Marinated Winter Squash Salad

I‘m always looking for easy ways to use our crops of winter squash and have adapted this unusual recipe found in “Cooking From An Italian Garden by Scaravelli & Cohen. A cooked salad from winter squash struck me as novel and I wasn’t disappointed. The squash in the photo is Sibley Select, a sweet thick-fleshed Cucurbita maxima. Other varieties of winter squash are also suitable and find them preferable to pumpkin.

Winter squash 2-2.5 lb. piece, deseeded.

Roast in oven 30-45 minutes, only until

it can be pierced by a fork but is still firm

1 red or green bell pepper, diced

2-3 green onions finely sliced

1 rounded Tbsp capers (optional)

Dressing:

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar

1 tsp. Nichols Malibu blend or ½ tsp oregano

2 garlic cloves finely minced

A few drops of Tabasco or Sriracha sauce

Allow lightly roasted squash to cool. Remove rind and cut into ½ inch cubes. Add chopped bell pepper and onions and combine with squash mixture.Add dressing and mix. Cover and marinate for at least one hour, or preferably overnight. When ready to serve add salt to taste and sprinkle with 2-3 Tbsp.chopped fresh parsley. Serve at room temperature.

The flavor of garlic and hot pepper can intensify overnight. To correct add more chopped bell pepper or ½ cup chopped celery. This keeps for three to four days and is quickly transformed into soup with a 13 oz. can of coconut milk and ½ cup water. Blend until smooth. Place all in a medium size saucepan and simmer for ten minutes. Serve garnished with a sprinkle of cilantro.

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Spicy Squash Soup with Vanilla

Spicy Squash Soup with Vanilla

Use pumpkin or winter squash interchangeably for this recipe. The vanilla may seem unusual but it sweetens and marries the flavors. Some squash are so sweet and scrumptious they only need a few drops.

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup half & half (nonfat ok)

2 cups mashed or processed  squash or pumpkin

¾ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or Chili powder

(¼ to ½ teaspoon vanilla hold in reserve)

 

On the side offer additions of sharp cheddar, chopped cilantro, small corn chips. Heat stock and cream together in a heavy saucepan, whisk in pumpkin and seasonings. Let slowly simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add vanilla last wait five minutes and then increase if you wish. The chips and cheese usually add sufficient salt but again season to taste.

Country Pate with Beer & Fennel

This fairly coarse textured pate was adapted by a friend from an old recipe containing hefty amounts of veal and bacon. Her slimmed down version is moist and delicious, we served it as an appetizer Christmas day. The plate pictured has a slice of  pate from the recipe below, slices of crunchy Pickled Elephant Garlic, a zesty pickle, pickled beets, mustard, bread, fig jam and Keane’s fresh sauerkraut. I like the fact this recipe is for two pans of pate, the second one goes with us to a gathering later this week. There’s a fine line between pate’ and meatloaf and I think compression with a heavy weight as it cools produces is key to success.

This is a long and detailed recipe and it’s best to read through before beginning. A few sips of beer will help the cook along with preparation. I strongly advise you use the meat thermometer to test that temperature in center of each loaf reaches 165 F before removing from oven.

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ cups fresh parsley leaves, minced, or run in processor
  • ½ cup shelled pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 3 pounds sweet Italian turkey sausage, removed from casings
  • 2 cups beer, not too bitter
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • Eight oz. of baguette or rustic Italian bread crumbed in a processor
  • 1 rounded tablespoon Nichols Malibu seasoning or two teaspoons marjoram and a half teaspoon each of oregano and sage.
  • 4 or 5 large eggs
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 10 whole bay leaves

Preparation:

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and scallions and cook until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the onion mixture to a large mixing bowl. Stir in the parsley, pistachios and fennel seeds.
  2. Saute the sausage in two batches in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Cook each batch for 2 or 3 minutes, crumbling the sausage into smaller pieces with the back of a  wooden spoon. Add ½ cup of beer to each batch and cook just until the sausage is no longer pink. Add each batch to the mixing bowl and stir to combine with the onions.
  3. Add the ground chicken breast to the same skillet and cook with another ½ cup beer just until the chicken turns white. Add to the mixing bowl.
  4. Add breadcrumbs, herbs, and the remaining ½ cup beer. Cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds and then add to the mixing bowl. (If you’ve overcooked your sausage and there are large clumps either let it cool a bit and break apart with your fingers or run in your processor.)
  5. Add 4 eggs to the pate mixture and beat to make a moist but not wet, meat-loaf-like mixture. Add the last egg if necessary to bind the mixture. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Test for taste by cooking a small bit in the microwave or skillet.
  6. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  7. Line each pan with parchment paper covering both the sides and bottom. Let the ends of the paper hang over the edges of the pan. Place 3 bay leaves in a row down the center of each of two 9 x 3 inch loaf pans.
  8. Pack the pate mixture into each pan, pressing down firmly with your hands or a spatula. Place two bay leaves on top of each pate.  Cover the top each pate with a sized to fit piece of parchment paper.
  9. Bake the pates for 1 ½ hours or until internal temperature from a thermometer it has reached a safe temperature of 165 degrees. Remove the pate’s from the oven and weight for several hours as they cool. I recommend placing a bread pan on top of each pate and a couple bottles of wine as weights. Refrigerate for several hours.
  10. To unmold the pate remove the top piece of parchment paper run a knife around the sides of each pan and invert the pate onto a clean surface. Remove remaining parchment paper.
  11. This pate will keep up to 2 weeks foil wrapped in the refrigerator. The pate can also be frozen, tightly wrapped in a plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil, up to 2 months.
  12. Makes two 9 x 3 inch pate’s.

Pickled Elephant Garlic

Pickled Elephant Garlic A member of the leek family, Allium ampeloprasum like all garlic doesn’t produce viable seed. In spring mammoth scapes appear and can be harvested when flower buds form. For all types of garlic removing the flower buds directs the plant’s energy into bulb formation. These are a delicacy when sautéed. Come back for a recipe in late spring.

Pickling is a natural for these large mild cloves. So I offer you this recipe with the greatest  respect for those who develop pickling recipes. The flavors change and develop over the first six weeks and even longer and it is important to have it acidic enough to not cause botulism. The vinegar mixture needs only brought to a boil and then poured into the jar. Vinegar boiled in an open kettle for more than a few minutes will evaporate acetic acid reducing overall acidity.

Makes 2 pints

Ingredients
2 to 3 heads Elephant Garlic
4 cups white wine vinegar
¼ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
6 whole cloves
¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
2 bay leaves
4 dried or fresh chili peppers

Directions: separate bulbs from garlic heads. Remove the skins and trim the root base. Cut bulbs lengthwise into three sections. In a saucepan put vinegar, spices, sugar and salt on to heat.

Put canner or stockpot on to boil with enough water to cover jars during processing. Put lids into hot water to soften while jars are prepared.

Slit peppers with a knife tip in 3-5 places.  Place pieces of garlic, a bay leaf and peppers into freshly washed rinsed jars. Dip a spoon into brine, scoop out spices and add to jars. Add hot brine mixture to jars leaving ½” headspace. Wipe edges with a clean cloth or paper towel. Cover with heated lids and gently tighten rings.

Place jars in simmering waterbath. Jars should be covered by no more than an inch of water. Bring water to a strong simmer and once bubbles begin rising to surface process for 12 minutes. Remove jars from kettle and cool. Because I’m intimidated by any thoughts of spoilage or botulism my jars go into a refrigerator, another good reason for the small batch approach. The lids will  be depressed as a sign of sealing. Your garlic should be fresh and is ready to eat in ten days but I prefer six weeks. I like to cut into sections when serving. A true garlic aficionado may want a third of a clove or more.

Greek Pumpkin Pie

This version of pumpkin pie, incorporates winter squash or pumpkin, with gently cooked onion, feta, spearmint and filo, traditional Greek foods. Well the pumpkin is a little unusual but I have frozen winter squash left from last year. There are versions that are sweet as well as savory. I plan to make it again and will add half a cup of golden raisins, and ¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper not so traditional but I think the flavors will compliment. Aleppo pepper is offered by Nichols and is a Syrian hot sweet paprika that is coarsely ground. I use a lot of this in my cooking, it’s a gentle intensely flavored pepper not widely available in this country. The coiled design is traditional but if you are in a hurry cook it as you would Spanakopita with a few layers of filo, then filling topped with 6-8 sheets of filo.

4 cups baked or canned Pumpkin or Squash, pureed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ large onions sautéed in olive oil

¾ lb. feta cheese ,crumbled

1 ½ tbls. dried spearmint,

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 heaping tablespoons dry breadcrumbs or panko (see preparation notes)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1lb filo defrosted and allowed to sit out of refrigerator for one hour

1 10” Spring form pan coated with olive oil

Preparation: I used Sibley Squash which is not as moist as fresh or canned pumpkin. If you are using pumpkin try to pour off any visible liquid and include breadcrumbs which will be unnecessary with many squash.

Sauté onions finely chopped (a whirl in the food processor is fine) in olive oil for about 8 minutes at medium heat. Combine pumpkin, cooked onion, cheese, spearmint, crumbs, salt & pepper and taste. Note: eggs are added last so you can safely taste this mixture and check seasoning. Last stir in eggs.

Turn oven to 350 degrees and have a rack in center

Unwrap package of filo, and cover sheets with a tea towel.

On a clear work surface take first filo sheet, place it horizontally in front of you and very lightly brush with olive oil. Sheets do not need to be evenly coated. Place a second sheet on top of first and make an even strip of filling 2” above the lower edge and filling to the left and right margins. I used a scant ½ cup for each strip. Fold filo over the filling and roll over lightly brushing each turn with olive oil until you have completely rolled your first coil. Place this along the inside edge of pan. Lay each coil next to the last end and work to center until the pan is filled. Should you have extra filling wrap separately in filo and bake. If it looks as though you’ll run short start using a little less filling as you finish. Mine did come out exactly even with these amounts.

Lightly brush top of pie with olive oil and place in preheated 350 degree oven. Cook for one hour and check. If dough is still looking pale continue cooking and check at ten minute intervals until nicely browned. Carefully remove the pan ring, first running a knife blade along edge.  Allow to cool for twenty minutes and then transfer to serving plate. Run a spatula all under pie to loosen before transferring. This recipe runs rather long because these steps will be new to most readers. If  you have access to sheep milk feta buy it,  as it produces a superior result. this pie served with a little salad is an adequate dinner and also a good side dish. This is good hot or cold. Reheat in a warm oven. A microwave does no favor to filo based dishes as they lose the delightful crisp quality and begin to steam.

Baked Kale

An old Nichols recipe  recently requested. Here goes

One of my favorite winter vegetables is nutrient packed kale. This ancient vegetable comes in many forms, curled green Scotch, juicy Red Russian Kale, purple-red Redboor Kale that¹s almost too pretty to eat, upright black Tuscan kale, traditional in Italian soups.

Baked Kale

2 1/2 pounds kale, washed, stripped from ribs, and coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons butter

2 1/2 tablespoons flour

11/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (hot)

1/2 cup grated Swiss or Jarlsberg cheese

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3 – 6 drops hot pepper sauce3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs. p

Using a large nonstick skillet sauté kale with oil. The wet leaves will quickly cook down as you stir it around, cooking for 7 to 10 minutes. Add a little water to kale if it becomes dry. It should be slightly moist when cooked. Remove from heat and set aside. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan set on low heat. Stir in flour and continue stirring for 2 minutes. Vigorously whisk in the hot broth and cook until well thickened. Stir in pepper, nutmeg and hot pepper sauce and add to kale. Place mixture in a buttered shallow baking dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs over kale and then top with cheese. Bake until mixture is bubbly and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.

Pasta with Garlic, Olive OIl & Parsley or “Aglio et Olio”

Our Nichols Garlic harvest is beautiful this year and what’s better to serve than pasta featuring fresh from the field garlic? This is a simple side dish, rich in garlic flavor and aromas, a good extra virgin olive oil and plenty of chopped fresh parsley.

Serves 2-4                                                                               

Ingredients

1/2 cup chopped parsley

2 quarts boiling water with 1 teaspoon salt

6-8 oz of dry spaghetti or linguine

4 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preparation is the key to this recipe. First rinse and chop parsley then set aside so you can give full attention to past and garlic as they cook. Peel and chop garlic and set aside.  Bring salted water to a boil and add pasta, gently stirring into water so it does not break or stick to pot.

Take a large skillet and heat to medium low temperature. Add olive oil and garlic, gently cooking with no trace of browning. If it’s cooking too fast lift pan from heat and reduce temperature. Garlic is cooked only until soft ands aromatic. Cook pasta in boiling salted water for 8 minutes, until barely tender. Scoop from pot and add to skillet with parsley. Gently combine ingredients and serve piping hot with a grating of fresh black pepper. This is traditionally served without cheese but add if you like. Garlic can be increased to suit your tastes but always cook slowly as it is retains the rich garlic flavor and aroma. Sprinkle with few red pepper flakes for a light flavor burst.