Tag Archives: Michele Scicolone

Gold in them there Gourds

Because,

if you’re house-sitting the week of Halloween and have already been displaced so you’re at your ancestral home but 2/3’s of your stuff is at your former dwelling where the fire was AND you’ll be moving in November….did I mention it was the day before HALLOWEEN…..then you should definitely give into the temptation to buy, not one, but 2 giant and rather unattractive ‘decorative gourds’.

But they were substantial and hefty and the price was right – and they had the promise of being tasty culinary gold.

And after Halloween ALL the Gourds and Pumpkins  will be

GONE

Gone gone gone. As if they had never been here at all; as if there was no need for a Pumpkin or a Gourd in Winter. Winter is for Squash, alone.

Poor squash. Alone, poor lonely squash.

pumpkin 2015

They actually looked quite a bit like this, a Speckled Hound variety, but there were more warts.

amygoldmancompleat squash

SOMEWHERE I have a copy of this book, which has everything you could want to know about squash and pumpkins between it’s covers.  But think I learned well. Thank you, Amy G.!

The upside is that not only have they been decorative, but once I had time to hack, seed, peel and cook one……I have over 10 pounds of delicious golden squash/pumpkin/gourd (because they’re different names for essentially the same thing) .

You can’t freeze squash or pumpkin without cooking it first (consider the water content – you’ve seen this on front steps everywhere you look every year around a Halloween frost). Keep them indoors where the frost doesn’t go and you have much more lee-way. When the weather is cool  – and this week has been downright cold, and windy and rainy/snowy/sleety – it’s a perfect excuse to keep the oven going, as you roast it up to store in the freezer.

My excuse to keep the oven on and the kitchen toasty on an otherwise far too gray a day . Like John Alden, I shall speak for myself.

In typical fashion, the first quarter of the pumpkin took more  (or at least as much) time as the last three quarters.  I weighed the seeds and peelings when done – a little over 5 pounds. I wasn’t particularly wasteful; it really was that big.

I did have the option of roasting it whole, which I did once several years ago to a giant Blue Hubbard, Hubbard being my Dad’s favorite. That squash had been used for decorative purpose, and I saved it from the Dumpster. It was a carry in both arms /bigger then a big baby big.

Hubbard_squash

Blue Hubbard

I actually brought it to the ancestral home, poked it with an ice pick (evidently the real reason that that was still hanging around. Even though we called it an ‘ice box’ it was an up to date Frigidaire, frost free and everything) and put Baby Blue on the biggest baking sheet in the house and put it in the oven for a couple of hours until it was all  schlumpy. When it was cool enough, we used the stainless steel serving spoons to break in, separate the gold from the skin and the seeds and packed the gold  into baggies. Lots and lots of baggies. Which we stored in the freezer until there was need for gold. And it got us both through the better part of the winter.

But if you roast a squash or pumpkin whole, you end up with pulpy pulp, and I wanted to hold onto a little more structure/texture.

My new kitchen has 4 windows, so I set my cutting board on the table and was able to watch the dogs walking their people on the green, and cars coming and going at the street corner and the sun moving on the  horizon….I was also paying attention to the big knife that is necessary to cut a big squash…and my knives are home! Knives are sharp. No wounds to report.

Cut the giant in half.

Seed with the ice cream scoop. Seriously the right tool for the job.

Ice+Cream+Scoop

Ice cream scoop/pumpkin seed scoop – a multi-tasker!

Cut into whatever shapes make it possible to peel, peel, peel.

Toss with a little oil, sprinkle with a little salt, spread out on a baking sheet and pop into a 375° oven until it’s done…..20-40 minutes – poke it with a fork, you’ll know.

pumpkinNimono_of_japanese_pumpkin_2014

This is what it looks like coming out of the oven. You can eat it just like this. While humming happy food songs.

Some I ate off the roasting pan as it came out of the oven….lunch.

  • I kept  three of the chopped pounds to add to an equal amount of potatoes for slow cooker  for Squash and Potato with Rosemary that I’ve made before.

 

Italian slow cooker book

  • I’m going to use some of the leftovers of this to make a version of the squash and potato soup. I’ll puree the already cooked veg mix with the broth, and since I’ve already seasoned with rosemary I might leave the sage out. Note to self: Next time cook squash and potato with sage instead of rosemary.
  • Some of the squash/potato mixture will be mixed with eggs and fried in olive oil, a golden and easy fritatta. I fried a chopped shallot in some olive oil, added a little more oil, put the egg/potato/pumpkin in. When the bottom was browned, lowered the heat, put a lid on it and waited impatiently for it to be done.I had thought to sprinkle a little cheese over, but I forget and it was LOVELY.A glass of pear cider and a greens salad with pecans and blue cheese dressing made up the rest of that supper.
  • Some will be thinned with a little broth (or wine) and mixed with some hot macaroni, I’m thinking some hot pepper to season that…

Smoke & Pickles by Edward Lee has another version of Squash Mac and Cheese that I’ll be trying with freezer gold.

Gold updates  as they occur.

 

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National Potato Day!

Who knew?

Who decides these things?

Does it matter?

This works out for a Meatless Monday……

 Spuds and Squash.

Pumpkin and Potatoes.

The Smashing Pumpkins  - A rock band, not to be confused with a side dish

The Smashing Pumpkins – A rock band, not to be confused with a side dish

 

Mr potato head

Mr Potato Head LOVES that it’s National Potato Day…and is maybe a little afraid…He won’t be doing The Mashed Potato anytime soon.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND POTATOES WITH ROSEMARY

1 ½ pounds potatoes (about 4 cups)

1 ½ pounds butternut (or acorn or Hubbard or other firm winter squash – I’ll be using my leftover jack o lantern next week…)

6 garlic cloves (if they’re small, I’ve used more)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup water

1 2” piece fresh rosemary

 

  1. Peel and cut the potatoes into ½” wedges (they need to be a little smaller than the squash pieces). Put in the slow cooker.
  2. Peel and cut the squash into 1” cubes (squash cooks faster than potatoes). Put in the slow cooker.
  3. Add the garlic to the squash and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Drizzle on the olive oil and mix well.
  5. Add the water and tuck in the rosemary sprig.
  6. Cover and cook on high about 3 hours. The potatoes and squash should be tender when pierced with a knife.
  7. Serve hot.

Makes 6 servings.

From Michele Scicolone. The Italian Slow Cooker. p. 187.

Italian slow cooker book

Top with parsley and you have the flag of Ireland…just saying.

Leftover can be reheated and topped with a little cheese, whatever little cheese you happen to have on hand. Or mixed with some beaten eggs and maybe a slice of bacon to make a world class frittata.

Better on a Thanksgiving table then the usual smushed and smashed – it really is 2 great tastes that taste great together! And with the slow cooker, how easy and no worries about how to fit it into the oven.

If you cook the squash alone, with the oil and the rosemary, which would be an almost ready sauce for pasta, especially if you use wine instead of the water….

Michele Scicolone (click on her name to get to her website) has written several slow cooker books, but I haven’t finished this one yet, in part because I keep cooking from it over and over, going back to an old favorite, and then finding a potential new favorite.

When words are not enough.....

When words are not enough…..

 

 

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Filed under Books, Irish, Italian, Recipe, squash

The History of Corn is amazing

Or is it more properly ‘a-maizing’?
Either way, a few pictorial highlights – and a recipe – for a Wicked Wayback Wednesday from a talk I gave on a dark and stormy night for the South Shore Locavores.

corn

The audience was all ears!

In a nutshell –

Corn has been around for thousands of years in the America, in Europe not so long. In the 16th century maize was new and fashionable, but since it was easy to grow, and grow well, it became more and more common and less and less fashionable…..case in point – polenta.

Murillo - the Polenta Woman -17th century - notice how she's not fashionable

Murillo – the Polenta Woman -17th century – notice how she’s not fashionable

Pietro Longhi - Polenta - notice that it's being pored onto a cloth, from which it will be eaten

Pietro Longhi – Polenta – notice that it’s being pored onto a cloth, from which it will be eaten. This is the 18th century when ‘The Poor’ become romanticized. Their romantic  image is fashionable, not the poor actual selves .

made in Italy Gio Lochetti

In Made in Italy Giorgio Locatelli describe making polenta that is right out of the 18th century painting. He also writes of the irony of cooking the food his family ate to stay warm and fed in Italy in  a high end restaurant in London for people to pay a pretty penny to try. Polenta is now fashionable!

Click here for the recipe of Polenta in Chains – Polenta with Beans and kale and spinach that I brought. It’s from Michele Scicolone  The Italian Slow Cooker Italian slow cooker book

Polenta in Chains bears an uncanny resemblance to 17th century English  pottage, which was made with maize instead of oats when Englishmen came to North America, changing things to keep them the same.

Esau and Jacob Mathias Stom, 1640's. That's a Mess of Pottage in the bowl

Esau and Jacob Mathias Stom, 1640’s. That’s a Mess of Pottage in the bowl. The bread is pretty great, too.

Almost all the pottage in 17th century images include Jacob and Esau

Almost all the pottage in 17th century images include Jacob and Esau

A re-created 17th century English Pottage by Elizabeth Pickard

A re-created 17th century English Pottage by Elizabeth Pickard

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Summer, Squashed

Zucchini

Zucchini

So far this summer I’ve had fresh zucchini, fresh patty pan, fresh acorn but no fresh summer, squash.

patty or petit pan squashes

patty or petit pan squashes

Acorn squash - called 'vine apples' in 17th century England

Acorn squash – called ‘vine apples’ in 17th century England

 

What is summer without summer squash? Just in time, I was gifted 5# (and when did this become ‘hashtag’ and not ‘pound’? Or is it both?)

Mine are all yellow, and somewhat larger

Mine are all yellow, and somewhat larger

Thank you, Olivia Brownlee. Olivia also sings “The Cookin’ Tune” click and love.

Back to squash, what to do, what to do?

Salad Days, Soup Nights, when Autumn is new and Winter is still far.

First the salad…..

End of Summer Cool and Hot

Squash

5 T olive oil

4 garlic cloves, peeled

2 # small yellow summer squash, sliced into 1/3 inch rounds (or one 2# Summer Squash, cut into quarters and then cut into 1/3 inch triangles)

½ cup minced tender parsley stems

Salt

2 Tablespoons grated orange zest

2-3 teaspoons hot pepper flakes

 

  1. Heat a 12 inch skillet over medium heat until hot. This is done in 2 batches to keep it all from becoming too soupy. Add 2 Tablespoons of the oil then add the garlic and sauté for one minute.
  2. Add half the squash and half the parsley, season with salt. You want it to soften but not brown.
  3. Transfer to a large bowl and add 1 Tablespoon of the orange rind, and 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Stir together.
  4. Add 2 Tablespoon oil to the pan and heat until hot, add the rest of the squash and parsley, season with salt and cook until softened but not brown.
  5. Add to the bowl with the first batch, toss in the rest of the orange rind, and add 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust salt and red pepper. Add the last tablespoon of olive oil.
  6. Let stand for at least 10 minutes or up to an hour. May be refrigerated for up to 3 days (says him, not at my house, it doesn’t linger here that long) .

Mario Batali Molto Gusto.p.37Molto Mario

and then for the Soup Nights

END OF SUMMER HOT OR COOL SOUP

1 # brown lentils

1 large onion

1 large celery rib with leaves OR 1 smallish fennel bulb

2 medium summer squash (2#) (or zukes or patty pans)

A quart  baggie of juice left over from canning tomatoes with water to total 6 cups OR

2 large tomatoes and

6 Cups water

optional add ins – 1 or 2 carrots or 1 or 2 small turnips or maybe a potato…whatever’s lonely in the bin

1 cup ditalini, tubetti, or elbows

  1. Combine veggies and lentils in slow cooker and cook on low 7 hours.
  2. Add pasta and salt and cook on high for 30 minutes
  3. Serve hot with cheese – Parmigiano or Romano , you know what you like

AND the cool and the next day when the pasta absorbs the liquid and it’s not really soup anymore,: Frittata base!

Michele Scicolone The Italian Slow Cooker p.32. She calls it Sicilian Lentil, Vegetable and Pasta Soup

Italian slow cooker book

A little orange zest is not amiss, esp if you have any left from the other squash recipe. Or put a little zest in your coffee – it beats the heck out of Pumpkin Pie Spice Everything.

BTW :

b68a29a63204c191f20add1506dca3ac

 

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Filed under Autumn, Books, Recipe, squash, Summer

Slow Beans

If you’re going to be meatless for any length of time, eventually you’ll turn to

Bean.

Mr Bean - Rowan Atkinson

Mr Bean – Rowan Atkinson

No, not Mr. Bean – dried beans – those protein powerhouses of the plant world.

dried beans

Beans are easy to cook.The biggest problem with them is the time that they take. If the dried beans you buy are older and more dried out, they take longer to get to good.  Still easy.

slow cooker, travel model

I have a model where the lid locks – travel without making your car smell like baked beans every hot day for the next 10 years!

BASIC BEANS

1 pound dried bean

6 cups water

1 bay leaf OR 1 sprig of fresh rosemary OR 2 cloves of peeled garlic

Salt

  1. Pick over the beans
  2. Rinse the beans
  3. Put the beans in the slow cooker.
  4. Add the water – are all the beans underwater? I usually ditch the floaters….
  5. If you are using a leaf or a sprig or a bud – add your flavor component now.
  6.  Cover.
  7. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours, or until tender.
  8. Add salt to taste and let stand about 10 minutes.
  9. Remove the flavor component, it’s done it’s work, so thank it for a job well done.
  10. Beans are now ready for use in soups, stews, chilies, salads.

Adapted Michele Scicolone. The Italian Slow Cooker. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2010. p. 191.

Italian slow cooker book

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