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chocolate pecan pie + saying yes


Totally last minute Thanksgiving dessert post! Maybe you’ve noticed that I’ve featured quite a few chocolate treats lately. I mean, it’s kind of an accident, but the reality is that I love the stuff big time. It can go healthy or super rich, either way (and every single, humanly possible way) it’s amazing to me. This pie is remarkably healthy considering the general corn syrup-laden nature of pecan pie. The taste is so not lacking though. Like not even a bit. Rich, chocolaty, nutty, creamy-sweet gooeyness all bundled up in a hearty crust. Yes!

Holiday meals and little indulgences go hand in hand, it’s really wonderful. I love gathering around food and everything that comes with it so much. When I sit down to a meal, I usually feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life to tuck in. There’s so much effort, experience and years of wisdom tied up in what’s placed before you. A dollop of mashed potatoes, a slice of pie, a piece of gratin… they’re all brimming with moments and human experience. Like never-ending stories that nourish every little part of us. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

With that observation in mind (harsh transition): I don’t care if I eat white flour most of the time. I have a background in nutrition and generally go about my life in a wholesome way, but I never ever refuse something because it may contain some refined flour/sugar, a dab of butter, you get the idea. It’s an offering made by someone I care about. That’s all I need to know. I like to say yes and keep that exchange going. There’s so much value in that simple act, to you and especially to the other. So all of this is to say that yes, I’ve used some white flour in this recipe. It’s not a big deal, right? Didn’t think so. Have a lovely Thanksgiving, American friends.

chocolate pecan pie
lightly adapted from here and here
serves: makes a 9 inch pie
notes: I find grinding flaxseeds right before you need them to be more effective with the whole binding thing (rather than using pre-ground). The pie has a slight banana tang since you’re using it as an egg/binder. If bananas aren’t your jam, you could replace it with an equivalent amount of mashed up tofu maybe? Or 2 beaten eggs if you eat them.

crust:
1 cup whole spelt flour (or whole wheat, kamut etc)
1 cup all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/4 cup natural sugar
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup melted coconut oil

pie filling:
3/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1/4 cup arrowroot
1 small banana, chopped up rough
3/4 cup chocolate chips, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup (or agave)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 1/2 cups pecan halves, all chopped except for about 1/4 cup
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Make the crust: combine the flours, salt, sugar and ground flaxseeds in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on low to combine. Add coconut oil and non-dairy milk. Mix on medium until just combined. Turn dough out onto a floured surface (no resting!). Roll dough with a floured pin evenly until you have a circle that is about an inch larger than your pie plate.

Gather dough by rolling it onto your rolling pin. Gently roll the dough back over your pie dish. Carefully tuck the dough into the dish with your hands. Prick the bottom crust with the tines of a fork a few times. Lay a sheet of parchment paper or tin foil onto the crust and place dry beans or pie weights in. Bake for 8-9 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Raise the temperature to 425 degrees F.

Make the filling: Combine the milk, arrowroot and banana in a blender or food processor. Blend until all banana and arrowroot lumps are gone. Add to a medium bowl along with the chocolate, maple syrup, vanilla, coconut oil, chopped pecan halves (reserving the whole ones), cinnamon and salt. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Pour filling into pie shell and arrange remaining pecan halves on the top. Cover the edges of the pie with tinfoil and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the filling in the center of the pie seems firm. Let the pie cool at room temperature for about an hour. Chill in the fridge for at least two hours before serving.

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Anna26/11/2011 - 12:52 am

Great pecan pie version! My choco pecan pie needs a little twist. Gets boring over time…Thanks for sharing this post!

mouth-watering recipe! and i love love love your description of life moments through food! i too try to avoid all that bad for you stuff, but at a social gathering my clean-eating gets a little dirty, and i cherish every moment of it. : )

Kelsey (Happyolks)28/11/2011 - 11:49 pm

Love this. truly. When I was traveling through Africa and Asia last year I made an up-front decision to say yes. Food is love, and turning down hospitality (especially where food is not abundant to begin with) is so disrespectful. I said yes to more than I’d like to remember, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My preferences for whole grain, mostly plant diet are put on hold when honoring the person I’m sharing a meal with is more important.

You’re great. Period. And I would so say yes to this pie.

[...] The First Mess – With a focus on wholesome ingredients and accessibility, this blog is as practical as it is lovely. Plus the name of the blog comes from an M.F.K. Fisher quote, so you know she’s legit. Recommended recipe: Chocolate Pecan Pie [...]

shelley22/11/2012 - 8:43 am

can I use cornstarch here instead of arrowroot?

[…] I really wanted to re-create it somehow for our newly vegan Thanksgiving dinner.  This is where Laura at The First Mess came to the rescue! At this time, I was not an avid food blog reader, but searched on Taste […]

butternut and lentil salad + getting closer


So recently I’ve taken on a teeny bit more responsibility at work, but! It’s allowed me to enjoy weekends with my man, which is pretty amazing. For as long as we’ve been together, I’ve worked in restaurants–being scheduled on the weekends goes with that territory. He works Monday to Friday, so our together time was usually pretty well planned out when we had it. I still work in the industry, but lately, what with my new weekend freedom, we just decide on an activity at our leisure. Crazy. We go for hikes, look at the wildlife (there’s a lovely and very social duck pond nearby), sit around and play with our dogs, go for a run together, watch a movie, enjoy a coffee in the still-bright autumn sun–whatever we decide in that moment, that’s what we’re doing. I know this is totally normal for most people, but I’m still pinching myself.

I don’t know if it’s the coziness of Fall or the new free time or what exactly, but it’s making me feel a lot warmer and fuzzier about relationships in general, so grateful for all the interesting and lovely people in my life. I do revel in the complexities of the world and love working out problems of all persuasions, but I honestly don’t need much to be happy in my day to day. Lovely people and good food, roof over my head. That’s it. Just with that slight schedule change, I feel like I’ve won the lottery or something. My corner of the world is pretty rosy right now.

So to tie everything (and it really is everything) back into the recipe du jour: This dish is inspired by one that Mark and I recently enjoyed when we spontaneously (wee!) decided to eat at a place I’ve been dying to go to for a while. I kind of panicked a bit when I entertained the idea of going there, thinking we would need a reservation on a Friday night. Everything worked out fine. It was cozy, our waitress was so sweet, I warmed my hands (and insides) with a delicious hot toddy, we enjoyed the mentioned salad, some warm olives and fantastic wood-fired pizza. Happy endings for sure.


salty-sweet butternut and lentil salad
serves: 4-5
notes: I steam the squash so that I can retain the clean shape of it, but you could make this with some leftover roasted squash (perhaps from your Thanksgiving festivities…) if you have it on hand.

dressing:
juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
2 tbsp agave nectar
salt and pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

salad:
1 small butternut squash, peeled
1 cup green lentils, picked through and rinsed
5-6 handfuls arugula
1/4-1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
salt and pepper

Cook the lentils: combine the rinsed lentils with 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until lentils are just tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir here and there while they’re cooking. Set aside when done.

Steam the squash: fill a large pot with an inch or two of water and bring to a boil. Cut the peeled squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and slice both halves into 1/2 inch slices crosswise. Place slices on a steamer basket and drop into the pot of boiling water. Cover and steam for about 15-20 minutes or until squash is tender, but still has a little toothsome quality.

Make the dressing: combine all dressing ingredients in a blender and blend on high until combined. Set aside. You could whisk them all together too.

Assemble: toss the lentils and arugula with 3/4 of the dressing. Season with salt and pepper.  Place this mixture onto your serving plate. Top with the cooked squash slices. Pour remaining dressing over top. Sprinkle the top with feta and serve.

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Jen22/11/2011 - 1:08 pm

I used to work a job in the wine industry where we tended to work more weekends during the holiday seasons, mostly because of shear demand for our product. I spent more Saturdays and Sundays that I’d ever have liked visiting wine shops and grocery stores making sure they had product on the shelves. I also spent my evenings doing wine tastings and holiday events. While I loved wine (and still love wine), I ultimately left that job partly because I wanted to live in the world that “regular” people lived in. Spending weekends with my family and friends, celebrating holidays with everyone else. It can be hard to follow your passion and ‘live your life’ simultaneously, and I’m so glad to hear that you’ve gotten an opportunity to do both. I wish you many more spontaneous weekends with those you love.

Laura22/11/2011 - 6:55 pm

Thanks for the warm and lovely comment, Jen. It’s so crazy to have a “normal” schedule now and I’m sure you understand that. Feeling pretty grateful :)

Heart Healthy Diet25/11/2011 - 5:30 pm

I couldnt have said it any better to be honest! keep up the awesome work. You are very talented & I only wish I could write as good as you do :) …
Heart Healthy Recipes

Andrea02/12/2011 - 9:57 am

I love this post. It made me feel all warm and cozy – and appreciative of all the good people and food n my own life!

[...] done for most salads, I choose to cut it into round slices after seeing this post from The First Mess. How beautiful is it layered upon the spring greens and lentils?! Once assembled it’s [...]

[…] dish every time. In this salad,  I choose to cut it into round slices after seeing this post from The First Mess instead of cubing the squash like traditionally done.  Isn’t it beautiful layered upon the […]

roasted celery root + apple cider redux


I’m typically more into the salt-of-the-earth joys in life, but sometimes I like making something that feels really celebratory or just kind of…you know, cool. We have gorgeous, hardy celery root (celeriac) in the garden still. It’s thriving in the cool, damp temperatures. Digging one out is a dirty and slightly trying affair, but so worth it. I find it’s a really underrated vegetable. Lovely texture, beautiful clean flavour, creamy and light colour. It’s wonderful. Have you tried it? It’s a bit rough at first sight, but once you get past that tough exterior, it’s all lovey dovey, mushy feelings from there.

Celery and apples are delicious together so I knew that celery root and apple cider would be pretty good buds too. Making a reduction sounds fairly advanced, but it’s usually easy. Just throw some flavours and liquids into a pot, bring it to a boil and simmer the mixture down until it thickens a bit. So simple! If you want to make this more of a side dish kind of thing, you can chop the celery root up smaller and toss it with the reduction when it comes out of the oven. Put a little sprinkle of herb on top and you’ve got a fine little side attraction for whatever you’re serving up (possibly Thanksgiving fare?).

I know that plating it in the way I’ve shown is suggesting a sort of meat-replacement thing. Maybe you’re wondering where the protein is, if the meal is complete or satisfying and on and on. Here’s a little insight on my daily eating habits: quite often, I just feel like a plate of vegetables. As long as I’ve been vegetarian/vegan, I have loved to eat this way. If I see a variety of colours/textures and whole foods on my plate throughout the day, I know my nutrient intake is up to snuff. I don’t fret if my protein or vitamin B12 etc etc intake seems off. I eat unprocessed and colourful foods. That’s it. So easy and feel-good. No nutrition labels to read? No problem.


roasted celery root with apple cider reduction
serves: 2
notes: If you want to make this a side dish, look for a slightly larger celery root, dice it into cubes, roast it and toss it in the reduction before serving. It should take about 15 minutes to cook at the smaller size.

celery root:
1 small to medium celery root, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
1 sprig of thyme, leaves removed and lightly chopped
1 tbsp grape seed oil
salt and pepper

reduction:
2 cups apple cider
1 sprig of thyme
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp natural sugar
2-3 black peppercorns

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

Start the reduction: Place all reduction ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and keep at a lively simmer until reduced by two thirds. I ended up with a bit more than a 1/4 cup. Stir occasionally. Strain the mixture, pour it back into the saucepan and place it on a low burner to keep warm.

Roast the celery root: toss the slices of celery root with the oil, chopped thyme, salt and pepper. Place slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Flip the slices at the half way point for even browning. Remove celery root from the oven when golden brown and tender.

Serve celery root with warm reduction on top. Garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley or other fresh herb of your choice (chives would be nice too).


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Kelsey (Happyolks)13/11/2011 - 4:26 pm

LOVE celery root. LOVE the boots. WANT your garden. Badly.

purabi naha14/11/2011 - 9:41 am

Loved the pictures. What a brilliant idea! I am bookmarking your recipe.
http://cosmopolitancurrymania.blogspot.com

Kirsten15/11/2011 - 2:18 am

Made this tonight with the celery root from my last CSA delivery (sniff!). I thoroughly enjoyed this recipe and especially the thyme/peppercorn flavors in the reduction. This is the first decent recipe I’ve found for this veggie. It’s a keeper for me!

Sara15/11/2011 - 11:04 am

Thanks for this–I mostly make soups out of celery root but I am looking to branch out.

Elizabeth18/11/2011 - 12:44 pm

You gorgeous pics of digging up your own celery root are making me so jealous! I too love this humble root, and find the smell to be nearly intoxicating. Never thought to pair with an apple cider reduction–your unique take is a great recipe to have up my sleeve as the cold weather sets in.

Carroll @VanillaLemonade20/11/2011 - 10:11 pm

LOVE this!!! Celery root is tricky and this is a perfect way to utilize it! Yum!

Basic Vegetarian27/12/2011 - 1:07 pm

Very interesting way to prepare celery root and beautiful photographs.