Friday, October 19, 2012

Winter Squash


Bottom two: Hokkori or Tetsukabuto, the top is Black Futsu

I have this ongoing dilemma with a few vegetables. One of them is squash. I don't like it, but I want to like it. I have never given up my quest to figure out how I will like it. I found that puréed, it seems to work for me, which is not too surprising. I also found that Japanese winter squashes seem to work for me better than any other squash. Think Kabochas. They are dry and flaky when cooked, as opposed to what I've always thought of as the default squash texture: stringy and pulpy. They are also not as sweet, with a dense nutty flavor that I might even adore. These are squashes that I can eat roasted plain, with a sprinkle of sea salt. 

I'm not sure I can do a squash stew, though. That might be where I draw the line.

This year I grew three different varieties of Japanese winter squash: Tetsukabuto, Hokkori, and Futsu Black. Even though I put markers on all three, by the end of the summer it was all a great mess. Covered with squash bugs, I might add. But the squash persevered and I ended up with a decent harvest of about ten or so good-sized squashes. I'm happy with that.

Roasting these dry squashes can, well, dry them out. And peeling them either before or after cooking can be a real pain. Cutting them in half, scooping out the seeds, and pressure cooking them for about five minutes on high pressure made them soft and tender, and the skin was readily removed. 

Because of my aversion to squash, pumpkin butter is not high on my list of priorites. I like the idea of it, though. (Full disclosure: I like pumpkin pie! What gives?) So, I did make a batch of maple-sweetened and vanilla-spiked winter squash butter. Because the squash flesh is so dense it really only cooked for ten or so minutes, so was it technically a jam? Who knows. Even though I could tell it was good, the anti-squashite in me still refused it. So, I whisked it into pancake batter. All was well. I also made a lovely winter squash bar with a olive oil shortbread crust. All it needed, in my opinion, was whipped cream. But it was still good.

A few folks asked about the winter squash bars recipe. This is how it went:

The squash butter was inspired by this post by Grow It Cook It Can It, using maple syrup, vanilla and a bit of nutmeg. Following Caroline's instructions for her pie filling, I mixed a pint of the squash butter, a pint of milk and 3 eggs together. I followed this recipe from The Chubby Vegetarian for the olive oil shortbread. Pat the dough into a rectangular 13x9 pan, and cover with the squash mixture, then cook it at 425 degrees for 40 minutes.

It's like a band shot. They are so bad ass!

15 comments:

  1. I have squash envy. There is one pathetic, unknown squash hanging out on the vine that I'm not even sure is fully mature since I don't remember planting it. That aside, my favorite way to eat squash so far is roasted with olive oil and herbes de provence and then stirred into creamy risotto. Now I'm hungry.

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    1. That sounds great, Dawn! Now I'm hungry, too. But then again, I'm always hungry! ; )

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  2. Since I live in Portland, OR my biggest squash challenge is powdery mildew. Ugh! One of my favorite ways to eat winter squash is in enchiladas with beans and cheese. I make a chile verde sauce with green tomatoes for on top -- perfect for this time of year when I'm rying to figure out when to pull my tomato plants. Here's a link to a recipe I like: http://www.oregonlive.com/foodday/index.ssf/2008/06/recipe_detail.html?id=7044

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    1. Powdery mildew stinks. Thanks for the link--we love enchiladas. I'm making this!

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  3. Squash bar? Olive oil shortbread crust? Where is that recipe?!

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    1. Ha, ha! I riffed it a bit, but I posted what I did above. I think you would appreciate them.

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  4. I'm with you on the squash: or I was. For years I hated winter squash, because the only way I ever had it was my Mom's stringy & pulpy boiled squash - blech. Slow roasting, in small cubes so they get nice, caramelized, crispy edges, is the way to go to fall in love with squash, IMO. Also: a little bacon grease never hurts. :)

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    1. Stringy and pulpy. That's exactly it! Blech. I think you just gave me great inspiration though: small cubes. Aha!! I always picture squash in big honking chunks. And that's gross.

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  5. Yep - small and burny at the edges is the way to go! And, not to link-spam you, but this one: http://localkitchenblog.com/2011/10/12/roasted-butternut-squash-red-pepper-rosemary/

    Originally from Epicurious and small-cubed & burny from me. Awesome.

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    1. Totally love the linkage, especially from you!

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  6. julia, oh julia, such luscious images of the dreaded orbs. i so very much agree with your notion of "i ought to like it". i hate the whole nine yards, the thing itself mocks me with a come hither and try me grin, all i can do to get even is go to my freezer where i keep perfectly smooth, silken at that, lovely in color and every so creamy, a perfect puree of the evil hard rock rounds. i am afraid to lose your attention, but i buy it that way. the little bricks store so perfectly, and if in need on that cold autumn night i heat some butter and melt a square. i add stewed mushrooms, the portland hinterland is perfect for those, and voila, i have the concoction to warm my heart, if not my soul.
    thanks for those pictures though, and the reminder that tonight i won't have to cook but simply to melt.

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    1. That sounds delicious--I love your way with words, Michael! Melting sounds so much easier than cooking, doesn't it?

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  7. Oh Julia, I love your bad-ass squash posse! Check out a squash pie recipe somewhere or other. It's good. I love them any way, but baked with butter always does it for me. Or baked in slices alongside a chicken. (Hope you're warm and dry on this night of Sandy, BTW, although I know you neighbourhood's prone to floods. Stay safe!)

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    1. Sarah- it is always good to hear from you!! Thanks! I will invest in squash pie, for sure. We are safe and dry, thanks for the good thoughts. - j

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