The days leading to Thanksgiving brought a true abundance of squash and seasonal vegetables.
It had been a busy month of November, with less time to write, but that does not mean I was not busy cooking and bringing seasonal produce back to the kitchen as always :). Visits to the market were in fact very productive, as each week showcased a range of squashes of various shapes and tastes, and I could not resist purchasing them. And they left me, in those Thanksgiving days, very grateful for this abundance, the access to it, the communities and lands that grow it, day after day, year after year.
So, I decided to give them proper dues during those Holidays, being particularly inspired by the Fall edition of Edible San Francisco found at the Ferry Building Farmers Market, and Amanda Paa's "Smitten With Squash" book. Both contained lovely recipes that I grew very enticed by, while sipping a cuppa one gloomy Saturday morning. I became acquainted with Amanda via IG and twitter, and it had been a pleasure interacting with her. Her idea of writing a book about squash spoke very directly to my palate :) and I decided to order her book at the local bookstore. Certainly not disappointed!
So I gathered a range of squashes: tiger squashes, which have beautiful greens stripes and are a little sweeter than regular zucchinis, Melonette squashes, which can be a bit fibrous-y but rival sugar pumpkins in my books, a butternut squash, the seasonal classic, some beautifully golden delicata squashes, the sweet and nutty darlings, kuri squash, great always but perfect in sweet preparations, acorn squashes of different varieties (the white one having become a personal favorite), and more! So much in fact that the four days of the Thanksgiving break were not enough to eat them all, so there may well be a Part II :).
For Thanksgiving dinner, I made a roasted butternut squash salad, an inspiration from Edible SF's Fall issue. I had picked up pomegranates and baby red chards at the Berkeley market, and lovely buckwheat flowers at the CUESA market too. It was rather simple to make: cut squashes, roast, and meanwhile, extract the pomegranate seeds. Assemble the salad, and dress with a light vinaigrette made with Champagne vinegar and a little mustard. I did not have any walnut oil (unlike me!) but crushed some walnuts into the vinaigrette which worked fine. This salad was fresh, tasty and gorgeous to look at: a truly delicious beauty.
I also roasted some beautiful carnival acorn squash. Again following Edible SF, seasoned them with some chilli pepper flakes, salt and olive oil, and drizzled some creme fraiche to finish. That was a very inspired combination as the creme fraiche (need I say more? :)) tamed the chilliness while accenting the acorn's nuttiness.
And to finish that evening with something utterly delicious, I made Amanda's delicata squash pie with pecan pralines. Well I might as well stop at: pecan pralines!!! Hard time not to eat them all while making them... The pie recipe was very nicely laid out, and what a good change from the traditional pumpkin pie: delicata squash bear their name well, given their delicate sweetness. Roasted, they add a subtle nutty flavor to the pie filling. I adapted the crust ingredients to my preferences and pantry ingredients, though keeping it gluten-free (and xanthum gum free). In particular I skipped the oats, and used GF grain flours (more oat flour, corn flour and a little buckwheat) and extra pecans to meet the recipe flour quantity. So the results may not look exactly like what the book would let one imagine.
For the pie filling, in addition to the squash, I used 2 eggs from pasture raised hens, freshly made almond milk (yes homemade can't be replaced!), and maple syrup and coconut sugar in equal amounts as sweeteners (I actually used a bit less than the recipe since the squash was naturally quite sweet). I served this pie with a mix of heavy cream whipped until stiff and creme fraiche (yes I said it again! :)). What more need I say?
The next day, there was definitely room for more sweet deliciousness from Amanda's book. So to add to the pie left overs, I made her Autumn Harvest bread, which combined roasted kuri squash and bananas. Another great idea! The smell of this bread lingered in - no haunted dangerously - the kitchen for quite some time! I decided to make this delicious bread with canola oil instead of butter, which took nothing away from it. I also used ground ginger as I did not have any fresh one, and again coconut sugar and maple syrup as sweeteners. And I made the bread gluten-free, using a blend of brown rice flour (~1c), oat flour (~1/2c), and almond flour (~1/4c).
Again, I never use xantham gum, and I was not sure how the recipe was going to turn out since gluten-free flours can be a little tricky in breads, but the bread was wonderfully moist and tasty. So you can definitely trust in the recipe if making this bread gluten-free. This bread was perfect for a brunch but will make you satisfied any time during the day (as I tested for you :]).
Thanksgiving week-end brought more gloomy and rainy days. Perfect for baking and cooking! I was craving a soup, so I used a whole roasted Melonette, 1 1/2 apple, sauteed with a little onion and curry, to make a curried squash and apple soup.
This is a much enjoyed classic combination, bringing again good memories from times in the UK. It pairs very well with either a heavy cream or a coconut cream or milk finish.
This kept me well nourished to start baking. I used the tiger squashes in delicious buckwheat and green squash muffins, inspired a recipe by Erin Scott's featured in Edible SF. I replaced the honey with maple syrup and the molasses with brown rice syrup, which gave it a mellower sweetness, but let me assure you that the result was just divine: the flavor balance was a definite highlight of this recipe which will become a regular in my kitchen!
During Thanksgiving, I had diced and pre-roasted the white acorn squash, and kept it for a seasonal galette, a last inspiration from Edible SF. To make the galette crust, I used buckwheat, oat and brown rice flours in equal parts (1/2c each), and replaced two of the 8 tablespoons butter with the same amount of olive oil. This kept the crust gluten-free, and the olive oil added to its flavor.
This was a first time making this crust that I think worked quite well. For the topping, I used a chopped bunch of red russian kale picked up at the market and sauteed with a small burger onion, the roasted acorn squash, some crushed walnuts fresh out of the shell, and chopped sage ('tis Fall after all!). The veggies were spread over the rolled out dough, which was folded over at the edge to achieve the typical galette look. So loved this veggie and herb combination! And using buckwheat added nuttiness to the crust, which worked equally well with the veggies.
So I used that galette as part of a Meatless Monday plate but more on that in an upcoming post! Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed this squash inspiration spread, and, as I said, so smitten am I with these cucurbitaceaes by now, that there may well be a sequel... :)
By the way:
- So I am never too "dictatorial" about the GF flour blend when I write, because as I said in another post, what I use is what tastes good and works for me, and I feel there is much room for exploration before giving a definite: this is it! However I recommend using brown rice flour, almond flour, buckwheat flour and GF oat flour, and a combination thereof because I have had good luck with that. I tend to use one as the dominant, and complement with one or more of the others.
- Winter quashes will be around for a while longer. I tend to buy a stock at the market, store them in a cool place and use them throughout the winter months (they last well).
- All recipes are gluten- and dairy-free and will satisfy all eaters! Enjoy :)