Tag Archives: Pumpkin

Squash!!

They have arrived!  In all colors shapes and sizes.  Ladies and gentlemen, may I present – The Winter Squash!  There are so many things I love about this time of year.  The brisk mornings, the beautiful changing of the leaves, and most of all the hearty rich flavors of the season, particularly squash.

Winter squash (as opposed to your summer squash, such as zucchini) have thick tough outsides with sweet, rich flesh on the inside.  The outer skin should be undamaged, and dull in color, which means it was picked when fully mature.  When selecting a squash it should feel heavy and solid.  Also, make sure the stem is still attached, as a detached stem means it has been on the shelf for too long.  Do not refrigerate unless they’ve been cut.  The smaller squash should be used within two or three weeks of purchase while the larger varieties can go for as long as six or seven months if kept in a cool, dry place out of the sun.

People joke about needing a small chain saw to hack into these guys, but a good kitchen knife and some muscle should do it.  I’ve even heard of microwaving for a few minutes to soften them up.  Or start them baking in the oven, remove, cut, then continue cooking.  Either way, be VERY careful.

Another delight when working with squash is that they are pretty versatile in how they can be prepared.  The most popular techniques are baking, roasting, pureeing and stuffing.  My two favorites happen to be roasting and stuffing.  Roasting requires cutting the squash into bite-sized pieces, seasoning with some olive oil (and maybe some thyme and garlic), then placing in a 350°- 400° oven until a nice golden color appears with crisp edges.  Stuffing requires a little more preparation but makes for a beautiful and creative presentation.

 

Acorn Squash – best for baking and stuffing
Varieties:
Green – yellow flesh, moderately sweet
White – pale yellow flesh, smooth with a delicate sweet flavor, high in calcium
Golden – looks like a little pumpkin, bright golden flesh, sweet
Flavor affinities:
Acorn squash + ginger + maple syrup
Acorn squash + sage + brown butter

Butternut Squash – best for baking and pureeing
Hardest to cut into, but very popular in soups due to its sweet nutty flavor
Flavor affinities:
Butternut squash + bay leaf + nutmeg
Butternut squash + ricotta cheese + rosemary
Butternut squash + bacon + maple syrup + sage

 

 

 

Pumpkin – mostly decorative but can be baked, roasted or pureed.  It provides more beta-carotene per serving than any other fruit or vegetable.  The smaller sugar pumpkins are very popular in baking.  Also the beloved seeds can be roasted with a little olive oil and salt.  The seeds are also popular in Mexican cuisine with cumin, coriander and jalapenos.
Flavor affinities:
Pumpkin + apple + curry
Pumpkin + olive oil + rosemary
Pumpkin + honey + balsamic vinegar

Spaghetti Squash – best for baking or steam then sauté
The yellow- to cream-colored flesh comes out in strands when cooked, giving the squash its name.
Flavor affinities:
Spaghetti Squash + pancetta + mushrooms
Spaghetti Squash + tomatoes + basil

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Oktoberfest!

Year two of my Oktoberfest celebration was a great success!

(Minus a windy and chilly rooftop)

Each time I host one of these parties I feel like I learn more about the need for organization, timing and in this case food warmers!  Great experience for me  as a budding culinary (insert culinary profession here).

Again, big thanks to my little sous chefs!

MENU

Homemade Pretzels with assorted mustards

Pumpkin Fondue (see recipe below from Brian Glover’s Cooking with Pumpkins and Squash)

Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread

Butternut Squash Soup (despite my blender bottoming out on my rug, the soup managed to make it to the table and the rug to the cleaners)

Assorted German Sausage, from the famous Schaller and Weber made with Sauerkraut, Onions and Gala Apples

Potato pancakes with slab bacon and homemade Apple Sauce

Assorted Stuffed Squash with pine nuts, currants, lemon and herbs (another great recipe from Brian Glover)

And we topped it off with some great German Beer and Spiked Cider!

 

 

Pumpkin Fondue

from Brian Glover’s Cooking with Pumpkins and Squash

Prepare a small pumpkin (sugar pumpkin is fine) by hollowing it out and massage inside and out with a little bit of olive oil, throw in a few thyme springs, sea salt and pepper.  Make sure it can properly stand up-right and roast along with the lid, in a 350 degree oven until golden (about 40-50 minutes).

For Fondue:

2 tsp potato flour or cornstarch

1 1/4 cup dry white wine such as Riesling or hard cider

1 garlic clove peeled and halved

1 bay leaf

14 oz of Gruyère cheese sliced or shredded

2 Tbs of Kirsch (optional)

8-10 oz of Taleggio or Fontina sliced or grated

1/4 cup of heavy cream or creme fraiche

While pumpkin is roasting, mix the potato flour (or cornstarch) with 2-3 Tbs of wine and set aside.  Put the remaining wine in a medium-sized, heavy based sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Simmer for another 2-3 minutes and then add the garlic and bay leaf and reduce heat.  Add the Gruyere and constantly stir to melt.  Remove and discard garlic and bay leaf and stir in potato flour mixture along with Kirsch (if using) until smooth.  Add Taleggio or Fontina and stir until melted and finally add the cream.    Season to taste, and stir over heat until you see a nice velvety texture.

To serve, pour mixture in pumpkin, place the lid on top.

I would recommend a nice dense grainy bread for dipping.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Pumpkin Everywhere!

One of the joys of this holiday season is pretty much every food and beverage brand comes out with something pumpkin.  LOVE IT!  Most of the time.  While the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte sits on the mediocere fence for me, I have to say Jamba Juice really got it right with their Pumpkin Smash.  While I agree with some critics that is rather sweet and caloric (I spread the 370 calories over the course of one day) it is like drinking pumpkin pie through a straw!  My other latest crave is Williams-Sonoma Pumpkin Curry.  Low in Carbs Low in fat this midly spicey mixture is quite delectible.  The pumpkin flavor is slighly outshined by the tomato spice conistency but honestly pumpkin on its own has a fairly mild flavor base anyway.  It was a quick and easy Inidain celebration in my kitchen!pumpkin curry

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Oktoberfest, Fall Harvest, Halloween Mash-Up

IMG_5609

Bacon for the German Potato Salad

IMG_5601

Cutting squash and more squash for the soup

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year especialy when it comes to flavors.  To celebrate the coming of this magnificent season I decided to have a traditional German Oktober Fest complete with sausage, kraut, pretzels and beer.  It ended up being a mash-up with some butternut squash soup, pumpkin pie and rigatoni.  Searching for as many local ingredients as possible and with the help of  my trusty Fresh Direct delivery man I devised a pretty solid menu with all the trimings and party planning details.  I manged to take some preperaption photos but have included some beauty shots with links to the recipies.  Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread from Serious EatsGerman Sausages with Apples and Sour KrautRiatoni with Roasted Pumpkin from Martha Homemade Pretzles were a big hit and soo easy!And the finale! Pumpkin Pie Jello ShotsIMG_5605IMG_5613

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized