23 09 2011

Pears are at their peak in early autumn

A lot of people mentally checked out of summer after Labour Day but the real first day of fall is today! Fall happens to be my favourite season so I couldn’t be happier. In many areas, the weather is still very pleasant and the farmers’ markets are still bursting with plenty of late-summer and fall produce. As the weather turns crisp in the weeks ahead, I’m looking forward to enjoying some warm spiced apple cider, putting on some slow-cooked braises, taking walks through the brilliant foliage and getting the fireplace going for the season. To get in the mood, here are a few of my favourite autumn recipes:

Slow Simmered Ragu with Pasta

Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Wrapped with Prosciutto

Stuffed Butternut Squash

Orecchiette with Rapini, Sausage and Crisp Garlic Crumbs

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Maple

La Poire (pear cocktail)

Apple-Caramel Tart

Pumpkin Cream Puffs with Maple-Caramel Sauce

Pumpkin Pie with Maple-Walnut Praline

A fall scene at the market

For more great autumn ideas, check out the Fall Archives!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.


Pumpkin Cream Puffs with Maple-Caramel Sauce

23 11 2010

Cream puffs (a.k.a. profiteroles) filled with a spiced pumpkin cream and topped with a buttery maple-caramel sauce.

When I want to make an autumn dessert, I think about seasonally appropriate ingredients such as apples, pears, caramel and of course, pumpkin.  Pumpkin pie is a staple at most Thanksgiving tables and spiced pumpkin is popular in everything from lattes to ice cream. As a bonus, scientists have long known that the scent of pumpkin pie is an aphrodisiac so it’s the perfect finale to a romantic dinner.

If you’re looking for something a little different from pie, these cream puffs (a.k.a. profiteroles) fit the bill perfectly.  The pumpkin-cream filling has all the flavours of classic pumpkin pie and the maple-caramel sauce is a decadent and delicious topping (which is also great on ice cream!).  The recipe has a number of steps but none are difficult and everything can be prepared in advance and assembled at the end of the meal.

Click here to see the recipe from Suite 101.com: Pumpkin Cream Puffs with Maple-Caramel Sauce.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Spice Muffins

26 09 2010

A bin of pumpkins at Jean Talon Market, Montreal

If there is one flavour that really says ‘autumn’ it’s pumpkin.  Pumpkin pie is a staple at Thanksgiving and in the past few years I’ve seen everything from pumpkin fudge to ice cream once fall arrives. Some coffee shops even make pumpkin lattes. Combined with warming spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, pumpkin is a delicious seasonal treat.

To make things easy, I use canned pumpkin puree instead of fresh pumpkin for this recipe.  While fresh pie pumpkins can certainly be used, the quality of the finished product can vary due to the water content of different pumpkins (for a guideline on how to prepare puree from pie pumpkins, check out How to Prepare Fresh Pumpkins for Baking).  If you’re using canned pumpkin, make sure it’s labelled as pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling, which already has spices added.

To make big, puffy bakery-style muffins, fill the muffin tins up almost to the top. Make sure you grease the top of the tin so that the muffin tops don’t stick.  If the muffins ‘grow’ together during baking, just cut them apart with a knife.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Makes about 8 large muffins

  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh or canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil, such as canola or safflower
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • Oil or cooking spray to grease muffin tin


  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease muffin tin (including top of tin) and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and spices. Stir with a fork until thoroughly combined.
  3. Add pumpkin puree, oil and eggs, and stir into the dry ingredients until smooth. Gently fold in nuts until distributed throughout batter.
  4. To make topping: In a small bowl, stir together sugar and cinnamon. Reserve chopped nuts in a separate bowl.
  5. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups, filling them to about ½” from the top of the cups. Sprinkle the batter of each muffin with cinnamon/sugar mixture and a spoonful of chopped nuts.
  6. Bake muffins for 25 to 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove muffin tin from the oven and let cool at least 15 minutes before removing the muffins.

This recipe first appeared on Suite 101.com.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Autumn Has Arrived!

23 09 2010

Brilliant foliage is one of the highlights of fall

It’s finally fall and I couldn’t be happier.  Sure summer is fun, with warm weather, lazy days at the beach and barbecues with friends.  But fall is my favourite season with the brilliant foliage, rich fall fashions, crisp weather and of course, the food.

Many passionate home cooks consider fall the kick off to the ‘cooking season’.  Once the weather cools, we can resume baking, roasting and braising.  The markets are piled high with produce and we crave hearty soups and stews after a vigorous afternoon of leaf raking or a hike in the park.  It’s a time to light the fireplace, prepare a rustic dinner and linger at the table with friends.

For some great ideas for using autumn’s abundance, check out some of my most popular fall recipes:

Spiced Cider

Leek and Ham Tart

Beef, Barley and Mushroom Soup

Mushroom Soup

Roasted Beet Salad with Walnuts and Feta

Braised Short Ribs

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Wrapped with Prosciutto

Stuffed Butternut Squash

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Maple

Savoury Mushroom Bread Pudding

Harvest Strudel

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Apple Caramel Tart

Pumpkin Pie with Walnut Praline

Bon Appétit and Welcome to Fall!

Pear and Pecan Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

16 10 2009


This is one of my favourite fall desserts.  It’s decadent and rich so it’s ideal for cold evenings when we’re craving something comforting.  Pears are in season right now so it’s the perfect time to give it a try.  It works best with bread that is a couple of days old so it’s a great way to use up stale bread that would otherwise go to waste.

This recipe first appeared on Suite 101.com where it was granted an Editor’s Choice award.  

Pear and Pecan Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Makes about 6 servings

  • 4 cups (about 5 thick slices) stale bread such as ciabatta, challah, etc. with crusts cut off and cut into 1- 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 large pears, cored and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup halved pecans
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Caramel Sauce – see recipe below


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease a standard sized loaf pan. Layer half of the bread cubes on the bottom of the loaf pan and sprinkle with half the pears and half the pecans.
  3. Layer the rest of the bread cubes over the pears and pecans. Sprinkle with the remaining pear pieces and pecans. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, vanilla, brown sugar and eggs. Pour custard mixture over the bread/pear/pecan layers. Press the top of the pudding down so that everything gets well soaked. Set aside to let custard soak in for about 15 minutes before baking. (Note: the pudding can be assembled a few hours in advance and refrigerated until ready to bake).
  5. Bake pudding for 30 to 45 minutes or until the pudding is golden brown on top and custard is cooked through. Serve with caramel sauce (see below) and vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Caramel Sauce

This is a versatile sauce that is also great with cake or ice cream.  Use caution when working with the hot sugar mixture.

Makes about 1 cup of sauce

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  1. In a small saucepan heat cream on medium heat.
  2. While cream is heating, in a separate large saucepan, heat sugar and water on medium-high heat. Whisk until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Watch the mixture for about 10 minutes or until it begins to turn golden brown but do not whisk. Gently swirl the pan occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat once it turns a medium brown colour. Quickly add butter and heated cream, whisking as you pour it in. Be careful – the mixture is very hot and will bubble up a bit as the cream is added.
  5. Add salt and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Whisk until smooth. Pour sauce over bread pudding or your favourite dessert (it’s great on vanilla ice cream!)

Bon Appéit and Enjoy!


Pear and Pecan Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Pear and Pecan Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Mushroom Crostini

30 09 2009


Mushroom Crostini

Mushroom Crostini

Fall is the time when I think of cooking with mushrooms even though most types are readily available year round.  They have an earthy richness that works well with bold fall flavours such as sage, thyme and rosemary.  They’re also very versatile and make a great alternative to meat for vegetarians and carnivores alike (see my Mushroom Soup recipe for another great mushroom dish).

For the best flavour, use a variety of mixed mushrooms such as portabello, cremini, shiitake, oyster and button mushrooms.  You can even include some re-hydrated dried mushrooms: put them in a bowl, pour boiling water over them and let them soak until tender, about 30 minutes.  Drain and use as you would fresh mushrooms.

These crostini are great for entertaining because you can make the mushroom mixture in advance.  Just re-heat and assemble as your guests arrive and you’ll have an easy and delicious hors d’oeuvre that pairs very nicely with champagne or sparkling wine.  

Mushroom Crostini


Makes approximately 12 crostini

  • 3 cups (about 12 oz/350 grams) mixed mushrooms, such as portobello, button, cremini, shiitake, etc.
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, peeled and minced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • ½ cup whipping cream (35% M.F.)
  • ½ teaspoon white truffle oil (optional)
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra shaved parmesan for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons sour cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped for garnish
  • ½ baguette, sliced into twelve ¾” thick slices
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add shallots to pan and sauté until they are translucent, approximately 1 minute.
  2. Add mushrooms to pan. Make sure they are evenly distributed and not crowded in the pan. Sauté until browned on one side, approximately 6 minutes. Resist the urge to stir them around.
  3. Once the mushrooms are browned on one side, turn over with a spatula and let them brown on the other side.
  4. Reduce heat to medium. Add herbs and garlic to the pan and stir until evenly distributed. Add cream and stir to combine. Add truffle oil (if using) and parmesan cheese. Cook mushroom mixture until cheese is melted and it’s beginning to thicken, about 2 minutes.
  5. Remove mushroom mixture from the heat and stir in sour cream until combined.
  6. Toast baguette slices on both sides. To serve, spoon mushroom mixture onto toasts and garnish with chopped parsley and shaved parmesan.

If making in advance, prepare as directed and then refrigerate.  Re-heat the mushroom mixture in a saucepan on medium heat until warm and assemble crostini. The baguette slices can also be toasted in advance and stored in an air-tight container.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This recipe first appeared on Suite 101.com.

Braised Garlic Swiss Chard

29 09 2009


I love swiss chard.  It’s a popular green in late summer and fall and it makes a great accompaniment to roasted or braised meats. It’s very versatile (see the Swiss Chard Tart recipe I posted last year) but one of my favourite ways to enjoy it is simply braised in butter, garlic and a bit of stock.   It’s simple to put together and only takes a few minutes.  You don’t even have to dry the chard leaves after washing them.

Any kind of swiss chard will work – green, red or rainbow chard.  Bear in mind that when it cooks down, it reduces in volume significantly so you may have to make a double batch if serving a crowd.  This is the perfect side dish to go with Braised Short Ribs, Oven Roasted Prime Rib, grilled steak, roast chicken or pork.

Helpful Tip: Grating garlic cloves on a microplane will mince them quickly and easily without a mess.

Braised Garlic Swiss Chard

Makes 4 small servings


  • 1 bunch swiss chard (regular, red or rainbow) – equals about 12 oz. of leaves once the stems are trimmed
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely minced (see helpful tip, above)
  • 1/2 cup beef OR chicken OR vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Trim large stems from the chard.  Rinse the leaves well to ensure they are clean of all dirt and grit.  Set chard leaves aside.
  2. In a large, deep skillet, heat butter on medium until just melted.  Add garlic and cook for about 15 seconds.  Add chard to pan.
  3. Use tongs or a couple of forks to toss the chard in the butter and garlic.  Turn heat to medium-high and add stock.  Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, until leaves become limp.
  4. Uncover skillet.  Let any remaining liquid cook off on medium-high heat.  Season chard with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with your favourite dishes.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!



Braised Garlic Swiss Chard made with red chard