Fresh Pumpkin Pudding

I figured we all have pumpkin on hand this week…so I thought I’d share some tips on how to bake the flesh inside, and put it to several yummy uses.  Most of the baking recipes call for Sugar Pie pumpkins, but you can also cook with acorn or butternut squash if you prefer.  This pumpkin pudding is so easy and a great make-ahead when entertaining, or great for breakfast, too!

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‘Tis the season for figs and so many are now available at the farmers market – Black Mission, Kadota, Brown Turkey, Adriatic and Strawberry (in photo) just to name a few.  Figs are easy to eat on the go and provide a wonderful dose of fiber and manganese, which helps fight free-radicals.  Figs are also good for the heart as an excellent source of phytosterols which can block cholesterol, and from potassium which helps control blood pressure.

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Gluten Free 4 You?

It seems everywhere I turn these days, ‘gluten free’ has become all the rage.  This is in NO way to disparage the need for gluten free products.   As a semi-gluten free baker myself (I’m not gluten intolerant, but am a therapeutic chef) – I am thrilled there is more awareness and that the choices are more widely available AND tasty, too.  But I am often asked if it is necessary or healthier to remove gluten from our diets entirely.  The answer is complex and variable.  Let’s explore…

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Panna Cotta with Nectarine Coulis

Hike in Pagosa Springs

Hike in Pagosa Springs, CO

I’m back!  Thanks for sticking around.  We had a glorious trip through Colorado.  Did you know they have 54 mountains with an elevation of 14,000 feet or more?  Quite impressive.  I’d like to say we hiked them, but just tackling 9500 feet was ‘breathtaking.’  We ate very well along the way, even scored a few farmers’ markets.  Let me know if any of you are planning to travel there; I have plenty of suggestions on where to eat – from Boulder and Telluride, to Crested Butte and Aspen.

Speaking of food (that’s why you’re here, right?)…a few weeks ago I mentioned a dish I made for my final presentation at Bauman College. It was a Coconut Chai Panna Cotta with a Nectarine Coulis and Orange Tuile.  As you know, I don’t usually post complicated recipes, but while this one may have one or two more steps, believe me when I tell you it is

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Go With What Ya’ Got

There’s a great segment on Martha Stewart Radio called “Use It Up.”  It’s part of the Everyday Food hour where host Sandy Gluck asks callers what they have in excess and offers ways to create recipes around it.  During the week I find this particularly helpful when we’re short on time and have to rely on what’s already in stock.  With farmers’ markets in season, I tend to have something on-hand which is fresh, but that doesn’t mean my culinary creativity keeps in step.  So in our house it’s called “go with what ya’ got.”

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White Beans with Pancetta and Zucchini

Some dishes are appropriate year round.  And in that camp, I would include beans.  Beans are one of the best plant sources of protein on the planet, not to mention low on the calorie index.  They are super high in fiber, which is great for reducing cholesterol and regulating blood sugar.  And…they are loaded with antioxidants, in some cases more than blueberries!

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Plum Delicious

Plums are in their sweet, succulent prime at the farmers’ market.  Aside from berries, they are my absolute favorite fruit.  I just love their juicy flesh enveloped by that tart, colorful skin.  And that’s the best part about them – the skin is loaded with pectin which keeps things moving (think prunes;-)

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Flour Power

I figured if I’m starting a feature called “Savvy Substitutions” and it focuses heavily on baked goods, it might be advisable to explain different types of flour and their ratios in baking compared to the ‘other white stuff.’  Of course you know it begins with whole-grains, and organic whenever possible.  Wheat is one of the most pesticide laden crops in America, so it truly pays to buy the purest product available.  This way you can go right to your pantry when a recipe calls for spelt (a cousin of wheat) or another alternative and know how it might affect the taste and texture of your creation.

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Scallops in a Pocket

We have the best fish vendor at the farmers’ market.  They offer local, sustainable catches at extremely reasonable prices.  I am hooked on wild salmon (excuse the pun) but every now and then I’ll cross the double yellow line and try something different.  This week it was scallops.  Tender, plump pillows of seafood goodness.  Since I was already playing outside my comfort zone, I decided to get creative with the preparation, too…

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Espresso Shortbread

One of my loyal readers suggested I take a recipe, convert it to ‘healthy,’ and report the before and after.  Truth be told, unless I specify that it was newly created, most recipes I send are adapted to use whole grains, etc. – especially in baked goods.  This week in the San Francisco Chronicle, they published several recipes using coffee.  Of course I went right to the dessert, and found a decadent cookie which made my mouth water.  While I am not a regular consumer of the beverage, I absolutely love its flavor.  And Jay whips up a cappuccino each morning so we always have espresso at the ready. Click to continue reading »