Monday, November 19, 2012

Pumpkin Seed Brittle and the beginnings of a Thanksgiving menu

photograph from My New Orleans, by John Besh
Yesterday I started prepping for our annual Thanksgiving feast.  This year we're hosting a seated dinner for twenty, and house guests begin arriving tomorrow!  My husband is always in charge of the turkey, and he always spit roasts it over an open fire - more on that later this week.  Please forgive my short and slightly scattered posts over the next few days.  I could sit and write all day, but then we'd have nothing to eat!

 I found this salad recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, My New Orleans, by John Besh.  I purchased this several years ago at his restaurant, August, where my husband and I enjoyed one of the best meals we've ever eaten.  It is a beautiful cookbook, arranged by seasons of food, including Blackberries and Chanterelles, Gumbo and Thanksgiving.  His recipes are thoughtfully crafted and simple to follow.  The results are always delicious, and very popular with dinner guests.

I'm a sucker for anything with blue cheese (preferably a good english stilton), and the spicy/sweet nuttiness of the pumpkin seed brittle perfectly compliments the tangy blue cheese.  I especially like this recipe because one can make the brittle ahead of time, as it will easily keep in the pantry (in a plastic bag) for up to a week. 

photograph from My New Orleans, by John Besh

Fall Greens Salad with Blue Cheese and Pumpkin Seed Brittle - serves 6
courtesy of My New Orleans, by John Besh

For the brittle:
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
4 oz pumpkin seeds
1 egg white

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Mix together the sugar, cayenne, salt, and pumpkin seeds in a medium bowl.  Whisk the egg white in a mixing bowl until foamy, but not stiff.  Fold the egg white into the pumpkin seed mixture.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spread the brittle mixture thinly and evenly on the parchment and bake until the brittle turns completely golden brown, 20-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Break the brittle roughly into shards ( or crumbles in my case ).

For the vinaigrette:
1 tsp sugar
1/4 c. sherry vinegar
1 shallot, minced
Leaves from 1 spring of fresh thyme
1/4 c. canola or grapeseed oil
2 tlbs walnut oil
2 tlbs pumpkin seed oil
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the sugar and sherry vinegar together in a large mixing bowl until the sugar has dissolved.  Add the shallots and thyme.  Whisk in the canola , walnut, and pumpkin seed oils.  Season with salt and pepper.

For the salad:
6 c. mixed baby fall greens such as tatsoi, mizuna, arugula, beet
1 c. blue cheese
1 tlbs minced fresh chives

fresh chevril sprigs

Put the greens into the bowl with the vinaigrette and toss well.  Divide between individual plates and crumble blue cheese on top of each.  Scatter pumpkin brittle , chives and chevril over the tops of the salads.

I promise,  you will love this! 

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