Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pumpkin Everything

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Well, it is for me anyway. The first pumpkin sighting of the season always makes me smile, giggle like a little girl and gets my creative juices flowing. I LOVE pumpkins. I love the way they look, the way they taste and the way they make me feel. Combine that with cooler weather, fall foliage, hot beverages (pumpkin lattes come to mind), and lots of comfort food and you have my favorite season of the year.

Pumpkin is so versatile. You can stuff it, (see my recipe for savory stuffed pumpkins), make pumpkin bread, cookies, currys, soups, cake, gnocci, pasta and so much more!

In addition to decorating the house with this colorful seasonal fruit, I will be cooking up as many pumpkin recipes as I can find time to do over the next few weeks. Pumpkin muffins graced our breakfast table this week as well as the palates of a few of my friends this week. While I enjoy and prefer cooking with fresh pumpkin, I had some canned pumpkin in the cabinet that is perfect and a lot faster for morning baking.

Pumpkin Muffins

1 14 oz. can pumpkin

3/4 cup white sugar

1 egg beaten

1/3 cup melted unsalted butter

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 1/2 cups flour

raisins (optional)

nuts (optional)

toasted pumpkin seeds

Whisk the pumpkin, sugar, egg and butter together. In a separate bowl, whisk together the baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together. Do not over stir. Fill greased muffin tins 2/3 full and sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds. For this batch, I used honey roasted sunflower seeds instead, because it's what I had in the pantry. Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. This recipe makes approximately 12 large muffins.

Serve warm, with or without a bit of butter or softened cream cheese. Leftover muffins (if you have any) can be stored in an airtight container. The flavors are often even more intense the next day.

Check out "Pumpkin Fesitval" at Quent Cordair Fine Art by Dale Momii. I really think this painting should be hanging in my kitchen.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Good Times with Good Food, Good Wine & Good People

Sunday night was an evening filled with food, friends, fun and yes, soup! Thanks to Chef Robin White's brilliant idea to have a world-wide virtual soup tasting, aka #soupweek, we spent a lovely evening with great friends by the fire on the patio, while we enjoyed among other things, some delicious carrot-ginger soup that I made from one of Robin's recipes. Sure, Robin's picture see below) looks better than mine, but we were so excited to eat the soup that we stirred in the garnishes before we took the pictures. ;-)

We paired the soup with two Napa Valley wines. Cynthia Cosco and Margo brought Cynthia's bright and beautiful unoaked 2009 Passaggio New Generation Chardonnay. Marissa Holmer and Chris Foster brought an abundantly fresh and fruity 2009 Goosecross Viognier. Both wines went very well with the soup, a beautiful salad prepared by Deidre Bourdet, a sumptuous cheese plate brought by Michael and Christine McMillan as well as some very sexy chevre-stuffed figs and chevre and orange corn muffins made by yours truly. With all the fuss about #SoupWeek, dessert seemed to take a back seat, but several spoons, a pint of vanilla ice-cream and some figs turned out to provide the perfect ending. Yes, life is very good - especially in Napa!

What does any of this have to do with art? Everything! We would not have met any of these wonderful people, had it not been for our having moved the gallery to Napa in 2008. Here's to life's tasty choices.

If your a foodie and you love art, check out some of the paintings on our website by Alfredo Gomez, Dale Momii and Jerry Rough. Some of their paintings are sure to have you thinking about that next wonderful bite.