Browned Butter Maple Glazed Delicata Squash with Hazelnuts

Delicata Squash that tastes like candy.

Behold, I have brought you another idea for your holiday table, the brilliantly easy to prepare delicata squash. Delicata squash has a special place in my heart since you don’t have to do any teeth gritted wrangling to slice it up. Man, slicing up acorn squash can be harrowing on the fingers, and can require a bit of muscle at times too. With the delicata though, the outer skin is so tender there is no need to peel, just slice, cook, and eat.

I have also absolutely fallen in love with browned butter. This is a direct result of an evening with Dorie Greenspan at Books Are Magic in Brooklyn last week, where she was holding court to promote her new cookbook: BUTTER. It’s one of 29 other small little books from the Short Stack Editions group. The books are simple pamphlet-like books all created around a single theme. They are just the most wonderful little gems and I just adore them. Sure, sure, you can get more for less- but there is something so utterly charming about this series. They are more like small art pieces than a standard cookbook, and I just love that about them. (stocking stuffers anyone?)

During the gathering Dorie served up some buttery treats, one of which was a Cinnamon Chili Caramel Corn that was sheer delight. I just became entranced with that nutty buttery caramely thing. Poor butter has been thoroughly ostracized for the past several years. I may have to single handedly bring it on back. Olive oil- I adore you- but butter? You must be my mistress. Browning butter is such a magic trick too. It doesn’t take any great skill (only a smidge of patience), and you get this amazing thing. Who doesn’t love that?

 

Browned Butter Maple Glazed Delicata Squash with Hazelnuts

serves 8

4-5 small delicata squash

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons maple syrup (please use the real thing, it’s worth it here)

generous pinch of salt

1/4 cup of hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

 

Slice the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and slice into even 1/4″ slices. Set aside.

Place the butter in a small light bottomed saucepan and place over medium low heat. Melt and continue to stir. The butter will sizzle as the water is cooked out. Just as this subsides and gets quiet, you will start to smell the nuttiness and see small bits settle to the bottom of the pan. When the butter is toasty, but not overly burnt, remove from the heat and pour the butter into a bowl. This will stop the butter from continuing to brown and possible burn. This all takes about 3-4 minutes.

Add the maple syrup to the butter and the salt. Stir and set aside.

In a large skillet, prepare with cooking spray and warm over medium heat. Add the slices of delicata and cook for one minute. Add 2 tablespoons of water, over the pan with a lid, and steam the squash for 2-3 minutes. Remove the lid and cook off any remaining water.

Add the buttery syrup mixture and cook gently over medium low heat until the squash is caramelized by the syrup, about 3 minutes.

Transfer to a platter and sprinkle the chopped nuts on top.

 

 

Smokey Sweet Potatoes with Lime Yogurt

I’m pretty sure that if you don’t just love sweet potatoes that we can’t be friends. Who doesn’t love a glorious roasted sweet potato? Though there haven’t been any sweet potatoes that I have not liked, I especially like this version. A little chewy crunch on the edges, soft velvety flesh inside, and a tangy yogurt sauce to balance out the rich flesh. 

I’m coming to an end of a very busy and very good year. I had a few big family projects and some really nice and juicy personal projects. The Spring was spent downsizing my mother’s home of approximately 4000 sf and moving her into a 1400 sf home. There were closets that had not seen the light of day in a dog’s age, eaves that were hidden behind doors, and my mother’s infamous sewing room that was reminiscent of a hoarders’ day-dream. My mother is an amazing and talented quilter to the point of winning quite a few ribbons and awards. Her playground is fabric and her color sense is quite wonderful. So where I collect plates, platters and rogue silver pieces, she collects yardage of fabrics- beautiful fabrics.  An entire wall, floor to ceiling of fabrics. 

I try not to think about it, but I am pretty sure the bulk of my inheritance is realized in stacks and stacks of fabric yardage. On the other hand – sewing brings my mother great joy, and it most definitely keeps her off the streets and out of bars and brothels – so I’m good with it. The house in Greenport was not the home I grew up in. My mother has owned many homes in her lifetime, mostly in the town that I went to high school in. So my heart lies in the area, rather than within four walls.  I am sad that she no longer lives in my “home town” but I was spared the grieving of passing off a legacy to another family. I’m good with that too.

Another family project this year was to pull together two homes that were part of my father’s estate. He passed in 2008 just as the market was crashing, and it’s been impossible to sell the properties at any price. I’ve been renting out the two homes for the better part of 6 years, and as renters do- they both left the homes a bit worse for wear. With no money in the coffers, I spent a couple of days a week in The Berkshires for about a month cleaning, editing, purging…again. I relied on my ample supply of elbow grease, fueled with fierce determination, and enhanced with my own personal joy of taking a mess and making order of it. 

In the end it was all worth it. Mom is happily ensconced in her jewel like home, and the two properties in Massachusetts sold right away.

I tell you all this because this is how life goes. You think you have control over the timeline of your life. You think that you “know” how things will roll out. But-cha don’t. I had planned to use that time working on my cookbook, but that rug was rudely pulled.

As exhausting, and often infuriating as it was to organize my mother’s possessions, the silver lining is we got to spend a lot of time together. Time spent side by side, working on a common goal, and being productive together. There were no earth shattering revelations, nor did I find a box of jewels or pots of gold in the eaves, but it was time well spent. Time just being.

The time in Great Barrington turned out to be extremely beneficial in ways I had not imagined also. The non-thinking acts of cleaning and hauling allowed me to reflect on the last stage of a painful relationship that I had with my Dad. I was given the chance to walk the hallways and say out loud a few choice words that I had been needing to vocalize. (There is something pretty amazing hearing your words reverberate off of walls) You can also put a lot of self expression into a mop, let me tell you. So the cleaning, the purging, the releasing. All so wonderfully cathartic.

So now what about these sweet potatoes? This is pretty much a straight take on a recipe from Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California.  It has all the goodness that I adore: Slightly spicy with a complimentary tang, healthy groovy deliciousness, and easy to make so I feel like a boss. You should love it for these reasons too. You’ve got all the ingredients in your cupboard pretty much so no great market hunting here. The original recipe calls for espelette, a type of peppercorn- but don’t feel constrained by this. Use that smoked paprika hanging around (as I did), or some of those gourmet peppercorns someone gave you as a gift, or you can stick to red pepper flakes if all else fails. Just find some fun in your spice rack and have at it.

Enjoy my doves. Life is too short- and you can’t go wrong with a sweet potato. xo

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Smoked Paprika and Lime Yogurt

Serves 4  5 minutes to prep, 30 minutes to roast.

2 large bulbous sweet potatoes

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

3 tablespoon olive oil, divided

1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt

2 juicy limes, zested and juiced

2 scallions, slice thinly, whites and green parts

salt and pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 425˚ and prepare a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Peel the sweet potatoes, and if they were long and large like mine, cut in half, then cut each half into 8 wedges. Trying to keep them as evenly sized as possible. Place into a large bowl.

In a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, honey, half the paprika and stir to combine.

Pour honey mixture over the wedges and toss with your hands until all are coated. I know it may seem like there is not enough, but trust me- you’ll be fine.

Spread the wedges evenly on the baking sheet (I turned my on their backs so the ridges stood up and got nice and blackened) and sprinkle with the lime zest, some glorious salt and a hit of pepper. Slip those into the oven and roast until tender, about 30 minutes.

Make the yogurt sauce by placing the yogurt, lime juice and remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a bowl and stir into a nice sauce. Set aside.

Once the thickest wedge is done, remove from the oven and shovel onto a serving dish. Splash the yogurt on top, sprinkle with the scallions and then do a final dusting with the remaining smoked paprika. 

Now just try and not eat all of them before they get to the table.

 

                         

Last minute party Hummus

 

Pomegranate Pistachio Hummus- A stack of Dishes

Pomegranate Molasses and Pistachio Hummus

Now that the summer is unofficially here I have begun to think about weekend entertaining. To make my life easier I have created a few variations on hummus. The idea is to have some easy fall back or go-to that is not the same ol’ same ol’. Let there be NO humdrum hummus!!

If you’re like me we have at least one or two impromptu cocktail hour get togethers. Keeping stock on some sprightly rose is fairly easy, but the snacks! I grapple with trying to come up with something different. Last summer I easily ate my weight in delicious cheese. Now there ain’t nothing wrong with that- and trust me, it will happen again and again- but it also can feel like a cop out sometimes.

White Bean Hummus with Dill Oil and Black Salt-A Stack of Dishes

White Bean Hummus with Dill Oil and Black Salt

And I will be honest- all that goodness did not do my waistline any favors either. (no complaints, it was deelish!!) The reality though is I would rather spend my time on the tennis court or relaxing on the beach. Futzing in the kitchen is ok on a gray or rainy day, but I pretty much want to open the fridge and pull out some magic.

So here you go my friends- You can make your hummus from scratch, or keep a master tub of plain hummus in the fridge- you know, next to the rose…. [Read more…]