The Food Philosopher: Gluten-Free Recipes, Health and Nutrition, Diet and Weight Loss


The Food Philosopher: Autumn Dinner with Friends



Autumn Dinner with Friends


to quiet our fervor for daily barbecues and corn on the cob. The deep hues of autumn are beginning to appear in the form of chrysanthemums and harvest vegetables. We look to quietly introduce the approaching season to our table with gentle hints of color and earthiness. Our September menu combines the simple lightness of summer with the richer complexity of cold weather cooking.


We start the evening off with our savory Stuffed Mushrooms and some store bought paté. The mushrooms can be prepped earlier in the day or even the day before. As an hors d’oeuvre, we like to use a medium-large sized domestic mushroom, not the super big stuffing mushrooms that are also available. Those large, ungainly, overstuffed ones are messy to eat. Slide the prepped baking pan into a preheated oven when your guests ring the doorbell and by the time you’re ready to sit down and begin the evening, they’ll be ready! Alongside, slice some store-bought paté and serve it with toasted French bread, cornichons and country mustard.

A first course of our Scallops Wrapped in Smoked Salmon served at the table artfully combines the smokiness of salmon with the sweet nuttiness of scallops. The creamy Horseradish Sauce helps to marry the flavors. The scallops and the sauce can be prepped earlier in the day and lightly warmed just be before serving.

Pumpkin colors peak through in the Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto, so perfect for autumn because the sage teases of turkey and stuffing to come. It is a simple yet sophisticated dish that enriches the squash with leek, garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. Prep and partially cook it using up to 2 cups of the stock one half hour before your guests come. Then cover the saucepan and remove it from the heat. Later, after your first course, you can finish cooking it, wine glass in hand and guests gathered around.

After the risotto, enjoy a light salad course that hints of the harvest in the form of toasted pecans. Arrange a slice of good quality tangy blue cheese on each salad plate with Baby Greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette. Top the greens with the nuts and serve it all with a slice of crusty bread. It is the perfect way to segue into dessert.

We don’t bake much in the summer, but come fall, visions of fruit pies and special layer cakes prance wildly on the horizon. Our Maple Walnut Cake is a much requested favorite and blends the taste of sweet summer apricots with autumn walnuts and winter-rich maple flavor. Enjoy a slice of cake and cup of steaming coffee at the end of your leisurely evening with friends. (Look for a gluten–free version of this cake here under Gluten–Free Cooking).


© 2002 by Claudia Pillow and Annalise Roberts

Featured Menu Archive





Yields 12

12 medium–large white domestic mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon cognac or white wine
2 to 3 tablespoons grated Imported Swiss or Gruyère cheese
1/3 cup bread crumbs with added Italian seasoning to taste
Cooking spray

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease bottom of small baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Wash and trim mushrooms. Carefully remove stems and chop stems into little pieces.
  3. Melt butter in small skillet over medium heat. Add chopped mushroom stems and cook until tender. Add cognac (or wine); stir one minute. Remove from heat. Add breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning and stir to combine.
  4. Place an equal amount of cheese in each mushroom top. Press down gently. Cover with breadcrumb and mushroom stuffing.
  5. Place stuffed mushroom caps in prepared pan and bake in center of preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until mushrooms are tender and topping has browned slightly.

© 2002 by Claudia Pillow and Annalise Roberts





This recipe can be made early in the day and refrigerated until dinner time.

Serves 4 as a first course

12 medium sea scallops (all the same size)
2 tablespoons butter
¼ pound pastrami smoked salmon (or pepper–cured smoked salmon if you cannot find pastrami smoked salmon)
½ cup horseradish sauce (see below)

  1. Rinse the scallops and pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Melt butter in large heavy skillet over high heat. Saut? scallops 2 minutes per side. Remove from pan and cool slightly on a plate.
  3. Cut slices of smoked salmon into thin strips the height of the scallops. Wrap the sides of each scallop with the salmon and return it to the plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  4. Allow scallops to come to room temperature before continuing.Heat in microwave 1–2 minutes, until just warm, not hot. Spoon horseradish sauce onto the center of each of four salad plates. Arrange 3 scallops around the sauce on each plate.

Horseradish Sauce

½ cup sour cream
4 teaspoons prepared horseradish
½ teaspoon cider vinegar
1½ teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried dill or 1½ tablespoons fresh dill
Freshly ground pepper and salt

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir until blended. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Warm slightly in microwave before serving.

© 2002 by Claudia Pillow and Annalise Roberts






Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup leek, white part and 1 inch of green, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
1½ cups Arborio rice
2 cups butternut squash flesh, diced (¼ to ½ inch cubes)
4–5 cups low sodium vegetable broth, heated until hot
2 cups butternut squash flesh, finely diced
½ cup pine nuts
½ cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons milk
Pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

  1. Toast pine nuts until golden brown. In a food processor, combine the nuts, cheese, nutmeg, and milk until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and sauté the leek, garlic and sage for about 5 minutes until golden.
  3. Add the rice and squash and sauté for 2 minutes until all the rice grains are well coated in oil.
  4. Add 1 cup of stock and simmer, stirring until absorbed. Continue to add stock, ½ cup at a time, stirring frequently for about 25 minutes, until the rice is creamy.
  5. When there is only a small amount of liquid left in the risotto, stir in the nut and cheese mixture. Continue to simmer until all the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Add with salt and pepper to taste. Cover saucepan and let rest 2 minutes; serve immediately.

© 2002 by Claudia Pillow and Annalise Roberts





Serves 4

8 cups mixed baby greens
4–6 ounces blue cheese, sliced into four pieces
½ cup toasted walnuts or pecans
Balsamic vinaigrette (below)
Cooking spray

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (a toaster oven works well for this).
  2. Place walnuts or pecans on small baking sheet and bake for 5–7 minutes, until lightly toasted. Set aside.
  3. Toss salad with vinaigrette. Arrange on salad plates with a slice of the cheese. Sprinkle the top of each salad with nuts.

Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

  1. Shake to mix. Keep tightly covered and refrigerated. Allow to come to room temperature before using.

© 2002 by Claudia Pillow and Annalise Roberts





Food Philosopher’s® Gluten–Free


You can use this basic yellow cake with any of your favorite frostings.

Serves 12

2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2½ cups brown rice flour mix*
½ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup canola oil
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ – 1 cup apricot butter or preserves**
Maple buttercream frosting (below)
2 cups crushed walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour (with rice flour) two 9–inch round cake pans.
  2. Beat sugar and eggs in large bowl of electric mixer at medium speed. Add flour, salt, baking powder, xanthan gum, oil, milk, and vanilla; beat at medium speed for 1 minute.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pans. Place in center of oven and bake for 35 minutes, until center springs back to touch and cake has pulled away from sides of the pan.
  4. Cool on rack for 5 minutes. Remove cake from pans onto rack and cool completely.
  5. Carefully slice each layer in half to create four layers(this is more easily done when cake has been chilled). Spread each of the two bottom layers with 1/3 cup apricot butter or preserves. Cover with the two remaining top layers.
  6. Place one set of layers on a cake plate and spread with about ½–cup frosting. Place the other set of layers on top and cover top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Gently press crushed walnuts onto top and sides of cake.

*see “Gluten–Free Flour Mixes” in our Recipe Archive

**We recommend Simon Fischer® Golden Apricot Butter

© 2002 by Claudia Pillow and Annalise Roberts


Yields 2 cups

1 cup sweet butter
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons very strong black coffee
1 tablespoon pure maple extract
1 tablespoon milk– optional (results in creamier frosting)

  1. Beat butter in large bowl of electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add one cup confectioners’ sugar, coffee and maple extract; beat to blend. Add remaining sugar and milk (if needed); beat until creamy.

© 2002 by Claudia Pillow and Annalise Roberts