Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Delicata Squash Cheesecake

It has been a busy couple of weeks! I have made quite a few dishes, many of which will be lost due to a lack of archiving. Thankfully I am sure every thing has left me with some imprint, and I am now at least slightly wiser... My cakes will be fluffier, cookies crispier (on the outside, with chewy tender insides), and ice creams creamier.

Chai frozen yogurt, whisky apple pie, carrot sorbet, broiled radicchio slaws, five spice spreads, dark-chocolate stout ice cream, celeriac-green apple soup are some of the casualties of this fall that may never get posted. My Community-Supported Agriculture share has tossed me some curveballs, and I have handled them with grace, rendering me a bit too busy to give my blog some well-earned love. Appropriately enough, it is with some sadness that I am not off picking up my CSA share right now, which ended last week. The winter share, with rutabagas, radishes, and leafy greens will be returning on Friday, then every other week through December.

There are always a few items I have a hard time repurposing, depending on what is going on in my life at that point. This fall it was the adorable little carnivale and delicata squashes showing up in my share. They are lovely, sweet little squashes with edible skins that deserve a good place on a plate... Not the sort of thing to be brought out for pot-lucks, which has been my usual modus-operandi when it comes to food preparation. Eventually, I ended up with several and remembered that there was a Kabocha Squash recipe I had been considering making. And below we have it!

-This is definitely a recipe in progress, changes I'm planning for next time will be marked with an asterix and my intent for the future round-

Delicata Squash Cheesecake

Walnut-Lime Crust:
  • 1/4 c (2.2 ounces) Palm Oil shortening
  • 1/2 c (2 ounces) walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 c (2 1/2 ounces) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 c (6.2 ounces) graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 t grated lime zest (about 2 medium-small limes)
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground ginger
  • 1/2 t salt

Kabocha Squash Filling
  • 3 lbs of sweet fall sqaush (I used Delicata & Carnivale, Kabocha and Butternut will also work)
  • 8 oz firm silken tofu
  • 1 c (7 ounces) white sugar
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t umeboshi paste*
  • Juice of 1 medium lime*
  • 1 T soy yogurt*
  • 1/2 c arrowroot starch*
  • 1 1/2 T brandy*

1. Steam the squash, until the a knife easily pierces the flesh and the stem falls off. To do this I prepared a large pot with an inch or two of water on the bottom, and placed a steamer basket within. I put the sqauash atop the basket, and brought the water to a boil over high heat. I reduced the heat to medium, covered the pot and let the squash cook for about an hour. When it is done, remove it from the heat and let it cool. Meanwhile, I....

2. Preheated the oven to 300 to prepare the crust: Grease a 9 inch springform pan. In a food processor chop the walnuts with half of the brown sugar in a food processor, until they are coarsely ground but not turning into a flour. Transfer walnut/sugar mix to a mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients, except for the shortening. After the dry ingredients are mixed, add the shortening and stir with a rubber spatula until everything is evenly mixed. If the mix is too dry to stick together when pressed against the edge of the bowl, add a couple of tablespoons of water as needed. When done, press into the bottom of the pan and up the sides if you have extra.

3. Put the crust in the oven and bake until it is golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove and let cool completely. Leave the oven on.

4. When the squash is cool enough to handle, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and scoop the flesh away from the skin. It is ok if a little skin gets in in the case of delicata and carnivales. Get 2 1/2 cups of flesh (save the rest for something else), and place the flesh into a blender bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients for the filling, and blend until well mixed and smooth (hi-power blenders are great for this!).

5. Pour the custard mixture into the springform pan and place in oven. Bake until the middle is set, with the center still slightly jiggly, about 1 hour. Cool completely, unmould, and serve!

*Next time I would use less arrowroot starch (probably 1/4 c + a T or two), less lime juice just for tartness. The yogurt and umeboshi paste are optional, I just happened to have them, though you may want to add more salt if you ditch the ume paste. and I forgot the brandy but would try to remember it next time.

The cheesecake is somewhere between a pumpkin-style pie, and a cheesecake. It is virtually fat free, tangy, and certainly interestingly flavored, if not flat-out good. It is good enough for me to seriously desire to make again.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Stewed Tomatillos & Tomatoes

You say Tomato, I say Tomatoes & Tomatillos... OK that didn't work out the way I wanted it to, but needless to say.... One of my most recent bounties has been tomatillos and tomatoes... From this I have made sauces, and even the adventurous (and delicious) tomato jelly (recipe forthcoming, probably). This dish is surprisingly not much less adventurous than the tomato jelly, with interesting sour overtones similar to those I have found in some Malaysian dishes. This likely had something to do with a tart leek stock I used, as much as the contents of the soup... If it is something you desire, I feel like some lime juice could help achieve it.

Anyway... Having recently begin a new job with a vegetarian good food fast startup, I am a bit on the exhausted side for florid posts, so I am just going to git on with the recipe... It goes well straight on its own, or with a cous cous or other grain. It can be had hot or cold.

Stewed Tomatillos & Tomatoes

2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
2 poblano chilis, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked and washed
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes*
1 cup home made stock or water
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 T Vodka (optional)**
2 T lime juice or white vinegar (also optional, if you like tart)

*I used mixed cherry & pear tomatoes. Large tomatoes, of any ripeness, cut into chunks will also work.
**Vodka, along with white wine, is a lovely flavour enhancer of tomato products.

Warm the oil in a large pot on a medium-high heat, when the oil heats up add the onion, pepper, and garlic until the onion is has begin to brown, about five to ten minutes.
Add the tomatillos, cook until the skins start to break open, ten to fifteen minutes. Pour in the stock and vodka, and stir, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to produce a slow bubble and cover, cook until the tomatillos are mostly dissolved, about thirty minutes. Add some salt and pepper for flavor.
Returm the heat to medium-high. When the mixture starts to bubble, add the tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes wilt but their skins remain intact. Now add the sour liquids if that is what you like.
Add more salt and pepper if desired, serve hot, at room temperature, or cold, drizzled with olive oil if desired.