Monday, February 22, 2010

When Life Gives You Squash...

One of the troubles of getting a box of produce from a local farm, is that you often end up with surplus veggies.

Such is the case with the farm we get things from, Farm fresh to you, although they have a nifty option where you can go online and go "enough squash already!" After you receive the seventh butternut squash.

Of course, by then you've had squash soup, and pumpkin pie, and squash waffles (yes, based on an Alton Brown classic,) and now (if you are like me,) you are looking at three squashes on the pantry and thinking "what is in store for you jokers?"

Couple this abundance of squash with a newfound muffin obsession, thanks to the absolute artistry of The Sentinel, a local lunchtime sandwich shop that secretly cranks out hot muffins made from seasonal ingredients every morning to sell to commuters with coffee. If you find yourself near Second and Market at 7:30 AM on a weekday, try them out, it'll be the best $2.50 you spend all day.

Anyhow, I am on a BUDGET, dern it, I can't be dropping $2.50 out of my budget each morning for muffins, and ALSO, I have all this squash! So I borrowed a page from the Sentinel's book and crafted a muffin recipe using these crazy squash.

Squash Muffins (No pics this time guys, maybe in the future... But don't let that stop you, this is a fun recipe.)

One medium to small butternut squash, sliced in half and roasted sliced side down on a foil covered cookie sheet at 400 degrees for an hour. (Putting the sliced side down keeps it from drying out.)

There's another advantage to putting it cut side down. The sugars in the squash will run all over the foil and carmelize. Pry the squash off, scoop out the seeds, and then scoop the squash out of the shell. You should have about 2 cups of squash.

Lower the heat on the oven to 350. Grease a muffin tin, or put paper liners in a cupcake tin. (This recipe will make about 9 muffins, or 18 cupcakes.) Whip the squash with a fork into a puree. Add 1 Cup brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon molasses, 2 egg yolks (put the whites in another bowl, and beat them to stiff peaks and put them aside,) 1 teaspoon of grated nutmeg, 1/4 cup canola oil, and 1 cup of buttermilk, and mix this all up into a batter.

In another bowl, sift together 2 cups white flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix just to combine. Once combined, carefully fold in the beaten egg whites. These are super moist, super dense muffins, the whipped whites add a little airiness and keep the cake crumb from being, well... gooey.

Put this mixture into the tins and bake. Fill up each tin till just below the rim. (The difference between a muffin and a cupcake, is that a muffin goes over the top of the tin, so fill those puppies up.) You may have noticed the numbers are a bit off. You'll have enough to fill one muffin tin completely and another tin halfway. Cooking the half tin can sometimes be a problem, because the half filled tin tends to heat up too much, making the muffins dry. These muffins are uber moist, so you don't need to worry about it at all. (If you run across this problem with normal muffins or cupcakes, fill the remaining holes of the tin with water for more even heating.)

Cook these for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the tin for five minutes or so, then cool on a rack until completely cool. These will fall a tiny bit while they cool. You don't want to eat these muffins until they cool completely, or they will stick to the cupcake paper. As they cool, they firm up.

The neatest thing about these muffins is that they are actually better after they completely cool, and hold their texture for days in the fridge.

I've also found that a nice variant is to add some upscale bittersweet chocolate chips and a tiny pinch of powdered cloves. They'd probably also be good with orange or lemon zest.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Apple and Mint Souffle

apple souffle
apple souffle

Second take on a souffle came out much better than the first. (And I didn't think there was anything wrong with the first one!) But these guys took off like rockets!

The souffle recipe is the same as the recipe from earlier, but the eggs were beaten just a bit longer, until the whites did not slide along the bowl when I tipped it. (That advice from the Herbfarm cookbook's "sidebar" section on souffles, which made the process that much easier!)

These were apple, mint and parmesian souffles. There is a sliced apple, fried in about a tablespoon of olive oil with salt and mint, which was added to the base just before the whites.