Category Archives: holiday

Coconut Pumpkin Pie with an Almond Crust

I better get a move on with all these recipes. Christmas is almost here and I’m still trying to catch upon everything from Thanksgiving! So I’ll keep this post short and sweet.

What: Coconut Pumpkin Pie with an Almond Crust

Where: From 101 Cookbooks

Why it’s special: The filling is made with coconut milk and the edge is lined with roasted almond paste. (The paste SHOULD have been a spread for the crust, but I forgot and only remembered last minute to use it.)

Coconut Pumpkin Pie (recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks and Butter)

INGREDIENTS

Crust (Makes enough for 2)

3 cups plain flour
1/2 cup super fine sugar
1 1/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 egg yolks
4 tbsp cold water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling

2 cups hazelnuts (divided) , toasted (I used almonds.)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spic
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon arrowroot (or cornstarch)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 extra large eggs PLUS one for glaze, lightly beaten
1 cup coconut milk

METHOD

For the crust

  1. Put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor or stand mixer. Mix on a low speed until mixture resembles very coarse breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the egg yolks, cold water and vanilla, and process until a dough forms.
  3. Form two disc from the  dough and wrap each separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

For the nut paste

  1. Puree 1 1/2 cups of the toasted hazelnuts in a food processor until they turn into a hazelnut paste, past the ‘crumble’ stage. Set aside.
  2. Chop the remaining 1/2 cup of hazelnuts and set aside separately, these will be sprinkled on top after the pie is baked. (I forgot this entire part and only as an afterthought did I use the paste to line the edge of the pie. Spread on the crust would have been better.)

For the filling

  1. To make the pumpkin pie filling, whisk together the brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice blend, salt and arrowroot. Stir in the pumpkin puree, and vanilla. Now stir in the eggs and coconut milk until just combined. Set aside.

Assembly

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. When you are ready to make your pie, remove one of the discs of pastry from the fridge. (The other you can save for your next pie.)
  2. On a lightly floured surface, or between two sheets of baking paper, roll out the dough until it is big enough to line your pie dish.
  3. Lightly flour the dough and gently roll it up onto your rolling pin. Then unroll it into your pie dish, easing it in and pressing it into any edges. Trim the excess pastry, leaving a 2cm (1 inch) overhang.
  4. Before filling the pie crust, crumble the hazelnut paste on top of the pie dough into the pie plate, quickly and gently press it into a thin layer across the bottom creating a layer of hazelnuts that will sit between the dough and the filling. Using the last egg gently brush the decorative edges of the pie dough. Use a fork to prick the pie dough a few times to prevent air bubbles.
  5. Fill the pie crust with the filling and bake for about 50 minutes – the center of the pie should just barely jiggle when you move the pie – the edges should be set.
  6. Let the pie cool a bit, this makes slicing less messy. Serve straight or with a dollop of bourbon-spiked, sweetened whipped cream or creme fraiche and a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts.

Someone's excited for pie!


Classic Apple Pie with a Braided Crust

There are no surprises when it comes to apple pie, which is probably one of the reasons it’s such a classic and beloved dessert. Flaky crust; sweet and tart filling–a good one will soothe and fill every heart, soul and tummy with content!

That said, this pie did surprise me: First, by it’s interesting cook-before-you-bake filling and second, by its overwhelming popularity. It was more popular than the coconut pumpkin (recipe to come soon) AND I was asked to make a second, larger one just two days later!

It’s basically one recipe I used here, from Butter. The filling requires stewing before baking, which was a new concept to me. I was worried that the apples would end up a smushy mess, but they didn’t. They totally held they’re shape. The cooking softened the tartness and allowed the juices and spice to really marry and develop. As for the crust, it’s basic and really good–flaky, buttery, light. As with any crust, just be careful not to over work it when you roll it out–it’ll be hard and heavy if you do. The cool shaping into braids idea came from Food For My Family. I saw her photo on Tastespotting and decided to try to recreate it the effect. It turned out to be super simple and so very delicate and pretty!

I love this pie: yummy filling, lovely crust. The first one was great and the second was even better! I threw a handful of raisins in with the apples. They added a nice juicy pop, I thought. Also, I was able to serve the pie still warm and it was awesome. I’d definitely suggest serving it warm if you can.

Enjoy!

Classic Apple Pie (recipe courtesy of Butter and Food For My Family)

Serves 8-10.

INGREDIENTS

Crust

3 cups plain flour
1/2 cup super fine sugar
250g (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 egg yolks
4 tbsp cold water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Apple Filling

8 large Granny Smith apples
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp cornflour

METHOD

For the crust

  1. Put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor or stand mixer. Mix on a low speed until mixture resembles very coarse breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the egg yolks, cold water and vanilla, and process until a dough forms.
  3. Take a third of the dough, shape it into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. This will be your lattice. Form a disc with the remaining dough and wrap it in plastic wrap. This will be your crust. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

For the filling

  1. Peel, core and chop the apples into 2cm (1 inch) cubes.
  2. Combine the apples, sugar, cinnamon and water in a saucepan. Cook, over a low heat for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The apples should be soft but still hold their shape.
  3. Drain the juice from the apples into a small bowl. Stir in the cornflour until it dissolves and return this mixture to the apples. Mix to combine. Set aside.

Assembly

  1. When you are ready to make your pie, remove the larger disc of pastry from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 365 F and grease a pie dish well.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, or between two sheets of baking paper, roll out the dough until it is big enough to line your pie dish.
  3. Lightly flour the dough and gently roll it up onto your rolling pin. Then unroll it into your pie dish, easing it in and pressing it into any edges. Trim the excess pastry, leaving a 2cm (1 inch) overhang.
  4. Fill the pastry shell with the apple filling.
  5. Remove the smaller disc of dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface or between two sheets of baking paper, roll out the dough until it is big enough to cover your pie dish. Trim the extra dough so that you create an even lip that just reaches the edge of the dish.
  6. Roll out the excess dough and cut into thin, long strips. Then braid and line the edge of the pie. Press gently to seal.
  7. Brush the entire pie with water or egg wash. Sprinkle with a little sugar.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes to an hour, until the crust is golden brown.

Pretty braided crust

Thanksgiving 2011

Our Thanksgiving feast 🙂

Savory…

Turkey, stuffing (my favorite), mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, mixed veggies and a deviled egg

 

To mop up the sauce…

Butter rolls

And then the sweet…

Classic apple pie and coconut pumpkin pie

 

Recipes coming soon!

 

Another Portland Thanksgiving

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I’m home again. I baked, I ate, I traditioned. After all that, I’m ready for sleep.

I’ll write about the pies tomorrow.

Ciao ciao and happy thanksgiving

Theresa

Heavenly Pear Custard Kuchen

When I’m an old lady with a dozen little grandkids at my knees, this is what I will make for them. The original recipe is actually from someone’s grandma, so you know it’s good. I changed it ever so slightly and only because I didn’t have all the ingredients listed.

Normally I like to use my favorite sweet pastry crust recipe for pies, but in her post, Jules talks about the cookie-like crust and how it is really the star of the pie, so I went with hers. You know, I’m glad I did because the crust really is something special—it’s crumbly, crunchy and full of sugar and spice. The custard is lovely too, not too sweet and tastes incredible in combination with the pears. Instead of the called for whipping cream, I used evaporated milk because that’s all I had. I don’t think it affected the flavor or texture very much. One thing about the pears: it’s important that they are soft. If you use canned, then you don’t have to worry, but if you use fresh, be sure to poach them first. I happened to have two fresh pears at home already, which is why as part of my prep, I peeled, halved and cored them and then poached them in water flavored with lemon juice and a little sugar until soft yet still firm. The original actually called for canned plums, which I’m sure would also taste amazing, as would perhaps apple and peach.

Grandmas always make things with love, which I suspect is the real secret ingredient to this pie. So make it with a full heart and share it with the ones you love.

Enjoy!

Heavenly Pear Custard Kuchen (adapted from Jules Food)

printable recipe

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup butter, at room temp.

1 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 can pear halves or 2 fresh, which have been peeled, halved, cored and poached

1 cup whipping cream (I used evaporated milk)

1 large egg, at room temp.

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate, smaller bowl, mix together flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder.
  3. Add dry mixture to the creamed butter and sugar and blend together. Reserve one-third for later use. Press the remaining dough mix into a 9-inch tart or springform pan.
  4. Distribute the pear halves over the crust. Sprinkle the reserved dough mix evenly over the top. Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes.
  5. Whisk together the egg and whipping cream (or in my case, evaporated milk).
  6. After the first baking phase is finished, pour the custard over the pears and continue to bake until the top is golden and the custard is set, 25-30 minutes.

Flan Napolitano de Queso (Caramel Cheesecake Flan)

I’m loving all things flan, pudding and custard lately. Originally I had planned on making an egggnog flan for our Christmas dinner, but then I found this recipe for a caramel cream cheese flan on Morsel & Musings and just had to make it.

Flan-making is pretty standard: prepare caramel, mix liquids, steam-bake and chill for a few hours/overnight. Variation comes in the form of all the different milks, creams and extracts you put in. For Thanksgiving, I used coconut milk, condensed milk and coconut flakes, which yielded a smooth, lighter pudding. This time I used cream cheese, condensed milk and evaporated milk, which resulted in a denser, creamier and tangier flan. Other possible variations could be to use eggnog, pumpkin, soft cheeses, (mascarpone or ricotta perhaps), yogurt or quark, chocolate, or different extracts (vanilla bean, almond, hazelnut, rosewater, pistachio, etc.)

Rich, decadent and silky smooth is how I would describe this flan.

And it tastes just as good as it looks!

Enjoy!

Flan Napolitano de Queso (Caramel Cheesecake Flan)

recipe slightly adapted from Morsel & Musings

printable recipe

INGREDIENTS

6 eggs

1 can evaporated milk

1 can sweetened condensed milk

250ml (1 cup) milk

250g cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

3/4 cup sugar

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 355 F/180 C.
  2. Carefully melt the sugar in a saucepan and allow to brown gently to form a caramel. Pour into a cake tin or flan mold. (I used a 8″ x 8″ x 1-1/2″ square pan).
  3. Mix all of the other ingredients together in a blender.
  4. Add the blended ingredients into the tin on top of the caramel, then cover tightly with aluminum foil. (Oops, forgot to do this. Luckily no harm done.)
  5. Place inside a bain-marie in the oven for approximately 50 minutes or when an inserted knife or skewer comes out clean.
  6. Leave to set in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  7. When cooled, turn upside down and serve.

Home for Christmas

It’s only been a month since I was last in Portland. Oh, but there’s no place like home, especially during the holidays.

This Christmas was quiet. My brother is still far away in Laos, investigating his positionality and at the same time charming people, meeting monks and wondering why the burden on his shoulders keeps getting heavier. So it was just the four of us, plus a family friend and the exchange student from China, this year. There was no turkey, much to the disappointment of my sister, and as my dad said, “we’re not ham people”. Instead, there was Japanese Butter Yaki Salmon, Peruvian Papas a la Huancaina, Japanese Chirashi Zushi, Japanese Sesame Spinach (horensou gomae), Green Bean Casserole (my sister insisted) and salad, of course. For dessert, there was a Pear Custard Pie, Bread Pudding and Flan Napoletano de Queso. Not very traditional, but a feast just the same.

I’ll be posting recipes and pictures in the days to come. Btw, I do realize that the huancaina sauce is the wrong color. It should be bright yellow, but as I can only get dried Peruvian yellow chiles in Portland, it came out burnt orange instead. The dried chiles also altered the flavor a bit, though overall still pretty good.

To all my loved ones and dear readers, I wish you all happy holidays and a peaceful new year.

Theresa  (^_^)

Japanese Kabocha Pumpkin Pie

Finally, the recipe. I’m keeping this post short and only talking about the pie itself.

I know kabocha because I grew up eating it. My mom always braises it in soy sauce and sugar, which is still my favorite way to eat it. However, kabocha is different from pumpkin. According to Wikipedia, it’s not even pumpkin; it’s winter squash. AND in some cultures, it’s even considered an aphrodisiac. Wow, who knew.

Image courtesy of tainongseeds.com

So how exactly is it different? Well, it’s thick and nutty like chestnut and becomes caramel-sugary sweet like a sweet potato when roasted.  So you can imagine how this might change the texture and taste of your traditional pumpkin pie: slightly more dense, sweeter and creamier. As for the rest of the pie, I used my favorite sweet pastry dough recipe from TipTopf cookbook from the crust and followed a recipe found on The Delightful Repast for the filling.

Enjoy!

Kabocha Pumpkin Pie (adapted from TipTopf and The Delightful Repast)

printable recipe

Makes one 9-inch pie

INGREDIENTS

Sweet Tart Pastry / Muerbeteig

7/8 cup (200 g) all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

6 tbsp, plus 2 tsp (100 g) very cold unsalted butter, diced

2-3 tsp sugar

zest of 1/2 an organic lemon, grated

1 egg, at room temp., whisked

2 tbsp cold water

Filling

3 large eggs

1 3/4 cups kabocha pumpkin puree

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 12-ounce can evaporated milk

Sweetened Whipped Cream Topping

sugar

1tbsp maple syrup, optional

METHOD

Sweet Tart Pastry

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add the butter and with your fingertips, gently rub flour and butter together until evenly combined.
  2. Mix in the sugar and grated lemon zest.
  3. Make a well in the dry mixture. Pour the egg and water into the well and with a fork, very quickly whisk the flour into the egg (working from the outside in). Once the dough starts forming, use your hands to gently pat it into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and freeze for 15-20 minutes. (Or you can press the dough into the springform first—I put a plastic sandwich bag on my hand to do this, in order to avoid sticking and overhandling—and then chill.)

Filling

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F. About 10 or 15 minutes into the oven preheating and pie shell resting in the freezer, make pie filling by mixing all above listed filling ingredients in the order given in a medium bowl. (I threw everything into the blender and mixed.) Set aside.

Assembly & Baking

  1. When oven is ready, remove pie shell from the freezer and pour in the pie filling. As soon as you put it into the oven, reduce the temperature to 425 degrees; bake pie for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 40 to 45 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. After you’ve made pumpkin pie a few times, you can tell just by looking whether or not it’s done. It should be fairly firm but still have a little jiggle left.
  2. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Serve with whipped cream sweetened with a few tablespoons of sugar and a tablespoon of maple syrup (optional).


Peruvian Potato and Tuna Salad Rolls (Rollos de Causa Rellenos con Atún)

Causa is Peru’s version of potato salad and it’s also one of my favorites. It seems unfair to compare it to the yellow, mayo-laden, eggy stuff we have here in the US. Causa is actually more like a cold gratin with layers of creamy pureed potatoes, tuna (or chicken or crab), avocado and a garnish of tart olives and hard-boiled eggs.

The recipe I found in a newspaper article from The Olympian is excellent and seems pretty close to authentic (at least to me). Especially helpful is the explanation on how to make aji amarillo (yellow Peruvian chile) paste with dried chilies. You can find a lot of “exotic” ingredients in Portland, but it’s still rather limited compared to the selection available in bigger cities. Here in San Francisco, I can buy frozen aji amarillos, but in Portland, I only found dried, which are available at Whole Foods. In any case, the recipe lists the chilies as optional, but I wouldn’t dream of leaving them out; they’re used a lot in Peruvian cooking and also provide a very particular spice, color and heat to the food.

In making this, I should have paid better attention to the ingredients list. First, I didn’t use Yukon gold potatoes, which are a must because of the characteristic yellow color and texture they give. I used regular baking potatoes, which I found too starchy and also a lot less pretty. Also, I forgot to garnish the top with olives and boil eggs; instead I used only chopped parsley.  Another thing I did differently, on purpose, is that I didn’t make mine in gratin form, but rather made mine maki-sushi style, i.e. rolled. I’ve seen it served both ways and since there was already so much food, I think the smaller pieces fit better.

I’ll definitely be making Causa again—it’s simple, comfort kind of food, which I love, but can be dressed up to be super elegant too.

Enjoy!

Rollos de Causa Rellenos con Atún (adapted from an article found in The Olympian)

printable recipe

INGREDIENTS

Potato Paste

1 1/2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes (ca. 8-10), washed and scrubbed, but not peeled

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup lime juice, or more if necessary

1 tbsp aji amarillo paste, optional

salt to taste

Filling

2 cans tuna, drained (I used white tuna in water)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp chives, finely chopped

1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

1 tbsp red bell pepper, finely chopped (optional)

1/4 cup frozen corn, peas and carrots mix, thawed and drained

salt and pepper to taste

2 medium avocados, peeled and sliced thinly lengthwise

Garnish

3 hard boiled eggs, cut into wedges or sliced into rounds

6 kalamata olives

METHOD

For the Potato Paste

  1. Cook potatoes until tender. Peel when still warm, then put through a ricer. Mix riced potatoes with oil, salt and aji amarillo. Add lime juice and stir the mix until the dough is soft and well blended. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

For the Filling

  1. Add mayonnaise, thawed vegetables, chives, cilantro, salt and pepper. Mix well and add salt if necessary.

For Assembly

  1. Maki-sushi style: Line a bamboo maki mat with plastic wrap. Spread a portion of the potato paste to the edges of the mat.
  2. Then, spread filling over the potato paste, leaving 1/4 inch space at each edge. Distribute evenly 1/4 of the avocado slices on top.
  3. Roll, pulling out the plastic as you go and wrapping it around the roll to finish. Repeat for remaining paste and filling. Place wrapped rolls on a platter and refrigerate. When ready to serve, unwrap and place back on platter. Slice into 1 1/2 inch pieces, sprinkle chopped parsley on top and serve.
  4. Traditional Squares: use a square baking pan, lightly oiled. Spread half of the potato paste in it, then spread the chicken filling. On top of the chicken filling spread the other half of the potato paste. Cover the baking pan and keep in the refrigerator until serving. Causa is a cold dish. When ready to serve, cut the causa into squares. With the help of a spatula, transfer each piece to a salad plate. Once on the plate, use the slices of avocado, egg and olives to decorate each piece. Each piece should have an olive and the same number of egg wedges and slices of avocado. (I didn’t add the olives or eggs; just topped mine with more chopped parsley)

Hint: You can make your own aji amarillo (yellow Peruvian chile pepper) paste with one pound of fresh aji amarillo and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Place aji in a saucepan with water and boil for 5 minutes. Change the water and repeat procedure twice. Cut, seed and devein ajies. You can peel some ajies to reduce spiciness. Blend with oil until you get a creamy paste.

As an alternative to fresh aji amarillo, you can use dried chilli-peppers (known as dried aji mirasol), which are easier to find outside of Peru. The procedure is similar to the fresh ajíes, just add some water when blending until you get the creamy paste.

Swiss Zuepfe

I’ve already posted about this incredible Swiss non-bread here. (I still think it’s bread, but in Switzerland, it’s just “Zuepfe”. Okay.) I’m just so proud…because it’s so preeeety! And seriously the only bread that works for me every single time. But here’s the recipe again, including U.S. measurements this time.

This was the perfect Thanksgiving bread.

Enjoy!

Swiss Zuepfe (recipe from TipTopf and also posted here)

printable recipe

INGREDIENTS

3 cups or 500 g all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp.

2 tsp active dry

1 1/3 cups or 300 ml lukewarm milk

1 egg lightly whisked, plus 1/2 an egg yolk

METHOD

  1. Warm the milk for 20 seconds in the microwave. Stir in the yeast and let stand for 15 minutes or until slightly frothy.
  2. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, mix flour, salt and sugar.
  3. Cut in the butter. Use your fingertips to work the butter and flour in together, creating a uniform mixture.
  4. Whisk together egg and egg yolk. Add half to your yeast and milk mixture; stir to combine.
  5. Make a well in the flour mixture. Pour in the liquids. Knead for 10 minutes (by hand or in your stand mixer) until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  6. Place dough in a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled in size.
  7. Once dough has risen, place it onto a clean surface and cut in half. Roll the dough back and forth with your hands until you end up with two  equal-lengthed 18-inch strands. The middle of the strands should be thicker and the ends, thinner.
  8. Braid the dough. Place it on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate and let rise for 15 minutes. (This last proof is optional.)
  9. Then with remaining egg, brush two layers of egg onto the dough.
  10. Place braid in cold oven, set oven to 425 F / 220 C and bake for 35 to 45 minutes.
  11. Remove the bread, knocking on the bottom for doneness. It should sound hollow. Allow to cool, then slice and serve!