Happy Thanksgiving 2010 !

I hope you have a wonderful celebration, friends! ~Mari


Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Orange Buttercream Filling and Cinnamon Icing

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake  recipe from the late, great  magazine 'Gourmet' (2005). 
(click link to access the recipe)

With a few of my own changes.
I seem to always be tweaking recipes. :)

The recipe was originally written for a regular bundt pan, I opted to make in Nordic Ware's  'Great Pumpkin Pan'. * 

I adapted it by adding an orange buttercream filling between layers ~ 

And I made a Cinnamon Icing instead of the Buttermilk drizzle as called for in the original recipe.

I used some grape leaves from our vines for decorations to simulate pumpkin leaves.

The only other change I would strongly suggest is to make the cakes one or two days ahead, wrap them tightly so they remain moist, then decorate the day you plan to serve it.

The one or two day aging makes all the difference ~ allowing the spices to mellow out and the cake to become more flavorful and a little more dense and moist in texture.

I also doubled the amount of spices indicated in the recipe after reading reviews on


The very last of the roses are fading from the garden this year ~ so I could not resist garnishing the plates with one of my favorites ~  this one is "Gift of Life"

I know that traditional wisdom dictates that any garnishes on the plate should be edible, and
since we are organic gardeners (and we don't use chemical sprays.)  You could eat this rose if you had a mind to ~ And we do... Many times I'll sprinkle some pretty rose petals over salads... and also make Rose Petal Jam from our roses.

Changes I made to the recipe:

Orange Buttercream:  

For the filling between the layers, I added 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest and a couple of drops of pure orange extract to vanilla buttercream icing (use your favorite recipe.)

Cinnamon Icing:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
milk, half & half, or cream
Add milk or cream 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached
drizzle over cool cake.

If you are interested in the Nordic Ware Great Pumpkin Pan:
(Proudly made in the U.S.A.)

Similar recipe that may be of interest:
Pumpkin Spice Cakelettes with Brown Sugar Icing 
 Click to link.
Thank you for stopping by today, friends. 
I hope you'll go to Michael's "Designs by Gollum" to find links to everyone who is participating in Foodie Friday ~ And Michael is having a fabulous giveaway, too!
Have a wonderful weekend!

Ginger Beef or Chicken Patties with Lime Noodle Salad

In my previous post  I mentioned that sometimes even in the midst of a certain season I like to switch things out; for example right now lighter colors on the table rather than the traditional oranges, golds and browns of Fall. And
I find the same goes for food in my world.

  At the beginning of colder weather we crave the traditional comfort foods that the season seems to call for.  Then after a couple of weeks of that kind of eating we're ready for something lighter and more colorful, something fresher tasting than long-simmered soups or stews.

So that's where this salad fits in ~ brighter flavors using fresh ingredients which are generally available year round.  In this salad there is a nice little mix of vegetables ~ quickly blanched snow peas, cherry tomato halves, scallions (0r slivered red onion), red bell pepper and a mix of fresh mint and/or cilantro. You could easily add thinly sliced celery, carrots, or jicama too.

The Asian-inspired lime dressing can be made mild or spicy, either way it enhances everything in the bowl-- the little meat patties (beef, chicken, turkey, or pork ~ your choice) plus the veggies and noodles. 

The meat mixture contains ginger, garlic and scallions, plus a couple of  readily available Asian ingredients not usually found in western meat patties.  (Oh, these are VERY good, and I would consider making them a little larger, served with Hoisin sauce and served up in lettuce leaf wrappers.) 

To assemble the salad I cook the noodles first, rinse and set aside. Then I prep the veggies and toss them with the noodles. The dressing goes together in moments and can be tossed with the noodles and veggies as the meat is cooking.

The patties are quickly pan fried so I do that step last as the warm meat provides a wonderful contrast to the cool vegetables and noodles.   Place on top of the veg-noodle mix and garnish with additional scallions, and mint or cilantro.

This time for the noodles I used Barilla whole grain very thin spaghetti,cooked al dente, but you can also use rice noodles (cellophane noodles) which require no cooking, just a brief soak in hot water.

If you like Asian flavors, I think you'll like this noodle salad very much ~ if you would like the recipe, you can find a printable copy on the Once Upon a Plate recipe blog.

Click HERE.


A Tiny Table for Two ~ Tablescape Thursday

Welcome to Tablescape Thursday ~

This week I'd like to invite you to a VERY small luncheon table for two ~

So cozy on a blustery Autumn day.
The weather can rip outside, but we're here by the bright windows, while the comfy fire nearby will keep us snug.

Our table this week is actually a butler's service tray which rests upon folding legs.  I've turned the tray upside down to make it more comfortable for dining.

It was a purchase a long time ago from Bombay & Co.
How I miss that store!

I realize we're very close to Thanksgiving here in the US, but sometimes just a touch of Fall colors are enough for me ~ and I long once again for GREEN.

That's probably why I chose to live in the wooded forest...
the cool, refreshing colors are easy on the eyes and instantly calm me.

The dishes are "Ma Maison" from Tabletops Unlimited ~
and retired quite some time ago.

No matter what the season we enjoy fresh greens ~

The little salad bubble bowl are from Wally world. :)
In warmer months I can picture serving cool tropical drinks, gazpacho, or chilled desserts in them.

This time the salad is a baby mix with cranberries and almonds served with a Cranberry vinaigrette dressing.

The chargers are those than many of us have ... and the napkin rings are available at Williams-Sonoma, and a few other places.

A close up of the hand painted bowl... I love this shape as it serves dual purposes as both a bowl and is also a perfect salad/dessert piece.

And detail of the dinner plate.

I'm not sure of the manufacturer of the water glasses, but I know they are French ~ I picked them up last summer at Tyler Florence's store in Mill Valley (Northern CA.)

The ivory handled flatware is from the French company Comptoir de Famille.

The Cranberry Vinaigrette in one of the pair of cruets I received as a gift several years ago.

The hydrangeas are long gone from the garden this year ~
these are fakes plunked into the matching creamer to the Ma Maison set.

Napkins are from Sur la Table, and tiny pumpkins courtesy of  Ma Nature.  :D

Thank you so much for stopping by today, friends.

I'm joining Susan for Tablescape Thursday  at Between Naps on the Porch.
Thank you for hosting us, Susan!


Pan Seared Halibut with Huckleberry Reduction and Hazelnut Brown Butter Sauce

The last of the season!  :(

Fresh Wild Alaskan Halibut season generally runs for 8 months, from March through November.

One of our favorite types of fish, halibut has a mild flavor, it is firm in texture, and difficult to overcook. Many people who don't like other fish simply adore halibut for those reasons.

When our fish purveyor featured these beautiful portions of fresh Halibut, I could not pass them up. The only dilemma was how to prepare them for the close of the season.

In the summer we love it simply grilled with salt and pepper, and maybe a squeeze of lemon, lime, or served with a warm  lemon-caper-butter sauce.

But because this is farewell to fresh halibut until next spring, when the season opens again, I wanted to do something a little more special.  Something that combined the flavors of the Pacific Northwest... because that's where I am. :)

I happened to have some fresh, slightly tart huckleberries on hand, and  I always keep Oregon Hazelnuts in the freezer, so I devised this recipe (actually a non-recipe), which we thoroughly enjoyed.

My apologies in advance... for those who know me or follow my blog, you know as many times as not, I'll just line up my ingredients and begin cooking without a recipe, just an idea in my head. That TRULY is the pleasure of cooking for me ~ the creative aspect of using what I have on hand, and not being tied to a recipe.

That is the case with this dish... I can describe how I made it, but there are no exact measurements ~ have fun and prepare it to taste, and in the proportions to fit your family.

Here is how I arrived at this dish ( a serving for two):

Two serving size pieces of  fresh halibut
Generous 1/4 cup Huckleberries -or other berry of your choice-
(Plus extra berries for garnish)
Hazelnuts -or other tree nut of your choice-
A tiny bit of sweetener (agave, honey, sugar)- depending upon tartness of berries
Olive Oil & Butter
Salt and Pepper

Step 1.  Make the Huckleberry -or other berry- reduction.
A generous 1/4 cup of fresh huckleberries with a couple of tablespoons of water and a little agave syrup (or sugar), to ease some the the tartness of the berries ~ not to make the sauce sweet. Bring ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low to reduce amount by nearly half. Stir occasionally. Keep warm.

Step 2. Rinse halibut, blot excess moisture off ~ salt and pepper, and dust with all-purpose flour. Tap off excess flour. Heat equal amounts of oil and butter in a frying pan over medium - high heat until melted and almost sizzling.  

Add halibut to the pan (don't crowd), allow to cook on one side for a few minutes (about 3 to 5 minutes, depending upon the thickness of fish.)  Turn once and cook other side until fish is just firm when you press down upon it. (Again about 3 to 5 minutes.) 

Remove fish to warm serving plates or a platter.  Cover loosely with foil and keep warm.

Step 3. Add another tablespoon or two of butter to the same pan, allowing it to melt, stirring to scrape up any bits from interior bottom of pan. Add chopped hazelnuts (or walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc.) and allow to cook, stirring frequently to avoid scorching either the nuts or the butter.  

When butter is golden in color but not burned, remove pan from heat and keep warm.

Step 4. Drizzle the warm berry reduction on warm plates, arrange seared halibut on top. Spoon the warm hazelnut brown butter over all,  garnish with additional fresh berries, and serve right away.

Because I wanted the flavor of the fish and sauces to shine and take center stage, I didn't want any competition from the vegetable, so I served raw baby pea shoots alongside.  It turned out to be an excellent combination of flavors.   Lightly sauteed baby spinach and steamed rice would make good accompaniments as well.

If you would like a printable copy of this "non-recipe", you'll find it on my recipe blog. Click HERE

If you try this,  I hope you enjoy it!

Thank you for stopping by today, friends.
I hope you're having a wonderful weekend.


Individual Beef and Veggie Pot Pies

Do you have a favorite stormy weather comfort food?

When the weather turns chilly, damp, rainy or snowy there is nothing I like better than a warming bowl of soup.

Mr. OUaP loves homemade soup as well, but he loves pot pies as much or more.  I gladly oblige him! 

Containers filled and ready for their pastry topping.

I just used my favorite stew recipe, browning the meat chunks (cut a little smaller that I would for stew, and salted & peppered), then added some diced onions and minced garlic allowing them to turn translucent and tender. 

Beef stock (or broth) added to the pot to nearly cover the meat, (a splash of red wine if desired), and some sliced carrots,  and any herbs you would like... I like thyme.  I allowed it to simmer for about 30 minutes (keeping in mind that this beef was tender to begin with, so it didn't need to actually "stew".)

During the last few minutes I stirred in some diced sweet red pepper frozen peas, and frozen pearl onions.  Once all of the ingredients were heated through, I thickened the mixture with a Beurre Manié

  Note: Sauteed mushrooms. or other slightly cooked vegetables of your choice are also delicious additions. 

Bubbling and piping hot from the oven.

 I rolled out pastry, and cut the crust to size of each container, tracing with a sharp knife.   Brushed the bottoms ( the side of the dough that will rest upon the filling)  with a beaten egg.  I like to utilize different sizes and shapes of oven proof containers for these pies...  well ... just because I just like they way they look, not matching each other.

Ready to serve !

I pressed the edges of the dough to the container with the tines of a fork, cut a small cross in each pastry top to allow steam to escape, then brushed the tops with beaten egg.

Then placed them on a baking sheet and baked in a 425* (F) oven for 7 to 10 minutes or so until filling was bubbling and crust was nicely browned.

Ummm!  Soo Good!!

When heated through, and crust is perfectly browned, remove from oven and allow to cool for several minutes before serving.

Of course you can use this same method using all veggies, chicken, shrimp or fish in place of the beef. 

And if there happen to be any left over ~ just cover and refrigerate, when ready to eat either heat them in a 325* oven until hot (loosely cover crust with foil if it begins to brown too quickly before filling is heated through), or zap the little pie in the microwave.  (I prefer the radiant oven, because it retains most of the integrity of the delicious crust.)

If you try these little pies, I hope you love them as Mr. OUaP and I do.

So, what is YOUR favorite cold-weather comfort food?
I would love it if you would please share it with us.

I'm joining my friends at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday.  I hope you'll go by and see what's cooking this week. 

A Sampling of my food . . .


 Subscribe in a reader...or

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner