The thing that’s always bothered me about pumpkin pie is the absence of a true pumpkin flavor. The spices that characterize the pie—nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and ginger—are so overpowering that one can scarcely taste the pumpkin at all. This pumpkin cheesecake foregoes any spices at all, allowing the true heroes of the dessert— the pumpkin, maple and walnuts—to stand on their own. An extra thick walnut and graham cracker crust and a maple walnut topping ensure that each piece of cheesecake delivers a distinct walnut crunch.
2 ounces Gray Whale Gin1 ounce lemon juice1 ounce orange juice1 ounce ginger liqueur1 teaspoon turmeric Shake with ice. Top with soda water. Garnish with orange slices. Makes 1 cocktail.
Walnut milk is non-existent on grocery store shelves and it just happens to be my favorite type of nut milk, because it is so rich and creamy.
Use walnut meal left from making walnut milk to make walnut meal pâté, by folding in minced olives of any variety, sundried tomato pieces, fresh herbs like parsley, basil or thyme, juice and zest of a lemon, and salt and garlic, to taste.
Get your hands on some green walnuts and make some nocino. In Italy there is a special day for gathering green walnuts called the Feast Day of San Giovanni. Italians like this liqueur in their coffee, where it is called caffè corretto or corrected coffee. It is also poured over gelato or used in place of vanilla extract in making biscotti or simply as an after dinner digestif. The flavor is nutty, slightly bitter, yet sweet, with the taste of vanilla and oak.
Pear butter differentiates itself from other fruit butters with its texture. Pears have a naturally gritty quality to them that gives this butter a pleasant chewiness. Pears also have a tendency to develop a glossy sheen when cooked down into a butter, which looks very appetizing.
Courtesy Ben Spungin, chef, Alta Bakery and Cella Restaurant in Monterey