Oil Pie Crust (dairy free, egg free, gluten free, soy free, egg free)

I do love pies but it’s been difficult to find a good pie crust that’s gluten free, egg free and sugar free. A friend once gave me a recipe for an olive oil pie crust but it didn’t taste very good to me. So I’ve been searching and I think I’ve found the perfect substitute. Hope you’ll agree. However, instead of using a strong tasting olive oil, I’ve combined it with half milder olive oil and half mild avocado oil. It’s easy to make, just need to plan ahead!

You’ll need:

1/4 cup mild olive oil

1/4 cup avocado oil

1/2 cup non-dairy milk (more or less)

2 3/4 cup all purpose gluten-free flour

1 teaspoon salt

One hour before you start making the crust, put the oils (mixed together) in the freezer. If you’ve planned well ahead of time, you can also put the mixture in the refrigerator overnight or longer in a closed container. This is the step that makes the crust flaky.

When the oils are solidified, measure the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and fluff with a fork (or if you own one, with a sifter). Add the oil and using a fork, combine with the flour mixture until you have pea size pellets of flour. Add the milk piecemeal, stirring the mixture after each addition, until the flour mixture is all combined and sticking together (which is why you may need a little less or a little more milk).

This makes 2 crusts so split the dough in half and put each ball into a plastic bag, flatten a little so it doesn’t break apart when cold and difficult to roll, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

About 15 minutes before you take the dough out of the frig, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the dough (I used plastic wrap to cover my counter and the top of the dough rather than flour) to roughly a quarter inch, remove the top layer of plastic wrap, lift on the plastic wrap and flip the rolled crust into your pie plate or baking container. This crust can be slightly crumbly so don’t worry if you have to patch it a little. Repeat if you’re using a top crust.

Blind bake for approximately 15 minutes. Cool slightly before adding filling and top crust. Then bake as you would a normal pie. If using just as a top crust, place on top of cold filling and bake. For a single crust pie, increase oven temperature to 425 and bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Spicy Spanish Meatballs (dairy free, gluten free, soy free, egg free)

Just like with meatloaf, I love meatballs. I’ve gotten lazy in my old age and simply made meatballs with some of my meatloaf mix but I recently saw a recipe for Spicy Spanish Meatballs and thought I’d give them a try. Here’s my revision of that recipe that used beef, veal and eggs, none of which I can eat.

You’ll need for the meatballs:

2 teaspoons cumin seeds (or ground cumin)

2 teaspoons coriander seeds (or ground coriander)

2 whole cloves (or 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves)

9 ounces ground turkey

8 ounces ground pork

2 teaspoons allspice (or you can use nutmeg, I don’t happen to like it so substituted allspice)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 garlic cloves crushed

1/2 cup chopped dates (if you used dried dates, be sure to rehydrate them before adding)

1 small hot red chili pepper (I used a red finger pepper, seeds and veins removed), finely chopped

flax gel (3 tablespoons ground flax mixed into 1/3 cup hot water; let stand 5 minutes)

You’ll need for the sauce:

1 teaspoon cumin seeds (roast and grind as above) (or 1 teaspoon ground cumin)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium red onions, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons diced garlic

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon paprika (I used 1/2 teaspoon regular paprika and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika)

1/2 cup wine (if you can have it) OR 1/2 cup chicken stock

28 ounces (1 large can) diced tomatoes

2 dried bay leaves

1 teaspoon dry oregano or marjoram

2 tablespoons date syrup

Make the meatballs: In a dry skillet, heat the cumin and coriander seeds and whole cloves over medium heat until aromatic, a minute or two. Let cool for a few minutes and then grind in either a mortar and pestle or spice grinder (I used my coffee grinder that I never use for coffee).

Add to a food processor, the flax gel, dates, dried spices, garlic, cinnamon, allspice and chili pepper and grind until smooth. Remove to a bowl, add salt and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon of each) along with the meats and blend until mixed. Try not to overmix to avoid tough meatballs. Form into about 1 ounce meatballs with wet hands (makes about 16-18). Place on a greased, small baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator.

Whwn the sauce is simmering, take the meatballs out of the refrigerator and remove plastic wrap. Cook in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.

To make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a small Dutch oven, add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic, salt and pepper (again about 1/2 teaspoon each), cumin, cinnamon and paprika and cook for a few minutes over low to medium heat being careful not to let the spices or garlic burn. Add the wine or chicken stock and boil for several minutes until almost evaporated. Add the chopped tomatoes and bay leaves, turn the heat down and simmer for 20-30 minutes uncovered, stir occasionally.

Add 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste depending on how thick you like your sauce, and the oregano or marjoram along with the date syrup (don’t have any? Use maple syrup or agave instead).

Add the meatballs to the sauce, remove the bay leaves. If you wish, you can sprinkle the dish with chopped fresh parsley. Serve over any small grain such as quinoa or faro, couscous would also work. Or serve with slices of gluten free bread to sop up the sauce.

Serves 4 people generously.