Sunday, October 27, 2013

October FotM recipe: Delicata Squash Tart

On Wednesday, we got together and made this:


A delicata squash tart
with a graham cracker/pecan crust

...while drinking this...

...and Trader Joe's spiced apple cider...


The tart was so freakin’ good.  Seriously.  Kassy’s picky husband even loved it.


Original recipe:


Delicata squash tart with graham cracker/pecan crust
(printable version of this recipe)

Ingredients

Butter (for the pan)
2 Delicata squash (2 pounds total), halved and seeded (pretty much any squash would work here)
1 tablespoon coconut oil (original recipe called for canola)
9 whole graham crackers
½ cup pecans
12 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup evaporated milk
3 eggs
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger


Preheat oven to 350°


Butter a 10” tart pan with removable base.


Coat the cut sides of the squash with oil. Place cut side down in a baking dish and roast for 30-40 minutes or until fork tender. (Ours was already roasted then frozen from last week)

Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until finely ground. Add the pecans and continue to pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand.  Add the salt, 4 tablespoons of the sugar and the melted butter, pulse until combined.


Pour the mixture into the tart pan and, with your fingers, press the crust on the bottom and sides of the pan until it is even and compact. Set on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes or until set. Don’t turn the oven off yet!



When the squash has cooled enough to handle, scoop the flesh from the skin with a large spoon and transfer to a bowl.  Mash with a potato masher or fork.  Blend in the remaining 8 tablespoons sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger until the mixture is smooth. (we just threw it all into the food processor and let it go until it looked to be a consistent texture)

Pour the squash mixture into the crust and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or just until set.


Cool before serving (with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream).


The end.

Have you ever cooked with delicata squash?
What did you make with it?

Friday, October 18, 2013

October FotM Tips: Squash & Pumpkin Seeds

During the prep of pumpkins and winter squash we set the seeds aside for planting and to make roasted pumpkin seeds (or other squash seeds if you’d like)... Whenever preparing pie pumpkins or even carving Jack-O-Lanterns, save the seeds!


First, you'll need to scoop out the seeds, of course...


Look at all of that gunk.

Before you use the squash seeds for anything soak them in water.
This will help remove the goop and gunk from the seeds and make them clean,
after some gentle rubbing.

Cleaned up and ready for...


...drying to use in the garden next year.

...or roasting to munch on now!

Just oil them generously and sprinkle with sugar or salt and spices if you'd like.
Roast them at 400° for about 10 minutes, stirring halfway through.
If they look like they need a little more time, give them another couple of minutes, but be sure to check them frequently because once they start looking toasted, they'll get dark quickly.

Yummy, yummy!

October FotM recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Rosemary & Chipotle


We both LOVE Butternut Squash soup, so for week 3 of our “Food of the Month” adventure we decided to pull some ideas together and make our own (a first for both of us).  We also prepped and froze the delicata squash for next week’s recipe.  

You can make soups from any squash your heart desires.  If you are unfamiliar with the tastes  presented by different squashes, you can always buy small fruits to sample flavors first.

Before we get started on the soup, we’ll need to roast some squash for it…

Roasted squash:
Wash outside of squashes and slice in halves.  Scoop out seeds and set aside , if you’d like, for roasting or to store for planting (see Tip: Squash & Pumpkin Seeds for more information).  Coat baking sheet with olive oil/butter, place squash on sheet and drizzle with olive oil /butter.  Bake at 400° for 30-45 minutes, or until it’s fork-tender, turning the pan and spraying with oil or basting with butter halfway through (at 15-20 minutes).
...before roasting...

...after roasting...

...peeling...

...for the compost bin!

...cut up and ready for soup!

Freezing squash:
Before freezing, it is recommended that squash be roasted or otherwise cooked to prevent an “off taste.”   Cut or puree the cooked squash before freezing.  Generally it’s best to vacuum seal, however using a freezer bag and squeezing all of the air out should work fine, it just won’t store quite as long, we stored our delicata squash in a freezer bag for using next week.

...prepped and ready for freezing...

Roasted apples, onion and garlic
Coat baking sheet with olive oil or butter, place apples and onions on sheet and drizzle with olive oil or butter, season with salt and pepper.  Cut the top off a garlic bulb, place in aluminum foil square (big enough to wrap around bulb), coat with olive oil (recommended) or butter, wrap bulb and put on baking sheet with apples and onions.  Bake at 400° for 20-30 minutes, or until soft and browning, stir at ten minutes and every five minutes thereafter until fork tender.  Squeeze the garlic cloves out of bulbs onto sheet and discard garlic “paper.”
...before...

...after...

...beauty shot...

Apple Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary & Chipotle
(find a printable version of this recipe here)

1 medium butternut squash, about 2.5 pounds
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle powder
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 head garlic
1 large [honeycrisp] apple, cored and roughly chopped
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock (to make it vegetarian)
Juice from half a lemon, 1 1/2 tablespoons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh thyme, for garnish
Crème Fraiche, garnish (we used this recipe)

NOTE: Leave out the creme fraiche and butter, and sub the oil of your choosing to make it vegan.

...homemade chicken stock, of course...
(store-bought is fine)

...everything in the pot...


...simmering nicely...

...time to puree...


Directions:
Roast the squash, apple, garlic and onion in the oven per instructions above and set aside.  In a medium pot over medium-low to medium heat, add the butter, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, rosemary, nutmeg, and ground chipotle powder (Oh My!  This smells sooo good!), cook until fragrant (around 30 seconds).  

Add the roasted squash, onions, apples and garlic, plus four and a half cups of stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to bring to a low simmer, cover, and cook until the squash is tender, (about 30 minutes). Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth.

Add the remaining stock to thin, if desired. Season to taste with the lemon juice, Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve in bowls and garnish with a dollop of crème fraiche (or sour cream or Greek yogurt), black pepper, and fresh thyme.

Storage Tip: Keep it in fridge for a couple days, but freeze it if you will not be eating it right away.

It was delicious!

Any questions or thoughts?  Let us know and leave a comment!

Also, please take the time to take our surveys and share your thoughts with us. Thanks!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

October FotM Recipe: Pumpkin Butters

Yesterday, my house smelled like autumn.  We had two slow-cookers going with two very different kinds of pumpkin butter...  both turned out delicious.  Here's how we did it.

(makes 8 half-pint jars)
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 (5 pound) fresh pumpkin - seeded, peeled, and cut into 2-inch cubes

Reduced Sugar Pumpkin Butter
(printable version of this recipe can be found here)

Our altered recipe:
(also should make 8 half pint jars, but we got more like 5)
1 cup (Domino) sugar/stevia blend
3 tablespoons pumpkin spice blend (recipe from angrychicken.typepad.com)
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 (5 lb.) fresh pumpkin; seeded, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
⅔ cup spiced apple cider

...the cast…


...prepped pumpkin..

...sugar and spice makes everything nice…

...everyone in the hot tub…
Cook it over high heat, vented, for 3 to 3½  hours

...stir it up
(every hour or so)

...repeatedly..

...then puree (or mash) it when you think it looks, smells and tastes delicious…

...spoon it into sanitized canning jars (or other airtight containers),
be sure to leave ½” of headspace to allow for expansion, let them cool…

...then stick them in the freezer…

Pureed or mashed pumpkin or squash will keep quite well for a good, long time in the freezer.  I’ve kept it for about 2 to 2 ½ years -which I’m not recommending- but the only damage I noticed was a little bit of freezer burn, which was easy to remove and didn’t seem to affect the flavor once removed.  

We also made this:

Whiskey Maple Pecan Pumpkin Butter (tipsy pumpkin butter)
(printable version of this recipe can be found here)

5 lb pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cubed
2/3 cup apple cider
1/2 cup good quality whiskey (we used Jameson)
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp real maple syrup
2 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 cup pecans

Set aside whiskey and pecans.  Combine all of the other ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on high for 3 to 3½  hours or until it’s thick (keep in mind that it will thicken a bit more after cooling).

While that’s cooking, preheat the oven to 350° and toast the pecans.  Once cooled, run them through a food processor or crush them by hand until the texture is to your liking.

Add whiskey to pumpkin mixture when it looks like it’s almost done (about 30 minutes to an hour before you take it off the heat).

Once it’s thickened to your liking, fold in the pecans.  Store in canning jars (or airtight containers) for about a month in the fridge or longer in the freezer.

YUM.

Have you ever made pumpkin butter?  How was it?

If you try either of these recipes, please let us know what you think!

...leave a comment with your thoughts and/or questions!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October's food of the month: Pumpkin and winter squash

Autumn brings changing leaves, a chill to the air and pumpkin spiced *everything*.  Our recent Trader Joe's shopping trip proves this.  I'm pretty sure that 7 out of the ten things I bought were pumpkin flavored.  Nom!



So, rather than encouraging you to go out and buy a bunch of pumpkin flavored stuff, let's learn to grow and make stuff together...


This month we're going to talk about pumpkins,
butternut squash, acorn squash and delicata squash.


So you don't have to "gourd" yourself on information, we've done some of the legwork for you:


Growing/Harvest
The growing conditions for pumpkins and winter squash are very similar.  Generally, it's a good idea to start seeds indoors 2-4 weeks before the last spring frost and the soil should be warm before transplanting (this means around Mother's Day in the Midwest).  Pumpkins and winter squash will be happiest in nutrient-rich soil and when watered frequently (daily or every-other day).


Storage
After you bring your pumpkin/squash home, store it out of direct sunlight and, if displaying outside, cover them with a towel or blanket to fight against frost if the temperature drops below freezing (32°).  Be sure to keep your pumpkins and squash on straw or cardboard, avoid concrete or linoleum, and they can keep for 3 to 6 months if stored properly (visit http://allaboutpumpkins.com/storing.html for more information).






Preserving
We don’t want to squash anyone’s dreams but, it’s not safe to can any kind of squash, unless it’s pickled… so freezing is probably your best option here.  Fortunately, it freezes *very* well.  Here are a few ways to do so…


Recipes
There is an abundance of pumpkin/squash recipes available online.  In the coming weeks, we’ll try out a few and let you know what we think of them.  If there’s something you’d like us to try this month, let us know and we’ll do our best to try it out for you.





Any questions or thoughts?  Let us know and leave a comment!

Also, please take the time to take our surveys and share your thoughts with us. Thanks!