Thursday, November 10, 2011

Stuffin' Things


 Note:  We're posting this several days after it was written - we've been busy!

Pomegranates make you work for their yummy
but they are worth the work.
Hethyr:  I have been so busy with clients over the last few weeks that I’ve barely had time to cook for Jon and myself at home.  He’s made grilled cheese or quesadillas a few times this week, which is great, but we’ve run out of some of our basics and I think we’ve both been craving something a little more “classy.”  So, from Friday night until now, I’ve been cooking up a storm.  Sometimes, that’s just the way it goes at our house.  I have to catch up whenever I can and that often means on the weekends.  Last weekend was grocery shopping and this weekend has been cooking.  I picked up a couple of special Fall items from Whole Foods last weekend, including a couple of pomegranates and some clementines, to use in the recipe for this blog post.

After cooking for a client on Friday, I made barbecue chicken and smoked mozzarella pizza for dinner.  It was so loaded with goodies, we could each only eat one piece, so we had the rest for lunch the next day.  Saturday, starting around the ass-crack of dawn, I made yogurt starter (so I can keep making new batches of yogurt without having to buy new cultures), yogurt (from an entire gallon of milk!), four loaves of whole-wheat sandwich bread (using the whey drained off of a previous batch of yogurt) and stuffed winter squash for dinner (see recipe below!).  This morning I started a huge batch of chicken and andouille sausage gumbo (which took most of the day to cook and about which we’ll blog in the near future), then moved on to a batch of chicken stock (from the leftover chicken bones and scraps), a couple of dozen hard-boiled eggs (to serve with the gumbo) and eight loaves of artisan bread (which Jon calls “nipple bread” due to the shape and which I’m still in the process of baking).  Man, I’m a masochist.  But what else are a couple of busy foodies to do?

It made me laugh out loud yesterday when my dad responded to the picture of the sandwich bread that I posted on Facebook (see picture at left) with “I expect this for Christmas now.”  He’ll probably get it, too.  For now, we’ll freeze most of our bread, gumbo and stock since I only get occasional chances to cook for us, but we’ll eat some of the gumbo and fresh bread for dinner tonight.  Yum!

Between cooking for clients and cooking for us, I’ve been in the kitchen nearly non-stop since last Monday.  So tomorrow, I’m taking the day off from cooking.  I’m going to balance out with some a.m. yoga, volunteer in Jon’s classroom in the afternoon and, to treat him for his birthday later this week (and to treat myself for all of the hard work that I’ve put in this weekend!), we’re going out for sushi tomorrow night.

POM-a-POM-a-POM-a-POM-a-POM-a-POM-eleon Stuffed Squash
Serves 3 to 6 (depending on the size of your appetite!)
  • 6 small winter squash (I used Gold Nugget), halved and seeded
  • ¾ cup honey
  • ¼ cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 small cippolini onions (or shallots), sliced
  • 2 tablespoons mixed herbs (I used thyme, rosemary and sage), minced
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
  • ¾ cup toasted walnuts, chopped, divided use
  • ¾ cup pomegranate arils (from 1 pomegranate), divided use
  • 2 small clementines, peeled and pieces separated and halved
  • 1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper
1.  Preheat oven to 375°F; place squash halves cut-side-down in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish and add about 1-inch of water to the pan.  Bake for 30 minutes, then remove from oven.

2.  Meanwhile, combine honey and pomegranate juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Set aside.

3.  Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add sliced cippolini onions and chopped herbs and cook until onions are translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes.

4.  In a large bowl, combine onion-herb mixture with cooked rice, cooked and shredded chicken, ½ cup chopped walnuts, ½ cup pomegranate arils, clementine pieces, Gorgonzola cheese and ¼ cup pomegranate honey.  Season with salt and pepper.

5.  Stuff squash halves with equal amounts of filling and place back in the baking dish (stuffed-side-up).  With about 1-inch of water in the bottom of the dish, place it back in the oven and bake at 375°F for another 30 minutes.

6.  Place squash on plates, drizzle with remaining pomegranate honey and top with remaining walnuts and pomegranate arils.
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Instead of a snowman,
we built a squashman.

Jon:  We swim in a deep sea of squash this time of year.  All different sizes, various shapes, random colors, miscellaneous degrees of lumpiness... I rarely even know what kind of squash any of them are.  Currently our squash inventory includes Yugoslavian Finger, Jarrahdale, pumpkin, Chirimen, Gold Nugget, and Hubbard.  I don't even understand what most of those words mean.  We have so many and we eat them often enough that even I have cooked more of them than I can count.  Although admittedly I deal with them slightly less frequently since inadvertently blowing one up in the microwave.

I love eating things stuffed inside of other things, and squash is no exception.  When Hethyr told me her plan for putting pomegranate, honey, rice, onions, nuts, clementines, chicken, and cheese inside of a squash, I gave her a resounding "huh?"  I can't even begin to understand the intricacies of concocting such a dish.  I can, however, understand the process of eating it, and I ate the hell out of this one.  It was sweet and savory and sour all at the same time.  The pomegranate seeds and walnuts gave it a nice crunch.  This was one seriously intense dish.  Did I mention I ate the hell out of it?  It was delicious.

The pomegranate is a common symbol of prosperity and fertility in many ancient cultures and religions.  If you have the skills to do it, I highly recommend making this recipe.  May it bring you infinite wealth and piles of babies.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my, that looks astounding! Definitely going to have to try that recipe very, very soon. :-)