For when it’s too hot to wear clothes, much less bake…

mmm, frosty goodness

Ew.

It’s been one of those weeks where you get up and think… do I really have to put clothes on today? Dis.Gust.Ing. Too hot to live, let alone bake. I really am a pacific northwesterner in this regard: hot weather makes me nutty. Today I sort of decided to stick it to the weather and go take a hot yoga class, since I’d been sweating all day anyway. Surprisingly, it was a great idea: maybe there is something to that ayurvedic  idea of eating hot foods on a hot day? Huh. Anyway. After said hot yoga class, all I wanted was a dunk in cold water and one of these.

yum.

Yes.

No bake, for the WIN.

The solution for when it’s too hot to do much of anything and turning on the oven (or really even the stove, let’s be real here) turns into a capital offense. I had grilled cheese for dinner last night (although I did go gourmet with some sauteed veggies, ha) since I was so unmotivated to do much of anything except watch other people (i.e. Olympians) be ridiculously fit. Whatever, I made up for it with my yoga today, so there. And with these bars. These are FAB. And healthy, which is a bonus considering most no-bake items seem to involve some form of strange food product like cool-whip. Let’s not go there, shall we? Back to these:

cooooconut

Mmmm. Banana coconut bars on a nutty date crust. Naturally sweet and so frostily delicious. Bonus points for being gluten free and vegan, as well as refined sugar free. You also get a healthy dose of magnesium from the cashews, calcium from the almond butter, healthy medium-chain fatty acids from the coconut, and potassium from the banana. See? It’s like a complete summer meal in a bar (welllll…sort of). Wheee! Squat and gobble to your heart’s content, I won’t tell… even if you do it in a sports bra and running shorts because, like I said, it’s too hot to live or bother to look decent. Or to blog… this is all I got today!

drippy. LOVE.

Vegan Banana-Coconut Bars

I slightly adapted these from the DAMY health blog, here! These are frosty and best when straight out of the freezer. Easy to make, they come together in a snap and set up decently quickly, satisfying all kinds of crazy summer cravings (Besides, they’re healthy to boot!)

Poke around and scrounge up the following:

For the crust:

  • 1/2 c raw cashews
  • scant 1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 c pitted dates, chopped into smallish pieces
  • a tbsp or two of water, if the crust needs a little help to come together

For the topping:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • scant 1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut+ some for sprinkling
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 c organic almond butter
  • 1/4 c light coconut milk
look! another one materialized!

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together cashews, coconut, and date pieces until the dough comes together, with pieces of nuts intact. Add a tablespoon or two of water if it needs a little help. Spread this mixture in the bottom of a lightly greased pan (mine was 9″ square, making thinnish bars), flattening it out as you go. In your food processor once again, blend the topping ingredients, scraping down the sides occasionally, until smooth. Pour the topping on top of your crust, and use a spatula to spread it out evenly. Top with some reserved coconut, and cover with plastic wrap or foil (bonus points for foil, it’s recyclable!). Let set for at least 2ish hours before slicing (it should be firm). Store in the freezer!

Love tasty food. Eat. Feel magically cooler… ohmmmm.

eeeeeatmeeeee
one of the nicer parts of warm weather: these are all from my back yard!

Pie and my happy place!

Once again, a long hiatus between posts. But this time I have an extremely good reason:

I was here.

happy place.

Among other things, doing some of this:

like a boss.

And a ton of this:

dock yoga!

Yes. You SHOULD be jealous. Be very, very jealous…

Because this also happened:

the best place to do yoga? I think so! I’m on the left in the ridiculous shorts… 

My tenth year at the best, most beautiful place on earth: a counselor for the best campers; laughing, goofing (can I say we pulled the most amazing prank ever?!), singing, eating pilfered brownies whilst stargazing: a group of the most diverse and amazing women I have ever met.

And I came back with sore ribs from laughing so much. Camp is wonderfully restorative—-being covered in camp dirt for ten days always gives me a refreshed perspective on life back home. Camp = love! So much love. I already can’t wait to go back for my 11th summer next year.

pieeeeee!

Anyway—I got back Wednesday night. And all I wanted was PIE. Blueberry pie, to be exact. Don’t ask, I’m not exactly sure why… I do love pie, but it’s not usually my go to (I’m guessing this has something to do with the somewhat temperamental nature of pie crust and the comparative ease of cake, as well as my laziness). I think it might have been the lack of berries up at camp or something, but sheeesh… pie definitely needed to happen. I decided to get experimental and make a teeny pie, just enough for four people (I bought a new 6″ cake pan, since mine are sadly in storage in another state…I had to break it in somehow, didn’t I?!). I also dispensed with the top crust- I like crust, but a bottom one is enough in a small pie, and I wanted to see what happened when I halved the recipe. Great success! Half the crust recipe fit perfectly into a 6 by 2″ cake pan, and left just enough for a top decoration. I wasn’t sure on bake time either, but it turned out perfectly. I think this might be the best crust I’ve ever made—I credit Carolyn McCuaig and her awesome pies for the recipe! Pie is most assuredly happening with greater frequency in the wait…are those…cookies universe, now that pie crust has decided to be a tad more cooperative.

mmm., antioxidants!

Blueberry Pie

Simple and satisfying, and tastes like summer in a bowl. Do yourself a favor, and eat it a la mode, like any self-respecting pie should be eaten (especially for breakfast). Many thanks to Carolyn McCuaig for her pie recipes :) I’ll include the full recipe here. For a pie like I made, make half the recipe and use a 6″ cake pan.

Double crust:

  • 2.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 c vegetable shortening (like Spectrum brand)
  • 1/3 c butter (preferably unsalted, although I used salted and the crust was still really good)
  • 5-6 tbsp ice water

Blueberry filling:

  • enough fresh blueberries to fill your pie dish or tin of choice
  • 1/3 – 1/2 c sugar (depending on sweetness of blueberries)
  • 1/3 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • a squirt of lemon juice (I didn’t have any, if I had, I would have added it…but it’s still fab without)
ahh, pie a la mode. Summer in a bowl.

Listen to some awesome music and get yourself in the pie groove:

Preheat the oven to 425, and (if using a cake/pie tin) grease and flour the pan. In a largish bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter and shortening (the colder the better) until the mixture looks like cold sand. I like to use a pastry cutter for this. Add ice water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture just holds together, then pat into a flatish disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for a bit. You can roll it out right away, but dough that’s been chilling is easier to deal with. Meanwhile, toss blueberries with sugar and flour (and lemon juice, if using) to coat. When the dough has chilled (I left mine in for about 15 minutes), roll it out to 1/8″ thickness between two pieces of plastic wrap. Peel off one layer, invert dough over pie dish/tin, and press out the dough, crimping the edges as you go. Prick the bottom with a fork a few times, then toss in filling. If using a top crust, make sure to cut a few steam vents in the center.

Place the pie tin on a cookie sheet (to protect against spills), and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350, and bake for another 30 minutes (for a 6″ pie), or 40-50 for a normal sized pie, until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Let cool completely before cutting, to give the filling time to set up.

Eat. Love. Taste the summer and reflect on the people and places you love in life!

kind of weird with the sun, but I love how it makes the berries look.

Wait… has it been a YEAR…of cookies?!

Happy Birthdayyyyy to my BLOG! Thanks, Vati, for donating your fingers… 

Okay. Confession time.

Ready?

I missed my blog’s first birthday!! Sheeesh. I feel like a bad parent. BUT. I baked it a cake! And an adorable one (okay, two), at that. I had to celebrate somehow, and besides everyone wins when there’s cake around. But really, I thought wordpress might give me a heads up like, “oh hey, you’ve had a blog for a year, yeahhhh!” or something. Anything. BUT NO. So all of a sudden I realized it was July… and I had, in fact, started  blogging last June. Fail. Oh well! Absolved. By cake.

Candles smell like birthdays….

Besides… I’m quite proud of having stuck with this! A year(ish) ago, I set a goal to start a food blog. I didn’t really have any parameters regarding said goal, just that since I was moving into my own apartment for my senior year at Willamette, I wanted a way to keep my diet interesting and a push to try new things. Besides, I’d kind of wanted to start one ever since I had started reading blogs to begin with! Sooo… Wait are those…Cookies was born! In the summer, natch, so I could iron out any kinks before the crazy of school started. (And figure out creative things to do with mega boatloads of zucchini… heads up, zucchini season is almost upon us in the garden out back… consider yourself  appropriately warned).

AND it’s neon pink. For those who know me… this is an obvious no brainer.

Since I started posting mid June last year, I’ve posted 85 times (pretty good, considering the 92 page thesis beast that I cranked out spring semester), and had an even 4500 hits from across the world (who knew I was internationally interesting?! I certainly didn’t. Maybe it’s the irreverence)! Pretty good, for a blog that got started on a whim (and considering that I don’t really follow a regular schedule for this biz… I only post when the muses move me. Ha.). Anyway… throughout all this ridiculousness, I’ve learned lots of interesting tidbits… How to make lemon curd. And go through a jar of pb a week (oh wait. That is probably innate… never mind). And that you can bake cookies on your dashboard (personal fave). AND that goat cheese, while undeniably delicious, when paired with creme fraiche and tucked into a tart shell, is probably enough to put you and your roomie into an extended food coma for about a week. Whatever. Worth it.

even the aliens off to the right enjoy my cake! Ha. Beaming in?

So. I went from being an incoming undergraduate senior mildly concerned about thesis writing to a fully matriculated real person with a  BA in art history and the best job ever. Yoga benefits + active wear alll the time = too perfect for words. Thanks, not-so-baby food blog (you’re ONE year old!!), for feeding me through my misadventures in the kitchen and in life. Enjoy your cake :)

in profile.

Lemon Chiffon Cake with Lemon Curd and Whipped Cream Frosting

I made a half recipe in a 9 by 9 pan, and then cut rounds out for two baby, two layer cakes. The full recipe makes two 8″ or 9″ round cake layers. These can be sliced in half for a total of 4, if you like. I’ll include the full recipe here—halve if you want smaller cakes like mine. Don’t try to stack them too high though—I found the lemon curd to be mega slippery and one of my cakes was less than structurally sound. oops. I frosted mine with whipped cream, because it’s delicious. And pretty. Cake and lemon curd slightly adapted from Whole Living, here!

This cake is also decently not horrible for you: the cake (minus cream) is cholesterol free with skim milk, and has heart-healthy canola oil + lemons (ridiculously high in Vit. C and antioxidants). YAYY! A wonderfully summery cake, when you don’t want something heavy. It’s just sweet enough to satisfy without putting you in a coma…

lemon currrrrd

Putz around in your kitchen until you’ve acquired the following:

For the cake!

  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour, sifted*
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 c milk (whatever you have is fine, I used 1%. Non dairy I’m sure is okay too)
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 egg whites

*use the spoon and level method to measure: spoon flour into measuring cup, then scrape off the excess with the flat of a knife. Since this is a sponge cake, you want maximum lightness/airiness. Too much flour= heavy cake!

Frosting: 1 pint of whipped cream (or 2 pints for a full-sized cake), plus powdered sugar and vanilla (to taste)

For the curd*:

I’ll include the recipe for the curd I used for this cake, but I really prefer the curd I made before, even though it’s slightly less good for you. If you’re avoiding butter, use the one below, if not, I highly recommend this one!! If you don’t have Meyer lemons, that’s fine: just use regular.

  • 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 and 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1/2 c fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons, depending on size) + 1.5 c water
  • 1/3 c cornstarch (organic, if you please!)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
I recommend making the curd earlier in the day before the cakes, so that it has time to chill. (Or you can be like me and do it the morning a water main explodes at the top of your street, meaning no water for you! That was interesting…). Lightly beat egg yolks in a heatproof bowl, and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, lemon zest, cornstarch, and salt, and whisk to combine. Add in lemon juice and water, whisk until sugar and cornstarch have dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Cook two minutes. Reduce heat to low, gradually whisk a ladle-full of the lemon mixture into the egg yolks, then pour this mixture back into the pan (still constantly whisking!). Cook over medium heat for about 2.5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Let cool in a bowl with plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin; when cool enough, put it in the fridge to chill (at least an hour).
//

For the cake: preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease your desired pan. Cut parchment paper to line the bottom, and then grease that.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4 c sugar, milk, oil, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice. In a smaller bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Put egg whites into a non reactive bowl (I like to use the bowl of my Kitchenaide, plus a handheld electric mixer), and beat on medium speed until foamy. Raise speed to medium-high and gradually add remaining 1/4 c sugar + 2 tbsp, continuously beating until stiff peaks form.

Add half the flour mixture to the milk mix; whisk until smooth. Fold in remaining flour in three batches, alternating with the beaten egg whites (Try not to over-fold the batter; since the idea here is a light cake! But neither do we want pockets of flour… fold with purpose!). Pour the batter into the prepared pans, and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Mine came out perfectly at 18 (my gas oven runs *very* efficiently). Let cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack. Remove parchment paper, and invert again (so the cake is right-side up). Let cool completely.

While cake is cooling, whip yo’ cream! In that same non reactive bowl (hopefully cleaned of egg white reside, thanks), beat cream until it starts to hold shape… then add a few spoonfuls of powdered sugar and a glug of vanilla. Beat until it holds stiff peaks (not too far, no one wants butter!). It can chill for a bit in the fridge before frosting, but not necessary.

Stack with layers with lemon curd in between (beware slippage!), and frost with whipped cream. Can be stored in the fridge for a few hours, but try to eat as promptly as possible (whipped cream frosting looks prettiest when eaten sooner rather than later).

Eat. Love. BLOG!

heh heh

 

 

Back in the realm of relative normalcy (ish)

ooh goodness YUM

oooohhhKAY! I’m BACK! You know, you might have missed me if I’d been gone too long… and we can’t have that, can we?! Oh no.

Now that I’m back in the realm of relative normalcy (I say relative because really… am I ever really normal? Correct answer: NO), it’s time for seasonal baking and cooking! Which means that I’ve been effectively eating my weight in fresh fruit and veggies errryyday (hooray, summer!!), particularly strawberries and zucchini. I kind of forgot how in California it’s farmer’s market time basically year-round… I’m a naturalized Oregonian now! What is this weird sunny weather that persists allll the time?! Why do I have to go running at 6:30 am in order to avoid completely dying of heatstroke?! Pshh. Good thing I’m 99% sure I’m moving back up the Pacific Northwest… heaven forbid I get too tan! Hehe. But for reals, I LOVE the NW… it’s lovely! Weather included :)

ANYWAY. After that longish tangent, let me get to the point I was originally making before I interrupted myself: I love in season eating! So expect to see a lot of that around here these days.

Except today.

see? something green. To bad it’s not the subject of today’s post…

You see, here’s what happened: I made delicious zucchini cakes (AGAIN, mind you this is the second time), but they were FUGLY. And I was HUNGRY. Soooo… you get dessert, instead! I know, I know… you’re sooo disappointed. But really, don’t be. It’s FAB! And I’ll send some savories your way sometime soon, promise!

cheese. From the zucchini cakes. Because this way you can feel like I feed you something besides dessert.

Besides, this dessert is sneakily nutritious, which happens to be my favorite kind. Because who doesn’t love getting sneaky nutrients in a dessert?! These little muffin-tin cookies are vegan (with vegan chocolate chips, which I didn’t have), gluten free, and sugar free! Can’t go wrong with that… especially when you eat them with ice cream! Ha. I suppose if you wanted to be completely virtuous, you could rustle up some healthier non-dairy frozen sub… but I was too lazy. If chickpeas in cookies freak you out, tough beans! Ha. Juuust kidding. Don’t worry, you wouldn’t know they were in there unless I told you :)

Because ice cream makes everything better!

Sneakily Healthy Muffin-tin Cookies (Aka Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookies)

I adapted my version from Chocolate Covered Katie. She prefers a link rather than a write-out, so you’re going to have to go visiting for the full recipe… clicky click click! It’s delicious, promise! Click the link for the original post; my notes are below.

gooey deliciousness

Yield: 5 muffin/cookie/things

  • I made a 1/2 recipe, as per usual, and baked them in muffin tins (I got 5).
  • Bake at 350 for somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes, depending on size and desired gooeyness (they’re vegan, so no worries on freakydeaky uncooked eggs)
  • All the ingredients halve easily, so no problems there. Use whatever smaller pan floats your boat—when I unearth my six-inch baby cake pans, I’ll probably make it again in those.
  • I used 1.5 tbsp olive oil.
  • If dates aren’t your thing, go ahead and sub in brown sugar (I’d say somewhere around 1/2 c for the same level of sweetness), but I prefer dates. It keeps things all natural and a bit more virtuous :). I used 4 medjool dates, pitted and chopped into smaller pieces.
  • I used chickpeas, but I’d like to try this again with cannellini beans for something different!
ice cream-less… but what’s the fun in that?!

Graduation go-time and curry cookies!

you can have a picture of me in it, after Sunday!

Cap, gown, stole and tassel? Check.

Mortar board covered in red glitter and a puffy painted anchor? Check.

Honor cords acquired? Check.

Imminent familial arrival? Check.

Pre-graduation nerves and free time resulting in inventive baking and cooking? MEGA CHECK.

Last blog post before the merriment of commencement commences? Probably check.

thanks, Willamette!

It’s happeninggggg!!! This Sunday I graduate from Willamette University with a BA in Art History magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and with departmental honors. Yesssssss! I had to brag, just a little! I still can’t believe it’s happening. It probably won’t hit me until after it happens, at which point it likely won’t feel real either, ha! Jeez, I thought I had copious amounts of free time after I finished thesising?! I have sooo much now (at least until tomorrow when all the fun starts), I don’t know what to do with myself! Oh wait… yes I do. Cook and bake! Duh. I’ve made some super tasty yummies the last few days, but unfortunately they escaped into my stomach before being photographed. BUT. I’m fully intending on making most of them again, so maybe at some point they’ll make it on here.

coookies! But… can you tell me what the curry is doing lurking in the picture?

Anyway… today when I was sitting around post-running trying to figure out what to do with myself, I stumbled upon these cookies. And had one of those moments where I was suddenly fixated on them and determined to make them, despite already having made red wine chocolate cookies yesterday (but whatever, irrelevant, since they’re almost gone). These are pretty much the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the red wine ones… They have CURRY in them! What a novel and EXCELLENT idea! Curry + coconut + oats = yumyumyum. I’m so glad the inside of my car smells like a spice shop now, since now I have these. Win win win all around. And besides, now I’ll have something to sustain me through the (three hour?! Willamette is so NOT big enough to justify a 3+ hour commencement, pshh) graduation ceremony… I’ll have to hide them under my robe, for snackies! Can’t have the gremlins grumbling when I’m about to get my diploma, can we?!

yumyumyummyy

Curried Chocolate Chip-Oat Cookies with Coconut

Only slightly adapted from Cookie Madness, here! I made half of the recipe on account of already having some red wine-choc cookies left over, and got 7. I’ll include the full recipe here, with my modifications.

These cookies are unusual, but so good! I like them for a change from standard chocolate chip/oat cookies. The sugar and coconut add just the right sweetness to balance the curry powder—I reduced the sugar a bit already, but I probably wouldn’t take it down much further. These are easily made vegan!

  • 4 tbsp salted butter (if using unsalted, add 1/2ish tsp salt)
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 c + 2 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 c turbinado sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milk bev (I used soymilk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c + 6 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (any kind is fine, just make sure there’s no garlic in it, that would be awkward)
  • 1.5 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 c shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 c chocolate chippies
they look kind of like Horta-cookies! heheh.

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together butter, applesauce, and sugars. Add in egg, milk, and vanilla, and beat to combine. In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and curry powder. Add this to the liquid bowl, and stir until just combined, and then toss in oats, coconut, and chocolate chippies. Drop by small (or huge, if you’re like me) blobs onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on the size of your cookie blobs… mine were more like 12, since they were on the large side. Let cool for a minute or two on the sheet, and then transfer to a cooling rack for eating further cooling.

natural light all the time, at last!

Baking > Stress Butterflies

mmm, antioxidants!

I warned you about the baking itch, did I not? Or wait. Let’s be real: the stress baking prior to my thesis presentation on Tuesday! Butterflies, I will defeat you with copious amounts of baked goods! So there. Baked goods and lots of yoga. Stress ain’t got nothin’ on downward dog. (Or this is what I will tell myself, ha)

So, since I had a spare afternoon yesterday relatively unexpectedly, I made a tart! Because what else am I supposed to do with that time? That’s right, I thought you’d agree that a tart is clearly the superior option.

This tart was/is delicious! I’m so pleased with myself since I winged bits of it, and threw a bunch of elements together into a credible whole. YAY! Love when that happens. The flavors all work really well together, and it’s even semi-healthy! Or at least not bad for you… I’m sure I can come up with some nutritional benefits: coconut is always good; the crust is vegan; blueberries contain LOTS of antioxidants, and cardamom has some spice-type benefit, I’m sure. And it gave me another excuse to use my tart pan, and that awkward half bag of frozen blueberries in the freezer.

AND I baked it whilst wearing one my pearl necklaces. Which made me feel lots like Julia. Especially when my tart turned out fabby! Don’t forget, you’re all alone in the kitchen! Bonnnnnn Apetit!

crust! I always have fun with my tart pan...

Blueberry Tart with Coconut-Cardamom Pastry Cream and Almond Crust

Makes one 9″ tart. I used a really basic crust recipe, and adapted the pastry cream from Delicious Shots, here! Assembly is really easy, and the chilling times are probably the longest part of this recipe. Fresh blueberries would be wonderful, but frozen work just as well—I defrosted them in the fridge and then in the counter for a bit. The crust is suuuper crumbly, but don’t worry, you can press it into the tart pan and it’ll behave.

/

Tart Crust:

  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp Earth Balance
  • 1.5 tbsp almond paste
  • 2-3 tbsp cold water

In  a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add in butter and almond paste until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Add water until the dough comes together. Don’t worry if it’s crumbly—mine was, and turned out fine. Shape into a disc, and wrap in plastic. Let it chill in the fridge for 30-45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375. Once the dough is chilled, roll it out to 1/8″ thickness on a floured surface, and press it into your tart pan, evening out the sides as you go. Prick the bottom with a fork, and line with foil and weights (I used rice. Beans are fine too, or pie weights if you’re swanky and have cool kitchen tools like that). Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Mine went for 20 with the weights, and then 5 without them. I’m sort of a crust noob, so mine seem to come out ‘needing improvement’. Granted, I usually think they taste great… this one maybe could have used a tablespoon-ish more Earth Balance, perhaps?

cardamom flecks!

Coconut-Cardamom Pastry Cream

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 c turbinado sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 c light coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • between 1/4 and 1/2 tsp cardamom, depending on preference (I used more like 1/2, since Kira and I are cardamom nuts)

In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and half of the sugar until light yellow in color. Toss in the cornstarch and the flour, and whisk until combined. Set aside. In a small saucepan, combine coconut milk, vanilla, and cardamom, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Temper the milk mixture by pouring it in a steady stream over the egg yolks/sugar, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Once the two are completely incorporated, pour the mix back into the saucepan, and bring to a boil again, still stirring constantly (Sorry. Lots of stirring. But oh hey, arm workout!). The custard will start looking thick and your whisk will make tracks. Boil for just one or two minutes, and then remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool. I used a shallow one, so it would cool faster… and place a bit of plastic wrap or sandwich baggie over the surface to prevent a skin forming. Once cool, place in the fridge for further chilling.

tart. Sans antioxidants.

Assembly! (Aka the best part)

  • Fruit of choice. I recommend blueberries… I used about 5 oz, or half a bag of frozen.

Pour the custard into the cooled crust, and smooth it out until it looks pretty…and then top with fruit! Easy peasy. And delicious. And looks like you put so much more work into it than you actually did. Shhh, I won’t tell :)

Best eaten the day it’s made, but it still makes excellent (if not quite as aesthetic) leftovers. Store in the fridge!

yumyumyum

Tarting up February!

mmmm, CRUST!

I like to think I know myself pretty well, in terms of food-type oddities and  proclivities. As such, I know that February irritates me. It’s such a bleh month in the middle of everything, and there is a distinct lack of interesting produce. I’ve already gone nuts over squash, waaaay back in the fall… I love sweet potatoes but I eat them all the time anyway…and there is a depressing amount of fruit available. As in, local and seasonal fruit, if you please (Besides, strawberries in winter just look sad. All pale and anemic. I would much rather eat them in the summer, thankyouverymuch).

BUT.

I discovered a solution to this problem.

Waaay back in September, over Labor Day weekend, I procured some fresh peaches (thanks, Dave Lakey!). I fought the urge to eat them immediately, and instead sliced them up and threw them into the freezer. All neat and nicely labeled, I was determined that they would remain in there, until the dead of winter (aka February), when nothing grows and I was itching for some summer fruit. Genius, clearly.

Over the weekend, when I spent a bit more time thinking about/researching/drooling over pie and tart recipes than actually thesising, I realized the time for peaches had arrived! And oooooh was that a good decision…

THIS. Is what happened.

peeeeachesss!

Fresh peaches in February! Can you ask for anything better? It’s like summer in a bite. And a healthy bite, no less! The crust has healthy fats from olive and canola oil, and the custard is made with yogurt instead of cream. And fruit is the most important part! It’s totally justifiable to have this for breakfast.

okay, so the pictures of this weren't super fantastic... but the crust was beautiful! clearly my favorite part.

Peach Custard Tart

Crust is slightly adapted from the Garden of Eden blog, and the custard is adapted from Eating Well, here. Makes one 11” tart.

For the crust (most low maintenance tart crust EVER):

  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 2 tbsp milk of some kind (I used plain soymilk)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl, stir together flour, salt, and sugar (no need to sift). In another small bowl, whisk together olive and canola oil, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Add liquid into dry, and gently stir until just combined (be careful not to overstir). Gather this up and plunk it down into your tart pan (in the absence of a tart pan, a pie dish is fine)… then flatten the dough on the bottom and up the sides by pressing gently with the flats of your fingers (this is the fun part!). Try to get it to an even thickness all around and up the sides, about 1/8″.

messy, but delicious.

For the filling!

  • 4-5 peaches, sliced (mine were frozen. I ran them under cool water until I could separate them into slices, but didn’t defrost the completely to prevent peach mush)
  • 3/4 c turbinado sugar
  • 3/4 c lowfat plain yogurt*
  • 3/4 c milky beverage (soymilk again for me)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp organic cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

*The original recipe called for greek yogurt… but Kira and I, being the frugal/practical types that we are, decided to try it with regular yogurt, since that was what we had on hand. Excellent decision, as it turned out deeelicious. Either type is fine!

This is ridiculously easy: dump all the above ingredients in a bowl (except peaches), and whisk until smooth. See? Easy.

I told you the crust was pretty!

Preheat the oven to 400. Arrange the peaches around the bottom of the crust (they don’t have to look pretty). Pour the custard over the top, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover the edges with foil to prevent excess browning (I did a rather ineffectual job, but I like the rather caramelized edges, so… not a big deal!). Reduce oven temperature to 350, and pop it back into the oven for another 40 minutes to an hour. Mine was done at about an hour and 10 minutes—I checked it at 40, and then put it back in for 15 minute intervals. You want a knife to come out clean when inserted into the center. Let cool before eating, about an hour and a half, to make sure the custard has time to set.

This is EXCELLENT cold. In fact, I think it might be better cold the next day, once the flavors have had a chance to get to know each other. It is also excellent with a blob of vanilla ice cream, of course.

uh oh... evidence!