Monthly Archives: October 2017

winter squash

Winter Squash is Here

winter squashNew York’s recent summer-like weather may have hidden the change in seasons, but the selections at farmers’ markets across the state make it clear that autumn is here. Stalls are laden with apples, jugs of cider, dried corn stalks, and the dark greens, pale yellows, creams, and oranges of winter squash. Though technically fruit but referred to as vegetables, they are versatile, high-fiber, low-calorie options that add a fresh touch to any fall comfort meal and, if stored properly, last for months.

Here are a few of the most popular varieties:

Acorn squash are round, generally small, and have thick dark green and orange skin. Its flesh is orange-yellow and has a slightly nutty taste. Look for specimens with firm skins free of soft spots or blemishes. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a month. It can be baked, roasted, steamed, sautéed, and even cooked in the microwave.

Buttercup squash is squat and round. Its rind is dark green and marked by green-gray markings; there is a round ridge on its bottom. Many say that its bright orange flesh is the sweetest of any of the winter squashes, though it can be dry so it’s best to steam or bake it. Choose a squash that’s heavy for its size, with even coloring. Avoid squashes with blemishes, soft spots, or dull skin. While buttercup doesn’t store as well as some squashes — no more than one month stored in  a cool, dry spot, once cooked, it freezes well for use throughout the winter months.

Butternut squash is shaped like a pear. Its exterior is smooth with cream-colored skin. Slice it open and there’s a deep orange flesh; seeds are found only in the ‘bell’ of the squash, with the ‘neck’ all flesh. It has a light, sweet flavor. Look for a squash that is heavy for its size; the skin should be firm and free of bruises, brown spots, or cuts. If stored correctly, butternut can be stored for months.  This is a squash for almost any use — baking, roasting, and in cube for sautéing. Mash it for a puree and make a great soup!

Spaghetti squash is a great low-carb alternative to pasta. When cooked, the moist flesh develops strands that resemble spaghetti, with a light flavor that lacks sweetness and a tender, chewy texture. Roast or steam the squash, scrape out the strands, mix with your favorite tomato sauce and eat like pasta. Look for a cylindrical shape with a firm exterior that ranges in color from pale cream to bright yellow. Can be stored for up to one month.

Here’s a salad recipe that uses winter squash from delish.com;

Ginger-roasted Winter Squash Salad

INGREDIENTS
½ c. water
¼ c. sugar
½ c. red wine vinegar
1 stick cinnamon
¼ c. dried currants
2½ lb. thick-fleshed acorn squash
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt, ground pepper
1 piece fresh ginger
2 tbsp. Crème fraîche

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a small saucepan, combine the water with the sugar, vinegar, and cinnamon, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the currants and simmer for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Rub the squash with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Using a fine grater, grate the ginger over the cut sides of the squash and rub it into the flesh.

Transfer the squash to the prepared baking sheet, cut side down, and roast for about 15 minutes, until the squash starts to soften. Turn the squash cut side up and roast for about 17 minutes longer, until tender; transfer to a work surface and let cool slightly.

Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Cut the squash into 1 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Lightly rub the foil with oil and arrange the squash on the baking sheet; roast for about 25 minutes, turning once halfway through, until golden and crisp along the edges

Arrange the squash on a platter with mixed greens. Discard the cinnamon stick from the currants and add the currants to the squash. Drizzle with the pickling liquid and crème fraîche, and serve.

 

Photo Credit: Hans Via Pixabay

pumpkin

It’s Pumpkin Season!

pumpkinsWe have a love affair with the pumpkin! No other fruit or vegetable matches how the pumpkin has become a part of our autumn culture. Coffee, creamer, cookies, crackers, even cake mix for dogs. Come autumn almost anything you can eat is pumpkin-flavored. And if you can’t eat it, you can smell spiced pumpkins in candles and cleaning products. It’s been a long-term relationship, dating back to when colonial cooks in the 1600s discovered that this vegetable had dessert possibilities.

There are more than 40 varieties of pumpkins and all are edible; however, some are better for Halloween carving and decorating, others for cooking and baking. Spend some time with the grower at your famers’ market to learn a little about the different kinds of pumpkins for sale. And yes, you can just go to the grocery store and buy canned pumpkin puree to make your pies, muffins or soup, but what’s the fun in that? Using fresh pumpkin isn’t all that difficult.

Look for the small pumpkins to use for cooking — they’re usually marked as “sugar pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins.” A two-pound pumpkin will give you about two cups of puree, the amount you’ll need for a 9-inch pie. You can cook the pumpkin by roasting or steaming it. To roast, slice it in half (or leave it whole), put it in a 350-degree oven for 60 to 90-minutes. Scoop out the flesh, then puree it until smooth in a blender. Cooked pumpkin freezes well, so be sure to save any extra. But don’t limit your pumpkin experiences to just pie. Don’t forget pumpkin bread, muffins and cookies. And if you’re really adventurous – try pumpkin ice cream! It’s delicious!

Our thanks to www.blessthismess.com for our Fresh Pumpkin Pie recipe!

Pumpkin Pie From Fresh Pumpkin

Ingredients

  • Homemade Pumpkin Puree from 1 to 2 small sugar pumpkins (see notes), about 4 cups
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14-ounce)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 unbaked 9 inch pie crust

Instructions

  1. To prep your pumpkins cooking them in the slow cooker is the easiest and best way to cook them. You can find full pumpkin cooking instructions here. You can do this a few days in advance if you need to.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake your prepared pie crust for 12 minutes.
  3. While the crust is cooking make your filling. Add your pumpkin puree (about 4 cups) to the bowl of your food processor. Process until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredient and process to combine well, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides as needed.
  4. When the pie crust has cooked for 12 minutes, remove it from the oven. Carefully pour in the filling, return the pie to the oven, and bake for an additional hour. Remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool on a rack for 30 minutes.
  5. Serve at room temperature or cold with fresh whipped cream.

 

Photo Credit: 127071 Via Pixabay

apples

Apple Time in New York!

applesEach year, New York State’s nearly 700 apple orchards produce 29.5 million bushels of apples! You see them at your farmers markets — baskets of red, yellow, and green fruit, two dozen different varieties. Among the most popular are Empire, McIntosh, Golden Delicious, Cortland, and Gala. With all the options to choose from, how do you know which ones to use for pies and which kind makes the best eating? This is a great time for you to talk with the growers at the market about their recommendations!

To help you with that conversation, here’s a guide  from the New York Apple Association:

Braeburns are a little like Granny Smiths, with a sweet, yet tangy flavor. They are excellent for cooking and they hold up well in cold storage. Look for these to be available late in September and early October.

Cortland is an all-purpose apple and a true New Yorker — it was developed at the NYS Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York in 1898! It’s juicy and sweet, with just a bit of tartness. Its flesh stays white after cutting, so it’s excellent for use in salads. Use Cortlands for sauce, baking, and pies; slice and freeze now for baking over the winter months.

Crispins were first grown in Japan and were introduced in New York in 1948. A cross between Golden Delicious and Indo apples, they are crunchy, excellent for eating, making apple sauce, and baking.

Idareds may have been developed in Idaho, but it’s a cross between two apples that were first grown in New York’s Finger Lakes region in 1791. Use them for all kinds of cooking — sauce, baking, cooking, and pies. Idareds look as good as they taste, as they hold their shape and look beautiful in bowls on counters and table centerpieces.

McIntosh are a long-time favorite. It’s great for eating and because it has a tender flesh, it cooks down quickly for a great apple sauce.

Baking Tips:

  • Blend tart and sweet apple varieties for great pies with a variety of textures.
  • Keep slices uniform in size for pies and crisps for even baking; chop smaller piece for breads and muffins.
  • 1 pound of apples – 2 large, 3 medium, 4 or 5 small; 3 cups peeled and sliced apples

Classic Apple pie recipe from New York Apple Association’s website: www.nyapplecountry.com

For 8 people, a two-crust, 9-inch pie

Ingredients

  • 6 cups New York State apples thinly sliced and peeled
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoon(s) flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon(s) cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon(s) nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon(s) lemon juice

Combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl. Mix lightly.

Heat oven to 425º.

Use your favorite pie crust whether it’s a treasured family recipe or the quick and easy refrigerated pie crusts available in the supermarket.

  • Prepare pie crust and place crust in pie pan, pressing firmly against sides and bottom.
  • Trim crust evenly with the pan edge.
  • Fill pie crust and place second crust over filling.
  • Wrap excess top crust under the bottom crust edge. Press edges together to seal and flute.
  • Cut slits in top crust. Cover edge of crust with strips of foil for the first 25 minutes of baking.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown

 

Photo Credit: Hans Via Pixabay