Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Comforts of Writing and Food

It feels good to get back to cooking and sharing with you all again.  I can't believe my last post was July 11th!  Between summer activities and having some technical issues with Google Chrome, I really missed writing.  I don't want to disappoint you, I did cook over the summer, but I didn't take the time to document everything. I couldn't find that balance between having everyone home from school, working, and fulfilling my duties around the house, that everyone had gotten used to when I wasn't working.  How can I have it all?  I'm still trying to figure that one out.  Balancing everything and having everyone happy is tough.  Cooking and writing make me happy. So, I still need to incorporate this in to my routine.  Just as certain foods are comforting, this whole process is comforting to me.  Cooking and writing gives me energy.  I love to see all those "likes" to a picture I posted on Facebook, and I love to have questions asked about searching for recipes and cooking techniques. This whole "project" has been a learning experience for me.  I am not a professional writer, or food stylist, or photographer or chef for that matter.  I'm just someone who really enjoys to cook and who wants to share my experience with others. What I hope you find comforting is that my experiences are real.  I actually try the recipe I find to share. The pictures are taken with my iPhone. There is no scaffolding to hold anything up, or paint used to make something appear to be grilled or roasted.  This is authentic. These elements, I hope, make it comforting to you and I truly hope that I inspire your table. The twists and turns, successes and failures and tapping into my memories of cooking and entertaining has been cathartic. This exploration of food is helping me to realize who I am, and it is helping me to emerge out of self doubt and move in to a role of self empowerment and worth.  So, when over the summer my husband asked me, "What are you getting out of this?", that is what I should have said. 

Why do we love "comfort foods"? Comfort food is generally something that is easy to prepare, unsophisticated, and is psychologically comforting.  The food may have a nosalgic or sentimental feel, and is usually high in carbohydrates and rich in calories.  This is why it is so comforting. For this recipe I did manage to reduce the calories by making some changes to the original recipe. The original used whole milk and I omitted the sage, lemon butter that you are supposed to pour on over the top after its cooked. I did add the sage to the sauce mixture and a few leaves on the top as it baked.  If you don't like sage you could substitute thyme. Sage and butternut squash are a classic combination that I really like together, and my kitchen smelled divine while this was baking. Try this recipe over the weekend or when you have some extra time. This dish would make a great meatless option, served with a salad on the side.  You could even serve this as a side dish to chicken or on your Thanksgiving table. This recipe is a pleaser and a keeper! I hope you try it.

Butternut Squash Lasagna - Adapted from Brian Malarkey

1 large butternut squash – Peeled, cored and sliced thin 1/4 inch
10 to 12 pasta sheets – no boiling, oven ready.  I used Trader Joe's brand
1 handful spinach
6 to 8 cloves garlic
1 bunch Italian parsley
1/2 stick of butter
¼ cup flour
3 cups reduced fat milk, not skim
4 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup Parmesan cheese
6 to 8 sage leaves, plus some for top of lasagna
Salt and pepper and olive oil spray
Pre-heat oven to 375F

Lightly spray a sheet tray with olive oil and place the slices of butternut squash on it, season with salt and pepper, repeat another layer until all the butternut is layered.  Cover with foil and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes until the squash is cooked yet still firm.


While that is cooking start on your roux:  Melt ½ stick of butter in a large pot until almost browned, whisk in the flour and continue to cook for about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Add garlic and continue to cook at a medium heat until mixture thickens.  This could take 10 min or less. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend in the spinach and parsley. DO NOT cover top tightly while blending. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

Begin the layers:  Cream Sauce on the bottom, making sure to coat the bottom well, then pasta, cheeses, and butternut squash. Repeat.  Make sure the top layer has cheese on top.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the top is crispy golden brown.  Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Butternut Squash, Sage, Garlic, Spinach
Assembly Process
It's done.  So yummy!

2 comments:

Blogs said...

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The Inspired Table said...

Thank you Petitchef! I would be honored to be a part of your site. Thank you for this opportunity. Happy cooking!

Michelle Sherman
The Inspired Table

Seasonal Foods