Sunday, January 31, 2010

Squash-Buckling Adventures in the Snow

We got six inches of snow in Nashville this weekend, and people are losing their minds. Having recently moved from Chicago, I find this freak-out particularly humorous. Schools and businesses everywhere have shut down, grocery stores are short on milk, eggs and canned goods, and cars have been abandoned all over the highways…seriously abandoned, often unscathed. People must see ice, panic, slam on the breaks, fling open the car door and run screaming down the highway, hands waving in the air. Or at least that’s what this snobby, snow-hardened northerner imagines. So I’m staying in, away from all the madness.

To occupy myself during the freeze I’ve decided to do some cooking. What better way to pass the winter hours than to fill the house with warm smells and good food. Plus it’s a great feeling of accomplishment and productivity without ever having to leave the house.

But what to cook? For a foodie, this is a great problem to have. I pulled out my favorite new cookbooks (Christmas gifts…thanks Mom!) including Chez Pannise Vegetables, The Gourmet Cookbook and CookWise by Shirley Corriher and began flipping through. As I was getting situated at the kitchen table, I had to move a few things around to make room for the books — a newspaper, a couple magazines, and a huge bowl of squash my friend and frequent La Aguacate commenter DJ B gave me from his CSA share. Oh wait.

These squash are real beauties. I learned from Angel at Avalon Acres, the farm where they were grown, that they are (from left): cushaw, a really cool squash indigenous to middle Tennessee, pie pumpkin, the tan one is a Cuban pumpkin, and the two small ones are acorn squash.

And so begins my squash-buckling adventure. I’m thinking definitely a pie, maybe soup, something roasted, a mashed variety with blue cheese, something in bread form and maybe more soup? What have you made with squash? Do you know these squash? What’s your favorite type of squash? How many times can I say “squash in the same paragraph? Squash, squash, squash.

I’ll circle back soon with the results of my day/s of squash cooking. Stay tuned.


3 Responses to “Squash-Buckling Adventures in the Snow”

  1. 1

    Mark — January 31, 2010 @ 7:35 pm

    Best squash recipe I've found to date:

    Butternut Squash Bisque

    Makes 8 first-course servings

    This recipe is adapted from Paul Prudhomme's New England Butternut Bisque in his 1991 book, Chef Paul Prudhomme's Seasoned America. Grating and dicing the squash takes some effort, but the results are well worth it. Serve this soup with a fine German off-dry Riesling, such as the Jos. Leitz Dragonstone — the match is ethereal.


    3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

    1 1/2 teaspoons salt

    1 teaspoon dry mustard

    1 teaspoon white pepper

    3/4 teaspoon onion powder

    3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

    1/4 teaspoon ground mace

    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

    1 large or 2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and all membrane removed

    3 tablespoons unsalted butter

    1 cup chopped onions

    1 cup chopped celery

    5 cups chicken stock

    3 cups half-and-half

    3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

    Combine the dried spices (first 9 ingredients, through nutmeg) in a small bowl (should make about 5 tablespoons). Grate enough of the squash on the large holes of a hand grater to yield 3 cups. Dice the remaining squash, about 4 cups. Set aside.

    Melt butter in large heavy pot over high heat. When the butter sizzles, add the onions, celery and grated squash, and cook, occasionally scraping the bottom of the pot, for 13 to 15 minutes (the squash will brown somewhat). Stir in 4 tablespoons (80 percent) of the mixed dried spices and cook 3 to 4 more minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot once or twice more. Add the chicken stock, the diced squash and the remaining dried spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, scraping the bottom of the pot from time to time, until the squash has disintegrated somewhat, about 40 minutes. Turn up the heat to high and stir in the half-and-half. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh parsley. Let the soup cool a few minutes, then serve.

  2. 2

    DJ B — February 1, 2010 @ 10:07 pm

    Both of those two on the right are acorns? I would have never guessed that what with them being different colors.

    Can't wait to see what you do with them – I baked our first Cushaw with brown sugar and cinnamon. Simple but tasty, especially in weather like this…

  3. 3

    Pot Luck Mama — February 3, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

    I blanched and froze some pattypan squash last summer according to the freezing instructions in "So Easy to Preserve" (do you have this bible…I mean book? Freaking awesome…). The ~3/4" slices made excellent "pasta" for a lasagna a couple of months later! I never would have thought of that if they hadn't directed me to slice them that way for preservation.

    My favorite is Spaghetti Squash…hands down! (hmm…do I sense a squash as pasta theme?)

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