Mom’s Definition of Dishwasher-Safe

Darla: “Mom, is this dishwasher-safe?”

Mom: “Yes.  If it isn’t, we didn’t want it anyway.”

Delicata with Rosemary and Red Chile

Winter squashes are taunting you, right?

They are gorgeous, but what on earth do you do with them? And even if you try a recipe, the thick inedible skins, the goopy guts, and inconsistent sizing are often just enough of a barrier to keep you from cooking them regularly.

Butternuts are the most common and are sweet and tasty. The cylindrical tops are easy to peel by running your knife down the sides and the resulting skinned flesh is easy to dice. However, the round bottoms require a lot more effort without much payoff. Once you take the goop out and try to peel a curved surface, there’s not much flesh there. When we need a lot of butternut squash at work and we’re short on time (always), I wind up only using the tops. A small army of bottoms always comes home with me and looms in my refrigerator, taking up space that rightfully belongs to beer. I know I should just scoop them and roast them, but honestly, I don’t want to turn on the oven for only a little yield. I find it all too depressing. Especially when I think of what I paid for those bottoms. I hate to admit that they often get old and funky (and disposed of) before I get around to them.

Delicata, the striped oblong squash, is the low-maintenance squash. Its pale flesh is still sweet but the thin skin is totally edible. Its shape makes prep especially easy. If you slice it into half-moons, the curved exterior doesn’t result in a bunch of crazy cuts that won’t cook uniformly. If you’re not so good with a knife, this is the squash for you.

And once roasted, it looks fabulous still wearing its stripes.

Roasted Delicata with Rosemary and Red Chile
A hit of herb and heat add just the right notes to delicata’s tender, sweet flesh. I love to eat the leftovers cold, with my fingers, straight out of the bowl.

Serves 4 to 6

2 medium delicata squash
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs. fresh rosemary, minced, or to taste
dried red chile flakes, to taste
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Heat oven to 450F.  Line a baking sheet with foil (if you hate doing dishes).  Lightly grease.

To prep squash:  Trim and discard the ends.  Cut squash lengthwise.  Use a sturdy spoon to scrape out seeds and goop.  Place the flat, cut sides down on your cutting board and slice into half moons, 1/2″ thick.

Toss squash with minced rosemary, red chile, salt, and pepper.  Lay flat on the baking sheet in one layer.

Roast for 15 minutes or until fork tender and lightly browned.

A Farmer In The Valley and Lettuce In The Belly

I walked past the eggnog in the store last night.

Got that?  I walked past it.

I simply adore eggnog.  Add a splash of good old country Jim Beam or some fancy ass aged rum and call me happy.

But it is so bad for me.  I’ve got ham legs and this pig fattens up easy.

I know that Thanksgiving is going to be a huge feast.I will bake pecan pie. I will stuff myself on mom’s glorious sweet potato casserole. I will eat the dark meat.With gravy.

Which is why I deny the nog, at least for now.  I’ve got to save up some calories.I must eat my veggies and drink (far) fewer margaritas.Otherwise, by the time I lick the last wingbone clean on Black Friday I’ll need Joey’s Thanksgiving pants.

Of course, it’s a lot harder to get excited about veggies and healthy stuff, especially when the grocery stores are in baked-goods overload.  But I do get quite excited by veggies when I go to a farmer’s market.  I always wind up buying tons of produce.  So this morning I went to a small local farm and bought some of these beauties.

I watched these butterheads being cut from the soil by Farmer John himself, wielding a battered but sharp knife.  I heard him explaining the natural alkalinity of their soil and how they have to compensate.  I saw how he put those drip lines together in way that “nobody else does it”.  I walked through the dead cover crops waiting to be turned back into the soil to replenish the earth.  His tanned skin and rough hands tell of the labors of love that go into growing every head of lettuce, broccoli, or cauliflower.  A farm hand even cut a kholrabi just for me.

Now I’m truly excited about salad.  How could I not be?

About This Blog

Healthy food doesn’t have to suck.

That’s been my motto during the last five years as a professional chef.  Now I’m sharing my tips, tricks, philosophy, and dark secrets with you on this new blog.

So read about me if you like, and please jump in and participate!