Halloween doesn’t seem like a big cooking holiday until it’s the evening of October 30 and you have no idea what to do with all those leftover pumpkin seeds. We got a couple of local chefs to share more elaborate recipes than the normal toast-and-salt job. In addition, some of our contributing pastry chefs have shared their recipes for homemade sweets.
Jennifer Spiegel, Fork and Spoon Productions:
Pumpkin Seed Caramel Corn (Yield: Five quarts)
For the popcorn:
1 ¼ cups un-popped yellow corn
¼ cup vegetable oil
For the caramel corn:
2 ½ quarts popped yellow popcorn
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
2 Tablespoons hot water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon vanilla
½ cup lightly salted toasted pumpkin seeds
1. Place the oil in a 6 quart pot. Add 2 kernels of corn and cover pot with lid.
2. When the 2 kernels have popped, the oil will be hot enough to add the rest of the kernels. Add the kernels, cover pot and shake over high flame to avoid scorching on the bottom of the pan.
3. Have a large bowl nearby, as the popcorn may start to overflow a little. When the popping has subsides, pour popcorn into bowl, being careful not to include any un-popped kernels. Measure 5 quarts and keep warm.
For the caramel corn:
1. Place a silpat mat into an 11x18” pan. Set aside. Preheat oven to 250 degrees
2. Place the butter in a heavy bottomed pan and melt gently over medium-low heat.
3. Add the water, salt, brown sugar and corn syrup to butter. Stir to dissolve only and then bring mixture to a boil without stirring.
4. Clip on a candy thermometer and continue to cook to 260 degrees, without stirring.
5. Remove thermometer and pan from heat and immediately stir in the baking soda, vanilla and nuts, if using.
6. Pour hot caramel over popped popcorn and toasted pumpkin seeds and gently coat with a heat resistant spatula. Pour the coated mixture onto silpat mat. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, turning over every 15 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. Let cool and enjoy!
Gloria Ciccarone-Nehls, chef, Big 4 Restaurant:
Watermelon Salad with French Feta Cheese, Mache Lettuce, Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, Mint, Aged Sherry Vinaigrette (four servings):
12 cubes of seedless red watermelon, each cube measuring 2½ inches x 2½ inches
2 Tablespoons French Feta Cheese, crumbled into large pieces
16 clusters of Mache lettuce (available in specialty shops including Trader Joe’s)
½ cup toasted, lightly salted pumpkin seeds
1 cup of picked mint leaves
Sea Salt of choice ( I prefer Australian Murray River pink flake salt)
Nasturtium blossoms if available for garnish
Aged sherry vinaigrette (see recipe below)
Note: French feta is softer and less salty that traditional feta cheese
Aged Sherry Vinaigrette (yields 3 cups)
You will only need about ¼ cup for this salad. Store the rest in the refrigerator for later use.
1 minced shallot
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Teaspoon minced, fresh thyme
2 Teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 ounces aged sherry vinegar
1 Teaspoon sugar
Juice and zest of one orange
2 ¼ cups olive oil
Whisk the above ingredients together and set aside for the salad.
Assembling the salad:
1. Lay out four plates. Place three cubes of watermelon straight down the plate, leaving a 1/4 inch space in between each cube
2. Stick 2 clusters of mache into the two spaces between each cube of melon. Drizzle a bit of vinaigrette over the mache. Sprinkle the feta in a straight row over the watermelon cubes. Scatter pumpkin seeds down the center. Scatter 5-6 mint leaves per plate over the salad. Drizzle a touch more vinaigrette over everything. Garnish with two or three nasturtium blossoms on the top.
Sprinkle very lightly with sea salt.
Jake Godby, Chef-Owner, Humphry Slocombe:
2 cups pecans (toasted)
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
2 ounce butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. In a large heavy pot, combine the sugar, 1/2 cup water, the corn syrup, and butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring at first to dissolve the sugar, until the mixture is light caramel in color. Remove from the heat and whisk in the baking soda, salt and nuts.
2. Working very quickly, spread the mixture out onto a sheet pan that has been sprayed with non stick spray
3. Allow to cool completely and break into pieces
Jenny Raven, Pastry Chef, Oliveto:
Balsamic Vinegar Taffy
1 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
3 c sugar
1/4 t salt
1. Combine the ingredients and cook over a high flame in a non-reactive, heavy-bottomed pot.
2. Cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 270 degrees.
3. Pour immediately onto a silpat or a buttered pan and let cool just until the candy can be handled.
4. When it has cooled sufficiently, begin to pull the taffy: butter your hands and stretch the taffy into a rope, folding it back upon itself and giving it a slight twist to each fold. The candy will become glossy and then dull slightly.
5. Keep pulling for as long as the candy stays malleable, about twenty minutes, then snip pieces off the rope with oiled scissors at 3/4-inch intervals. Wrap in waxed paper, twisting the ends.
Black Licorice and Cheap Chocolate: Pastry Chefs’ Favorite Halloween Treats [Grub Street SF]