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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Halloween Treats + A Trick or Two

Sunday the weather was like an undecided voter - sunny/warm then cloudy/cool then sunny/warm, then cloudy/cool; I think you get the picture.  Just when you've got a nice cup of hot jasmine green tea in hand, the thermometer shoots up and you're reaching for a tall glass of something cool.  Salad sounded good, then a chill blew through the window, and I eyed the stockpot and started brainstorming soup recipes.

Inspiration came from Saturday's monthly FBLA potluck where the featured ingredient was pumpkin.  No, I didn't make pumpkin soup but there were two versions on the buffet, along with a pumpkin vinaigrette dressed salad, a pumpkin hummus with toasted pita, a savory pumpkin crostini, and numerous sweet pumpkin treats.  I also opted to bring something sweet, and took liberty with the featured ingredient by making Pumpkin Spiced Caramel Lady Apples with Toasted Pepitas, aka pumpkin seeds.  Caramel apples are my idea of the quintessential Halloween treat, therefore perfect for a late October food event.  

And now back to the soup.  Rather than pumpkin (been there, ate that) I did stay with the Halloween color theme and decided on a orange-ish yellow split pea soup, with a tricky carrot and black olive garnish.  The process was simple and the results were delicious, pleasantly surprising me because I tried white miso paste as the flavor base and it was perfect.  Here's the recipe for the soup, followed by a recipe for the caramel apples just in case you love caramel apples for Halloween too.

Halloween Smokey Split Pea Soup

2 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
1/2 cup minced shallots
1/2 cup minced carrots

1/2 cup minced celery
red lentils + yellow split peas = orange soup?
1 cup dried yellow split peas, rinsed of debris
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
6 cups of water
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. liquid smoke
2 Tbsp. white miso paste
 black olive slices
shredded carrots

1,  Add the oil to the bottom of a stockpot and after the oil is hot add the shallots, carrots, and celery.   Saute' about 5 minutes, stirring a few times.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper
2.  Add the rinsed split peas and stir into the veggies for a couple of minutes.  Then add in the water and bring to a boil.
3.  Add the smoked paprika, liquid smoke, and miso paste, stir to combine, reduce heat to simmer, cover the pot, and cook about 40 minutes until the split peas are tender.
4.  Let the soup cool to room temperature then puree.  Reheat and then ladle into soup bowls.
5.  Garnish with shredded carrots and black olive slices (this is the tricky part).

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Caramel Lady Apples with Toasted Pepitas
9-10 cute Lady or Crimson Gold Apples or
4-5 Honey Crisp or Green Dragon or Ambrosia Apples 
wooden chop sticks or Popsicle sticks
1 pkg. (12/16 oz.) caramels
a splash of soy milk or regular milk
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice*
1 pkg. pepitas, toasted and crushed
parchment paper lined pan

1.  Wash and thoroughly dry the apples.  Trim off the apple stems and impale a stick into each apple.
2.  Melt the caramels according to package directions - basically, either over a double boiler or in a micro-safe dish on high for 1 minute then stir and reheat for 30 seconds at half heat until melted.  Add the spice mix and stir.  If the caramel is too thick then add a splash of milk and stir again.
3.  Dip each apple into the caramel and cover as much as you'd like, letting excess caramel drip off.
4.  Roll immediately in the crushed pepitas and then set each apple onto the parchment paper.
5.  Cool slightly until the caramel is set, then grab one and enjoy!

*If you don't have pumpkin pie spice make your own with 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon each nutmeg and ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon cloves (all ground).

Links to more devilish delights from FBLA Potluck:  

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