Monthly Archive for November, 2011

Harvest Tacos – Give the Turkeys a Break

When my friends at Tortilla Land generously sent me some of their newly formulated gluten free corn tortillas I began to think about creating a vegetarian harvest taco. With the Thanksgiving holiday lurking, time was of the essence, so I admittedly took a few short cuts to arrive at this recipe but the longer version for preparation is certainly an option!

Harvest Taco

Lentil Pesto

1 (17.63 oz) package lentils, approximately 2 cups cooked

1/2 cup ricotta

1/2 cup vegetable broth

Taco Filling

1 TBS vegetable oil

1 small yellow onion, sliced lengthwise

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups pumpkin or mixed root vegetables, skin removed, cut similar size

1 TBS butter

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1 medium size zucchini, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 1/2 cups prepared chestnuts, coarsely chopped

1 tsp fresh sage, chopped

1 sprig rosemary, whole

2 tablespoons chili powder (medium-spicy blend)

salt to taste

14 Tortilla Land corn tortillas

cheddar cheese

avocado (optional)

sour cream (optional)

Tabasco sauce (optional)


In a blender combine cooked lentils (premade or homemade), ricotta and vegetable broth. Mix on high until well blended. Keep a bit of the texture and resist the temptation to add more broth to smooth it out. Set aside in a bowl.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute a minute or two, then add garlic and pumpkin or root vegetables. Add butter and cook for 5-7 minutes until slightly browned. Add in broth, cover skillet with a lid and cook for 10-12 minutes until vegetables begin to soften.

Begin to prepare tortillas according to package directions. Keep tortillas warm in a 200 degree oven on a heat proof plate. Place optional garnishes in serving bowls.

In the skillet, add oregano and chili powder, stirring until well combined. Add salt to taste. Before adding in zucchini, mushrooms and chestnuts check to see if other vegetables are almost soft enough to eat. Allow 10 minutes for zucchini, mushrooms and chestnuts to cook as it is best if these have a bit of crunch to them.

To prepare tacos, layer ingredients over warm tortillas in this order: lentil pesto, cheese, harvest taco filling, and additional garnishes as desired. I served the tacos with two additional dishes — refried beans and Spanish rice.

Serves 4-6

Snapping Ginger Punklin Pie

If you are looking for a way to celebrate Thanksgiving with a dessert that has a twist to it and avoids the traditional pumpkin pie concept, this recipe should win you rave reviews. My contribution to this recipe was a bit of tweaking, however Debbie is the genius behind the lovely mix of flavors!

With Thanksgiving immediately around the corner, I am both thankful for this wonderful amalgamation of flavors and to the people at Crosby and Taylor for treating me to this lovely pewter measuring spoon set. Each short handle is styled as a curling grape vine and each pewter bowl is decorated with grapes and leaves. The pewter stand matches the spoons, with grapes and grape-leaf spilling over the base. It is kitchen art at its finest.

Since the arrival of this set it has adorned my kitchen counter and received numerous compliments. In the spirit of giving, one lucky reader that comments will be randomly selected to win a set of their own. Tell me what you are most thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday season.Oh and did I mention, that this item is a Paula Deen favorite and was featured in her magazine as well as on TV?

Snapping Ginger Punklin Pie

Note: This recipe should be prepared 8-24 hours in advance to allow time to set-up.


10 oz (2 cups) ginger snaps

1/4 cup sugar

6 TBS unsalted butter

8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ cup heavy whipping cream

caramel ice cream topping

1 gallon pumpkin ice cream, softened at room temperature for 15 minutes

1 heath bar candy, crushed


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove ice cream from freezer, remove lid and set on counter.

In a food processor, add ginger snaps and pulse until crumbled. Set aside in a medium bowl, add sugar and stir. Melt butter and add to bowl; combine well. Coat a 10-inch spring form pan with non-stick cooking spray, press cookie mixture into pan in a very thin layer, going slightly up the slides. Place in oven and cook for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Place chocolate in medium microwave-safe bowl and stir every 30-45 seconds. Once melted, add heavy cream, stirring until completely mixed. Spread chocolate ganache over crust then coat with caramel sauce. Place ice cream in pan, and smooth with a bit of texture.

Place heath bar in food processor and pulse until crumbled. Sprinkle over top of pie and then drizzle a little more caramel sauce. Place in freezer and chill for 8-24 hours. Before serving remove from freezer for 10 minutes.

Scharffen Berger Chai Tea-Spiced Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache Glaze (#YigitYummy)

If you are not drooling from this picture then you must not be a chocolate lover. I’ll confess, when I watched Yigit (pronounced Yeet) Pura, executive pastry chef at San Francisco’s Taste Catering Co. (and winner of the 2010 Top Chef: Just Desserts), whip this treat up I had every inclination that it would be good — but I had no idea that after taking my first bite that I would want to unhinge my jaw and push the entire dessert into my mouth. It was seriously – THAT GOOD!

In typical Scharffen Berger fashion, the day long event and bakery hop received rave reviews. The day culminated at the Ferry Building and left everyone licking their digits as globs of ganache glaze dripped off of spoons. What’s all the hub-bub about? Well it was the official 2011/2012 kick-off to the Scharffen Berger Chocolate Contest. The theme: Elevate a Classic Dessert. >and the wheels are turning<

The following is Chef Yigit Pura’s recipe – and I sincerely hope that you enjoy it as much as I did! >Sidebar: at the event Yigit made this cake recipe into cup cakes and added a little extra filling in the middle, which demonstrates how much fun you can having augmenting this recipe.<

(Note: Be sure to read over the entire recipe as there are two ingredients lists and two sets of directions.)

Scharffen Berger Chai Tea-Spiced Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache Glaze

Serves 8

Chai Tea-Spiced Chocolate Cake Ingredients

1 tsp baking powder

5 TBS Scharffen Berger Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1 1/4 cups flour

3/5 oz creme fraiche

3/4 cup plus 4 tsp whole milk

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 1/3 cups sugar

7 TBS grapeseed oil

4 tsp Ceylon tea, chopped

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground clove

1 tsp ground green cardamom

1/4 tsp ground star anise

Chai Tea-Spiced Chocolate Cake Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift the baking powder, cocoa powder and flour; set aside. In a bowl, mix the creme fraiche and milk and set aside.

Place the eggs, sugar, grapeseed oil, tea and spices in an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip until the mixture has a thick, fluffy consistency.

In two steps, alternately mix the creme fraiche mixure and the flour mixture into the eggs using a spatula. Be gentle not to overwork the batter or deflate it.

Spray an 8-inch round cake pan with non-stick cooking spray and lightly dust with flour. Pour the batter into the pan, about 1 inch from the top.

Bake until the cake has a rise and peak, rotate gently, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, and lightly bounces back to the touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes and then loosen with a spatula on each side, and gently unmold and cool on a cake rack.

Ganache Glaze Ingredients

7 oz Scharffen Berger 70% Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped

1 1/3 (10.5 oz) cups heavy cream

5 1/3 TBS corn syrup

cinnamon stick, for garnish

star anise, for garnish

candied orange strips for garnish

Ganache Glaze Directions

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Bring cream and the syrup to a boil, and pour over the chocolate. Mix using a spatula, and in the end finish mixing using an emersion blender to emulsify the mixture, taking care not to add too many air bubbles. Use the glaze while it remains warm.

To assemble, place the chocolate cake on a cooling rack with a pan lined with plastic underneath to catch the glaze drippings.

Put the chocolate glaze in the container with a spout, and gently yet quickly pour evenly over the chocolate cake, covering the entire top. Garnish the cinnamon stick, whole star anise and candied orange strips.