Fall Cooking Series: Class #3

Wednesday, November 10th was the last Fall Cooking Class. Our terrific teacher, Yvette, suggested a menu loaded with delicious root vegetables – squash, sweet potatoes, beets, and pumpkin! Sounds good already huh? Well, here is the menu:

Appetizer
Butternut Squash Soup topped with Goat Yogurt
Entrees
Sweet Potato Pudding AND Sweet-Sour Apple Beets
Dessert
Stove Top Pumpkin Pie with a Red Fife Crust

Butternut Squash Soup
1 tbsp butter
½ cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon curry powder
1-1/2 cups broth [we used homemade veggie stock]
½ cup apple cider
4 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash
1 cup peeled, chopped pears
¼ teaspoon salt
Goat yogurt to top
Fresh parsley to top
Directions: Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add onions and cook over medium heat until tender (about 5 minutes). Sprinkle curry powder over onions and cook one more minute.
Add broth, apple cider, squash and pears. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes (until squash is tender).
Transfer soup to a blender or food processor. Pulse on and off until mixture is pureed. Return to pot. Add salt.
Serve each bowl topped with a spoonful of goat yogurt and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.
Makes 4 servings.

The soup was AMAZING! I think everyone had at least two bowls of it before moving on to the main course dishes. The soup recipe includes pears which gives it a slightly sweet flavour. The goat’s yogurt (which we adapted from the suggested sour cream) added a delicious richness.

Jeremiah also used the opportunity to teach us a great way to prep a pear using a melon baller (a spoon could work as well, especially a metal teaspoon or tablespoon) to dig out the pit from the bottom. This way, you minimize waste … and look extremely professional!

Sweet Potato Pudding
2 sweet potatoes chopped
2-3 tsp of honey
1 tbsp sherry or brandy
2 tbsp butter
1 egg, separated
Rind and juice of one orange
Directions: Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the sweet potatoes in a pot of boiling water and cook until soft (about ten minutes). Drain, then pour the cooked potatoes into a bowl and mash.
Add all other ingredients, except the egg white, and mix them together.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg until it is stiff. Fold the egg white into the potato mixture.
Grease a casserole dish and spoon in the mixture. Bake until golden brown (about 45 minutes – 1 hour).

This meal, as you can see, was so colourful! Fall produce is full of colour!

Sweet-Sour Apple Beets
2 cups chopped cooked beets (I simply boiled them with their skins on)
2 cups chopped tart apples (we used a mix of local tart apples including Ida Red)
¼-½ cup thinly sliced onions
1½ tsp salt
Nutmeg
2 tbsp lemon juice
2-3 tbsp butter
Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Grease a casserole dish.
Combine beets, apples, onion, salt, nutmeg and lemon juice. If your apples are very tart, also add 1 tbsp of sugar. Pour into the casserole dish.
Dot the top with cubes of butter.
Cover and bake for about one hour.
Serves 4.

And onto dessert… The pie was a collaborative effort as Yvette taught us how to make the pumpkin pie filling over a double boiler and Barb, past cooking class teacher and current participant, taught us how to make a pie crust with Nova Scotia’s own Red Fife flour.

Stove Top Pumpkin Pie in a Red Fife Crust

Pie Crust (approx. 10 inches):
1 1/3 cups flour (we used Red Fife flour)
3/4  tsp salt
3/8 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 tbsp cold water
waxed paper
Directions: Measure flour and salt into a bowl. Add oil. Mix with a fork until particles are the size of small peas. Sprinkle with water, one tablespoon at a time, until flour is moistened and dough almost cleans the side of the bowl.
Gather dough together and press firmly into a ball. Roll dough between two sheets of waxed paper. When your dough is rolled to the desired thickness, remove the top piece of wax paper. Lift up the dough by placing your hand(s) under the bottom piece of wax paper. Flip the dough over and lay into the pie pan. Remove the second sheet of wax paper which is now on top.
Bake approx. 8 minutes (keep an eye on the crust while it’s baking!).

The pumpkin for the pie filling has to be pre-cooked. I cooked it by simply cutting each in half and scooping out the pulp; baking the pumpkin in the oven (open face up) for about 40 minutes to 1 hour at 375-400 degrees (or until tender). When it was cooked, I scraped the flesh from the peel and mashed. (You may need to strain it.)

Pumpkin Pie Filling
In a double boiler, combine and cook (over hot water) until thick:
1½ cups cooked pumpkin (or squash)
1½ cups rich cream
6 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp white sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
½ cup molasses
3 slightly beaten eggs
Cool slightly and add:
1 tsp of vanilla OR 2 tbsp brandy or rum
Optional: ¾ cup black walnut meat
Pour the mixture into the baked pie shell and serve with whipped cream.
Makes one 9-10 inch pie.

We also had two guest speakers come by. Dave Bethune, a young farmer who has a stand outfront of Local Source Market (on Charles Street) most Wednesdays, stepped into the kitchen to say hello and tell us a bit about farming in Nova Scotia. The second guest speaker to drop by was Shannon Arnold, one of the Off the Hook Coordinators. She came by to tell us a bit about the community supported fisheries (CSF) enterprise, sustainable fishing practices and the joy of truly fresh fish.

All of this of course left us hungry as well as inspired. Soon the meal was ready and the table was set. We took our time savoring the food, the wine, and one another’s company.  I am already looking forward to the Winter Cooking Class Series. Are you???

Yours in food, Keltie

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