The Spoon Blog
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Hi Everybody! Long time, no talk to! Sorry about that. I trust you are all well, and happy and enjoying this new season that we find ourselves hip-deep in...literally if you have a large number of deciduous trees in your yard.
That's right, IT'S FALL! Or Autumn, if we're being more formal, which I seldom am...
Yes, it's fall! Time for sweaters, maybe a jaunty hat, definitely boots (YAY!!), and Pumpkin-Spice-Absolutely-Everything-Edible. I'm not one to go completely nuts over the pumpkin-spice thing. I'm not a pumpkin-spice latte person...I can't reconcile Pumpkin and Coffee in my head. I'll only occasionally pumpkin something other than a pie...and that's usually because someone else has cracked open a #10 can of pumpkin and it needs to get used. I DO LOVE all the other fall flavors though. Those warm, sweet spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice. The 20 bazillion varieties of apples and pears that are available now. NUTS...LOVE those healthy little gems, OOH, sweet potatoes, too! Since my husband is a bartender, we now have the dark alcohols in our cupboard to play with, like bourbon and rum...I love cooking with those flavors! They impart a warm roundness to whatever you're making, and if you've never had homemade vanilla extract made with either bourbon or rum, you don't KNOW what you're missing! *Sigh*, don't worry, I leave those at home. I'm also a major fan of the other hard squashes that are around these days. Acorn, Banana, and Butternut in particular!
My Ex-Mother-in-Law, "Ma" Lamarca, makes her pumpkin pie out of butternut squash. She said it was a better return on investment. Pumpkins have too low a flesh to stringy-seed-stuff ratio. She'd take Butternut, peel it, clean out the seed pod, cut it up, and simmer it until it was mashable. Then she'd mash it up with the usual eggs, spices, and evaporated milk and pour it into her pie crust that was already fluted and ready to go in the oven. It was SPECTACULAR! Ma was an amazing cook!
I prefer to cut the butternut in half, long-ways, scoop out the seeds, brush melted butter all over it and roast it in the shell until it's fully tender. The roasting really brings out the natural sweetness of the squash. Sure, you get some little brown bits in when you scoop it out of the shells and mash it, but no big deal. I also like to use heavy cream instead of evaporated milk. If you're counting calories, don't do that. Opt for regular whole or 2%, or even almond milk instead. You loose a little of the richness in the pie, but that leaves caloric space for whipped cream...or a second piece! (Just me, thinking ahead...)
I also like to make Butternut Bread Pudding. I dice and roast the squash, sprinkled in cinnamon-sugar, until it's just al dente, leaving room for further cooking in the pudding. Then I toss it with toasted multigrain bread (the seedier, the better!), and my standard custard mix of 5 eggs, 3 cups milk and 1/2 cup sugar (doubled, tripled, or octupled, depending on how big I'm going) with a little splash of vanilla (did I mention the bourbon vanilla?). Cover that bad boy with some foil and bake him until set at 300 degrees, then uncover and toast the top at 400. It serves up beautifully with a bourbon-spiked caramel sauce...hmmm I see a pattern developing here...or a Cinnamon Creme Anglaise. Not in the mood to go through the process of a stirred custard? Best cheat I ever saw was Chef B melting down French Vanilla Ice cream to use instead!
Hmmm. I just read through this. And I'm thinking: My pickiest eater is out of town for the long weekend... I need to go get some squash and get to work!
Happy Autumn, Everyone!