Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free!)

I LOVE these cookies. They are a fall addiction, and perfect for the season and as a treat for the Thanksgiving table. The recipe is for the gluten free version, however you can use all purpose flour instead (4 c.). Either way these cookies are divine!

  • 3 c. white rice flour
  • 1 c. potato flour
  • 1/2 c. tapioca flour
  • 2 teaspoons Xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. butter (2 sticks or 8 oz.) at room temp.
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 16-oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 14 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350˚. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients. In  a mixing bowl, cream the sugars and butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Once combined, add the vanilla and pumpkin and mix until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed. When just combined, add the chocolate chips and continue to mix until chips are evenly distributed throughout the dough. Spoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Set on rack to cool.

On the road in Napa, Part 1

I recently returned from a fantastic holiday in Napa Valley. Well, it was more ‘work’ than vacation, but nonetheless when you’re in Napa, work seems like play. I attended a course at the Culinary Institute of America, and got elbow deep in grape sorting for wine harvest season, all the while tasting my way through the flavors of the region. Here are some of my favorite spots along the way.

Grgich Hills Estate: 1829 St. Helena Hwy, Rutherford, CA 94573. (800) 532-3057

Grgich Hills is the legendary Mike Grgich’s legacy. In 1976 Mr. Grgich brought his finest Chardonnay to the famous blind tasting at Chateau Montelena and beat the best wines in France, putting California and the USA on the map as a major player in fine wine making. Grgich HIlls is leading the charge in organic and Biodynamic farming — a holistic practice that uses the earth’s natural cycles and organic processes to produce intensely flavored grapes, and balanced vines. Through this process they can utilize ‘old’ vines that have been producing for 80-100 years, and create full bodied, rich wines. Their tasting room is adjacent to their barrel room and evokes the oaky, earthy sense that is inherent to wine making. Knowledgable and friendly staff. Try the 2007 Zinfandel, it’s vibrant and versatile.

Fun fact: They offer ‘wine stomping’ sessions throughout harvest season. It’s your chance to re-enact the famed Lucy/Ethel moment.

JoLe: 1457 Lincoln Ave, Calistoga, CA 94515. (707) 942 5938

JoLe is a quaint farm-to-table restaurant housed in the eclectically luxe Mount View Hotel on one of Calistoga’s main drags. They specialize in Contemporary American cuisine in the form of small plates. The atmosphere is cozy, yet vibrantly inviting. Its the type of place that evokes the old Cheers motto ‘where everybody knows your name’; not only will you get some of the most delicious fare around, you’ll probably find a new friend while you’re at it. Small plates are for sharing, so you should definitely take advantage and sample as many as possible. Among my favorite palate pleasers was the pan seared Sea Scallops with grits and red & green tomatoes (perfectly cooked, melt-in-your-mouth white scallops), and the Veal Sweet Breads (unique, interesting, yet familiar and comforting).

Bonus: The extensive wine list offers a huge variety of wines from around the world in addition to local favorites.

Oakville Grocery: 7856 St. Helena Highway Oakville, CA 94562. (707) 944-8802

This country style general store is a fun little shop to explore. They offer gourmet artisan products with a great selection of breads, cheeses, jams, fine oils, candies,and wine. The Oakville Grocery store brings you back to a long ago time and place where handcrafted culinary treats are truly an artful delight. Whether you need to pick up a gift, a snack, or some groceries for the road, don’t miss stopping in for a sample of the day’s fresh baked bread special.

V. Sattui Winery: 1111 White Lane. St. Helena, CA 94574. (707) 963-7774

If you’ve never heard of V.Sattui before, you better make this the first stop on your list. They are a one-stop-shop best known as an all encompassing experience. V. Sattui is a family owned winery established in 1885. They are home to an award winning deli and marketplace in addition to a large and bustling tasting room. Make sure to head into the deli first thing and grab a ticket as the lines can get quite large.

Tip: Skip the tasting and purchase a bottle of their 2007 Sauvignon Blanc  to accompany a gourmet deli sandwich and/or a selection of fine cheeses and house made duck pate. Head out to the picnic grounds and enjoy!

Green Tea Strawberry Muffins

Green Tea Strawberry Muffins

These muffins originally started out as cupcakes. I thought that they would make a rather tasty and hearty muffin instead, so I tweaked the original recipe to accommodate. Enjoy!

  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 c. all purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. matcha green tea powder
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 8-10 strawberries, chopped

Preheat the oven to 325˚ F. Line a cupcake tin with liners and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and matcha powder. Mix on low speed until combined. Add the butter, mixing until the cubes are peanut sized or a little smaller. In a separate bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla. With the mixer set to a medium speed, add the wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down the sides of the bowl before each addition. Mix until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. Pour or spoon the batter in even portions into the liners so that they are about 2/3 full. Bake about 17-20 minutes- until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Set on a wire rack, and allow to cool completely.