Peanut Butter Fudge and Ganache Coffins, plus Salt Dough Pumpkins

Are you afraid or in love with Halloween? This year Halloween scared me into making a cemetery scene with Peanut Butter Fudge and Ganache coffins, and a few decorative Salt Dough Pumpkins.

It’s Food ‘n Flix time again, the Halloween edition! In this monthly group a host picks a movie of their choice that pertains to food. Everyone watches the movie and then makes a recipe which the film inspired. It can be any recipe you want. This month’s pick is hosted by Elizabeth at The Lawyer’s Cookbook, who she terrified us into watching the movie Hocus Pocus! I was scared I hid in my Peanut Butter Fudge and Ganache Coffins.

Peanut Butter Fudge and Ganache Tombstones

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Pick your own Squash in the Pumpkin Patch

This past weekend in Canada was Thanksgiving. Many families and friends gather around a wonderful meal, celebrating the bounty of the summer. In my family we throw in hard labor work: we close the cottage down for the winter. Thankfully we still find time to play.

The fall colors were at their peak and the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. On top of great food, the menu also included a gorgeous hike and a visit to a squash farm. Nothing says autumn like a stroll through the pumpkin patch at La Courgerie! No recipes today, just lots of great fall photos and a little squash crash course.

La Courgerie

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Halloween Squid Ink Pasta with Pumpkin & Cured Epidermis

The makings of a grown up halloween dish: seasonal squash, homemade squid Ink Pasta and “cured epideris”.

Well this year Halloween was not going to get away with just once post apparently. When I was hunting for black food coloring I came close to using squid ink in a sweet out of desperation to get my black color. My pastry chef friend Karyn saved that day … but now I really wanted to use the squid ink to. Fresh made Squid Ink Pasta to the rescue. Throw in some pumpkin for color and atmosphere, and a little bit of suspicious meat: Squid Ink Pasta with Pumpkin and Cured Epidermis.

Happy Halloween buaaahahahaha!

Squid Ink Pasta with Pumpkin and proscuitto

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Baked Pumpkin Chocolate Oatmeal

The Behind the Curtain Dessert Challenge is all about baking and making sweets. Every month we are given two required ingredients to work with. This month it was Pumpkin and Cream Cheese. With Halloween just around the corner pumpkins are very seasonal. It is squash season! This month I present you with an unusual recipe, taking oatmeal and a roasted pumpking to create a dessert: Baked Pumpkin Chocolate Oatmeal.

And this happens to be my 800th post! I cannot wrap my mind around that.

pumpkin oatmeal 021

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5 Star Makeover: South African Pampoenkoekies and Delicata Rings

This month’s 5 Star Makeover could not be more seasonal: we are cooking or baking with any squash of our choice. My recipe lead me down an unusual path for a squash recipe, it actually took me to South Africa. I bet you would be surprised to learn that pumpkin and other squash are served as a side dish in almost every restaurant. The South Africans love this vegetable and some varieties are indigenous to South Africa.

South Africa is located at the southern tip of Africa. For me it feels like a whole world away, making it that much more intriguing. Although the country has had its fair share of historical turmoil, South Africa is the most stable country on the African continent, making it a great introduction gateway if you plan to explore Africa some day. The urban cities are quite developed and modern. Chances are any trip to Africa will have flights to Johannesburg in your itinerary so why not stop a bit and explore.

The culture is astoundingly varied. Did you know the country has 11 official languages? The big cities are getting closer and closer to our Western standards of living but it is a reality that the rural population is still considered of the poorest in Africa. Yet the rural inhabitants are also the people who hold on to tradition the strongest, such as the Zulu culture which is still very much alive; we are mostly familiar with their tribal dance and song.

There are so many wonderful sights to explore: the number one main attraction is the wildlife reserves where you can see elephants and rhinos. There are many unique things to see with strong political influences like the prison that held Nelson Mandela. The one attraction I am most curious about is the Cradle of Mankind, a large collection of caves rich in hominid and advanced ape fossils. And no trip here would be complete without a tour of the wonderful vineyards and tasting the local dishes…which brings us back to the Squash theme of the 5 Star Makeover for October.

I wanted to cook with new squashes I had yet to explore. I could not resists these two beauties: the Turban and Delicata squash. The Turban has a unique shape that has earned it its name. The flesh has notes of hazelnut when ripe. If you pick it to soon it could be bitter. The Turban squash has been used more for decorative purposes in the past but it is now making an appearance in the kitchen. It is great for soups and desserts as the flesh is quite moist.

The Delicata squash has an elongated shape marked by yellow and green stripes. This is a heirloom variety. The flesh is an orange-yellow color. Taste wise it is the sweet potato of the squash world and the flesh is creamy while still holding its shape. This one is great for stuffing, in meat dishes or as a side dish.

hosted by 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro Cooks!

Pumpkin Fritters, or Pampoenkoekies, are a traditional South African meal that can be prepared as a savory or sweet dish. Of course you can substitute the pumpkin for another moist flesh squash like the Turban squash. If you want a sweet fritter reduce the salt a bit and add 2 tbsp of sugar, then dust with a cinnamon sugar.

I chose the savory version which pairs beautifully with a spicy mango salsa. And I just so happen to find a South African Mango Salsa recipe. It is kind of unique with some cucumber in there. The recipe asks for a super hot chilli of your choice. I actually changed it with a African Bird pepper powder I have. On the hot scale this pepper kicks ass so better to add a little bit at a time.

The Maple Glazed Delicata Rings have no relation to South Africa but they look cool and are wonderful to snack on in between fritters. It’s like vegetable candy.

Ξ South African Pumpkin Fritters (Pampoenkoekies) Ξ
adapted from Weight Watchers

1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups pumpkin or squash
2 large eggs, separated
olive oil

In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin with egg yolks; mix until well-combined. In another small bowl, whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Alternating in batches, add flour mixture and egg whites to pumpkin mixture, stirring after each addition.

Coat a large skillet with oil; heat until oil shimmers. Drop 4 large spoonfuls of batter onto skillet to form four 3-inch fritters; cook until bubbles start to form along sides, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Flip fritters and cook until lightly browned, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more; remove fritters to a serving plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat process two more times to make twelve fritters total. Yields 1 fritter per serving.

Ξ Maple Glazed Delicata Rings Ξ
adapted from Diana Rattray

1 medium Delicata squash
1tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoons maple syrup
sea salt

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Grease the foil or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cut the squash in 1/2-inch thick rounds; scoop seeds out of each round. In a bowl, toss the squash with the melted butter and maple syrup. Arrange the squash on the foil-lined pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake at 400° for 35 to 45 minutes, turning once about halfway through the baking time.

Ξ South African Summer Mango Salsa Ξ
adapted from Ocado

1 mango
1/2 Red Onion
1/4 Cucumber
1/8 tsp African Bird pepper (or 1/2 Hot Chilli)
1/2 good handful Coriander
Dash of sea salt
1 pouring lime Juice

Dice mangoes in 1/2 inch cubes, shop red onion, and dice cucumber. Chop up the hottest chilli you can find  or add chilli powder. Chop coriander and add. Pour in lime juice and add salt. Mix well. Leave in fridge for an hour.

Mad. Sq. Eats in New York City, a special correspondent post

Today I have a very special post for you from my very good friend Karyn who spent a lovely weekend in NYC not too long ago with her friend Sari. Karyn mentioned to me they would eat their way through a street food festival so I could not help but ask her if she would like to write a guest post as a special on location correspondent. Happily she agreed.

If you are a regular CEE reader you will remember Karyn in past posts such as when she made Dutch Baby Pancake with Peaches, she was a dinner guest during the luxurious dinner party for PFB, I picked vine leaves out of her backyard to make dolmades, she was here for the miracle fruit dropping trip and finally I did an interview about her Pastry Chef on the side career.

Without further ado, here is Karyn with a special report from NYC. Thanks and love you hun!

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Every year, my friend Sari and I head to NYC for 4 days of adventure. This is the eighth year of this trip, which is based around shopping and eating. It seems that as the years advance that it’s really more about the food and yet we had never ventured into the world of street food – except for Sari having a NYC hot dog in year 2, but it was nothing memorable! This year we decided that it was the year to crack the street food scene and see what NYC has to offer. My research led me to the Urban Space NYC blog about a street food festival in its second year, and wouldn’t you know it, it was happening exactly when we would be in NYC! It was meant to be!

 

 

We planned on hitting the Mad. Sq. Eats festival the day we arrived in NYC, and basically were just waiting to get there and eat! It was a perfect day for an outside festival and there was a fantastic collection of restaurants participating.

We took a walk around the grounds to see what caught our fancy and decided that we should start in style at Red Hook Lobster Pound, with Lobster Macaroni. We placed our order and waited, mouths watering, as we watched our order come together. There were a few technical difficulties as the blow torch being used to melt the cheese on top ran dry during our order, but Emma, our hostess was very pleasant and it gave us a chance to explain that we were doing this blog. I took a picture of Emma and the way her arms came out, made her look kind of lobster like, don’t you think?

Finally, the blow torch was ready for action! It was great to watch it come together.

Et voila!

The noodles were very large macaroni noodles, the biggest we’d ever seen and WOW for 9$ we sure got our money’s worth in lobster! There were quite a few large chunks and I think we each got a claw! Definitely a great start although I would have preferred the cheese sauce to be a bit warmer, but fantastic street food otherwise!

We barely paused before searching for our next victim, deciding on Fatty Snack, which I had read about. They have a restaurant in their group, the Fatty Crab, and I was very excited to try their food. We decided on one order of pork buns, which were actually two little buns overflowing with wonderfully spiced pork for $6.

They were fantastic. I would go back for another one anytime but maybe not for a first date as it’s not the most elegant thing to eat!

That’s Sari in the pic, waiting for our buns. The man in the picture was wandering around the grounds trying to decide on what to eat and he approached Sari, asking about what to try and she gave him great feedback yet he continued to wander… I don’t remember what he finally ended up with, but there was something there for every palate. He looked a little overwhelmed with all the choices.

Sari was parched after this and decided on a beer from a place whose specialty was beer and chocolate. She had a Southern Tier Pumpking. I’m not too sure if the g in Pumpking was intentional or not, but I took a pic of the sign to prove that I can spell! They also had chocolate covered bacon caramel that I really wanted to try, however they were out of it and were only receiving more the next day.

 

Did you think we were done? Not even close! Next on the tour was a stop at Waffles & Dinges. Of course we needed to know what a Dinge is. Well, it’s a term that basically means “Things”. We ordered a waffle with Spekuloos! I was SO excited when I saw they had Spekuloos and they were even selling it! I showed some restraint and didn’t purchase as I would have had to carry it all day… oh yeah and I have a bottle at home.

We’re not sure what the guy in the pic above was eating, but boy did it look like he was enjoying it!

Our waffle: Spekuloos and fresh fruit, cut in two for us to share.

Ah… OK, after that was done we thought, OK, we’re ready for dessert! Sari had spotted the cannoli and wanted to try it, so we did. The man working there not only guessed that we were Canadian, but Montrealers! He was an expat, having left in 1984 and could pick out our accent!

The cannolis were $5 for 3 of them and we decided on Peanut butter, Kahlua and Salted Chocolate. I am not a cannoli fan and even less of a peanut butter fan so I tried the last two only. The Peanut butter cannoli is missing from the picture below – I think Sari was just too excited to try it! I didn’t care for the Kahlua one as it was very cheesy… and the Salted Chocolate tasted good but the shell was way too hard for a cannoli, but the chocolate and salt was a really nice combination.

OK, after this we were stuffed! It was a great festival and intro to street food. The door to street fare has been opened and is far from being closed. The only advice I would have to someone going to a festival like this is to go with someone that you can share with so you can try more things!

NEED HELP for Gluten Free Pumpkin Gnocchi

My friend Melanie came over for dinner last night to celebrate her birthday. Well it was a week ago and we did the family thing already…now it was just us. Having her over is always a challenge as everything has to be gluten and dairy free and I don’t want to serve the same thing all the time. So I happen to fall on a recipe of pumpkin gnocchi. I love the fact that potatoes were substituted by the vegetables of the season: pumpkin and squashes.

I modified it a lot after some research but I know nothing about flour substitutes. I ended up doing this recipe below with turns out to be Vegan, Gluten & Dairy Free! I like my gnocchi on the starchy side, not the pasta like side.

Although the taste and idea was good the just would not really cook and they were a bit grainy like cornmeal would but. This is not the ideal recipe but I am publishing it asking for your help in the gluten free department. Can you suggest how to make this recipe work.

Gluten Dairy Free Pumpkin Gnocchi

1 cup cooked pumpkin, pureed
1 1/4 cup rice flour
2  tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Direction

  • Add oil to pumpkin puree and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the pumpkin has thickened and dried, about 10 minutes.
  • Mix rice flour and cornstarch, salt and pepper together.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin until you get a dough that holds together.
  • Roll with your hands into a cylinder and cut off bite size pieces with a knife.
  • Plunge into boiling water and remove them as they float back up to the surface.
  • Drain and serve with a sauce of your choice.

I served it with an organic tomato sauce and a pork tenderloin and roasted pumpkin seeds. OK I added grated parmesan to my dish he he. The plating was gorgeous, the texture and cookin…well I hope you can help. I did come across a good starter explanation on Yahoo answers for the naive like me who are starting from square zero. I do not have any food restrictions but I am curious. Here is a nice comprehensive alternative flour 101 class. But apparently trial and error makes perfect.

Amaranth flour: its milled from the seeds of the amaranth plant, this flour boasts a higher percentage of protein than most other grains, and has more fibre than wheat and rice. It is also higher in the amino acid lysine, which some food scientists believe makes it a more complete protein than flour made from other grains. Amaranth flour can be used in cookies, crackers, baking mixes, and cereals.

Arrowroot flour: The rootstalks of a tropical plant are the source of this flour, often used as a thickener for sauces and desserts; the finely powdered arrowroot turns completely clear when dissolved (giving gloss to sauces), and adds no starchy flavor. Because of its easy digestibility, it is also an used as an ingredient in cookies intended for infants and young children.

Barley flour: This mild-flavored flour made from barley grain contains some gluten.

Buckwheat flour: A common ingredient in pancake mixes, buckwheat flour is also used to make Japanese soba noodles. It is available in light, medium, and dark varieties (the dark flour boasts the strongest flavor), depending on the kind of buckwheat it is milled from. You can make your own buckwheat flour by processing whole white buckwheat groats in a blender or food processor.

Chestnut flour: This tan flour is made from chestnuts, the meaty, lowfat nuts that are often served as a vegetable. The flour is a little sweet and is traditionally used in Italian holiday desserts.

Chick-pea flour (also called chana, gram flour or besan): This protein-rich flour is made from dried chick-peas or chana dal. This flour is used commonly throughout India, and in parts of the Mediterranean as well, in pancakes, pizzas, dumplings, soups and stews.

Corn flour: This is made from whole cornmeal, ground to a floury consistency.

Cornstarch: This silky ingredient is made from only the endosperm (starchy part) of the corn kernel. Avoid wheaten cornflour. It is used to thicken sauces and to create baked goods with a particularly fine texture.

Gluten-free flour mix: Some health-food stores carry this three-grain mixture of rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour. It can be substituted for 100% of the wheat flour in many recipes.

Millet flour: This yellow flour is high in protein and easy to digest. It may make baked goods somewhat coarse-textured and dry. Substitute it for no more than one-fifth of the wheat flour in a recipe.

Oat flour: Milled from either the entire oat kernel or the endosperm only, oat flour is frequently used in ready-to-eat breakfast cereals. You can make your own to use in baking by grinding rolled oats in a food processor or blender (1-1/4 cups rolled oats will yield 1 cup oat flour).

Potato flour (potato starch): Steamed potatoes are dried and then ground to a powder to make this gluten-free flour, which is commonly used in baked goods for Jewish Passover (when wheat flour may not be used).

Quinoa flour: Higher in fat than wheat flour, quinoa flour makes baked goods more moist. You can make your own quinoa flour by processing whole quinoa in a blender; stop before the flour is too fine – it should be slightly coarse, like cornmeal.

Rice flour: White rice flour add lightness and texture to gluten free baked goods. Brown rice and wild rice flours add fiber and nutritional quality. They make dry, crumbly baked goods. Use rice flours in combination with other gluten free flours for better texture and nutritional quality.

Rye flour: In combination with wheat flour, rye flour, which contains some gluten, is most commonly used in breads. Rye can be used alone for a substantial-textured bread. Light, medium, and dark varieties (with dark having the strongest flavour) are available.

Sorghum flour: A staple grain in many parts of the world. Sorghum flour works well in breads when combined with bean flours.

Soy flour: Another useful alternative.

Tapioca flour: Milled from the dried starch of the cassava root, this flour thickens when heated with water and is often used to give body to puddings, fruit pie fillings, and soups. It can also be used in baking.

Water-chestnut flour (water-chestnut powder): This Asian ingredient is a fine, powdery starch that is used to thicken sauces (it can be substituted for cornstarch) and to coat foods before frying to give them a delicate, crisp coating.