Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pi/Pie Day

In honor of Pi Day yesterday (3.14), I have written a pie post. Yes, that's right. PIE.

Ten on Tuesday

Yesterday was Pi Day, so I'm assuming that's why today's Ten on Tuesday is...

10 Favorite Kinds of Pie
  1. apple
  2. cherry
  3. sour cherry (it counts separately because it's TOTALLY different from sweet cherry)
  4. peach blueberry
  5. coconut cream
  6. lemon meringue
  7. key lime
  8. custard
  9. blackberry
  10. quiche (egg pie!)
On Pie

Now, historically I have loved pie. I have even gotten pie instead of cake on my birthday. Once I got two pies - quiche for lunch and cherry for dessert! I. Love. Pie. I love the pie-centered film Waitress, which also just happens to be a great story. If you love pie, your eyes will goggle in the opening sequence, and you will continue to be distracted by pie the entire movie.

At first glance, pie is a no-go for Paleo. Obviously traditional pastry is not going to work for a grain-free gal like me. But there are alternatives. The key with any Paleo substitution is not to replicate something exactly, but to figure out what flavors and textures you love in the original dish and try to recreate those. So I'll share a little of my Paleo-substitution process with you, in the example of pie.

Oh, and for the record, I prefer these kinds of desserts to other kinds of "Paleo baking" (muffins, cakes, cookies, etc.) because they use very small amounts of nut flour and sweetener and are based more on foods you might eat by themselves, in these portions, like a cup of fruit or coconut milk or eggs. So even though the whole idea of Paleo desserts makes me a bit uncomfortable, I don't feel too guilty about sharing this!

The Filling

For me, the best part of the pie was always the filling - I got sick of the crust. Often it's too dry or too soggy, and even a great crust is not that flavorful. And guess what, fillings are easy to replicate in a Paleo-friendly way.

For fruit fillings, you need fresh or frozen fruit, some kind of sweetener and/or flavorings, and some kind of thickener. For example, for an apple pie filling, dice apples and mix them with a little almond flour or coconut flour or arrowroot powder, some cinnamon and nutmeg, and a little maple syrup or honey. Remember, apples are pretty sweet, so you don't need much sweetener (you might not need any). I think blueberries are so sweet they don't need any sweetener - just cooking them turns them into a nice gooey pie filling.

For custard and custard-like fillings, you can use coconut milk, or heavy cream with eggs (think creme brulee). Do a little searching for paleo or primal custards - there are quite a few out there. Bananas have a creamy texture and could be a good base. Same with pumpkin.

For savory fillings, eggs are a no-miss - just quiche without the crust! If you can tolerate a little grass-fed/sheep/goat dairy, that adds some possibilities - you don't need much for flavor. And of course heavy cream mixed in with the eggs will make it awesome.

The Topping

Back to dessert pies, a topping is not strictly necessary, but a nice crumb topping can be just the thing for a fruit pie filling, especially apple or peach. Fortunately, this is easy and requires no measuring or fussiness. Just sprinkle some nut flour (almond, hazelnut, etc.) and/or some finely shredded coconut on top and an optional drizzle of sweetener, and dot with butter or coconut oil. This will crisp up in the oven and get really delicious.

The Crust

If you're dead set on a (bottom) crust, you can do a crumb crust with nut flour, shredded coconut, or some combination, with butter or coconut oil (or some combination) for the fat. Paleo Steve has a great crust in his key lime pie recipe, and it's easy to find others or even gin up something of your own. You're not going to get a flaky pastry crust (that requires gluten/poison), but more of a crumbly crust like a graham cracker or cookie crust.

Savory Pies

I remember in Waitress, she made a spaghetti pie, and I've never had it, but that just sounded so good to me! I think you could do this with spaghetti squash or shredded eggplant or zucchini, with a nice tomato sauce and some crumbled sausage. That of course opens up a whole "dinner pie" category - squish your leftovers into a pie plate and bake! Mashed sweet potato/turkey/spinach/gravy pie? Taco meat/fajita veggies/salsa pie topped with guac? Leftover veggies, eggs, and cream?

Single Serving Pies

If your significant other/housemate/child/dog/cat does not like pie, you can make your own small pie in a ramekin or custard cup. Sweet, savory, crust, no crust, topping, no topping, all the same rules apply. And you can even make it in the microwave if you're pressed for time or don't want to turn on the oven. I'll share my super simple Paleo apple pie recipe with you as an example of the basic process and how to scale it up from single serve/microwave to full pie/oven. I never measure, so the measurements given are a best guess. Do everything to taste.
Paleo apple pie/crisp

1 small apple, peeled and diced
1-2 tsp almond flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp maple syrup or honey

1 Tbsp unsweetened finely shredded coconut
1-2 tsp almond flour
1 tsp maple syrup or honey
1-2 tsp butter (can substitute coconut oil)

For a single serving, butter a ramekin/custard cup. Stir together filling ingredients and add to ramekin. Sprinkle coconut and almond flour on top, then drizzle with the maple syrup or honey. Cut the butter into small pieces and lay on top. Cook in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, or until the apples are no longer crunchy.

To make a whole pie, multiply everything by 5 or 6, put in a pie plate, and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. (You could also bake the single-serve ramekins in the oven instead of the microwave - might take a little less time than the whole pie).
Go enjoy some pie!


Jane said...

Okay, pregnant lady, you really like pie! Those are great ideas, and now I have to go home and make a pie-like concoction. Your cravings are contagious.

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