Archive | December, 2011

Festive Fare: Pumpkin Pie (with a healthier pie crust)

28 Dec

Pumpkin pie.  People seem to either love it or hate it.  Personally, I’m a lover.  It screams “holidays” to me despite the fact that I would be just as happy eating a slice of pumpkin pie in the sweltering July heat with no apparent occasion as I would be digging into a slice topped with whipped cream at Thanksgiving dinner. With no planned dessert aside from Christmas cookies this year, I jumped at the opportunity to make pumpkin pie as an end to our family’s Christmas dinner.

It may seem complicated, but pumpkin pie is actually one of the easiest pies to make from scratch (minus the pastry).  As an added bonus, it’s often one of the healthiest pies you can choose.  With only a single crust, you’re cutting down on most of the calories and fat found in pie.  And the filling tends to be lower in sugar than traditional fruit pies, although this isn’t always the case.  Last year I found a recipe for a low-calorie pumpkin pie on a quick-and-easy gingersnap crust.  I planned on making it again this year until my sister complained that she wanted a “real” pie crust.  So instead, I decided to try out something new.

This recipe came from an amazing cookbook called The New American Plate Cookbook that I recently received as a gift from a somewhat new but dear friend.  The pie crust replaces most of the butter with oil, and uses a bit of whole wheat flour for added nutrition.  It was simple to make using a food processor although the challenge lay in rolling out the delicate dough without breaking it.  Once baked, the crust was thinner than usual… but I considered this to be a worthwhile sacrifice given the calories that were saved.

Healthier Pie Crust with an interesting and unexplained technique of flour + spices dusted on the unbaked, unfilled dough. My guess is that this is to prevent the thin dough from becoming too soggy.

For the filling, a unique approach is used that helps create a rich-tasting filling with less than the usual amount of sugar.  Usually the pumpkin is mixed with spices, eggs, some form of milk (usually condensed), and sugar, then thrown into the crust to bake.  Easy peasy.  In this recipe, the pumpkin is first cooked down slightly on the stove, which intensifies the pumpkin flavour and brings out its natural sweetness.  According to the cookbook authors, the few minutes needed for this extra step are well worth taking.  The pie tasted delicious, so I will have to agree!

The final, slightly cracked, product

Decadent pumpkin pie with rich and not-so-healthy Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream

 

Pumpkin Pie on the new american plate pie crust
(from The New American Plate Cookbook)

2 cups canned pure pumpkin
dough for 1 New American Plate Pie Crust (see below for recipe)
1-1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, divided
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
1 can (12 oz) evaporated fat-free (or 2%) milk
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Lightly coat a large, nonstick skillet with cooking spray.  Cook the pumpkin over medium-high heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon so that all the pumpkin comes in contact with the pan, until the pumpkin is reduced to 1-3/4 cups, about 5 to 10 minutes.  Transfer the pumpkin to a blender or food processor and let it cool slightly.
  2. Set a baking rack in the middle of the oven.  Preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Meanwhile, roll out the dough.  On a sheet of waxed paper, press the dough into a flattened disk.  Cover the dough with another sheet of waxed paper and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle.  Remove the top sheet of waxed paper and lift the bottom sheet to invert the dough over a 9-inch pie plate.  Remove the waxed paper and gently press the dough down against the sides and bottom of the plate, pressing out any air bubbles.  Crimp the edges by pinching between your thumb and forefinger (I prefer to use the handle of a wooden spoon or the wide-end of a single chopstick).
  4. In a small bowl, combine the flour with 1/4 tsp of the nutmeg and 1/4 tsp of the cinnamon.  Sprinkle the flour and spice mixture evenly over the bottom of the pie crust and set aside.  Chill prepared crust while preparing the filling.
  5. Gradually turn the blender or food processor to the highest speed and puree the pumpkin.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  At medium speed, gradually first add the milk, then the sugar, then the eggs, blending only until each addition is incorporated into the mixture.  Add the salt, the remaining 1/4 tsp of nutmeg, the remaining 1/2 tsp cinnamon, the allspice, and the vanilla extract, and blend until just combined.  Do not overmix.  Pour the filling into the pie crust.
  6. Bake the pie for 15 minutes.  Reduce the oven heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for about 45 minutes more, until the filling looks set and a thin knife inserted into the centre of the pie comes out almost clean.  If the rim of the pie crust browns before the filling is set, cover it loosely with strips of foil.
  7. Cool the pan on a wire rack before serving.

Makes 10 servings.  Per serving: 194 kcal, 7 g fat, 2 g fibre, 158 mg sodium.

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The New American Plate Pie Crust

1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp icing sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter, chilled
3 tbsp canola oil
1-2 tbsp ice water

  1. In a food processor, combine the flours, sugar, and salt.  Pulse for a few seconds to combine.  Add the butter and canola oil.  Pulse again until the ingredients are well combined and the mixture resembles crumbs.  With the food processor running, add the ice water, beginning with 1 tbsp and adding more, 1 tsp at a time, until the dough starts to come together.  Gather the dough into a ball and let it rest for a few minutes.  This dough is softer and more delicate than traditional doughs, so care should be taken to handle it lightly and not overwork it.
  2. On a sheet of waxed paper, press the dough into a flattened disk.  Cover the dough with another sheet of waxed paper and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle.  Remove the top sheet of waxed paper and lift the bottom sheet to invert the dough over a 9-inch pie plate.  Remove the waxed paper and gently press the dough down against the sides and bottom of the plate, pressing out any air bubbles.
  3. Crimp the edges by pinching between your thumb and forefinger (I prefer to use the handle of a wooden spoon or the wide-end of a single chopstick).
  4. Refrigerate the dough while you prepare the filling.  The dough can be covered and refrigerated overnight or can be tightly wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month

Makes 1 crust for a 9-inch pie, 10 servings.
Per serving: 93 kcal, 5 g fat, <1 g fibre, 41 mg sodium.

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Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes”

23 Dec

Words cannot describe how excited I was while making this dish a few weeks back.  The “science nerd-meets-dietitian” in me loves to experiment with food to make it healthier.  Lately, I’ve become a lot more comfortable making substitutions.  This newly adventurous Lisa has most likely emerged from my budget-conscious ways.  Living in the city is pricey, so I’m much more inclined to tweak a recipe here and there in order to use up what I have on hand rather than buy a dozen ingredients and follow the recipe to a tee.  The old Lisa would be very impressed with the new Lisa!

This recipe for “mock” mashed potatoes is made with pureed cauliflower.  Brilliant!  E and I both thought it tasted just like mashed potatoes but with a slightly different texture.  Although a little more moist than your typical side of mashed potatoes, the mashed cauliflower still held together nicely in a fluffy pile.  I wonder if an innocent dinner party guest would be able to tell the difference?  My mission for Holiday Season 2011: to fool an unsuspecting family member…

Merry Christmas to all!

Immersion Blender = best purchase of the year

Cauliflower Mashed "Potatoes"

 

“Mock” Garlic Mashed Potatoes  (adapted from Foodnetwork.com)

1 medium head of cauliflower, washed and cut into medium-sized florets
1 tbsp light cream cheese, softened (or plain yogurt, or sour cream)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/8 tsp chicken or vegetable bouillon base (or use ~1/2 tsp salt)
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  1. Place a steamer basket inside a large pot and add 1-inch of water.  Add cauliflower florets, cover, and steam for approximately 15 minutes or until cauliflower is very tender but not mushy.
  2. In a bowl with an immersion blender, or in a food processor, puree the hot cauliflower with the cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic, bouillon, and pepper until smooth.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 65 kcal, 2.3 g fat, 2.5 g fibre, 125 mg sodium.

Boozy Braised Red Cabbage

4 Dec

Given the title of this post, you might be wondering why I am posting yet ANOTHER recipe involving red cabbage.  I don’t have some sort of weird cabbage obsession, truly.  In reality, a single inexpensive head yields a LOT of cabbage… enough for several dishes.  So I’ve been trying to use up the remainder of the red cabbage head that has been sitting in my fridge for a few weeks now.

A quick search led me to a delicious sounding dish for red cabbage braised in red wine with a splash of gin.  How can you go wrong with a combo like that?  The ingredients are similar to those in the Rotkraut dish but the taste is quite different.  The Rotkraut was sweet and sour while this dish is rich and deep in flavour… kind of like beef bourguignon, minus the beef.  Wondering what to serve alongside your boozy braised red cabbage?  The original recipe recommends beef, game, roast pork, or duck.  I agree.

 

Red cabbage braised in red wine and gin

 

Braised Red Cabbage  (adapted from CanadianLiving.com)

2 tsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced
6 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
1 apple, sliced into julienne matchsticks
3/4 cup dry red wine
2 tbsp gin
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 bay leaf
3/4 tsp salt

  1. In a large skillet with a lid (or a large pot), heat oil over medium high heat.  Add onion and saute until softened.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
  3. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer until cabbage is very tender, about 45 minutes.  If there is liquid left, uncover, increase heat to medium, and cook until evaporated (about 10 minutes).  Serve warm.

Makes 8 servings.  Per serving: 56 kcal, 1 g fat, 2 g fibre, 227 mg sodium