Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving (Part Two)

Okay, the spiced cranberries are done and cooling and the pumpkin pie is in the oven. Here is my pumpkin pie recipe. it took a bit of fiddling with it over the years, but I finally got the texture that I wanted. I've tried other brands of pumpkin, but I prefer Libby's taste.  Do NOT use the mix! Feel free to adjust the spices to your preference. If you don't want to make your own crust, Pilsbury Pie crust is dairy free. I use it when I'm not in the mood to make my own or if I'm crunched for time (like tonight).

1 (15oz) can of pure pumpkin puree
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground clove
pinch of ground allspice
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup rice milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 425F.
Roll out on a floured pastry sheet (large cutting board or counter will work too). Just a couple of passes of the rolling pin.
Place the crust in a pie pan, trim and crimp the edges.
Put the empty crust in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combing and beat together the pumpkin puree and dark brown sugar.
Add the salt, cinnamon, ginger, clove, allspice, and flour.
Mix in the rice milk, vanilla extract, eggs, and egg yolks.
Bake at 425F for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350F and continue to bake for 40-50 more minutes.
Cool and enjoy.

Happy Thanksgiving! (Part One)

The season of giving and sharing has begun. The giving and sharing of germs that is. We've had several weeks of sickness in the house. Everyone is finally on the mend, thank goodness!  That is the reason I haven't posted anything lately. Fevers and coughing up one's lungs is not conducive to cooking and baking. That said, I do want to share just a couple of holiday recipes that are staples of my holiday dinners (both Thanksgiving and Christmas)

Homemade cranberry sauce is so easy to make. There isn't much to it and the end result is delicious.

Spice Cranberry Sauce

1 12oz. bag cranberries, rinsed and picked over
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole allspice berries
5 whole cloves

Place the cinnamon stick, allspice, and cloves in a piece of cheese cloth large enough to make a small bag. Tie it off with a piece of cooking twine. Cut off any excess cheese cloth.
Rinse and pick out any bad cranberries.
Place the cranberries, your spices, water, and sugar in a pot.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let cool.
When the cranberries are cool enough, remove the spices.
Transfer to a serving dish or a storage container.
Refrigerate until you're ready to serve.

Note: You can just place the spices straight into the cranberries without the cheese cloth and then fish them out later. There is always the chance that you miss one or you can't find one. If that happens, warn your guests. ;o)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tasting at Savory Spice Shop

My daughter Maddie and the inspiration for Maddie Cakes.

I mentioned in a couple of previous posts that I was starting to venture out into selling my baked goodies. A couple of months ago, I was in Savory Spice Shop. As I was paying for my purchase, I was telling the woman ringing up about being allergic to dairy and that the black onyx cocoa powder that I was buying was for an order of homemade Oreo cookies.  She got excited and suggested that I contact the owner of the shop about doing a tasting. They hold tastings on Saturdays through out the year. I pondered the idea a bit and then contacted Amy, she and her husband own and run the spice shop. She welcomed me to hold a tasting and I accepted. Of course after I said yes, I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into.

Let the tasting begin!
It was difficult deciding what items I was going to make. The original list was quite long. I really wanted people to get a good idea of how good dairy free can be. I settled on the dark chocolate cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting, vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting, almond sugar cookies, the chocolate truffle torte, and dairy free ranch dressing (they wanted something savory to reflect their name). I originally wanted to have some gluten free and vegan cupcakes in addition to the dairy free, but the gluten free vanilla cupcakes kept coming out wrong. I was soooo frustrated because I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. Since I didn’t have a lot of time, I decided to keep things dairy free. I finally figured out what was wrong when I made my regular dairy free vanilla cupcakes. I had mistyped the amount of rice milk. Once corrected, the cupcakes turned out great, but it was too late to go back and remake the gluten free. I discovered that decorating small cookies is more difficult that decorating the larger ones and I found that my idea to use both my sugar cookie frosting and royal icing works. I normally don’t care for royal icing and my icing is part of what makes my cookies what they are. Unfortunately, my confectioner’s sugar icing doesn’t work well for outlining the cookie or for fine detail work. By combining both, I get the best of both.

I had originally planned on making a walnut torte with Grand Marnier filling and maple frosting, but my husband pushed for me to make the Chocolate Truffle Torte. I have to admit that it was a good call on his part. The Chocolate Truffle Torte was the star of the show. 

Chocolate Truffle Torte
  My next hurdle was figuring out how to transport close to 200 mini-cupcakes without messing up the frosting. The key was driving very slowly. I had a moment of panic when Mike forgot and took some curve at a faster speed than I would have liked. Thank goodness only 2 cupcakes tipped over.

Double Vanilla Cupcakes

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Dark Chocolate Frosting

Amy, Scott, and their staff made us feel at home at Savory Spice Shop. The actual tasting went very well. We had slow moments, but we also had moments where our table was crowded. Several of friends stopped by and it was nice seeing a couple of familiar faces. If you live in the Charlotte area or are passing through, stop by Savory Spice Shop. They have all kinds of spices, spice blends, and extracts. Everyone one is so friendly and helpful; so don’t hesitate to ask if you have questions.
Maddie behind the table taking a snack break and my husband, Mike, sitting on the steps.

They were kind enough to invite me back to do another tasting on their 2nd anniversary, the 30th of November. I have accepted and look forward to it. I hope that those of you who are nearby can stop in and try my treats.