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Archive for Gourmet Foods

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Lindor Pumpkin Spice Truffles From Lindt

Lindt Truffles With Sprinkles

Lindor Holiday Truffles

Lindor Pumpkin Spice Truffles

Lindor Truffle Cake

[1] Glamorized Pumpkin Spice Truffles: Lauren of Climbing Grier Mountain tops the truffles with a bit of frosting and gold sprinkles. [2] Boxes of Lindor truffles are available at retailers nationwide (photo courtesy [3] For larger sizes, head to This bag contains 75 truffles. [4] You don’t have to be a professional like Becky Bakes to create a holiday cake with Lindor truffles. Tip: Use a simpler garnish!


Last week was a big chocolate week for us, from the Big Chocolate Show in New York City to a media trip to Lindt’s U.S. headquarters in New Hampshire.

Our favorite discoveries were at Lindt: not just the million-square-foot bean-to-bar plant, thick with chocolate aroma, but the ability to taste just about everything Lindt produces.

We have many favorites, but one in particular is our Top Pick Of The Week: Lindor Pumpkin Spice Truffles.

The milk chocolate shell has a creamy center of “smooth melting pumpkin spice filling.” We can’t get enough of them, and have stocked up on this limited edition (through the season, while supplies last) to get us through Valentine’s Day.


  • To fill our candy bowl throughout the season.
  • For trick-or-treaters.
  • For dessert and dessert cocktail garnishes.
  • For sundaes or parfaits (chopped or sliced).
  • For coffee, hot chocolate and pumpkintinis (recipe below).
  • For no-bake dessert tarts (see the creation of Lauren at
  • Place settings for Thanksgiving dinner
  • Holiday gifts (they’re KOF-K, too)
    No wonder Lindt packages these truffles in jumbo sizes in addition to the standard 5.1-ounce and 8.5-ounce packages available at retailers nationwide (suggested prices $4.39 and $6.99, respectively).

    For larger sizes, we headed to Lindt Outlet Stores and Lindt’s online store at There, you can find:

  • 75-piece gift bag, $28
  • 36-piece gift bag, $16
  • 550-piece case, $145

    Before we move on to drinking the truffles, here’s a quick note on how Lindor Truffles came to be.

    In 1845, Zurich store owner David Sprüngli-Schwarz and his son, Rudolf Sprüngli-Ammann, decided to be among the first confectioners in Switzerland to manufacture chocolate in a solid form.

    Prior to then, chocolate was a beverage, as it had been since Mesoamericans first began to use it around 1500 B.C.E. (the timeline of chocolate).

    Solid chocolate then was nothing like the product we know. It was a gritty, chewy product. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable, though. Some companies, like Tazo, still make this old-style chocolate.

    But progress marched forward.

    In 1879 chocolatier Rodolphe Lindt of Berne, Switzerland, indadvertently developed a technique, conching, that created the smooth, silky chocolate we enjoy today.

    Ten years later, older brother Johann Rudolf Sprüngli acquired the Lindt business, and the secret to making smooth, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. The new company was called Lindt & Sprüngli, but Lindt, the easier name to pronounce in different languages, became the brand name.

    Right after World War II, with time to re-focus on life’s pleasures, the creative chocolatiers at Lindt & Sprüngli developed the Lindor truffle, enrobing an even meltier center with its famed chocolate.

    Lindor is a contraction of Lindt d’Or, Golden Lindt. We heartily concur: These truffles are golden.

    Here’s the complete company history.



    Lindor truffles are not just for eating. You can drink them:

  • Melted into hot milk to create milk chocolate.
  • Melted into hot coffee to create hot mocha.
  • Hot chocolate and coffee Lindor drinks can be shaken with ice for iced hot chocolate and iced mocha; whipped cream optional.
  • Flavored truffles (coconut, mint, orange, raspberry, etc.) can be used to add extra flavor accents.
    When we visited the Lindt Outlet Store (here’s a store locator for both Lindt Chocolate Shops and Lindt Outlet Stores), we found a large cafe counter offering the choice of these drinks and more. We dove right in.

    Our recommendation: For a less sweet drink, use two Lindor truffles per 8 ounces of hot milk or coffee. For a sweeter drink, use three truffles. Whisk them in one at a time.

    We haven’t stopped drinking Lindt hot chocolate since!

    Pizzazzerei set up a party bar, an idea you may want to try for your own fall entertaining.

    You can also use Lindt truffles as a cocktail garnish, matching the different Lindor flavors (more than 20) to specific drink recipes.

    With Lindor Pumpkin Spice, the choice is obvious:


    It’s like an alcoholic milkshake! Have it for dessert.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • ½ ounce cream liqueur
  • 2 ounces vanilla vodka
  • ½ ounce pumpkin liqueur or pumpkin spice syrup
  • Ice and shaker
  • Garnish: Lindor Pumpkin Spice Truffle


    Lindor Pumpkin Spice  Hot Chocolate

    Lindt Pumpkintini With Lindor Truffle

    [5] Add two truffles to milk, stir, and you’ve got Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate. [6] The best Pumpkinitini has a Lindor Pumpkin Spice Truffle garnish (photo courtesy Lindt).

    1. COMBINE the cream liqueur and vodka in an ice-filled shaker and shake well. Add pumpkin the liqueur or syrup.

    2. SHAKE and strain into chilled a martini glass. Garnish with the truffle. If you don’t have a cocktail pick, lightly notch the truffle and place it on the rim of the glass.

    See our article on pumpkin liqueur, and why you should buy a bottle while you can.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Fideo, “Mexican Spaghetti” & Soup Pasta

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    Barilla Fideo

    [1] Sopa de Fideo, a popular Mexican comfort food (photo courtesy [2] A bowl of plain fideo (photo courtesy [3] Barilla makes fideo, as well as Hispanic specialists like Goya (photo courtesy Barilla).


    October is National Pasta Month, an occasion to explore and try different types of pasta. May we suggest fideo?

    What is fideo (fee-DAY-yo)?

    Fideo spaghetti tagliati means fideo-cut spaghetti. Fideo is a Spanish word for noodle, so essentially, the spaghetti is being cut like noodles (i.e., short strands).

    The actual pasta used is short-cut vermicelli: thin strands of pasta available in one- or two-inch lengths, depending on manufacturer. Vermicelli is a round strand pasta slightly thinner than spaghetti but thicker than angel hair.

    Fideo is popular in Mexican cuisine, where it is also called fidelini (and “Mexican spaghetti” by Americans).

    You can also break up your own from spaghetti, vermicelli or other thin strand pasta, including including ribbon (flat) pasta like linguine. Some people prefer the eye appeal of the irregular, hand-broken shapes.

    What makes it extra-special in savory recipes is quickly toasting the noodles in a bit of olive oil. It produces a nutty, toasty extra depth of flavor that’s another reason to enjoy fideo.

    Fideo is a Mexican comfort food that can be served as a starter or a main dish ingredient. It is perhaps best known as a toasted soup pasta, popular in Sopa de Fideo, a classic bowl of comfort.

    As a stand-in for rice, it versatile to be used in anything from fideo “risotto” (recipe below) to fideo “rice pudding.”

    What could be more comforting than tomato soup with fideo? Here’s a recipe from. .

  • Fideo Con Carne, a beef and potato stew with crunchy fideo noodles
  • Fideo Paella: exchange the rice for toasted fideo and your choice of mix-ins: clams, chorizo, green peas, mussels, sausage, shredded chicken, shrimp, etc. The dish, which originated in Spain, is called fideua (FID-a-wah).
  • Guisado, the Spanish word for stew, can take many forms, including a classic Mexican beef stew of beef and potatoes with fideo.
  • Tomato Soup With Fideo.
  • Crispy Pan-Fried Shrimp and Chorizo Fideo Cakes, a fusion of a Spanish classic with Japanese grilled sticky rice cakes from chef Ilan Hall.
  • Quick casseroles—check out this classic with chickpeas, kale, jalapeños and olives (i.e., toss in anything you like).

    Put together your own fideo recipe with:

  • Base: broth (beef, chicken, vegetable), tomato sauce
  • Herbs and spices: chiles/chili powder/hot sauce, cilantro, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper
  • Proteins: chicken, fish/seafood, ground meat, stew meat, tofu
  • Vegetables: bell peppers, capers, carrots, celery, chickpeas, chiles, corn, lima beans, onions, olives, peas, potatoes, squash, tomates
  • Garnish: shredded cheese, toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), raisins/dried cherries or cranberries
  • After you pick your ingredients, the recipe cooks quickly:


    1. HEAT cooking oil in a skillet; when the oil shimmers, add the pasta and stir to coat. Sauté, stirring frequently, until toasted and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes.

    2. ADD the sauce or other base, vegetables, spices and herbs. When all vegetables are cooked to the desired tenderness, add in the cheese.

    3. STIR in the cooked protein (cubed, diced, shredded) or use the cooked fideo as a base for the protein.

    “What’s not to love about toasted noodles infused with a pinch of cumin and a hint of rich tomatoes?” asks Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog, who developed this recipe.

    “Typically served dry as a side dish or flooded with broth as a soup, my preference falls somewhere in between; a thick stew of vegetables and pasta that could be eaten either with a spoon or a fork, depending on how long the noodles are cooked.

    “Taking that concept just one step further, you can make a risotto—just without the rice.”

    Fideo takes on a uniquely nutty taste thanks to a quick sauté before cooking. Hannah mingles the flavors of roasted peppers, smoked paprika and cumin “to render a wholly warming, revitalizing bowl full of edible comfort” that she finds even more satisfying than a bowl of risotto.

    Hannah developed this as a vegan recipe, using nutritional yeast instead of cheese. We added the option of grated parmesan cheese.


    Ingredients For 3-4 Main Servings

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups (1/2 pound) broken or cut spaghetti
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, roasted, seeded, and diced
  • 1 Red or Orange Bell pepper, Roasted, seeded and diced
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • Optional: 1-2 tablespoons tequila
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast or grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 cup corn kernels, canned and drained or frozen and thawed
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish: 1/4 cup toasted pepitas, grated parmesan cheese

    1. PLACE half of the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Once shimmering, add in the pasta and stir to coat.

    2. SAUTÉ the noodles, stirring frequently, until toasted and golden brown all over, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the noodles from the pot and set aside.

    3. RETURN the pot to the stove and add the remaining oil. Cook the onions and garlic together until softened and aromatic. Introduce the tomatoes and both roasted peppers next, stirring periodically. Continue to cook until the onions are lightly golden.

    4. ADD the vegetable broth, tequila, lime juice, nutritional yeast, paprika, and cumin. Bring the liquid to a boil before returning the toasted noodles to the pot. Stir well to incorporate, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low.

    5. SIMMER gently until the pasta is tender and the liquid mostly absorbed, 9 to 11 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and add the corn and cilantro.

    6. TASTE and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in individual bowls with optional garnish.

    Nutritional yeast is—as the name implies—a form of yeast that can be used on foods and in recipes. It is a vegan product.

    It’s an inactive form of the same yeast strain—Saccharomyces cerevisiae—use to leaven bread. It has also been pasteurized to dry out the yeast and concentrate its nutritional benefits.

  • Find it at health food, natural food and vitamin stores.
  • It can be labeled yeast flakes, yeast seasoning.
    These golden flakes add flavor as nutrition, and are used by people seeking dairy- and cholesterol-free options to conventional cheeses.

    You can add savory, cheesy, nutty flavors by sprinkling nutritional yeast on pasta, salads, vegetables and other foods (popcorn, anyone?).

    Or use it instead of cheese in cooking and baking.


    Fideo Risotto

    Fideo Recipe

    Fideo & Shrimp

    Nutritional Yeast

    [4] Fideo risotto from Bittersweet Blog. [5] Toasting the fideo is a snap (photo courtesy [6] Fusion fideo: Fried shrimp cakes combine Spanish and Japanese concepts, using fideo instead of rice. Here’s the recipe from Chef Ilan Hall on [7] Nutritional yeast. You can buy it locally or online. Bragg’s, is also OU kosher.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Chestnuts, Briefly In Season

    Slicing Chestnuts

    Chestnut Soup

    Chestnuts With Brussels Sprouts

    [1] To roast chestnuts, cut an X on the flat side. [2] Chestnut soup, a don’t-miss seasonal treat. [3] Brussels sprouts with roasted chestnuts from


    While canned chestnuts, and more recently, ready-to-eat vacuum-bagged chestnuts, can be found year-round, fresh chestnuts season lasts for only about two months.

    Now is the time to enjoy their beguiling flavor and nutrients to the fullest extent.

    They don’t have to be roasting on an open fire, per our favorite crooner, Nat King Cole. Roast chestnuts (lacking an open fire, we use the oven—here’s how) are a treat, but so are the luscious preparations that follow.

    Long before they found their way onto holiday menus, chestnuts, which are tree nuts, were a dietary staple in the mountainous regions surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Because grains could not grow in those areas, chestnuts were a valuable source of nutrition.

    In fact, chestnuts are nutritionally more like a grain than a nut. They are low in protein and fat, but high in starch and fiber. Naturally gluten free, they are the only nut that contains vitamin C.

    Add diced, halved or whole chestnuts to:

  • Appetizers (wrap with bacon instead of the classic water chestnuts)
  • Breads, dressings, muffins
  • Cream of chestnut soup (recipe)—a must-have seasonal treat
  • Puréed into dips, pestos, and as a delicious side, especially with chicken, duck, pheasant, pork, turkey, quail and veal
  • Garnishes for mains, soups, salads, vegetables
  • With grains, pilafs, risottos
  • With seasonal vegetables: Brussels sprouts, carrots, mushrooms, turnips—also in casseroles, stir-frys and omelet fillings

  • Candied (marrons glacés recipe)
  • Puréed and added to hot chocolate or coffee
  • Puréed and sweetened as a bread spread
  • Chestnut ice cream—puréed, diced or both
  • In a sweetened bread spread Mousse or Mont Blanc, sweetened chestnut purée in a meringue shell, topped with whipped cream
  • Cakes, plain and fancy (here’s a chestnut loaf cake)
  • Chestnut soufflé and a multitude of other desserts

    This recipe is from Mary R. Wendt, MD, author of Waist Away: How to Joyfully Lose Weight and Supercharge Your Life. She is an expert on making the transition to plant-based nutrition.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • ½ pound chestnuts (fresh, approximately 2 cups), wiped clean
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half (approximately 5 cups)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • Optional additions: frizzled ham, sautéed leeks, sautéed wild mushrooms

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Use a paring knife to score an “X” onto the flat side of each chestnut.

    2. ARRANGE the chestnuts in a single layer in a large baking pan, with the X facing up. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the “X” flaps on the shell begin to curl away from the nut. Do not overcook!

    3. REMOVE from the heat and partially cool until it’s comfortable to peel away and discard the shells. Chestnuts are easiest to peel when they are warm.

    4. WARM the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and garlic. Sauté for 5-10 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally until lightly browned.

    5. ADD the chestnuts to the skillet and cook covered for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the Brussels sprouts are very brown. Stir in the salt and pepper and sauté an additional 2-3 minutes.

    6. GARNISH as desired and serve.



    FOOD FUN: Jim Beam Caramel Apples (Or Other Favorite Whiskey)

    To celebrate its Apple Bourbon—available year-round but especially popular in fall recipes—Jim Beam has stepped beyond cocktails to caramel.

    Yes, you can dip your caramel apples into an easy homemade caramel that incorporates a cup of Jim Beam Apple Bourbon.

    No time to buy Jim Beam Apple Bourbon? Use what you’ve got on hand (including another whiskey) and pick some up Apple Bourbon when you can. You’ll definitely want to make another batch of these!


    Ingredients For 10 Caramel Apples

  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 6 ounces cold half and half
  • 8 ounces Jim Beam Apple Bourbon
  • 10 Granny Smith apples on thick wooden skewers
  • Optional garnish: 4 cups chopped salted peanuts, honey roasted nuts or other garnish

    1. COOK the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in a large pot over medium high heat until a light boil begins. Whisk in the half and half and the bourbon and continue to whisk until the caramel sauce reaches 248°F. Remove from the heat.

    2. DIP each of the apples into the caramel, coating on all sides. Set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If desired, coat apples on all sides with chopped salted peanuts.

    3. ALLOW the caramel to cool before serving.

  • Classic Red Candy Apples
  • Easter Candy Apples
  • Matcha White Chocolate Granny Smith Apples (for Christmas or St. Pat’s)
  • Modern Art Chocolate Apples
  • Sugar-Free Red Candy Apples
    You can also host a candy apple party!


    Jim Beam Caramel Apples

    Jim Beam Apple Bourbon

    [1] Bourbon caramel apples. The caramel is made with [2] Jim Beam Apple Bourbon (photos courtesy Beam Suntory).


    The practice of coating fruit in sugar syrup dates back to ancient times. In addition to tasting good, honey and sugar were used as preserving agents to keep fruit from rotting.

    According to, food historians generally agree that caramel apples (toffee apples) date to the late 19th century. Both toffee and caramel can be traced to the early decades of the 18th century, buy inexpensive toffee and caramels for all became available by the end of the 19th century. Culinary evidence dates soft, chewy caramel coatings from that time.

    Red cinnamon-accented candy apples came later. And, while long associated with Halloween, they were originally Christmas fare, not a Halloween confection.

    According to articles in the Newark Evening News in 1948 and 1964, the red candy apple was invented in 1908 by William W. Kolb, a local confectioner. Experimenting with red cinnamon candies for Christmas, he dipped apples into the mixture and the modern candy apple was born.

    The tasty treat was soon being sold at the Jersey Shore, the circus and then in candy shops nationwide.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Ginger Pumpkin Pie With Pumpkin Seed Crust

    Pumpkin Seed Crust Recipe

    Pumpkin Mousse Cheesecake

    Caramel Cheesecake

    Caramel Apple Cheesecake

    [1] Pumpkin pie with a pumpkin seed-graham cracker crust (photo courtesy Whole Food Matters). [2] Pumpkin mousse cheesecake with pumpkin seed-flour crust (photo courtesy Kenwood World). [3] Cheesecake with walnut-pumpkin seed crust and a caramel sauce ribbon (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [4] Caramel Apple Cheesecake with gingersnap-pumpkinseed crust (photo courtesy iGourmet).


    Go seasonal with pie and cheese cake crusts: Add some pumpkin seeds and add a touch of fall, flavor, crunch and nutrition.

    You can add whole or chopped pumpkin seeds to your regular crusts, be they cookie (chocolate, gingersnap, graham cracker, shortbread), flour (wheat, nut, gluten free), or other recipe.

    Use raw, hulled pumpkin seeds, available in natural food stores and health food stores.

    First up is a graham cracker crust with pumpkin seeds, from Executive Chef Matt Greco of The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards in Livermore, California.

    Chef Greco initially made this delicious crust for a Black Out Pie, peanut butter and chocolate. So don’t limit your vista!



  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3/4 cup crushed pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8-12 ounces unsalted butter, melted

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    2. COMBINE all ingredients except the butter in a bowl. Slowly add enough butter so that the mixture holds its shape when squeezed in your hand.

    3. PRESS 3/4 of a cup of the mixture into a pie pan and bake at 350° for 10 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden.


    This recipe is adapted from one by Florence Fabricant in The New York Times. Prep and cook time is 2 hours.
    Ingredients For 10 Servings

    For The Crust

  • ¾ cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 10 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
    For The Filling

  • 2 cups canned pumpkin purée
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Spread the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and toast for 5 to 8 minutes, until you hear them start to pop. Remove from the oven.

    2. PLUSE 1/2 cup of the pumpkin seeds in a food processor. Mix with the graham cracker crumbs, ground ginger and granulated sugar. Stir in the melted butter. Pat the mixture firmly into the bottom and sides of a 10-inch pie pan and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

    3. BAKE the crust for 15 minutes and remove from the oven. Reduce the oven heat to 350°F.

    4. MIX the pumpkin purée, eggs, egg yolks, cream, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in the crystallized ginger and mix until smooth. Pour into the pre-baked crust and bake about an hour, until the filling is set.

    5. REMOVE the pie from the oven and the scatter remaining pumpkin seeds on top. Cool to room temperature before serving.

    How about a garnish of candied pumpkin seeds?

    You can sprinkle them on any dessert, or on whipped cream-topped drinks.


  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment, or spray it with cooking spray.

    2. WHISK the egg white until frothy. Place the pumpkin seeds in a small bowl and add just enough egg white to coat the seeds. Add the salt, sugar and cinnamon and toss well to coat.

    3. SPREAD the seeds on the pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, until they begin to dry and turn golden. Cool completely on a wire rack. Garnish just before serving to keep the seeds crisp. If not using that day, store in an airtight jar.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Pecan Coffee Cake

    In just 15 minutes, you can whip up the batter for Pumpkin Pecan Coffee Cake.

    Then, stick it in the fridge, and when you’re preparing for breakfast or brunch this weekend, preheat the oven and take the cake out of the fridge. It will bake in 35 minutes, capping off your repast with warm, fragrant coffee cake.

    This recipe, from Go Bold With Butter, is one of those recipes that takes little time to mix.

    The quintessential coffee cake is a crumb cake: a yeast cake with a streusel (crumb) topping. This recipe is quicker to make: hold the yeast and the rising time, add the pumpkin and pecans.


    Ingredients For A 9-Inch Cake
    For The Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
    For The Crumb Topping (Streusel)

  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch spring form pan with butter and dust with flour.

    2. COMBINE the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. In separate bowl whisk together milk, egg, pumpkin purée and vanilla extract.

    3. BEAT the butter and brown sugar on high speed in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment until light and creamy. Alternatively, use a hand mixer and a large bowl; beat about 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until just combined. Stir in the pecans.


    Pumpkin Pecan Coffee Cake Recipe

    Streusel Top Muffin

    Coffee Cake Streusel

    [1] Pumpkin Pecan Coffee Cake with a crumb (streusel) topping (photo courtesy Go Bold With Butter). [2] Streusel can be light and airy, as on this crumb-top muffin (photo courtesy Folger’s). [3] By adding more butter, the streusel becomes denser. It’s a personal choice (photo courtesy Bella Baker).


    4. USING a fork, combine the butter, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in small bowl. Use your hands to press the mixture into large crumbs (streusel). Spread the cake batter into theprepared pan and cover with crumb topping.

    5. BAKE until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove the pan sides and cool completely. Store the cake at room temperature for up to 3 days; or freeze leftovers.

    Long popular as the topping on Streuselkuchen (streusel cake), Germany’s crumb-topped yeast cake, streusel (pronounced SHTROY-zul) is a topping made from butter, flour and sugar. It can also contain chopped nuts or rolled oats.

    The word derives from the German “streuen” (SHTROY-en), meaning to sprinkle or scatter.

    The crumb cake is believed to have originated in Silesia, once part of Germany but today in western Poland (if you’ve read James Michener’s historical novel, Poland, you know the borders changed regularly).

    The original Streuselkuchen was very flat, with crumbs equal to the height of the cake (think one inch of cake topped with one inch of crumbs). To some streusel lovers, that’s perfection!

    The original recipe engendered variations with layers or ribbons of tart fruits (apples, gooseberries, sour cherries, rhubarb) and poppy seeds. Some versions even included pastry cream.

    Another popular coffee cake, also a yeast cake (but without crumbs), is glazed with sugar syrup, can be strewn with raisins and nuts and drizzled with royal icing. In our youth, when German emigré bakers plied their craft in New York City and elsewhere, it was as popular as crumb cake (and neater to eat, too).



    TIP OF THE DAY: Scream Cheese, Special Cheeses For Halloween

    Basiron Red Gouda

    Cahill's Porter Cheddar

    English Cheddar With Harissa

    Mimolette Cheese

    Halloween Cheese

    [1] Basiron Pesto Rosso, a red Gouda. [2] Cahill’s Irish Cheddar, marbled with porter. [3] English Cheddar with spicy harissa. [4] Mimolette, perhaps the spookiest-looking cheese. [5] A limited fall edition version of Weybridge from Vermont (all photos are the copyright of their respective owners).


    Can cheeses be spooky? You bet!

    These cheeses and others can create as perfect Halloween cheese plate. They also double as “harvest moon” cheeses for Thanksgiving.

    They represent England, France, Holland, Ireland, and the U.S. They’re all delicious and worth seeking out. If you can’t find them locally, we’ve provided e-tail links.

    Basiron Pesto Rosso

    This Dutch Gouda (photo #1), also called Red Gouda, gets its bright color and flavor from an infusion of tomato pesto. Each creamy bite has a hit of ripe tomato and Italian herbs.

    It’s what we call “fusion cheese”: a traditional cheese from one country flavored with herbs and spices from another culture.

    Find it at
    Cahill’s Farm Flavored Irish Cheddar

    Made near Limerick and dating to 1759, the brown mosaic pattern is made with Guinness (photo #2). There’s also a fall-appropriate version colored red with wine, and an all-yellow version made with Irish whiskey (save the latter for St. Patrick’s Day).

    Find it at
    English Cheddar With Harissa

    Another “cultural fusion cheese,” this tangy English Cheddar (photo #3) gets an infusion of harissa, a Moroccan spice blend that consists of chiles, coriander, cumin, garlic and smoked paprika (each producer has a proprietary blend, which can include other ingredients).

    Find it at

    Perhaps the creepiest of all (photo #4), Mimolette’s rind looks like the craters of the moon. Cut it open and surprise: There’s a blazing orange interior that also looks scary.

    This semi-sharp cow’s milk cheese is produced in the area around Lille in Alsace, France. Try it with an Alsatian Riesling!

    Find it at

    Weybridge Limited Edition

    This “surprise!” cheese from the Scholten Family Farm in Vermont has a ghostly white bloomy rind, that reveals a tangy orange paste (the industry term for the interior of a cheese). An organic cheese, limited edition version has a dusting of vegetable ash on the rind for some extra spookiness.

    The limited edition cheese, a fall version of the regular Weybridge, sells out quickly. Reserve yours at Jasper Hill Farm.

    It’s annatto, a natural dye derived from achiote seeds. It’s the same natural color that differentiates yellow cheddar from white cheddar.

    In large amounts annatto provides a slightly spicy flavor, but here in smaller touches it delivers only the color.

  • Ash-covered goat cheese. While originally used to protect delicate goat cheeses during travel, vegetable ash continues to be popular for eye appeal on a fresh goat cheese log, or as a dramatic interior stripe in Humboldt Fog or Morbid. It imports no flavor, but does help with the ripening process in cheeses such as Bonne Bouche from Vermont Creamery and Selles sur Cher from the Loire.
  • Extra Triple Aged Gouda, a sturdy paste and harvest gold color.
  • Huntsman Cheese, from the U.K., a layered cheese of orange-hued Double Gloucester and veined white Stilton.
  • Pecorino With Chile Flakes. This aged Italian cheese has flecks hot chile flakes. Find it at
  • Saxonshire Cheese. This five-layer British cheese has a dramatic appearance: Each of the layers is a different shade of yellow or orange. The layers are Caerphilly, Cheddar, Cheshire, Double Gloucester and Leicester—all classics.


    Along with bread, crackers, fruits and nuts, serve a choice of condiments. Use ramekins for neatness. No ramekins? See what you do have, such as espresso cups and espresso spoons.

  • Chutney: apple, cranberry, pear, quince
  • Corn relish
  • Fall fruit jams: concord grape, fig, spiced fruits
  • Fruit butters: apple, pumpkin
  • Mustard: grainy mustard, horseradish mustard, walnut mustard, and the
  • Savory-sweet jellies: garlic, horseradish, onion
  • Spicy honey: buy it or add chili flakes to plain honey
    Look for an artisan semolina loaf if you want to add some seasonal color to the bread.

    The great French mustard house produces a standard line plus seasonal flavors: so good, we eat them from the jar on a spoon!

    Fall flavors include:

  • Black Olive & White Wine Mustard
  • Black Truffle & Chablis Mustard
  • Black Truffle, Cep & Chablis Mustard (limited edition)
  • Fig, Coriander & White Wine Mustard
  • Hazelnut, Black Chanterelle Mushrooms & White Wine Mustard
    We love to give these gourmet mustards as house gifts and stocking stuffers for our foodie friends. Find them online at


    Maille Hazelnut Chanterelle Mustard

    Maille Black Truffle Mustard

    [6] Maille Hazelnut, Black Chanterelle Mushrooms & White Wine Mustard. [7] Maille Black Truffle, Cep & Chablis Mustard, a limited edition for fall (photos courtesy Maille USA).




    TIP OF THE DAY: Beautiful Squash For Beautiful Recipes

    Stuffed Acorn Squash

    Stuffed Acorn Squash

    Acorn Squash Rings

    Kabocha Squash Bowl

    Butternut Squash

    [1] A conventional stuffed squash recipe: half a squash, stuffed to the brim. [2] Adding a rim of vegetables (photos #1 and #2 courtesy Chef Eric Levine). [3] Don’t want to serve large portions? Cut the squash into rings with this recipe from [4] Turn the entire kabocha squash into a filled “squash bowl.” Here’s the recipe from Sunset magazine. [5] Butternut squash (photo courtesy


    Certainly, a half of baked squash is attractive, not to mention delicious and good for you.

    But you can elevate baked squash to a work of art.

    The standard winter squashes in supermarkets are the acorn and the butternut. They have similar flavor, but the acorn is round while the butternut is boat-shaped.

    While the butternut can be cut into rings or halved into a “boat,” the round, ridged squash have a natural beauty benefit.

    Numerous types of winter squash are available in the U.S., in natural food stores and at farmers markets. But some species are particularly beautiful: acorn, blue hubbard, carnival, kabocha (buttercup), lumina (white with white flesh), pattypan, sweet dumpling and others (see more types of squash).

    Combine your palate and your personality into your stuffing.

  • Fruits: apples, dried fruits (apricots, cherries, cranberries, raisins), pears, pomegranate arils, quince
  • Grains: barley, breadcrumbs, croutons, quinoa, rice and wild rice, etc.
  • Herbs: parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme
  • Nuts: halved, sliced or chopped as garnish
  • Proteins: bacon, mozzarella, tofu
  • Seasonings: cayenne, chipotle, coriander, cumin, flavored salt, nutmeg, pepper, ras-el-hanout, smoked paprika, zatar
  • Vegetables: brussels sprouts, celery, carrots and other root vegetables, mushrooms
  • Binders: broth, butter, nut oil, olive oil
  • Garnishes: dried cranberries, fresh herbs, shredded cheese (cheddar, gruyère, parmesan)
    Here’s a basic recipe that you can customize as you like.

    Squash is indigenous to Central and South America. It was introduced to the Spanish conquistadors in Mexico, spread via indigenous migration throughout North America, and was introduced by Native American populations to the English setters in Virginia and Massachusetts.

    Squash was easy to grow and hardy enough to store for months, providing a nutritious dietary staple throughout the winter (hence the name, winter squash). While there are many heirloom varieties, today the most commonly found in supermarkets are acorn and butternut squashes.
    Acorn Squash Vs. Butternut Squash

    Acorn squash (Curcubita pepo, var. turbinata) is so called because its shape resembles an acorn. The most common variety is dark green in color, often with a splotch of orange on the side or top.

    Some varieties are variegated (multi-color) and newer varieties include the yellow Golden Acorn squash and white-skinned varieties.

    Like the other popular winter squash, butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata), the skin of an acorn squash is thick and hard, and it is an effort to peel it. But either squash is easily cut in half with a large, sharp knife. It can then be baked, plain or stuffed with grain, meat or vegetable mixtures.

    Acorn squash are smaller than butternut squash (an acorn is one to two pounds, four to seven inches long), and half of an acorn makes a convenient individual portion. It is similar in flavor to butternut.

    Winter squash needs to be cooked.

    All winter squash can be baked, microwaved, sautéed or steamed.

    Don’t hesitate to add the cooked flesh to green salads, mixed vegetables, grains, omelets, and anyplace you’d like another level of flavor and color.

  • The seeds of the squash are toasted and eaten. Initially, the seeds were eaten instead of the flesh until plumper-fleshed varieties were bred.
  • The yellow trumpet flowers that are produced before the squash is fully developed are also edible. They are stuffed and considered a delicacy.
  • The green tops, about three inches’ worth from the end of freshly-harvested squash, are also edible (but not the prickly stem). The squash greens are a popular vegetable in the Philippines. Unless you grow your own or your local farmer doesn’t remove them, you aren’t likely to see them for sale in the U.S.
    Winter squash is a good source of dietary fiber and potassium, with smaller amounts of vitamins C and B, magnesium, and manganese. Surprisingly, because of the color of the flesh, it is not a good source of beta-carotene.

    There are three species of squash, all native to the Americas.

  • Curcubita pepo includes acorn, butternut, pumpkin, summer squashes and others.
  • Curcubita moschata, represented by the Cushaw, Japanese Pie, Large Cheese Pumpkins and Winter Crookneck squashes, arose, like Curcubita pepo, in Mexico and Central America. Both were and are important food, ranking next to maize and beans.
  • Curcubita maxima includes Boston Marrow, Delicious, Hubbard, Marblehead and Turks Turban, and apparently originated near the Andes, or in Andean valleys.

  • The word “squash” comes from the Wampanoag Native American word, askutasquash, meaning “eaten raw or uncooked.” This may refer to the summer squash varieties, yellow squash and zucchini, which can be enjoyed raw.
  • Summer squash, which belong to the same genus and species as most winter squash, are small, quick-growing varieties that are eaten before the rinds and seeds begin to harden.
  • Before the arrival of Europeans, Curcubita pepo and Curcubita moschata had been carried to all parts of North America that were conducive to growth.
  • Many Native American tribes, particularly in the West, still grow a diversity of hardy squashes and pumpkins not to be found in mainstream markets.
  • Squash was unknown in the Old World until the 16th century, brought back by the returning conquistadors. The oldest known prin record of it is dated 1591.
  • Much of canned pumpkin consists of Curcubita moschata squash, not from the jack-o-lantern variety of pumpkin. The best commercially canned varieties are Boston Marrow and Delicious varieties.The flesh of these varieties is much richer and more nutritious than that of pumpkin.


    HALLOWEEN RECIPE: Candy Corn Popcorn Balls

    Two years ago we published a recipe for orange-tinted Halloween Popcorn Balls, shaped like pumpkins.

    This new recipe was created by Meghan McGarry of Buttercream Blondie for

    We like it even better, because what Halloween celebrant doesn’t look forward to candy corn?

    The candy corn theme does double duty between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

    QUICK TIP: No time to make popcorn balls? Tao the candy corn and marshmallows with regular popcorn and a drizzle of honey or agave to bind them (or the candy corn will end up at the bottom of the bowl).

    Meghan created a sweet-and-salty recipe with salted peanuts. We used the honey roasted peanuts we had on hand, and added a few dashes of salt.

    If you don’t want to use nuts at all, substitute an additional 1/2 cup of candy corn, butterscotch baking chips, or Halloween M&Ms (they’re white and made in the shape of candy corn), etc.

    For gifting, you can wrap them like a pomander in orange curling ribbon, or in individual clear cellophane bags with a ribbon tie.

    Ingredients For 8-10 Popcorn Balls

  • 12 cups popped plain popcorn*
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup candy corn
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts (we used honey roasted peanuts)
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons Halloween sprinkles

    1. LINE a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Spray a large bowl and a spatula with cooking spray and add the popcorn. Set aside.

    2. MELT the butter in a medium size saucepan over medium heat. Once butter begins to melt, add the marshmallows and stir continuously until melted. Then stir in vanilla extract.

    3. POUR the melted mixture over the popcorn and gently toss with the spatula. Add the candy corn and peanuts.

    4. SPRAY your hands with cooking spray and continue to mix by hand until everything is coated and combined. Add the sprinkles just before you’re almost done mixing.

    5. SHAPE the popcorn into balls and set on a parchment-lined sheet pan to cool.
    *If popping the corn from scratch, you need 6 ounces or 2/3 cup of kernels.


    Candy Corn Popcorn Balls

    Halloween Confetti

    Halloween Confetti

    [1] Candy corn popcorn balls from Meghan McGarry. [2] Halloween sprinkles from Halloween sprinkles from Dress My Cupcake. [3] Halloween confetti from Kreative Baking.




    TIP OF THE DAY: What To Use When You Don’t Have Pasta Sauce

    Pasta No Sauce

    Pasta Primavera

    Garlic Noodles

    Primavera Pasta

    [1] Got pasta but no red sauce or items that can be turned into it? Just check the pantry and the fridge (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [2] Check for fresh, canned or frozen vegetables and make Primavera with olive oil (photo courtesy Melissa’s). Bonus: some leftover chicken. [3] No veggies? No problem! Garlic, olive oil, chili flakes and some celery and cucumber from the fridge created this tasty dish (photo courtesy P.F. Chang’s). [4] This Primavera contains canned artichoke hearts and some strips of grated carrot (photo courtesy Grimmway Farms).


    October is National Pasta Month.

    Most of us have dry pasta in the pantry, an easy-cook dinner.

    But what if you have no pasta sauce—at least, no go-to red sauce, or the ingredients* from which to quickly make one?

    Recipes evolved because people used what they had on hand. You can do the same.

    These alternative sauces for pasta also work with grains and vegetables.

    No parmesan or other Italian grating cheese? Use any other grated or shredded cheese, ricotta or cottage cheese (these latter often used to stuff pasta). Even those that may seem and unusual pairing—Stilton or Gouda, for example—work.

  • Crumbled cheese, such as blue, feta or goat, work with a simple oil or butter dressing.
  • Or leave cheese out entirely. Pasta/noodle dishes are served the world over without grated cheese. In Sicily, a mixture of bread crumbs and chopped herbs (oregano, parsley, thyme, etc.)

    You can use any type of sauce you do have, from cheese sauce to salsa. Adding whatever vegetables—from sundried or cherry tomatoes to onions to any herb or spice on the shelf—gives added dimension. Check out these new Recipe Ready Tomato Paste Pouches from Hunt’s, and keep them in the pantry.

  • Asian sauces such as hoisin or ponzu or hoisin sauce create Asian-style noodles. You can also make Asian vinaigrette with sesame oil and rice wine vinegar; feel free to substitute the oil or vinegar with what you do have. You can also make a quick Asian dressing with soy sauce, vinegar and vegetable oil, a dash of garlic and/or ginger.
  • Butter, with cracked pepper or red pepper flakes, melts nicely on hot pasta. Just toss it for an instant sauce. Optional flavors include lemon zest, herbs or spices: ingredients found in any kitchen. If you have compound butter, great: Situations like this are exactly what it’s for.
  • Other dairy products provide additional options. You can use cottage cheese or ricotta straight or blended into a sauce; or make an herb sauce from milk, cream, sour cream or yogurt with whatever herbs or condiments you have on hand. You can also go international, flavoring these dairy products with anything: cumin, curry, dill, flavored salt, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, sage, tarragon, thyme, etc.
  • Meat, poultry and fish leftovers can be combined with any pasta or noodles. Leftover bacon? Sausage? Turkey? Just slice, dice and toss.
  • Olive oil or other oil is a substitute in many recipes. If you have a can of anchovies, clams, escargots, tuna or other seafood, it becomes both your topping and sauce. For a tonnato (tuna) sauce, pulse the tuna to the fineness you like.
  • Flavored olive oil makes an elegant sauce. You can add any ingredients you like, from capers and olives to garlic, jalapeño or lemon zest, chopped nuts or hard-boiled eggs.
  • Peanut sauce, the kind served on the popular Chinese appetizer, cold sesame noodles, can be made with only peanut butter Just dilute peanut butter with enough vegetable oil to the desired consistency. Season the sauce with sesame seeds, garlic and/or heat (hot sauce, chile flakes). Sprinkle with chopped green onions, chopped peanuts, and/or fresh herbs.
  • Salad dressings, whether olive oil and vinegar, mayonnaise, sour cream and bottled dressings, are used in different pasta salad recipes. So why not with hot pasta?
  • Vegetables—canned, fresh, frozen—combine with olive oil or melted butter into a primavera sauce. Use garlic or other seasoning as you prefer.
  • White sauce can be made in just 10 minutes. The recipe is below.

    Check the fridge and the pantry. You may find adobo, barbecue sauce, chili sauce, chimmichurri, chutney, pesto, piri-piri, sriracha ketchup and so on.

    Turn them into a pasta sauce by blending with oil, sour cream, yogurt, etc.


    You can make a classic white sauce in just 10 minutes. Use it as is, or add whatever seasonings you like, from olives to nutmeg.

    With grated Parmesan, it would be Alfredo Sauce.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of white pepper (substitute black pepper—white is used simply so there are no dark flecks in the sauce)
  • 1 cup 2% or whole milk

    1. MELT the butter over medium heat in a small pan. Add the flour, salt and pepper, whisking until smooth.

    2. SLOWLY WHISK in the milk and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until thickened. Use immediately or refrigerate, tightly covered.

    Check out the different types of pasta in our photo-packed Pasta Glossary.

    *You can turn the following into red sauce: canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, tomato paste.



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