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.

 

 

Sweet Dumpling Squash with Yogurt Sauce and Pomegranate Molassas

Sweet Dumpling Squash-A Stack of Dishes

 On my desk I have a teeny tiny brass Buddha. It sits just above my keyboard and so it catches my eye several times a day. Most days I shift it back and forth out of my way, but then there are the days when we share a real moment. This tiny Buddha, with it’s quiet wisdom, reminds me that nothing stays the same, and I have no control over any of it. Of course I love to think that I do, or even better, I get all proud of myself when I feel like I do.

Nothing has gotten my wheels turning like the election results last week. The bitter divide between people is astonishing to me. I am struggling to understand how that can be. I believe in differing opinions, and I like to think my perspective is pretty keen, but I am just shocked at how far apart so many of us are.

My partner and I had an interested dinner last week with a friend who voted for Donald Trump. She’s a smart, educated woman, and btw- doesn’t always vote Republican (in fact, she voted for Obama). So I was fascinated to hear her give her point of view. I have to say it was an amazing discussion. One point she made several times was to ask that we put ourselves in the opposing shoes. With her guidance I was able to understand her perspective, and have respect for her and her decision. Of course, I still disagree, but I was left thinking about all the things I don’t know, or don’t fully understand.

Cut Sweet Dumpling Squash- A Stack of Dishes

I have to admit I remain anxious about a man who, to my experience, has shown such volatile leadership manners. Let’s be honest, he’s got a lot of learning to do, and so does the rest of the world, as we get to fully understand what this man is all about.

Meanwhile, I try to get comfortable with change and upheaval. It brings me back to the core. I am so glad that Thanksgiving is next week. I am looking forward to spending time with people I love. There will be hugs, there will be laughter, there will be good food. I find my solace at the stove and gatherings around a dining table, always have.

Peace to all of you my dear ones. 

Where would we be without each other?

Sweet Dumpling Squash- A Stack of Dishes

Roasted Acorn Squash with Grilled Tofu and Quinoa {And My New Approach to Change}

Welcome to the New Year! I too have joined the masses of the “New Year, new me” campaign. I will not bore you with my enthusiastic promises and misty eyed visions of the improved me- but rather I wanted to share with you my new approach.

Are you like me? I get all jazzed up and rally myself to take on my new improved way of life. I start quick out of the box, full of determination and vigor, and then in short order start stumbling and tripping, and eventually face plant into a heap. The result is another year goes by and nothing has changed. *sigh*

So now that I know what doesn’t work, I decided to try a new approach. The truth be told I’ve been incorporating my new concept since my last birthday, 2 months ago, and it’s been working very well. The inspiration for this really came from my pal, Winnie, from Healthy Green Kitchen. The idea is not to attempt a total makeover- but to focus on one small positive thing I can do for myself, at least once a week. If I can add one positive small shift a week, by the end of the year I would have made 52 easy and gentle improvements. Isn’t that an amazing thought?!!

I say banish self control! Do away with the struggle and the guilt!

*Just do one small good and nice thing for yourself a week* Now isn’t that so much nicer? And even if I don’t compile 52 changes, at least I’m moving in the right direction.

To give an example: I have reduced the amount of sweeteners in my latte and drinks by a bunch. No real science, I’ve just dialed it down by a small amount and I continue to do that each week. The result is I have lowered my sweetness threshold without my really noticing. I’m a little concerned about putting chemicals into my body, as well as natural sugar, but I really love sweet so much! So a smidge of change over time and now I am at about half of what I was consuming 2 months ago.

Another small change I’ve made is to eat one or two more pieces of fruit a week- in my case specifically, citrus. In the past I would run out and fill a beautiful bowl of fruited bounty, all gung-ho about it. The result would be a slow degradation of my display into a wrinkly and mossy science project. The worst part is the double guilt that the sad display taunts me with- both the failed attempt at my new “way” and the terrible waste of good food.

Instead I’ve taken to buying one or two oranges and then I eat them! I don’t keep them in a pretty bowl on the counter, because it turns out I like mine cold. I perch them on the shelf in the fridge so they are right there when I open the door. This way, when I go foraging for that afternoon pick-me-up snack, my orange is right there for the grabbing.

They say that it takes 3 weeks to create a new habit and I can attest that this is true for me.

The recipe I have for you today is a delicious and healthy meatless meal. I love this dish and often make several at a time and freeze them. They reheat beautifully. The squash is Vitamin A rich, there is great protein in the quinoa and tofu, and there are healthy complex carbs and lovely fiber.

I’ve gotten word back that not everyone is keen on quinoa or can readily find it. Feel free to switch it with Amaranth- HA! just kidding-That’s another grain I’ll be getting to in the near future- You can exchange any other grain or rice that you prefer, and leftovers are perfect.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Grilled Tofu and Quinoa
This dish looks complicated but it really is not. Make extra and freeze for another day.
serves 6
 
3 medium sized acorn squash
2c of cooked quinoa, or other grain of choice
half a package of firm tofu
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
.25c red onion, diced
1 orange pepper, diced
6 handfuls of baby arugula
.25c pomegranate arils 
3T fresh lemon juice
.5c olive oil
S&P
and oil to sautee
 
Preheat oven to 350˚. Slice the squash in half, scrape out the seeds. Lightly coat the flesh with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt.
 
Place squash face down on a lined baking sheet and roast until the skin looks a little wrinkly and the flesh is soft. Depending on the size of the squash this should take about 35-40 minutes. When cool slice into quarters- you will have 12 pieces in all.
 
Remove tofu from the package and place onto a clean kitchen towel and press firmly to release some of the moisture. You can also place a plate on top of the tofu with a heavy object and leave for a few minutes to press out the liquid.
 
Heat a grill pan and lightly oil. Slice the tofu into quarter inch slices and grill on each side. Remove from the heat and cut into small dice.
 
In a sautee pan warm some oil on medium high heat. Add the garlic and sautee for 2-3 minutes to release the fragrance. Add the onions, celery and peppers and sautee for just another few minutes leaving the vegetables tender crisp.
 
Transfer the vegetables and the tofu into a large bowl and add the quinoa. Gently stir to combine. Add S&P to taste.
 
Mix the lemon juice and oil to make a dressing. Add a few tablespoons into the quinoa mixture then use the rest to dress the arugula.
 
Lay down a nice layer of arugula for each serving, top with the squash and then fill with the quinoa. Finally sprinkle the pomegranate arils over the top and serve 2 quarters per person.