Monday, September 29, 2014

Pumpkin Seed Brittle – Break Some Off This Halloween

This pumpkin seed brittle recipe was a lot easier to make than film. The procedure for nut brittle, or in this case, seed brittle, is very simple, but there are points in the recipe when you have to move fast, which is unfortunate when you have to move a camera and set up shots. 

Even with these challenges, it came out just fine, and I’m only complaining as a way to build confidence. Once your sugar mixture has turned a nice caramel color, you have to immediately turn off the heat, add your baking soda (be careful), then your nuts or seeds (be careful), and hastily mix until combined. As the concoction cools it hardens quickly, so transfer into your pan and press as soon as you can (be careful).

After that, you can relax, unless you are scoring yours into shapes. No pressure, but you only have about two minutes to make your marks. After the brittle is cool, simply break it up, and you’ll be enjoying a crispy, delicious, and very seasonally appropriate treat.

Regarding the salt: you can add it right into the mix like I did, or sprinkle it over the top surface before the brittle is completely cool. That does look kind of cool, but either way, it’s critical, and should not be omitted.

I can’t help you with the tricks, but at least you have one more idea for a treat now. I hope you give this pumpkin seed brittle recipe a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes enough Pumpkin Seed Brittle for 12 witches or 8 zombies:
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt (3/4 to 1 tsp if using fine salt)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Does This Count?

As I recently mentioned, I'd really love to make it to Video 2,000, and I just thought of a way to do that a little quicker than seven years. I may start doing golf tips on off days. This is me demonstrating my famous backwards-between-the-legs shot. I couldn't take a normal stance with the ball so close to the edge of the sand trap, so this was the only option. My father-in-law Al is on the green, and my sister-in-law Jennifer is filming. We were playing the gorgeous, Fairbanks Ranch Country Club. I don't remember if I made the put. ;) Enjoy!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Crostini Dijonnaise – Mustard-Infused Toasts for Extra Special Spreads

If you’re going to serve your pate or rillettes with toasted bread and mustard anyway, why not save a step, and just make mustard-flavored crostini? That’s the question I asked myself while making the potted duck spread we just posted, and this was the answer. 

For a first attempt I was very happy with the results. These had the same crispy crunch of traditional crostini, but also offered a fairly noticeable, mustardy zing.


I’m looking forward to trying some variations using hot mustard powder, maybe mixed into a little olive oil. Speaking of oil, my only criticism is that these needed a little more fat. Next time I’ll use a little more of the butter spread, and/or drizzle in some olive oil to insure we don’t have any dry spots.

That aside, I loved the color, and as we head into entertaining season, I think these would make a great addition to your appetizer arsenal, especially when paired with something as extra special as a batch of homemade rillettes (hint, hint). I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for one baguette:
1 baguette, sliced diagonally
4 tbsp soft butter
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp yellow mustard
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
- bake at 350 F. until crisp and golden brown
(Next time I may try to add a few tablespoons of olive oil, and a pinch of mustard powder to the mix)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Duck Rillettes – It Only Tastes Like Duck Butter with Extra Butter

Duck rillettes is one of the most amazing culinary magic tricks of all time. Even though most of the spread is made up of fairly lean duck meat, by emulsifying in a little butter, duck fat, and duck gelatin, you’ll swear the final product has the fat content of the finest foie gras torchon. By the way, I miss foie gras torchon.

The key here is to mash the large chunks of cold duck with the warm duck fat and gelatin. As the meat breaks down, the fat cools and turns the whole bowl into creamy duck spread heaven. Pack it in a crock, keep it sealed with a layer of fat, and you have an incredibly tasty snack that will last long into the winter months.

Some chefs prefer to let the duck sit overnight with the rub on, and “potpourri” in, but I skip that step, and instead let the duck cool in it’s own juices after roasting, and then sit overnight in the fridge, to continue developing flavor. Once made, it can be enjoyed right away, but if you can hold off a few days, it will really come into its own. Or eat right away, and in a few days.

I know it’s a little early for edible holiday gift ideas, but keep this one in mind. The only problem is, once you’ve given duck rillettes as a gift, you’ll never give a gift as good. Just a little heads-up. That aside, I really hope you give this preserved duck spread a try soon. Enjoy!



Ingredients for about 3 cups of Duck Rillettes:
1 whole duck (about 4 1/2 pounds)
- For spice rub:
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 generous teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme
- For the potpourri:
12 cloves garlic
six 1/4-inch slices fresh ginger
3 bay leaves
peel from 1 orange (only orange parts)
1 generous bunch fresh thyme

- Roast duck at 250 F. for about 5-6 hours, or until meat pulls away from the bones

To finish:
cold pulled duck meat
1 tablespoon Armagnac or cognac or other brandy
2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
2-3 tablespoons warm duck fat (add as needed)
2 tablespoons warm duck stock
2 teaspoons parsley
1 teaspoons chive
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne