Mixed berry cobbler recipe (slow cooker version, too!)

Mixed Berry Cobbler Recipe | Pamela Salzman

Do you know the difference between a crisp, a cobbler, a slump, a grunt and a brown betty?  I hear the terms used interchangeably, when of course, they’re not the same at all.  A cobbler has a biscuit topping, a crisp has a crunchy oat and sugar topping, a slump/grunt is like a cobbler, but it is finished on the stovetop so that the biscuits are steamed, rather than browned, and a brown betty is topped with buttered bread crumbs.  Just so we’re all on the same page.  And just so you don’t go ordering a cobbler at a restaurant thinking you are getting something with a buttery, crunchy, oat topping only to be served a bowl of cooked fruit with a biscuit on top.  I hate when that happens.

Mixed Berry Cobbler Recipe | Pamela Salzman

Mixed Berry Cobbler Recipe | Pamela Salzman

Not that a cobbler is bad.  Oh no, friends.  Cobblers are very, very good.  Especially when strawberries are in season and they are about as luscious as can be.  When strawberries debut at our local farmer’s markets, I feel like a bear coming out of hibernation, like I’m taking a breath of fresh air.  It’s spring!  Weeeee!  I can finally tell Mr. Picky, “Yes, it’s finally strawberry season!”  I swear I have been buying strawberries lately like they’re never coming back.  They’re in the kids’ lunches several times a week, in breakfast smoothies and acai bowls and chopped into pancakes.  I even did a crazy thing and added a little bit of chia seed and water to some mashed up strawberries and let it thicken into a raw jam/spread.  I thought it was really good.  Then I smeared some in between two slices of whole grain bread and made a stuffed strawberry French toast, if you will.  Really tasty!

Mixed Berry Cobbler | Pamela Salzman

I was feeling spunky last weekend and thought I would surprise everyone with a special dessert, which I knew had to have strawberries in it.  So I started pulling together my favorite cobbler with strawberries as well as whatever berries I had in the freezer.  I had this moment of genius when I thought, I bet I could do this in a slow cooker!  I bet no one in the world has ever done a cobbler in a slow cooker.  I am going to revolutionize the food world with this brilliant idea!  Of course, one quick search on Foodily and I saw that 20 other people/websites already came up with that same idea.  I hate when that happens.  Grumpy face.  Although one of the recipes called for a can of apple pie filling and a box of yellow cake mix.  I mean, is that even a recipe?   That is such a gross idea.  Don’t even think about trying it.

Mixed Berry Cobbler | Pamela Salzman

Why would you when you can have this wholesome, fresh, clean and YUMMY cobbler for just a little more effort?  I have two versions here, one baked in the oven and the other in the slow cooker.  The oven cobbler has a much prettier presentation, with the classic, nicely browned “cobbled” texture on top and baked in a dish you can actually bring to the table.  But it’s nice to know you can can use your slow cooker for more than just shredded meat.  I was thinking it would be great for the summer so you don’t have to turn your oven on to make a fruit dessert.  The look wasn’t quite as lovely since I spread the dough on the bottom of the insert and laid the fruit on top.  I wanted the fruit to stay intact and not get cooked into a pot of mush.  Which it did not.

Mixed Berry Cobbler | Pamela Salzman

Either way, the ingredients stay the same for both.  I have used whole spelt flour, whole wheat pastry and white whole wheat all with success.  I know that you can use  gluten-free flour like Kind Arthur with a little added xanthan gum and achieve an equally tasty result.  If you’ve made cobbler before, you might think my recipe doesn’t have enough sweetener.  But I promise, give this a go and you’ll be surprised how much you enjoy tasting the actual fruit and not just sugar.  Of course, a little ice cream on top doesn’t taste bad.  Or, I look forward to leftovers the next morning with a dollop of sheep’s yogurt.  Unless someone ate it all and left me none when I couldn’t stop dreaming about it all night.  Ooooh, I hate when that happens!

Mixed Berry Cobbler | Pamela Salzman

Mixed Berry Cobbler | Pamela Salzman

Mixed Berry Cobbler | Pamela Salzman

5.0 from 1 reviews
Mixed Berry Cobbler
Author: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 6 cups mixed fresh berries, or frozen, thawed
  • ¼ cup coconut palm sugar organic cane sugar or brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons flour, such as spelt or your favorite GF flour such as rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, not packed
  • 1 ½ cups whole spelt flour, whole whet pastry, white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour OR King Arthur Multi-purpose GF Flour + 1 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup OR organic cane sugar (if you use maple syrup, add to buttermilk; if you use sugar, add to flour)
  • ¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter or organic Earth Balance, cut in small pieces + more for greasing baking dish
  • ¾ cup buttermilk (or unsweetened non-dairy milk + 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter or organic Earth Balance, melted or 1 Tablespoon buttermilk*
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9–or 10-inch square shallow baking dish or pie plate.
  2. In a medium bowl, gently toss the berries with 3 Tbs. flour, ¼ cup sugar and zest. Transfer berries into the prepared pan. Set aside and reserve the bowl.
  3. To make the cobbler topping, blend the 1 ½ cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, 2 Tbs. sugar (if using), salt and butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender or pulse in a food processor just until most of the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer to the same bowl used to mix the berries and stir in the buttermilk and maple syrup (if using) until well combined.
  4. Using your fingertips, rub the buttermilk mixture until it begins to clump together. Take a heaping spoonful of dough and place it on top of the berries. Don’t cover the berries completely. Brush with melted butter or buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the top is golden and cooked through.
Notes
*For a golden glaze, brush the biscuits with melted butter. For a more brown crust, brush them with buttermilk.

You can use either maple syrup or cane sugar (not both) in the cobbler topping. Pick one sweetener! Please read the directions carefully since the maple syrup is added with the buttermilk and the cane sugar is added to the dry ingredients.

To increase the recipe to serve 12, multiply all ingredients by 1 ½ and use a 13 x 9–inch baking dish. Bake for an additional 5 minutes.

To Make in the Slow Cooker:
Follow all directions for cobbler in the oven except dollop the cobbler topping on the bottom of the slow cooker insert and  pour the fruit mixture on top.  Cover and cook on LOW for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until biscuit mixture is cooked through.  The time will depend on how wide your slow cooker is.

Gluten-Free, Vegan Pear-Cranberry Tart Recipe

Why do so many people go on cleanses on January 2nd?  One word — SUGAR.  It starts on Halloween with an innocent bite of an Almond Joy and keeps coming until New Years Day with that “one last piece” of cake since the big diet will start tomorrow.  I’m the first to admit that although I may be pretty disciplined during the year, a few sweet indulgences here and there during the holidays throw me off for weeks.  Damn!  One of these years I’m just going to say “no, thank you” over and over in November and December because I really am much happier when sugar and I go our separate ways.  I am especially going to reject any food with the word “slutty” in front of it.  Or at least I need to stick to more natural desserts that don’t make me feel like I’m going to hell.

I know what you’re thinking.  It’s fun to give in.  It’s the holidays.  What about everything in moderation?  If you say so.  As for me, sugar is out to get me.   It makes me feel horrible afterwards, saps my energy, ruins my skin, and leaves me craving nourishment, among other things.  The worst part is I go back for that same punishment that next day!

I know it seems hypocritical that I started this post whining about sugar and now I’m encouraging you to make dessert.  HOWEVER, there are desserts out there that deserve a little more respect since they are made of higher quality ingredients that don’t leave you regretting what you’ve just eaten.  Like this Pear-Cranberry Tart!  When Jenni Kayne and The Chalkboard Mag asked me to create a vegan and gluten-free holiday menu which was also healthful, the dessert was what I figured would be the challenge.  But I have to say, this turned out great and may be one of my favorite desserts to date.  It’s seasonal, beautiful and just plain delicious.  The tart is sweet, but in a fresh and clean way that doesn’t make you feel like you just got a sugar injection.  And I love the contrast of the soft pears with the nubby crust and crumbly topping. Whereas this looks impressive, it’s really quite easy.  The press-in crust is the perfect answer for those who don’t feel comfortable making and rolling out pastry dough.  Plus it’s the perfect dessert for the holidays since you can prep much of it in advance (see my notes at the bottom of the recipe.)

Don’t let the gluten-free and vegan label throw you off.  Sometimes people, including my darling husband, rush to judgment about “alternative” desserts without giving them a chance.  But sure enough, my kids all loved it, although Mr. Picky picked out the “sour” cranberries.  No problem, send those over here.  I think you could even eat it with a dollop of whole yogurt and call it breakfast.  I did.  And I didn’t have any regrets in the morning.

Gluten-Free, Vegan Pear-Cranberry Tart
Author: 
Serves: 10
 
Ingredients
  • Crust:
  • 1 cup rolled oats (look for gluten-free oats, such as Bob's Red Mill)
  • ⅔ cup oat or whole spelt flour (look for gluten-free oat flour, such as Bob's Red Mill; spelt flour is not gluten-free)
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Filling:
  • 3 firm, but ripe pears, cored and sliced into ⅛th-inch wedges
  • 1 handful fresh cranberries
  • 2 Tablespoons maple sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup (I use Grade A for a more subtle flavor)
  • 1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Topping:
  • 1 cup oat or whole spelt flour (look for gluten-free oat flour, such as Bob's Red Mill; spelt flour is not gluten-free.)
  • ⅓ cup maple sugar or brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • pinch of sea salt (omit if using Miyoko's vegan butter or Earth Balance)
  • 4 Tablespoons cold Miyoko's vegan butter, organic Earth Balance, unsalted butter or unrefined coconut oil, cut into pieces (butter is not vegan; Miyoko's, Earth Balance and butter give a better result than coconut oil, but coconut oil works just fine.)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. If your tart pan tends to leak when baking, you should also line the bottom with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Place all crust ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until nuts are finely chopped. Press crust evenly on the bottom of the pan and into the rim. Freeze crust while you assemble the filling.
  3. In a large bowl gently combine filling ingredients and set aside.
  4. In another bowl, squeeze topping ingredients together with your fingers until the mixture looks well combined, pebbly and no longer dry or dusty.
  5. Remove tart pan from freezer and layer the pears and cranberries on top of the crust. Pour any juices from the bowl on top of the fruit. Spread the crumb topping over the fruit.
  6. Place tart on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes or until filling is bubbling and topping is lightly browned. Allow tart to cool slightly before serving. Best eaten the same day it’s made, but if you have leftovers, store in the refrigerator. Do ahead: you can make the crust up to a day ahead and keep it tightly covered in the refrigerator. You can also make the topping a up to 3 days ahead and keep that in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

Zucchini bread pancakes recipe

A few years ago, someone suggested I teach a class with a breakfast menu.  At first I didn’t think it was such a good idea because breakfast seems kind of easy, at least too easy to be taught in a cooking class.  In our house the rotations is oatmeal or muesli, scrambled eggs, smoothies, yogurt and granola, pancakes and leftovers from last night’s dinner.  But the more I thought about it, I realized there was a nice variety of fun, delicious and healthful recipes I could share.  Because I do believe breakfast is nutritionally the most important meal of the day, especially for children, I knew these recipes needed to provide sustenance, long-lasting energy and stable blood sugar.  My first breakfast class was a great success and I have continued the tradition every June (arbitrary selection of month) since then.

I tend to follow a similar formula each June based on what my family and I love to eat for breakfast, both on the weekdays and weekend.  I always teach a smoothie, muffin, egg-based dish and a pancake recipe.  When I was growing up, pancakes were for Saturday mornings when Mom had time and no one was rushing off to work or school.  I too love lingering over a plate of pancakes on the weekends, but by making the batter the night before and teaching my older girls how to cook their own, we enjoy them on a school mornings, as well.  If you’re thinking it’s a little boring to eat plain old pancakes twice a week, I would agree with you!  We add lots of different things to our pancakes while they’re cooking and the kids each seem to have their own favorite combo, such as fresh raspberries and mini-chocolate chips or diced banana and pecans.

But for my breakfast classes, I needed to debut more than just buttermilk pancakes with a different fruit each time.  I’ve posted most of my favorites by now, including oatmeal pancakes and pumpkin pancakes.  Both are really delicious!  After seeing a recipe by fellow Foodily tastemakerJoy the Baker, for carrot cake pancakes, I had an idea to make pancakes with the same flavors in zucchini bread.  To me, zucchini bread really isn’t about the zucchini, which I think is a little tasteless but does add nice moisture to muffins and quick breads.  I’m mostly in it for the sweet spiciness of cinnamon and nutmeg, perhaps combined with a few nuggets of walnuts.  What’s not to love?  And zucchini bread pancakes could be made with almost no added sweetener — so great!

These pancakes made it on the menu this past June and I think they were a big hit.  I made them successfully with several different flours, including whole wheat pastry, whole spelt, and sprouted whole wheat.  The latter two flours tend to create a thicker batter, so I used a bit less of those, but they made for a nice hearty pancake.  Whole wheat pastry flour is very light, almost mimicking white flour, but still has all the fiber and bran of whole wheat, which it is.  We also played around with adding pecans, blueberries or the oft-requested chocolate chips, but personally I love them completely plain with either a thin drizzle of maple syrup or a dollop of whole yogurt.  Such a delicious breakfast for the long weekend as well as for a first day of school.  I hope you all enjoy a fantastic Labor Day!

Zucchini Bread Pancakes
Author: 
Serves: makes about 12 4-inch pancakes
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ¾ cups sprouted wheat flour or 2 cups whole wheat pastry, white whole wheat or whole spelt flour (or a combo)*
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • scant ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups buttermilk**
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon 100% pure maple syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • Melted, unrefined coconut oil or unsalted butter for brushing the griddle
Instructions
  1. Preheat a griddle to 400 degrees or medium heat.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl or 4-6 cup measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, maple syrup and melted butter until well blended. (A blender can do this easily, too.) Fold in shredded zucchini.
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  5. Brush the griddle with coconut oil and spoon about ¼ cup of batter onto the griddle. Add blueberries, chocolate chips, diced banana or chopped walnuts to the surface, if desired. When bubbles start to form on the surface of the pancake and the edges become slightly dry, flip it over and cook until done. Maintain the heat on medium-low or 400 degrees.
Notes
*Gluten-free: substitute 1 cup buckwheat flour and 1 cup brown rice flour for the wheat flour. Or you can use GF oat flour, too, such as ¾ cup oat flour, ¾ cup buckwheat flour and ½ cup brown rice flour.

**No buttermilk? Sub half unsweetened yogurt and half whole milk. Or use 2 cups milk, omit the baking soda and use 2 teaspoons baking powder instead.

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Pancake Recipe

gluten-free buckwheat pancakes | pamela salzman

I have two things on my mind this week — eating anything that was forbidden during Passover (like grains) and being mindful of our consumption of limited resources with Earth Day coming up on April 22nd.   “How will she ever revert this to a pancake recipe?” you ask.  Stay with me, peeps.

Passover, which occurred last week,  is a mighty 8-day abstinence from eating all grains, except wheat turned into matzoh.  Giving up bread, pasta and most starches isn’t such a big deal to me, but my hubby and the kids start groaning after about Day 3.  “How much loooooonger?”  “How come we can’t have rice?  Jack’s family eats rice during Passover.”  “What??!!  It ends on Saturday night?  I thought it ended on Friday!”  And so on and so forth.  Same spiel every year.  Yawn.  So on sundown of the 8th day, my people were freed from bondage, ordered pizza and ravaged it like contestants on “Survivor.”   As for me, I will admit, I was missing oatmeal for breakfast.   Sunday morning I made an extra-large batch thinking everyone craved it as much as I did.  Wrong!  Everyone was craving bagels.    That brings me to my other thought for the week which is being efficient with resources and limiting waste.  I needed a creative way to use that leftover oatmeal!

dry ingredients

By now you know I am serious about pancakes.  I make them twice per week, very often varying the flours or even adding pumpkin and spices to the mix.  I love that everyone has fun customizing his or her own with fruit, nuts or chocolate chips.  Yesterday I made a a lovely batch of oatmeal pancakes with some of the leftovers from Sunday’s excess.  I added a good cup’s worth of steel cut oatmeal to gluten-free oat flour and buckwheat flour, which gave the pancakes these fantastic tiny little chewy bites.  I am a big fan of texture and whole grain flavors, so I adore these pancakes.  If you’ve never tried buckwheat flour, it has a great wholesome earthiness, but it does lend an odd, grey color to the batter.  By the way, buckwheat has no wheat in it and isn’t even related to wheat.  In fact, it is a relative of the rhubarb family, which is why it’s gluten-free.

leftover steel cut oats

 

gluten-free oatmeal pancake batter |pamela salzman

Oat flour is quite simple to make yourself if you don’t feel like buying it.  Just process rolled oats in the food processor until powdery.  That’s it!  If you need or want the oat flour to be gluten-free, you must buy oats/oat flour that is labeled as such, because otherwise it can contain trace amounts of gluten.  If you’re like my husband and are wondering how they take the gluten out of oats, they don’t really.  Botanically oats should not contain gluten, but they do share crop space with gluten-containing grains and often they are processed in facilities which also process wheat and barley, for example.  So the oats can pick up gluten that way.  But if you prefer, feel free to use my standard whole wheat pastry flour for the oat and buckwheat flours.  It just won’t be gluten-free and it will taste more like my traditional buttermilk pancakes, but with a little chew from the oats.  I tend to adorn these pancakes with the same yummies that I would add to a bowl of oatmeal — diced bananas, chopped walnuts, and the like.  But strawberries are incredible and plentiful right now, so we all included them yesterday and my husband tossed in his standard handful of blueberries.  Mr. Picky eats these pancakes just fine, but did declare my “normal” pancakes are his first choice.

add fruit to pancakes before flipping | pamela salzman

Extra pancake batter?  We won’t waste it!!  It will stay good in the refrigerator for a few days and can be used to make fresh pancakes later in the week.  If you use buckwheat flour, don’t be put off by the gumminess of the batter.  It’s very normal and still turns out perfect pancakes.  You can also make all the pancakes at once and freeze them for another day.  I like to put a piece of parchment paper in between each piece so they don’t stick together.  Another idea is to use the pancakes instead of bread for a sandwich or a roll-up.  Any other creative ideas for using up oatmeal or pancakes??

 gluten-free oatmeal pancakes | pamela salzman

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Pancakes
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour (or substitute whole wheat pastry flour for all or part of the oat and buckwheat flours)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking soda
  • pinch ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 cups buttermilk*
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup COOKED oatmeal (preferably steel-cut)
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Melted, unrefined coconut oil for brushing the griddle
Instructions
  1. Preheat a griddle to 400 degrees or medium heat. (Not all built-in griddles are the same. 350 degrees may be fine for you.)
  2. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl or 4-6 cup measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, maple syrup, melted butter and oatmeal until well blended. (Or combine all wet ingredients in a blender and add to dry mix with oatmeal.)
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  5. Brush the griddle with coconut oil and spoon about ¼ cup of batter onto the griddle. Add blueberries, chocolate chips or diced banana to the surface, if desired. When bubbles start to form on the surface of the pancake and the edges become slightly dry, flip it over and cook until done. Maintain the heat on medium-low or 400 degrees.
Notes
*No buttermilk? Sub half unsweetened yogurt and half whole milk. Or use 2 cups milk, omit the baking soda and use 1 Tablespoon baking powder instead.

Easy-Peasy Chocolate Tofu Pudding

We used to celebrate Valentine’s Day a little differently than we do now.  It was also the one holiday of the year where I was off the hook.  My husband took care of the dinner reservation and the flowers, and all I had to do was wash my hair and get dressed up.  But it’s not as easy for both of us to get out of the house on a weeknight now that we have kids ranging in age from 8 to 15.  The book reports, sports practices, and a pre-6:00 am alarm the next morning just aren’t conducive to a relaxing evening out.  So these days I am happier making a cozy Valentine’s dinner at home for my family.  But what can make this feel like it’s not just any old night is… dessert!

Before you think I’ve lost my marbles, let me just tell you chocolate pudding made from tofu is nothing new.  Dairy-free and egg-free people, as well as vegans have been making it for years.  And you know what?  It’s delicious and uber-simple to make!  I was skeptical the first time I heard about using tofu in a dessert, but I also didn’t realize there were two different kinds of tofu.  There’s one kind that stays firm when you stir fry it or bake it, and there’s silken tofu which is rather gelatinous and very soft.  Silken tofu is used quite effectively to add creaminess in dairy-free desserts or salad dressings in place of cream cheese, sour cream and egg yolks, for example.  I’m still on the fence about tofu since I much prefer to consume soy in its more healthful, fermented form, which tofu is not.  But I also don’t promote a lot of pasteurized cow dairy (not easy for most people to digest.)  I’m guessing a little tofu every now and then won’t harm you.  However since tofu is made from soy and soy is one of the top four genetically-modified foods in this country (along with corn, canola and cottonseed), I do make a point of choosing organic or non-GMO tofu.

In my area I can’t find fresh tofu, which I hear is great, so normally my preferred brand is Wildwood Organics “Sprouted Tofu.”  The soybeans have been soaked and sprouted before being turned into tofu, resulting in a more digestible food.  But I did a side-by-side taste test in my free time and the Mori-Nu tofu that you see pictured here tasted more neutral than Wildwood so that’s the one I would recommend for this recipe.  And even though this is as “instant” as pudding gets, I do think it tastes better if it sits in the fridge for at least an hour, if you can wait that long.  I promised my kids that I would include their opinion in my post and let you know that they think the serving size is too small.  I disagree, but if you would like a more substantial serving, you can double the recipe to serve 6.  Instead, I prefer to keep the serving size as is and bring out some fun toppings (always a fan of the topping bar!) like fresh berries, finely chopped or sliced nuts, raw cacao nibs, finely shredded coconut or freshly whipped cream.  Dessert should be for special occasions and what’s more special than Valentine’s dinner with the ones you love?

More ideas for Valentine’s dinner and dessert coming soon!

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Easy-Peasy Chocolate Tofu Pudding
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 12 ounces organic silken tofu, such as Mori-Nu
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup coconut palm sugar or natural cane sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Transfer to individual ramekins or small bowls. Refrigerate for at least two hours for best flavor.

 

Roasted cinnamon pears with dark chocolate sauce

Cinnamon Roasted Pears with Dark Chocolate Sauce | Pamela Salzman

Cinnamon Roasted Pears with Dark Chocolate Sauce | Pamela Salzman

If you’re like most people, you’re probably thinking you’ve got one last hurrah before the parties come to an end and the decorations go back in storage.  A final splurge before you return to your normal routine.  One last dance with the devil before resuming your life of miso and greens.  If you’ve been messing around with too much sugar this holiday season, there’s no point beating yourself up over it.  Hopefully it was worth it, but hopefully it doesn’t send you down that slippery slope of daily dessert.  I’ve got one last treat for you, but nothing you need to feel guilty about.  In fact, these roasted pears just might rock your new year’s eve.

Why don’t pears get more attention?  There are so many delicious varieties and the fragrance of a perfectly ripe pear is completely intoxicating.  Plus, I think they are sooooo beautiful.  I love pear crisps, pear upside-down cake or just simply sauteed pears on top of waffles or pancakes.  But the pear dessert I make most often is simply roasted with a rich dark chocolate sauce or plain vanilla ice cream.  I’ve tried poached pears before, but the flavor is not quite as intense as roasted.  The best part is that these are easy enough to whip together as a last minute sophisticated dessert for a dinner party or just a cozy night at home in front of the fire playing Bananagrams

I love when the sweet end to a meal isn’t loaded with sugar and refined ingredients.  I especially feel that way about fruit desserts, which should taste like fruit and not just sweet.  These roasted pears are certainly fabulous enough to serve without the dark chocolate sauce, but good gracious, the sauce is just heaven.  It’s good to have a perfect chocolate sauce recipe in your back pocket since it can dress up everything from plain berries to ice cream to a simple cake.  Mr. Picky suggested he might even try Swiss chard if he could put this chocolate sauce on it.  I just might let him.  If dark chocolate isn’t sweet enough for your lovelies, you can use semi-sweet or milk chocolate instead.  But just keep in mind, the darker the chocolate the higher the percentage of cacao and the lower the sugar.

Cinnamon Roasted Pears with Dark Chocolate Sauce | Pamela Salzman

 

What will be your grand finale for 2011?  Whatever is it is, I hope it’s delicious.  Wishing you a happy and healthy 2012!

Cinnamon Roasted Pears with Dark Chocolate Sauce | Pamela Salzman

Roasted Cinnamon Pears with Dark Chocolate Sauce
Author: 
Serves: serves 6 (in the photos, I doubled the ingredients)
 
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup pure Grade A maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened apple juice
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 firm, but ripe pears, such as Bosc or Bartlett
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons natural cane sugar or maple sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • sliced almonds or chopped pecans for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the pears in half through the stem, if possible. I take a knife and start an inch above the stem and slice through the stem, so both halves get a piece of stem – looks pretty! Then take the knife and slice the pear all the way in half, following the original cut. Remove the core with a round metal measuring spoon. Arrange the pears cut side up in an 8 or 9-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium low heat, whisk together maple syrup, apple juice, butter and cinnamon until butter is melted.
  4. Pour the sauce over the pears. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pears are tender. Baste occasionally with the pan juices.
  5. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm together cream, milk, sugar and butter. Stir to dissolve sugar. Turn heat off and add chocolate and vanilla. Stir until chocolate is melted and sauce is smooth.
  6. Serve 1 pear half per person. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and garnish with sliced almonds or chopped pecans, if desired. Any remaining pear basting liquid is delicious over French toast or pancakes.

Pumpkin pie

 

There are very few recipes that debuted on my first Thanksgiving menu 16 years ago that are still going strong today.  Roast turkey, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes are staples year after year, as is a traditional pumpkin pie.  Despite all my rantings about how destructive sugar is to your health,  I honestly can’t imagine Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie.  I wouldn’t even care if no one liked it, I would still make two of them.  I remember the first pumpkin pie I ever made when I was in high school.  I followed the recipe on the can of Libby’s pumpkin puree and poured it into a store-bought pie crust.  Heaven.

 

Since then I have adjusted the recipe to be much more wholesome, and dare I say, much more delicious.  I traded in store-bought piecrust for homemade, canned pumpkin (bye-bye BPA) for freshly roasted (hello yummy rich pumpkin flavor), refined sugar for maple syrup (and much less of it), and canned evaporated milk for heavy cream.  Sure, heavy cream is rich in saturated fat, but I would rather eat a couple of spoonfuls of a high quality organic cream than canned milk.  Would you ever drink canned milk or feed it to your kids?  I didn’t think so.  I use organic raw cream when I can get it, or I buy a nonhomogenized, but pasteurized organic cream from Straus Family Creamery.  I have made a dairy-free version of this pie using coconut milk and it’s just as delicious (it does not taste like coconut, either.)  Of course there’s still lots of butter in the crust.  Last year, I made one pie with a white flour-based crust and another with a whole wheat pastry flour-based crust.  Only my sister-in-law and I liked the whole wheat one.  As my mother-in-law says, “You two like anything that you know is good for you.”  Partially true.  This year I will go back to all white flour pie crusts and the wholesomeness comes to an end right there.

Speaking of which, I am quite conscientious about consuming very little sugar during the year, but come Thanksgiving I feel like I have earned a piece of pie (or two) and I don’t feel bad about enjoying it.  The problem comes the next day when I’m looking for that sugar fix again at 4:00 in the afternoon.  And the next day.  And the day after that.  Guess what?  I’m not alone.  Thanksgiving starts not only the beginning of the holiday season, but a time when lots of people pack on a few extra pounds from overindulging too often.  I love celebrating just as much as the next person, but I definitely don’t love trying to lose weight (it’s not as easy as it used to be!)  I look forward to Thanksgiving dinner and dessert, especially after I’ve worked so hard to make it special and delicious, but this year I’m going to be a little more mindful the next day.  At least until Christmas.

 

Pumpkin Pie
Author: 
Serves: makes one 9-inch pie
 
Ingredients
  • Pie Crust:
  • 1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose white flour or spelt flour
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ cup (1stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2-4 Tablespoons ice water
  • Filling:
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup heavy cream or coconut milk (not light)
  • 1¾ cups fresh or canned pumpkin puree (1 15-ounce can)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 Tablespoons pure maple syrup or brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Make the crust: Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the butter and pulse 10 times.
  2. Turn the food processor on and slowly pour in 2 Tablespoons ice water. Stop the machine and carefully (watch the blade!) grab a small handful of dough and squeeze it in your hand. If it holds together well, you’re done. If it’s crumbly, add another tablespoon of ice water and blend. The goal is that when you squeeze the mixture in your hand that it forms a moist, but not sticky ball of dough. Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap and shape into a disc. Wrap well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, flour a rolling pin and roll dough into a 12-inch round. While you’re rolling out the pastry, you should always be able to move it easily around the work surface without sticking. Add additional dustings of flour as needed. Fit the circle into a 9-inch pie plate and crimp edges. Refrigerate if it feels too soft.
  4. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork. Line the crust with a piece of parchment (like the one the dough was wrapped in), and fill it with pie weights or dried beans (the ones in the photo I've had since college!). Bake until lightly golden around the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove parchment and weights. Return crust to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes until light golden all over. Cool completely on a wire rack (this can take up to an hour so you may want to turn the oven off.)
  5. Preheat the oven again to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the salt and spices (if you are using brown sugar instead of syrup, add the sugar now.)
  6. In a large bowl or with a mixer, whisk together cream, pumpkin puree, eggs and maple syrup. Add spice mixture and combine thoroughly.
  7. Pour mixture into the cooled crust and bake until filling is set (it will jiggle like gelatin, but it will be a little soft in the center), about 50-60 minutes. The filling will firm up as it cools. This can be made the day before. I like to keep it refrigerated.

Shredded sweet potatoes and apple

Are you confused about the difference between a sweet potato and a yam?  Yep, so is my local supermarket.  In all fairness, I had to do a little research to get to the bottom of it, because I wasn’t sure myself.  The names “sweet potato,” which is not at all related to a regular potato, and “yam” are used interchangeably in the US, but they both generally refer to sweet potatoes, no matter the color.  Even the dark ones called yams are technically sweet potatoes.  True yams are native to Africa and are a staple in tropical and subtropical countries.  I have never actually seen one in our country, but here’s what you might find in your market if you live in the States:

  • Brown or red-skinned (often called called yams) —  these have a soft orange flesh and sweet flavor.  The varieties you will likely see are Garnet, Jewel, and Christmas Beauregard.  Garnets are my favorites and what I used in these photos.
  • Beige-skinned — have a pale yellow flesh.  Varieties include Nancy Hall and Juicy Yellow.
  • Purple skinned — I see these at my farmer’s market.  They have a white flesh and the farmer calls them Japanese sweet potatoes.  I don’t find the flesh to be quite as moist as the others mentioned above.
No matter what you call them, sweet potatoes are delicious and completely underrated.  It baffles me that so many people look to sweet potatoes only at Thanksgiving.  We eat them much more often in our house than regular potatoes and they are just as versatile.  They are also way more nutritious — you probably don’t need me to tell you that.  When you look at that deep orange flesh, you immediately think Beta-carotene, right?  They are loaded with so many vitamins, minerals and fiber, but it’s the antioxidant profile that sweet potatoes are so rich in.
I could eat a plain roasted sweet potato any day of the week for breakfast, lunch or dinner and I make them that way as an easy side dish quite often.  The down side of roasting whole sweet potatoes is that they take a good 50 minutes to cook.  We don’t always have that kind of time.  Here comes “Plan B Sweet Potatoes.”  Is this starting to sound like my “Plan B Salmon” from last week?  I actually shouldn’t call this Plan B, because this is my kids’ favorite sweet potato recipe and the ONLY way my husband enjoys them (Mr. Picky had to come from somewhere.)  The sweet potatoes take on the flavor of apple without getting too sweet.  I cook them long enough that they’re just tender with a little bite to them.  Leaving the peel on would give you more fiber and nutrients, but my kids prefer the skin off so they don’t get random bites of peel.  Last night we had this dish with some steamed whitefish and a green salad, but I think it’s even better suited to chicken, turkey or pork.  Have you located the shredding disc of your food processor?  I live for that thing.  If you have it, this will be on the dinner table in 15 minutes tops.
Speaking of turkey, I’m starting the Thanksgiving countdown this Thursday, which is four weeks from the big day.  We have lots to do to start preparing and getting organized, so tune in and I’ll get you through this with no stress.  It might even be fun!

Shredded Sweet Potatoes and Apples
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, such as Garnet or Jewel, peeled (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 apple, cut into fourths and cored (I love using a tart variety, such as Granny Smith)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, unrefined coconut oil or unrefined extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper
  • ½ cup water or apple juice
  • 1-2 Tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup (use less if you use juice)
Instructions
  1. Shred the sweet potatoes and apple in a food processor fitted with the grater attachment.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet (if you don’t have a large one, do this in two batches. I used a 12-inch.) Add the shredded sweet potatoes and apple and season with sea salt (I use about ½ teaspoon) and black pepper to taste. Saute, stirring occasionally so that the mixture doesn’t stick, about 5 minutes.
  3. Once the sweet potatoes don’t look so raw anymore, stir in the water/juice and maple syrup and bring to a simmer. Cook another 5 minutes or until sweet potatoes achieve desired tenderness. Taste for seasoning.