You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2011.

September is the best time to plant spring blooming bulbs.  All of the tulips, crocuses, and alliums are best planted once the weather cools, and allows for roots to grow before the ground freezes.

In the spring time, anyone viewing the garden will know that I love alliums. Each year I can’t help but add a few more alliums here and there.

[How to plant alliums:] Dig a small hole seven inches deep and place anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon of bone meal in the bottom; using the same hand shovel, incorporate the meal into the soil. Place the allium bulb point end up and fill half way with soil. At this point I will add a teaspoon more bone meal. Water in the bulb and fill the remaining hole. Come next spring these horticultural ufos will bloom, adding to the already countless numbers.

Since I liked the previous panna cotta recipe, I thought I would make another version of this dairy-free dessert. While at the market the tangerines caught my eye while I was shopping for blackberries. Their vivid orange color alone gave me this idea for a panna cotta. And I think this flavor combination to be dreamy.


Tangerine Panna Cotta Recipe


1-15 ounce can coconut milk

6 Tablespoons granular sugar

1 inch piece of vanilla bean, scraped

Zest of 1 tangerine


1 ¾ teaspoons powdered gelatin

2 Tablespoons cold water


Segments from 2 tangerines

Coconut Flakes [garnish]


1. In a small bowl sprinkle gelatin over the water and stir. Set aside to bloom.

2. In a small sauce pan heat the coconut milk, sugar and vanilla bean to a boil.

3. Remove vanilla bean.

4. Whisk in as much as a quarter cup of the coconut milk into the gelatin to melt.

5. Pour gelatin mixture into the remaining coconut milk.

6. Place 2-3 tangerine segments into dishes.

6. Fill desired jars, compotes or bowls and place in refrigerator for 4 hours.

7. Serve with extra tangerine segments and coconut flakes.

Serves 4.

Autumn is ripe for the picking so to speak.  The first few frosts of fall signals the best time to hand pick apples if you are inclined. Those chilly nights help to sweeten the local apple crops. And we all have our favorites, with around seven thousand varieties around the world there is an apple for everyone.

I wanted to make a welcome to fall apple treat, nothing fancy, and yes, I also wanted the house to smell great, apples baking in the oven and with this cake recipe, cinnamon too.

A basic apple cake just didn’t sound that interesting even if it tasted good, so I decided to pair it with some salted caramel. How can you go wrong with such a classic match made in heaven? A simply, so good combination perfect for lifting up the chilly weather ahead.


Cinnamon Apple Cake Recipe


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1 cup brown sugar, packed

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened


2 eggs

½ cup buttermilk

2 cups diced apple, peeled


Buttermilk [for brushing]

Cinnamon Sugar [mix together 4 teaspoons granular sugar & 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon]


Preheat oven to 350°F


preparing the cake pans:

1. Cut eight 9-inch circles of parchment and line cake rings.

*note: The cake rings used were 3.25”x2.” I used cans that once held water chestnuts! If you do not have any and want to use a different pan, this recipe will fill a 9”x9” pan or a standard bread pan.


preparation of the batter:

1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, sea salt, nutmeg and black pepper.

2. Cream together brown sugar and butter until light, approximately 3-5 minutes.

3. Beat in one egg at a time until thoroughly incorporated.

4. Gently stir in half of the flour followed by half of the buttermilk until combined.

5. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk.

6. Fold in diced apples.

7. Fill each parchment lined round two-thirds full.

8. Brush tops with buttermilk and sprinkle the full amount of cinnamon sugar evenly over each cake.

9. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean.

Makes 8 mini cakes.


Salted Caramel Sauce Recipe


1 cup granular sugar

¼ cup water


4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits

½ cup heavy cream


¾ teaspoon fleur de sel [-or- sea salt]


preparing the caramel:

1. Combine sugar and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat.

2. Use a skewer to swirl the sugar so it colors evenly.

3. Cook until sugar has is amber in color and turn off heat.

4. Toss in butter bits and then the heated cream [mixture will violently bubble.]

5. Whisk until smooth and has cooled.

6. Stir in fleur de sel.

Makes 1 ½ cups.


To Serve: Remove the cake rings and parchment paper and serve with salted caramel sauce over.

What started out as a tart ended up being just a panna cotta. The tart was yummy, but I didn’t care so much that lifting the tart out of the pan it started to crumble apart. Wet crust! The panna cotta itself was made from a base of coconut milk, unlike ones made from cream. This experiment turned out to be surprisingly delicious and very pretty.

The texture and flavor was that of flan and a nice change from the heavier dairy based dessert. I think that serving this just as it reaches room temperature to be great and really shows how creamy the texture can be.


I shied away from adding any coconut flavor; however, you can add some coconut liqueur to the coconut base for a grand dinner party dessert. Would your dinner guests know that it is dairy-free? When they discover that there were no cows milked for this one, they might be surprised.



Coconut Panna Cotta Recipe


1-15 ounce can coconut milk

¼ cup granular sugar

2 inch piece of vanilla bean, scraped


1 ¾ teaspoons powdered gelatin

2 Tablespoons cold water


Vanilla Fig Syrup [see recipe below]

Fresh Ripe Figs [adorable garnish]


1. In a small bowl sprinkle gelatin over the water and stir. Set aside to bloom.

2. In a small sauce pan heat the coconut milk, sugar and vanilla bean to a boil.

3. Strain coconut milk into a mixing bowl.

4. Whisk in as much as a quarter cup of the coconut milk into the gelatin to melt.

5. Pour gelatin mixture into the remaining coconut milk.

6. Fill desired jars, compotes or bowls and place in refrigerator for 4 hours.

7. Serve with vanilla-fig syrup spooned over the top and adorn with fresh ripe figs.


Fig Syrup Recipe


¼ cup granular sugar

4 large ripe figs, halved

2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier liqueur [-or- water]

1 Tablespoon water

1 inch piece vanilla bean, chopped


1. Place all ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a gentle simmer.

2. Continue to simmer until figs have released their flavor and color.

3. Strain and cool.


*note: If you prefer, you can keep the poached figs and include them as part of the desert.

Even though the weather is still on the warm side, it will not deter me from making some good soup. The soup I am posting here is one of my standard ones that at times I like to change thing up a bit. Adding ingredients and swapping out others, but the good thing about this soup and just soup in general is the use of homemade chicken stock.

There was a short article about the use of homemade stock entitled “Broth is Beautiful,” by Sally Fallon Morell. Interestingly Sally talks about the importance of stock made at home verses store bought boxes. Check it out, stock is magical and makes your house smell wonderful.

Roasted Squash Soup Recipe


3 pounds squash

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 medium shallots, diced

2 large garlic cloves, minced


3 medium yams, peeled & cubed

1 large bunch chard, stems removed & torn into pieces


8 cups chicken stock

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh oregano

2 teaspoons sriracha sauce

1 ½ teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

preparing the roasted squash purée:

1. Cut squash in half and discard seeds.

2. Coat insides with olive oil and roast cut side down in a 350°F until tender, approximately 35 minutes.

3. Once squash is cool enough to handle, scoop flesh into a food processor and purée smooth.


*note: Depending on how dry the squash is, adding a little stock will help the pureeing process along.


preparing the soup:

1. Sauté shallots and garlic in olive oil on medium to low heat until translucent.

2. Add stock and yams. Cook gently until yams are almost tender.

3. Stir in chard and fresh herb sprigs. Simmer until yams are done and chard is tender.

4. Add the squash and season with sea salt, sriracha and freshly black pepper.


*note: Add more stock for a thinner soup or less for a heartier texture.   

Chicken Stock Recipe


5 pounds chicken carcasses

1 medium yellow onion, peeled & quartered

1 large leek, sliced into thick rounds

2 large carrots, peeled & cut into thirds

2 large cloves of garlic, split with skin on

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

2 sprigs fresh thyme

12 cups cold water


1. Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and add more water to cover by one inch.

2. Heat stock on medium until stock starts to simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to gently simmer for 4-6 hours.

3. Strain and discard solids.

4. Cool and remove any fat that solidifies on the surface.


*note: Once stock is fully chilled it may gel up. This is the gelatin from the chicken bones. To use if the stock has solidified, scoop and place in recipes. The stock will liquefy and add a yummy flavor. If you can’t find chicken carcases, which are cheap, purchase a whole chicken and use the pulled chicken from that to add to your soup.

Is it biscuit weather yet? Are we getting close? And in case you are wondering if I am planning on cooking up some biscuits, not at all. By my anticipation of “biscuit weather” I mean all of the wonderful cool season food. Steaming bowls of hearty soups, roasted up beets and other delectable roots and any other warm and inviting comfort foods. It’s also the time when lots of social gathering are going on and last minute dinner parties are held.


Over the last few weeks I thought about this kind of recipe to make. Should I use a French style of buttercream or a Swiss style? How much cardamom can one cupcake take, to list a few ponders? These cupcakes can take it with the cardamom and the Swiss style buttercream, liquefied before my eyes. Why does this happen? Hopefully I won’t need to learn a few chemistry equations to properly achieve a nice consistency. For now, I went with a basic French style buttercream, it’s quick and delicious. If you can find coffee concentrate, it is divine.



Cardamom-Spiced Cupcake Recipe

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmed

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves


1 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 eggs


½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup buttermilk

¼ cup sour cream


preparing the batter:

1. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together, set aside.

2. Whip sugar and eggs together until light, approx. 2 minutes.

3. Stir in the oil and buttermilk until smooth.

4. Slowly whisk in the flour mixture until smooth.

5. Incorporate sour creaam.


filling & baking the cups:

1. Place 2-#50 scoops batter in each cupcake cups.

2. Bake in a 350°F oven for 18 minutes.

3. Cupcakes are done when a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.



Coffee Buttercream Recipe


1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups vegetable shortening


1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar

1 Tablespoon coffee concentrate -or- extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon sea salt


1. Cream butter, vegetable oil and sea salt together until smooth.

2. Beat in sugar, adding more to taste a tablespoon at a time.

3. Whisk in extracts.

4. Chill buttercream for 20 minutes before filling a pastry bag.


assembling the cupcakes:

Pipe a swirl of frosting using a large star pastry tip and adorn with coffee bean for each cupcake. Chill finished cupcakes until ready to serve. Allow frosting to soften for 10 minutes before serving. Makes approximately 15 servings.

*For better frosting ribbons, I prefer to use an Ateco #849 tip. This specific pastry tip has a rounded end that helps create deep ribbons in the frosting.

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