I know I wax poetic about the virtues of living in the boonies, but I just have to say (in light of my slightly whiny earlier post about my career crisis) that I am REALLY lucky to live here. Yesterday I came home early so I could meet the UPS man who had attempted to deliver a package the day before that needed signing. He pulled up around five, apologizing for being late..calling me “kiddo” (which when you are in your mid-30’s is HIGHLY flattering, bless him!). He was being so personable that I said ; “Do I know you?”. “Nope”, he said, “But I live in town so I am happy to meet a new Acworthian!”.
Living out in this open space made me even more excited to see the first “Super Harvest Moon” since 1991! For those of you who don’t know, the Harvest moon is a full moon that occurs around the equinox and because of the placement and timing of its orbit appears much fuller and lower in the sky. The Super Harvest Moon occurs when the full moon coincides with the fall equinox, as it did on September 23rd. Alas, the clouds obscured its rising and while we were able to later see it (with Jupiter) it wasn’t quite the dramatic entry I had been hoping for. Still, I decided to celebrate it by having some friends over last night and cooking a delicious Harvest Dinner!
I have read many a cooking tome that talks about planning dinner parties and marrying flavors and textures, and I’ll admit I don’t often plan that much. My menus tend to be seasonal first; what’s fresh, what’s available? I had planned on making something with Kabocha squash but apparently so had everyone else at the farmer’s market so they were sold out. I also wanted to avoid apple desserts because I made another (!) apple cake the night before for my work buddies (recipe forthcoming!). And course it had to be wheat/gluten/dairy free. So….
Green Salad with Green Beans, Pecans and Goat Cheese
High Protein Rolls
Frittata with Beet Greens
Gluten and Dairy Free Chocolate Pudding Pie
A couple of notes here, while I enjoyed the flavor of the rolls they really did not adequately rise and so perhaps I should have called the High Protein Bricks. I will tweak that recipe and get back to you! The Roasted Chickpea’s I have made before here, this time I cooked them because I forgot to soak them and they came out even better than before, I just tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them at 425 degrees.
Making a good salad is one of the most important parts of making dinner for friends in my opinion, that way if they like nothing else they can always eat salad. Mine had some blanched green beans and cherry tomatoes, as well as cucumber and pecans. I tend to put some things on the side (goat cheese and the dressing) because not everyone likes their salad “dressed” the same way.
The Frittata was a basic recipe from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food
In a large cast iron skillet heat 1 Tbsp olive oil. Ad 1 medium onion, chopped, and cook over medium heat until onion softens. Add the chopped stems from 1 large bunch chard or beet greens and a little water and salt..keep an eye on the liquid in the pan and add more water as needed so it doesn’t dry out. When stems are tender add beet greens and saute until tender, remove from heat.
In a large heatproof bowl whisk together 6 eggs, 3 cloves garlic (minced), salt and pepper and 2 Tbsp olive oil until frothy. Drain the greens mixture and add S-L-O-W-L-Y to the egg mixture, whisking to combine. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in the pan you just used. Add the egg mixture and cook over medium heat, lifting the frittata periodically to allow uncooked egg to flow under. Invert onto a plate when firm, then add an additional 1 tbsp olive oil and slide the frittata back in on the opposite side. Cook briefly until brown.
Frittata’s may look simple but they take a steady hand and when done correctly they are delicious! This one certainly was delicious, Izzie ate all of hers (although she did put ketchup on it..oh well).
And now for the finale…I used these fabulous coconut crystals I won in a giveaway from The Healthy Apple! They are truly fabulous, a much lighter flavor than Sucanut and perfect for baking because they don’t add any heaviness and you don’t have to tweak your other ingredients like you do when you use a liquid instead of a dry sweetener.
Vegan Chocolate Pie with Gluten Free Crust
adapted from Cybele Pascal’s Allergen Free Baker’s Handbook
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup dry sweetener (I used coconut crystals!)
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable shortening (cold)
1/4 cup almond milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch springform or tart pan. In a food processor combine dry ingredients and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the almond milk and mix until a smooth dough forms (see below), you may need to add a tad more almond milk. Push the dough into the greased pan and prick the bottom with a fork. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden, cool thoroughly.
3/4 dry sweetener (again I used the coconut crystals)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups almond milk
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp flax, 3 tbsp water and allow to gel)
2 ounces dark vegan chocolate (I used Dagoba)
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, flax egg and almond milk. Continue whisking until frothy, add the chocolate. Cook until chocolate melts and pudding reaches a simmer, whisking frequently. Once the mixture reaches a simmer and the chocolate has melted, reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes or until soft ball stage. Do not try to cut the cooking time off or it won’t set! Remember, this is a vegan pudding so it requires additional finesse to ensure that it sets.
Once it’s really thick, pour into pie crust and refrigerate at least 3-4 hours or until firm.
Unfortunately I was distracted by our company and didn’t get a picture before it was descended upon, but you get the idea..and it set really well! Izzie was thrilled because she never gets to have pudding, and I get a glow in my heart when my little sweetheart feels like she gets to eat “normal” food (as she calls it). Some people don’t like to give their kids chocolate but in my experience it’s more the sugar that’s a problem, she went to bed not long after eating this with no issues. The tart crust was the best part of this whole pie in my opinion, crumbly and flavorful with just the right amount of sweetness.
Tell me your dinner party stories! Any fantastic disasters? I want to thank all of you for your kind words about my career crisis, I really appreciate having such good blogging friends!
Oh, one more question, have any of you converted from wordpress.com to wordpress.org? Any words of advice?