Winter squash

Autumn is coming and after that,  then Winter.  The Collingswood Farmers’ Market is coming to a close for the year.  Only a few more weeks to go.

In the spring we can’t wait for strawberries and asparagus…and then tomatoes, corn, blueberries, peaches, and summer squash.  Now we are looking for vegetables to enjoy in cold weather…potatoes, sweet potatoes (white and orange!), cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, leeks, and WINTER SQUASH.fullsizeoutput_5aa8

I will admit that it was my husband (born and raised in New England) who introduced me to winter squash, especially butternut and acorn.  His mother cooked them.  My mother did not.  Ever.

I will admit, also, that winter squash were (and sometimes still are) a little bit intimidating.  When I look at a summer squash (zucchini!) I can picture how to cook it and how to eat it.  The first time I made winter squash I had no idea how to get it ready to cook.   Basic cookbook time.

My husband told me that his mother used to cut the squash in half, clean out the seeds, put a tablespoon of butter in the cavity, sprinkle some brown sugar, and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until soft.  That works.  Roasted Acorn Squash

I have since modified the recipe by cutting, cleaning, and peeling the squash before I cook it.  Then I steam them and mash them with butter and a little salt, like mashed potatoes.

Honey Nut Squash and Delicata Squash are new varieties.  You can eat the skin.  It is very thin.  I prefer to peel them, steam them, and mash them with a little butter.  I also roast Delicata squash for a crispy finish.  (Link to recipe here).   Delicata squash fries.

Here are two more simple recipes using winter squash (your favorite variety or a combination) for a 30 minute soup and a snack cake.

Winter Squash Soup

2 Tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
4 cups peeled and cubed winter squash
2 medium white potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups of chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces of cream to finish (optional)

Cleaning a winter squash (butternut):

1.  Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pot.  Toss the diced onion in and cook for  about 5 minutes.  Be careful not to let the onion brown.

2.  Put the potatoes and squash in the pot.  Stir them around to mix with the onions and butter.

3.  Pour in 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock.

4.  Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.

5.  Allow the squash and potatoes to cook in the broth until they can be pierced easily with a fork.  (About 30 minutes) You can then mash the vegetables with a potato masher to make a chunky textured soup or blend the soup with an immersion blender to make it smootherIMG_9311

6. Once the soup is the consistency you like, pour a cup of cream into the pot and stir.  Eat at once.


And for dessert….

Winter Squash Snack Cake

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup winter squash (steamed and mashed)
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
2.  Sift flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon together.IMG_9289
3.  Mix the squash and applesauce together.IMG_9291
4.  Beat brown sugar, butter, and egg together until light and fluffy.IMG_9288
5.  Mix dry ingredients into the sugar/butter/egg mixture alternately with the squash and applesauce mixture.
6.  Add raisins and stir.
7.  Pour batter into a greased 8 inch square pan.
8.  Bake about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Serve warm, sprinkled with powdered sugar, or let cool and ice with butter or cream cheese icing.  And some autumn sprinkles.Delicata squash fries.


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