I don’t know what kind of kitchen curse I’ve stumbled into, but my recent cooking adventure ended with a recurring nightmare: little bits of rock-hard pieces hiding in otherwise delightful dishes.
I briefly shared about the small tapioca pearls that didn’t soften in my Gluten-Free Harvest Peach Pie. Then, it was the tipping point for my tears, the last straw in a series of mishaps made during my pie-making frenzy in prep for our 1st Anniversary Pie Party.
I mean, doesn’t that beauty on the right look absolutely delicious? Oh it was, minus the fact that every bite came with a pearl or two of rock-hard tapioca. But the first mistake came when I tried to draw three different peach pie recipes into one. Not a smart idea for someone who had only made three pie crusts before in her life. To complicate things, it was my first gluten-free crust, and I wasn’t very familiar with the dough. It doesn’t work like regular flour, let me tell you. Oh no. It sticks to both your surface and your rolling pin like glue.
So with a small bowl of regular, all-purpose flour sitting near my rolling pin (used on my last pie), I generously sprinkled some on top of the gluten-free dough (mistake #2). I had fully ruined it. The “gluten free” dough was contaminated. After a mini meltdown, I took out my other disk of dough, chilling in the freezer, and moved on. From there, the adventure of rolling out the gluten-free dough continued as the dough easily fell to pieces.
It was then I remembered my mother-in-law’s secret to success and cut a deep slit into a plastic produce bag (just enough to sandwich the dough between top and bottom), sprinkling it with gluten-free flour and topping it with the flour, as well. It worked great! Gluten-free or not, it makes transferring dough a cinch.
With only one pie crust, instead of two, I had to change the plan and opt for the peach pie recipe with the crumble top. Except I was also trying to make the pie dairy-free for my friend Tina, which meant I couldn’t use the recipe with the crumble top, because it was a “peaches and cream” recipe that used sour cream (or in my case, yogurt). So there I was, in a predicament, which is why I ended up meshing three recipes into one: the pie with the crumble top, the simple peach pie without dairy, and the gluten-free pie crust.
Later, when the pie came out, I realized my miscalculation. The pie crust was not dairy-free. I had used butter. Real butter. So all of the headache could have been avoided. I could have nixed the tapioca and gone with the peaches and cream recipe that originally caught my eye. Oh the pure discouragement. And then. AND THEN! Honey Dude spotted a tapioca pearl. It was to our astonishment since we thought they would dissolve completely. (For the record, they don’t; they just soften.) Then the fated first taste of the tapioca: a rock-hard ball of disappointment to wrap it all up. Oh the cry-laughter that followed. It was just too ridiculous.
So imagine my dismay when it happened again: rock hard disappointment ruining an otherwise perfect dish. Yep, that’s what happened with the Lemon Coconut Bars I tried to copy from The Cycling Chef (re-blogged yesterday morning, made that afternoon).
I loved that the recipe was easy and straightforward. And I could eat everything except the almonds, which I quickly swapped for walnuts without a thought in the world.
I don’t know if it was the walnuts in particular, or just what happens when nuts get over-mixed with dates, in general, but the result was not good. Despite the amazingly bright flavor of zesty lemon paired with sweet dates and unsweetened coconut flakes, there was something else mingling in there. And it was not edible. Not in the least.
So just like the pie, I had to pick pieces out of my food to enjoy it, partaking in the smallest of bites in order to catch them before breaking my teeth. Oh I wish someone would call this curse off. Or at least help me discover why my perfectly wonderful organic walnuts turned on me. I failed chemistry. That might be part of it. Has anyone out there ever had such a thing happen to them? Or am I all alone in this?
Needless to say, I will make these bars again. This time, I will process the nuts separately before adding the dates. And I might use a different nut, too. Like cashews and pecans. Do try them out and let me know if you experience technical difficulties as I did. Sigh. This cannot go on.