The Best Peach Pie/Crumble/Cobbler You Have Ever Had (P.S. It also happens to be gluten-free and vegan)

image_4Hands down this is the best Peach…thing…I have ever had, and possibly one of the best desserts I have ever made. I need to decide on a name for this. Peach Crumble? Peach Cobbler? Peach Crumble Pie? Peach Pie? Hm. I’m going to go with (drum roll please) Peach Crumble Pie. Done!

We had quite the harvest of peaches recently and no one was more surprised than me. We have had a number of problems with our peach trees to date: a gross leaf curl/fungus thing that I truly thought was going to kill them; little hard peaches that never seem to ripen; animals/birds eating them; and some kind of gross bug which makes them look like they have weeping sores (that last one is the grossest so far). I have considered ripping the trees out, which to people who know me is shocking, and I have gone on several rants about how stupid it was for the previous owners to even plant peach trees because Portland just is not the right climate. So I may have a little (tasty) egg on my face. Of course, it also may be the perfect storm of unusual circumstances that led to this year’s peach harvest. Things like a weirdly early and overly hot season and the trees also being in the sweet spot of their three year cycle for producing fruit. I may never see this again (and one of the three trees still has that weeping sore problem). So I felt like I needed to make the most of this harvest.

Since peaches really don’t store well at all, and since I didn’t feel like cleaning my house Sunday morning was a very cool one, I decided I would finally try the recipe for making Ginger Peach Jam from my trusty and good old reliable canning book: Put Em Up! The recipe was ridiculously simple (Peaches, Bottled Lemon Juice, Sugar, Fresh Ginger, Pamona’s Universal Pectin & Calcium Water). And since I am starting to really get the hang of this canning thing it seemed almost too easy. The most time consuming part of it all was peeling the peaches. I ended up with 10 half-pint jars of jam. It is soooooo good. Mike was savoring it this morning on his [gf] toast.

Here is a picture of one of the jars. I love this stubby little jar. Kinda cute.

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But on to the Peach Crumble Pie! After dinner Mike still felt hungry and we deemed that “room for dessert.” Since we had a few peaches left over (some on hand and then a few more we picked from the trees) we decided to make some type of cobbler, pie, or crisp (so many words for such similar things!). I knew we would not be making a traditional pie crust because the truth is that I simply don’t think that a really good gluten-free vegan pie crust exists. I’ve tried so many mixes, so many recipes, and have experimented so many times on my own, but in the end the most I can say is that at times they have been passable (and most of the time horrendous). That just isn’t good enough for me. I’ll eventually get back to that quest, but in the meantime we had these peaches… We looked at a bunch of recipes online and a bunch of recipes in our cookbooks. In the end we came up with something that is very (VERY) loosely based on everything we read. I’ve gotten pretty good at the art of substitutions and understanding the texture, heaviness, and oiliness of various flours and sugars. I also don’t like things that are super icky sweet so we significantly reduced the amount of sugar that all the recipes called for. We did take note of the overall mass of things and that was very helpful. I also chose to go super simple on the spices (just using nutmeg) so that we didn’t mask the flavor of the peaches themselves. The miracle is that this is the first time we made this, it is a totally new recipe made up by us (Mike helped!), and we wouldn’t change a thing. It is really, really rare for me to taste a first attempt and not think to myself, “I would add less vegan butter next time, or less sugar, or less…[whatever].” It was perfect right out of the gate. We quickly wrote everything down, while it was still fresh in our minds, so that we could make it exactly the same again, and again, and again. I also think that this recipe would work with apples, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, etc. It was so damned good! I am getting a little bit wordy here (and maybe a little obnoxious) so I’ll stop now and get to the recipe.

Peach Crumble Pie / Vegan and Gluten Free

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Use vegan butter – we always use Organic Earth Balance – and generously butter a pie plate.

For the “filling:”

  • Approx 2 lbs peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch

Nothing fancy you need to do here. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside until you are ready to assemble your pie.

For the crumble / top “crust:”

  • 1/4 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp vegan butter (again, we used Organic Earth Balance), cut into smaller chunks
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free vegan cinnamon raisin granola (we used Bakery on Main’s product. and I really encourage you to try this because we really think this made a huge difference in how delicious this turned out. If you can’t handle raisins at least find another one that has the cinnamon flavor to it.)
Put everything except the granola in the food processor. Pulse the mixture in a food processor so that little butter chunks are roughly evenly distributed. Be careful not to over process this which will break the vegan butter down and make things oily (and weird…I have no better term than this..things just get weird if you over mix/whip the vegan butter). Add the gluten-free vegan cinnamon raisin granola and pulse a few more times to break it up a little and distribute it through the mixture.
Give the filling a final stir or two and then pour it into the buttered pie plate. Take the crumble topping and sprinkle it as evenly as possible over the entire top of the pie (no big chunks). Place the pie plate on a cookie sheet – we used our pizza pan – to catch any drips in case the filling bubbles over (ours did). Bake in the preheated over for 45-55 minutes. As with all fruit pies let this one cool a bit before you serve/eat some to avoid burning your mouth.
I will make this for us again and try it with different fruits or berries. I know I will also bring this to dinners and pot-lucks too. If you don’t tell them people really will not know they are eating something vegan and gluten-free, and that is the best kind of vegan gluten-free anything.
Here are some extra pics from the Peach-A-Palooza.
Four pounds of peaches is what you need for the jam.
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The pie filling before the crumble top-crust is added.
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A horribly blurry picture of the pie before it goes into the oven.
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Two of my babies. I’m a proud peach mama.
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Canned/Pickled Beets!

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I finally took the time to can/pickle my beet harvest. I was so ridiculously excited to watch all nine half-pint jars pop after they were taken out of the water bath. And I was tickled that none of my harvest went to waste. The recipe I used intrigued me because instead of sugar, honey was called for. The pickling brine contains: apple cider vinegar 5% acidity, honey, cinnamon sticks, whole allspice, whole black peppercorns, some water, and a little bit of salt. It took about three hours from start to finish and was a total blast. I can’t wait to make jam from those three pounds of fresh strawberries I harvested and froze a short while back.

Peeling and slicing the boiled beets.

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The beets added to the hot pickling brine.

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My clean workspace which was soon stained with bright beet juice.

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All nine popped! Such a pretty color 🙂

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Vegan Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Lebanese style)

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We are having our annual holiday potluck at work tomorrow. I usually like to bring a main dish item since most people bring side dishes and desserts. This year I was chatting with someone in our office who is vegan and she mentioned she doesn’t participate since there usually isn’t much she can eat at potlucks. I assured her that there were vegans, vegetarians, and celiacs amongst us and then committed to making something vegan and gluten-free. I have sympathy for people who make food choices and who have food allergies and can never eat at work events and parties. Mike can almost never eat at his work events. Our workplace is pretty great because a lot of people label their potluck dishes so that people with allergies, etc. know what they can and can’t eat.

Last night I made my vegan stuffed cabbage rolls to bring to the party tomorrow. They are all completely prepared. I plan to layer the rolls and sauce in a crock-pot as a way of being able to serve them hot easily. I doubled the recipe so Mike and I could also have them for dinner last night and I managed to take pictures! As usual they are not good pictures, but we all need to get over that one of these days…. And yes, I did eat my cabbage rolls last night with my titanium spork. Yeah, you covet my titanium spork. Recipe is outlined after the pics.

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Rolling

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Arranging

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Saucing (this is a new word)

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Vegan Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Lebanese style)

1 1/2 cups cooked rice (This time I used wild and brown rice, but white is great too.)
1 small package of mushrooms chopped (in a non-vegan version this would be ground lamb)
1 small onion finely diced
3 tblsp fresh mint, chopped
1 tsp allspice
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups tomato puree (I really like the Pomi brand from Italy in the box but any organic – non GMO if you can find it – is good.)
1 head of savoy cabbage (The market didn’t have it so I used what they had. The Savoy is much more pliable and easy to work with though.)
olive oil
salt and pepper

In a large non stick pan saute in olive oil the mushrooms and onion until cooked through. Add salt and pepper to taste as well as the allspice and the pinch of cayenne pepper. Add the rice to the mushroom/onion mixture and stir thoroughly over medium heat until all the flavors have melded together. Turn off the heat and stir in the fresh mint. Let this mixture cool in the pan.

Set a large pot on the stove and fill with water. Bring to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil pull the leaves apart from the head of cabbage, trying not to tear them. Blanch each cabbage leaf in the boiling water until pliable. Drain.

In a mixing bowl add the pureed tomatoes and the cinnamon as well as salt and pepper to taste. (Go easy on the cinnamon…you may even want to just try using a 1/2 tsp or a pinch.)

In the bottom of a glass baking dish (like a lasagna size) put a bit of olive oil and a large spoonful of the tomato mixture in the bottom of the dish to coat.

Take a cabbage leaf and lay flat. Cut out the tough, non pliable stem area at the bottom of the leaf. In the center of the leaf put a spoonful of the rice mixture, then roll the leaf up tucking in the sides neatly. Lay the stuffed cabbage roll in the baking dish, folded side down to hold it together. Continue rolling cabbage until the dish is filled.

Pour the tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls. Cover the dish tightly with tinfoil and bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes until the cabbage is tender and the rolls are piping hot.

Summer beet (and potato and cucumber) harvest!

We harvested some of our beets this weekend. I’m the worst photographer ever so I’m pretty proud of this shot. It doesn’t quite come across but the beet on the left is about the size of a softball. Huge and wonderful and the beauty of growing beets is that you get two vegetable out of it.

The first night I used the tops. I cut up the red stems into a fine dice and threw it in some olive oil with some diced red onion. I sauteed them until they were slightly brown then added in some freshly grated ginger, salt, and pepper and after sautéing tat for another minute or two threw in some white wine. I then sliced some red potatoes (also from our garden) very thinly and added that into the mixture. I simmered this all on low with the cover on until the beet stems were soft and the potatoes were cooked (adding water if needed along the way). I then threw in the chopped up greens and put the cover back on and cooked this until the greens had wilted. I then took the lid off, stirred everything so that the greens were evenly mixed in with the stems, potatoes, and onion and placed pieces of whitefish on top of them. I then covered the pan again and let it simmer once more until the fish was cooked through.  A one pan meal that was very tasty.

The next night I roasted the beets themselves in a 400 degree over for an hour and fifteen minutes. I like my beets straight up with nothing to distract from the sweetness. I also harvested some cucumbers from our garden (it’s produce-palooza over here) and decided to make a salad. I always make my owen dressing and this one was a combination of sesame oil, olive oil, tamari, rice wine vinegar, ground ginger, salt, pepper and a bit of honey. I used a bit of this dressing as seasoning for some salmon fillets. I brushed the fillets with some of the dressing, wrapped them in foil, and threw them on the grill outside for about six minutes. So delicious!

It’s amazing how creative you can get when you are inspired by the veggies you grew in your own garden. I wish I’d taken pictures of the actual meals, but I was still riding the high of the fabulous beets picture that it didn’t even occur to me.

Stay tuned because my tomatoes are on the cusp, my lettuce and carrots and rainbow chard made it through the horrendous dry heatwave, my red okra is starting to produce and the cucumbers have gone crazy.

Perfect PDX Summer Evening, Strawberries, & Wafu

I went away to visit a friend this weekend and I had a spectacular time. Aside from exploring new places, enjoying other cultures, sampling unique foods, et. al., traveling really makes me appreciate my adopted home of Portland.

Since Mike and I were really busy the week before I left we made a date to have dinner with each other when I flew back into town Sunday. It turned out to be a perfect summer evening spent with my favorite person and had all the little quirky earmarks that make Portland such a great place to live.

We live in Southeast Portland in the Richmond neighborhood, but everyone refers to our location within Richmond as the Hawthorne district. We live smack in the middle of two busy streets – Hawthorne and Division. There is no shortage of shops and restaurants and services available on Hawthorne, but over the last year Division has started to become our “go-to” street for dining, drinking, shopping, etc. Some really wonderful restaurants in particular have popped up a handful of blocks away. Last night we finally tried Wafu.

It. Was. Spectacular.

A while back our favorite restaurant was a place called Fin. Every bite of food that went into our mouths we analyzed and discussed like obnoxious little idiots, but it was THAT AMAZING. When Fin closed it was a dark day for us. But Fin’s chef, Trent Pierce, decided to open Wafu, and last night while we were crying tears of joy over the delicious food and feeling like we had our beloved Fin back, he informed us that he was actually opening another restaurant in the back room of Wafu that would be much like Fin. Sobs of joy. You can read more about it here. As much as I love to cook I’m considering never cooking again and eating only at Wafu and its back room.*

After dinner Mike and I walked through our neighborhood to the grocery store to buy some ice cream. While I was away a mass of strawberries ripened and we decided to serve them over some ice cream. We took our time and strolled through our neighborhood, admired the houses and beautiful plants and flowers, ogled the community garden, cut through the park, and generally enjoyed the charm of South East Portland. Here are some pictorial highlights. Sorry about the crappy photography. I’ll do something about that one day.

The Strawberry Haul

The “Ice Cream”

The whole shebang.

The walk through the park which includes a kickball game in progress.

This lovely outfielder paired her uniform with a tulle tutu.

On the walk home is the lending tree.

And some peaches I harvested too.

*by the way, Wafu – like Fin – is wonderful about making modifications for food allergies. Most of the menu can be made gluten free and they accommodate dairy free and garlic free when needed too.

Oregon Country Fair – Food & Fun!

We are back! We had wonderful camp-mates and this year I worked some Registration Crew shifts with Mike, which I really enjoyed. I also got some sleep which is miraculous and not something I’ve come to expect when we are out there. And, of course, we got to hang out with some good people we don’t get to see often enough.

A lot of planning went into packing for a week of camping. No small amount of effort went into planning the food we would need until some of the vendors opened up. We opted for some salads. These are all gluten, dairy, and garlic free and pack well for picnics and in coolers. I’ve had friends ask for the recipes, but they were kind of made up on the fly by me. I’ll do my best to recreate them here. Nothing is exact in terms of measurements. It’s just a list of ingredients so you’ll have to get creative with the ratios although I’ve tried to estimate some things as a starting point.

Green Bean and Tempeh Salad

I used frozen tempeh for this one. I defrosted it and then broke it into chunks. I marinated it in olive oil, dried Greek oregano, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and finely diced onions. I then roasted it for about twenty minutes in a 400 degree oven, making sure to turn the pieces over halfway through; I like them to be slightly golden brown. I then washed, trimmed, and cut into bite sized pieces some fresh organic green beans and steamed them until cooked. Once the tempeh and green beans were both cooked I tossed them with a dressing made of Dijon mustard, olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, freshly ground black pepper, some dried tarragon, some salt, and some fresh and finely minced parsley.  I have to confess that tempeh is not my favorite food, but truthfully this salad ended up being delicious. We will make it again.

Tuna and White Bean Salad

Every time I make this salad people devour it. Including us! Buy good canned tuna in olive oil. This will seem weird but I drain off the oil (I add it to my dogs’ food at mealtime as a treat for them). I like the fresher taste of good extra virgin olive oil in the salad. I throw the drained tuna in a bowl along with a half a can of rinsed cannellini  beans. Buy good beans so that they are creamy and not tough! I add some capers, some finely diced red onion, some fresh and finely minced parsley, some lemon juice, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Mix everything together and add enough extra virgin olive oil in to it all so that is is moist without being too oily. This salad is even better if it has had a day to sit in the refrigerator, but it’s a challenge to not gobble it up before then.

Gluten Free Tabbouleh

I make this like a traditional tabbouleh only instead of using bulger I use quinoa. Dice two Italian plum tomatoes. I like to pull the seeds out so there is less tomato liquid first, and then dice them. I add that to about one-and-a-half cups of cooked quinoa. I add some finely diced red onion, a healthy amount of fresh and finely diced parsley and about a third as much fresh and finely diced mint as the parsley. I then make a dressing of olive oil, dried Greek oregano (spring for the Dean & DeLuca brand – it’s the best I have found), lemon juice, salt, and pepper. I then toss the dressing in with the quinoa/onion/parsley/mint mixture. Done! Yum!

And last but not least…

Veggie Potato Salad

Boil your potatoes of choice (red is nice because you don’t need to peel them, but whatever you have on hand is fine too) and, if necessary, peel them. Dice them into medium sized chunks. I used two very large russets that were on our counter in danger of sprouting eyes. I also like to make this salad quickly while the potatoes are still hot. You need to be careful not to burn yourself peeling and dicing them, but I find the warmth of the potatoes makes the vegetables – particularly the green onion – blend better into the overall flavor of the salad. They also seem to absorb the dressing better when you start out warm. Chop up a red pepper, three ribs of celery, a handful of fresh parsley, and about three scallions – white and green parts – and add them to the potatoes. Drain one can of artichoke hearts, chop them in half and add them as well. I make a dressing of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, a bit of sugar, some dried dill weed, some salt, and some freshly ground black pepper. This salad can take a lot of dressing so don’t skimp! Another delicious salad that is not mayonnaise based so it travels well and the dill flavor really comes out if you let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

So that’s it for my quick and tasty salads that travel in a cooler or picnic pack well. I hope you try one or two of them.

And for your viewing pleasure, a few pics from our time at the fair.

Mike with a weird expression on his face but this is pretty much what he looks like at fair (Superman Kilt!). Here he is eating a gluten free, vegan, chocolate and peanut butter cupcake. Yum!

Here are two pictures from one of the many parades.

My view from registration booth. The pregnant woman on the left, sprawled out and catching some shade, is the perfect visual representation of how freaking hot it was out there.

The coveted wrist bands and parking stickers (and my cute purple toes). Ooooh. Aaaaah.

Our friend John at the drum tower. This apparently wasn’t the day it came together there for him and the group, but it was the beginning. And it is always fun to see him out there. He is the guy in the cap, the orange shirt, and the tribal band tattoo on his bicep. Love him!

Our friend June Bug getting her wolf spirit on.

And a gratuitous picture of Mike in our camp (that’s our red tent behind him) looking cute 🙂

One of our friends is on the photography crew at fair and if you are on Facebook, and want to see more photos than I’ve posted above, you can see them here: http://www.facebook.com/OCF.Photos

Cilantro Pineapple Salsa

ImageThis is actually a recipe I created a few years a ago. I’ve been digging through old blogs, social media sites, and emails to gather twenty recipes I wrote for a small cookbook I am putting together (the intent is to make about 25 hand-bound books). I’m basically throwing it on here now as a way of saving it in a spot that is easier for me to get to. How self-serving. Super simple salsa and very tasty.

Cilantro Pineapple Salsa

A large bunch of fresh cilantro leaves (about 2 cups)
Olive oil (about a 1/4 cup)
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Healthy splash of pineapple juice (also to taste)

Throw the first three ingredients into a food processor and blend until the cilantro has been fully chopped and the consistency is liquid (i.e. not a paste but a liquid – if you need to add more olive oil go ahead.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add salt, pepper, and pineapple juice to taste.

Serve over warm or cold fish.*

*At this restaurant in town we discovered a cocktail of pineapple juice and champagne. It goes great with this salsa/fish dish. Fry up some plantains and you have a really great meal.