Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Winter squash on the way...

Today's CSA newsletter promises winter squash, possibly something called the long neck pumpkin, which looks like a deformed butternut squash.

Squash-related posting to resume soon. Meanwhile, here's a bulleted summary of eating from the past week or so. Most of this covers a trip to Boston and Cape Cod.

  • baked scrod with spinach and brussel-sprouts with bacon (lunch at Legal's Test Kitchen)
  • Gobbler sandwich (turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce - just like Thanksgiving leftovers) from All Star Sandwich Bar
  • raw oysters, fancy cheese, salmon, and a Greek bean-based dish (food at R's sister's house)
  • cheese blintzes from S&S
  • spinach-and-artichoke dip, mussels, and calamari salad from Boston Beer Garden
  • raw oysters from Chatham (at R's parents' house - caught by his dad). As an aside, do you catch oysters or harvest them? Or something else?
  • Scallops alfredo from Napi's in Provincetown
  • Chicken fingers at Chicago's Midway airport
  • Cabbage soup (made by me, at home)
  • Chicken picata with onions and orzo -- this deserves its own post soon (made by me, at home)
  • Couscous with dates, craisins, almonds, and goat cheese (made by R., at home)
No squash but some delicious seafood

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The lasagna I didn't make, leftovers, and the 2nd trifle

Just to state the obvious, but it's hard writing a blog post every day. I'm barely doing every week! Things have been slow here in 2010 so far at the Great Pumpkin and Squash Recipe headquarters. We may finally be awaking from our chocolate-covered cherry coma.

I'm not even sure what I had for dinner last week since the soup posts. The closest we've come to a new recipe is the Giada butternut squash lasagna that I did not make last night. We had talked about it over the weekend, but then R. made a HUGE pot of red beans and rice, and I was worried about having too many leftovers. Especially since I'm heading out of town Thursday and he's following Saturday and the lasagna is not something would look good in the refrigerator after a week.

I did get as far as taking out some pumpkin (2 cups) and squash (1 cup) from the freezer Monday morning. Monday evening, though, they still weren't thawed, and I realized that one of the most time-consuming parts of the recipe the first time was thawing the frozen pumpkin on the stove. So I refroze it (hopefully, that will be fine). I wouldn't have had it for dinner anyway just because of the cooking time and because I didn't even attempt to start it until 7.

What I did have was leftovers -- ribeye, turnips, and mashed sweet potatoes. We were supposed to have friends over for dinner Friday and that would have been the menu (plus ice cream with chocolate sauce), but I wasn't feeling well or at least up to entertaining, and we rescheduled. But what to do with the thick cut of meat with some coffee rub thing on it? (Don't ask me about the meat; I didn't pick it out.) R. cooked it all up. He had high praise for the turnips from the CSA. I've never been a fan of turnips. Or should I say I'd never even met turnips before that I can recall? I can't give all the details on cooking, but he sliced them thin, cooked them, and added some salt and pepper. They were sort of mashed but not completely. The mashed potatoes have become a favorite here -- sweet potatoes, lavender, lemon juice, and milk (whole milk from the CSA; potatoes also from the CSA).

I also cooked a hot dog in the microwave, mainly because I saw the apple-and-tomato relish in the fridge and remembered R. had the relish on a hot dog the night before (the hot dogs came from the depths of the freezer). I only had one bite of the hot dog but ate a couple spoonfuls of relish (homemade by R.)

* I will get the recipes for the turnips and potatoes and post those later. *

Tonight's leftovers for dinner following a trek to and from the YMCA were the rest of the turnips and potatoes and one-half of a goat cheese and hot pepper jelly (homemade by us) sandwich. The jelly has a kick to it that the goat cheese cuts nicely. Cream cheese works well, too. That version is the fancy version of my childhood cream cheese and grape jelly sandwiches.

Tonight's dinner - I'm not proud, but I am satisfied.

Trifle 2.0

We made the whisky trifle from Christmas (from the Eat Feed Autumn Winter cookbook) for New Year's Eve. We went to a small party hosted by a couple originally from Russia. Lots of delicious fish-based foods -- salmon, caviar, and something called herring under a fur coat(?), which is not the most appetizing name but was a good dish. The "coat" was made of beets. Then there were these little potato dumplings that seemed a little like pierogi but smaller and Russian. After all that food, I wasn't sure anyone would want dessert, but there was still the trifle! This time we put it in a 13 * 9 glass baking dish, lining the ladyfingers on the bottom and then around the perimeter. We made some extra whipped cream to cover the top completely and sprinkled some granola on top. Having learned from last time, we made the custard the night before. Fortunately, the party didn't start until 10 so we had some time during the day for the rest of it.

The small group ate about half of it, and we left the rest with the hosts who were more than willing to finish it off (I think they had it for breakfast). The baking dish worked well and showed off the layers, but I still want a trifle bowl.

Ladyfingers on the bottom of the baking dish

Ladyfingers lining the baking dish with liquor in the background

Custard spread over the ladyfingers with a cookbook spread in the background

We have determined that the delicious turnips were actually delicious watermelon radishes. Still no complete recipe for that or the potatoes.

Tonight's dinner was a fried egg and half of a goat cheese-and-hot pepper jelly sandwich.

Stay tuned for updates from the on the road. If not winter squash, then at least some seafood. Just to keep things interesting.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

CSA pick-up - where did all the squash go?

This week was another squash-free CSA pick-up. We received the following:
  • daikon radishes (made a good relish using these at Thanksgiving)
  • cabbage (ugh)
  • sweet potatoes
  • lettuce (not sure what kind it is, but it's very delicate)
  • mushrooms (the special item this week)
  • milk (every week)
  • eggs (every week)
This means there will either be more Squash-Free recipes, or I will start posting any interesting meal we make whether it has pumpkin/squash or not.

Monday night I made the Gingered Butternut Squash Soup with a few substitutions - only one apple, no carrots, and 3 small instead of 2 medium potatoes. I thought this meal would last the week. I was wrong. It was gone by Wednesday and I only had one serving. Next time may call for a double recipe, although an immersion blender would make things easier. Even with the regular recipe, I can't fit all of the soup in the blender at once.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Asian Butternut Squash

No squash-and-goat cheese quesadillas yet. We went for an Asian theme instead: Asian Butternut Squash (from SavvyFoodie, based on Jamie Oliver).

I did not do any of the cooking, so I can't say how easy it was to make, but I can say it was easy enough that it only took one person. I felt only slightly guilty for not helping since I was on vacation and R. worked that day. But I know he likes to cook and he usually goes from day job to night job with no time for cooking so this was actually a treat for him. And for me.

He followed the recipe pretty closely, but we were missing a couple ingredients. Even though I went to the specialty store for Chinese Five Spice, I ended up not getting cilantro or pistachios. I think we had some slivered almonds on it. I just forgot about the cilantro because I did end up at the grocery store after the specialty store. The 5 spice store was not an Asian specialty store; it's actually Italian and where we bought the ladyfingers for the trifle and where we get bread and pasta sometimes. I was asked to either get the individual spices and locate a spice mill (or coffee grinder) or get the mix. Despite a wide selection of spices, the store only offered 1 of the 3 spices needed, and a five-spice blend was not to be found in the spice section. However, I did locate it on the Asian shelf. This particular blend included cinnamon, star anise, fennel, ginger, cloves, white pepper, and licorice root (which is 6, but who's counting).

To accompany the squash, R. made the stir-fried bok choy from SimplyCooking. We had an overflow of cabbage * and considered doing a cabbage-and-apple salad like this one from Vegan Epicurean but did not have miso (a day or two later, we tried to buy some at the nearby gourmet market but got a miso soup mix that substituted fine enough and later in the week we got miso at the Italian market to have on hand for next time).

The Asian squash was delicious and the bok choy was a nice accompaniment. This was a good new squash recipe to add to the rotation. To me, it was almost borderline Indian-tasting, and there's an Indian spice I don't care for but can't yet identify, but this managed to stay on the non-Indian spice side of food. And I really loved it with the raisins. Some rice or even naan (I like that part of Indian food) would have been a good addition. Maybe next time.

* We have so much cabbage I should have called this the Great Cabbage Recipe Blog. The problem is I'm not a big fan of cabbage. The salad was good with the apples and extra dressing. Tonight, we're going squash free with a miso & cabbage soup (also with carrots and green onions). It's very cold here -- not as cold as other places and no snow -- but nearly 20 degrees colder than normal. Cold = soup weather. Tomorrow I will most likely use the remaining butternut squash to make one of the soups again.