Sorry to be away so long, I’ve been missing this blog lately, but migraines, MRI’s, and doctor’s visits have kept me away (not to mention all the applesauce making and pork shoulder braising…) but today, on one of my first migraine-free days, I couldn’t resist it anymore, I had to post. There’s a lot of stuff I want to tell you guys.
I recently found out about a fantastic food blog through the equally fantastic language blog, Language Hat. This food blog, The Language of Food, is similar to Harold McGee’s Curious Cook in that it let’s me think about food and get my nerd on at the same time. These types of blogs hold a special place in my Google Reader, and are read religiously because, while I adore great photography, and baking babies, studies in food really whet my appetite. (Hardy har har. Can you tell I’ve been totally out of it?)
Dan’s most recent post sparked my interest, and hunger, a few weeks ago. The topic is dessert; he ate subjected himself to a bacon doughnut, and the experience spurred Dan’s thinking about the mixing of savory and sweet in desserts, and main courses, and about desserts in general. I’d love to recount some of the insightful, educated things Dan says, but I think I mentioned the two weeks of migraines I just had, and well, brain don’t work so good. So you’ll have to go there (go on, click) and read for yourself. (Please do, too, it’s a great read.)
The post got me thinking, in a much less articulate way, about my own food tastes. I only recently started mixing sweet with savory. As a kid, I didn’t understand applesauce with pork. As a self-satisfied twenty year old, I thought that I had exceptionally nuanced tastebuds, and that was why I was so skimpy with the chutney I added to my cheese (my woefully unstinky cheese). But recently, as adulthood continues to humble me, I realize I was all wrong. It started with a dish of thyme roasted apples and onions (I promise to post it soon) that I could not get enough of. I was giddy, ecstatic, repeating over and over to Jim how happy I was with this dish that I’d cooked (yes, I did say humble in the last sentence, so what?) I couldn’t believe how well the sweet apples played against the onions and thyme. I made the dish over and over again. And then I realized that I needed more of this sweet/savory combination.
Maple roasted squash was next. I’d always thought squash was itself sweet enough, no maple syrup, or brown sugar, or marshmellows were needed. But given my new-found love of sweet thyme roasted apples, maple roasted squash would be a test. If I liked it, that would be it: I would forever be a girl who embraces sweet things with her savory courses. (I have big dreams, I know.) The squash turned out lovely, subtly sweet; the maple syrup lending a warming quality, offset by the bits of charred edges and the round, clean flavor of olive oil, and, totally autumnal.
Suffice it to say, I’m that girl. A little sweeter than I used to be, and better off for it.
Maple-Roasted Acorn Squash
This is hardly a recipe: I don’t want to give quantitative amounts because who am I to tell you what size squash to get? Uniformity is not a squash’s strong suit, so don’t get too caught up with finding the perfectly sized one for your recipes. Just go for an approximate size, and use your better judgement with the rest of the ingredients. This particular recipe is forgiving; just start slow with the maple syrup, and remember that you can always add a touch more olive oil, or salt, to mellow out the flavor.
2 small acorn squash, peeled, cut in half, deseeded, and sliced
a glug or two of maple syrup
a more generous glugging (or two) of olive oil
a big pinch of salt
a big pinch, or grinding, of black pepper
chives, for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 350F. Have a baking sheet pan, lined with parchment paper or a silpat, ready. In a large bowl, add the squash, maple syrup, olive oil, salt, and pepper and mix well with your hands. Tip the contents of the bowl out onto the baking sheet, letting all the excess oil pour out, too. Put the pan in the oven and bake to your desired donneness (I like mine a bit charred), anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Serve garnished with some snipped chives, if you like.
P.S. Have you heard that Barry Estabrook has started a blog? He did. Cue ethical-meat-eater’s rejoice.