Fall Is in the Air

These fall recipes are ideal for serving as the weather changes or for celebrating fall holidays.

Smoky Tea Cornbread

Chef and educator Laurie Bell, owner of Great Falls Tea Garden, is a Certified Tea Specialist and Cordon Bleu-trained chef. She blends tea selections for several restaurants, as well as for retail sale. Her popular educational tea-tasting seminars not only inform the public about the myriad styles of premium teas from around the globe, but also showcase ways to cook with teas. Visit her website at greatfallsteagarden.com.

The ingredients in this cornbread are fairly standard. What makes this recipe so tasty and unique is the use of cornmeal stone ground from the historic Colvin Run Mill, and some Lapsang Souchong tea. The tea adds a bit of smokiness to the flavor combination, lending a familiar taste reminiscent of bacon but without the meat! Serve warm or room temperature. It stays moist for two days if wrapped well.

1 tablespoon Lapsang Souchong tea leaves, dry

1 1/2 cups cornmeal, stone ground from Colvin Run Mill

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups milk (whole, low fat, or skim is fine)

1 tablespoon canola oil (or melted butter)

Preheat oven to 425°F; grease or spray a square (8 x 8-inch or 9 x 9-inch) pan.

Finely grind the dry tea in a spice grinder. This will yield about 1 1/2 teaspoons ground tea leaves.

Combine ground tea with other dry ingredients. In separate bowl, beat egg, add milk and oil to blend.  Add blended liquids to dry ingredients and stir briefly until just mixed.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until lightly browned on top and the sides are separated from the pan, 25 minutes (check after 20 minutes for a 9 x 9-inch pan). Cool slightly before cutting.

Enjoy warm, at room temperature, or briefly reheated.

  • Variations
  • Stone ground whole wheat flour from Colvin Run Mill may be substituted for the all-purpose flour and/or some of the corn meal.
  • Try this recipe with other teas for a variety of flavor combinations.
  • Add some corn (off the cob or frozen/defrosted) to the batter.
  • Add chopped nuts, shredded or diced cheese, and/or fruit to the batter.
  • To make a sweeter cornbread, add 1 or 2 additional tablespoons of sugar to the dry mixture and/or sprinkle some sugar on top of the unbaked batter after filling the pan.
  • May also be baked in a greased muffin pan for corn muffins 15 to 20 minutes, depending on size.

Tea Shortbread Cookies

Chef Laurie Bell suggests that if you don’t have a spice grinder on hand, you can just open a tea bag and use the tea fannings.

2 tablespoons Great Falls Tea Garden dry tea leaves (Spiced Chai, Peachy Green, or tea of your choice)

1/3 cup Colvin Run Mill stone ground wheat flour or cornmeal, or ½ cup almond meal (choose one)

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces unsalted butter, softened to cool room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

Finely grind the dry tea in a spice grinder or use tea fannings. Combine ground tea, flours, baking powder, and salt in bowl. Set aside.

In food processor, beat butter briefly. Add sugar and beat to mix well. Add dry ingredients and blend until just mixed and mixture has somewhat formed a ball.

Turn out onto a piece of wax paper. Shape into a flattened round to prepare for rolling.

Cover with another piece of wax paper and roll to desired thickness.

Cut into desired shapes, place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake in preheated 325°F oven for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on size and thickness. Remove from oven. Let cool on baking sheet. Eat and enjoy! (May be frozen if wrapped well.)


  • The dough can be rolled into small balls (agate size) and pressed down with the bottom of a glass that has been buttered and sugared, or the balls can be pressed down with a fork, crisscross style.
  • Substitute your favorite flavor of tea and/or nuts in this recipe. (Try Great Falls Peachy Green with Pecans, Spiced Chai with Almonds, or Great Falls Grey with Walnuts, for example.)
  • You may also substitute ¼ cup cocoa powder for ¼ cup flour to make a chocolate chai or other chocolate-flavored shortbread.
  • You may substitute the almond meal with 2 ounces slivered almonds. Finely grind the almonds in a spice grinder or food processor. Be careful not to process too much or it will turn into almond butter.
  • I buy the whole wheat flour and cornmeal from the Country Store at the historic Colvin Run Mill on Route 7 in Great Falls. They are ground onsite.

Caramel-Centered Chocolate Cookies

This is from Kerry Dunnington’s newest book, “Tasting the Seasons: Inspired, In-Season Cuisine That’s Easy, Healthy, Fresh, and Fun” (Artichoke Publishers).  Kerry’s passion for creative preparation of foods in their growing season, ethical food practices, and healthful food consumption is reflected in all that she has accomplished for three decades as a food columnist, entertainment consultant, caterer, recipe developer, and award-winning cookbook author.

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 package (12 ounces) Rolo chewy caramel candy

In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy.  Gradually add brown sugar, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 cup granulated sugar, and beat until well combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well blended; add vanilla and blend.

In another large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda.  Add to butter mixture and stir until fully combined.

Refrigerate dough for 1 hour or preferably overnight.  Allow the dough to come to room temperature before forming cookies. Dough should yield slightly to touch.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Gently press 1 tablespoon dough around each piece of Rolo candy and form into a ball, Dip one side of the ball in the tablespoon of sugar and place dipped balls (sugar side up) on an ungreased baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake until slightly cracked on top, about 7 to 8 minutes.  Let cookies sit for 1 minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 4 to 4 1/2 dozen cookies.

Editor’s Note: For more edible delights by Sheilah Kaufman, go to www.cookingwithsheilah.com.