Apple Berry Crumb Pie

Apple pie is a classic.  So is cherry pie.  This filling blend combines the best of both with a touch of other berries like blueberries, raspberries and black berries. I cut the bigger fruits in half especially the cherries.  You can do that even if they are frozen; they cut easily.

The pie has a touch of spices to spark the flavors. I gave the apple top billing but the berries are really the star here; the filling is deeply colored by them and the flavor overrides the sweet apples somewhat but I think they go together really nicely. I like to buy frozen fruit when it goes on sale and it is money in the freezer; a super choice for a bubbly cobbler or a pie for company.

This lovely dessert goes together pretty quickly; as fast as you can make the crust and peel and chop up 4 apples. The crust holds up well overnight and was still crisp the second day; I never get tired of this flavorful and flakey gf crust. It is wonderful.  See my credits at the bottom for my source. I never use any other crusts except for the occasional gingersnap crust or shortbread crust.

Apple Berry Crumb Pie

Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 tbsp sweet rice flour

1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Crust directions: Spray a nine inch pie pan with cooking spray, dust with white rice flour. Set aside.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes.

Roll out the flattened ball into a pie crust in a pie bag or between the two sheets of wax paper, try to get the thickness even, no thick middle! Peel off one side of paper and place in the pie pan, be sure to center it.  Remove other slice of wax paper.  Crimp edges all around.

Filling:

4 medium-large sized apples, use a cooking variety; red rome,     jonathan, empire, golden delicious. I used red rome.

1 bag of berry cherry frozen fruit; 12 ounce size; defrost on counter top for at least 30 minutes

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 Tbsp. minute tapioca

1 Tbsp. white or brown rice flour

1/2 tsp. cinnamon, heaping

¼ heaping tsp. ground ginger

Peel apples, quarter, cut out core, slice into 1/3 inch thick slices. I cut most of them in half too for smaller chunks. Mix in a large bowl with the semi-defrosted fruit and the lemon juice. Mix the dry filling ingredients and pour over the fruit; mix with a big spoon; let stand 5 minutes before pouring in crust.

Spread evening in pie crust.

Crumb topping

Put all four ingredients in the same mixing bowl you made the bottom crust in and mix well with mixer paddle until crumbs form.

¾ c brown rice flour mix

½ c sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

1/3 c cold butter cut into six chunks

Sprinkle the top of the pie with crumb mix; use as much as you like.  I like about 2/3 of the mixture.  Up to your personal taste…  Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 50-55 minutes until bubbly and the crust is light brown.  I have a bottom heat oven so my crust gets crisp but if you have issues with soggy bottom crusts; prebake your crust for 10 minutes at 375 degrees; then fill and bake immediately.

Cool the pie at least 2 to 4 hours before serving at room temperature.

berry-apple-pie-slice

I had a terrible time getting a half decent picture of a slice of this pie.  Raggedy edges, berry stained crust back, crevices in the crumb crust.  You name it…I had it.  At least it tasted great!

Brown Rice Flour Mix (same as King Arthur flour mix)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

The crust and crumbs are from Annalise Roberts’ great cookbook: Gluten-Free Baking Classics. My filling is my own recipe.

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Flavored Kombucha Tea: for Your Good Health

Some of us feel we have been over-indulging for the holidays.  January is a good time to make a fresh start working towards a better life style. Here is one great tip for you; get probiotics into your tummy.  There are probiotics in pills.  You can also drink kefir which I do or eat raw sauerkraut or kimchi. And then there is kombucha tea. Last year in June I posted about my kombucha tea adventures: it is a fermented beverage that has been a favored health drink for thousands of years and no, it doesn’t taste like tea once it ferments.  I’ve been drinking some daily for almost a year now.  I have to say my tummy loves it.  People with celiac have tummy/gut issues and generally need to take a probiotics every day. People on antibiotics should also take probiotics. This is a natural probiotic; you can buy it bottled in the refrigerated section of your health food store or even regular grocery store in the health foods aisle.  But, you can also make your own.  I find it easy to make and really cheap. I drink some most every day; about a cup a day, more or less.  Here is the link to a really great article on tummy/gut health that you might want to read: https://www.verywell.com/how-to-have-healthy-gut-bacteria-1945326?utm_campaign=health_tod&utm_medium=email&utm_source=cn_nl&utm_content=8689384&utm_term=bouncex3

Check my old post on it for directions on making your own. https://myworldwithoutwheat.wordpress.com/2016/06/08/kombucha-tea-for-great-health/  I find making it to be so easy; here is my current recipe – ingredients: 1 big quart black tea bag, 1 regular tea bag, filtered water and a heaping half cup of sugar.  Directions: heat 2 cups of water to a boil, add the tea bags, let it brew for ten minutes.  Remove the tea bags and add a heaping half cup of granulated sugar. Stir well to dissolve it. Then add enough filtered to make 4 cups of tea.  I bottle up the just finished batch of kombucha while it cools, reserving a cup of tea; usually from the bottom of the glass jar.  Add the 4 cups of room temperature sweetened tea to your kombucha jar; the scoby and cup of tea are already in it. Add 4 more cups of room temperature filtered water.  Put a fresh paper towel on the top and secure with a rubber band.  Put in a dark warm place for a week and taste; it should be fairly strong in flavor.  I pour it into glass pint containers and put a lid on.  I put it back in the dark spot overnight and then I like to flavor each bottle; some of my favorite ways are:

  1. half a vanilla bean; take it out after 24 hours, dry it off and save for next week: it lasts for several batches;
  2. a small cinnamon stick; remove after 12-24 hours, dry off and save for next week: it lasts for several batches;
  3. 1-2 ¼ inch wide slices of fresh ginger; remove after 12-24 hours, dry off and save for next week: it lasts for several batches;
  4. a 1-2 inch section of lemon peel; just wide enough to easily fit in your bottle; remove after 12-24 hours;
  5. fresh fruit juice; about ¼ to 1/2 cup; what every flavor you like.  I have even used fresh grape juice.

Let me know your ideas for what you use to flavor your kombucha tea.  Enjoy and be healthy!

 

Snacky Treats Recently Taste Tested

I love it when friends give me new gf products to try.  This week I am sharing two treats that were gifts and three snacks I bought myself.  First up: Tate’s Bake Shop Gf Chocolate chip cookies.  They are 7 oz in a waxed paper bag and in two plastic bags in a plastic tray inside.  I found them to be large, thin, crisp and somewhat addictive.  For those of us who adore chocolate chip cookies, anyway! I believe they came from Giant Grocery Store. I give these cookies a 4.5 on my zero to five scale.  Leaving room for homemade cookies; mine are a 5; see my blog post on chocolate chipperscrunchy-rice-sticks

tates-cookies

 

 

 

 

Second item is Crunchy Rice Sticks; round columns; 3.2 ounces and 8 sticks to a bag.  Fairly bland but not bad at all has rice syrup to hold it together and render them faintly sweet; the sticks are about an inch in diameter and five inches in length.  Great crunch and low calories: 50 to a stick!  I think they came from Giant.

Next up: Cashew Brittle from Aldi’s.  Not my favorite.  Way too sweet for me and not that much cashew in them.  Still, if you like cashews and sweets this might be up your alley.  Made by Crazy Candy Company.  7 ounce bag.

skinny-pop

Popcorn aisle: Skinny Pop Dusted Dark Chocolate Popcorn.  Non GMO, GF, 43 calories per cup.  I believe I found this at Giant Foods. Decent tasting if slightly drab: I have been spoiled by the drizzled with chocolate popcorn I found at Aldi’s this fall.  Now that was freaking amazing!  Can’t find it at present; hopeful it will return to the stores very soon.  There is a drizzled with chocolate and white sugar topped popcorn at Giant but it was a very small bag for nearly $4.  Crazy price for that itty bitty bag.  Time to research and product test my own homemade drizzled popcorn!

 

Final product: Veggie & Flaxseed Corn Tortilla Chips.  They were pretty decent; 10 oz bag purchased at Aldi’s; store brand chips.  Organic and in several colors and flavors although they tasty pretty much alike.  Good with a dollop of hummus.  Salsa works too.  Only thing is, I re-read the label and they are manufactured in a facility that also uses wheat products.  Rethinking this one….bummer.veggie-chips

 

I don’t recommend eating gf snacks all day long but some of these are fairly healthy and not that expensive.  We all enjoy a bit of a treat.  Enjoy!

Vietnamese Sour Shrimp Soup

Soup, beautiful soup.  When it’s cold I like a big bowl of steamy hot soup. So does my mom whom I regularly cook a meal for.  In the search for new things to try, I purchased a packet of Vietnamese sour soup.  No idea where but possibly the Asian grocery store on Stefko Blvd. in Bethlehem.  The packet was in my cupboard for a while and the other day I pulled it out, read the recipe, the ingredients and decided to give it a chance.  This was slightly risky as there was no mention of gluten free status regardless of the ingredients.  Celiacs like me have to be so careful; just a touch of cross contamination from shared processing equipment and I feel terrible.  So I try  harder these days not to buy things anymore that don’t say gf. Case in point: I got sick 2 weeks ago from some Korean red pepper flakes I used to make homemade kimchi.  I had to give the entire batch away.  Everyone said it was delicious.  I tasted it and agreed but that taste was enough to ruin my day due to probably cross contamination.

vietnamese-sour-soup-packet

Anyway…I have to say this Vietnamese soup was fantastic.  I sautéed briefly some onion; one small one cut vertically into long threads, some diagonally slice celery and carrots; one carrot and one big stalk of celery plus some of the greens.  In about three minutes I added the packet and water per the directions and after that got hot I added the baby bok choy cut into 1 inch lengths including the green parts and a handful of snap peas, which I cut in half after trimming the ends. After 10 minutes I added a handful of small shrimp which I shelled first, maybe 18-20 shrimps and about a quarter cup of bamboo shoots. Cooked it five more minutes and Bamm I had me a pot of zingy delightful soup.  A major ingredient in this soup base is tamarind juice. I have bought and used tamarind paste, sure adds the tangy sour that is a delight.  Honestly I burnt my mouth the first two times I ate this soup; do darn good I ate it a bit too hot for comfort.  Try to let yours cool a few minutes….if you can!  The spicing is not too hot, just refreshing and infuses the vegetables with it’s zing.  Not weird or off flavored if you were worried about trying a packet from a very different food culture than that of most Americans; just light and delightful.  If you are not a fan of shrimp sub in your favorite protein.  I am sure most anything even tofu will work.

vietnamese-sour-soupThis picture is from pinterest.  I was too hungry to take a picture. Sorry; next time I promise to stop and shoot before I slurp! This soup snap is sort of similar although I didn’t have the thai basil leaves that they put on top nor did I use big pale green pepper slices or tomatoes. Well, I Thought it was kinda similar…  I just ordered my seeds and did choose some thai basil so I can be even more authentic this summer when I make this soup again. It sure is a keeper.  Maybe I will try to make it from scratch in the coming weeks.  I will let you know how that experiment goes.

Vietnamese Sour Shrimp Soup:

1 packet Vietnamese sour soup

1 tbsp. mild olive oil

1 medium onion

1 large stalk celery

1 large carrot

1 large baby bok choy or one stalk of regular bok choy

1/2 cup snap peas

1/3 lb (about 20) medium or small shrimp

1/4 cup bamboo shoots

Directions: Saute the veggies (onion, carrot and celery) in oil; 1 1/2 quart sauce pan.  Add water according to the packet and the packet.  Let get hot, add the  bok choy and snap peas.  After ten minutes add the peeled shrimps and bamboo shoots.  Cook five more minutes.  Can put long diagonal slices of scallion on top.

Lemon Velvet Pie

My first pie post this year is something out of my Farm Journal’s Best Ever Pie Cookbook published in 1981.  My dear sister Margie gave it to me a long time ago and I have baked a number of sweet pie treats out of it. This is a lemon pie but unlike any I have ever made.  It is called a lemon velvet pie.  I think of it as a puffy lightly lemon cloud of a treat.  Impressive and delicious. It has a lot of elements to it but no step is that difficult to conquer. It might strike you as the offspring of the union of a chiffon pie and the venerable and much loved lemon meringue pie!  Anyway, it is melt in your mouth delish and delicate especially if you make it with Meyer lemon as I did.

Per my New Year’s promise I did cut the sugar down quite a bit.  This filling is naturally gluten free.  My wheat eating friends can use a regular pie shell to make this treat.  I am betting it might be also great with my cookie/tart pie crust. This pie will be the talk of your next gathering if you whip it up!

lemon velvet pie 013

Lemon Velvet Pie

 

2/3 cup of sugar (can add another 1/3 cup if you like it sweet)

6 tbsp. corn starch

½ tsp. salt

1 ½ cups cold water

2 eggs separated

2 tbsp. butter

1 tsp. lemon zest, grated fresh

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbsp. (1 packet) unflavored gelatin

¼ cup cold water

1 cup light cream

A baked 9 inch pie shell

1 cup heavy cream, whipped with 2-3 tbsp. powdered sugar

 

Directions; bake the pie crust and let cool. See any of my past pie blog posts for a crust recipe.  I bake it about 20-25 minutes until it is light brown.

Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in 1 ½ to 2 qt saucepan, stir in water, cook over medium heat until it thickens and mounds when dropped from a spoon; stirring constantly. Might take up to 5 minutes.  Stir a couple of spoons of it into the two stirred up egg yolks. Add right back into pan and stir well, cook 2 minutes on low stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add butter, stir, add the zest, lemon juice and vanilla, stir well. Remove one cup of filling and set aside.

Soften gelatin in the cold water for 5 minutes.  Add to the remaining hot filling in pan, stir to dissolve it.  Gradually stir in light cream, cool slightly to firm a bit.

Beat egg whites until firm and glossy, using electric mixer at high speed.  Fold into the pan of cooling filling.  I used a rubber spoonula. Pour mixture into baked pie shell, Refrigerate 15 minutes.  Top with the remaining cup of plain filling you set aside.  It will be thick; I put small spoonfuls all over the top.  Chill in fridge at least 2 hours to set the pie.

Whip the cream, add some sugar to sweeten lightly and serve slices with big dollops of cream on top. Velvety lemon delight on a plate.

Originally posted in January 2016, minor text changes, no recipe changes.

 

Angel Food Cake

I know I promised to write about fresh fruit desserts every week this year but sometimes it is all about using the ingredients you got.  I had some egg whites in the freezer and wanted to use them up. Defrost and I had everything else in the fridge or pantry: go cake. This post is also an exception to my resolution because it is so freaking delish. Was making it for many years before my diagnosis with celiac so once I got comfy baking gf I figured I could someday make it gf and it is perhaps even better than it was with gluten based flour.

So all you gluten free disbelievers, this cake will change your mind. It is tender, moist and delicately flavored, not to mention very pretty.

Notes: I save egg whites; in a Tupperware container in the freezer, until I have a cup and a half of them.  Then I am ready to put this beauty together. Or just use enough eggs to make 1.5 cups of whites. If you don’t have guar gum you can use xanthan gum.

A few words on separating eggs: this can be tricky and I have learned via bad experiences not to separate directly into the measuring cup full of whites; do it into a small bowl and dump. You can NOT get ANY egg yolk in the whites or they won’t beat properly.  Best to set any egg that breaks or becomes contaminated with even a speck of yolk aside and make an omelet for supper! I crack each egg on the edge of my counter, split its shell in half and dump it over one cupped hand. The white flows through into the bowl underneath and I drop the yolk into the mixing bowl. Be gentle so the yolk doesn’t break  Don’t use old eggs or the yolks are more likely to break; fresh is best but they need to come to room temperature before cracking so the whites beat to a high volume.  FYI: When baking gf all ingredients should be room temperature unless the recipe tells you otherwise.

I know, a crazy lot of egg whites in this but remember, no fat what-so-ever! Angel food cake is a good choice for your diabetic friends, or so they say. I just think those folks love a good angel food cake.

Angel Food Cake

1 1/2 cup egg whites (room temp)

1 ¼ cup powdered sugar

1 cup brown rice flour blend (recipe below)

½ tsp guar gum

1 ½ tsp. cream of tarter

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

½ tsp. almond extract

1 cup granulated sugar

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Put baking rack on second slot from the bottom.  You need a ten inch tube pan with removable bottom, do not spray.

Mix and sift the powdered sugar, flour, guar gum in a bowl at least once.

Pour the egg whites into a stand mixer bowl, add cream of tarter and salt.  Start at medium speed.  Beat until foamy, increase speed until high, wait for soft peaks and add cup of granulated sugar a tbsp or two at a time as it beats.  No bowl scraping or stopping.  Beat at highest speed until you have stiff peaks.  Beat briefly after adding the two flavoring extracts. Set aside.

Fold the flour mixture into the egg whites, I do about a quarter cup at a time sprinkled all over the top and I fold it with a spatula or spoonula.  Be gentle and smooth; don’t worry if it isn’t perfectly smoothly mixed.

Put big glops of the mixture into the baking tube pan; I like 3 big ones. Gently stir through the pan with your spoonula to get rid of any big air holes and smooth the top with the spoonula.

Put into preheated oven, bake 35 minutes, until when you press gently on the top it springs back.

Remove from oven, turn it over and hang on an empty wine bottle neck or a big funnel. Let cool totally in this upside down state before cutting it out of the pan. I use a sharp serrated bread knife, cut around the outside edge and the center tube. Lift it out and then slice under the cake all around.  Place a cake plate over the top and gently flip it.

I store it in a plastic cake saver or just in the microwave away from breezes and hungry folks.  You could wrap it in plastic wrap too. It is best eaten within 3 days.  It generally doesn’t last that long around here.  We had some with fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream: heavenly!

Brown Rice Flour Mix base mix 

(This mix is the same as King Arthur’s basic gf blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

 

This recipe is almost exactly the angel food cake you will find in Annalise Roberts’ Gluten-Free Baking Classics cookbook.

 

New Year… Resolutions for a Better Lifestyle!

Well, a week late but here I go.  My New Year’s resolutions: exercise more, eat less processed foods and cut back on sugar.  I already eat a lot of veggies and fruits and plan on as much or more.  Also, sleep longer on consistent basis, (The irony of my typing this post late this night is not lost on me!) avoid harsh soaps and chemicals, find more time to relax, laugh more and smile more.  Find more joy in life

white-cheddar-puffs

So, when shopping I am going to avoid the sugar and processed foods. I bought a bag of cheese curls for my visiting family.  Last bag ever.  Swear it! A couple months ago I found some nummy cheese puffs at Aldi’s that are naturally flavored with white cheese. Their cheesiness is delicate and pure in comparison to those neon orange Utz curls.  Good decision. Keep trending that way is how I plan to roll while grocery shopping.

Less cake…more fruit based desserts is my baking resolution and I will share them with you.  I did my year of pies in 2016 and it was very nice indeed.  This year might be more like lots of hand pies, tartlets, galettes, clafouti and other fruity concoctions.  I also am trying to cut back even more on white sugar; go for honey, maple syrup, raw sugar, or coconut palm sugar. Just say FRUIT and I smile!

mass upload 8-22-16 560

peach tartlets ready for the oven last summer

I also want to explore more spicy entrees in my cooking; Moroccan, Indian, Thai etc. Love spices, love new foods and enjoy the discovery of lovely flavors and textures in my adventures into other cultures.  You may soon be seeing posts voyaging to new foods and spice combinations. Come along for the ride and be an explorer with me in 2017!