Taro pie with berry compote

So I’m not entirely sure what happened to the last month, but it is time for the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop again. This month it is hosted by the Kitchen Crusader, with the theme “Sweet as Pie”. Huzzah! How appropriate given the amount of pies I’ve been baking of late (which may or may not be proportionate to the amount of uni work I’ve had to do…)

Now, straight away I’ll put it out there that my pie does not have a pastry top. I realise this is less than desirable according to the blog hop definition of a pie, but I’m pretty certain that you could not describe this as anything other than a pie, so I’m going with it.

Taro is a pretty unusual ingredient for a sweet pie, but having recently acquired some from my friends at The Food Forest, a fantastic permaculture property near Adelaide. In case you missed my earlier post, I have declared this week to be taro week – where I am sharing my adventures learning to use this starchy tuber. To learn a little bit more about taro, click the link to my other post: Taro week – adventures with a tuber.

This pie is dairy-free, but does contain eggs. I tried to make a vegan variation using chia, but the consistency was just not right. The egg version is beautifully light and fluffy though, and reminds me a little bit of a custard tart. It might be the cinnamon and nutmeg too. The flavour isn’t terribly strong, so really lends itself to the addition of other flavours – I went with a berry compote (as I’m still trying to make my way through the glut of berries in the freezer).

My family was a little bit reluctant to eat a sweet pie made with vegetables, but agreed that it was tasty once they tried it. Win. (I might ignore the fact that they still go for the orange and wattleseed muffins over the taro pie. The muffins must just be heaps awesome.)

This recipe is based on one from filipino desserts. I turned it dairy-free, and scaled some of the ingredients down to suit the amount of taro I had.

Taro pie with berry compote
As I was testing out a vegan pie too, this recipe made one 9-inch pie plus a smaller single-serve one. To make one 9-inch pie, use two thirds of what the recipe states.

Short crust pastry:
170g margarine (dairy free) – I used lite nuttelex (but nuttelex is a bit sus, so if you decide butter is more ethical, go with that)
340g plain flour (or mixed with wholemeal)
pinch of salt
cold water

Rub the margarine into the flour, add salt and enough just cold water to bind into a dough. Roll into ball and leave to rest in fridge for 20mins.

Pie filling:
1 1/4 cup taro, boiled and mashed using a food processor (1 1/4 cup once mashed)
scant 1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup soy milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Berry compote: (scale up if you need more)
1 cup mixed berries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon corn flour

Preheat oven to 180C. Roll out pastry to around 5mm thick, and line a greased pie dish/tin with the pastry.

Your taro will be cooked and mashed in a food processor by this stage. The taro should be soft in the centre when cooked well.

Combine all pie filling ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. The mixture may look a bit purple. That’s okay! Taro naturally has a slightly purple tinge to it. Pour mixture into the pastry-lined tin, then bake on high for around an hour. The top should be nicely browned, and the pie cooked through (not soft in the centre). Allow to cool before removing from tin.

To make the berry compote, heat ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When it reaches the boil, reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes before removing from heat.

Serve pie warmed topped with berry compote. It would also taste pretty rad with ice cream. Do it.

This post is part of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop. To see the other participating blogs, check out this link

Taro week – adventures with a tuber.

It’s taro week!

No, not officially. You won’t find it printed in your diaries or yearly planners. I have declared it taro week because I have been saving up some stories about my adventures with taro.

So what even is taro? I know, right. That’s what I asked too, when I was offered some taro to cook with:

Do you want some taro?
What for?
For using.
What even is taro?
It’s a tuber.
Right…
So do you want some taro?
I don’t know.
Okay, no then.

Hey I know you said you didn’t want taro, but are you sure? I can get you some from somewhere else…

Okay. I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

So here we go. Taro is native to southeast Asia, and is a starchy root vegetable, which also has edible foliage. Not raw though. It’s toxic raw. Turned off yet? Stay with me.
It is thought to be one of the earliest cultivated plants, it has a low glycemic index, and is apparently an excellent source of potassium. Taro is used widely in many cultures around the world.

And so began the taro experimentation. It doesn’t have a terribly strong flavour, and it’s point of difference comes more from it’s texture – a bit like potato, but a bit tougher, like a jerusalem artichoke. The first dish I made using taro was Chamadumpa Pulusu. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the foresight to take a photo, but it looked and tasted pretty fabulous. I suggest you give it a go, even if you substitute the taro for potato.

At this point, I naturally started to query whether taro was used in sweet dishes. I was not disappointed. It seems that taro is often made into desserts – a fact which pleased me immensely.

Now I feel as though, because I didn’t come up with these recipes myself – sharing them is less important than the story behind it, and the pictures of the products. Stay tuned for an exciting taro dessert though…

In the mean time. Have a look at the fun taro sweeties I made this afternoon: taro cupcakes, and raspberry taro bites.

Taro cupcakes

Pretty amazingly, these taste just like vanilla cupcakes with a hint of something you can’t quite put your finger on. I was hoping the cupcake would be more purple (like I was promised), but I guess that’s what’s happens when you refuse to use artificial colouring.

All in all, they’re okay. I’ve definitely come across cupcakes with a nicer consistency, but the novelty of these is still fun. Sadly, I had about a tablespoon of icing sugar at my disposal, so I couldn’t ice them all. But happily, I used blueberries to achieve the pink colour. Hurrah!

You can find the recipe here, but feel free to halve the sugar. It still tastes sweet.

Raspberry taro bites

These are winners. Seriously. Whoever thought to introduce these to the McDonald’s menu in various foreign countries, was evidently a genius.
I made some modifications to the recipe, because what on earth is Purple Yam Jam?! Well, I know now, but didn’t have any at my disposal, nor any purple yams with which to make my own. So I just used raspberry jam. Definitely not the same, but they taste great!

Check out the recipe here, and if, like me you decide to substitute the Purple Yam Jam, try out some other jam flavours I say! Taro is so non-descript that it would lend itself to any number of fruity conserves (fig and ginger anyone?) These are also vegan. Yay!

Happy taro-experimenting… or not… it is kind of obscure…

Orange and wattleseed muffins

Are you across wattleseed?

It is brilliant, and what’s more; an Australian native. What could be better than cooking with plants that are native to your own backyard? Though there are hundreds of species of Acacia, only a few are useful in the culinary world. The one I’ve heard used most frequently is Acacia victoriae, and in this case, it is roasted and ground. In this form, it can be used to make a delicious brew – often called wattleseed ‘tea’ – with a taste kind of similar to coffee (but not quite…)

Last week I was pondering the change of season, and the somewhat scarce selection of fruit that comes with winter. It’s citrus, really… oranges, mandarines, lemons, limes. That’s not to say that other fruits aren’t available. Supermarkets make sure of that. But I’m really keen to pursue local and seasonal produce, and with that comes a brilliant opportunity for creativity, especially when your favourite ingredients aren’t around. I’m also going to mention here, that I’ve recently come into a supply of small-batch-milled wholemeal flour courtesy of my lovely boy’s family farm in the Clare Valley. This is pretty well as close as I will ever get to home-grown wheat/flour, which is a tad exciting. I also retrieved some oranges from the tree at said boy’s house this morning, which leads me back nicely to the citrus. So I was contemplating the potential pairings with orange, and my mind went to the packet of wattleseed laying almost forgotten in the meat safe. After some quick consultation, I was assured that this combination would work, so I set about figuring out what makes a good vegan muffin.

I have to admit to being pretty pleased with the result here. Light and fluffy muffins that are not too sweet – great with a bit of butter/spread as a breakfast or morning/afternoon tea treat. The orange and wattleseed actually go really well together. Being a flavour that can’t really be described, I suggest you find yourself some wattleseed and give it a try. They are also vegan and very low in fat, if these are qualities you seek in a muffin. Otherwise, feel free to substitute with milk if you have a cow etc. Happy seasonal baking!

Orange and wattleseed muffins

2 cups wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tablespoons ground, roasted wattleseed
approx 1/4 cup applesauce*
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup soy or other non-dairy milk
1/2 cup orange juice – (approximately one large orange)
rind of one orange
1 tsp vanilla extract

*To make instant applesauce, combine one apple (cored and roughly chopped) with 2 tablespoons of water in a food processor until smooth. This yields the correct quantity for this recipe.

Preheat oven to 180C and grease or line a 12 cup muffin pan.
Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and wattleseed in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
In a small bowl, mix applesauce, sugar, soy milk, orange juice, orange rind and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth and well combined.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and whisk together until combined.
Spoon mixture into muffin pans until 3/4 full, then bake for 18 minutes or until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean.