StrawBerry Rhubarb Pie

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Summer is creeping up, the flowers are dropping petals, Dallas days are warmer, and it’s almost prime Strawberry season. This is my first Texas summer. It can’t be any worse than a summer in Miami, can it?

Regardless, our summer weekends will be spent at the gym and poolside BBQ. Thanks to my new pie filling recipe, movie nights just got a little sweeter.

One of my goals in life is to be an extraordinarily fantastic baker. Not just muffins, cookies and cakes. No, I’m talking doughs. When you have graduated to feeling comfortable working dough, it’s next level baking. Once you master bread and yeast, hats off to you!

My personal favorite baking adventure is fruit pies. I spend hours a day, for sometimes weeks at a time, researching pastry dough recipes. Once you have mastered the pie crust, you will want to use this type of dough for everything. Biscuits, tarts, galettes, etc…

I’ll save you some time and share the articles I found most helpful in the popular debate, butter vs. shortening. Sally explains it well on her blog, however she uses a mixture of the two. I prefer an all butter crust, always have. What exactly is in shortening anyways? Ew… I like the light layers butter crusts create and I love the flavor of butter! If you want to visibly SEE the difference that I am talking about, check out King Arthur’s blog post. I use Martha Stewarts double pie crust recipe with King Arthur’s Organic all purpose flour. You can omit the sugar if you like, but don’t skip the salt. Salt enhances sweet flavors. I always use European butter, but for this pie I used Grass Fed Irish butter and omitted the sugar.

This was a complete experimental pie. In the crust I switched out butters, dropped the sugar and folded the dough over itself a few times (like when you made buttermilk biscuits to get those big layers) before wrapping and chilling it. I also used these very juicy fruits to test the thickening agent ratio. I hate when you make a pie pool. =(  Read this article to determine how much and which thickener is the right choice for your fruit pies! The filling for this pie was adapted from this recipe.

OH and the fancy heart top? I thought you’d never ask. Put your mouse over the images to see the notes. I am going to elaborate this process of the pie cutter in my BlueBerry Pie Recipe post.

#TheFarmTableTESTkitchen is going to be my new hashtag for IG!

PIE CRUST TIPS

  • Cut up butter into small squares and freeze for at least 30 minutes before you start cutting into the flour.
  • If you have a warm kitchen, or your oven is hot, freeze pastry cutter and dry ingredients for 10 min or until chilled.
  • KEEP INGREDIENTS AND TOOLS COLD COLD COLD
  • Use parchment paper to form dough discs
  • Weigh your flour! Consistency is key. That is why this recipe has been around over 100 years.
  • Watch tutorials until you can visualize what to expect from your dough as you add water.

Pictured below is how I lift my dough and roll it into the dish. Just roll it up on your pin, lift and unroll! The key to sucess is cold dough and a well floured surface. If your dough gets sticky, chill it for 10 min.

 

INGREDIENTS 

  • Two chilled pie crusts
  • 2 1/2 cups Strawberries
  • 2 1/2 cup diced Rhubarb 1/2 inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon orange extract (can use orange zest)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 425 and place rack in lower third of the oven.
  2. Whisk cornstarch and water in large bowl until well combined.
  3. Add sugar, fruit, and extracts and mix well. Let sit for 3o min.
  4. Roll out bottom pie crust on floured surface, lightly butter bottom of glass pie dish and fit crust into dish. (Roll over pin, fold into quarters, whatever your method is!)
  5. Fill pie with filling and throw a few small chunks of butter randomly on top (1-2 tablespoons divided 4-5 ways). Place in the fridge while you roll out of the top.
  6. Roll top crust on a floured surface, if you are using a pie cutter like the one I used, transfer pie crust to parchment paper on a large tray and refrigerate for at least 15 min before cutting.
  7. Place top on pie, flute and crimp the edges, and brush with egg wash. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and bake for 20 min at 425.
  8. Take pie out, cover with crust shield. Move rack to the middle and lower temp to 350. Bake for an additional 30-40 min or until crust is golden and filling is bubbling.
  9. Let pie cool and set on a wire rack 4-5 hours before cutting. The filling will fall apart if you cut it sooner! If you want to serve a warm pie, reheat at 350 for 20/30 min.

*NOTE: Cooking times vary depending on your oven and altitudes. Watch your pie!

 

Paleo Blueberry Lemon Loaf

HellooOo from Dallas, Texas!! My absence has partly been due to our cross country move. Now I wake up to birds and wild flowers in my back yard. Life is full of surprises.😉

My Southern Cooking Skills are much more appreciated in these parts. A classic, rustic recipe get a fresh Paleo spin in this post. Enjoy!

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These simple ingredients bake up a moist, rustic looking breakfast bread. Ditch the sugar and gluten! This bread is bursting with lemon flavor and sweetened by natural maple syrup.

  • 1 and 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (source)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour, sifted (source)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 organic eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil or ghee, melted
  • 1/3 cup raw honey or organic maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp organic lemon juice
  • zest from organic 2 lemons
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen organic blueberries

For accuracy in baking recipes, always weigh the flours. Free conversions are available with a quick google search.

  1. Preheat oven to 350′ F.  Grease a loaf pan and cut a piece of parchment paper to line the bottom of pan.
  2. Combine almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Whisk together eggs, coconut oil, honey/maple syrup, lemon juice, and lemon zest until well combined.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until well incorporated. Let set 7-10 minutes before baking to allow coconut flour to absorb the moisture.
  5. Spread one third of the batter onto bottom of prepared pan.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the blueberries on top.  Spread another third of the batter and another third of the blueberries.  Repeat one more time with the remaining batter and berries.
  6. Bake 35-37 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cover with foil if top begins to brown too much.  Remove from oven and allow to cool. (I had to bake 40 min and cover with foil for 10 more min in my oven), watch your bread not the timer.

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Rosemary & Garlic Ribeye Roast (Roast Beef)

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Both my mother & father-in-law have birthdays within a week of each other. For Mom we gathered last Saturday night at Painting with a Twist. If you haven’t visited one of those franchises I highly recommend it. It was a lot of fun and relaxing. We sipped champagne and painted a sunset and sunflowers on a canvas.

When I got the phone call for dad’s birthday dinner request, I was thrilled! So easy to please, roast beef, medium rare. SOLD!

Ask your butcher for a boneless Ribeye Roast. 3 pounds is the perfect amount for 4 people. However, this one is 4 pounds because we believe in leftovers at this house. It’s best to let this roast sit out on a plate for a few hours before you sear it to get the chill off it. I took mine out at 3 and started searing it at 5.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs Rib Eye roast
  • ¼ cup chopped Fresh rosemary
  • ¼ cup chopped garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 4 cups of a variety of Mushrooms, sliced to about the same size
  • 1 cup of stock
  • 1/4-1/2 cup red wine

Preheat oven to 350F. Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a cast iron pan. (Or oven safe pan if you don’t have cast iron). Chop up rosemary and garlic. Combine in bowl together and mix in about 2-3 table spoons of olive oil. Set aside.

Rub salt and pepper all over the roast, on all sides. Course salt is a great choice for big cuts of meat.

Once pan is very hot, sear all sides of the roast. Using tongs, take it out of the pan, turn off heat, and place on a plate. Brush the rosemary mixture all over the roast. Gently place back in pan and put into oven for 40 minutes until thermometer reads 145 for medium rare. If your garlic starts to burn, tear off a piece of aluminum foil and lightly cover the top of the roast.

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While your roast is resting (for at least 10 min) start your red wine mushroom sauce…

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Heat olive oil over medium in a French style skillet. Lightly brown the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper to taste. I spooned a few table spoons of juice from the roast pan over top of the mushrooms to give them a little more flavor. Turn up the heat to medium high and pour in red wine. Let it simmer and reduce to about half. {I used more mushrooms than 4 cups so I needed about 1/2 cup wine, adjust accordingly.} Once reduced add broth and rosemary sprig and let simmer for about 10 minutes, reducing down and thickening up. Taste, adjust seasoning if needed. Stir in butter and remove from heat.

Place roast on serving platter and slice. Pour sauce around the roast and garnish with a few rosemary sprigs.

Perfection!

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Classic Cherry Pie

Oh my! It’s cherry pie😉

Sweet, tart, a hint of almonds, and a flaky butter crust. GOD BLESS AMERICA! This recipe needs a proper intro.

Don’t be intimidated, it’s as simple as it should be…

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This recipe is simple and can be modified based on what cherries you find in your store. The crust is Martha Stewart’s recipe. Always look for salt-free European butter when you shop. It makes a nice flaky crust.

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A classic American cherry pie is made from fresh, tart cherries and lemon juice with a dash of almond extract. This recipe is coming from a Carolina girl. I grew up eating fruit pies at every fourth of July party in my neighborhood in North Carolina summer after summer.

You can modify this recipe based on your favorite flavors. Trade the almond for bourbon or vanilla. Or both! I used 3/4 Almond extract and 1/4 Vanilla in this one. Typically you would use only tart cherries and 1 cup of sugar. In this situation, I was making this pie for my father-in-law’s birthday. He is a diabetic. So instead of sweetening this pie with sugar, I used a combination of tart and dark sweet cherries. The dark cherries sweeten the pie naturally, and to make up for the difference, I added only a quarter cup Swerve sweetener.

I found a sugar alternate that replaces sugar in baking recipes 1 to 1. It’s call Swerve. Check it out!

Anyways, if you only find a pound of tart cherries and a pound of dark cherries, don’t sweat it. Just adjust the sugar to half a cup and add a little more lemon juice.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups (2 pounds) frozen tart cherries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • turbinado or raw sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
  • Your favorite double crust pie recipe

 

Preheat oven to 400F and place rack in center of oven.

Prepare your bottom pie crust in plate and refrigerate. Leave second one chilling until ready to make lattice topping.

Toss frozen cherries with 1/2 cup of sugar. Place in a fine mesh strainer or colander set over a bowl to catch any juices. Let sit, stirring occasionally to redistribute the juices, for about 1 hour or until cherries are mostly thawed and 1/4-1/2 cup of liquid has drained out the bottom.

Dump drained cherries into a saucepan with lemon juice. Whisk remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch into reserved cherry juice until smooth and no visible cornstarch chunks remain. Fold into saucepan with cherries. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring gently and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan, until mixture comes to a boil and juices have noticeably thickened, about 1-2 minutes after the mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract. Let cool then pour into chilled crust and return to the refrigerator.

Roll out your top crust. Follow these instructions to create a lattice top.

Brush with egg and milk wash and bake in oven for 35-40 minutes. Until pie crust is golden and cherries are bubbling. If the edges start getting too brown cover them with foil strips. WATCH YOUR PIE! I added another 7-9 minutes for this one.

Let cool on a wire rack for 3 hours. If you cut it sooner it will get destroyed, so don’t be tempted! Sprinkle with almonds and serve room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Your friends and family are going to be super impressed.

 

Then sing the star spangled banner.

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Cinnamon Banana Bread w/ cocao chips

This bread is packed with all my favorites. Coconut, 85% cocao, cinnamon (a lot!), bananas, whole wheat flour. Mmm.. This bread is heavenly. Stay away gluten free friends, this one is not for you!😉 100% Organic, as always.

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Ingredients: 

  • 5 very ripe bananas
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of cinnamon
  • 5oz dark chocolate chips (70-85%)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 350F. Line bread pan with parchment paper and spray with coconut oil.

Combine dry ingredients. Set aside. Mash bananas, add sugar and mix well. Beat the remainder of the wet ingredients into the bananas until well incorporated.

Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients, careful not to over mix. Fold in chocolate and chopped walnuts. Place a few chips and nuts on top to make the top look nicer. Bake in middle of oven for 1 hour. Cover with foil it top gets brown. Let cool on wire rack.

Leek, Potato & Spinach Stew

It finally feels like winter time in Florida (if that is possible). The sky is a cool, misty grey, and the temps are in the mid 60’s most of the day with chilly wind. We live on Miami Beach, also known (in the gardening world) as Zone 11. You thought it ended at Zone 9? LOL. I wish! Yep. It’s really that hot here in the summer. What does that mean to me? Time to start planting things! January is the best time to start your flowers & veggies. You can get two crops before July comes, and your flowers will be in full bloom come March.

My dilemma, aside of this cold front outside…. is that we just moved into an apartment by the beach. The only gardening space I have is a staircase with a small, windy balcony. My Meyer lemon tree lives there now and will soon be joined by cascading purple and white petunias I am planting in railing planters. This year it’s all about urban gardening for me. I’m excited for the challenge of growing big things in small spaces. Seems to be the theme around this house lately.

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Cold day = Warm soup.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 2 Hot Italian chicken or turkey sausage links
  • 2 cups chopped leeks (about 2 leeks)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, sliced small
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt + more to taste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound new or small potatoes, halved or thinly sliced
  • 4 cups reduced sodium organic chicken broth (I use bone broth)
  • 8 oz spinach (two large handfuls)
  • 1/4 head napa (green) cabbage, chopped
  • 1 15 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained. Preferably no salt added.
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs; dill, parsley, etc…

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage and leeks and cook, stirring occasionally and crumbling the sausage with a wooden spoon, until the leeks are tender, about 5 min. Add garlic and salt and stir until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add wine, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover and cook until the wine is almost evaporated, about 4 min. Add potatoes and broth; cover and bring to a boil. Stir in spinach, and cabbage and cook, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 5 min. Lower heat to low and stir in beans. Let it come together a few min then serve with fresh herbs on top.

Quinoa Banana Berry Bake

This has to be my favorite gluten free and vegan recipe. It’s similar to an oatmeal bake, but with a super grain. Bananas cooked in coconut oil and baked dates give it a natural sweetness. Toasted pecans and cinnamon warm the flavor. Topped with coconut flakes and fresh berries. YUM.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 3 medium bananas, diagonally sliced
  • 1-2 cups chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 375*F

Start Quinoa. Bring 1 cup quinoa and 2 cup water to boil. Reduce to simmer and cover. (As directed)

Heat a skillet over medium heat, swirl to coat with coconut oil. Once warm, toss in bananas and lightly caramelize on both sides. Continue, setting the bananas on a plate aside when finished. Wipe out your pan and add a couple drops more oil. Set aside.

Note: Using bananas that are slightly green helps them from getting too soft.

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Chop pecans and dates. Once quinoa is cooked, stir in dates, cinamon and half the bananas. Mix well and spread the mixture in the pan you cooked the bananas in. Top with remaining bananas, and pecans. Bake for 10-12 min, until nuts are toasted and fragrant.

Let it cool for a few min and top with berries and coconut flakes. Enjoy!

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I have given this recipe to my healthy cooking friends for the past two years. They all make it and love it. I’ve served it at several brunch parties too. It’s a great dish to make the night before and reheat. I like mine with a  fried egg on top!

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Beef, Mushroom, & Red Pepper stuffed Kabocha Squash

Today feels like New Years day for me. We sold our house in Broward and closed yesterday morning. So, waking up this morning with a huge task completed really feels like starting fresh. We are settled into our cute beach apartment on Miami Beach and ready to tackle 2016 head on.

Now, time to catch back up on the fun things in life. First thing first, sharing this awesome Gluten Free recipe I made for dinner a few nights ago. I have already gotten great feed back on it from my fitness friends and health foodies alike. This recipe is packed with vitamins and great nutrition. Oh, and it’s delicious.😉

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My original plan was to use acorn squash but my Whole Foods was out of it that day. So I picked up a couple of Kabocha squash instead. The main difference is that this squash is slightly sweeter and has a texture more like pumpkin or a sweet potato. It cooks a little faster too which is great. I did a little nutrition research on this squash and found it is rich in beta caroteneironvitamin Cpotassium, and smaller traces of calciumfolic acid, and minute amounts of B vitamins. Win, win if you ask me!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Acorn or Kabocha Squash (equal size if possible)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium sweet or red onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lb. organic grass fed ground beef
  • 2 cups Baby Bella mushrooms or Shitake – chopped
  • 1 small green or red bell pepper, seeded, cored, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • A dash of spicy curry, red pepper, or other spice, to taste
  • Sea Salt to taste, divided.
  • 2 red or yellow tomatoes, seeded, diced
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried Italian Herbs, to taste- basil, oregano, marjoram, sage, thyme
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 cup Organic Ketchup
  • 1/2 cup of gluten-free organic beef broth (only if you need extra liquid to prevent from drying out – explained later)
  • Fresh chopped parsley, as needed
First, preheat oven to 400F to cook the squash. Cut them open and scoop out the seeds. Poke some holes in them with a fork. Drizzle the insides with a few table spoons of olive oil and maple syrup. Don’t be afraid of putting to much you are going to use this later. Sprinkle with sea salt. If you use acorn squash and they are a little tippy, cut off a flat spot on the bottom side so they don’t fall over.
You can use any type of pan that you can put an inch or two of water in the bottom. I used glass pyrex.  Throw them in the oven, and roast until fork tender but not completely soft. About 30-40 min.
Now, start your filling…
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Heat olive oil in a pan over medium. Sauté onions until you get some good color on them. Toss in garlic, stirring, careful not to burn. Next toss in the peppers, mushrooms and continue to cook, stirring. Once your veggies are going, throw in the meat and start browning, breaking it up. Season with salt to taste, start off with 1/4 teaspoon each of Cumin and Nutmeg. I added more later when it was cooked enough to taste. I also tossed in a pinch of red pepper, cayenne, and curry. I like a little heat. Add about a 1/4 cup ketchup and a splash of balsamic. Bring to a gentle simmer and let it come together for about 5-10 min. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. I ended up with plenty of liquid so I didn’t need to use any beef broth. If you have less liquid than the picture above add some broth to keep the filling from drying out in the next step.
Take squash out of the oven and once cool enough to handle, drain the extra oil and syrup into a measuring cup and set aside.
Fill up your squashes with your filling and top each with the extra liquid in the measuring cup.
Add more water to the pan if it evaporated, lower temp to 350F, and cook for 3o minutes more. You can cover them with foil if you think they will dry out.
They are done when squash is finished cooking and is soft and fork tender.
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Top with fresh parsley.
This recipe is fast and really easy. I hope you enjoy!
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Caramel Pear Pastry

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I remember the time I visited France. I was 18 and traveling Europe with my best friend for the summer. I can still remember the taste of the berry tarts from the French bakeries.  With a french press coffee? Heaven.

This recipe came from Vikalinka, a blog that inspires me to bake outside the box. I’ll definitely be testing some of her baking recipes this year. She makes simple, elegant desserts.

 

INGREDIENTS 

  • One sheet of all butter puff pastry.
  • 4 ripe pears
  • 8 teaspoons of Demerara sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Double cream/whipping cream – 8 tsp
  • Course Sea Salt, a pinch.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Roll out your puff pastry on a floured sheet of parchment paper about 1/4 inch think. Cut it into 8 pieces.

Cut two L shapes in each of the 8 pieces. Brush the corners with a dab of egg wash, lift the corners, place one over the other and twist. In the picture above I only twisted opposing corners, which is fine too. Next, brush the entire surface with egg wash and refrigerate them on a baking sheet for 30 min.

Peel and core the pears, slice up the halves nicely. Place half a pear on each pastry and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cream on each. Magically those two things together make caramel. Top them off with a pinch of sea salt.

Bake for 30-35 min. Keep and eye on your pastry and always use the center of the oven.