Sunday, September 23, 2007

Winter Squash On The Last Day Of Summer

Last weekend I realized that the farmer's market was through October. For some reason I had thought that it was only June-August, despite that making very little sense. But I saw an ad for it on the local public access channel, jumped online, and it was true.

So I had to wander over, thrilled. And there was squash. Hard winter squash. In the summer. I'm okay with that, because last year, I realized I actually liked squash, but then it was bye-bye to the season before I had a chance to have fun!

I played it safe yesterday, despite having my eye on quite a few stuffed gems, I chose one out of a magazine with a picture that caught my eye when it came in the mail. I wasn't sure about it (turkey sausage, swiss cheese, and hot sauce?), but two of those reservations were personal taste, and one is just a bit ridiculous. Usually I replace swiss cheese, but I didn't, and my Dad was glad I didn't. I just put less on mine (which is the amount in the photograph.)

I can't wait until next weekend, since now I realize squash isn't too hard for me to handle, to buy more. I'll make baked macaroni one night, maybe another stuffing, or a "risotto" based on one I saw on a menu last week that called out to me.

Southwestern Stuffed Acorn Squash

adapted from Eating Well October 2007
serves 6

3 acorn squash (3/4-1 lb each)
1 teaspoon oil
5 ounces bulk turkey sausage, thawed if frozen
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 medium red bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
Cut each squash in half horizontally. Scoop out and do whatever you want to with the seeds. Place the squash cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes.

Swirl oil in skillet and heat over medium heat. Add turkey sausage and cook, stirring and breaking up, until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add onion and bell pepper; cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir n garlic, chili powder, and cumin; cook for 30 seconds. Stir n tomatoes, beans, and salt, scraping up any browned bits. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until the tomatoes are broken down, 10 t0 12 minutes.

When squash are tender, reduce oven temperature to 325ºF. Fill the squash halves with the turkey mixture. Top with Swiss cheese. Place on the baking sheet and bake until the cheese is melted, 8 to 10 minutes.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Revisiting The Muffin Man

I'm a bit rusty. I know that sounds odd, but I'm rusty at making muffins. I used to be able to have apple-oat muffins down and be in-and-out with the dishes clean in under an hour. Today it took almost an hour just to get the muffins into the oven. Well, I was also taking pictures (though just quick snips) and being careful with my measurements (metric weights, here I come!) to save time in the future, and I was remembering. I remembered why I love muffins. There's something friendly and forgiving about muffins. They're supposed to be lumpy and bumpy, and a little mistake is easy to cover. If they rise funny, well, its a muffin. I guess it isn't like a cupcake where a mistake can be covered in frosting, but if you bite into a cupcake and it isn't fluffy and uniform, things are a bit wacky. I'm very much pro-muffin and hesitant towards cupcakes, but I guess it is because we do call them muffin pans. And they make a much more satisfying breakfast.

My favorite muffins are apple-oat muffins, and at the farmer's market on Saturday (I thought I had ended, I was so thrilled when I saw an ad on public access!) and saw bins of gorgeous apples, I knew I just had to make some. Most people are dreaming of apple pie right now, but I dream of muffins. Okay, and I'm scared of pie crust. I like mixing things and being done- no rolling pins required. I asked the guy-who-knows-all which apples I should try, and picked up a few. I don't remember their names. I only ended up using one and a half of the apples, the first one was so large, but it was deliciously sweet and crisp. The second one was green and had a familiar, but somewhat deterring, flavor that I couldn't quite put my finger on. I finally recognized it. It tasted kind of like the artificial green apple flavor candies are flavored with. But the apples mixed together and in the muffin made for a tasty muffin.

I'm not sure if it was the extra care put into these, the fresh local apples. or the fact that I bit into one right out of the oven, or the months without then; they seemed yummier, and a bit sweeter, than ever today.

As for trying them with a dab of peanut butter in the middle- I think I'll save it for being slathered on top if I fancy it at the moment.

Updated Apple-Oat Muffins

makes 12

2 1/2 cups (310 g) finely diced apples (about 2 to 3 medium apples, I like it with a mix of sweet/tart apples)
1 cup (130 g) whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup (65g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (95 g) rolled (old-fashioned) oats
2/3 cup (140 g)firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (227 g) plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Grease a muffin tin with cooking spray.

Place apples on paper towels to drain, pat dry.

Combine flours, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Whisk together. If small lumps of sugar remain, that's fine. It makes it even better.

In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, milk, oil, vanilla extract, and egg until smooth.
Make a well in center of flour mixture, stir in milk mixture just until moist. Mix in apple.
Using a #12 scoop, scoop mixture into prepared muffin cups.
Bake 15-20 minutes or until muffins spring back lightly when touched. Remove from pan to cool.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

mushroom mixes are helpful

When I first saw this recipe in VT, it popped out at me. And then the magazine got stuck in the part of my bed between my mattress and the frame. But once I remembered it (Saturday), I flipped to it and ran out and bought the ingredients (along with those for S'more Sandwiches). But something happened and it didn't get made until Monday.

I'd already read through the recipe and figured it would take me about an hour. But I'd missed a somewhat time consuming line. Transfer to bowl, and cool 20 minutes. Whatever. I just let it cool enough so that I could handle it (okay, so I put it in the freezer while I prepped the pea puree, but it isn't like that did anything but warm the freezer up).

Mushroom Ravioli with Green Pea Puree
from Vegetarian Times September 2007
serves 4

For Mushroom Ravioli:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion (1/2 small onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
8 ounces assorted mushrooms, chopped (3 cups)
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
24 wonton wrappers

For Puree:
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
3/4 cup vegetable broth
2 Tbs. grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish

To make the ravioli:
Heat the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until translucent and starting to brown. Stir in garlic and thyme, and cook 1 minute more, until fragrant. Add mushrooms and increase heat to high. Saute mushrooms 7 minutes more, or until all liquid has evaporated. Transfer to bowl and cool 20 minutes. Or not.*

Place 1 wonton wrapper on work surface. Fill a small bowl with water. Wet finger and brush edges with water. Spoon 1 teaspoon mushroom mixture in center of wrapper and fold into triangle, pressing edges to seal. Repeat with remaining wrappers and mushroom mixture. To freeze, freeze in individual layers. Once frozen transfer to a freezer bag or container.**

For pea puree and serving:
Blend peas, broth, and cheese in blender until smooth. Transfer to saucepan and warm over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add ravioli and cook 2 minutes or until cooked through. Drain.
Spoon pea puree onto plates and top with ravioli. Sprinkle with Parmesan, if desired.

*This would be a good time to make the pea puree. Unless you are freezing them for later, in which case, well, make the pea puree later. It really only takes 5 minutes of paying attention, and 5 minutes of ignoring.

** My wonton wrappers were not squares and that was annoying me when it came time to fold them over. So I cut a stack of them so they were more squares. It made the folding easier. I also used around 30 wonton wrappers, but a package has around 48, so it shouldn't be a problem.