Gluten free pumpkin tarts

One more for Thanksgiving.

Dessert has always been my responsibility for Thanksgiving. In the past, I’ve made everything from traditional pumpkin pie to pumpkin muffins with speculoos spread and pumpkin-gingerbread trifle. I do love pumpkin. This year, however, there are just five of us and one person is gluten free, so I wanted to find a recipe that we would all enjoy. What I found was a lot of pumpkin tart recipes made with nut-based crusts. I went with Brandi Bidot’s recipe for mini tarts. The recipe says that it makes eight mini tarts, but I used these freestanding ruffled paper baking cups that do not need to be greased and are perfectly sized for five individual tarts — perfect for our five-person Thanksgiving.

The recipe is somewhat flexible. I made the crust with melted butter and ended up needing to chill it for a bit until it was firm enough to form in the baking cups. I also added a bit more almond meal than called for. The filling, too, can be adjusted to taste, especially if you like things more or less sweet than the stated 1/4 c. of maple syrup would produce. We didn’t have all the spiced called for, so I replaced the ginger and cloves with pumpkin pie spice, which contains both.

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Gluten-free pumpkin tart

For the crust

  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (coconut oil works, too)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (agave syrup or honey work, too)
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch of salt

For the filling

  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (agave or honey work, too)
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 rounded tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients for the crust. Mix very well until a soft dough is formed. Transfer to a plate and chill in the refrigerator until the filling is done.

In a separate mixing bowl, add all of the ingredients for the pumpkin filling. Whisk until blended.

Divide dough evenly among mini tart pans (greased if necessary) and press to about 1/4 inch thick. Spoon the filling into each of the tart pans. Bake the tarts for 30-35 minutes or until the centers of the tarts are cooked completely. Remove from oven and allow to cool 1 hour.

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*Just a note about baking: a knife or toothpick inserted into the center of the tart will likely not come out clean, even when it is fully cooked. This is okay. Base your timing more on when the top of the tart looks done and the crust has started to brown.

Roasted pumpkin seeds

In my family, we don’t do the mid-afternoon Thanksgiving “dinner” that seems common in the rest of the United States. Instead, we eat light meals or snacks throughout the day and eat dinner slightly on the early side — maybe 5:30 or 6 as opposed to our usual 7 pm or later dinnertime.

One of my favorite snacks are really just leftovers from a traditional Thanksgiving food — pumpkin. Pumpkin (or winter squash) seeds are delicious tossed with olive oil and salt and roasted. They’re healthy, crunchy, and super satisfying. Overall, a perfect pre-Thanksgiving snack.

Because I am traveling this year for Thanksgiving, I didn’t pick up a pumpkin to make dessert with like I usually do. Instead, my mom picked me up a couple cans of organic roasted pumpkin from Trader Joes. Luckily for me, she also made delicata squash the night before. Delicata is another winter quash with edible seeds that roast up just like pumpkin seeds.

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • Seeds from one sugar pumpkin (or 2-3 smaller winter squash)
  • 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-3 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350º F. Wash pumpkin seeds in a fine mesh colander, separating from any bits of pumpkin flesh that may still be attached. Spread on a cloth or paper towel and pat to dry. Seeds will likely stick to the towel; carefully separate them and pour all the seeds into a small bowl. Toss with olive oil and salt, then spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minute or until you start to hear the seeds pop in the oven and they start to brown slightly. Stir once or twice to ensure even cooking.

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Asparagus-broccoli soup

Like many people, I’m traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. This means that I need to clean out my fridge before leaving; vegetables in particular really shouldn’t be left unused for five days. Especially when they may be almost that old already.

My plan for last night had been to make and freeze some tomato sauce, but the tomatoes I bought last Saturday at the farmers’ market mysteriously disappeared. (Yes, really. I am still confused about that one.) So instead I figured I’d use up the broccoli and asparagus that were sitting in the vegetable crisper. The broccoli is pretty fresh, but the asparagus was bought with good intentions of roasting it with some salmon that just never came to fruition.

The one piece of special equipment I used for this recipe is an immersion blender. I own this one by Cuisinart that was a little splurge back in grad school. It has served me well and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for an immersion blender. If you don’t own one, this recipe can be blended in a regular standing blender. Just let it cool off a bit first and blend in batches to avoid overfilling.

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Asparagus-broccoli soup

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, rinsed and chopped
  • 1-2 heads of broccoli, rinsed and chopped
  • 4 c. chicken stock (vegetable stock works, as well)
  • Salt to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium heat. (I’ve mentioned in the past that I don’t typically use olive oil for sauteing, but as I’m only using medium and not high heat here, the olive oil shouldn’t reach its smoke point and is safe to use.) Add onions and toss with oil to coat. Cook for 5 minutes until they begin to become translucent.

Add broccoli and asparagus to the pot, stir, and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes.

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Add chicken stock and simmer until the broccoli and asparagus are soft, about 10 minutes. Blend until smooth and salt to taste.

Serve as is or top with sour cream.

Mucver Revisited

I know it seems awfully silly to revisit a recipe barely a week after posting it, but I like this update and think it might be useful to a lot of people. So what is this change? Well, first, I’ve doubled the amount of flour used, which makes  these pancakes stay together even better. But really, the change is that I made them with chickpea flour. It’s perfect — the flavor is very mild, plus it is very high in both fiber and protein and gluten free. Really an ideal flour to use in this recipe.

As you can see, I also made them smaller this time around, which made sense since I had doubled the recipe and was making them for brunch for myself and my boyfriend.

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Zucchini Pancakes

  • 1 large zucchini, grated (using a box grater on its largest side)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 c. feta cheese
  • 1/4 c. chickpea flour
  • 7 Tbsp. high heat oil

Place the grated zucchini in a fine mesh collander and toss with the salt. Place over a bowl and allow to drain for 10 minutes. The salt will pull moisture out of the zucchini, helping to dry it out. After the 10 minutes are up, squeeze the zucchini to get rid of additional excess liquid and set aside.

While the zucchini is draining, add 1 Tbsp. olive oil to a frying pan and sauté the onion until soft. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, then mix in zucchini, garlic, onions, feta, and flour. Combine until the flour is fully mixed in.

Heat 3 Tbsp. in the frying pan on medium heat. Pour half the mixture into the pan, spreading so it is approximately 1/4 inch thick. (I tend to make two larger pancakes, but the recipe could also make 4-6 smaller ones.) Cook 3-5 minutes per side, until they just start to brown. Serve warm.

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Pear-cranberry jam

It’s pretty much the end of the canning season here in New York, at least when it comes to local fruits. My last few batches almost always involve cranberries, even though they’re not really a local product (at least, I’ve never seen them at greenmarkets around here). But combine cranberries with our usual fall crop of apples or pears, and the result is seasonal and delicious. Last year, I made a habañero-cranberry jam for Thanksgiving. This year, I’ve made a pear-cranberry jam based on Marisa McClellan’s recipe on Food in Jars. Both fruits pair nicely with rich spices and brown sugar for a perfect late fall treat.

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Pear-Cranberry Jam

  • 4 cups cored and chopped pears
  • 4 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups brown sugar (do not pack)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested (or 2-3 Tbsp. bottled lemon juice)

Prepare your waterbath canner and four half pint (8 oz.) jam jars.

In your jam pot, combine chopped pear, cranberries, water, and sugar. Stir to combine, then allow to sit for 10 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the fruit has started to release some juice.

Turn heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. At this point you should notice the cranberries starting to pop (this is my favorite part of making jams with cranberries). Reduce heat slightly and allow to maintain a low boil. Cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently, until it has reduced and thickened. It should look more or less like jam at this point.

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Stir in spices, lemon juice, and zest (if using), and cook for another couple minutes, just to meld the flavors.

Funnel jams into prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch head space. Wipe the rims with a damp paper towel to remove any errant jam, then apply lids and rings. Process for 10 minutes.

Once the processing time is up, remove the jars using your jar lifter, and allow to cool on a folded kitchen towel. Once the jars have cooled, remove the rings and check the seal by pulling up on the lids. Some people also turn jars upside down to test the seal, though this can get messy if a jar has not sealed properly.

If any jars have not sealed, you can process them again after checking the jar’s rim to make sure there are no chips or flaws and wiping again to remove any jam residue. If you find that a jar does have a defect, transfer the jam to a new jar before reprocessing. Always use a new lid if you are reprocessing a jar.

Notes:

1. You’ll notice from my pictures that I did not peel the pears before cooking. This is an extra and unnecessary step, since the skins will melt into the jam as it cooks and have no effect on the end texture.

2. Feel free to play around with spices! What I’ve put here are the flavors I like, but there is no reason for you to use those spices just because I did. Play around with them

Red lentil-squash soup

A few weeks ago we picked up the last CSA delivery of the year. Along with garlic, onions, potatoes and other winter vegetables were two rather small butternut squash. The smaller size was perfect for me because one whole squash is often more than I need for my recipes, since I’m typically cooking for just one or two people.

For some reason, I knew immediately that I wanted to make a soup that combined the squash with red lentils. The pairing just seemed to make sense in my head. So I set about figuring out proportions. In the end, I’m very happy with the result.

red lentil squash soup

Red lentil-squash soup

  • 4 cups broth or stock (chicken or vegetable both work)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. medium heat oil
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 32 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • salt to taste

In a medium stockpot, heat the oil over medium until easily coats the bottom of the pot. Saute the onion until just starting to brown, approximately 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute.

In another pot, add squash and cover with water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until you can easily pierce the squash with a fork. About 10 minutes.

Add stock, lentils, carrots, tomatoes, cumin, and a pinch of salt to the pot with onions and garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lentils are cooked, approximately 20-30 minutes. After 10 minutes at a simmer, add the squash and continue to cook.

At this point, you can leave the soup as is, or, if you’re like me, you can take out your trusty immersion blender and give the soup a few passes. I don’t want it to end up perfectly smooth, but I like the flavor of the lentils and squash more blended together. I tend to blend around the carrots, though, which I like for their texture, even cooked.

Salt to taste and done! This is an easy, filling meal that will stay good for about a week in the fridge.

Flourless pumpkin-almond muffins

I’m not gluten-free and have never really found any reason to strictly avoid foods containing gluten. I do try to avoid eating too much grain-based foods, though, as I’m not sure how healthy they are, especially for those of us with certain genetic predispositions. Plus, I hate the taste of whole wheat bread, so if I do eat bread, my taste preference is white, sourdough, or rye. These little muffins, however, are really quite good. I first saw the recipe on Eating Bird Food, where they contained chocolate chips. I actually dislike chocolate in muffins, so I altered the recipe a bit to suit my taste. It’s very simple and the texture is excellent, especially for something that contains no flour.


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Pumpkin-Almond Muffins

  • 2/3 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin (canned or fresh roasted work, but careful not to use canned pumpkin pie filling!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/3 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 375° F and line a standard size muffin tin with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, add all ingredients except raisins. Use a hand mixer on low to medium speed and blend until smooth. Fold in raisins.

Divide batter evenly in the muffin tin. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into one of the muffins comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from the tin. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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