October 22, 2020

Roasted Butternut Squash Tacos with Guacamole & Pickled Onions

by cillefish

Made these yesterday and they were VERY good.

Roasted Butternut Squash Tacos with Guacamole & (optional) Pickled Onions

Makes: about 6 tacos, with extra guac for chips on the side.

Time to make: about an hour and a half if you take the shortcuts. If you want properly pickled onions, make those a day ahead.

Ingredients:

Quick pickled onions (optional):

  • Small batch: 1 red onion, halved and then sliced thinly Pour in mix of: 1/4 c apple cider vinegar + 1/2 c warm water + 2 1/2 tsp salt, 1 ½ tsp sugar
  • Larger batch: 2-3 onions. ½ c apple cider vinegar, 1c warm water, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 ½ tsp salt

Guacamole:

  • ½ to 2/3 red or white onion, minced
  • 1 roma tomato or 1/2 big tomato
  • ½ to 1 clove garlic, crushed or mince very fine
  • 3 tbsp to ¼ c lime juice (depending on how acid you want the guac to be)
  • Salt
  • 3 avocados (normal sized; or ~5 little ones), firm but slightly tender to the touch
  • Olive oil (optional)
  • Black pepper or cayenne
  • Chips

Tacos:

Steps – short version:

  1. Pickle the onions: Put onions in jar, mix everything else and pour over. Set aside ~8hrs (see alternatives below).
  2. Cut up squash and set aside seeds. Toss squash with olive oil and spices and set aside to marinade.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 F
  4. For guac, mince onion/garlic/tomato and put in a bowl with lime juice to marinade ~10-15min before mixing in avocado and adding a bit of pepper. Add a bit of olive oil to make guac smoother. Put in fridge.
  5. Put squash on baking sheet in oven on middle rack. Put seeds on separate sheet on lower rack. Cook squash about 35 minutes, turning over every 10min with a spatula.
  6. Get toppings ready.
  7. Assemble tacos. Eat tacos!

Steps – detailed version:

  1. For the pickled onions: mix the water / vinegar / salt / sugar. Put sliced onions in a very clean jar. Pour mix over onions to cover them, close jar.
    • Proper method: Do this about 2-3 days ahead of time, keep onion jar in the freezer and shake occasionally to mix.
    • Quicker: Put onions in jar ~6-8 hours ahead of dinner. Close jar stick it in the sun for a few hours.
    • Quickest (onions still crunchy): Put onions in jar with no lid on and put in microwave on “3” / 30% power for ~2 minutes, and stir. As long as onions don’t get too hot, keep repeating stir-and-warm until purple color on onions start to bleed into the white part a bit. Set aside with lid on and let sit until tacos are ready.
  2. Cut top and bottom off of butternut squash. Cut into ~1 1/2in discs.
  3. Scoop out stringy bits from bottom part of squash, and pick out seeds along (no orangy bits). Set seeds aside in a small cup with just enough olive oil to wet them.
  4. For each disc, slice off skin (shouldn’t leave any green or whitish bits, those will be tough). Cut squash into large cubes, about 1 ½ in cubed, and put in a bowl.
  5. Thoroughly mix olive oil and mesquite spice, and pour over squash. Toss gently. Set aside for ~20min to marinade (or you can cheat and cook in microwave for a few minutes, tossing frequently).
  6. Preheat oven to 425 F
  7. Start guac: Mince onion, garlic, and tomato and place in very clean bowl with lime juice. Sprinkle with ~1/4 tsp salt. Optionally cover with saran wrap. Let sit a minimum of 10min, shaking occasionally to mix.
  8. The red/purple from the tomato & onion should start to bleed into the lime juice before you add in any avocado. Once that happens (at about 10-15min), halve avocado, hit seed with a knife and twist to remove seed, and use a spoon to scoop out flesh. Add to onion/lime mix and mash with a fork. Add pepper. If you like it smoother, add in a tablespoon of olive oil (you can add more if you prefer). Set aside in fridge.
  9. Put cubed, oiled squash on baking sheet in oven on middle rack and bake, turning over every 10min with a spatula, until sizzling and barely blackened, about 35-40min.
  10. While squash is cooking you can toast the seeds on another baking sheet on a separate rack. Watch them CAREFULLY and smell carefully – at this temperature nuts ands seeds can go from raw to burned very fast. These should be a light toast color or a pale walnut color but not black. When they’re the right color, remove immediately and use a spatula to put them in a small bowl. Set aside.
  11. When squash is done, if they’re oily put paper towels in a bowl and gently put cooked squash chunks on towels.
  12. Assemble tacos on tortillas: 1 spoonful of guac, add about 1/6 of the squash and on top, sprinkle: lettuce + onions + cheese + garlic chips and/or seeds.
  13. Serve with chips and guac.
  14. Enjoy!
June 28, 2014

Butternut Squash Cake

by horseradishsauce

In the spring out here in AZ, there is a thing called Market on the Move. For every $10 you pay, you get ~60 lbs of produce. We get a lot of melons, squashes, tomatoes, and cucumbers. In March, they had a MASSIVE box of jalapeñfonzy melonos.
We make the cucumbers into homemade pickles and freeze a lot of the extra stuff we can’t eat right away.
By the way, if you ever have a chance to pick up a fonzy melon, they are fantastic. The one you see on the right is quite ripe (about 2 weeks old), so the ones you find at the store tend to be more yellow. They taste sort of like a cross between a honeydew and a cantaloupe–sweet and fresh like a honeydew, but with a good amount of actual flavor like a cantaloupe.

Two months ago, my roommate and I got three butternut squashes. We didn’t eat them. The next month, we got another five. We’d tried making a soup with the banana squash from a previous month, and it was pretty unimpressive, and neither of us really likes eating roasted butternut squash, so I decided to make the butternut squash into a dessert. Foodgawker never fails me. I had a party and ended up messing up my cookies (I’m in an old, old house right now with an ancient dials-not-buttons-and-no-window-at-all oven), so I brought this cake instead. It was gone within a few minutes. I brought more pieces to class on Monday, and my classmates ate it all right away.

This cake is a slightly sweet cake that has a hint of butternut squash, similar to pumpkin bread. The main recipe is the cake with chocolate chips; my own cinnamon-swirl coffee cake variation is below.

Notes on making your own brown sugar and roasting/pureeing the squash are below the main recipe.

Butternut Squash Snack Cake 
(taken from The Live-In Kitchen)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar*
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups butternut squash puree**
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips***
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray (or wipe your butter wrapper on it).
In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter and brown sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until smooth and thick. Fold in squash puree. Add flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and cinnamon and fold with a spatula until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 24-27 minutes or until the top is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs attached. Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting. Cake will last three days well wrapped at room temperature.

*Make your own brown sugar
 If you want to save money, make your own brown sugar: mix 1 cup white sugar with 1-2 tablespoon molasses. At first, it looks like it will never combine, but if you keep stirring it with a fork and smashing the molasses chunks, you’ll have fluffy, fresh brown sugar. Add more molasses for darker sugar. I prefer using 2 tablespoons to one cup, which results in brown sugar that is slightly darker than the “light brown sugar” at the store and not quite as dark as the dark stuff.

**Pureeing the squash
I roasted it first by cutting the squashes in halves with the cut side against the pan and baking it at 400° for about 10 minutes.
Once the squash cooled a little, I skinned it and cut it into small chunks. It doesn’t have a lot of water, so I had to puree it by throwing in the chunks then adding water (1/2 cup – 1 cup at a time) until it finally made a puree. I also had to stop the blender and move the chunks around so the blades could reach them. Maybe it’s because I was using a blender instead of a food processor; I don’t know. 

**Alternative to chocolate chips, Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake:

Cinnamon Swirl:
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
• 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
• 3 tablespoons brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons cinnamon
(Mix all together)

Cinnamon Crumble Topping:
• 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
• 1/3 cup granulated sugar
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 3 tablespoons butter, melted
(Whisk the dry. Add butter, tossing until it forms crumbs)

Directions:
Make the batter as above. Pour half the batter into the pan, then add the swirl with about a 1” border so that it doesn’t leak out of the cake while baking. I don’t really “swirl” it—I just drizzle it on top of the layer.
Add the rest of the batter, then press the crumble mixture lightly into the surface. Bake as previously stated.

 

November 23, 2013

Fast & Elegant Gnocchi with Pesto and Warm Balsamic Kale

by cillefish

Fast, yet oh so classy. Just like me. OK, I don’t know what I mean by that; but seriously, this meal combines an old-school, judicious avoidance of overkill with a flavor combination that really pops. Toast a batch of walnuts ahead of time to up that ‘wow’ factor with a simple, fast prep time around 30min.

Feeds: 2

  • 1 14-oz package of gnocchi
  • ~ 2 Tbsp good pesto that’s largely good oil (I use Mt Olive)
  • 1 bunch young kale, de-spined and cut with kitchen scissors to 2-or-3″-square pieces (you can also use a mix of spinach and mild arugula, and omit the microwave step)
  • 1/4 tsp Italian Traditions salt-free Italian spice mix (I highly recommend this mix specifically due to the freshness and depth of flavor)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder (NOT garlic salt – just ground dried garlic)
  • 1/3 c: 2 parts mirin, 1 part balsamic vinegar of Modena
  • scant 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • Parmesan Reggiano, shaved with a potato peeler, ~3 Tbsp
  • 1 1/2 twists fresh cracked black pepper per plate

Important: Toasting walnuts takes ~11 to 45 minutes, but you get better results taking the longer approach and toasting entirely on low to medium-low. The hot-and-fast approach tends to turn things from pale to burned too fast for me to save them in time, and the slower option creates a fuller flavor. I keep these on hand and do this in batches of 1/2 cup of finely chopped walnut, stirring every 3 minutes or so.

Note: the spice mix can go either onto the kale or in the sauce. The mix I use lacks the dusty, strawlike consistency of cheaper mixes, but if your mix is tougher and dryer, put it in the sauce with the honey.

Prep:

  1. If you don’t have any toasted walnuts on hand, start with this step first. Raw may be alright but will lack most of the richness and depth of flavor of toasted.
  2. Combine olive oil, garlic powder, mirin and balsamic vinegar in small saucepan on low, and let it warm up. Add honey. Let it sit and reduce by 1/2, stirring or swirling every now and then to prevent the honey from crystallizing and burning. Meanwhile; wash, spin, and scissor kale and place it in a big glass bowl.
  3. When walnuts are toasted, set aside and get water boiling for gnocchi.
  4. When gnocchi is done, sprinkle italian spice on chopped and microwave for about 1min (you want it to reduce volume just slightly and take on a brighter hue, but stay just slightly crunchy and not quite “wilted.”)
  5. Pour warm, reduced balsamic mix into kale, separate into 2 bowls, and top each with matching portion of walnuts and parm. Toss gnocchi with pesto and spoon into sides of bowls. Twist pepper on top and serve!
March 3, 2013

Frittata, Frittata, Frittata, Je T’aime

by cillefish

For the frittata-uninitiated, these are basically quiches without crusts — firm, cakelike omelets cooked slowly over low heat. My first efforts at these resulted in scrambled eggs, but a good frittata actually can be super simple and surprisingly classy for something so packed full of good things. Tips to simplify:
Frittata

  • The right hardware: A big, cured skillet is best for this recipe since the frittata turns out particularly attractive if you sit it under the broiler for a minute or two, and I don’t trust teflon or the “wrap the plastic handle in foil” method not to do nasty things in the oven.
  • Butter is better: If your skillet isn’t (or is) well cured, barely-browning some butter in the bottom of the pan right before you pour in the egg mix will help it stay loose and come out a little easier.
  • Implements that help: A big, flexible pancake spatula is also a plus here, as is one of those knives that looks like a soft-cheese knife but has very good, small serrations on the bottom for astoundingly excellent julienne-slicing.
  • Shortcut: For the faint of heart or accident-prone [me], the baking method also works: butter a deep pie dish, do whatever stovetop prep is necessary to get the veggies where you want them, and pop the whole thing, uncovered, into a 350° oven for, say, 30min.

Spinach, Red Pepper, Onion, and Feta Frittata:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, halved vertically and thinly sliced
  • 2 red bell pepper, quartered lengthwise and sliced very thinly
  • 10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed out (I up it to 15oz)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/4 to 1/2 c crumbled feta
  • optional: 1 Tbsp pre-grated parmesan
  • optional: 1/4 c to 1/2 c chopped fresh parsley, or 1-2 Tbsp dried (I omit this)
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning (I used 1 heaping tsp)
  • Pepper to taste or a pinch of crushed chili pepper (the egg can handle it)
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Preparation:

  1. Pop the spinach in a bowl in the microwave on half-power to start it thawing. Meanwhile, chop everything. More Frittata goodness