Butternut Squash Pie with Cayenne Pepper

October 31, 2009

First, make a crust. This week, I used the savory tart crust from Pie Everyday and substituted whole wheat pastry flour for the white flour. Here’s the recipe:

Stir a pinch of salt into 11/2 cups flour. Cut in 12 tablespoons of butter. Mix in ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough just holds together. Shape the dough into a flat disk and refrigerate for half an hour while you make the filling. When the dough is chilled, roll it out and put it in a pie pan, add the filling, and bake at 350 until it is done.

The filling: Stick the leftover butter nut squash with cayenne pepper, add two eggs, a cup or so of yogurt, another dash of cayenne, and a little milk in a blender and puree everything together.

Notes: The pie takes about an hour to bake, but it’s better to rely on your senses than the clock when it comes to cooking times. Other types of winter squash would be good too – this would work well with pumpkin or kombucha squash too.




Roasted Butternut Squash with Cayenne Pepper

October 26, 2009

First, cut up your butternut squash. If you’re not quite sure how to do this, trot over to my handy tutorial on cutting up very large squashes. You can cut your squash into cubes or slices or whatever suits your fancy. I usually cut them into  something that looks like it escaped from a Jinga tower.

Next, put your squash into a baking pan, add a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, and stir it all together. Bake it at 350 degrees, stirring every 10 or 15 minutes, until you can pierce the squash with a fork. The squash should be done in about an hour – just use your nose, and poke it with a fork once in a while, and you’ll know when it’s ready.

How to Cut Up a Very Large Squash

October 26, 2009

Winter squash are the armadillos of the plant world. They’re hard, funny looking, and very difficult to cut in to.

If winter squash weren’t so delicious, I wouldn’t give much thought to cutting them open. But they are, and I have. So today, dear readers, I will share what I know with you.

First of all, it helps to have a big, sharp knife. I’ve cut up a squash with a paring knife – in fact, I’ve done it more than once – but I wouldn’t recommend it. They always get stuck in the squash, and then you can’t get them out, and you can’t cut, and it’s very frustrating.

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Ricotta Pie

September 6, 2009

For the crust:

Pour a goodly amount of sliced almonds and dried coconut into a bowl. (If you’re not sure what a “goodly amount” is, start with half a cup of each and see if it looks like enough almonds and coconuts to cover the bottom of a pie pan.)

Remove the zest from one lemon and add it to the almonds and coconut. A zester is nice for this job, but if you don’t have one, use a knife or a carrot peeler.

Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter and stir it into the mix.

Press the almond-coconut mixture into the bottom of a pie pan.

For the filling:

Combine two cups of ricotta cheese, the juice from the lemon you just zested, 1/3 cup of honey, and two beaten eggs.

Pour the filling onto the almond-coconut crust and sprinkle it with a bit of nutmeg.

Bake the pie at 350. The pie is done when you can smell it and when the filling starts to look a little firmer. I don’t remember exactly how long it takes to cook, but if you put the pie in the oven before dinner, it’s usually done by the time you’re ready to eat dessert.

It’s best to let it cool for a bit before you slice it (it’s a bit runny when you first take it out of the oven), but you can eat it straight out of the oven if you like. It’s also good the next day, and it looks very festive with a bit of nice fruit.

Asparagas is in Season!

May 24, 2009

Wash the asparagus and cut the bottom ends off. Heat some oil in a pan and throw on the asparagus. Add a splash of sherry and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until patches of the asparagus are lightly browned and you can stab it with a fork.

Butternut Squash Soup with Leeks, Kale, and Lentils

April 6, 2009

I’ve had a bunch of kale and squash in my freezer for weeks, and I decided to make use of it yesterday. This is what I made.


3 leeks, washed, trimmed, and chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 stalks of celery, washed and chopped

small bunch of parsley, chopped

1-2 bay leaves

pinch of salt

half a butternut squash, cut into half inch cubes

colander full of kale, chopped

1 cup of lentils

1. Make the stock: Put the green parts of the leeks, the carrots, the celery, the bayleaf, the parsley and a little salt in a big pot. Add about eight cups of water, bring to a boil, and then lower the heat. Let the veggies simmer for about half an hour, taste for salt (if it’s too salty, add more water and simmer a little longer; if it’s not salty enough, add more salt), then strain the stock. (I put a colander in another big pot, pour everything in, then lift out the colander and discard all the boiled-to-death veggies).

2. Saute the white parts of the leeks in a little olive oil.

3. Put the leeks, squash, and lentils into the pot with the stock, bring it to a boil, then turn down the heat.

4. Once the squash is soft and the lentils are almost done (about 20 minutes), add the kale.

5. Keep cooking until the kale is done (about 10 minutes), then taste for salt. Add more water if you like – the water in the soup will evaporate while everything’s cooking, so you may need to add a cup or two of water once in a while. Alternatively, you can just let everything cook down into a stew and it will still taste good.

Update: my grandmother just called to say that she made this with a little vinegar and salt and pepper for extra flavor, and a little brown sugar for the butternut squash.

Making Do: The Logic of Substitution

March 24, 2009

I’ve been doing a lot of improvisionational baking lately – see here, here, and here – and so I have been thinking about what makes a recipe work and how to make do when you’re missing a tool, an ingredient, or both. How do you make a pie without butter? What if you don’t have a rolling pin? What if you can’t find the measuring spoons? What do you do when you’re halfway through a muffin recipe and realize you’re out of milk?

I think the key here is to zero in on the function of the missing tool and ingredient and then try to find something else that fulfills that function. The substitute doesn’t have to look or taste exactly the same, it just needs to do the same job.

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