be more likely to collapse.  Also – be sure your bowl opening (at the top) is no wider than the cooking sheet you will be using to bake the tart.

Roll out 2/3 of the dough big enough that it not only lines your bowl but has overhang.

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DO NOT OVERFILL!  Only fill it to below the depth of the bowl.  The stuffing ingredients should be to warmer than room temperature.

Place a thin layer of puree in the bottom & then a thick layer of scalloped potatoes & then the rest of the puree.  Put the four slices of cheese on top of that then all of the spinach & chicken.

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Roll out the remaining dough so that it fits the top of your bowl & then fold the edges of the bottom crust over it & use a knife or fork to pinch it sealed.  Line a cooking sheet with parchment paper & invert it on top of your tart – and VERY CAREFULLY – flip it over so your tart is sealed-side down.  Be sure to put the cooking sheet with the parchment ON TOP OF your bowl & flip.  Do not try to just flip the bowl onto the cooking sheet.   This sucker likely weighs more than a turkey & the soft dough will not withstand that much pressure.  Remove the bowl & the plastic wrap.

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I sprayed it with cooking oil but found that did not give me a golden glaze so – mix up a little vegan egg wash (small but equal parts agave nectar – soy milk – olive oil) and occasionally brush the tart as it bakes.  Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until it looks nice & browned.

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Look how HUGE that thing is!  See the pastry brush?  That has to be 12 inches long.

OK – here comes a tricky part.  Let it cool a while before fussing with it.  Once anything that seeped out of it has pretty much cooled – run a knife under it to loosen the tart from the escapes bits.  I used an ENORMOUS spatula & the parchment paper to very delicately shift the tart to a serving plate.  It is a heavy & unwieldy thing – so be very delicate when handling this tart – get assistance, if possible.  If the transfer is too risky for you – consider just putting some leafy greens & cranberries around the base on the pan itself & serve this bad boy directly from the cooking sheet.  Better to go low brow than having this guy fall apart.

This should be served warm but is delicious at room temperature, too.

Happy vegan Thanksgiving!

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DDD #69 – Vegan 4-Layer Pumpkin – Cheesecake – Chocolate – Pecan Pie

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Click the image below to watch the video.


You can easily eliminate any of the layers without any great loss to the overall deliciousness of this pie – so – give it a try – why don’t you!

 

Please note – this pie needs AT LEAST 6 hours in the fridge (overnight being ideal) before you cut it so making it the day before is best.

INGREDIENTS

Vegan Buttery Pie Crust

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup VERY COLD vegan butter

4-6 TBS VERY COLD water

Chocolate Layer

1/4 cup vegan heavy cream (see heavy cream replacement idea below)

1 cup vegan dark chocolate chips

Cheesecake Layer
8 oz vegan cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 vegan egg (see my egg replacer note below)

Pumpkin Pie Layer
1 2/3 cups unsweetened fresh or canned pumpkin puree
1 cup vegan heavy cream (see heavy cream replacement idea below)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 vegan eggs (See my egg replacer note below)

Pecan Pie Layer
1 cup mix of whole and coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup light or dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 vegan eggs (See my egg replacer note below)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted vegan butter

Egg Replacer

I pureed 14 ounces of silken tofu & used 1/4 cup of it for each “egg” in the recipe.  You can do this or use your favorite egg replacer.

Heavy Cream Replacer

I used 1 can of full fat coconut milk blended with one can coconut creme.  You can do this or use your own favorite heavy cream.

 

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl or food processor, mix the flour & salt.  Slice the butter up & work it into the flour.  I did this in my food processor by pulsing it until it was all crumbly. Little chunks of butter in the dough are okay.  Add the water a tablespoon at a time until the dough just comes together.  Don’t add so much that it gets sticky or gooey. Wrap in plastic wrap & chill in the fridge while you prepare the pie filling layers.

PECAN – Combine the eggs (see replacer idea above), sugars, melted butter, corn syrup, vanilla extract and salt in a bowl.  Stir in pecans.  Set aside.

CHEESECAKE – In a medium bowl or food processor, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1/4 cup sugar, then add vanilla and 1 “egg.” Beat mixture until smooth.  Set aside.

PUMPKIN – In a large bowl or food processor, combine pumpkin puree, heavy cream (replacer idea above), the 2 “eggs,” vanilla extract, sugar, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and salt. Mix thoroughly until uniform.

CHOCOLATE – Melt the chocolate & “heavy cream” in a pan.  Set aside.

 

Roll the dough out on a heavily floured surface.  Flour the top of the crust if it begins to stick to your rolling pin.  Roll it out a few inches larger than your DEEP pie dish. Carefully fold the crust in half twice so it looks like a pie wedge.  Put it in your pie dish & unfold.  Trim the edges if you like & crimp the rim with your fingers.

When oven temperature is at 400 F, line the pie crust with a large sheet of lightly oiled/buttered aluminum foil, buttered side down, covering the edge of the crust so that it doesn’t get too brown. Fill the lined crust with pie weights, dried beans, or raw rice. Bake the pie crust for 10 minutes. Remove the weights and foil. Prick the bottom of the crust well with a fork and bake the crust for another 7 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden, but the crust is not fully baked. Cool the pie crust on a wire rack.  Turn oven up to 425 degrees.

 

When the crust is ready, pour the chocolate layer in & freeze for 20 minutes.

Next, pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the chilled chocolate layer, spread evenly, then freeze for about 15 -20 minutes.

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When the oven is 425 degrees, remove the pie shell with cream cheese from the freezer and pour the pumpkin mixture on top of it.  Cover the crust edges with foil & bake the pie for 10 minutes.  Lower heat to 350 & bake another 25-35 minutes or until the pumpkin is beginning to set but is still soft in the center.

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Remove pie from oven and carefully spoon the pecan layer over the pumpkin layer.

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Keeping the edges covered in foil, bake another 60-75 minutes or until the pecan layer is bubbling & set at the edges.  The center can still be soft.

Let it cool & then refrigerate for AT LEAST 6 hours – overnight being ideal.

 

 

 

DDD #64 – My “You Are Not Vegan Enough” Rant & Holiday Leftovers Shepherd’s Pie & 14 Other Ideas

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Ok – so I posted my Vegan Whole Turkey (seen above) – and the vegans on Facebook lost their collective shit.  Despite knowing it was a vegan item – I got blocked & banned & verbally assaulted SAVAGELY.  This video below is my response to the “You are not the right kind of vegan” attacks I got from the most self-righteous douchebags ever.  I also show you how I reinvented a bunch of random leftovers into and epic Shepherd’s Pie.

Below the video here are the 14 recipes I suggest as potential uses for your holiday leftovers.

Click the image to watch the video.

Thanksgiving Vegan Torta Rustica with Creamed Spinach and Chicken, Scalloped Potatoes & Sweet Potato-Butternut Squash Puree

Vegan Chicken & Mixed Vegetable Pot Pie

Vegan Spicy Chicken Enchilada Soup with Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

Vegan Marinated Chicken Banh Mi Sandwich

Vegan Horseradish Chicken Salad with Pecans and Jalapeno Potato Salad in Baked Wonton Cups

Vegan Chicken Salad Wraps

Cool Vegan Cashew & Cranberry Chicken Salad Tacos with Avocado

Sweet & Spicy Vegan Island Chicken with Pineapple

10-Minute Spicy Vegan Sriracha Chicken & Broccoli Bowl

Healthy Vegan Chicken Fricassee with Tarragon

Healthy Vegan Chinese Chicken Salad with Spicy Asian Dressing

Vegan Cold Chicken Piccata Pasta Salad with Asparagus & Spinach

Vegan Firecracker Chicken

Vegan Beef and Vegetable (Shepherd’s Pie) Empanadas

DDD #63 – Vegan Whole Roasted Turkey

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Click the image above to watch the video.

So, I have seen this bad boy in the freezer section of Lassen’s for years but was put off by both the $50 price tag & the fact that it claims to feed 10-16 and I live alone.  But, this year, I decided to review it for my Youtube channel.

 

While I did not really like either the gravy nor the stuffing that this came with, the turkey itself was REALLY easy to cook (just pop it in the oven for 40 minutes) and looked pretty decent & tasted really good.  Unlike a real turkey, all of the 4lbs of this turkey is edible (no bones etc).  It tasted great with my homemade vegan gravy and my vegan stuffing & 3-ingredient, raw cranberry sauce – all seen below.

Watch the video I posted above for the full review.  And check back for my recipes using leftover turkey.

 

DDD # 62 – Vegan Apple & Sage Stuffing

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Click the image above to watch the video.

This is super easy & really quite delicious.  I used a spice called Bell’s Seasoning – but I think this might only be available in the Northeast.  If so – just use poultry seasoning.

So – no fanfare today.  So much to do.  To eat.  To drink.  So I will just get on with the recipe.

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Vegan Apple Sage Stuffing 

INGREDIENTS

7 cups cubed bread (even gluten-free bread if you like)

1/2 cup diced shallots (or onion)

5 celery stalks – chopped

1 Golden Delicious apple (or any apple) – diced

10-20 sage leaves

olive oil

2 cups non-dairy, unsweetened milk

4 TBS vegan butter

1 tsp Bell Seasoning (or poultry seasoning)

1 tsp dry sage

1 tsp each S&P

2 vegan egg replacements (or other vegan alternative – like – 1/2 cup pureed silken tofu)

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DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the cubed bread in a large bowl.

Heat a TBS or two of olive oil in a large pan.  Saute the shallots/onion & celery until soft.  Add the apple & heat through.  Add this to the bread.

Add another TBS of olive oil to the same pan & fry the sage leaves until they begin to brown – turning them a few times.  Drain on a paper towel, crumble them & add to the bread.

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Melt the butter in another pan & add the milk.  Warm it & add the spices.  Add this to the bread.  Add the eggs to the bread & stir to combine well.

Grease a casserole dish with butter or cooking spray.  Put the stuffing in there & bake, covered, at 350 for 45 minutes.

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Remove the cover & bake another 20 minutes or so – until the top is crusty & golden.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!!

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DDD #61 – Easy Vegan Holiday Gravy

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This is easy & can be made in 20 minutes.  It is delicious & even meat eaters will delight in it.  I brought it to a Thanksgiving diner yesterday & the hostess tasted my gravy & chose not to bother making a turkey-based version for her carnivorous guests.  Everyone ate the vegetarian gravy & all were pleased!

Click the image below to watch the video.


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Easy Vegan Gravy

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup vegan butter (or vegan alternative or olive oil)

1/2 – 3/4 cup shallots (or onion) – minced

1/2 cup flour

6 cups vegetable stock

1 TBS soy sauce

1/2 tsp Marmite

1 tsp black pepper

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the stock in a pan.

Melt the vegan butter in another large stock pot.  Add the chopped shallots or onion & cook a few minutes letting the butter heat just to the point of boiling.  Add the flour & whisk it in until it is smooth.  Lower heat to med-high & brown the roux just a bit – whisking constantly.  ImageImage

It should get very thick very quickly.  Add the soy sauce & Marmite & black pepper.  Whisk them in & then slowly add the stock in small increments.  Here is where you can control how thin or thick the gravy gets.  Let it thicken before adding the next portion of stock.  When all the stock is incorporated – you can cook it down to thicken it more.  If it gets too thick – add a bit of water.  And there you have it!  Enjoy!

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DDD #60 – 3-Ingredient Fresh Raw Cranberry Sauce for the Holidays

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Click the image above to watch the video.

OK – I am not a fan of cranberry sauce but I always serve some at dinners during the holidays.  Experience has proven that my homemade efforts are never as popular as that ring-marked canned gelatin shit so, for years now, I have just given in & served that crap up & nobody has ever complained.

Then, this Thanksgiving, I was at a friend’s house & when dinner was served, this gorgeous stuff was among the selections.  I could not resist taking a small dollop of this scarlet creation.   See it there with my other vegetarian delights?

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And it was SO DELICIOUS that I had to ask my friend BJ, who made it, for the recipe.   She obliged & I am now sharing it with you here.  If you own a blender or food processor – this takes less than 5 minutes.  Are you ready?

Awesomely Easy 3-Ingredient Fresh Cranberry Sauce

1 package fresh cranberries (I tend to freeze the cranberries ahead of time but this is not necessary).

1 navel orange – cut into segments.  I remove the pith but use the rest of the orange including the rind.  (You might see some pith in the image below.  I suggest removing all that white stuff as it is the bitter part.)

¾ – 1 cup sugar, to taste

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24 hours prior to use in a food processor combine cranberries, orange segments and sugar.  I break it up into 3 batches as you want the orange and cranberry to be finely chopped.

Put in a non-reactive bowl overnight in the fridge.  I stir in the morning and taste for tartness.   If necessary add some more sugar, stir and place back in the frig.  Approx one hour prior to serving remove from fridge.

See?  No cooking required!

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Chocolate, Cheesecake, Pumpkin & Pecan Layered Pie with a Shortening-free Pie Crust

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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(Photo of the slice of pie above is from Parsley, Sage & Sweet)

I am not much of a baker.  I almost never eat sweets & I live alone so – making a pie or a cake just means 1) I get fatter and 2) lots of whatever I made gets thrown away.  The exceptions to this rule are birthdays & holidays.

Last Christmas, I made a Chocolate Cinnamon Cannoli Tart but if you click that link there you will find out how that tart met a violent & untimely end.

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This year, I worked all day on this barely tweaked adaptation of Parsley, Sage & Sweet‘s multi-layered pie & was petrified it would meet a similar fate or that I would drop it getting out of the car or tripping on steps.  I am happy to report that the pie made it all the way to the dessert table but before that happened – this happened:

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That is to say, we ate a LOT of food & consumed even more wine so that, by the time we were cutting into the pie, I was holding one eye closed to keep from seeing two of them.  Two pies, that is.  I was pie-eyed when it was pie time and, thus, took exactly zero photos of the pie once it got sliced up.  So, I have no lush portraits of the interior of this baby but I can tell you – it was delicious.

I can also tell you it took a long time to make but that was due to a number of factors.  1) I made the crust from scratch.  You need not do that.  You could use a ready made crust.  2) I roasted my Halloween pumpkin & made the pumpkin pie layer with fresh pumpkin puree.  This is a very easy step to skip.  Just use some unsweetened, canned pumpkin.  Easier still, use canned pumpkin pie mix.  3) each layer needs to chill, even freeze, before the next layer can be added or it will all blend together.  It will all get blended in your mouth when you eat it so taste is not the concern.  But, if the layers blend, it won’t look like what Parsley, Sage & Sweet achieved up there.

You can easily eliminate any of the layers without any great loss to the overall deliciousness of this pie – so – give it a try – why don’t you!

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Shortening-free Pie Crust

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup VERY COLD butter

4-6 TBS VERY COLD water

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, mix the flour & salt.  Slice the butter up & work it into the flour.  I did this in my food processor by pulsing it until it was all crumbly.  Little chunks of butter in the dough are okay.  Add the water a tablespoon at a time until the dough just comes together.  Don’t add so much that it gets sticky or gooey.  Wrap in plastic wrap & chill while you prepare the pie layers.

When you are ready to assemble the pie, roll the dough out on a heavily floured surface.  Flour the top of the crust if it begins to stick to your rolling pin.  Roll it out a few inches larger than your DEEP pie dish.  Carefully fold the crust in half twice so it looks like a pie wedge.  Put it in your pie dish & unfold.  Trim the edges if you like & crimp the rim with your fingers.  Put this in the freezer & heat your oven to 400 degrees.  From Parsley, Sage & Sweets:

When oven temperature is at 400 F, remove the pie shell from the freezer and line the pie crust with a large sheet of lightly buttered aluminum foil, buttered side down, covering the edge of the crust so that it doesn’t get too brown. Fill the lined crust with pie weights, dried beans, or raw rice. Bake the pie crust for 15 minutes. Remove the weights and foil. Prick the bottom of the crust well with a fork and bake the crust for another 7 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden, but the crust is not fully baked. Cool the pie crust on a wire rack while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

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Chocolate, Cheesecake, Pumpkin & Pecan Layered Pie

Chocolate Layer

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup heavy cream

Cheesecake Layer
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg

Pumpkin Pie Layer
1 2/3 cups unsweetened fresh or canned pumpkin puree (If using fresh – simply cut up & seed a pumpkin.  Roast at 350 for about 45 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender to a fork.  Puree with just as much water as you need to get it blended smooth.)
1 cup heavy cream (you can use evaporated milk, if you prefer)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Pecan Pie Topping
1 cup mix of whole and coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup light or dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the crust or use a pre-made one.  My crust was a tad under-cooked – as you see in these photos but it cooked up fine when all was said & done.

If making fresh pumpkin puree – follow directions HERE.  Set aside.

Melt the chocolate & heavy cream in a double boiler (or a smaller pan set in a larger pan with boiling water in it).  When blended & smooth – pour this into the par baked pie crust.  Put this in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1/4 cup sugar, then add vanilla and 1 egg. Beat mixture until smooth.

Next, pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the chilled chocolate layer, spread evenly, then freeze for about 15 -20 minutes.

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In the mean time, in a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, heavy cream, the 2 lightly beaten eggs, vanilla extract, sugar, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and salt. Mix thoroughly until uniform.

Remove the pie shell with cream cheese from the freezer and pour the pumpkin mixture on top of it. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes.

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Combine the eggs, sugars, melted butter, corn syrup, vanilla extract and salt in a bowl.  Stir in pecans.  Remove pie from freezer and carefully spoon the pecan layer over the pumpkin layer.

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Place pie on the middle rack of your preheated oven.  Cover edges of crust with aluminum foil or a pie crust shield if browning too quickly, but you will eventually have to cover it  to prevent excess browning some time toward the end.  Keep checking every 20 minutes.

Bake in 350 degree F oven for about 60 to 75 minutes.  It really depends on your oven.  The the pecan pie topping should be dark and bubbling a bit.

And – once you’ve done all this work – be sure to get some good photographs of the results before succumbing to your alcoholic desires!  You will want to remember this baby!

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Slow Cooker New Years Day Spicy Hoppin’ John (vegetarian – vegan) with Red Cargo Rice

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

Follow @celisemccarthy

I had a kinda tough year & an even harder holiday season.  Not as bad as some – but certainly bad enough for me to want things to take a turn for the better.  Hoppin’ John is a traditional southern dish, typically served on New Years Day to bring a prosperous new year.  Here is WIKIPEDIA’S explanation.  I didn’t add peas to mine but you certainly can & I love the idea of serving each bowl with a coin beneath it to ramp up the good fortune.

This is CRAZY easy to make & tastier than you might guess – even without the bacon or ham hock.  Still – if you like these things – feel free to add them.  I made these in a slow cooker with dried beans but these can be done very quickly on your stove top with canned beans.  Also – I made a shitload – mainly because I added too many chipotle peppers to my first batch – so I doubled the batch to lessen the heat.  I will post the recipe here for a single pound of dried beans, however.  If you use canned – use two pounds or so.

Also – I used red cargo rice because I already had some made & because I enjoy the crunch it has (and the extra fiber!) but a long grained white rice is traditional  – and, arguably, prettier.   I buy the red cargo rice at my local Thai market.  I imagine it can be found on Amazon – as everything can be had on Amazon these days – but do not feel pressure to use this specific rice.    White rice, instant rice, basmati, brown – whatever.

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New Years Day Spicy Hoppin’ John (vegetarian – vegan) with Red Cargo Rice

2 cups uncooked rice of your choice

1 lb dried black eyed peas (or 2 lbs canned – drained & rinsed)

1 medium onion – diced

3-6 garlic cloves – diced

4 celery stalks – diced

1 red bell pepper – diced

1 7oz can diced green chilies (optional)

2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo – diced (more or less – to your taste)

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 TBS ground cumin

1 TBS olive oil

S&P to taste

GARNISH OPTIONS:

2 tomatoes – diced

4 scallions sliced

fresh Italian parsley – chopped

Fresh cilantro – chopped

1 small red onion – diced

Avocado – sliced

Tabasco (or other hot sauce)

COINS (Pennies – silver dollars?  Your call) – for placement under each serving dish

DIRECTIONS

Cook your rice according to the package instructions.

If you are using dried black eyed peas – bring a pot of water to a rapid boil.  Add the black eyed peas & boil for ten minutes.  Turn off heat, cover & let stand for an hour.  Drain & RINSE WELL.

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In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil & saute the garlic, onion, red pepper and celery until the vegetable are soft.

The rest of the steps are the same whether you are going stove top with canned beans or slow cooker with dried beans.  The only difference is the time involved and the fact that the canned beans will need almost no water added.  The slow cooker beans will need a good 5 hours.  The stove top version could – arguably – be eaten almost immediately (but the longer it sits simmering – the better).

If you are using bacon – fry it up & the chop it.  If using a ham hock – I don’t know.  Do you add it to the black eyed peas already cooked?  I imagine so.

Anyway – once your vegetables are sauteed, you simply combine the already partly cooked beans with the vegetables, chipotle, green chilies, cumin, baking soda and S&P with (in the case of dried beans) 4 cups of fresh water (not the water used to cook the beans) – or in the canned bean instance – maybe 1 cup of water.  Stove top – heat until boiling, then lower heat & simmer covered until you are ready to eat.

For you slow cookers – I set my cooker at high, covered it & stirred the contents occasionally.  The beans were pretty tender after 5 hours.  In fact – they could probably take more time if you felt like it but I feared they would begin to break up & look like an ugly mush.   Taste – season with S&P – serve over rice with whichever garnishes you selected.

Pour a deep glass of wine or beer or bubbly & embrace the hair of the dog that bit you last night.

And – HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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