Posts Tagged ‘pecan’

Vicarious Vacation

July 13, 2013

My parents recently took a vacation to New Orleans. Although I was unable to join them, I helped plan the trip, gave them suggestions on where to stay and what to see, and (lucky me!) got a treat when they returned: pralines! So tasty but not really something I’ll make because of how fatty they are.

Since I was involved in planning the trip but not actually there in the bayou with them, I took my own vacation through food. I made jambalaya and pecan cookies (instead of pralines) during their time in New Orleans, all while listening to some old time jazz and zydeco. I think this is my new cheap alternative to a trip: cook the cuisine!

Maple-Nut Wreaths

the assembly of the maple-nut wreaths

Maple-Nut Wreaths

from The Cookie Jar

  • 1 c butter
  • ½ c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2½ c flour
  • 2 c pecans
  • ½ c maple syrup
  1. Chop pecans (easier in a food processor) until very fine.
  2. Toast the pecans for a minute or so to get the most flavor out of them.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla to the butter/sugar and mix until well blended.
  5. Add the flour and stir to combine.
  6. Mix ¼c of this mixture in a separate bowl with the pecans and maple syrup. (This is the filling.)
  7. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Use a pastry tube, cookie press, or your hands to form the dough into 4" strips, about ½" thick.
  9. Curl each strip into a circle by joining the ends.
  10. Place a teaspoon of the maple-nut filling in the center of each dough circle.
  11. Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes until the bottom of the cookies starts to brown.

Notes and Variations

Despite the number of steps, this is really a simple recipe. The base is a shortbread cookie formed into a ring and the filling is mostly nuts and syrup mixed together. The recipe in The Cookie Jar calls for a cookie press. I had to look it up. It seems superfluous to me. Why not just use a pastry tube with a star shaped tip to get ridges in the "wreaths"? I actually rolled them out by hand which was tricky in my 80F kitchen. To keep the dough from just melting I stored it in the fridge and took out small batches at a time.

In the end, I didn’t have ridged lines in my cookie wreaths, they were a bit thicker than they should be, and I could have cooked them longer than 15 minutes, but they certainly tasted good! Also, I had a bunch of extra filling – a problem which probably would have been solved had the dough wreaths been thinner and not rolled by hand. Luckily, the problem was easily solved by my "assistant" who grabbed a spoon and made the extra filling disappear!

Pumpkin without the Pie

September 27, 2010

Last year for Thanksgiving I got fancy and made a creamy scallop soup served in a pumpkin. I asked the staff at Greensgrow to recommend a good pumpkin and so I was introduced to the Kabocha. Not only were my taste buds rewarded, but there may be a slight addiction. Recently I saw kabochas at the Fair Food Stand and started salivating on cue. Fortunately, it was just as delicious as I remembered!

The pumpkin itself needs no accompaniments. I just baked the first one I got (yes, there have been more than one in the last two weeks!). I still can’t believe how delicious it was with absolutely nothing added. For the second one I decided to add some sweet crunch to make it more interesting. Success! This recipe involves a few steps for the pecans, but otherwise is nice and simple. Like a pumpkin pie without the crust. Are you drooling yet?

pecan pumpkin

pecan covered pumpkin cubes

Pecan Pumpkin

created on-the-fly by Sarah Johnson, pecans inspired by Fork

Ingredients

  1. Cut the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds, and place it face down on a baking sheet (lightly greased if necessary).
  2. Bake the pumpkin at 400F for 30 minutes, until a fork can easily poke through the skin and pulp.
  3. Blanch the pecans for 1-3 minutes in boiling water until they are just soft.
  4. Drain the pecans well and mix with brown sugar, spices, and salt.
  5. Heat enough canola oil to cover the bottom of a pan about ⅛".
  6. Fry the pecans in the oil until they turn dark and crispy.
  7. Drain the pecans in a metal strainer or colander. Don’t use a paper towel because they will stick to it.
  8. Peel and cut the pumpkin into 1" cubes.
  9. combine the pumpkin and pecans and serve.

Variations

The simplest variation in this recipe is to crush the pecans. That way they spread themselves throughout the pumpkin so you’re guaranteed to get sugary crunch with every bite of pumpkin. A fancier version of this would be to crush some of the pecans and mix them in with the pumpkin, then top the dish with a few pristine, whole pecans for decoration. You might even consider popping it under the broiler for a minute or two to caramelize the top, making it even sweeter and crunchier.

The other basic substitution in this recipe is the pumpkin. I use kabocha because it is a very sweet pumpkin which needs no dressing up. The pecans are a sweet, cruncy, and fun addition. Nearly any squash should work well, it just depends on your taste preference and what is available at your local market.

Note, also, that the Chinese five spice powder can be easily broken down to its individual ingredients. Any savory spices will do based on your personal tastes. Like spice? Add some chili powder. Love pumpkin pie? Use only cloves, cinnamon, and all spice. Ginger would be a nice addition too.