Posts Tagged ‘winter squash’

Butternut Squash and Potato Gratin

This is a lovely layered casserole.  Feel free to vary the recipe by adding other vegetables, such as tomatoes, onions, or anything else you have on hand.  The recipe is by Ris Lacoste, from Fine Cooking Magazine, November 1999.

1 raw butternut squash (about 2 lb), peeled
2-3 medium potatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 TBS grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy cream (or half&half)
1/2 cup finely chopped walnut
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs combined with 2 TBS melted butter

Heat oven to 350F.  Grease an 8×8 inch (2 qt.) glass or ceramic baking dish.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and fibers.  Slice the squash and potatoes about 1/8 inch thick.  Line the bottom of the baking dish with a layer of squash (overlapping slightly), season lightly with salt and pepper, sprinkle with a little of the Parmesan, and drizzle with a little of the cream.  Cover with a layer of potato slices, season with salt, pepper, cheese and cream.  Repeat with the remaining squash and potatoes until dish is full, ending with a top layer of squash, seasoned and topped with any remaining cheese and cream.  (You may have extra squash.)  Press down lightly to distribute the cream and compact the layers.  The last layer of squash should be just sitting in the cream, but not covered by it.  Cover the dish with foil and bake until the vegetables feel tender when poked with a thin, sharp knife (check the middle layer), about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Combine the walnuts and buttered breadcrumbs.  Remove the gratin from the oven, sprinkle with the breadcrumb-nut mixture, and bake uncovered until the top is lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes.  Let sit in a warm place for 20 minutes before serving so that liquids will set and tighten the gratin.  Cut into 9 squares and serve.

Big Woods Farm Pumpkin Pie

What Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without pumpkin pie?  This is the recipe for the pies we make for the farm Harvest Festival, using one small pie pumpkin per pie.  You can actually use a pie pumpkin or any dark-fleshed squash, such as butternut or buttercup.  This delicious recipe is adapted from “The Silver Palate Cookbook” by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.  You can reduce the fat by substituting milk for some or all of the cream and half-and-half.

3 eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups mashed cooked pumpkin or squash
1 tsp ground ginger
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
Pinch of salt
¾ cup heavy cream
¾ cup half-and-half
Unbaked piecrust (see recipe below)

To cook the pumpkin(s), cut them in half, scoop out seeds and place cut side down on a greased cookie sheet.  Put about 1/4” water in the cookie sheet and bake in a 350ºF oven for about one hour, until the pumpkins are soft.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Scoop out the flesh with a large spoon.  If the flesh is slightly uncooked or stringy, puree in a food processor with a small amount of the half-and-half.

Preheat oven to 450ºF.  Beat eggs and both sugars together until light.  Stir in pumpkin, spices, and salt and mix thoroughly.  Stir in the cream and half-and-half.  Pour filling into the pie crust.

Bake at 450ºF for 8 minutes, then reduce heat to 325ºF and bake for another 45 to 60 minutes, until filling is set (a knife inserted in the center will come out clean).  Cool before serving.

Pie Crust

This crust recipe is from the cookbook “The Way To Cook” by Julia Child (Knopf, 1989).  I always receive compliments when I use it and it is not really all that difficult.  The recipe calls for a mix of all-purpose and cake flours, but I often use only all-purpose flour and still get a good crust.

For about 1 9-inch pie shell (with a little left-over dough)
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (scooped and leveled)
½ cup cake flour
1 tsp salt
6 oz (1½ sticks) chilled, unsalted butter, quartered lengthwise and diced
¼ cup (2 oz) chilled vegetable shortening
½ cup ice water, plus a couple teaspoons more, if needed

Have all ingredients measured and ready to use.  Put the flour, salt, and diced butter in a food processor and pulse (on-off half-second clicks) 5 or 6 times to break up the butter roughly.  Add the shortening, turn on the machine, and immediately pour in the ½ cup of ice water, then pulse 2 or 3 times.  Remove the cover and feel the dough – it should look like a bunch of small lumps, and will just hold together in a mass when you press a handful together.  (It’s important not to overmix; it should not mass on the blade of the machine).  If too dry, pulse in a couple of teaspoons more water.  From now on work rapidly to keep the dough cold and mangeable.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface; press it into a rough mass.  For the final blending, rapidly and roughly, with the heel (not the palm) of your hand, push egg-size clumps of dough out in front of you in a 6-inch smear. Again, it is important not to overmix – what you want is layers of flattened butter lumps that barely hold together – this gives the crust the flakiness.

Form the dough into a cake – it should be fairly smooth and pliable.  Put into a resealable plastic bag (e.g a Ziploc bag) and refrigerate.  Freshly-made dough should chill 2 hours at least, allowing the flour particles to absorb the liquid, as well as to firm the butter and relax the gluten.

When ready to assemble the pie, put the dough on a work surface and roll out the dough about ¼-inch thick and about 1½ inches larger than the circumference of the pie plate.  Because the dough has such a high butter content, it is important to work quickly so the butter does not soften.  If the dough loses its chill and becomes difficult to handle (i.e., soft and sticky), return to the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes.

When pie crust has been rolled out, roll up the dough a rolling pin and transfer to the pie dish.  Cut edge and crimp with fingers or a fork.

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