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…

Choc berry chickpea slice

On the weekend, I got a little creative. (The best kind of weekend, right?)
I challenged myself to make a slice, using the berries that have been sitting in the freezer for longer than I care to admit. Not knowing exactly how to make a slice, I experimented and was quite pleased with the results. After refining the recipe slightly, I am now happy to report that this is quite delicious, and also has chickpeas in it! I’m yet to try it with only chickpeas (and no flour), but if you experiment yourself with this one, please let me know how it goes!

I love using chickpeas in baking because they’re such a great little alternative to flour, and so full of protein that you can feel a little bit less guilty for indulging in baked goods – winning! These are also vegan (if you use vegan chocolate). Huzzah!

Chickpea tip: We always have chickpeas pre-cooked and frozen in small portions in zip lock bags. Cook up a whole heap at once, then you can just use them as you need, rather than having to think ahead in order to soak them in time for your meals!

*Edit – Take a look at Lemon chickpea slice for a light and lemony variation.

Choc berry chickpea slice

1 cup chickpeas, cooked
1 cup plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup raw sugar
2 chia eggs (2 tablespoons ground chia seeds, whisked with 6 tablespoons water)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup water
1 cup mixed berries (or whatever berries you please) – could be fresh or frozen
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips, or block chocolate cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 180C, and line a baking pan (of the sort you would make brownies in), about 20cm x 30cm.

Make up your chia eggs in a small bowl and allow to sit for a few minutes. Meanwhile, whizz chickpeas in a food processor until they resemble something between breadcrumbs and flour:

Place them in a large bowl with all other dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon). Whisk together to mix and get rid of any lumps.

In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, chia eggs, vanilla essence and water until well mixed. It should be quite thick. Then add this mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix until well combined. Carefully fold in berries and chocolate until just mixed.

Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake for around 40 minutes, or until golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool for a while in pan before removing to cool on a wire rack. Once cool, slice into bars or squares, and serve dusted with icing sugar.

**Don’t be concerned if they look a bit undercooked once you’ve sliced them. These are really moist and fudgey due to the moisture from the berries, which gives them a really great texture.

Experimenting with wholefoods

Orange/cardamon, and gluten-free choc-chip biscuits

The other day I made a fantastic recipe for Apple, Cinnamon & Quinoa Muffin Top Cookies from Oh My Veggies. The most exciting part for me (apart from eating them), was using quinoa. I’m a fan of quinoa, I’ve just never really got to the point where I’ve actually prepared it myself. Now the challenge of course was that the recipe called for 1 cup of cooked quinoa, and I, clutching my paper bag full of whole quinoa straight from the organic shop, had no idea how much dry = cooked quinoa. So I ended up just following the directions I had googled for cooking one cup of dry quinoa (yielding more once cooked), with the idea that I’d use the remainder in a salad or something.

Alas! Creativity got the better of me, and yesterday I found myself in the kitchen with a plastic container full of cooked quinoa, and a vague idea of trying to make biscuits. I’m generally more of a muffin/cupcake/bread type of baker, so I’m not sure why I thought I’d be capable of inventing a biscuit recipe. However, it actually worked out okay, much to my surprise and amusement.

Another love of mine is using chickpeas in baking. I’m not sure if I’ve already shared this, but there’s a great gluten-free cake recipe here (from The Smallest Smallholding), which uses chickpeas as the staple ingredient. I’ve also encountered some seriously delicious chickpea treats from Scullery Made, a regular at the Barossa Farmers Market (- if you’re ever out that way, seriously check them out – amazing baked goodies and beautiful teas).

So it was decided that I would embark on this adventure with both quinoa and chickpeas in tow. I really wish I could post the recipe here, but I didn’t actually measure anything out. It was a very rough experiment that I didn’t expect to actually yield anything worth sharing, but it was basically a keep-adding-stuff-in-until-you-get-the-right-consistency kind of job. If you want to get experimental too, by all means do! It is fun, and the worst that can happen is that you have to eat all your biscuit dough raw, which I’m sure we all acknowledge is not a bad thing.

So this was the result: two batches of biscuits, both dairy/egg free, and made using quinoa and chickpeas. I’ve included the ingredients (and measurements where I remembered), so you can experiment at will! I made the basic dough up all together, then divided it into two and added extras.

Basic dough
cooked quinoa (around 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup cooked chickpeas, whizzed in a food processor
rice flour (around 1/4 – 1/2 cup?)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
honey (around 1/4 cup)

Orange and cardamon biscuits (inspired by The Mindful Foodie)
5 cardamon pods, seeds removed and ground to a fine powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
zest and juice of one orange
wholemeal flour, to make up a moist dough

Mix all ingredients together. Form tablespoon-sized balls and flatten slightly on a lined baking tray, about 2-3cm apart. Bake at 170C until golden (around 20 minutes).

Gluten-free choc-chip biscuits
1/4 cup chopped chocolate, or chocolate chips
a touch more rice flour (1/4 cup?)
almond meal to make moist dough

*Note that this mixture was a lot moister/oilier than the orange biscuits. I had my doubts, but they actually worked brilliantly! Soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside :)

Mix and bake as above.

Happy experimenting!