Thursday, November 21, 2013

Rosemary Oil Roasted Spaghetti Squash With Blueberries - At Thanksgiving?

 
If we were playing a game where I ask you to complete this phrase: "Blueberry....?"  Could you list 5 things that didn't include the word "muffin"? 
Have you ever connected the idea of Blueberries to Thanksgiving?  
Read on, friends, and prepare to get that "hooked-to-cook" feeling that sends us into the kitchen mixing, tasting and creating.

Last week I attended a "A Very Blueberry Thanksgiving" event in the lovely home of the inspiring Foodblogger, In Erika's Kitchen.
It was sponsored by The U.S. Blueberry Council 
 
 (She's Cookin, Blueberry Council & ShowFoodChef)
and enhanced with pairings by Rioja Wines.
I can't remember ever using Blueberries at Thanksgiving.  Now, that will change.
It was exciting to learn that fresh Blueberries will be available all year round in the U.S. because of the imports from Chile. The Southern Hemisphere has a growing season that is the reverse of ours in America.  Just about the time our season is depleted, the over 32,000 acres of Blueberry fields in Chile are full for the handpicking and sharing. 

(photos come before food for bloggers, 

Nancy of Melissa's Produce with ShowFoodChef)

So, lucky cooks, we have the produce and here are a few of the recipes straight from Erika's Kitchen and shared by other fabulous Food Bloggers:


Pumpkin Blueberry Trifle - Worth The Whisk, and Cooking On The Weekends ~

Butternut Squash Salad with Blueberry Balsamic Vinaigrette- - Bumbleberry Breeze
 
 (Paired beautifully with Rosado)

Mashed Potato Pops with Blueberry "Not" Ketchup - Peaceful Cooking
 
For my own Thanksgiving, I have my usual list of traditional recipes that I make just to hear my family ooh and ahh.  I've learned from experience to "give the people what they want." After that you can teach, grow, inspire or maybe challenge their ideas and taste buds.  I usually throw in a few new dishes each year and some of those have happily become part of the tradition. 

This year, inspired by these Little Blue Dynamo's, I'll be adding the Pumpkin Blueberry Trifle and my own:
Rosemary Oil Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Blueberries

Recipe:
1 Spaghetti Squash
2+ Tablespoons Rosemary Infused Olive Oil*
1 teaspoon Brown Sugar
Salt/Pepper
1/2 cup Fresh Blueberries
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley (chopped)
1 Teaspoon Fresh Sage (chopped)
1/3 Cup Grated Asiago Cheese
2 Tablespoons Toasted, Chopped Almonds
(by ShowFoodChef.com)
1) Prepare the Spaghetti Squash by cutting in half, spooning out the seeds, rubbing the insides with Rosemary Infused Olive Oil*, season with salt and pepper, and the Brown Sugar. 
2) Place the squash, cut side down, on a parchment lined baking sheet and Roast in a preheated 350F oven for about 30-40 minutes.  Remove from heat, turn over carefully and allow to cool for a few minutes.
3)  Using a fork, scrape the inside of the squash shell (which will come out in "spaghetti-like" strings) into a bowl.
4) Toss the spaghetti squash strings with a drizzle of more Rosemary Oil, the herbs, salt & pepper to taste.  Then toss in the Blueberries and Asiago.
5) Serve in the Squash shells, or a serving bowl or platter of your choice. Garnish with the almonds.
(* If you can't find Rosemary Infused Olive Oil, you can carefully make your own for immediate use:
Add 2 Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary to 1 Cup of Olive Oil in a saucepan.  Heat on low ONLY until oil is warmed.  Remove from heat, cover with lid and Infuse for about 2 hours as the oil cools down.*)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Autumn in a Glass: Squash Cocktail - I'm Not Kidding

I'm always looking for another way to use all the squash and pumpkins that pop out in the Fall. I thought I had tried it all until I landed on a recipe for a Squash Cocktail.

It's on page #35 in the very unique and exciting libation literature (recipe book for cocktails) by Greg Henry of Sippity Sup, called SAVORY COCKTAILS.
I was lucky enough to be given his book to enjoy, and after a quick flip through I knew I wanted to buy two more for gifts. 

Here are the words that cross the rich brown almost suede cover of Savory Cocktails: Sour Spicy Herbal Umami Bitter Smoky Rich Strong.  Its a great clue to the expansive range of recipes and information in this classy collection.

Maybe even more than the recipes, I appreciated the information in the first 12 pages.  It was like taking a mini-cocktail course that included a sprinkling of Greg's well-known sense of style and humor.

So, Squash.  In vodka.  Crazy sounding, right?  Maybe that's why I had to try it, too.  It was just too interesting to pass up. 
In the end, I got one glass of it.  I made the mistake of announcing to a room of friends during a viewing party for Discovery Channel's Gold Fever  (my son-in-law played one of the leads) that I had a very unusual treat brewing on the bar. 
The color was gold and it seemed to be perfect for the theme of the evening, so how could I resist sharing?

The infusion had taken days, but the rest came together in a flash of ice,lemon,lime and sage.  It was a hit and I looked like a bar tending pro (which I am not, so anyone can do this, trust me.)
I think we will be serving this as our adult "signature" drink for the late hours on Thanksgiving Day just before we hit the leftovers and start sharing embarrassing stories about each other.  The flavor is just a sweet hint of Butternut Squash with the loveable bite of a martini. Cheers and Blessings!

WINTER SQUASH COCKTAIL:
(from Savory Cocktails by Greg Henry)
1 small butternut squash
1 (750ml) bottle vodka
2 tbsp. Simple Syrup
1 tbsp. Freshly squeezed Lime
1 tbsp. Freshly squeezed Lemon
1 sage leaf, as garnish
1 big pinch ground Cinnamon
1 big pinch freshly grated Nutmeg
Make the Infusion: Roast a whole Butternut Squash in a 450F oven for about an hour until the skin is blistered. Remove from oven, set aside until cool enough to handle, but still warm. Cut in half and remove seeds and fibers. Pull off the skin and cut the flesh into 2" chunks.  Place the pieces in a large, nonreactive container or jar.  Add the Vodka while the squash is still warm. Cover and set aside in a dark area for 5 days, swirling the mixture occasionally.

Taste the infusion for pronounced squash flavor, then strain the liquid through a wire-mesh sieve lined with a double layer of damp cheesecloth, discarding the solids.  You can cover and refrigerate the liquid for up to 1 month if needed. There is enough "squash vodka" for several drinks.

Make a cocktail:  In a cocktail shaker 2/3 filled with medium ice cubes, combine 1/2 cup of butternut infused vodka with the simple syrup, lemon juice, and lime juice.  Shake vigorously until well chilled.  Strain into a chilled 6-ounce cocktail or martini glass.  Float a sage leaf on top.  Mix together the cinnamon and nutmeg and sprinkle lightly on top.  Makes 1

 



Sunday, October 6, 2013

Momma's Yellow Squash

My mom says this is her mom's recipe.  As a kid, I thought it was just okay.  Then, just about college age I must have grown a few more taste buds because I fell in love with all vegetables. My Momma's Yellow Squash became my constant request when I was at home.
I'm really weird about left-overs and hardly ever eat them, except for Thanksgiving turkey and dressing. However: I've been known to take this squash out of the refrigerator the next day, sit down and eat it right out of the bowl - cold and all.

This is a wonderful way to usher in this month's challenge of eating only non-processed foods (EatingRules).  My grandparents grew all their own vegetables and I remember helping pull these sunshine-yellow squashes with their fuzzy stalks off the ground vines.  The only other ingredients are a tad of butter, oil, onions and seasonings.
My mom said to be sure I reminded you that the most important thing about this recipe is to cook it low and slow until it's naturally sweet and tender.
Recipe: Momma's Yellow Squash

1 lb Yellow Crook Neck Squash (about 3-4 med.)
1/2 Med Onion (chopped)
Drizzle of olive oil and 2 Tbls. butter
salt/pepper

1) Slice the Squash in thin circles (if the wide end is too big, cut in half and slice in semi-circles.) Season with salt.
2) In a skillet, on LOW heat, melt the butter and olive oil together (the olive oil is good for higher heat and the butter is there for taste.) Then add the onions and continue to cook until they are tender (about 8 minutes.)
3) Turn the heat up to Medium, add the squash and allow to cook for a minute or two, then turn them over in the skillet.  Repeat this step for a few times until most of the Squash has a little color.
4) Turn heat back down to LOW, cover and cook for about 30 minutes.  Stir now and then and check for moisture.  If they ever look too dry, add just a teaspoon of water, stir and recover to slowly cook.
5) Using your spoon or spatula, gently push down on the squash to cut them up a bit.  Carefully, taste for seasoning and tenderness.  Add salt & pepper as needed (if the squash was older or tougher, my Grandmother used to add a tsp. of sugar which was allowed since she was Southern, after all yawl. :D )
6) Remove from heat and serve.  Optional additions may be parsley, hot sauce or tomatoes.