Gingered Peach Shortbread Bars


You think I would have learned after my adventure with a basket of peaches last year. Yet, here I go again with another overflow of peaches and posts.

I like peaches, I really do. Sweet and juicy, the fuzz is a bit much for me after a bit, but fragrant and so completely summer, none the less.

With the smell of my last basket of peaches wafting throughout the dining room, I knew that this last layer had ripened to perfection. With simplicity and inspiration… and a need for sweetness during 3 o’clock coffee, this peachy goodness found it’s way to our plates.

& With a few left in the basket on this eve of back to school, perhaps a new trend will develop?
Fuzzy, juicy and local peach for the teacher? Or will it be the jam?

PEACH SHORTBREAD BARS

1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon Corn Starch
1/3 Cup Confectioners Sugar
3/4 Cup Vegetable Shortening, frozen or very cold, broken into pieces
Pinch Cinnamon

5 Peaches, about 2 cups chopped
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Freshly Grated Ginger

Crumb Topping
1/2 Cup Flour
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Earth Balance (Butter)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Combine the flour, corn starch, confectioners sugar, shortening and cinnamon together in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse crumb which can be molded when pinched.
Press the dough into an 8″x8″ square baking dish and bake for 12-15 minutes or until just golden around the edges.
Remove and cool slightly.
Meanwhile, halve the peaches to remove the stone then quarter before adding to a sauce pan.
Cover the peaches with the sugar and cook over a medium heat to release their juices and loosen the skins.
Remove the skins and discard if able and desired.
Mash the peaches with a potato masher, fork or hand held blender to roughly purée.
Add the grated ginger and sprinkle over the additional 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, stirring well.
Return to a rolling simmer, continuing to cook until thickened.
Cool while you combine the crumb topping.
In a small bowl mix together the 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup Earth Balance with a fork until everything is evenly combined, moist and crumbly.
Pour the peaches over the prepared shortbread and sprinkle over topping.
Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Palak Paneer Phyllo Triangles


Perfect for using up left overs on just on their own, these little triangles make a great appetizer or side for a soup.

It took me a while to dig into Palak Paneer, the Indian creamed spinach with homemade cheese.
It wasn’t until a friend of mine returned from an extended stay in India and reintroduced me to a few more traditional dishes, that I realized spinach is a very welcomed side to a spicy curry.
Of course for a vegan version, I make my “paneer” from a diced, fried, firm silken tofu which is soft and mildly flavoured, like the paneer which satisfied my cheese knowing tongue.

For the triangles I add just a little more to the flavour combination with minced red bell pepper and some fresh basil.

PALAK PANEER

5-6 Cups packed Spinach
1 Cup packed arugula (optional)
1/2 Package firm silken tofu
1 Medium Sized Onion, minced
2-3 Bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Minced Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Minced Garlic
1/2 teaspoon Green chili paste
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp. Black pepper
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, finely diced
5-6 Large Basil Leaves, finely chopped
Vegetable oil as required

12 Sheets of Phyllo DoughMix ginger and garlic into a paste, add green chilli paste and water to combine.
Add the spinach and arugula to a large pan with a fitted lit.
Pour the ginger-garlic-chili liquid over the rinsed spinach and arugula.
Cover and steam for about 7-8 minutes.
Cool slightly and drain excess liquid.
Cut tofu into 1/2″ cubes.
Heat enough oil to just cover the bottom of a sauté pan. Fry the tofu pieces over a medium heat till they are slightly browned.
Remove tofu with a slotted spoon and continue to drain tofu on paper and set the aside.
Drain all but 1 tablespoon of oil from sauté pan. Fry bay leaves and cumin seeds. Add chopped onion. Sauté until the onions become tender.
Add salt, pepper, and garam masala. Stir well.
Remove bay leaves then add onions along with the spinach to a food processor.
Purée, adding tablespoonfuls of water as necessary until smooth.
Transfer spinach mixture to a bowl and stir in tofu, basil and red peppers.
Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Lay one sheet of phyllo on a cutting board and brush it lightly with oil.
Carefully lay another sheet on top of the first then cut into 3 strips, lengthwise.
Cover the remaining sheets with a dampened cloth to keep them from drying.
Scoop a heaping tablespoonful of the prepared spinach mixture onto the end of one of the cut strips.
Fold over once to cover then flip the left corner up and over to form a triangle.
Continue to fold the straight ends over to keep the triangle shape, finishing the length of the phyllo.
With a moistened finger, wet the last edge of the phyllo to seal.
Repeat with the remaining phyllo sheets, cutting them into strips, filling then folding over into triangles.
Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 12 – 15 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.
Makes 18 triangles.

The Way The Peanut Butter Cookie Crumbled


It would seem that I’ve been having a short slue of serendipitous mishaps in my kitchen lately.
First I have the uncheesecake pops from the Daring Bakers challenge and now I have crumbly peanut butter cookies.

After a craving and an urge of inspiration from seeing a jarful of banana jam, I wanted to make thumbprint cookies. My first batch of cookies were pretty good but with a cup of oatmeal they lost the peanut butter Pow! and were mostly just oatmeal cookies with a sinkhole of banana in the center. A cookie I’d try again, but just not for this…

Next, I stuck clear of the oats and stayed traditional. I pretty much mimicked my Nana’s peanut butter cookie recipe. (You know the ones with the fork or potato masher prints?) To veganize, I just left out the egg and added a drop of soy milk. No matter how I’d mixed the batter it was dry. I added another tablespoon of milk, then another… and another. I managed to shape them into balls to get into the fridge but there was no way I would be getting a potato masher anywhere near these things. I flattened and shaped a trays worth by hand and watched the edges crack as I squished my thumb into the middle to get the jam blob in.

The results were creamy, peanut-buttery but d-r-y. Certainly not a satisfying cookie. As the jar runnith empty, I was getting tired of inventing new disasters to eat. Then it donned on me that these were good for about one thing – and no, not wanting to waste everything, it wasn’t the compost. These crusty, crumbly cookies were just that, crust and with combined with something even creamier, a potentially perfect dessert base.

Given that mini tart pans make for a great finished dessert, these looked almost like they came from the bakery with little to no effort. Of course, if you don’t have the pans, I’m sure you could go larger into a pie dish. Of anything I’ve learned lately is to just go with the flow, because you might just end up with something pretty great where you least expected it.

CRUMBLY PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE CRUST

1/3 Cup Margarine (or Butter)
1/2 Cup Sugar
3/4 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 1/3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup Soy Milk

Cream the margarine and sugar.
Add peanut butter and vanilla mixing well to combine.
Add the baking powder and salt followed by half of the flour.
Combine the soy milk then add the remaining flour.
Refrigerate for about one hour, or freeze for later use after shaping into a disk and wrapping well.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Break off walnut sized pieces, flattening as best as possible and press into tart pans.
Bake for 10-12 minutes cooling completely before filling.

Fill with vegan caramel 1/2 way up the sides and top with an even layer of walnut halves.
Melt a semi-sweet or dark chocolate in a double boiler or in a heat safe bowl over simmering water until smooth.
Pipe or drizzle chocolate over top of the nuts and lightly sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
Chill until ready to serve.

Gluten-Free Olive Oil Pastry Dough


OLIVE OIL TART CRUST (Gluten Free)

1 Cup (Cranberry) Bean Flour
1/2 Cup Soy Flour
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Frozen
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Ice Water

Freeze pre-measured olive oil in a small bowl.
Measure flours into the bowl of a food processor, pulsing to sift.
Add the salt and frozen olive oil.
Combine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
With the motor running, add the water 1 tablespoon at a time.
Stop once about half of the water has been added to begin checking the consistency of the dough by pinching the crumbs. The dough should hold together but not be sticky.
Add the remaining water as necessary.
Bring the dough together into a ball, then flatten it into a disk.
Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Roll the chilled dough 1/8″ thick to fit a 10″ tart pan.
Fit the dough in the pan and dock the dough with a fork.
Line the dough with a circle of parchment.
Add dried beans or pastry weights.
Blind bake for 12 minutes and allow to cool in the oven slightly before removing.

Thankful


On a recent trip to the country side, it was easy to absorb the surroundings and be thankful for what we have. The warm autumn days have brought with it a tremendous bounty.

While on the road, we were fortunate to experience one of the more remarkable pumpkin patches of recent memory. Flooded by the sea of orange, we washed up by the barn only to be further delighted by the classy heirloom varieties our hosts, the Nauman’s, had so knowledgeably grown over the past 100 days or so.

Beautiful and rarely seen French and Italian heirloom pumpkins soon filled my cart once only destined to carry orange carvers. Pink, red, blue and green classics, fit for a princess’s coach were on their way into my life to nobly, and tastily end theirs.

During the purchase of my great pumpkins, I naturally dreamed of creamy, spiced pies but thoughts shift creatively with vegan visitors and Thanksgiving at your doorstep.

Cracking into my vibrant Rouge Vif D’Etampe, I couldn’t help but imagine it’s outcome. This stunning, old French heirloom is also known as Cinderella’s Carriage, as it was used as the artist’s model in the Disney classic. It’s lovely, dense, creamy orange interior yielded about 5 cups of puréed intention. Ideal for baking, the Rouge Vif is smooth and easy to relieve of any excess liquid. This pumpkin easily puts any Holiday can of pie to shame and is well worth the small, extra effort.


Continue reading Thankful

Vegan Pastry Dough


The versatile, baking staple of pie dough is not as intimidating as you think.
I remember when dough was on the board in culinary school. I had a quirky pastry chef who liked food science and instructing with the help of charts and graphs which for pastry helped in removing the great fear of the “Pate Frisée”.

The explanation given around achieving the flakiest crust was not about how much butter was used, but why.
Finally I understood why you’re not supposed to touch it much, it’s not that it’s overly sensitive, it just doesn’t like hot little hands. I figured with my poor circulation and ever frozen fingers, I was a shoe in for an “A”.

Butter in pastry is not a mandatory, yes, like most things, it makes it taste oh so rich and lovely but it’s just the fat that’s needed; so vegetable shortening works perfectly well. It was explained that the larger the “fat flakes” were before finally adding ice water to bind the dough, the larger the flakes in the pastry. When the shortening is added to the flour, it’s cut in, usually with a pastry cutter, a fork, by hand or with a food processor. The object of doing this coats the soon to be tiny pea sized pieces of fat with the flour that, when baked, will melt, crisping the flour, leaving lovely, gaping FLAKEY holes.

Tada.

BASIC PIE PASTRY

Single Crust

1 1/4 Cups Pastry Flour
1/2 Cup Frozen Vegetable Shortening
3 – 31/2 Tablespoons ICE Water
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Granulated Sugar, optional

Whisk flour, salt and sugar.
Either with a food processor or a pastry cutter, add the shortening to combine with the flour.
Work into pea sized pieces, which will resemble a coarse crumb.
Add ice water, beginning with only 3 Tablespoons, mixing enough only to form a ball.
Wrap and chill the dough until ready to use; at least a half hour before rolling out.