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.

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Unsweetened Pumpkin Tart – “Citrouillat”

It was in the Alice B. Toklas Cookbook that I first encountered a very old recipe for a savory, unsweetened pumpkin pie. While this tart contains a bit of butter it’s far less rich than Ms. Toklas’s with a cup of heavy cream and rich crust.
Last night we cooked a magnificent 8# Queensland squash and of course there was a good amount left to enjoy. Any of your favorite winter squash or pumpkins may be used for this pie. When your squash is precooked just scoop out 3 1/2 cups and add small chunks to the onions and herbs. When pressed for time use a conventional pie crust or or even a dozen sheets of filo as I plan to do today. This recipe is listed on our http://www.nicholsgardennursery website.

When using filo sheets, remember they only need the lightest buttering with a combination of melted butter and olive oil. A 1″ pastry brush gives you good control. Since I’m using a circular pan I’ll offset each piece a few inches so the entire pan is covered. Then the top sheets will be handled the same way and rolled up at the edge. A photo will follow but I’m off to the kitchen.
Serves 6 – 8

Pastry
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
3 tablespoons butter, melted or olive oil 1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add yeast to lukewarm water with 1/4 cup flour. Stir and let sit in a mixing bowl until bubbly, about ten minutes. Mix 2 tablespoons butter and egg into yeast mixture. Gently add flour and salt to the yeast mixture. It should have the consistency of a soft dough. Do not knead because you do not want to develop the gluten. Form into two balls one slightly smaller than the other. Roll out the larger piece and place in an oiled 10” springform pan or ceramic tart dish. Brush with some of remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter. Cover loosely with a damp kitchen towel. Set dough for top crust aside until you are ready to fill the tart.

Pumpkin Filling

2 pounds pumpkin or winter squash, peeled and diced or 3 1/2 cups 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 dried
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons instant rice or 1/4 cup cooked rice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese

Sprinkle pumpkin or squash with salt and cook in a steamer for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain steamed pumpkin in a colander while onion is cooking. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet set on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is tender and translucent about 5 minutes. Add pumpkin, thyme, sage, and pepper. Adjust heat to medium high and staute, stirring occasionally until pumpkin dice barely begin to break apart. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stir in rice and cheese and place filling in shell. Lightly roll out the top crust and cover, pinching the edges well together, brush with remaining butter. Cut a few slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes on the medium rack until golden brown. Let sit on a cooling rack for ten minutes before serving. Serve warm or cooled as a picnic dish.

High Omega-3 Pumpkin Cupcakes

Pumpkin CupcakesEach cupcake contains two grams of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids from canola oil, flax seed, squash, and walnuts. Eggs may or may not be high in Omega-3’s depending on how the hens are fed. A good reason for free range hens to have a mixed diet that’s high in greens.

I developed this recipe after reading Susan Allport’s excellent book “The Queen of Fats: Why Omega-3s Were Removed from the Western Diet and What We Can Do to Replace Them”.

Servings: Makes 12 cupcakes or one tea loaf.

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
*½ teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup cooked pumpkin or winter squash
½ cup ground flax seed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
**1/3 cup Baker’s Cut candied ginger or chopped candied ginger
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil and flour 9×5 inch loaf pan. For cupcakes prepare 12 slots. I use paper liners in my tins to avoid oiling and flouring.

Sift first 7 dry ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat oil with sugar and then beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in pumpkin, flax seed and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture alternately with milk, beating after each addition. Stir in ginger and nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan or cupcake tins.

Bake loaf cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack; cool completely.
Bake cupcakes for 25 minutes or until tester comes out clean, they will still look barely moist on top. Let cupcakes cool in pan for three minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

POWDERED SUGAR GLAZE (optional)
½ cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. liquid (milk or cream.)
1/2 tsp. vanilla, optional

Combine ingredients and mix until smooth. Lightly spread on cooled cupcakes or loaf. I dusted my glaze with a small pinch of Vietnamese cinnamon on each cupcake.

*Vietnamese cinnamon is very dark and fragrant. For many years it was unavailable in the US but now that trade has resumed with Vietnam, we have access to what is considered the finest baking cinnamon. **Baker’s Cut Ginger, is minced candied ginger. A real step saver, no more sticking to the knife or gnarling up in the food processor.

Queensland Squash Scones

Queensland Squash Scones

This recipe originates from Queensland Australia. Sir Joh and Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen were a tireless and colorful part of this regions history. He served as premier of Queensland for many years. Her constant support advanced his career. She was known for baking and serving these tasty and most economical scones that are based on Queensland Squash. It’s not hard to imagine scores of locals downing scones and cups of tea and thinking fondly of the premier and his hospitable wife.

Queensland squash is traditional for this recipe but any winter squash will do. If you use another type and it is fairly dry add one to three tablespoons water or milk so dough holds together and has a pliable consistency.

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 cup baked squash, mashed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Grease a baking sheet. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and squash and beat well. Sift flour with baking powder and salt and add to squash mixture, stirring until just combined. Remove from bowl and pat out until 1/2″ inch thick onto a floured cutting board. Cut into 1″ squares and place close together on a baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes, until a light golden brown. Remove from baking sheet and serve hot. A little butter, jam and a cup of tea alongside the scones is a small feast.