Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘roasted squash’

Quince, Squash, Beans – Simple Fall Pleasures (& a New Class)

quince and delicata

When you cook and adapt and create recipes every day it’s easy to get swept up in the many variations and tricks that are certainly fun but not always necessary. And a few of  the teaching projects I’m currently working on are forcing me to strip things down to the very simplest preparations, to really practice what I preach– that cooking can be liberating, a way to frankly make life less complicated rather than more; that cooking can be simple, creative and just plain fun, not to mention delicious, economical and convivial.

It still feels like fall has just begun since the weather here in Oregon is warm and glorious, however, the produce at the markets clearly marks the passing of summer and early fall. The peppers are gone and cabbage is here and so is winter squash in its many sizes, shapes, and flavors. And this year’s crop of dry beans is arriving and my quince tree is loaded. This week I was feeling overwhelmed by the fairly labor intensive ways to preserve  quince (my dwarf  tree produced 50 quince this fall!) so I decided to simply bake the whole unpeeled fruits in a covered pot, as  I was already roasting beets. And voila, after an hour the quince had become sauce and I just needed to pick out the cores and stir in some honey.

quince ready to bake

The beauty of this season’s produce is intoxicating and I’m reminded that even this time of year, the hard, grainy quince and the unwieldy, weighty winter squash can be prepared and enjoyed with ease. And in the case of the latter it can be sliced and baked and enjoyed with nothing more than salt and maybe a little olive oil or maybe some salsa verde.

roasted squash wedges

And then there are beans! The humble, wonderful and under appreciated dry bean I love so much. I just ordered 30 lbs of pinto beans from one farm and will be loading up on other varieties from another soon. Nothing makes me feel more secure than big jars of beans in my pantry. Soaked and then cooked with a bay leaf a clove of garlic and chunk of onion and then left to cool in their broth, . . .then a sprinkle of salt and drizzle of oil and lunch is served.

bowl of beans

And put the three together–wedge of squash, bowl of beans and quince sauce for dessert-simple indeed!

And speaking of fall and what the changing temperatures and products mean for the kitchen, I’m co-teaching a class with Ellen Goldsmith who will bring her experience with Chinese culinary philosophy to our evening of conversation over dinner and would love to have you in class! Details below:

A Taste of Autumn: East meets West at the Dinner Table

Are you wondering how to make your autumn cuisine delightful, delicious, and inspired? Join Ellen Goldsmith and Katherine Deumling for an evening of conversation and eating just for autumn. What does this season’s food tell us about our bodies, our vitality, and our appetites? Katherine will bring her cook-with-what-you-have approach to delicious, produce-driven dishes for this abundant but cooler time of year.

Ellen will offer an overview of the Chinese medicinal and seasonal culinary philosophy as it applies to the autumn season to enliven your cooking.

Infuse your fall season of cooking and eating with a conversation over supper. We will discuss:

• The elements of a vibrant seasonal meal

• To utilize local and seasonal produce in a new way

• The benefits, from a Chinese medicine perspective, of cooking with the season

• How tastes of different foods energize your cooking and you!

You will receive materials, including the evening’s recipes.

When: Tuesday, November 5, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Where: Home of Ellen Goldsmith in Northeast Portland (Address available upon registration)

Cost: $60/person

Ellen Goldsmith, licensed acupuncturist, brings a passion for cooking and food with over 25 years of experience practicing Asian medicine and teaching all about the vitality and potency of food through the lens of Chinese medicinal principles. She practices acupuncture, dietary therapy, Chinese herbs, body-mind health, and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at Pearl Natural Health in Portland. In addition, she shares her passion for transforming our lives through our health on her weekly podcast Health Currents Radio and as a board member at the National College of Natural Medicine, the oldest naturopathic medical school in the country.

Salad

From top left: beet, orange and radicchio salad; roasted squash, black bean, avocado and cilantro salad; raw collards with pickled apples and toasted walnuts; and mixed salad with chopped egg.

I got to have lunch with my mother today. You’ve heard about her many times here but not lately. I was standing at the counter in the kitchen this morning mixing yogurt into my muesli with fruit and granola and I had one of those moments where you catch yourself, you recognize yourself in someone else. You realize how fundamentally you’ve been shaped by someone else, you have similar reactions, tastes, expressions. . . . It made me smile, feel old and all-grown-up and quite comfortable actually.

And then she came by for a quick lunch today. As per usual I tossed together whatever I had on hand to make a hearty salad. Today that was already cooked barley (Jet Barley) and already roasted squash. I had a few radishes, a lone scallion, some goat cheese (leftover from Saturday’s Improv class), a handful of parsley, a few leaves of romaine, and one puny slice of bread which I toasted and then tore up in to tiny bits. This all sounds rather odd but dressed up with a nice vinaigrette enlivened with my apple cider syrup it was just right–chewy, fresh, and rich from the squash and cheese.

Barley, radish, parsley and squash salad and my lovely mother and me.

I’m not suggesting you recreate this particular mix. What I do suggest–surprise, surprise (!)–is that you have cooked beans or grains or roasted or fresh veggies on hand so that tossing something like this together is a snap. My mother often does this and I remember her doing this especially when my father was away for work. Meals got simpler, less conventional (though she was never terribly conventional!).

This winter I’ve been making random concoctions like this a lot and I’m getting better at them, with the exception of the one with grated rutabaga (which can be very good in salads), roasted beets, and radicchio. It’s fun to balance textures and flavors and create such colorful one-bowl meals with odds and ends. And I continue to be inspired by Plenty (the beet salad above, for instance) though I rarely have all the ingredients Yotam Ottolenghi calls for but his combinations are so brilliant and they’ve been adapting well.

I realize I’m not giving you a precise recipe but you might not need one. Just think of your salad bowl and the contents of your pantry and fridge as your inspiration. Make a zippy dressing of some kind and see what happens. And if that seems too vague or scary and you happen to live in the  Portland, OR area then come to the upcoming Pantry & Quick Meals or Kitchen Confidence (techniques, substitutions, etc. ) or Salad classes!

Happy Cooking and Eating!

Winter Squash Coconut Muffins

Winter Squash and Coconut Muffins

One of my favorite things to do with winter vegetables like beets and winter squash–both of which take a while to roast–is to roast big panfuls to have on hand for any number of savory or sweet uses. Since the roasting is basically unattended you can do it while you’re in the kitchen making something else for dinner or whenever you happen to be home for a bit or your oven is already on.  It then seems like such a coup to have those sweet, tender chunks of goodness in your fridge whenever you want them. I think of this as another element in my prepared pantry. A term I use to describe all those things (veggie bouillon, cooked, frozen beans, etc.) that enable you to make fast food with real, wonderful ingredients. I think I’ll devote a whole post to this concept one of these days. And as a matter of fact, some of my upcoming classes–Pantry Stocking & Quick Meals and Kitchen Confidence: Techniques &  Tools, Variations & Combinations–focus on just such things.

Sometimes I don’t even manage to make them squash or beets into anything but just snack on them or serve them as a side with good olive oil and salt and a drizzle of sherry vinegar for the beets. But often they go into salads or a risotto or soup or curry. The other day I had a bunch of roasted squash in the fridge as well as a partial can of coconut milk which I knew wouldn’t last much longer. So out of these two items these muffins were born.

The coarse sugar and toasted coconut make for a nice, crunchy topping. Don't skip this part--it really adds and you use more of the coconut in the batter it anyway.

The bake-with-what-you-have strategy does not always work but this time it did and I will open a new can of coconut milk and roast squash for just this purpose in the future. I added some chopped golden raisins (whole my son picks them out but chopped he doesn’t mind them) for sweetness, a bunch of fresh, grated ginger and some toasted shredded coconut. Next time I’m going to try adding some lime or lemon zest just for fun but there already is plenty going on in these. And in the bake-with-what-you-have vein, I’m sure these would be good with nuts instead of raisins or other dried fruit or different sweeteners so play around and let me know how it goes.

These muffins keep quite well since the squash keeps them moist.

Winter Squash Coconut Muffins

These muffins are not very sweet so up the sweetener a bit if you’d like. And the sweetness will also depend on the kind of squash you use. I used buttercup and would recommend it, kabocha, hubbard or butternut. You want a dense, dry-ish fleshed, sweet squash. But then again, use whatever you have and see how it goes!

About 16 – 20 muffins (I made 12 regular sized-ones and 8 smaller ones — see photo)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or spelt flour, etc. )
3/4 cup coconut sugar (or brown or regular granulated sugar)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¾  tsp salt kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
Generous 2 cups roasted winter squash
1/2 cup golden raisins (chopped if you have raisin dislikers in your circle)
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened, shredded coconut lightly toasted, divided (I did this while I was preheating the oven)
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (preferably full fat)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Topping:
2 tablespoons coarse sugar such as demerara or turbinado
3 tablespoons toasted, shredded coconut (from quantity listed above)

Preheat oven to 375. While it’s heating spread the shredded, unsweetened coconut on a sheet pan and toast until just beginning to turn golden. This can take anywhere from 5- 10 minutes. Check often and be careful not to burn.

Put the squash, eggs, ginger, coconut milk and vanilla in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Alternatively you can mash the squash with a fork (it should be nice and soft and easy to do) and then whisk all the wet ingredients together by hand.

Whisk the flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the squash coconut milk mixture, the raisins and toasted coconut (be sure to reserve 3 tablespoons for the topping) and stir until just combined. Don’t over mix.

Portion the batter into muffin tins, filling each one about 3/4 full. Sprinkle each unbaked muffin with the coarse sugar and toasted coconut, lightly pressing down on the topping so it sticks well.

Bake for about 15 – 18 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.