Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Death Dusted Pumpkin Seeds

Habanero Death Dust Pumpkin Seeds
Death Dusted Pumpkin Seeds

Awhile ago Oakridge BBQ offered up a limited time release of a special rub they make, called Habanero Death Dust. Now, any of you that know me know I like things with some heat to it, so I decided to give this stuff a try. I sent in my order and a few days later... package #20 of the limited run of 150 showed up on my door step.

Normally, even though I like heat, I steer away from anything "habanero" as it just means "heat" but not a lot of flavor. A little finger tip sample of this showed that it was different though. While it had some nice heat to it, there were also some nice subtle flavors that gave it an overall pleasing taste. Even my cat seemed to like it. Well at least until he made that funny face and ran around the room and ended up sitting in the corner licking his lips!

So I spent some time trying to decide what to try this out on, and being Halloween time, I figured why not try some Death Dusted Pumpkin Seeds? Now, the downside to this plan is the pumpkins. For whatever reason the guts of the pumpkins are my kryptonite. Just the smell of it makes me gag. Somehow I was able to talk my lovely wife into gutting the pumpkins for me. Thanks Honey! Otherwise this experiment probably never would have happened.

After she removed all the seeds from the two pumpkins we had, I gave them a good rinse and then spread them out on some paper towels to dry for about an hour or so. Then I placed them in a medium bowl, and added about a tablespoon of olive oil and gave them a good shake and stir to coat them in the oil. I added 2 teaspoons of Death Dust, one at a time, and gave things a good stir to mix it all up. They didn't quite get as evenly coated as I wanted to, but it all worked out in the end. The oven was fired up to 350 degrees, and I got out my trusty old baking sheet. Well actually I grabbed the new one since it's not as scratched up. I gave the sheet a good coat of butter, yes, real butter, to keep things from sticking and then spread the seeds out in a even layer.

Into the oven they went, and baked for about 25 minutes. At about the 15 minute mark I gave them a good stir and then back in the oven until they were done.

After cooking I let them cool for a little bit and then gave them a taste test. Hmmm. Not exactly what I expected. Most of the subtle flavors of the Death Dust were gone. Just tasted like plain roasted pumpkin seeds, and some nice heat on the back end. I was a little disappointed to tell you the truth. Maybe I didn't use enough Dust. But oh well, I like the taste of plain roasted seeds and these had some heat to them, so not all was lost. I put them in a zip-top bag and let them sit on the counter. The next day I grabbed another handful, and WOAH, what a difference! That great flavor was back and the pumpkin seeds were awesome! With a really nice heat kick at the end. I'm not sure what effect letting them sit overnight had, but they are definitely much better. Maybe when they were still warm the temperature was covering some of the flavors. Whatever it was, these are really good now. My only wish is I had a couple more pumpkins to make more seeds, as these won't last long!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bacon Brittle

The other day I was perusing one of my favorite blogs, Cowgirl's Country Life and I saw a recipe for Bacon Brittle. While I had some left over bacon from my Halloween party this weekend, so I decided to give it a try.

Her recipe is...

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup cooked bacon bits (about 12 ounces uncooked bacon)
 I didn't have any pecans, but I did have some smoked almonds that I made a while ago. They were a little over smoked, and on the verge of being burnt. Not really so good for eating, but I kept them around for just an occasion like this. I figured they'd go good in this.

The first step is to add the water, sugar and corn syrup in a medium pot and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture boils. Then add a candy thermometer and heat over high heat without stirring until it reaches 290 degrees. I think my thermometer must be on the fritz or my technique sucks, because by the time it hit about 260 degrees the mixture was a sticky gooey, lava-like blob and was starting to burn. So I decided to pull it off the heat and continue with the rest of the recipe.

Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the rest of the ingredients. When it stops foaming, pour it into a well greased cookie sheet, and spread it thin with a silicone or grease spatula. Cool for at least 10 minutes and then break into pieces.

Here's what mine looked like finished.
(click to zoom)

It was pretty dark in color, and it was that way right from the beginning. I think it's because I used dark brown sugar. Next time I'll try it with light brown sugar, or even just regular sugar. Also, next time I'm going to cook the bacon just a little bit more. There are pieces in there that are not quite crispy and it takes away from the "brittle" experience.

Overall, it's very good, and I'll definitely make it again.