Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fall Fun!

There's a ton to be recreated here in this blog...

At the risk of going out of order, I'm starting with the most recent first. Why? I rarely use recipes (I view them the way Captain Jack Sparrow views the Pirate Code) and it's easier to remember what I did ;)

The kitchen has been literally on fire (well, if flambe counts as on fire) and I've been turning out lots of goodies. Pumpkin and winter squash in general are going to turn up often, as it's the season, and I have six very large pumpkins to eat before the squirrels get to them! I also liek to buy the really colorful squash at the grocery store to break up the monotony, and because they're cheap. Plus, I get to have my cake and eat it too, as the seeds are usually vigorous and are more than happy to grow next year!

Over the weekend I made a Gorgonzola/pumpkin au gratin. This time I followed a recipe from the old 1960's copy of The Joy of Cooking. It was, like many of my cookbooks, originally my mother's, and I have loved to bits... three bit to be exact. I've tried various gratin recipes, and this one is good, but I think it requires egg, since the starchiness of the potato is missing. You could always add more flour, but I think it makes a meh custard compared to the richness of real egg. It also needed more Gorgonzola. I usually use Rouqefort, but my roomie dislikes all blues save for Gorg, so I improvised. I also had waaaay more pumpkin (about twice the amount) than was called for in the recipe so I had to improvise.

Anyhoo... the amended recipe runs something like this:

Enough deseeded, peeled, thinly sliced pumpkin to fill a deep dish pie pan
Flour for dredging
Milk or cream (2-4 cups depending on your pie pan!)
1 egg + yolk or 2 eggs for every 2 cups
1/2 cup of flour for every two cups of liquid (can use leftover dredging flour)
6 ounces crumbled Gorg (if you like it mild) or Roquefort (if you dig the stinky cheese!)
White pepper and salt to taste
Paprika for sprinkling on top
a kettle full of hot water for the water bath

Cut open the pumpkin, take out the seeds, and cut into 1 1/2" to 2" wide sections. Using a veg peeler, peel the outer skin of the pumpkin off. Make sure you have a firm grip... I sent my son into hysterics by-

1. Missing the garbage can completely, as the skin requires a tad more force than the average carrot.
2. Occasionally, in an effort to vigorously peel the pumpkin, I'd launch the piece, peel and all into the garbage can or the far side of the kitchen.

Slice the wedges into 1/8" wide (max) pieces until you have enough to fill your pie pan. My roommate doubles as a food processor (he works at a restaurant) but a mandolin or the slicing attachment of any Kitchen Wonder Gadget (mine's a Kitchen Aid) will work too. If you don't have any of these, you needed to practice your knife skills anyway, right?

Dredge the slices in plain flour, salt and pepper lightly. Grease your pie pan, and fill with a layer of the dredged pumpkin pieces. Crumble some of the blue cheese over top, and layer another round of pumpkin until just covered. Repeat until the pan is full, slightly mounded in the middle (it'll sink later as the moisture in the pumpkin cooks out)

Combine the egg, milk and flour in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Add salt and white pepper to taste. You should season it like you season your gravy. The sweetness of the pumpkin and the strong cheese taste call for a little pepper (I like quite a bit) and the paprika ads a little more depth and some color to the top. Put pan into a 350 degree oven on a jelly roll pan, and fill pan with hot water. Bake for an hour or until almost set. It will be pretty wiggly, but it will set once it's cool.

Other veggies that work well with this are other squash, yams, sweet potatoes, carrots and beets...

I then turned to my baklava, but that will have to wait for another day, when I have the pictures :( I was taught to make it gooey though, with crisper than crisp layers of filo in between. Ooooh was it hard to wait for it to cool..... but that story is perhaps for tomorrow.

While I was busy with this, the Nino set to work on French Onion Soup. Now this is a labor of pure love... He HATES onions. But he made it for my friend and I because we like it, and because it's in his Jaime Oliver cookbook. Isn't he just sweet?

He was amazed at how long it took to caramelize the onions, and that they had that much sugar in the first place. At some point he lost concentration and blitzed out to Good Eats for awhile.

We then turned to Chicken Marsala, and used a recipe from the Cook's Illustrated New Best Recipes cookbook... I am growing to love this book. The pie crust recipe alone is worth the price... and there's those Triple Chocolate cookies... No pictures of this, since we ate it before I had time to take a picture, but there you have it. By this time the filo pastry portion of the baklava had finally cooed, so I poured the honey syrup in and we dug in.

Anyhoo, it's waaay past midnight, and the moon is so bright it may as well be daylight, so I'm wrapping up to go look at it for a bit and turn in.



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