October 27, 2012
Anyone who grew up carving Jack-O’-Lanterns for Halloween has probably had roasted pumpkin seeds at one point or another. What else are you going to do with the guts from your pumpkin? In a rare occurrence, we decided to carve pumpkins this year, and to roast the seeds as well. First, for your viewing pleasure, a blurry portrait of my somewhat dentally challenged Jack-O’-Lantern:
I decided I wanted to add some pizzazz to my roasted seeds… No – you know what? I don’t really care for that word, pizzazz. Something about it displeases me. What to use instead… How about: I decided to give some character to my roasted seeds, by coating them with spices. There. That’s better.
We had so many seeds after carving, I decided I could easily make two varieties – one with some spicy, cinnamony flavor, and one with a more savory chile pepper flavor. I ended up baking them nearly a week after we carved, so I had to rehydrate the pulp to remove it, but it came off pretty easily nonetheless. Then I dried the seeds on paper towels to be sure the oil I used would stick, mixed up some spices, and tossed together the seeds, some olive oil and the spices. I roasted them for about half an hour, and they were good to go. They are somewhat high in calories and fat, so I generally only have a bout a 1/4 cup at a time – but that’s a pretty satisfying amount.
Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
1+1/2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds
2-4 tsp olive oil or melted butter
spice blend (choose one from below)
spicy cinnamon blend
3 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp sugar
3/8 tsp cayenne powder
1/4 tsp salt
spicy chile blend
1+1/2 tsp adobo chile powder (I used Savory Spice Shop’s Lodo Red Adobo)
1 tsp ground paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Wash pumpkin seeds, then remove as much pulp as possible. Pat dry with paper towels. Mix spices together. Toss pumpkin seeds with olive oil or butter, and then add spices, and mix well to coat seeds. Spread on a baking sheet either sprayed with cooking spray or lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 20-40 minutes until toasted, stirring every 10 minutes.
October 11, 2012
I’ve got several pictures I’ve wanted to use for a while, but which just haven’t fit with anything. So this post is just going to be food pictures. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know that I love brightly colored ingredients and dishes. The more vibrant, the better! So color is the main feature of all of these photos.
October 5, 2012
I’d been wanting to make pretzel rolls for a while, and finally decided last week that I’d give it a go. But that day I bought a bunch of tomatoes, found myself thinking about them off and on during the day, so I took a detour, and decided I wanted to make tomato pecorino-romano pretzels instead. I had no idea how well that would work, but I figured it was worth a try.
I heated up some tomato sauce (the heirlooms I bought that day were ear-marked for pasta sauce – I used canned sauce for the pretzels), put the yeast in, and waited to see if it would actually bubble like I wanted it to. Fortunately, it did indeed! I added a bunch of finely grated pecorino romano, and used my favorite white whole wheat flour. I let it rise for about an hour, kneaded it very briefly, divided it up, and formed the pieces into pretzels.
The first time I made this I didn’t roll the pieces out long enough, so the pretzels were quite puffy. Obscenely puffy perhaps (but rather amusing, I think).
I did a second round a week later, adding some basil and oregano to pump up the flavor. I ended up making a larger batch, and figured out why my Dad used to recruit my mom and I to help shape crescent rolls and such when he made them. It definitely takes a bit of time to make 24 shaped pieces (or 23 if you can’t count well while you’re dividing the dough up). Not that making the ultimate Play-Doh shape for anyone who is inartistic (the SNAKE!) is difficult, it’s just time-consuming. But I powered through, and had some lovely looking pretzels to show for it. I made sure to make the ropes longer than the last time so there’d be less puffiness.
I’m really pleased with the color of the finished product. Plus they’re yummy. Definitely a recipe to keep!
Tomato Basil Pecorino-Romano Pretzels
makes 24 (or 23) pretzels
1+1/2 c tomato sauce
1+1/2 packages yeast
1 Tbsp tomato paste
60 g finely grated pecorino romano* (about 2 cups)
1+1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp oregano
3 to 3+1/2 c flour
1 egg, beaten
* You can substitute parmesan if you’d like
Heat the tomato sauce to about 110 degrees (aka ‘warm’ in most recipes – I used a glass measuring cup in the microwave, and used 20 minute increments, stirred it, then put my thermometer in to check. You want to be sure to get it fairly close to 110 degrees, because too cold and the yeast won’t activate, and too hot and you will kill it). Once it’s at the right temperature, stir in the yeast, and let it sit for about 10 minutes, until it’s bubbly.
In a large bowl, combine the tomato sauce/yeast mixture, tomato paste, pecorino romano, sugar, basil, and oregano. Once everything is well mixed, add the flour 1/2 cup at a time. The amount to add will vary depending on your altitude and humidity. You will probably have to mix in the last 1/4 to 1/2 cup with your hands. Basically you want the dough to have a consistency that is smooth, but not sticky.
Form the dough into a ball shape, put in a lightly greased (or cooking sprayed) bowl, turn to coat, and then cover with a slightly damp towel (use warm water). Here is where I’m supposed to say ‘let rise until doubled in size’, but honestly – I haven’t seen ‘doubled in size’ in my bread dough for decades. Lets go with ‘let rise 40-60 minutes, until you can tell that it has increased in size quite a bit’ – but if you really get double the size, kudos to you!
Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
Punch the dough down to release the air, then divide the dough into 24 pieces. As you are shaping each piece, keep the others covered with the damp towel so they don’t dry out. For each piece, roll into a rope 12-14 inches long. Form into a pretzel shape:
Arrange the pretzels on two baking sheets sprayed with cooking spray. Brush each pretzel with egg. Now sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake for about 12-15 minutes, then remove and cool on a rack. Obviously since the pretzels are orange, you won’t be able to determine their doneness by a ‘golden brown color’. So you kind of just have to go by the outside texture.