October 30, 2010 § 2 Comments
Well, it’s time to wash down a whole week’s worth of pumpkin with, well, more pumpkin. Yes, I love it so much, I could drink the stuff. And why not? Though I’ve noticed pumpkin spice latte to be a growing trend, I haven’t actually bought some. I’m not very big on any type of latte and only submit to it on occasion. Now if they could have you choose how you want your pumpkin spice drink mixed. A veto on the latte. A vote on hot white chocolate. Until the baristas conjure this up, my last batch of pumpkin purée has been rationed out to some hot white chocolate. No better way to end my pumpkin week!
1 c milk
1/3 c roasted pumpkin, puréed
1/4 c white chocolate, chopped
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Over medium heat, simmer all ingredients until white chocolate is melted. Sip and enjoy on a beautiful autumn day like today (well, I can have it any day or everyday, for that matter)!
October 29, 2010 § 1 Comment
Naturally, I get my desserts and snacking out of the way. Now, it is time for the main dish. I am a big eater of salmon. No sobering warnings of mercury levels have stopped me from over-consuming the stuff. With all the pumpkin cooking in the kitchen, of course I had to concoct some type of purée to compliment my salmon. And compliment it did. I was so stunned, in fact, that I ended up Googling it afterward to see just how many people are catching on to this. Not as many as I had hoped (why is unknown to me), but I’ll give it time. Salmon and pumpkin are a sensational team!
The salmon is sweetened, bringing to mind the same sweetness of teriyaki — the most universal savory sweet salmon dish available. I wanted to call the puréed pumpkin a glaze, but that would be a downright misnomer. I still have no idea what to call this dish, but for now it is what it is…and it is delish!
4 fresh wild salmon fillets
1/2 c roasted pumpkin, puréed
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp granulated onion
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1. In a small bowl, combine pumpkin purée, brown sugar, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper.
2. In a baking dish, arrange the salmon fillets and generously top with the purée.
3. Bake uncovered at 400°F for 15-20 minutes.
October 28, 2010 § 1 Comment
Just yesterday, Dr. Oz mentioned that pumpkin seeds are chock-full of magnesium, iron, and zinc. Well, I am glad I had my healthy dose of pumpkin seeds over the past week. Mine were roasted as soon as I opened my pumpkin.
I made up this recipe aiming for a great-tasting snack, but was delightfully surprised at the wonderful aromatic scent that filled the air while roasting. If only my house could smell like that all the time!
2 c pumpkin seeds
1 tsbp butter, melted
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp powdered sugar
1. Wash your pumpkin seeds and separate from strands.
2. Lay the seeds on a baking sheet and dry overnight.
3. Coat with melted butter and toss in the spices and powdered sugar to coat.
4. Bake in 300°F for 20 minutes.
Here is an informative article from USA Today explaining all the health benefits of pumpkin.
October 27, 2010 § 5 Comments
I am positively partial to the flavor of maple syrup, Canada’s quintessential ingredient (sugar syrup pales in comparison). As you know, when there’s maple syrup, walnuts are not far behind. Maple walnut is an irrefutable natural pairing, and just the right combination for pumpkin. So with maple syrup and walnuts in hand, I adapted my own Canadian version of Turkey’s candied pumpkin. I also thought it fit to take it to the oven for roasting, which makes for a firmer texture than a long simmer in the pot.
12 pieces pumpkin slices, 1/2″ x 4″
1/4 c maple syrup
1/2 c walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 c yellow sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a large bowl, toss the pumpkin slices in maple syrup until well coated.
3. In a small bowl, combine the walnuts and yellow sugar.
4. In a greased baking sheet, arrange the pumpkin slices and generously top with the walnut-sugar mixture.
5. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool and serve.
October 26, 2010 § 1 Comment
With a recent post on my indulgences in Italy, I think it’s clear that I have no reservations about Italian fare. I am so fond of the wonderful texture of panna cotta, and consider it a great base for a pumpkin dessert. What I love most about panna cotta is that it’s an effortless undertaking.
I find the key to making this pumpkin panna cotta tasting much like pumpkin pie is in the spices and use of evaporated milk, as used in pumpkin pie. The mini bundt molds create a perfect pumpkin-like finish!
1/4 c water
2 tbsp gelatin
2 c roasted pumpkin, puréed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1 c table cream
1 c evaporated milk
1/2 c sugar
1. In a small bowl, dissolve gelatin in water for 5 minutes.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin purée, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. You can substitute the individual spices with pumpkin spice.
3. In a sauce pan, combine cream, milk, and sugar and simmer over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add dissolved gelatin, pumpkin purée, and whisk. Simmer for 5 minutes and pour into a greased mini bundt tray with 6 molds. Chill in the refrigerator for approximately 2 hours or until set. To unmold, fill a 9 x 13″ baking pan with 1″ of hot water and place the bundt tray into the water for 2-3 seconds. Serve chilled.
October 25, 2010 § 4 Comments
Flavored butters have been in fashion for some time and are now a culinary staple. I remember a meal this summer at The Rotunda at the top of Neiman Marcus in San Francisco, where their darling popovers were served with strawberry butter. Last month, at a friend’s wedding at The Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, the bread basket was paired with strawberry butter and basil pesto butter.
Here’s my own flavored butter — pumpkin, of course! Now I’m aware that there is such a thing as “pumpkin butter” that is not really made of butter, instead it’s a pumpkin puree spread. This is not what I have here. What I have here is a very swift, simple, and savory butter spread blended with pumpkin purée and nutmeg, for use on breads, waffles, pancakes, biscuits, scones. Indeed, gourdmet!!
This easy recipe requires:
1/2 c unsalted butter, melted
1/4 c roasted pumpkin, puréed
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Blend the ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over a ramekin or mold. I used a rubber pumpkin ice tray I picked up from, of course, nowhere else other than my favorite, Dollarama. If pouring into a rubber or silicone mold, cover with plastic wrap, and put in the freezer for approximately 30 minutes or until firm. This will ensure the shape is solid. Remove from mold, thaw in refrigerator, and serve at room temperature. Or if using a ramekin, set in refrigerator and serve at room temperature.
October 24, 2010 § 5 Comments
Pumpkin week begins with my last Halloween craft for your upcoming party. I’ve found an amusing way to turn those pumpkin seeds into ghost-faced creations. These pleasant phantom pumpkin seed place cards are sure to charm your guests.
a. Pumpkin seeds and a permanent marker for drawing the eyes and mouth.
b. 2-1/2″ place cards printed from your printer. Using MS Word, I made black boxes with white names placed closer to the right edge, to allow for the ghost to be placed on the left. I used my favorite Halloween font: Chiller.
c. Foam miniature pumpkins. Many craft pumpkins are available at crafts stores and dollar stores. I got a pack of 10 from my favorite dollar store, Dollarama. Using an X-Acto knife, cut a slit at the top to hold the card. Of course, there’s no need for pumpkins. You can make the usual tent cards instead.
d. Circle punches in 2″, 1-1/2″ and 1″. If you don’t own these, your pair of scissors can still do wonders.
You are welcome to design and hand cut your own version of the ghosts’ bodies if you only need a handful of cards. I used circle punches for efficiency in creating large amounts. This way takes mere seconds to make each ghost:
1. Using the edges/scraps from your sheet of place cards (always make the most use of your paper), punch a 2″ circle.
2. Punch a 1-1/2″ circle up to the middle of your 2″ circle to form a crescent
3. Punch a 1″ circle out of one of the tips of your crescent in order to shape the arms.
October 24, 2010 § 2 Comments
Exactly one week before Halloween!!! And in reverence for my favorite season, my favorite holiday, and my favorite food (well, one of, as I have plenty), I am declaring this week PUMPKIN WEEK! I certainly hope you have picked your pumpkins. I know I’ve picked mine, resulting in my kitchen’s transformation into a chaotic laboratory of sorts. I have been engrossed in developing a handful of fantastic pumpkin recipes for you. By the end of the week, we can aptly call ourselves gourdmands!! He he. Stay tuned!
October 22, 2010 § 17 Comments
This is my version of Halloween balloons. I’ve seen many of those orange balloons with pumpkin faces and white balloons with ghost faces and think they’re delightfully cute, but I figured perhaps too cute for some. So I wanted to take Halloween balloon-making up a notch: balloon body parts. Last night, I picked up my markers and, like a little kid, colored away.
Hang the eyes from the ceiling and give your guests that creepy sensation of being watched. Stick the witch’s fingers on walls and doors to give the illusion of sneaking in.
Balloons (9″ round white for eyes, 9″ round peach or light pink for brains, long green – the ones used for balloon animals – for witch’s fingers)
Broad chisel tip markers (in green, blue, black, and red)
Styrofoam bowl and cup, for tracing the eye’s iris (cut away the rim of the bowl so it can sit on the balloon while tracing)
October 20, 2010 § 1 Comment
So I must confess that, though I am partial to architecture and art and history, I travel to eat. Here’s the part of my trip to Italy you haven’t seen. Can you say “carb coma” ten times fast?
October 19, 2010 § 4 Comments
I recently created a special photobook for O.T., documenting our year’s travels. It is the second annual “Where We’ve Been” photobook I’ve designed and had published. I hope to make our travel photobooks a yearly practice, of course with the aspirations of keeping up with an always eventful travel itinerary! October is a special time for both of us as we celebrate our birthdays, so it is appropriate to open and close the year at this time.
Given my sizable inventory of scrapbooking supplies and tools that I use for cardmaking, it’s a wonder why I didn’t approach this in the form of a scrapbook. Well…I really love the professional look and polish of photobooks and, being a stationery graphic designer by trade, I opted to spend the hours on page layouts on my computer, as opposed to all of the cutting and gluing and embellishing.
Overall, I am very pleased with the quality of these books and highly encourage you to try out a little bit of photobooking yourself!
October 18, 2010 § 3 Comments
Here is a wickedly easy craft that will have you flying off the handle!
There is a substantial collection of disposable plastic lidded bowls in my cupboard (thanks to Costco’s tasty frozen shrimp wonton soup). I’ve been saving the bowls and their lids for this year’s Halloween favors: candy-filled witch’s cauldrons.
a. Black bowl and lid. If you haven’t tried Costco’s frozen shrimp wonton soup, I highly recommend it. It comes with 6 black bowls with lids, the delicious soup is a bonus! :p Of course, if your cupboards are bursting with food containers, you can grab a bowl and lid between 3-1/2″ – 4-1/2″ in diameter and paint the exterior black.
b. Yellow paper, colored with shades of orange/red for flames. Cut along the outline of the flames and make sure to leave about an inch of space at the bottom for adhesives.
c. 4 wine corks.
d. A handful of decorative spider web. There is plenty at dollar stores this time of year.
e. Black pen and 2″ pieces of raffia, enough to cover the pen cap. Glue the raffia on the cap and have a piece of raffia to tie it for a finished look. This will be the witch’s broomstick.
1. Using double-sided tape, adhere the flames around the bottom and along the sides of the bowl.
2. Randomly adhere the wine corks to the bottom of the bowl using a glue gun.
3. Cut a small hole through the lid, large enough for the pen to slide through. Dot some glue on the top of the lid, and adhere the spider web for a bubbling look. Make sure you slide the pen through the lid before closing.
Don’t forget to fill with eerie treats. I used gummy witches’ fingers from my favorite dollar store, Dollarama.
October 17, 2010 § 44 Comments
I am indisputably an advocate of handmade presents. In celebration of O.T.’s birthday, I decided to make him a travel-size chess set entirely out of paper. The chess pieces are crafted out of tightly rolled strips of black and cream paper. The box is millboard covered in paper (black for the exterior; white and brown for the board). The affixed monogram, too, is paper. The only exception to the rule is the Mod Podge which I used as a sealant and lacquer. Undoubtedly, this travel set will be exposed to much wear and tear, and perhaps some spills, so I wanted to be doubly sure it will endure. It took a fair bit of time in planning and more so in the execution. Each piece was carefully crafted with love for my love, who, dare I mention, was a chess champ at the age of 15. No one deserves this as much as he.
I am happy to give the specs if you are interested in undertaking this project. The pieces range from 3/4″ to 2″ in height. The board squares are 3/4″. The box is a portable 6-3/4″ square. I began each piece with the strip for the shaft, and moved outwards at the base and at the top. I generously applied glue to each strip using a glue stick before tightly rolling. I used very light cardstock — 65 lb stock is sufficient, any thicker would not roll well, and any thinner would take an eternity to build up. Do not forget to apply a sealant. I used Mod Podge with a gloss finish, though in hindsight wish I used matte.
October 14, 2010 § Leave a comment
Last night’s dinner of spaghetti al nero di seppia is a good segue to showcase some of the marvelous sights I saw in Italy. Of course, when in Italy, you must do the holy trinity of tourism: Rome, Florence, and Venice. I admit, I dabbled in a fair ration of classical art and architecture history some time ago, so Rome was the seat of the world to me. Unexpectedly, I fell in love with Florence instead, perhaps because I hadn’t studied it with such diligence and it took me by surprise. What’s even more surprising was Venice didn’t leave me with an impression of being as romantic as it is perceived. I found it was beautiful in the day, yet so dark and mysterious at night. Whenever I visit Italy next, I plan to see more of Tuscany. The striking views of endless lines of cypress trees along the route from Rome to Florence really called to me. My trip to Italy was definitely an endeavor in architecture. More on my perspectives of food and culture to follow.