12 Holiday Food Comas: Butternut Squash Galette

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Did anyone else just realize that Christmas is less than a week away? Even though I’m in the middle of posting all these holiday recipes, it only hit me last night as I was pouring over my gift-giving Google spreadsheet and realizing how many people I had left to shop/craft for this year. That’s right, folks. You may be the lucky recipient of a handmade, gold-filigree pine cone dipped in glitter and mounted on a stand composed of bedazzled Popsicle sticks and Play-Doh.

In other news….

Deb did it again, that clever girl. This isn’t one of her newer recipes, but it’s definitely a favorite amongst her many, many followers. And how could it not be? Joyous squash. Merry caramelized onions. Fancy sage leaves fluttering everywhere. It’s a sexy dance of flavors that may cause excessive selfishness and gluttony.

The only alteration I would make is to the cheese, which I thought was a bit melty with all fontina. Maybe half Gruyere and half fontina would strike the right balance for my gentle palate.

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Butternut Squash Galette

from Smitten Kitchen

Pastry:

1 1/4 c flour
1/4 t salt
1 stick butter, cut into 16 pieces
1/4 c sour cream
2 t lemon juice
1/4 c ice cold water

Filling:

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-1″ dice
2 T olive oil
2 T butter
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced into half moon slivers
1 t salt
pinch sugar
1/4 t cayenne
3/4 fontina cheese, grated (or half fontina, half Gruyere)
1 1/2 t chopped fresh sage leaves

For the pastry: In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. In a separate bowl place the cut butter. Place both bowls in the freezer for one hour. Remove and place flour/salt in a Cuisinart. Scatter the butter over and pulse (about 10 1-second pulses) until no large bits of butter appear (should appear like cornmeal). Place in a large bowl and make a well in the center. In a separate bowl, stir together the sour cream, lemon juice, and water, then add to the flour mixture. With a spatula, gently fold the liquid in until incorporated. Do not over mix! Remove lumps as they form so that you do not overdo them. Pat the dough into a ball inside the bowl, cover with saran wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.

For the filling: Preheat your oven to 375. Toss the squash with the olive oil and 1/2 t salt, then place in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until tender. Stir halfway through. Meanwhile, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed skilled and add onion slivers, 1/2 t salt, and sugar. Cook over low heat until soft and golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Stir in cayenne.

Raise oven temperature to 400. Mix squash, onions, cheese, and herbs together in a bowl. Set aside.

On a floured surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Place onto an ungreased baking sheet, spread squash mixture into the center (leave a 1 1/2″ border), and fold the edges over the squash. The center will be open and glorious. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown, melty, and delicious looking. Nom!

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Miso-Glazed Butternut Squash Soup

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Hello friends. Here in California, we like to think that we have seasons just like the rest of the country. It’s not true, but we enjoy our dreams. With November in full swing and Thanksgiving a mere stone’s throw away, it’s time to start prepping our innards for the onslaught of starches and festive holiday foods. We may not have snow and colorful foliage, but we can cook with the best of them.

And what’s better than a delicious twist on a classic? Not a whole lot.

Butternut Miso Soup with Fried Leeks. 

Not only was this dish as fabulous as a bedazzled belt buckle, it was consumed under the glow of twinkly lights on a delightfully warm evening. The miso gives it a great salty-sweetness that goes very well with the delicate butternut flavor. I’m a big fan of squash, but I get very bored with simple butternut soup. I discovered the fantabulousness of miso last year and tried to use it in just about everything, with this dish as the knockout.

It’s a very simple recipe and takes very little time, with even less effort. The addition of the fried leeks (which were amazing and great as a pre-dinner-I’m-starving-and-won’t-wait-any-longer snack) came from Cook’s Illustrated. Thank you, Lauren!

You will need:

1 3lb butternut squash
4 small russet potatoes
3 T miso paste (found in the refrigerated section with other Asian items)
2 T olive oil
1 T sesame oil
3 T rice vinegar
1 leek
3/4 c creme fraiche*

*Dairy is tricky when warmed. It tends to curdle and then your guests look at you like you’ve got some sort of incurable disease that you’ve spread into their food. Cook’s Illustrated, those tricksy folks, have done us all a favor and researched this issue extensively. They found that creme fraiche, unlike sour cream, milk, and yogurt, does not curdle when hot. I highly recommend it!

Preheat your oven to 400 and start on your squash. Peel and chop it down to about 1-2in cubes:

In a large bowl, mix together the miso paste, oils, and vinegar.

It should be very thick, but thin enough to spread easily. Throw your butternut cubes into the bowl and toss to coat evenly.

Spread them evenly on a greased baking sheet and bake until tender, about 20-25 minutes. Stir about half-way through. Meanwhile, chop your potatoes and but them into a large pot with cold water. There should be about 2 quarts of liquid. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cooking until the potatoes are done. Add your roasted butternut and puree:

Add the creme fraiche and stir to ensure even distribution. Salt, if desired.

For the leeks, slice them into about 1/4 rounds or smaller.

Rinse thoroughly and pat dry. Heat a deep pan on medium-high with about 1/4 oil and dredge the leeks in flour, salt, and pepper.

When the oil is nice and hot, shake any excess flour off and fry the leeks until they are brown and crunchy.

Ladle yourself some soup, toss the leeks on top with a spot of grated parmesan, and grab a hunk of bread. It’s nomming time!

Pesto Lasagna

Yes.  Yes I am.  Ever since I lectured myself on the beauty and wonder that is a perfectly crafted lump of pasta-sauce-cheese, I just can’t get enough of the stuff.  I found myself sneaking (who am I hiding from? my cat?) into the refrigerator late at night (grandma here considers “late” to be about, oh, 8:45pm) and snarfing spoonfuls.  I had to hide it in the freezer.  Whew! Dodged that bullet.

But now the guns are blazing again, ready for round two.  AND I’m going to finish it off with a lavender (there it is!) cheesecake with a lemon glaze.  What’s the number for Jenny Craig…? Get it on my speed dial, STAT.

MMmm calories.

I was feeling particularly crafty this morning.  Probably something to do with the full moon, but my brain didn’t seem to want to settle on one simple ingredient to focus on today.  It jumped from basil to pesto to lasagna to squash and then to kale.  ???? Hey! why not? Sometimes you need to go a little cray-cray (that’s slang for “crazy pants,” in case you’re not hip and cool like me).

So here is my helter-skelter, creamy pesto lasagna with kobocha squash and dinosaur kale (rawr!).

First I made a giant batch of pesto.  I hate to say it, but I don’t know how to write.  Obviously, that’s a lie, BUT I don’t know how to write down things while I’m cooking.  Ergo, vis-a-vis, etc, I can rarely repeat a recipe because I forget how much of this or that I put in it.  I am learning and improving though, so stick with me and have some faith.  My pesto went something like this (I’m using terms that I’m assuming only those among the Appalachians still keep alive):

4 large handfuls of basil, washed and dryed (be careful with basil, it is delicate and bruises easily)
4 handfuls of spinach
2 cups chopped toasted almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, favorite nut
2 cups grated parmesan
1 head garlic, peeled
ground pepper
olive oil (I don’t put an amount in because some people like their pesto more liquidy, some like it more hearty.  for this recipe I put in a minimal amount since I didn’t want oil pooling on the lasagna.  Icky gross).

Toss everything but the oil into a cuisinart, or if you’re old school, chop it all very fine and mix by hand.  Don’t judge– I had to do that before I got my fancy machine.  I had some nice hand muscles because of it (jealous?).

Stream the olive oil while the motor is running until you get the desired consistency.  Now grab a cracker or your favorite finger and try some out.  Give yourself a high-five, transfer pesto to a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.  Grab another cracker.

Now, I hope you’re ready to be annoyed by must infuriating vegetable I have yet to come across.

The Kabocha squash.  It looks all cute and innocent, like a fat little cherub or something equally as inoffensive.  Do not be deceived, you poor bloggers.  Now, admittedly, I’ve had some run-ins with other squash relatives (butternut and I have a long history) but this one took the cake.  I think it’s flat-yet-round physique combined with an incrediblyhard peel/skin/metal casing thing made it near impossible to attack with a vegetable peeler.  So I had to go at it with my fancy knife.  And this is how it went down:

I had to leave the room for a few minutes and meditate with some Prince in my earbuds before I could return to the scene of the crime.  Just remember, party people: patience is a virtue.  Find your chi and center the hell out of it before purchasing a Kabocha.
I bought two of these little monster and cut them into thin slices.  For the Kale, one bunch was sufficient for this lasagna.  Just rip the greens off the “rib”, rinse, and chop into smaller pieces.
Lovely!  If you don’t feel like giving yourself a high five again for such excellent work, go ahead take a shot of vodka, eat a tub of ice cream, or whatever it is that makes you feel like a man.
Onwards: to the Bechamel! Same story as last time:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups warm milk
Salt and Pep
I didn’t add garlic this time because I think you’ll be able to ward enough a herd of vampires with the amount of G that’s in the pesto.  But feel free to add it to the bechamel if you’re feeling inadequate.
So melt the butter, add the flour, stir it around, add the milk a little at a time.  Yes, this is the clifsnotes version.  So sue me.
Don’t get discouraged if your mixture looks like this when you add the milk:
Just keep whisking, just keep whisking.  It won’t look like unappetizing curdled goat cheese for long, and it definitely won’t taste like it, either.
Now comes the fun part!  I added the pesto (probably about 4 cups) to the bechamel and stirred until smooth:
So pretty.  And you’re in the home stretch, ladies and germs. It’s hammer time.
So you have:
Lasagna noodles
creamy pesto sauce
squash
kale
Start with a layer of sauce, then:
1) noodles
2) sauce
3) squash
4) kale
Repeat 3 more times.  Because of the kale, my lasagna was about an inch higher than the pan.  BUT since squash and kale reduce in size as they cook, worried was I not.
Looks like a hot mess, right?  Never fear, comrades.  It was DELICIOUS!  It’s nice to have spin on regular lasagna, and this one stole the show.  It wasn’t greasy like most pesto lasagnas can be and the veggies were a good complement.  Bravo.  It might be interesting to mix up the type of pesto (perhaps using all spinach for a milder flavor, walnuts paired with butternut squash and a sage cream sauce…possibilities are endless!)  I can see goat cheese being deeeeelightful in this.  Nom nom!