Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Posts Tagged ‘vegan pie’

SOUTHERN PECAN PIE FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on September 9, 2015

Pecan Pie copyDOWN HOME PECAN PIE

Pecans are native to the American South, and you can bet those creative Southerners put them on the menu every chance they could find. Those delicious little pecans even made the South famous for its pecan pie, an irresistible dessert that makes ex-pat Southerns very homesick.

Many Southern families have their own treasured family recipe–possibly even some handed down from grandma’s or great-grandma’s secret recipe. Years ago, family recipes were so cherished many were kept secret.

I have great respect for those delicious heirloom recipes that bring families together at special times like the holidays. And I also love the way Southerners say pecans– south of the Mason-Dixon line they call them puh cons.

My holiday version has all the eye-appealing and flavorful attributes of its traditional counterpart with the added benefit of being totally vegan. But I must admit that veganizing the recipe was one heck of a challenge.

My first 8 attempts–yes, it actually took 9 tries to get it right–came out too runny or totally soupy. It was maddening and totally frustrating, but I was one determined gal. The goal was to find a way to thicken and bind the ingredients, as eggs would do in the traditional recipe. About the 8th time the top baked perfectly, and I thought I had achieved success at last. But, no! As soon as I cut into it, it was soup.

Taking the place of the eggs is a combination of tapioca flour and flaxseeds that gives the pie its unique, creamy texture. The tapioca flour also performs the double duty of thickening the filling as well as providing an inviting glaze that enhances its appeal. The key was tapioca flour –it worked like magic! Now I’m thrilled to share this recipe that’s from my cookbook The Nut Gourmet.

There are many ways to arrange the pecans on the top. Some people simply sprinkle broken pieces over the filling, but I wanted a pecan pie that was pretty darned eye appealing. If you have the time, start by sorting out beautiful pecan halves of similar sizes for the topping. Then arrange them side-by-side in concentric rings beginning in the center of the pie.

At serving time, make way for those pecan lovers who scramble for a piece of pie!

Down Home Pecan Pie

DOWN-HOME PECAN PIE

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie

Nutty Wheat Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup almond meal
2 tablespoons organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup organic canola oil
2 tablespoons cold water

Pecan Filling
1 1/4 cups coarsely broken pecans

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) dairy-free margarine
1 1/2 cups light or dark corn syrup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup regular soymilk
1/2 cup tapioca flour, packed

5 tablespoons flaxseeds
1 1/4 cups pecan halves

1. TO MAKE THE PIE CRUST, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and have ready a large rimmed baking sheet. Combine the pastry flour, almond meal, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and mix well.

2. Add the oil and mix with a spoon until all the flour is incorporated. Add the water and stir thoroughly until the mixture forms a soft dough and all the water is absorbed.

3. Form the dough into a ball and roll it out between two sheets of waxed paper. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper, place the pie pan over the dough, and invert the dough and pan together. Remove the waxed paper carefully and firm the edges of the crust. Trim the excess crust with a knife. Bake the Crust for 5 minutes and set it aside on the baking sheet to cool.

4. TO MAKE THE PECAN FILLING, put the coarsely broken pecans on a small, rimmed baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 8 minutes. Immediately pour them onto a dish to cool. When cool, spoon the pecan pieces into the bottom of the pie shell.

5. Melt the margarine over medium heat in a 2-quart saucepan. Add the corn syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla extract and bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Boil 5 minutes and set aside to cool for about 30 minutes.

6. Put the soymilk in a small bowl and stir in the tapioca flour. Set it aside for 5 minutes to allow the tapioca flour to absorb some of the liquid. Don’t rush this step. The tapioca flour needs a full 5 minutes to absorb some of the liquid.

7. Meanwhile, put the flaxseeds in a blender or mini chopper and grind them to a fine meal. Add the flaxseeds and the soymilk mixture to the cooled corn syrup mixture. Stir to combine, and pour the mixture into the blender. Blend for 1 minute, until smooth. Pour over the toasted pecans.

8. Top the pie with the pecan halves, arranging them in concentric circles, beginning in the center. Bake for 40 minutes. Cool thoroughly before chilling in the refrigerator. The pie will firm after it is thoroughly chilled.

Posted in Desserts, Holiday Recipes, Nut Desserts, pecans, The Nut Gourmet, Vegan Desserts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS ARRIVES WITH GOOD CHEER!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on September 17, 2012

My shiny new cookbook, Vegan for the Holidays: Celebration Feasts for Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, has formally arrived this month and I couldn’t be more excited! It’s a beauty!

After a few years of dabbling in a fun and deliriously wild exploration of holiday kitchen alchemy, I gathered up my multitude of little pieces of paper and tiny recipe notes and popped them into the oven.

And –would you believe–out popped this beautiful book of recipes for killer-delicious celebration dishes! Vegan for the Holidays makes Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day a divine season of grand feasting.

Vegans need never feel deprived and never have to resort to a mere salad while others at the Thanksgiving table chatter enthusiastically about the turkey. Now we can feast on awesome dishes like Savory Lentil Terrine with Mushroom-Wine Sauce or Pistachio and Sweet Pea Torte with Roasted Tomato Aioli.

Perhaps, the Thanksgiving Phyllo Pie will be the centerpiece dish at your family celebration.

Bask in the sweet paradise of Santa’s Favorite Panforte for Christmas or rich and savory Potato Latkes and Vegan Sour Cream for Hanukkah.

Dine on sumptuous servings of Mac ‘n’ cheese and Jamaican Jerk Tofu for Kwanzaa. Conclude the year with the dazzling, sweet and spicy Apricot, Date, and Hazelnut Sticky Pie on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.

For a mini tour, take a little peek inside Vegan for the Holidays:

Vegan Holidays Peek copy

For more information and to order Vegan for the Holidays, visit my Vegetarians in Paradise page http://www.vegparadise.com/veganholidays.html

Here’s an easy holiday appetizer that puts yuletide spirit on a plate and unveils your hidden talent as a sculptor. Make it mildly spiced or crank it up to muy picante with extra jalapeno chiles and a pinch of cayenne. Just remember to thaw the peas, then you’ll be ready to let the food processor do the work.

JOLLY GREEN CHRISTMAS TREE

Dip
1 pound frozen peas, thawed
1 (150ounce) can cannelloni or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons organic sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 to 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and coarsely chopped’1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powdfer
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Pinch cayenne (optional)

Ornaments
1/4 red bell pepper, finely diced’1/2 carrot, finely diced
1 green onion, white part only, sliced (optional)
1 whole star anise, or 6 whole cloves

1. Put the dip ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl.

2. Spoon the mixture onto a large platter and use the back of a spoon to form the mixture into the shape of a large Christmas tree. Decorate the tree with the bell pepper, carrot, and the optional green onion. Place the star anise at the top or arrange the cloves into a radiating star. Serve with baked tortilla chips, bean ships, toasted pita wedges, or your favorite crackers.

Posted in Appetizers, Holiday Recipes, Main Dishes, Uncategorized, Vegan Desserts, Vegan for the Holidays | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

ALL’S WELL ON THE PLANET HAZELNUT

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on December 14, 2009

Fortunately, I did not have to travel far to reach my destination. Planet Hazelnut, in case I hadn’t explained, is where the nuts are so robust and bountiful and irresistibly rich with compelling flavor I’m driven mad with anticipation. I can hardly wait to sink my teeth into those little darlings! Planet Hazelnut is where the sweet aroma of roasting hazelnuts sends such captivating drifts of fragrance into the air I can barely contain my well-trained good manners waiting for them to cool. Oh, so sorry! I just realized I had neglected to provide the geographical location of Planet Hazelnut so you could indulge each of your sensory receptors as I have. Planet Hazelnut is actually rather close by.

It’s in my kitchen and yours, too!

Playing Favorites?
By now you’ve probably figured out I’m a doting hazelnut enthusiast, as well as a lover of all kinds of nuts. People often ask what my favorite nut is, but how can I possibly choose one. It would be like asking which of my four children is my favorite. The honest to goodness truth is I adore them all—my children and my nuts! But hazelnuts sit on a special pedestal in my heart.

Because I’m admittedly fickle, I do have temporary love encounters with one nut or other at any given time; and my heart just might flit to another nut at the mere sight of it.

Yesterday, I was enchanted with HAZELNUTS, those precious little sweethearts—so round—so sweet—and so richly endowed with flavor.

While my usual preference is raw hazelnuts with their gifted fresh, natural sweetness and pleasing chewy texture, I do adore them roasted. Roasting changes them so dramatically I think of hazelnuts as having split personalities. Roasted, they literally charm my willing taste buds like a sorcerer working his wizardry. Their crisp crunch is instantly appealing, their flavor heightened and enhanced with assertive earthen headiness.

Blanching Hazelnuts
Taking full advantage of their alluring nature, I placed a hefty quantity of hazelnuts onto a baking sheet and tucked it into the oven at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. I wanted to prepare them for a unique dessert I had in mind for an after-theater dessert party. When I checked them after 15 minutes, I noticed their skins were beginning to split apart. That was my signal to take them out of the oven. Then, I blanched them by placing them on a double layer of kitchen towels. I wrapped them completely and allowed them to sweat for 10 minutes.

Next, I rubbed them vigorously in the towels to coax their skins off. Some were more willing than others, but the few that still clung protectively to their skins were not going to pose any problem to the finished pie I was planning. Finally, I placed the roasted, blanched hazelnuts into a heavy-duty plastic bag, positioned it on a firm cutting board, and whacked them into coarse pieces with a hammer I keep handy in my kitchen for such tasks. The chopped hazelnuts were now ready to join a host of delicious fruits in a tantalizing pie with a divinely chewy nougat texture.

The novel pie, I admit with unabashed immodesty, was ragingly delicious. Those roasted, blanched hazelnuts made the pie stand out from others by adding the defining element of crunchy nuance that most pies lack.

I simply couldn’t wait to share this wonderful dessert with all who adore hazelnuts. I trust you’ll savor it to the last crunchy tidbit.

Any time you blend dried fruits with hazelnuts, you’ve introduced the basic elements of an exceptional sweet treat. By combining the merry makings of four different fruits with crunchy, roasted, chunky hazelnuts and pecans, spicing them up, binding them with a magical medley of sweeteners, and voila!—you’ve created a stunning pie for the Christmas holiday! Because the pleasantly chewy texture of the pie is reminiscent of nougat, be sure to use a firm, serrated knife to cut into servings. It’s the perfect make-ahead dessert that keeps well in the refrigerator for up to five days. This is one dessert that’s a dinner host’s dream because there’s no last minute fuss.

FRUITY HAZELNUT STICKY PIE

Yield: 8 servings

1 unbaked 9-inch Flaxseed Pie Crust (below)

1 1/2 cups raw hazelnuts
3/4 cup raw pecans

1 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup tapioca flour

1 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup chopped dates
2/3 cup diced dried Turkish apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon orange or lemon zest, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon maple extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast them for 15 to 18 minutes. While the hazelnuts are roasting, place one kitchen towel over the other and place the towels on the counter near the oven. Pour the roasted hazelnuts onto the kitchen towels, fold the towels over to enclose the nuts completely, and allow the nuts to sweat for about 10 minutes. Remove the dark skins from the hazelnuts by rubbing them vigorously in the towels for about 3 or 4 minutes. This process is called blanching. Place the blanched hazelnuts into a heavy-duty plastic bag, position it on a firm counter or cutting board, and use a hammer to break the nuts into coarse pieces. Transfer the nuts to a large bowl.
2. When the hazelnuts are out of the oven, raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees and roast the pecans for about 8 minutes. Remove them to a dish to cool completely and set aside. When cool, break them into pieces and add to the roasted hazelnuts.
3. While the nuts are roasting, combine the brown rice syrup, organic sugar, and maple syrup in a 2-quart saucepan. Add the tapioca flour and stir well with a wooden spoon until the flour is completely incorporated. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow the tapioca flour to absorb some of the moisture. Boil for 5 minutes over medium heat, and then set aside.
4. Add the raisins, dates, apricots, cranberries, cinnamon, orange zest, and salt to the bowl with the nuts and toss well to distribute the ingredients evenly.
5. Add the lime juice, and maple extract to the boiled brown rice syrup mixture and mix well. Add the boiled mixture to the fruits and nuts and mix well to thoroughly coat all the ingredients. The mixture will be very thick and sticky.
6. Spoon the sticky mixture into the prepared pie crust and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside for 4 to 6 hours to cool. To store, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring the pie to room temperature before serving.

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Easy No-Fail Pie Crust
Pastry making has been such a challenge for me that for years I tended to avoid making pies at all. That is, until I came up with a few pie dough recipes I could consider friendly to the most timid of bakers. This easy pie dough is impossible to kill. Just toss the ingredients into the food processor and use your fingers to spread it into the pie pan. It’s that easy.

To pre-bake the crust for an uncooked filling, spread the dough into the pie pan and cover the dough with aluminum foil, shiny side down. Weight the foil down with a 1/2-inch thick layer of dried beans and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. The process is called blind baking. Remove the beans and allow the crust to stand about 20 minutes to cool before adding the filling. In my effort to be wisely frugal, I rely on beans I keep in the cupboard for this purpose. They can be used over and over.

FLAXSEED PIE CRUST

Yield: 1 9-inch pie crust

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
2 teaspoons organic sugar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup organic canola oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water

1. Combine the whole-wheat pastry flour, flaxseed meal, and salt in the food processor and process to distribute the dry ingredients evenly.
2. Add the canola oil and water and pulse and process until well combined and the mixture forms (a) dough that holds together.
3. Spoon the dough into a 9-inch pie pan and use your fingers to spread the dough evenly over the bottom and sides of the pan.
4. Fill the crust with the desired ingredients and bake 350 degrees until done.

Note:
For a savory pie or if you are eliminating sugar from your diet, omit the sugar completely. For a sweeter crust, add 2 to 3 additional tablespoons of organic sugar or brown sugar.

Posted in Blanching Hazelnuts, hazelnuts, Nut Desserts, Nut Recipes, Vegan Desserts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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