Bootin’ the Gluten
There are two types of people in this world: those who love pie, and those who love cake. It is an age-old debate, pie vs. cake, a debate that I often have a hard time taking a stance on.
The simple question I used to enjoy pondering (by eating a lot of pie and cake), was abruptly decided for me when I found out I could no longer tolerate gluten. Eight years ago, I went from living like a carefree teenager to worrying about every aspect of what I ate, where it came from and how it was prepared.
There were no “gluten-free aisles,” or specialized menus at the time.
The gluten-free products that did exist often were compared, and rightfully so, to cardboard, leaving me no choice but to experiment in the kitchen.
Surprisingly, what I thought to be a lack of options proved to be a blessing in disguise.
When birthdays or holidays came around, buying a store bought cake or bakery pie was no longer an option. I began baking out of necessity, but quickly found an escape in the art and science of baking.
After more experimenting than you can imagine, I had created a handful of my go to recipes, and perfected them.
It took time, but it allowed me to revisit the pie vs. cake debate I love so much, only now it was all gluten free.
For birthdays, I always have and still do make cakes. You can feed a larger group of people, and decorate a cake to fit any theme, which is part of what I love so much about them.
However, when it comes time for the holidays, I couldn’t imagine the table without at least two different types of pie. Cake just doesn’t seem to fit.
Rolling out a good pie dough is like therapy to me, and I cannot help but find myself getting lost in all the possibilities for fillings.
Although I make pies every time of the year, there is something about holiday pies that I simply cannot get enough of.
Maybe it’s the feeling associated with them that is what keeps me leaning slightly towards the pie side, but who knows, and must we really choose?
This recipe for sweet potato pie turns a usually savory food into a perfectly balanced and sweetly spiced dessert, and is a welcome change from basic pumpkin pie.
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and that this pie finds a place at your table.
Sweet potato pie
with gingersnap crust
Yields: 8 slices
2 cups Mi-Del brand gingersnap cookies, finely ground*
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Sweet Potato Pie:
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons gluten free vanilla extract
2 cups roasted sweet potato puree, can substitute canned as well, but the flavor won’t be as deep
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
A pinch of salt
1 cup evaporated milk
In a large bowl combine the finely ground gingersnaps and melted butter and mix until it resembles wet sand. Lightly press the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan making sure it is evenly pressed over the bottom and up the sides. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. Set aside, and allow the crust to cool.
*The cookies shown in the photo (on Page E-1) are Pamela’s ginger almond cookies, hence why the crust looks darker than if they were to be made with the Mi-Del brand cookies. For a better textured crust, I would recommend using the Mi-Del.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix eggs, sugar and vanilla together for two minutes until lightened in color. Slowly mix in sweet potato and spices until well combined. Drizzle in evaporated milk and mix until fully incorporated. Pour the mixture into the pie crust and bake in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 40 minutes or until the middle is set. Allow the pie to cool before serving.
Cinnamon ice cream
Yields: 1 quart
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cinnamon stick
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Cinnamon ice cream
In a heavy bottomed pot, bring the heavy cream, milk and cinnamon stick to a simmer.
While that mixture is heating, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla vigorously until it turns a pale yellow. Ladle in 1/2 a cup of hot milk mixture slowly into the eggs, whisking continuously as to not cook the eggs.
Ladle in another 1/2 cup and once combined, pour the egg and milk mixture back into the pot with the rest of the milk mixture off the heat.
Whisk in the cinnamon and transfer the custard base to a medium bowl set over a large bowl filled with ice and water and allow the mixture to cool.
Once the custard has cooled, transfer to an ice cream machine and follow the directions. Once churned, transfer to a freezer safe container and save until ready to serve alongside the sweet potato pie.
Green was first diagnosed with gluten intolerances as a teenager. Soon after, she developed a blog to share her struggles and successes of adapting to a gluten-free life. Over the years, her passion for wellness has turned into a profession. A 2012 graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in New York, she is continually networking with other gluten-free experts and expanding her knowledge. Her goal is to make gluten free an option for everyone, not just those in need.
Green may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . Her column is published on the second Wednesday of each month.
Bootin’ the Gluten
I always have loved the changing seasons.
Whether welcoming spring and the tender vegetables it brings with it, an early summer full of fresh berries or bracing for a cold winter overflowing with citrus, each season brings something to look forward to.
Saying goodbye to warm summer nights is never easy, but with fall comes the changing leaves, crisp air and holidays that follow, which always seems to make it easier.
Not to mention, fall produce simply is wonderful. Giant crates of local apples begging to be made into pies, Brussels sprouts that are still on the stalk, and figs that are sweet enough to eat alone. And of course, pumpkins!
This wonderful fall squash often is overlooked and only thought of for carving jack o’ lanterns, but the sweet flesh and nutrient packed seeds can be used in many different culinary mediums.
While any pumpkin can be used, you will get the best results from sugar pumpkins, sometimes referred to as pie pumpkins. They are smaller and have a sweet and tender flesh.
Like most squash, to prepare the flesh simply cut the pumpkin into wedges and either roast it until tender (develop the most flavor), or boil it until the skin peels back. Afterward, spoon the flesh into a bowl, leaving the skin behind, and mash it.
You can use it right away in place of canned pumpkin or transfer to an airtight container and freeze for a later use.
This year, rather than buy traditional pumpkins for decoration, I bought sugar pumpkins with the intention of using them later.
One medium sized pumpkin, two pies and one pumpkin loaf later, and I still had four cups of puree left over.
Rather than make another pie, I chose to venture to the savory side of pumpkin and make a soup.
A favorite restaurant of mine used to serve a pumpkin and apple soup, the apple, which perfectly complimented it, added a sweet and tart flavor profile.
While I always enjoyed their version, I wanted to spice mine up a bit and make a soup that really warms you from the inside out.
I often curry pumpkin seeds for a healthy snack, so I decided to carry those flavors over into the soup.
The result was a perfect blend of sweet and spicy, hitting just the right the spot for a cool fall night.
Curried pumpkin soup
Yields: 3 quarts soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves (1 1/2 tablespoons) garlic, minced
2 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
4 cups mashed sugar pumpkin
4 ups vegetable stock
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup goat cheese (1 tablespoon per serving)
1/2 cup pepitas
In a large dutch oven or stockpot, heat your oil until it shimmers.
Once hot, add the shallot and cook until it is translucent, about 3 or 4 minutes.
Add the minced garlic, curry powder, cumin and salt, and cook for about 1 more minute, stirring constantly so it does not burn.
Stir in your mashed sugar pumpkin, or canned pumpkin if you do not have fresh, and cook for 5 minutes, continuously stirring to warm the pumpkin.
Add the vegetable stock and bring the soup to a boil. Turn the heat down and using an immersion blender, puree the soup until very smooth.
If you do not have an immersion blender, you can transfer the soup to a blender, and puree in batches.
Once your soup is pureed, bring back to a simmer and stir in your milk until fully incorporated and heated through.
Garnish each serving with a tablespoon of goat cheese and a sprinkle of pepitas, which are just hulled pumpkin seeds, then enjoy!
Green was first diagnosed with gluten intolerances as a teenager. Soon after, she developed a blog to share her struggles and successes of adapting to a gluten-free life. Over the years, her passion for wellness has turned into a profession.
A 2012 graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in New York, she is continually networking with other gluten-free experts and expanding her knowledge.
Her goal is to make gluten free an option for everyone, not just those in need.
Green may be reached at email@example.com.
Her column is published on the second Wednesday of each month.