Butternut Cottage Pie

IMG_5614The feeling of sitting down to a meal of “comfort food” is exactly that, comfort.  The senses drag up old, comfy memories, of different times and places, but all of them bring us comfort.  In our childhood home, if we ever had a roast beef or pot roast for dinner, the next day one of us kids would be sitting at the kitchen table, grinding up the leftovers, along with onions and carrots so Mom could make her Shepherd’s Pie (truly a Cottage Pie).

Move ahead 50 years, and I still love the mashed potato crust, leading through to a rich filling.   So, even though I enjoy a meat version, thought that maybe I could use my leading lady, Butternut Squash, to take on the role.  BBC Good Food suggested shallots & pecans for her supporting actors.

I invited my sister to opening night.  We swooned over the performance.  Hope you enjoy it.  I’m ready for an encore. Continue reading

Butternut Squash Gratin with Baby Kale & Pecans

IMG_5686Back in the beginnings of our life on the farm, we used to grow squash in places where we’d had a burn pit.  We’d turn over all the ash, add some compost, and plant a few seeds.  Sometimes they were seeds that a friend had from the last year’s crop.  The biggest were Hubbards, and they grew to be huge, grey-green, miss formed globes.  If we had excess milk from the dairy that needed to be thrown out, it would go on the squash mounds to feed them even more.  I suppose seeing how big we could grow them was part of the charm, until we wanted to use them.  As we didn’t have a frost-free storage area to store them, we would cook, and then freeze them.

Cutting into a Hubbard squash is not easy.  I can remember swinging the splitting maul, just hoping to pierce it enough to pry it open.  When we finally did get it open, then we’d need to cut it into chunks that would fit into our trailer’s oven, to be roasted, and then frozen for use later on in the winter.  It would take about 3 roastings just to get it all done, from just one squash!

It’s been awhile since we’ve done any major squash growing.  It’s just so easy to go to the farmer’s market and buy lovely Butternuts, Acorns, Delicatas, and so many more.  They’re a manageable size, and I don’t have to worry about storing them in a frost-free space!

This is a wonderful gratin that really shows off the great flavour that Butternut Squash has.  It’s teamed with garlic and kale, with a yummy gratin topping.  Even though it is meant as a side, it could easily be served as a main.  You’ll just need more! Continue reading

Butternut Squash Spoon Bread

IMG_5541Spoon bread seems to be in every magazine right now, and I figured it was about time I found out just what it is!  Trolling online and through cookbooks, I found out just a couple of essentials.  Firstly, it is made with cornmeal, secondly it has eggs in it, and thirdly, no self respecting American southerner would ever whip the egg whites, folding them into the batter.

I finally found an old James Beard recipe from 1965 in one of my books.  I had seen pumpkin & sweet potato versions, so thought I could use up some leftover butternut squash.  When cooking it, the fragrance of the spices reminded me of bread pudding, and likewise, when eating it, the texture was very similar.   Savory with just a hint of sweetness, it’s definitely meant to be served as a side dish, much like a stuffing or dressing would be.  It’s easy to imagine it sopping up gravy.  This would be a welcome addition to the holiday feast for everybody, including anyone who is gluten intolerant.

Alongside the original Beard recipe, it was written that slices of it are to be enjoyed the following day for breakfast, after being fried in butter, and drizzled with honey or maple syrup. I didn’t fry it, but I did take a slice, warmed it up in the microwave for a bit, and then did enjoy it with maple syrup.  Amazingly good! Continue reading