Wednesday, November 4, 2015

From Our Autumn Potager: Golden Acorn Squash & Broccoli Recipes

Golden acorn squash, resembling small pointy pumpkins, were harvested mid-October and will store well in our cool, dark cellier for several months.

An easy way to prepare this tasty and nutritious veggie is roasting. Scrub well, halve, scrape out the fibrous mass of seeds, rub cut ends with melted butter, sprinkle some dried thyme over them, and then roast cut side down on a parchment-lined pan in a 400 degrees C oven for about forty minutes or until fork tender and carmelised. C'est tout. Though I usually just cradle in my hand a warm squash-half adorned with a flourish of fleur de sel while spooning its luscious innards straight into my mouth, one could scoop out the cooked flesh and then mash, salt to taste, and serve this lovely mound of goodness as an accompaniment to fish, chicken, pork, lamb, or beef. Additionally it can be used as a spread mixed with some crumbled blue cheese for grilled bread.

A slightly more involved approach is first peeling and cubing it into small pieces. Saute the cubes along with garlic, thyme, and some greens if desired, like kale or young, small broccoli leaves in olive oil. After a few minutes, add a tablespoon of apple cider or sherry vinegar diluted with several tablespoons of water or meat/veggie broth. Dry white wine can be subbed for the diluted vinegar. If there are any cooked lentils hanging about, they can be added. Simmer covered for about fifteen minutes, adding more liquid if needed, until tender and lightly carmelised. Salt to taste. Sprinkle on some freshly grated Parmesan if desired. This melange can be eaten as a stew or it could be mixed with pasta or served on cous cous.

Good to the last morceau!

Broccoli, fresh from our potager, is slightly sweet, especially the stalk.

I am immensely proud of this beauty!

Though this is the third season of my growing calabrese broccoli, this is the first time that the heads came out so large and densely packed with buds.

I thinly slice the small leaves, adding them to minestrone & stir-frys

It's a lovely addition to pork fried rice. Rinse the broccoli and lop off the florets with a sharp knife as you work up the head. Slice fairly thinly this now denuded part of the stalk, discarding the rest. Julienne the slices. Heat up some vegetable oil (not olive) till sizzling in a large fry pan or wok. Using some thin strips of pork leftover from a roast, stir fry them for a minute or two until slightly browned. Remove and reserve. Toss in first the sliced stalk and stir fry for a couple of minutes, then add the florets and stir for another two minutes or so. If you want more tender broccoli, add a tablespoon or so of water, cover, and steam for a few minutes. Remove and reserve. Heat more oil if necessary and saute briefly some minced garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Push them aside in the pan and pour in a beaten egg, stirring constantly till you get tiny cooked bits which usually takes about a minute. Add cooked rice (I use brown) and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add the pork, broccoli, and soy sauce. Give it all a good stir.

The main activity in the potager is preparing beds for late winter/early spring planting which involves weeding and then covering with oak leaves which are roughly chopped with a spade and kept wet. This mulch takes about a full year in our climate to become moisture-retentive leaf mould so by next fall it will be fully decomposed and can be incorporated into the soil. Then a new layer of leaves hauled via our electric car from a nearby oak copse will be placed on the beds. In a few months, the mulch will be moved aside temporarily so lettuce, spinach, onions, garlic, beets, carrots, parsnips, peas, leeks, bare-root strawberries & early potatoes can be planted.

The broccoli bed is in the upper left

Potted mums are great for an accent of colour here and there. That planter was done fifteen years ago! It still is thriving and have provided many cuttings for new plants.

Culinary sage is in the forefront

Dirac the Young Cat, a muscular, adventurous, energetic feline, is allowed to go out at night if he so wishes except during storms, Halloween, and on Firecracker Day, July 14. If so, it is not uncommon for him to sleep in all the following day, preferably way on top of the elm wall unit.

His tail is pointing to the volume that contains the entry on tigers

À la prochaine!

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