Debbie’s Vanilla and Cardamom Squash

Can I tell you how much I love this book?  It has become my bible of late, and I have three truly great dishes to share with you.  I am sorely tempted to pack all three into one post but I realize that a good backlog benefits the cadence of the blog (shut up, sir), so three separate posts it shall be.

Tonight I’ll be telling you about Vanilla and Cardamom Glazed Squash, and this post is dedicated to my friend Debbie.  And I smile with a great deal of irony as I write that because I do consider Debbie my friend, and certainly my foodie soulmate…but I have never met her.  We “met” on Facebook through a mutual friend, got to know each other through various comments on food, NPR, scrabble, and such, and then she friended me and I accepted and there we went and there we were.  And the bond was only strengthened one day, just about a year ago, when I was posting about something or other and made reference to the fact that cardamom is my favorite spice.  Debbie commented that I was the only other person she knew whose favorite spice was cardamom.

I really should meet her someday.  In the meantime, Debbie, I made this for you…

Vanilla and Cardamom Glazed Acorn Squash Rings

The recipe does call for 1 small acorn squash, which I didn’t have.  I had 2 smallish “carnival” squashes, seen here.  Actually I had 3 and they were part of the Halloween display on my kitchen pass-through shelf, but 1 rotted.  Let’s not talk about it.  [Editor’s Note – she’s still killing the fruit flies]

  • 1 small acorn squash, or 1 to 1 1/4 pounds any type winter squash
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom (mmmmmmm…yes…yes…and no, I don’t have an 1/8 measuring spoon, I just eyeballed a few judicious sprinkles)
  • Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 475.  Personally, my smoke alarm doesn’t like when Wolfie goes over 450.  [Editor’s Note – perhaps if you cleaned the oven more frequently, dear?].  Shut up.  I preheated my oven to 425 and it was fine.  Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.

With a sharp axe chef’s knife, cut the acorn squash in half lengthwise (through the stem end and the pointy end).  PLEASE be careful!  Scrape out the seeds and fibers with a spoon.  Put each half, cut side down, on a cutting board.  Slice off about 3/4″ from each end and discard.  Slice the squash crosswise into 1/2″ half-rings.  If you want, trim off any remaining fibers and goo.  Put the rings on the parchment paper.

In a small saucepan, melt the 2 tbsp butter over low heat.  Add the maple syrup, vanilla and cardamom.  Lean over the saucepan and inhale deeply.  Deeply.   Make room for the girl who will stagger into the kitchen, eyes glazed, wondering aloud dreamily, “What is that?”  Breathe it in again, it’s divine.

Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the squash pieces with about half the butter mixture.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and turn them over.  Brush this side with the other half of the butter mixture but save about 1 tsp if you can, or add another tsp or 2 to the pan for later.  Season this side lightly with salt.

Roast the squash for 15 minutes.  Use tongs to flip the pieces over.  Your kitchen is going to smell amazing.  “What is that?” Jeeps cried when he and Redman came in from soccer practice.  Smile knowingly.  You are a goddess.

Roast another 15 minutes until they are nicely browned (the bottoms will be browner than the tops) and tender when pierced with a paring knife.  Move to a serving dish.

Reheat the butter mixture briefly over low heat if necessary.  Brush the butter mixture over the squash slices and serve.

Some quotes from the dinner table:

“This is like pumpkin pie.”

“This is like dessert for dinner.”

“You could eat this for breakfast.”

“It’s almost too sweet.”

Oh, and most interestingly, “The skin is the best part!”  Yes indeed, you can scoop the squash flesh away from the skin and eat, but amazingly, the skin is perfectly edible and really really tasty.  Don’t you agree, Debbie?

I thought so.

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