Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Minced Fruit Pie

Raw Minced Pie with Cashew Cream
Traditional Christmas Pie, Minced Pie, Mincedmeat Pie, Mutton Pie, Spiced Fruit Pie, whatever you call it, this holiday delicacy has its origins dating back to the 13th century and has stayed around for good reason.  It was said that the crusaders brought back the culinary concept of mixing spices, meat and fruit together from their ventures to the Holy Land in the middle east. It's become a British holiday staple ever since and even has a following here in the states.

Today even though they are still called mincemeat pies, most are no longer made with meat. To be honest, the name "mincedmeat pie" was always a deterrent I could never get past so I never really wanted to try it. But for Rich the holidays just aren't complete without minced pie. With his birthday following Christmas I have always made an attempt to get him one of these pies for his "birthday cake" that he could eat all by himself and he's enjoyed this tradition. Yet it's getting harder and harder to find.

This year I looked into what exactly goes into minced pie and discovered that a mix of dried fruit and spices in a pastry crust sounds like a perfect recipe for a raw version. I combined a few ideas and with Rich taste testing as I went, we have come up with a fantastic little pie filling!

It really tastes like a richly spiced apple pie!

If you have never had minced pie or even if you have, you owe it to yourself to try this new recipe. It really is tasty and is a perfect pie for fall and winter, not just the holidays.

Russell James' recipe for individual minced pies are all over the web this year and while I usually love all his recipes, and was anxious to try this one because of rave reviews, trying to make this into a single pie did not work out well for me. The crust tasted like uncooked flour probably because of the use of oat flour even though I dehydrated it until well dry. Plus luckily I checked to see if I would be able to get it out of the pie pan when serving before I adding the filling. I couldn't. I had to just wash it all down the drain and even with water it was hard to remove. I really hate that! 

But since I was on a mission to make this birthday treat, I continued with another experiment and I'm glad that I did.

This one does not need a dehydrator so it's more simple and it's quite tasty. The filling is also a little different as I wanted to incorporate a rich mix of fruit flavors. I hope you enjoy!

Raw Minced Fruit Pie

Minced Fruit Pie

For Crust:

2 cups of almond meal (almonds ground to flour)
1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup raisins (I used golden raisins)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut oil- liquid

Grind the almonds into a fine meal in the food processor or you can sometimes find almond meal in the stores. Add in the coconut, cinnamon and salt and pulse a few times. Add in the raisins and pulse until it is slightly sticky. Add in the oil and pulse until it is mixed through- but be careful to not over mix! It should just stick together between your fingers at the right consistency.

Press into tart or pie pans. You may want to use cling wrap or parchment first if it does not have a lift up bottom to make it easier to remove. I used a tart pan with a removable bottom and that worked out nicely when chilled until set. When ready for filling remove crust from tart pan if using or leave in pie pan.

Raw Pie/ Tart Crust after setting up in tart pan

Note: If you plan to make the cashew cream topping, now would be a good time to soak the nuts!

For Filling:

1/2 cup clementine juice (orange would work fine too)
1/2 cup date paste (soft medjool dates mixed with enough water to form a paste)

1/4 cup dried cherries, chopped (can use dried currants)
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 small apples diced
1 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie spice
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp clementine zest minced (or orange)
1/4 cup agave nectar

Mix all but the apples and raisins in a food processor until well combined. Add in the raisins and apples and pulse a few times until coarsely ground. Taste for sweetness.

You can let the filling marinate in a closed container in the fridge if you like. It gets better with time. Once ready, spoon into crust and chill, while you make the topping. Or use this as a topping for raw ice cream or with the cashew cream alone- no crust required.

Cashew Cream Topping:

1 1/2 cup cashews, soaked at least 20 minutes.
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup agave
3 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
pinch of salt

Blend all ingredients in high speed blender until creamy. Chill before serving.

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Since it was his birthday- he had his second piece with cool whip but honestly I think the cashew cream is better!

The verdict? He says it's better than any store bought pie - even though it's raw!

I know this will be a new tradition in our house now! 

I hope you enjoy!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Raspberry Bars

Raw Raspberry Bars

Greetings everyone and I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season!

We had a lovely Christmas and I have to admit it included quite a bit of cooked food. I have actually started helping my elderly neighbors with some things and one of those has been meals. Although one of them eats quite a bit of raw food as in fruit and salads, which probably explains why she is so sprite at 83! the other is a big meat and potatoes guy who really misses being able to cook. She doesn't cook and his health is challenged. So it's been interesting.

We actually joined them for a Christmas Eve dinner that I prepared and while they both loved it, and it was one of Rich's all time favorite foods, we realized we can no longer eat this way and feel good. I stayed pretty much to my vegetable dishes, which surprisingly they also really loved but the whole process was a reminder of what all cooking entails. Its' a lot of work, ingredients and clean up. I have really come to appreciate raw food clean up because it's a snap! Not to mention the way cooked food makes us both feel- heavy, congested, sleepy, etc...

Plus I don't feel right preparing meat anymore. It's not appetizing to me and frankly I feel very uncomfortable working with it. Just being honest here because it surprised me more than I expected. My kitchen no longer feels clean to me from having meat in it, even though it was of course cleaned up. 

Rich said to me as we left their home Christmas Eve, "Can get back to raw? I need it."
You don't know what a surprise this is to hear. He was the last person I expected would like raw food. We both agree that simper is better, instead of the complicated raw dishes.

With that said, after all the baking I did the last couple of weeks, I was really craving a raw treat. Since Rich loves raspberry I made up these simple raw raspberry bars. No cooking, easy clean up and they seem to get better everyday. Plus I love the color! 

The color of raw fresh foods is so beautiful! When I see a colorful plate of pure fresh food, there is no question in my mind that this is how we are supposed to eat. It is so tantalizing!!

So enough rambling. On to the...

Raw Raspberry Bars

For crust and topping:
2 cups shredded coconut
1/2 cup cashews
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup agave

Process coconut, cashews and salt in a food processor until fine and crummy, then add in the agave until well mixed.

Press the 2/3 mixture into a pan that has been lined with cling wrap. Make it thick enough that it will hold up as a cookie base when done. I used a 8 X 9 glass dish. You can also press into tart or small muffin tins, line first though with cling wrap.

Refrigerate while making the jam.

Raspberry Jam

1 10 oz package of frozen raspberries thawed and drained or 1 carton fresh berries
3 TBSP date paste (medjool dates mixed with enough water to form a paste)
1/4 cup agave syrup or sweeten to taste.

Blend in small blender , a Magic Bullet is perfect but a regular blender will work as well, until nicely chopped and mixed. Taste for sweetness and add more agave if necessary.

Once the bottom crust is set, pour the jam over and spread. Best to let this set up in the fridge before adding top layer. I didn't wait and pressed out little balls and layered over the top to keep it floating on top of the jam (because it wasn't set yet) but you could just sprinkle the crumb topping over as well.

Best to let the whole thing sit a couple of hours in the fridge covered to set up. Then cut and use plastic wrap to help you get it out of the pan in one piece.

I think they tasted better the next day and the next....
Should keep for 5 days covered in the fridge, if they last that long.
Hope you try the recipe and enjoy!


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