Eating is a necessity. However, we choose what to eat. The choices we make reveal a great deal about us. The food you eat can tell quite a bit about your heritage, your family, your fears, your sense of adventure, your attitude toward yourself and others, and a myriad of other personal tidbits to anyone paying attention. Everything about eating is a glimpse into your soul.

I hope to reveal a little bit about myself to you through my food. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I find pleasure in bringing pleasure to others. I hope that by sharing my recipes I bring you a little bit of joy.

Cook my food. Feed it to the people you love.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Butternut Squash Gratin

‘Au gratin’ usually refers to a cooking method that creates a crispy crust on top of the dish.  It can also refer to the dish itself.  The most familiar is probably Potatoes au Gratin, which is layers of potatoes, cheese, and cream baked until the potatoes are soft and a crunchy crust has formed on top.  Thinking about it, I suppose that Baked Macaroni & Cheese is technically ‘au gratin’ as it is baked and forms a crust.  But really you can cook almost any vegetable this way.

I decided to try Butternut Squash au Gratin because butternut squash are in season and crispy, crunchy, crust,-what’s not to love?  Acorn squash, buttercup squash, or even pumpkin could be used with this recipe.  Just adjust the cooking times.  I used rosemary because I have a rosemary bush (small tree) outside my back door.  You could substitute thyme, tarragon, or savory for the rosemary. You could also use onion instead of shallot.

However, if you decide to follow this recipe exactly, you will not be disappointed. All of my recipes are original and I have cooked all of them from scratch, following only my self-taught knowledge of cooking techniques and my taste buds. Therefore, most of the time the first and often the second try is if not inedible then in need of tweaking.  My husband has eaten many (many, many) of my mistakes.  This recipe was delicious the first time.  My grandmother used to say, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up.”  Allow me to humbly say, “Yum.”

Butternut Squash Gratin

Servings: 6-8
Time:    Prep: 15 minutes; Cook: 1 hour
Hardware: Cutting board and large knife, measuring cups, a veggie peeler, a large spoon, a large pot, a colander, a large skillet that can be used on the stove top and in the oven (cast iron works great), a wooden spoon

  • 1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds)
  • 4 cups broth (you can use vegetable or chicken)
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 shallot (not more than ¼ cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ + ¼ cup bread crumbs
  • ¼ + ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup Half & Half
  • Salt & Pepper
  1. Put the broth on to boil.
  2. Cut about ½ inch off both ends of the squash.  Peel it.  Being very careful, cut the squash in half.  Using the large spoon remove the squash’s seeds.  Cut the squash into 1 inch cubes.
  3. Put the squash cubes and 2 sprigs of the rosemary in the boiling broth. Simmer until the squash is easily pierced with a knife, but isn’t falling apart. You want it to still be a little firm. This will take about 15-20 minutes. Drain the squash, reserving ⅔ cup of the liquid.  Discard the boiled rosemary.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  5. Dice the shallot and garlic.  Remove the remaining rosemary from the 3rd sprig and mince.
  6. Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallot, garlic, and minced rosemary.  Sauté, stirring often, until the shallot is translucent, about 4 minutes.
  7. Add the squash to the skillet with the shallots.  Lightly salt and generously pepper the squash.  Turn the heat to medium high and add the reserved liquid.  Gently simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5-7 minutes, stirring just enough to keep everything from sticking.
  8. Stir ¼ cup of the crumbs and ¼ cup of the cheese into the squash.  Pour the Half & Half over the squash.  Top with the remaining crumbs and cheese. Salt & Pepper again.
  9. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the top of the squash has formed a golden brown, crunchy crust. You can turn on the broiler for 2-3 minutes to really create a crispy crust, but be careful and keep a watchful eye on your dish as there is a fine line between toasty goodness and charred awfulness.
  10. Serve warm.
Slightly sweet, slightly savory, very tasty

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