Monday, October 08, 2007

Back in the Spotlight

The colorful hues and various shapes of winter squash are breathtaking! Winter squash varieties seem more prominent and familiar today than ever before. In spite of its homely reputation, the hubbard squash can be impressive-maybe even glamourous, especially if you were born with that innate ability to create! How do we decorate this warty fellow, anyway?.....maybe just leave it for eating? That works for me!
I love roasting huge hunks of this variety, tossing it with some of my favorite fall herbs, salt and pepper and coating it with olive oil ..... baking it until it is light brown around the edges and tender to touch. Makes a wonderful side dish...
I've been told this squash will last up to six months, in whole form of course, if stored in a dry, dark area. Most of mine quickly disappear after the holidays when the centerpieces are no longer needed or glanced upon.
Isn't it wonderful to see these back in the spotlight today!
P.S. I have to tell you what I did this evening...another senior moment. I managed to pry open a medium sized acorn squash, cut it perfectly in half, scooped out all the seeds and stringy matter-you get the picture, then baked it. Just remembered two hours after dinner that I left it in the oven and forgot to serve it~ just one of those days........

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Hot Pot - Chinese Style

If you are watching your fat intake, this just might be the meal for you. One evening while in China, I was introduced to the popular hot pot method of cooking. This approach to cooking is similar to fondue because of the pots and cooking style. A much larger flame is needed under the pot to keep the broth steaming. For this celebration, each of us had our own pot. (I even gave hubby permission to cook his own dinner, without my supervision!) Beautifully prepared and arranged plates of raw foods and vegetables lined the table ready to be immersed into the well seasoned broth. With a little mesh basket in one hand and a cold beer in the other, we delighted in plunging our choices into the bubbling liquid. As you can see from the pictures some of the foods we used were tofu, dry rice noodles, slices of fish, tissue thin slices of pork, crispy green cabbage, lettuce, celery, mounds of spinach-even eggs. The varitey of what you can use is endless. We were also offered about fiftteen different sauces to pour over the cooked food. This is an absolute must experience when you visit China.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Usher in the Season of Pumpkins

Go ahead......unleash your imagination to all the powers of the pumpkin!

Autumn produce suggests an array of ideas for me in the kitchen. Pumpkins and squash recipes flood my kitchen counter this time of the year. I feel like a watchdog restlessly waiting for them to go on sale, any size, any color, I am ready to pounce! Besides my constant urge to cook with them , I enjoy incorporating pumpkins and squash into my dinner-table settings as well as occassionally carving to serve as a vase for all my seasonal flowers.

For tonights dinner, I made a penne pasta with Parmesan and squash. I used a butternut squash. The flesh is thick and dense making it perfect for holding up to all the tossing to fuse the olive oil and chesse. Be inspired and use that imagination~
2 Cups of pumpkin or squash, cut into cubes
3 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 Cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 Box of pasta, follow directions on box
10 Fresh sage leafs, chopped-leave a few larger for decoration
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss the chopped squash or pumpkin with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and cook until tender, about 25 minutes.
Cook pasta, drain and toss with ingredients. Apply a bit more olive oil before serving. Sprinkle with cheese.