March? Winter Squash Three Ways and a Quiche!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How can it possibly be the last day of March? March 31, 2009! Does anyone else have the feeling that March was stolen from under their very eyes? It was a funny month. It began with a snow storm. Temperatures varied from the teens to the 70s. Just this past Sunday I got caught by a flash hailstorm whilst strolling through Washington Square. At my university there were weekly (or multiple in a week) conferences, colloquia and symposia to add to regular graduate student demands. Luckily, for my sanity, I continued to pick up my weekly CSA share from Keystone Farm, shopped at Mariposa, picked up my weekly bread order from Four Worlds Bakery and cooked any number of local and eco meals. Cooking really is meditative and good food provides the best comfort. Let me catch you up a bit on some of the highlights of this month’s eating!

Inspired by Naomi’s delicious post on butternut squash pasta sauce, I thought I’d put up a few things I did with the puree from a kabocha squash I had gotten in my CSA share. The squash sat prettily on my counter for months, before I finally decided what best to do with it. I knew that I would be committing myself to intensive solitary squash eating, so I needed time to consider how exactly I wanted to address the dear kabocha. Finally I chose to halve it, poke holes in the outside and roast it. I then pureed the roasted squash, and that is where the fun began. Kabocha is a sweeter squash with a delicate flavor and firm, brightly orange flesh.

I have a true love of apple butter and cheddar cheese sandwiches (on the spelt levain from Four Worlds). The squash puree, however, beckoned and I found that equally delightful is a sandwich of this sweet kabocha puree and the sharp cheddar cheese I regularly receive in my share.  I have mentioned before too, that I often make variations of Alice Waters’ soup of many vegetables. The addition of pumpkin puree to the vegetable soup not only gave it a beautiful color (which, for some sad reason is not apparent in this photo), but also added the most subtle pumpkin-y flavor to the broth.

   

Longing for pancakes one weekend morning, I decided to use the last bit of kabocha puree to make, what turned out to be, the best pancakes I have ever made. Really incredible - if I may say so myself! They were light, fluffy and unbelievably tasty. I long for the fall to make these pancakes again!

Soup of Many Vegetables
adapted from Alice Waters The Art of Simple Food

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced evenly
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
1 cup white wine
4 cups water
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup winter squash puree
Half of small head of cabbage (green), shredded
2 cups prepared cranberry beans (cooked in water—3 inches above beans—with a bay leaf and garlic clove, allowing them to simmer after five minutes of a hard boil for about an hour, reserving the cooking water)

In a soup pot over medium-high heat, sautee the onion and carrot until soft—about 10 minutes. Add garlic, bay leaf, salt and thyme. Cook another 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of wine and allow to boil for 2-3 minutes, add 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Add in potatoes, allowing to simmer/boil gently. Stir in squash puree. After 5 minutes add cabbage (you could cook cabbage ahead of time and add at the end with the beans). Cook another 10 minutes and add beans and reserved water. All the while stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste. Once everything is cooked (potatoes are tender) serve.

Best Pumpkin Pancakes
adapted from many sources

1 cup flour (I used a local PA white pastry flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt (you could use buttermilk or a mixture of milk and yogurt)
1/2 cup squash puree

Mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix together egg, yogurt and puree. Add the wet ingredients to the dry until just mixed (don’t over beat). Then cook them up in a pan with butter and enjoy with a drizzle of maple syrup or just as they are!

On another note. Spring is creeping in and spinach is starting to show up in my CSA share. Keystone Farm has experimented for the first time with greenhouses this winter, and lettuces have been making their way into my box. The spinach, however, is a great treat. In a sea of potatoes and onions, there is nothing quite like some local organic spinach! For the first time ever, I decided to make a quiche. The picture will reveal that I make funny pie crusts. I use (again) a recipe from Alice Waters, and this dough does not shrink at all! I always forget to take this into consideration, which is why my pies and now quiches tend to have wavy crusts hanging over the sides of the pie dish….

Spinach Quiche

Crust:
1 cup flour (again, local white PA pastry flour)
3/4 cup cold butter in 1/4 inch cubes
1/4 cold water

I used my food processor and cut the butter into the flour and slowly added the water until the dough formed a ball. You could also use the more conventional way of cutting the butter into the flour with either knives, a pastry cutter or your fingers and then add the water. Form a loose disc with the dough and refrigerate for at least an hour. Roll out the dough and prebake for in a 375˚ oven for 15 minutes.

(my pie dish is 10”)

Filling:
1 small onion, diced
1 large bag spinach (I don’t actually know how many cups this is, but it is the size bag I got from the farmer’s market!)
6 eggs, 3/4 cup plain yogurt
ca 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
Salt and pepper to taste

Sautee onion in olive oil. Add spinach and sautee until just wilted. In a separate bowl mix together 6 eggs, yogurt and salt. Sprinkle 1/3 of cheese over crust, add layer of spinach/onion mixture. Sprinkle more cheese and add rest of spinach and onion. Sprinkle rest of cheese and then carefully pour over the egg mixture. Bake for 45 minutes in an oven preheated to 375˚. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.

On another note: The other posters have been doing an excellent job of keeping Farm to Philly readers up-to-date on all the fantastic coverage that the slow/local/eco food movement has been getting. It is a really exciting time to be a food activist (or a conscientious eater). For further inspiration and information, “The Garden” will be showed at the Rotunda this coming Thursday (4/2 7pm).

Posted by Melanie on 03/31 at 02:21 PM


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