Fall

Creamy-Red-Pepper-Coconut-soup-serve-with-crunchy-breadIt was one of those days, dreary and cold, and it was my turn to make lunch (I’ve told y’all how much I dislike making lunch). Mostly I was dreading it because I knew the fridge was devoid of leftovers I could just heat up and call good. 

I strolled into the kitchen and opened the vegetable drawer. There it was, two red bell peppers, celery that needed a purpose and half an onion from the last soup I had thrown together. Luckily, inspiration hit and within 30 minutes, this soup and lunch was served. It was delicious and is now in the fall/winter soup rotation over here.

The coconut adds the Asian flare I was looking for and the Thai-style sweet chili sauce balances it all out. This soup is so easy to make and the flavor is bold. You will love it.

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figtomatosaladIt's September. Summer's over.

I'm probably the only person in San Diego who isn't sad that September has arrived. Why? Because September is the start of fresh fig season, and you simply can't be sad when you see fresh figs.

Figs are a sensual fruit. Their velvety soft skin emits a sweet, floral fragrance and often splits with juicy ripeness. They are the prized jewels of farmers' markets, and nowadays most major supermarkets sell them as well.

Figs are highly perishable, so buy them when you know you'll eat them in a couple of days. Otherwise, it's best to store them in an air-tight container lined with paper towel in the refrigerator for up to three days. Don't worry though. They'll never last that long. I don't care what the weather is like this September. As long as I have my fresh California figs, I'm good.

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appletartI love rustic or “free-form” tarts. This recipe makes two perfect tarts and can be filled with just about any type of firm fruit – apples, pears, peaches, nectarines or plums – whatever is in season. I used Arrowhead Mills Organic Whole Grain Pastry flour and it gives the crust a perfectly tender, flaky, buttery crust.

Crust:

3/4 cup whole grain pastry flour (or unbleached all purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4” pieces, chilled
2-3 tablespoons ice water

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walnuts.jpgI like foods that add a touch of luxury, where a little goes a long way. I'm thinking of things like caviar, smoked fish, truffles, whipped cream, chocolate. Nuts fall into that category for me too, maybe it's their association with the holidays or with desserts like cakes and cookies. Or maybe it's because they are so rich.

Walnuts have a richness due to their fat content. They have an inherent sweetness but also a slight bitterness. That bitterness is actually what complements so many foods. The flavor of walnuts is more mellow and buttery when toasted which is great for baked goods and desserts. But when it comes to strong foods like beef, bitter greens, cheese and herbs like basil, un-toasted walnuts add another more complex dimension. If you've made pesto you might have noticed that most pesto recipes call for un-toasted nuts, so clearly I'm not the first to realize this.

In experimenting with different kinds of nuts, I have found walnuts to be the most versatile of all due to their buttery, rich, sweet and bitter flavors. I also found that lemon almost always complements walnuts, toasted or not. The possibilities are endless, salad topped with walnuts and tossed with a lemon dressing, lemon tea cake with walnuts, lemon walnut biscotti, lemon peel and walnuts as a topping for green beans...

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donut ball bread pudding 015The applesauce doughnuts I made the other day didn’t stick around in the kitchen very long. Off they went to the guys at the gas station, to the owner of the tea shop in town, along with one of her customers who happened to be in for a cup of tea, and a few to my friends at the food co-op.

Fourteen little doughnut balls remained on a plate on my kitchen counter. My two-year-old doughnut-ball-loving grandson lives hours away from me, so this time, I couldn’t share with him.

I decided to surprise my bread-pudding-loving husband. I mixed up a liquid mixture, rich with egg and butter, sweet with white and brown sugars and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. Broken doughnut balls (there were only 12 little balls on the plate by this time. Apparently, there is a doughnut-ball-loving person right in my own house.) took a long bath in that liquid before I stirred in some chopped apples.

There was just enough to fill two ramekins. Breakfast in bed on a chilly autumn Saturday morning? Dessert by the fire after dinner? If you decide to serve this for dessert, it can be baking while you’re eating dinner. If you decide to serve it for breakfast, it can be chilling while you’re sleeping.

Fragrance of fall. Warm. Delicious. Comfort. Just for two.

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