Tag Archives: squash

Yellow Split Pea and Butternut Squash Soup

There are some soups which can stand on their own. Others work best when pared with another dish, be it something as straightforward as a sandwich or as complex as a paella. As an example, when I think about chicken soup I typically think about the soup alone. When I think of Tomato soup, inevitably I also think about grilled cheese sandwiches. Why? Because Tomato soup is best served with grilled cheese sandwiches.

This soup falls into the later category. By itself, it’s okay, but with some other food at it’s side it becomes manna from heaven. Which leads me to believe that there’s a new culinary law I can add to Kate’s Laws. Let’s call it “Kate’s Law of the exponential taste increase of soup”. This law states that one can improve the taste of most soups simply by serving a tasty sandwich.

The corollary to this law is that the crunchier the crust of the sandwich bread, the more effective the sandwich will be in improving the taste of the soup.

  • 1 Tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 1/4 lb pancetta, diced
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp tumeric
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup split yellow peas, dried
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 medium butter nut squash, peeled and diced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Sour cream and chives (to garnish, and thus – optional)

Place a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, pancetta, ginger, star anise and cumin. Cook the onions until they start to caramelize.

Add the bay leaves, tumeric, water and peas. Lower the heat to a simmer (185 degrees F)and cook until the peas are soft, about 90 minutes give or take 15 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and diced squash. Raise the heat until the soup comes to a light boil (210 – 212 degrees F) and cook for 20 minutes. At this point, remove the bay leaves and star anise. Puree the soup either through a wand or a blender. Return to heat and allow to simmer for another 30 minutes.

Top with sour cream and chives and serve.

Serves 4-6

Technorati Tags: Recipes, Soup, Peas, Butternut Squash

Pumpkin Pie v.2 – Canned Pumpkin

Y’know, some ideas are better on paper than they are when brought to fruition. Typically, I eat a slice of pumpkin pie once or twice a year. I’ve definately have skewed these stats this year.

So here’s the recipe for the pie made with canned pumpkins. As expected, the taste is different. Not better nor worse, just different. It’s not the spices either. The pumpkin is a little creamier, and tastes a little darker and woodsy.

I certainly have my preference, but not so much of one that I will only eat the fresh pumpkin version. When you get down to it, this pie takes several hours less to produce. This point, along with the fact that the pie is still pretty good, makes the use of the canned version seem practical.

Your own mileage may vary. I believe everyone should make a pumpkin pie from scratch at least once in their life, so that they may draw their own conclusions.

  • 1 9-inch single crust pie – uncooked
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1(15 ounce) can Pumpkin
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can Evaporated Milk

Make your favorite pastry pie crust, and place it in the refrigerator to chill for 3-4 hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs lightly in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell and place in oven.

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 F. and continue baking for 40 to 50 minutes or until or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool pie. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

Serves 8

We get Letters v.11 – Seeding Pumpkins

Okay, so it’s a comment more than an e-mail. But I thought it was best to answer this question for all to see, rather than bury it in the comments of the Roasted Pumpkin Seeds post.

Kim asked the following:

I always want to roast my pumpkin seeds but get daunted at the cleaning part. Do you have a trick for getting all the slime off them? Or am I being unforgivably lazy?

Indeed I do have a trick, Kim. On the convenience scale, it’s only a 4 out of 10, but it still is a marginal improvement over picking the seeds out directly out of the pumpkin.

Place a mesh strainer in your kitchen sink.

After cutting your pumpkin in half, use an ice cream scoop (preferably one like this, as opposed to one that has a thumb lever), to scoop out the pulp and seeds. Place the mess in the strainer that you’ve set aside in the sink.

When you have removed all of the seeds from the pumpkin, run warm to hot water (but not so hot that it’s uncomfortable running your hands in it) over the seeds. Dig through the melange of seeds and remove, by hand, the pulp. It should seperate rather easily.

What you do with the pulp, I’ll leave to you.

Hope this helps!

Technorati Tags: food, food tips, pumpkin, pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin Pie v.1- Fresh Pumpkin

Pumpkin Pie
Because I’m a bit of a sadist, I’m going to make two pumpkin pies this week. The reason for this extra work? To see which pie tastes better. I have people saying to me that using canned pumpkin means less work, but they can never seem to tell me which tastes better. Much like pistachio pudding, I think that some people are used to having pumpkin pie made in a certain way. It’s going to be my job to see if it’s worth the extra work or not.

Whenever approaching a pumpkin pie, keep in the back of your mind that you are, in essence, making a custard pie. The use of eggs and milk will give you a good indication of that.

The taste when complete is a little lighter than what I remember when comparing against canned pumpkin pies. I’ll leave that up to you to decide. It is a fair amount of work to make this pie. So if you’re lazy, you probably want to avoid this recipe.

  • 1 9 inch single crust pie – uncooked
  • 1 medium pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 10 oz evaporated milk
  • 2 oz Half and Half

Make your favorite pastry pie crust, and place it in the refrigerator to chill for 3-4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds. Take a cookie sheet and coat with 1/4 canola oil. dust the oil with 1/8 cup of white sugar. Place cut side down on the cookie sheetand place in oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork. Cool until just warm (40 minutes). Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the peel. Either mash, or puree pumpkin flesh, ensuring you have two cups of pumpkin puree. Place mashed pumpkin between two double folded sheets of paper towels to help remove any excess water from the pumpkin

Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

In a large bowl, slightly beat eggs. Stirring after each ingredient addition, add brown sugar, flour, salt, 2 cups of the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, evaporated milk and half and half. Pour mixture into your chilled unbaked pastry shell.

Place in oven and bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees F , then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool pie. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

Serves 8

Technorati Tags: Food, dessert, pie, pumpkin, pumpkin pie

Vanilla Glazed Acorn Squash

Vanilla Glazed Acorn Squash

I have a confession to make.

I actually liked this dish.

I know, I know. I’ve said previously that I wasn’t that big on winter squash. But it’s amazing what butter can do to a dish. Ah, butter. Such a wonderful treat — gold in color and slippery to the touch.

There are no other notes on this recipe. Other than requiring about 90 minutes to cook it’s fairly straightforward.

  • 2 small acorn squash
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon clover honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ground red pepper

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut each acorn squash in half. Spoon out the seeds and place cut-side up in prepared baking dish. Fill the baking dish with water so that it reaches half way up the outside of the squash.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the broth, vanilla and honey.

Place 1/2 tablespoon of butter in each spooned out center of the squash. Pour in 1/4 cup of the broth mixture in the center as well. Place a sprig of thyme to the broth. Brush each squash with the broth mixture.

Place the squash in the oven and bake until tender, approximately 90 minutes. It will be necessary to brush the flesh of the squash every 30 minutes with some of the broth
mixture in the center. Also add water to the pan if necessary.

When ready, plate and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Serves 4

Winter Squash Hints and Tips

Winter Squash, as partially defined here, is very easy to determine how good it is or not. Keep your eye open for the following:

  • The Squash should be very firm over the complete surface area of the fruit.
  • Pick a squash with a stem attached as opposed to one with the stem missing. Also, the thicker the stem the better.
  • A matted color is preferable to a shiny color. This include pumpkins.
  • Choose one that has a smooth, dry rind and is free of cracks or soft spots.
  • Avoid squashes with soft spots or bruises.
  • Squashes with thich skins can be stored in cool, dry place for 3-4 months on average.
  • Before using, wash any winter squash in cool water.
  • Thin skin? Remove the skin. Thick skin? Keep the skin on.
  • Squash grown in colder climates tend to have more flavor than those in warmer climates.
  • Squash goes well with ginger, honey, sugar, lamb, maple syrup, nutmeg, olive oil, onions, rosemary, sage, savory, or thyme.
  • Winter squash is easier to cut if microwaved for 1-2 minutes. Pierce the squash several times before putting in microwave oven.
  • For spaghetti squash: the larger the vegetable, the thicker the strands and the more flavorful the taste.
  • Marshmallows also go very well with squash, which I have learned on good authority.

Fairly straightforward, no?

Winter Squash Varieties

I never realized just how many types of winter squash there were out there. This makes me sound a bit naive and a little silly, but damn. There’s a whole bevy of squash out there that’s just waiting to be tried out.

They are called winter squash because it takes several months for the fruits to become ripe on the vine. Late summer/early fall is the typical time when they are harvested, and then can be stored for three – four months in cool storage. So often you can find people eating these in November,December and even into the new year. Hence – winter squash.

Here are the varieties that you can find in some grocery stores:

Acorn Squash: Has a stringy texture, but a vert sweet taste. A good baking squash, it’s easy to slice into halves and fill with butter.

Ambercup Squash: A relative of the buttercup squash that resembles a small pumpkin. Bright orange flesh has a dry sweet taste.

Autumncup Squash: A hybrid semi-bush buttercup dark green squash. Rich flavoured flesh and high yields. Fruit size 6 inches with a weight of about 2 to 3 pounds.

Buttercup Squash: A flattened round squash with a white cup or knob on the underside. The flesh is very sweet and dry. The flesh is also dark orange, sometimes almost reddish in color.

Butternut Squash: Possibly the most common squash in North America, it has firm flesh that’s abundant. The meat it also blazing orange and has a creamy texture once cooked.

Calabaza: Warm climate pumpkins, this large squash is bright orange, but it can be found with green, yellow, or cream-colored skin. Sweet and moist when cooked, it’s most often sold in portions.

Chinese Okra: Sing qua are also known as Chinese okra squash, or vegetable sponge. They can grow up to 9 feet long and have tough ridges or spines.They have a zucchini-like taste.

Delicata: Also called Sweet Potato squash and Bohemian squash. This is one of the tastier winter squashes, with creamy pulp that tastes a bit like sweet potatoes. This squash won’t keep long because of its thin skin.

Green Striped Cushaw: The light yellow flesh is slightly sweet, thick, medium-coarse, and fibrous. Fine for pies and baking.

Hubbard: One of the best keeping winter squashes, the yellow flesh of these tends to be very moist and longer cooking times in the oven are needed. The squash itself is bluish, gray, orange or dark green. Very thick skinned.

Jarrahdale Pumpkin: A green “pumpkin”, that has a deep orange flesh that is smooth and creamy when cooked.

Kabocha: Also known as Hokkaido or Japanese Pumpkin. It has a rich sweet flavor, and often dry and flaky when cooked.

Pink Banana: Banana squash have a strong squash flavor with a moderately dry texture. They grow up to 3 feet long and are usually sold cut into pieces at the supermarket

Pumpkin: C’mon. You know what a pumpkin is. They have mild and sweet flavors.

Spaghetti Squash: The stringy flesh is a creamy white color, and not too sweet. This squash is unique in the fact that people use this squash to replace pasta.

Sweet Dumpling: These tiny bits, often weighing no more than 7 ounces, are perfect for roasting like potatoes. In fact, the meat of the sweet dumpling has a similar texture to russett potatoes.

Turban: Turban Squash has colors that vary from bright orange, to green or white. It has golden-yellow flesh and its taste is reminiscent to hazelnut.