Monthly Archives: October 2015

Kale and Sausage Stuffed Delicata

stuffed squash

This was in my CSA newsletter a few weeks ago, and is very worth sharing. I’m sure I’ll make a vegetarian version sometime soon, although the sausage was so, so tasty… Not great timing perhaps, as we just learned (or perhaps were only reminded) that red and processed meats cause cancer. Not a huge surprise. Of course the meat industry says not to discriminate and that meat is an important part of a balanced diet, which although not untrue isn’t a great defense for not cutting down on meat consumption (reading through the double negatives: lobbyists are biased and eat less meat). You can do that after you’ve made this.

I would guess that a pig you could’ve met has less carcinogenic potential than something raised in a factory. At least you can buy organic meat. Old news by now but did you hear about how Bhutan, that tiny Asian country somewhere between India and China, aims to be 100% organic by 2020? Quite a feat, although perhaps less difficult without an entrenched industrial agricultural complex as we have here—even our version of organic has been co-opted. Similar to Maine, Bhutan has small pockets of viable land tucked into mountains and hills, which makes organic and permaculture more cost efficient. Maybe we should start measuring gross domestic happiness too, and we’d get there sooner.

Instead, we live in a country where the idea that diet and the sustainability of the planet are related is too much for us, according to the recent dietary guidelines. Michael Pollan and co have exactly the right idea, we need a national food policy, and as Mark Bittman adds, it would help if we encouraged our political candidates to talk about food. It seems like a no-brainer: food and agriculture in particular has the ability to transcend political boundaries, uniting staunch conservatives and hippie young democrats. I imagine any issue with that much potential voter power to be tantalizing to politicians. But, finding ways for people to work together across party lines is not exactly our current political spirit.

My other great political theory at this point in life is that if we fed everyone delicious food all the time (which is not something that everyone has access to, but that’s a story for another time), they’d be in a more convivial and collaborative spirit. Cooking provides a handy metaphor, by combining various ingredients into something new and more fulfilling than the separate ingredients alone. Here, the sweetness of the squash plays very nicely with the fatty sausage, a little vegetable oomph from the kale, texture from the grain…and salty creaminess is what cheese does best.

I would’ve made this wth rice but ran out, so ended up cooking barley instead, and loved the texture. Use whatever grain suits your fancy, or endures your pantry.

Sausage-stuffed delicata squash
2 or 3 Delicata squash, halved lengthwise 
lb sausage (your choice) 
1 1/2 cups cooked rice, or other grain
A bunch of kale, minced 
One (or more if you like onion) large onion, diced 
Garlic (3 or 4 cloves, minced)
Grated cheddar
Salt, pepper

Cook the rice/grain, if you haven’t already, and chop the onion, garlic, kale.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Wash squash, cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds and guts. Place faceup in a pan or a rimmed baking sheet and add a little water. Start to bake while you prep the other ingredients.

Heat up a pan over medium-high, and brown then cook sausage through. Remove from pan, leaving the drippings, and chop up as fine as desired, or remove from casing. Add onions and garlic to pan and start to cook until slightly translucent, then add kale. When cooked, mix in rice, sausage, and salt and pepper to taste (make sure to taste. You may have extra filling, I doubt it’ll present a huge challenge).

When squash is soft (easily punctured with fork, 20-30 min), remove from oven and fill with stuffing mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and place back in oven, under the broiler if you want it crispy, until cheese is melted.

Remove, serve, and stuff your face.

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Cream Cheese Leeks on Cheese Biscuits

leek cream cheese

Lunch, breakfast, dinner. It matters not. Not for these. Something like a classic bagel topping, but lighter, greener, and a little cheesier.

I adore leeks. And as it is now fall (you can feel it in the air and see it in the brilliant trees), they are quite available, and looking for attention. Let them shine on top of a simple cheese biscuit, with plenty of cream cheese.

Something about the cold weather is making me crave cheese and butter and all I can think about at work is coming come to bake something fatty and delicious. Good job body, preparing for winter. (You should too)

You may be interested to learn that my style of no-recipe teaching recipes is somewhat of a trend, as it happens. I think it’s a good one—after all, you can learn how to follow rules all day, but eventually shouldn’t you eventually know why they exist, and begin to create your own? (We should probably all go into policy, following that prescription.) It is indeed not about the recipe, but engaging you to think about food: the way certain vegetables lend their flavor to other parts of a dish, the composition that blends to create a whole mouthfeel. Yes, there are some ingredients that need to be exact—baking is particularly stickling (hence the detailed measurements below)—but more important are the ideas. The Internet is awash with recipes; I aim to offer you not only ingredients and methods but a conception of a meal, a menu, a combination, at the very least.

If you ever have questions, let me know.

Leeks on cheese biscuits with cream cheese
Biscuits:
2 1/2 cups flour 
1 tsp salt 
1 Tbsp baking powder 
¾ tsp baking soda 
1/2 cup cheddar, or other hard sharp cheese, grated
8 Tbsp cold butter (1 stick)
1 cup yogurt 

Leeks (1 per person, assuming you like them)
Butter, salt
Cream cheese

Make biscuits: Preheat oven to 425ºF. Blend all biscuit ingredients except yogurt in food processor (or knife/pastry blender) until a sandy texture, with small nuggets of butter, similar to making pie crust. Stir in grated cheese without destroying the large grated chunks, then add yogurt and pulse; mix until almost forms a ball. Roll out on a floured board about 3/8 inch thick. Cut out circles (big or small, depending on the crowd and what you want—large size is better for topping with leeks) and place on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or so, until golden on top. Remove from oven, take off baking sheet and let cool for a few minutes on a rack.

Slice leeks lengthwise and clean. Sauté with butter and salt over medium-high until soft, shiny, and slightly caramelized.

Cut biscuits in half, slather with cream cheese, and drape with leeks. Add a little fancy salt and pepper if you’re feeling decadent. If you want something heartier (again, lunch/breakfast/dinner, top with a fried egg, or some salmon (smoked or otherwise).

leek cream cheese