Monday, June 8, 2015

Fiesta Almond Peach Pie

Such a pretty pie, such a lot of work!
My very favorite pie in the world is a fresh peach pie that my mother makes. It is a pretty simple pie that is mostly elevated by using really fresh, ripe, local peaches. Which means it is a fleeting pleasure of late summer days, and is more appreciated for it. So I was pretty excited to try another peach pie!

As a vintage recipe, and one from the other side of the pond, this required some interpretations. Here is the original recipe:

I'm not used to recipes quite so vintage, so I translated it as best I could. 

Fiesta Almond Peach Pie



    •  6 oz dark chocolate chopped
    • 2 tbs butter
    • 2 tbs castor sugar
    • 1/2 milk
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1/2 c crushed almonds
    • 2 c shortbread biscuit crumbs
    • dash of lemon juice


    • 10 peach halves
    • cognac
    • almond marzipan meal
    • 1 dessertspoon butter
    • 2 tbs brown sugar
    • 3 tbs peach juice
    • 1 tbs lemon zest
    • 1 egg divided
    • 2 tbs gelatine
    • 1/2 pint cream
    • almond extract


    1. Melt chocolate, butter, and sugar in bowl over saucepan, Mix in egg yolk and milk and remove from heat. Stir in crushed almonds and shortbread crumbs and lemon juice. Press into bottom and sides of 9 inch springform tin. Chill until set.
    2. Take peach halves and sprinkle with cognac, fill each half with almond marzipan meal then arrange on the bottom of chilled crust.
    3. In a saucepan, mix butter, brown sugar, peach juice, lemon juice. Heat until sugar is dissolved, then cool and stir in yolk and gelatine softened in a little water. Stir until dissolved. Fold in stiffly beaten egg white until fully mixed, then fold in stiffly beaten whipped cream flavored with almond extract. Spread on top of peaches. Chill until set, decorate with melted dark chocolate swirls.

 Initially, my biggest question on reading this recipe was what is marzipan meal and how do I get it. Google is not your friend in answering this question, since marzipan is made with almond meal, so most of the results are about that. I figured it was either almond meal or marzipan ground up, so I split the difference and used both!

First up is the crust. I made shortbread cookies last week for this--a very simple vegan recipe with white and brown sugar and margarine. For this part of the pie, the food processor is your friend. First I blitzed the granulated sugar to make caster sugar, then I used it on the almonds, then the chocolate, then the shortbread. I love that machine!

The chocolate, butter, and sugar go in a double boiler (bowl over saucepan is more like it!) until they melt and combine. The egg is divided and the yolk and milk are combined (I used soy milk--almond milk may have been more almond appropriate, but soy is higher in fat and I find it better for baking substitutes like this.) This is added slowly to the chocolate mixture, while still on the heat. This makes a thick mousse like mixture, to which the crumbs and almonds are added. It was not as thick as I would have liked--I used all the cookies I made (cough that I didn't eat cough), or I would have added more.

It slumped in the pan, so I used wax paper and my pie beans to chill it and then try to wrest it back into shape. It took several hours to get cooled enough, and part of that was in the freezer. While that cooled I made dark chocolate shapes--I'm not very creative so they are mostly loops--and mowed my lawn. Today is the hottest day of the year so far--almost 90 degrees, no wonder none of the chocolate wanted to set outside of the freezer.

Lawn mowing done and crust chilled, I turned to the filling. Besides the dairy substitutions I made one really big substitution--I used fresh peaches. They were on sale! Apparently it is peach season in Argentina, so they were really ripe and smelled so good! The canned peaches were so tinny--they smelled metalic. I did buy a can--I used the juice along with some peach nectar to make the juice the recipe calls for. Using a method I learned from some cookbook I read once--I cooked it down in the microwave to make a syrup.

I pealed the peaches--they were delicious and ripe, but they were the kind that cling to the pit, which required them to be sliced and wrenched from the pits. So no peach halves! So juicy and ripe I may have eaten more than a few slices. I poured on some of the peach syrup (I don't do booze) and tossed them with marzipan and almonds blitzed in the food processor. They then go into the cooled crust.

This is where the real fun begins--haha! Actually this is where the really crazy stuff starts. Basically you make a marshmallow--with more gelatin than any single person should put in any dish. I've made marshmallows and they were easier than this.  Anyway, make syrup, add to beaten egg whites, fold in whipped cream. At this point the gelatin has set so it curdles and is hard to fold in either--it would be better if you used the method for making marshmallows where the hot syrup is poured over whites being beaten in the mixer. To try to rescue this I stuck the whole gloopy mix in the standmixer and whipped it until somewhat smooth. This nasty textured mixture is spread over the delicious peaches, and the whole concoction is chilled.

 So at this point I had mixed thoughts on this pie--all of the elements tasted good, though the topping had a funky texture. I was invited over for dinner and offered to bring this pie--I should have made a back up dessert, but I figured folks could eat the delicious crust and yummy peaches. This probably was the biggest mistake I made. My family may never forgive me for making them eat this. NEVER FORGET and NEVER forgive!

So I should have realized this was going to be a problem when in trying to take the pie out of the pan the shell stuck to the pan to the point that the pan broke. Yes, this crust was so strong and sticky that it broke my brand new springform pan! I managed to get it together enough to snap a pretty picture, but cutting it was a nightmare because the crust also stuck to the bottom of the pan. The topping had so much gelatin that it could be dropped out of a plane and land in the same shape, can you say boing!

Verdict: Somewhere between hot mess and train wreck--my family actually had an extensive discussion about the difference between the two, including references to Urban Dictionary as I tried to portion it out. Personally, I lean more towards train wreck--it is too chilled to be a hot mess!

I actually liked the taste well enough, but I was the only person to finish my piece. My sister said the chocolate swirls on top were nice--so that is one positive bit of feedback.There are a lot of issues with this pie--ironically the only thing I would probably do again in this dish is the one thing I was most concerned with--the marzipan. I thought the peaches tossed with ground up marzipan and almonds and peach syrup were delicious, but the crust and topping were epic FAILS. I actually was sad about the shortbread cookies and chocolate who gave their lives for this pie.

Hopefully I will come up with something great to win back their trust so I can bring dessert again! Suggestions for a crowd pleaser dessert are welcome.

 I'm looking forward to all of the other Vintage pies in the Second Annual Pieathalon--particularly how the person who got the recipe I selected turned out! Check out the other posts below:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Second Annual Pieathon

One would need to be adventurous to cook from a book with this cover!
My sister tells me I am an adventurous cook, which isn't to say a good cook. I think she means that I'm willing to try anything, to venture outside of my comfort zone and explore a strange veggie or a pie that involves gelatin, canned peaches, marzipan, and raw eggs. Honestly, I get excited at the idea of trying something new--a recipe I've not made before, or even better a food I've never made. 

So I was thrilled to hear about the second annual Pieathon. I enjoyed last year's pie, and volunteered right away to participate--even though my blog has been dormant for a long time. Selecting a recipe to send was a perfect excuse to hit up the thrift store for an ideal pie--I may have bought more than one book, just in case I changed my mind!

Since I've gone vegetarian I requested pie with no meat--apparently loads of pies sent in involved various animal products. The pie I received was vegetarian--not vegan. I made some substitutions and used some local pasture raised eggs. I'm very excited to see all of the other pies--and see how my submission turned out!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Good News, Bad News

So the good news is that I am not Gluten intolerant! The bad news--apparently the shear horror of the gluten trial sapped me of the energy to blog. Ha!

Fortunately I've still been cooking, still eating healthy, kept most of my weight off. I've started to use Pepperplate to track my recipes, which is awesome to load on the computer and view on my phone where ever I'm cooking.

Here are some fun things I've made lately:
Birthday Cake--Yellow with chocolate frosting!

Tangerine Sweet Rolls
Chinese New Year Feast

Friday, July 18, 2014

Gluten Free Trial

I went in for a health check up on Monday, I've been struggling with achy joints in the morning, and persistent knee problems, as well as a general feeling that I'm not as healthy as I should be. The doctor suggested that the inflammation in my joints could be a food sensitivity and that doing a gluten free trial might provide some relief. This was not something I wanted to hear. As I told the doctor, gluten is the elastic that holds my world together! I love breads, cakes, cookies, crackers, tabboleah, kibbie, rye, barley, wheat, spelt, but most particularly bread. The doctor was actually laughing at how sad I was that I might not get to eat bread for two weeks. But as skeptical as I am in this, I am willing to try anything for two weeks.

Here's my thought--if I am going to do this, I'm going to do it right. I'm wiping things down to get any wheat off of things, cooking gluten free dishes, tracking down gluten free ingredients, and planning out menus that will allow me to eat as close to normally as usual without gluten. I worry that if I were to just go out and buy gluten free processed foods I would have a reaction to switching to processed foods from natural foods that would disguise any change due to the lack of gluten. So I'm going to make some dishes I've made before, and try to make sure no gluten sneaks in!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Simone's Pet Strawberry Pie

At last, after a month of cooking a variety of pies, here is the long awaited Pieathalon Pie swap pie recipe! I was assigned Simone's Strawberry Pie, which was simultaneously a relief and a disappointment. Having read through the archives of many a recipe swap I'd looked forward to a crazy vintage recipe combining strange ingredients in never before thought of ways. Of course, I hadn't looked forward to eating it, and this recipe produced a lovely pie that I've been happy to eat most of myself!

I will say that for a recipe that calls for Jello and a prepared pie crust this was remarkably tricky and I even used a shortcut not available when Simone wrote this recipe. Out of general squeamishness I used pasteurized egg whites since they aren't cooked in this recipe, and I had to whip up two batches to get them airy enough to fold into the egg yolk custard. I did make another change--because I'm bad at following directions, and jazzed up the pureed strawberries with some lemon zest. 

The eggs were the hardest part of the whole thing--cooking the yolks over the water bath without them curdling, then getting the whites beaten up enough to fold in. I used less sugar  in the whites, because the first time I added the sugar it deflated the whites. So the second time I added half as much sugar--which was plenty.

I was a big worried about the jello--the recipe called for strawberry gelatin, but no indication of the size of packet. The package I used was pretty small, so I worried it would not set up properly. This turned out not to be a concern, as the whole thing came together very well. In fact there was extra filling, more than could fit in the graham cracker crust. I figure that maybe the crust Simone used was bigger.


The filled pie goes in the fridge to set up. I left mine in there overnight because I wasn't ready to eat it after I made it, but it set up after a couple of hours. I topped it with sliced strawberries as directed, and served it with strawberry puree and whipped cream from a can. You can probably see the texture in the picture--it was super light and airy, with a good strawberry flavor.

One thing I really liked about this recipe was that the pie held onto the water and didn't leak liquid like other pies I've made. So it was good for several days after it was made, which is nice when it is just me to eat it over the week.

I was pretty lucky with this recipe from Jenny of Silver Screen Suppers--if you want to check out some other lucky bakers trying their hands at pie construction I listed the links at the end of the post!
Brian of Caker Cooking – Chess Pie
Mimi of The Retro WW Experiment – Nesselrode Pie
Erica of Retro Recipe Attempts – Curried Egg Pie
Jenny of Silver Screen Suppers –Mile-High Lemon Chiffon Pie
S.S. of A Book of Cookrye — Upside Down Chicken Pie
Sarah of Directionally Challenged Cooking –Simone’s Pet Strawberry Pie
Kelli of Kelli’s Kitchen –Butterscotch Pie
Ashley of A Pinch of Vintage –Schoolteacher Pie
Poppy of Granny Pantries –Black Bottom Pie
Carrie of Ginger Lemon Girl –Chocolate “Pie”
Emily of Dinner is Served 1972 –Seafoam Cantaloupe Pie

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Moroccan Chicken Pie

I love, love, LOVE the flavors of this dish--similar to the Chicken Tagine I made a while back. In fact, I made it even more like that dish by adding the olives and preserved lemon. This is out of one of the books I bought at the thrift store, and I was happy that I could find a savory pie dish that wasn't the same old thing.

    • 2 tbs butter
    • 3 lbs chicken breasts and thighs
    • 1 lrg onion chopped fine
    • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ground ginger
    • 2 tsp ground cumin
    • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne or to taste
    • 1 tsp ras al hanaut
    • pinch saffon soaked in 2 tbs warm water
    • 1/2 c chicken stock
    • 1 c egg substitute
    • 1/2 c cilantro
    • 1/4 c chopped parsley
    • 1/3 c chopped olives
    • 1/2 chopped preserved lemon
    • 16 sheets filo pastry


    1. Melt the butter in a dutch oven, add chicken, onion, spices, and the stock. Add salt and pepper and cook until chicken is cooked through. Add the eggs and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is quite dry. Stir in cilantro, parsley, olives, and preserved lemon.
    2. Place first filo sheet on parchment sheet, and spray with cooking spray. Place another and another in a pinwheel pattern, spraying in between, until you've used half the sheets. Then add the mixture (it should be pretty dry, otherwise the liquid will ruin the dough) Fold the dough up around it, and top with more sheets spraying in between, tucking the edges under until you have a round pie. Spray the top with cooking oil.
    3. Bake in pre-heated 350 oven for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through and brown. I cooked it on a pizza stone, moving it on a parchment sling.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Baked Alaska Pie

This recipe comes from the same cookbook that I found the pie recipe for the Pieathalon exchange--the Lion House Cookbook. I found this vintage 1980 cookbook in the Deseret Industries so I feel all local pride to make this dish. Though I have to admit I only have one memory of going to the Lion House and not any of eating there, though I must have. Certainly if I did eat there, I never had this dish--I would remember something as distinctive as this pie! I followed this more in spirit than the letter.

Prepared graham cracker crust
ice cream
dessert sauce
egg whites
1/3 c sugar
cream of tartar

Put ice cream into crust, top with sauce (I used blueberry), and return to freezer. I did this a week or so ago, and then today I pulled it out and topped it with egg whites beaten into meringue, with the sugar, vanilla, cream of tartar, and salt. That went into a 500 degree oven for 5 minutes. It got a little burnt on top and didn't really cooked through.

It was pretty hard to cut, and while it tasted good, it was a less than impressive presentation on the plate. It was fun to do the meringue though, so I might have to do a lemon meringue pie soon!