hasselback butternut squash

This begins, as so much in the Autumn does with the underrated squash. Butternut, to be precise.

This recipe calls for one butternut squash, but it could easily be doubled-

1 butternut squash

1 cup of apple cider-boiled down to make about 1/4 cup or 1/4 maple syrup

vegetable spray- salt and pepper and any optional spices your little heart desires

cumin would rock, as would adding some chili flakes to the glaze

Anon-  Cut the ends off of your squash and then cut in half longwise- for heaven’s sake be careful- you may want to nestle the squash in a towel to prevent it sliding around on you-

Use a spoon to clean out the hollow and use a vegetable peeler to peel it- press hard- you want all the skin, or a sort of stringy layer will be left. Put them on a plate and microwave for about 8 minutes.

You want them to be somewhat easier to cut, without being cooked all the way through

Lay a chopstick, or some kind of skewer on either side and make thin cuts (short ways) through the squash.  Either use parchment paper or spray the heck out of your baking pan with a vegetable oil spray(I am not kidding- think Last Tango in Paris-that kind of oiling up!)  Apply a thin layer of your glaze and season with salt and pepper. This is a handy sort of easy-going dish- it can either cook for about an hour at 350* or shorter in a hotter oven.  Once or twice as it cooks brush on more glaze as it roasts it will fan open- do NOT try to skip this step and pour it on all at once, you will never get the smell of scorched sugar out of your hair(learn from me ,people)  If its not quite the burnished jewel you want it to be a few seconds under the broiler will fix that, tout suite.

download

some day i will learn to edit my vids so that i do not look like Gollum at first, but today is not that day.

Apple Cider Sangria

4 cups apple cider

2 cup of white wine(dry, but cheap is just fine)

3/4 cup fireball or other cinnamon whiskey.

Chopped fresh apples and pears, about half of a whole nutmeg, and as many cloves and cinnamon sticks as you feel  like.

Stir first three ingredients together and then pour over the remaining ingredients.  Ideally let it sit together for an hour at least, more is better. Pour into wine glasses and swig away.  Autumn just got even better…

Strawberry rhubarb champagne cocktail!

 

it’s time to reclaim the champagne cocktail, from the syrupy, insipid, cliche’ it has become.  This is springtime in a glass!

Begin by making a strawberry rhubarb syrup-

1 bag frozen strawberries(if you  have some just past perfect strawberries you can use them, dont waste strawberries at their peak of strawberryness for this.

4 stalks rhubarb, scrubbed and sliced up

2/3 cup sugar

Bring it to a boil and then simmer until all the fruit is disintegratingly soft.  While still hot, pout through a mesh sieve. Give it an occasional stir until all the liquid has passed through, if you notice it getting too thick as it sits(rhubarb is chock full of pectin, so it might) stir in some very hot water until its a pour able consistency. Set aside to cool.  To serve- pour about an ounce of your red syrup of sweet tart nirvana into a glass(for heavens sake not one of those coupe’s-  that’s  not enough fluid for a hamster and these are swiggingly good…) top up with cold sparkling wine. You can go pretty cheap for this, although you don’t want anything labelled as being very sweet.

Cheers!

Shortbread wedges

These cookies go together in about 2 minutes- assuming your butter is room temperature.  They are lovely with a cup of tea, and a very nice accompaniment to any sort of fruit dessert.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter- much has been written about the superiority of unsalted butter when baking.  I find it to be hogwash. I use salted butter with impunity and it’s totally fine if you do too. Must be very soft, but not melted.

3/4 cup confectioners sugar

2 cups flour

1 tsp. salt.

You could sift everything, but I just bash it all together with a wooden spoon, until it comes together.

Line a cake pan(8 or 9″) with a circle of parchment paper- do not skip this. Get a small bowl of water. Press the dough into the pan, if your hands are getting too sticky, dip them int the water. Smooth the top of the dough. Bake at 300* convection for about an hour.  It should be firm and the tiniest bit golden. While it’s still hot take a fork and prick all over the surface. Score into 8(or 16 if you are of a stingy persuasion or assembling a cookie basket) Allow it to cool before raking out of the pan.

I am not inclined to gild the lily, but dunking one end of the wedge into some melted dark chocolate is something I can get behind.  Or swirl a lemon glaze over the top. Or just enjoy the simple perfection.

Accordion potatoes

These delicious babies are sometimes(incorrectly) called rosti potatoes. The secret behind their tastiness is that the cutting part way through increases surface area, which increases crunch. Crunch is always a net positive.

So being with smallish potatoes- I favor Yukon gold’s but red skinned ones work too, although they will never crisp up quite like older spuds.  Lay your potato in the bowl of a wooden spoon, using a sharp knife make 5-6 vertical cuts. The bowl of the spoon will prevent you from slicing all the way through.   Toss with some olive oil- by far the best way to do this is with your hands.  Roast these puppies- they are flexible in that you can use a variety of temps and times. So work around your protein- if you are making a roast, they can go for 45 minutes at 350*  They could also do 30 minutes at 400*.  While they are piping hot- season with salt, pepper and microplaned garlic. Rosemary is good, too.

NO Regret Mac and Cheese

Alright- boil your pasta in a reasonably big shallow put, I use a dutch oven for this.   When properly toothsome drain the pasta into a colander.  Thoroughly spray your pot with Pam. Melt 1/2 stick of butter, stir in 1/8 cup of flour and whisk until roux forms.  Add two cups of milk, (whole is best- but if you only have skim, use 1/2 cup less milk and add 1/2 cup butter.  Stir contantly until it thickens up. Season your white sauce with a nice scraping of nutmeg, and 2 crushed cloves of garlic.  Stir in about 2 cups grated cheese- I favor some sharp cheddar and some montery jack.   As soon as the cheese is melted, pour your pasta back in and fold into the sauce.  Top with some grated cheese and put in a hot oven until the top is browned and crusty. This is a streamlined version, but if time allows top with some panko bed creams. Crunch is always a net positive

Red Wine poached pears

 

4-8 pears, you want them to not be too soft. Not rock hard, but you need them firm enough to withstand their winey jacuzzi. Peel them with a potato peeler. Use a small paring knife to cure the pears from underneath. If necessary cut a sliver so that the pears can stand upright.

about 2/3 a bottle of wine (your basic soft red that goes for about 10$ a pop, will do perfectly here)

1 cup white sugar

1 sliced lemon

2-3 cinnamon sticks, 3-4 cloves, and about a quarter of a nutmeg(I lay the nutmeg on my cutting board and whack it with a small heavy saucepan.)

Combine everything in a saucepan. bring to the boil, Lower the heat and occasionally turn the pears so that they get equal color on all sides.  After about 10 minutes, remove the pears with a slotted spoon and set aside. Remove the spices and citrus and allow the wine to cook down into a syrup.  When you have about 1/2 cup of winy syrup(which I think I might use as the name of my mid life crisis, punk rock group) drizzle it over your pears. Serve at room temp.  Accept the applause graciously!

 

https://www.facebook.com/CassChronicles/