Grain-free Blueberry Tart

Oh, how I miss pie.

I was looking back over some old blueberry recipes, and came across one for my first blueberry pie. Just looking at the (admittedly-average) photo made me salivate. I could hear the knife cut into the flaky crust, feel the crumbs stick to the corners of my mouth, smell the butter that lingered after the plate was licked clean.

Pie, the ways that I love it. If I mourn fruit now, my woes will shift to tomatoes come August.

‘Cause you know what? There’s no good way to make a grain-free pie crust. Nut flours just don’t behave for the likes of that.

My solution? Let us eat tart.

In researching this recipe, I combed through varieties involving cheeses, custards, pastry creams and jams. But since what I wanted was PIE, I went with a filling that is as close to that as possible. In fact, it closely resembles the filling for that delightful pie of yore, from Cook’s Illustrated. I wanted something that showcased the plump and sweet blueberries we picked last week (still happy in their bag in my fridge) — something fresh but also intense and jammy. Something in want of a dollop of whipped coconut cream (or whipped dairy cream, for the lucky among us).

After one miserable tart shell failure, I happily landed on a winner. The crust is mild and buttery with a good crumb, the filling simultaneously rich and fresh, scented with lemon, just-sweet-enough. So good, in fact, I’m filing this under recipes-I’ll-make-again-even-when-I’m-no-longer-grain-free.

Right after I make that pie.

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Recipe: Grain-free Blueberry Tart (refined-sweetener-free, optional dairy-free)

: makes (1) one 9-inch tart
Inspired by this recipe at Martha Stewart dot com and this recipe at Deliciously Organic.

This recipe is not GAPS-legal because of the starch thickener necessary for the filling. I have found that I tolerate small amounts of tapioca starch — an alternative would be using gelatin, but I’m not sure of the ratios. I do not recommend making the tart without a thickener, as the filling would be watery.

If you have sweet berries, you can likely use just 1/4 cup of honey — use up to 1/2 cup if berries are on the tart side.

Ingredients

For the shell:

  • 1 3/4 cups blanched almond flour
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp gelatin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter or cold coconut oil, cut into small pieces (plus more for pan)
  • 3 Tbsp honey

For the filling:

  • 5 cups fresh blueberries, divided
  • 1 Tbsp pearl or instant tapioca, ground to a fine powder in a coffee or spice mill (or use tapioca starch)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup mild honey (see note)
  • pinch salt

Instructions

For the shell:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Brush a 9″ tart pan with melted butter or coconut oil.
  2. In the work bowl of a food processor, add the flours, gelatin, and salt, and pulse to combine.
  3. Scatter butter or oil over top of the flour. Pulse about 8 times (1 second each), or until mixture resembles meal.
  4. Pour honey over the top of the mixture, and pulse a few more times until dough comes together.
  5. Spread dough evenly into tart pan, making sure to evenly cover the sides.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown (watch carefully during last minutes, almond flour burns quickly). Allow to cool to room temperature while you prepare the filling.

For the filling:

  1. Reserve one cup of berries for the top.
  2. Place 2 cups of berries into a small saucepan with 2 Tbsp water. Cook over low heat, mashing the berries with a potato masher until only a few remain whole. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Add tapioca, lemon zest and juice, honey, and salt. Return to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, or until thickened.
  4. Stir 2 cups of fresh berries into the cooked mixture, and immediately pour into the cooled tart shell.
  5. Scatter reserved cup of berries over the top of the filling, pressing gently so they adhere.
  6. Chill until set, about an hour.
  7. Serve topped with fresh whipped cream or whipped coconut cream.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

 

City Pickers

In a move that would have shocked my 10-year old self, we have become a family of berry-pickers. What feels like a lifetime ago, I loaded up my 3 1/2-year old and 1-year old (my third child still a proverbial twinkle-in-the-eye), and drove to a farm about 20 miles outside of Athens, Georgia to pick strawberries. We returned each year, eventually adding blueberries to the list. Then we moved to Indiana, and for the past three years I’ve loaded up the car and driven half an hour to a berry farm on the north side of the city, once again in pursuit of short-lived farm-fresh berries.

Because that’s what you have to do when you live in a city. To pick berries, you have to load up and drive to the country.

Unless, of course, you don’t.

I could hardly believe it when an article in last week’s Indianapolis Star profiled a blueberry farm in the middle of one of the most strip-mall-plagued areas of our city. A mere 10-minutes from my house. As if that wasn’t enough to shock the berries out of my jam, the farm is also organic.

This city, I’ll tell ya. It has yet to cease to amaze me.

So last week I loaded up an 8, 6, and 3 year old, and made the very short drive to Driving Wind Blueberry Farm. We were the second car to pull up when they opened at 9am on a hot morning, hats on, buckets at-the-ready.

My kids. Minus the 3-year old, who could mostly just be expected to not pick pink berries — my kids were champions of picking. They attacked bushes independently, picking them almost entirely clean of ripe blue berries. After 45 minutes of picking, we had about 7 pounds, had picked a whole row, and had just enough time to pay and chat up the owners a bit before I had a full-fledged heat-induced trifecta-meltdown on my hands (I guess my genes finally kicked in).

And these berries. They are the best blueberries I’ve had in recent memory. Sweet, juicy, completely addictive by the handful.

We’re freezing most of them — using them all through the year in muffins, on pancakes, and in smoothies. But I experimented this week with a blueberry frozen yogurt (tastes like a frozen sweet-tart! recipe below), and have plans for a grain-free tart in coming days.

I almost didn’t post this story, because it ends with bad news for the locals: the farm is just about picked out. The shrubs are not yet mature, only 3 feet high, and the demand for the crop far outweighed supply. This weekend, the facebook page offered appointments for two final picking days, and I snatched one up as soon as I got the message (at time of posting, there were still spots available!). But even if you live near and don’t get to pick, rest assured that next year the shrubs will be an additional foot tall, with more plantings in the works. Pond-irrigated, bee-pollinated, organically-grown blueberries, up to 6 eventual acres if plans hold up.

Just what a city needs.

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Recipe: Blueberry Frozen Yogurt
(naturally-sweetened, GAPS-adaptable)

: makes about 1 quart
Adapted closely from a recipe in The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz

The yogurt is richer when using Greek yogurt, or strained yogurt. To make your own strained yogurt: line a colander with a very thin tea towel or several layers of cheesecloth. Nest into another bowl, and pour 3 cups yogurt into the colander. Cover with a plate, and let sit on the counter or in your refrigerator for 4-6 hours. The thickened yogurt should reduce by half, giving you the amount needed for this recipe. If desired, store the leftover liquid in the bowl (whey) in a jar in your refrigerator for up to 6 weeks — it can be used for lacto-fermentation or in smoothies for extra probiotic boost.

This recipe can be made legal for the GAPS diet by using 24-hour yogurt.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt, greek yogurt, or strained yogurt (see note)
  • 3/4 cup mild honey
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. In a blender, combine the yogurt, honey, blueberries and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. If desired, pass the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove seeds.
  2. Chill completely in the refrigerator, then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

 

Grain-free Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

The bad news? Strawberry season in Indianapolis is pretty much over (I bought my last quart a couple weeks ago, with nary a strawberry to be seen at this past Saturday’s market — though the raspberries were starting to appear, with blueberries imminent! silver linings abound!).

The good news? You can make this crisp with less-than-stellar berries (i.e., storebought), and it’s still good. And the rhubarb should be flowing freely for many weeks to come (especially if friends have given you an open-garden-policy on the stalks growing beside their garage).

Of course, with a recipe like a crisp, you can substitute whichever fruit or berry is currently in season. Simply adjust the sweetener to the natural sweetness of your berries, and experiment with adjusting herbs and/or spices.

This is one of those rare, delightful desserts that can be made grain-free, and almost no one will notice. It still ends up with the necessary buttery (or not! — dairy-free option is below), crispy topping over sweet-tart fruit. Begging for a scoop of ice cream — we donned ours with my favorite dairy-free version to-date — recipe coming in a near-future post.

Be sure an make this on a night you can share it — it tastes best the day it’s made (though I’ll confess to eating our leftovers the day after, with not a breath of complaint between mouth-fulls).

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Recipe: Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp (grain-free, optional dairy-free, GAPS-adaptable)

: serves 6-8, inspired by this recipe from A Couple Cooks

This recipe can be made legal for the GAPS diet by omitting the balsamic vinegar and starch thickener. The filling will lose a little flavor complexity (try substituting 1 Tbsp lemon juice for the vinegar), and will be very soupy without a thickener. One way to help alleviate this problem is to combine the filling ingredients, let the fruits exude juices, then drain the filling before pouring into the baking dish. After baking, you can also carefully pour off some of the excess liquid.

Ingredients

for the filling:

  • 2 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb (about 3/4 pound, stalks chopped into 1/2″ pieces)
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups hulled and sliced strawberries (a heavy quart, or 1 pound)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (omit for GAPS)
  • 6 Tbsp honey
  • pinch salt
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca or corn starch (omit for GAPS, see note)

for the topping:

  • 1/4 cup chopped shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 4 Tbsp butter (sub coconut oil for dairy-free)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Have ready an 8″ square baking dish, or pie plate.
  2. In a large bowl, combine fruits, lemon zest, optional vinegar, honey, and salt. Toss well to combine.
  3. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine the nuts, almond flour, and salt. Using a fork, stir in the butter (or coconut oil) and honey. The topping will be gooey.
  4. Pour the fruit into the prepared baking dish. Using your fingers, dot the topping mixture over top of the fruit, spreading as evenly as possible (some fruit will still be visible underneath).
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the top is golden and the fruit bubbly. Cool for 15 minutes, or to room temperature. Best served the day it’s made, topped with a scoop of ice cream.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, and the Strawberry Seasonal Recipe Roundup, via GNOWFGLINS.

Garlic scape pesto

One of my favorite things to do is go to the farmer’s market, stand at the table of one of the vendors, pick something up, and have to say, “What’s this?”

My agricultural ignorance continues, and I hope it never stops.

Last weekend it happened with these beauties:

Garlic scapes.

The stalk of the garlic bulb — I’d heard the name but never seen them. The farmer* sold a bunch to me for a buck, and told me to use them in stir-fry, that they needed to be cooked a little.

But for some reason when he said the name, “garlic scape,” the next word that came to mind was “pesto.”

So I came home, googled it, whipped up a batch, and proceeded to eat almost all of it (alone) in just three days. I bought five more bunches at yesterday’s market — I’ve no plans to be without a jar of this in my fridge anytime soon.

Fiercely pungent, with a solid kick. Performs a small miracle on a plate of scrambled eggs, and if I were a bread-eating girl right now, I’d for sure be spreading it on a tomato sandwich. For now I’ll settle with a carrier of grain-free crackers, looking forward to more adventures next summer when I’m back on the grain wagon.

*These scapes came from Wild’s Apple Farm, which sells chemical-free produce at the Broad Ripple Farmer’s Market.

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Recipe: Garlic Scape Pesto

: makes about 3/4 cup

very closely adapted from this recipe

Ingredients

  • 8-10 garlic scapes, trimmed of small bulbs at end of stalk
  • 1/2 cup almonds (could sub walnuts)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash scapes, and chop into 1″ pieces. Place in bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add almonds, and process until a paste forms (scrape down bowl as necessary).
  2. With machine running, slowly pour in 1/2 cup olive oil.
  3. Add parmesan, pulse to combine.
  4. Thin with additional 1/4 cup olive oil if necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Can be served immediately, but flavor mellows a bit with time.
  6. Store in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to a week.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

 

Ode to the English Pea

I had not known you
except from a plastic bag,
poured out from a hole
cut in the corner with scissors.

My children stopped me there,
preferring you frozen,
Popping each icy kelly pearl into discriminate mouths
after discarding the shriveled.

But today little hands
instead of picking through a frosted pile,
pulled apart pods,
bags of the garden.

They learned what it takes to get a single pea.
And we tasted you for the first time fresh,
steamy dressed in butter and salt,
eating the work of our hands in quick delight.

Lemon honey pots de creme with mint-honeyed strawberries (dairy-free)

Cream, in all of its thick, decadent, buttery glory. It rises to the top of our milk jugs, this time of year a good 2″ layer of pale yellow richness (the color from the beta carotene, from the grass the cows munch to make the milk).

I miss cream. Heavy, whipped, frozen, or liquored.

There is no all-encompassing substitute for dairy cream — believe me, I’ve searched high and low to find it. The closest I’ve come is my beloved coconut cream — though it’s not entirely the same, especially in flavor. Rich, yes — but it lacks the depth of dairy cream. The buttery, almost salty, fragrant nose.

It just can’t be replaced.

But for some applications, you can come darned close. And one dessert I recently discovered held its own in the dairy-free department: pots de creme (pronounced po-day-crehm), or as we like to say in the low-brow, non-French-speaking world, baked custards.

Coconut milk (and/or cream) combines with egg yolks to create a thick, flan-like texture. Flavored with lemon and honey, the coconut almost disappears — especially when paired with tart-sweet, minted strawberries. A decadent, dairy-free summer dessert, with no refined sweeteners.

It’s enough to keep a dairy-lovin’, dairy-free girl placated for just a few more months, until my world includes cow’s milk again.

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Recipe: Lemon Pots de Creme (dairy-free, GAPS-ok*)

: makes 4-6 custards, depending on size of cups

Ingredients

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 cups full-fat coconut milk (or 1 cup full-fat coconut milk and 1 cup unsweetened coconut cream)
  • 1/3 cup mild honey
  • heavy pinch salt
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325º, and have ready 4-6 ramekins, oven-proof mugs, or jars, along with a baking pan large enough to hold them without touching (and deep enough to hold water halfway up the sides of the cups). Put on a pot of water to heat almost to boiling for the water bath.
  2. In a medium saucepan, warm the coconut milk (and cream, if using), honey, and salt until the honey dissolves.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. While whisking the yolks vigorously, ladle in some of the warm milk to temper. Return the milk and yolks to the saucepan, whisking thoroughly.
  4. Strain the coconut milk & egg mixture into a bowl or 4-cup measuring cup with a pour spout (straining is optional, but helps the final texture). Add the lemon zest and vanilla, and stir well.
  5. Divide the custard evenly among the cups in the baking pan. Place the pan in the oven, and pour hot (not boiling) water into the pan so that it reaches halfway up the sides of the cups.
  6. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until custards are set in the middle. Remove cups to a rack, and let cool completely at room temperature.
  7. Cover cups with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled. Serve topped with mint-honeyed strawberries, recipe below.

* Canned coconut milk can contain guar gum or other starch-based agents, use only if tolerated.

 

Recipe: Mint Honeyed Strawberries

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, and vanilla. Add the strawberries, and toss to coat.
  2. Let stand 5-10 minutes at room temperature, or until juices release.
  3. Add mint, and toss gently. Serve immediately.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

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On regrets

I could have ridden a watusi today.

I don’t know what stopped me. Maybe it was the massive horns. Maybe the way the watusi looked at my shyly, almost sweetly, and I just couldn’t imagine putting her out that way.

Actually — no, I know exactly what it was. It was my mom-ness, my holding-things-together-ness. It was my needing-to-know-what’s-next-ness. My awkward-ness.

It was fearful-ness.

Fearful of what? you might rightly wonder.

I have no idea. is my unacceptable answer.

All of this bucket-list-mucking (confession: I don’t really have a bucket list to muck — perhaps this will spawn an all-out intervention?) happened at a place called Bison World, north of Indianapolis. You can read all the details of my visit in next week’s NUVO — but in short, it’s a farm that raises grass-fed bison (and other “pets,” such as the ride-worthy watusi — not the one pictured above), and sells the meat locally, or anywhere else in the world. The farm was beautiful, the bison majestic, in that dusty, fly-covered sort of way.

We grilled bison burgers tonight, and their praises were sung far and wide. Much more tender, much less gamey than I expected. There’s a future for ground bison in our deep freezer, even if my golden opportunity for watusi-riding is now firmly in the past.

There’s a life lesson in here somewhere.

Oh, right: grab the bull by the horns.