Thursday, October 29, 2009

PUMPKIN SEEDS: The Truth is Out There (Recipe)

by Janice Decker
There are many basic recipes to make home-roasted pumpkin seeds. They all seem practically the same with minor variations. Problem is, if one recipe says to bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes and an identical recipe says to slow roast at 300 degrees for only 20 minutes, which is right?

I invented a unique recipe that will give you perfect seeds with gorgeous autumnal color. To rinse or not to rinse? Do I boil the seeds first? Do I really need to dry them for 24 hours before baking? Certainly not! This recipe is easy, fun, and the seeds are DELICIOUS.
  • Remove seeds from a fresh pumpkin
  • Immediately remove only larger pieces and filaments of pulp
  • Place seeds in large plastic (gallon size) bag
  • Pour a little corn oil over seeds
  • Massage the bag until all the seeds are coated and the pumpkin residue takes on the quality of beaten egg yolk
  • Make sure all the seeds are coated with this pumpkin “glaze”
  • Line a large 3/4" deep cookie sheet with aluminum foil
  • Spray foil lightly with cooking oil and sprinkle with fine SEA salt
  • Distribute pumpkin seeds evenly (one layer only) on foiled cookie sheet
  • Sprinkle again liberally with SEA salt
  • Bake at 300 for about 15-18 minutes - definitely less than 20
  • Once seeds begin to turn color, use a spatula to shuffle them. You will notice autumn leaf-like coloring and speckles that look like seasoning appear! That’s the magic of this recipe.
  • Set timer and bake for only 2 minutes more
  • Remove from oven
  • Lay seeds out on paper towels
While the seeds appear dry, you will see the oil get absorbed on the paper towels. Let cool. Store in air-tight container. If packaging in paper Halloween bags, line bags with wax paper. This is easy: cut a strip of wax paper a few inches wide (the width of bag), fold in half, slip into the bag using a small spatula, spoon your cooled-off seeds inside, fold and staple! Great treat bag.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cooking Up a History Lesson

by Giovanna Kiballa & Ellen McGlynn

Is there any better way to learn about history than to eat your way through it?  With school now at fall peak, textbooks in full bloom, and holiday ovens set to pre-heat, it might be a good time to check out some of these great historical cooking lessons from Capstone Press:

More delicious titles from Capstone:
Though geared toward grade school readers, these books are a treat for the whole family!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


by Ellen McGlynn

This week I am busy planning a Harry Potter themed cooking class for nine neighborhood children, ages 5 to 11. I’m always excited at the prospect of entertaining kids in this fashion for one sole reason: they seem to love it! There is one comment I always hear from the parents whenever I post pictures of my cooking classes, and that is how focused and interested the children look. I used to think it was just my child with the inordinate interest in food, but it turns out I am surrounded by food-inspired children. Could it just be the neighborhood I’m living in? That’s a strong possibility, but I don’t think so.

All around the nation, a movement has been brewing for years, and its foundation lies in not just talking about children eating better but actually involving children in more hands-on food activities to help drive them away from processed foods and make them more discriminating eaters with a genuine appreciation for  food sources and food history. Cooking is but one way of accomplishing that task.

In our neck of the woods, there is not much available in the way of hands-on children’s cooking classes, which is why I have taken it upon myself to help fill in the gaps. If you are interested in cooking classes for your child, check out the following great websites. You may actually get lucky and find a class near you.
One of my personal favorite websites, and not only because it’s a product of one of the best cooking schools in America, is This is a great website for homeschoolers and it also provides links to children’s classes that are available at the Culinary Institute of America. Take a look!

If you are a business or program that currently offers regularly-scheduled classroom-style children’s cooking classes, and you have a great website you’d like to share, we would love to hear from you. Just click on the light orange Comments link below this post. Your website’s link may get posted on our sidebar under Children’s Cooking Classes.

Use any packaged pie crust mix, roll out thin and cut large enough to line 4" tart pan. Sprinkle 1 level Tablespoon rolled oats in bottom of tart shell. Add a pinch of ginger and a pinch of lemon zest. Pour 1/4 cup golden syrup over oats (I was able to find mine in the United Kingdom section of Wegmans International Foods department). Add one teaspoon of fresh lemon juice on top of the syrup. Sprinkle one more level Tablespoon of oats over the syrup and lemon. Add another pinch of ginger and another pinch of lemon zest. To give it that real Harry Potter feel, add moon and star cutouts on top. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 25 minutes. One box of pie crust mix can make four to five tarts.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


by Ellen McGlynn
The pumpkin carving season is upon us and, dare I say, even the snow is upon us. This morning’s wintry weather forecast put me in wood-gathering mode and set me to thinking about what comfort foods could be had from the pumpkin mash and juice left over from last night’s carving ceremony (one pumpkin was sacrificed for the greater good: our stomachs). What I ultimately created was a bisque version of a Curried Pumpkin Mushroom Soup recipe found on The pumpkin mash and juice used in this recipe were created using my handy dandy Omega J8005 all-purpose juicer (this is an amazing appliance!) which I had set to separate juice from pulp. For future reference (both yours and mine), I wanted to know just how much juice could be had from a large pumpkin, so I juiced the peeled flesh of 1/4 large pumpkin, and came up with a measure of 4 cups of mash to 1 cup of juice.
½ lb. mushrooms, sliced
½ cup minced onion
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
2 tsp. curry powder
3 cups chicken broth
1 lb. fresh pumpkin mash
2 Tbsp. fresh pumpkin juice
1 Tbsp. honey
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 cup light cream

Garnish: Pumpkin juice and scallions
Melt butter in stock pot to lightly fry mushrooms and onions. Add flour and curry to pot and stir constantly over medium heat for several minutes. Add broth, pumpkin mash and juice, honey, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk until all items are mixed well. Cook for about 15 minutes. Remove soup to blender and puree until smooth. This may need to be done in two batches. Return to stock pot and add light cream. Heat until hot, but do not boil. Serve with a swirl of pumpkin juice on top and a sprinkle of chopped scallions.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


In honor of NATIONAL PIEROGI DAY, celebrated October 8th (see post dated 10/08/09, 5:02pm).

This recipe makes 2 dozen pierogies.

Dough:  2 1/2 cups flour
            2 eggs
            1 teaspoons salt
            Water (enough to form a nice firm dough—approximately 1/2 cup)

Let dough stand 5 minutes in a ball. Roll out and fill. Drop in briskly boiling water and let boil for 5 minutes or until done. Top with butter and onions.

     Filling:  3 medium potatoes
                8 oz. extra sharp cheese (the sharper the better)
                Salt to Taste

Mix flour, salt, eggs, and water to form a nice firm dough.  Divide dough in half and work each half separately until fairly smooth.  The dough should be wet enough to hold together yet dry enough to leave no sticky residue on the hands or in the bowl.

Wrap each individual dough ball in plastic wrap and set aside for a minimum of 5 minutes.
Grate cheese and set aside.  Peel and cube potatoes and boil in salted water until soft for mashing (1 teaspoon of salt per quart of water). 
Place dough on floured cutting board.
Roll dough thin like a pie crust into a 14-inch round and cut into 3-inch (approximately) squares with a pizza cutter.  It is important that the dough be rolled very thin because of its density.  It may take a while to roll out because of its elasticity.  If rolled too thick, it will be too chewy and never seem done even if boiled for a longer period of time.
Drain potatoes and mash together with cheese to form a creamy filling. 
Salt to taste.  Add extra cheese if not sharp enough.  The key to this recipe is its sharp cheesiness.
Spoon warm filling onto each dough square.  Filling may also be prepared a day ahead of time, refrigerated, and rolled into balls before placing on squares.
One by one, fold each dough square into triangular pockets and pinch ends together.  If dough edges are too dry to adhere together, keep a small bowl of water nearby to dip fingers before folding. 
Lay out folded pierogies in single layers with no edges touching, and cover with a clean linen until ready to boil.  Covered pierogies can be set aside for hours if necessary before boiling.  At this point, pierogies may also be frozen in single layers in an airtight container.  Each layer should be sprinkled lightly with flour and separated with wax paper. 
Add pierogies to boiling water (1 teaspoon salt per quart).  Once pierogies float to top, boil for an additional 8 minutes.  Up to several dozen pierogies can be boiled at one time depending on the size of the pot.
While pierogies are boiling, fry 1 large onion and 1 stick butter (1/2 cup).  
The finish is actually the secret to a good old-fashioned pierogi.  Rather than drizzling the butter and onions over finished pierogies (as shown), place butter and onions in a large stock pot.  Add pierogies.  Place lid tightly on pot and hold lid in place while shaking gently to coat all pierogies with butter and onions.

Pierogies can also be served without butter and onions, but that would be a sacrilege.

This recipe was derived from my mother's little black recipe book, dated 1953, the year my parents were married.  It's the only pierogi recipe our Ukrainian family has ever followed.


Today is National Pierogi Day.  Bet you didn’t know that.  I didn’t, until I looked at my daughter’s school lunch calendar this morning. Now that’s how you know you are heavily embedded in a culturally rich community. Northeastern Pennsylvania, while markedly Irish and Italian, carries with it a very deep Slavic heritage most popularly represented by the Polish, Ukrainians, and Russians--the folks who brought pierogies to America. I happened to grow up in a Ukrainian household and am one of the few remaining American-born purebreds under 45. That pierogies (vareniki to Ukrainians and Russians), basically potato-cheese dumplings, would find themselves on a national celebration register delights me to no end. With just a tiny bit of digging on the suspicion that Mrs. T’s had something to do with this, I was able to reach a representative of the company to confirm.

“We took the initiative to register it in Chase's Calendar of Events," acknowledged Gary Lauerman, Director of Sales and Marketing for Mrs. T’s Pierogies. “We filled out the paperwork and got it approved.”

Along with over 12,000 other special events celebrated internationally, pierogies now have their own special day in what is considered the most authoritative special event register in the world.

“We decided on October 8th because it was on this day [57] years ago that the first box of pierogies was sold commercially in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. Today, Mrs. T’s sells a half billion pierogies per year,” said Lauerman.

To celebrate this inaugural year for National Pierogi Day, Mrs. T’s conducted a special flag raising ceremony and provided a catered lunch for all of its employees.

To tie in with National Pierogi Day, Mrs. T’s also sponsors a hunger drive for the first two weeks in October wherein portions of proceeds from pierogi sales are set aside to support local food banks. Mr. Lauerman estimates that Mrs. T’s will be able to donate $50,000 toward that cause this year, which was only piloted regionally in the northeast. Next year, Mrs. T’s hopes to expand its two-week food bank program nationally to coincide with National Pierogi Day thereby further heightening awareness for both events.

Now that’s something to celebrate!

Visit the Mrs. T’s website for recipes, coupons, and more consumer information.....and Happy Pierogi Day!

Stay tuned tomorrow for a step-by-step pictorial on homemade pierogies. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

CHOWDER SEASON: A Spicy Red Crab Recipe for the Soul

It’s chowder season again, and I am reminded of a crisp weekend in December some years ago when I was visiting the tiny historic seaside town of New Castle, Delaware, to attend a Colonial holiday party at The Arsenal for which I was to be a guest of honor. I had arrived early for the event with hours to spare, and so I took to the sidewalk to reflect upon the year’s events. Among the quiet bustle of mid-afternoon visitors and the distant melody of a young fife and drum corps playing Christmas carols, I decided to check into a cozy little gift shop where I was instantly called by the aroma of a spicy red crab chowder, the likes of which I had never seen nor tasted before. It was served piping hot, and the Old Bay spice was like medicine for the soul on that cold autumn day. I had begged several store clerks for the recipe, but it was almost as if the soup had appeared by magic in their tureen because no one seemed to know the answer. Returning home that weekend, I set out to reproduce what, to me, still stands as the most satisfying red chowder I have ever tasted.

This is the closest I have ever come. Enjoy!

Makes 4 quarts

2 Quarts seafood stock
1 Quart stewed tomatoes
4 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 large onion, minced
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
12 ounces baby corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
12 ounces lump crab meat (2 - 6oz. cans)
10 ounces cut green beans (fresh or frozen)
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Pour 2 quarts seafood stock and 1 quart stewed tomatoes in large stock pot. Add 4 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning.

Melt 3 Tablespoons butter in a separate pan and add minced onions until onions take on a translucence. Turn off burner and add 2 tablespoons of flour to butter and onions until all the butter is absorbed into the flour. Add mixture to stock.

Add 12 ounces baby corn kernels, 12 ounces lump crab meat (drained), and 10 ounces of cut beans to stock pot.

Simmer for 15 minutes. Add 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

Chowder is done when beans are tender.

Pack this chowder in a thermos for a chilly fall picnic. You won’t regret it!
Serve piping hot!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Sept 25 - Nov 8, 2009 (Orlando, FL)
Harvest Day
, Oct 3, 2009 (Preston, MN)
California Avocado Festival, Oct 3-4, 2009 (Carpinteria, CA)
Taste of Rhode Island, Oct 3-4, 2009 (Newport, RI)
Chowderfest Chowder Cook-Off
, Oct 4, 2009 (Long Beach Island, NJ)
International Pickle Day, Oct 4, 2009 (New York, NY)
Zwolle Tamale Fiesta, Oct 8-10, 2009 (Zwolle, LA)
38th Annual National Shrimp Festival
, Oct 8-11, 2009 (Gulf Shores, AL)

Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival
, Oct 8-11, 2009 (New York, NY)
Kiepersol Estates Harvest Fest and Grape Stomp
, Oct 10, 2009 (Tyler, TX)

Taste of Georgetown, Oct 10, 2009 (Washington, DC)
Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival
, Oct 10-11, 2009 (Port Angeles, WA)
Taste of Atlanta
, October 10-11, 2009 (Atlanta, GA)
, Oct 10-12, 2009 (Mystic Seaport, CT)

International Oktoberfest
, Oct 10-12, 2009 (Newport, RI)
International Rice Festival
, Oct 15-17, 2009 (Crowley, LA)
Apple Butter Making Day, Oct 17, 2009 (Preston, MN)
St. Mary's County Oyster Festival, Oct 17-18, 2009 (Leonardtown, MD)
Wellfleet Oysterfest, Oct 17-18, 2009 (Wellfleet, MA)
Barbecue Festival
, Oct 24, 2009 (Lexington, NC)
National BBQ Festival, Oct 30-31, 2009 (Douglas, GA)
Boston Vegetarian Food Festival, Oct 31 & Nov 1, 2009 (Boston, MA)
National Peanut Festival, Oct 30-Nov 8, 2009 (Dothan, AL)

October Food Dates to Remember

Oktoberfest, Sept 19-Oct 4, 2009
National Pierogi Day, October 8, 2009
World Food Day, October 16, 2009
Halloween, October 31, 2009