Thursday, November 4, 2010

Squashed, but not complaining

I am proud of this recipe (which I recently invented myself, so any duplicates are due to independent inspiration). The name comes both from the mystery ingredient and the fact that the first time I made it I inadvisedly used a tube pan and then turned it upside-down to cool like an angel food cake.  So instead of a nice round creation with a tidy hole in the middle I ended up with a pile of moist and tasty chunks. I put it in a casserole for transport to school, where it passed the teenage test and was quickly polished off. Even when I told them it contained baked squash, they still came back for more. That’s because it was moist (the squash), but not leaden (the egg whites), and just flavorful enough (the spices) to be interesting without getting in the way of the chocolate. 

If you’re not wedded to pumpkin pie, this could be a good addition to the Thanksgiving table.

Squashed Cake
1¾ cups flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups sugar
3-4 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup baked, pureed pumpkin or winter squash (I used a small kabocha)
½ teaspoon vanilla
3 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, cocoa powder, and spices.
In a separate bowl, beat the oil, squash, and vanilla. Add the oil and squash mixture to the dry ingredients and stir or beat to form a stiff batter.
Whip the eggs into stiff peaks and fold into the batter.
Spoon into a lightly greased Bundt pan or a rectangular cake pan and bake until the cake springs back when pressed in the center. Baking time will vary with the pan and moisture content of the squash. Start checking at 25-30 minutes. 

A well flavored squash keeps more familiar company here in this simple dish from the  Winter Harvest Cookbook, which, I am happy to say, is starting to hit the stores.

 Coming up on November 26 is International Onion Day, which is the kind of holiday I can get behind. It’s also my son-in-law Ronny’s birthday, another big day around here. I’m very fond of both—Ronny and onions. This Greek recipe reminds me of good diner food—maybe those sweet potato fries that even the healthiest eater can’t resist every now and then.

2/3 cup flour
salt and pepper
2 cups cubed winter squash
3 cups diced yellow onions
1 teaspoon dried thyme
olive oil

Put the flour, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl (or you can do what my mom did when flouring stew meat and put it in a paper bag). Add the squash and onions and coat evenly, by tossing the veggies in the bowl or shaking the bag.

Heat ½ inch of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet. Watch it carefully and don’t let it smoke. Olive oil has a lower smoking point than many frying oils, but you want it for the flavor. Use a slotted spoon (to remove extra flour) to add the vegetables in two or three batches, depending on the size of the pan. They need enough room to fry rather than steam from the moisture in the onions.

Fry until browned on one side and then turn over and brown the other side, maybe 4 minutes per side. Remove from heat and drain. Repeat with the remaining squash and onions.

Sprinkle with thyme, check for more salt and pepper if needed, and serve hot.

No comments: