November 8th, 2012
Seasons are funny things food-wise. Every time summer rolls around I am beside myself with the opportunity and abundance and yet it’s the season during which I create the least in my kitchen. I just end up eating simply, trying to keep cool, and not wanting the bother of turning on the oven, or even a burner.
Then along comes autumn and seems to pull me out of any heat-induced funk, just like that. The spices of autumn are one thing: cinnamon, nutmeg, all-spice, and ginger all beg to be baked into something warm and comforting.
And then there is what I think of as the back bone of autumnal fare: the mighty squash in all its forms. Even though squash is a stubborn, heavy, awkward vegetable to prepare; even though peeling and slicing it feels much like trying to violently kill something with a blunt instrument; even though my hands turn yellow and dry after handling one: I find it wholly worth it.
In making this dish I discovered something heretofore unknown to me: you don’t have to peel butternut squash. (!) No, in fact leaving the skin on and simply scooping out the seeds and dicing it before roasting yields caramelised, chewy edges that add a welcome dimension to the texture of sometimes too-soft squash. It’s a revelation, friends.
I think we can all agree that this dish has Thanksgiving written all over it. It would be great as a side dish there, sure, but it’s also a very filling and satisfying dinner unto itself. I enjoyed it cold from the fridge, standing in my kitchen, fork and tupperware in hand, thick socks in full force. I recommend you do the same.
Butternut Squash with Pecans and Blue Cheese
from Nigella Lawson
- One butternut squash (about 2 kilograms)
- 1.5oz/ 45 ml olive oil
- ½ tsp dried thyme (or 6 stalks fresh thyme)
- 3.5oz/ 100 g pecans
- 4.4oz 125g blue cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.
- Halve the squash, leaving the skin on, and scoop out the seeds, then cut into small cubes; you don’t need to be precise, just keep the pieces uniformly small.
- Put the squash into a roasting tin with the oil. Strip the leaves from 4 stalks of thyme, and sprinkle over the butternut squash. (If you can’t get fresh thyme, use dried.) Roast in the oven for about 30-45 minutes or until tender.
- Once out of the oven, remove the squash to a bowl and scatter the pecans and crumble the cheese over it, then toss everything together gently.
- Check seasoning and add the last of the thyme, torn into small sprigs to garnish. Serves 6-8 as a side dish.
2 comments » | recipe
November 5th, 2012
A little breakfast treat for you this morning, friends. I made this seeded granola from Good to the Grain, Kim Boyce’s excellent book about baking with whole grains, as part of a mass Sunday afternoon prep-for-the-week cooking extravaganza last weekend.
I’m trying to get good at walking the walk, and actually making big batches of stuff to get me through five lunches at work and frantic I’m-so-hungry moments. I’ve been making simple quinoa salads on Sundays like it’s my job, and it really does make a difference to have a healthy lunch ready everyday.
This granola doesn’t really fall into the “healthy” category but it is easy to grab and super delicious. It’s less clumpy than normal granola (boo), probably because it’s made from seeds and oats and lacks bigger flakes, but it’s super tasty and full of brown sugar, butter, and a kick of cayenne powder that pretty much makes me want to marry it.
Seeded Maple Granola
adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
- 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 2 cups whole rolled oats
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/8 cup flax seeds
- 1.5 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
- 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1.5 oz unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- Preheat the oven to 325F/165C. Toast the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes then remove and set aside.
- Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, including the pumpkin seeds, mixing thoroughly with your hands.
- Make the syrup: combine the butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, and salt in a thick-bottomed saucepan. Place on the stove top over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil, bubbling all over.
- Remove from the heat and immediately stir into the dry ingredients, using a rubber spatula to completely cover and coat. Spread the mixture onto a Silpat-lined (or buttered) baking sheet in one uneven layer and bake for 30 minutes, removing to stir and turn every ten minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for a decent amount of time on the baking sheets so that those glorious clumps of granola form. Stores in an airtight container for about a week.
3 comments » | homemade, reading, recipe
October 22nd, 2012
Our last CSA box of the season came a couple of weeks ago and with it two lovely winter squash. We made a squash curry one night with carrots, coconut milk, and all kinds of spices, and as I was telling the lovely lady who cuts my hair about this plan (yes, really) she suggested taking the same idea but making a soup. Did I mention I love her?
It’s simple as can be, really. Just throw some root vegetables in the oven with olive oil and all those warm spices, roast-roast-roast til they’re tender, then throw it all in a blender with some coconut milk and broth and you’re golden.
Roasted Winter Squash Soup
- 1 medium sized winter squash, peeled and cubed
- 4 carrots, peeled, chopped into the same size as squash cubes
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1 small can coconut milk
- 1.5 cups/ 355 ml chicken broth or water
- garnish: roasted and salted pumpkin seeds (optional) or serve with crispy-fried bits of bacon
- Preheat the oven to 425F/220C. Combine squash and carrots with oil and spices. Roast in single layer on a parchment paper covered baking sheet for about 40 minutes or until tender.
- In a blender combine the roasted vegetables, 3/4 of the coconut milk, and half the chicken broth. Puree till smooth. Taste and add more coconut milk or chicken stock as necessary.
- Reheat the soup slowly in a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven. Test and adjust the seasoning as needed and serve in bowls garnished with roasted, salty pumpkin seeds. Serve with bread and salted butter or salty crackers.
4 comments » | farmers' market, recipe