Nov 21, 2012

This week my friend Laura Damas of helped me to test some holiday recipes for Thanksgiving (or really any time of the year, they're that good.) Laura's blog follows recipes made with herbs and vegetables grown in her and own Chicago rooftop garden, all of which could be featured in Bon Appetit. I've seen Laura's garden grow since this past spring when they planted thirty-some plant boxes, they spent the summer harvesting all their vegetables, and have definitely reaped the benefits of home grown foods, which Laura features on her blog.

This past weekend, we got together and experimented all day to create two delicious dishes: a Butternut Squash Tart with Ricotta, Fried Sage, Pecans, and Parmesan; and a Pumpkin/Squash Butter Bars (tastes like Pumpkin Cheesecake- YUM!). 

Butternut Squash Tart

 From Chef Paul Virant, Preservation Kitchen Cookbook

  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup Ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. honey
  • 1 small jalapeƱo, Serrano, or Fresno chile, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 Tbs. Kosher salt
  • 1 small Butternut squash, cut 1/8" thick rounds from the neck (about 12-15 depending on the size of the pastry/squash)
  • 2 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbs. (about 12) fresh Sage leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • Truffle salt for finishing, optional

Preheat oven to 375. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Gently roll out 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed, on a lightly floured surface to approximately a 10" square (just enough to even it out). Transfer to prepared sheet. Brush pastry with 1 large egg beaten with 1 tsp. water.  Mix together ricotta, honey, salt, and chile pepper.  Spread mixture over pastry, leaving a border along the edges. Arrange sliced butternut squash on top of ricotta, overlapping as necessary.  

Place another sheet of parchment paper over the squash, and set another large rimmed baking sheet over the tart.  (This will weigh down the pastry dough and steam the squash slices.)Bake for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add fresh sage leaves and chopped pecans.  Fry until toasted and crisp, about 1 minute.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.  

Remove tart from oven and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Garnish tart with fried sage and toasted pecans and truffle salt, if using.  

Pumpkin Butter & Pumpkin Butter Bars

Pumpkin Butter Recipe:

  • 5 lbs. (about 2-3 pumpkins) pumpkin or winter squash, halved & seeded
  • Vegetable oil for coating.

Preheat oven to 400.  Brush the cut sides of the pumpkins with oil.  place the halves, cut side down, in a baking pan and roast for 45 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender when pierced with a knife.  ( this varies widely depending on the squash variety.  A delicata may cook in 35 minutes while a butternut or kabocha can take 1 hr.)  using a spoon, scrape the flesh into a bowl and discard the skins.  

      • Pumpkin Butter Ingredients:
  • Roasted pumpkin or winter squash pulp - 6 cups approx. 
  • Brown sugar - 2 cups
  • Unsalted Butter , cubed - 1 stick
  • Kosher Salt - 1 tsp.
  • Cinnamon, ground - 1 tsp.
  • Nutmeg, ground - 1/2 tsp.
  • Ginger, ground - 1/2 tsp.
  • Cloves, ground - 1/4 tsp. 

Preheat oven to 350.  in a bowl, mix together the roasted pumpkin, sugar, butter, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.  Spread onto a 9 by 13 inch baking pan, and bake stirring every 15 minutes with a spatula, until the pumpkin has become thick and slightly caramelized, about 1 1/2 hours.  Give it a good stir at the end; it should be smooth and spreadable.  If the pumpkin is too fibrous for your liking, blend it in a food processor to even out the texture.  Cool and refrigerate or freeze in a couple of plastic deli containers until ready to use.  

Pumpkin Butter Bars

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin butter (recipe above)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 1/2 tsp. bourbon (optional)
  • Creme fraiche or whipped cream to top, or serve with vanilla ice cream

1.  Preheat the oven to 325.  Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan.

2. To make the crust, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugars on low speed until they form a crumbly mixture.  Add the flour, salt, and cinnamon and continue to mix on low speed until a dough starts to form.  Pat the dough in an even layer in the prepared pan and bake until the top turns a light golden color, about 20-25 minutes. 

3.  Meanwhile, to make the filling, in the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Stir in the eggs, then add the cream, sour cream, and salt.  Stir in the pumpkin butter, followed by the maple syrup, molasses, and bourbon, if using, and mix until smooth.  Pour the pumpkin mixture over the par-baked crust and bake until the pumpkin has set (the edges will begin to crinkle and the center should no longer look raw) about 30 minutes.  

4. Cool completely, and then slice into squares.  Store the cookies in the refrigerator or freezer.  

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