Friday, November 16, 2012

easiest Ambercup Squash dish ever

Ambercup Squash?
I can admit I had to google "varieties of squash" and the Ambercup looked like what I had sitting on my kitchen counter.

These were actually given to me by the Learning Garden Director at my daughter's school (have I already mentioned how much I love this school?)

Yes, they have a huge garden that is run by a parent volunteer and that has children in it at all times of the day. The kids are learning, planting, harvesting, weeding...whatever needs to be done to ensure their garden grows. And they absolutely love it!
So, when the Garden Director brings me a bag of squash and says "could you come up with something easy the kids can cook after they harvest the rest of the winter squash?"
YES!!! I'm ON IT!

easy.....I don't think it can get much easier than this recipe and still be this delicious. 
Brown sugar and butter! easy.....


oven to 375

These were about the size of large grapefruits so this recipe may need to be adjusted based on what is sitting on your kitchen counter.
Also, this recipe is for a gob of children - please doctor it up as you see fit.
I think I am trying it again with homemade croutons and some crispy Pancetta...or maybe over some fresh pasta.....hmmmm.......

In a microwave safe bowl - put 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a couple turns of black pepper.
Microwave about 45 seconds - just until butter is melted - then whisk the mixture thoroughly.

Slice your squash in half.
Remove all seeds and pulp.

Cut a small disk from the back of the squash for stability.
Toss the little disk.

Place the squash in a baking dish.
Pour 1 1/2 cups of water into the bottom of this dish - Not into the center of the squash.

Pour the butter and sugar mixture around the edge of the squash - letting it run into the middle - until this mixture is all gone.

Cover tightly with foil.
Bake 40 to 50 minutes - depending on the size of your squash.
(these baked 40 minutes)

Remove from oven,
Remove foil,
Let sit 5 minutes.
You see all that butter and sugar just marinating in there???

Using a fork scrape the flesh of the squash all around the inside until you are left with the shell - and what looks like a very pretty squashy bowl.

And that's it! 
Just be careful to not puncture the sides if you want to serve in the actual shell.
Otherwise - taste for seasoning and add as needed...enjoy!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

lemon chiffon cupcakes

For the September dinner@Tate's I needed a dessert I could make the day before and a dessert that felt light since it was following a pretty heavy meal. These seemed to fit the bill perfectly plus, cupcakes always seem to be a crowd pleaser - I think partially because it feels like portion control! 
(not really, but maybe...just a little bit.....)

Now, as I've stated in past posts, I really do not like making cupcakes, but I had to give these a try since I love lemon anything.
And they were so pretty.
And I could make them a day ahead - except for the frosting part.
So it seemed like a win, win all around.
They were delicious.
Please try this.

recipe VERY loosely adapted from 
Food and Wine "Our Best New Classics" book


for the CUPCAKES...

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
dash of salt
3/4 cup sugar + maybe a dash or so more
2 large eggs - at room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter - melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk - at room temperature

for the FILLING...

2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon gelatin
1/2 stick of cream cheese - at room temperature
1 cup lemon curd
3 egg whites - at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
zest from 1 lemon

for the FROSTING...

1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
2 large egg whites - at room temperature
pinch of cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


oven to 350

whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
in different bowl - whisk the sugar with the eggs and vanilla until smooth and slightly thickened.
add the melted butter and oil and mix until completely incorporated.
add all dry ingredients and milk in alternating batches - mixing well between each addition.
fill muffin tins about 2/3 full.

bake at 350 for 15 - 17 minutes.

let cool completely before filling and frosting.


in a small bowl add 2 tablespoons water - sprinkle the gelatin across the top and let sit 5 minutes.
in a small saucepan - low heat - add cream cheese, lemon curd and lemon zest.
once all the cheese is melted add the gelatin mixture.
continue to cook on low- stirring constantly - until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
in a stand mixer - beat the egg whites until foamy.
add the 1/4 cup of sugar.
when the whites are stiff, turn the mixer to low and slowly pour the cheese mixture down the inside of the bowl.
turn off the mixer - using a rubber spatula -  gently fold all of the egg whites and cheese mixture together until no white streaks remain.

in a small saucepan combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium heat - stirring constantly - until all sugar has dissolved.
let cool for a few minutes.
in a stand mixer - beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
with mixer on medium speed carefully pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites.
continue beating until frosting is cool and billowy - 5 or 6 minutes.
add the lemon zest and juice and beat until combined.

ready to put all this craziness together???

oven to Broil.

carefully slice all around the top inside edge of the cupcake - at an angle.
same concept as the way I do the Boston Cream cupcakes.

fill the centers with the cheese, lemon curd mixture.
place on the hats back on.
let sit for about a half hour (long enough for me to wash all those dishes)

top each cupcake with frosting - I used a spoon instead of piping because I liked all the stickyuppy parts - do whichever way you like best.

place all your cakes on a tray.
stick under the broiler until peaks are toasty.

remove and let cool just a couple minutes.

serve and enjoy.