My newest working mom trick is double Sunday dinner. I find that if I can make Monday night’s dinner while cleaning up Sunday night’s dinner mess, the week goes much better. I’ve tried a few make-ahead meals with mixed results; curried pork stew is great, butternut squash lasagna, not so much. This vegan stew is one of my favorite make-ahead meals yet. You certainly won’t miss the meat. A word of warning, though: when peeling the butternut squash, throw the peels in your compost or garbage can. Do not attempt to put them down your garbage disposal. Do not attempt to put them down your mother-in-law’s garbage disposal. The cost of the plumber fixing the sink takes away from the enjoyment of the meal. Trust me on this one.
Coconut cream pie has been on my mind for a long time. When I found James Peterson’s version in his new book, Baking, I had no choice but to make it. The book, by the way, is a nice compilation of recipes and techniques ranging from bread to pastries to cakes. I’m not sure it’s the “baking education” promised on its cover, but I’ve been salivating over its pictures and recipes for weeks. Despite my several adaptations (shortcuts, really), my first coconut cream pie turned out much better than any version I’ve had from a bakery. I wish I had tried it sooner.
Moroccan Winter Squash and Carrot Stew with Quinoa
adapted from Bon Appétit, January 2006
for the stew:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup (240 ml) water
1 x 14-oz (400‑g) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1‑inch cubes
5 to 7 carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4‑inch cubes
for the quinoa:
1 cup (170 g) quinoa
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups (480 ml) water
1/2 cup (15 g) chopped fresh cilantro, divided
For stew: Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. Mix in the paprika and the next 7 ingredients. Add 1 cup (240 ml) water and the tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Add the squash and carrots. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)
For quinoa: Rinse the quinoa and drain. Melt the butter with the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot. Cover and cook until the vegetables begin to brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, and turmeric and sauté for 1 minute. Add the quinoa and stir 1 minute. Add 2 cups (480 ml) of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.
To serve, rewarm the stew and stir in half of the cilantro. Spoon the quinoa onto a platter, forming a well in the center. Spoon the stew into the well. Sprinkle with the remaining cilantro.
Coconut Cream Pie
adapted from Baking by James Peterson
Makes 1 pie
1 x 10-inch pie crust (homemade or Pillsbury refrigerated recommended)
2 cups (480 ml) unsweetened coconut milk (regular or light)
1 cup (240 ml) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar plus 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup (25 g) plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup (40 g) unsweetened dessicated coconut
2 cups (180 g) sweetened shredded coconut, divided
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
Use a 9- to 10-inch pie pan. Roll the dough into a round about two inches larger than the pie pan. Line the pie pan with the dough, fold under the excess dough and crimp the edges. Prebake the pie shell according to your recipes (or package instructions). I highly recommend lining the crust with aluminum foil and adding an inch or so of pie weights or dried beans during the first half of the baking time. This will keep the crust from shrinking, warping, and performing other unknown pastry tricks. Carefully remove the pie weights/beans and tinfoil during the last half of the baking time to allow the crust to fully cook.
Set the oven to 350°F (180°C). In a medium saucepan, bring the coconut milk and milk to a simmer with the vanilla. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, 1/2 cup (100 g) of sugar, and the cornstarch until smooth. Slowly pour half of the milk into the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk. Stir the mixture with a whisk over medium heat until it bubbles and thickens. Immediately remove it from the heat, stir until smooth and transfer to a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to cool to room temperature.
Fold the dessicated coconut and 1 cup (90 g) of the sweetened shredded coconut into the pudding and spread this mixture in the now cool pie shell. Chill for at least 1 hour.
While the pie chills, toast the remaining 1 cup (90 g) of shredded coconut in a heavy pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. Pour the toasted coconut into a small bowl to cool.
Before serving, combine the heavy cream with the 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat it to stiff peaks. Spread the whipped cream over the pudding mixture, doming the cream in the center, and sprinkle the toasted coconut over it.