NaBloPoMo Day 12: butternut squash lasagna

I swear this isn’t a food blog but I am going to disprove that by posting about food again. It’s food I made for a knitter, if that brings it back on topic. Even if it doesn’t, I made a butternut squash lasagna today.

butternut squash lasagne

There were two actually, this one is the one I kept for my family. I gave the other one to a fellow knitter who had twins four weeks ago. I think meal trains instead of baby showers are the best idea ever, in case anyone ever asks you. Food showing up twice a week for about six weeks after my second son was born was the best thing ever!

Here’s the recipe for the lasagna, in case you need some butternutty, cheesey, béchamelly goodness in your life. And really, who doesn’t?

Butternut Squash–Fontina Lasagna

1 medium sized butternut squash
2 lb Italian Fontina, cut into slices (I usually use about half this)
Grated Parmesan
No-boil lasagna noodles
4 cups béchamel sauce (see recipe below)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Place on lined baking sheet, cut side down. Bake until soft, approximately 45 minutes at 375°-400°.

When the squash is very soft, remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. When cool enough to handle, scrape the flesh from the skin and place in bowl.

Run the lasagna rectangles under cold water then make a layer of them in a baking dish. Dot the cooked squash on top of the pasta layers. Drizzle a healthy amount of béchamel over all. Add a sparse dotted layer of fontina, then sprinkle grated parmesan. Continue layering in the same fashion until you have two to three layers of squash, fontina, béchamel and parmesan. End with a layer of pasta, béchamel and parmesan.

Bake covered at 375° until hot through. Remove foil and let top layer color until golden brown.

Béchamel Sauce
Makes 2 cups
Double recipe for the lasagna

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and stir to form a smooth paste. (Those angled wooden spatulas are great for this because you can really scrape the bottom of the pan and prevent burning.) Heat the milk in a separate saucepan or the mcrowave.. When it is hot but not boiling pour it into the roux ( the butter-flour mixture), stirring constantly with a whisk. Make sure you get into all the edges of the pan to coax all the roux into the milk. Cook over low heat until the sauce thickens and the flour taste is gone. Add salt and pepper to taste.

creole beans and rice

I am posting this here because I was talking about the recipe on Facebook and they seem to have hidden their notes feature in a place where I can’t figure out how to write a new one. Darn Facebook. Anyway, here it is.

Creole Beans and Rice
From “New Recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant”

Serves 6

3 cups dried kidney beans (I use 4 cans black beans, rinsed and drained)
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp ground allspice

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups chopped onions
6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3 medium celery stalks, diced
1 cup diced carrots
2 to 3 green peppers, chopped (I use red usually)
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

2 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
salsa
sour cream

Cook the beans with 1/2 teaspoon cayenne and 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice. (I skip this step, I used to simmer the beans with the spices for a while but I’m not convinced that made a difference.)

Sauté the onions and garlic in oil on medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add the celery and carrots and continue to cook several minutes longer. Stir occasionally. Add the green pepper and sauté until all the vegetables are just tender. Whisk together the tomato past, red wine, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, herbs, and spices. Add this to the sautéed vegetables. In a large pot combine the drained beans and sautéed vegetable mixture and stir them until thoroughly mixed. (If using canned beans, I just add the extra cayenne and allspice in with the tomato paste mixture and add the canned beans at this point.) Simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

Cook the rice. Serve beans with rice, topped with salsa and sour cream.

Changes I made for the slow cooker:

I increased the tomato paste to the whole can (which I often do anyway, just because half a can of tomato paste just goes bad in my fridge); used 1/2 cup of wine and 1/2 cup of water to increase the liquid.

I used less cayenne than it called for because I figured it would get too hot for me. This is clearly a matter of taste.

I sautéed the vegetables up to the point of adding the peppers and then I put that mixture into the slow cooker, mixed with half of tomato paste mixture. The other half of the tomato paste mixture was mixed with the beans, which I put on top of the vegetables in the cooker.

I cooked it all on low for 8 hours and it was delicious! Enjoy.

red cabbage, flemish style

Kristine from A Verb for Keeping Warm asked for a red cabbage recipe on Twitter so I am posting it here to link her to it. This is probably bad knitting blog form but at least the person it’s for owns a yarn shop, right? Actually, it’s quite a beautiful shop full of gorgeous yarns and fabric. Check out her site, visit her shop!

And now: cabbage!

Red Cabbage, Flemish Style
from Everybody Eats Well in Belgium

1 medium red cabbage
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red currant jelly or 1 additional Tblsp sugar or honey (I usually use addtional sugar)
2 Tblsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup water, plus additional if needed
1 Tblsp dark brown sugar or honey (I usually use the sugar)
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 tart apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

1. Discard the tough outer leaves of the cabbage (see Note). Cut the head into quarters and remove the white core. Shred the cabbage into very thin slivers.

2. Melt the butter in a large heavy Dutch oven. Add the cabbage, onion, currant jelly, vinegar, water, sugar, cinnamon, and a little salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat immediately and let simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

3. Add the apples and continue simmering for 1 hour, checking from time to time to see that it is not too dry. Add a little more water if necessary. At the end of the cooking time, the cabbage should be tender, the apples reduced to a purée, and all the liquid absorbed. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serves 6 to 8.

Note: Don’t rinse red cabbage. Discard the outer leaves and wipe with a damp cloth if necessary. Rinsing, blanching, or boiling will fade the deep red color.

Variations: In step 2, cut 2 ounces slab bacon into thin strips. Render the bacon strips in the Dutch oven and continue with the recipe, omitting the butter. (I’ve done this, delish!)

All that said, this is how I usually make it. It’s not as authentic but it doesn’t take two hours.

Red Cabbage, Lazy Style
Sautée diced onion and sliced red cabbage in a bit of vegetable oil, then add apple sauce, brown sugar, and cider vinegar. Cover and simmer until the cabbage is soft.

christmas means no craft pictures

Actually, I have one craft picture you can see: a craft I messed up. I was going to make these whimsical quilted notecards as Christmas gifts. So easy! So cute! So “You really can’t mess these up.” according to the description. I proved them wrong.

yes, you can mess this up
Blech.

Instead I made something from the book I mentioned in the previous post. A couple somethings, actually, but I haven’t given them away yet, so you can’t see them.

Instead, enjoy my cookies. I made one of my favorites: Double Ginger Crinkles. I actually mixed the dough up a couple of days ago and it was waiting patiently in the refrigerator. Today it was ready for the big time!

First it got rolled into balls.

ready to roll

Then the balls were rolled in sugar spiced with ginger and allspice.

mmm, sugary

Lined up neatly on the baking sheet.

all lined up

And baked until they puff up and then crinkle back down.

don't eat them all at once!

These cookies are delicious, trust me. Or you could make them yourself and find out.

Double Ginger Crinkles
From Washington Post 12/1/99
makes 3 doz. cookies (I get more than this, maybe mine are too small)
2 cups plus 2 Tblsp flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
3/4 cup veg. shortening (I use Spectrum organic, nonhydrogenated)
3/4 cup plus 2 Tblsp sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup unsulphered molasses
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup packed chopped crystallized ginger
1 1/4 cups sugar blended with
    1/4 tsp ground ginger and
    1/8 tsp ground allspice
(I only used 1/2 cup of sugar for the rolling – with the usual spices – and I still had sugar leftover. Go figure.)

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground ginger, nutmeg and allspice. Set Aside

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the shortening for 2 minutes. Add the sugar in 2 additions, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the eggs. Blend in the molasses and vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, beating just until the flour is incorporated after each addition. Stir in the crystallized ginger. The dough will be very soft. Cover tightly and refrigerate until firm enough to handle, 3 to 4 hours. (If necessary, transfer the dough to freezer until firm, about 1 hours.)

Preheat oven to 375. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

Form the dough into balls of about 1 Tblsp. Roll each ball in the ginger-sugar mixture and then place them 3-inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake the cookies for 12 to 13 minutes or until set. During baking the cookies will puff, then deflate and form crinkled surfaces. Cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight tin.

birthday food

Today was Niels' 5th birthday party. We had the party in the middle of the afternoon so I figured I didn't need to provide actual food, just cake. Niels opted for cupcakes, specifically: cookies 'n' cream cupcakes. I was glad to oblige. I took Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World out of the library recently and that is where I got the idea for cookies 'n' cream. Niels can have dairy now but I figured I'd follow their recipe anyway. Man, were they good!

My mom came down to watch the kids run around at the gym where the party was and she and some other friends came over for dinner afterwards. I made lamb kofta and tahini sauce to go on top and served them with grilled vegetables, lavosh bread and basmati rice. It was a pretty easy dinner over all and very tasty! It does help that Erik did the grilling, of course. I'm definitely saving that recipe and making those kofta again. Yum!

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cake!

My last cake was a disaster so I had to offer to bake one for my mom's birthday to make up for it. This time I stuck with our old standby recipe for Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Icing, modified for our nondairy needs. I would definitely call this cake a success, even though I broke one of the layers a bit while putting it on the cooling rack. More patience needed!

successful cake!happy birthday, mom!it was delish

Recipe:
Note: I use Earth Balance Buttery Sticks where it calls for shortening coconut milk where it calls for milk.

Chocolate Cake

1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 1/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Mix in order of ingredients, then mix in:
1 cup of strong coffee.

Makes 2 9-inch layers.
Bake at 375 for ~40 minutes.

Peanut Butter Frosting

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
8 oz (1/2 box) powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
milk to moisten

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