Pumpkin Belgium Waffles w/ Citrus and Cranberry Compote

After surviving a harsh cold winter that seemed to instantly turn into a blistering hot summer, Autumn balances out the seasons with warm days and cool nights. The air becomes brisk and crisp and the sun is rising later and setting earlier. Shorter daylight lends itself for family and friends to enjoy backyard fire pits and perhaps an occasional bon fire. (City and County permitting of course.) Here in Colorado, it is traditionally the last weekend in September when the Aspen leaves turn gold in which shortly after they flutter down to blanket the ground for the Winter.

Autumn is my favorite season. The hustle and bustle of Summer is coming to a close and it reminds me of a James Taylor lyrics: *“The frost is on the pumpkin and the hay is in the barn.” I spontaneously think of jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin pies and hay rides. So many pumpkins, so little time!

Pumpkin and Wild Mushroom Risotto
Serves 6

3 TBS Olive Oil
1 LG Shallot (finely diced)
3 Cups Risotto (Arborio rice)
1 Cup Dry White Wine
2 Qts. Chicken or Veggie Stock (hot)
1 Can Pumpkin
3 LG. Portabello Mushrooms
1/3 Stick Unsalted Butter
3/4 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan
to taste Salt and Pepper (S&P)
Fresh Italian Parsley to garnish


Pre-heat oven to 400f. Remove black gills from Portabello mushrooms and slice into strips. Coat with a little bit of olive and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast till tender (about 10-12 min.) Remove from oven and hold. Dice the roasted mushrooms when cool. Coat bottom of casserole pan with 2 TBS. Olive oil and heat to medium high. Add shallots and sauté till clear. Add risotto and roast in pan for approx. 2-3 min. Deglaze with wine. Add hot stock a ladle full at a time when all the liquid is absorbed by the risotto. Stir frequently with wooden spoon. Repeat this till the risotto still has the slightest crunch in the middle of the grains (Al Dente).

When risotto is al dente:

Add the butter, Portabello Mushrooms, pumpkin and parmesan. Stir just till mixed and creamy. Add S&P to taste remembering that the parmesan is salty already.

Garnish and serve.

Candied Pumpkin
(Calabaza en Dulce)


2 1/2 Lbs. Pie Pumpkin –NOT Jack-O-Lantern (after peeled and seeded and cut into strips)
4 Cinnamon Sticks
8 Cloves (whole)
1 Orange (Zest and juice)
4 TBS Butter
3 –4 Cones Piloncillo (brown sugar cones available in Mexican section of grocery store or Mexican
Markets) or substitute with: 1 3/4cup dark brown sugar and 1/4 cup molasses.
8 Cups Fresh Cold Water


Cut pumpkin in half, remove stem and scoop out seeds and stringy parts on the inside. Wash the seeds and dry on a sheet pan for roasting later. Don’t dry them on a paper towel, they will stick to the towel and will be a mess to deal with.

With a sharp knife, lay the pumpkin cut side down on a cutting board and carefully cut off the outer skin. (Save the skin, stem and stringy part for your compost pile.) Now cut the raw pumpkin into bite size pieces and hold.

Put all other ingredients in a deep heavy pot and bring to a boil. I use a cast iron Dutch Oven. You could also use something like a Le Creuset, or any deep casserole dish that you can put on the stovetop.

After the piloncillos (or brown sugar and molasses) have dissolved, slowly add the pumpkin pieces and simmer for around 2 – 2-1/2 hours or until the pumpkin is tender and the sugar mixture has reduced to a thick glaze. You might have to add more water if it evaporates before the pumpkin is tender. You can bob the pumpkin pieces a bit at first to coat them, but do not stir, that will make the pumpkin all mushy.

Let cool then place each piece (with tongs) on a wire rack that is suspended over a bowl so the excess sugary glaze drips off.

Repeat until all the pumpkin slices are as goo free as possible.

Refrigerate or bring to room temperature and serve.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


Pumpkin Seeds
Olive Oil Enough to coat seeds.
To Taste:
Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
Ground Cayenne


Pre-heat oven to 250f.

Wash the seeds and dry on a sheet pan. You can place the sheet pan in a low oven, say 250f, turning them occasionally till they are dry. Don’t dry them on a paper towel, they will stick to the towel and will be a mess to deal with.

Up the temperature on the oven to 375f.

When they are dry, place in a bowl and coat thoroughly with olive oil. Then sprinkle with seasoning. I chose salt, pepper and cayenne, but you can use any seasoning of your choice.

Spread evenly on a dry sheet pan and place in a 375f oven for about 7 – 8 min. With a spatula, turn the seeds and continue roasting for another 7 – 8 min. or until golden brown.

Let cool and enjoy!

* Lyrics from the title track of James Taylor’s 1975 album “Walking Man”


Chef Trusan


This past Sunday I had the pleasure of experiencing yet another unique and fascinating culinary and cultural event: “Dinner with DaVinci”. This multi-media dining adventure was the conception of chef and host Cara Cruickshank of “Cafe de la Culture”. Check out the introduction video:

An Evening of discourse on the Italian Renaissance started out with a presentation by Anna Clare Monlezun and Giovanni Taormina followed by a dynamic, full-sensory experience featuring Hikaru H. Miyakawa as the other presenter, The Renaissance Project (choir), Emily Bowman (violin) and Margot Krimmel (harp), as well as Roger Reutimann (sculptor) and of course, the wonderful cuisine.

Photo by Brian Spielmann

What stuck in my mind about the Renaissance period was that prior to it, there was no word for Art. Everything was made by artisans be it local pottery or cooking food in your own home. It was a way of life. There was no mass production, everything was crafted by the heart and soul of the artisan. There is a new renaissance in food now inspired by the “Slow Food” movement. A “Back to the Future” way of creating food from the heart and soul. This time it involves not only back to basics cooking from scratch, but procuring ingredients from local indigenous sources that provide organic and seasonal foods.

Being a lover of Italian food and especially desserts, my contribution was a “Double Espresso and Marsala Tiramisu”. Here’s the recipe:

Double Espresso and Marsala Tiramisu

Serves 4 – 6


3 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1 (8-oz) container mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
2 cups very strong coffee or espresso (double the amount of grounds used)
4 tablespoons Marsala
18 ladyfingers (a 6 oz. container)
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate shavings or 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder


Beat together yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl until thick and pale. Beat in mascarpone until just combined.

Beat whites with a pinch of cream of tarter in another bowl until soft peaks form. Slowly add remaining sugar and continue to beat whites until stiff peaks form. Beat cream in another bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold cream into mascarpone mixture followed by the egg whites.

Mix coffee and Marsala in a bowl (cooled to room temperature) and dip ladyfingers briefly (anywhere from 1 – 4 sec. depending on the thickness of the ladyfingers). Place the soaked lady fingers in a baking dish and evenly spread the mascarpone mixture on top. Repeat this layering process until you end with mascarpone mixture on top.

Chill for at least 6 hours. Just before serving, sprinkle with chocolate.


Chef Trusan


Rosh setting up his Rosh & One Eye Glass Broken Band

I attended the *Boulder Blind Café tonight with a friend.  One of the things that was mentioned in our introduction was that there would be something on the table that could be rubbed all over your body.  I’ll follow up on that one at the end of this blog.  I both helped to prepare the food in the kitchen (yes, the lights were on) as well as a participant dining in the dark.

Chef Trusan helping in the kitchen

Delicious food being prepared

What an eye opening experience!  Picture having all your senses except for sight.  We had taste, (of course) touch, smell and sound (there was poetry, and music).  The menu was the brain child of Chef Marcus.  Being in Boulder it was a gluten and dairy free vegan meal.  Polenta, quinoa with veggies, fennel and apple salad, kale salad with goat cheese             (acceptable among many dairy free folks) and a vegan chocolate mousse with coconut.  Chef Marcus was awesome to work with, we cook a lot alike.  There were plenty of other volunteers in the kitchen too and the whole event gave a strong sense of community.

A whole new light was shed within a perspective without sight.  You have to have a good memory being blind.  After we were led through the darkness to our table and fumbled for our seats, the food was already plated in front of us along with a water glass at 1:00, an Izzy soda at 12:00 and kale salad with goat cheese at 11:00.  The fork and spoon were at 3:00 where you would expect them to be.  It’s interesting how I used my pinky to find the edge of the table to measure where to put my silverware so I could easily find it.  Shoveling food in mouth wasn’t as difficult as I had expected.  I used my left hand to get an idea of what and where the food was.  Then with my right hand, I slid the tang of my fork underneath the unseen goodness and with exemplary hand to mouth coordination was able to get a good mouthful without stabbing my lip.

The (blind) waitstaff (Rick and Gary) were excellent.  They had some of the best attitudes I’ve ever seen.  They really made us feel at ease with their wit, humor and appreciation.

I must say that this was an enlightening and visceral experience.

Chef Marcus was inspiring and one of the ingredients he used that I had totally forgotten about was fried capers.  These crispy unopened flower buds of the Mediterranean caper bush add a distinctive and salty zest to many dishes.

Here’s my recipe for Grilled Grouper with orange Beurre blanc sauce and fried capers:

Grilled Grouper with Orange Beurre Blanc Sauce and Fried Capers
Serves 2


2 Grouper Fillets
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper


Preheat the grill to medium-high.  Thoroughly rinse the fillets in cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.
Oil and salt and pepper the fillets and place on clean oiled grill. Cook fish about 10 minutes per inch*, gently turning it halfway through the cooking time until the flesh is firm and opaque and flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Serve with beurre blanc sauce and fried capers.

* Ten Minute Rule:  Measure the thickness of fish at its thickest point & cook for 10 minutes per inch of thickness.. This rule applies to baking in a 450 oven, frying, broiling, steaming and grilling.  If the fish is stuffed or rolled, measure it after stuffing or rolling.

Orange Beurre Blanc Sauce


2        Oranges
½    Cup     White Wine
2    teas.    Minced Shallots
½    Pound    Unsalted Butter (2 sticks)
Salt and white pepper


1. Mince the shallot and zest half of one orange (about 2 teaspoons) and juice the two oranges.  Put the juice, zest, wine and shallots in a sauce pan on medium high heat.  Cook until it is syrupy and equivalent of two tablespoons..

2. Cut the very cold butter into 1/2 inch cubes.  On low heat, whisk in the butter with the reduction you just made continuously and vigorously, 1 cube at a time. Do not let the sauce boil.

3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Fried Capers


1/4    Cup    Capers
1    Cup    Olive Oil


Strain the capers through a sieve.  In a one and one half quart sauce pan, bring the oil to a temperature where when you drop in a caper it immediately sizzles, opens up and floats to the top.  Carefully add the capers to the hot oil (it will splatter) and cook until golden brown (about 2 min.).  Strain the capers again through the sieve and transfer to a paper towel to drain and soak up any excess oil.

Us dining in the dark

The something on the table that could be rubbed all over your body?  It was a small slice of handmade soap from a local artisan.  In total darkness it resembled the size, shape and texture of a complimentary piece of after dinner chocolate you might get at a restaurant.  I wonder how many people sampled it?

* The Blind Cafe is NOT just a another dinner in the dark…it’s a community experience where people connect, learn and grow from working together to participate in something greater than themselves. The Boulder Blind Cafe is designed to help you feel more alive, awake, present and connected to your world.

A portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to Boulder Guide Dog Puppy Raisers, a local organization that raisies puppies to become guide dog. Meet the puppies at the event!



Chef Trusan


My earliest childhood memories of food include pressure cooked chicken, overcooked pot roast with mushy gray veggies, pot pies, fish sticks, meatloaf and TV dinners in aluminum trays.  TV dinners back in the 60’s were so cool, they were futuristic and compartmentalized. The entrée was front and center (usually fried chicken or Salisbury steak), to the upper right was the mixed veggies and contained in the upper left compartment was referred to as dessert but in reality was a molten blob of artificially colored sugary goo.

What was my relationship with food back then?  Or was there a conscious one?  I never thought about my relationship with food until I was much older.  I believe most people are either too busy or just haven’t been educated on the benefits and importance of having a positive connection with what they eat.

As you read this article, consider your relationship with food.  What I want to accomplish through this article is either a reinforcement of a healthy relationship that you already have with food, or an identification of changes that need to be made in order to begin to enjoy a healthy relationship with food. I have realized that our relationship with food is much like our relationship with other people, it can be a loving, nurturing relationship or a toxic one.

One of the first questions you should ask yourself is, “What am I hungry for?”  Is it your body that needs nourishing or is it your spirit that needs attention?  Are you eating for hunger or appetite?”  Hunger is the body expressing a need for fuel.  Appetite is a desire or need for spiritual fulfillment.  Would a hug, recognition, reassurance that you’re loved, or time spent meditating satisfy the real appetite that is calling?  If hunger is in fact what you are feeling, filling your need in a healthy, satisfying way may be easier than you think.

Initially, identifying a bad relationship with food is absolutely crucial.  This includes consuming inorganic foods, fast foods and processed foods which are, in my opinion, all dead foods.  Food cannot retain vital life energy and nutrients after being in an airtight can or vacuum packed, hermetically sealed and frozen.  Furthermore, these dead foods are generally microwaved and/or eaten while driving, talking on a cell phone, and steering with your knee.  Besides the danger of crashing after you dropped your cheeseburger, have you ever read the nutritional information on a cheeseburger and fries?  These foods aren’t capable of fulfilling your hunger or your appetite.

Ultimately, a healthy relationship with food starts with an intention to nurture the body, mind and spirit.  Selecting healthful foods and preparing them conscientiously are equally as vital. Choosing fresh, local, seasonal, and organic foods defines the benchmark of a great relationship with food.  Buying fresh retains all the vital nutrients and life force energy.  And remember that there’s a reason for the season.  Spring and summer foods are lighter and cooling, while fall and winter foods are hearty and warming.  Eating as much organic food as possible eliminates disease-causing pesticides, which will make you live longer and healthier.  Eating slowly and with purpose helps the digestion process.  A simple prayer of thanks or just a moment of silence before enjoying your meal is a way of gratifying the mind and spirit as well as calming the body so it can utilize its fuel more effectively.

Finally, food should also be the centerpiece of ritual.  At nearly every ritualistic gathering, food is involved. That is because throughout time, rituals and food have dually served the purpose of feeding the trilogy of body, mind and spirit.  Rituals give meaning to events and are a very important part of human existence.

Maintaining a healthy relationship with food takes planning and discipline, but is very achievable.  Try to always have nutritious options on hand.  You can prepare healthful foods in advance or have a private chef do this for you.  And if you must eat out or on the run, make health-conscious choices.

Identifying a need and filling it in positive ways are the beginnings of any healthy relationship.  When you are hungry, preparing foods that nourish your body and eating them in a way that nourishes your spirit will help you live a longer, more fulfilled life.


Chef Trusan


Was the theme for last weekend’s successful retreat catering.  (Rolling R’s on your tongue acceptable here)  I love cooking for themes and this one came about because of logistical restrictions I had to maneuver around.  The retreat was in a private residence where the meeting space was directly next to the open kitchen and couldn’t be disturbed with the exception of an hour before meals to set up.  The prep area was in the basement which worked out quite well and had access to both upstairs and outside in case we needed to make a quick run to the grocery store (which we did several times).  Other than a few dietary restrictions such as gluten and dairy free and total vegan and vegetarian, I needed to come up with a menu that not only included the above but required little or no cooking.  The only heat source I had in the prep area was a small table side burner.  I immediately thought of raw foods.  Not only are they healthy and will retain all of their nutritional value, there is no cooking required.  Salads are raw and so is the Raw Avocado Chocolate Mousse I have made for them before that was very well received.  Just a Raw theme seemed a bit too racy and adding Wild and Fresh toned it down a bit but still gave it plenty of sex appeal and stuck with my philosophy of cooking sustainably.  One of the participants even commented that I make vegetables very appealing!  Mission accomplished!

Here’s the highlights of the menu followed by a few recipes:


Pita, Hummus (3 kinds) w/ assorted veggies (Tzatziki (cucumber yogurt dill) sauce)
Fennel and Orange Salad
Wild, Fresh and Raw Salad w/Oil-less Dressing
Fresh Juiced Veggie Bar
Crust-less Vegetarian Quiche


Fresh Fruit and Nuts
Assorted Gluten Free Pastries


Raw Veggie Platter with Wild & Brown Rice and
3 Dipping sauces (Hot, Savory & Sweet)
Assorted artisan breads and gluten free crackers
Risotto with Wild Asparagus and Lemon
Colored Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa, Edamame and Wild Mushroom


Flour-less Chocolate Torte soufflé
Raw Mixed Berry Pie in Vanilla-Honey Cream (thank you Lisa Turner!)
Raw (Vegan) Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Wild Asparagus and Lemon Risotto
Serves 6


3    TBS    Olive Oil
1    LG    Shallot (finely diced)
3    Cups    Risotto (Arborio rice)
1    Cup    Dry White Wine
2    Qts.    Veggie Stock (hot)
1     Lb.    Fresh Asparagus bunch (woody bottoms trimmed and cut into 1” lengths)
3 Lemons (zest of 3 and juice of 1)
1/3    Stick    Unsalted Butter
3/4    Cup    Fresh Grated Parmesan
1    Bowl    Ice Bath
to taste    Salt and Pepper (S&P)
Garnish with:    Whole Basil leaves, lemon twists, parsley sprigs, etc.


Coat bottom of casserole pan with 2 TBS. Olive oil and heat to medium high.  Add shallots and sauté till clear.  Add risotto and roast in pan for approx. 2-3 min.  Deglaze with wine.  Add hot stock a ladle full at a time when all the liquid is absorbed by the risotto.  Stir frequently with wooden spoon.  Repeat this till the risotto still has a slight crunch in the middle of the grains (Al Dente).

While the risotto is cooking:

ASPARAGUS – Blanch the asparagus lengths in the chicken stock.  With a slotted spoon remove from stock, place and hold in ice bath when al dente.

When risotto is al dente:

Add the butter, asparagus, lemon zest & juice and parmesan.  Stir just till mixed and creamy.  Add S&P to taste remembering that the parmesan is salty already.

Garnish and serve.

Quinoa & Edamame Stuffed Colored Peppers
with Roasted Portabello and Goat Cheese
Serves: 4


4    LG    Colored Peppers (use a variety of colors except for the green bell peppers)
1    Cup    Edamame
1    Cup    Cooked Quinoa
2    LG    Portabello Mushrooms
1    Cup    Crumbled Goat Cheese (I also used some Mozzarella for it’s melting quality)
4    Oz.    Grated Parmesan (1/2 for inside the pepper mixture and 1/2 to sprinkle on top)
1    24oz.    Jar of Organic Tomato Sauce     (see: May 2010 blog “The Journey is the Reward!”
for recipe)

Pre-heat oven to 375f.  Lay peppers on side and cut of what is now the top leaving the stem intact.  Scoop out seeds and veins and hold the top.  Place peppers in boiling salted water for 15 min.  Remove and let drain and dry.  Cook the edamame in boiling salted water till tender (about 3 – 5 min.).  Run under cold water, drain and hold.  Soak quinoa in cooking pot for about 15 min. then cook per directions (approx. 15 – 20 min.).  Hold.  Slice and roast the portabellos and pepper top with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Cut into small dice when cooled off a bit.

Mix cooked ingredients, cheese(s) and sauce together, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary and liberally stuff in the peppers.  Sprinkle tops with some mozzarella and parmesan.

Put in oven for 20 min, or until cheese is melted and golden brown.

Serve while piping hot!

Oil-less Dressing

Serves: 12


1 Whole     Eggs
2 Yolks
1 Oz. each:
Dijon Mustard
Garlic (minced)
To Taste: Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
1    Cup    Apple Juice
1    Cup    Apple Cider


Combine eggs, yolks, spearmint, tarragon, mustard and garlic.  Blend in apple juice and cider.  Add S&P to taste.

Let’s keep food SEXY!


Chef Trusan


Bad childhood memories of PEAS and stuffed green peppers?  Flavorless, overcooked or canned vegetables that are gray and mushy?  Do you hold the belief that vegetables are for decoration only?  Read on…

I had a student of a culinary class I teach contact me wanting help finding vegetable recipes for health reasons.

I inquired: I’m putting on my thinking cap!  Give me a little more detail about why you avoid them at all costs.  Flavor? Texture?  There’s a whole new world out there for you to discover and I want to make sure I hit the target in the bulls eye for you.

“I need someone to teach me how to make vegetables fun and taste good.  “Mushy” – is not a good texture except for guacamole and mashed potatoes.”

I Googled “I Hate Vegetables” and was overwhelmed, shocked and perplexed by how many people Hate Vegetables!  It’s simply unbelievable!  I can’t comprehend it at all.  There are a few that I don’t care for myself, but literally only about two: raw squash and hmmmmmmmmm, what was the other one?

I drew an imaginary line on the floor for my new client and they gleefully jumped over it in anticipation of discovering the Joys of Vegetables.

If your are veggiephobic and want to change your evil ways and gain the nutritional and tasty benefits of vegetables, here are some tips:

1.) Take a tour of the produce department at your local organic supermarket such as Whole Foods, Vitamin Cottage or a Farmer’s market, etc. that has locally grown produce.  (Conventionally grown vegetables tend to sometimes be flavorless and mealy.)

2.) Buy organically grown produce that is in season, it is the most flavorful, nutritious and economical that way.

3.) Mix up the colors, different colored vegetables contain different vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and phytochemicals.

4.) Start out with dishes that contain both meat or poultry and veggies.

5.) A little bit of butter, sea salt and fresh ground pepper really bring out the natural flavors in vegetables.

6.) Try new vegetables and cooking methods that you haven’t before.  Explore!

Here are some recipes that might help you go from veggiephobia to veggietopia!

(Veggiephobia Part II is coming soon!)

Sweet Potatoes and Spicy Chorizo
Serves 4


3    LG    Sweet Potatoes
4    Oz.    Dry White Wine
12    Oz.    Chorizo
1    sm    Onion (chopped)
1        Jalapeño (finely chopped) (include seeds and membrane if you like HOT)
Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper


Peel and cube (3/4”) the sweet potatoes.  Put wine and a pinch of salt in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Place cubes of sweet potato in the pot making sure they all get coated with the wine mixture.  Reduce to a simmer and cover.  Let cook until all the wine has evaporated or until tender.  While this is happening, render the chorizo in a skillet breaking it apart with a spatula.  When chorizo is brown, pour off the excess fat and add chopped onion and jalapeño.  Cook until the onions are translucent. Gently mix in the sweet potatoes.  Season to taste.

Savory Green Beans with Bits of Bacon
Serves 4


3    Lbs.    Fresh Green Beans
2    Slices    Bacon
Ground Savory


Snap (or cut) off ends of green beans and rinse.  Discard any bad ones.  Render the bacon in a sauté pan and reserve.  Blanch the beans in boiling salted water for approximately one minute.  Drain beans removing as much of the water as possible.  Place trimmed and washed beans into the hot sauté pan with the bacon fat.  Be careful, they will sputter and splatter a little but this will help steam them.  Keep them moving in the pan and totally coat each bean with the bacon fat as this will seal in the flavor.  After the sauté pan has calmed down a bit, season to taste with salt pepper and savory.  Continue cooking until they are still slightly crisp (al dente’).  Just before serving, chop the cooked bacon strips and sprinkle on top of beans.

Roasted Potato Wedges

Serves 4


4    LG    Potatoes (mix them up:Yukon Gold, Purple, Sweet Potato, Fingerlings
To    Coat    Olive Oil
To    Taste    Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
To    Taste    Fresh Rosemary (bruised) or dried rosemary


Pre-heat oven to 425f.
Wash thoroughly and dry potatoes with paper towel.  Cut Potatoes in wedges (except for fingerlings).  Place in bowl and coat with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary.  Arrange on oiled sheet pan (cookie sheet) making sure that there is space between the potatoes.  Roast for 20 min. then turn the potatoes.  Keep in oven for an additional 15to 20 min. (or longer) depending on how crisp you like them.


Chef Trusan


It’s December 27th and I’m still thinking about the neighborhood holiday party I went to last night. The amazing thing was that I didn’t realize just how many neighbors I had! Random acts of food turned into random acts of kindness as everyone brought something extraordinary to share. There was salmon wheels, venison sausage, all types of cheeses, crackers and fruit, croissant and ham sandwiches, tamales, ham and bean soup, parmesan twists, mushroom strudel, waldorf salad, luscious Petits Fours and cranberry shortbread bars. And of course lots of holiday spirit both in character and in liquid form.
I brought the cranberry shortbread bars.  Here’s the recipe:

Cranberry Shortbread Bars



12 Oz. Fresh Cranberries
2/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Oz. Water
Zest & Juice from 1/2 Orange (about 1 oz.)

Place above ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until reduced down to thick syrupy consistency. Take pan off of stove and put on a rack in a cool place while you are preparing the dough.



1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour

1/2 Cup Cornstarch

1 Pinch Sea Salt

8 Oz. Unsalted butter

1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar

1/2 teas. Almond Extract


Preheat oven 375 F.

In a separate bowl sift the flour with the cornstarch. Add salt and whisk together.

In a kitchen aid (or by hand if you must), cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the almond extract. Gently add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Let rest covered in refrigerator for about 20 min.

Press 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of a 8 X 8 pan and bake for 15 min. or until the edges of the crust become a light brown. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes then spread the cranberry filling over the shortbread crust. Crumble the remaining dough on top of the filling. Place back in the oven and bake for an additional 25 min. or until top is golden brown.

Let cool before serving.

If you’re in a jam and tight for time here are some things you can get from your local deli, supermarket or specialty store:

Crudités (raw vegetable tray) – Choose unique vegetables such as heirloom or baby veggies, asparagus spears or green beans. Blanch them quickly then dunk them in an ice bath. This will keep them bright in color and crisp. For a dip you can choose anything from garlic yogurt sauce, a spicy Thai dipping sauce to a basic vinaigrette.

Cheese and Crackers – Here’s an old standby that everyone is familiar with. Don’t be boring, get unique types of cheeses that range from pliable slices to soft and spreadable, mild in flavor to bold. Pair them with some nice artesian crackers.

Antipasto – we’re talking olives, cured meats, mushrooms, anchovies, artichoke hearts, etc. Don’t skimp on quality. Go for out of the ordinary items and this classic tray will be a hit!

Enjoy the holidays!


Chef Trusan


On my way to a recent four-day retreat catering, I noticed the brakes on my Jeep were going out. Not a big problem, just drive slower and time the traffic lights to make it through the intersections on the green light. Of course I had enough to stop in an emergency and for stop signs. (I’m not that crazy to drive with totally zero stopping power.) The scenario reminded me metaphorically how I can cook sometimes and how that drives creativity in the kitchen.

Caterings are especially subject to thinking on your feet. Changing a recipe at the last minute because the on-site stove burner just quit working, the sheet pan is an inch too wide to fit in the oven, or your assistant that you just sent to the store brought back the wrong ingredient or only half of what you needed. When I am at a catering it’s like driving without breaks, there’s no time for kitchen stop lights or traffic jams.
I am constantly observing obstacles and skating around them like an Olympic slalom skier. It brings with it an awareness that otherwise is overlooked. That’s when creativity kicks in: What am I going to do with all these extra Asian Eggplants? What about the chopped tomatoes and onions left over from yesterday’s meal? Knowledge of what ingredients might go well together and a good imagination is what creates new dishes. Here are just a few as an example:

Roasted Asian Eggplant Tapas

Makes 36 tapas


3 Asian Eggplants
1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 TBS ea. Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
1 Pkg. Fresh Basil Leaves
4 Slices Mozzarella, Muenster (or any mild cheese) 1/4” slices
2 Pints Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
36 Frilly Picks


Pre-heat oven to 400f. Peel and cut off the ends of the eggplants. Make sure you have 36 pieces of fresh basil leaves whether small whole leaves or the bigger ones cut smaller. Chop the leftover basil and use it in the marinade. Cut eggplants into 1/2” coins and marinade in olive oil, salt, pepper and basil for at least 20 min.

Place the eggplant coins on a sheet pan and roast in the oven until the bottom side becomes crisp. Turn the eggplant coins over and continue roasting until that side is now crisp. Remove from oven and let cool. Pat off excess olive oil with paper towel.

Cut 18 of the tomatoes in half lengthwise and hold. Cut the cheese into nine pieces per slice. Assemble on the frilly pick in this order:

Whole cherry tomato
Cheese square
Basil leaf
Eggplant coin
Half tomato (flat side down)

Serve at room temperature.

Spicy Gazpacho

Makes 6 servings (about 1 1/2 cups each)


3 LG red tomatoes (about 3 cups)
1 LG cucumber
1 Colored bell pepper (the more variety, the more colorful)
1 LG red onion
½ Cup Sliced green onion
1 LG Jalepeño
3 Cloves Garlic
1 1/2 12-oz. Can hot-style vegetable juice cocktail
1/3 Cup Chopped fresh basil
1/4 Cup Fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
1 TBS Extra VirginOlive oil
1/4 Cup Fresh Lime juice
3 TBS Balsamic vinegar
1/4 teas. Sea Salt
1 Dash Fresh ground black pepper
1 Dash Hot sauce
Thin slices of cucumber


Peel, seed and dice the cucumber (saving some thin slices for garnish), seed and dice the tomatoes, dice the bell pepper and onions. Seed and finely mince the jalapeño and garlic. Chop the basil and parsley. Add the vegetable juice cocktail, olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, salt, pepper and pepper sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a non-reactive (stainless steel or glass) bowl and mix. Add half the mixture to a food processor bowl and blend until nearly smooth. Add that back to the bowl. Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving.

To serve, place thin slices of cucumber on top each serving.



Chef Trusan


I’m convinced that global warming is really caused by everyone cranking up their Weber’s stoked with charcoal and mesquite. I love Summer and all the grilling I get to do. I have no hesitation about grilling year round, but it is the season when 3 out of 4 dinners at friend’s houses are prepared on a grill. There is something both primal and elegant about the BBQ. It’s a ritual enjoyed by a multitude of back yard cooks and foodies around the globe. Beef, fish, seafood, poultry and veggies are all subject to delectable grill marks and that savory smokey flavor obtained only by an open flame and glowing coals.

Here are some of my favorite grilling recipes, cooling side dishes, refreshing beverages and delicious desserts:

For all the grilling tequiniques: Pre-heat gas grill or if you’re using charcoal, the coals should have a nice coating of white ash over all the briquettes and perhaps glowing a bit. Make sure the grate is clean. With a paper towel and tongs, oil the grate so whatever you are cooking releases nicely.

Grilled Steak:

Serves 2


2 Cuts Free Range / Grass Fed / Organic Steaks (1/2” thick – Room Temperature)
(make sure they have nice marbling)
To Taste Fresh Ground Pepper and Kosher or Sea Salt
To Taste Worcestershire Sauce, A-1, or Steak Sauce
(you won’t need much if any with quality beef)


Pre-heat grill to medium heat.

Season room temperature steaks with fresh ground pepper and a little sea salt. Place on grill for about
2 – 2 1/2 minutes on the first side and about 1 1/2to 2 min. on the other side for rare (for 1/2” thick steaks). Time and temperature will very from grill to grill, so get to know your grill. It’s better to take the steak off too soon than too late. You can always put something back on the grill, but you can’t un-cook something.

Remove from grill and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Grilled Trout

Serves 2


2 Fillets Fresh Colorado Trout
To coat Olive Oil
To taste Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Lemon Wheels


Rinse the fillets, pat dry with a paper towel and coat with a thin emulsion of olive oil. Lightly salt and pepper the trout fillets. Place on grill skin side down with 3 or so lemon wheels on top of the flesh. Grill just until the fillets release easily (about 2 – 3 min. depending on the temp. of your grill) and have nice grill marks on them. Reserve lemon wheels for garnish if desired. Turn over the trout and grill for about 1 min more or until the flesh flakes with a fork and you can see that it is lighter in color and cooked all the way through. This is critical as not to overcook the fish.

Serve immediately.

This is some of the most tender, juicy, flavorful fish I have ever tasted!

Margarita Pizza on the Grill

Makes two 12” pizzas


1 cup Warm water
1 package Active dry yeast
1 tsp Sugar
2 1/2 to 3 cups All-purpose flour
2 TBS Olive oil (then some to brush on dough)
1/2 tsp Salt

1 Jar Marinara sauce (or preferred is home made)
3 Cups Grated Mozzarella Cheese
2 Large Vine Ripened Tomatoes (sliced into wheels)
1 Pkg. Fresh Basil Leaves


Combine the water, yeast, sugar in a large stainless steel or glass bowl. When yeast sugar mixture gets frothy add the 1 1/2 cups of the flour and mix well. Add the oil, salt, and remaining flour. With large wooden spoon or your hands mix the ingredients together until the dough holds its shape. You may need a bit less flour, so add the last half gradually. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. If the dough becomes sticky, sprinkle a bit more flour over it.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled 2-quart bowl and cover with a kitchen towel, and let the dough rest until it has doubled in size, (about 1 hour). When the dough has risen, place it on a lightly floured surface, divide it into two or more parts and roll them into balls. Cover them with a towel and let rest for 15 minutes. The dough is ready to be rolled out and ready to grill.

Pre-heat grill to medium-high. Roll out dough on a floured surface to about 1/4” thick circle. Brush on some olive oil and with a pizza peel or a couple of large spatulas, flip the dough olive oil brushed side down on the grill for about 3 – 5 min or until bottom is brown and has nice grill marks on it but not burnt. Remove from grill and place back on floured surface uncooked side down and place toppings on the cooked side in this order: sauce, cheese, basil then tomatoes. Remember that this recipe is for two pizzas so only put half of the toppings on each pizza. Place back on grill and cook until cheese is melted. Let pizza cool for a minute or two then serve! Yum Yum!

Cucumber, Watermelon and Jicima Salad

Serves 4


(Small dice the following 3 ingredients for 1 1/2 cups each of):
1 English Cucumber (peeled)
1 sm Watermelon
1 sm Jicima

(Fine chop each of the following 3):
1 TBS ea. Mint / Cilantro / Basil

1/2 Cup Fine diced Red Onion
1/4 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1/4 Cup Minced Fennel
to taste Sea Salt and &Fresh Ground Pepper
Fresh Arugula


Place all cut ingredients in bowl. Add lime juice and S&P and mix well. Chill. Serve over a bed of fresh tender Arugula.

Grilled Potato Salad

Serves 4


1 1/2 LBS New Potatoes
1/2 LBS Green Beans
1 sm Red Onion (about 1 cup small dice)
to coat Olive Oil
2 pinches Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

6 Oz. Plain Greek Yogurt
2 1/2 Oz. Blue Cheese Crumbles
1/2 teas. Dried Dill
1/2 teas. Fresh Ground Pepper
to taste Sea Salt (if needed)


Wash and pat dry the potatoes. Cut potatoes in half, coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place potatoes on pre-heated grill until substantial grill marks appear. Turn potatoes over and cook on opposite side. (about 10 min. total or till tender) Remove from grill and reserve.

Cut or break off ends and cut into 1-inch diagonal pieces. Blanch the green beans in salted boiling water for about 3 – 4 min. (until al dente’) then place in ice bath to cool. Drain and pat dry.

Cut the potatoes again in half, or nice bite size pieces and add in bowl with green beans and red onion. Mix dressing ingredients in separate bowl then fold into potatoes, beans and onion. Refrigerate and serve.

Sparkling Lemonade

Makes 1 quart


1/2 Cup Agave Nectar
4 TBS Lavender Buds
Zest of the 4 lemons

4 LG Juiced Lemons – about 1 cup (Meyers if available)
3 Cups Sparkling Mineral Water (see: note of interest after the recipes)
1 Lemon for wheels
3 TBS Agave nectar (or to taste)


Steep the Agave, Lavender and Lemon Zest under very low heat for 25 – 30 min. Let cool.

In a pitcher, add the steeped mixture to the squeezed lemon juice and mineral water. Add more Agave nectar to sweeten to taste. Stir well and enjoy. Serve over ice and garnish with a mint leave and lemon wheel.

Banana Water

Maks 3 cups


2 Ripe Bananas
2 Cups Spring Water (or non-chlorinated)
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
2 – 3 TBS Agave Nectar (or to taste)


Blend above ingredients in blender and serve over ice.

Grilled Pineapple

Serves: 8 – 10


1 Fresh Pineapple
Sea Salt
Cayenne Pepper
Olive Oil
1 Qt. Macadamia Nut Ice Cream (or Vanilla Bean)
8 Oz. Warm Caramel Sauce


Pre-heat grill to med-high and get out the ice cream so it will be soft and not rock hard frozen. Trim the pineapple making sure there are no “eyes” left. Do not core yet. Slice into 1/2” to 3/4” thick slices (wheels). Lightly brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a little bit of salt. Grill on each side till grill marks appear (about 5 min).

When pineapple wheels have nice grill marks and are soft, tender and juicy, take them off the grill. Remove the core if desired, sprinkle with cayenne pepper and top with a scoop of ice cream and drizzle with some warm caramel sauce.

Consume immediately!

Note of Interest:
If you’re lucky enough to live close to Manitou Springs, Colorado (or a natural mineral springs) use the spring water. It makes an incredible lemonade. The Twin Spring (in Manitou) is naturally effervescent, has a slight trace of lithium and is very refreshing. Locals refer to it as: “Happy Water!”


Chef Trusan


When cooking outdoors, I tend not to do a lot of measuring. Camp cooking should be spontaneous, showcasing the natural flavors of just a minimal amount of ingredients. Chunky, gnarley, rough cut, bite-sized pieces of meat and veggies are easy to harpoon with forks or Swiss Army Knives. Seasoning is always done to taste. Dutch ovens and open fire grates are really all the equipment you’ll need with the exception of perhaps a metal spatula and a pair of tongs. Simplicity at its best! The following scrumptious meals were prepared with little more than that on a recent camping trip to Red Feather Lakes, CO.

Bacon, Eggs, Hashbrowns, Toast and Coffee
(or Tea) (Remember Tang?)


Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Sliced Bread
Jalapeño Jelly
Fresh Fruit
Coffee, Tea or Tang


Cook bacon in Dutch Oven (it will double as a frying pan). Place cooked bacon on paper towels to absorb the excess grease. Pour all but enough bacon grease to coat the bottom of the Dutch Oven into a metal container and reserve.* Get coffee (or tea) started. Crack eggs into Dutch Oven, salt and pepper, and scramble with a spatula. When the eggs are almost done, they will be firm but still have a sheen to them. Serve them up now as they will continue to cook and be just right by the time you sit down to eat. While the eggs are cooking, place slices of bread on the parameter of your fire grate or camp stove toaster. Keep an extra careful eye on them as not to let them burn. Butter and jelly toast and enjoy with eggs, bacon, fresh fruit and your favorite camp beverage.

* Use bacon grease as needed and dispose of the unwanted portion in a bear proof trash container (as with any food trash) or pour on the fire.

Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato Hash Browns

Serves 4


1 Med Yukon Potatoes
1 Med Sweet Potato (or Yam)
1 sm Onion
1 Colored Bell Pepper
Olive Oil (or any leftover bacon grease)
1 Pinch Chili Flakes
to taste: Salt and Pepper


Scrub, rinse and pat dry potatoes. Grate into a bowl. Mince the onion and colored bell pepper and place in bowl along with grated potatoes. Add chili flakes, salt and pepper. Mix well. Heat skillet or Dutch oven with enough olive oil or bacon grease to coat the bottom. When pan gets hot, put in the potato mixture. (you can test by pitching in a pinch of the potatoes and if it sizzles but doesn’t burn, the pan is ready) Let it brown before turning with a spatula. Turn several times to make sure all the mixture is cooked and most of it is golden brown.

Beer Beef Stew with Veggies


Stew Beef (cubed)
Onions (coarsely chopped)
Garlic (minced)
Zucchini (cubed)
Summer (Yellow) Squash (cubed)
Carrots (coarsely chopped)
Tomatoes (seeded, drained and coarsely chopped) Optional
1 24 0z.. Can Beer
Fresh Chopped Herbs (of your choice: oregano, basil, flat leaf parsley, etc.)
Olive Oil
to taste:
Salt (see July 10, 2010 blog: “Salt of the Earth”)
Fresh Ground Pepper
Chili Flakes


Heat olive oil in Dutch Oven (over campfire or camp stove) and sauté onions until translucent. Add beef cubes and turn occasionally to sear all sides. Add garlic then veggies being careful not to let the garlic burn. Deglaze with beer, cover and cook under med-low heat. There is no real time frame other than when the beef is thoroughly cooked (at least one half-hour). Add the herbs and seasoning to taste about 10 minutes before serving. (The lower the temperature is the longer it needs to cook but the better tasting and tender it will be.)

Fire Baked Potatoes


Yukon Gold and Sweet Potatoes
Olive Oil
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Aluminum foil


Scrub, rinse and pat dry potatoes. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with a liberal amount of salt and pepper. Double wrap each potato in foil and place in the glowing embers of your campfire. Turn with tongs every 10 min. or so to assure even baking. Check after about 30 – 40 min. by sticking a fork in the potato. When the fork goes in easy, the potato is done. Sweet potatoes will generally be done about 10 min before the Yukons, so you might want to put them (Yukons) in the embers about 10 min. before the sweet potatoes. Serve with butter.

Campfire Roasted Cornish Game Hens


Cornish Game Hens
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Fresh Chopped Herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme) Optional


Half each bird and remove thighs and drumsticks from hen(s). Coat all of the pieces with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and any herbs you might have. Place the poultry on the grate over glowing embers. (You don’t want outright flames.) Cook about 3 – 5 min. on each side. The hens are done when the juices run clear.

Note of interest:

Ganesha is the Hindu God that removes obstacles. We brought a small statue of Ganesha with us for good luck and to assure an auspicious retreat.


Chef Trusan