Liberian Pumpkin with Cock Sauce

liberianEven though I’ve been cooking for two months now, my idea of what is “a cinch to throw together” is still miles away from what the editors at Simply in Season consider “a cinch to throw together.”

First, for this recipe, one must peel and cube 2-3 C of butternut squash (or you can use pumpkin). I usually peel my butternuts with a vegetable peeler, as a knife is tricky to maneuver.

Then, you have to chop an onion and saute’ along with the butternut squash “until translucent.” This is the second recipe today where it’s supposed to get translucent. Problem is, it’s kind of hard to tell when it’s translucent when the other stuff is in there (it also calls for either hot chili peppers or hot sauce; I took this occasion to try out my new bottle of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce).  Plus it started to burn so I went ahead and added a little of the chicken broth so it didn’t burn while it was cooking, covered. When the butternut squash was tender, I added the rest of the cup of broth and covered again and cooked for the 10 minutes it called for. Meanwhile I browned the 1 lb of sausage (the recipe calls for 1 C but hey, might as well use the whole package) and started on the egg noodles.

While I’m waiting, let me tell you about Sriracha Hot Sauce. I first learned about it at an Indian cooking class at my CSA, and quickly discovered that it’s quite well known among foodies, and is nicknamed cock sauce because of the rooster on the front. I’ve since noticed it at lots of restaurants.

OK, so the 10 minutes is up, and it says to now add the sausage and cook uncovered until all the liquid is absorbed. It’s absorbed. So I put the pot on simmer until the egg noodles are done. You can serve this over any kind of noodle or rice, but DH and I were in the mood for egg noodles tonight.

The verdict: Definitely not “a cinch to throw together,” but not much chopping. The taste is definitely different, the sweet butternut plays off the spicy sausage and cock sauce. As DH said, the sauce makes your tongue tingly. Not sure if I’ll make this again soon, but it’s not a bad way to use up butternut squash.

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Pumpkin Sausage Pasta

This is another recipe that I wouldn’t have tried were it not for the challenge of cooking every recipe in Simply in Season. Pumpkin? Sausage? Pasta? Oh well, it has wine in it, if it tastes bad I can always finish off the bottle!pumpkinsausage

  1. Cook 1 lb of penne pasta and set aside.
  2. Brown 1 lb of bulk sweet italian sausage in a large frying pan. Remove, drain fat, and set aside.
  3. Add 1 medium chopped onion and 4 cloves of minced garlic and saute for 3-5 minutes, until soft.
  4. Add 1 bay leaf, 2 T fresh sage, 1 C dry white wine or chicken broth (I used Barefoot Chardonnay). Add and cook about 2 minutes, until half the liquid evaporates. When I added the sage, I knew that would be the ingredient that tied the flavors together.
  5. Add 1 C chicken or vegetable broth and 1 C pumpkin (cooked & pureed or just canned). Mix in, and stir until sauce bubbles. Add sausage and reduce heat.
  6. Add 1/2 C evaporated milk, 1/8 t cinnamon, 1/2 t nutmeg, salt & pepper to taste. Simmer 5-10 minutes to chicken. Remove bay leaf. Pour sauce over cooked pasta, combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 6, approx. 414 calories per serving if you use turkey sausage.

The verdict: I knew that my palate wasn’t used to pumpkin in anything other than pie or doughnuts or latte, so I tried not to think of that when I took my first few bites. Ahhh, it was actually quite good. At first my husband was a bit confused, he wasn’t so sure about pumpkin in his dinner. After the second bowl he said it wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t sure if it was something he’d order twice in a restaurant. I found it kind of fun, very autumn. I served it with Barefoot Chardonnay, which is a great low-priced white wine.

Butternut Harvest Stew

butternutstewFor my second soup attempt of the day, I chose Butternut Harvest Stew from the autumn section of Simply in Season. It begins easy enough, melt 2 T butter and saute 1 medium onion, chopped and 2 cloves of minced garlic along with 1.5 lb of cubed pork until the meat is no longer pink. I bought the pork at Byron Center Meats this morning, and was really impressed with the customer service. I asked if they had cubed pork by any chance and they said to use chop suey pork. I ended up getting 2 lbs since it came in 1 lb packages, so the calorie count below is a bit higher than if you were to just use the 1.5 pounds.

So after the meat is brown, drain the fat and add 3 C chicken broth (I really should make my own one of these days, but dang it, Swanson is just so convenient), 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp rosemary and sage, and a bay leaf. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Here is where the “fun” begins. Chop two apples. Then peel a butternut squash. That’s right, peel and chop a butternut squash. I had no idea how to do this and kind of approached it as if I were peeling a pineapple. Believe me, it took all of the 20 minutes to get that bad boy peeled. So then you add the apple and squash to the stew and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. When I put it in, I was thinking, is Ruthie from Kentucky on crack? There is no way this squash is going to ever get tender. I’m going to be eating my dinner at midnight.

So I checked it 20 minutes later, I was right – apples and squash are still rock hard. So I crank up the heat and cover it and add a little more broth. Boiled for about 20 more minutes. The squash was still firm (but no longer rock hard) and the other stuff was getting a bit mushy so I called it a day.

The verdict: DH and I decided that apple is DELICIOUS with pork. We really liked this stew, although it smelled like it had more flavor than it had. Still, it tasted great. And a very full bowl is only 550 calories. Will definitely make this again. We served this with Black Star Pinot Noir. Not sure if red wine goes with pork but it was a perfect pairing.

Edit: Just looked on the Black Star website, and they suggest roast pork and herbs as pairing for this wine. Score!

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Sweet & Sour Swiss Chard

It feels like autumn in West Michigan. The weather is cooler and the winter squash is here. This recipe made great use of both CSA veggies and the squash that my dad grew in his garden. While I’m kind of sad that the warm weather is nearly gone (and the Michigan winter is coming!) I’m looking forward to the autumn section of Simply in Season.

I don’t know about you, but my usual way of cooking acorn squash is with butter and brown sugar. So I was eager to try this savory, main dish version.

Step 1: Prepare the squash shells. The easiest way to do this is by poking holes in 3-4 large acorn squash with a fork, microwaving them for 5 minutes, cutting them in half, scooping out the seeds, and returning them to the microwave for another 5-10 minutes. You want them soft but not mooshy.

IMG_0275Step 2: Prepare the sausage stuffing. Brown 1 lb sausage, then add 4 celery stalks (chopped), 1 medium onion (diced), 2 shredded carrots (or as you can see from the bad photo diced), 1/4 C of water, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in 2 C bread crumbs.

Step 3: Put the stuffing in the squash shells and bake for 15 minutes or so at 375 degrees. Note that the recipe makes a LOT of stuffing.

Other variations included in the book: Apple-sausage, apple, mushroom, and fruit and nut.

The verdict: I was seriously surprised at how good this was. I had expected a little blandness, but the sausage flavor went well with the squash and the onion/carrot/celery set it off nicely. And it went awesomely with the Sweet & Sour Swiss Chard.

Sweet & Sour Swiss Chard

If you don’t like swiss chard even though it looks pretty, this recipe is for you! Start by browning a diced onion in oil, then add 1/4 C raisins, 2 cloves minced garlic, 3 T white vinegar, 1 1/2 t sugar, the chard stems, and cover and cook for 8 minutes. Then add the chopped swiss chard (don’t stir, just put on top) and steam for 2 more minutes. Stir and serve!